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Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”— when you now have it with you. Proverbs 3:27-32 (NIV) (Click on this link to read this passage in your preferred version of the Bible. You may select your version after the link opens. )

Who hasn’t yet heard about the earthquakes that devastated Port-au-Prince in Haiti last Tuesday?  It has been the dominating topic on all news casts on television and radio stations for the past several days. The devastation and needs are unfathomable.

What is the Christian response for those of us living in our comfortable homes as our TVs, radios, and computers bring the reality of these people’s sufferings into our living rooms. We can go to our kitchen sink or refrigerator and get a fresh glass of water or other beverage – they are unable to find water. We pat our stomachs after a full meal – they may have to fight to get or keep a serving of food. We can turn the TV off to give us a little distance from the suffering – they can’t.

Sadly, the first response many have to meeting the needs when crises like these occur is to run to our closets and pantry to look for things we need to give away – things we won’t miss. Some want to jump on a plane and fly to Haiti to offer physical labor and expertise. But a closer look reveals some bottle-necks that will keep any of these first responses from being helpful. In fact doing these things may only cause increased hardships for a while.

The airport in Haiti is small and can handle only a little traffic. The roads are so damaged that it is nearly impossible to move clothes and household goods, they are only in the way at this time. The shipping ports were also damaged for getting goods into the country. So initially we can only wait patiently until the bottle-neck is cleared.

As Christians, our first line of defense is prayer. There is no bottle-neck preventing us from praying for the people of Haiti.

The second thing that can be donated immediately is money. Cash is flexible and can be used to meet whatever need is prominent at the time. Unfortunately, it won’t be found on a neglected hanger in your closet or in the back of your pantry with the food that has been sitting in your pantry undisturbed for some time. Cash comes from the bottom of our pockets. In our current economy, reaching for cash calls for greater sacrifice.

We may think we don’t have cash to spare. That’s when we need to turn the TV back on and make some comparisons. Can we truly say we have nothing to give to these desperate people?

We can also start organizing other forms of help to have them ready when the bottleneck is cleared. The Haitian people desperately need water, food, clothing, and volunteers. Volunteers need to have these supplies ready for shipment as soon as the all-clear signal is given.

The following organizations are excellent for getting resources to the people. Not only do they work long and hard to meet the needs of the people, they also provide these services in Jesus’ name and offer spiritual encouragement as well.

Samaritans Purse

The Salvation Army

Mennonite Central Committee

World Vision International

United Methodist Committee On Relief

Global Aid Network

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.  Prov 16:5 

In the present generation little attention is given to the sin of pride, yet pride was the sin that caused the downfalls of both Satan and the first man.

The downfall of Satan is recorded in Isaiah 14:12-15 . His sin was his pride. He was the most glorious of all the angels God had created. His glory led to his pride, and he attempted to set himself above God.

Satan tempted Eve with the same sin of pride. (Genesis 3) He said to Eve, “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” You know the story, Eve ate the fruit and gave some to Adam who was with her. They could be like God, they could make their own rules.

It was Satan’s pride that cost him the highest position among the angels in heaven and separated him from God. It was Adam and Eve’s pride that got them banned from the Garden of Eden and separated them from God.

The same sin of pride and the desire to do things our own way have separated mankind from God since the beginning of time. Throughout the Old Testament the Israelites continually turned their backs on God and went their own way. When Jesus Christ came to earth, the religious leaders of the Jewish people were jealous of Jesus’ popularity and power. They were proud of their positions and didn’t want people to honor Jesus over them. Jesus challenged their hypocrisy, and their jealousy in turn led to their Crucifixion of Jesus.

The cycle didn’t stop then, nor has it stopped today. Human nature tends to want to do it “my way.” It is nowhere more obvious than in today’s supposedly “enlightened” society. Many universities turn out students who blatantly challenge the existance of God. Some people revere the Bible only as long as they are not expected to read it or use it for a guide to make decisions. Others mock those who take the Bible seriously.

Proverbs 14:1 tells us: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” 
Proverbs 16:5 says: The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. 

There are many forms of pride, and they touch us all. It can be blatant as the denial of the existance of God. Or it can come in more subtle forms such as the deliberate choice to ignore the commandments in the Bible. We are prone to assume we know more than God about what is best for us. We fail to pray because we think we can handle whatever will come our way. Then when our backs are against the wall and we are desperate, we pray fervently and wonder why He seems distant.

Galatians 6:7 tells us: Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 

What seeds are you sowing in your life? Are they seeds of faith or seeds of foolish pride and self sufficiency? Allow God to examine your heart and reveal the sins that puff up so quickly and separate you from Him. Agree with Him in confession and seek his face with all your heart.

Father God, you know our hearts. We think we know ourselves until we get close to your light. Then, if we are honest with ourselves, we don’t like what we see.  Help us to daily seek your face and to put our full trust in You, come what may.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.. Proverbs 14:34

What an appropriate verse for our Independence Day weekend. Our nation began with a group of people who valued righteousness enough to sail across the ocean and start a new life in a land that would allow them to worship God according to their own consciences. Others crossed the ocean for varied reasons, but the very words of our Declaration of Independence and our US Constitution support the fact that our country was established by people who had an awesome respect for God.

For many years our nation has been blessed by God as the people have given Him a place of honor in our nation. Sadly, there has been an eroding of that sense of honor for God, especially in our governing bodies. Those of us who came of age in the “Hippie Generation” should have seen it coming, but we were too willing to look for wisdom in all the wrong places. Some of us have recognized the folly of our ways and turned to God allowing Him to show us where we went wrong.

We can scold our government officials and put the blame on other people until we exhaust ourselves in wearyness. Or we can choose self-examination. Exactly where is my own heart in matters of righteousness? Would I be embarrassed if someone were able to read my thoughts at any given time? We can’t hide them from God, but we can put up a front that others can’t break through.

What is my model for righteousness? God has given us His Word in the Bible. Most people who call themselves Christians will say that the Bible is the greatest book ever written. They will revere it by keeping it in a special place and dust it if needed, but seldom take the time to read it or use it to search out God’s heart on a special concern. Sadly, when many who call themselves Christians hear what the Bible says on a given topic they are quick to add, “Yes, but I think …”

If there is hope for our nation, it will come when righteousness replaces the rampant sin that we have embraced. And that will happen one person at a time.

Father God, forgive our foolish ways. Incline our hearts to you before it is too late for our country. Bring your church to its knees in repentance. Then send your disciples out to the world when they are equipped to bring in a harvest. Start with me Lord. Clean out the places that only You and I know need cleaning out.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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Isaiah 53:1-9 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

What was behind it all? Why did Jesus allow people to abuse him the way He did? I remember a time when a friend of mine suggested that Jesus had just given up on the world and let His enemies put an end to His life. According to my friend there was an article in Playboy magazine about it.

Read what God had to say about Him before Jesus ever came to earth. Here is Jesus’ destiny spelled out in words only those who choose to be ignorant can deny. Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself in Isaiah 53:1-9.

Jesus didn’t attract crowds because he was handsome or winsome in his manner. He attracted crowds by doing miracles of healing and feeding people.

The people loved him for the things he could do for them, not for his messages of faith. His true followers were few. He knew the people’s hearts and thoughts. He knew they would abandon him when there was conflict.

Jesus experienced the sorrow of this knowledge long before he experienced the sorrow in its highest hour: his crucifixion, separation from God Himself, and death. He experienced the torture of the Roman soldiers. First their ridicule, then the crown of thorns, then the beating with the whip containing fragments of bone to tear His flesh. Then he had to carry his own cross up the hill (until he stumbled and fell under its weight and a bystander was ordered to carry it the rest of the way). He was then nailed to the cross, the cross was lifted up and dropped into the post-hole that had been dug in the ground. There he was left to die a grueling death of suffocation that resulted from the way crucifixion was designed to torture its victims.

Why did Jesus do this? Why did he allow this to happen to Him without opening His mouth to defend Himself? Because He knew that He was the only person in all eternity who would be in a position to be the sacrifice to pay for our sins. The only sacrifices God would accept had to be perfect in every way. No other human would ever be able to come close to this, yet Jesus had fulfilled the requirement completely.

All of Jesus’ sufferings were endured for one reason alone: to show us his unconditional love and to pay the price God requires to cover our sins. Put your name in the scripture verse every place you see a pronoun such as “we” or “our” or “us.” It is that personal.

If you accept this wonderful news along with this most gracious gift, then you are accepted by God as His own. You will be welcomed into His Kingdom when this fleeting life is over. If you reject this news as foolishness, then you declare yourself to be a fool who says in his heart there is no God. (See Psalm 14:1) There is no hope for you outside of what you get in this life.

If you have accepted His gift of salvation, you will be blessed. Consider how you have thanked Him? Do you simply say “Thank you, sir” and then go your own way forgetting the price he paid for your sins? I can not imagine a more ungrateful heart.

A gift is free, true, it is getting something for nothing. But I can’t help but wonder if many think they have accepted this gift when in fact they only accepted a fake ticket, like the thousands who ate the bread on the hillside when Jesus fed the multitudes. They ate the physical bread but rejected the spiritual bread Jesus had to offer. They ate to fill their stomachs, not their hearts.

Consider fresh and new if you have indeed accepted God’s gift of salvation. Reread Isaiah 53:1-9. If you heart is not filled with the kind of gratitude that makes you want to serve Him, you may never have accepted his true gift of salvation in the first place. Don’t settle for temporary bread to fill your stomach, accept the true Bread of Life. Accept Jesus for who He is, not who you want to make Him out to be, and your heart will be filled with gratitude and joy.

Father God, you know my heart. Break it if you must, but don’t allow me to settle for temporary bread that makes me think everything is OK with You when there may be real problems I need to deal with. Open my eyes and my heart to the awesomeness of your sacrifice for me so that I can respond with nothing less than full gratitude and a life dedicated in service to you.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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Proverbs 19:20-21 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

This passage has my name written all over it, not that I have attained this, but because I need to hear it over and over again. How often I get what I consider a fantastic idea and act on it without seeking wise counsel or even taking time to pray. It’s as if I think this idea is so good it has to be from God himself!

Some of the lessons I seem to have to keep learning over and over are

  • to prayerfully seek His counsel in everything I undertake,
  • to take time to listen and not make hasty decisions,
  • to seek Christian counsel on the weightier decisions I must make, and
  • to seek God’s direction in prayer, not only about what I do at church, but on the everyday, at home and on-the-job decisions as well.

Father God, help me to slow down and to put the reins of my life into your hands. Let me not run ahead, but remind me to constantly seek your wisdom and direction in everything I do.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Proverbs 3:13-18  Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

The world today puts great value on wealth and power. Unfortunately, even our churches give in to this kind of small thinking and give leadership roles to those who have “proven themselves” in the world. Out the window goes faith and even honor in too many instances.

But the true student of the Bible will come up with a different take on the source of true knowledge and wisdom. Read Proverbs 3:13-18. There is a wisdom that will bring riches, but not the kind that can be purchased with gold and silver. The riches include things money can’t buy: peace, joy, good will, a free conscience, respect and honor.

God is the giver of this kind of wisdom. It isn’t given to the greedy or to those hungry for power. It is given to those who are willing to seek it by spending time with him in prayer and by spending time searching through the scriptures for the lessons that only the Holy Spirit can teach us. And the riches gained from true wisdom include a relationship with Jesus Christ that will last through the end of our days on this earth and on into eternity. I’ll take riches of this kind over gold and silver any day!

Heavenly Father, incline my heart to seek thee more faithfully and deliberately. Help me to discern between Godly wisdom and the wisdom of this world, and help me to make seeking and applying godly wisdom a daily act of obedience to you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Proverbs 15:1-4 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

I have Proverbs 15:1 attached to a magnet on my refrigerator. My daughter gave it to me when she was young and reminded me of it every now and then when her father and I would get into yet another round of squabbles. It is so hard to remember to give a gentle answer when you are under fire, but that is exactly when a gentle answer is the most effective. It doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it come naturally. It happens best when we truly draw near to God on a regular basis and when we allow His Spirit to empower us.

Our words have more power than we are willing to acknowledge. Unfortunately our cutting, hurtful words cause much damage, and so often these negative words undercut all the positive words we will so hard to generate.

It is the loose tongue, the tongue out of control, that gets us into trouble. Like toothpaste outside the tube, try as hard as you will, you can’t unspeak those words any easier than you can put the toothpaste back into the tube. The best check on the tongue is daily time spent with God in serious prayer and Bible study. Deal with it honestly and openly with God and you will gain victory in time.

Father God, help us to recognize the sin of a tongue that is out of control. Help us to check our speech and keep a tight rein on our tongues. Teach us daily to use words that edify others and build them up.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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