Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Have You to Fear?

Hebrews 13:6 - So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

As I listened to Our pastor, Rory Grooters, talking one Sunday about how it is imperative we overcome our fears by facing our giants, I began to think again about how I constantly believe I am much better at writing than speaking about Jesus. I know deep inside this is a that trips me up every time. 

What is our greatest fear? This is a question we should all ask ourselves and set aside some time to talk to God about and ask for His strength and guidance.

We are to do it afraid. Whatever that fear might be. We must go through the fear to overcome it. Doing that shows our total reliance on the Lord. We all have weaknesses and a need for One greater than we who will do what is exactly necessary for any circumstance. We are only to be the vessel, the conduit, for His work through us. If that sounds like a controlling God, it isn't. He has only our best interests in mind and knows exactly what He needs to do to bring about good. On our own we are nothing.

Before I go on to explain what happened next, let me just add that in Sunday school we are, as I've mentioned, doing a study on The Power of a Whisper...Hearing God. Having the Guts to Respond by Bill Hybels.

We listened as several people on a video shared how they heard God speak to them with assurance, admonition or action. As they spoke it reminded me of occasions when that familiar "voice" spoke to me in similar ways. I'm sure everyone in class could have shared many instances themselves. Hearing about these circumstances was a joy to listen to, even when the word God spoke to these individuals might have been difficult to hear. Even the words God chooses to speak to us can bring about the, "Oh, no, not that God!"  However, it was confirmation that God really does speak to His people. It's always good to hear others' stories because you can no doubt relate to some of them. 

Well, as I listened to Pastor speak, I heard that still small voice right there in church. He interrupted with a sort of admonishment to me! What I heard was, You like being alone so why fear what anyone thinks of you? You are in My hands, not theirs. I am all you need. Well...put - me - in - my - place!!

I am comfortable on my own. What do I care what someone might think? And then the thought zipped through that it's the possibility of rejection I fear. Of course it is! No one wants to be rejected by those around them, especially if they call themselves your friend(s). 

We are to be in the world but not of it. When I first came to Christ there was one particular friend I had to let go of because I was no longer like her. It wasn't my choice; it was God's. I began to realize that conversations no longer uplifted me and her actions no longer interested me. It's all about the change that takes place when you receive Christ. Changes for the better.

So...fear! There is a scripture I have taped to our computer that should define exactly what I should fear the most: But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:33). What do I fear most? Being denied by Jesus or my friends? Isn't this the will of our Father for our lives? To proclaim Him? Glorify Him? Acknowledge Him? Be obedient to His call?

Perhaps my solitude will come because of my quest to be "out there" for Christ. Perhaps the Lord has been preparing me for that. Oh, I would prefer it the other way around, that when I do talk of the Lord, my words would draw these individuals to Him as well...and I would have the best of both worlds...friends who come to know Jesus and become life-long friends of my own. But the important question is: Do we want friends or Jesus? Which will bring us eternal life?

If God is for us, who can be against us? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (Romans 8:31,37, 1John 4:4)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bible in a Nutshell

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

I found this one day and stored it away to share. How one verse of scripture can be explained by many others. This is the one scripture that says it all. My comments are in red. If it seems like too much scripture, let me just add that scripture will always speak for itself. They are God's words and more powerful than my own. (I have to say that I did not include all of the scriptures suggested because some were repetitive.)

Bible In A Nutshell by Naveen Balakrishnan

John 3:16-3:16!

1.      God’s GRACE (v. 16a) - For God so loved the world ...

Deuteronomy 7:8 - ...but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage...
Besides the bondage of addictions, it is the bondage of wrong thinking, ignorance as it were of the truth of God's word. This ignorance can be an innocent type of ignorance...until you have been exposed to the truth.

Jeremiah 31:3 - The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
He draws us. We do not find Him. Anyone who has received Christ will understand this. 

Malachi 1:2 - "I have loved you," says the LORD. 
He loved us first. Can you honestly say you have told the Lord you love Him?

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1John 4:9-10, 19 - In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. We love Him because He first loved us.
While we were yet sinners...He loved us. Think about those people who you find difficult to be around or those who are known criminals or murderers. God loves even them. 

2.      God’s GIFT (v. 16b) - that He gave His only Begotten Son 

Isaiah 9:6 - For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  
2 Corinthians 9:15 - Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 
He gave His only Son. He sacrificed Him so the world could be saved. And Jesus allowed Himself to be sacrificed...greater love...Jesus tells us: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

3.      God’s GOSPEL (v. 16c) - that whosoever believeth in Him 

Joel 2:32 - And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. 
John 3:36 - He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
Acts 16:30-31 - And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
Galatians 2:16 - knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. 
2Corinthians 4:3-4 - But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
Believing in Christ is more than saying you know who He is; it's having the faith of a mustard seed, the openness of a child, to know that you know in your heart that He has called you and responding in an act of faith. The act of faith is done in your heart first and then confessed publicly. It is not by your good deeds or works in this world, being a good person, donating money to worthy causes or belonging to a church; Jesus did the just need to receive what He has done in your heart. He will guide your heart after that. 

4.      God’s GLORY (v. 16d) - should not perish but have everlasting life 

1John 5:11-12 - ...God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
John 10:27-28 - My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
Romans 5:21 - so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
John 17:3 - And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Oh, the glory of God, that we should have everlasting life! We obviously will not see that until we die and we can only hope that today we are in right relationship with Him to receive this everlasting life. This life is given to us through Jesus; it is a gift; we cannot buy it or work for it. It all depends on whether we have chosen to receive Christ, live for Him, know His will for our lives and be obedient to His will. Then our good works are relevant because the works are done through God's power in us and for Him as our Heavenly Father.

Romans 8:32 - He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Monday, March 21, 2011

He is Calling Attention to Himself

Matthew 5:45b - He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Do you see that? He causes...He sends...  He blesses, He curses. More about Him. More about Jesus. More about what He does.

We cannot go on thinking that God does not have a hand in what is happening in this world. He just does. It is His creation. The clouds are His. The rain, the wind, the direction of the waves, the force of all of them are His. He is calling attention to Himself. Will anyone listen? Will anyone hear? Will anyone receive Jesus?

He's is an equal "opportunity" God. He can do what He desires. He will do what is necessary to try to save. He brings one down and exalts another. Some live an eternal life, some do not. He brings us naked into the world and we leave the same way. Even among believers He gives and He takes away. 

He creates the seasons. He makes the sun and moon to rise at just the right time. All things were created with no more than the word of His mouth. It's all about Him. He's calling attention to Himself. Will anyone listen? Will anyone hear?

He confounds man by choosing the poor and lowly to have the most abundant faith. While Jesus loves the little sparrow yet cares much more for man, He will bring man down for his own sake that He might raise him up to be what He knows he is capable of being. 

Moses was taken out of the bulrushes and spent 120 years being molded into a man, who was not perfect, to free His people from Egypt's captivity. He made David, a lowly shepherd and again not perfect, to become a king, a man after God's own heart. Gideon who admitted to not being a strong warrior was chosen to lead 300 into battle against many thousands with a torch, a jar and a trumpet but no shields or swords. He was told he would be made strong. He takes the weak to prove His strength. 

Our God gives to whom He pleases. He changes times and seasons and gives wisdom and understanding. The Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men. He lifts up the humble and takes down the proud. He keeps His eyes on those who worship Him and do His will and He hears the cries of those with humble and contrite hearts. He does not listen to sinners...but He will hear when those with a broken spirit cry out in repentance for His grace and mercy. 

Who can understand all the things of God? The real message is, will we bow to Jesus and trust Him in all things? Receive Him that and know what Truth is. He IS faithful in the end to those who seek Him and allow Him to humble us when we need it, allow Him to take away when something has become a hindrance in our walk with Him, allow Him to strengthen us through the power of His Holy Spirit when we try to do in our own strength. 

He, after all, is the wise One, we are not. Our Father in Heaven knows what He needs to do in order to save us from our own He calls attention to Himself through both good times and bad. He listens for the cries of those who will submit (in a very good sense) to His will. And, more importantly, He sent His Son, Jesus, to save us and His Holy Spirit to help us. Who will listen? Who will hear?

Listen to this: The cripple at the Beautiful Gate was asking for money in his cup. That was what he thought he needed. Peter and John didn't have what he wanted, but what he needed. He wanted alms. He needed legs. They said, "What we have we give to you" (Acts 3:6). What they had was the transferred authority of Jesus to supply legs. We ask for what we think we need, and the Lord graciously gives us what we really need. - Jim Hylton

What do you think you need? Call on the name of Jesus and He will give you what He knows you need. We all need Him. He will hear your heart but He will heal your spirit. He will bring life to the lost and weary soul. He will not give you a stone when you are in need of bread. If you ask you will receive; if you seek you will find. If you knock, Jesus will open the door for you. He is calling attention to Himself today. Who will listen? Who will hear?

Lamentations 3:55-58 - I called on Your name, O LORD, from the lowest pit. You have heard my voice: "Do not hide Your ear from my sighing, from my cry for help." You drew near on the day I called on You, and said, "Do not fear!" O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Don't Bite the Hand That Feeds You!

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. [And] by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain...(Ephesians 2:10, 1Corinthians 15:10)

Continuing from yesterday regarding blessings, another thought came up as I was reading the other night, one which knits itself into the fabric of who God is and what He does. In the book Radical by David Platt the author asks the question: What is the message of Christianity? The amazing answer is: It's not about me! What a novel concept! It's not all about the fact that Jesus loves me. Somewhere within the recesses of my mind and spirit I knew this. But it bears explanation....

Oh, He does love us and He did die because He loves all mankind. But it goes much deeper than that. If He died because He loves us, the message is all about us. There we go again...thinking only of ourselves. He created us for His glory. I mentioned yesterday we all think too highly of ourselves and "it's all about us and our stuff." It just isn't. And that shows how sinful and in need of a Savior we are...that we might be blessed with His wisdom and understanding in things of this nature.

So, the true message of Christianity is, as Platt explains, that He loves me so that I might make him--his ways, his salvation, his glory and his greatness--known among all nations. Now God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around Him. We are not the end of the Gospel. God is...He saves us for the sake of His holy name.

It's about what God has done in us. How He has called us unto Himself. Jesus blessed me by saving me, which is great, but you'll notice He did the work, not me. My salvation was not something I deserved. But the fact that He could enter into my life and bring about changes brings glory to Him. It's about His power, His Spirit, His transformation in me. (Oh, but let me say, He's certainly not done with me.)

Now it is my turn to do a favor for someone else that they might receive the same blessing.  Our goal, then, is to pass this information on...until all nations have heard the Good News. Each person who receives Christ brings just a bit more glory to Him. It shows His power in the lives of all people, His sovereignty. But He needs His believers, those whom He has called and changed, to plant the seeds that He might water them and bring them to new life.

As I continued to read the chapter I kept hanging on to the thoughts so many people have...Doesn't it seem that God is a bit self-centered? Is it all about Him? And don't you know, Platt answered the question with another question: Whom else would we have Him exalt? There is no one greater than He. It begins and ends with Him as Creator God.

Our Bible study on Hebrews this past week brought up a very similar idea. It was what I mentioned yesterday regarding oaths. God covenanted with us; He initiated it. His oaths to us cannot be taken away because He cannot lie. Because He is the Beginning and the End, there is none greater than He. Hebrews 6:13-14  shows us this: For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." 

It's all about God. It's not about us. Some may believe what they want about God being self-centered, with a Master/slave mentality, but when you realize the greater blessings He has in store for anyone willing to take Him in, He's pretty hard to refuse. When all He allows is there for our good so that we might see that He has been in the midst of us protecting, providing and loving on us, we see there is no one greater than He. Don't bite the hand that feeds you! 

He made us in His image. He gives according to His grace and mercy. He wants only to fully bless us with His Spirit, His peace, His wisdom, His strength, His love, His compassion. Glorify God, who calls Himself I AM. He alone has so much to offer. He offers Himself to you.

Ephesians 3:14-19 - For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cost of Obedience

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 - "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God..." 

In our Hebrews Bible study we have learned, although it's nothing new, that God is a God of covenant. A covenant is an oath. And since God is the one who covenanted with us, and since God does not lie, this oath and covenant to us from God, is sure. 

There is a catch, though. He has promised us great things...if we follow after Him, obey His commands, live our lives as unto the Lord and not the world. When we choose to agree that the things of this world are not nearly as important than Him, we will be blessed and not cursed. Of course, the greatest promise we have is Jesus Christ. And as obedient followers we will be blessed.

I was surprised, and yet not, that as I read in Deuteronomy, God was telling Israel after their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, how if they kept His commands He would do the same, bless them.

Here are the blessings He promised Israel thousands of years ago, and which, if we follow Jesus Christ today, include us:
  • Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. 
  • Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. 
  • Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 
  • Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. 
  • The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. 
  • The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. 
  • The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself...
  • Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. 
  • The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 
  • And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath...
The cost of obedience is blessing, blessing, blessing. We can apply these blessings to our own lives and that of our country. We have seen our country blessed for so many years. We have defeated our enemies, our land has had plentiful crops. We have had enough prosperity that we have been able to lend to others and we have not had to borrow. We have always been the nation others have looked up to.

Do I see a change? I wonder why this change is happening? Do you suppose it's because we, as a country, have been trying so hard to eliminate God in all that we do? Somewhere along the way a seed was planted. That seed, which could be deceit, has begun to grow and the seeds are being scattered into the hearts of people who do not know the God of this universe, only the gods of the world. We have chosen to take on the wrong form of pride, the wrong type of wealth, the bad attitude of it's all about me and my stuff.

Forget "mother nature" and global warming. I see 9/11 as an attack by our enemy. Who's to say God hasn't lifted His hand from our nation to let us fend for ourselves for awhile? Yes, the events taking place in the Middle East are and will have an effect on us. It's part of what I see as a worldwide curse. But our God is greater than anything that takes place in this world. Thankfully, for some, we are blessed spiritually in our knowledge of this great God...if we have chosen to follow Jesus Christ. The things of the world needn't cause us worry. We realize we don't need all the things of the world because we have the one great promise.

We need to bring God back into the picture. We must see a need in Him again. If we fail to do this, all the promises listed above will negate themselves. We will be cursed. That is the cost of disobedience.

When we are in relationship with Jesus, despite anything we might encounter in our lives, we have the assurance, the promise, that He brings to us. We will be blessed...always. The things we see happening in the world today might just be the blessings turning into curses until such time as the LORD our God brings us back from the captivity we have created in our self-centered, self-indulgent lifestyles. I think that might be when He returns again.

If we are truly in the last days as so many seem to believe (including myself), we may never see the blessings again in our nation. But that doesn't mean we can't be blessed in our own personal lives just by knowing and having relationship with the Kings of kings and the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. I'll tell you, I'm very glad this is one Promise I have. 

If you don't look forward to the future or are anxious about it because you don't know what it will hold or you aren't so sure how you will be able to put up with any disaster we might see, you might want to look up to the One where your help could come. The only way you can successfully go through with what life dishes out is with the help of Jesus Christ who wants to be your Savior.

Even in the midst of tribulation you can rely on His strength and His provision. If you look to Him He will give you a real life worth living for and a real assurance, His covenant, His oath, that you will have eternal life.

Deuteronomy 30:3,5-6 - [And the LORD your God will] have compassion on you...He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Another Type of Trinity!

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Oh my gosh. I was pondering what Jesus brings to us when we receive Him. What He gives to us, what He promises. It's all good. It's all sure and just. How could anyone, knowing these things, live without Him?

Oh, but that's just it. Knowing these things. We first must take the step to knowing Him. He doesn't just hand out these promises without our first receiving Him and committing ourselves to Him. You don't get a paycheck without first working for it...well, in most cases that's true! 

So how does this work? Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen! It's another type of trinity! And amazingly these words seem to have been spoken in just the right order.

He's the Way. The first "step" you take is following the Way. He searches you out and you make the decision to follow Him. You get on the path. You begin to follow it; you begin to follow Him. You begin to realize who He is. You see a need for Him. You accept Him and begin to trust Him. You begin to realize His love for you. He loves you so much that chose to die for you.

Once you've decided the Way to go and begin to learn about Him, you start hearing His words and taking them to heart. You see He speaks the truth. He becomes your Truth. You view things differently because He has begun to transform your life, your way of thinking. The truth has an amazing effect on feel oppression being released. The Truth sets you free.

When you are free from oppression, free from your guilty past and you realize He has set you free, you have new life. He is our Life. 2Corinthians 5:17 tells us if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! It is He who brings new life here on earth. We have found our way to the Truth. He brings the best kind of life if we have received Him...eternal life.

Whatever troubles we have in this world, there is a supernatural hope hidden's true!'s the hope that after we've endured our life on earth we will be assured of the promise of eternal life with Christ when this life is done.

I've recently heard of a preacher who is coming out with a book that debunks hell. The book is Love Wins by Rob Bell. He claims no one will go there because there isn't one. Everyone will go to heaven. This is nonsense. Hell, Sheol and Hades, are all spoken of in the Bible and none are portrayed as pleasant places. If there is no hell why did Jesus have to come to earth, live among sinful man in His holy state, urge people to come to Him and follow Him, be allowed public mockery, arrest, false accusation and death? He could have stayed in heaven with His Father.

But God...thankfully there was a reason He came to earth. To be our Way, Truth and Life...that we could regain access to the Father that had been removed in the Garden of Eden.

None of us deserves Jesus or eternal life or the salvation that brings those things. But He loved us so much and as a song by Jody Mcbrayer says "'cause You would rather die than live alone without me."

1John 5:20 - And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Psalm 33

Psalm 33:4 - For the word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth. 

It all began when I felt led to read Psalm 33. I wondered what I would find. I wondered why I felt drawn to it.  So I read it. Verse 4 stood out and I read it over a couple of times and took the words in. Shouldn't this be the bottom line in the world? Doing right and living out truth, honesty?

God's Word is right; it is just and filled with truth. I talk about the truth of God's Word a lot. God does not lie. If we love Him and we follow Him He is good to us. If we do not know Him, we need to. He blesses beyond our imagination if we take the time to recognize everything He has given us...and if we take the time to thank Him and worship Him...praise Him with a shout of joy and a new song.

This world is out of control and He knows it. He sees whom He has created destroying one another. Lies and deception, even if they seem small, add up. One builds on another. He sees what is happening before it does. Man will destroy earth. But God...will bring new life. He will sustain those He has called and who have heard that call and taken the privilege upon themselves to answer that call and be chosen of God. He will lead them into their own promised that lies ahead. But we need to be living in truth and righteousness. I comes from knowing God and knowing His Word.

Oh, that the world would see Him and fear Him instead of demanding their own ways and living their own lives and destroying instead of building up. There will be a destruction in the lives of those who don't take Him seriously. These people, and they might be our own neighbors, family or friends, who cannot grasp the concept of a God so powerful whose only desire is that all mankind would receive Him, are missing out on something great.

Only God can renew our strength in a good way. Only He is able to provide when we think there is nothing left. Only He can put peace in our hearts when we are in a quandary. He is all we will ever man, no idol, no government can do this for us. If you truly want "change," go to the Source of true change, not some manmade idea of change. Man's way fails, but His ways are true and just. Jesus will change your life, your heart, your mind and He will fill it with His truth. He will show you the way to walk, guide your path and even lighten it, both so you can see the path and you can carry on without a heavy burden.

Jesus is our strength when all else fails. He opens blind eyes, deaf ears and dull minds, and heals heavy hearts. He has promised us life after death...if we choose to look to Him, fear Him, listen to Him and follow Him with our whole hearts.

I just needed to share the entire Psalm. You will see He is the Alpha and Omega, first and last, beginning and end for all who choose to receive what He has to offer. Praise God for what He has created...what He has given us...for His Son whom He has given us...and where our eternal life will be if we give our lives to Jesus.

This Psalm is filled with promise for those who choose the Lord. It will raise up the godly and tear down the ungodly. He sees into the hearts of man and judges accordingly. If we follow Him and obey Him we are blessed. This is for all who decide that God's Word is right and His works done in truth.

Psalm 33
        1Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous! 
        For praise from the upright is beautiful. 
        2Praise the LORD with the harp; 
        Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings. 
        3Sing to Him a new song; 
        Play skillfully with a shout of joy. 

        4For the word of the LORD is right, 
        And all His work is done in truth. 
        5He loves righteousness and justice; 
        The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. 

        6By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, 
        And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. 
        7He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; 
        He lays up the deep in storehouses. 

        8Let all the earth fear the LORD; 
        Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. 
        9For He spoke, and it was done; 
        He commanded, and it stood fast. 

        10The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; 
        He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. 
        11The counsel of the LORD stands forever, 
        The plans of His heart to all generations. 
        12Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, 
        The people He has chosen as His own inheritance. 

        13The LORD looks from heaven; 
        He sees all the sons of men. 
        14From the place of His dwelling He looks 
        On all the inhabitants of the earth; 
        15He fashions their hearts individually; 
        He considers all their works. 

        16No king is saved by the multitude of an army; 
        A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. 
        17A horse is a vain hope for safety; 
        Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. 

        18Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, 
        On those who hope in His mercy, 
        19To deliver their soul from death, 
        And to keep them alive in famine. 

        20Our soul waits for the LORD; 
        He is our help and our shield. 
        21For our heart shall rejoice in Him, 
        Because we have trusted in His holy name. 
        22Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, 
        Just as we hope in You.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Though the Mountains Shake

Psalm 46:1-7, 10-11 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us...Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us... Selah

Who can deny what we see happening in the world? And devastation grows. In the end, God will be glorified. How, in the midst of all this destruction? Why is this happening? Perhaps as a warning...perhaps He desires to have you seek Him. We do not know all the things of God.  

I hear that there are those who claim what we see happening is because of global warming or mother nature (ugh). They do, however, agree that what we are seeing is "unprecedented." In an Examiner article it was suggested: ...there is another explanation that needs to be examined. And quickly for those not aware. This explanation offers a hope in connection with it and a promise from the very creator of the earth. 

That explanation, that hope, is Jesus Christ. I'm so glad I have this Savior who I can count on for strength, peace, wisdom and protection. You know...He protects His own! Could it just be He is wanting to get the attention of those who are not aware?

The world looks to answers in their own way. Often their answers do not provide continuous peace, rather a temporary sort. People will return over and over to searching for a cure-all that will satisfy their fears. They will constantly search via man's wisdom and they will not find it. There is only one way to have permanent peace in the midst of trials. Through Jesus Christ. Instead of searching the news, a crystal ball or the stock market for a word of hope, look up and search the things of God. Look up to the God of all creation, who has given us a promise like no other. He gave us His Son, Jesus, to allow us to secure this promise.

While catching just a split second glimpse of the news about the tsunami in Japan, I saw a solitary stranded car. I could see it's license plate. Although there were probably letters and numbers, all I saw was "3 16." Of course I was immediately taken to the scripture in John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. It's a reminder of the great love and the great promises of God. This is for the people of Japan as well as all people. 

Those who are not aware need to hear of this hope they can have. You might ask how I can feel I am under God's protection when all these recent disturbances are happening? 

Let me tell matter what happens in our lives, whether war, persecution, famine, drought or pestilence, if we know that we know we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our future is secure. We have eternal life to always look forward to, we will not perish...even if we experience tragedy, like Japan or unrest like Cairo, Libya or whatever the next great uprising will be...and we will have eternal life.

When the world is in the midst of worry, concerned about it's future, we can have the assurance that we are covered by the blood of Jesus. If we have received Him, are filled with His Holy Spirit of promise, follow Him, trust in Him, and are obedient to Him, there is nothing man or this world can do to take away the life we will have at the end of our own earthly life. Hallelujah! 

Nothing in this world can save us. Nothing. There is only One who can. I cling to this promise of God and you can too:

Romans 8:38-39 - For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wait and See

Psalm 73:26 - My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I've been somewhat burdened in my heart about our church. We have gone through several difficult times ... or has it just seemed like times when in actuality it's been a constant thing and there have just been times of respite? Whatever the case, if feels like we are in a place where we are about as low as we can go! It seems the only way is up and the only way up is by God's hand outstretched to pull us up. Man can do nothing right now. And yet there's also a realization that we could still have more difficulties ahead.

There have been changes and changes and more changes. I believe that is good despite being in the midst of what seems unsettling. And this is not to say I am always burdened. I still enjoy fellowshipping in Sunday school and enjoy the fresh messages and style of a new pastor and the in-depth Bible studies we have in Women's Ministries.

Yesterday as I was driving home from running a couple errands I was thinking again...or was it yet...about how long we've waited to sense the true presence of God in our church. Was I missing something? Has everyone? I recalled years ago when the sifting and shaking began under the leadership of a new pastor. People left in clumps. Some were friends to me, this somewhat new, yet beginning to grow, Christian. I looked up to these women. I wanted to be like them.

And then they left. And I sensed they left with the wrong heart attitude and I was confused. I pleaded with God, "What am I supposed to do? Am I missing something here? Why do I not feel I should leave? Who am I, Lord, still learning, to recognize the attitudes of these mature Christians? Might not all that is happening be part of Your will...and they don't see it? Might You have been determined to move them on to another level somewhere else? Might You have needed them in another church?" Oh, the questions. 

I'll tell you, I was confused. I know we are none of us perfect and prone to let our human emotions take over...if we are not first seeking God in whatever the circumstance might be. I just didn't get it!

So on my way home yesterday the barrage of thoughts. And that still small voice that I mentioned yesterday reminded me once again of what He had said years ago as an answer to all my questions. The answer back then wasn't exactly definitive about why these people left because I think I already knew, but He was concerned just with me for the moment. As if He were right next to me I heard: "I want you to stay, dig in your heels, get involved and watch what I'm going to do." Wow, talk about a wake up call! In essence, wait on Him but busy myself in that wait.

So, like I said, yesterday I was reminded of those words about waiting to see what He was going to do. As they crept through my mind, I opened my mouth and out loud said, "But God" and stopped immediately. I don't know if I stopped myself or God did. I just clamped my mouth shut, knowing I shouldn't--or couldn't--go on. I might even have put my hand over it. And the words came to me again, gently yet firmly, "Wait and see what I am going to do."

That little exclamation...but God! It has two meanings. For me yesterday it meant "How long, O Lord?" Today I realize "but God" means nothing is impossible with God, He's still in control, trust in Him, and He is able...wait on Him.

If you are waiting for that one thing, or more, for God to move on, know that He's not finished. There are things He still needs to do to behind the scenes, occurrences need to happen, people to set in place...or removed...even more personal pruning, for everything to be just according to His timely-mannered plan. He knows what needs to be done. If we knew it too, and understood why we needed to wait, we wouldn't need to rely on Him. We would not need to trust Him. He's never too early or too late. The wait will be worth it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Listening for God?

1Kings 19:12 - ...and after...a still small voice.

There's an account in the Old Testament about the prophet Elijah. He had been warning the people of Israel, and this is just as relevant today as it was then, about worshiping anything other than God.

He'd been faithful to speak the words God had given him to relay to these people. They weren't listening; they weren't hearing God's voice through this prophet. He was tired. What's more, Israel was threatening to kill him if he didn't stop. He stole away for safety and to complain to God that his work had not panned out. He needed a word from God for himself. 

He was met in the desert by an angel of the LORD. He was told to search out a certain mountain and he would experience God's presence. So Elijah traveled 40 days and 40 nights until he came to Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God, where he would have this encounter. The next day he was told to go to the top of the mountain and stand there and wait. God would pass by. As the account states:

1Kings 19:11-12 - and behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the  LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice.

I'm often curious about the disasters in the world. Could it be He wants us to warn us? The warning might be that He has told us in His Word that days like we are now seeing will precede Jesus' second coming. Could these things be considered the voice of God? Like we read above, He is not in the strong wind, earthquake or fire, but it's after these things...that still small voice that comes out of the disaster as a warning.

With the world so filled with noise and busyness, with radios and televisions, CDs and the everyday racket of phones, cars, trucks and the endless barrage of people talking (loud enough for everyone to hear) on cell phones everywhere, is it any wonder we can't hear Him? I know many do not want to hear, do not like quiet, do not want to understand the things of God. But for those of you who are curious....

Have you ever wondered if you've heard Him? Try spending time without all the clutter of noise around you. Try quieting your environment and try listening. You might just hear Him. You might be surprised to find He's been wanting to get your attention for awhile but you've not allowed yourself to slow down and be in a quiet place.

I love my quiet time. A lot of people know this. When I'm alone I'm always in some sort of discussion, whether it's with God or myself thinking about Him, maybe a form of talking to Him. Sometimes these discussions produce a blog! 

I like to take a few days every so often and just drive the back roads of Wisconsin. No radio, no CD. Horrors, some might say. No music? No talk radio? Yes, just the quiet and God's creation...and a camera. I covet these times too. His voice is very quiet on these road trips...sometimes all I sense is His magnificent artistic style in what I see. He doesn't need to say anything! It's all right there for me to see. I can recall what His Word tells me about His creation. I might sense a voice showing me where to look.

In a book I'm reading for Sunday school called The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels, he tells us that Elijah met with God through His creation and it changed his life forever. Like the event from 1Kings above, our lives can be impacted by a word that is just perfect for us to understand this amazing God we have. Elijah found out two things about Him: He's relational and He is near. Listen to more that Hybels writes:

He's all-powerful, yes. He is righteous and holy too. He is sovereign, he is majestic, he is magnificent, he is just. But what stunned Elijah on the side of that mountain--and what will stun you someday if it hasn't already--is that the same God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-everything, yearns to be in relationship with us. The God of the Scriptures is irrepressibly communal, hopelessly familial, and his whispers are still ours to hear. 

Imagine that. He wants to talk to us. He created us for this very reason...and the people of Israel tuned Him out. They wouldn't listen to Him; not even through someone else. Are you listening? Do you long to hear His voice?

Doesn't this pique your interest? To hear the voice of God? Wouldn't you like to know what He has to say to you? I remember that this was the one thing that sold me on going to church one Sunday. Little did I realize that I had had a form of desperation that afternoon. I was drawn to church the next morning and I received Him. I heard His voice in church through the words of the pastor and life's never been the same.

We can hear His voice in the smallest of things. It doesn't have to be a booming voice that will knock you to your feet. I believe it can even be in the small things that happen around us, like in His creation. He can be seen and heard in it all. But He especially wants to whisper to you. Spending time in prayer can bring a word if you can silence yourself and listen instead of always wanting to speak. He wants your attention so He can talk to you. Listen, do you hear Him? What is He telling you? 

His Word is a good place to "hear" Him speak also! Receive the Word of God with an open heart. Receive the Lord and His Spirit will help you to hear His voice. He will show you what you need to know, help you understand the things of life. Listen to what He has to say. Could He be talking to you?

To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? ...blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear... (Jeremiah 6:10, Matthew 13:16)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

In His Arms

Deuteronomy 33:27 - The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms...

I saw a cute and curious thing as I drove up the road to our house in our subdivision Sunday morning! There was this very tall man walking alongside the road. As I passed I turned to look to see who it was and wave. What I saw sparked something in my spirit ever so sweetly and powerfully. I had to look in the rearview mirror to catch another glimpse.

This man was walking his dog; however, the little canine was securely nestled in this man's arm and was being carried home. A whole new take on walking your dog. But what struck me was I immediately sensed the Lord saying, "This is how I carry you in your difficult moments. I have held you tightly in my arms. I will carry you." 

Whether we are going through difficult times in our personal lives or we just see the world's unrest and wonder where we are headed, we can have the peace that passes all understanding when we have Christ to carry us through these things. Do you rely on your own strength or do you look up to where your help can come from? When we receive Christ we then may rest in His arm and trust Him for all things. It takes some faith to do this, but the sooner you know Christ not, the faster that faith will come.

I'm certain we are seeing things happening in this world that will bring us to a place we've not experienced. How are we going to handle it? It's wise to be prepared physically; but it's even wiser to have a deep seated, spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. If He is a very real part of your life, you will never be alone in this world. When all else fails or falls around you, He will be there to carry you in His arms.

There's a prerequisite to having this assurance, however. That is knowing Jesus personally, receiving Him into your life and into your heart...going beyond just knowing who He is. That's a difficult concept to explain...the difference between knowing who He is and knowing Him intimately. It's a heart issue rather than a head issue. You can know Him in your head, but have you allowed that knowledge to settle in your heart? 

Some of us have received Christ by saying a prayer. It's called a sinner's prayer. But it goes much deeper than the words of a prayer. Anyone can say they've said this prayer and then go about their lives without any sort of change. It's those who have said this prayer and taken it to heart and gone about searching deeper for the true meaning of who Christ is who have learned the difference between knowing who He is and knowing Him intimately. A change takes place that is recognizable.

You've seen the Footprints poem that describes the two sets of footprints in the sand that eventually turn into one. When we know Jesus deep within our spirits, He is there for us. He carries us through the difficult times in our lives. You can even look back sometime, like in the poem, and see where you were carried by Him...if you have received Him. 

Oh, I don't doubt for a minute He's walking beside those who don't know Him...yet...waiting for a time when they will give all their troubles to Him. I am able to see that in my own life. I see the people that were brought into my life who caused me to wonder...that wonder was God's nudging. And then one day He became so real to me that I had no choice but to ask Him into my life. 

Jesus is very real. He exists for those who acknowledge Him as an important part of their life. He's got His eyes on everyone, but we all need to make the decision, as Billy Graham would say, for Christ. In other words, we need to make peace with God. 

We are seeing things taking place in this world that are confusing and maybe even causing concern. Where are we headed? How will all this turn out? Jesus Himself talks about these days. He talks about the birth pangs:

Matthew 24:6-8 - And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. 

These things are happening. Just look at the news. A friend and I were talking before church Sunday morning about how when we first received Christ we heard that Jesus was coming soon. For her it was 25 years ago; for me only 12. Neither of us have seen His return; neither have you! In the New Testament we have been warned He is the "soon coming King." There will always be the scoffers who say, "Well, if He hasn't come yet, whose to say He ever will?" Oh, and there are those who state specifically the day Jesus will return. Don't listen to them! No one knows the day or the hour He will return except God. Matthew 24:36 - "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." 

I wish I could go into detail about how over the past years more of biblical prophecy has taken place. The more things that can be checked off the list, the nearer is His return. 

For those who have a relationship with Jesus, we are not as anxious about what we see happening in the world. Yes, it's troubling, and yes, we will have to go through some difficult times, but, as another sweet, older friend said after I asked what she thought about what's going on in the Middle East, "That means Jesus is returning soon." The gleam in her eye and the smile on her face were precious. There's the difference between those who share in the blessings of Christ through a relationship with Him and those who do not. Why would anyone not want to have this assurance and this sense of peace?

We must be ready today, not tomorrow for His return. Any one of us could die in an instant. If you don't know for sure where you will go when you die, call on the Lord. Ask Him to speak to you. Ask Him to show you how real He is. If you receive Christ, you can rely on Him for all things, He will be all you ever need, you will be secure in His arms and He will carry you home. You will be safe in His arms.

Psalm 71:3 - Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Nothing But the Blood

Leviticus 17:11 - For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
I couldn't wait to get home and put my thoughts into words. As I was driving home from church I had the blood of Jesus on my mind. I was thinking about something I had been listening to on a CD and my participation in communion yesterday morning. And my mind, as it often does, began to reel.
When I got home I immediately had to look up scriptures on blood. Blood in the Bible goes way back to Genesis and I'll bet it is mentioned in one way or another in every book of the Bible all the way to Revelation. How could it not? This blood points to Jesus. It is the blood. It is His blood that is hidden in the Old Testament sacrifices that were required to atone for man's sin back then. And that sacrifice came alive in the form of a Man who lived among us that He might do away with all those Old Testament blood sacrifices. 
I researched the meaning of the word blood from the Old Testament and the New. At first I was confused because the very first definition of blood was blood! Okaaayyyy... So I followed all the root words until I came to the very most primitive root word's definition. How appropriate that the first meaning (remember. God is the first and the last, Alpha and Omega, beginning and end) was: to rinse, cleanse away by rinsing, cast out, purge, wash, washing. Now we were getting somewhere. God had us on His mind even at the mention of blood so long ago. 
It is the blood of Jesus, the very same blood that was shed 2,000 years ago on the cross, that still today, spiritually, cleanses away our sin and purges us of all impurities. This can only happen when we give our lives to Christ. We cannot earn this great a salvation by anything we do. We must receive our hearts and lives. We must understand that He has done a marvelous thing for us. We must not casually think because we know who Christ is that we are redeemed by His blood. It has to become personal...between Jesus and yourself. It has to come in the form of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The New Testament definition of blood was: of man or animals; referring to the seat of life; blood shed (as opposed to bloodshed). In the Old Testament it was the shedding of the blood of animals as sacrifices; in the New, it was one Man's blood shed for us. 

We are told in the Old Testament scripture above that life is in the blood. This scripture could very well be Jesus speaking to us today. In a way it is since the Bible is the Word of God and since Jesus is God, then these were inspired by Him. Without blood we cannot survive. And that's what God is trying to tell us from Genesis to Revelation...that without the blood of Jesus to atone for our sins we are dead. We are not truly alive until that time we seek Him and receive Him and believe that He just is and that His blood was shed for us and covers us from the time we receive Him until the day we die.

In the Old Testament when people offered animals for sacrifices, it was their hands that killed the animal. These animals had to be perfect, spotless. It might have become more than just an animal; it might have been special, like a pet. So when they killed that animal, and the blood covered their hands, it was personal. Imagine having to sacrifice a favored pet! This is so symbolic of how we put Jesus on that cross; how He was offered up, His blood was shed...for us. His blood was and is on our hands. It is I and it is you who put Him on the cross. But the good news is He chose to be put there because He loves us so much.

With the New Testament and the advent of Christ, a new covenant was formed. This is the one between God and us. Jesus became that new covenant. Before Jesus was arrested and as He shared the last supper with His disciples, He said:  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28). 

What does it mean to receive the "blood of the Lamb?" He sets us free from our sins. He takes us out of the captivity we've lived with up until this time. We are dead in our sins and we are held captive by them until we receive Christ, when He saves us from God's wrath in the last days and we are redeemed. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. (Romans 5:9, Ephesians 1:7)

When we receive Christ we regain the access to God through the blood of Jesus. We are separated from Him until we do this. We once were far off, as Ephesians 2:13 tells us, but we are now brought the blood of Christ. Where once it was the blood of animals, now it is through the blood of Christ. Old Testament sacrifices, New Covenant sacrifice. One Man offering one life, once, for all who will receive it. All things are made new. We are made new. We are made whole.

To borrow a line from an old song: What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Revelation 1:5 - ...and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood...

Friday, March 4, 2011

How Much is Enough?

1 Corinthians 13:1-2 - Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 

This is truly a rambling day....those last words are hard...I am nothing. I speak about the Lord, the importance of relationship with Him, knowing Him with every fiber of our being, trusting in Him for all things in life. We are absolutely nothing without Him. And that's where most in the world are...nothing without Him, lost without realizing it.

But then the thought comes to mind...I've missed something in my life. I've missed having siblings, as much as some have difficulties with theirs. I've missed being a parent. Those are times where true love is built up within a person. I've missed not knowing how to fully care for someone, how to share my life and time. I learned how to take care of myself having been an only child. I've had only rare occasions to truly get close to someone. I find it so easy to be on my own doing my own thing. But is that healthy? Aren't we supposed to share our time with others? Where's the love in independence? Where's the sharing?

Without constant, close association to others how do I learn to love with all my heart? How do I fully grasp the concept of an Almighty God and spiritual Father who loves me more than anyone else ever could? It's hard, especially when my earthly father was pretty much "absent" in my life until it was too late. No wonder I'm drawn to independence.

I believe with all my heart I am longing and will always long for my Heavenly Father. But how do I know for sure when I missed close connection and understanding with my earthly father? When you have not known your father or have lost a father and missed all this, how can you imagine the love of God?
The story of the prodigal son comes to mind. His son chose to leave the household, take his inheritance and live as he saw fit. He squandered his money and eventually realized his mistake. He humbled himself and went back home. I'm sure all the time he wondered if his father would forgive him or whether he would allow him to set foot in that house again. But when he was still some distance from home, his father recognized him and ran out to meet him, arms wide open. This is what our Heavenly Father, once we have received Him, will do for us. It's hard to imagine anyone doing this for can we imagine a Heaven Father doing it? That's real love.

That's how we should be in all our dealings with all the people we come into contact with. We love them. We are to love our enemies! So the thought that comes to my mind is how do I know how much I love? God commands us to love one another as He has loved us. How much is enough? There are times when it's easy to love; other times when I should and I can't. Sometimes I do and I don't, like a love/hate relationship, which shouldn't be in the first place! I'm thinking I'm in a place right now where the Lord needs to work with me on this. Our love is to be patient, kind, not envious, boastful or proud. Maybe it isn't where the Lord needs to work with me but that God is wanting or going to do this in my life.

I've read one thing after another lately and the Lord has shown me each all boils down to this love. I might love for a season. I might love some. But has love conquered my soul? Maybe I just don't recognize what it looks like. Who will ever tell me where I lack? Without love...I am nothing. That's a hard word for me. I don't want to be without my own heart for others. I need it from God but I also need to be able to do it.

The Bible is all about love. God created the world that we might have a "lovely" place to live. He created us that He might commune with us and show us His love. He sent His own Son down from Heaven to live among us. Jesus is love. He exuded love, He shared His love, He was our example. God loved us so much that when we were yet sinners, He gave us Jesus to die for us. The greatest Commandment is that we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind and the next one is to love one another as we love ourselves. How do we know when we do this? How do we know if we love ourselves...and is it a good love of ourselves?

I know I can't blame my parents for lack of showing love; they had their own problems, their own family upbringing, which is predominantly that self-restraining German type! They withheld. I think many come into relationships with baggage. And sometimes instead of discussing these things we push them deeper and deeper down as if to hide them, hoping they will go away. But what does God do? He reminds us! He will bring up things that we might think on them and think about what He has to say about it, listen to His voice. He's calling this to my attention!

I recently heard a woman's account of how she spent four intense hours with God. He allowed her to see that she was no more than a pile of ashes but out of those ashes came a figure of gold, pure and refined. Our lives must become nothing more than a pile of ashes before the Lord. It is in this time that He works to refine us. The difficulties in our lives, the tears we cry, all are part of the refining process. And we should be thankful for those times. 

I pray that God will refine the very basic emotion of love in my life, that He show me what He requires of me. I just want genuine love for all people, at all times. I want God's heart of love for all people. Psalm 34 says The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Let my plea be for this broken heart and contrite spirit.

I know there is a day coming when all God's children will need to have this heart because of the things happening in this world. A heart of criticism or without compassion will not do. There is a shoe about to drop and we need to be ready. We need to be able to share God's love with a world that is lost and headed for destruction. Right now I sense we are in a time of waiting for the Lord to move. We are to be ready now, but something's ahead where we will have to move. While we wait maybe we need to be refined, in whatever area we need. There is something in each of us that needs to be dealt with. For me that first a refining in my own heart, that I might have His heart with His love, the only action that truly counts.

Psalm 34:13-16 - Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.