Gift of G_d

Good morning,

A thought crossed my mind this morning after something my wife said yesterday. In a group conversation, she said, “my name means ‘Gift of G_d’”. As I reflected on this comment, I thought about how each of us is a “Gift of G_d”. the problem is, that the way we live our life is like the exterior wrapping that is meant to conceal what is inside. We do not fully fathom the depths of the gift of our life because we see the way we have wrapped the gift and frown on the package compared to other people’s gifts. Yet, our gifts are just as important and just as vital but we withhold them because we consider them “unimportant”. When G_d looks at the gift we are giving, he doesn’t see the exterior package nor the way it is wrapped, He sees the heart and cherishes the gift eternally.

When we present our gift to G_d and subsequently to our spouse, family, friends, and coworkers, we will either present it like Cain or like Able. As you know, Cain picked the first thing he found and presented it as a gift to the Lord. Able picked the fattest and most succulent lamb for his offering. Able’s gift received a smile from the Lord while Cain’s was frowned on (Genesis 4:1-16). By frowning on Cain’s gift, it did not mean that G_d did not cherish Cain but that He knew Cain could do better if he just put a little more effort into it. The problem is that Cain misunderstood and this led to jealousy and then to murder. In the same way, when our gifts look paltry compared to a person who puts a lot of effort into their life and by it strengthen their gift, we think “I’ve failed” and so we shrink back. When that person is promoted, noticed, and admired, the human tendency is to become “jealous and envious” and this leads to war.

I want to go on record today by saying, “G_d does not give our crowns for half-hearted efforts.” What we present to G_d is also the same gift we give to our families, spouses, friends, and the world at large. When we use our gifts to inflict pain on the world around us, we also inflict pain on the Kingdom of G_d (Matthew 25:15-41). I want you to know that the gifts you possess will neither grow nor shrink back unless you take purposeful efforts to alter them or to “grow them”. Each of you is just as important as every other person in this world.

My prayer for you today is that you will grow your gifts as big as your imagination so that fruit will come from your life that will feed others.

Father,

Please be with my families,  law enforcement officers, EMTs, military, city, state of Minnesota, and my USA.

IHS

Psalms 136_in_Reflection

What G_d has Done

Good morning,

When I read Psalms 136, some things stood out in my mind that I want to share with you.

  1. “Thanks for the Lord’s Goodness to Israel”. When you read this Psalm, it is tempting to believe that G_d is only speaking to Israel. Reciting the Psalm and accepting it in your heart are two different things. Paul said, “Not all Israel is Israel” (Romans 9:6-7). The Psalmist not just speaking to Spiritual Israel or those who are in covenant with him and honor it, he speaks to the whole nation. In the same way, His word speaks to the world at large but applies to people in covenant. The same message that was spoken to Israel also speaks to the world in the 21st Century (Malachi 3:6-7). When you return to G_d that is, “turning your heart and mind to Him”, He will refill your life and this Psalm will become the lifeblood of your relationship with Him (Malachi 3:8-12).
  2. Who do we give thanks to? Everything we possess belongs to G_d (Hebrews 2:10-18) which means our gifts and talents that enable us to earn an income to meet our needs, lands to cultivate our food, family ties to strengthen us, and/or the mind to understand what He has done in our life. Sometimes we need to step outside of our life and look inward then we can understand that “it wasn’t us that build our life it was the Lord of lords and the G_d of gods (2-3).” The world gives thanks to its “gods” like the god of materialism for all that G_d has provided and because of it get entangled and trapped.
  3. What has He Done? Think about all that He has done in your life, think about the storms he has brought you through, the disasters that came and left, and lives we have seen go before us. We easily attribute all of the bad things that have happened in our lives to be “G_d’s handiwork” like the death of a child because of suicide, a marriage that wasn’t mended, and/or the traffic ticket we received. We do not as easily credit the good things that G_d has done that we abused, the doors He has opened that we did not enter, the counseling we refused to listen to, and/or the skills and talents he has given us that we did not make use of. When we live in a place long enough, we become blind to the beauty that surrounds us and it takes a tourist to help us see the natural beauty of our homeland. In 2020 we were and still are tangled with Covid 19 and it was seen as a “curse” but, when we open our eyes and ears, we see that G_d has turned the disaster into a blessing. Before COVID 19, people spent their income at different venues now, they seek the linking of family. G_d has done marvelous things in our life, we just don’t recognize it.

We are G_d’s magnum opus His marvelous work. Our bodies contain 60 miles of veins, a heart that keeps working even while we sleep, and as we age our body adapts to the changes (Psalms 139:14).  May your find peace in all that you do today.

Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

 

Heaven or Hell?

Good morning,

A thought crossed my mind this morning, we hear a lot about “Heaven” and “Hell” and where we live for eternity. We don’t fully understand, though, that even while we live we can also have Heaven or Earth depending on our choices and that of others. In the Mesopotamian story of the “Garden of Eden”, Adam Eve had everything they needed and didn’t know about life outside of the Garden.  The Devil, or the Serpent of old, had to break up this happy party; to do this, he created “conflict” by pointing at the  “The beautiful Apple hanging within hand’s reach”. The apple could have been just an ordinary apple on the tree but, to Eve it was intoxicating “I can be like the Creator and know the difference between good and evil”. Once the choice was made to take a harmless bite, sin had been conceived; Eve enticed Adam, and life for them changed irrevocably. Mankind was taken from the beautiful garden and placed in a prune pit”. An angel guarded the entrance to the garden so that mankind could not traverse between the two realities (Genesis 3:17-24). The beautiful skies that provided rain in the proper season became bronze and the fertile ground became iron (Deuteronomy 28:23). You see, we live and die by the quality of our choices (Mike Krier). In the same way, we also cannot live in two disapparate realities, we will either choose to live in a prune pit or live according to G_d’s will and desire. We can have “Heaven on Earth” or we can have “Destruction”.

Sin breaks the heart of G_d because he created mankind to be in a relationship with Him. G_d did not warn us to “sin not” because he wants a pristine person to be his Poster Child; He said it because He knows the hell it unleashes in our lives and those who proceed us. G_d absolutely knew what would happen upon taking a simple, little, harmless bite. In the same way, we warn our children about the pitfalls that they will face because of ill-chosen choices.

We do not just show up on G_d’s doorstep and say, “Hi I want to live in your kingdom how about making some room for me”. Turning our life around begins at the blood-stained cross of Calvary (Romans 5:12-21). We can either continue to crucify our hearts for the choices we made or accept Jesus’ grace and mercy by letting his blood atone for our sin. Having our sins forgiven doesn’t give us the golden ticket to paradise, it paves the way for us to put our life back on the correct moral compass. If or when we commit a crime, we are not given a “get of prison free” card, we are given the strength and courage to be accountable for our actions and slowly leave the land we are in. When we bring destruction in our family (Proverbs 11:28), being forgiven will not cause us to open the door to our home and find life as it once was; we will, however, be granted the strength and courage to face what we did.

Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

One Size Fits All

Good morning,

One of the many strange words that Jesus uttered the one that sticks in my mind is “In my Father’s house there are many rooms. I am going there to prepare a place for that where I am you will be also” (John 14:2). This snippet is quoted during funeral services as encouragement for the family that their loved one will be in Heaven waiting for them. For the disciples, it was an encouragement to continue and press onward (Phillipians 3:14) in other words, “the ministry doesn’t end with me and it is not a “one size fits all”. Each of us has different qualities, skills, and passions because of that, the ministry outreach has to be diverse and willing to adapt to the needs of an ever-changing world. G_d is ok with using our flair in developing our ministry.  People that come to salvation are welcome no matter where they are in life, how bad or good their financial status may be, marital status, etc – they are all welcome and there is and will always be room for them. The people coming to salvation will learn for a season and can branch out. For us to dwell in G_d’s house, we must understand, just like the disciples had to understand, that our headship is Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:16-18).

Today, just like a generation ago,  churches have to meet the ministerial needs of the people. A  church on one side of town may be different from a church on the other side but both are churches of the Sovereign Lord Jesus. Each of us is entitled to our theological differences and G_d ministers to each of us where we are but that doesn’t mean “that’s how G_d does things”. When Peter ministered to the Roman Centurian, he was called on the carpet for violating Jewish law by eating with a Roman until Peter fully explained the situation and how he was led by the Spirit of G_d (Acts 11).  If we can get past our theological differences and work together we can accomplish a whole lot more than we can as separate entities.  For the disciples this meant people working together in a union or family unit despite the things that separate them.

In the synoptic Gospels, each of the writers addressed the words of Jesus from separate perspectives but all told the same story. When you look at the book of John, it ministers to the diaspora or, “dispersed people of Judah” explaining that Jesus was/is the Messiah of G_d. Matthew ministered to the Jews, Luke, and later the book of Acts was to the greeks or non-Jewish audience, and Mark or John Mark (Acts 15:36-39) to the 1st-century church which was a composite church that is, it had greeks and Jews. The central focus of all four canonicals was on “salvation through Jesus”. In each of the gospels, the references point to something the audience would understand like an experience, cultural story, and or a historical character. It is for this reason that there are pseudepigrapha, Septuagint LXXI, and Greek references that we miss because we read it in English. 

My point is, for the minister to be successful, he/she has to know the populace he/she will be ministering to and adapt to the changes but the cornerstone must be on Christ the Messiah of G_d (Pslams 118:22).   Ministry has never been nor ever will be a “one size fits all”. There is room for everybody in the church.

Peace In His Name

Mike

 

The Devil at the Crossroad

Good morning and Happy New Years 2021,

We have a common enemy that affects all of humanity and that is, “the Devil”. In scripture, we are admonished to not provoke him nor poke fun at him; he is one of G_d’s created angels and he deserves our utmost respect (Jude 1:8-9). Anyone who has ever taken on the Devil or took lightly the power he possesses has found out all too late that he is a formidable enemy (Job 41, Acts 11:19-20). The Devil, just like G_d, takes no sides; unlike G_d, he plays one side against the other to create conflicts by being the “silent partner.” When we read about school shootings, mass-murder, or other nefarious attacks, we blame the person, the weapon, and anything other than the real culprit, “the Devil”.  Why hasn’t mankind picked up on his game? Because one of his greatest feats is making people believe he doesn’t exist “if he doesn’t exist, he isn’t a problem” so mankind thinks. This diabolical plan has worked for countless centuries and because of it the Devil has free reign and can disguise himself in any way he sees fit (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

 

The one person Satan truly hates is G_d because G_d broke up Satan’s plan to overthrow the throne of Heaven and he overturns the Devil’s plans at every turn. From the very moment that the Devil was kicked out of heaven, the war was proclaimed between Heavens’ armies and Satan’s kingdom. We see the ravages of this war on the streets, in homes, churches, communities, and businesses. In every conflict, he stands on the sidelines and lets others take the fall. The Devil’s game is to get people to draw a line in the sand as a demarcation between two opposing sides. In our homes, the children get the parents to take sides and the home suffers greatly because of it. There is no avenue the Devil will not go down to cause problems he even gets his minions to fight with each other leading to problems between humans they have watched over.

 

It has been said that “everything is fair in love and war” (unknown). The implication is that whatever the Devil does in our life is an act of war and everyone outside of G_d’s hedge of protection is fair game (Job 1). It must be fully understood that the Devil hates every single human being on planet earth, he has no friends and no allies. All who yield their lives to his control face insurmountable odds in life and it profoundly affects the lives of those who follow them (family, friends, colleagues, etc.). The Devil sets traps in the form of “temptations” which are not “sin” until they are acted upon (1 Corinthians 10:13). When we sin by acting on the temptation, we step into a trap of sorts. A pastoral friend of mine once said, “When we are born, we are assigned a demon who will record everything about us, every event in our life, and every pain that we feel and because of it the Devil knows everything about us” (Rex Allen); if this is true, the Devil also knows just the right bait to use to entrap us and how long to keep it out. To the Devil, our demise is not personal it’s just “business”.

 

The devil’s attacks are like a stack of dominoes, push one down and the rest fall in time. Consider the case of Jacob and the people of Schechem. Jacob was en route to Beth El and chose to stop at Schechem where he bought a piece of land for 100 pieces of silver. The first thing that Jacob did was to build an altar to El Elohe to thank him for a safe journey. The next thing that happened was Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, went down to the community to look around and she ran into Schechem the son of Hamor the leader of Schechem. The third thing that happened is that Schechem molested Dinah. Dinah was a beautiful young lady who was the epitome of the careless young man in Proverbs 7 and had put herself into harm’s way unknowingly. Young Schechem asked his father to get Dinah for his wife. The men of Schechem hatched a little plan to trip up the small group by proposing that Jacob and his family give Dinah to young Schechem and that the two communities intermarry and become one. When Jacob’s sons heard what happened, they hatched a plan of their own by tricking the men of Schechem into circumcising themselves to kill them when they were the most vulnerable. Jabob’s plundered the people of Schechem because they felt it was justified (Genesis 34).  The Devil will use our anger to get us to do the unG_dly just like the sons of Jacob did.

Every time I hear about an individual who has harmed another person or sins and is caught, I know that the problems are just beginning. Consider what happens when a child is abused, it leads to subsequent problems with running away, taking up a life of crime, and other such things[1]. We can justify our actions all that we want to but, they will not hold up in the light of truth. Consider Saul when his armies were facing down the Philistines and Samuel had not arrived at the set time. Saul and the men were afraid of the Philistines so brave old Saul had the sacrifice prepared and the offering made which was unauthorized. When Samuel asked him what he thought he was doing, Saul gave a weak excuse “that his army was running away in fear; after all, you didn’t show up on time” (1 Samuel 13).  For Israel, this was a dark time because, Saul was the king and what he went through, the nation would also endure.

The Devil knows that if people are unprotected, he has a much easier time of destroying them; the children are unaware of the troubles that they will face until they find out firsthand, and then it is too late. For the Devil to get to the child, he must first get to the child’s power center. Once the PowerCenter is under his control, the trouble will take on a life of its own. Look at what happened to nation Israel from the day David said to G_d, “Let this sin fall on me and my family” (1 Chronicle 21:17) until the day of exile which was approximately 500 years later. Better yet, consider the church in America from the 20th to the 21st centuries. In one century, the church ruled and what it said was law. if you were not attending church, you were considered “unG_dly”. The problem is, behind closed doors the Devil was getting a foothold on the church and incited the church, as he did to David, to do unG_dly acts and then try to cover them up. The biggest problem of sin is that it affects everyone, and no amount of money will ever make it right[2]. From the sin, the victim will be inundated with whispers from the Devil’s minions about “how bad you are” and “no one will miss you if you die”. Once the Devil gets the seed planted, his job is done, and the human will finish the work.

In an argument between two or more parties, the Devil enters not as a judge as to make a judgment call on who is right and who is wrong rather, as an instigator to turn up the pressure. One would think that as long as the devil has been doing this, someone would catch on to it. The reason mankind has little understood this tactic is that as humans we always consider ourselves to be justified in our actions. The other side of the problem is that “confusion” and “frustration” enter into the picture to keep the two sides at odds with each other. Why would the devil even think this was necessary? The reason is, while we are worried about one problem, he is creating another more diabolical problem. Consider the conflict between Amnon and Absalom. Amnon lusted after Absalom’s sister. David’s Brother Jonadab noticed how Amnon was down and so he asked him why he was looking so haggard. This is where the devil comes in being a voice of reason. Jonadab suggested a ruse that Amnon could use to get the prize he wanted. Then, when the plan was in place, the next target was Absalom who was enticed to kill Amnon for what he did. The devil was not interested in Amnon’s sexual desires nor was he interested in how Amnon felt; what he wanted was to destroy King David because of everything he had done to destroy the Devil’s plans and he would do so at the hands of Jonadab (2 Samuel 13). Remember this, the devil is the first one to come up with the idea of “bait and switch”. For bait and switch to work, the salesman or saleswoman needs to get the customer to be interested in one product and then slip the new one during the sales transaction. After Amnon raped Tamar, the love he had for her dissipated into other hatred. Amnon had no idea how his life is now over. King David would have reprimanded Amnon if not for the illicit affair with Bethsheba.

The part about human beings is that no matter how many mediums we have for communicating, we do not speak to the other side as to confirm or deny what we have heard and nor are we likely to forgive which leads to endless wars between family members. The nations Iraq, Iran, Libya Egypt, Israel, and Arabia have been at war for countless centuries. We have heard for the past three decades from our presidential contenders about ”Peace in the Middle East” strangely that never comes about simply because we have a devil who does not want peace and so we have people in the world who also do not want peace. The devil stands at the crossroad waiting patiently for anyone to listen to him. We are warned in Scripture about being quicker to listen than to react and we also warned about false judgments.

In closing, I want to say people please spend less time arguing and start listening. Our G_d is sovereign and holy. Our G_d’s not for one person or over another, one church over another, nor does he favor anyone. All who come to G_d my first believe that he exists and that he and he alone is holy. We must be on G_d’s side.

 

In His Service

Mike

 

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

[1] Ferguson, K. (2009). Exploring the Psychosocial and Behavioral Adjustment Outcomes of Multi-Type Abuse among Homeless Young Adults. Social Work Research, 33(4), 219-230. Retrieved February 17, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/42659733

 

[2] SHUPE, A., & SIPE, A. (2007). Reactance, Crime, and Sin. In Spoils of the Kingdom: Clergy Misconduct and Religious Community (pp. 108-124). URBANA; CHICAGO: University of Illinois Press. Retrieved February 22, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xcfbq.10 109-110