Thursday, June 30, 2011

His Truth Is Marching On

Psalm 119:89, 142, 152 -  Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true. Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.

We've all heard the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It was introduced to us during the time of the Civil War, around 1862. Julia Ward Howe was asked to write words that could be used by infantrymen as they marched.

There are originally six stanzas and not very strangely at all, five can be referenced to certain scriptures in the Bible. There truly was a time when God was reverenced.

As we sang this song last Sunday (it is really an old church hymn) the words His truth is marching on stood out as it was repeatedly sung. Look at these stanzas carefully:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

There will be a day when Jesus returns to fight one last battle against the enemy of the world. We will know that He is here. And He will fight the battle as spoken of in His Word...His terrible swift sword.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.

Those who know this God and stand by His Word have built their altar to the One they worship...even on the physical battlefield. We may fight against man, but in the spiritual, we fight another kind of enemy. Thankfully, we have His Word to show us how the final battle will come out. It will be marvelous.

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.

We are promised that God will deal with those who condemn Him. He also has promised that His grace will cover those who call Him LORD. The Hero born of woman is, of course, Jesus, and He will in time crush the enemy. The enemy is His footstool (Psalm 110:1).

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.

We are going through a time of sifting today, during these days of battle against God and His Word in this world. There will be judgment against those who persist in ignoring the call of God. Be swift to answer Him. 

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
While God is marching on.

We as believers have received this holiness and we are free through the saving grace of Jesus. We must continue to uphold His Word and stand by it in this world where some think God is not a necessary lifestyle. This country was born across the sea...that we would have freedom...we need to continue to fight for it. We need to have Him as our foundation.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.

What more can I say to this? Christ will return and justice will be met. 

Oh, believe me, our God is marching on. There is no beginning nor end to our God. The truth of who He is and the truth of His Word will never fade. It will continue as long as there is life on this earth! People can try to squelch it, ban it, reject it, argue about it, attempt to discredit or say it contradicts itself. In the final end truth will come out and the Word of God will be realized for what it is: the truth

Our God will march on until the end of life on this earth. Those who stand on His Word will glory in what He has promised us. Reread the third stanza. Those who stand on His Word will be victorious in the battle with our enemy. God will defend His followers, His inheritance and children.

This is not just a song to boost the strength of conviction to continue in physical battle or a patriotic song we sing on certain holidays. It is a word to us about how we can receive the power and strength of our God who marches on before us if we choose to believe that He is. 

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Isaiah 40:8 - The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.

Monday, June 27, 2011

America, Blessed by God

Psalm 33:12 - Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. 

I love this portion of Psalm 33. I had chosen this verse for a time to add to the end my emails. We are entering into a time of celebration for the freedom this country has fought for...the freedom we still need to fight for. And yesterday our church celebrated America. We had an early celebration of our nation, honoring the servicemen and women from our church with a presentation of the flags of their respective branches of military. And we thanked God for His hand in giving us this country. This nation has been gloriously blessed by God. 

Our Pastor, Rory Grooters, spoke on our development. He said something that I had a miniscule thought on earlier in the week about patriotism without God. Only I couldn't quite put my thoughts into words until he spoke them: there is a secular patriotism and a sacred one...political ideas and ideology should not lead us away from God. 

He talked about George Washington. This nation truly was founded on biblical principles. It's why we have survived 235 years of success because God's blessing has been upon us. Other empires have not put their sole foundation on the God of all creation and they have crumbled. Look at Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the USSR. Where was God? It can be a worry sometimes to think that if God is successfully removed from this country what will happen to us. And yet...if there remains a remnant of true believers, we could see continued blessing.

There was a great group of people who left the confines of Great Britain that they might have freedom from oppression. They left that the freedom to worship God unhindered would be attained. They were under God's protective care as they set off for America and later fought to continue this freedom...because they humbled themselves to our Lord and Maker.

George Washington was a man of prayer. Hear the heart of a humble man who knew that only God could sustain:

       O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul....
       Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life bless my family, friends, and kindred.

This man knew the importance of Divine guidance. Some, but not all, presidents have or have had this same humbleness of nature and dependence upon a awe inspiring, faithful, powerful God. 

Washington wrote years after the war: “The man must be bad indeed who can look upon the events of the American Revolution without feeling the warmest gratitude toward the great Author of the Universe whose divine interposition was so frequently manifested in our behalf.” Benjamin Franklin, who was somewhat skeptical of a Divine Creator, spoke these words: “I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men.” Hallelujah!

Zechariah 4:6 is a perfect example of the beliefs spoken by these two men: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the LORD of hosts. Our God is a powerful God. This nation has truly been blessed because of the freedom we have today to worship Him as we wish, and because of His love for us...because we have devoted ourselves to the worship of an Almighty God. Psalm 33:4-5 - ...all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice.

We also honored our servicemen and women, as we always do around this time of year. It's always a heartwarming thing to see the flags of the branches of service presented in church by those who are serving and have served. These men and women serve, like Jesus served, for our freedom. They fight the enemies of our nation for our freedom. Jesus fights for the enemy of our soul that we might have spiritual freedom in Christ. 

However, the freedom we can have in Christ is not temporary. The Words of the Lord are true: He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. His mercies are extended to those who receive Him. We can be part of His chosen people. We can be forgiven and set free of the things  of this world that do not last forever. The only true freedom is in the Lord Jesus Christ. With Him by our side we need nothing else. He is our all in all. 

Let the cry of our hearts be that our Lord would rise up in our hearts and especially in the hearts of those who aren't familiar with His lovingkindness. Just as this nation was founded on the principles of God, let our lives have the same foundational principles. Without God, without Jesus, without His Holy Spirit, we are helpless, lost individuals. We are without a true Hope. Psalm 112: 1 -  Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who delights greatly in His commandments. We all need a Savior and He is there for the asking. He will meet you just where you are. Take Him up on the invitation to meet with Him.

Oh, Lord, that You would provide additional proof today of our sovereignty on this earth. How You do preserve those who are in relationship with You, how You do give us pleasant sleep, refreshment and strength to carry on each day. How a person could survive without this assurance is a difficult thing to imagine. We praise You, Lord, for your Divine mercies, mercies which are new every morning. Release Your power into the hearts of the people of this nation.

Psalm 33:22 - Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wow, What Just Happened?

Isaiah 55:10-11 - "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

We have a God who cares, one who loves, one who protects and one who wants to see us have life...and have it abundantly...not in the way the world imagines life, but the way He has always purposed it to be...for those who desire to live it according to His perfect plan. He wants us to believe and trust in Him for ALL things.

We have a God who is in control of all things, too. And part of our life here on earth is to praise Him in all things. As He has said above that when His Word goes forth, it will be. He spoke the world into creation. His Word tells us all about life, its trials, its joys, His promises. And He will do what His Word says He will, at the prescribed times. At the same time if we speak forth His Word, believing it to be true, it will not return to Him void. 

So where am I headed with this?

This world has a lot to offer. For many, we have it made: it's a home, more than one car, children, a good job, food on the table, pets, a place of rest at night. Many have the ability to have conveniences, maybe more than needed. There are vacations and beautiful things to see and places to experience. Oh, God has provided these things, to be sure. He wants us to enjoy this life. We see things shifting a bit. Maybe we've taken advantage of all that we have or we feel, not so much privileged, but expecting the good life to continue.

But this is our earthly domain. These things are just that, things. They get lost, break (and replaced with bigger and better) or destroyed. How do we deal with that when it happens?

We've seen quite an eventful year of tornadoes, tsunamis, floods, fires and earthquakes. Lots of devastation. People's lives lost, property gone. Lives in upheaval. I don't know how I would take something like that without the peace that passes all understanding in Jesus Christ.

This week we had our own severe thunderstorms in the Midwest. And to add to that, our house got struck by lightning! Of course this is nothing in comparison to the other huge things that have happened. 

Now I don't fully understand the dimension of being struck. It didn't seem to damage the house; we didn't go up flames. But maybe there are some unseen things to be wary of. Time will tell. What was eerie was I was what seemed four feet from the strike, right outside a window where I was cleaning. Either it wasn't a bad strike, if there can be such a thing, or Someone was watching over the house and me. Yes, the damage will be somewhat costly due to the things that were pretty much fried.  

I have learned that patience is very necessary in all this. I've had that peace all along after the initial moment of "Wow, what just happened?" You learn to find new ways to do some things. Like using a broom and dust pan because the central vac fried. And thank heavens for cell phones because the phones are all dead. Thank heavens the cell phone connects to Internet!

It's a storm of life, although one of a smaller scale. Yes, there could be unseen electrical damage which needs to be checked. But we've been fortunate so far. I'm trusting God will keep us safe until all is resolved. I'm trusting He will protect. Trusting He will provide any miracle that we might not even be aware no electrical damage throughout the house.

So, in the meantime I am proclaiming verbally, because it's always good to speak His Word forth, Psalm 107:1-2 - Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! And His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so. Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy... Remember, we do not fight against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

This might sound like a stretch to some. However, anything that might tend to wear us thin, cause concern, is exactly how our enemy the devil can work in our lives to cause us concern. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask Him for His peace and protection...and God's favor for a good word from an electrician regarding wiring!

I'm believing He will "deliver" us out of this. He will deliver us out of any stresses that might occur, but I'm at such peace! Thank You, Lord! Psalm 107:8 - Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

I'm reminded of what Joseph, a godly man, said after going through some dreadful times being abandoned purposely by jealous brothers and living a most difficult life of captivity in Egypt. When God brought him back into relationship with his family...and his brothers...he said, But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.

Sure this was an act of nature. But who might have had His hand of protection on us? My shield of faith is raised to ward off any fiery darts of the enemy!

So my sacrifice is the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Thanks that it wasn't worse. I will declare His works with rejoicing (Psalm 107:22). He calms any storm that might arise in my spirit and brings a stillness (Psalm 107:29).

Psalm 107:43 - Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

IF We....

Nehemiah 9:27 - Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who oppressed them; and in the time of their trouble, when they cried to You, You heard from heaven; and according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them from the hand of their enemies. 

Yes, God's mercy is great toward us...if we humble ourselves before Him. God always inserts this if into everything. He is not a gray area. His truth is not a gray area. His covenant with His people is only contingent upon our willingness to yield to Him.

This is a continuation of my Friday blog, a recalling of all the good God has done. From creation to the show of His love, provision, growth, protection...and judgment and mercy. This can be for us if we will truly understand and turn from our wicked ways as a world, nation, church and individuals. Seems a dauntless task.

Despite the repeated falling away of His people, Israel, He always showed mercy when they realized once again their need for Him. He waits for us today to return to much as He desires others to come to Him for the first time.

If we as a people, a nation, a world or church would do as in the scripture above, He could have mercy on us also. We could see ourselves delivered into the hands of our enemies some day. We might be experiencing that already. When was the last time we as a country returned to God, cried out to Him that He might deliver us?

Maybe this all sounds a bit can we return to God? Maybe fight against those whose thoughts against Christian prayer in school, removal of the name of God, the watering down of the true meaning of the Gospel. It troubles me even the best people, Christians no less, will allow this to happen.

Nehemiah 9:29 says it all: ... That You might bring them back to Your law. Yet they acted proudly, and did not heed Your commandments, but sinned against Your judgments, 'Which if a man does, he shall live by them.' And they shrugged their shoulders, stiffened their necks, and would not hear. I'm thankful for one thing. The Lord knows who is for or against such things. He knows who the enemy is. I'm thankful that despite what we see happening, He will be my protection and provision when the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy in the physical world...unless I choose to go the way of the world, unless I choose to let the world filter into my life and I become accustomed to it. He is a gracious and merciful God to those who call Him their God, their Lord and Savior, who keeps His covenant with His people.

I had a discussion with a woman I'd only known three hours. We discussed the watering down of the Gospel message in many of today's it is happening in her church, to the point where she will not attend, although her husband is employed there...not pastoral staff. He realizes where the church is going...but it is a job! 

And I read an article this morning about a man with a television ministry who will no longer support a particular Christian station because they don't want him to speak harshly against some things which we need to be so very aware of these days...and not allow our churches to partake in. The issue: for the sake of not becoming offensive, taking on that role in embracing the diversity of all religions. We simply cannot do this! Some churches, and I believe some just don't realize they're doing it, are allowing false doctrine to creep in, not that they say it quite as bluntly. 

So as a nation, as a church, we will receive what we deserve...and hopefully it will turn the people back to the only Person we can rely on and have faith in. There are those who do not want to support, as the man I mentioned, anyone who is going to twist the truth of God's Word...or water it down.

There are people in this world and in our country who are those described in Nehemiah 9:35,37: ...they have not served You in their kingdom, or in the many good things that You gave them, or in the large and rich land which You set before them; nor did they turn from their wicked works. And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us, because of our sins; also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle at their pleasure; and we are in great distress.  Leaders have served themselves and their own desire for power, not the people.

A humbling of ourselves and a true turning back to God is what we need to do. Will we ever see this again? Jesus will return. When He does He comes back for His faithful elect. He comes back to show Himself as the King of kings. He will be seen in all His glory and those who have doubted His awesome power will finally, albeit too late, bow their knees.

The time to stand for Christ is now. Seek Him before it is too late (Isaiah 55:6). We can humble ourselves now while we still can or wait when we are forced to. If we, as God's people, would humble ourselves, pray and seek His face, He will forgive... (2Chronicles 7:14). This is what happened in Nehemiah 9:2:

Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Duct Tape of Life

2Chronicles 20:3,6,9 - [King] Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout...and said: "O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? ...If disaster comes upon us--sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine--we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save."

What an appropriate sermon for Father's Day. As many celebrated their own earthly Father's Day, we all were able to celebrate and rejoice in our Heavenly Father! It is all about His strength and provision, especially when we seek Him in a time of a time when we may have been waiting for answered prayer.

The sermon Pastor Rory Grooters preached was geared around King Jehoshaphat, a godly king who once in his life really slipped up. There was a "hiccup" in his life. But God...forgave him and he was still held dear in God's eyes.

Although the message was mainly for men Sunday morning, it could pertain to anyone who has hoped for something and have not seen it happen yet; for those promises God has planted in lives for which His timing is not yet fulfilled; for those who wish to step out...and out of God's attempt to bring this thing about...knowing in the back of their minds God calls us to wait upon the Lord (Isaiah 40:31) because His timing is perfect (Acts 1:7).

The songs we sang were precious! Tis' so sweet to trust in Jesus...just to take Him at His Word..." Yes! Trust in Him. Pastor's reminder to pretty much let go and let God were evidenced in the scriptures in 2Chronicles 20. A mighty enemy was out to destroy Jehoshapat and Judah. But instead of going out to seek man's counsel, King Jehoshaphat chose to enter into a place of seclusion and seek God, much like Jesus did every day of His life.

Oh, how this is to be our example. Seek God. Cry out to him and say, 2Chronicles 20:12: O our God..[I] have no power against this [thing for which I am burdened]; nor do [I] know what to do, but [my] eyes are upon You.  To this the Lord would say (verses 15 and 17): ... "Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this [thing for which you are burdened], for the battle is not yours, but God's...You will not need to fight in this battle....for the LORD is with you."   That was when Jehoshaphat bowed his head to the ground. He humbled himself before the Lord acknowledging his weakness and the Lord's strength.

But there's more! Hallelujah!! Jehoshaphat was told to go out and fight against this great enemy. Like he, who went out before his army, we are to go out in like manner and sing the praises of our strong and mighty God, remembering that His mercy endures forever (2Chronicles 20:21). If we do this, with our hearts trusting a God who looks after His children, He will come through in ways we cannot imagine.

Earthly fathers aren't quite able to do for us just what our Heavenly Father, who knows every detail of our lives and who takes care of those who are called His children. He is faithful and just (1John 1:9), not just to forgive us of our sins, but to do this very thing.

We will always have bouts of discouragement, fear or other human frailties throughout our lives. We might even wonder if we have failed Him in some way to not receive the blessing(s) of this fulfilled dream of ours, but God... Sometimes it's we who take back what we have given Him once before in prayer instead of laying it at the altar and leaving it before His a sacrifice of sorts. A sacrifice of love and trust in a God who wants to be our all in all.

Praise God for whom all blessings flow...if we believe what He tells us, shouldn't we stand secure in our praises? Jehoshapat did and his battle was won, not because he was strong and mighty but because he yielded to God and His power and strength. Oh, how it is so not about us!

There were four pyramids of duct tape lined up behind Pastor for the dads. Why? Because duct tape is truly a guy thing! They know the strength and many uses of it. It holds things together. Sometimes men feel they need to be in control, that they are able to do on their own. They might feel as though they need to be the duct tape in life, that they need to hold things together. Women can do the same, although maybe not with duct tape! Jehoshaphat and Jesus, however, are both good examples of yieldedness. They looked to God, not themselves.

Jesus can be the duct tape in our lives. With Him as our Center He can hold us together so much more stronger than any ol' duct tape! He will stick to you like a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and give you strength (Psalm 18:1—2).  As was stated in a scripture Pastor read...God's faithfulness is His character/nature: If we are faithless, He remains, for He cannot deny Himself  (2Timothy 2:13). 

Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid...; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

He Has Performed His Words

Psalm 103:1 - Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! 

There was a prayer spoken to all of Jerusalem in the Book of Nehemiah after the people had rebuilt the crumbling walls and fortified itself against its enemies. The rebuilding was God's plan and it was accomplished successfully, as anything God chooses to do is. This was and still is God's city. This is where the heart of God's people will always be. We can lay claim to a stake in that inheritance if we are in agreement with Israel. In order to do that we must be in agreement with God.

This prayer was all about God. It glorified His name for all the great things He did for His people, Israel. It showed God's love and protection and deliverance of His people. It showed how God was their God and there was to be no other. This is the same God we are to worship today.

This prayer showed where all praise is due. It showed who they deemed highly exalted and glorious, whose name was to be praised. Not surprisingly, our God asks us to do the same today but somewhere along the way, a great majority of people have decided not to. God's name is still to be praised, not spoken of lightly or misspoken. He has not changed. If we are looking to anyone or anything else, we've got it all wrong.

The prayer shows the men He chose to be His leaders and who He covenanted with. He still does the same today when He chooses us and covenants with us. How He longs to perform His words for and through us. How He longs to see people look to Him for their strength, provision, comfort, wisdom and knowledge. It all begins with that relationship with Him. Without that relationship, none of these can be attained through the Lord.

The prayer showed the power of God over the enemies of the apple of His eye. If we know Jesus the way these people knew their God, He will do the same. They saw the living God perform these miracles. His presence was seen through cloud and fire. He has not changed. We can still see miracles today. We can still recognize where protection in our lives has come from...if we know this Jesus/God intimately.

We are shown in this same prayer that there was a certain land designed to be Israel's...and if God covenanted with them back then for this land, it still is theirs. Haven't you noticed how Israel or His people are constantly under attack? It's not a battle of flesh and blood but of the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, Ephesians 6:12 tells us. God will win this battle for this land, no matter what we might think we see happening, and Jesus Christ will return to this very place some day, to be with His people in His land. This can include all who choose to be part of His kingdom.

Here's a sampling of this amazing prayer. See how often praise is due Him. Notice verses 16-17. Could be many today. But God... We need to get back to this heart of worship.

"Stand up and bless the LORD your God 
        Forever and ever! 

        "Blessed be Your glorious name, 
        Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! 
        6You alone are the LORD; 
        You have made heaven, 
        The heaven of heavens, with all their host, 
        The earth and everything on it, 
        The seas and all that is in them, 
        And You preserve them all. 
        The host of heaven worships You

        7"You are the LORD God, 
        Who chose Abram, 
        And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, 
        And gave him the name Abraham; 
        8You found his heart faithful before You, 
        And made a covenant with him 
        To give the land of the Canaanites, 
        The Hittites, the Amorites, 
        The Perizzites, the Jebusites, 
        And the Girgashites-- 
        To give it to his descendants. 
        You have performed Your words, 
        For You are righteous. 

        9"You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, 
        And heard their cry by the Red Sea. 
        10You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, 
        Against all his servants, 
        And against all the people of his land. 
        For You knew that they acted proudly against them. 
        So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day. 
        11And You divided the sea before them, 
        So that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; 
        And their persecutors You threw into the deep, 
        As a stone into the mighty waters. 
        12Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, 
        And by night with a pillar of fire, 
        To give them light on the road 
        Which they should travel. 

        13"You came down also on Mount Sinai, 
        And spoke with them from heaven, 
        And gave them just ordinances and true laws, 
        Good statutes and commandments. 
        14You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, 
        And commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, 
        By the hand of Moses Your servant. 
        15You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger, 
        And brought them water out of the rock for their thirst, 
        And told them to go in to possess the land 
        Which You had sworn to give them. 

        16"But they and our fathers acted proudly, 
        Hardened their necks, 
        And did not heed Your commandments. 
        17They refused to obey, 
        And they were not mindful of Your wonders 
        That You did among them. 
        But they hardened their necks, 
        And in their rebellion 
        They appointed a leader 
        To return to their bondage. 
        But You are God, 
        Ready to pardon, 
        Gracious and merciful, 
        Slow to anger, 
        Abundant in kindness, 
        And did not forsake them. 

        18"Even when they made a molded calf for themselves, 
        And said, "This is your god 
        That brought you up out of Egypt,' 
        And worked great provocations, 
        19Yet in Your manifold mercies 
        You did not forsake them in the wilderness. 
        The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, 
        To lead them on the road; 
        Nor the pillar of fire by night, 
        To show them light, 
        And the way they should go. 
        20You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, 
        And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, 
        And gave them water for their thirst. 
        21Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; 
        They lacked nothing; 
        Their clothes did not wear out 
        And their feet did not swell. 

This IS our God. This IS what He longs to continue to do for us. But when we harden our hearts and choose to worship other things, He lets us do so. When we get to a point where we realize we have returned to our own bondage, our self-centered lives without God, when things get to the point of total helplessness, there might be a true crying out to the Lord once again...and He will be gracious and merciful to those whose hearts have returned or finally turn to Him.

Let us praise the name of the Lord.

Psalm 148:13 - Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

One Small Word With So Much Meaning

Isaiah 53:10-11 - But it was the LORD's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.

Try as I might to do a blog today, I struggled to get a concept in my heart and mind into words. So I gave up...for a time. 

The scripture above is a prophetic word God gave to Isaiah. It spoke of the coming Messiah, Jesus. It foretold of what Jesus would go through and do for the sins of God's people. Read it a couple of times and picture Jesus. Didn't what Isaiah write come true? LORD above refers to God.

I'm reading this deep book, The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink. He goes into such depth about God's sovereignty that it seemed a blog was not the place to expound on all his concepts and all the scriptures that back up what he's written.

Some of us know we were predestined for salvation. God chose us. How in the world do I say that when the truth is He did this because it was His will, because He can, because He's God and because He's sovereign? If you truly want to understand this, just Google sovereignty of God scriptures. Google God's elect. I'm just not about to go into the depth of it all! My words are not adequate.

We say we receive God...but that's because He chose us to receive. He didn't die for all mankind, like I've been writing about. He died for "many." Many is a small word, but packs a wallop.  Jesus said: The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)  Those "many" are His elect. Who are His elect? Those He has already chosen. Confusing? You bet. 

I am not holier than thou! But when I write these words, I feel like I am. But I'm not! This is God's choice, not mine. He chose me; He called me; I just happened to hear Him call and when I made the decision for Christ became one of His elect. He knew before the beginning of time that I would make this decision. I'm humbled.

I've written we can receive Christ. Who are the "we?" If one says I won't receive Christ and never does, He's certainly not one of God's elect. If one says I know who Christ is and that's as far as I go and never chooses Christ, He's not one of God's elect either. If one says I have a personal relationship with Christ, and this person is sincere about it, he is God's elect! There are always those who say they won't choose Christ and change their mind. Hey, they have just become part of God's elect.

It's all about our own will. It's about God's calling to individuals. Our church as well as many others invite people to receive Christ. God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, is there prompting someone to make the commitment, or He is there to see those who choose not to. He already knows. Those who choose are His elect. 

It takes all my trust and faith in this amazing God to understand just where He comes from in His infinite thinking. All I can say here now is if God is truly tugging at your heart, don't balk. It is an honor to have been and to be elected of God for His kingdom, to be His child, His heir. This truly is not arrogance at work. It's a humbling experience and one that none of us deserves. None of us deserve salvation because, as we are told, all our works are as filthy rags. 

He chooses us as we are. He doesn't take just the rich, famous, elite or intelligent. He has also chosen the base things of the world, those that are the complete opposite of the others I've mentioned. No one is better than the next. We are just chosen...what a great conglomeration of personalities. Look at the people Jesus chose to follow Him: fishermen, a zealot, a tax collector and others we aren't told about. And then those who followed later: prostitutes, adulterers, sinners of all kinds.  

Jesus did not die for all, but for many. In the Sovereignty of God, Pink explained something from the Old Testament. The High Priest, the only one able to enter into God's presence for the atonement of sins of the people, wore a breastplate as part of his priestly garments. On this breastplate were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Back then Israel was God's elect, His chosen people. The High Priest did not seek God's presence for all the world, only His elect, His people, Israel. 

That was Old Testament. Today God's elect extend beyond Israel. Jesus came to die for many and they can be from any race, color or creed. Being His elect, therefore, is extended all nations in the world. However, out of all nations there will be selected many, or some. But not all. It's all so mysterious and glorious at the same time. Don't count Him out of your life. Take hold of His mysterious truths.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

There is a Way That Seems Right...

Proverbs 14:12 - There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Hah! Talk about the power of the Holy Spirit! There was something I've been itching to purchase. I struggled with the idea day after day. I even took the time to do research and go to a store where I could buy this object of my desire. 

But something kept me dragging my feet on this. As much as I would fuss in my mind about it, as much as I was determined...emphasis on I...I just couldn't do it. There IS a way which seems right...although this example may not lead to death, it could very well lead to unrest and especially disobedience to God.

Over and over I told myself I had a right to get this thing! BUT my husband said I didn't need it! That was a stab in my heart. Even friends said, "Oh, just go and get it!"

So one day I went to my chiropractor. He is a Christian and since this was my stop before going back to the store to retrieve this "thing" I had to have, I brought it up. The words that came out of my mouth in a way did not surprise me. I said this thing keeps rising up strongly within me and I know it's the Holy Spirit telling me no! This was not accusingly, but with a loving firmness. 

Now the world would think, if you want it, get it. But let me tell you, when the Holy Spirit rises up like it did, it's definitely something you don't want to ignore. 

There is this thing in God's word about submission. This submission is not like the world's idea of submission. It's a form of godly obedience. In this case it was being obedient to what my husband believes. Oh, I'm sure any woman reading this who does not understand this concept will bristle! However, this is something all women who call themselves followers of Christ are to do. I know that in the end peace will come of it...and most importantly an obedience to God. Usually the blessing is greater when we listen to the Spirit.

So, as it left the was as if my car was automatically going to head for that store despite everything. The urge was strong. In the back of my mind, however, I knew I wasn't to go. I resisted and won! I ended up somewhere else. The urge had subsided. Yes, today I still think about that need, but the peace that comes from not going against that pricking in my spirit is even better. 

Again, to some women this may seem illogical. To some men, they might say, "Aha, see! You should listen to your husband." It's far more about being in God's will than being outside of it. It will produce much more abundant blessings in the long run, but it's your choice to make. 

Although I shared a personal experience, this Proverb also is meant to be about our relationship with Christ. Many people think: "I don't need Jesus. I don't need tell me what's right and wrong, to make me feel convicted, to steal my valuable Sunday mornings...if this is part of being in God's will, I don't want it." That is the way that seems right. Without this relationship with the Lord, death is surely the way. Jesus only brings life. Live with the blessings of God and the freedom in Christ or dwell forever in unrest apart from God. 

Galatians 6:8 - For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Peace Can't Be Stolen

John 14:27 - Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

My peace can't be stolen...unless I allow it to be!

If there's anything at all I'm learning these days is that I am developing, and more often, maintaining my peace in the midst of stuff going on in my life. It sometimes takes an act of thinking on things to realize that although there might be some anxiety, underneath it all, there is peace. Doesn't matter what that stuff is. The enemy of our souls is working overtime to bring families, in relationships, in the Church and in the world. Anything he can do to tear something apart is his main motive. Don't we see it happening? 

It's a good thing this peace thing is developing now because don't some of us know it will only get worse?

Lies about Christianity. Removing God from everything in the name of embracing diversity and removing "offense." This can even happen in the Church with the advent of seeker friendly churches, desiring to lure people in for the numbers and watering down the truth or hard word of God. Oh, I never want to see that.

A friend and I were talking and she mentioned that although she might go through difficult times, she stays in her own place of peace. It's how she survives. What a novel idea. Each taking on the responsibility of holding on to our own peace, through the power of God.

I added that's where staying focused on the Lord, being in His Word, being in His presence and seeking Him daily, if not hourly or minute by minute (which admittedly is difficult to do unless you're a monk), is where our peace resides. A lot of stuff that goes on around me could cause anxiety, even tribulation, but if I lay claim to the fact that I have the Prince of Peace by my side, it just don't matter what that stuff is! "Sounds like a blog!" I exclaimed. She said, "Yes, write it. You should."

Oh, and in the midst of turmoil....Praise God. Praise Him for all He says He is. Praise Him for all He says He will do. Praise Him that I am who He says I am. Sing to Him a new song! Worship Him in Spirit and truth! All helps to maintain peace in a difficult world. At a time of unrest over circumstances in our lives, we should throw ourselves into the Word. What blessings and peace come from that.

When we need instruction or clarification, we are to go to the Lord. Go to His Word. If our peace is eroding, we need to find the promises of who we are in Christ. If we have that relationship with Him and understand that's where our peace lies, He is there for us. He is our Comforter. He is the peace that passes all understanding.

What we see in this world and right in our own backyard of life might upset us. It might hurt or be confusing. We may question what is going on. We may question if we are being stripped of our discernment. We might think we are being led down wrong paths. But the Word of God is the truth that resides in us. It is our foundation. It will not crumble. We are to keep our minds on the things of God and ask for His discernment for all things. Line things up with scripture. Question. Pray for His guidance in understanding. 

In the last days even the elect of God is said to have occasion to be deceived. Occasion? Maybe even more. Who am I to think that I can't be deceived? That's why it is important to be close to the truth found only in the Word of God. But we must be sure that we are at peace, not complacency, thinking we are at peace when we might be lost instead.

He will direct our steps. He will give us rest. He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of sound mind. Let's keep that sound mind focused on Him. We can cast our cares on Him. We must press on in the Lord, and as Colossians 1:11 tells us, to be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy... It's maintaining that peace that brings joy for it is of the Lord. Praise Him!

Colossians 3:15 - And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Truth and Integrity

Psalm 12:6-7 - The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever. 

There is only one Way, one Truth and one Life. That is Jesus Christ.

It is His name that stands for real truth and integrity. God cannot lie. He is not the author of confusion. He is the Light in a dark world. He is our only way to salvation. He is our Healer, Provider, Helper. He is always here. He offers what no man nor object can. He is the Door, our Shepherd, Lord and soon coming King. 

He is the Word. This Word existed before time began. He has no beginning and no end. By His Word the world was created. By His Word the world as we know it will end. His Word will stand the test of time. His Word shall be preserved from generation to generation. His Word is truth. His Word will not fail. His Word cannot be corrupted by man. 

When you know Him you will know the Truth. You will understand His integrity, His truth. You will be set free from world views and the captivity of them. He never changes. He has never changed. He will never change. His Word is holiness, justness and righteousness. 

The Name above all names. All knees will bow before Him someday. ALL. His Name is to be exalted above all other names. He is to be glorified. He is the Highly Exalted One. 

His voice is heard in the thunder. It is He who lights up the sky in a thunderstorm. His refreshing comes with the rain. His purification comes in the heat of life's experiences...through the fires of life.

He is the Lily of the Valley and the Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1). When I wrote these I wondered why He was called these flowers. The lily has one stem that rises up out of two leaves, being the main focus, with fragrant white flowers. Ephesians 5:2 has this description: a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. He is to be lifted up. He was lifted up on the cross for us.

As for the Rose of Sharon, it's a bit more complicated. I will stick to this one point: Sharon was a plain in Israel which had many beautiful flowers. The Rose of Sharon was considered the most beautiful of all flowers. Jesus, despite having comely features, is considered the most beautiful to those who know Him. 

He is love. He is salvation, our Redeemer. His stripes have healed us. His death has created life. For God so loved the world...that He gave...

He is Sovereign, Maker of all things, Tender of all things. By His Word He gives and He takes. He raises up and He lowers. He saves and, sadly, He destroys. All because of His holy name. 

He knit each of us together in our mother's wombs. He gave us life. We are made in His image. We were created for His pleasure. He is the giver of all things. 

He is the Bright Morning Star. He is the Light of the world. He is the Light in the darkness. He offers us every opportunity to see Him, change and consider Him. 

Consider Him. 

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Out of the Rubble

Psalm 121:1-2 -  I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 

We've seen disaster after disaster here in the United States. First the tornadoes, then the flooding and now fires blazing uncontrollably for now. It's heart rending and curious. What will come of all this? No doubt we will rally together to bring those people and communities back together. We're good at that.

My question and my prayer is, will God be glorified in all this? Yes, glorified! Glorified in the rubble. Praised despite the circumstances. 1Thessalonians 5:13 - everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Will He be the  center of all these people's lives as they rebuild? Will He be the one to truly raise them up out of the rubble?

These people have lost so much. Insurance can help to rebuild naturally. But I will always say the best insurance is Jesus Christ. I'm sure some who know Christ as they are going through all this are trusting He will take care of them. Some who know Christ might not be as strong in their faith and might not see where good might come out of all the disaster. Others might fall away completely in anger or disappointment coming from a lack of understanding of God's sovereignty. And then there are those who will come to faith because of this...because all else has been depleted. Because someone showed them God's love and told them about Him. That's God's hand at work.

I heard about a church awhile back in Joplin, Missouri that was very badly damaged by a tornado. It didn't stop them from clearing an area where Convoy of Hope could set up a distribution center. And they had Sunday service in their parking lot. They were a blessing to the community in the midst of their problems. And they showed their dedication to God, no doubt worshipped Him with all their hearts. And when we step out to help others in our own time of need, and continue to bless Him, I believe the Lord steps in to provide whatever we need...

I personally know how when one goes through a horrific experience how the power of the Holy Spirit will rise up within to bring about a witness to God's faithfulness and strength in the midst of all trouble. It's amazing how the boldness comes and words flow. It's like the Holy Spirit Himself rises up out of our own inward rubble and God is revealed within us like never before. I pray that this is what is happening all across the United States as rebuilding of lives and communities takes place.

But it is important to know Jesus before these things happen. So many times I've heard, "I can't imagine going through tough times without Jesus." Where's the hope if people don't know Him? Do they hope in their insurance or government? That's fine and good for the present, in the natural, but hope in Jesus Christ is the better way. He promises to take care of us, to never leave us nor forsake us... if we know Him personally.

Christians know that they have lost earthly possessions and maybe even family and friends in this tragedy, but they have not lost their2 Jesus. That's the beauty of a relationship with Christ. It's the only and best thing we have. God is eternal. This earth is not. Things of the world may fade away but God's Word lasts forever. That Word is Jesus. His promises despite our situations hold strong to those who put complete trust in Him. He is our Jehovah Rapha, the healer of ALL our troubles. He is our Jehovah Jireh, our provider.

When we look at all that is happening in this world and question the meaning of it all, it helps to remember that God is still in control. What may seem disastrous could be the very thing that brings about good, even if that means turning to Jesus at a bad time in our lives.  If we rely too much on what we hold so dear and our focus is off the Lord, perhaps He is just stirring things up that our focus would be steered back to Him. Look at all the times the Israelites turned their backs on God only to be taken captive by their enemies, or were thrown into slavery, or God removed Himself for a time from their presence. It was His way of getting them to see what they had done, repent of their sins, cry out to Him for deliverance, and return back to Him.

Jesus wants us to cry out for deliverance...out of the rubble of our lives, He will clean us up and renew our lives. He will bring renewed joy and confidence. He will show us how much He loves us and wants to take care of us. It only takes our own willing hearts to receive this from Him and let go of the world's false hopes and desires.

My prayer is for God to be glorified in all this. If He has some great plan, let it happen. Let us be able to look back someday and say, I can see God's hand in it all. Things around us at times might seem overwhelming. We might seem to lose ground in life's circumstances, but as God would say, "fear not." He is there wanting us to trust in Him. Oh, let us praise Him... Psalm 45:2.

If we know this Jesus who captures our soul and looks out for us, we can know that He is by our side through all things and we just need to call out to Him. If you don't know Jesus, you might want to. Seek Him in the rubble of your own life and He will raise you up. He will put your feet on solid ground and bring a new outlook on life.

Psalm 39:7 - "and now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You."