Saturday, October 14, 2017

Going into battle hungry: A lesson

The Story:
Saul had never known such anxiety as he was feeling right now. Fresh in his mind were the events of his sin against God--how he had sacrificed the offering without the priest because of his impatience. More poignant in his mind was Samuel's pronunciation of doom on him. "You have done a foolish thing," he had said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, He would have established your kingdom of Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after His own heart and has appointed him ruler of His people, because you have not kept the LORD's command." Saul's regret was not over his sin, but over the fact that God would establish someone in his place. He vividly remembered the raids that the Philistines had brought against him and the Israelites in the time following his sinful action, until they had no swords left-only his son Jonathan and himself still carried a spear and swords. The fresh air under this pomegranate tree did nothing to encourage him, and his body guard of six-hundred men--including the priest's grandson--did little to give him a sense of security. He knew he was at the mercy of the Philistines. That was why he had commanded all of the Israelites to fast until he had avenged himself on his enemies. Perhaps if they fasted, God would have mercy and save him from his enemies.

Saul's heart lept in fear as footsteps pounded on the dusty path.
"The lookouts come, your majesty!" the surrounding men cried out to him. He could sense the uncertainty in their voices, too. The seconds that passed were long as he awaited the news. Was it good, or bad? He could only imagine the worst. The situation seemed so hopeless, yet he couldn't help but harbor some hope in his heart.

The lookouts came up, panting with excitement. The excitement translated into their voices as they told how the Philistines seemed to be in a panic, an unprecedented confusion so vast that it shook the ground. Their only explanation was perhaps some of the Israelite soldiers had secretly led an attack. "Muster the forces and see who has left us," they cried.
Saul sent a messenger at top speed to rally the troops. It wasn't long before they were gathered and accounted for. Jonathan! Jonathan was the one missing--and so was his armor-bearer!
Saul turned to Ahijah, the grandson of Eli the high priest.
"Bring the ark of God," he ordered. He would not be going into battle without it. But even as he was talking, the confusion of the Philistine camp became greater. "Withdraw your hand," he said instead. It was too great an opportunity. Then he assembled the troops who already showed hope and excitement, and ordered them to advance on the Philistines.

As they charged upon their adversaries they found the Philistines fighting each other in their utter confusion. It was too good to be true! As time went on, Israelites who had deserted the army began to appear and join their brothers in the battle, making their force greater. They pursued the Philistines who fled before them, exhilaration pulsing through the veins of every man as he wielded his weapon in defense of his wives and children. They steadily gained ground and began to enter the woods in their pursuit. The day was half gone by the time they traversed those woods, and the stomachs of the men were feeling their oath to Saul. Jonathan, Saul's son was in the heat of the battle. His excursion with his armor bearer this morning had used some of his energy and he began to feel the effects. Suddenly a man ahead of him stumbled. The man quickly picked himself up and looked back to see what had caused him to fall. A beehive! A large, fallen beehive! The hunger that tore at that man's stomach was almost unbearable. The honey that oozed from the comb nearly melted his tastebuds and other soldiers began to pause and look hungrily at that golden sweetness. They would have immediately pounced on it, but for the fact that they could hear fresh in their minds the oath they had taken to not eat anything until sundown. They knew the consequences of breaking an oath.  Jonathan ran up and paused to see what interested them. He saw the beehive and cried out in joy as he quickly approached it. Sticking the end of his staff hungrily into the comb, he brought it to his mouth and ate. The honey satisfied and refreshed him immediately--he could feel his energy returning with haste. As he ate, however, the men cried out in fear.
"No, Jonathan!" they cried. "Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, 'Cursed be anyone who eats food today!' That is why the men are faint."

Indignation filled Jonathan's heart. He had been away when his father had ordered the men to take the oath, and had not known about it. "My father has made trouble for the country," he said. "See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?"

But men from other sections of the army were passing them in hot pursuit of enemy men, and they joined in again. Jonathan was much revived and ran and wielded his sword and spear with greater energy and efficiency than before, but the lack of food was telling on his fellow soldiers. After they had pursued the Philistines from Mikmash to Ahijalon, the men were exhausted. They fell upon the Philistine camp and slaughtered animals right there, eating raw meat because of their ravenous hunger.

Someone came up to Saul. "Look, the men are sinning against the LORD by eating meat that has blood in it!" the man said.

Remembering his former sin that had cost him dearly, Saul would not take the risk of angering the LORD God again. Perhaps he could even appease God now.
"You have broken faith," he said to the man who had spoken. "Roll a large stone over here at once." The stone was rolled to him, and then he said, "Go out among the men and tell them, 'Each of you bring me your cattle and sheep, and slaughter them here and eat them. Do not sin against the LORD by eating meat with blood still in it.'"

So everyone brought their ox that night and slaughtered it there. Then Saul built an altar to the LORD; it was the first time he had done this.


So. In this true story, Saul, king of Israel had commanded his Israelite men not to eat until sundown, because he wanted victory over his enemies. I don't know for sure if he was asking his men to fast before God so that God would perhaps have mercy on him, or if Saul wanted them to fast to show dedication and loyalty. Either way, they took an oath that they would not eat until sundown. First of all, is this a very good idea? If Saul wants victory over his enemies, is it a positive thing to not eat anything before the intense exercise that will ensue? As we see, this is NOT a good idea! Jonathan, who had not been there when his father made the men swear, regained his energy because he ate, and had more success than his fellow soldiers.

The Sin:
This was a wrong thing for Saul to do, for three reasons. First, he was making the men suffer for his sin. It was his sin in the first place, his sin of sacrificing the offering without priest Samuel merely because he was impatient and thought he could do it (guys, God is holy. Only the consecrated priests were supposed to sacrifice the offerings on behalf of the people), that had caused God to remove His blessing from Saul--which included in a large part, God's blessing over battles. When God's blessing was over an Israelite battle, I don't think there is one instance where they weren't successful. By making the men fast, Saul was either trying to win back God's approval, or secure his success by enforcing loyalty and dedication.
The second reason, is that the Philistines weren't just Saul's enemies. They were God's enemies, too, because of their sin. By making the Israelite soldiers fast, Saul's men weren't able to destroy the enemies of, not only their king, but God, as fully as they should have. You saw it in Jonathan's words, "How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?"
The third reason Saul was wrong to make the men go without food, was that he caused them to sin before God. God had commanded them not to eat meat with the blood still in it--we can find this in His covenant with Noah, in Genesis 9:4, as well as in Deuteronomy 12:16.  Yet the Israelite soldiers, because of the oath Saul had commanded them to take, were ravenous with hunger to the end that they sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel, by killing Philistine livestock and eating the meat with the blood still in it.

The Lesson:
What can we learn from this historical event? Let's apply the story to our own lives. We ALL have battles, don't we? For Christians it may be the battle against our flesh, or it may be the battle of a trial, physical or spiritual. We see in this story that the men who went into battle hungry, didn't have nearly so much success as they could have. Their energy failed them, they weren't fit to fight, they weren't prepared to fight their battle with the greatest level of success.  You know where I'm going with this, don't you? Do you, as a Christian, ever go into a battle hungry? Do you ever encounter spiritual conflict, when your spiritual belly is empty? When your plate of spiritual meat and potatoes still sits untouched on your bookshelf? Yes! I have. When you go through that battle, do you find it a struggle to keep your head above water? It's kind of difficult to be eating in preparation for the battle, while you are fighting the battle, no? Don't you always realize that you really should be 'doing your homework' before the test? You would be so much more ready and equipped to fight this battle, right? 

So, here is our lesson for today: Don't go into battle hungry. Be eating the spiritual food of God's word before the battle He takes you through, so that you will be prepared, and be equipped to wield your sword with energy and success. That doesn't mean you don't eat during your battle. You can see how Jonathan stopped to eat honey in the middle of the battle and it reenergized him for the rest of it. We don't eat and eat and eat, and then stop for a few weeks at a time, and then do it again. We eat, and we need to eat, consistently in order to, not only get strength, but keep up our strength. So please, let us not starve ourselves until we find it too late, and we are in the midst of a battle on an empty stomach. Let us together, feed ourselves consistently on God's word and prayer, so that we might have greater success for His glory in our battles!

Congratulations if you made it all the way through this post! Do you have any thoughts on this subject? Did you like the semi-retelling of 1 Samuel 14? Let me know in the comments below <3

I hope you have a great week!
Jewels <3

*The story section of this post is a re-telling, or dramatization, of the Biblical event found in 1 Samuel 14. As a human author, I am subject to error, although God's word is inerrant.*

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Secret Slipper Author Interview!

Howdy there, folks!

Today I have here, Miss Amanda Tero, author of the newly released book, The Secret Slipper. This book just released on Thursday, the 25th, but I've had the wonderful opportunity to advance read it. It is Ms. Tero's best work yet, in my opinion!  I can tell that she has improved in her writing, and I am SO amazed at how God gave her the plot line of The Secret Slipper! Like whaaat.....?? How did she think of that?? I guess it had to be God's ultimate, genius, wisdom :D  I am so close to being done with the book--it's taken me longer because of business and a big art project, but once I'm done, be looking for my review of it on Amazon :D

Well, would you like me to get on to the interview now? Okay, okay! Here you are:

What was your favorite part about writing The Secret Slipper? 
My favorite part was probably the initial first-draft writing process. It is always exciting to watch the ideas form!
Oh, yes, for sure!

Which part was the most difficult? 
That would be the rewrites. ;) Particularly Raoul’s story. For some reason, I just couldn’t figure out how to make his story interesting. Thanks to some of my first readers and friends who helped me brainstorm. A lot.
Uh-huh. I haven't got to that stage in any of my works yet, but I can imagine that would be tough. You did a great job with his story! 

Which character was your favorite to write about and why? 
I really liked a lot of my character cast in “The Secret Slipper.” Jolin is probably my most favorite, but then Dumphey and Zuzene and Lia and Raoul…oh and Noel. I even liked Bioti. They were all fun to write because they were all different.

Are any of the characters modeled after you or people you know, in some way? 
Not directly, for this novella. I feel like most of my characters are some way indirectly influenced by the people that I know.
Same with me :D

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book? 
There are a few main lessons in this book: completely trust in God no matter what situation and what’s at stake, and realizing that God has created us in His wisdom and has a purpose for the things He allows in our lives. 

What is the best piece of writing advice that you have received as an author?
Every great book was once an awful first draft.
YES! I have learned not to edit before a book or piece of writing is finished, or else I'll get frustrated and put it down. I guess that's pretty much the essence of your advice, no?

What inspired you to write The Secret Slipper?
I had finished  "Befriending the Beast" (a spin-off of Beauty and the Beast) as a stand-alone when an author friend asked, "Hey, have you ever considered a father/daughter Cinderella story?" And that is exactly where the inspiration started. I prayed about it, and the Lord supplied the full story.

Thank you so much, Amanda! It was fun to read your answers :)

And now, folks, for the fun stuff. Ms. Tero is offering a Giveaway of both Befriending the Beast, book one of Tales of Faith (but not at all necessary reading in order to understand The Secret Slipper; Befriending the Beast just ties in a very slight bit), and The Secret Slipper!

Be sure to check that out.  And 1 paper set-ooh, fabulous! :D I have really enjoyed The Secret Slipper and I hope you will too, once you get and read it--of course you will get and read it, won't you? ;)

Oh, perhaps you would like to know a bit about the book, too, eh? 

About the Book
Being a cripple is only the beginning of Lia’s troubles. It seems as if Bioti’s goal in life is to make Lia as miserable as possible. If Lia’s purpose is to be a slave, then why did God make her a cripple? How can He make something beautiful out of her deformity?

Raoul never questioned the death of his daughter until someone reports her whereabouts. If Ellia is still alive, how has she survived these ten years with her deformity? When Raoul doesn’t know who to trust, can he trust God to keep Ellia safe when evidence reveals Bioti’s dangerous character?

As time brings more hindrances, will Raoul find Ellia, or will she forever be lost to the father she doesn't even know is searching for her?

And you can buy it here: 
Purchase Link

Or you can:                                        Get “Befriending the Beast”

                                                                   About the Author
Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again – starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Connect with Amanda

Excited yet? Well, I'll let you get on to the rest of the blogs and checking out the book for yerself :) (yes, I know I said yerself)  Let me just finish with a quote--or two:

Okay, now you can go.  After you see who else is blogging about The Secret Slipper this week.

May 25, 2017
Amanda @ With a Joyful Noise | Release Day, Giveaway
Leila @ Leila Tualla's Bookshelf | Spotlight
Faith @ Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections | Review, Giveaway
Leona @ Great Books for God's Girls | Review, Interview

May 26
Emily @ Zerina Blossom’s Books | Interview
Kendra @ Knitted By God's Plan (Spotlight) and O'Scarlett Reviews (Review) | Spotlight, Review
Alicia @ A Brighter Destiny | Review, Giveaway

May 27
Anika @ This Journey Called Life | Spotlight, Review, Giveaway
Katie @ His Princess Warrior | Review, Giveaway
Sarah @ The Destiny of One | Spotlight
Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen | Spotlight, Interview, Giveaway

May 29
Kate @ Once Upon an Ordinary | Review, Interview
Sarah @ Penumbra Reviews | Review
Dary @ Peculiar Miss Darcy | Character Interview
Julia @ My Joyful Journey with Jesus | Interview

May 30
Kenzi @ Honey Rock Hills | Review, Giveaway
Anita @ Christian Author: A.M. Heath  | Review
Judith @ JudithWNicholson  | Interview

May 31
Jesseca @ Whimsical Writings for His glory  | Spotlight, Review
Raechel @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae  | Spotlight, Review
Esther @ Purposeful Learning | Review, Interview, Giveaway

June 1
Kellyn @ Reveries Reviews  | Review
Victoria @ Victoria Minks Blog  | Spotlight, Review
Kelsey @ Kelsey’s Notebook | Spotlight

June 2
Hanne @ RockandMinerals4Him | Spotlight, Review, Giveaway
Erica @ Roxbury Books Blog | Spotlight
Janell @ Views from the Window Friend  | Review
Crystal @ Crystal’s Adventures for Christ  | Spotlight, Review, Interview

June 3
Alexa @ Verbosity Reviews  | Spotlight
Faith @ Chosen Vessels  | Review
Melissa @ Clothed with Scarlet | Review, Interview, Giveaway

And as a last note, thank you to all those soldiers who have given their lives so that we might have the comfort of freedom and protection. Thank you to all of the families of those who have died fighting, for their willingness to let their family members serve and give their lives for our freedom. Most of all, thank You, JESUS, for sacrificing Your life to free us from the bondage of sin and buy us into Your family to live forever with You, and thank You for reversing the normal cycle--life and then death--You died and then lived!! And now we can have the hope of living in Your presence and glory after we die (unless you take us sooner :D)! 

"If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living." ~Romans 14:8-9 (emphasis added)

And now you can go. Really. 
I hope you have a glorious week! 
Jewels <3

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Works of Darkness part 2

In continuation with my last post:

Another work of darkness is same-sex marriage.   I know some disagree, but to me, it is very obvious and clear in the Bible that God disapproves of this. 
There is the example of Sodom and Gomorrah. The sin of the inhabitants of these two cities was extremely great and offensive to God--and that sin included same-sex marriage.   In fact, gay-marriage is the only sin I found in the recorded story that is distinctly spoken of about the cities, though I am 99.9% sure that their sin included many other things. God destroyed the cities and their inhabitants and the entire plain around them, including the vegetation, by 'raining down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens', so that when Abraham looked out the next morning he saw 'dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace',  as the NIV says. 

Now here's a passage from Romans 1 that is a really tough one if you know people who live in this pattern of sin:  
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Now, I know this is a long passage, but I have posted the whole part so that you can better understand it and get the context. Isn't that a tough passage? Yet it makes it clear, to me anyway, that same-sex marriage is not a result of godliness, but rather a result of sinfulness, God giving them over to their own sinful desires, and is abominable to God, deserving of death. This is a work of darkness, yet it is becoming more and more accepted and even encouraged.  

Here is another verse in the first chapter of 1 Timothy that I came across a few days ago: "We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me." 
Again, homosexuality is spoken of in the context of 'sinful, unholy, irreligious, lawbreaking, ungodly, rebels'. 

Guys, people who fall into this sin are in a dangerous place. They are deserving of death--just like you and I were! For the wages of sin is death, says Romans 6:23.   But, you know what, they are not too far gone, either, just like you and I. ...But the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Of course you will remember Paul's testimony. Paul was an avid hater and persecutor of God's followers. He was at the stoning of Stephen, in Acts 7. When Paul was on the road to Damascus, it was with the purpose of finding Christians, taking them and throwing them in prison. But on the way, he was stopped. Here is the passage from Acts 9: Meanwhile, Saul [Paul's other name--Acts 13:9] was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

So Saul was a pretty bad guy. God makes it clear that when Saul, or Paul as he is commonly called, persecutes the followers of God, he is actually persecuting God Himself--a pretty serious offense, and Saul's persecution of the church wasn't light, either.  Yet God in His mercy, chose to shine His light into Paul's dark heart, and save and change him.
There are countless testimonies throughout the Bible of wicked, wicked people who received God's merciful and gracious gift  of forgiveness--only obtained through Him, and were changed. Rahab the harlot, for example. Nothing is too hard for God, even though it may seem at times like the wall we've hit is too tall or someone has gone too far. "Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, 'Thus you have spoken, saying, "Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?"'  "Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?' " This is what is said in Ezekiel 33:10-11 God created the world and everything in it, and the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes, says Proverbs 21:1.   

My point is, if you know someone who has chosen the sinful pattern of same-sex marriage, know that they are in a dangerous place before God, pray with me for them, and believe that they are not too far gone for God to save and change them.  

I have posted about these two topics because they are heavy and they are assuredly works of darkness as far as I can tell from what the Bible says. This is a way that I can expose works of darkness. How can you?  Do you have any thoughts about this? 

May the Lord bless you as you go about your week.
Jewels <3

Works of darkness

Howdy folks!

My mom and I have been going through a devotional called Behold Your God. It is really good. Week seven discussed worship--acceptable worship versus unacceptable worship.
One of the days, we read Ephesians 5:8-12, 15-16, and were asked to summarize what God says about how the Christian is supposed to live a Godward life in the culture around him.   Here is what the verses say: 

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret...See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil."

Here is something that hit me as I was reading this passage and thinking about the question:  The verse says that we, as Christians living in our culture, need to walk as children of the light (the Light being God--1 John 1:5),  finding out, or proving as KJV says, what is acceptable to the Lord.  The way I take this is living as children of the light and setting the example of what is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord.   But then here's the contrast: We are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 

In summary, we are to live a life that shows what is acceptable to the Lord, and also exposes what is unacceptable to Him.

I was thinking about this. It's tough to expose works of darkness. Does that mean that we are to point out everyone's faults?  No. Because we all have faults and we can't expect anyone to be perfect. Of course, if a brother or sister in Christ is walking in sin, it might be out duty to confront them, bring their pattern of sin to their attention--lovingly--and, if they are willing, help them get back on the right track.    But exposing the works of darkness. What does this mean? This verse came up awhile ago in our sunday school.    We can expose the works of darkness by showing the world the truth. In our sunday school topic, we were talking about abortion. 

As Believers, (and I hope every true Believer in Jesus Christ is convinced of this) it is clear from the Bible that life is sacred and no one has the right to take it.  Including the life of an unborn child.  An unborn child is still made in the Image of God, and it is a direct assault on God if one deems that child unworthy to live life and kills it.  Life obviously begins from the womb, if you believe in the Bible.  
God tells Jeremiah in the first chapter of Jeremiah's book: 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

It is said of John the Baptist in Luke chapter 1: He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

Later in the chapter when Mary, the mother of Jesus, came to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was 6 months pregnant with John the Baptist, it says,  "And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy." "

First of all, the fact that John was able to experience emotion at 6 months in the womb, and was able to recognize who Jesus was before either of them were even born, is a telling fact. Another interesting thing to point out in this last passage is that Elizabeth already referred to Mary as the mother of Jesus--when Jesus hadn't even been born yet. 

Then of course you have the whole 139th chapter of Psalms that describes God's sovereign hand in the formation of a child.    Guys, God has a plan for each child. He creates each child special and unique from their mother's womb--and in His Image! Each child bears the image of God and if we say that God's handiwork is not worth living life, or think that their life will be difficult and would be better for child and mother if that life was just not lived at all, we are putting ourselves in the place of God! That's a dangerous place to be, folks. 

Abortion is one 'work of darkness' that we can expose as being wrong. We need to be the voice for the voiceless, and we need the mothers of the precious children to know how precious their children really are--even if life might be difficult for both. 

I have made this into a two part post because it would be too long to fit into one, so be looking for part 2!

Any thoughts of yours on abortion, or Ephesians 5:8-12, 14-16? I'd like to hear!

Jewels <3

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The qualities of a good friend--or the lack thereof in a bad friend

Wow, I'm doing good, ain't I?? I've posted now for 3 weeks in a row! :D ;)

So today, I'm talking about friends. This is another lesson from our Sunday School class, so I can't claim this all as my own, but I thought it would be a good post.

Jumping right in. Proverbs 13:20 says: Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

This verse clearly says that if we hang out with wise people, the result is that we will become wise. If we hang out with foolish people, we will suffer harm. There is no middle ground here, a friend is either one or the other.

Lets see what Proverbs 22:24-25 says: Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

In this verse, there is a progression. First, you are just a companion of this man. Then you start to learn his ways. And then you become entangled in a snare.    If you think about it, a snare works by luring unsuspecting animals into them. So, most of the time, we might be unsuspecting of the effects of the person we are hanging out with. We need to be vigilant and watchful, and not choose our friends if they will have a negative effect on us.

It is obvious from these verses that our friends have an effect on us.

Where do we see some examples of this in the Bible? Samson and Delilah in Judges 14-16. Samson married Delilah--a Philistine. She influenced him negatively, and slowly but surely, caused him to disobey God and break the covenant he had made with God. He suffered greatly because of his poor choice.    There is the example of God telling Israel not to make a pact with a foreign nation, because God knew they would have a negative effect on His people. We are told in the Bible that Israel disobeyed God, made a pact with this nation, and learned idol worship from them. Countless times they did this, and they were given into the hands of their enemies as a result of their sinful actions and disobedient, rebellious, poor choices.    There is the example of Solomon, the wisest man in history. He married foreign women who influenced him for evil, causing him to reject the One true God and follow after the gods of his wives. You can read of this in 1 Kings 11.

Proverbs 27:9 : Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

Earnest--sincere, genuine, helpful in guidance and advice in the ways of God.  This is a quality of a good friend. One who is willing to genuinely point you back to God.

Romans 12:2 : Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern  what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Those who know Christ are transformed by His word and can discern what is good and bad.

So we see that our friends influence us, for evil or for good. But how do we choose a good friend? What are the qualities of a godly friend?  Well, lets see.

Romans 12:10 says this: Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  

Quality #1. Love one another.

Romans 15:14: I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Quality #2. Instruct one another.

2 Corinthians 13:11: Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Quality #3. Comfort one another.  If you read the verse above in the context of the chapter, you will see that it is in the context of restoration. This friend is not a person who comforts you in your sin and only tells you what you want to hear. That is not a good friend, and is one to be warned against.

Galatians 5:13: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Quality #4. Serve one another.   A good friend will look past themselves and their own gain. They will serve with a sincere heart that desires the best for the other.

Galatians 6:2: Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Quality #5. Bear one another's burdens.   To bear means to divide the load between you, to assist them in carrying their burden.

Ephesians 4:32: Be kind to one another, forgiving one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Quality #6. Be kind to one another, and forgive one another.    Again, this is not selfishness. This friend is not looking to their own interest.

Colossians 3:9: Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with it's practices.

Quality #7. Do not lie to one another.   If a friend is a good, sincere one, they will not be lying about others, lying about you, or trying to deceive you.

1 Thessalonians 5:11: Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Quality #8. Encourage and build up one another.    This doesn't mean that we agree with the foolish. We encourage one another and build one another up in Christ and His ways.

1 Thessalonians 5:15: See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

Quality #9. Do good to one another.   How do we know what good is? If we are believers in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit in us, and He will help us know what good to do in a situation.  There are two good things that are always appropriate for any situation, however. That is 1). Point them to Christ, and 2). Pray for them.  

James 5:9: Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

Quality #10.  Do not grumble against one another.  You know what's in a friend's heart if they are continually grumbling about this or that.

James 5:16: Therefor, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Quality #11. Pray for one another.  This is one of the best things you can for a friend and they can do for you.

These are some of the Biblical qualities of a friend and brother or sister in Christ. Do the people that we hang out with and surround ourself with have these qualities? Are they influencing us for bad, or for good? Do we hang out with them because they are good influences on us and will do what they can to point us to Christ, or do we hang out with them just because they are fun to hang out with, even if they may have some really ungodly qualities--maybe no godly qualities at all?  

Secondarily, what kind of influence are you having on your friends?  Are you being a good, godly friend who does not look out for your own gain and interest, but rather for the good of others and the honoring of God?   It is easy to think, in this context, that we can hang out with people who have bad qualities--a person given to anger, a rebellious friend, etc.--because we can change them. It is true that we can have an influence on them, and we should be aware of that and seek to influence them for good. However, who we hang out with, also influences us.  The change is often subtle and we don't really realize it at first. So we also need to be aware of their influence on us. We may be able to befriend them to a degree and have a positive influence on them, but we need to be careful about how much time we spend with them.

What do you think about these things? What are some other qualities of a good friend that you can think of?

I hope you have a wonderful day!