Sunday, December 29, 2013

Born For a Purpose

Mark 16:15-16 - And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."

We've just celebrated the birth of Jesus. He was born for the most important purpose of introduce Himself to us that we might be delivered from our sins and secure eternal life. He told His disciples to do the same. I call myself a believer but calling myself a disciple, a follower of Christ, is also in order...and along with that comes the same command of a disciple.

I read this the other day and although I was sure I misunderstood it I had to respond based on my "narrow" thinking: In the modern era, Santa delivers. Merry Christmas. It was a message sent from a smart phone. And I understand now it was meant as in the modern day of technology, quick message delivery is possible. But I read it over and over not understanding because, as I responded, Santa does not deliver but Jesus does. That's just how my mind works...most times!

We've all been born to this world for a purpose. God creates a being in a womb hoping it will live the life He has planned for him/her. Situations in life change the course most times, trials come, blessings come, but it's how we respond, the choices we make, to what's placed before us that makes or breaks us.

We can live with or without God in our lives and be successful in the world, it's true. On the other hand a person with very little in this world but have a strong faith in Christ, can be wealthy in what counts the most. There is a difference in the end however. Without Jesus our lives are not eternal. And that is my purpose in my help people understand this world is nothing without Jesus. That our goals, our dreams, our life are nothing...nothing...without Him. We might think we're happy without Him in our lives, that we're doing fine on our own, but that's believing a lie.

God has created us first to be in relationship with Him that we would live in the right kind of abundance, in Christ. Our success, in Christ, isn't the same as in the world. Less is more, being happy with what we have and not what our peers have is more rewarding, if we understand things God's way. I'm not saying He won't give abundantly to some Christians. But it's what they do with it, how they steward that abundance, that is important.

A very great part of our purpose in Christ is sharing the gift we've received through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to worship God, live to glorify Him and share our beliefs in the truth of His Word with others. While I'm not as vocal as some I do like to write. Given an opportunity to speak out loud (!) when the Spirit moves is amazing for me!

I watched It's a Wonderful Life, a classic Christmas movie, the other day. It's based on a book called The Greatest Gift, surprisingly.

Many know the story. As brief as possible: George Bailey had always been a dreamer wanting to see the world but circumstances in his life changes his plans and he decides to settle down in his little hometown with his wife, raise a family and go about his father's building and loan business in order to help others. He'd been helping others most of his life. This is who he is. He gave up his plans in life so others would be able to have their own dreams fulfilled.

He had a fierce and greedy adversary, Henry F. Potter, whose thoughts were only on his own success at the expense of others, those George helped.

George's business crumbled when a sizable amount of money is accidentally lost...into the hands of Potter. George is beside himself, all hope of security for his friends and family lost. He attempted to take out a loan from Potter but was flatly refused. His world in a downward spiral, he realized he was worth more dead than alive (insurance)...and decided to take his life.

He has Clarence, though, his guardian angel, watching over him. When George decides to jump off a bridge Clarence beats him to it so, just like the guy George can't help being, he jumps in to save him. Clarence then reveals himself and runs George's life backwards to show all that might not have happened if it had not been for him...deaths that occurred instead of saved, failure instead of success, illness instead of health. It's the thing that turns George around. In the end he chooses not to take his life but go home where his friends have taken up a collection to save his business.

The great line from the movie is this from Clarence: You've been given a chance to see what this world would be like without you.

Imagine if we could all be given the chance to see what might have happened. What might God reveal to us? First of all, might He reveal we did not know Him? Will He reveal times we missed opportunities, people's lives we might have saved for the Kingdom but failed? Did we live our lives for Him? Did we glorify Him in what we accomplished? Ask yourself that question. Right now. I know I have failed at times. This is how we should look at life. But there's a difference between doing good from the world's perspective and God's. It starts with Him. It starts with this relationship. Then in Christ we are to point people to Him and often we begin by doing good and living a life in Christ, being selfless in our efforts.

[While this blog was actually written yesterday, at church this morning our pastor's sermon was on Contending For the Faith, based on Jude 1:3. He explained several things we must do in these, what he would call, latter days. In the last days there are things we see in the world, where the world is spiraling downward into outright rebellion against God. And what do we as Christ followers do? We contend for the faith. We do not back down on our beliefs, but dig in our heels and continue to look up for Him. And pastor gave us examples. One, of course, is never straying from the truth of God's Word. It's why I write. Now, back to my blog...]

One way I attempt to point people to Christ is here. To show the truth of God's Word, as best I can, and sometimes the words are not always pleasing to others. Differences of opinion...which mostly would be cleared up with this relationship with Christ, not our religious beliefs. Remember, Jesus was not liked by those who were stuck in their religious laws. His words and ideas were a threat, offensive. It's pretty much the same today between the relationship crowd over the religion crowd. Jesus maintained it was about going to Him, seeking Him and His Word, which shows us what truth is.

That is what we are called to do...part of our the eyes and minds of people being held captive in world beliefs not God beliefs. Setting captives to sin and the lies of the world free. Realizing we need God as our foundation. [As a member of our church said this morning: You can have two houses side by side. They can look the same but it's how their foundation is laid that will determine the strength of the house.] This is our purpose. In Christ we are born anew. He should be our Foundation. In Him we can better understand His Words. We can better understand what's important and what is not. Better understanding and greater wisdom are ours through a relationship with Christ. Preach the Gospel...that others might know and respond to His call and our calling.

Like George Bailey, we are not to think we are not worth anything, that we've failed, even if we feel we have. Sometimes I think my writing does nothing. But only God knows if that's true or not. And what counts is what God thinks. If this is to be my "ministry," then I will continue as long as the Lord allows me. That for me is a wonderful life!

2Timothy 1:8-9 - Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord...but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Begotten Again

1Peter 1:3-4 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope THROUGH the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you...

Great Christmas Eve message from our pastor and part of it was what I had been thinking about the day prior! My words: While we celebrate this time of the season the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am continually reminded why He came. He came to die for our sins. There is no way we can look at one and not think about the other. He came to preach the truth both in love and in firmness that we might know Him who is able to give us life. He was born that we might experience a new birth ourselves. He lived and died for that very purpose...that we might live and not die spiritually.

Pastor's message: We cannot stay focused on that Baby in a manger. He didn't remain there. He grew into His purpose and so must we. He mentioned Moses, who was born with a purpose. His life was spared for that purpose...that he would be a deliverer of his people, Israel. (Without their being saved, Jesus would not exist today to bring about our new birth in Him.) Samuel was born out of the fervent prayers of his mother...and she gave him to God to be used of God. This is like our second birth. Someone may have prayed fervently for this new birth. Now we have a purpose be steadfast in Christ and, as Samuel did, lead others to God.

I got to thinking about how we celebrate birthdays. We celebrate the here and now, not us as babies. It's what we need to do with Jesus too. He IS no longer in that manger. He did grow, He did live, He taught about Himself and He fulfilled His die that we might have eternal life if we so choose to believe and follow Christ. And He is alive today to do that. When we are born again we cannot stay there. We must grow in Christ and fulfill our purpose in Christ.

Praise God for His birth, but remember it is not just about that. Praise God He was born to give us second birth (Hark the Herald Angels Sing). It is His desire that we become begotten again.

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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Eve

Isaiah 9:6-7a - 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.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end...

My prayer this year for Christmas is that there would be a change in the hearts of many toward our Lord. That the true meaning of Christmas would surround them and woo them into a relationship with Christ...even in the midst of all the ways of "political correctness" that we are experiencing. Christ can enter into any heart despite all this.

If God says He holds those faithful to Him in the palm of His hand, He does. No one can take away this relationship with Christ, unless we choose ourselves to do this. No one can take away something secured within our hearts...the words of life stored there.

God's Word (both written and born in a manger) is truth. His Word will not return unto us void. What He has proclaimed through the ages will happen. I rejoice in this because with all the lack of peace and joy and turmoil of the world, I have an inner joy and peace that cannot be taken away. Jesus has given that to me. He has given me the peace to realize that all we see snipping away at the Christian beliefs will only bring Him sooner to that great and glorious end. And His Word says this.

A Child was born, a Son given for all of us that we might be part of that end. And YES, the government will finally be upon HIS shoulder. He is Wonderful, my Counselor, our Mighty God, the Everlasting Father...and Prince of PEACE. He will reign with judgment and justice. It is good to know He for whom Christmas is all about.

I invite all who do not know Christ, to seek Him like the shepherds and wise men. Let Him do a new thing in you. Let Him open your spiritual eyes to His truth that His peace and joy might forever be with you. Bow before Him and worship Him. Don't worry about what others think. What He thinks is most important. And His desire is for you. Let this Christmas be special this year. Let He who was born into this world to become the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, become your Savior...the Savior of the world.

Merry Christmas. Love You, Jesus.

Isaiah 43:19 - Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Declared and Proclaimed

Isaiah 48:3,5 - I have declared the former things from the beginning; they went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, lest you should say, "My idol has done them, and my carved image and my molded image have commanded them."

I've said this before. Our God has used His Word to give an account of who He was, is and will be. He has given it to us for a very good reason...that we should know Him and His glory. We should know that He is who He says He is and will do as He says He will do, as He has done throughout the pages of His Book. He has done this that we know there is no one idol or image...and an idol can be something we trust so firmly, entertainment, sex, food, alcohol, religion. We are to trust only in Him.

God has shown us examples of people who have believed, received, trusted and obeyed Him. And He has shown us what happens to those who do. He also has shown us people who have not heeded His Word and how He has reacted toward them. If our God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, how can we even consider that this does not apply to us today?

He is more powerful than we can imagine. Life has gone on year after year in what seems to be our own power. But remember that He is Sovereign. He can use both good and evil to allow His plans to succeed...or fail, if it is in His better interest that it does.

Our God never slumbers nor sleeps. He is fully aware of all things. He knows evil is growing by leaps and bounds. He is calling people...He is invading their lives and spirits in ways we cannot understand but, if we know what this God is capable of, we can only be in awe of Him.

Let me give you an example! A friend was telling me how her sister led a coworker to Christ. She asked him to see the Passion of Christ several years ago. He was deeply moved. He did not want to watch as Jesus was being whipped and bloodied and as he turned his head away in his spirit he heard, I don't want you to turn your head away. Turn back and see what happened to Me for your sake. As he got into his car he began to weep and when got home he gave his life to the Lord. Oh that more would weep for God's presence.

This man has a father in his 90's who is an atheist. I'm certain this son has talked to his father about Christ and has been met with resistance, which in many cases between believers and unbelievers happens. One day not long ago the man was visiting his father when his dad very seriously shared: I had a dream last night. I was told, "I am coming soon." In the dream I asked, "When?" I was told, "Very soon...and My wrath will be upon those who have done evil." This old man knows, or knew, nothing about God nor the fact that He will return and will pour out His wrath. But God....

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. (Acts 2:17). Don't think He won't or can't. We cannot know just what our God is capable of. If He can cause a donkey to speak (Numbers 22), He can do anything....all things are possible with God.

The world is spiraling down toward those last days. We are close but we are told two things: we cannot know the day and...yet it will come quickly. He will pour out His Spirit in ways we couldn't possibly invent. Some will get it, some will reject it. We need to be ready, receptive and know just who this God when it's too late. When the last days are solidly here we need to have our belief in Him and trust in Him settled already so anything that will happen won't come as a surprise and we will know how to put complete faith in Him for our needs in those days. It's what we should be doing even in better times.

He has declared the beginning from the end. He has proclaimed it. Has it been received? Has it penetrated spirits? Our minds are to be kept on Him. We are to know His ways, commands, promises...good or bad. We must understand salvation is of the Lord and no idol, image, person or religion...only in in Jesus Christ. That means relationship.

If God is going to come and pour out His wrath, we need to understand that many who say they are not wicked compared to someone else, are believing a lie. None are righteous, not one. Wickedness can be worded this way...sin...and that can be even in the security we place in our own wisdom, power or strength, believing we do not need God's help. He knows and sees even if no one around us does. If we rely more than we ought in ourselves and believe that nothing can harm us, we have no wisdom. He is calling people. Praise God He is because He wishes none to perish...yet many still will. And remember, He calls Himself I AM.

While the verses I've chosen talk about people bound in forms of witchcraft, I see how it also relates to other scriptures about people in the last days (1Thessalonians 5:3, Revelation 9:20-21, 17:2) and about anyone who trusts in themselves, things and/or others over God.

Isaiah 47:8-11 - “Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures, who dwell securely, who say in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, nor shall I know the loss of children’; but these two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day: The loss of children, and widowhood. They shall come upon you in their fullness because of the multitude of your sorceries... “For you have trusted in your wickedness; you have said, ‘No one sees me’; your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; and you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’ Therefore evil shall come upon you; you shall not know from where it arises. And trouble shall fall upon you; you will not be able to put it off. And desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know.'"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

John's Account of the Christ

John 1:1-5, 14-15 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 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. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'"

John did not speak of the birth of Jesus. He grew up with Him. He proclaimed the reason why Jesus was born, His purpose. He was to share all he had learned, I think, being so close to Him. Though they were cousins, their bond probably more like brothers.

John's account gives me goosebumps. Jesus, the glory of God, seen. Jesus, the Word, the Light, the Truth, the Way, God's plan, from beginning to end of His life. John's poetic words flowed to proclaim who this Man was...and still is. Imagine the preparation of John's heart and spirit for this incredible accounting.

John knew that it was not about his delivery of the message but the Message Himself. He prepared the way for One greater. The Message come to life. When asked if he was the Messiah John emphatically said no and that he himself was not even worthy to untie the sandal straps of this Man, Jesus (even if he was His cousin). He knew the importance of Jesus.

John would proclaim Jesus had been born for one be the Savior of the world. He was born to die so that others would live. To redeem the world.

John's message was the sovereignty of this Man. The Word of God who was God, supernaturally born of flesh. As Oswald Chambers wrote: Jesus Christ was born INTO this world, not FROM it...showing His separation from the world, yet it in. God incarnate. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three in one. Who can understand?

The people who first viewed the baby Jesus, an infant boy child, beheld His glory. Did they understand? Did they realize the impact this little Baby would have someday? We are to have childlike faith. When it comes to this, that's all I can have. When it comes to salvation, it's all anyone can have.

Jesus was born to show Himself to the world in the form of a baby born by humble circumstances. Mary, a virgin, humbled herself while people whispered. Joseph humbled himself in the same way. Jesus was born in a stable in a manger filled with straw. Humble shepherds were first to see Him, then followed by kings and He became our good Shepherd, not a king in the world but a Man who will be King of the world someday soon. His life was lived humbly and people, even His own, did not accept Him for who He said He was. He ultimately was rejected to the point of humiliating death. He was not some great-in-the-eyes-of-the-world person. He was what He wants us all to be and what He wants us all to do...become humble and come humbly to Him and receive Him.

This was the whole reason Jesus was sent...for us...that we may have Christ...through Christ...not through anything we can do...but by humbly submitting to Him.

This Christmas dwell on true meaning. Jesus came to give the greatest gift, that of salvation. He is not Santa; He is the Truth. Put Christ in the Christmas spirit. It's really not about our gift giving. It's about our receiving the Gift that Christ is. Will you do that this year? Think about the Christ. If you want to give something special, give yourself to Christ. Enjoy the return gift of real salvation through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. That's what He is. Again, the Light of the world who takes us out of oppression, burden and death and into real life. Let these be made real this year. Count yourself along with the people mentioned below. Obtain the hope and security from all the world believes is secure. The only hope, security and true joy is in our Lord. Receive Him this Christmas.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor... 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. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:2-4, 6-7)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Real Story Begins

Matthew 1:18-23 - Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 

Life the natural and in the Spirit. It happened to Jesus and it can happen to us too.

Jesus was conceived first by the Holy Spirit. He was born as a natural baby. His name is significant because of its meaning, that He will save people from their sins. We are born naturally to start out but later if we are receptive to God we are born by the same Spirit of God and through Jesus and His Holy Spirit saved from our sins.

This saving is not just an act of knowing and believing in Him. We must have a new Holy Spirit birth. When we receive this new birth, our second birth, we know the goodness of it, the peace that comes with it. Something changes in us. Yet, sometimes that new birth causes others to be wary of us, like Mary's husband Joseph was at first...until or unless they understand it is of God.

When this new birth happens we are then able to say that "God is with us" also. Praise His holy name this Christmas season for all He has done for birth, in life and in death. We celebrate His birth now...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Preparing the Way

Mark 1:1-3 - The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.’” 

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus; made His paths straight. We call Jesus the Way and rightfully so. He is the Way. And the path to Him is also straight, direct and He will make our paths straight.

While this is a time to celebrate His birth, we must remember that He became the Way to the Father by way of the humiliating cross. The Mediator between God and man...the Way. Picture the cross spanning a chasm.  God is on one side, we on the other. The crossbeam where He was hung is the only means of getting from one side to the other. The Way.

The preparation for Christ was accounted in the Book of Mark. Mark wrote about John the Baptist who was Jesus' cousin, just a few months older than He. He was born that he would, by faith, prepare the way for the coming of the Way.

People around the world do the same. It shouldn't be any different. Everyone needs to be prepared for the way to Christ. We are messengers of today, voices crying in the wilderness of others' lives that there is a way, not just for the birth we celebrate at this time of year, but a new birth in your life.

Prepare the way of the Lord this Christmas. Prepare as you would for this day on earth only prepare your heart along with that. Look not at Christmas in the usual way. Seek it with the idea of Jesus in your heart. Prepare yourself for straighter paths. Let the season of his birth be a season with a new birth in your life.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Preparation for Preparation!

Luke 1:5-9,11-17 - There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias... His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Hah. I felt led to write about the events leading to Jesus' birth in the Gospels. So I started with Matthew, writing. Then I went to Mark and realized that should precede Matthew, writing some more! As I went to Luke, the same thing happened. we see the preparation to the preparation for the Way! And this is interesting, like most accounts in the Bible.

We have Zacharias, a priest in the temple. Little did he know this particular day he would be greeted by an angel of the Lord and told some incredible thing. Sounds like a recounting of Abraham and Sarah's encounter with a bearer of good news...they both were going to be a father, even though it had not happened yet...but it would.

Zacharias and his wife were old, like Abraham and Sarah. Maybe not as old because Elizabeth still prayed for a child. Being barren in those days was a disgrace. Z was given some heady information...their son would prepare for the Way.

They knew of a coming Messiah, had a preconceived idea He would be a strong warrior. Zacharias should have been excited at the thought of being a participant in all this. As I recently heard, here's an angel of the Lord speaking to Zacharias but instead of, like Mary's response of being a willing servant in the plan of a lifetime, he questioned:  “How shall I know this?” (Luke 1:18)  Well, ummmm, there's an angel...his name is Gabriel, telling you these things. How could you even doubt?

And there was a consequence for this doubt. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.” (Luke 1:20)

I love the story of Elizabeth and Mary, who of course was also entertained by an angel of the Lord. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. (Luke 1:45) Mary receives word of Elizabeth's news and to escape any stares and whispers of the people in town, she went to stay with Elizabeth. As she approached, Elizabeth's baby leaped in her womb. For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:44) The Spirit of God came upon both mother and child. I'm guessing it was the nearness and power of a yet to be born Savior of the world which empowered baby John for the great thing he was to do some thirty years later.

A whole lot of Spirit going on here. The Spirit prepared the way for the Way back then and He does so still today when one seeks the Christ and truly believes on Him. He's as active today as then in Elizabeth's womb. Rejoice and be glad if you have it. Ask and receive if you have not. Listen to some of Mary's praise for her Son and Her own Savior. Trust that if you receive Him and His mercy upon you, what He has done for her he will do for you.

Luke 1:49-50 - For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christ in Me

Galatians 1:13,15 - For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles...

One of the most impressive stories for me in the Bible is about the Apostle Paul. He proves that God can totally bring about tremendous change in ANYONE, if one is willing to let God to do this. It is comforting to know we have a God this powerful.

Paul was a persecutor of Christians. He was a Jew, a Pharisee, one well versed in Jewish laws and hated anyone whose beliefs opposed his, the Jewish beliefs. So he persecuted these Christ believers.

My how he was transformed on the road to Damascus. He met God, who blinded and troubled him; yet Paul knew without a doubt what had happened was real and he submitted to the hand of God. It became known to him he had been wrong and had done his religious understanding of the Jewish laws, his idea of who Jesus was and in his treatment of Christ believers.

God changed Paul's purpose in life from persecution to expounding on the truth of Christ. He was sent by God to preach what he had been so sure was false. He could no longer speak against Jesus. In fact, here are a number of things he said about himself:
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God... (Romans 1:1)
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God... (1Corinthians 1:1)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God...(2Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope...(ITimothy 1:1)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus...(2Timothy 1:1)
But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ...(Philippians 1:12, 13)

You see, after he changed so dramatically, he could no longer live in his old manner because of the grace of God. His life was now in Christ and he gave all glory to Him. Look at the key words: called, separated, by the will of God, by the commandment, in Christ. While we are not all called in as great a manner as Paul, if we are believers in Christ, having come face to face with Him in some way, we will have changed also (a continual process) and we are to be disciples and called to preach the Gospel and its truth. In order to do that we must first know Who the Truth is. Paul shared the truth and confronted the lies with the people in Galatia, who he found out had turned away from what they first believed to another gospel after Christ had first been revealed to them.  I find it hard to understand how once the truth was/is heard one would turn away from it...but it did happen and still does.

I noticed a couple times Paul uses the word revelation. One, his encounter with the Lord was an extreme type of revelation. God so intensely revealed Himself to Paul. Then he says that the words he spoke and places he went were by revelation. He took no credit for where he went or what he said. Paul asked, Do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? His message was not self serving. He did not speak hoping to please God but to persuade men to seek God, not with words that would satisfy them but would cause them, like he, to turn to God. He spoke the truth of God that resided within him and which he was now convinced was real. And he further stated, if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

What, a bondservant? Oh my. Does that make one shudder? If one knows Christ he also knows it is not slavery, it is having freedom in Christ, one which he wanted others to receive. How can I say this in a way that causes one to see that being in Christ is good, not evil? In Christ is protection from evil...not that we aren't tempted by evil, but that when we are, we can put our trust in one greater than all evil.

I wonder how many people really think about this, really consider what being in Christ is all about? It's not about being Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic or any other mainstream religion. It's about being in Christ. If this isn't the message being preached in churches, it is another gospel. All of life is about the Lord. He created, He draws men to Him, He saves, He redeems, He purifies, He sanctifies...He, He, He. He is as much alive today as He was when He walked on this earth. Oh, that people would see Him, not religion.

Like Paul later states, it pleased God to call him out of his former lifestyle through His grace to reveal Christ to him that he might preach the gospel. It pleased God. Pleased. After he persecuted? I looked up the word pleased in a Bible concordance: well content, chosen gladly, good, preferred, thought it best, took pleasure. Who can understand the mind of God that He would be pleased to use the vilest of men? And that's what He did and does. Because who gets the glory?

If Paul was called specifically to preach to those he formerly persecuted, imagine the difficulty, and the amount of persuasion it took, his own form of persecution, to preach now a different story. Paul said: But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God in me. (Galatians 1:23-24)

Paul was dramatically transformed. His life was no longer his own. God gave him grace and used him in a great way. He now lived for God. This is what He calls us to do. How well are we all doing? Do we realize, like Paul, a difference? It's not about the rules and regulations of any religion...remember he was a Pharisee, well versed in the law...but about the total grace of God, a grace that came from God being pleased to use Paul...for His glory. Christ in... Here's one more thing Paul says about himself. Can we relate?

Galatians 2:20-21 - I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in in vain.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Psalm 107:21-22 - Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.

When one becomes a born again Christian one looks at life differently. While I am thankful for the freedoms we have had in the United States, I realize they can be taken away...which we are seeing. I'm still thankful for what we have left. If we live to see more erosion, will we still have something to be thankful for? If life becomes harder for whatever reason, will we still have something to be thankful for? If we call ourselves Christians, disciples of Christ, we should.

So what is my view of Thanksgiving? For some Thanksgiving is just another day off work, food, drink, football and family. Others will celebrate this year and truly will be thankful for God's goodness toward them. A very good friend of mine will testify to this through her waiting on God without any inkling of what she would be facing. And for some, her in particular, He has proven what trusting in Him is all about. (I may post this testimony in time!) I am thankful most of all for God's love, grace and mercy to me. Without Him there is no hope. In Him I have a freedom that cannot be taken away at someone else's whim.

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. Thanksgiving is thanking the Lord...that He chose me, redeemed me, guides me...and it is He I can put my trust in.

I recently found out that Thanksgiving as we may know it didn't really happen the way we think. If you are interested in what it might have been, you can research yourself. It was not as Christian a day as we all believe it to be, sad to say. It may have been thanksgiving for lives saved, but not so much for the way of life they lived.

Putting the real story aside, and coming to what we can truly be thankful for...we can thank God today for the physical blessings He has given us. But it's so much more than the physical blessings, or possessions. The biggest thanks we can have is the thanks for our salvation. Two verses prior to the ones above say this: Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Not a new story as far as my posts! When we come to the end of ourselves, can't possibly imagine how we will get through something, we CAN cry out to the Lord and He will heal and deliver through His Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. We can be thankful, truly thankful, if we have received Christ.

He offers the greatest blessing of all time. If we have called on Him for forgiveness of our sins and have continued to follow Him and trust in Him, we can lift up our voices in the most amazing thanksgiving. It's not always about the possessions we have or our freedoms but our spiritual condition, our rightness with God or relationship with Christ. Nothing is more important to God than that.

I am thankful for His sacrificial love for all of us. None of us deserve eternal life. But He offered up His life anyway so that all men who would call on His name, receive Him and wait on and trust in Him would have this eternal life. He gave His life for us. How can we not be thankful for that? When we are at the place where we can thank Him for this, then His hand will be upon us. But how do we live that out? By loving Him first, or what the world believes is important? Think about it...

Oswald Chambers wrote this: The religion of Jesus Christ is a religion of personal relationship to God and has NOTHING to do with possessions. Professional Christianity is a religion of possessions that are devoted to God. The disciple realizes that his life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses, because what we possess often possesses us; we are possessed by possession.

Look at it this way, though. If we have Christ we have the greatest possession. He is the greatest treasure. He will not leave or forsake anyone who claims this possession. Matthew 6 tells us Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

There are many verses on thanks and thanksgiving to God. He is a great and awesome God who gives generously to those who trust Him. Sometimes what He gives isn't in ways we would expect. We might not even be able to put a finger on what He gives; sometimes it's just in the peace and contentment we feel. Then at other times, because He knows what we have need of (not want of) He provides. And He knows each one of us has need of a Savior. We should be thankful He provided His Son to be that Savior. We should be thankful for the freedom we have in Christ. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36) Do you know this freedom?

Psalm 100: Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. - A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Psalm 107:1-9 - Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city for a dwelling place. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.

While this Psalm speaks of Israel and their ongoing disobedience and repentance and God's forgiveness, it speaks to all mankind. The message, as is all that is in the Bible, is relevant for today. It speaks of our salvation.

Many denominations/religions believe that being part of a church, going to Sunday school or catechism/confirmation classes or being baptized as a baby (all of which I did) are all it takes for salvation.

What do the words above show us?

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever. He redeemed His people. When? When they wandered in the wilderness, hungry and thirsty, their souls...souls...fainting. They knew something was missing. They had lost sight of the God who they once worshiped and turned to their own ways. And He let them knowing some day they would realize His blessings were not like they had been.

God allows us to wander in our lives the same way. We may never have had a desire for God or thought we were in right standing because we did attend church and the other things mentioned above. But a day would/will come when we realize there is still something missing. It is a hunger in our souls. It might happen in a day of trouble. Most likely not a day but a season when all that seemed good is suddenly lost and we're wondering where has life gone or what have I done or why am I not satisfied even though I'm prosperous and seem to be blessed? We don't know where to turn. That's where Jesus comes in. God has allowed us to get to a place where seeking Him is what it will take to get out of what we view as doldrums, crisis, desperation and what God calls sin. Yes, sin. We are in sin when we are out of God's will.

His people did what we might do: cry out to the Lord in our time of trouble. He turns on the light so our souls might see. I know He did that for me. Suddenly it is clear. And He delivers from those distresses. He takes us down the right path, the right Way, through Jesus. The dwelling place is in Him and He in us.

Some will recognize their "lostness" and seek someone or something or a belief contrary to God. Others will recognize in an instant the One who will guide them down the lighted path so He can satisfy the longing in their souls and fill them with goodness, that other things won't satisfy. It may seem a bitter pill to have to take to learn the truth, but it is worth it. The word emancipate has come to mind a couple times the past couple days. We don't always know we are oppressed at first. In time we know we can't live like this anymore. If we seek God He becomes the way out of that oppression and we take hold of Him and are set free. The load is lightened, the burdens eased. Isn't it worth it? One might wish it had happened sooner.

Let me repeat the words: Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.

2Corinthians 7:9-10 - Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner... For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Monday, November 18, 2013

He Does Because

Romans 11:33-36 - 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! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

God and His ways can really take us deep into our thoughts. Often we end up at a wall realizing our lack of knowledge on those things only He knows about. We can ask why would He do this or that and come away with our own unsatisfactory answers, none at all or coming to the conclusion that it's just because.

I had been messaging with a friend on the meaning of God's will. Out of it all, I have to admit my finite mind has to back off and believe one thing: because God can. Because He is sovereign...and He is. He does not cause or will evil, He allows it. But when He does, it is still for a purpose only He is privy to...because He is God...and He wants us to realize that.

He knew sin would enter into the world, yet He created it. Why? To show His glory. To show His nature, power and attributes, His goodness and judgment. To show what happens when you choose evil over good. We need to see both in order to make a choice. We all have choices to make and there will be consequences for them...good or bad.

When all is said and done the answer is, just because. Because He is Creator God. Because He is in control. Because He is sovereign. Because.

I'll tell you, when I get myself to a place where I don't have an answer...and it's okay not to have an answer; it's okay to say I don't know and defer to just trusting thoughts eventually run backward to the beginning where everything began. God, our Alpha, First, Creator. It all started with Him. His infinite wisdom, glory, judgment, plan, creation. He has done all things for His own glory. And that's all we need to know. We need to honor that too. We need to allow Him to be that glory. We cannot negate it.

He does...because!

Some of the points my friend stated she believed I know are not true. She does not believe God knows all things because why would He create at all knowing evil would exist. To show His glory... And why would He create Adam and Eve knowing they would bring sin into the world? To show His glory... And why does God allow death of innocent children? To show His glory...because He is sovereign. A verse from Psalm 139 tells us He is in control and sovereign: Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. They say we are His perfect creation and He knows the beginning from the end of each of our lives. Because of sin in the world, we die. Even this glorifies God, through His sovereign power.

I also know that we must see both sides of God. Just like we must see our sin in order to realize we have a God who loves us enough to allow evil, as it were, into our lives to appreciate how God can also take us out of that evil...through Jesus. We must see His judgment side, or the side we would just as soon not see or hear about, in order to realize His other side, the goodness and righteousness He is. I hope this makes sense. God reveals Himself in both the good and the judgmental. This all shows His glory. How? To show our need for Him in difficult times. To show He is sovereign. To draw us closer to Him, to see how we will react in difficult times, to see whether we are trusting Him.

In some churches only the good side is discussed. And maybe that's why it's hard for some to understand why bad things happen to good people, in particular children. Maybe they have learned only that God is love. I'm not saying that God is judging a small child in their death but that He allows it to happen. It is all part of this fallen world we are in.

So why would He create at all if He knew evil would exist? That question is a tough one. The only answer I can come up with, again, is to show His glory, though it may not seem like enough of an answer. Because He can, He is God. Because He wants His glory to be seen. We need to see His glory in order to believe in Him, although some never do. It's His plan for us, since we have been created by Him, to know Him, believe in Him, trust, follow and obey Him for our eternal life...

And what it boils down to is just believing and trusting Him in all circumstances. Plain and simple. That may just be the hardest thing man can do. Man wants to fix something, find a solution, come up with an answer. And some might even try to do this with God, find a solution about Him that man can understand. God wants us to just trust in Him, let His glory be revealed. Man wants his own glory. He wants his answers to always be the right answers. But we have to admit we don't have all the answers. We have to settle for the answer of just because.

Oh, the questions I will have for Him someday!! Others probably will too. However, the frustration can be quelled by knowing Jesus, following after Him, hearing Him speak through His Word, obeying Him and trusting in Him. That's what all of life is about. It's not all about us.

Job 11:7-9 - Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than heaven— what can you do? Deeper than Sheol— what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Way of the Cross

Isaiah 53:6 - All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

This country is in a great need of a spiritual awakening. ...As I've traveled from city to city I see how far people have wandered from God. Of all the things I've seen and heard there's only one message that can change people's lives. There is a way...if you come the way of the cross. - Billy Graham

Years ago I would have quickly curled my lip and switched the channel had I seen commercials advertising Billy Graham and one of his televised crusades. For the most part each crusade was pretty much the same, with the same message in different words. Wasn't that ultimately what Jesus did?

We are all like sheep, wandering in our own directions. We all are in need of a Shepherd to guide us in the way of truth. There is only one true Shepherd and He paid the price so we all could be free from our wandering and guided by Him.

There is only one message...and Jesus IS the Message. Billy Graham said it...There is only one way, the way of the cross. Jesus said it like this: I am the way, truth and the life... How can you change that truth? Jesus is the Way...of the cross. In those days crucifixion was done so that all could see. Crosses were set up along the roads leading to and from a town, like a warning for others. Picture the Way carrying the cross and the Way being mounted onto it with nails and the Way suffering thereon, then the Way giving up the ghost. Graham said the worst part wasn't all that He had to go through to get to the cross. The worst part was for a time being separated, forsaken from His Father. That's what we all are before Christ...separated from our Heavenly Father.

All Jesus has done for us. I AM THE WAY, He tells us. Like the warning if the crosses lining the way in the streets, He became the warning for us.

Hah! Yesterday our pastor, Terry Fischer, made mention of warning. Often people question how we can say God is a loving God but kill so many, as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrha, Samaria even other times when God's judgment fell on a people or nation, like how He does allow many to suffer the consequences of hell, although He's a loving God! He didn't cause the destruction without warning: He was merciful; He warned them, were Pastor Terry's words. He has sent prophets of old; he sent His Son.  Jesus' words of warning, and love, continue. So warning is a good thing. It's the hearers of the warnings who must decide if they want to listen or judge.

Sean Hannity had a special on Billy Graham. I wondered how he managed to do this. I would watch it with an open ear. A bit of doubt invaded my mind and heart because for all the important people Graham managed to reach and actually get to talk to or spiritually advise, I have to admit, I don't know to what extent their lives really changed, if they did. Perhaps he only planted the proverbial seed. Like Jesus, many may think Graham is just a good, wise man, maybe a prophet. They still believe what they want to believe.

It does cause me to wonder why and how so many think they understand? How different is it from my understanding or that of others? But then, it was a just a seed in my life years prior to my own conversion. And God knows the rest of all our stories. Only God knows the outcome of the lives Billy Graham has touched.

Graham said that though many would react to this message (if they decided to watch it) it is the truth and he said with all his heart he wanted to leave us with this truth. Graham wants to leave us...with the truth. This may be the last time we hear from this man of God. But till his dying breath he will give us the same message of truth...that Jesus is the only way, truth and life; we are to take up our cross and follow Him.

What is Jesus' message? That He loves you and is willing to forgive you of all your sins. But you must go by way of the cross. You must believe that He was virgin born, lived a holy life with the very real knowledge that He was going to die for all mankind. He knew not all would receive Him, not even some in His own family. Like Graham, His message would always be the same. There is only one message. Without Jesus there is no hope. Without Jesus there is death.

Graham pointed out several things about the cross:
. It is offensive...but a cross we all must face some day.
. We don't want to hear we are all sinners, but we are.
. It demands, not suggests, a new lifestyle from sin which is a disease that affects the heart.

Jesus is our only hope for our eternal future. He sets us free. We become new persons in Christ.

Don't think you're a sinner? That is the first sign you are. None are righteous. NO ONE. You can't name one person, not one. ALL are sinners. All are in need of Christ. Not working to receive Him but working for Him once He is received. There are endless testimonies of God's transforming power in people. If we look at these people and think "good for them; glad for them" and glad we haven't been there/done that because we've lived a better life than these transformed individuals, we look at ourselves as better than they...another sin. When I hear or read about how God intervened in such a personal, powerful way in one person's life, it reminds me of the day it all became so real for me...and other times when I knew the Lord had intervened in my life in some way.

As one young woman in the program put it: The truth is, there is no other way. Besides Christ and what He did there's no life. Isn't that what Jesus tells us? I am the way, truth and the life. All that He did for's mind boggling. He BECAME sin for us. He died on a cross where each of us should be. Without Him we remain in our sinful states. That is one truth. Another truth is we can be free of our sin if we receive Christ. Yet other truths: We will be forgiven of our sins and given eternal life; however, if we don't want to change what we are or how we view things we are rejecting Christ.

Graham spoke these wonderful words: Jesus was the only one born in this world without sin. But more than that He was a righteous one and when you come to Him you're clothed in His righteousness. God no longer sees your sin, nor your own heart. He sees Jesus.

We are told, as Graham said in one of his crusade messages, we don't have to understand all this...just believe. And anyone can believe...with all our heart. Believe, as Graham pointed out, means to commit...committing my life totally to Him. It's not just thinking in our minds, okay, I believe. It comes from a belief deep in your spirit, through repentance and faith in Him. One that causes a change in the way you think and believe. It causes you to want to be changed by a holy God. Repentance is that change. Recognizing you are a sinner and He is the only one who can forgive.

While Jesus may have died 2,000 years ago, He also arose and is still alive today ready to forgive anyone who is willing to put their faith and trust in the one true Way.

Some ask that you say a prayer to receive Christ. I received Christ before the prayer. The prayer was more a confirmation. Anyone can come to Christ by sincerely asking Him to show you what YOU need to see or hear to make Him real to you. It's not about a prayer. It's a heart issue and sincerity. Will your heart be the proper soil for receiving this seed?

John 10:11 - “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

In Our Flesh

1Corinthians 1:27-30 - But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption...

Somehow my mind will not let go of a thought and it seems as I peruse this and that or meditate here and there, I have been led to areas too great to let just sit in my memory. As this blog sat a couple of days, some of these same words were spoken or prayed in church today.

Righteousness. I've written about it before. I've written that we cannot attain it by anything we do (in our flesh) but only by what Christ did for us. Christ alone. In His flesh. Not our works, not our good deeds. No outward thing can gain this righteousness. Not countless hours in His Word, or studying scriptures or even pounding the pavement for the Lord, although we are called to do these things...and often desire to do them when we have come to Christ. It is something between myself and Jesus. And it starts with a relationship with Him. In fact, as stated above, He uses the foolish, weak and base. He will not use one who believes he is smarter, wiser, mightier than most. He does not use self seekers. He uses the sin filled individual who at one time was sure he needed Someone greater in his life to get him through. God looks to those and uses those who have bowed a knee and a heart to Christ.

No work can ever be good enough. If we think we can buy our way to heaven, same thing. How much is enough? What amount of works are enough? Are we ever sure enough? We are told in Romans there is none righteous, not one. If we believe we've done enough, we fool ourselves...and wrongfully put ourselves on the same level as Christ...and if we believe that, we have sinned in our own pride. No works.....none, nada, zip, zero. Period. We will always fall short of the glory of God! However, in Christ we long to do good works, for Him.

Righteousness is looked upon as arrogance to those who do not understand what Christ has done...and those who have not received His gift of just that, a gift, undeserved...given to any who understand it is not about works. The works is what trips us up. We must do good to get ahead, step up that ladder to success, be recognized as "something." This is not God's view. Remember, He chooses the foolish, weak and base...that man cannot say it was something they did (in the flesh) to achieve their salvation. It is the work of Christ on the cross alone that redeems us, makes us righteous. His flesh torn, bruised, pierced, bloody. What He had to go through. And we must do no more than admit this, believe it and trust it. Nothing I've done, but all You've done, O God.

A simple concept, but difficult if we cannot put our pride, or self, aside for Someone else...for Jesus. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can wash away our guilty stains. How absolutely humbling and so against the nature of man. But true.

There is a book called The Pilgrim's Progress written by an early Christian writer and preacher named John Bunyan. He maintained that he was only a Christian, of no denomination. He struggled with this righteousness. He often felt he lacked in righteousness. He could only see his sin and the things he believed he could not attain to satisfy God. Could he ever be considered righteous? Was he truly saved? And as he dwelt on this issue he wrote:

But one day, as I was passing into the field, and that too with some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest yet all was not right, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, “Your righteousness is in heaven”; and methought with it all, I saw, with the eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, as my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say to me that He wants my righteousness, for that was just before Him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that, from that time, those dreadful Scriptures of God left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing, for the grace and love of God. So when I came home, I looked to see if I could find that sentence, “Your righteousness is in heaven,” but could not find such a saying; wherefore my heart began to sink again, only that was brought to my remembrance, “He is made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1Cor. 1:30). By this word I saw the other sentence true.

For by this Scripture I saw that the man Christ Jesus, as He is distinct from us, as touching His bodily presence, so He is our righteousness and sanctification before God. Here therefore I lived, for some time, very sweetly at peace with God through Christ. Oh! methought, Christ, Christ! There was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes: I was not now only for looking upon this and the other benefits of Christ apart, as of His blood, burial, or His resurrection, but considering Him as a whole Christ, as He in whom all these, and all other virtues, relations, offices, and operations met together, and that He sat on the right hand of God in heaven.

All we need to do is let go of our own lofty ideas of righteousness and let Jesus do the work in us. This happens when we come to a place of relationship with Christ. He has done it all. The Son seated at the Father's right hand. The Mediator between God and man. Receive Christ, receive, righteousness. God cannot see in us what we see in us because He sees us through His Son. And there is nothing unrighteous about Jesus. Put on Christ. Put on the robes of righteousness...and don't allow the enemy to say otherwise. Don't allow doubts because of finicky feelings be our downfall. Look straight into the eyes of the Lord and know He has done it all...that no FLESH should glory in His presence. Not us, but He alone. Praise Him! He is the One who said, "It is finished" before HE died.

Romans 8:1-4 - There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Then Comes the End

1Corinthians 15:24-26 - Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 

Just as there was a beginning there will be an end. Genesis...Revelation. All things in between these two books show us all we need to know about life.

Man was created. He sinned. He died. Death was not supposed to be. So God the Father had to make a provision to allow His creation to once again have life. He stepped down from His heavenly throne to mingle with the ungodly, in the form of a Man, His own Son.

He knew no sin. He remained holy. He lived among the sinners without becoming defiled. He drew men to Him. He spoke the difficult truth in love. Just like God sent the prophets, He also sent Jesus. Many saw Him, believed in Him, followed Him and perpetuated His teachings that thousands of years later this Man, Jesus, could still be reachable by others.

His message was simple. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6). He is the life. Without Him there is no life. We can believe He was just a man or a prophet or just say we know who He is, but we will not share in the life. We must take Him at His Word and believe all that He has shared with us. We must understand that unless we give up our ideas on how life is to be lived and live according to His commands we will not have life. 

God's people struggled with sin and so do we. Religions tell us what they believe is our responsibility to receive a life in heaven. But Jesus says, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (Matthew 16:24, John 8:12). He asks us not to hold on dearly to the things we believe are giving us a great life on earth. They are the idols that keep us from a relationship with Jesus. He is asking us to put them aside and consider Him first. It means putting Him first. Putting Him first. First. Deny our selfish desires and seek Him. And part of this is picking up a Bible and finding out Who He is, listening to His words, showing an interest in Him. THEN you will have life...abundant life. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) And there you have it. Right back to that enemy...and death. 

It was prophesied that life will take a downturn in the latter days. I believe we are in the midst of these days. God was prepared for this. He knew at a prescribed time He would have to let all things come to another end, like in the days of Noah. The Son whom He allowed to die for the eternal spiritual lives of those who received His words, will one day return. This time He will return in a warring fashion to defeat the same enemy that Eve faced before she bit that forbidden fruit. All those of the remnant who have chosen to heed His words will come with Him, having refuge in Him. All others, the greater majority, will be cast aside. They will become His last days enemies whom He will defeat, whose lives will end. He will reign forever, His enemies beneath Him, while those who have believed these things will be covered by Him. He will reign forever. 

1Corinthians 15:27a - For “He (God) has put all things under His (Jesus) feet.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Isaiah 4:5-6 - ...then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain. 

This is what God longs to be for us. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ we wander this earth without the spiritual covering He provides.

This nation is losing it's standing in the world because of wickedness that has pervaded over the years...lack of respect for God, desiring to be our own self-made people, relishing in the wealth we created over the years and bowing down to it.

We have decided in our hearts that it is our wisdom and knowledge that makes us who we are, not God. Along with that we have decided that since we have this wealth we can spend any way we desire.

God punished His own people thousands of years ago for similar attitudes. Why should it be any different today if He is a God who never changes?

He longs to be our protection. The pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. He longs to be our covering. Christ can be that covering. He is our Tabernacle, our place of refuge and our shelter from the storm.

Why would these things be written if they were not for us to learn from? Before these particular verses was a horrifying picture...the wanton women languishing in their vanity, beauty, men, gowns, fragrances and accessories...and they were brought low. All they had was taken away, their nakedness (sins) uncovered for who He saw them to have become. They became a stench and with this humbling these women lamented.

But those who did not succumb to this lifestyle became the remnant of God. All that He had for them was, refuge, tabernacle and covering.

This is all a picture of Jesus. Do you know Him? Is He first in your life? Is He all you need? Do you trust in Him over the things of the world? He covenanted many years ago with a very few who believed Him. The covenant is His refuge, shelter, covering. It will be for those few in number, the remnant of the last days.

He has promised us everything good...spiritual goodness and blessing above material. He has shown us repeatedly what He offers and what He rejects. His covenant is with those who follow Him, who become part of His inheritance. Remember, it is about a remnant. Few will follow, few will receive Him and few will receive His inheritance.

Psalm 105:7-12 - He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance,” when they were few in number, indeed very few, and strangers in it. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Eye Salve!

Revelation 3:18 - I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

Yesterday after posting my blog, I checked my email. I thought about just going to post my pastor's devotion for yesterday but I couldn't stop my mind from thinking and fingers typing. Figures.

In the scripture above Jesus is asking people, counseling them, to "buy" some important things. Today we buy things to meet our needs. But many tend to neglect their spiritual needs. Jesus suggests gold, which cannot be burned in the most extreme fire; white garments, which we all visualize as meaning purity and cleanness, covering the things that should not be seen...especially our sins. (We can be covered by the blood of Christ.) And then there's the eye salve. What is a salve? Doesn't it soothe? And when your eyes are soothed and you can see, isn't it wonderful? I'm in Arizona where it's dry...and I have the start of glaucoma in one eye...and occasionally an eye drop is necessary to relieve the burning sensation. Not eye salve, but you get the point.

My pastor, Terry Fischer, from The Church in Wisconsin (yes, that's the name of our church), does a near-daily devotion. He has so aptly named them Eyesalve. The Word of God, our Bibles, should be that eye salve in our lives. The Bible speaks of things past which relate to things present and future. It is truth and life. At least it should be to those who delve into His Word, who long to hear Him speak through it, to learn His ways, His commandments and who long to know Him and better take Him at His Word.

I've said this many times...not only is the Bible the Word, but Jesus is the Word. Jesus is the only Person who brings life. No pastor, no priest, no rabbi or Buddhist monk...or any monk. Jesus alone. There is also not one religion better than another. It's not about a religion anyway and all about a relationship with Jesus Christ...the same Jesus who is more costly than gold, covers our sins that we are clothed in righteousness and who is the Word whose words are like an eye salve.

The Bible starts with creation and ends with death...which becomes our eternal life or death. All throughout the pages between the beginning and end are glimpses of this Man, Jesus, whose only desire is that we follow Him for this eternal life, in Him, to heaven. There is another eternity but it does not include Jesus or God. It only includes eternal torment for those who choose not to take God--or Jesus--at His Word and believe what the Word says or what Jesus, the Living Word, says. I got to thinking about this place. Do we commiserate with others who have ended up there or do we experience this torment all by ourselves??? Being alone would be the ultimate agony. Total separation.

So, my pastor's blog so confirmed in my spirit that what I wrote earlier was on target. (Link to blog)

The words I write may come across as critical or judgmental. Consider them tempered in love...albeit tough love. Consider them words Jesus would preach. I would only pray that before anyone moves them into the trash bin, they keep on reading for the part that says Jesus loves you and died for you and desires that you seek Him for eternal life and to not follow Him is not good. Not all I write is soft and delightful. But then neither are all the passages of the Word of God.

The Word was written by men but inspired of God. I'm not saying all I write is inspired by God!!! I would hope my words would, however, reflect God's heart. Proverbs 14:12 says: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. I urge you to shake that "I'm a ... whatever denomination ..." It's all about Jesus. Are we true followers of Him or of a man made religion? Do we listen to the clergyman or hear Jesus through His Word? This might be you read His Word to hear Him speak? Is your spirit being pricked?

His Word is for all to see and read. It is that eye salve. I urge anyone to begin to take Him at His Word. Open your hearts and minds to receive all He has for you...truth, blessing, judgment. I ask you to find a Bible, on line if absolutely necessary, and read all of John 3. It is an eye salve.

Again, if you did not read my blog yesterday, here's the link. Now, read and enjoy Pastor Terry's (short) devotion also from yesterday (emphasis is mine).

Posted on Nov 4 by Pastor Terry Fischer

“And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.” Ez. 6:10

There are 43 similar verses in the bible that say “…they (or ye) shall know that I am the Lord…” 39 of those verses are in Ezekiel. There are two ways that God makes it known to people that He is the Lord; one way is through blessing the other through judgment. 31 of those 43 times Ezekiel makes this statement, he is prophesying judgment. If you have ever been accused of being judgmental because you are just simply holding to the word of God imagine how Ezekiel must have felt. Anyway, what will it take for you to know the Lord better, judgment or blessing?

You can read Pastor Terry's devotions (Eyesalves) here. And you can sign up for them. He's concise and speaks in truth! - Laurie

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Terror of the Lord

Isaiah 2:19,21 - They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily. To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the rugged rocks, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily.

Isaiah was a prophet. He told of the judgment to come upon His people. God was frustrated and angry with Israel. They had seen His miracles, known His protection and provision over the years, but now they forgot Him. They were intent on making names for themselves, relishing in the works of their own hands, patting themselves on the back and living for self. Their stuff became their idols. They no longer looked to God as Provider.

As I read the first chapter I saw a similarity between these people and our nation, one that once was aware of the need for God, which people did not consider Him passé. God still pleads with us: "If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword”; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:19,20)

Amidst the majority of the people (then and now) there is a remnant of believers, however. Unless the Lord of hosts Had left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been made like Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1:9) Everyone knows the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Two cities filled with sin. God told Abraham he would not destroy them if there would be even 10 righteous people...and there weren't.

I know sometimes when I write I sound critical. And people don't like to hear criticism. But sometimes it's through that criticism that something eventually hits home. Jesus spoke some harsh words Himself calling some hypocrites, blind fools, snakes and vipers. Not pleasant words at all, but the truth. When I write what God warns it may sound critical. How can anyone say that God who never changes, is always truthful, has warned us in the past and continues today is being critical. He's warning...........I pass on those warnings.

Our country has a small remnant of righteous people. Although we are headed for disastrous times, I do not believe we will be destroyed for the righteous...who still will have difficult days to go through because of the unrighteous.

As Isaiah goes on, God has him prophesy first the warning that if they put away their evil ways He will do right by them. If they do not His hand will come against those who come against Him. Isaiah 1:25,28: I will turn My hand against you, and thoroughly purge away your dross, and take away all your alloy. The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. God will still do this today because his Word has not changed...warning first...with His goodness to them if they heed and the results of their determination not to hear His words. Just not many take the time today to know what His Word has to say.

Oh, people. Does anyone see this? We are so imitating those days. As individuals, a nation and the world. Many do not hear the words of the prophets warning of the days to come. Many might say, they were ancient people and what does that have to do with today? Many believe that life just goes on as we have known it for our short time on earth. I look at it this way...Jesus will return; why not today or tomorrow? It has to happen sometime. Shouldn't we be ready? What do you think will happen if He does? Are you ready? Do you care? You should.

The signs of the times show the great and glorious day of the Lord is coming. Scoffers are in abundance. Evil abounds compared to 60 years ago, right? Wickedness in the form of complacency and self-seeking, self-pleasure is everywhere. And there are a lot of blind people...blind because if
they could see they would recognize their sin and who wants that?

There will be a day when the terror of the Lord will come. If I must be afraid of it, so should everyone. There WILL be a day when God will show the world His glory and righteousness. It will be a terror to those not with Him, to those who have ignored Him, who have said they believed in Him yet lived as they desired thinking they had nothing to fear. When this day comes, all those things one worked so hard for, so enjoyed, so proud about, will come to nothing...left behind when the fear of God so overcomes and sends people running and hiding because God's glory is too much to bear.

I share Isaiah's warning. It is not mine. As God spelled it out then, He spells it out in no uncertain terms today. He never changes, His Word is still true. He has shown us as an don't get mad at the messenger(s)! Ignorance is no excuse. Turning a blind eye or deaf ear is no excuse. God has shown us. Will you heed His warnings? Or will you laugh at what seems impossible? Isn't it He who created the heavens, earth and mankind, brought the Great Flood, was provider and protector to those who followed Him, rained judgment on those who did not, who sent His Son to die for all so we would not need to fear? Jesus is still the answer in this world. Just acknowledging Him is not enough. Knowing Him personally is. Trusting in Someone who is unseen, having faith in Him before the things we can see or feel.

Heed His warning or don't. Laugh or not. I voice not just my own opinion but that of others, which ultimately comes from God. It's up to you to make up your own mind.

For with God nothing will be impossible. Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. (Luke 1:37, Jeremiah 32:17)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Take Him at His Word

1Peter 1:8-9 - ... Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

Hallelujah! It's all about the Word, His Word. It's about Jesus, the Man and the Word.

Coming upon a local Christian television station the preacher, Dr. John Whitcomb, was talking about Jesus' ministry. He talked about certain people, those who followed Him and sought Him for His miracles of feeding the thousands with a loaf of bread and some fishes...and other miracles. They did not follow Him to hear Him speak but for the signs or what He could give them. They missed the message that He was the Bread of Life. Whitcomb said one fleeting statement (in my words): like many in the Church today, they want all the bells and whistles, the things they can see that tickle their senses, the programs, the music, the flashing lights...not so much the words of our Lord.

I think many churches today do this. People don't go just for a well preached sermon and the truth of God's Word. They come out of obligation, the belief that it will get them to heaven...or for the entertainment. We've become a people of needing to be entertained by things and not so much by just listening or reading. And many churches are providing such to keep the people entertained and returning. They opt for a soft, inoffensive message to keep the pews and coffers full. I encountered a women's event one time. As I entered the church the entire foyer was filled with tables with wares to be sold. Something went through me as if to say, is this what is needed to get women to a church event? Do we have to be lured with shopping first and not for the pure Word?

What about churches who will not bow to this entertainment? The difference is the people in those churches want to hear Jesus speak. They want to hear what they must do to be saved, be reminded of their sin and to be encouraged to continue to abide in the Lord. They want the truth and nothing but the truth.

Many churches preach soft messages, as the Bible says: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2Timothy 4:3-4)

Sadly, Jesus encountered a falling away just like many of the churches today. It has to do with wanting to hear (and see) what they want...or finding it difficult to understand or not wanting to hear what Jesus says:
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” (John 6:53-58,60) And the result? From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. (John 6:66)

There you go. Eating that bread and the Bread. The people came to Jesus because He provided them badly needed food. They missed the point of He being that which could give them life...the Bread or as the Samaritan woman at the well was told, the Living Water, which when drunk would remove the thirst forever. Except she got it!

Aren't we told that the Word of God brings life? Aren't we told that Jesus is the Word? Don't I constantly say that it's all about Him? Not about a religion but about a relationship with the Man, Jesus Christ.

This reminded me of what I wrote the other day about people believing or having their faith and trust in things they can see or hold in their hands...their stuff, which when others see is like a boost to their ego. What does the Word say? Remember Thomas, who doubted Jesus' resurrection? John 20:29 - Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And then Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

We are called to take Jesus at His word. Simple, childlike faith. Come to Him for He is the Bread of life and the Living Water. It's both a simple concept and mysterious one. How do we do it? Take Him at His word. He is the Word. Take Him into your life. Give yourself to Him and trust and see what He can do.

Jesus, the Word:
Hebrews 4:12 - ...the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

He, the Word, is  all we need to be fulfilled in this life. Go for it. Take Him at His word and take Him. Period.

Matthew 24:35 - Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

God Never Changes

Ecclesiastes 1:2 - “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

Solomon, son of King David, was a wise man. Most of Solomon's life was lived in godliness. God granted him wisdom when he asked for it and because he asked only for wisdom, God granted him riches as well, which in the end was his downfall.

Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. This book was written as a reflection on the vanity of human life. It shows us how nothing is ever new but that all things have been done before. I began writing the other day about Psalm 100:5 - For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

There is, in my mind, a connection between that psalm and Ecclesiastes! As I began to write my post for the other day (I wanted to let it rest before editing) I was going to discuss how since God has created all things, everything seems to fall into its own the life of the earth and human life. Seasons of life on earth and seasons of human life. They never change...and God never changes. He's the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I guess I'm trying to say that because God never changes, His truth endures forever, that which has been done is what will be. Why the Bible is an excellent guide into seeing what has been done in the past has been repeated...and what the outcomes are.

So Solomon sought wisdom and came to the conclusion all is vanity, that which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). God never changes.

God's plan all along was for all generations to seek Him and believe, trust and have faith in Him. He has not changed. Sadly, man wants to believe in himself before God. Sadly, also, that is nothing new under the sun! His desire will remain the same till the Lord returns.

So, it is vain to think we can live our lives without knowing God. It is vain to think our lives are fine without any thought or obedience to Him. That, as Ecclesiastes tells us:
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11) Later he says, He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Oh my. So what is life all about if all we desire, all pleasures of our labors is not at all profitable in the end? And neither has it been for anyone in life? What is all this? What do we do?

Ecclesiastes continues by telling us that we should enjoy what we have, enjoy our life...but not without first knowing and believing that God has given us all we have. And if He has given it, it can be taken away...why it is important to know He is our greatest reward, not all we achieve or store up in the world.

I know, you can't put a finger on what is most valuable that He has to give. You can't hold it in your hand or look at it to admire it. Well, we are told that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Maybe that's why many do not trust the Lord. They want what they can hold, see, smell, taste. God wants us to trust Him, not self.

If one is willing to give himself over to Him, there is a true presence, contentment, peace and joy. It cannot be explained. It's a spiritual knowing. Minds discern and eyes see things differently. Hearts long not for the things of the world but the things of God. All the stuff one has might be seen as part of those things eyes desired, the pleasures of labor...which when one has received those desires one is quickly dissatisfied with and something new must replace it. A perpetual grasping for the wind??? God gives good things. Wouldn't it be better to receive His good things instead?

Solomon goes on to reveal more of God's truths (Ecclesiastes 3) everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the heaven. You know the old song...a time to live and a time to die...a time to plant and a time to reap... Plus, He has made everything beautiful in its time. Oh, those seasons, those lives I was about to write about. Those things God, who never changes, has created.

I know that whatever God has done or does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to nor taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him. That which is has already been, and what is to be has already been; and God requires an account of what is past. (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15)

This book reminds us all that God gives and takes away. He brings us into this world, like He does the seasons. They come, they go. The sun rises and sets, as does the moon. He controls all things. We can conclude that wisdom was is good thing...God's wisdom the best...and we should be thankful for what we have and acknowledge God in the process. Enjoy what we have but realize it's not all about our stuff, which can still leave us unsatisfied...and which God can take away. Be of proper mind to let it go if necessary.

There will always be rich and poor, oppressed and blessed. Our fates are equal. We die taking nothing with us. But where we end up after death is what is important. Rich and poor, oppressed and blessed can all be assured of their end if they look to God now. As Solomon says, 4:9-10: Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. If we have the Lord with us, we have that One who will lift us up.

Everything is still always about God. Start with Him, gain His wisdom, receive the good things He has to offer. Proverb 21:21 states He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor. See, it is God's way, the best way.

Receive His gift of life can be taken away in a moment's notice...and what good does it do to strive for so much without acknowledging Him? We long to live longer to enjoy more when God knows the actual number of our we should be right with God before it's too late.

Besides the greatest gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, we can receive His wisdom. Through both of these we will know what is beneficial. Nothing of God is a mistake or disappointment. Trust Him with our lives and with all He gives us. Solomon figured it all out for us. His words were written for our understanding and guidance. It all begins and ends with God. In Genesis He created the world; in Revelation He destroys all wickedness and returns to reign in peace and holiness.

He has shown us what He desires. He has shown us that wisdom is greater than stuff. He has shown those who seek wisdom what is's all about Him. Seek Him and all "real" life may be yours, in difficult times or good. It is His miracle worked out in us.

All throughout this book Solomon shows us, like he does in his proverbs, the difference between the wise man and the fool, the one who seeks God and the one who does not believe that God provides all the answers. God gives and takes away; He is the Judge of our sin; He determines where we go on our last day. Jesus also told us not to worry about our lives (Matthew 6:25-34)...these words of wisdom are understood by true believers.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 - Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.