Monday, May 24, 2021

Since God is God

Jesus said many things that were hard to understand. It’s not that He wanted to cause confusion, only to challenge the people to look deeper into what they’d been taught or heard, to ask what does this mean. Jesus often used exaggerated statements to make His point.

For example: Matt 5:30If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” 

How is cutting off a body part going to keep someone from hell? It’s not. What keeps someone from hell is receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord. So, what was He saying? If there is something in your life that is preventing you from following Him, get it out of the way. If you identify a sin that so easily entangles you, quit giving it access to your life.

If it’s internet pornography, put a filter on your internet that blocks it. If it’s drinking too much in a bar, stop going to the bar. If it’s anger or fear from the daily news, stop watching the news.

Never was he suggesting cutting off a body part would help you with your struggles.

Jesus’ hard sayings would not just challenge the people, but at times turn them away. His words created a crisis of belief. What He was asking or saying was beyond the comfort of their commitment to follow Him. “That’s not what I signed up for. If that’s what it means to be a follower, I’d rather not be one.” He did so to prove the world had a stronger grip on them than the promises of God.

Like Demas. Demas had been a disciple of Paul. 2Tim 4:10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica What triggered the desertion? Was it something Paul said?

That same thing was happening after an extended teaching session in Capernaum. Jesus had said some things very hard to accept. People were deserting Him.

John 6:60-69 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?" But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." 

Now, how far does Peter’s statement go? "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. Do those words apply now, in this life, as well as in eternity?

Peter was convinced the answer to his life was in the words Jesus spoke. He had no alternative but to continue following. His words, no matter how hard, were life to him. They explained how life was to be lived. They held out the offer of eternal life. They revealed the promises of God. The world spoke death – death now and death forever. What kind of choice would that be: life or death?

Moses said the same thing: Deut 30:19-20 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him…”

So, if the words of Jesus are designed as life for us, what He says, not only personally in the Gospels, but throughout all of Scripture, must have that same life in them as well. Which is why He said: Matt 4:4 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" His words invite us into the life and sustain us within that life.

But that doesn’t mean those words will be easy to accept. Some will challenge us to exercise faith, to change our way of life, to conform us to a lifestyle counter to today’s culture, to cause us to reevaluate what’s really important, to transform us into new people. And even yet, some of those words will be hard to understand.

Then there’s the other matter: What if we do understand the words but aren’t sure we want what the words say?

I want to take you into the life of Paul to see how he struggled with this very issue. What he wanted God to do and what God did were miles apart. Paul prayed desperately in one direction but God’s provision came from a different direction. When God told him how He would answer Paul’s prayer, it’s important to see how Paul dealt with that? It started in Lystra.

Act 14:8  At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother's womb, who had never walked. 9 This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well, 10 said with a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And he leaped up and began to walk. 11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have become like men and have come down to us." 12 And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out 15 and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM. 16 In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; 17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." 18 Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. 

Act 14:19  But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe. 

Stoning was the easiest way to get rid of a person – pelt someone with big rocks until they died. It was a group activity which took away the guilt of a single person killing someone else. A group of men grabbed rocks and threw them at someone until that person died. Which stone killed him? No one knew. Like a firing squad. Not every rifle has a bullet in it. Some men shoot blanks so the men don’t know who actually killed the person.

In either case, each man could walk away innocent because, in his own mind, he was not personally responsible, though as a part of the group he was.

Stoning was common in that day. Stephen was stoned to death. The woman caught in adultery was about to be stoned until Jesus stepped in. Even Jesus Himself faced a possible stoning as men took up rocks but the Bible says He slipped away.

But, stoning had one prescribed outcome: the person was to die. By all accounts in this story, the men who stoned Paul felt they had completed the job – supposing him to be dead. Even the reaction of those with Paul seemed to believe the same – the disciples stood around him. They weren’t kneeling down trying to revive him. Just standing around looking at him. So, was Paul dead? Sounds like it.

But then, he got up and entered the city. Now, the easiest thing to believe is, he was knocked unconscious and came to. But how does a man stoned into unconsciousness suddenly wake up and go back into the city, then the next set out to walk 60 miles from Lystra to Derbe? I’d have to be hauled back into the city on a stretcher, then laid up for days until I could move without it hurting. But Paul seemed unfazed.

The word used for got up is: anisthemi – to stand up, to rise up

It’s what Jesus said to Martha in reference to Lazarus being in the tomb: John 11:23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 

In reference to Himself, Jesus said: Matt 20:18-19 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up." 

Now, obviously these are not the only ways this word is used. There is still the rising up that has nothing to do with death, but it is interesting that under these circumstances Paul’s condition was uncertain but I lean toward him being temporarily dead and brought back to life.

Suffering at the hands of men was not uncommon to Paul. He often used his scars as badges of honor in following Jesus.

Gal 6:17  From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. 

2Cor 11:23  Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? 30 If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. 

Weakness? Who boasts in their weakness? Those with special insight in what’s provided for this weakness.

Gal 4:13  but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; 14 and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. 15 Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 

Many have connected Paul’s eye problems with his stoning. Getting hit with stones is gonna leave some marks. Perhaps it left an ongoing condition that bothered him regularly. Like a splinter or thorn you get stuck under your skin you can’t remove and keeps irritating.

So, how did Paul handle this thorn?  

2Cor 12:1  Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. 5 On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. 6 For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 

Paul gains new insight for life struggles he didn’t seem to have had before and wouldn’t have had without the thorn. The insight? Grace makes the difference. Not just in having grace as a part of salvation but the difference Grace makes in living out that salvation.

Grace is our famous word for God doing in us that which we cannot do for ourselves. Him giving us what we don’t deserve as a gift necessary for how we can receive the life and live the life in a way that honors Him and blesses us.

This was a divine moment of clarity for Paul. Hearing God’s grace was sufficient for him, gave Paul a perspective that made the thorn not only bearable but necessary. Without that thorn and the moment of insight, he never would have understood what God’s grace could do. He’d never have accepted his weakness as an acknowledgement of his need for God’s strength. He would have thought like we do: weakness means I’m inferior, I’m inadequate, I’m never enough, this has got to go away before I can have joy again. Instead, Paul learned that the grace that saved him was the sustaining work of God in him. The impact of that phrase – My grace is sufficient – changed his life when he embraced it as a personal message from God answering his prayer.

What makes God’s word so difficult, so hard to understand? Accepting it as a specific word from God to us which we are to apply to our lives.

Teacher said: “Clear off your desks, take out a sheet of paper and prepare for the quiz. A little girl said, “I didn’t know we were having a quiz today.” The teacher said, “I told the whole class yesterday.” She answered, “But you didn’t tell me.”

Had Paul not embraced the words: My grace is sufficient, he never would have been able to handle his thorn issue. He would have spent the rest of his life angry about the thorn and resenting God for not removing it. Instead, he experienced amazing insight that literally changed his life because it changed his perspective.

God wasn’t ignoring Paul’s cries. He wasn’t rejecting his requests for help. He wasn’t abandoning Paul to deal with things as best he could – like a lady from Plum Grove who would always say: Pull up your big girl panties and deal with it.

No, God was graciously undergirding Paul with a strength Paul didn’t know was available, and although he hadn’t realized it yet, it was included within his salvation. It would become a single lesson that had multiple applications in Paul’s life.

Paul if you learn this lesson, you will be better able to deal with all you’ve been through in the past and discover resources for handling whatever is coming in your future.

What was the great lesson? Since God is God, let Him be God in your life. Let Him say what you need to hear. Let Him provide what you need provided. Let Him give you what you need when you need it.

If He says wait, then wait. If He says pray, then pray. If He says trust, then trust. If He says go this way, then go that way. If he says stay, then stay.

A Pilot was asked what was the hardest part of flying. Trusting your instruments. He said once he was caught in a storm and unable to see. Everything in him wanted to look out the windows and get his bearings, but his teaching told him that is a fatal move. He said he had to force himself to trust his instruments.

We listen to the words of Jesus or read instruction from Paul and say, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?" And the Lord asks: "You want to go away also?"

Jesus was giving His disciples a choice. He gives us the same choice.

Unless we answer that question with: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life, we have yet to discover the ultimate value of God in our lives, the truth of His word, the necessity of the trials or the sufficiency of His grace for all we need.

What was Paul’s choice? To take the role of victim or live in victory. Paul chose victory. “But, Paul still had his thorn.” Yes, but now he knew something he didn’t know before. Now he knew God’s grace was sufficient. For this and all of his thorns.


  1.  Life is full of thorns.
  2. We can’t go through it without getting pricked and even having some thorns get embedded in our lives.
  3. When God chooses not to remove the thorn, He has other provisions in mind.
  4. Him leaving the thorn will help us learn more about the sufficiency of His grace than by taking it out.
  5. Because God is good – all the time. And all the time – God is good.


Monday, May 17, 2021

Hope Because God Has Plans

 A man and his only child lived alone on their farm. They were poor and had one horse that they used for multiple purposes. One day the horse ran off. The people stopped by and said they were so sorry for his bad situation. Bad situation/good situation who knows? A few days later the horse returned to the coral leading a whole herd of wild horses. The people stopped by and congratulated him on his good situation. Good situation/bad situation, who knows? The next day his son went out to break on of the horses and it threw him to the ground. He broke his arm. The people stopped by and said they were so sorry for his bad situation. Bad situation/good situation, who knows? Later that week, the army commander came through the village conscripting young men to go fight in a war. He looked at the man’s son, saw his broken arm, and walked away. The people stopped by and congratulated him on his good situation. Good situation/bad situation, who knows?

We are prone to form opinions about our circumstances without having sufficient information. We label things as bad or good before we even know how things will turn out. We make up our minds often on first observation, a quick glance then we sum up what we think by how things appear. We have no perspective of what God intends to do.

A little boy was playing in his backyard. A tall, wooden fence surrounded the yard. He heard sounds he had never heard before and ran to the fence and looked through a knothole. He saw an elephant walking by. He ran into the house and told his mom. She said go back and see what else you can see. He did and saw a lion in a cage. He ran back the house and told his mom. She said go back and see what else you can see. He did and saw a clown. He ran back to his mom and told her. She walked with him back the fence. Instead of looking through the knothole, she lifted him up and he saw the whole circus parade.

It’s amazing how perspective can affect our opinion.

Micah, one of the minor prophets, was telling Judah of their impending downfall. They would be taken captive soon, yet, all the while the people felt nothing like that could possibly happen. They doubted, some even denied God would ever let something like that happen to them. Micah said:

Micah 4:12  "But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD, and they do not understand His purpose;

In other words, they had no perspective. Through the knothole, everything they saw was fine. They formed their opinion from what they saw and by what they saw, they had everything figured out. But God had other plans.

It’s easy to forget God has plans when we don’t see God in what’s going on.

John 11:20-28 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world." When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister,

John 11:34, 38-40 Jesus said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, "Remove the stone." Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" 

When did He say this? There’s no record of Him having said it in this story. It must have been in a section of conversation that got left out. Perhaps after He said: he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" Then said: if you believe this, you will see the glory of God.

Martha, if you believe God is involved in your life, you’ll see Him in this situation. If you don’t, you probably won’t. I’ll show you God at work through Me. I will display the power and presence of God. In what I do, you will see God at work.

What was that promise supposed to do? Give her hope – a feeling of expectation that something is going to happen. These weren’t empty promises. “Martha, God is at work, right now, in this moment. Though you don’t see it, I guarantee it is happening. If you will believe Me, you’ll see the power and presence of God. Martha, there’s your hope.”

What are the words of Way Maker? Even when I don't see it, You're working. Even when I don't feel it, You're working. You never stop. You never stop working.

That was the song Elisha was singing when he asked God to open the eyes of his servant to see what God was doing in their behalf and God showed him the angels surrounding them.

But Martha couldn’t see beyond her sadness. She had nothing to help her even imagine something good could come from this. What, now, could Jesus do? Throughout the illness she had hoped Jesus would get there in time to help. As long as Lazarus was alive, there was still a possibility everything would work out. Then Lazarus died and took that possibility with him into his tomb. But Jesus wasn’t done yet. Martha couldn’t see it because she only saw what had happened. Jesus hadn’t brought God’s plan out into the open yet.

It is easy to forget God has plans when we can’t see those plans.

Admittedly, the plans of God aren’t always the first things we look for in a crisis. Or even second or third. In fact, we may not look for them at all. But they’re there. Fulfilling the intentions of God in our lives.

Job’s first reaction to his trials – why? Years ago, the Lakers were in the playoffs. Magic Johnson blew out his knee. You could watch his expression and read his lips. He said: Why me? Why now?

Job’s second reaction – this is unjustified. I don’t deserve this. And the more he looked at his problems, the angrier he became.

He took offense at what God wasn’t doing, that he felt like God should be doing. He never considered what God actually was doing. God was working on a plan.

Jer 29:11-13 For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. [Unless things get too hard for Me. Unless the bad gets too much out of control. Unless I can’t figure out what go do.] Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 

What’s God saying? It’s not the specifics of the plan that gives you hope. It’s knowing I have plans for you that gives you hope. We’re not just hoping for a favorable outcome. We hope for God’s best.

  1. I have plans for you.
  2. They are good plans.
  3. The result of my plans connects you with your future.
  4. Knowing I have good plans for you will give you something to hang onto while I work out all the details.
  5. Keep your eyes on Me in all that’s going on. I’m here and will let you see what you need to see when you need to see it.

Hope is anticipating what God is doing, not just that things will get better. Not how we’d like our bad situation to become good, not how we want things to work out, but knowing God’s best is coming.

Hope requires waiting. Jesus told His disciples: wait for what the Father has promised.

Rom 8:24-25 But hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. 

In our impatience, we want to hurry up and get the project finished. Let’s get this over with so we can enjoy the outcome. That’s like going into travel mode. I remember when we’d drive from Las Vegas to here for vacation, I only wanted to get the trip over with, rarely did I enjoy the journey. But there are amazing things along the way.

James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 

Joy is designed for the whole process, not just the end when the trials are over. To James, we don’t withhold our joy until everything is fine. Why? Because it’s the process of the trials that keep us actively believing God is at work. So, if the trial continues, we don’t give up, but, instead, we hang on, since He’s not finished yet. If He isn’t finished yet, we keep hoping.

Israel needed some serious reworking which they would not cooperate with. It was deep-seated and couldn’t be fixed overnight. They revolted against what they saw as God messing up their lives. They demanded He just leave them alone. We’re fine like we are. We can manage on our own.

God said through Isaiah: Isa 29:15-16 Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, "Who sees us?" or "Who knows us?" You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made would say to its maker, "He did not make me"; or what is formed say to him who formed it, "He has no understanding"? 

He said the same thing to Jeremiah: Jer 18:2-6 "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will announce My words to you." Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. 

Paul saw it, too: Rom 9:20-21 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 

We have to accept God’s right to process His best into our lives. The longer we resist, the more time we may have to spend on the potter’s wheel.

It is easy to forget God has plans when we aren’t sure we want those plans.

Knowing God has plans for us gives us the foundation of our hope. David looked at his life. He was overwhelmed by how things were going. Then wrote: Ps 42:5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. 

Believe and you will see the glory of God. Remember what God’s glory brings? The power and presence of God. It’s the evidence God is here and involved in this moment. By believing that, we can anticipate the result of His plans. Hope is the assurance God is in the process of accomplishing His plans.

That’s why we can’t lean on our own understanding. Our understanding can be wrong. The picture through knothole can be confusing.

Habakkuk couldn’t imagine God would work His plans through using the Babylonians. He told God so. And even when God told him what He would accomplish as a result, Habakkuk said, “God, Your plans are wrong. This isn’t good.” But finally, he came the ultimate surrender:

Hab 3:17-19 Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength,

That’s not just an, “Oh well, whatever.” That’s a moment of deliberately placing his life into the hands of God and trusting Him for the outcome. It requires faith, that in spite of how things look, I will hope in my God.

I know we’ve all asked the questions: Where is God in Covid? Why did God allow our church to get flooded? How can God be in the decision for Doc to leave? How can there be something good come out of all this bad?

Those are the kind of questions that come from looking through the knothole. If we take a snapshot of a single moment, believing that snapshot tells the whole story, we will become discouraged and doubt God’s faithfulness. We have to seek out God’s perspective. We have to rise above the fence and see the bigger picture.

Or we will forget: the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 

Prov 16:4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, even the bad

We may not see it, but it’s there. Somehow in all of this, and in everything else going on in our lives, God has a purpose. Even in what now looks bad, God will bring about a good result. How can I say that? I’m standing in the middle of what was once a disaster. Looking at a group of people who are surviving Covid.

Isa 25:1 O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. 

God has plans for us. God has plans for you. So, how do we live?

  •  In unwavering joy, with constant, inexplainable peace that passes understanding.
  • With gratitude and thankfulness, praising God in all things.
  • Always choosing to hope, that though I can’t see His plans, I know He has plans for me.


  1.  God’s simplest, yet most violated command is: trust Me.
  2. We will trust in our limited perception, incomplete information and tainted judgment before we trust Him.
  3. Trust requires surrendering our opinion to Him.
  4. It is demonstrated when we want what God wants.
  5. Which makes His plans the most important factor in what’s going one and the foundation of our hope.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Mother's Day 2021

Today, I want to talk about the hardest job there is – Pastoring a church. No, being a mother. Realize I have no experience in what I’m talking about, but I had a mother. That should give me some credibility.

Because I was born at such an early age, I don’t remember what I was like as a baby and how my mother had to cope with me. As far as I know I was a perfect child. Which would make my brother and sister responsible for our mother’s nervous breakdown.

Since I was born with a dysfunctional immune system, I was sick a lot as a child. Many of my memories are of my mother taking care of me. I’m sure that added a measure of stress to her life. In fact, I know that later I did add quite a bit of stress to her life.

Come to find out, my mom became a worrier. I take credit for that. And the older I got, the more stress I provided. But she handled it fairly well. I’m sure she was applauded when she got into Heaven for a job well done. But she did enjoy Mother’s Day.

My grandmother didn’t. At least the part of going to church on Mother’s Day. We had a tradition of honoring the oldest mother. There was a lady just a year or two older than she was so she never won. My grandmother was determined to outlive her so she could finally win oldest mother. She was never so excited to hear someone died as the day she learned that lady had died. The next Mother’s Day she finally won oldest mother.

Many ladies are like my grandmother and dislike Mother’s Day. But perhaps for other reasons. Some because they are not mothers and they don’t like being reminded of that fact. Others because they had a disappointing relationship with their own mother, and this day brings back unhappy memories. Still others because they feel defeated that in some way they failed as a mother.

And coming to church on Mother’s Day didn’t always help. Most of the messages I’ve heard throughout the years on Mother’s Day leave most moms guilty that they have never measured up to Sarah or Hannah and especially Mary. They view their lives with more regrets than successes.

However, not today. Today we celebrate. We don’t accuse. We don’t bash. We don’t want anyone to go away feeling bad. Even though some of us should be ashamed for how we’ve treated our moms and some men should hang their heads for lack of appreciation for all their wives have done, but no mom is to feel bad today.

Today, we celebrate the role of being a mom or the privilege of having a mom.

You’ve heard Jeff Foxworthy’s You might be a redneck…routine.

If you mow your grass and find a car…

If you’re dad walks you to school because you’re in the same grade…

If you have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say Cool Whip…

If you’ve ever fished in your swimming pool…

If you’re lawn furniture used to be your living room furniture…

If you own a Waffle House credit card…

If you’ve ever been accused of lying through your tooth…

If you’ve ever made change out of the offering plate…


There’s both the heart of the mother and the fact of the mother. You may never have given birth but you’ve assumed the role. So, let’s see if you’ve ever been a mother:

You might be a mother if you’ve ever…

  1. Offered assistance or had a conversation from the toilet.
  2. Fantasized about being alone for five minutes, just five minutes!
  3. Worried about kids getting too much screen time…then given them your phone to get them to settle down.
  4. Thought, "I JUST cleaned that!" or thought, "Yuck, how long has it been since I cleaned that?"
  5. Tripped over or stepped on something you didn't leave on the floor. Even after yelling at the ones who left it on the floor to clean it up.
  6. Cleaned up a mess that "nobody else saw."
  7. Ever wondered if doing the laundry this week was an absolute necessity or if we can let it slide another week or two.
  8. Ever smelled your kids to see if they were clean enough to go without a bath, just for tonight.
  9. Ever had the thought watching them sleep, “These are the sweetest little angels,” only to have them wake up.

10.  You’ve discussed adoption with your husband only for him to say, “They’re getting pretty old. Do you think anyone will take them now?”

  1. Issued instructions. Then repeated the same instructions. Then repeated the same instructions. Then repeated the same instructions really loud. Then said, “If I have to repeat myself ONE MORE TIME…” Then wondered: why do I even bother?
  2. Absentmindedly said "mm-hmm" when your kids talked while you're in the middle of something only to find out you gave them permission to spray paint the dog.
  3. Found things in our purses that aren't even yours or found things in the shopping cart that you didn’t put in there.
  4. Told your kids to go to bed so you could stay up late so you could finish up all the things you had to do today and then went to bed only to find out you couldn’t go to sleep because you were thinking about everything you had to do tomorrow.
  5. If all this goes away whenever your child says, “Mommy, I love you.”

This morning comic section of the paper had a cartoon: Baby Blues. Dad said: I’ll take the kids for a little hike so you can get some Mom time. She said: That’s sweet. The drew her bath and her thoughts started: I wonder if Darryl packed enough water and sunscreen? Or Snacks? Wren is a beast when her blood sugar is low. Did he even bring their jackets? What about snakes? And ticks? What if his phone dies? How will the search party know where to look? The door opened and they shouted: We’re home! Darryl asked: “Enjoy your afternoon?” She said: “How could I? You had me worried sick.”

We guys can cause as much stress as the kids do. Wife looked at husband and said, why do you have a suppository in your ear? He pulled it out and looked at it and said, “I wonder where I put my hearing aid?”


There’s no way someone can fully appreciate their mother. Until they have kids. Then, instantly her value goes up. You start remembering those valuable things your mom told you, like: “I hope someday you’ll have kids just like you were so you’ll know what you put me through.”


But Moms have to learn when to turn it off. They can only nag their kids so long and then they become sweet little ladies. I found out why. One day, these same kids will be responsible for choosing a nursing home for them to live out her final days.

Actually, that’s far beyond a joke. Today, it is often the reality that we have to become our parents’ caretakers. That independent mom or dad who sacrificed and struggled, labored and loved, encouraged and corrected, now needs that from us.

It’s hard to transition to suddenly have to parent your parents. Many of you know what I’m talking about. So, if that’s the case, realize that the mom who was a blessing to you now needs you to be the blessing for her. So, listen to these statements and find one your mom needs to hear today: Or for all moms here today, play like I’m your child telling you how special you are:

“Mom, I may not have said thank you often enough, but I appreciate you so much for the special role you have always played in my life.”

 “You are always the first person I call on for advice. You are not just my mother, but my counselor and friend and I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.”

“You are an amazing, strong and selfless woman and I am so lucky to have a mother like you.”

“You were always there to kiss me and hug me when I needed someone to make the pain go away.”

“As I’ve grown older, I’ve become aware of just how much you sacrificed for me over the years.”

“You are soft and beautiful but there’s true steel in you too, and I know you will always be there for me.”

“I know we argue sometimes but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate and love you more than you could ever know.”

“I admire you so much, mom, and you have always been my role model. You have taught me so much and made me all that I am today.”

“Thank you for your unfailing love. I have always felt your love surrounding and protecting me.”

“Your love has made me feel secure but free; you make me feel grounded but like I also have wings.”

“Mom, I know that behind those comforting hugs lies a woman who is strong and selfless. I have come to understand how strong you’ve always been and I love you for it.”

“Mom, you are the glue that holds our family together. I am grateful for your endless love.”

“Mom, you have always brought out the best in me, showed endless patience when I fail and encouraged me to get up again.”

“If I put myself in your shoes, I would never have had the strength and patience to cope with a kid like me. Thanks, mom, for bringing me up and managing to stay sane.”

“Your love for me is patient and forgiving. It never failed, even when your heart was breaking.”

“What you have given me, is something more precious than any school or college could give me. You have shown me the power of love.”

“You have always understood me better than anyone else, mom. When no one has been there for me, you have always given me your support. Even when I’ve been wrong, your love has been evident.”

“Mom, you have always shown me grace when I didn’t deserve it. I have been rude and selfish, but you’ve always loved me anyway.”

Mom’s you deserve those words. For many of us, we no longer have that privilege to tell them. It’s amazing how precious they become when we can no longer tell them so.

What’s behind the heart of a mother?

Rom 16:1-2 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. 

What are our obligations:

Eph 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. 

Obedience fits a time-frame. Children – young. Honor is our responsibility from then on.

Being a mother is a forever position. You never can say you were a mother; you always are a mother.

The role may change. At the beginning you are totally involved in your child’s life. As the years go on you become less involved until they become adults and your involvement begins to fade away. Don’t be sad. Because, if that happens, you’ve successfully raised your kids to be independent and able to manage their own lives.

A momma bird raises her babies so they can leave the nest and fly away. Their life isn’t the nest anymore. She has raised them to be successful on their own.

So, what’s our final words today?

2Cor 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 

Mom’s, what are the voices in your head telling you? If they tell you you didn’t do enough or you did too much, let’s turn them off and turn on the messages that are true.

God loves you. He made you a mother. He helped you in ways you never knew, and now rewards you with rest. Look at the pictures and think: am I glad I don’t have to go through that again. But enjoy the life God is giving and has given you. Remember, not everything is your problem.

But my kid got a divorce. Not your problem.

But my kid won’t go to church. Not your problem.

But my kid is in jail. Not your problem.

But my kid is gay. Not your problem.

But my kid wants to become a lawyer. Not your problem.

But my kid…Not your problem.

Your responsibility is to love them. Their choices are their business. If they ask, you can advise but it’s their choice. They can take your advice or not, just like you did with your own mother. And if it is their choice, it isn’t your responsibility.

What can I do? I’ve got to do something? Pray for them. Every day.


Now, if you had a mother. And she is still with you, honor her by how you speak to her. Tell her how much you appreciate her.

If she’s passed away, honor her by how you speak of her. Thank God for giving you such a special gift.

It is highly unlikely you will ever understand her personal sacrifice for you, especially if you’re a guy. So, tell her thanks.