Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop (Psalms 27:13-14)

I rushed home and opened my mailbox, quickly sifting through the mail, seeking out the identifying logos on the envelopes. It was the spring of my senior year in high school and I was hoping for an acceptance at one of my first choice colleges to which I applied. All of my classmates knew that letters of acceptance were sent out within these next few weeks. We knew when it would generally happen, we just didn’t know when it would precisely occur. 

Most of us have experienced this uncertainty. It is the proverbial, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.” The Bible records a similar tense and anxious moment in the life of one of the great saints. Noah spent 120 years constructing the ark that God commanded him to build. During this time, Noah preached to his friends and neighbors about the impending judgment of God, pleading with them to repent of their sinful ways and turn to God. One can imagine the ridicule that was hurled his way. It was probably the origin of public shaming! After enduring over a century of this, the time came for Noah and his family to enter the ark. After representatives of the animal kingdom were directed by God to enter the ark, God closed the door, sealing them in. God told Noah the flood would happen, he just didn’t know when it would start. And this was the problem. Noah waited for seven days, sealed in the ark with his family and numerous animals. The Bible does not tell us but with each passing day, Noah’s anxiety undoubtedly grew. I know mine would. If I was in Noah’s position, waiting for the other shoe to drop, would I have the faith to persevere? Noah did. He ignored the naysayers. He waited 120 years. He could wait a bit longer. He trusted and waited for the Lord to act.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.  Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. 

Psalms 27:13-14 (NASB)

God always answers our prayers, but He answers by His timeline, not ours. We should not despair because we must learn to grow in faith and wait for Him to act. Whether it is seven days, weeks, or years, let not your heart be troubled. When we wait for the Lord, He promises to answer and bless us!

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

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Hate Speech (Ephesians 4:14-15)

Racist. Misogynistic. Bigoted. Hate speech!

These are powerful and angry words. I could have been reading a review lambasting the latest offering of a conservative politician, but I wasn’t. These were words taken from an editorial criticizing the Bible. For some, the Bible is now labeled as hate speech. It is placed in the same category as the words of Hitler. Why? The definition of hate speech is expanding. In many publications, it is defined as, “speech that is intended to insult, intimidate, or cause prejudice against a person or people based on their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, political affiliation, occupation, disability, or physical appearance.” Sadly, some Christians have taken a hostile stance toward groups of people who do not share their same beliefs, using the Bible to support their stance. The same Bible that reveals God’s plan of love and redemption to a lost world has been used to justify hatred. By their misguided actions, the Bible has become a tool for hate speech. 

How did Jesus Christ deal with racism and cultural stereotypes? The Bible records an exchange between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. For hundreds of years, there was animosity between the Samaritans and the Jews and both groups went out of their way to avoid each other. It was dangerous for Jesus to lead His disciples through Samaria and unprecedented for Him to speak to a Samaritan woman alone. It was a very tense moment when Jesus Christ met the Samaritan woman at the well. She was a woman who had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband. She was scorned by the other townspeople. Jesus did not overlook or sugarcoat her sins. Instead, He focused her attention upon her true needs, to hear the Truth that only God can reveal. She responded by repenting of her sins and telling everyone what Jesus did for her.

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 

Ephesians 4:14-15 (NLT)

How does a Christian navigate the world’s relativistic moral landscape and still remain faithful to God’s Word? We should look to the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We should speak the Truth in love to whomever we encounter and not hate or malign others who do not believe in Jesus Christ. All Christian believers should desire to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, not with clever words or trickery, but with confidence that Jesus will grant the forgiveness of sins to all who call upon His Name. 

We love because He first loved us. 

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

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Wandering In The Wilderness (Isaiah 48:10)

So many of the saints of the Bible have spent time wandering in the wilderness. Joseph. Moses. David. Our Lord Jesus Christ spent forty days in the wilderness. Unlike Joseph, it was not because He was betrayed by his brothers. Unlike Moses, He was not fleeing a murder He committed. Unlike David, it was not because of His own sin of adultery and murder. The Bible states that God, the Holy Spirit, drove Jesus into the desert wilderness.

Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. 

Mark 1:12-13 (NASB)

In all of these examples, God used this time of wandering in the wilderness for a specific purpose. 

He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons; Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD  tested him. 

Psalms 105:17-19 (NASB)

You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 

Deuteronomy 8:2 (NASB)

Are you currently wandering through your own wilderness? It may be navigating a difficult relationship at home, school or work. It may be a rejection to your dream college or graduate school. It may be working in a job that is seemingly unrelated to your ultimate career goals. It may be a retirement that has been less fulfilling and relaxing as initially hoped. Why is this happening? Perhaps you are experiencing a time of testing? Once again, God gives us His answer.

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. 

Isaiah 48:10 (NASB)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces  endurance. And let  endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be  perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 

James 1:2-4 (NASB)

God’s focus is not on the wandering, trials, or afflictions, but on the successful completion, to refine and mold us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. God drove His own Son into the desert wilderness to be tempted in all ways but not sin. Because of what Jesus did, we can trust His promises to intervene in our lives and strengthen our faith during our moments of greatest despair. 

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 

Hebrews 4:15 (NASB)

If this is your time of wandering in the wilderness, draw strength and comfort through the examples of the great saints in the Bible. Their wanderings all pointed to our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is our Great Shepherd who will always lead us through the darkest valleys.

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

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Who Took Care Of Peter’s Wife? (Matthew 4:18-20)

Many years ago, I accepted an offer from a headhunter to interview for a job in Florida. At that stage in my life, I was a full partner with my former pathology group. My wife also had an established pediatric dental practice. We had two young children in elementary school and my son had special needs. If I were to take another job, it would need to adequately compensate me for the income of my current job, my wife’s lost income, giving up her dental practice, and finding schools that would address the needs of my children. Ultimately, I turned down the offer since it would not adequately address all of these concerns. There was too much at stake and I did not want to hurt my family. 

Thousands of years ago, a man with a family was offered an opportunity to leave everything behind to follow an itinerant teacher. What was his decision?

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

Matthew 4:18-20 (NASB)

And just like that, Peter became a disciple of Jesus Christ. For the next three years, he would live and learn from the living God, the Messiah. This is a wonderful and inspiring story, except for one thing. Who took care of Peter’s wife? The Bible informs us that Peter was married when he became a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus even healed his mother-in-law at the beginning of His ministry. Peter was a fisherman and had a younger brother, Andrew, who was also a fisherman. Yet, both Peter and Andrew joined Jesus as disciples. Who provided for Peter’s wife and his family? The Bible does not give us any insight into this. Presumably, Peter still remained a fisherman and during any possible free time, would fish to provide for his family. Or perhaps he took another job. Perhaps he was supported by donations to Jesus and His followers. The Bible is silent on this. 

I frequently ponder this because I don’t think I could do what Peter did. It was a different time when Jesus walked this earth. Yet, the issues that families faced were very similar to today. Someone had to provide for lost income to the family. There were issues for schooling the children. The geographical location of their home was important for a network of support. While the Bible does not tell us what happened, we have to assume that Peter’s family, and the families of the other disciples, were properly cared for and stable. 

What if Jesus asked me to move and leave everything like He asked Peter? Would I be able to do it for Jesus? If, like Peter and the rest of the disciples, I do not drop everything to follow Jesus, is my faith not genuine? Is my faith feeble and small? What is the cost of following Jesus?

If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?

Luke 14:26-28 (NASB)

These are difficult and challenging words that Jesus presents to those who desire to follow Him. Jesus honored the sanctity of marriage and the family; it would be difficult to conclude that He was insensitive to the needs of the families of His disciples. Jesus recognized and embraced the issues of life that all of us face and directly addressed them. 

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 

Matthew 6:25-29 (NASB)

We can be confident that God provided for the families of the disciples and for all His followers who place their faith in Him. He does not dismiss these concerns but refocuses our heart to understand the true cost of following Him. What is the answer that Jesus gives?

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

Matthew 6:33-34 (NASB)

Is my faith too small? I still struggle with these statements of Jesus Christ. We all make sacrifices to follow Jesus Christ. Yet, my sacrifices pale in comparison to the millions of people around the world who sacrifice everything to follow Jesus Christ. In some countries, Christianity is banned, and the mere mention of it can be punished by imprisonment and/or death. Accepting Jesus Christ leads to ostracism from their own family, even from their own spouses and children. 

When I meditate upon these challenging words of Jesus, I lament how small my faith is. How desperately I need my Lord and Savior for His grace and mercy in my life. I pray that all who are seeking God, focus upon His kingdom and righteousness. The issues of life will fall into place once we place God first in our lives. We can trust His promises because He sealed them with His own life. He was rejected by His family. He was betrayed by His friends. He was scorned by His own people. In spite of this, Jesus knew that God, the Father, would provide for Him. He knew that if He remained faithful, God would be glorified. Jesus would never ask anything of us that He has not already done Himself. 

May we all be encouraged by the faith of our Living God, Jesus Christ. 

Amen.

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

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Mochitsuki (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Thud. Thud. Thud.

The rhythmic pounding of the wooden mallets making contact with the dough resonated throughout the neighborhood. It was Christmas day and our family was celebrating mochitsuki, the Japanese tradition of mochi pounding with our friends and their extended family. Once cooked, the steaming hot, glutinous sweet mochi rice must be pounded so that no grains are present. Once the process is completed, the mochi is shaped into small cakes to be eaten. If one has never experienced this, here is a famous video showcasing two very energetic mochi pounders.

Fastest Mochi Making in Japan – YouTube

Most certainly, our mochi pounding was not as dynamic or exciting, but it was equally effective! It is a tradition spanning over a thousand years of Japanese history and celebrates the new year. As a Japanese-American, I was happy to participate as I imagined my own ancestors in Japan celebrating in the same manner. Traditions bind us. They reconnect us with our cultural roots and generations of family members. Of course, not everyone who participated in the mochitsuki experienced the same deep emotions that I did. Many were there simply for the camaraderie and the food. While this is important and noble, it overlooks the deep heritage of this tradition. 

Do the traditions of man differ from the traditions of God?

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NASB)

Before He was resurrected from the dead and returned to Heaven to be with God, the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ earnestly desired to share a last Passover meal with His disciples. He wanted them to remember Him when He was gone. Thousands of years later, the Church still partakes in Communion, to proclaim the Lord’s death until He returns to earth. Like the mochitsuki, not all who participate recognize their solemn responsibility to honor and uphold the significance of the tradition.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number  sleep. 

1 Corinthians 11:27-30 (NASB)

In the early Church, there were some who gorged themselves on the bread and got drunk on the wine, before the actual communion. They were partaking in the communion in an unworthy manner, not recognizing or understanding the significance. As a result, they brought God’s judgment upon themselves, resulting in weakness, sickness, and even death. 

The traditions of man look back to our heritage and bind us together with little consequence if we no longer understand the origins. When God establishes a tradition, He does so to bring all participants closer to Him. We must understand and honor the origins of His traditions to partake of it in a worthy manner, lest we face His judgment. 

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

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“What Fortunate Lives We lead!” (Acts 20:35)

“How lucky are we? Every patient today could have been a Grand Rounds patient and we had the privilege of helping them. What fortunate lives we lead!”

Source: Dr. Samuel Moschella. Archives of Dermatology. December 2022.

This quotation was spoken by Dr. Samuel Moschella, who passed on August 21, 2022, at the venerable age of 101 years. Dr. Moschella was a professor of dermatology at Harvard University. When he made this exuberant statement, he had spent an entire day seeing dozens of patients in his dermatology clinic. He was writing his observations in each patient’s clinic chart and with unbridled enthusiasm and energy, exclaimed this to his fellow dermatologist colleague. It encapsulated this remarkable man’s rich life. He was a master teacher, clinician, and researcher. I had the pleasure of meeting him many years ago at a dermatology conference and can attest to everything that was summarized in a tribute article, recently published in a prestigious dermatology journal. Dr. Moschella’s words and life reminded me of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Acts 20:35 (NASB)

To serve others with the gifts that God has bestowed upon each of us is our purpose in life. We serve, not because of financial obligations or compulsion, we serve out of gratitude for what God has done for us. We serve to freely return the love that was lavished upon us through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. 

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

Galatians 5:13-14 (NASB)

What fortunate lives we lead!

Thank you, Dr. Moschella, for your service and commitment to so many patients and health care professionals. May all of us live our lives with this same enthusiasm, serving others with the love and compassion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We live fortunate lives because He first loved us.

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

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Artificial Art Intelligence Generator (John 11:25-26)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 

John 11:25-26 (ESV)

Source: Fotor.com

I was experimenting with an artificial art intelligence generator. This free website, referenced above, will take any written word or phrase and create an image. I do not know the algorithms or the backgrounds of the programmers but when I typed in the verse from the Gospel of John that I quoted, this striking image appeared. Of the many intriguing qualities of this image, is the glow that highlights this image of Jesus Christ. I typed in other phrases that included God or Jesus and obtained a similar image. If there were other people in the illustration, they did not have this glow. I even typed in the names of prophets and founders of other religions but no glow. Interesting. 

There are many descriptions of Jesus in the Bible but in many instances, God’s glory is depicted with light. Perhaps the most profound revelation is Jesus, when He was transfigured before two of His closest disciples.

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 

Matthew 17:1-2 (ESV)

Jesus reinforced this image when He described Himself.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

John 8:12 (ESV)

Is this glow unique to Jesus? It is likely that if I entered more phrases and permutations, the program would attach a glow to other historical figures. Yet, I am pleased that this is a consistent representation of our Lord and Savior. It affirms what God declared since the beginning of Creation. 

Whether it is artificial intelligence or intelligence created by man, all intelligence points to the true source, Jesus Christ, the light of the world. 

Amen!

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

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Reboot (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It was the third time I went through the protocol. I researched numerous websites, meticulously following their instructions, all to no avail. I was stymied by my inability to get a recent software application to properly work on my computer. Finally, I rebooted the computer and to my delight, the application worked. As I savored the moment, I recalled a statement that my IT colleague once told me, “Rebooting the computer solves 90% of the problems.” Indeed! If only all of life’s problems could be solved by a simple reboot and restart! If we are given an opportunity to restart in life, many of us would welcome it. At New Years, it is common to make resolutions, resolving to make a fresh start for the new year. Yet, in spite of our ambitious and earnest beginnings, reality soon sinks in, and we discover a simple new year reboot has quickly failed. The problems we faced before are still there. We continue to agonize over events for which we have no control. What can we do? Can we keep on rebooting? Once again, God gives us a better way. 

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)

When life’s problems overwhelm us, we don’t need an occasional reboot. We need a continual refreshing through Jesus Christ. Only through faith and belief in His Name will we be able to wipe away the old things that have prevented us from living a fulfilled life and begin to live the life that God created us to have. We are new creatures, rebooted in Jesus Christ.

Rebooting a computer may solve many problems but in life, only by rebooting our lives in Jesus Christ will renew us in every moment of the day. It is a spiritual reboot by the living water and bread of life, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen!

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

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Not Too Difficult (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

“You all know this material. This next midterm will not be a challenge. It will all be a review.”

Right! I’ve heard these lines before. My college professor was attempting to reassure our class that there would be no surprises on the examination. However, I was wary. I heard these types of statements before and was completely burned. After my initial experience, I surmised that some professors have a malevolent streak, and was hesitant to trust them. 

What if God told you, “It is not too difficult!” Would you believe Him? Why should you when you didn’t even believe your professor? Thousands of years ago, God said the same thing to the Israelites. 


This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, “Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?” It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, “Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?” No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it. 

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (NLT)

As the Israelites prepared to enter the promised land of Canaan, God encouraged them through His prophet Moses and told them His commandments would not be too difficult or unreasonable to follow. All He asked was to trust Him and His promises. Unfortunately, like the experience with my professor, the Israelites did not trust their Creator and thought they knew better. The result was an earthly kingdom that never achieved the promises that God intended. The kingdom of Israel was to be an example for the entire world, Jew and Gentile alike, to come to God.  Instead, the Israelites squandered and rejected the promises of God and eventually had their entire kingdom conquered by foreign empires. 

It is not too difficult!

If God tells us this, believe Him! He desires to bless us exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we could ever ask or think!

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

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Migration (Jeremiah 10:23-24)

I was born in Fukuoka, Japan, in a hospital on an American Air Force base. Although I have visited Japan twice, I have yet to revisit my birthplace. While I am definitely looking forward to this, it may be a bit difficult. The Air Force base and hospital no longer exist, replaced by a housing development. Thus, while I may not be able to visit the general location, I may be unable to return to the exact spot where I was born. 

In today’s world, returning to one’s exact birthplace may not be a simple task. Gentrification may sometimes radically change a city’s landscape. I have a colleague who grew up near Beijing, China. However, each time he revisits his birthplace, it is unfamiliar to him. Buildings that were in place even ten years ago are no longer present, victims of the relentless new building in China. Yet, some animals have been doing this for millennia.  Scientists speculate that animals such as sea turtles, birds, dolphins, salmon and some insects may have physiological adaptations that enable each to navigate the earth’s magnetic field. For example, sea turtles may have magnetite within their brain, a compound that aligns with the earth’s magnetic field. I wonder if people who have a good sense of direction have a similar physiological change? One thing is sure, most husbands who drive cars do not, as many wives can attest!

I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, LORD, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die. 

Jeremiah 10:23-24 (NLT)

God endowed sea turtles and other select animals with a means to navigate thousands of miles to return to their exact place of birth. Most of us are not as fortunate. We need direction and guidance. Thanks be to God that He provides this for us. While it may not be to navigate to our exact point of birth, He guides us to far more important destinations, our course for our life. He doesn’t use magnetic fields, He guides us by His Holy Spirit, who indwells within every believer in Jesus Christ. He aligns us with the will of God, the most powerful force in the universe. 

Returning to our place of birth may be important for some animal species but for a believer in Jesus Christ, yielding to the will of God is what will bring us home to Him in heaven. 

Amen!

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

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