God looks at the Heart…

I Sam 16:7b “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

 God looks at the Heart….

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to our patients at the clinic.

One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man.  “Why, he’s hardly taller than my eight-year-old,” I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face — lopsided from
swelling, red and raw.

Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, “Good evening. I’ve come to see if you’ve a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there’s no bus ’til morning.”

He told me he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success, no one seemed to have a room. “I guess it’s my face…I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments…”

For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: “I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning.”

I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. “No thank you. I have plenty.” And he held up a brown paper bag.

When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn’t take long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body.  He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury.

He didn’t tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was preface with thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going.

At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children’s room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, “Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won’t put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair.” He paused a moment and then added, “Your children made me feel at home.

Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don’t seem to mind.”  I told him he was welcome to come again. And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they’d be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.

In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious.

When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning.  “Did you keep that awful looking man last night?  I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!” Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear.

I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.

Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse, as she showed me her flowers; we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, “If this were
my plant, I’d put it in the loveliest container I had!”

My friend changed my mind. “I ran short of pots,” she explained, “and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting out in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden.”

She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was
imagining just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman.  “He won’t mind starting in this small body.”  All this happened long ago — and now, in God’s garden, how tall this lovely soul
must stand.
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I Sam 16:7b “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

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Pride goes before Destruction…

Pride goes before Destruction…

When is the last time you said to yourself, “Wow, look what I’ve done”?

Pride is something our world says is very good for us. Listen to how God would have us to view pride.

Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 25:6,7 “Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of great men; For it is better that he say to you, ‘Come up here’, than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen.”

Fill in the blank. I can do all things through _________ who strengthens me.

The answer from scripture is, Christ. The answer from our flesh within and our world is my inner strength.

It’s a very tough thing to recognize your unworthiness while a very easy thing to see yourself as worthy of all things. It requires we be honest with the evaluation of ourselves. And most important it requires us to view ourselves as God views us. So that must be based on God’s standards and not our own or we will feel ok about self and world strengths and motives. Humility is not natural to us. Unfortunately neither is honesty.

So, be very honest with yourself. The first step in change is recognition. Recognize you are a sinner and that to have ‘eternal’ worth you must place yourself unto another person’s control. That person is Jesus. To be lifted up by our Lord and Savior is the ultimate compliment and encouragement. Our God is the only source of strength we need. God never forces us to accept His empowerment. The choice is mine.

I Pet5:6, 7 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”

By now many are saying you have got to be kidding me. How am I to have confidence in myself and live accordingly? According to our God who can never lie nor be wrong in and of ourselves we are wicked and will make wrong choices. So we must bit our tongues so to speak and choose the only way that can be absolutely correct.  Remember you are special because of Jesus and not because of you! That attitude changes all of our priorities. It’s ok to feel special when Jesus is the reason you are! The evidence of Jesus love for us is Calvary! Here are just of few of God’s truths

on this topic to meditate on.

Prov 14:12 “There is a way which seems right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah.”

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

If I were the devil…sound familiar…

Eph 6:12,13a “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God…”

IF I WERE THE DEVIL (From Paul Harvey)

I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world;
I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man’s effort, instead of God’s blessings;
I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around; I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;
I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;
I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;
I would make it socially acceptable to take one’s own life, and invent machines to make it convenient;
I would cheapen human life as much as possible, so that the lives of animals are valued more than human beings;
I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a lawsuit;
I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young, and I would get sports heroes to advertise them;
I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the mind of every family member for my agenda;
I would attack the family, the backbone of any nation; I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable, because if the family crumbles, so does the nation;
I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movie screens, and I would call it art;
I would convince the world that people are born homosexuals, and that their lifestyles should be accepted and marveled;
I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities, and refer to their agenda as politically correct;
I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, and the Bible is for the naive;
I would persuade people that there are no absolutes, that a person must do what is right for them in each situation;
I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;
I guess I would leave things pretty much the way they are.

Good Day
Paul Harvey

I Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion walks about seeking whom he may devour.”

James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore unto God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Finding the Real Problem in America…

Daniel 12:4 “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book,

even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

Finding the Real Problem in America

Progress and change. How would you define them? Do they apply to technology only or to God’s truths also? Does truth change down through the ages? Think about it. The answer drives a lot of our decisions.

The past few generations have been viewed as very progressive. While they have been on the technology side how have they stacked up on the spiritual side and do values and truths change in God’s eyes? Let’s look at some of the changes in values over just the past few years.

The 1960’s were the time everyone broke out of the family mold of “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” because those were “old fashioned” molds. For those of you too young to remember those were TV programs with zero obscenities or sexual innuendos. And they were wholesome and fun to watch.

The 60’s taught, “you are free to do whatever you want”, and, “if it feels good, do it”. Those years taught that nothing should stifle your creativity. After all, what you do only affects you. Right? We turned self needs and accomplishments and material things into our gods. And if you look down through history mankind has always done that, so it was not exclusive to the sixties. The battle cry of many is the fad of what to collect or keeping up with the neighbors because after all, I deserve it! What we forget is;

Ex 20:5 “you shall not bow down to your god, I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.”

The 1970’s was the decade of elevating self or the “me” generation. The most important
thing in the world is me and my situation and my self view. I wonder where this all started? Sounds like a natural progression. And again, it started way back roughly 4-6000 years ago with Adam and Eve. They first decided that their way was best for them and we have kept pace ever since.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

There really is nothing new under the sun! Look where we first see this attitude!

Isa 14:12a, 13 “How are you fallen from heaven O Lucifer son of the morning! For you have said in your heart; I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, on the farthest sides of the north.”

The 1980’s was the escalation of all that was learned in the 6000 years preceding them. The cry was, “I am most important and I can do whatever I want. No need for commitment if I am happy. If I am not “happy” in marriage I can get out. If a church is convicting I will find one that meets my needs. I am most important and I can do whatever I want. My job and my career come first and I will run over anything and anyone that gets in the way, family included. Sounds terrible and it is.

Listen to God’s word describe it.

II Tim 3:1-4 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come; For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

So what did we see in the 1990’s and 2000? More and more kids are growing up in single parent families, with the family under heavy attack. 50% of both and Christian and non-Christian marriages ending in divorce. Our nation struggles with what is the makeup of a family and continues to murder millions annually. In the interest of making sure everything and every person’s thoughts are accepted our nation has legalized sin and has outlawed God from our education systems and government. Many children of the people who grew up in the 60’s-80’s feel there really are “no wrong answers”.
You can say anything you want, dress any way you want, pierce anything you want, just make sure you take care of you. Discipline of children was labeled as abuse. Yet a loving God continued to say if we do not love our children we do not discipline them.

With the concept of no absolutes people were taught that there were no authority figures to be accountable to. They turned to emotions, feelings and human teachings or philosophies as their source for direction. The doctrine of no absolutes and ever-changing truths was applied to self, family and religions. I wonder why business doesn’t buy into that? Children and adults were taught that there are no consequences for their actions beyond themselves. And of course, with no absolutes then everyone’s ideas are correct and every religion is heading in the same direction.

Can that possibly be true or is it a strategy to keep the creation from seeking the Creator?

Revealing passages not well received by our world are;

John 14:6 “And Jesus said unto them, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes unto the Father, but by Me.”

So much for all religions lead to one God.

II Cor 4:3,4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to those who are lost, in whom the god of this world (satan) has blinded the minds of those who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

That reveals the source of these errors.

Might this description fit the age?

Romans 1:21-23 “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man and birds and four footed beasts and creeping things.
Not a pretty picture! But, there is hope!

II Chron 7:14 “if My people (are you one of His?) who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn (revival) from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

And it starts with_______?

Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

Witches, Psychi Readers, Mediums, Horoscopes are all satanic…

Witches, Psychic Readers, Mediums, Horoscopes are all satanic……

Have you ever wondered what the future holds for your life? Sure, you have. So, the
obvious question is, are there reliable sources of that information? Of course, keep in mind that all sources of information and sources of power are not from God. There is a god of this age and this world and he is not the One true God.

II Cor 4:3, 4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to those who are lost, in whom the god
of this world has blinded the minds of those who believe not lest the light of the
glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

And of course the only reliable source comes from the God who created all things
including us. God exposes frauds that are in our world who proclaim that they can present you with what the future holds. They represent the other source of power in this world. And of course to expose them we look into the one source of never changing truth that God has given us, His scriptures.

Do you know what God’s action for false prophets in the Old Testament was? It was
death. While that penalty may not apply today the warning and exposing of false prophets and
teachers is the same. And of course those false prophets will give account
someday to Jesus in heaven why they did what they did.

The New Testament proclaims that the Old Testament was written beforehand for our
benefit to learn from and to help us not to make the same mistakes or be led into the same sins.
Psychic readers, mediums, witches, horoscopes are just some that present satanic error today.

Duet 13:1-3a, 5a “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and
he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder comes to pass, of which
he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after the gods which you have not known, and
let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams…”

Duet 18:20, 22a “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I
have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that
prophet shall die. When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does
not come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken.

Lev 19:26b,31 “… nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying…Give no regard to
mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them; I am
the Lord your God.”

And of course God does give us a way to know the future. He even offers a view into
eternity and the comfort of knowing where we will spend it! Wow!

I John 5:11-13a “And this is the record that God has given to us eternal life and that life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life and he who has not the Son has not life.
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God
that you may know that you have eternal life…”

Do you know without a doubt where your eternity will be spent? And how about family
members, friends, co-workers and neighbors?

Keep your Fork, the Best is yet to come…

I Tim 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called…

Keep Your Fork – the Best is yet to come…
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal
illness and had been given three months to live. So, as
she was getting her things “in order”, she contacted her
pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain
aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs
she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would
like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.
The woman also requested to be buried with her favorite
Bible.

Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to
leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very
important to her.

”There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.
” What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply.
” This is very important,” the woman continued . . .
”I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing
quite what to say . . .

”That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the woman asked.
”Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,”
said the pastor.

The woman explained. “In all my years of attending
church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember
that when the dishes of the main course were being
cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,
’keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I
knew that something better was coming . . . like
velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.
Something wonderful, and with substance!

”So, I just want people to see me there in that casket
with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder
’What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them:
’Keep your fork. The best is yet to come!’”

The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he
hugged the woman goodbye. He knew this would be one
of the last times he would see her before her death.

But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of
heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was
coming. At the funeral people were walking by the
woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was
wearing and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in
her right hand.

Over and over the pastor heard the question “What’s with
the fork?” And over and over he smiled. During his
message, the pastor told the people of the conversation
he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also
told them about the fork and about what it symbolized
to her.

The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking
about the fork and he told them that they probably would
not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.
So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it
remind you oh so gently, that the best is yet to come . . .!

Rev 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Of anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

God’s eye is on the Sparrow and me…

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

The SPARROW at STARBUCKS – The song that silenced the cappuccino machine.

It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it’s enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth. For a musician, it’s the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I’m told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right.

Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing. It was a fun, low-pressure gig – I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the ’40s to the ’90s with a few original tunes thrown in during our emotional rendition of the classic, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.

After the tune was over, she approached me. “I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?” she asked.

“No,” I replied. “We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?” To my delight, she accepted my invitation. “You choose,” I said. “What are you in the mood to sing?”

“Well. … do you know any hymns?” Hymns? This woman didn’t know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. “Name one.”

“Oh, I don’t know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.”

“Okay,” I replied. “How about ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’?”

My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, “Yeah. Let’s do that one.” She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing, “Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?”

The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.

“I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”

When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, “Oh, y’all go back to your coffee! I didn’t come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get something’ to drink, just like you!”

But the ovation continued. I embraced my new friend. “You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!”

“Well, it’s funny that you picked that particular hymn,” she said.

” Why is that?”

“Well,” she hesitated again, “that was my daughter’s favorite song.” Really!” I exclaimed.

“Yes,” she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual… “She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week.”

I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence. “Are you going to be okay?”

She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. “I’m gonna be okay. I’ve just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything’s gonna be just fine.” She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.

Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it.

God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it’s no stretch for me to imagine that he could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting him and singing his songs, everything’s gonna be okay.

The next time you feel like GOD can’t use you, remember, Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Isaac was a daydreamer, Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was abused, Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was afraid, Samson had long hair and was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, Jeremiah and Timothy were too young, David had an affair and was a murderer, Elijah was suicidal, Isaiah preached naked, Jonah ran from God, Peter denied Christ, The Disciples fell asleep while praying, And Lazarus was dead!

No more excuses now!! God can use you to your full potential. Besides you aren’t the message, you are just the messenger.

Mat 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”