Friday, August 28, 2009

Where Does Your Help Come From?

Psalm 121:1-8

I will lift up my eyes to the hills--
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

I believe all that transpires in this world that shakes the nations, moves people's hearts to fear can be looked upon as God's allowance to one day show the world Who will deliver us. God doesn't cause it. He allows it.

This Psalm pretty much tells us what we are to do. Since everything is about the LORD (God), to whom do we choose to look to for help?

To those who believe and trust in God alone this is of great comfort. He does not slumber. He knows at all times what is happening across the universe.

He is our Keeper. If we are in Christ we are held in His hands. Isaiah 41:10 reminds us to Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. And know that His hands are enormous, able to hold many people.

He is our Protector...from all sorts of evil and wickedness--anything that might befall us. As it is written, He shall preserve your soul. That means even if death should come to you, if you have entered into covenant with Him, your spiritual life is secure.

From this time forth... I love that. From this time--as a believer this is our new assurance. Whatever is past is past. It's today and future to those who have committed their lives to the Lord.

...and even forevermore. This is eternal life. Death comes naturally but being in Christ means spiritual life forevermore.

I can write until I'm blue in the face about God's salvation. But they're just words until someone chooses to seek God for the answers to the truth of His Word. Ask Him to reveal Himself in a way only you will know and believe in. I think of the woman at the well. She heard a Man she'd never met speak to her about her own sins. She heard God speak to her and she immediately the point she ran off to tell others about it, to point them to the Truth. If you purposely, and with a heart so pure in your desire, seek God for knowledge of Him He will answer.

Let Him be your Helper, Keeper, Protector/Preserver. See what a difference He makes in your life.

Jeremiah 33:3 - Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Let Your Voice Be Heard

1Corinthians 5:4-5 - In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

My, oh my. I check out Glenn Beck every so often on Fox News' website. He had an article and video that wrote about speaking without fear. The day before his guest was Rush Limbaugh. The issue was about the possibility of the end of free speech for conservative talk radio show hosts.

I have to say the more I think about that the more anxious I get. We are seeing signs that are not good. It will probably not only include conservative talk shows but religious programs. This is what makes me the most anxious. I am glued to one or the other in my car.

Here's an excerpt from Beck's article:

"As a recovering alcoholic, I've already lost everything once; I'm better and stronger for it. I didn't need a bailout; I needed to rediscover my principles. I've told my audience for years after I sobered up that I was a dirt-bag — I try my hardest not to be now, but I still make mistakes. They can take my job or my wealth — that's OK because I've been rich and I've been poor. But I was only truly miserable when I was lying to myself or others. And because some of those principles that I've rediscovered and applied to my life are the founding principles of this country.

I know that even if the current powers that be succeed in making me poor again, I will only be stronger for it. And American ingenuity will find another way to get this message out on a platform 1,000 times more powerful.

Because of my faith, I know how this story ends: America prepare to witness mighty, powerful miracles in your lifetime."

I know Glenn Beck has strong religious faith. In the days ahead we are going to need it. We have only some idea what this country and world will experience in the future. Change will take place, as so many have wanted, but will it really be good? I see right now where we need to be on our knees before God praying for His forgiveness for the nation's wrongs and asking for Him to intervene, if it's His will. It may be that that His will includes allow some terrible times. He could deliver us into Satan's hands because of the changes this country so strongly desires.

Beck stated he's been poor before but it only strengthened him. He had come to the end of himself in his alcoholism. In the grand scheme of his life, that was a small thing and he was delivered from it. I'm certain that was God's will. I'm suggesting that the "small" things we experience today are building our faith and strength in the Lord Jesus Christ for His salvation. I'm suggesting that this country will go through disastrous times in order for the mighty hand of God to come upon us to deliver. But first we have to get to the point I mentioned yesterday about coming to the end of ourselves. This is when we will be strengthened. When we as individuals and as a country and world come to the end of ourselves and cry out for mercy, like Israel did, God will intervene. For some it will not be what is expected. It will be according to God's will, not man's. He will return with a vengeance against all sin and degradation in this world. He will come to show many that He has been in control all along, but has allowed the enemy to control for a time, just to get us to that place where we need to call on Him for our salvation.

Many of us know for a fact that Jesus will return. It's only a matter of time. Yes, it's been spoken of for thousands of years and time has come and gone and nothing has happened. God is patient, wanting His Word to spread throughout all the world. Beck said that even if the airwaves will no longer spread the truth, there will be voices out there, stronger than before. That's where Christians come in. Our voices need to be heard.

Time is running out. There are signs in the natural world. It's not getting any better and no man can truly make it happen. The pieces of God's huge puzzle of life are being set into place. All that we see happening today has been prophesied in the Bible. That can be both frightening and exciting, whether we trust in the Lord or not.

We don't know what we will be experiencing in our future. Hanging on to what God has in store after all the trouble in the world is finished is what keeps some from having hearts fail with fear. The miracles Glenn Beck alludes to, I believe, are those things that God has in store to usher in Jesus Christ. That miracle will be of God's own will.

What is God's will? It's far too lengthy a discussion! There are many scriptures that tell us what His will is. First and foremost His will is that we believe and trust in Him and that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Here are some scriptures to plant in your heart:

Matthew 6:33 - But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness...
Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
1Thessalonians 4:3 - It is God's will that you should be sanctified...
1Thessalonians 5:16-18, 22 - Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Abstain from every form of evil.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Come to the End of Yourself

Psalm 107:6-7 - Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city for a dwelling place.

This is what it's all about. I'm sorry if I continue to sound like a broken record. Perhaps God is trying to show me something and I'm missing something in my own life. Or maybe He's just pushing it deeper in my soul. So, what am I talking about?

Again...we keep seeing the account of Israel's captivity in Egypt, how God delivered them by His own hand out of the hand of Pharaoh. He brought about plagues to try to convince Pharaoh of His power and time and time again Pharaoh's heart was hardened, until he just could not take it anymore and not only did he tell Israel to leave, he loaded them up with riches. All part of the hand of God on Israel's life.

Israel sees God at work in their deliverance from Egypt, the death of their enemy at the Red Sea, daily provision of manna, but they soon forget and begin to complain. They fall into despair and begin to call out to God again for deliverance.

He is still doing this today. Thankfully, He's always available to deliver. It just takes our awareness that we've gotten to that place in life where we realize we can no longer live without His help. We must come to the end of ourselves and the end of our own abilities and cry out to One who knows just exactly what we need. Psalm 116:6b tells us: I was brought low, and He saved me. We have to come to that low point in our life.

That first step of admitting our own weakness may seem hard but once it is taken there is a peace, joy and hope that comes in. You will know you've been delivered and you will know the presence of God. When you are in what seems a hopeless situation you feel you are in darkness. You are being held captive in your spirit. Only One truly can save you. Seek the Lord to bring you out of captivity, like Israel did. Let God destroy the enemy of your soul.

He will lead you in the right direction. Israel's way back then was following God. The Way today is Jesus. As He continues to lead us day by day our steps will take us to that final dwelling place--heaven and eternal life. Without God's leading we're more likely to miss that destination altogether.

Next time you feel overwhelmed by some situation in your life, give God a try. What harm can it do you? Call out to Him (Jesus) for deliverance. Ask Him to make Himself known to you. Find a Bible believing church and speak to someone. Let Him guide you in the right direction. Follow the right Way. He is the Way, the Truth and the Light. Seek that last final, glorious destination. Let your life be filled with peace, joy and the hope only He can bring. Psalm 107:8a,15a, 21, and 31 all implore: Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness... He is waiting to be your goodness when you look for Him.

In these present days there is hope for change that so many people long for. It may not pan out as they had thought it would. It's just possible that more people will believe they have been duped. They may come to the realization they trusted others thinking they would bring about that hopeful change. They may feel they have gotten to the end of themselves. I can only pray that they will see the Light and finally look to Him for the change they really need. Psalm 118:8-9 reminds us It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

Psalm 107:9, 43 - For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Your Kingdom Come

Matthew 6:9b-10 - Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We sang a song in church yesterday that had these words. I've heard the words, prayed the words as a child and as an adult. Yesterday I couldn't wait to get home and start this blog because it sparked something in me in the short time we sang.

We all know this prayer. It's the beginning of the Lord's Prayer. I've heard that it should be called the Disciples' Prayer, one that Jesus taught them. Whatever it is called, I was struck by just these two verses, especially the last two sentences. It is one we are to take to heart, not just repeat without thought.

What struck me while we were singing was the picture I was receiving in my mind. "Your kingdom come." Our God is our Father in Heaven. He is to be hallowed because He is a holy God. No evil can be before Him. The kingdom to come shows there is something in store in the future. All that is in Heaven and will be allowed into Heaven, must be holy. He did not create this world for it to become what it has. Clearly it is not a sinless world and we clearly are not sinless people. We are all imperfect, born into sin and carrying that sin until we realize our need for a Savior, hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and gratefully invite Him into our lives.

So, "Your kingdom come." When we have asked Jesus into our lives, the Kingdom resides within us. This is to be our plea for this world. That the kingdom of God would be received and accepted here on earth through belief and trust in Jesus. Let the evil in this world be replaced by righteousness. Holiness is an action, a characteristic. It is being good and kind, filled with the Spirit of God, compassionate. It should be in our hearts to desire that for ourselves and for a world free from all the evil that exists.

"Your will be done..." This world is not only about what we like and how we live. It has a little to do with us but more to do with how God would want us to live. Some are good at this, without knowing Jesus, but what we do should always be done "in the name of Jesus." We are to glorify Him. He doesn't object to unbelievers' love for others, but I think He would like it if He were recognized as the one who gave these people the love.

We are to be in the act of doing what He desires, not what seems important to us. It doesn't mean we cannot do those things that bring pleasure to us, but even in that we should be recognizing God the talent, wisdom, patience, whatever, that He has given us. Sadly, I don't know of too many people who take the time to recognize that their gifts, whether big or small, important or behind the scenes, are gifts He has given before the beginning of time--and in our mothers' wombs.

"...on earth as it is in heaven." That about sums it up. Our Father in heaven who is holy has always desired that earth would be like it is in heaven. It started out that way in the Garden. That truly was heaven on earth. But man listened to a lie and we have been listening to the same lies ever since. Yes, God has given us beautiful things. Of course they are all to be recognized as God's creation. They proclaim the glory of God who made them.

"...on earth as it is in heaven." How glorious it will be on the day when Jesus returns to reign on earth, when earth will be like heaven. His kingdom will come someday, hopefully soon. It won't look like this earth but I understand it will be even more beautiful. Hard to believe. Only holiness will be allowed and only those who are righteous...along with Jesus. The new kingdom will be filled with new people, those who have been made holy through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Take the time to think about this section of prayer. Let the cry of our hearts be that His kingdom would come to end the evil in today's world. Let us cry out for the will of God not only in our lives but to manifest itself on this earth, even if it means replacing what we have with something new. Pray that this world would recognize God for who He is and should be.

Mark 1:15 - "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Glorious Future

2Corinthians 3:18 - But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

When we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, through the power of the Holy Spirit, a change takes place, a transformation from the inside out. Our thoughts change, we see things in a different light (the light of Christ) and we begin to live our lives differently. We now have a peace with God because of the sins from which He has pardoned us. We understand that because of our heartfelt confession of Christ He has removed every sin we ever had and any guilt associated with it. God shows us His grace, His love and kindness, despite what we were. We are considered "not guilty" in God's eyes. We did not have to earn it. All we had to do was accept God's grace.

Having all this behind us we can now look forward to the hope of glory we will be able to share with God one day. We are being changed to take on His appearance. We are being changed from glory to glory. This change takes place through the trials of life. When we face suffering, however, we have only to realize that God is there to guide us through. He is in the suffering, as was mentioned a few days ago. It is to our advantage to have Him there. When we go difficult times and we come to the end of it, we can see where we have been, how God has taken us through, how faithful He has been in the process and how we have grown. We will then glorify the Lord. Knowing He was there guiding us, loving us and protecting us gives us strength and faith to know that He will be there next time.

We should look at these difficult circumstances with joy knowing that God is in the midst of them and that each tribulation works in us more patience, more of God's character. We can rejoice because this is the accomplishment of "Christ in you" and we have that "hope of glory." We have a glorious future.

Romans 8:18 - For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

For Our Learning

Romans 15:4 - For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

YES! Oh, how the Word of God is so true. How we have read about the ancient people of Israel, their relationship with God, their salvation, their reliance on Him...and then their rebellion. We can see all throughout the Old Testament how Israel always needed deliverance out of the hands of their enemies...Egypt, Babylon, Assyria. We are even told how they were scattered among all the nations. Multiple deliverances.

In the New Testament, however, there is only the need for one deliverance...not just for the Jews but for all mankind. His name is Jesus.

The Word is to be our example of how life should be lived. God brings judgment upon people when there is disobedience against Him. He also delivers when we call upon Him. When we, who are in sin, are rebellious against God, we face the consequences of our sin. But our God realizes this and He makes provision for us to be delivered as individuals. He will do this for a nation as well...and the world. Just like Old Testament Israel, they were allowed to spend some time in captivity until they realized their need for deliverance, on more than one occasion. When all hope was lost and they realized their sin, that of rebellion against their God, and when they called on Him to help them, He returned.

I see this today in our world. In our own nation. We are in our own captivity...fear of the future. When will we learn? Why do we reject God or why don't we take Him seriously? Why don't we believe He will reap havoc before He returns? Why don't we want to hear? Why is His name offensive?

Yes, God is love. That is why He allows us to experience times of anguish and hopelessness. It's to draw us to Him so He can deliver us. Only He is able to do these things. And only He is able to bring us out of our circumstances. And how He desires to do this.

All the things in this world that we see as destructive--wars, earth's disasters, crime, drugs, murder (including abortions and euthanasia among humans)--only bring curses. Has any of these brought good things? All, as far as I can determine, have brought one thing--death. Death to innocents as well as tyrants. No one is exempt. If these things would stop, God would end His judgment upon the world. We would be blessed.

There is coming a day when we will see the hand of God upon us for the decisions we've made that go against His will. We will not go unpunished. The days ahead are not looking so rosy. I think more and more people are beginning to realize this. And I thank God for that. The more people whose eyes are opened, the more may turn their eyes to the heavens and begin to search out the God who created all things. More will be ready to listen to those who know God and trust in Him. It's God's way. He desires that none should perish and He's being patient. But how long will that patience last? In time He will say He's had enough and the plans will be made to send Jesus back to fight the enemy and bring peace to this world. Those who are for Him will live a life of everlasting peace. Those are against Him and continue to resist will live in everlasting misery.

Hey, this all sounds pretty gloomy, but there is always that ray of Light that shines to show the way. That Light is Jesus Christ. It's never too late to search Him out. He is the hope of the future, not a man. not a government, not a world power. Tyrants, evil, power hungry people will not bring peace. Some people's eyes may be blinded by the lies, but not I.

I'm so thankful that I know the plans God has...not just for me but for this world. I'm thankful that what I see happening in the world does not totally frighten me. Yes, these are anxious days. But it's the very end that I view, beyond the world's system and into God's system. I'm not going to say I will never feel uncomfortable, but the trials we go through here on earth are nothing compared to the reward we will receive in Heaven if we follow One to the very end.

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Revelation 2:10, Matthew 5:11-12, Romans 15:13)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On One Hand...

Psalm 16:8 - I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Oh my gosh, I really do have it bad...or good. Depends upon your personal view! What in the world am I talking about? Shall I tell you? Okay, then. I'm guilty...of not being able to do very much in my life anymore without pondering God. I can't imagine a day going by where He doesn't enter my thoughts, even in the littlest of things. For those who understand this, it's a good thing. For those who don't know what it's like, it may be considered obsessive and "bad." And yet, the word bad today by some is considered good. Go figure. It's sort of like the world...upside down.

So, I was cleaning our hardwood floors yesterday morning. Like most women, my thoughts were bouncing from here to there, back to here and on again to there. Like that ball of wire Mark Gungor tells us women's brains are like.

On one hand I was thinking about my father and the life he led. No idea how that all came into my thoughts. He did not live a stellar life, I sadly admit, not one to be totally proud of. He was not a perfect example of a father who was there for me, who I trusted and knew well. He was there physically and that was it. He was also not a perfect example of a husband. That got me to thinking how my mother, perhaps because of my father (or vise versa--who knows for sure but God) became not too good an example of a mother and wife. All because neither of them, nor I at the time, knew Jesus personally. So I wondered about my own abilities as a wife. I should be better because of Jesus' example. But am I really? That thought exited my head all too quickly!

I got to thinking, on the other hand, about why people don't want to know Jesus, don't want to hear the Truth of His Word. It's that the Light of His truth is too hard to look at. Of course, we Christians know it's because it is the Light that shows us how we are but filthy rags and sinful in the Light of Jesus. No one wants to be told point blank that their lifestyle, their words, their actions are contradictory to what God wishes to see. So, backs are turned against the Truth. The Light is shut off. Conviction is too threatening so it is ignored. And my thoughts of my being a good wife returned as I wrote this. Is that conviction? Hmmm....

Then, on my third hand...I began to think about how when we are cleaned up by God, we shine, like the floors I was cleaning. The dirt that clings to us is removed. It is "washed" away. We are buffed and polished by the hand of God. Sometimes some of the stains need to be gone over numerous times, they are set so deep. But we become spotless--in God's eyes. Oh, God will have to spot clean every once in awhile when we spill and stain our cleanliness. But God, as always, is there to help us, to remind us to keep ourselves clean--if we listen.

I know what God thinks about my obsessing about Him. He absolutely loves it. He blesses those whose thoughts are on Him. Psalm 26:3 is telling me that He will keep me in perfect peace because my mind is stayed on Him and because I trust in Him. It shows we love Him to have our thoughts be upon Him so frequently. Our thoughts are the high and lofty things of God. Is this seeking God with our whole heart? Is that how He keeps His Word ever before us? It is in this presence, while cleaning, driving, whatever, that there is the joy spoken of in Psalm 16. Not only is He at my right hand, I am at His. I think of when we say we are in Christ. Think of backing slowly into Him and becoming one with Him. Where are our right hands?? And I am right with God.

On even another hand, I'm almost ashamed to say most of my friends don't even know these thoughts go through my head. They don't know the depths of my heart and I wonder if it would make them uncomfortable to even know this? They don't know what they're missing. Obsess about Him! Let Him speak to you...and listen. Let His Light expose the dirt and then allow God to start washing, buffing and polishing you.

Psalm 16:11 - You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

L-o-n-g Life

Psalm 91:14-16 - "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation."

Our world, our nation, our struggles. God knows about it all. I will sound like a broken record when I say the problem with this world and our nation and individual struggles is having taken our eyes, our focus off God. Some have never once focused on Him. I can only hope and pray that a day will come when it will become so obvious to others that He is the answer to all our worries. And I truly believe this will begin to happen in my lifetime. The things of this world are getting grim. Hearts may be beginning to fail out of fear.

Over and over the Bible tells us to fear not, trust in God. It is our trust in God that will save us. It is He who will deliver us out of trouble. We must acknowledge only Him, the King of kings and LORD of lords. It is He who set this world in motion, who spoke and it just WAS. God is the great I AM. It is He we are to call on. It is He who will respond. It is He whose voice we hear prompting us and convicting us to look to Him.

He is with us in our time of trouble--if we know Him. We can have the assurance that no matter what we go through here on earth He will be our Provider. He is the One who rescues. He loved us before the beginning of time. He loved us while we were yet sinners. He brought us life so that we could know Him. So why do people scoff? Why do people trust in man or even themselves? Why do some choose to put Him on the back burner with the thought that some day they will heed Him, but not right now because there are other things in this world that are working seeking.

The long life that is mentioned in the scripture above is not talking about physical life. Long life, in Christ, is eternal life. It is the only life that has any meaning. We see how this world's seasons come and go. Life begins, life grows, it begins to fade and then it dies...only to come back again. When we know Christ, our life ceases to go through those seasons spiritually. We are totally dead in our life before Christ. When we acknowledge the Lord in our life we are resurrected spiritually. We come back to life, as was Christ. We are born again. But this time our life takes on a different meaning. Yes, we still go through the seasons of life physically...but with the assurance of eternal life in Christ when our last day on earth is over.

Our life on earth is still filled with all the highs and lows like everyone else. But we always have that hope to hang on to...a day when our life is done on earth but then we will be with Jesus.

Know God, know peace. Amid hard times, amid loss, amid sorrows. Only Jesus brings underlying peace. I want to know for a fact that I will be in the house of God, in that mansion He has for me. I personally don't know who I will see when I get to heaven; hopefully I will be very pleased. I may even be surprised. But I will be secure. Psalm 84:10 has often mimicked my unspoken desires: For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. It may seem like a boring task to us on earth, but I guarantee it would be exciting in the courts of God. (Imagine all who you might run into as a doorkeeper!)

Psalm 92:13 - Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Election of Grace

Romans 11:5 - Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

God always has provision, even among His people, those who are called by His name, set free of sin and death, victors in His sight. We who are His children, and there are few in the grand scheme of things, are His remnant. There will always be a remnant. No person in this world will be able to totally eliminate God's people.

Those not part of this remnant are blind to the Truth. But as the remnant it is up to us to draw in those who are blind. I believe it is those who are the hardest to receive the Truth who will be most appreciative of God's saving grace. We can recall what brought us to this point in our lives. It's our testimony. It's our story of how God made Himself known to us. It's our story of how we, too, once were blind and now we see, as the hymn Amazing Grace tells us.

In the Book of Romans Paul is teaching that the Gentiles became the remnant because the Jews would not believe that Christ was their Messiah. They could not "see" the Truth that Jesus was He who was so evident in prophecies, sacrifices and feasts throughout their Old Testament books. Today it is similar with a twist--anyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ is considered blind. It's a narrow view, for sure, but the Truth.

I think of the men and women who are students at Teen Challenge centers all across the United States and the world. Their lives were hopeless, being caught up in drugs, alcohol and other devastating addictions. Most of those who have gone through the program re-emerge with a new life. Through the program they are shown the redemptive powers of Christ. Their lives are transformed. They are living testimonies of God's love for them and His strength to overcome their adversities. Their addictions and lifestyles blinded them to the Truth. But God's election by His grace was greater and now their testimonies are heard all around the world.

I have the privilege of knowing and working with some of these people at a local center. It's sometimes hard to even recognize if they are just volunteers, interns or currently in the program. There's a sweetness and a glow that comes from many of them. That's the power of God in their lives. Their eyes have been opened and they have been set free from the burdens of their sin.

It is we who have been changed by our God who need to "provoke to jealousy..." (verse 14) those we come in contact with. How can we speak the words to bring the message of Jesus so they will understand, especially when our testimony isn't quite as life altering as some? How do we explain that Jesus is the root as well as the vine of holiness and when we are attached, even grafted into that vine, we too are considered holy. (verses16-17)

I'll say it again--our God is an awesome God. He has so intricately yet so simply (if that is possible) planned out our salvation. He chooses, we accept. He calls, we answer. We are made into that remnant through the election of God's grace. That's it in a nutshell. How is it we hear Him? How is it God pricks our hearts and spirits? That's a mystery for sure. I'm just thankful He chose to call me.

Romans 11:33 - Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pass It On

Yesterday we looked at Psalm 77. Today, in Psalm 78 we see Asaph contemplating, I believe, what he wrote in that Psalm. He wants others to understand. He wants what he knows to be forever passed on from generation to generation. The gist of it is found in verse 4: Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

It is the same with us--we need to use our difficulties as a witness of God's faithfulness. It is our testimony, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, [and] keep His commandments... (Verse 7) It's not just about the things He has done for us. He will do these things if we heed His commandments. If we are obedient to Him He will bless us. We bless Him, He blesses us. It's a two-way street.

Our testimony is of the miracles of God in our lives--our salvation, the changes He has brought about, the provision. When we forget these things we anger God. We are considered rebellious. We need to remember what He has done. Yet God... He will continue to try to show us what He is able to do, just so we will heed Him that we will not have to incur His anger toward us--for our rebellion. No matter how we turn away He continues in His compassion to draw us back. He remembers we are but flesh (Verse 39). This is not to say that we can say we know and believe and just go about our merry way doing what we want to do. Romans 6:1b-2a tells us: Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!

Remember, if you are saved, what drew you to Him at that very moment. Remember what you went through, how you felt. Then remember God's love and kindness toward you and what He has done. Don't ever forget. Don't ever stop praising Him. Don't forget He is in the cloud of your troubles. That is part of your obedience. Don't let the enemy of your soul speak lies about Him. Don't be deceived.

God chooses us to follow Him. He rejected some of His own people, allowed them to enter into their own sinful desires. He chose those, however, who never forgot who He was--those dedicated to Him. Let Him guide you. Pass on to family and friends God's faithfulness in your life. Never let the name of God be squelched.

Psalm 78:72 - So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Recalling God's Faithfulness

Psalm 77:3 - I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.

Even back in the Old Testament people were consumed with worry. They questioned, at first, where God could be as they underwent times of trouble. Aren't there days when we wonder where God is in our lives, in our nation, in the world? It's good to have an example in the Bible of what others have gone through.

Psalm 77 was written, not by David, but by a man named Asaph. I wondered who this guy was. I found out he was David's music director, probably responsible for writing the music for David's Psalms. Many of the Psalms were the worship music back then! We don't know what Asaph's crisis was, whether it was personal or for the people of Israel. Whatever it was, he complained to God. I see him as fretting and, as we often do, forgetting at first the promises of a great God. He had to let his feelings be known, so he cried out.

He recalled past days when, no doubt, things were better: I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search. (Verses 5-6) He wondered if God even cared. Had He forgotten? Was He angry? Then he, perhaps by the leading of the Spirit, remembered the years God had been good. He recalled the "wonders of old" in his life. He began to think of those things and proclaimed: Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders... (Verses 13b, 14a)

He marveled again at His creation. He thought back on the mighty redemption of His people. And he knew God had not abandoned him. Recalling all that God had done gave him the assurance that He could trust once again in God's actions.

Aren't we a bit like Asaph sometimes? We are in the midst of a a circumstance we wish we did not have to go through and wonder if it will ever end. We may not always question God--why is this happening or when will it end--but there's that wonder.

When things seem to be at their worst, however, I think God reaches into the recesses of our minds and spirits and through His Spirit, brings remembrance of who He is and what He's done for us.

As mentioned earlier this week, once we've heeded God's call to redemption, no matter what happens to us, He is there in the midst of our circumstances. No matter what the outcome, it was orchestrated by God. We don't always know the reason. It might not even be for us but rather for someone else...all those intricate puzzle pieces being put together by an all-knowing God to bring about good to someone somewhere!

All we need do is muddle through our situation, trusting it is in God's hands. We may not like the outcome as we view it, but someone else could benefit by it. We just need to keep in mind that no matter what, God knows what He's doing and more importantly, our future is secure--even in death.

Psalm 77:20 - You led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Trust and see. God leads His people like a flock......

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Clothed in Righteousness

Isaiah 61:10 - I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

After we have been chosen and called by God to become heirs and His children, and we have taken the step of confessing our sins and taking Jesus into our lives, we find we are clothed in righteousness. We begin to learn through reading His Word what it is we are called to become and to do as His children. It's a never-ending process, learning who and what God is all about...and who we are to be in Him. Through it all our sins have been forgiven--past, present and future--and therefore obtain the "title" of righteous.

We are born into this world with sin. Even babies have it. When the first cry (without words) for attention comes from a newborn or when that first hint of possessiveness hits when they shout "mine," or they emphatically say "no," you wonder where they learned it. It's inherent. It's born into our nature. Yes, children are still considered innocent until they are able to reason on their own but they are still born with a sin nature. It's a fact of life.

"There is none righteous, no not one" is a verse that tells it like it is. (Romans 3:10) We are born into unrighteousness and it is only through Christ that we can become righteous. He clothes us with His righteousness. When Adam and Eve ate of the apple in the Garden what was the first thing they did? They hid and they were made aware of their nakedness so they covered themselves with fig leaves. When God, who is just totally amazing and nothing He does does He do without meaning, saw those silly fig leaves He chose to clothe them Himself in the skins of the very first animal sacrifice made! It was an innocent sacrifice. Later God sacrificed His own, innocent Son, the sacrificial Lamb, the Lamb of God, "who takes away the sin of the world." Jesus did not deserve to be sacrificed. The sacrifice of the first animal was a blood sacrifice; blood was spilled in the slaughter of the animal. At Jesus' crucifixion, His blood was spilled. It's "by His stripes (blood) we are healed." Through Adam sin was introduced. Through Jesus sin was abolished. The beginning and the end.

No, we are still not totally sinless even after receiving Christ into our lives. But His righteousness covers us. Don't ask me how it's done. I'm still having a hard time grasping the concept of still having sin in our lives and being righteous at the same time! Being in Christ means that God no longer sees us in our sin. We are seen as though Christ were standing between us and God...and rightfully so, He is our mediator between God and man (1Timothy 2:5). Being in Christ means that God sees Christ in us, not the old person we were (even though we still act like the old person at times...lots of times!).

To be able to understand all the things of God is impossible. It's that faith and trust factor that we learn. With God it just is. He says "I AM" and He is. If God says I am a child of God, that's who I am. I am who He says I am. It's one of those spiritual things that you just know that you know, even when you don't understand it. Make sense??

Are you like Adam and Eve? Are you hiding your sin from God? His banner over you is love. Let Him clothe you in His righteousness. Let Christ's sacrificial death for you be the cry of your heart. Ask for His forgiveness and imagine that righteous covering being placed over you by a loving God. Consider yourself among His children. Let Him begin to wear away the things in your life (selfishness, control, anger, envy, pride...) that hinder you from being who God really sees you as.

Hebrews 10:16-20 - "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," and then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Choose Life, Become a Child of God

Romans 8:16-17 - The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Just what does it mean to be a child of God? First we need to understand that God is our Creator and we are His creation. We were formed in our mothers' wombs at the precise moment in time. It was no surprise to God. We were no mistake and to believe that God makes mistakes is wrong. Conception, despite how it happens, is God's doing...that fetus is God's creation. Just think how He feels when someone believes there's been a mistake and chooses not to allow that life to continue. Parents mourn when they lose a child. Imagine the pain He must feel over the loss of just one of His children, even those who reject Him as Father.

There is a video on YouTube about Team Hoyt. This family chose life over death for their son. It is a perfect example of a father's love for his son. You can bet that God loves this son, and his parents, even more than they know. I believe our Father is willing to do immeasurably more for us. His love for us is greater and His plea is for us to choose life, in His Son, Jesus.

We are to come as little children into the loving arms of our Father. There He will nurture us. He IS our Heavenly Father. It is He who watches over us, whether in His care, under His wing, or left to our own devices in a fallen world. It is He who calls us, who plants the seeds of understanding into our lives and on the right day, impresses upon us the desire to allow Him to change our lives. Without God's call, we cannot be His children. Heed His call. We are orphans, Fatherless children in the world. I'm so thankful He stretches out His arms for all His children. He is no respecter of persons......and His arms are always outstretched.

Romans 8:14-15 - For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." We are adopted into His family after He has called us. The term "Abba" relates to a most sacred proper name, that of God, the Father. It means the Father of His people; ancestor (He IS the Ancient of Days) of people. It is a title of respect and honor given to one of benevolence and protection, ruler or chief. He IS the LORD of Lords and King of kings. He is our great High Priest and Jesus, as not only the Son of God but God Himself, will one day rule the world in righteousness. But He also takes on the role of our Father.

We have been given the title of His children when we have chosen to accept Him as our Father God. We have been given into the Spirit of adoption by Him. We are now heirs of God. We are given the promise of glorification and redemption of our body, spiritually. We have a hope now that the world cannot understand. In our physical death we will be raised to never-ending spiritual life as was Jesus.

It's a hard thing to totally get my head around, but some are predestined to be called. Some people's hearts will always be hardened to the belief that we must be born again to become children of God. We are born once physically and are offered the chance to be born again spiritually if we heed the call. If one has heard the Gospel preached and has chosen not to listen, there is still time. When we have received Jesus we cannot be separated from God's love (Romans 8:35,39). We are conquerors, meaning we have gained victory over sin and death.

A day is coming when the Lord will return. He will come in the clouds to reign over all the earth. Those who are ready, who know of and believe in His return, will be allowed to live in this new world with Him because we are His children, because we have accepted Him as Lord, Savior and our Heavenly Father. Those who have rejected Him will also see Him and realize their mistake--before entering into their eternal death. Yes, eternal death. We don't just die and have nothing come of us. There will be an eternal life or death. I choose life. I have chosen Jesus. What is your choice? If you've heard the message, take heed.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 - I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."

Monday, August 10, 2009

God Saves, Not Man

Luke 21:25-26 - "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken."

Some of the headlines today could cause one to be fearful. Bombings, earthquakes, typhoons, re-emergence of the Taliban, healthcare, illegal drugs, wars all over the world, H1N1 outbreaks, rape victims, air collisions, taxes, terrorism, bomb threats and blasts. The list goes on. I sense a rumbling deep within the earth. It's like a churning, a bubbling that will soon rise to the surface and erupt. I sense it will not get better. Isaiah 13 is a good description of what may come. ( Even I have to keep myself in check about the future of this country and the world and believe that as a follower of Christ, no matter what happens, He will be my Protection, my Refuge, my Provider. Praise the Lord!

I'm thankful that there is a Source for all our questions. A Source for answers. That Source is the Word of God. All throughout the Bible's history we have seen destruction, killing, good and evil kings, plagues. These were written to be examples for us for today. Many times these are allowed by God to steer us closer to Him (as was the intent back then), to realize that our trust is only to be in Him. Everything that we see happening on earth is borne out of man's selfish desires for power and control. In most cases, if not all, it comes about because God is not the center of things. I believe there is a day coming when people will wake up and begin to wonder where this all came from, when did it begin...and more importantly, what can we do? It may be beginning even today.

I've asked that question before...what can I do? How can I change this situation? Not about the world, but just about my own life. And the answer I received was, "There is nothing you can do, but there is One who can help and that person is Jesus Christ." He is the Source, as the Son of God. If God is the Source of all knowledge, all powerful, ever present, why shouldn't we look to Him for our guidance? The Source is the Word of God, God Himself, and Jesus Christ. All are the Source. They all provide the wisdom necessary for guidance in this world.

We should not trust in man for our future, but our future can be secure in Christ. If we put our faith and trust in God we have nothing to fear. A prophetic word from God through Jeremiah tells us: "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me." (Jeremiah 32:40). Jeremiah was a pessimistic Old Testament prophet who prophesied about the the times he was living in and his words are for today and our future. He knew and trusted in God. The promise God made above stands for us too. The covenant is? It is our commitment to God. It is our having a relationship with Him, with Jesus. It's trusting in Him with every fiber of our being and not allowing the things of the world to strike fear into our hearts. It's not about denomination or which church we go to. It's an individual thing. It's a commitment between me and God, and between you and God.

Despite all that happens in this world, if we have that trust and confidence that our God saves, He will deliver us. God does not break His (everlasting) covenant with us once we have entered into it with in Him. It is we who might break the covenant with Him by losing faith and walking away from Him. Yes, He puts fear in our hearts for Him but it is a Godly fear. It's a wondrous fear that comes from a heart filled with love for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I asked myself Friday, "Lord, how do I know how much I love you? It doesn't always feel like I do and yet I know it's not always about feelings." I believe I received my answer this morning as I wrote this. That is why I cannot go back to a life without Christ, which I lived for so many years.

We are not to trust in whatever future man wants to bring about, but the future that God holds for us. His is eternal, man's is not. We are not to value the things of the world more than the things of God. All that we have will vanish, but God will be forever. Let Him hold your future in His mighty hands. As the words to a song I heard this morning by Chris Tomlin state: And I hear the cry of every longing heart, "Worthy is the Lamb." Let that be the cry of your heart. Let your heart long for an eternal future. Jesus is worthy of our love, trust and worship because He opted to become our Redeemer. It is God who saves, not man.

Even in death, if we know the Lord and follow Him, we will be secure. Even if we go through troubles here on earth, we have the security of a future with God. There is nothing more comforting as knowing that. When the world begins to fall apart at the seams, I pray:

Luke 21:27-28 - "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."

Friday, August 7, 2009

Come, and Listen Intently

Jeremiah 29:13 - And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Do you ever have days when you question your walk with God? I do. I know I'll never quit following Him, but there are days when I don't feel His presence and I feel like resting...and not always in Him.

Sometimes I think I get myself too caught up in trying so hard to be in Christ instead of just letting myself be and letting God be in me. Make sense? Oh how there are days when just being secluded from all things, nestled away in the woods, surrounded by tall, old trees with a trickling stream running cheerfully by seem like the perfect solution. The sun, of course, would be peering down to brighten the yard. I would be settled on a blanket on the grass, basking in the sun and in the Son.

No telephone, no radio, no television. Just me, myself, I and God. Birds would be aflutter and squirrels cavorting with each other. I'd have a good book (and the Good Book) or two. And I'd have a notebook for the times God would have something wonderful to tell me. There'd be no computer, no car...nothing to distract me. No kitties.

Those are dreams I have. Total solitude. Nothing but the fresh air and sounds of nature. More than what sometimes feels like bits and pieces of my day intent on the Lord.

There are also days when I wish everyone would know the Lord that we could share the wonders of Him together. I suppose I could just sit and share with the Lord Himself. I know He would appreciate that. Just bask in the quiet and listen for His words of wisdom. Shut the world out for a time and consider who He is for me.

That's not always what He wants us to do, however. We are to be so aware of the people He brings into our presence each day. We are to be cognizant of others' needs. I wish I could get to that place in my life. I wish I could hear other people's needs as they spoke. I wish I could feel what other people feel and have the words to speak to them. What is missing in my life that I can't do this? It must be the busyness and distractions of each day. Where's the discipline in my life? There have been times when I sensed the presence of God just over my right shoulder behind me. I knew He was there.

Where has my heart been lately? Has it been so distracted that I need to retreat for a day? I don't like feeling "alone" in my day to day things. Does anyone else go through this? Does anyone doubt their walk with the Lord?

Jesus drew away occasionally from things to be with His Father. Why shouldn't we? We need a time of refreshing. Perhaps what I am sensing is what has been coming up in my head over and over...the blog is becoming a work. It's time to get back to sitting at His feet and just resting and listening. I've felt detached and perhaps He's trying to draw me back to Him. I will do that. I will answer no calls and just find a quiet spot in the yard to hunker down, with that blanket, His Word and a notebook and meditate on the Lord and listen for His voice. I will converse only with Him.

I'm thankful that He doesn't leave us high and dry. I think He stands behind the lattice in hopes that we will seek Him. He remains close by, but hidden. He allows the emptiness within in order for us to come once again into His presence. He woos us all over again. My heart is anxious. It's time to go to receive of the Living Water and breakfast on the Bread of Life.

Mark 6:31 - And He said to them, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Righteousness and Justification

Romans 4:5 - But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness...

The Book of Romans, as I stated earlier, teaches us about the righteousness of God and how that is given to us upon salvation. The definition of righteousness according to Strong's Concordance is "the state of him who is as he ought to be; the condition acceptable to God." It comes from a word defined as "used of him whose way of thinking, feeling and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God, and who therefore needs no rectification (refinement) in the heart or life."

Just who do we think we are to say we can become righteous? But it has nothing to do with us and all to do with God. He is the judge of who we are and who we can become under the power of His Holy Spirit. Righteousness is a gift from God. It is an inherent characteristic (of God) that He "plants" in all who choose to receive Jesus Christ into their lives. He is not a respecter of persons. He will change the very nature of anyone who sees a need for Christ. We cannot achieve this in any way other than through our faith in what we have heard about Christ: His birth, His life, His death and His ultimate resurrection. Not one person can do the right works or right amount of them to achieve righteousness. Being a good person doesn't cannot produce righteousness. There is no law to which we can be totally obedient. I can't express it any stronger than it is a gift and only comes through Christ Jesus alone.

God's righteousness shows us how sinful we really are, how much we need Him and His work of justifying us and how wonderfully merciful and forgiving God is to those who come to the saving knowledge and acceptance of Christ. This righteousness reveals the awesome power of our God. I am truly amazed at knowing that He knew before the beginning of time that we would be in this situation and had a plan available for us. We have a Way to be reconciled to God. That Way is Jesus Christ. It is now our responsibility to act accordingly.

Along with righteousness comes justification. It is God freeing us from guilt and making us acceptable to Him. We are considered innocent of our faults. We have been made right and just! We are worthy of salvation. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ whatever sins we had before have been removed completely. We are as we were originally intended to have been in God's eyes.

I pray that God would touch the hearts of those who struggle in and are tired of their own sins.

Isaiah 45:24 - Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Righteousness of Faith

Romans 4:13 - For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

God is patient. He wants all to come into relationship with Him. Not everyone will.

We can call ourselves Christians because we are not Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist. That still does not make one a true Christian. I considered myself a Christian all my life. I went to church as a child and as an adult, not so frequently...until 10 years ago.

I can say today I am a Christian. God views those who put their faith, trust and belief in Him, who enter into relationship with Him, true Christians. As the verse above states, it's not about all the laws we (try to) keep that makes us heirs of God. It's strictly and purely about putting our faith in God, believing on Him. I think it's harder to have faith than follow laws. Faith is unseen; it's something that comes from within. It's trust. Following laws seems more like a work, an action. We are not saved by our works. Galatians 2:16 tells us ...knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ... And that does not mean just believing in Him.

Without the law we would not know our sins. ...I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. (Romans 7:7b, 12) Jesus came to overcome the law, to point us to the Way to be justified of the offenses against these broken laws. It's through His obedience to God that we become righteous--in our belief and faith in Him. Hebrews 11:6 explains this: But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Our belief and faith in Jesus brings new life to us. We are "born again" by the Spirit. We died, as He did, to our sins and we were "raised from the dead" into our new life, just as He was resurrected. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. (Romans 6:8-9) Praise God! After all this we realize that when we take this important step of faith of being born again, accepting the Lord, receiving Jesus in to our lives, having a relationship with God, whatever we want to call it, there is no more condemnation! There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus... (Romans 8:1) Our faith and belief in Him has set us free from our sin. To grasp this concept is so contrary to our human understanding. It's a FREE gift, folks! All we need to do is believe with all our hearts, minds and souls.

It is our body that has died but it is God's Spirit--God's Spirit--that now lives in us. Let us listen to what that Spirit tells us. Come as little children to become children of God, heirs with God and joint heirs with Christ. Righteousness will follow after you take the step of faith and enter into relationship with Jesus Christ. Become a true Christian. God has been patient with you. He's drawing you today.

Romans 3:22-24 -This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

God's Righteous Judgment

Romans 2:1-3 - Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

The Book of Romans was written to set straight the nature of the Gospel. It teaches the need for salvation for all people. It teaches that it is God's power alone through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which He provided, that saves. The Gospel reveals what His righteousness is.

I write about the awesomeness of God. I write about His love. Yes, these are two of His many characteristics. We need to understand the awesomeness and His love for us to be drawn to Him. Yet, He is also a God of judgment. I've written about the judgment of nations and even our own country. As a nation that was developed through Christian beliefs, we are probably judged most.

The Book of Romans is a hard, critical book showing us that although those who God has called and redeemed also need to realize their own sin. It's not enough to just believe we are saved by grace and leave it at that. It's not enough to just be thankful for God's mercy, grace and love. Those who stick to just those ideas are in for a reality check some day. We must allow God's work in our lives to cause us to look more like the image of God and his characteristics. We can never be God but we can attain a look that is His.

Romans 2 talks about judging. I know I have a problem with this and I hate to admit it. We are told when we judge (and who are we to do this?) we will be judged accordingly by God. This scares the daylights out of me. It doesn't need to be outward words but inward thoughts. How hard it is--for me--to control those things when they've been a part of my life for so long.

Why is it there? I believe it starts with self-esteem and lack thereof. I've always felt inferior in many ways. My confidence is lacking. So, to build myself up there is that desire to find fault in others. Ouch. Don't we all do this at times? Someone hurts our feelings or tells us we're wrong. Our egos are deflated. But aren't we supposed to now have the mind of Christ and His power in our lives? Yes, but obviously, I'm resisting.

We are told that when we judge others we are, ourselves, doing the same thing. I can argue this point but I'm probably wrong. However, I've caught friends doing things which I would never do. Never! So what am I missing? Have I done the same things in similar ways? Only God can show me this. Lord, help me to overcome these judgments. Help me to remove the plank from my own eye.

Romans 2:21a says: You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? So here I am, sharing my thoughts. My intent in this blog has been to learn from my writing and I believe the writing comes from the Holy Spirit's wisdom. So, do I love as I should...sometimes. Do I speak kindly to others...depends. Do I gossip...probably, sometimes. The list goes on. "Sometimes," though, doesn't cut it. Do something just once and it's wrong. Although I do not physically kill someone, my words might. Although I don't pray physically to idols, there are things that consume my time. Do I blaspheme God? Not with words, but wouldn't my lack of words about Him be considered the same thing? To blaspheme is the act of insulting or lack of reverence for God. I may not be outwardly insulting Him or lacking reverence but I could be acting as if I'm ashamed of Him. Same thing?

Romans 3:12b tells us There is none who does good, no, not one. To add "insult to injury" Romans 3:18 says There is no fear of God before their eyes. Of course this second verse is talking about those who outwardly reject God. But, it also shows me that I need to fear Him more in order to stave off at least some of His judgment.

God will judge us all, whether we know Him or not. If we know God and we know His Word, we have the laws written in our hearts and we should "know better" and do accordingly. Our consciences should be pricked when we have done wrong. That is why a relationship with the Lord, accepting Jesus into our lives, is important. Without it we will never fully understand what God requires. His judgments are righteous. He has certain standards we must live by. But we need His help, His power and His wisdom to transform our lives. That said, I'd much rather be confronted now for my words, actions or deeds than later.

Romans 3:5-6 - If our sins show how right God is, what can we say? Is it wrong for God to punish us for it? ... No, not at all! If it were wrong for God to punish us, how could He judge the world?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Clouds of Life

I was reading My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers the other (July 29) morning. He was asking the question, "What do you see in your clouds?" The scripture was Revelation 1:7 - Behold, He cometh with clouds."

When a friend called and we got into a discussion on testing and trials I rushed into the house to read this to her. It was definitely not a thought that had ever occurred to me, but was so profound I had to share it with her.

Chambers suggests that God comes along with those not so pleasant things in life we endure. "God cannot come near without clouds, He does not come in clear shining." I am reminded of the scripture in Exodus 13:21 - And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way. While they wandered the wilderness, the people of Israel were afraid to be in the presence of God so He hid Himself in a cloud. Exodus 16:10 - ..that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. And Exodus 33:9 tells us, And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. God is hidden in that cloud. We should be thankful for that.

Chambers says, "through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn something." Our belief in Him needs to become so simplified that it is like that of a child. "Come as little children." I know I've read many different places that we make too much of our relationship with God. It's not a difficult thing but we seem to do nothing but make it difficult. Little children believe what they are told.

He also tells us that everyone in our life should be a shadow. I'm sure this means they should be of much less importance in our lives and that God would clearly stand out in front of them. He tells us that "Until other people become shadows, clouds and darkness will be mine every now and again." Worship God, not others, not the world.

Isn't this what God keeps telling us? Worship Me. I believe there's a song that tells us to praise Him in the morning, at noontime and in the evening. He is the Lord our God, we are to have no other gods before Him. We are to keep our eyes upon the Lord and lift our eyes up to the hills where our help comes from. Our lives should revolve around Him, not anyone else, and when we allow Him in our lives, He will give us the desires of our hearts and all other things will be added to us. What's so hard about understanding that? Why do we need to complicate it?

My friend was telling me how she heard someone say that in school teachers give tests. The tests aren't a time of learning. The teacher doesn't teach at that time. The teacher is silent. When we are being tested by God we sometimes wonder why we are not hearing from Him. He has already taught us and He wants to see what we've learned and whether we will pass the test. I love analogies!!

Is there a cloud forming in your life? Like that little fist sized cloud that Ezekiel saw coming over the horizon that grew to produce the much needed rain? Praise God for it instead of complaining. Is there an uncertainty ahead? Wait upon the Lord for answers. If He is silent, think on what He has taught you. But don't stop worshipping God. Thank Him for the opportunity to grow through the cloud He has come in.

Psalm 113:3 - From the rising of the sun to its going down the LORD's name is to be praised.