C.C. holding on to hope #158

Hope deserted the disciples after Jesus’s death. Those were definitely the darkest of days, anguish filled hours after Jesus’s body was laid in the tomb. It was over. It was done. There was no coming back from this. There is no coming back from death. Well, ok, sure, they had seen Lazarus walk out of his tomb, still bound by his grave clothes. But that had been Jesus’s doing and now Jesus Himself was in the tomb. Who was going to call Him out?

These disciples, these followers of Jesus, had put all their hope in Him. They had followed Him faithfully for three years, watching what He did, learning from His words. And now He was gone to the grave, just like all the prophets, the priests and the kings who had come before Him. They had believed Jesus was different than the others. We read Peter’s confession in John 6:67-69,

” ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.’ ”

And so they believed. They put all their hope in Jesus. Now He was gone and their hope had gone with Him to the grave. In hope’s place, now sorrow, disappointment and fear filled the spaces in their hearts where hope had so recently reigned unchallenged as long as Jesus walked with them every day. But now Jesus was gone and hope was too. During these days after Jesus’s death (which turned out to be brief, only two, as Jesus walked out of the tomb on the third day) the disciples must have believed this was the end of everything – every hope, every dream, every possibility that Jesus had put before them with His proclaiming of the Good News of God, His promises of redemption, reconciliation and eternal life for mankind – all died with Jesus on that cross. Or so they must have thought during the days following His crucifixion and death.

How long those two days must have seemed! The disciples believed all was lost, forever. They couldn’t know there was a second act coming – that if they could just hold on and hang in, a miracle was on the way. They thought their path had dead ended. (unintended pun) As far as they could see, (which wasn’t all that far) there was not another bend in the road up ahead and so the hope of something better, something just out of sight, something around the next turn in the road, did not exist – it was not a possibility. But with God all things are possible, even what is impossible with man. Especially what is impossible with man. (Matthew 19:26) How soon the disciples forgot those words of Jesus!  

As they grieved, the disciples didn’t know that their miracle was on the way, that their miracle was only mere moments away. To them, those moments after Jesus’s death were an eternity. To Eternity’s Keeper those moments were as fleeting as a firefly’s light on a summer night. Their Deliverer was coming! He would rise with the dawn on that third day. They would see Him again.

But the disciples didn’t know that. They didn’t seem to be recalling or holding on to Jesus words given to them when He was still with them.

“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ . . . But the temple He had spoken of was His body. After He was raised from the dead, His disciples recalled what He had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.” (John 2:19-22)

Then they believed, after Jesus rose from the dead and joined them where they were mourning together. Even then it took some convincing. We read what happened in Luke 24:36-48,

” . . . Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at My hands and My feet. It is I Myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ . . . He showed them His hands and feet. . . . Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’ ”

And just like that, hope was back! From death’s apparent ending, to life’s surprising new beginning, the disciples were back in business – returned to their original calling – following Jesus, proclaiming the Good News and making disciples of all whom God had created. Those were their marching orders until Jesus should return. We read about this in Acts 1:9-11,

” . . . ‘and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud his Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.'”

Interesting isn’t it? Those following Jesus at the time of His crucifixion had to wait only two days before He rose from the dead and restored their hope. Now we have been waiting two thousand years plus for Jesus’s promised return. The need for hope is as great now as it was in those two post crucifixion days. I confess – difficulty and darkness threaten to make me lose my hold on hope but hope’s hands are holding onto me.

Like sailors on a stormy sea, if only we knew just how close we were to the shore, we would be encouraged not to give up hope. But we don’t know. We can’t see the shore, so we don’t know how much longer our wave tossed journey will last before we arrive at safe harbor. Until then, we hold on and hope. Our hope is in God. Psalm 30:11 says,

“You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,” Further, I am reminded,

“For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

King David knew the pain of uncertain times when all seemed lost forever, yet he said during his most desperate days,

“I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 28:14)

Wait on God, hold on, hope, – I may be closer to safe harbor than I know – my vision is so limited. The day may be about to dawn, the sun to rise, the rain showers ready to fall, bringing the desert back to life, the winds to cease, the sea to calm, truth to take its rightful place, light to eliminate the darkness, good to supplant evil, reconciliation could be closer than I know, – hold on to hope – my Deliverer is coming!

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. stepping stones #157

Sometimes you need a hand up along the way. Sometimes what you need is a stepping stone. Stepping stones are like bridges but less grand. Stepping stones help you get to where you are going. They help you over the rough patches when the path gives way to wilderness and water and uncharted territory and you need to find your way back to the path again. Stepping stones provide connection in the gaps so you don’t fall through the cracks. They provide a way forward where none would exist otherwise. Both get walked on, bridges and stepping stones, that is their purpose. They offer us safe passage on our journey. They give us a way to get where we are going.

I have relied on stepping stones often in my life and been grateful for their presence each and every time. Many are the times I need a stepping stone when the path before me crumbles away or becomes impassable and I find it impossible to move forward until I find another way. Stepping stones show me that new way where there was no way. But I have to confess – although I often use stepping stones, I have never aspired to be a stepping stone. After all, who would want to be such a lowly thing? Something on the ground that gets walked on and not even grand like a bridge, that’s a stepping stone. Bridges have names. You never heard of a stepping stone having a name, now did you?

Still, King David said in Psalm 84:10 these words about himself,

“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

I guess a doorkeeper was a pretty lowly position, you didn’t even get to go inside and enjoy the comforts and the amusements that those inside must surely be enjoying. Yet King David acknowledged that even something seemingly insignificant and lowly in God’s kingdom was to be preferred over a higher, more exalted existence apart from God.

So better a stepping stone in God’s kingdom than a fancy pillar of stone in the world. (those could actually be considered stumbling blocks if truth be told) Stones have been used in various ways throughout history. In Jesus’s time as in other times, people were stoned to death for breaking the current laws of their culture. The expression of “casting stones” remains with us to this day, although with a slightly altered meaning.

A stone may be thought insignificant, while a rock is a symbol of strength and stability. We often refer to someone who is always there for us as “our rock.” In 1 Peter 2:4-5 we read about the most special of stones and our relationship to it. Referring to Jesus, Peter says,

“As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ is our stepping stone to God. He is my stepping stone to God. Jesus laid down His life so that I could safely step across and find my way to God. Jesus is my sure foundation. Look what Isaiah 28:16 tells me about Him,

“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.’ ”

Then I read in Psalm 118:22-23 these words,

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

As Peter said, Jesus was rejected by men but God chose Jesus to be the capstone or cornerstone of everything that He was building here on earth and in heaven as well. And what’s more, I am told that I am a living stone being built into God’s spiritual house, along with my brothers and sisters in Christ. What an honor! I am one of many living stones being built upon the foundation of Jesus as the cornerstone. We all, as living stones, have different jobs to do. I want to do the work of a stepping stone, a living stepping stone.

I’ve walked across plenty of sacred stepping stone’s in my life’s journey. They are the precious saints who paved my path to God with the firmness of their faithfulness and the light of their love for our Heavenly Father. Like them, I want to be a stepping stone for others pursuing the path to God. It is a perilous path, filled with danger, doubt and discouragement, requiring devotion, dedication and self-sacrifice, so stepping stones are needed and are essential for all the spiritual wayfarers walking the path of faith. But in order to become a stepping stone, I first must learn to lay down. I must be willing to lay down my dreams, my desires, my will, my life, so that I might become a stepping stone used by God for His good purposes.

Jesus said in John 10:11-18,

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The hired hand . . . sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. . . . The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. . . . just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. . . . The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”

Jesus is the Rock eternal, God’s living Stone, the cornerstone, the capstone, the stepping stone to life. He became my stepping stone to eternal life when He laid down His life for me. I can do no less for others than Jesus did for me. Like David the doorkeeper, I would rather be a stepping stone on the path to God than a standing stone pillar, seen by all while blocking the view of and the way to God.

Lord, make me into a stepping stone fit for Your use. Teach me to lay down my life. Place me just where You want me to be. Put me where I am needed most, where the path grows perilous and footholds are hard to find.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. boot blessings #156

Today’s miracle amid the mundane is truly both – a miracle and the most mundane of everyday events. Now I confess – this miracle took place yesterday but continues today and I trust into the forseeable future, so I will count it as today’s miracle. This would be the miracle of being able to wear a boot (or even a shoe) after not being able to do so since December 6th. Since my infamous injuring of my left big toe, I have worn only big socks and slides, until recently graduating to big socks and crocs a few weeks ago.

So yesterday, when it was snowing and I needed to return to work, I wanted to wear something other than crocs on my feet. The boots and shoes I had tried on previously had not worked but this time I found a fit that didn’t hurt my still recovering toe! Progress! It felt so good to have my feet covered, snug and warm while walking in this cold, wet, winter weather. Something I have always taken for granted, warm footwear, has been restored to me. And just when I needed it most! The blessing of warm boots is something I wasn’t necessarily thankful for until I had to go without them for awhile.

There are so many things for me to be thankful for each and every day. Why is it I don’t appreciate so many of my blessings until they are interrupted or taken away? (like being able to wear warm boots) Although it is true that “each day has enough trouble of it’s own”, each day is also filled with God’s unmeasured, unmerited grace and mercy poured out all around me and on me each day. If only my eyes were open to see all of God’s merciful manna, falling around me, new every morning.

Why just this morning I had hot water for a shower, a working furnace, a roof over my head, clothes to wear, a job to go to, a car that started, food to eat, feeling good, living in a free country . . . the list could go on, and of course would include the blessing of being able to wear boots today. Even these blessings I have named are not things that people here or around the world necessarily have access to on a daily basis, such as clean water, shelter or freedom.

This time of COVID causes me to count my blessings anew and be grateful all over again for things I may have grown complacent about. I am not owed anything. It is all grace and it is all a gift – everyday, every moment of every day. The opportunity to worship with others, the opportunity to work, was I not thankful for those things until they were gone? Was I grateful for every hand that held mine, for every hug, for every smile that I can no longer see? It was not until they were gone that I knew them for the gifts, for the blessings they had been every day of my ordinary pre-COVID days.

But even during this time of COVID, each day is a gift and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be grateful for each and every blessing hidden in these tough times. I feel like my life is on hold. Then I realize my Heavenly Father is the One who holds my life in His hands. What felt like barriers preventing me from moving forward, now I recognize as the hedge of protection His hands provide me.

I have felt isolated and alone during these COVID restricted days. I am physically separated from those I love, but I am not separated from my Heavenly Father.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us (me) from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Well that’s a pretty all inclusive list, so I don’t think COVID or all the hardships and loss that have come to us because of it will have any power to separate me from God’s love for me or to interfere with His plan for my life or His grand plan for mankind, for that matter.

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“The Lord is . . . patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Today, the blessing of my boots has reminded me to open my eyes and my heart to all the gifts from God that I am receiving during this day. I don’t want to miss a one and so fail to give thanks for all God’s very good gifts.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy.” (Psalm 107:21-22)

Giving thanks to God, reveals to me the gifts, the mercies and the miracles He is bestowing daily, which otherwise would remain hidden and unnoticed beneath the sorrows, setbacks, suffering and trials which also fill our days. My days and I bet your days, too, dear readers, are full of both. It is God’s sustaining merciful manna, new every morning which carries me through whatever the day brings.

Perhaps hearing from a long lost loved one or some unexpected kindness or encouraging word is just what we need to see us through a dark day or a disappointment. Maybe these words will awaken the power of praise and gratitude within each of us that ushers us into the very presence of our Creator.

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:4-5)

“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23)

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us (me) rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

” . . . let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)

Lord, help me to do just that today – thank You for the wearing of the boots, thank You for work, thank You for smiles and kind words, thank You for Your daily mercies, thank You for . . .

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. muffin miracles amid the mundane #155

Today is an ordinary Saturday, well ordinary in COVID world, anyway. Nothing on my calendar and nowhere to go. (Florida is looking pretty good right about now) So imagine my surprise and delight when delicious, homemade muffins are magically delivered to my doorstep! Definitely a miracle amid an otherwise mundane day! Unmerited miracle muffins of mercy, I have decided to call them. I did not order them, they just mysteriously arrived and made my day. Thus the surprise factor.

So today’s kind act of my friend, the muffin maker, got me to thinking yet again about the age old tree falling in the forest debate. The tree in the forest may be an outdated example, so I will state the query in more modern terms. If an action or event is not pictured, posted and paraded on any or all forms of social media, did it really happen? (fyi – my friend did not take a picture and post of me receiving her muffins) But I am telling you – they are really good! She is a good cook, I am not.

But I digress. Because this is the question I am pondering; has social media become more of a reality now than actual real life reality? Asked another way, which is more real, social media or my real life experiences? If no one knows what I did or experienced, did it really happen? And if not, was there no “real life” lived by any of us before social media was around to document and disseminate it?

I’m thinking the pioneers couldn’t really share their frontier, daily life escapades with friends and family back home very easily. By the time any letter they wrote was received, their news was long outdated. Even by the time someone got around to writing a letter, their news was in the past, whether it was of an encounter with a bear or of a successful harvest against all odds, the drama was long past by the time pony express came through. Their letters would have been yesterday’s news many times over.

Before TV and modern day social media, what was real was what we experienced ourselves in our own daily lives, not someone else’s manufactured and edited reality put out there for us to consume and to participate in as our own. Judging by the apparent popularity of reality TV, many must prefer a reality carefully scripted and edited to elicit – well I’m not sure what exactly, I guess something we feel we should be experiencing and we should prefer to our own reality.

But real life is so wonderful if we truly live what we have been given where we have been placed in this time in human history which is so full of possibility and potential, yet we are being told is full of fear, failure and futility. So if it’s not on social media, is it real? did it really happen? Jesus speaks to this modern day issue, which is amazing considering the time in history when He was on this earth. But then, Jesus was counter-cultural in His day and His words from Matthew 6 are just as counter intuitive today as they were then. Consider what He taught,

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. . . . But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” (Matthew 6:1-4)

So if I give and no one knows, did I really give? (God says yes, God knows) more instructions –

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. . . . But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

So if I pray and no one hears, did I really pray? (God says yes, God hears) Jesus continues –

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. . . . But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

So if I fast and no one knows I am fasting, did I really fast? (God says yes, God sees)

This doing of things on the down-low, especially important things like giving, praying and fasting, certainly goes against the pull of social media, which says put it all out there for people to see. But then God’s ways have never been man’s ways.

” ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ ” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

A whole new concept – living my life for an audience of one – my Heavenly Father, not for man’s approval but living for the One who died in my place and redeems my life. The secret life is a rich, real, true life lived in the Presence of our Heavenly Father, who sees all, hears all, knows all. Nothing gets by Him. Not the tree falling in the forest all alone, the anonymous gift, the closet prayer, the secret suffering, the unheralded good deed and sacrifice . . . nothing escapes His notice.

“Not one sparrow (What do they cost? Two for a penny?) can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” (Matthew 10:29 LB)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. truthseekers #154

Today I must start with a confession. I confess – it has belatedly occurred to me that one cannot be a truthteller without first becoming a truthseeker. So my recent post, “truthtellers” really should have come after today’s post. One cannot tell the truth if one does not know the truth. This, itself, should be an obvious truth, but it is a truth that often gets lost in the din of noisy voices purporting to proclaim multiple truths.

Being a truthseeker is a lifelong pursuit. Separating fact from fantasy and fiction requires discernment and a dedication to pursue truth even when it would be easier to accept more pleasing, more plausible, more palatable explanations for the things we encounter in our lives. I’m thinking at one time in history, it was probably easier and more popular to believe that the sun was orbiting the earth, rather than to realize that it was we here on earth who had been orbiting the sun all along. We had not yet discovered this truth which would eventually replace our old, false understanding of how things worked in the universe.

Seems to me, there was a time when people believed the earth was flat. Eventually the truth of earth’s spherical shape and Newton’s discovery of gravity changed that false perception. I remember preferring the fiction of the tooth fairy and of Santa Clause to the truth behind those false fantasies. It wasn’t that the truth was hard or painful, the fantasies were just more fun.

But sometimes truth is hard to face or even to acknowledge. It is simply easier to believe the lie. It is easier to live as if the lie is truth. We do this in many ways. It is easy to believe that someone else is to blame for our problems or our lot in life. It is more painful and requires more time and effort to look at our own choices and contributions to our life and to change them if we desire a different outcome than we have at present. That is just too hard. Being a victim is easier than becoming an overcomer. Overcoming circumstances and realities that we all face in different degrees, at different times and in different ways requires a commitment and effort that we may not be willing to give.

Why do lies come so easily and the truth so hard? Genesis 6:5 tells us something about our human nature saying,

“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”

Now that’s a hard truth to face about myself. I’d rather believe the lie that I’m basically good as I am. That way, I don’t need to change a thing. That would be much easier, if you ask me. But then I read in Jeremiah 17:9 these words,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Ok, so it’s getting a little harder to believe the lie that I’m basically good as I am, I don’t need a heart change, I don’t need a Savior. (only sinners need saviors, right?) Then I read in Romans 3:23 & 10-14,

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, . . . There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

If I needed further convincing of what is true about me, Isaiah 53:6 adds confirmation saying,

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;”

So I do need a Savior, someone who can change or clean up my messed up, evil heart. That must be why King David cried out in Psalm 51:10-12,

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”

When David faced the truth about himself he said to God,

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely You desire truth in the inner parts; You teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:5-6)

When I know the truth, I am set free to follow where it leads me. Better than following my heart, which, as I have learned from God’s word, is deceitful and desperately wicked. When I consider the consequences of living my life without seeking truth from God’s word, this admonition from Proverbs 14:12 comes to mind,

“There is a way that seems right to a man (me) but in the end it leads to death.”

Lies lead to death – truth to life. Jesus said this about Himself in John 14:6,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Jesus is truth. Jesus is life. In contrast, this is how Jesus describes Satan in John 8:44,

“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Eve experienced this truth of who Satan is when she encountered him in the garden. She believed his lie rather than the truth of God and to this day we live our lives on this same battlefield, suspended between truth and lies, waging war, wondering and wandering, while waiting for light to overcome darkness, good to triumph over evil and truth to expose and thus render powerless all the lies of the enemy.

Until that time, we are held captive by any lies that we choose to believe. Only the truth can free us from the bondage of believing the lie. Eve (and Adam) were free until they believed the serpent’s lie and acted accordingly. They neglected to seek the truth. Why should I be a truthseeker? Because Jesus said,

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

We see this same connection between lies ensnaring people and endangering their lives when Paul writes about it in his letter to the Thessalonians warning them saying,

“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

How sad! “they refused to love the truth.” (no wonder truthtellers are hard to find, truthseekers are in short supply – nobody loves or wants to know the truth anymore) Evil deceives people, getting them to believe the lie (like Eve) and they perish. Truth saves. Truth sanctifies. Truthseekers love the truth and will pursue it at all costs. Then they will know the truth and the truth will set them free. Interesting progression in the life of a truthseeker. I am to seek the truth, find the truth, learn or know the truth and through this process I am set free to proclaim the truth – free to be a truthteller.

But first I have to seek the truth. Jeremiah 33:2-3 tells me,

“This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it – the Lord is His name: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ ”

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)

Heavenly Father guide me on my truthseeker’s journey. Turn me into a truthteller for Your glory.

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. cries in the dark #153

Usually my mood follows the weather. Gray skies – gloomy feelings – despairing outlook. Sunny skies – sunny disposition – hopeful outlook. The world looks safer, saner, in sunlight than it does when storm clouds surround. But today I am conflicted. I confess – even though sunlight pours through every window, I feel surrounded by sadness, sorrow and uncertainty, enveloping and threatening to overwhelm me like dark storm clouds which move in and seem to settle indefinitely. I definitely identify with David, so I do what he did in his dark days,

“I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me. Save me, O Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.” (Psalm 120:1-2)

“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; He is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” (Psalm 118:5-9)

These feelings of darkness and doom are feelings I cannot so easily shake off. They are a garment I want to discard, a burden I want to lay down – but I am surrounded by distressing, even fearful news from every side, no matter where I turn. I find myself asking and answering along with David,

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5)

Today, even though I feel surrounded by bad news, as I said, everywhere I turn, I have to ask myself, did my turning include turning to God? Or have I looked to everyone but God? Am I looking for answers, looking for peace, looking for clarity, looking for hope, looking for truth, looking for good news in all the wrong places? Could be.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:1-4)

It makes a difference who or what I turn my eyes to, who or what I focus on. I have the assurance that my Heavenly Father is not asleep through nor indifferent to any of my sad, dark days. He knows, that like everyone else around me, I am simply longing to hear some good news for a change. Then I realize, I have been given good news! And the best kind of good news, at that. This is news that doesn’t change, news that can’t be taken away. Isaiah 52:7-10 talks about this wonderful news saying,

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord will lay bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.”

Wow! This is good news! peace, good tidings, shouting for joy, bursting into song, comfort, redemption, seeing God’s salvation . . . no wonder the feet of the messengers were thought beautiful in Isaiah’s day! Good news was welcomed and rejoiced over by the people receiving it. Strange today, it’s bad news that seems to sell, seems to get people’s attention. The worse the news, the bigger the headline. But it is the good news that each soul longs to hear and to receive and to rejoice over.

No amount of temporal bad news in my days and in my years can cover up the good news that God’s word proclaims to me. The good news has a way of breaking through the darkness of lies, false tidings and even true tales of man’s atrocities, to shine a light that guides us to God’s truth, which shows us the way out of our despairing, downcast state of being. God’s good news says to us,

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

That is good news. And as I said, I need good news, especially when I feel bombarded with bad news, even sad, scary news twenty-four seven. I will lift up my eyes and I will call to the Lord.  

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears. . . . I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. . . . The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:6, 2-3)

yes, the feet of those who bring and the mouths of those who proclaim good news are beautiful! I will look to God to hear good news,

“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ” (Romans 10:12-13)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. truthtellers #152

“to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, isn’t that how it goes? and yet now that we live in a “post- truth” time, what do those words even mean? Post-truth was 2016’s word of the year. Post-truth refers to a reality in which objective, observable facts are no longer important or given weight in our daily lives. What is viewed as most important are a person’s feelings, emotions, and beliefs about whatever it might be. In a post-truth world, there is no shared, objective standard of truth regarding anything.

We see this post-truth philosophy expressed in statements such as “live your truth” or “be true to your heart/self.” So I have my own personal truth, which may be very different from your truth. But both are called “truth” nonetheless. Both are considered equally valid. This can make for one confusing world, when there are no shared objective, observable truths. We don’t know who or what to believe and we dare not trust our own real life experiences (if we have any). What we see on a screen becomes our reality and by extension, our truth, if we are not out in the world actually interacting with other people and living our lives. If we are isolated at home, what comes into our home via TV, twitter, Facebook, internet etc. becomes our reality, becomes our truth.

We become slaves to our own feelings, which being human, vary greatly from moment to moment. My “truth” is an everchanging truth, depending on my circumstances and accompanying emotions at any given moment. Eventually, I don’t know which direction is up, which is down. I don’t know right from wrong and I can’t discern between good and evil.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those . . . who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.” (Isaiah 5:20-23)

Woe is me! I confess – I long to escape, but I don’t know the way out. I read in John 8:32 these words,

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Well, that sounds good to me. I really want to be free. I want to be free of the doubt and the fear and the uncertainty of not knowing what is true and what isn’t true. I want to be free of confusion and chaos and instead experience clarity and calm. So what is the truth? In John 14:6 I read,

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”

Then I read these words which Jesus prayed aloud to God for His disciples, saying,

“Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

“All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal.” (Psalm 119:160)

“Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

So I learn that God’s word is both true and eternal. The truth of God’s word is not going to change on me, although it will bring about change in me. God’s word is not going to change with the times, like human thought, popular opinion and reasoning do daily it seems at present. God’s word stands true throughout human history and throughout eternity. It is good to have an objective standard outside of myself that does not constantly shift and change its ways.

I read in 2 Timothy 2:15 a warning about my relationship to truth, my relationship to God’s word,

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (this sounds old fashioned because it is the King James version, but rightly dividing the word of truth is such an important instruction to me and to anyone who would profess to proclaim truth)

Another translation says I am to be one, “who correctly handles the word of truth” while yet another tells me to “Know what His Word says and means.” Rightly dividing the word of truth is a big responsibility. Actually, it is a sacred responsibility. How could I or anyone ever live up to or live out this most challenging, difficult task? Especially in this post-truth time, where does a truthteller fit in? And on whom does a truthteller rely?

These words of Jesus in John 14:16-17 and John 16:13 help answer this question,

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”

I am not alone. God’s Holy Spirit, God’s gift to me, lives in me and will teach me truth and guide me into all truth, according to God’s word. (which is truth) Still, this is not a good time in history to be a seeker of the truth or a teller of the truth. By definition, truth has no place in a post-truth era. The very meaning of the expression is “after truth”, meaning after truth is no longer relevant, is no longer sought out and is no longer valued or even acknowledged. But then again, maybe truth has always been an unwelcome intruder in every age of man throughout our history.

Being a truthteller can prove to be downright dangerous for anyone brave enough to take on such a task. Paul knew this when he asked this telling question of the Galatians in Galatians 4:16,

“Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?”

Paul often ended up in prison for proclaiming the gospel, which is God’s truth. We see what happens to truthtellers, starting with Jesus. (actually old testament prophets also put themselves in danger for proclaiming God’s words) Jesus was crucified for proclaiming God’s truth to the people of His day. And eleven of His twelve disciples were also put to death for spreading God’s gospel message. Clearly, being a truthteller comes with a high cost. Sometimes the cost is your life itself.

I am instructed to be a truthteller often in God’s word. Ephesians 4:25 tells me,

“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

How the Living Bible says it, really gets my attention,

“Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves.”

We co-inhabit this planet, we are fellow citizens of this country. What affects one of us will eventually affect us all. We need more truthtellers and less silent compliers in this post-truth world. Lack of truth is holding us all hostage to a false narrative and a false, media created reality. This is not a new, modern day problem. Look at these words of Zechariah, an Old Testament prophet of God,

” ‘These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,’ declares the Lord.” (Zechariah 8:16-17)

Sounds like they were dealing with the same problems a couple thousand years ago that we still deal with today – false testimonies, truth not prevailing in courts, truth suppressed and lies lifted up. We need the truth if we are to live in freedom. Truth is a prerequisite for freedom to flourish. And for there to be truth, we need truthtellers. In fact, truthtellers are essential. (well, not by COVID standards) Proverbs 14:25 says,

“A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful.”

So truthtellers are essential, after all. We cannot be free unless we know the truth. Jesus and His followers were put to death for speaking truth. Today, truthtellers face great personal risk as well. Loss of jobs and public censor are part of the cost of speaking out in our current cancel culture. It is a difficult choice facing each individual . Psalm 34:13-14 tells me to,

“keep your (my) tongue from evil and your (my) lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

I want to be a truthteller, even when the cost is great. To that end, I pray these words from Psalm 86:11-12,

“Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever.”

and these words from Psalm 141:3-4,

“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.”

make me a truthteller, Heavenly Father –

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. socks and crocs/looks and books #151

Today my thoughts may be a bit scattered and that may be reflected in the title of today’s post. I confess – any logic or reasonable connection to reality may appear to be missing from today’s title. Or maybe I can attribute said title to my love of Dr. Seuss books, which I enjoyed as a child. Then there is my current reality. Due to my December toe injury, my current footwear consists solely of socks and crocs. I only have one pair of crocs at present, but I have many pairs of big, heavy, warm, colorful socks that will fit nicely into my roomy crocs.

So being in rhyming mode already, my thoughts naturally turned to looks and books. And from there, logically progressed to an old but familiar adage, don’t judge a book by its cover. In other words, don’t judge books by their looks! Funny how advice from the past continues to be so applicable to today’s dilemmas. Too bad we seem to have forgotten this particular piece of advice.

Have we not learned that we cannot accurately assess other people by how they look, anymore than we can know what’s actually inside a book until we look beyond its cover and open it up? We don’t need a scientific study to determine if this is true or not. Our own personal everyday experience and interactions with other people confirm to us that it is true – mine confirm to me that it is true – I am too often mistaken if I rely on someone’s outward appearance to assess what kind of a person I believe them to be.

I never get it right. And I am always surprised when I get to know people personally, at the depth and wealth of what is hidden to the world until someone stops to listen and to learn about them. I think of all the books I have not yet read and wonder what treasures I am missing. Likewise, I realize I am missing out on much if I pass over people carelessly, never bothering to lift the cover and learn what lies inside.

So many books, so little time! So many people, so little time! And opening up a book, like looking into a person’s heart, does take time. Maybe that’s why critical race theory and intersectionality are so popular right now. They are shortcuts to doing the real work of reading the book or getting to know another human being. What is the short cut? Critical race theory and intersectionality both rely on the cover of a person, on the outward appearance and trappings, which can be instantly assessed, in order to form judgments and make decisions about any particular individual.

How does this work in real life? One is to look at a person’s gender, age, skin color, clothes, where they live, what they drive, any outward thing from which a conclusion is to be drawn based on what age group or skin color group or economic group or educational group or religious group it can be determined that the individual might belong to. So ironically, critical race theory, is the most racist of all theories and the most racist of all realities when put into practice.

Why? Because it says judge a person by the color of their skin, their gender, their ethnic heritage, etc.. It says judge a person by outward appearance, you don’t have to take the time to look inside – to have a conversation, to listen and to learn about a real person. Every person is just a demographic, a number, a statistic in critical race theory, a statistic to be controlled and manipulated for someone else’s personal gain.

Theories are not real life. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew this truth, which he stated so eloquently saying that individuals should be judged by “the content of their character not the color of their skin.” He knew the measure of the man, so to speak, was on the inside not the outside of a person. That’s why critical race theory doesn’t work, it relies on the unreliable. The cover of a book doesn’t reveal all there is inside the book, waiting to be read. The skin color of a person doesn’t reveal anything of their character, their heart, their mind, their life experiences, their accomplishments, their hopes or their dreams. Critical race theory tells us to make decisions/judgments about people based on their skin color rather than on who they actually are. That’s as racist as one can get!

Our grandparents did have the right idea when they told us not to judge a book by its cover. Someone else who doesn’t do that is God, our Creator. We read in 1 Samuel 16:7,

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ”

Then in Matthew 23:27-28 I read what Jesus said,

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

In the same way, the outside of a person, including their skin color or race, tells me nothing about the inside of the person. And the inside is the true essence of the person, their character, their spirit, all that makes them unique and sets them apart from every other person. But it takes time, intention and hard work to get to know another person, to let them into your life and you into theirs.

No wonder CRT is so popular in this era when we are pressed for time and more truly, don’t really want to do the work looking beyond the appearance/surface of another person would require. So instead, CRT gives us created categories, divisions, artificial boxes to assign people to based on groups which naturally occur but shouldn’t and didn’t previously define us. Meaning we automatically belong to a gender group and a skin color group and an age group, while other groups we move in and out of depending on choices and circumstances throughout our lives. These would be economic groups, educational groups, political groups, religious groups, career groups etc.

This allows me to relate to another person simply as a member of a larger group (whatever that group might be) rather than relate to them as the unique individual that they are. And that is my loss. In fact, it is a huge loss for all of us, when we allow these ways of thinking to decide how we will walk in this world in relation to other people. If I choose to relate to others only as members of a particular group, the opportunity to know who they really are is lost. And all I had to do was to open the cover and look inside.

This is why our world is so divided at the moment. It is easy to hate a group of people that you don’t know. It is harder to hate an individual whose story you know personally, even if CRT would assign you to different categories and so divide you from those you know and prevent you from hearing the stories of those you don’t yet know.

Just a few days ago, I was in a group where a woman I know somewhat but not well, shared an experience from her life and I was stopped in my tracks. I had no idea what she had been through. And as I said, it takes time, lots of time, to get to know someone well. Time and opportunity to share stories and form bonds are needed. I am always surprised by peoples’ stories. When I hear them, I realize that I have no idea what individual people are carrying around with them on a daily basis. (this lady is a courageous hero, but she doesn’t wear a sign, so you would never know unless you looked deeper than her cover)

In today’s cyberspace, zoom meeting, virtual everything existence, we are more isolated and divided than before COVID. Without the opportunity for face to face encounters and in person community gatherings and family gatherings etc. there will be little chance to share personal stories and bridge the gaps created by destructive theories such as CRT. Theory does not have to become reality in our daily lives. We have a choice. Romans 12:15 tells me to,

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Live life in community with other people. Tear down walls, categories and labels that would divide us from each other. Galatians 3:28 says,

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11)

God is a God of unity, not of division. I love the words of 1 Corinthians 13:12 which say,

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

face to face and fully known! – to know others for who they truly are and to be known for who I truly am – not misunderstood or overlooked – no more divisions – this is the desire of every heart! – this is the desire of my heart.

I am always wishing to hear more of peoples’ stories – so many stories to be shared – and there will be time to listen to each and every story, from each and every person, with time left over to hear them all again – after all, eternity will not run out . . .

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. battling the bully #150

I confess – I like watching old TV sitcoms. One such show I sometimes watch is “The Andy Griffith Show,” still in the original black and white. Interestingly enough, the problem or issue which arises in each episode seems to have a very obvious, clear-cut, right vs. wrong solution. I guess those were simpler times? One of my favorite episodes is one in which Opie encounters a particular classmate everyday on his way to school. The problem is that this classmate demands Opie’s milk money before he will let Opie continue on to school. I think it was a nickel a day, which is an indication of just how old this show is. Prices have gone up since then for sure.

Nevertheless, some things never change but remain constant down through time and generations. The existence of bullies would be one of those constants. Bullies are not something new to our current time. People in every era of history have faced opposition in the form of bullies. And like Opie in this episode, we each have to decide how to deal with the bullies in our life.

Opie’s story is a familiar one for any of us who have bullies in our pasts. (or in our present for that matter) For a while, Opie hands over his nickel each day rather than risk confrontation with the bully, who Opie sees as bigger and stronger than himself. Opie would rather play it safe than take any risk. Fear keeps him compliant. Fear keeps him silent. Opie doesn’t tell anyone that the bully is taking his milk money every morning.

The situation continues until Opie has the courage to stand up to the bully and refuse to hand over his milk money. Opie does end up with a black eye but the bully never bothers him again. That’s because bullies are cowards by definition. However, this truth is not revealed until someone has the courage to stand up and call the bully’s bluff. Then the bully no longer has the power to control another person with the weapons of fear and intimidation.

Some three-thousand years ago, there was another young boy, who just like Opie, came face to face with a bully. (told you bullies have been around for a long time) His name was David. He was tending his fathers’s sheep at the time, while three of his older brothers were serving in King Saul’s army. The Israelites were currently at war with the Philistines and the conflict had gone on for some time. We read this account of David’s battle with his bully in 1 Samuel, chapter 17. First we learn that,

“The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. A champion named Goliath, . . . came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels, . . . His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels.”

Ok, so you get the point. Goliath was a bad dude. He looked the part and by his behavior he played the part of the bully as well. Listen to how he would taunt the Israelite army,

“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, . . . ‘This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.’ On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. . . . For forty days the Philistine (Goliath, the bully) came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.”

Now David’s father, Jesse, sent David with food supplies to be delivered to Saul and the Israelite army. “He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. . . . Goliath, . . . stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. When the Israelites saw the man, (Goliath) they all ran from him in great fear.”

So you get the picture. The Israelite soldiers, including David’s brothers, are all terrified of this guy, Goliath. (it says they all ran from him in great fear) At this point in the story, Goliath has been taunting, teasing and intimidating Saul’s soldiers for forty days and forty nights. And still, no soldier has stepped forward to accept Goliath’s challenge. No one has yet stood up to this bully.

Enter David into the story. “David said to Saul, ‘Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.’ Saul replied, ‘You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.’ ”

So David receives no support nor vote of confidence from his own countrymen. After all, it appears to be an impossible situation – a mere boy, wearing no armor, with only stones and a slingshot facing a nine foot tall, trained fighting man in full armor – this would seem to be a hopeless scenario. But still, David goes out to fight Goliath anyway. David steps forward to do the impossible. David stands up to the bully when no one else would. We read what happens next in this confrontation between David and Goliath,

“He (Goliath) looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, . . . and he despised him. . . . ‘Come here,’ he said, ‘and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!’ David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, . . . and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.’ ”

What happens next is perhaps the better known part of this story. David fells the great Goliath with a stone and a sling shot.

“So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. . . . When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron.”

Interesting, isn’t it? Once David defeated the bully, the men of Israel suddenly became brave. We are told that they “surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines.” These were the same people who had been paralyzed with fear for the previous forty days and forty nights. What changed? Someone stood up and spoke out. All it takes is for one person of courage to stand up to the bully and others will then draw courage from their example and follow suit.

But it is rare to find the person who will be the first. It is much easier to follow than to lead where no one has yet gone. That day on the battlefield, David was that rare person of courage. And God used David to secure the victory for His chosen nation, Israel.

David acknowledged that “the battle was the Lord’s.” The Israelites needed to be willing to defend at any cost their nation, a nation God had set apart for Himself and prospered. They needed to fight against the attacks of the pagan nations surrounding them. If they did not stand up to those who were attempting to invade their beloved country, they would be overrun and subsequently enslaved to whichever nation conquered them. That was the custom at that time. The vanquished became the slaves of the victors.

But fortunately for Israel, David, like Opie, stood up to the bully. All that is needed to turn the tide, is one person of courage willing to stand up and to speak out, willing to risk it all for something greater than themselves. Not much is worth taking the ultimate risk, that is true.

But David knew that being free to worship and to serve the Living God of Israel was worth the price he might have to pay. He did not want to end up enslaved to the Philistines, should they succeed in their conquest of Israel. He wanted to live as a free man in the land God had given to Abraham, his forefather, on oath all those years ago. And so, for freedom’s sake, for God’s sake, David risked it all and stood up to his bully, Goliath.

Where did David find the courage to stand up and to take action? Perhaps he was remembering Moses’s words to Joshua from another time that called for courage, when Moses said,

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. . . . Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:6-8)

Perhaps David found his courage in these words, in the promise of God’s presence with him, providing God’s protection and God’s power for the task to which God had called David. I, too am called to be strong and courageous, I, too am promised that God will never leave me nor forsake me, I, too am assured that God goes before me. God’s presence ensures the power necessary to accomplish His purposes. The power is His, the purposes are His. As David said, the battle is the Lord’s.

Perhaps there is a time in everyone’s life, in everyone’s story, that calls for courage. Perhaps there are times in the life of a country that call for courage. Perhaps there are times in the history of the world that call for people of courage to speak up or forever hold their peace.

We have God’s promise. We don’t have to be afraid because He has promised us His presence. And His further assurance,

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. in the flesh #149

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Our Creator knew. He knew it all along. God knew the vital importance of the in the flesh, of the face to face. And so, as John’s words tell us, God sent us His Son, Jesus. He didn’t phone it in, so to speak. He came here in the flesh. He made it personal.

Why? Because it is personal. Because He is a personal God. He knows the way that I take and every hair on my head. That’s personal.

“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew:10:30-31)

He knows my words before I speak them. That’s personal.

“Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord.” (Psalm 139:4)

He knows all my inmost thoughts. That’s personal.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)

He sees, collects and saves each and every one of my tears. That’s personal.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

He knows the number of my days. That’s personal.

“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

He saw me and knew me in my mother’s womb. That’s personal.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . . My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

He gave up His life on that cross so that I might have life and not death. That’s as personal as you can get.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17)

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (in the flesh) And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

We are created in God’s image. Consequently, we are personal beings. In the flesh is how God made us. In the flesh is the world in which we live. In the flesh is the medium in which we operate. And so God sent us His Son, Jesus, in the flesh, to walk among us for awhile, to walk a mile in our shoes, so to speak. This explains what we read in Hebrews 4:14-16 about Jesus, which says,

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

I must confess – lately, I feel like all the time is my time of need. I also think that may be true for most of us as we continue dealing with COVID fears, restrictions and realities, while isolated and unable to participate in many of the activities that used to bring us together and bring us joy. We cannot come together in the flesh like we used to for – well, for most everything. We used to work, to worship, to workout, to watch sports or other entertainment, to celebrate birthdays, bar mitzvahs, quinceaneras, weddings, graduations, births, deaths – anything and everything was experienced in community – in the flesh.

Chat rooms, zoom meetings, Facebook etc. can’t supply that in the flesh experience and so we are never fully satisfied with those interactions, even if we can’t identify why our cyberspace encounters leave us vaguely unfulfilled and even lonely. What is missing? The personal touch? That’s why Jesus came in the flesh. Because for Him, it’s personal.

“Surely He took up our (my) infirmities and carried our (my) sorrows, yet we (I) considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our (my) transgressions, He was crushed for our (my) iniquities; the punishment that brought us (me) peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we (I) are (am) healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

Jesus takes on my pain and shares in my sorrows. Jesus paid my sin price in His flesh. That’s as personal as it can get. He came here in the flesh to do for me, what I cannot do for myself. I need a Savior and Jesus has shown up for me in the flesh. The Creator of the universe is a most personal God. He has demonstrated this to us by showing up in person, in the flesh, to redeem us for His own.

God knew the power of the “in person” experience. That’s why Jesus walked among us for thirty-three years. And now He is at the right hand of the Father pleading our case continually.

” . . . Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

There’s more. Jesus’s “in person” presence with us continues to this day. In John 14:18-20 Jesus tells His disciples this,

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.”

Jesus further explained to His disciples,

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. . . . you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

With me and in me, that is up close and personal. God’s Holy Spirit is just that, His personal presence abiding within me. Because my Heavenly Father is a deeply personal God. He desires a relationship with each one of His children. To that end, He came in the flesh and He abides today personally within anyone who will invite Him in.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Sharing a meal together. That’s personal. So is His care for me and for you, dear readers. We can rest secure in the knowledge that,

“The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:7-8)

sincerely, Grace Day