When No One’s Watching

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The other day, I drove through the neighborhood as the elementary school dismissed. I chuckled when I noticed one particular boy. Once he was out of sight of the police officer directing traffic, he removed his bicycle helmet and hung it from the bike’s handlebars.

However, after he turned onto my street, things changed. He placed the helmet on his head. A few houses later, he pulled to the curb and tightened the straps under his chin.

When he believed no one was watching, he acted one way. When he knew there was the possibility his parents might see him, he acted another. Obedience had nothing to do with it. Doing the right thing had nothing to do with it. Getting caught had everything to do with it.

While I found the incident rather humorous, it led me to wonder. How often do I, do we, behave one way when we believe no one’s watching, and behave another way when we believe they are? Not really out of obedience to God or out of love for him, but out of the fear of being reprimanded for not wearing our helmets?

We don’t need to look further than the third chapter of Genesis to see this played out in the lives of Adam and Eve. After they were deceived by the serpent, they tried to hide from God. Things did not work out as they thought they would.

When the LORD told Abraham he and Sarah would have a son in a year’s time in Genesis 18, Sarah laughed. She thought God wouldn’t hear. Guess what? God heard.

Before we leave the book of Genesis, there’s the story in Genesis 37 of Joseph and his ten older brothers. Out of jealousy, and believing no one would find out, they threw Joseph into a dry cistern. They planned on leaving him there and concocted a wild story to tell their father Jacob about how Joseph died. But then some Ishmaelite merchants traveling to Egypt arrived. The older brothers sold their younger know-it-all brother into slavery. The going price? Twenty shekels of silver. They didn’t think anyone would find out. Boy were they wrong. What they planned for evil when no one was watching, God planned for good.

The Bible is filled with stories like these where people thought they could do whatever they wanted when they believed no one was watching. The Israelites and that golden calf of theirs recorded in Exodus 32. Jonah and the large fish he found himself taking up residence in recorded in the book of Jonah. Ananias and Sapphira and their land deal recorded in Acts 5 shortly after the New Testament Church began.

Regardless of the situation or reason, when we act as if no one’s watching and do wrong, we forget a very important fact. We can’t fool God. God sees. God hears. God knows. We show our love for God through our obedience, whether anyone sees us or not.

Instead of removing our helmet when we think no one’s watching and then putting it on when we think they are, what say we act like God’s watching? Because, you know, he really is. Not as someone looking to punish, but as someone who loves us too much to allow us to harm ourselves through disobedience.

Which story in the Bible about someone doing something when they think no one’s watching is your favorite?

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Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and my Father and I will come to them and live with them. Those who do not love me do not obey my teaching. And the teaching you have heard is not mine, but comes from the Father, who sent me.” John 14:23-24 (GNT)

You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Who Will Call Him King of Kings?

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Easter is over for one more year. Now what? Has anything in our lives changed since Sunday in how we respond to that most glorious news; He is Risen! He is Risen indeed? Or are we living pretty much unchanged? Like the disciples we are called to let the whole world know Jesus is the resurrected King of kings and Lord of lords. So how are we doing with that?

Jesus told the disciples to meet him in Galilee after his resurrection. The disciples did just as Jesus told them. There they worshiped him. At this time, before he ascended back to his throne at the Father’s right in heaven, Jesus commissioned the disciples to go into all the world, ALL the world, and make disciples in all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all the commands Jesus gave them. (Matthew 28:16-20) The disciples went everywhere preaching, and the Lord was with them and confirmed what they said by the miracles that followed their messages. (Mark 16:20)

As Christ-followers we are called to spread the Good News of a Risen Savior who loved us so much he willingly took our sin stain on himself, paid the debt we owed but could never pay, all so none would perish, and could live with him forever. This great commission is not just for the season surrounding Resurrection Sunday, but for every day of our life. Amen?

Who will call him king of Kings?

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 It was not long afterwards that he rose into the sky and disappeared into a cloud, leaving them staring after him. As they were straining their eyes for another glimpse, suddenly two white-robed men were standing there among them, and said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has gone away to heaven, and some day, just as he went, he will return!” Acts 1:9-11 (TLB)
 
You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well,

Sandy

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Christ is Risen

 

 

Christ Is Risen

by Frances Gregory Pasch

Let’s look beyond the Easter scene
Of colored eggs and jelly beans.
Let’s set our eyes upon the Lord
And feast instead upon His Word.

Let’s not forget that we’d be lost
Had Jesus not died on the cross.
He nailed our sins upon the tree
And rose again so we’d be free.

So let’s sing out in jubilation!
Christ, alone, is our salvation.
Lord and Savior…Counselor, King,
Great Provider…Our Everything.

Frances Gregory Pasch’s devotions and poems have been published hundreds of times in devotional booklets, magazines, and Sunday school papers since 1985. Her writing has also appeared in several dozen compilations. Frances’ latest book, Greater Than Gold is available on Amazon. Her first book, Double Vision: Seeing God in Everyday Life Through Devotions and Poetry, which was published when she was eighty years old, is also available on Amazon. Frances has been leading a women’s Christian writers group since 1991 and makes her own holiday greeting cards incorporating her poetry. She and her husband, Jim, have been married since 1958. They have five sons and nine grandchildren. Contact her at http://www.francesgregorypasch.com.

Very early that Sunday morning, the women made their way to the tomb, carrying the spices they had prepared.  Arriving at the tomb they discovered that the huge stone covering the entrance had been rolled aside,  so they went in to look. But the tomb was empty. The body of Jesus was gone!

 They stood there, stunned and perplexed. Suddenly two men in dazzling white robes shining like lightning appeared above them. Terrified, the women fell to the ground on their faces.

The men in white said to them, “Why would you look for the living On in a tomb? He is not here, for he has risen! Have you forgotten what he said to you while he was still in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man is destined to be handed over to sinful men to be nailed to a cross, and on the third day he will rise again’?”

 All at once they remembered his words. Luke 24:1-8 (TPT)

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Jesus Died So We Wouldn’t Have To

The movie depicted the life of Jesus. The title was King of Kings. Jeffrey Hunter portrayed Christ. Harry Guardino portrayed Barabbas. The scene in the movie where the people cried for the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus is seared forever into my memory. It didn’t matter how fine an actor Guardino was in later movies, I never particularly cared for him because of how good a job he did presenting Barabbas.

During Christ’s interrogation before Pilate, Pilate had a choice. Release an innocent man, Jesus, in exchange for a convicted criminal, Barabbas. Or cave to the demands of the religious leaders and crucify Christ instead of Barabbas. Pilate gave in to the people. 

Pilate had the power and authority to make the decision to release Jesus, but he decided to grant the demands of the shouting crowds. As a result, an innocent man died in the place of a criminal.

We might look at the scripture that recounts these details and think, “That isn’t fair. Barabbas broke the law. Everyone knew it. He deserved to die. Jesus was innocent. Sinless. He did nothing worthy of the punishment he received.”

That’s the way my brain reasoned as a second grader when I listened to the crowds in the movie chant for Barabbas to be released. Tears ran down my face because Pilate didn’t make the right choice. I wanted to tell Pilate, no! You have to release Jesus. You just have to! Don’t release Barabbas. I wanted Jesus to live. I wanted Barabbas to be punished.

But you know what? It could just as easily have been my name that was called out to be released. Or your name. Because, really, isn’t that what happened? You and I have broken God’s law. We know it. Jesus knows it. We deserve to die. We deserve to be punished.

Instead, an innocent man, Jesus, died in the place of a criminal, put your name here.

Jesus took our sins upon his perfect, sinless self. He paid the penalty for the debt we owed but could never pay.

We are the prisoners, the law-breakers, who should die. Instead, we are shown God’s great mercy.

Don’t you want to thank him for that great gift by living a life worthy of being called a Child of God?

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Then Pilate summoned the chief priests, the officials and the people and addressed them in these words. “You have brought this man to me as a mischief-maker among the people, and I want you to realise that, after examining him in your presence, I have found nothing criminal about him, in spite of all your accusations. And neither has Herod, for he has sent him back to us. Obviously, then, he has done nothing to deserve the death penalty. I propose, therefore, to teach him a sharp lesson and let him go.”

But they all yelled as one man, “Take this man away! We want Barabbas set free!” (Barabbas was a man who had been put in prison for causing a riot in the city and for murder.) But Pilate wanted to set Jesus free and he called out to them again, but they shouted back at him, “Crucify, crucify him!”

Then he spoke to them, for a third time, “What is his crime, then? I have found nothing in him that deserves execution; I am going to teach him a lesson and let him go.”

But they shouted him down, yelling their demand that he should be crucified.

Their shouting won the day, and Pilate pronounced the official decision that their request should be granted. He released the man for whom they asked, the man who had been imprisoned for rioting and murder, and surrendered Jesus to their demands. Luke 23:13-25 (Phillips)

You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Red As Scarlet

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

Red dye stains on my favorite light blue blouse. I couldn’t believe it. All because I hung a red blouse to dry next to the blue blouse, and they pressed against each other.

I scrubbed, and scrubbed, and scrubbed. I tried various stain removal products. Nothing helped. The stains would not budge.

While I worked on this dilemma, it dawned on me. Isn’t that the way it is with the sin in our lives? We don’t have to be wrapped in it, smeared by it, or even dunked into it to have sin stain us. No amount of washing, scrubbing, or product can remove it from us either. The stain is permanently inked on our heart.

Although I ended up getting rid of my blue blouse because I couldn’t remove the stain, we need never wonder if God will get rid of us because of our sin stain. He tells us when we give our lives to him, he will remove all our sins through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.

Because of Jesus’ blood, though our sins are red as scarlet, they will be made whiter than snow and remembered no more. Thank you, Jesus.

Like me, do you have scarlet stains of sin that need removed? Tell Jesus. Nothing but his blood will do the job.

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Come, let’s talk this over, says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool! Isaiah 1:18 (TLB)

You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Scarcity Mentality

“Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everyone else.” – Stephen Covey

I hadn’t thought much about the term scarcity mentality until I reread the account of the Israelites in the wilderness. It’s the second month of their journey since they left Egypt. They grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this assembly to death.” Exodus 16:2-3 (NIV).

Selective memory, it seems. Had they really forgotten they were slaves in Egypt?

So God told Moses he would rain down bread from heaven for the people in the morning and meat at twilight. But there were a couple rules first. Everyone was to gather only as much as they needed. An omer for each person in their tent. They were to go out each day and gather enough for that day. No one was to keep any of it until morning.

However, some of them paid no attention to Moses. Scarcity mentality. They kept part of it until morning. Imagine their surprise when they woke to find the food full of mold and maggots.

On the sixth day they were to gather twice as much food, because on the seventh day there would be no food on the ground. Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather and found none. 

Like the Israelites wandering in the desert, we too, can have a scarcity mentality at times. That’s when the what ifs start bombarding us. What if there isn’t enough manna and quail tomorrow? But the thing is this, it didn’t matter if the Israelites gathered a lot or a little, whatever they gathered was always sufficient.

Are there times you feel the pangs of a scarcity mentality? If so, how do you push beyond it in gratefulness for what God has provided?

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And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed. Exodus 16:18 (NIV)

You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Waiter Test

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In a devotion in Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions by Diane Eble, Diane says one way to reveal a person’s heart is to apply the waiter test.

Look at how a person treats a waiter. If a waiter spills water on him, how does he react? Does he kindly say, “It’s okay, the water will dry,” or does he make a big scene?

One of my first jobs was a waitress, so I am familiar with being on the receiving end of seeing a bit into people’s hearts through the waiter test. Who would think, however, that while Pilot and I celebrated a special dinner out, I would have an opportunity to experience the waiter test from the customer’s side of the table?

It was apparent the waitress was new and inexperienced even before she poured my glass of iced water, then knocked it over into my lap.

In startled surprise at just how very cold that full glass of water was as it hit my lap, I yelped something like “Oh! That’s cold!”

The people at the table next to us saw the whole thing. They continued to stare as the poor flustered girl tried to mop the water from my lap. I felt so badly for her. True she’s the one who spilled the water, but that doesn’t mean it was intentional.

Like suggested in the devotion, I honestly did tell the waitress, “It’s okay. Really. My dress will dry. It’s cotton. Don’t worry about it. But, I would like another napkin or two.” as I flapped the skirt of my dress back and forth in an attempt to dry it. Honestly, I have no idea why I mentioned the dress was cotton. Maybe to show water really wouldn’t hurt it?

I didn’t need to think twice about how to respond to the situation. It wasn’t like I acted one way because people at the next table were looking, and would act another if they weren’t. I’m just really glad what spilled wasn’t something hot.

Applying the waiter test is a good idea, but might I suggest we apply it to more people than only waiters? The way we treat each person matters.

How about a sales clerk test? Drive through order taker test? Receptionist test? Bus driver test? Co-worker test? Hotel maid test? Person on the cell phone not paying attention to where they are going test? Family member test?

What are your experiences with the waiter test?

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As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)

You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Spiritual Warfare

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Last month I mentioned an online workshop I attended given by Alli Worthington. Today I would like to share what I gained from LaToya Edwards on Spiritual Warfare from the same online conference.

  • Spiritual warfare is the battle between God’s Kingdom and earth.
  • The way we respond is by putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6).
  • During hard times you need to understand how Satan attacks so you know how to pray against his schemes.
  • Fear comes from a lack of knowledge.
  • Fear of Spiritual warfare is a trick of the enemy. If we’re afraid of him, we won’t walk out our calling.
  • The enemy is not to be feared for greater is HE who is in us.

Every child of God is a threat to the enemy. We have a bullseye on our backs. Because of that, Satan goes before God all day long accusing us. But thanks be to God for his immeasurable gift of his Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and King, we are covered under Christ’s blood. Satan is defeated.

I like the way LaToya put it. She said Jesus has disarmed the enemy. Don’t you love that? In my mind I see a ticking bomb or hand grenade whose wires are cut or pin is pulled. Those weapons of destruction are no longer a threat. Neither is Satan when we come under Christ’s saving blood.

LaToya continued

  • Satan is not God.
  • God is Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent. The enemy is none of these things.
  • God put limits on what Satan can do.
  • Satan doesn’t know everything.
  • He is cunning and crafty but not all powerful.
  • God never loses a fight. It’s not possible.

Near the end of her workshop, LaToya said when we arm ourselves with God’s Word of Truth we are dangerous to the enemy. We can counter his lies with what we know to be true. She suggests in addition to studying the Bible and prayer, writing down your “battle notes”, scriptures that speak of God’s power and truth of who he is, and who you are in him. Then on warfare days when we are under attack, pull out our cards and read through them. Put the enemy on notice we know of what he’s doing.

What have you found helpful to stand against the enemy’s attacks?

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For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. Romans 8:14-16 (NLT)

You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

Start Anew

My mother was an excellent seamstress. She made clothes without patterns and made alterations with ease. While I enjoy sewing, I follow patterns. And I do not enjoy ripping out seams to alter something. I’d rather start anew.

Sissy is an excellent crocheter. She too makes things without using patterns. Not me. When I crochet, I follow the pattern step by step. If I make a mistake, I pull the yarn out and correct it. Same goes for when I knit. If I make a mistake, although it’s more involved, it is still correctable.

While seamstresses, crocheters, and knitters might backtrack to correct a problem, if potters create something and it doesn’t look quite right, they don’t go any future. They squish the clay together, then they start anew.

I’ve never created anything with clay beyond fifth grade, so don’t have a lot of experience with it, but I sure did create tons of things with Play-doh. And I did not like it when someone mixed the colors together. (I’m looking at you, Butter.) To my way of thinking, each color needed to stay the color the lid said it was. Once I finished playing, though, I squished the Play-doh into a ball and placed it back into the can.

Just like clothes that need altered, dropped stitches that need fixed, and clay that needs squished, we mess up sometimes. We sin. We fall short of the goal Christ set before us.

That’s when the Master Potter, Crafter, Creator, rips out the seam that needs altered, pulls the yarn back to the spot before the dropped stitch, squishes the hardening lump of clay, and remolds us so we have the opportunity to be remade and reworked through the power of the cross.

When we receive Christ as our Savior and are cleansed through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are given the opportunity to start anew. Just like a fresh can of Play-doh where the colors haven’t been mixed together.

Do you enjoy reworking a craft, or do you prefer to start anew?

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 But the jar that he was forming didn’t turn out as he wished, so he kneaded it into a lump and started again. Jeremiah 18:4 (TLB)

You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Deep Freeze

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Here in my part of southeast Texas, last week was another historic weather event. Instead of our usual hurricane disasters, however, this disaster was Winter Storm Uri. Uri created the coldest temperatures the area has endured in over one hundred years, plunging us into a perilous deep freeze.

For those of you who kept Texas in your prayers during this time, thank you.

While other parts of the country experienced catastrophic conditions from this storm as well, these conditions are something our area isn’t used to dealing with over such a sustained period of time. 

Across the area wind chill temperatures fell below zero for multiple days. Temperatures hovered in the single digits some nights and stayed below freezing most of the week. Snow and ice-covered streets created hazardous driving conditions, shut down businesses, and cancelled COVID vaccine appointments.

People in our area had no power to provide heat and electricity for days. There was no water. Frozen water pipes burst inside and outside homes. The area was under a boil water notice. At present count, 30 in our city died. Some from hypothermia. Some from carbon monoxide poisoning as they sought refuge in their cars to keep warm.

Now, finding and purchasing food to replace what was lost during the power outages is a major concern for many.

Despite these bleak conditions, hope shone through as restaurant owners stepped up and provided free meals and water to those without. Businesses with power and water opened their doors so people could get warm. As one business owner said, when you see a need, you do what you can to fill it.

Pilot and I are extremely grateful we were only without power and water for a brief amount of time. As each day unfolded last week, with the uncertainty of what it might bring, what we knew for certain is God remains in control, nothing reaches us he didn’t plan or permit, and when it reaches us, he’s right here with us walking beside us each step of the way.

I’ve mentioned on this blog before how, as God’s people, none of us are immune from pain and suffering. I’ve mentioned how the Bible tells us the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. I’ve mentioned how when things beyond our control happen, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, not on the waves that crash around us, threatening to pull us under.

And as the business owner reminds us, when you see a need, you do what you can to fill it.

We don’t have to wait for a weather disaster to be God’s hands and feet. All we have to do is keep our eyes and ears open, and when we see a need, step up and do what we can to fill it.

In what ways have you been God’s hands and feet recently?

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Lord, remember my suffering and my misery, my sorrow and trouble. Please remember me and think about me. But I have hope when I think of this: The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning; Lord, your loyalty is great. I say to myself, “The Lord is mine, so I hope in him.” Lamentations 3:19-24 (NCV)

You can find my February Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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