Have you noticed what happens to people’s ears when they wear masks? Now, even the finest ears are sticking out or bending over at the top.

My husband thinks the market for plastic surgery to fix outie ears will be at its peak after the corona virus scare is over.

I personally find the whole look hilarious—covered mouths and funny ears. Gotta laugh. Just loosen the straps, folks. Or, push them back a little.

Some people wear their masks on their chins, like weird Santa beards in kooky colors, but we were talking about ears, weren’t we?

God created ears, one on each side of our heads. Brilliant, really. He could have put them anywhere. After all, He’s the Great Designer. But, He balanced them, cupped them to capture sounds, and even made us stereo. How cool is that?

In Scripture, God talks about different kinds of ears, none of them post-Covid bent over. These are from the New Testament:

  • Dull ears—Jesus said, For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them (Matthew 13:15).
  • Deaf earsHaving eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? (Mark 8:18)
  • Resisting, stopped up earsYe stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord (Acts 7:51, 57).
  • Itching ears that believe fables instead of truthFor the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
  • Hearing earsBut blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear (Matthew 13:16).
  • Healed earsAnd he (Jesus) took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain (Mark 7:33, 35).
  • Ears to hear ScriptureAnd he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears (Luke 4:21).

In contrast, God’s ears are always open to His children: For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers (1 Peter 3:12a).

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Offended: a biblical word with strong lessons

People are easily offended today. They take offense about others’ opinions, skin color, political leanings, financial status, word choice, and much, much more.

The word offended is in the Bible, and it brings up some strong spiritual teachings. Here are just a few.

The context of the first is a half-lie Abraham told. Apparently Sarah was a knockout. She was Abraham’s wife and also his half-sister. So Abraham thought, if he and Sarah said she was his sister, he would save his skin. No one would kill him for his wife. Of course, this was wrong on many levels.

Abimelech takes Sarah into his harem, and God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this (Genesis 20:3-5). God responds, Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine (20:7).

Here is the verse about offense: Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done (20:9).

Abraham’s unwise half-lie affected the king and the whole nation. When Christians sin, that sin affects more people that one can imagine. In this case, Abimilech did what all heathen kings did. Abimelech saw a gorgeous woman and took her into his harem. While we certainly don’t condone harems or taking any woman one desires, this is what kings did back in those days. God wasn’t pleased with Abimilech for taking Sarah, and he wasn’t happy with Abraham for lying. Abimilech recognized that he had offended God Himself.

The next offense speaks about idolatry. It’s found in Hosea 13:1, When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. What was the penalty for idol worship? Death.

Jesus used this word. He said, Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me (Matthew 11:6). Those not ashamed of the Lord will be happy.

When Jesus went back to his hometown, Nazareth, they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house (Matthew 13:57). So, Jesus left Nazareth and did miracles elsewhere. The people believed rumors and innuendo instead of the Son of God.

Thankfully, Jesus gave us His Word. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended (John 16:1). What a blessing!

This next verse is perhaps one of the saddest in the Bible. Of course, Jesus, being God, knew what would happen, and He even advised the disciples before His crucifixion: All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad (Matthew 26:31). Peter contradicted the Lord, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I (Mark 14:29). Jesus indeed knew that even Peter would be offended and deny Him, which he did three times before the cock crowed.

The lesson, of course, for us is to stand for the Lord and not to be scattered. With the regulations for churches in diverse places in the world, some churches aren’t even allowed to meet. We need not to be offended in Christ but to be strong and stick together.

The last verse about offending teaches a practical principle. This one is about our behavior before other Christians: It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak (Romans 14:21).

The context is about Christian liberty, specifically eating meat that had been offered to idols. Some Christians could eat it with a clear conscience, since an idol is just a piece of stone, wood, or metal, and they recognized that it was nothing. Other Christians had “weaker” consciences, and because of the meat having been used in a pagan rite, they couldn’t eat it. The lesson in the Bible is for the meat eaters not to eat meat when they knew they might offend the ones who didn’t eat it because of their conscience. When alone, of course, it would be fine. The lesson for us, of course, is not to do anything to provoke or tempt another Christian to go against his conscience.

Let’s be careful not to be offended in Christ but rather to glorify Him with our lives. Christians need to stick together and be strong against persecution. There’s no reason to lie. And, we need to be careful not to offend others who have weaker consciences.

How many friends do you need?

At least one popular social medium limits friend numbers. I was shocked. I can only have 5,000 friends? Poor me. I can’t have 5,001? No I have to whittle my list.

This actually happened to a friend of mine, not to me. I only have 1,400+ friends on there at the moment—but I’ll be happy to add you.

What is a friend?

I fully realize that a social media friend is way different from a personal friend. It might be an introduction to real friendships. I have found that to be true when I actually get to meet someone I only knew online. Fun!

Friend, according to the dictionary, is “one attached to another by affection or esteem.” (Merriam Webster)

The Bible has a few things to say about friends and friendships. How are we attached to one another? What is real friendship?

God called several people “friends.”

  • MosesAnd the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend (Exodus 33:11a).
  • AbrahamAnd the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God (James 2:23; also Isaiah 41:8).
  • LazarusThese things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep (John 11:11).

Some “friends” are harmful.

  • Job’s three non-helpful friendsMy friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God (Job 16:20).
  • Some friends only care about what they can gain from others. The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends (Proverbs 14:20).
  • Those who spread confidences are poor friends. A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends (Proverbs 16:28; 17:9).
  • An angry personMake no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go (Proverbs 22:24).
  • Being a friend of the world makes a person God’s enemy. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).

On the positive side, it’s easy to make friends. Just be friendly. A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

Good friends are beneficial.

  • They’re loyal and helpful in hard times. A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17).
  • They challenge us to be better people. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:9, 17).
  • They influence. He that walketh with wise men shall be wise (Proverbs 13:20a).
  • They strengthen us in the Lord. And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God (1 Samuel 23:16).

Husbands and wives can be best friends. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 5:16). In fact, the word for love in Titus 2:4 to love their husbands, is the Greek word for friendship love.

The best Friend, of course, is God Himself, specifically in the Person of Jesus, who said, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you (John 15:13-15).

I hope you know Jesus. He is the best and most perfect Friend.

I hope you have good friends—the kinds of people who encourage and strengthen you.

I hope I can be a good and faithful friend to you, my readers. On my social media list, there’s plenty of room for you.

The pearl necklace

My mother was going to a business banquet with my father. She decided to wear a simple, elegant black dress.

While in Woolworth’s, picking up something else, she happened by the costume jewelry section and noticed a pearl necklace. It was one strand and had a “pearl” and then a tiny gold bead, another pearl, and a gold bead. Thinking it was pretty and seeing the cheap price tag of something like $3.50, she bought it. It would go nicely with her black dress.

A lady at the banquet was talking to my mother, but she couldn’t keep her eyes off of her necklace. Mama said this woman just kept staring at the necklace and didn’t even look at her face. Finally, the woman, green with envy, complimented the necklace and moved on.

I’ve often wondered if her husband later paid for a custom genuine pearl and gold bead necklace for his wife.

Perceptions can be wrong.

I know mine have been.

Just as the woman at a fancy banquet figured my mother’s fake necklace had to be real, we have probably misjudged people.

Long ago, I met a lady. She was gorgeous, proper, and quiet. I thought she was a little bit cool. Once I got to know her, though, I realized she is a warm person and has a real knack for communicating with everyone. My first impression of her being standoffish wasn’t fair. She was only timid.

Several men in our community, one who used to wear his hair very long, with dangling hoop earrings, didn’t necessarily look like the nice guys they are.  It’s so easy to judge by outward appearances.

My husband and I were looking for a certain street address in a foreign country. We’d parked the car and we were looking for someone to ask. A man walked over towards me, so I asked him if he knew where the street was. As soon as I asked him, I realized he was not okay; he was on drugs. The man was very courteous, but he sadly didn’t even know where he was. I misjudged him for being a reliable source of information.

Misperceptions happen all the time.

Often, the truth is somewhere in the middle ground. And, just as often, as in the woman’s judgment of my mother’s necklace, we can be completely wrong.

Take the coronavirus prohibitions, for example.  Where does the truth lie?

Are governments being wise to completely cripple their countries financially in order to control this?

Is it a health issue or a control issue? Either way, what can we learn for the future so that we don’t shut down the whole world again?

Perceptions can be wrong, half wrong, and sometimes, right.

For now, I will sit back and let others make the big decisions for me.

And, if I ever get envious of anyone’s jewelry, I’ll call in an expert first. It might be a $3.50 immitation.

Jesus said, Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment (John 7:24).

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (Proverbs 3:1-8).

May we depend on God for wisdom and guidance, trust Him in the darkness, and be careful about pride in these uncertain times.

God bless you.

Forms of government in the Bible

In today’s highly charged political atmosphere, I have read all kinds of posts by Christians. Some favor one kind of government and some another. A few were outright nasty, and some were looking for an argument. It’s their right, of course, to express opinions and to differ. I personally think many could use an infusion of kindness and grace. But, that’s not what this post is about.

What does the Bible say about governments?

Which forms of government are found in the Bible? When I started brainstorming, I was surprised. Maybe you will be, too.

Theocracy = God rules. Actually, God always rules. Since the beginning, God has ordered the world. He created both the world and man and set His rules in place. Man disobeyed, but God kept ruling. When Israel was in the wilderness, ultimately God ruled. In the New Testament also, God ruled. Today, God rules. One of the most comforting concepts in my life is that God is ultimately in control. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations (Psalm 145:13).

Strong leader = One leader rules. Throughout history, God ordained strong leaders for His people. Some did wrong, but they led Israel. Examples include: Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, and good and bad kings. In the New Testament, we don’t see a governmental structure like this until the millennium, when Jesus reigns (Revelation 20:1-6).

Monarchy = One family rules. The longest ruling monarchy in Israel was David’s, through sons and briefly, one mother, all the way up to the Babylonian captivity (993 BC-586 BC). Ultimately, Jesus, a descendant of David, will complete this monarchy’s rule as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

Representative = Representatives of the people rule. Moses needed helpers, and his father-in-law wisely suggested representatives for groups of people. (Exodus 18:17-22). Later, God gave judges to the people.

Direct democracy = The people vote. We don’t see this much in Scripture. Joshua asked the people to choose whether to obey God or serve idols. Their answer: And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey (Joshua 24:24). Gideon had an army of 30,000 men to go against the Midianites. He told them that anyone who was afraid could leave. Twenty thousand left (Judges 7:3). In this case, God later whittled the minority down to three hundred men, and He got the glory for the miraculous victory.

Communism = Everything is shared equally. Communism was tried in Acts 2:44-45, due to great persecution and financial need in the church at Jerusalem. Christians pooled their money, food, and goods. This system didn’t work for very long because of greed. Remember Ananias and Saphira, who told the disciples they were giving everything, but they held money back for themselves? (Acts 5:1-10) Their deaths were the beginning of the end for this form of government in the Bible.

I don’t know where you live or what form of government you live under, but wherever it is, the Bible is true. Let’s read some encouraging verses about governments.

  • Hezekiah prayed, Thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth (2 Kings 19:15b).
  • The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will (Proverbs 21:1).
  • Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Romans 13:1-7).

What’s my take-away from this little study?

The Lord is in control. This doesn’t mean that we fold our arms and don’t vote or that we shouldn’t be active in political affairs. It means, rather, that God works in governments. There’s no need to panic. We can rest in His sovereignty.

God’s purposes will be done on the earth.

Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah (Psalm 68:32).

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15).