Doubt

“Occupy your mind with My love, leaving no room for worry and doubt.”

doubt

Doubt is like a bad penny.  It always keeps turning up.  It seems that no matter how many times we see the hand of God working in our lives, there is always room for doubt.  Even when we have a close relationship with Him, there are times when we still have doubts.  The disciples, who spent so much time with Jesus, still had doubts.  When Jesus told them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” they thought He was referring to food.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, “You have so little faith!  Why are you worried about having no food?  Won’t you ever understand?  Don’t you remember the five thousand I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of food that were left over?  Don’t you remember the four thousand I fed with seven loaves, with baskets of food left over?  How could you even think I was talking about food? So again I say, `Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6-13) He was reminding them that each time they needed food, He was able to provide.  Then it dawned on them that He wasn’t speaking about yeast or bread but the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The disciples had seen Him perform miracles before and they had forgotten how He had fed thousands of people with what seemed like very little food.  He had made a little go a long way.  Like the disciples, we too doubt the power of God and He has to remind us.

The disciples doubted the resurrection.  The Bible says, it was early on Sunday morning when Jesus rose from the dead, and the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons.  She went and found the disciples, who were grieving and weeping.  But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.  Jesus also appeared to two other people.

At first they didn’t recognize Him because He had changed His appearance but once they realized that it was Him, they rushed back to tell the others but they didn’t believe them.   When Jesus appeared to the eleven, He rebuked them for their unbelief” (Mark 16:9-14).  In the Gospel of Matthew, it says, that when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted (Matthew 28:17).

Mary had taken good news to the disciples but they allowed doubts to spoil what should have been a joyful moment.  Sometimes we allow doubts to get the better of us and we miss out.  Doubts could prevent us from seeing God’s blessings.  The religious leaders in Jesus’ time had the Light but their doubts kept them in darkness.  Doubts can hinder us from doing the Lord’s work.  Doubts can rob us of great opportunities.

Jesus does not want us to worry or have doubts.  He wants us to focus instead of Him and what He can do for us.  The next time you start to doubt Him, remember these words, “Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe”.

Never doubt, only trust and believe.  Remember all the times Jesus came through for you.   Fill your mind with His love and promises.  Don’t clutter your mind with doubts.  As Paul advised us, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).  Searching the scriptures will also help.  Diffuse the doubts with God’s Word.  Whenever you have a task to do and you start to have doubts about it, say to yourself “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Devastating News

240_F_43342280_9fhJmIlVeQ5Zo89BgyO4mMkrzhXYj3UjSo, dinner with Marcus was amazing.  I had such a great time.  As I do my work, my thoughts take me back to that Saturday evening.  He came and picked me up at my place at exactly seven.  He looked very handsome in his expensive looking tan colored jacket and white shirt.  His eyes traveled over me in my red dress with the cap sleeves and flare skirt.  I had washed my hair and it fell in wavy curls about my face.  I could see the admiration in his eyes and I was thrilled.  “You look amazing,” he said quietly.

I smiled.  “Thank you,” I replied as I preceded him into the hallway.  After I closed and locked the door, we walked to the elevator.  The Hispanic woman who lived opposite me was coming towards us.  After she greeted me, I saw her eyes shift to Marcus and the way she looked at him.  I glanced up at him but he was looking straight ahead.  He was probably was used to women admiring him.  I can just imagine that a lot of his female students had crushes on him.  It made me feel great that I was the one he was taking out for dinner.  Nervous excitement filled me and soon we were on our way to the restaurant.  He drove a Bentley.

On the way, we talked about all sorts of things.  I learned that he was a Seventh-day Adventist like me.  The rest of the family was Baptist.  “What made you switch?” I asked.

“When I started studying the Bible, I realized that there were some major doctrinal misunderstandings of the Baptist church such as the secret rapture of the church, immortality of the soul, eternal torment, Once saved always saved, Sunday sacredness and the law being done away with in Christ.  There were Bible texts which refuted all of these teachings.  An Adventist colleague of mine invited me to an evangelistic series which I attended.  My life changed after that.  I left the Baptist church and became an Adventist.  What about you?  Were you always an Adventist?”

“Yes and I’m thankful for that.”

We reached the restaurant which such a warm and friendly atmosphere.  I loved it and the food was out of this world.  I loved being with Marcus.  He was so much fun.  I felt as if we had known each other for ages.  I could tell that he enjoyed my company too.  I felt that I was on cloud nine and I didn’t want the evening to end.  As we were having our dessert, he said to me, “I once had someone ask me if God only saves vegans.  The person asked me that question because he was told by a vegan member that those who are still eating flesh food will never see Heaven.”

“That’s ridiculous,” I exclaimed.  “What did you say to the person?”

“I told him that we are saved by Christ’s grace and His righteousness and not by our own works. We can’t earn our way to heaven by being vegan or vegetarian, nor do we choose to not eat meat because we believe that by doing so we will be saved.  It’s like what Paul said when the Jewish Christians were saying that the non-Jewish Christians had to be circumcised in order to be saved.  Being circumcised or not doesn’t save anyone.  We are saved by faith alone and not by works so that none of us can boast about how good we are and how much we deserve to go to Heaven.  Salvation is for everyone once they accept Christ.”

“I can’t stand it when people have issues with me eating fish and poultry even though these are considered clean.  Jesus Himself wasn’t a vegetarian.  He ate fish.  When the Lord visited Abraham with the two angels, didn’t they eat Veal?”

Marcus nodded.  “Yes.  It’s a shame that diet is the bone of contention in the church.  Eating meat became part of the diet after the flood and unless God Himself tells me that I should become a vegetarian or vegan, I will continue to eat fish and white meat.”

“Amen to that.”  The rest of the evening we talked about other things and then it was time for him to take me home.

When we were standing outside of my door, he said, “I had a wonderful evening.”

“So did I,” I was quick to let him know.  I wanted to say that I wish it wouldn’t end.  I couldn’t invite him inside because of what could happen.  As Christians, we had to be mindful of how easily we can become tempted to do things we know we ought not to do.  If we didn’t believe in the Bible then, we would not have thought anything was wrong with him coming into my apartment for a nightcap or spending the night.

“When can I see you again?”

“Anytime you wish,” I was happy to tell him.  Every single day would suit me just fine.

“Tomorrow I would like to take you to Napa.  I can pick you up in the morning and take a scenic drive.  It takes about an hour and forty-one minutes to get San Jose to there.  Once we get there, there are several fun things we can do.  What do you say?”

“I say yes!”

“Good, I’ll see you tomorrow.  I will call you.”

I smiled up at him before I opened my door.  I turned to face him.  “Good night and thank you for a wonderful evening.”

327_16843_17“You’re welcome, Abi.  Good night.” He reached out and gently squeezed my arm.

I leaned against the door frame, watching as he walked away.  My heart leapt in my chest when he stopped and turned to look at me, a slight smile on his face before he continued down the hallway towards the elevators.  I waited until one came and I heard the doors close before I went into my apartment.  For the rest of the night and all morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about Marcus.

The next day, he took me to Napa and the first thing we did was go for a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards.  It was an exhilarating experience.  Marcus told me that the next time we would go early in the morning when it’s even more spectacular.  Next, we went Olive Oil tasting, we had lunch a very nice Spanish restaurant called Zuzu.  Afterwards we went to Sterlings’s where we stomped grapes.  The grapes felt so yucky between my toes and my feet had turned purple but we got free tee shirts.

Before we went bowling, we wandered for a bit in downtown Napa with its shops, cafes and chocolatiers and visited the Oxbow Public Market where we treated ourselves to organic ice-cream.  It had been a long time since I had an ice-cream so it was a big treat for me.  After we finished our ice-creams, we headed to the bowling center where we spent the rest of the afternoon.  I never had so much fun in my life and I thanked God for bringing Marcus into my life.  As we drove back to San Jose, we made plans for our next date.  And we have been dating ever since.

The ringing of the phone brings me back to the present.  I stare at the display.  I don’t recognize the name.  I pick up the receiver.  “Hello?”

“Hello Abiyomi.  This is Philip Jennings.  We met at the barbecue.”

“Oh, yes, I remember you now.  You’re married to Bobby’s sister, Nicole.”

“Yes.  I called your mother and she gave me your work number.”

I could sense that something was wrong.  “What’s the matter?” I asked.

“It’s about Bobby.”

My heart was pounding now.  “What’s happened to Bobby?”

“He died this morning.”

I began to tremble.  “Died?  But how?” As far as I knew Bobby physically fit.  He hardly got sick.

“He took his life.”

Source:  Perspectives-Adventist; Seed Time; A Passion and a Passport; SFbaytripper; California Dream Big

Abiyomi Meets Marcus

© Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporationI’m trying really hard to concentrate on my job but it’s tough.  I couldn’t stop thinking about Marcus Kincaid, my friend, Bobby’s very handsome and charming uncle.  He was at the family’s barbecue. I was thrilled to see him.  From the moment we met which was about a year ago, I was smitten with him.  Bobby told me that women are always throwing themselves at him.  He said that his uncle seems quite happy being a bachelor and he didn’t think marriage was in the immediate future.

I wasn’t dating.  The last relationship I had ended two years ago after my boyfriend and I had a heated argument over the Once Saved Always Saved teaching.  He was emphatic that a person could not lose his or her salvation but I told him that when we accept Jesus, our names are written in the Book of Life but since they can be removed, it is possible for those who once accepted to reject.  He insisted that I was wrong and that once a person comes to Jesus they can never lose their salvation.  He told me that I was confused about a lot of things in the Bible and that I needed to get my facts straight.  He became very livid and ended up storming out of my flat.  The next day he called and broke up with me.  The fact that it didn’t take me long to get over him made it clear to me that I wasn’t in love with him.

I decided that I would put dating on hold.  I had my work and church to keep me busy.  I didn’t mind being single.  And then, I met Marcus.  He was was sitting at one of the tables outside with a couple of people when Bobby took me over to meet him.  He was wearing a white tee shirt which hugged his muscular body and a pair of navy blue slacks.   He was wearing sunglasses so I couldn’t see his eyes but I knew he was watching me as Bobby introduced me to the other people at the table first.  There was a slight smile on his face.  When it was turn, he stood up, towering over me and held out his hand.  It swallowed mine and it felt nice and warm.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said.

I smiled shyly up at him.  “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.  Bobby has told me so much about you.”

“I’ve heard a lot about you too.  Wouldn’t you join us?”

“Sure.  Thank you.”  I sat down in the chair adjacent to his which he resumed.

Bobby didn’t join us.  He went off to help his father with the burgers.  The people who were at the table excused themselves and went off.  Marcus leaned back in his chair and studied me.  I was nervous but tried to appear relaxed.  “How old are you?” he asked, startling me.

“Twenty-five.”

226158_mww“Really?” he sounded surprised.  “I could have sworn that you were Bobby’s age.”

“You’re not the first person to tell me that I look much younger than I am.”

“I’m 50 years old, you know.”

It was my turn to be surprised.  “Really?” I exclaimed.  “You look like you’re in your late thirties.”

He laughed.  “You flatter me,” he remarked.  “I guess I owe it all to keeping fit and eating well.  Tell me, are you dating anyone?”

Again I was taken aback by his question.  “No.  Work and church keep me busy.”

“What kind of work do you do?”

“I’m a Graphic Designer.”

“Sounds very interesting.  Which area do you work in?”

“I do visual branding for companies, such as logos.”

“Do you enjoy what you do?”

“Yes, very much.  What about you?  Bobby told me that you’re a professor of Classics at Stanford.”

“Yes, I love teaching and have always been fascinated by Greek and Roman literature, art, history and culture.  My course deals with how those two ancient civilizations have globally influenced the societies we live in.”

“I love Greek and Italian food,” I said and he smiled.

“There’s a new Greek restaurant called Evvia Estiatorio.  I’ve never been there but I’ve heard that it’s even better than the restaurants in Greece.  If you’re not busy next week Saturday, I’d like to take there for dinner.”

After I recovered from my shock, I managed to say, “That would be nice,” rather breathlessly.

We spent the rest of the afternoon together and when I was leaving, Bobby said to me, “I knew that you two would hit it off.”  I didn’t tell him that his uncle was taking me out for dinner.

And that’s what’s occupying my thoughts now.  Tomorrow’s Saturday and I can’t wait to see Marcus.  Now, I just have to figure out what I’m going to wear so that I will wow him.

Sources:  Youth Employement; Stanford University;

 

It’s a Two-Way Conversation

When we go to God in prayer is there a moment when we pause to listen to what He has to say?

Processed with VSCO with kp9 preset

Prayer is a two way conversation.  It is a form of communication.  We say what we have to say and then keep silent and allow the Lord to answer.

I had gotten into the bad habit of getting up and going about my business after I finished praying.  One morning, I was impressed to remain kneeling.  When I did and I stayed quiet, Jesus spoke to me.  When I heard His voice, I began to cry.  I had missed hearing Him speak.  I told Him so and He said, “I have always been here.”

When we pray, the Lord is there but we don’t give Him a chance to speak.  It is like when you call a friend.  You say, “Hi Jane, it’s Martha.”  You allow Jane to say, “Oh, hi Martha.  How are you?” And that is all she gets to say.  The rest of the conversation is you talking with no pauses for Jane to get a word in.  And when you’re finished, you say goodbye and hang up.  Jane may have had news that she would have liked to share with you but she never got the chance to do so.

God may have news for us or something He wants to share with us but we don’t give Him a chance to do so.  We’re too busy talking and when we’re done, we thank God for hearing our prayers and answering them and then move off, not giving Him an opportunity to speak to us, we will miss out on that.  We may miss a message He has for us, what His will is for us that day or His plans for us.  God likes to listen to our prayers but He looks forward to when we come to Him and share what is in our hearts but He wants to share what is in His too.  Prayer is not just about us talking but it’s about us listening too.

The next time you pray, don’t get up or walk away as soon as you are finished.  Stay where you are.  Be still and listen.  God wants to talk to you.  Let Him.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:14

33575

The most wonderful event in history occurred one night in the city of David.  Mary gave birth to her first Child, a Son.  She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in the manger because there was no room for them in the village inn.

Prophecy was fulfilled.  “Look!  The virgin will conceive a child.  She will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel—‘God is with us’” (Isaiah 7:14) The birth of Jesus was something to celebrate.  An angel, excited about the good news, went and told the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone.  The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David.  And this is how you will recognize Him:  You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth” (Luke 2:10-12).

Excited, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem!  Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (verse 15).  They rushed off and found Mary and Joseph.  And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  The shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had told them about this Child.  All those who were present were amazed to hear the shepherds’ testimony.  The shepherds returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them and because they had seen the Child just as the angel had said.

Could you imagine being one of those shepherds?  You are sitting there watching your flock and then an angel of the Lord suddenly appears to tell you that the Messiah—the Savior you had waited for so long is born?  Not only that—the angel tells you where you can find Him and how to recognize Him.  You and the other shepherds decide to go to Bethlehem and you see the baby.  You see the face of your Savior.  He is a Baby that would grow up into a Man who would touch the lives of many.  Mary kept these things in her heart and thought about them often.  Like her, we should treasure the things we know and learn about Jesus and think about them often.

During this holiday season many people think only about the birth of Jesus but how about thinking about His life, His ministry, His death and resurrection too?  Treasure not just Jesus the newborn babe lying in the manger, but treasure the Man, Messiah, Savior, Lord and King.

Have a blessed Christmas, everyone.

Mary Said Yes!

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” – Luke 1:38

mary_2

When the angel, Gabriel appeared to a young virgin named, Mary, in the town of Nazareth and told her that she would have a Son, she found the news astonishing seeing that she had never been with a man.  Yet, after he explained how this miraculous conception would happen, she believed him and her response was Yes.  She called herself the maidservant of the Lord.  In other words, she was going to do what the Lord asked of her.

She even sang a song, glorifying God, her Savior, rejoicing that He regarded her, his humble servant.  For saying yes to His plan, she would be called blessed by all generations.  She declared that, “…He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-49, NKJV).

Saying yes to God isn’t always easy.  It could cause problems.  For Mary a lot was at stake.  After she was betrothed to Joseph and just before they got married, she was found with Child by the Holy Spirit.   Joseph had no way of knowing how she got pregnant.  All he knew was that she was and that was a huge problem.  He loved Mary but he couldn’t go through with the wedding.  He had to divorce her quietly and he had to do it quietly because according to Jewish law, a betrothal was the same as a valid marriage.  So, although they weren’t formally married, Joseph was still considered Mary’s husband by betrothal.  A public divorce would have alerted the community to the fact that Joseph wasn’t the father of Mary’s child and she would have been stoned to death for adultery (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23).  

Poor Joseph.  His reaction to Mary’s pregnancy was understandable.  As far as he was concerned she had been unfaithful to him.  Mary must have tried really hard to explain how she got pregnant but it must have sounded too fantastic to Joseph.  While he was agonizing over what he had to do, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said to him, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20, 21, NKJV). 

Joseph woke up from the dream.  What a relief.  All his troubles were gone.  He joyfully did what the angel commanded him.   He married Mary but didn’t consummate their marriage until after she had given birth to her firstborn Son Whom he named, Jesus.

Sometimes saying yes to God’s plan for your life might bring trouble, opposition or conflict into your life but God is in control.  He knows exactly what He is doing.  All you have to do is to trust and obey Him as Mary did.  She put God first and He blessed her and us with the Savior of the world.  Sometimes a situation may turn out to be completely different from how it appears.  Initially, Joseph saw Mary’s pregnancy as a betrayal but once it was explained to him, it became a blessing.  In his charge was the Christ Child.

This Christmas, be thankful that Mary said yes to God’s plan despite the risks.  She trusted in the God for Whom nothing was impossible.  Celebrate Joseph’s obedience too because once he learned the truth about Mary’s pregnancy, he didn’t hesitate do what the Lord commanded him through His angel and as a result he was there to witness God’s greatest miracle–the birth of His Son, Jesus.     

For This Reason…

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work – 1 John 3:8, NIV

14336345_f520

When it comes to the meaning of Christmas, we always think of the nativity scene with Joseph, Mary and Jesus in the manger with the cattle lowing.  We think of the  angels who  appeared to the shepherds keeping their flocks to announce the good news of the Savior’s birth in the City of David.  We think of the shepherds rushing to Bethlehem to see the Child and then spreading the word concerning what had been told them about Him.  We think of the wise men who traveled far to see the King of Israel to bring Him gifts and to fall down in worship.

Yes, Jesus came into the world to save his people from their sins but there was another very important reason for His coming and it too is good news.  The apostle John tells us that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work.  How does He do that?  Jesus Himself tells us as He quotes the words of the prophet Isaiah:  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18, 19).  When Jesus was finished reading, He told those gathered in the synagogue that He had fulfilled that scripture that very day in their hearing.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught the people the Word of God which was the Good News of God’s love and His salvation.  He healed diseases and sicknesses, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk and drove out unclean spirits.  He freed a woman who had been bound by Satan for eighteen years.  Eyes that were blinded were opened and sinners were drawn to the love of God which was manifested in Christ.  The Light had come into the world and many were brought out of the darkness.  Jesus came to reveal the true nature of the devil whom He said was a murderer and the father of lies.

Jesus accomplished not only salvation for us when He came but something else that is very important.  What was that?  Hebrews 2:14 tells us, Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14, ESV).   The Good News is that Jesus has given us victory over death which will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26).  Death will no longer have any power over us.  Those of us who die in Jesus will be resurrected.  Death will lose its sting.  

Jesus came to take away our sins.  Sin is of the devil.  He uses deception to cause us to sin.  1 John 3:7 says that, “whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning”.  Jesus came to help us to stop making it a practice of sinning.  He Himself was as we were but He didn’t sin.  He makes it possible for us to follow His example through the help of the Holy Spirit who not only convicts us of sin but enables us to practice that which is good and right in the sight of God.  Being born of the Spirit means that we no longer practice sinning.  It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever sin again but we have the assurance that when we do, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1, 2, ESV).  

Thank You, Lord Jesus for coming into the world to destroy the power of sin in our lives through the Holy Spirit and for destroying the works of the devil.  As we celebrate this Christmas season, help us to enjoy the freedom we can enjoy only by living in obedience to You.