Articles for Edification

The Mandela Effect and the Character of God

A lion and lamb basking in the sun represents the argument that the Mandela Effect changed the Bible from "lion will lie down with the lamb" to "wolf will lie down with the lamb."

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn’t change. But there is a whole group of Christians out there right now who are convinced that the Bible does. They are calling it the Mandela Effect and are attributing the changes to a variety of possibilities. Some believe in multiple realities and a slide of consciousness from one to the next. Some say that it is the work of CERN, the great Hadron Collider, and a break through to a “mirror universe.” Others just believe the world is like a “holodeck” (to use a word from Star Trek) or a “matrix” (like the movie with the same name) with a glitch. Still others say it’s time travel or magic from the devil. Whatever the explanation, these Christians are sure that it is happening. And, they are slamming their Bibles shut in protest, claiming a “famine of the word of God.” But while these Christians will bring piece after piece of so-called “evidence” of the Bible’s “changes,” they are all ignoring one very important problem with any and all of these theories: the character of God.

What Is The Mandela Effect?

Fionna Broome coined the term “Mandela Effect” in 2009. It describes large groups of people all clearly remembering events that never happened. The name comes from a situation with political activist Nelson Mandela. While history records that he died in 2013, many people remember him dying in prison in the 1980’s. In fact, when comparing these false memories, Broome noticed there were similar details of the supposed funeral and a speech that his “widow” made.

But Mandela’s double funeral was just the beginning. As soon as people started hearing about the phenomenon, all of a sudden there were lots of examples. There were tons of tiny details that people were remembering very clearly one way but were finding out that they were not that way at all. The supposed changes involve characters and lines in movies, the spelling of names, and even the location of countries on the map. Whole groups of people remembered things that were simply not in historical evidence.

But the spelling of Berenstain Bears (versus Berenstein Bears) and the silver color of C-3PO’s leg (versus the all-gold version people remember) are minor compared to the “changes” people started to find in the Bible. The most famous one is Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb…” (versus the lion and the lamb people remember, probably from the fact that Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb). But there are also questions with the words “bottles” (used in the KJV when people remembered “wineskins” which is used in the NKJV and other versions) and “stuff” (which people argued was not a word in use at the time the Bible was written but was actually in the Oxford Dictionary as early as the 1400s.) 

Malevolent Bible Changes

Worse than that, people started finding words that they claim point to a new perversion in the Bible. For example, a website proclaiming supposed Bible changes said that the Bible is now condoning homosexuality. They cite the following verse. “Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left.” They say that it USED to say “Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.” As you will know if you search for these scriptures, the first one is actually Luke 17:35 and the second one is Matthew 24:41. They are BOTH in the Bible (and always have been). The gospel writers just chose a little bit different words to describe the same scenario.

Ridiculously enough, I also found a site that claims that the Bible now promotes the transgender agenda. It cites verses such as Isaiah 49:23 in the KJV. “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers…” Now, as we all know, basic Bible learning is known as “milk.” Mature, deeper learning is known as “meat.” Is it so amazing that the King James Bible would use a metaphor here? John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible interprets the verse just that way. It says that Christian kings and queens would come “who feed the church with the milk of the word, and the breasts of ordinances.”

A Spiritual “Pull”

If you start to research this, first of all, please cover yourself with prayers of protection against deception. There is a real spiritual “pull” there that tells me that this whole idea comes straight from the enemy. Secondly, you will see terms like “the newest changes” as if this is some kind of ongoing project to rearrange and replace words throughout the Bible. You will also see verses you know, love, and remember, and claims that they have always read a completely different way than you know they have. It’s a frenzy; it’s a blindness. Once people believe this lie, they stop trusting everything in the Word of God. It leads people to paranoia, distress, and lack of faith in the things of God.

The Character of God

Put aside for a moment that the theories of “quantum pollution” and parallel universes are farfetched and like something straight out of science fiction. Ignore that people’s memories are fallible and susceptible to suggestion. Never mind that internet search engines and available information can be tampered with and pounding people’s brains with false information from memes, t-shirts, and broadcasts can make a big difference in how they remember things. Forget how different Bible versions and slightly different wording in different chapters can cause confusion. Dismiss people’s tendency to paraphrase when they can’t remember the exact words to a verse and the even greater tendency to repeat what people say, handing down verses and prayers in an oral tradition, instead of checking what the Bible actually reads. Discount all of these great explanations for why people are misremembering what the Bible says, and you are still left with the greatest problem with this theory: the character of God simply would not allow for His Word to be changed.

Is God Weak?

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” 1 Peter 1:25 says that “the word of the Lord endures forever.” Hebrews 4:12 says that the “word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” John 10:35 says that “scripture cannot be set aside.” If the Bible is God-breathed, enduring forever, alive and active, and cannot be set aside, is God too weak to protect His Word and His own reputation for Truth? God forbid! The God who created the universe and calls the stars by name is well able to protect His own words. He is not at the mercy of quantum physics or the devil’s wiles. He is in control.

Is God Careless?

Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the sword of the spirit is the Word of God. We are in a battle. Most of the full armor of God is defensive, but the sword is the one offensive weapon that God gives us to fight the enemy. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He fought using the Word. He used Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 6:16, and Deuteronomy 6:13 to withstand the enemy, and the enemy had to leave. It is the same with us today.

As believers, we stand on the promises God made in His word. We resist the devil, and he has to flee. Does God care so little about His children that He would allow someone or something to sabotage our weapon? Would He allow the very words that will vanquish the enemy to be changed little by little? God forbid! 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strong holds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…”  

A Great Deception

It is the strangest thing talking to people who believe this great deception. The people simply refuse to answer the question as to why God would allow His word to be corrupted. When talking to someone on YouTube about the phenomenon, I commented that people should be very careful what they lend their ears to because to “and to you who hear, more will be given.” The person’s comment was that I didn’t even know the Bible. The actual verse read “for whoever has, to him more will be given.” But he was correcting me to Matthew 13:12 while I was quoting Mark 4:24

Likewise, people comment that the Bible warns about the Mandela Effect when it says that in the last days, there will be a famine of the word of God. But that isn’t what Amos 8:11 actually says. It says there will be a famine for HEARING the words of the Lord. These people are so worried about the Bible being changed by nefarious sources that they have stopped reading their Bibles altogether and are relying solely on what they remember. This absolutely contradicts what the Bible tells us to do. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.”

Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”  Ephesians 5:26 talks about the “washing of water by the word.” Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Besides being a sword to fight the enemy, faith, guidance, cleanliness, and protection from sin are just the start of the massive benefits to daily Bible reading. But when people start to question the Word of God, they are questioning the character of God as well. Those who say the Bible has been changed are falling into a trap of the enemy. They no longer trust God or His Word.

The Final Trilemma

CS Lewis popularized the “trilemma argument.” The argument goes that when you add up the things that Jesus Christ said and did when He was on earth, it was not possible that He was just a “nice man” or a “good teacher.” He either had to be a liar, deceiving others for His own gain, a lunatic, himself deceived into believing He was a deity, or Lord, God in the flesh. Given recorded history, there is no other alternative. I believe the same kind of trilemma exists with the so-called Mandela Effect and the character of God. Either God is weak, unable to protect His Word from the haphazard changes of the universe, He is careless, leaving His people vulnerable to fight the enemy with a defective weapon, or He is well able to protect both His people and His Word.

If you like articles heavy on scripture, try God’s Like Button: How to Know God Is Pleased. In it, we explore the scriptures that show what pleases God and the tangible evidence of His pleasure. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Articles for Edification

Are You Offering Your Sacrifice of Praise?

A girl lifting her arms in the sacrifice of praise.

God’s Old Covenant with the Jewish people worked on a system of sacrifice. People would gather their goods, and the priests would offer them to God at certain times each day or on special occasions. The sin sacrifice was a type and shadow of the New Covenant when Jesus Christ would become our one-time sacrifice for all sin. But what about all the other types of sacrifices? And with no Levitical line, who is supposed to be offering them up to God each day? 1 Peter 2:9 says that the priests are you and me. As such, we have a very specific task each day: to offer the sacrifice of praise.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9

A Perfect Sacrifice

Old Testament offerings had to be spotless and without blemish. The Israelites couldn’t expect to please God by sacrificing lame animals or blighted grain. Everything had to be perfect and done with a heart that was devoted to God. In this way, it produced the “sweet aroma” that God was looking for. God could, and often did, reject offerings that were not perfect or that were given by hearts that were far from Him. That same concept is in action with believers today as we see that all the types of sacrifices have New Covenant counterparts.

Sin Offering

Without the shedding of blood, there will be no remission of sins. Jesus was and is forevermore our only offering for sins. He was sacrificed outside the camp on a tree just like the Israelites sacrificed animals and then took them outside the camp to burn the bodies on wood. Jesus paid the price of sin with His blood and sealed the New Covenant. Now, God can forgive you and me.

Burnt Offerings

Burnt offerings were meant to be totally burned up on the altar to God. They could be oxen, sheep, goats, or even turtledoves or pigeons. In every case, though, they were to be without blemish and burned completely.

As children of God, this represents our total dedication to God. Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Grain Offering

Since there was no blood involved, the grain offerings were always done along with the burnt offerings. These consisted of flour and oil, making a type of “bread.” When burned on the altar, it was to be mixed with Frankincense (an incense) that was burned with it. Finally, salt was to be present with every offering. Salt is a preservative and can endure very high heat.

The Word of God is our spiritual food, or bread. When read with the help of the Holy Spirit (symbolized by oil), this is an essential part of our worship every day. Another part of our worship is prayer. Revelation 5:8 says are our prayers are as incense to God. As believers, we are to be salt and light. We preserve the ways of God and withstand suffering that comes with naming the name of Jesus.

Peace Offering

Peace offerings were to be to be added on top of the burnt offering and grain offering. They were eaten by both the priests and the people presenting the offering to symbolize the unity of God’s people.

Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” We are to strive for peace, especially with our brethren, and live in unity with them when it is possible.

Trespass Offering

Unlike the sin offering which covered the Adamic nature and sins done in ignorance, the trespass offering was to be made when there was a specific law broken. It came with restitution for any party harmed in the process. Not only would someone have to sacrifice an animal for stealing, for example, but the victim would be entitled to compensation for the crime.

Now as then, when we trespass against God, we must not only repent to God, but we must make things right with those we have harmed. Sin has consequences. Some of them are spiritual and can be forgiven with genuine repentance made possible by the blood sacrifice of Jesus. But some also need remedy in the natural. When we harm others, we must seek to restore the damage we have done.

The Sacrifice of Praise.

Jeremiah 17:26 speaks of bringing a sacrifice of praise, and Hebrews 13:15 seals the deal: 

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

Hebrews 13:15

Sacrifice means there is a cost. The Israelites had to give up valuable animals and grains to be right with God. Today, God asks only for our time and attention. But in our busy society of work and family obligations, not to mention the constant draw of entertainment and social media, pulling ourselves away to spend time wholeheartedly praising God can feel very much like a sacrifice. 

But is reading the Bible and praying every day and going to church each week enough? Is God still pleased when we sit in church thinking about work or skim the Bible quickly to get to the sweet sleep that seemed to elude us the night before? Are our offerings without blemish, or are they the equivalent of a lame bull or a sick lamb? Does God get the best of us, or do we find ourselves giving God “what’s left”?

Likewise, do we always praise God even when things aren’t going well in our lives? While it might be easy to praise Him in the good times, are we so quick to praise when we are sick, tired, hurt, or broke?

God Deserves Our Best

God has been so good to His children. He sacrificed His own life to pay the penalty for our sin. He goes before us, He fights for us, He provides for us, and He loves us. Every day, He deserves our time and attention. Every day He deserves our praise. Not just when we feel like it. Not just when things are good. And, not just in our minds, but with our lips, we must praise him “continually.”

We can sing songs in the car or around the house or in our prayer closet or at church. We can speak of Him to others at work, with our families, or while we are out and about. And, of course, we can pray out loud in the wonder and joy that we are His children and He is our God. Praising God gets the focus off ourselves and onto Him. It leads us into more humility as we realize how small we are comparison to One so great. It also brings us peace in knowing that our great God holds us in the palm of His hand.

In Psalm 34:1, David said, “I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Praise is our sacrifice to God, and it is up to us to make sure it is “perfect” by praising Him from a heart and mind that are fully focused on Him. In every situation,we must thank and exalt Him, for He is worthy.

If you like analogies, try It’s Not the Machine That Makes Us Clean. In it, we see that neither dishes nor Christians get clean without the washing of the Water. Or, try Message in the Moisturizer: We Can Choose Change . It is an object lesson about changing for the better. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Articles for Edification

Chasing Happiness or Choosing Joy

A watercolor picture of the words "Choose Joy"

There are two kinds of pleasure: temporal happiness and eternal joy. For the lost, this world is all they have. They spend their lives in pursuit of the things that make them feel happy and contented in this life. For the children of God, we have those same opportunities, but we also have something more: eternal joy. It’s a spiritual pleasure that only comes from interacting with God. Taking time to think about where and how you find enjoyment can reveal a lot about your spiritual condition. Maybe it’s time to stop chasing happiness and choose joy.

Temporal Happiness

Earthly happiness comes in many forms and, in moderation, is encouraged by God. Ecclesiastes 9:7 says, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works.” There are many ways that both the lost and the saved can find pleasure in our world. The only time it becomes dangerous for the child of God is when seeking this pleasure comes before, or more often than, seeking the joy that only God can bring. 

Family Can Make Us Happy

Think about the happiness you feel with your family. Meeting your spouse, getting married, and building a life brings happiness. Children bring a whole new level of  delight. Consider the birth of a new baby, your child’s first smiles and steps. Or what about all those days of summer picnics, first days of school, fun shopping trips and vacations, and the deep feeling of pride at their accomplishments? Graduations, first days at college, and grandchildren all bring a great sense of happiness. God has given us our families. Though great love can cause great pain, family can be a source of much happiness in this life.

Work Can Make Us Happy

Then there’s the happiness you feel about your work. From the smallest bit of contentment you feel about a freshly mopped kitchen floor to the deep sense of satisfaction that comes from a promotion or other career win, work can make you happy. God has given us all gifts that we can use for Him. Some of these involve skills we can take into the workplace. When we are good at what we do, it feels good. When we can earn enough to support our families and have enough left over for a decent car, a nice house, a good phone, and dinners out, it’s a good thing. God gives us the skills and opportunities. It is up to us to be good stewards with the resources He puts into our hands.

Physical and Mental Gratification

Happiness in mental and physical gratification is the one that is hardest for some to keep in restraint. Delicious food, vacations, rest, intimacy, and spending time with pets and friends can make us happy. Reading a great book, time on the internet, playing video games, or watching sports or appropriate movies can be fun. All of these can all be proper for the child of God when not taken to extremes.

But seeking for temporal happiness shouldn’t be our main goal. Family is crucial, but it can’t be the thing we think about most in this world. Striving after promotions and income can be important in God’s will for our lives. When done for their own sake, though, they can skew our priorities about the way we spend our time and attentions. Physical and mental gratification can bring us a happiness that is still good and right in the sight of God. They only become a problem when they are out of balance. If they are a substitute for God’s comfort or an alternative to spending time with God, that’s a problem.

Eternal joy

Beyond the things of this world that make us happy, there is something more: the joy that only God can bring. John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Hearing God, interacting with Him, and living our lives in tune with the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us is what separates those who are alive from those who are dead. The joy we receive from communion with our Creator is something only children of God can know, but we have to take the time to choose joy. 

Reading the Bible Can Bring Us Joy

I have a friend who says, “People who are alive need to eat. If you aren’t hungry for the Word of God, maybe you aren’t spiritually alive at all. Maybe you are still dead in your sins.” That’s a pretty strong statement, but it makes sense when you think about it. Some of the greatest feelings of joy I have experienced have come when I was reading the Bible and God opened up something to me that I had never seen before. He can also use it to speak into the situations in our lives. He can teach us lessons in a way that we KNOW we are hearing from God. Setting an appointed time each day to spend time with God is His word is essential to building a relationship with Him. As any child will tell you, love is spelled T-I-M-E. We have to make time to choose joy.

Worshiping in His Presence Can Bring Us Joy

Whether you go to a brick and mortar church or worship by yourself at home, worship can bring some of the deepest joy there is. Wrapped in that feeling that He is there, we sing, praise, pray, and raise our hands. We relish in the knowledge that He is our king forever. One day, we will be with Him to worship Him in person. This life is not all there is. There is more, and it is ours because we are loved by God not just now but forever more. Jude 24 says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” He will keep us from stumbling if we will but seek Him. Like the hymn says, we can have that “joy unspeakable and full of glory” both now and forever more. We can choose joy.

Living in Constant Connection Can Bring Us Joy

Bible reading and worship are specific things done at set times. But one of the greatest joys in life comes from living in constant focus on and contact with God.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Waking up with God, meditating about the things of God, seeking His will for our lives, and watching and listening for His leading is a way of life for the child of God. When we are in tune to Jesus, we can see those little “God winks” that bring us joy. Maybe the radio plays the song that expresses our prayers or comforts us with an answer to those prayers. Maybe another Christian confirms an idea that we have been hearing from God. There are so many opportunities to choose joy throughout our day when we spend our time thinking about Him and being grateful for His sacrifice, His provision, and His promises.

We Can Have Joy in Distress

Some people seek food and drink or mindless entertainment to dull the pain that so often comes into our lives. They seek a substitute in a sensation or feeling of temporal happiness. But seeking God in times of pain can bring true joy. When I’m distressed, the Holy Spirit will often bring a Bible verse to my mind that puts the whole situation into focus. When I’m upset or sad, so often, the page I “just happen to be on” in the Bible will remind me that He is there with me and I will never be alone. Or even times that the devil is beating me up or lying to me, the Holy Spirit will simply alert me to his attack so I can fight back with the Word of God. Truly, some of the deepest times of gut-level joy have come out of my darkest days. The reality of a God who cares and takes the time to speak to me is far greater than any amount of sadness this world can bring.

Everyone, whether lost without Jesus or saved by His blood, wants good things that bring pleasure in this life. Pursuing those things through people and things is only natural. But, for the child of God, true joy can only be found in communion with God Himself. As His children, bought and paid for and no longer our own, we must examine ourselves regularly. Do our lives show a balance in the pleasure we seek from this world and the next? Are we substituting happiness for joy? Or, are we seeking after the joy that only a relationship with the one true God can bring. Maybe it’s time to choose joy.

 Like other articles for edification? Try God’s Like Button: How to Know God Is Pleased. Or, check out this blog round up from several Christian bloggers who tell us  7 Ways to Walk in Victory .

Check out my sister’s blog where Evangelical Christian sisters “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Articles for Edification

God’s “Like” Button: How to Know God Is Pleased

Image by Mizter_x94 from Pixabay 

Have you seen the video of the cats that ring the bells for treats (link at bottom of blog)? It’s cute, for sure, but it also makes you think about the addictive power of rewards in response to stimuli. The “Like” button on social media is the perfect example. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other, the little red number can really brighten your day…or leave you offended and hurt if the numbers aren’t quite as high as you might have expected. The Bible tells us that we shouldn’t be so worried about pleasing men. Instead, we should concern ourselves with pleasing God. But what things can we do to please God? And ultimately, how can we know when God is satisfied with our lives? God may not have a bell, but there are several indicators that can let us know when God is pleased.

What Does God Like?

In 2 Corinthians 5:9, the Bible says, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” All Christians should WANT to please the Lord. In order to do that intentionally, though, we have to know specifically what the Bible says about it. Here is a list of Bible verses to help. I did my best to pick out all the ones I could find, but if you know of another one, feel free to leave it in the comments. Of course, we remember that it is not our works that save us, but it is by our works that we show our faith in God.

God is pleased with praise and sharing:

Psalm 69:30-31 “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull which has horns and hooves”

Hebrews 13:15-16 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices  God is well pleased.”

God is pleased with sacrifice and study

Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Colossians 1:10 “…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

God is pleased with obedience and righteousness:

1 Samuel 15:22 “And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of the rams.”

1 Thessalonians 4:1 “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.”

1 Chronicles 29-17 “I know also, my God that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people who are present here to offer willingly to You.”

Ephesians 5:8-10 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.”

Romans 14:17-18 “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.”

God is pleased with faith:

Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

Psalm 147:10-11 “He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.”

God is pleased when we take care of our families:

1 Timothy 5:4-5 “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.”

God is pleased when we walk after the Spirit and not the flesh:

Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

2 Timothy 2:4 “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

God is pleased with love:

Mark 12:33 “And to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

How Do We Know When God Is Pleased?

When our hearts are in the right place and we do those things that delight the Lord, we know that He is happy with us. But the Bible also gives a few outward signs that show us tangibly that He is pleased. Now, it is important to remember that God puts seasons of trials and tribulations in our lives even when (and sometimes because!) He is happy with us. Just because some or all of these signs are absent doesn’t necessarily mean that God is unhappy with us, but these are in the Bible for a reason, and they are here for your consideration.

He hears our prayers:

1 John 3:22 “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

James 5:16 “…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

We are at peace:

Proverbs 16:7 “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Psalm 127:2 “…For so He gives His beloved sleep.”

We bear fruit for Him and He takes care of us:

Psalms 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man…And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringsforth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.”

He is with us:

John 8:29 “And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.”

The Takeaway

The next time you post on social media and find yourself watching for the little red numbers on the bell, ask yourself how you are doing at pleasing God. Are the indicators there? Is He “sharing” you with others through opportunities to serve Him? Our prizes in eternity remain to be seen, but we can receive benefits on earth from a God who is pleased with our spiritual progress. His presence, peace, and attention to us in our lives are worth more than any number of likes or social follows. For whether we are here on earth or with Him in eternity, ultimately, God, Himself, is our greatest reward.

Just in case you haven’t seen the cats with bells, you can find one example here: Cats Ring Bells. If you like other articles that are heavy with scripture and easy to skim for quick info, try 7 Ways to Walk in Victory here.

If you like the idea of “God’s Like Button” and would like to use it in PowerPoint form for a Bible study or youth lesson, check out my video lesson here (4th one down): Free Bible Lessons For Teens. Of course, you can email me for the PowerPoint itself and I will be happy to send it.

Articles for Edification

7 Ways to Walk in Victory

“Have you got the victory?” my pastor asked again at church on Sunday, and I wondered about the phrase. He asks that sometimes with the beaming smile that lets you know that this is exactly the way a Christian is supposed to live. But what does it mean to walk in victory? Victory over who? And if there are winners, does it mean that there are losers too? 

Victory simply means living a life characterized by fellowship with God. We are the winners when we defeat the things that hinder our relationship with God and focus our lives on diligently seeking Him. That’s no small task for sure, but the rewards are great: peace, joy, and a closeness with our creator that allows Him to hear us and us to hear Him.

I hope you enjoy this blog roundup of seven ways we can live the victorious Christian life. It is a collection of tips and articles by a variety of Christian bloggers who know what it means to win.

1. We walk in victory when we remove the impurity of sin.

“If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away and would not let wickedness dwell in your tents, then surely you could lift up your face without spot;
yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear.”
Job 11:14-15

Melissa from Think About Such Things says, “God has called us to be the salt of the world. Natural salt has incredible abilities. It can stop and inhibit the growth of harmful mold and bacteria by absorbing moisture. It has been used for centuries as a means to preserve, cure, and save food. That little fact alone should make us realize that we are called to be people who inhibit the growth of sin and darkness in the world. That’s a lot more than just adding flavor.”

Check out Melissa’s article “Are You a Salty Christian” where she describes the characteristics of salt (and how we lose our saltiness) as applied to the Christian life.

2. We walk in victory when we meditate on God’s Word.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Emily Darnell from Abide Deep says, “Meditating on some scripture passages, such as 2 Corinthians 13, helps us answer the question of whether we are abiding in His Word, as John 13-17 teaches us to do. Meditating on His Words will in turn help us find who we really are, understanding life as He intends us to live it.”

Check out Emily’s article “Know Thyself” in which she discusses the call to examine ourselves in light of scripture, not as a checklist to complete, but as a lifestyle of abiding in truth.

3. We walk in victory when we focus on God.

“…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12-2

Rachael M Colby from Tattoo It On Your Heart says, “Stop focusing on your inability and focus on God’s ability – Christ in you.”

Check out Rachael’s article “God-fidence” in which she reminds us that our weaknesses are not too hard for God. He can turn our messes into miracles.

4. We walk in victory when we persevere through trials.

Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9-10 

Jeanette F. Chaplin from Chaplain-esque Thoughts says, “How do you keep going when everything is going wrong? Follow the example of Rachel. She overcame her father’s deception, her sister’s rivalry, and her husband’s indifference. She turned her attention to motherhood and raised a son who was known for his integrity, wisdom, and faith. Her legacy survives today in the Jewish nation, which was saved from famine because of Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt.”  

Check out Jeanette’s article “Rachel: A Remarkable Life” in which she uses the story of Rachel to encourage us to keep going no matter what. 

5. We walk in victory when we persevere in faith.

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;  and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-5

Brook Ardoin from Fire and Freedom says, “In order to succeed, perseverance must remain the foundation of faith. It is only by persevering through every defeat that we ultimately triumph in victory.”

Check out Brook’s article “My Master,” a dramatic retelling of the woman with the issue of blood who had faith and determination to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. (Have a tissue handy.)

6. We walk in victory when we submit to God.

“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” Job 22:21

Angela G from No Longer Lukewarm says, “Jesus was our example when He said, ‘Not my will, but Yours be done.’ We are to live in submission to God simply because God knows best. His ways are higher, and He is for us, not against us. But just because we submit to Him doesn’t mean we don’t get what we want. We can pray to ask Him to make our will His.”

Check out Angela’s article “Make God’s Will My Will: A New Way to Pray” in which she uses a “God wink” story about a piece of coconut cake to show how God can guide us to want to do His will.

7. We walk in victory when we pray, pray, pray.

Pray Consistently

“…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—” Ephesians 6:18 

Tammy Dunlap from Grandma Mary Martha says, “Consistent and persevering prayer is the key to victorious Christian life. It is key to perspective, attitude, relationships, and more. Seeking our Father’s will and way, through prayer, is paramount in our Christian journey.”

Check out Tammy’s article “Answer Came After Years of Prayer, and This I Know” in which she gives some advice and encouragement about when and how to pray with consistence.  

Pray Always

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Lois McKiernan from Where Truth Lives says, “Prayer is vital. Non-negotiable. No matter how busy, overwhelmed, or exhausted you are, you CAN pray every day. And it is of vital importance that you do.”

Check out Lois’ article “How to Have Time to Pray Every Day” in which she gives 5 super ways to make prayer a way of life. 

Pray Believing

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6 

Jeanora Elgin at Daily Renewed says, “Living victoriously isn’t about being free from attacks; we have a real enemy who will take advantage of every opportunity. Living victorious is more about how we handle those attacks when they do come. Ephesians 6:12 tells us we do not battle against flesh and that our battles are to be handled, dealt with, in the spiritual realm. We need to remember not to be hurtful with others when they hurt us; we need to take it to God and pray over each situation and individual, remembering our battle is best fought on our knees in prayer.”

Check out Jeanora’s article “Attacked – We’ve All Been There” to see how prayer allows God to fight our battles and comfort us in seasons of hurt and healing.

Living victoriously in Christ is about being in right relationship with Him. We remove the things that hurt our communication, and we are faithful to do the things that strengthen it. We set our hearts on Him as we run with endurance the race set before us, and HE is our prize. 

Articles for Edification

Why Are Christians Compared to Sheep?

The Bible always uses the metaphor of Christian sheep. In John 10:27, Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”  Even in the Old Testament, Ezekiel 34:12 says that God promises to look after His flock and rescue them from the places where they have been scattered. And, in Psalm 23, David acknowledges that the Lord is his Shepherd and will take care of him always. In fact, if you look it up, there are more than 40 verses using this exact comparison of people as sheep and God as the one who takes care of us. That might be kind of hard to relate to in our society today, a society filled with high speed internet, suburbs and Suburbans. But, a look at some of the characteristics of sheep will put things into perspective.

Sheep are prey.

They are good for food and ripe pickings for predators. In 1 Peter 5:8, it admonishes us to be sober and vigilant because the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Matthew 7:15 tells us to beware of false prophets who come looking like sheep but are really wolves on the inside. Lions and wolves would love nothing more than a delicious mutton meal, and the sheep are helpless on their own. They can’t run very fast or far. Really, their best hope is for them to be protected by their shepherd day and night. Now think about our limitations in our current age of information. Whether it is news, advertising, or entertainment, messages are all around us trying to turn our minds away from the ways of God and life to hell and death.

The current party line everywhere you turn is that wrong is right, right is intolerant, and love means supporting any and every sinful lifestyle choice that people want to make. We are not even guaranteed to be safe in church, as the age of apostasy is upon us. So many pastors forgo teaching about sin and repentance. Instead, they have turned their sermons to little more than self-help pep-talks. Or worse, some churches have become a haven for demonic entities. They bring flocks of people in to see feathers, gold dust, and/or uncontrollable falling or laughing. Without the Holy Spirit to guide us in discernment and the constant renewing of our minds by reading the Bible, we Christian sheep are easy targets for both wolves and lions.

Sheep are mass-minded.

They are social and often bond closely with their flock members. Moving in unison, sheep follow each other to safety or to peril. They will even follow each other right off the edge of a cliff! Separation from the flock can cause fear and even panic, and isolation can cause severe stress. Matthew 18:12 tells of the shepherd who will leave the 99 to find the one who strays to separation. It makes even more sense when we understand that the shepherd would be concerned for the sheep’s fear and distress.

When we leave the safety of obedience to our Father, we are in danger of predators. We can find ourselves feeling alone and out of place. We need our Shepherd to bring us back with his rod and staff. The rod can beat off the enemy or even snap us on the behind when we aren’t behaving or are headed for a ledge. The staff is a stick with a curved end in which the sheep’s neck fits perfectly. The shepherd can grab hold of the Christian sheep and pull them from danger right back into His arms.

Sheep are fearful.

Because they have few natural defenses, sheep are afraid of so many things. This can even keep them from doing what is good for them. They are afraid of water because they can’t swim, so the shepherd must lead them to still waters to drink. They can even be fearful of laying down to rest if they are concerned with conflict with other sheep or pests bothering them. Plus, if a resting sheep is too heavy or wet, the sheep can get stuck on its back. Without a shepherd to right the sheep, it would be easy prey for predators or can even starve to death.

Sheep are prone to panic in a situation in which they feel helpless or fearful. It takes a shepherd to comfort the sheep. He must lead them into places in which they feel comfortable enough to even do every day things. It is little wonder that the Holy Spirit who comes to live in the hearts of Christians is called the Comforter. We need that constant assurance that He is with us, protecting us and seeing to our needs so that we can even rest. If we ever get flipped around or stuck, He comes along to put us Christian sheep back on our feet.

Sheep are stubborn and habit-minded.

Left to their own devices, sheep will graze the same land over and over,. They will eat grass to the roots and can ruin the land. They will even eat bad grass instead of moving on to better pasture. Sheep need the shepherd to move them out of their comfort zone. It is the same with us and our Heavenly Father. So many of us would just stay where we are doing what we do without His prodding. He helps us get closer to Him, go further in our walk, and/or stretch ourselves to achieve things that our natural man tells us are impossible. But nothing is impossible in the power of Christ.

Sheep are loyal.

Sheep aren’t the smartest animals on God’s earth. But, they can recognize the sheep in their flock and even their human handlers for up to two years. In the old times, several shepherds would herd their flocks into the nightly enclosures together. In the morning, individual shepherds would come to get their flocks, and each group would separate themselves to follow only their own shepherd. Sheep know their shepherd’s voice and will not follow another. What if they were to follow a shepherd who is cruel? How about one who is careless and would allow them to wander into danger? Or what about one who neglects them and wouldn’t lead them to water or good grazing?

No, sheep only follow the shepherd they know will take care of them. It is the same with us. Spending time with God in prayer and in reading His Word helps us to know what He sounds like, to know His personality. When we encounter ideas and attitudes that don’t match with what we know to be true about God, we run from them like sheep running from a stranger. Our Shepherd takes care of us. We Christian sheep can trust Him, and we aren’t taking any chances on another.

Sheep must be anointed.

Oil rubbed onto the heads of sheep calms them and serves three purposes. It protects their ears and nose from insects that might lay eggs in there. This can cause the sheep to bang their heads against trees and rocks to get relief. It also protects them from hurting themselves or others when they butt up against other sheep for authority and position. And, it salves the many scrapes and cuts sheep might get from rocks, sticks, or thistles. In the same way we, as Christians, have been given a spiritual anointing.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 says, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” The Holy Spirit can protect us from Satan’s attacks that get into our brains. He brings to mind scripture to dispel the devil’s lies. Also, He keeps us from harming ourselves and others when we, like sheep, butt heads with others for position and authority. We can remember God’s admonition to love each other and pray for our brethren even when we disagree. Finally, the Holy Spirit is our comforter. He is our healer in a world of so much hurt, whether physical, mental, or emotional. When we spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer, He soothes us, He binds us up, and He brings healing to our weary souls.

Sheep Need a Shepherd

In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” Back then as today, we are still very much like sheep. As such, we need someone to take care of us and watch out for us. While earthly church leaders are helpful, they aren’t perfect and can’t always see the whole picture in any situation. Only Jesus looks out for us perfectly. Only Jesus protects His Christian sheep from harm, saves us from our own natures, and gives us comfort and healing when things don’t always go as planned. And only Jesus gave His life for us so that we can go out and come in safely. We can look to Him and trust Him now and even forever more. 

Like articles that are heavy with scripture and easy to skim for quick info? Try 7 Ways to Walk in Victory . Like other articles for edification? Try God’s Like Button: How to Know God Is Pleased.

Check out my sister’s blog where Evangelical Christian sisters “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.