How Would You Feel? (Deuteronomy 31:19-21)

The young bride sneaked a peak from under her white lacy veil at her soon to be husband. He was beaming and gazing right back at her. It was the happiest day of their young lives. The minister stepped forward and addressed the couple and those in attendance. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to witness the joining of this couple in holy matrimony. They are sublimely happy and will have many good years together.” The couple squeezed each other’s hands. The minister continued. “However, one day, you, Jake, will fail her and not be there for her when she is undergoing a difficult trial with her other family members. And you, Sally, will fail him when you did not support him when his relationships with his co-workers were strained. Both of you will feel betrayed and the hurt will be transferred to your future children.”

How would you feel if moments before you take your vows, your minister predicted failure and disaster for your marriage? Of course, everyone would be shocked and hopefully, this would never happen. Yet, thousands of years ago, something similar happened with God. 

So write down the words of this song, and teach it to the people of Israel. Help them learn it, so it may serve as a witness for me against them. For I will bring them into the land I swore to give their ancestors—a land flowing with milk and honey. There they will become prosperous, eat all the food they want, and become fat. But they will begin to worship other gods; they will despise me and break my covenant. And when great disasters come down on them, this song will stand as evidence against them, for it will never be forgotten by their descendants. I know the intentions of these people, even now before they have entered the land I swore to give them.

Deuteronomy 31:19-21 (NLT)

The Israelites were about to enter the promised land of Canaan after wandering in the desert for forty years. God promised them a land flowing with milk and honey, overflowing with prosperity. This was the good news. However, God then informed the Israelites they would turn away from Him and follow after other false gods. As a result many disasters would descend upon them and generations would suffer because of their disobedience. 

God is always ready to bless us with the desires of our heart but we must first be willing to trust and obey Him. God is love but He is also holy. He will not tolerate disobedience and continually warns us of the dire consequences of being unfaithful to Him. 

How would you feel? 

I am grateful that God, through His grace and mercy, warns us of the consequences of our sins before we commit them. When we sin, He does not abandon us. He sent us a Savior, Jesus Christ, to forgive and redeem us of our sins through faith and trust in His Name. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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East Coast Or West Coast (Romans 14:1-4)

In the academic world and workplace, there is a perception that a chasm exists between those who grew up and/or were educated on the east coast versus the west coast. Without delving into the stereotypes, which are likely familiar to many, these perceptions may even influence the way medicine is practiced. In my speciality of dermatopathology, there are distinct differences between diagnostic approaches and even terminology. While it usually does not impact patient care, it may indirectly bias the choice of consultants or even the hiring of other associates. I know of several medical groups who will only hire physicians who trained at a particularly prestigious east coast university. Similarly, when a diagnosis or treatment is rendered by a group that did not train in a similar location, it may lead to seeking additional consultation, simply to verify the diagnosis.

The Christian church has undergone many divisions since its birth on the Day of Pentecost. One of the earliest divisions arose over the eating of certain foods, as illustrated in this passage from the Book of Romans. 

Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval. 

Romans 14:1-4 (NLT)

Divisions will always occur because the Church is composed of imperfect people. We are prone to follow our own desires, like hiring or consulting with colleagues who trained in different geographic regions of our country. However, there are times when faithful people will have biases toward certain issues of the day. While these may not seriously impact our overall faith, it may lead to differences in the way we treat our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. Today’s divisive issues may not deal with the eating of certain foods but may focus upon the support of different political parties or politicians. It may focus upon the merit of receiving a vaccine during a pandemic. 

All Christian believers must support one another by honestly addressing and respecting our differences. There are no simple black and white solutions but often shades of gray. We must cling to our faith in God, rejoicing in our common bond through faith in belief in Jesus Christ.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“I Will Know!” (Jeremiah 23:23-24)

Steve Jobs, the late founder and owner of Apple Computers, was a perfectionist. Everyone who has owned an Apple product is aware of the meticulous attention to detail that he demanded, even with the packaging. What is less known is Jobs took this one step further. He insisted that the inside of his computers and devices also display a similar elegant design, equalling, if not exceeding the outer packaging. Why did Jobs spend so much effort to make the inside of his computers as elegant as the outside? When one of his colleagues pointed out that all of his efforts would never be recognized, Jobs replied, “I will know.”

Some of us are driven by our perception of what others will think of us. Others are driven by their own conscience. If you are a Christian believer, all of your actions should be driven by your perception of what God will think of you. 

“Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD. 

Jeremiah 23:23-24 (NASB)

Like the internal designs of computer products, much of our thought life is hidden from the rest of the world. When disagreements arise, we may silently curse or think ill thoughts of another, however, as long as our external appearance and behavior project a friendly and competent demeanor, the world will fall into place. This is not what God says. He sees our heart and our motives. The God who created us and the entire universe knows us better than we know ourselves. 

You know that God will know!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“He Spoke To The Right Person!” (1 John 5:13-15)

The disgruntled airline passenger was fuming. “Can’t believe this airline! First you delay the flight then you tell us we have to be rescheduled!” While he was initially yelling at anyone who would listen, he found whom he thought was a crew member, wearing a name tag that simply displayed the name, Jake. 

“Listen Jake. You guys have to do better. This is ridiculous!”

Jake did not argue with the passenger and simply nodded and said, “Yes, I apologize for all these changes. We had several unexpected illnesses with the pilots and we did not have enough time to find another pilot.”

The explanation mollified the passenger who ended his rant and deplaned. This episode was recounted to me by a dear friend who is a flight attendant for that airline. What the passenger didn’t know was that the person, Jake, to whom he was speaking, was actually the CEO of the airlines! Coincidentally, Jake was meeting with some of the crew when he encountered this passenger. When I heard this story, I chuckled and said, “Wow, I guess he spoke to the right person!”

My spiritual life was mirrored by this incident. When I was searching for God, I often found myself speaking to the wrong people. I followed a leader of a religious cult from whom I thought I would receive the right answers about my spiritual searching. In reality, it only led to more confusion. I needed to speak to the right person. Frustrated, I decided to speak directly to God through His Son, Jesus Christ. I remember the evening when I prayed to Jesus for the first time. “Jesus, I don’t know if you are God. I don’t know if you are the only way. All I know is I have never prayed to you and I am asking you to reveal yourself to me.” God dramatically answered my prayer and revealed Himself through the Bible and a dear Christian brother. Within a few months, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. It was a confirmation of His promise in the Bible. 

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 

1 John 5:13-15 (NASB)

If you are searching for God, are you speaking to the right person?

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“And This Is The Amoeba!” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

“And this is the amoeba.”

I lifted my arms and created a large circle. I then opened my mouth. I was demonstrating to my medical school classmates the appearance of a parasite we had just learned in our microbiology class. I created poses for every major parasite. It was my way to memorize the appearance of these organisms that may potentially cause deadly diseases. It was necessary since I do not frequently encounter these organisms and I needed a way to quickly recall these pathogens. 

Source: Medscape.com

Thankfully, I do not need to create elaborate gestures and poses when I need to remember what God has done for me. Of all the symbols of Christianity, none is more pervasive or powerful as the image of the Cross. When Jesus Christ lived on this earth, it was a symbol of death, reserved to execute the worst criminals in the Roman empire. It was not something to be revered; it was to be reviled. Jesus Christ died the most painful and humiliating death on this Cross to receive God’s punishment for our sins that we rightfully deserve. Jesus Christ transformed the cross from a sign of ignominy to a glorious sign of redemption. 

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NSAB)

A wise person once wrote, “Only Jesus could build a bridge to Heaven with two pieces of wood.”

And this is the Cross.

Praise God for His unending love, grace, and mercy to all who place their trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Honeymoon Period (Joshua 7:2-5)

It was giggles and winks. The happy couple were on their honeymoon and their public display of affection was both endearing and distracting. While most onlookers wished them well, a few sarcastically commented, “How long before the honeymoon period is over?” This term is usually applied to marriages but has been adapted for other situations. For example, in business relationships, one may ask this question after a successful deal is closed. In the beginning, all involved parties are smiles and pats on the back but when problems arise, cracks may occur. Before long, the honeymoon period is over and conflict inevitably results. 

What about spiritual matters? The Bible gives us an interesting account of the nation of Israel after Joshua had taken command and led them across the Jordan river. Their first victory was a miraculous triumph, conquering the walled city of Jericho. Joshua then sent spies to survey the next city of Ai and, brimming with confidence, they informed Joshua that they could easily conquer the city with far fewer men. The result was an embarrassing defeat. The honeymoon period was over. 

Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.” So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away. 

Joshua 7:2-5 (NLT)

What was the reason for their defeat? The Israelites did not seek God’s approval or advice before they attacked. God then revealed to them that one of their own, a man named Achan, had sinned by not giving all of the plunder from their previous battle to God. Overconfidence, greed, and disobedience brought the spiritual honeymoon period to an end.

It does not have to be this way. As Christian believers, we are part of His Church, the bride to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are spiritually yoked to Him and He promises to bless us exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. We can always remain in our spiritual honeymoon period because He is God, the perfect bridegroom. 

Amen!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Insider Story (Luke 24:31-32)

I love programs that have the host or guest give an inside view of events that occurred during a famous historical event. These insider eyewitness accounts often shed new and unexpected light, and sometimes, their accounts completely rewrite the history of what happened. The Bible records one such event through a very dramatic encounter. 

It was three days after the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. All of the followers of Jesus Christ were feeling utterly defeated. Their Lord was dead. Three years of listening to His teaching, seeing and experiencing His miracles, and receiving His intimate fellowship were gone. Their hope was gone. Two of Jesus’ followers were walking on a road to Emmaus, a small village outside of Jerusalem. They were dejected and discussing the events of the past few days. Unknownst to them, the Risen Jesus Christ appeared alongside them but God prevented them from recognizing Him. 

He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” 

Luke 24:17-18 (NLT)

Jesus walked alongside these two men and explained to them all of the writings of Moses and the prophets, concerning all the things written about Him and how He was to die and be resurrected. When they arrived at Emmaus, Jesus broke bread with them and God opened their eyes. 

Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 

Luke 24:31-32 (NLT)

Can you imagine? The God of the universe was walking alongside these two men, explaining His master plan for redemption! Yet, for several hours, God prevented them from recognizing Jesus. Yet, they knew they were listening to something very special, so much so that their hearts burned within them as they listened to Jesus. They were receiving the ultimate insider story of God’s plan of redemption and salvation for the entire human race!

This is how God shows His love to us. He meets us wherever we are walking in life. Even if we don’t recognize Him when He is guiding and instructing us, He is always there, giving us the insider story of why we exist and why He loves us. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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More Curses Than Blessings (Deuteronomy 28)

Psychologists debate the merit of whether individuals respond better to positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement. I believe that in the short term, negative reinforcement is a better motivator but for long term results, positive reinforcement is superior.

I don’t know if God agrees with this but certainly His commands, which are recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy, could support this. When the Israelites completed forty years of wandering in the desert, after being miraculously delivered out of slavery in Egypt, God wanted to spiritually prepare them to enter the promised land of Canaan. 

The entire 28th chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy focuses upon blessings and curses that await the Israelites depending upon their actions. It is instructive that the fourteen blessings that are listed in verses 1-14 begin with the following promise.

Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.

Deuteronomy 28:1 (NASB)

In contrast, there are at least forty eight curses listed in verses 15-68. These include such horrific statements like the following:

The LORD shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.  Your carcasses will be food to all birds of the sky and to the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 

Deuteronomy 28:25-26 (NASB)

There are nearly three times more curses as there are blessings that are promised to the Israelites if they do not obey God. Why? If I was present when these cursings and blessings were being declared by God, wouldn’t I have obeyed God? After all, He performed ten miracles to deliver me from Egyptian slavery. He miraculously provided a nutritionally complete food, manna, to sustain me for forty years. Wouldn’t these be enough to ensure my obedience? Isn’t this positive reinforcement enough? It wasn’t enough for the Israelites, and I am quite sure, it would not be enough for me. Although no one wants negative reinforcement in the form of punishment, it may be the only way to break down our stubbornness and reluctance to obey God. Only when we are punished and learn our lessons will we be willing to serve God and receive the positive reinforcement and benefits that He desires to lavish upon us. 

The wisdom of God is infinitely greater than our faithfulness to Him.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Multiple Email Threads (Psalms 147:4-5)

“So please send the slides and reports to Dr. Smith. I am copying his secretary on this.”

“Will do. Thanks.”

“Spoke to the oncologist, Dr. Harris. Please send the case to him at Empire Oncology.”

“Ok, will do so as soon as I receive the original slides from the laboratory.”

“I am the patient. Thank you for everything you are doing for me! I can pick up the slides from Dr. Wong’s office.”

“Just got off the phone with Dr. Lopez. He wants to review the case first, so please send the case to him at the university, attention to David Dean, his secretary. Copying David on this.”


These email threads continued through several more exchanges. Not all the recipients were included in all the emails and several recipients responded several hours after receiving the first email. During that interval, multiple decisions contradicting one another had been made. The urgent discussion was regarding a patient for whom I had made a diagnosis of a recurrent cancer. In an effort to expedite care, several physicians who were currently involved with the care of the patient wanted to have the case re-reviewed by experts at a leading university hospital, where the original diagnosis of cancer was made several years ago. To complicate matters, the patient had been included in several of these email exchanges. 

After 24 hours of following multiple email threads, I was frustrated. I issued an email to all the recipients, including the patient, physician consultants and their secretaries. I attempted to summarize what I believed was the latest decision, in an effort to confirm that everyone was on the same page for coordinating the care for the patient.

This exchange involved less than ten people but I had to stop, re-read all of the emails, and summarize the latest points for all stakeholders. It took nearly twenty minutes and even after that effort, I was not absolutely sure that I had included everyone’s requests. As I reflected upon the complexity of this exchange, I wondered, how does God do this for over six billion people alive on this earth? People pray to him at all moments, some believing in Him while others complaining to Him. Many prayer requests are in direct conflict and represent opposing views. And God is not simply listening to all these prayers, He answers each one.  I can barely keep track of multiple emails. How does God do this?

He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 

Psalms 147:4-5 (NKJV)

Some astronomers estimate there are over 10*24 stars in the known universe. This number is almost unimaginably large and yet, God created each star and calls them by name. The Bible does not explain how God does this, He simply can and has done it, for all eternity! If God can do this, He can certainly listen and perfectly answer all of the prayers that are brought to Him. What is the proof? For all who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, He promises His perfect peace that surpasses all understanding, sealing it with power of the Resurrection. 

An omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God. I chose to place my faith in Him and His promises!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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What Did It Cost Me? (2 Samuel 24:22-24)

Many years ago, I was involved in an organization that collected food for different homeless shelters. As part of the collection process, we were tasked with going to the local farmer’s market and at the end of the market day, we would introduce ourselves and ask each vendor whether they had any extra food they were willing to donate to us so that we could distribute it.

Many of the vendors were happy to participate in this program. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the majority of the vendors hand picked the choicest fruits and vegetables to be donated. I knew the recipients would never know the source of the produce but I was impressed by the care they took to ensure they would receive the very best they could offer, usually reserved for paying customers.

The selfless attitude of the vendors reminded me of a story in the Bible when King David desired to faithfully honor God. David was tasked by God to build an altar to the Lord on the property of Araunah to halt a horrible plague that was afflicting the kingdom. When Araunah learned why David was there, he was willing to give David the property for free.

“Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the LORD your God accept your sacrifice.”

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen. 

2 Samuel 24:22-24 (NLT)

David graciously refused the generous offer of Araunah. He knew that it would not be a true sacrifice to God if it cost him nothing. If we truly desire to honor God, we will give him a sincere offering, one that demands a true sacrifice from us. We must always ask ourselves, what did it cost me? Even if no one else knows, we know that God knows.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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