Saturday, October 30, 2010

Revelation 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Lord God, Jesus our Savior, Holy Spirit our Guide and Comforter,

This is the day You have made, I rejoice and am glad in it. I thank You for Your sovereignty. I thank You that You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. I thank You that You guide us in all truth and wisdom, that You bring peace and comfort to the hearts of those who trust in You.

You ask us to seek You for the knowledge of who You are and for wisdom and truth. You give freely to those who do this. You give us discernment to see the signs of the times for this world. Although times may look bleak, You give us the peace that passes all understanding knowing that You are by our side to give us the strength we need in our troubling days...and in the ever more troubling days that are ahead.

I thank You All for the opportunity to have been called by You to know these things, these mysteries, the knowledge of who You are and what You can do. You are who You say You are and You can do what You say You can do. I know that You give the keys to Your heavenly Kingdom if we only admit we are nothing apart from You. 

Only You, Jesus, saves. Only You, Holy Spirit who resides in the spirits of those who receive Jesus, gives us discernment and wisdom and knowledge. I thank You that those who seek You will be given this same knowledge, wisdom and discernment. When these days appear to be confusing and troubling, You give us the eyes and mind to realize it is You at work to bring about Your plan. You offer us peace and joy in the midst of troubling times because we have the assurance that You are there to protect Your people, who You have called by Your name. I pray that in the days ahead, more will seek You that they may have the same assurance.

I thank You that You give the strength to go through trials that the world has to offer. I thank You that despite these trials, You have promised to deliver us out of them. You give your strength the moment we need it most. I ask that You call others to reveal these truths to them. I ask that You search their hearts that they would search for truth. 

There is no other name under Heaven who can bring true salvation. Let people not balk at this. Let people drop the walls around their hearts that prevent them from knowing You. Break through those walls, Lord God. I know there is a very specific way that You can reveal Yourself to each person, in a way only they would understand. You did it to me; do it to all the others. Let pride be banished that they would realize that it is You we should rely on, not ourselves. Without You we do not know the truth. Without You we will struggle. Without You we will have fear. Without You we will die. Without You we will be banished from eternal life. 

You bring hope to the hopeless. You offer peace to the anxious. You bring strength to the weak and powerless. It is in You we live and move and have our being. You are the Rock, the sure Foundation. Without that Foundation we will sink into hopelessness. 

This world needs to recognize You. This country needs to recognize You. You will return someday to take Your people and secure our lives. I wonder what it will take before others realize this? Will they have to go through struggles first? Or will they accept You now that the struggles will be met knowing there is a hand there to guide us through?

You have brought us, through signs and wonders, the knowledge of who You are. Who holds the stars in the sky? Who changes the seasons? Who causes the sun and moon to rise and fall at precisely the right times? Who created life? Who has everything under control? When I think of all the intricacies of life that Your hand created, I am in awe. From a seed, in all things, comes life. Seeds are implanted within birds, animals, plants and humans and they bring life. When a seed falls to the ground, it dies, yet it brings life again. Jesus, this is what You have done. You died, but You rose again to bring life to those who choose You. Let us choose life in You over death to the world. Let us comprehend the meaning of all this.

Thank You, Lord, that You never give up. You continue to seek so that You might save the lost of this world. This world will end someday, but we do not need to be part of that death. In You there is life. In You there is hope. Through You we have faith and that assurance. Let us who know You be a light in this lost world. When things get dicey, give us the strength that others will see and wonder. Let us be the voice of the one crying in the wilderness of a dying world. Let Your light so shine that others would see. Let Your light draw all men unto You. Soften hearts to receive. 

Thank You that You hear prayers. Nothing is too difficult for You. I believe we will see more of Your hand soon in this world. When the hearts of men fail, let them look up and see You; let them hear Your voice; let them feel Your touch....and most importantly, let them respond favorably to this call, this choosing You offer.

I praise You. I worship You. I thank You for what You are going to do. 

I pray these things in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Psalm 25:4-5 - Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Counting All Things as Loss

Philippians 3:8-9 - Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith... 

Yikes. How do we known when we have counted all things as loss? How far do we go? What do we let go of?

It's not that we do things to please ourselves but that we use the gifts God has given us in a way that would honor Him. It's not about us; it's about Him in us. If we keep this in mind we will know when we're doing it for our own gain and leaving Him out of the picture. If we do it in a way that pleases God He will allow us more success than if we did it without His guidance. Do you see?

The excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus...through our knowledge of Him, we we learn what's true and right and just and we act this out. What is the heart motive? Truthfully...can we identify that motive? Do we work only so that we may have things in our lives or do we work because we enjoy it and we know we're good at it (and acknowledge that as a God-given goodness) and that we are giving of ourselves for others, not for ourselves? Do we thank God for the wisdom He has given us or do we take the credit?

The answer to the questions above, of course, is to give up all things that do not glorify God. But we cannot do this on our own. He does not honor drunkenness or using His name in vain. He does not honor cheating or lying. He does not honor pride and self-centeredness. The first step that needs to take place is our admission that we are a sinful people, in need of salvation...acknowledge it, repent of it and receive Christ into our lives so that we might be filled with His Spirit so we might hear Him speak. Then be obedient to what we hear. He will reveal to us what needs to go.

This is a life-long process. The reason we need to remove things is so we become more like Christ...ourselves but with a Christ-like attitude. He wants us to look more like Him in our earthly bodies. I'm sure there are some who just can't comprehend this idea. He has created us all as individuals; no two are alike. We don't lose our own identity, but with Christ's help and guidance, we can be more than we are. I think I have a long way to go. I often wonder what He thinks of me. How much farther do I have to go? Am I in His will today? Am I as obedient as He desires?

Oh, but there's the point. It's not about me. I don't need to know everything. It's about me doing what He would want. I think not knowing makes me press on, wanting to please Him. It's about His working through me. I am in Christ...and He is in me. Unity, righteousness. My step of faith that I took years may only be a small mustard seed of faith, but it's there just the same.

I received an email the other day that included a 
video. This shows how God can use even the smallest bit of faith if we just obey His voice, sometimes no matter how foolish it might seem or how foolish we might appear...if we just listen and respond to His prompting. It especially works when we realize how impossible some things seem in our own human logic but through our obedience He brings the miracle.

We need to fully grasp the power we truly have in Christ. Not man's strength and power, but His. That begins with letting go of our own ideas of what we can and cannot do. I don't profess to be able to heal anyone, but if God so chose to use me, as long as I obeyed, I believe I could. (Healing, by the way, can be no more than leading someone to Christ.) I've been the target of obedience and some stepping out in faith: starting a Bible study, praying on the spot for someone. They seemed impossible in my own mind but through stepping out in faith, believing it was by the direction of the Holy Spirit, the path was set before me and things were put into motion. It's exhilarating, especially when one realizes it was Him causing things to fall into place. It's easier than our striving to make something happen.

Counting your thoughts, your perceived plans, your insecurities as loss because Jesus walks with you to guide you is a learning process. I want to hear Him more often and then to be obedient in all that He tells me to do. When you see Him at work and you see the perfect way He works through you, it becomes easier to take that next step. I sometimes even wonder if this blog is coming from me or the Holy Spirit. Forgive me, Lord, if I have ever gone out on my own. The motive, I don't believe, is not for my own gain; it's wanting to bring the truth to life.

That's part of our righteousness. It does come by faith. And what does the Word say...
and faith comes by hearing...the Word of God. Know that God desires you. Seeking Him through His Word. You are not giving all of yourself. He is peeling away the things that hinder you so you can be a better person, in and through Him. It's a concept that today's world struggles with...letting the Almighty God who knew you before you were born, developed certain traits and characteristics in you at that time, be the One who will direct you through life in a perfect way you cannot even imagine. I know, it sounds like all He wants is manipulate you. I don't know how to explain that it's not so. Just know you don't lose yourself entirely. You just see things in a different way; you know the truth; you end up doing what is right...through Christ.

When He speaks to us, He desires obedience. He knows us better than we know ourselves and all we do is get in our own way. When we have heard Him and obey it only stands to reason it increases our faith...the faith that we can do all things through Christ. He only wants the best for us and wants us to be stripped of our own egos and pride.

I will press on and not let the knowledge and truth of who He is out of my sight. But I do, in my own mind, have a long way to go. It is through the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His being first and foremost in our lives. He has a plan for each of us...that we gain Him, attain His righteousness, have our faith strengthened through our obedience to what He knows is best for each of us. He seeks us so this plan can present itself.
Philippians 3:12 - Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

In the Light

Ephesians 5:8, 11-13 - For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 

I hadn't planned on going here with the scriptures above, but as I started writing my thoughts suddenly and unexpectedly changed. Hmmmm, how did that happen? 

With the change the Church today, accepting what once was considered wrong as right so as not to offend, we are slowly changing the truth of God's Word for the lies of the devil. Oh, here we go again, some might sigh. But it's true. The truth is this world is upside down and continues to get worse. I know my thinking is not considered popular. 

So, where did my thoughts end up? On Halloween. I don't celebrate Halloween. I've told people I don't. Ouch. But what's the problem? It's fun partying and seeing all the creativity of the costumes. Even so, Halloween is filled with darkness and although it is not mentioned by name in the Bible, we are told not to have fellowship with darkness. 

So what's wrong with Halloween? Isn't it a benign celebration? Kids (and adults) dressing up in costumes and begging for candy? What's wrong with that? Although for many it is done in fun, there still is an element of darkness, the focus (in the spiritual realm) being on witchcraft and demons. Oh, but not all children dress up as goblins or witches or demons, nor do they conjure up evil. The atmosphere still exists. The Bible tells us to avoid anything that has to do with darkness....because there is no truth in darkness. Satan can use a fun party to accomplish his goal.

God warned us in the Old Testament of these things: Deuteronomy 18:10-12 - There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD. Why tempt God? Why allow the devil a foothold. I'm convinced there's a reason why the word devil is spelled d-evil. A Hebrew definition of the name Satan is telling: one lying in wait. He is out there waiting for that foothold, a chance for the door to open so he draw one more person closer to his side.

Halloween, or All Hallow's Eve, was a celebration of a mythical time when the dead would arise from their graves, a time when the good and evil spiritual realms were broken. See, mythical... But not really. 

Oh, stop! It's no big deal. If it's not, then why the harsh words in the Bible? The devil is a liar. Remember that. He's going to put thoughts into minds that it's not a big deal, through fun and frivolity. He sugar-coats wickedness. We should not assume that Halloween is harmless. It's only opening that door to the evil part of the spiritual realm that is quite often overlooked because we can't see it.

There you have it...that spiritual realm, both good and evil, which we do not see but exists nonetheless. We have no idea what goes on other than we are told that it does exist... There is a constant battle even today between the two for the lives of all people. Ephesians 6:12 - For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Oh, there was a time when I dabbled in the occult. I didn't think there was anything wrong with reading my horoscope each fact, I used to read it at the end of the day to see if anything it said actually happened! I attended psychic fairs, had my palm read, my numbers read, my mind read, my aura read, meditated. When I felt I needed some sort of spiritual healing I bought crystals, attended a Reiki session, even attended some sort of yoga-type class to become "centered." I was always a bit skeptical but continued to search (for something spiritual) and perhaps that was why I perceived it as not working. So, was that skepticism part of God's protection? Was that His way of reaching in and touching my heart and spirit, knowing He had a plan for my life? All I know is that some time later I received Christ. This has always been a wonder to me.

Not everyone would agree with my thinking. But this is where I stand. I know there are still a lot of truths I need to know and even some evils I'm not aware of yet and I'm confident that God's Spirit will reveal them as I need to know. I just know today I do not want to acknowledge evil. I'm believing God's word as the truth. 

1John 1:6-7 - If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Truth WILL Set You Free

John 1:17 - For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Here I go again! I am still in search for the truth, as if you didn't already know. Especially since the study our church did called The Truth Project last winter. There have only been a couple of studies that have left a deep spiritual imprint. One was The Truth Project and the other Believing God by Beth Moore. Oh, I've gleaned things and have been touched by other studies, but these two seem to manifest themselves regularly in my thought life...and hopefully in my daily living.

I have asked the question a number of times here, "What is truth?" I want to know that I know the truth of God's Word...the Word beginning with and being Jesus. I am not satisfied where I am but want to know so much more deeply what Jesus has taught us. I want to learn...from the One who offers the truth...Jesus Himself. 

My blog is named "At His Feet." That refers to sitting at His feet and listening to Him speak, through His Holy Spirit and through His Word...that I might know what is true: ...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (Philippians 4:8). 

The truth always begins with Jesus Christ. Period. Once that is secure in a person's heart, mind and spirit, the road to understanding truth is right before us. Jesus says He is the Truth. And He is the Way to the Truth. He is the Way to eternal life, to boot.

I have also mentioned previously that the truth can hurt sometimes... Knowing, accepting, and receiving Jesus shows us truth. The truth will expose the lies of the devil, which he has spread throughout this world and which world, apart from some, believe without questioning. Some don't want to believe they've been wrong for so's a blow to one's ego...who wants to say they were wrong? So, they continue to believe the lie. After all, so many others do, some purposely, some unknowingly. A hard word. That's why Jesus open eyes, teach truth, to reveal Himself as truth and eternal life.

The truth will set you free. I read the following scripture again this morning after reading it yesterday. I couldn't get past it. It was not only highlighted but part of it underlined:

Ephesians 4:20-24 - You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 
There is a stirring in this world. There is a stirring in my spirit and in the spirits of many of my Christian friends, and even those do not closely follow Jesus, only know who He is. We see the signs in the things that are happening in this world, in our own country. We recognize, even if only just the tip of the iceberg, that things are changing, that life will never be the same. These thoughts come from knowing what's true. The difference, however, between those who know who Jesus is and those who know Jesus, is the way we perceive what must be done to turn things around...through political change. Change will not take place through men, but the Man, Jesus Christ. What this country and this world needs, is to identify Truth and to turn back to it.

We can no longer keep our heads buried in the sand as far as what's happening in our world. Either we understand the truth or we go on living like there's no tomorrow. That tomorrow will come some day and it WILL be difficult for some to comprehend. Those who have listened to the truth but have pushed it aside thinking it was nonsense, will be caught off guard. They might look back and wish they had listened sooner. Those with some inkling of understanding of truth will comprehend.

Truth is light and reveals the darkness the Bible tells us. It reveals the wrongs, the lies, the deception. We are being led in this world, in this country, by some who want to suppress the truth for control and power. Jesus is the Light of the world. Light chases away darkness. If Jesus is the Light and He is the Truth, He will banish the darkness we live in. But some will not get it until it's too late. 

Many are concerned for our country. We should be. Glenn Beck and others in the Church believe we are on our way to a great spiritual awakening. That's good news and I for one hope it's true. Jesus said He comes to seek and save the lost. We are lost if we don't know the truth, if we don't know Him. The Word also tells us that God is patient and will hold out on sending Jesus back, hoping that more will receive Him before the last days. 

This is not a gloomy subject, people! We have a great Hope and His name is the name above all names, including the leaders of the world, Jesus. When things look pretty glum, there is One who will be there to take you out of all this if you only call on Him. He patiently waits for you but He won't wait forever. Seek the Truth.

If we seek the truth of God's Word (Bible and Jesus) now, we will know the truth and be set free. We are in bondage without the truth (Truth). Truth might hurt, but that only happens when we let our egos get the better of us. Choosing to know the truth of who Jesus is causes some miraculous spiritual change within us. The old man with the old thought patterns, the old ways of life is changed. Not all at once, but little by little as you seek to dig deeper. We can be freed of debilitating addictions: drugs, alcohol, immorality, lust, illness, to name a few. Oh, but some might enjoy these things, you might say, and might not want to let go. Whether one chooses to change or not, God will judge according to how we lived. Hard word.

The Bible has told us about the last days, the days that precede the second coming of Christ. Yes, for more than 2,000 years we've been hearing He will return. It has been predicted by some to the day and it did not happen. That type of prediction only causes those who are skeptical to say, "Yeah, right." The Word tells us we will not know the day or the best to be of the belief that it could be tomorrow. 

In the books of Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation there are cryptic words just what it will be like in the last days. With some understanding of the truth, these words begin to make sense. I was talking to a friend the other day and she said it's amazing that we can see these things taking place today. God has opened our eyes and I'll tell you, it's exciting to see God at work bringing about the time when His Son will return. And yet, we know only in part. Despite what others might say, it WILL happen. I've never been so darned sure of anything in my life. 

We need to know the truth or we will perish. It's that simple. Have lies ever brought about good? There is one big lie that the devil has planted in this world and although we see a lot of good, don't be will end. How it will end for you--whether good or bad--is your choice. Seek to know the truth. 

1Timothy 2:1, 3-4 - Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men...for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Which Side of the Fence Are You On?

Ephesians 4:4-6 - There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 

I noticed in Ephesians 4 the use of the words unity and one. They were underlined. I'm going to emphasize "one." My mind is reeling...again. This is hard to write. 

We've been given an "assignment" for our Sunday school class: to define truth. Part of this assignment was NOT to go to a dictionary. Well, I did anyway. I'm a bit rebellious! I did not use the definitions for my assignment, however. I checked three online dictionaries where truth is defined as: - conformity with fact or reality; honesty, truthfulness, integrity; agreement with a standard or original. 
Webster - sincerity in action, character, and utterance; the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality; fidelity to an original or to a standard
Free - Conformity to fact or actuality; a statement proven to be or accepted as true; sincerity; integrity; fidelity to an original or standard

Well, they all seem to be in agreement. Maybe one dictionary used the meaning from another!? The Free Dictionary, however, had this further statement: That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence. Supreme reality? Ultimate meaning and value? What struck me in each of the meanings was the agreement with a standard or original. Original? Original what or what's original? To me original, thinking as I do, is God. He is the Supreme, Ultimate Originator. What He says is Truth. His Word is Truth. His Word is also known as Jesus. know where I'm going, I'll betcha. Just hang in here.

Truth can either be a very simple or very complex idea. It depends on which side of the fence you are on. Just look at mainstream media.... Who's telling the truth? Depends on which side of the fence you are on!

As a Christian, truth should be the simple concept. Truth is Jesus Christ. Period and amen! [A side note: I just HAD to look up the meaning of the word "amen." The Hebrew meaning from the Old Testament is verily, truly, amen, so be it. The Greek definition from the New Testament is the same. And what really caused my heart to race was that I noticed it comes from the root word for truth which I studied yesterday for our Sunday school assignment! Are you getting this?] 

God does not complicate things. He is not the author of confusion. Listen to this: 1Corinthians 1:27 - God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. 1Corinthians 14:33 - For God is not the author of confusion. He makes it easy enough for anyone to understand. The Word of God (which/Who is also known as Jesus) says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one gets to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). A hard statement? Depends on which side of the fence you're on! 

The scriptures above correlate to the Truth. There can only be one truth. The Truth of Jesus Christ. When we know this Truth, when we know Jesus, a oneness comes about. There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father (of all). There is a common ground. One day we will all come into agreement with this one Truth: a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord (Isaiah 45:23-24 and Philippians 2:9-11). Part of Isaiah's word about this tells those who are incensed with having to do this will be put to shame. This is not me saying this. This is the Truth of Jesus Christ.
Where there is oneness and unity, there is peace. Could that be just a part of the reason why this world constantly is in conflict over everything? We are all born filled with sin...without God, apart from Him...and we struggle with pride and the longing for control/power, even over our misguided thoughts. Could there be conflict because of the idea (the lie) that there are many roads to heaven and that many gods can get us there? There is only one God, the Father. Ahhhh, so there's the catch. Having to believe that there IS only one God, having to believe that God is the only one who knows what's best for us, that we are not able, on our own, to do that. That's hard for some to do....depends on which side of the fence we're on. That's why it's a narrow road. That's why there are disagreements and conflicts. Oh, we are a stubborn lot, us humans, wanting to believe what we want to believe (and sitting on our side of the fence) and forsaking the truth for a lie (Romans 1:25). 

This world was created by one God, that Supreme Reality, that Ultimate Meaning. This is the God of Truth. This Truth came to earth to share Himself with all mankind that we might know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:32), to free us from our enemy who only wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He does not look out for our best interests...this also is the truth.

True believers know the truth and because God is not prevalent in all lives, the truth becomes a lie to them. How Satan likes to penetrate lives and minds. A hard word? It's the truth! God is on one side of the fence, the devil on the other! 

There is only one Hope. That Hope is in Jesus Christ. He's that narrow road we must take. We become peculiar people (1Peter 2:9) when we look to Jesus and stand firm in our beliefs of Who He is (not was). That's the one faith we also have. One belief, oneness in Christ, one God, one Creator. 

The truth, by some, wants to be covered up (mainstream media). Just like there are some who want God out of the picture of the United States. Folks, we're in for some serious trouble if more people don't start to realize what truth is, Who Truth is. Decide which side of the fence you want to be on. Remember, the truth will set you free. 

All I can say is I find comfort in the part of the scripture above that tells us that there is one Father, one God, who is above all. Like we sometimes want to do...defend ourselves...defend our beliefs...defend our actions (whether we've done good or bad), Christians want to defend themselves and their beliefs. We'd like others to see the truth/Truth. We will be mocked...but not God (Galatians 6:7)...and some day whether it be next week or hundreds of years from now, God will prove Himself to those who have believed the lie, who opted for the other side of the fence.

Oh, this is a very hard word. But I am confident that as long as I stand by what God says, I am in a safe place on my side of the fence. I have that hope, that faith, that belief in one God, that Truth. So be it...or Amen.

...yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints... (1Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 1:18)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's A Mystery

Ephesians 3:20-21 - Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Mysteries. Unless you don't know Christ personally, life can be a mystery. We all have some sense of understanding about how life works, birth to death, in ourselves and in nature. But the greatest mystery is how it all began. For some it's all a scientific phenomenon. For believers, it's all about God's handiwork. It's a mystery requiring nothing more than faith. Faith itself is a mystery. It goes beyond what we can see. Life started with God and that's that. We may not fully understand how, but, hey, we only need to realize that it did.

God is a mystery in a way. He's unseen, unheard, untouchable to some. To those in Christ He is seen in His creation: nature, in all forms of life and even in how He works in our personal lives. He IS heard in the spirits, through His Spirit, of those who have received Him. We may not be able to touch Him, but He's there and available to us. There are times when I have sensed His touch on me, felt His arms holding me. Yes, it's a mystery, but it's God. 

I don't question why things are the way they are in this world anymore. God knows the beginning from the end. It's His job to keep things either disorganized that we might look to Him or organized that we might glory in His plan. His plan for this world began and will end in His timing. We who are in Christ only need stand in the strength He has given us knowing that He will give us what we need when we need it. Even all that can be a does He know? I don't question anymore. I just know that He knows. I just know that because I am in relationship with Him, I have only to ask for whatever it is I need. I have the understanding, the faith, to believe this.

The Apostle Paul continues to encourage the church in Ephesus on these matters. He describes the mystery in Ephesians Chapter 3: it was by God's own revelation through His Spirit that the mystery was made known. The mystery is this, that God became a Man (Jesus) and dwelt among us so that He might introduce Himself to us, that we might know Him, see the miracles, trust in Him, believe in Him, carry this knowledge down from generation to generation so that others might believe. Did you see that...through His Spirit He reveals the mystery. We receive that Spirit when we receive Christ.

The Old Testament is filled with history about God's presence with His people, Israel. But they constantly rejected Him or walked away from Him, even doubted Him. After so many hundreds of years of this, God grew weary and remained silent for four hundred years until He introduced Himself as His Son! Those quiet days were spent in war. In time they realized their need for salvation from this life. And God knew. He was behind the scenes all the while "planning" to reveal Himself once again, but this time not just to Israel, but the whole world. That plan was Jesus Christ.

If we allow this country, this world, to eliminate God from the picture (and I've read we may be in the throes of yet another time like the 400 years) He may again cause us to be without His presence. Do we truly want this? He has been our provision, our strength, our wisdom. We will falter again without Him. So how does that grab you? 

Glenn Beck and others have been sensing that another spiritual awakening is about to happen. I hope so. I'd like to see people I know come to a better understanding of Jesus Christ than they already have. Someone who would fill their lives not with the things of the world but with the things of God. Until we get a full understanding that nothing we own can satisfy--another mystery--like Jesus, we will not truly live. I'm certain I still do not have a complete understanding of this myself. But I have taken the right step in the right direction to know this.

God is a mystery. He has created each of us with a touch of spirituality built right in that we might seek Him. We can either choose not to heed the call to seek or take a chance that what lies ahead after seeking Him might be the best thing that ever happened...and that we will be given the ability to preach, as Paul tells us: about the unsearchable riches of Christ and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:8-9). Unsearchable riches of Christ: not our homes, our hobbies, our families, our leisure time activities, our addictions, our lusts. None of these can satisfy like the knowledge of the wisdom of Christ in our lives. We tap into the mystery by receiving Christ.

Wouldn't you like to be part of the fellowship of the mystery, something that is and always will be a mystery...without Christ? Wouldn't you like to have the manifold wisdom of God? Listen to what Paul tells us we have if we allow ourselves to believe: we have boldness and access with confidence, we can have strength through His Spirit, He will dwell in our hearts, we will be given the wisdom to understand the width, length, depth and height of the love of Christ that we might be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:12,16-19). He will dwell in our hearts... That part that is existing in us from birth is not totally activated or transferred to our hearts unless we ask Him to do this. A hard word? You might ask: Doesn't God live in all our hearts if we believe in Him? You just said there is part of Him built in. There is a difference. It's a 6" difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge...that knowledge of knowing who He is and knowing Him personally. 

I'm the kind of person who always wants to grow in knowledge. Right now what I know is I prefer to grow in understanding the width, length, depth and height of the love of Christ. I want the fullness of God in my life. That means knowing His love and His judgment. I never want to become content where I am spiritually. Oh, that others would have this same desire. Oh, that God would unveil the eyes of so many wandering this life without this wisdom of this mystery.

Won't you desire that this mystery be revealed, the fullness of God's wisdom? Won't you desire to know the love only Christ brings, to realize God's plans for you? He is, after all, our all in all, if we choose Him. Won't you desire to know that your life, protection and needs are all secure...through Him?

2 Corinthians 9:8 - ...God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Are You Feeling Dry?

John 3:19 - And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

I read a short article sent via email the other day. There are a few pastors and teachers of the Word who stand strongly behind their beliefs and present Jesus in the way He should be presented.

The email was from Chuck Swindoll of Insight for Living. He and a some others do not preach what so many in this world want to hear. Jesus' message to all is not always an easy one. But as I'm so fully aware, people don't want to hear these hard words. Listen to one of the concerns that Chuck Swindoll shared in this email letter of October 14: Biblical preaching has been cast aside in favor of motivational speeches. Hard truth has been forsaken for feel-good stories.
I've heard people say they don't go to church anymore because it's boring or too preachy. I'm thinking it's not that it's boring but that it's a hard word. I'm sorry to say I think that's what a lot of people today feel. I wondered why this would be. The answer came clear as day in my head that many don't like being convicted of their sins... The truth of God's Word IS convicting. Hebrews 4:12 tells us ...the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. There's no way of explaining how it can do this but it does. 

I'm not saying all these people go out of their way to live out of God's will, but Jesus is not the center of their lives. These people will have a hard time getting to knowing Him because the conviction (which I'm sure many would say is not happening to them) is more than they want to experience. They believe in God but they do not truly understand Him or know Him. If they did some of the things they think or do, or the way they talk, would not be. 

I felt like that once. Anything to do with church or Jesus, or how I should know Jesus was just plain annoying. People can handle talking about God because that name is so all-encompassing and maybe not so intimidating, but get to the very personal name of Jesus and watch out. People will flee. 

I laughed and scorned at the guy who drove his old beater station wagon on the downtown Milwaukee streets with a recording to repent. This car was entirely painted with scriptures. Oh, how we all used to wish he would just go away and stop annoying us. Or the men or women who passed out tracts during busy lunch hour...I'd take it and throw it immediately in the nearest trash container, hoping they would see me. Imagine if that person was Jesus...imagine how He was scorned and laughed at. And that's exactly what we do when we do this or turn away from the truth of God's Word...we are scorning and laughing at the Man who only wants all to be saved. 

There are many like-minded, concerned men and women wanting the end to the soft teachings displayed in most of today's churches. This is what I want too. This is what I know most of my Christians friends want. This is what we want our churches to hone in on. I want to hear the hard word.

I don't want to just hear how Jesus loves us but how He will judge...and, oh, how He will judge. He will judge me for those times I've kept my mouth shut to not stir up controversy. He will judge me for putting busyness before Him some days. He will judge me for words or thoughts that should not be. It's not a pretty picture. And I need to hear this too. I need to hear more of the messages against sitting on the fence determining not to jump off on the right side of it, into the pasture where the sheep have a Shepherd. Some will jump off the other side where the wolf is lying in wait to devour the poor sheep, the side without a Great Shepherd for protection.

Imagine if the Church (in general) would get back to the truth of Jesus Christ and not some watered-down version to get people into the churches so the churches can survive. It might be that these churches would be small...but then again, there may be more people than we can imagine who long for those messages. I'll tell you, I would much rather have a small church so on fire for the Lord than one huge one where a person can get lost and be content to listen to "Jesus loves me." On the other hand, praise God if the church is large and it's because all are like-minded, desiring the meat of God's Word, not the milk. If these people were drawn in because of the tough message, I'm all for that! 

There comes a time in every Christian's life when we must do away with the milk, the easy to swallow Word. We must in time desire the meat of His Word, something to chew on, to take in and let it nourish us, sustain us, build us. We cannot stay babies forever. We must begin to grow. I've known people who are just satisfied where they are in knowing that Jesus loves them. There are probably more people than I wish to know about who  are satisfied where they are just knowing that Jesus loves them. Some, I believe, don't think they are able to understand any more than this. 

Reaching into God's Word and drawing out His messages is something we must do. We must read and learn...we must listen to what He has to say. It's not as difficult as it seems. 

Yes, the Church today needs to get on its knees and repent for succumbing to a word that draws a crowd for the sake of numbers in their church, or for fame and fortune. When I was searching for a church in the Phoenix area to attend, I attended two relatively well-known churches and was very was too large, the other too "made up" for television. I ended up in a small Baptist church in the community where we stay. It preaches a good word. I feel very at home there and rarely walk away instantly forgetting what was said.

We are told in biblical prophecy that a time will come where we will experience a spiritual dryness. If we aren't there already, we are walking into it at a quick pace. With God being forced out of and shrinking in this country, we are liable to experience this dryness. The prophet Ezekiel references a valley of dry bones. Without God, without His Word being preached, we might fall into this valley ourselves. We must keep the truth of God's Word alive and active in our own lives as well as the Church. It starts with each one of us. It starts with our letting our churches know what we desire to hear. We must let them know we are craving meat, hard words, the truth of God's word, not what so many want to hear. 

1Corinthians 3:2 - I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You ARE Healed

Psalms 107:20 - He sent His Word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Why do we constantly need to be reminded that we ARE healed? Perhaps it's all the busyness in this life. The Word tells us we ARE healed if we have received Christ and all He has done for us. God sent Him, His Word, to die for us, that we might be healed and have life.

So why do we complain and worry about the aches and pains of every day life or get bent out of shape over things that are no more? We have never been told that our lives would be pain free but we are given strength for those times. When we start to complain or let old hurts cause unsettling, we are not trusting God's hand upon our bodies.

By His stripes we ARE healed. Whether it's physical or spiritual, we ARE healed. If I'm struggling with a disease, whether it is curable or not, I AM healed...because I have received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. When we do this, He takes away our sins. My assurance of life after death is certain, so even in death, I AM healed.

Yes, God can take a person and bring a miraculous healing. I've seen it in our own church...someone diagnosed with cancer, has the paperwork to prove it and then it's just gone. Or the woman, who I personally know, with painful arthritis is prayed for and she walks out of the sanctuary pain-free! Doctors can't figure it out. But we know...something miraculous happened. But sometimes He doesn't bring physical healing. Does that mean that if that person is a follower of Christ, a child of God, we can't cling to the fact that this person isn't healed? NO. 

To me the most important healing is of the heart. When Jesus comes into our lives, our hearts are healed. We experience a spiritual healing that only Jesus can do. Death or lingering illness no longer needs to be "the end" of life. I don't doubt that being in the midst of a serious illness is not easy. Jesus suffered a lot so what makes us think we should get off without some amount ourselves? 

It's at these times that we need to cling to Jesus, cling to His strength, His power to get us through crisis. We might get through illness somehow and that's great. But sometimes illnesses last the rest of our lives. It's that thorn in the flesh from which the Apostle Paul was never released. It helps us to stay more focused on the Who than the what or the why...or at least it should. Sometimes illness results in death. It's the end result that is important to cling to. With Jesus by our side we have the hope of life after death. We have the hope of eternal life with Christ and death should not be fearful.

Where did all this come from? I had to remind myself yesterday morning when I awoke and the dreaded feelings of "not being interesting enough to be listened to" erupted after an excruciating dream I'd had...that this very thing had happened to me...that what I had to say in my dream wasn't interesting, or worth listening to...that the person I was with absolutely walked away from and stayed hidden from me. OMG, it wasn't until later yesterday morning, after I had written my blog, that it dawned on me what I had written eclipsed the very feelings I was having..."no one wants to listen to this." 
As I awoke with this feeling I said either out loud or very loudly in my head, "NO! I will not accept this feeling. I am a child of God." And what can a child of God know....that whatever...WHATEVER...was a problem from my past no longer needs to be. I AM healed, whether others choose to believe it or not. I AM loved by my Father in Heaven. When I received Him, I was healed spiritually and that includes those thoughts that the devil likes to remind you of and slips in your mind at all the wrong times.

The thought of not listening to, or pushing aside God's word...Isaiah 55 tells us that any word of God that goes forth from His mouth will not return to Him void and it shall accomplish and prosper what pleases Him. I'm believing that any word of His that I speak will do the same...somehow, somewhere, to someone.

Yes, we ARE healed...inside and out...whether it shows or not. Whether we live or die. Whether others agree or not. We ARE healed by the blood of Christ. We WERE healed when He died on the cross. When we receive that, we ARE healed. When we receive Christ, we ARE healed. Please be healed. I think just as God spoke of Zion, Israel, Jerusalem, we can replace them with our own names:

Jeremiah 30:17 - "For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds," says the LORD, "Because they called you an outcast saying: 'This is Zion [Laurie]; no one seeks her."'

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hard Words?

Isaiah 25:7 - And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.

I truly do long for this day. A day when the earth will see God for who He really is. That will be a day when every knee will bow and tongue confess Him as Lord. I do not like the idea, however, that for many that veil will be forced off, their knees forced down, and their tongues forced to confess. I don't like the idea because God has made Himself so evident that it's hard not to notice to the His creation.

Isaiah was painting a pretty hard picture, similar to that which John painted in the book of Revelation. The last days won't be pretty. Today days for true Christians aren't pretty either. We see the writing on the wall where others ignore it. We see the signs in the unrest in the nations. We see the signs of the growing immorality in our own country...apart from the world. And we can guess what's in store. We know it won't get better.

Television, movies, skewed education, crime, addictions, abandonment of God, ease at which people lie, steal, consider themselves better than the next, lack of respect, shoving, pushing, me, me, me. Can it get any worse? Yes...period. And who do we cling to when the uneasiness of the days ahead begin? Jesus first...then like-minded people. 

And as we see these things play out we who truly know Christ can know that the Lord's return is near. For those faithful followers He will: ... swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken (Isaiah 25:8).

Yes, the LORD has spoken. Many times. It will be both a sad and joyous day for followers of Christ. We know some will remain stubborn to His call till the very end. That will be the sadness. Those who will not listen, who choose to ignore the "voice of one crying in the wilderness (of life) prepare ye the way of the Lord." (Isaiah 40:3, Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4, John 1:23)

He is coming whether one chooses to believe it or not. Some words are harder than others to hear. There are still a lot of hard words I need to hear. And I pray they would be spoken. Maybe this is a word for me today. I really would much rather have written something light and encouraging. But.....

Our churches have gotten soft. Yes, Jesus loves, He saves, He forgives, but He also judges. What makes us think we can live whatever way we desire...drink to excess, spend like there's no tomorrow, use God's name in vain just because, and do all the things that once were considered morally wrong because times have changed and we need to just "get over it."

God has not changed. He does not change. He will never change. (Malachi 3:6, Revelation 1:8). It is we who have changed. I once believed that because the majority of the world thought a certain way, lived a certain way that God would not judge those people's lifestyles. How wrong I was.

There is a narrow road that God wants us to travel and He has told us few will travel that road. I look at family, friends, acquaintances and if I think hard enough on the subject I wonder how many will find that narrow road? How many will ignore His call? How many will think they are saved just because they have always gone to church, think they are basically good people, freely donate to worthy causes, have this "belief" in some god/God or think they "know" Jesus? No matter what I say they might still think I'M the weird one, the one who has it all wrong, the one whose words are filled with judgment.

But they are NOT my words!! It only takes a little time picking up the Word of God and finding this out. In among the judgment there is love and comfort. In fact, love came first. Love and encouragement are those things that come when you first seek God. They aren't just given to you, although it may seem life is good without having to be part of God's family.

The enemy never lets us see his wickedness. It comes silently and through enticing means. I ask you, who would follow evil if it looked evil? And yet he has told us the biggest lie of all...that Jesus is a crutch, that following Him is a waste of time, that we can live our own lives unencumbered and still be happy. Oh, sure, happy in this world, but what about after death? What happiness will we have then? There is a narrow road, folks. Satan would have us believe his wide road filled with "whatever you want" is best, offers more in life (but really less in death), than the "boring" morality of a life in Christ.

So, it's your choice to make. I can only say so much. The Word tells it like it is. The Word is Jesus. Jesus is the narrow Way, the narrow Truth, the narrow Life. What more can I say? It's a hard word but it must be said...again and again and again.

It's not about going to church every week, confessing sins and walking out the door living whatever way one desires after that. It's not about praising God one day a week and using His name irreverently the next...or even once outside the church doors. It's not about your denomination because to God there is no separation other than good and evil. You are either in Christ on the narrow road or without Him and living life on the wide road. Those who trust in the Lord have hope for their future. Those who really do know Him are secure. How can it be any simpler than that and yet it's a difficult concept for some, this "knowing" Jesus.

Isaiah said it, other prophets of old said a warning to Israel and to us. God will destroy those who have lifted themselves up over Him. He will destroy the cities that have not chosen Him. There is a huge pit in the middle of the wide road that will swallow them up and I visualize people clawing to get out someday. And it may be too late.

We enshroud ourselves with our own walls of understanding...what we believe, we believe. We hang stubbornly on to the things we learned as children, our parents, our churches or just decided we want to believe. We listen to man not the Man. Like Ronald Reagan said one day, "tear down that wall." Let life come in. Let truth enter in. Oh, how I feel like one of the old time prophets pleading...and silently being scorned. 

So be it. There truly is a day coming when those on the narrow path will be grateful for staying the course. 

Isaiah 25:9 - And it will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A New Direction?

Isaiah 30:21 - Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.

Let me be an offshoot of that voice that speaks. If you stay on the right path going in the right direction God promises you life. I've been writing on and off about truth. Everything boils down to truth. You can't go wrong when you know the truth, believe the truth and tell the truth. And the truth starts with the truth of God's Word. Jesus is the Truth. So it all boils down to knowing Jesus, believing in Jesus and sharing Jesus.

In a world where God is shunned, truth is hard to hear. It will continue to experience war, hatred and all sorts of wrong-doing because God is not revered. This is the truth and there will be many who just don't believe He has anything to do with anything. There are some who will laugh at the idea. There will be many who miss out... And that's a sorry thing. 

I wanted to share this commentary by James Robison. I ask you to truly take the time to read it. I'll tell you, he has a lot of important things to say and he says them well. He certainly has a great ability to express himself. He tells it like it is; he tells the truth.  Let James' words speak to your heart. 

Also, hear the truth in this scripture:

Matthew 7:13-14 - Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.