So God Won’t Say No

Why bother praying if we don’t expect answers.
Common thought says the answer
will be yes, wait or
no—I’ve got something better in mind.

So many times God gives us our hearts’ desires (Psa. 37:4) that we expect yes’s to our prayers.

Nobody ever hears or sees the Father say no (John 5:37).   For us yes seekers, He’s the right one to pray to!

What seems like a no

may well be the opportunity to persevere like the Luke 18 widow.  “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?   I tell you that He will avenge them speedily” (verses 7-8).  Even the unjust judge answered the widow’s persistent request, and God is so just.  Just keep asking!

Henry HigginsIf God says “just you wait,” it’s because He knows Henry Higgins needs to learn some valuable lesson besides that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.  “The testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking  nothing” (James 1:3-4).

It looks like three times God said no to Paul.   Actually He told Paul, “Yes, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Cor. 12:9).

It looks like God said no to David, though he pleaded for his child with Bathsheba during seven days of heartfelt fasting (2 Sam. 12:16-18).  I’ve never fasted for more than two days.  So what an effort David made!  Actually, God told David:  yes, I forgive sin, but it has disastrous consequences so you must choose to reject it.

Astoundingly, Paul and David are

The only two examples in the Bible

that I’ve seen where healing was asked for and not quickly granted.   God says He is our Healer, and people in the Bible were healed!

So what about all the people we know on our long list of those needing healing?   It seems like YHVH-Ropha is saying a loud NO to so many.  I can’t help thinking, if only they had been in the Bible!

Is there anything we can do so God doesn’t say no?

Yes, yes, yes

Jesus calls us friends (John 15:15), and friends want to hear from each other.  God wants to hear our prayers, and He wants us to reason with Him (Isa. 1:18).   Some matters take prayer and fasting (Mark (9:29).

But we should never think we can tell God what to do.  We should never fast to make our voice heard on high (Isa. 58:4).

The model prayer Jesus gave teaches near the top:  “Your will be done” (Matt. 6:10).

At His greatest time of need in the Garden of Gethsemane, three times Jesus prayed for one hour, passionately asking that there might be some other way than His suffering ahead.  The answer would have been no.  Jesus knew that because He and the Father had planned everything from the foundation!

But Jesus always ended His prayers with

“Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39)

We should always pray the same way, whether for healing or any other matter.   The Master Timer knows the best time.  And He knows what and how would be the best for all concerned.

Healing is guaranteed, if only in the resurrection.  It is appointed unto all to die once (Heb. 9:27).  We  need trials to develop patience, perfection and completion (James 1:4).

If we pray for God’s will, not our own, God won’t say no.  It’s a guaranteed “yes, I will.  Now buckle up and see what I’ve got in mind.”

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Give Thanks? Who Knew It’s Neuroscience!

corned beef hashI love corned beef hash.
But who can afford to pay $3 for a little can of it.
So recently I saw corned beef hash
for only $1.99 at Walmart.
I drove home drooling over the prospect of
enjoying it for breakfast the next morn!

Until family says,
“Perfect, we’ll take that to Denver for our brunch this weekend!”

Moment of decision and reaction:

♥   Give thanks—that we’ll be seeing our daughters for brunch and sharing MY corned beef hash with them?

   Or complain and moan:  “That’s my corned beef hash that I was dreaming of for breakfast this morn!  I was figuring on half the can!”

Grateful?  Or gripe?  The situation comes up countless times a day.  Spiritually the choice is clear.  Sounds like a no-brainer!

Who knew it’s neuroscience!

quantum-leap-2Study of the brain is discovering that our thankfulness or negativity changes the neurons in our brain.  We build a network of thankfulness or complaining in our three pounds of grey matter.

It has to do with synapses.  What’s a synapse?  “Is that in Google Store?”

No gripes about my joke, please!

A synapse is a minute gap at the end of a neuron.  When we think, synapses “fire” and send signals across to other synapses.  This forms a bridge over which signals and information are transferred.

“Complaining and the Brain—How ‘Bad  Karma’ Is Created” by Viatcheslav Wlasoff, Ph.D.

Should it surprise us that somebody who understands neuroscience has a name you can’t spell or pronounce!

Never mind that, the exciting discovery here is that each time an electrical charge triggers, the synapses involved are actually brought closer to each other.

When it’s time for a new thought—give thanks or complain—the one most likely to surface is the one which can form a bridge between synapses in the shortest period of time.

“What all this means,” writes Dr. Wlasoff, “is that thinking about something initially makes it easier to think about it again in the future.  As such, if a person is constantly unhappy, it makes it more likely that he or she will continue to have negative thoughts if nothing is done about it.  On the bright side, though, this also suggests that if we make a conscious effort to think positive thoughts, the positive feedback cycle helps us to become a more optimistic personality as well.”

We build a neuron network in our brains by what we think.  And then that change of neurons most often fired gives us a bias to think that way again.

Hebb’s Law puts it:  “Neurons that fire together wire together.”

“So,” says Alex Korb, Ph.D. in “The Grateful Brain—the neuroscience of giving thanks,” Nov. 20, 2012, “once you start seeing things to be grateful for, your brain starts looking for more things to be grateful for …”  It creates a virtuous cycle.  We look for what’s right instead of for problems.

This is boosted because it feels good!  Expressing gratitude increases the production of serotonin and dopamine.  These neurotransmitters then fire up the bliss center of the brain.

It’s like we make paths of thinking—and the more we walk down them, the more they get welcoming, and the more we choose them.

A desire becomes a thought, then an action, then a habit, and finally character.

Neuroscience is also discovering that

Who we spend time with can change our thinking subconsciously

Yes, expressing negativity can be bad for both complainer and listener.  Giving thanks can fire up both the speaker and listener.  No wonder “The righteous should choose his friends carefully” (Prov. 12:26).  And the righteous should be an example to others.

So when you wake up each day, thank God for a new day of life.  Each day is a gift from God, called the present!  Dr. Natalie Engelbart advises that we start each day by specifying five blessings.

The Blesser commands through Paul, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes. 5:18).

hugI want to move my giving thanks synapses so close together that they hug!

complaint deptI want Christian neurons!  Who wants a Complaint Department upstairs!  Who really wants the nerve to say that.

The next time you stand at the crossroads, choose the thanks road.

Start a virtuous cycle, not a vicious one.

Instead of beefing, give thanks for the Hormel you can share—in my case, Mary’s Kitchen.

Recent research finds that complaining corrupts the portion of the brain called the hippocampus.   You wouldn’t want hippos to not be able to go to college.  Seriously, decision-making and intelligent thought center there.

So it sounds like a no-brainer but it isn’t.  Our brains are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as David exclaimed in Psa. 139:14.

The right spiritual choice through the Holy Spirit guiding our spirit in man changes our physical brain—which then promotes our future spiritual choices and inspires those around us to be thankful too!  Exhortation by people and scripture is great, but I hope you’re like me that

This neuroscience motivates me extra special

to want to make the right choice to give thanks.

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Thanksgiving: Time to Elevate

This modern convenience dates back at least to Rome 336 B.C. when Archimedes built one.   That we are going the way of Rome is bad prophetic news, except in this mode we would hate to do without:  elevators.

elevator oldThose back then were open cars hoisted manually by people, animals or water wheels.

The first dedicated passenger elevator was used by King Louis XV of Versailles to get from his first floor apartments to the second floor apartments of his mistresses.  So no worries about getting caught sneaking down the stairs.  Men in a chimney lifted his “flying chair” with ropes.

In 1823 British architects Burton and Hormer created a steam-powered “ascending room” to take tourists up for a view of London.  But cables could snap and you’d descend!

elevatorToday if you work crosswords, the answer to “the name in elevators” is Otis.  In 1852 Elisha Otis invented the safety brake and later formed the Otis Elevator Co.  Thanks to him, we can have the ups and downs without plummets!

Today if all the backup systems fail, there’s still shock absorbers waiting at the bottom of the shaft.  Comforting knowledge that probably won’t stop you from screaming to death!

When life is not going our way, and in fact seems to be going down and downer, God in us can absorb the shocks.  Keep us from hitting bottom.  And at the Master Timer’s right time

Lift us up!

In Num. 14:24 God praised Caleb because he “thinks differently and follows me completely” (New Century Version).  Why’s that so relevant for us today?  God allowed Caleb and Joshua to enter the Promised Land whereas the discouraging spies were plagued to death (verse 37)!

How should we think differently?  Nut jobs think differently!  We need God to crack our hard, stubborn shells.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways … For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).

God isn’t saying we should forget it, we can’t possibly muster up godly thoughts.  He says we can if we elevate them!  The ladder to His higher thoughts is His Bible.

Paul said we can have the very mind of Christ (Php. 2:5).  How?  When we esteem others better than ourselves by emptying ourselves to serve them humbly.

What powers this?

Willis TowerWe take the elevator rather than walk up all the stairs.  When I took the one-minute ride to the top of the Willis Tower in Chicago, for the thrill of standing on the Ledge, a glass balcony extending four feet outside the 103rd floor, it spared me from walking up and down all those flights!  The man who never returned would be in Chicago not Boston!

We elevate our walk on this earth by walking as Jesus walked (1 John. 2:6).  That’s not talking about platform sandals.  That’s living with a higher purpose and plan.

Top floor, please

For the power to elevate, we can go up any time we choose to the very throne of the universe (Heb. 4:16).  Up where everybody shouts “Glory!” (Psa. 29:9).   That beats any British ascending room!

Tellingly, we go to the upper room—the uppest room—by humbling ourselves on our knees.  And in attitude.

In many elevators, you can go down to Parking.  We must not park spiritually!  Not bury our talents.  Not scoff off hastening His coming.  Not take our hands off the plow.  We must be found “so doing” now and when He comes (Matt. 24:46).

Agreeing with Matthew, Paul commends “those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (Rom. 2:7).

You reading this now have opportunity to “seek the things that are above” (Col. 3:1).   To urgently pursue the higher thoughts and actions of God the Father and Jesus Christ.

In the Old Testament ceremony on Pentecost, the High Priest held up two loaves representing the first fruits.  He elevated them—waved them—before God to be accepted (Lev. 23:17).  We can do all things through Jesus Christ, our High Priest (Php. 4:13).

At Thanksgiving, we usually find that we take everything for granted.  It’s time to rise above that.

The clouds, please

So when the seventh trumpet blows, and the first fruits are changed from physical to spirit, and rise to meet Christ in the air, we’ll get to elevate!

World 51 8-30-17

 

Pigging Out

“Man, I’m ready to pig out!   All I ate was a little oatmeal this morning and I’m starvin’!”

“So what’s with the chicken salad?  You could be chowing down on this smokin’ pulled pork sandwich!”

“C’mon, just because I’m so hungry I could eat a horse, you know I’m not gonna.”

pig blue glasses“Yeah, I wouldn’t eat Trigger either.  But you think the Bible says no pork.”

“I think information stated more than once in the Bible is especially important.  Leviticus and Deuteronomy both say no pig.”

“Right, the Law of Moses.  Done away through Christ.”

“So the harsh old God of the Old Testament picks on something that tastes so good just to test the obedience of His faithful people?  And then the loving Son lifts the burden?”

“That’s how it looks.” 

“Except what a surprise!  The God who banned pork was the one who became Jesus!”

“Maybe He changed His mind.”

“The one who is the same yesterday, today and forever?”

“Well, the Bible says Noah ate pork right after the Flood.”

“What?!”

“Noah’s family got off the ark and had to go find food.”

“Yeah, so?”

“When they returned from foraging, Noah exclaimed with delight, ‘They’re back!  Shem and Japheth and ham!'”

“I didn’t see that coming!  A real slopper!  …  sloppy Bible study.”

“Well, you should lighten up.  I don’t know where it is in the Bible but I remember hearing that Jesus purified all meats.”

“You’re thinking of where the Pharisees were criticizing the disciples for eating with ceremoniously unwashed hands.”  

Like “All employees must wash their hands before going back to work”?

“You could say that.  But probably shouldn’t!    Jesus noted that thanks to the digestive system He created, any dirt—or anything consumed—would pass through.  It happened to me when I was a boy and swallowed a nickel.”

“OK, dude, now you’re making a little cents.”

“And you’re making a groaner!   Here’s what makes sense to me:  Instead of eating gross animals because they taste like chicken, just eat chicken.”

Peter's sheet“OK, but what about when Peter has this vision of a sheet and the voice commands him to eat.”

“Peter was shocked not jubilant!   This leading apostle objected, ‘I have never eaten anything common or unclean.'”

“So?”

“So, this was a decade after Jesus supposedly purified all meats and after His resurrection supposedly changed everything.  Surely Jesus would have shared such ‘freedom’ with His disciples.”

“I never noticed that.”

“Three times Peter saw the same vision, and each time he wondered what it meant.  He didn’t jump to conclusions and a pepperoni pizza!”

“Because John was not a papa yet?”

“Would you get serious!” 

“Well, what did it mean?”

“Peter said ‘God has shown me not to consider any man unclean.”  God wanted him to go baptize the first Gentile converts who were not Jewish proselytes.”

“Well, Paul clearly changed everything.   I remember he said ‘There is nothing unclean of itself.'”

“Paul used different Greek words to distinguish between being common—ceremoniously defiled or polluted—and unclean.  The word for common was koinos and …”

“Are we talking nickels again?”

“No, Paul continuously discussed the problem baffling everybody at that time …”

“Whether Gog and Magog got Nero elected?”

“Stop it!  Whether to eat meat sacrificed to idols.  The New Testament Church was Jewish based and did not question the foundational knowledge of clean and unclean meats.  Paul also battled ascetics who were judging the Christians for enjoying proper food, drink, and worship days explicitly taught by the Bible.”

“Wow, I had always heard Paul was telling them not to be conned into doing the Old Testament Jewish practices.”

“Peter said Paul’s writings were ripe for twisting.  The purpose of clean and unclean was to be holy as God is holy.   He said He did it so that it might be well with us and our children.”

pigs garbage
“Well?  I should confess:  My doctor keeps advising me not to eat pork.  Poison on the plate, he brands it.”

“Here’s the main course for me:   There’s not one example in the entire Bible of any righteous person eating unclean meat.”

“You’d think there’d be lots.”

“And here’s something else to think about.  In 164 B.C. what abomination did Antiochus Epiphanes sacrifice on the altar in Jerusalem?”

“Pig!”

“And what are we?”

“Temples of God.”

“Who love God and want to please Him.  That’s why I value you as a brother in Christ.”

“Well, that was good to the last bite.    I hear what you say.  I’m going to look into what the Bible actually says and let’s talk again over lunch next week.  It may be my last pulled pork sandwich.”

“Yes, pig out!”

* * * * * * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

unclean pigI recommend a booklet called “What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats?” you can get FREE by mail or download at https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/what-does-the-bible-teach-about-clean-and-unclean-meats?World 51 8-30-17

 

The Three Most Powerful Words

I  love you?
Please  forgive me?
Powerful words but not the three most powerful words.

Esther & KingTaking a long pause at the entrance of the throne room and probably saying a heartfelt silent prayer, Esther  approached King Ahasuerus of Persia—humbly and respectfully because she was uninvited and risking death if the king didn’t hold up his golden scepter to his queen.  Ominously, she hadn’t been invited for 30 days!

Well, King Ahasuerus not only sceptered Esther but he offered her anything she wanted up to half his kingdom!   An amazing offer, but did anybody doubt that he would have done just that?

A better throne and a better offer!

We don’t need an invitation to come before the Father’s throne!  We are always welcome to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

And outdoing the Persian king’s offer, Jesus promises

“If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14)

We can absolutely count on that—the word of the Son of God—more than Esther could count on the Persian king.

genieBut we must realize, Jesus is not a genie in a bottle who must grant wishes of any kind to whoever rubs the bottle.  He gives conditions in the Bible for asking in His name and claiming His promise to do what you ask:

♦   Will what you ask bring glory to the Father in the Son (John 14:13)?  John 15:8 says the Father is glorified when we bear much fruit.

♦   Will your request help you “go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16?

♦    Do you “abide in Me, and My words abide in you” (John 15:7)?

♦   Will “whatever you ask the Father in my name …” have this result:  “that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24)?  God is a happy God who dotes on His children!  And who wants us to have life and have it  more abundantly (John 10:10).

♦   Do you “keep His commandments and do those things pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:22)?

♦   Is what you ask “according to His will” (I John 5:14-15)?

♦   Do “you have faith and do not doubt” (Matt. 21:21-22)?  A mountain would move!

If we have no doubts about a human king’s offer, why about the King of kings’ promises “who cannot lie” (Tit. 1:2)?

Each of these passages promises that if we fulfill its condition, we are guaranteed not just half a kingdom but

“Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you”

It’s even more amazing than that:  God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20)!  With Him all things are possible.

Do you ever catch yourself getting up from prayer and then mumbling as an afterthought:  “Oh yeah, in Jesus’ name”?  The last words of any communication are potentially the most important.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea  to pray “I  love you.”  Or  “Please forgive me.”  But make sure you end your prayer by coming boldly before God’s unsceptered throne with the three most powerful words:

“In Jesus’ name.”

Amen!

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