Monday, January 31, 2011

Your Will Be Done

Acts 2:1 - When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

Another very well-pulled-together Sunday in church. There are definitely some changes taking shape. Little by little I'm seeing hearts coming together in one accord. From early morning prayer to Sunday school to Sunday service. There's a shifting taking place. Or maybe it's been happening all along and I'm just now aware of it. Maybe the change is taking place in me. Whatever it is, I'm grateful to be part of it. I relish the challenge set before us as a church. There is a remnant in the gathering of people I'm part of and this is where I am the happiest. I have felt for a long time God would raise up a remnant in this church.

Sunday school is filled with people determining to go deeper in relationship with God. We talked about the gifts we are given when we enter into relationship. Once we identify these gifts they are meaningless unless we utilize them. And that utilization is doing God's will. It's hearing His voice or His call in our life to "do" something using that gift. It's realizing that we give up more of ourself to do His will...and also realizing that when we do, what we have given up is replaced with something greater than what we thought we had. Such a difficult concept to explain, we agreed, and harder to just happens. 

The other day I was contemplating writing about the verse in Matthew 19 dealing with having to sell what we have and just follow Christ. Luke 12 pretty much says the same thing. In Sunday school it was actually discussed when a woman explained that a family member questioned the literal or figurative meaning of the scripture. The answer to "just what does this mean," as we concluded was: if God so chooses us to literally give everything we have to follow Him, it's a decision we have to make. Chances are it is an example of how He is wanting us to give thought to where our treasures in life are. Chances are He will not ask us to give up everything or leave our family or whatever, but if He did, would we be willing? 

As was shared, some of us have had to give up friends over the years because of our faith. We may have other things to give up. And along the way, if something gets between the Lord and ourselves, He will show us. Do you choose this or Me? And we might very well say we are willing to give everything up, but let us hang on to thus and so. Just don't take thus and so away, Lord. No, not thus and so! And yet when we do, we realize we've lost nothing but gained a lot more!

Where did all that come from? How did that fit into this? Oh, yeah...doing God's will! How God orchestrates the day. As we entered service and heard the message for the day, wouldn't you know it was not just about hearing God's Word, but being doers of it. We haven't fully arrived if we have not done what we've been asked. I sometimes wonder where I stand. Is it in my heart to do but ends there? Or maybe I'm getting there and "haven't arrived" yet. 

I just know there's a shifting taking place in my spirit. I awoke at some time in the early Sunday morning hours. I was very aware that I had been praying hard for God's Spirit within our church. I prayed, I believe, in my sleep that in every area and in every person who stepped into our church would sense the presence of God, that God would anoint the pastor as he spoke, that the music would draw us each individually into worshipping in spirit and in truth. I believe it happened. There was a peacefulness, a worshipfulness.

Pastor Rory Grooters talked about our life being about our character...our life is filled with triumphs and tragedies and despite these things we must be determined to do God's will. He brought up the Garden of Gethsemane and how Jesus was our example. He knew what was ahead of Him and He knew how difficult it would be. Like us, He prayed that if there was any way He could avoid His upcoming torturous crucifixion, He would be glad...but if not He was willing to do God's will. It showed His true character...willing to give up His life that we might find ours. He had to do something for us.

Earlier Jesus had answered the disciples' question, "Lord, how are we to pray?" And part of Jesus' answer was "Your kingdom come, Your will be done." In both cases He gave us an example to live by...Your will be done, Father. He was always in tune with His Father's voice and His Father's will. He was in one accord with His Father. So we should be. Sometimes easier said than done. Are we going to allow our will to blatantly override the will of our Father??? Do we dare when we say we love the Lord? 

All that keeps going through my head is: this is the narrow road. It's about giving up my life to serve One who is greater than I, imitating Him...and yet knowing we will never be greater than He. I'm not sure I have a strong grasp of this yet, I'm sorry to say. I think I've been missing something somewhere, but I'm trembling at the thought of a change taking place. Not my will, but Yours, Lord. You are the One who gives me the desires of my heart...which are actually Your desires for me. 

We sang a song called "I Give Myself Away" by William McDowell. It was a powerful and touching time for me and I'm sure others felt the same. The words go like this:

Here I am
Here I stand
Lord, my life is in your hands
Lord, I’m longing to see
Your desires revealed in me
I give myself away

Take my heart
Take my life
As a living sacrifice
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord I place them in your hands

I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me
I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me

I can honestly say I don't know that I have dreams or plans. There are things I'd like to do but I don't expect to do everything I'd like! Right now all I want is to know I'm in God's will. Use me wherever I might be.

One more thing Pastor Rory mentioned was about his mother's death and what was involved in carrying out her will. When we put together a will there are four things that become part of it: 1) Knowing, 2) Trusting, 3) Controlling, 4) Dying. In the spiritual, the first three relate to Someone else and the fourth one relates to ourselves. When we are in Christ it's about who we know and trust and who has the control of our lives...and then it's up to us to die to ourselves, to give ourselves away so he can use us.

All this to say that I see a remnant heart within our church of which I hopefully am part. But I will gather the remnant of My flock...and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase (Jeremiah 23:3). What a promise. A remnant will have one heart, one desire, be in one accord...which means being totally in God's will, knowing what it is. I know that I know that the part of being in God's will is being dedicated to knowing the truth of His Word, and not mincing words when speaking it to others...with no concern for our own comfort. Sometimes those words are hard and convicting and not met with enthusiasm. But who are we living for, ourselves or God?

I mentioned the book, Radical by David Platt. Although I've only scratched the surface of this book, I'm pretty sure God's will is an integral part of what Platt has to say. His will has not included watering down what God/Jesus has said. The Church in general has strayed from the real truth of the Gospel message and the real truth about who Jesus is, what He does and what He expects from us. We must be doing God's will and dying to self to be in one accord.

Lord, God, let us approach You boldly, in true humility, like the woman with the issue of blood who crawled to get to You. How she was determined to touch the hem of Your garment that she might be healed. A good part of that healing for us would be to rid ourselves of our own willful desires. Your will far exceeds our own. You were our example all throughout Your ministry. You did Your Father's will. Let us, then, be dedicated to following Your example. As you shake and sift our own lives and that of our church, continue to build up that remnant who seeks Your face, longs to hear only the truth You have to share with us and which seeks only to do Your will in their lives.

Ephesians 5:1-2 - Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Is it Enough?

Hosea 13:6 - "When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot Me."

We have it too good. When there are other people in other countries who are hungry for God's Word who have to huddle in small, dark hear about God, how can we complain about what we have, or what we wish we had, in our own churches? What's good and what's good enough?

What if we didn't have a church. No big sanctuary with comfortable pews? What if all we had was a basement, stark and unfinished, where we would not be seen or hopefully not heard? What if we had to walk to get there for fear of having a display of cars lining the streets causing some to wonder? What if we didn't have cars and we walked miles just to "have church?" And what is "church" anyway?

Christianity is being silenced in this country. We don't have a clue what it would be like to have church like those in Asia or Africa or any other country where creature comforts are non-existent.

We go to church in our Sunday best, driving one of our cars. We partake of coffee and doughnuts and mingle in heated or air conditioned settings. We nestle into our Sunday school classes having our coffee and having fellowship, children safely in the hands of babysitters in another room. We walk into the sanctuary and greet all our friends and talk about the week, maybe complain about it. The music starts. Some like it, some don't. Some just have to finish their conversation before they can focus on the Lord. The Sunday routine begins and ends just as it always does. Is this being satisfied? Do we walk out different than when we sauntered in? 

Oh, we have been blessed, as it were, as a nation. But have we taken what we've received and gone overboard with it? You can add my name to the list.... Are we being wise stewards of what God has given us? Can we do without? Will we have to some day? Do we have so much that our stuff gets in the way of God? Has our trust in Him diminished because we have replaced Him with what we think will get us by?

What if we didn't have church like this? All churches shut down. What if it we had to gather in a home setting where it was too dangerous to sing because we would be arrested, imprisoned, maybe tortured for our faith or killed? Or we had to do church on our own, secretly. Don't think something like that could happen in America? Only God knows.

What if church was comprised only of talking about scripture? That's worship, isn't it? Would we be satisfied just gathering and discussing a certain chapter of the Bible, or spending the entire time digging deep into the meaning of a couple of verses, backing up answers with other scriptures throughout the Bible? And praying and sharing.

Shouldn't this be enough? In the book, Radical by David Platt, scenarios like this are brought up. There are so-called churches, normally house-churches, all over Africa and Asia where the only thing they have is the Word of God. Platt makes the comment: But is His Word enough for us? It seems to be enough for those who have very little and the only thing of value is the Word of God.

Where have we gone? Where has our enthusiasm for only God's Word disappeared to? The founding father's had little and precious possessions when they arrived here. They worked hard to build a new life. They had no real distractions like we do. They had very little in the way of creature comforts yet they knew the importance of having trust in an Divine God for everything, every day. They trusted Him for their short-lived lives and their provisions.

We have more than enough. We have all the creature comforts and we're still not satisfied. We have to keep up with the Jones' with our homes, cars and the newest technical equipment. Our homes are warm and secure. There are grocery stores in abundance so we don't have to grow or can our own. We lack for nothing. Oh my, the microwave is car won't start...the computer's down...the bird feeders are empty.

We lack for nothing? What about what the Word of God says about lack: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). That is what will happen if we do not begin to crave God's Word. This is what will happen if the things of this world become bigger and more important while God becomes an occasional thought and His Word something we once knew. 

The Church is contributing to this lack of knowledge as it shapes and molds Jesus to be whatever we want Him to be in our lives. We say we are Christians, but...are we the first to grab the coffee and doughnut or complain when we don't like something in the church? How He must be grieved over even the best of people when we walk in on Sunday with a laundry list that's all about me. I hope the service isn't too long because I have plans; the coffee ran out too quickly or the doughnuts disappeared before I arrived, because I was late, because I was busy doing something at home. When we arise on Sunday morning...and every God the first thing on our minds? Do we look forward to gathering with others expecting to hear from God? Or are our minds preoccupied and it takes awhile to settle in, if we ever do? Just how important is God to us?

Platt's church decided to try to imagine what it would be like without all the frills of today's church. One night a week they stripped their church of any form entertainment and just gathered to study the Word of God and pray...for hours, not the usual 1+ hours. They inconvenienced themselves for up to six hours!

Is there any other church hungry enough to do this? What a step in a totally different direction...finding out who God truly is. Longing to know...longing to live it out...longing to have His Word deeply embedded in our hearts and minds... Platt says: Fundamentally, the gospel is the revelation of who God is, who we are, and how we can be reconciled to him. Yet in the American dream, where self reigns as king (or queen), we have a dangerous tendency to misunderstand, minimize, and even manipulate the gospel in order to accommodate our assumptions and our desires. He further says that we need to find out whether our understanding is biblical or American. We need to determine what the goal of the gospel truly is. Is it about God at all? Have we forgotten who He is, what He stands for? Have we become so satisfied and so proud? Have we got Him all figured out and are we so secure in our relationship we don't need to return to Him day after day to hear Him speak?

There were several prophets who spoke words to Israel about returning to the God they had forgotten, worshipping Him only, letting go of the things of the world. Is God enough for today's world? Will we change? Where are these people today? Could it be that one by one we will return? It starts within us as a person and has that ripple effect on to others. Can this be achieved? Only time will tell.

Hosea 2:13 - "I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot," declares the LORD.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

Exodus 12:30 - So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead. 

I saw a note I'd written in my Bible regarding this verse. Lost world...gnashing of teeth. I'll tell you, even I am convicted by what I will be writing.

If you recall Moses and his call by God to take Israel out of captivity by the Egyptians, you will remember that the very last plague that God caused was that all the first born children of every one of the homes in Egypt would die. Yet all the first born of Israel were safe. It took them that long, ten plagues later, to know they had met God, but they still denied Him.

Why would a loving God do this? Part of me wants to say that it shows God's sovereignty and it is a warning of sorts for all mankind. The whole scenario speaks of believers and unbelievers. In Christ we are like Israel, God's people, who are saved and protected. We are chosen and part of God's family. Choosing to not know Christ we are like Egypt, of the world, not willing to give up our lives for His sake. If we choose that lifestyle, we are about as dead as those first born. 

Imagine arising in the morning to find the first born child dead. And imagine a whole country experiencing this. The horror, the wailing, the pain that doesn't quit. Wouldn't you expect they would be gnashing their teeth? Perhaps it was then that they realized who this God of Israel was and His power over life and death. He calls out to us today in the same way so we can avoid this gnashing of teeth.

In the New Testament several times gnashing of teeth was mentioned. Matthew describes it repeatedly in several chapters. Luke mentions it once in Chapter 13. Not surprisingly, they were all in red letters...words that Jesus spoke! We are admonished to pay attention to those red letters. Hebrews 2 tells us to heed the things we have heard lest we drift away, for they speak of so great a salvation. Jesus has spoken to us time and time again. Heed His words. These words are spoken to both believers and non-believers.

The first mention was when Jesus encountered a Roman centurion whose son was ill. He came to search out Jesus that He might heal his son. Jesus said He would come to his home but the centurion asked that He only speak the word because he was unworthy to have Him come into his house. Jesus was impressed with this man's faith and at that moment his son was healed. Jesus went on to say that when the kingdom of God is at hand there would be some with the centurion's type of faith and others who would say they believe yet had deceived themselves. They really did not know Him. These would be and will be cast out of the kingdom into the outer darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:12)

Another was the Parable of the Tares which describes the difference between believers and unbelievers at the end of the age when Jesus returns. Those who do not know Jesus will be thrown into the fiery furnace to live in eternal hell...where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:42)

Yet another is the Parable of the Dragnet (Matthew 13:50). The dragnet was used by fishermen. They gathered all sorts of fish but some were thrown back into the water because they weren't good. The ending of the parable is the same as the one above, that we will be separated between good and bad, believers and unbelievers, the unbelievers going into the furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The Marriage of the King' Son presents us with a parable about those who chose not to attend the king's son's wedding. Friends and family, those who the king thought worthy of being invited, were asked but they opted not to attend. Furious, the king sent his servants to go into the highways and invite anyone they saw. They invited good and bad, anyone they could find. However, someone had crashed the party. He was not wearing the proper attire and he was bound and taken away, cast into outer darkness...where the gnashing of teeth took place. What? Those who think they are worthy to go to heaven but choose to not accept Jesus and wear the robes of righteousness, will not be accepted some day. Those who know they are unworthy and receive the invitation, are invited to attend the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, Jesus, the King's only Son. We cannot assume because we call ourselves Christians we will be invited...we might be as the uninvited guest. Jesus ends the parable by saying, For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22).

Oh what hards words...

Matthew 24 shows us the parable of the Faithful and Evil Servants. There are two servants. Their master leaves for a time leaving his servants in charge. One is about his master's business not knowing when he will return but awaiting his return. One decides that since it is not known when he will return, or if he even will, he treats his fellow servants poorly and carouses instead of working. This master, of course, speaks of Jesus and how we do not know the day or the hour He will return. We need to know Him now, being vigilant, waiting for His return and be counted as a good and faithful servant, a believer and follower, watching for the signs of His return and being about His business or we, too, could experience the weeping and gnashing of teeth if we have missed Him.

The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 is similar to the servants. It's about wisely using the gifts God has given us to avoid future judgment. Servants are given portions of their master's money to take care of while he is gone. One is given five talents and wisely increases that five to ten. Another is given two and does as the first servant, increasing it's value. But the one who only received one talent buried it. When the master returned he was pleased with the first two servants' management of his money and they each received a "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with what I gave you and I will make you rulers of more." The third servant was met with disappointment. He could at least have deposited the money with his bankers that it would gain interest instead of burying it. We who are in Christ need to be careful how we use what we have been given, whether time or "talents." Do we increase the kingdom or do we tuck it away? Do we share Jesus or keep Him for ourselves? We could be cast into the darkness where weep and gnash our teeth for not pleasing God with what He has given us.

Luke 13 describes the Narrow Way. The way of the world is the wide road, where the path of Jesus is narrow. If we choose not to take that narrow path, the Path that is Jesus, we will hear the words "Depart from Me." He will not acknowledge us because we chose instead to profess we knew Him...but did not truly follow, making us hypocrites. This is when we would meet up with the weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Let me just say that the Church in general may not always be teaching the depth of these things. We seem to be mainly concerned with the salvation issue. We could use harder words of admonition. But that's no excuse for our not understanding what the Word tells us. Jesus has made it pretty clear. 

Revelation also alludes to the Lake of Fire that those who do not know Jesus will be thrown into. It is there, like the fiery furnace or the furnace of fire, where weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth occur. It will be God's final judgment and eternal. Don't make the mistake of missing Jesus' call to "come and follow Me." 

...And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. - "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" (Revelation 20:13-15, Matthew 16:5)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Am the LORD

Exodus 12:12 - ...against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

These words stood out this morning. They shouted at me. It sums up who God is and who He should be in our lives. When those words popped off the page I just had to stop and do a quick search to see how many times those exact words were spoken by God Himself. One search listed over 900 times! Some may have been repeated or include times when He was being quoted as saying this but it's still a staggering amount, don't you think? He wants to get our attention.

In our Hebrews Bible study we learned and continue to learn about the sovereignty of God. I am the LORD. We just don't fully understand what this means with our limited human minds. It's by the power of His Spirit we can comprehend...yet it still isn't enough of an understanding I don't think. I think in the days ahead we may be getting a better picture and better understanding. At least we ought to.

I am the LORD. He is all things to all people if He is allowed to be. If He created the world, He certainly will know all of our needs, all of our sins, unfortunately, and all our desires. The desires may not fit into His plan for us, of course, if they are only what we can achieve or all we want to be in this world, apart from Him. That's where a heart change needs to take place so we can be in His will (which might offend some) rather than our own.

I am the LORD...who heals you. I've said it before. The first and foremost healing is through our salvation by faith and faith only in Christ, not our works.  Our works are as filthy rags. But then faith without works is dead, we are told. We don't work for salvation but once we receive this salvation our works are important. They are unto the Lord.

I am the LORD...who brings you out (Exodus 29:46). Out of what? Captivity, like Israel's bondage in Egypt. When we are held captive to our wants and desires, our sins and addictions, we need that healing mentioned above. Salvation in Christ will help us overcome all our captivity. We are set free...and who the Son sets free is free indeed.

I am the LORD...who inflicts judgment (Ezekiel 28:22, 20:44). Oh, no....judgment. Remember He is sovereign and no matter how we live our lives, He will someday judge each one of us, for good or bad, whether professing believers or not. And we will know that He is LORD and every knee will bow and tongue confess He is the glory of God.

I am the LORD...your God. When we are in Christ we can know that we know He is our God. He proclaimed this to Israel when He called them His people. Like He was in Israel, we are His people in Christ. We will not be shamed. Joel 2:27 - " will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced."

I am the LORD...your Redeemer...who knows what is best for you (Isaiah 48:17). Do I really need to say more about this? If He is sovereign and omniscient, He does know what's best for each of us.

I am the LORD...who has made all things...who churns up the sea... (Isaiah 44:24, Isaiah 51:15). He holds the stars in the sky and makes the sun and moon to rise and set at the right time...His time. Remember, there is no Mother Nature. He holds all things in His hands and has effortlessly stretched out the heavens Himself, and has knit us together in our mother's wombs. The next time you hear about a tsunami, think of God who controls this phenomenon.

I am the LORD....who is Holy (Leviticus 11:44). Because He is holy, we are to be holy, consecrate ourselves to Him, live for Him, not ourselves. 

I am the LORD....who has given us a code to live by. He asks us to keep His decrees and laws and follow them. That is why the Bible is our guide to all things in life. There were laws in the Old Testament for everyone to follow; in the New Testament we have the Word, Jesus, to follow as an example. Jesus did not replace the Laws God first set out for us. Jesus fulfilled the Laws. The sacrifices of the Old Testament Jesus performed Himself in His own death. 

I am the LORD....your God (Hosea 13:4) again. We are not to worship any other god. We are not to worship our stuff in this world, the saints or even His mother, Mary. Anything we hold up as greater than Jesus is an idol. We are to worship only Him. Hosea 13:4 continues by saying You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior but me. It is only through His death, His sacrifice that we can be reunited with God. No one else can do this. Leviticus 19:3 tells us we are to respect mothers and fathers and I would venture to say that includes all others that we might consider holding higher than Christ Himself. Respect but not worship.

I am the LORD.... If we stand firm in our acknowledgment of God...Christ...others will notice and God will be glorified. That's all that counts. Pharaoh and the Egyptians found that out all too clearly when, through Moses, God displayed His power in the plagues...and led Israel out of their captivity. God can display His power through us also in how we live our lives for Him. 

I wish I could name each and every accounting of who our LORD is. Maybe I will have to continue at some other time. You get the picture.

I am the LORD...period. Do you know this Man? This Man who was and is and is to come? This Man who was before all things were made? This Man who is God, the Father, God, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit, three yet One? This Man who came down from His throne, seated at the right hand of His Father, to live among us that He might be our LORD God? This Man who became our sin so we would not have to live in sin forever? This Man who lives and reigns for all eternity? Does this Man say "I am the LORD" in your life?

Jeremiah 9:24 - But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

That I Should Heal Them

Matthew 13:11-12 - He [Jesus] answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 

Jesus was explaining to the disciples why He spoke in parables. He was explaining that because they were His followers, had accepted and received Him as the Son of God and believed in Him, to them was given the knowledge of the mysteries. These mysteries are the basic message that Jesus taught, that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life. Without Christ these truths He spoke were only mysteries. Without Him, without His life, one has death.

Those in Christ who are given this knowledge only receive more and their life is fulfilled. Those without will not receive and their life will only seem fulfilled in this world. God is all about Christ. The world is all about death. Verse 11 above speaks of life, the message of has been given to you. The second part of verse 12 speaks of death...even what he has will be taken away. 

When we allow ourselves to be open to receiving Christ the mysteries begin to be revealed to us. I can't imagine not wanting to know a mystery. When we have received we are given more to chew on and well as share. When we show God our desire to hear and listen, He gives us more. That is life. 

I was part of a conversation one day last week where one of the women made the comment that she was so glad, so honored, to be given this knowledge and that it continues to come. It's not like someone has this knowledge all at once. It's given as we need it. We were all in agreement.

For those ears that do not want to receive, what is said may make some sense, but like Jesus' parables, the true meaning will be hidden. When we don't understand the message Jesus teaches on life, it is like death. We are dead to the things of God and to His wisdom. Life or death.

These things were prophesied long before Jesus came to earth. Isaiah knew there would always be scoffers. All Jesus desires is for all mankind to open their eyes and ears, receive Him...and be healed. That's what it means to be be in Christ.

It's all about coming in childlike faith, putting aside a mind that tries to figure God out with an intellectual thought process. Seek and He will be found. Let go of those ideas that cause ears and eyes to be deaf and blind. Let Jesus heal you of these two great afflictions.

There is not too much more that I can say that might convince anyone of this basic Jesus truth. If one seeks to know the truth, asks the Lord to show them what truth is, and hungers for the knowledge of His truth, I believe He will open up eyes and ears. He is more than happy to bring salvation and the spiritual healing He gives freely. Sometimes it is more than listening in church for this message. Sometimes it will happen when you close yourself in with God and ask. All it takes is an open mind and hear to accept Christ. I pray dull hearts would disappear, ears would be opened to understand. Jesus so desires to heal...with the truth of His Word.

Matthew 13:14-15 - And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: "Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them."

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Greater Plan

Ecclesiastes 3:11 - He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. 

When we are in Christ we may not always see what He is doing in our lives. We might seem to muddle along, day in, day out, not seeing His hand at work. This is where we must recall that He works all things according to His time schedule. He sets the stage, as it were.

I keep frustrating myself thinking that God isn't using me...there must be something wrong with me. Maybe there is and that in itself needs to be brought to the surface of my life and dealt with. Maybe I'm not hearing Him clearly enough. Maybe I am tuning Him out in fear of being stretched in a direction I don't feel I'm ready to go. But then it might not be any of those things.

We are told to wait upon the Lord. There are numerous scriptures that tell us this. One way or the other I believe my day will come. That day when His plan for my life will be revealed. On the other hand I could very well be in the midst of His plan even if I don't see it. I can recall time after time when I look back on my life where I can see God's hand was on me...even before I really knew who He was! One way or the other I need to be aware of His still, small voice and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I need to be aware of them!

He knows our thoughts, the number of our days, the troubles that have and those that will loom over us. We should not be surprised when He chooses to show us things. He is sovereign over all. Through His Word He created all things so why should we doubt Him.

Patience is not a virtue for me, I'm afraid. I'm with the drive through fast fooders when it comes to wanting it now. God just does not operate on a time schedule like we are. That goes right along with the thinking that Jesus should be able to be molded into our image to accommodate us. Oh, people, He just is not like that. We have gotten so wrapped up in what we want, when we want it when Jesus knows what we need when we need it. So let's be patient.

It might be that other circumstances in my life need to occur before He can work. I should be aware, however, that in even the mundane things of life, He will use or is using me. He might be waiting for that right instance to tell me this is the way, walk in this moment. Here's what I want you to do...and the power of the Holy Spirit will take over and whatever it is He requires of me will be known. It's then I have a do or not. Have I missed opportunities like this before? Probably. Why? Doubts or fears that stifle my ability. Wait, did I say MY ability? Ooooh, there's the problem. It's not me, it's God working through me.

I am starting to read a book called Radical by David Platt. It's about changing our course in how we view God, what we've made Him to be in our lives, probably because of what we've learned in the Church. How we have molded Him to suit our needs, softened His salvation message so that all people can come to Him whatever way they want, not pushing Jesus like the old time preachers did, and that many roads lead to Him. I might venture to say that "just knowing Him" without really knowing Him would be included in this list. As I heard this weekend, saying a quick 60 second prayer to receive Him just isn't enough.

Like Glenn Beck has talked about...getting back to our roots (in our country), Christians need to get back to their own roots in Christ. We need to realize Him as sovereign in this world. He has created all things. He knows exactly when to use us. I've been waiting a long time it seems. But maybe that's of my own doing.

I think we first need to realize who this Jesus is as He was long ago. We need to realize the power we have in Him. We need to shake what we might have allowed ourselves to understand...those untruths nestled in among and pushing out the real truths. We need to know the real Jesus. We need to turn around and pointedly ask Him once again to reveal the real Him to us. We just don't know Him as He should be known.....

His plan for us is the greater plan. Dismiss the old ideas and take a radical stance on knowing, obeying and doing for Him. It will cost us. I can't even imagine what that means. But we need to trust Him. He will take stuff from us but what He replaces it with, if we allow Him, will be greater than what we already have. He is more than enough. He gave His life for us; shouldn't we do more than just receive Him? We are called to do as He did. The narrow path we're to follow is getting narrower with people falling off on the left and right. 

The first step is trusting He's at work. Trusting that He is setting things into place right now and just waiting for a circumstance somewhere else to occur before sending me out. I hate to think I missed opportunities, but His mercies are new every morning. Let this morning, tomorrow morning and those to come be new days of waiting and trusting, then obeying should He call. He has everything I need and He will not withhold if I step out in faith and do what He requires.

Lord, you are more than enough for me. Let me realize that with everything that is within me your power over me. Let me trust, let me trust, let me trust. You ARE more than enough.

Philippians 4:19 - And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Trembling and Warm Chills!

Psalm 96:9 - Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. 

How do you know you've been in the presence of God? I believe it can happen in more ways than one. I'm amazed at the process of events over the past few days or week and what happened last night. I'm hoping my writing will help me process all I just experienced. I won't go into details but I will share something!

I do recall that I had been working on a Bible study on the Book of Hebrews either early yesterday morning or the night before. The question was asked, How does God speak to us? There were various scriptures to look up. He's not limited to how He can do it. I do know that when two or more are gathered in His name, God inclines His ear to hear (Psalm 116). Not that He can't hear us but that He is taking a very special interest in what we have to say. He's leaning forward in His chair in anticipation as it were. He's silently thinking Tell me more. Why? Because we are speaking or praying His will and that so pleases Him.

The Bible also shows us that in Jesus' day people followed Him looking for a miracle to happen. We shouldn't need to see or experience miracles, but for some it helps. People always want signs. Are we a visual people?? If we have enough faith we don't always need a sign. We might just feel His presence, which can be felt in various ways.

So last night I attended a prayer gathering at church. I'm new to this group and getting my feet wet! I really did not feel I belonged with these incredible men and women of God. Who am I was the question that kept running in my mind. But...we were in one accord with our petitions to God. And you know what? It's what I've been writing about for some time...the truth of God's it is being there will be only a remnant of people some day who will rise up out of the Church. There be only a few people who will be willing to walk the narrow path that the Lord requires us to walk.

God does not want us to compromise His word. The Church, in general, so wants to be seeker friendly, not willing to preach the truth in love. It's run more like a business with bottom line mentality, with the goals of building newer, bigger, fancier churches, or of bringing in more people by seducing them with words they want to hear, to fill the pews. God is not interested in the numbers, He's interested in what is being spoken and the hearts of the people in His church. Remember, relationship...

But this what the word says, we are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). And that's why Christianity is failing. There's no backbone anymore. Preachers don't want to offend. The truth is watered down so it's more palatable to the general public. Perhaps if they don't feel convicted they will return and the pews will be full...full of people hearing that compromised word and not meeting Jesus face to face to have their sins forgiven, their hearts and lives turned around for the better thing.

Yet there are people who are searching for a good word. They too fall prey to destruction because they can't find a church where the Word that brings life is spoken. I've said it before and I'll continue to say it...there will be a day not too long from now when people will be flocking to churches around the world looking for the truth because the world and the people in it have failed them. Their riches just aren't doing it for them anymore. The leaders in the world are failing them. The fear of what they see happening in the world will be unbearable, and like with past disasters, they will begin to turn to the Church in search of answers and comfort. 

People will flock to churches but will they find this Jesus who claims to give us His peace and comfort? Or will they find clergy who themselves have been fed lies and have lost their own way, taught their own form of Gospel, have been feeding their flock the wrong kind of food, the wrong kind of bread, having forgotten who the true Bread is? Oh, even "men of the cloth" can be coerced into believing a lie.

This is what Jesus says. This is why He tells us it's a difficult, narrow path and few are willing to travel it. Few are willing to let go of all sorts of hindrances in their lives. I'll tell you I don't even know how I will fare and what I will have to sacrifice or let go of if I am able to stay on this path (and I want more than anything to do this) and look not to the left or to the right and only hear the voice that's behind me saying, "This is the way, walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21)

Only a few people truly desire more than anything else, God's will, not man's, for the Church. Many just don't recognize the direction they have allowed themselves to wander off in, even myself. A little compromise here, a little there...barely unnoticeable and widely accepted. Only a remnant of people want to go so deep into the truth of God's Word, who are no longer satisfied just knowing that Jesus loves me and are happy that He can do thus and so for them. There are some, thankfully, who have gotten to that place in their walk with the Lord where they now want more and this is their plea: "Lord, what can I do for You? Here I am, use me. Let me be Your voice, Your hands, Your feet. This is what You've called me to do. Let me distinctly hear Your voice and let me not hesitate to obey, at any cost, no matter how silly or even frightening it may seem."

I just know that when I left church last night, I knew I had been in the right place with people who only want God glorified, who want God...period. I just know that when I got home after the prayer there was a trembling throughout my body, a weakness and a feeling like warm chills! I knew that we had each experienced the presence of God in some way and that His heart was pleased with our hearts' desires. Oh, there were more incidences that occurred throughout the evening that were not coincidences but God-incidences. God showing He was inclining His ear and bringing confirmation that He loved what we were saying.

Lord, this can only be You showing direction You want to take us. You want to see us living Your Word out: Your will be done... You love us all so much that You don't want any to perish. You want us to know that we know what Your will is for our lives. We think it has to be some big thing and often it is not! But when it happens we know it is You who have brought it about, whatever it is! We are each unique in the gifts You have given us. Help us to recognize what they are and when You want us to exercise these gifts. Thank You, Lord, that the greatest gift You've given us is Yourself. The next are our willingness to listen for your voice and hear what it says, then trust, follow and obey. That's what it all boils down You in your infinite wisdom know what we can do through You if we just give You control of our lives. Help those who love You, Lord, to desire that more than anything else. Sear it into our spirits.

Jeremiah 7:23 - ...but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Am New

2Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

I heard a song the other day called I Am New by Jason Gray. Yesterday I wrote about what some would say is a holier-than-thou attitude toward Christians...those who lay claim to having a relationship with Christ. In Christ we are new creations and we are in relationship with the Almighty God. The old man is gone and the new, in Christ, now lives. It does not make us perfect. Sadly, those who don't understand relationship over religion think we think we are better. We are not. I am not. There are some who do think this way, but they ought not to. It's all about understanding this relationship concept. On one hand it's difficult to understand, on the other it's so easy.

Lord, let ears hear, eyes see and minds be open to this concept.

I was of the same opinion once before I knew about this relationship thing with Christ. In fact, it wasn't until some time later that I understood I was in relationship with Him...and not until a time after that did I realize there's a difference between relationship and religion. Knowing Christ is not a Lutheran thing or a Catholic thing or a Baptist thing. It's a personal thing. I heard this one time: I know you call yourself a Christian, but I am a Roman Catholic. That does not make them any better than me either. Relationship, not religion. 

The title Christian has lost some significance as the years have gone on. It is about as watered down as the Church watering down the Word of God, not upholding God's standards like it used as not to offend. Oh, Jesus is SO an offense... There's no getting around it. The Old Testament religious and political leaders took so much offense to Him they were part of a group determined to put Him to death. But let me add here, it was not any one group who ultimately killed Him...we are all guilty of that. Jesus came for the very purpose of dying. You can't kill someone whose purpose in life was to die for the sins of the world, including the religious and political leaders. Jesus came to this earth for that very purpose. 

Jesus came...not religion. I'd venture to say He hates religion. Religion is laws and rituals that cannot be upheld no matter how hard one tries; relationship bypasses that and deals directly with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. We still need to adhere to the laws of the Commandments but it's our relationship in Christ that sets us free from condemnation and sin. The relationship, the acceptance of Christ, receiving Him into our lives is what makes us new.

So, Jesus is an offense. His truth is an offense. And part of that truth is we are not truly Christians until we have a personal relationship with Him. It's not knowing who He is and living as we always have. In the end one who only knows who Jesus is will realize they missed something somewhere in their life. They will realize they missed that relationship with Christ.

My whole view today on what a Christian is goes much deeper than just knowing Christ existed. It's knowing Him intimately. Anyone can do this. No one religion (including Judaism) has the corner on the Christ market. He came for all people, all races, all faiths. A Christian is one who knows that he knows that he knows Christ and is a follower. It's about putting trust and faith in what Jesus Christ did for us. It's not about our works but about His work done on the cross. 

What were the lyrics to that song (in case you didn't listen or didn't listen all the way through) that tell us the truth of who we are when we receive Christ? 

Forgiven, beloved, hidden in Christ.
Made in the image of the Giver of Life.
Righteous and holy, reborn and remade.
Accepted and worthy, is our new name.

You can look these words up in a Bible and find definitive words that tells us that in Christ we are these things. There is nothing holier-than-thou about this. It's the truth. We still cannot live perfect lives. We will fail others and other will fail us. The Church will fail too. But unless one questions their own religion and the teachings of their church, if a relationship with Christ is not considered because it is not part of the teaching of a church, they are missing the mark. In the Bible the phrase to miss the mark is the definition of the Greek word for sin. So that means there are many churches that are missing the mark in their teachings. I know this is a hard word.  

It's not about how good we think we are and all our good works. We cannot work our way to God and we cannot work our way to relationship with Christ. We receive Him. It's all about Jesus and no one one. We go to Jesus and Jesus alone. HE is the one who intercedes on our behalf to the Father. No one else can do this. Jesus is the one who died on the one else. We need to realize this and accept this concept, so we can be made new, through Christ and Christ alone. No one else can make us all the things, and so many more, this song has shown us.

Listen to what the Bible has to say. Do you believe the Word of God is the truth? Do you believe Jesus can do this today? He is able...and so much more. It is that relationship with Christ that makes these statements true.

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him...But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God... And he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. (Colossians 2:9-10, John 1:12, 1Corinthians 6:17)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crumbling Foundations

Psalm 11:3 - When the foundations are being destroyed," cried the psalmist, "what can the righteous do?

Jesus tells us that the poor will always be here…For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always (Matthew 26:11). How are we to understand such a thing? Could it be another way of God's telling us that the poor include those people without a connection of any kind with Him? I think so.

I wrote about death to life Monday. How much poorer can one be than one who has no hope in their future? One who is dead in their sins right now, today. One who looks to the world for all things? One who can't see their foundation crumbling or the world's foundations being destroyed? How much more alive and fulfilled can one be when Christ is their Foundation? One no longer needs to feel poor. We still have struggles but we can still rejoice; we can be poor and have nothing yet be rich and possess all things, as followers of Christ (2Corinthians 6:10).

When the foundations are being destroyed…aren't the foundations of this country being destroyed? Is there confidence in our leadership? Some would say yes. Is there confidence in our economic system? Same yes answer or others are anxiously waiting for "the system" to turn around again. The foundations will continue to crumble if they are not built up again on a sturdy Foundation. 

We have seen a change take place over the past 60 or so years. Because we have allowed ourselves to lighten up or tolerate those things that are now considered good and once were looked at as evil, we see our society crumbling. We have so bought into lies. I bought into it myself. What happened to waiting until marriage to consummate it? Now it's "get to knowing them first…live with them for awhile to see if it works." Now it's "don't worry about getting pregnant…you can always have an abortion." Alcohol and drugs are now substitutes for therapy...or love. Drown your sorrows or boost your self-esteem. Now it's tolerance for all religions because "all religions lead to God…" And even worse, far right conservatism and Christianity are intolerant...for what? Embracing the truth or not wanting to live a lie? Embracing diversity is a phrase we've coined so that all forms of lifestyles can be accepted even though what once was intolerable (and wrong in God's eyes) now can be. All lies.

Oh, I so realize that people will say God is a loving God and wouldn't disallow anyone access to heaven. But if He says it's wrong, it's wrong. In many cases He calls certain things abominations (dishonesty, arrogant pride, alternative lifestyles, shedding innocent blood, idol making and worship, wickedness, turning away from what was right and good, lying...). You can find many more listed in the Bible. 

The foundations are crumbling. And those who are so fully aware of it realize that this is the way it must be for Christ to return. There was a reason for the passage of scripture that tells us: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away...always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (2Timothy 3:1-5,7) Oh, don't think anyone is immune from one or more of these things! We can brush it off with the thought that times have changed. Yes, they have; they are a sign of the times. A sign that Christ will return for His people...but not all people.

Unless one has their head in the sand, one cannot help but recognize these signs. It's not all about us. We have it so wrong. It's about God and why He created this world and His plan for us for a life well-spent and well-lived because He knows just what we need. What does it tell us when we watch the news and feel nothing about what we see going on? Have we become so hardened? Have we become so complacent? Wait till what we see becomes more personal. This is not the way God wanted things to pan out. And yet He knew it would. 

Lord God, forgive us for getting to this place in our lives. Forgive us for our own hands that prepared these horrid lifestyles. Forgive us for falling for the lies at one point in our lives. And thank You, Lord, that we can have our eyes opened to what once seemed right. I'm far from being a prude or holier than thou, but I do see things differently and I'm so grateful for those eyes you have opened. It so saddens me to se people living without the truth in their lives and believing that this is all there is to life…living the way they want because there's nothing else to look forward to.

Lord, open their eyes to see that what there is in the future is so much more glorious that what is here on earth. We DO have a purpose and it's Your purpose. It's your design for our lives and it's so much more fulfilling than what the world has to offer. Open eyes to see this. Open eyes to see the light at the end of the tunnel of their lives. Open their eyes that they might see Your Light standing there beckoning them into a life worthwhile instead of a life in the world that just plain sucks! 

Father God, lift up Your people. Help us to live the way You want us to. Give us all a voice that cries out in the wilderness, the wilderness that this world is becoming. Let the Church arise out of the ashes of today's humanity. Let the Church remember what it was called to do...speak the truth of God's Word and draw people into knowing a God who is alive and desiring of relationship with each person.

I realize that the days need to become grim for people to recognize the tragedies of life and begin a search for answers and a way out. Jesus is that Way. He is that Truth and the Life. He holds the hope for real life. He is the One who will forgive all your sins and heal all your diseases (Psalm 103:3). A person only needs to get to that place of affliction that cannot be removed with money, alcohol, drugs or sex, to finally seek something more. Jesus is our more. He is our portion. He is our strength and refuge. In Him we are to trust.

Righteousness, as awful as some people think this sounds, can be attained and it is the best thing. It doesn't make one holier than thou. That's just what is perceived when lies take over for truth. We are called righteous and holy when we come to Christ. These are the people who recognize the foundations of this world are crumbling. As the psalmist questioned above, "what can the righteous do?" The righteous can stand firm in the Foundation that is Christ. It's accepting Him as one's Foundation. This Foundation brings hope in a world whose foundations are being destroyed.

1Corinthians 3:9-11 - For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Death to Life, Sinner to Saint

Matthew 9:12 - When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick."

Glory to God for what He has done! We are called from death to life and from sinner to saint. As we live in this world without the full knowledge of God, without relationship with the God who has created us, we are dead. Our sin has caused this death. When we allow Jesus full access to our lives we are made alive through His righteousness. We become alive in Christ.

Jesus is our Jehovah Rapha, our God who heals. He is our Great Physician. He raises us up back to life and we are healed. There are so many accounts of Jesus healing blind eyes, the lame and deaf, casting out demons, causing men to speak again...and raising the dead. I believe He can still do those things today if He so desires, but what's more important is the spiritual raising we can attain. 

We walk around this life not getting all the full benefits of a life in Christ and a God who wants to bless. In this world we are spiritually dead and spiritually need of a Great Physician to heal us. All He wants is for us to come to Him and admit our weaknesses, our sin, our guilt. Give them to Him and He will heal us. He will set us apart. We join the ranks of others who have done the same. A miracle has taken place in our lives...we have been raised from the dead. 

Jesus is moved with compassion over the multitudes in the world who live each day with the gravest of illness--being spiritually dead. They wander aimlessly like sheep without a Shepherd (Matthew 9:36). We as a Church don't see all the miracles that took place. We hear of one here and there, but something's changed. What we sometimes forget is that one of the greatest miracles takes place within ourselves when we receive Christ! 

Instead we walk around in our dead bodies. I heard once about long ago what was done when a person did something terribly wrong. To inflict punishment on them a dead body was tied to their back. That body would rot and putrify upon that live body. It was a constant reminder of the grave thing that person did. The disciple Paul probably had this in mind as he said, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24)  It is a bondage, a captivity, to the will of the flesh and not the spirit. But the good news is we can be delivered from this body of death through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Death versus life? Sinners or saints? Which is the most appealing? Jesus came to heal the sick. Not one of the men He called to become disciples had any good in them. He mingled with sinners, much to the irritation of the so-called religious leaders. In fact, Jesus called these leaders hypocrites, fools and a brood of vipers because their attitudes did not convey who they claimed to be. There isn't a man, woman or child who is greater than the other. God is willing to receive all. And when a relationship with Christ begins we are counted as equals in His eyes. The death we lived in our sins before Christ melts away and brings to us life and even the title of saint.

This week we heard Pope John Paul II is on the road to becoming a saint because a miracle occurred in his name. I'm not saying Jesus would call him a hypocrite, fool or viper...please understand that. But let me say that we are all called saints of God if we have accepted Jesus and are in relationship with Him, when we allow Him to remove that body of death and receive life. 1Corinthians 1:2 points this out: To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.

The key is calling on the name of Jesus Christ as Lord. The Greek definition of the word saint is a most holy thing. Although this doesn't sound like something we could lay claim to because it seems blasphemous, through Christ and in Christ we can because we have been made holy with the righteousness of God through Christ. We don't deserve it, but God gives it. And praise God, it's for all people. However, we can only proclaim this with humble reverence, recalling in our hearts what Jesus has done for us. 

Saints are a group of people set apart for God…those who are a peculiar people who have been called out of the darkness and into His marvelous light (1Peter 2:9) and have by faith received Christ as Lord. Not by what we've done to receive it, but just accepting His gift. Then we have had our own miracle...we are healed and raised from the dead of this world, not by our power. It's not a title we can just give ourselves (or our mothers!); it's a title given to us through what Christ did for us and through our acceptance. 

There are millions of unidentified saints in this world right now and there were millions in the past and will be millions more in the future. Jesus calls all men unto Him. We can all be lifted out of bondage, made alive in Christ, share in His life and considered saints if we are in relationship with Him. Ephesians 2:18-19 - For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

We can all partake in in our own miracle of being raised from the dead. Just call out for God's mercy and become a living sacrifice, worthy to be called a saint! Death or life; sinner or saint? It's up to you.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  Jesus said... "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." (2Corinthians 5:21, John 11:25)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reading the Constitution

Psalm 119:16-18 - I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. 

My, oh, my. The thought occurred to me, as it so often does, that what we do in life imitates, both greatly and sadly, the lives that are depicted in the Bible. You will hear this a lot from me: history repeats itself. Will we ever learn? Probably not all of us.

I received an email  recently from Focus on the Family, a Christian ministry formed to promote and strengthen the family. In this email they discussed the rereading of the Constitution. Here is a quote: It is critical that the new Congress consider every piece of legislation's impact on families. The family is the bedrock of our society, our local communities, our economy, and our very way of life. The strength of the family is one of the principal reasons for America's moral and economic greatness.

Well, the Focus foundation or bedrock also is the Word of God. This is what we should all adhere to. Where is our foundation? In the world, the worldview, government, people? Our foundation should be the Foundation of Christ. The Word, which is Jesus and the Bible, should be the bedrock of our society, our local communities, our economy, and our very way of life, just like the Constitution in this nation is it's foundation.

Psalm 119 talks endlessly about God's statutes, His laws, and how we are to delight in them. We are not to lose our focus, but have these laws in our hearts as the ancient Jews did. These laws are there to help us, not to hinder us. These laws were made for all mankind. God's laws are right, true and just. When we understand the concept of God's laws being good for us, we will see them as Psalm 119 says, as wondrous.

What happened when Israel stopped heeding His laws? Their lives fell apart. They ended up in captivity as slaves. At the end of the Old Testament God was so fed up with His people He became silent for 400 years to cause His people to yearn for Him. Then Christ was brought into the picture for His plan of salvation. His laws remove boundaries. God only has good things for us if we would just let go of the things of this world. If we would no longer as a people choose to manipulate, control, steal or destroy, as our government would like to do, our lives and the things that keep our lives intact. 

Like a family that looks out for one another shouldn't we as a nation do the same? We the people... We are in the hands of the enemy...our adversary the Devil...and as Pogo once said: We have seen the enemy, and he is us. Don't we also often hear we are our own worse enemy? What does that say about a people and a nation whose foundation is not God? We cannot survive successfully without His guidance. Wasn't this the tenet of our founding fathers?

The reading of the Constitution, unfortunately, left out words that could be construed in today's world as offensive. I had hoped that reading the Constitution would remind people what this country has stood for for so many years. Maybe it still jogged their memories and brought reminders of what we used to be and how we lived and how we overcame obstacles, how we pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps. It should be a reminder of the rights and wrongs and how we can avoid these in the future. But to deny that we said some things is covering up the truth.

The same goes for the Bible. There are some things in it that are considered offensive to some. But there's a very good's the truth. We cannot take the Bible and pick and choose what we want to believe about it. We can't do the same for the Constitution.

Our Constitution and the Bible are there for "we the people," not for the government's benefit..or God's. Let me clarify what I mean by God's! He wrote the Book for us; He doesn't need it...He doesn't need improvement! These laws here that we might benefit. It may seem as though the Bible is nothing more than a bunch of commands to stifle people, but they are not. Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Who knows us better than the God who gave us life...from the beginning of the earth and until the end of the age? He has created us. He knows what's good for us. If only we would trust Him in this and see for ourselves. There will always be those who take a different route. Our founding fathers understood this and wanted this country to follow in His blessings.

Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life. His way is narrow and few follow it. He is the Lamp that guides. He is the Light that shines in the darkness. God's Word, Jesus, and our Constitution. A common theme. We can learn from both...they are both there to help us overcome. When did we stop doing what the Constitution suggests? When did we start being deceived? When did we stop focusing as well on God? When did we decide His Word wasn't applicable anymore? When did we start falling away as a country and as individuals from trusting Him? More than these, why did we allow it?

James 1:21-22 - Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.