It’s Time To Look Up and See Our Saving Grace

Jude 1:24 (WEB)

Promise 270: I will keep you from falling until you joyfully stand blameless in My presence.
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Charm And Beauty Can Be Deceptive & Fleeting

Charm And Beauty Can Be Deceptive & Fleeting

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

— Proverbs 31:30

If you want to know what’s truly important in life, go to a funeral. There, you will hear all the things that make a person special. You will hear all about what makes a life well-lived. You will learn what it takes to make a difference in the lives of others and what makes a good spouse, parent, and friend.

And if you pay really close attention, you might also notice what is not spoken about. I’ve never heard any eulogy mention how good-looking a person was or how much money that person made. Instead, we would be more likely to hear about a person’s inner beauty or how much a person gave to charity and to others.

This reality shines in stark contrast to the messages we are bombarded with every day. Whether it’s billboards, magazine ads, or television advertisements, the value system promoted in our society puts beauty and possessions at the top of the list. We are told that we must be good-looking to be lovable or in good shape to be suitable. We have to have the right things to be with the right crowd, and the latest in technology to be considered in touch with reality. So many people spend so much time feeling miserable about themselves because they buy into these lies.

Don’t believe it.

In Proverbs, King Solomon reminds us about the truth. He wrote, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.“ All the sages agree that this isn’t just a teaching for women, but a lesson for us all, directing us to value the inner self over our outer appearances, and for that matter, possessions. Ultimately, our outer self and stuff will go back to dust, while our inner being lasts forever.

Perhaps you have met an objectively good-looking person who grew to be “ugly” to you the more you got to know him or her? Or maybe you have known an average-looking individual who seemed more and more beautiful to you as you got to know that person? This is because our inner self pours out onto our outer selves. A person who is beautiful on the inside will glow with a special beauty on the outside.

This message is especially important these days. To practice this idea, consider how we might live if no one had the ability to see. If no one could see what we looked like or what we had, would we live with a different priority system? Would we do things different daily? If outer appearances didn’t matter, who might we be? Perhaps we would like to consider being that person anyway.

djs

 

Finding True Fulfillment In Life

Finding True Fulfillment In Life

In a world full of distractions and endless ways to spend our time and energy, how do we use the time that we have each day? And even more importantly, how do we feel at the end of a day? Do we find ourselves fulfilled from ALL of our engagements? We touch so many people throughout a single day that we don’t always realize how we are impacting others. Colossians 3:23-24 points out that whatever we are doing, we are to do it “heartily” or with our entire heart. We are to be pouring out ourselves into what we do. And the amazing thing is that if we are doing this, God gives us the knowledge and understanding that we need to accomplish our tasks. But the important caveat is that we do it with our entire heart. If we half-heartedly approach every day, our jobs, people, anything really, how can we be fulfilled? How can we fill up others if we are half-hearted? How can we serve joyfully? Ephesians 6:6-8 admonishes us to serve “from the heart”—with good will. There is no room for back-biting, hate, ill-will, or anything negative.

How hard is it though to not complain when things go wrong? When we think that things should be different than what they are? When we think we are being treated unfairly or unkindly? How do we react? We would do better to keep in mind the words Solomon wrote down for us in Ecclesiastes 7:20-22. We must be careful with the attitudes and the thoughts that we allow ourselves to have. We must come to rely on God more and more for wisdom and understanding in ALL matters.

James 4:7-9 gives us the right ideas in this regard. We need to be submitting ourselves to God to fully understand how we can fulfill our days in the right ways. In verses 13-17, James goes on to admonish us that in the scheme of things, our lives are over so quickly. All our strivings and goals are in vain if they are not rightly ordained by God. He indeed sets our courses. When we go wrong and need adjustment, He makes corrections, as long as we are willing to accept them and get back on the right track.

So let us ask ourselves these questions:

How fulfilled do we find ourselves at the end of each day?

How willing are we to seek God and allow Him to lead?

As we approach the Passover, what can we take away from this short time we have left in examining ourselves? Ephesians 5:16 tells us that we should be “redeeming the time” by making the BEST use of our time, “because the days are evil.”

David had the right approach in Psalm 127:2. Even though our work may be heavy and burdensome, when we do it with God’s Will in mind, seeking what He wants, then we can go to bed at the end of the day and feel fulfilled because God will give us good rest. And He will recharge us for our continual fight each and every day. Psalm 90:12 says: “So teach us to number our days That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Let us allow Godly wisdom and understanding fill us up each day so that we may feel fulfilled and others may see that and be encouraged to follow our example.

djs

The Silent Scream

The Silent Scream

The hearts of the people
cry out to the Lord.
You walls of Daughter Zion,
let your tears flow like a river
day and night;
give yourself no relief,
your eyes no rest.—
Lamentations 2:18

In the late 1800s, Edvard Munch created one of the most famous pieces of art. The painting, which features a person with hands by his cheeks, mouth open wide, and a look of horror on his face, is known as “The Scream.” The painting, also known as “The Shriek” or “The Cry,” presents a tumultuous orange sky with tranquil-looking passersby.

While the painting is only visual, just about everyone who sees it can hear the scream emanating from the canvass. Yes, the scream is silent, but nevertheless, oh-so loud and powerful. Munch himself explained that the painting had been inspired by what he had heard as “nature’s silent scream.”

In the book of Lamentations we read: “The hearts of the people cry out to the LORD.” Notice that it doesn’t say that the voices of the people cried to the LORD or simply that the people cried out to God. Rather, the verse specifically notes that the hearts of the people cried out.

How does a heart make a noise? According to the sages, a heart that feels pain and turns toward God as its only saving grace makes the loudest sound in the world without uttering a word. In fact, a single heartfelt sigh can be enough to bring about the salvation one so desperately needs.

This is the power of the silent scream. It is not all that different than an actual cry to God. Remember, that it’s only when the Israelites enslaved in Egypt cried out to God, that God’s plan for salvation went into action: “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant . . .” (Exodus 2: 23-24). In much the same way, we can cry to God with our hearts and awaken His great power in our lives.

Let’s remember the power of the silent scream. Let’s remember to cry out to God in our own personal times of trouble. Yet, let us also be keenly aware that so many people close to us and around the globe are screaming out in silence. May we hear their sound of suffering and help them. May God hear their cries and save them. May He hear all our prayers and answer them. Amen!

Shalom…Peace,

(djsaker)

Listen, See and Understand

Listen, See, and Understand!

Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.
— Isaiah 28:23

I recently read a story about a young, successful executive who was driving too fast down a neighborhood street in his brand new Jaguar. He was watching out for children and slowed down just a bit. For a moment, he thought he saw something, but when nothing obvious appeared, he rushed on. Suddenly a brick smashed into the side of his car door. The man pulled over, furious, and grabbed the first kid he saw.

“That’s a new car!” he yelled at the terrified child. “That damage is going to cost! What were you thinking?” By now, the boy was in tears as he pointed to something farther up the block on the ground, half in the street. “I’m sorry Mister,” he sobbed. “My brother fell out of his wheelchair. He is hurt, and I’m not able to pick him up. I threw the brick because no one else would stop to help us and I didn’t know what else to do.”

By the time the boy was done speaking, the businessman was in tears as well. He walked over to the boy’s handicapped brother, picked him up, made sure he was OK, and put him back in his wheelchair. The young boy was grateful and happily pushed his brother home.

The young businessman later said that he decided never to fix the dent on his Jaguar’s side door. He wanted it to stay as a reminder to never go so fast through life that you don’t see another person’s suffering. He wanted to remember not to be so blind that someone has to throw a brick to get his attention.

Similarly, God constantly whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Yet, often we are going so fast through our lives that we don’t hear what He is saying. Or maybe we pause when we think we might have heard something, but when nothing obvious shouts out at us, we carry on as if that tiny nudge to do something had never even happened.

Sometimes, God has to throw a symbolic brick at us to get our attention. Only then do we see or hear what He’s been trying tell us or how we might need to act to help someone in need.

In Isaiah we read, “Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.” God sends us messages all day long; we only need to pay attention and listen. When we see a problem, try to solve it. When we see someone in need, try to help. When we need to change something, change it. When God calls to us softly, answer Him – before He needs to do something more drastic to get our attention.

djsaker

Happy No Matter What!

Happy No Matter What!

Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs. —
Psalm 100:2

Everyone is in the pursuit of happiness. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself!” But for most people, happiness is elusive. We say, “I will be happy when . . . .” And then fill in the blank — when I have more money, when I get that promotion, when I get married, when I have kids, when the kids move out, when I retire, and so on and so forth. It’s no wonder so many people feel like they just can’t catch happiness.

In Psalm 100, however, King David lets us in on a little secret about happiness. He wrote: “Worship the Lord with gladness . . .” The sages understand it this way: If you want to be happy, then worship the Lord.

Truly, few things bring us greater joy than serving our Creator. When we are serving God, we are focused on what we can give and not on what we are lacking. We focus on what is good in our lives and not what is wrong. When we contribute to God’s world we feel good about who we are instead of upset about who we could or should have been. When we bring joy to others, we can’t help but light up with joy ourselves!

What’s more, serving the Lord is something that we can do anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances. In times of abundance, we can give. In times of scarcity, we can have faith. When things are easy, we can sing out praises to God. And when times are tough, we can call out to Him in prayer. In our homes or in our workplaces – there is always someone to help or God’s Word to share. The possibilities are endless.

We can always worship God, which means that we can always be happy. No matter what! We don’t have to pursue happiness. We just have to stop running away from it – and serve the Lord today!

Let’s try this ancient advice and think of how we can serve the Lord today. How can we worship Him throughout the day? Let’s try dedicating just one day – or even better – one week, to give of ourselves to God, to His children, and to His world. We will be happy we did!

Shalom, Peace To All,

DJS

The Prodigal World

The Prodigal World
Luke 15:20-24 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

I’m sure we all have heard the parable of the Prodigal Son [Luke 15:11-32], but I want to spend some time today really dissecting this particular parable so we can gain deeper insight into this message of Jesus (Yeshua).

This is a story of a somewhat dysfunctional family — something most of us can relate to. So first, let’s look at the Prodigal son. He asks his father for his inheritance, immediately, before the normal time for receiving it — essentially implying that he would prefer that his father were dead, rather than remaining with him and his older brother. The father would have been quietly devastated. Think about it ?- if your son approached you with a request which was normally fulfilled by your passing away — how would you feel? Yet in spite of the pain caused by his callous son — the Father truly loves him. Upon his return, the Father embraces him once again and even treats him like a King!

So it is for much of the unbelieving world with no acknowledgment of or gratitude for their Creator — they’re happy to enjoy the abundance of God and His creation, while completely ignoring His existence and counting Him as dead.

Yet God so loves his prodigals — and desires every one to return Him!

We are all called to reach this world for the Lord. And prodigals are everywhere (including many of us)…Let’s give them a taste of their Father’s love — so that when they begin to come to their senses, they will know and feel that they can safely return to His house and be received with open arms!

DJS