Saturday, July 27, 2013

Give Ear, O My People

Psalm 78:1-4 - Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

Children of God. People of God. His peculiar people. A chosen generation. A holy priesthood. His inheritance. Saint of God. New creature. God's workmanship. Citizen of heaven. Chosen of God.

How is it we had not heard at an early age? Where were the people? Where was the Church? How is it there are so many differing opinions on the idea of salvation and what the Bible proclaims? Why isn't there just one heart, one mind and one God?

And yet, somehow, the message was passed on. Somehow on one day God presented to many His Son Jesus for the very intent of saving yet another soul. The message was spoken, it was heard, it was taken in, it changed one more person, then another and another. Why not more? God knew long ago that the road would be narrow and few would follow it. And that's just the way it is.

Yet He has given so many a chance to receive that Word, the sayings of old, the message that never quits and never changes.  Now we must take that same word and message and perpetuate it. Teach it to not only those around us but the next generation. Teach the parables and the laws. Teach them Jesus. Teach them that in Him is life an no other life is as great at what He has to offer.

Teach them creation, in it's truth. Teach them all God has done for His people, of which some are now included as. Teach that He saved and healed, that He was with them through thick and thin, as long as they were obedient to Him, that He is with us through thick and thin, as long as we are obedient to Him. Like a (good) father to a child...that's what He is. Not all of us have experienced a good and loving father. But He is there to be the replacement, the One who will love unconditionally.

Remind that when stubbornness and rebellion are present in a life or a country or a world, judgment will come. God will not leave His people but our desires can often lead us to leave Him. His love is unconditional; our has conditions, generally focused on self.

Remember all He did for past generations. He longs to do this for us. He parted seas that Israel might cross on dry ground. He longs to part the seas in our lives that we might cross over to a better life...leave the oppressed lives we don't even realize we have for a real life, a fulfilling life. He longs to protect us from our enemies. He longs to provide for us. All He has can be ours if we only submit to Him.

God's anger will be provoked soon enough. He will not let us live as we are much longer if His name is sullied, mocked, ignored, spat upon or blasphemed much more. Hard words? Look around.

As His anger against His people was before, it will happen again. But merciful to those who seek Him. His love is everlasting to those who heed Him. He asks us to seek Him while He can still be sought, before His wrath is so great and the doors close forever to His the doors on the ark...and the people who scoffed perished without. His story has a perfect ending for those willing to submit and serve Him...something the pride of the world has a hard time accepting.

Yes, a perfect ending.

Revelation 17,14 - And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Just A Matter of Time

Acts 5:28 - ..."Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?"

The Book of Acts describes the beginning of the first church. It describes what church and discipleship should be. Many churches have strayed from this. What's just as bad, churches and religious institutions are feeling the heat because it has become politically incorrect to mention God's name. In the 1960's Madalyn Murray O'Hare put the bee in the bonnet of others to begin the task of removing Bible reading from schools. And so it continues.

Anything that mentions God is becoming an offense because who are we to say there is only one way to heaven? Who are we to say that that one way is the Way? Who are we to say this name...Jesus? Military chaplains may no longer use the name of Jesus in prayer. It could be offensive to some and we can't have that. Doesn't matter if the offense of others offends us... The biggest offense in all of this, however, is the offense toward God.

It's just a matter of time before ordinary believers are tossed into jail for their views...because we'd been warned "to speak to no man in this name" (Acts 4:17). Will we continue in our beliefs or will we back down?

Will the power of God be so strong for us as that of Peter and John when they were imprisoned for their preaching in the name of Jesus? Will we see the same results as Peter and John when they were so warned not to preach? Will we be adamant and declare "we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). Will "that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth...whom God raised from the dead..." (Acts 4:10) be able to be preached by the same Power? Will we see walls shaken and jail doors miraculously opened that we might go out and preach some more the true Gospel?

What will we consider important? Will saving our own lives be more important, or speaking what we know is truth? Will we be willing to be offensive and lose our lives for this truth? Might we see this in our future? I believe so. If it happened in the Bible, it will happen again. It is so said that we will be persecuted for such behavior because Jesus was. Jesus told us if they hated Him they would hate us (John 15:18).

We are already being warned "not to teach in this name" in public. It won't be long before it will be illegal in the churches too. Underground churches are all over in some parts of the world where Christianity is not looked upon vey well. It's only a matter of time when this "free" country will have lost forever one more freedom. For a time...

Jesus Christ came to save and yet there are so many who do not want this salvation. It does not compute with their lifelong beliefs. It is to be shunned, mocked and ultimately removed from as not to offend. But Jesus offended, to the point of death, and yet He still exists. And those who are an offense because of His name will still be because of their standing in their faith no matter the cost.

Man cannot ever exalt himself over Jesus, no matter how hard he tries and how much he believes he has. Ever. This will, as it did in the days of the Book of Acts, infuriate some. If God is who He says He is, a day will come when they will find out they cannot overthrow Him.

There will never be a ceasing of preaching the name of Jesus. Through Him is the true freedom. Offensive or not, the Gospel must be and will be preached. Not to is the greatest offense to One greater than ourselves. The mandate is clear:

Acts 5:29 - ..."We ought to obey God rather than man."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Silver or Gold

Acts 3:6 - Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

Nothing in this world is more valuable than the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He is far more precious than anything we could ever physically put our hands on. There are many references to this in His Word.

This scripture discusses a lame man who needed something more than what the world could offer. And he allowed himself to believe in the One who could give it to him. This man got up, his ankles and feet being immediately strengthened, and he walked. And He followed Christ. He praised God for this miracle.

We can all have a miracle in our lives if we so desire. that miracle is Christ Himself. Only those who have received Christ, and not necessarily through a physical healing, although it can happen, realize that something has happened in their life. A change took place. Jesus healed and fed thousands so the people would believe. Yet Jesus said this to Thomas: ...because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29) A miracle...not seeing but believing.

Jesus is more valuable than silver and gold. This lame man might have needed the alms, but he received much more that day. Had he been rich he would not have been at that gate to receive healing and perhaps would never have seen a need for Christ. And God didn't even have to be present to heal. Only the power of His Spirit in and through Peter.

So what next? Did Peter take credit for this healing? No. He said it was no power of his own nor any of his own godliness but Jesus, whom those who had witnessed the lame man rise and walk, had crucified. It was a perfect opportunity to preach the Gospel and how this lame man just believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and was healed. Repent was the next thing Peter said. Despite all the people had done and what they believed, they could still do that and be forgiven.

There is a commercial I've seen about how we should be investing in gold so we can "protect our money from the problems of the world." When I heard those words I cringed. The problems of the world will never be totally eliminated until Christ returns and all forms of evil are gone. No amount of money will ever be the cure all. It might satisfy for a time but it cannot do what He does. Jesus is the best gold we can invest in.

This is what God tells us:

Wisdom is the better choice: Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; (Proverbs 8:10)  How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. (Proverbs 16:16) (Because) in the light of the king’s (King's) face is life, and his (His) favor is like a cloud of the latter rain. (Proverbs 16:15) - Solomon

Jesus is the precious life we can have: Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” (IPeter 2:7)  Jesus is the chief cornerstone in our lives if we do not reject Him: In Him we have life...more abundant life (John 10:10)

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. (Matthew 6:19-20) - Jesus.

I think I mentioned the other day how when we have, and abide in, Jesus, it's the one thing that cannot be taken away from us...unless we choose to give Him up. Otherwise He's always life and in death. Know Jesus, know the Word, which Word brings life because it's wisdom and knowledge. Get it?

Those account for more than the things we accumulate, our treasures. The treasures in heaven are far more valuable than what we have on earth. Jesus should be our Treasure. This Treasure outshines the gold or silver we hold in our hands and trust in. These words should be our truth: In God We Trust. If we are not storing up our treasures in heaven, our protection (in the form of gold or silver or things) amounts to nothing.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. ...the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the (same) word which by the gospel was preached to you. (Isaiah 40:8, 1Peter 1:25) ...that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ... (1Peter 1:7)

Hear these words. Glory in this revelation of Jesus Christ! Take in wisdom and shake off ignorance. Let Him open blind eyes and deaf ears. Be like the lame man and believe in the One who is a greater Treasure. Remove the thought of trusting in gold (or silver) to be protected from the problems of the world.

Acts 3:19 - Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cannot Be Removed

Isaiah 54:10 - For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

As I spent time with the Lord this morning outside in the very early morning light watching the day begin and the sounds bursting forth, I looked out at all that was growing in our yard, the sun rising and shining bright yellow on the treetops. I marveled yet again at the beauty of it all. I am thankful for what I see. It shows me God's handiwork. I thanked God for these moments of peace before the noise of the day would start.

This is peacefulness. What if this was removed? What if disaster struck and we would see this no more? What if our world was turned upside down? What would we cling to? I know one thing is for certain. If we have Jesus Christ planted (no pun intended) securely in our lives, nothing can take that away.

If we have Jesus Christ, if we have nothing in this world, we have the Spirit of God within us. It cannot be removed unless we choose to push it out. We can cling to the knowledge of who He is and what He stands for...or who He died for. He is all we need. He is our portion. He is the very present help in time of trouble. He is the Rock we can stand on, the Tower to rush into.

But this only holds true for those who truly do lean on Him each and every day...not just in moments of despair, loss or fear. He must be in one's heart and mind often throughout the day, not just occasionally. The first thought in the morning, the last at night: Thank You for this new morning, thank You for this day and the rest You provide tonight. And thankfulness throughout the day.

We are not truly alive if we do not have Him. I'm so thankful because He lives in me He is always there and cannot be removed unless I choose to allow His Spirit to depart from me. When I acknowledged Him years ago, His covenant was then with me, included me. I was given, although I did not know it until later, assurance that nothing could take Him away from me.

Nothing can remove Him. Nothing..unless I choose to let Him go. In death, no matter what manner, He is with me. If I were a missionary and persecuted for my beliefs, no one could take Him away. If I die a natural death, He is locked in a place that no man can heart. If my heart be stopped, I am then His. Permanent, perfect peace.

Lord, I choose Your Spirit to remain in me to strengthen me, give me wisdom beyond what the world has, to see with spiritual eyes, to bring me peace despite what we see around us. Though the world may crumble, we can have the hope that You are in control. If we are stayed on You, there is nothing we need fear. Though I see an unsettled world, I am comforted by knowing You. You will give us all that we need when we need it. I choose to trust in You. I anxiously await seeing You face to face.

I pray Lord that You would touch those who do not know You in this very special way. I ask that You work in them at a very deep spiritual level, in a way they cannot explain away, that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened, that You would give them the wisdom and understanding of who You are in their innermost being. Open their hearts to receive You and the hope You bring. Show them all that You are and can be to them.

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Monday, July 15, 2013

Glory to God, Lord of All

1Chronicles 29:11 -  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all. 

Do you see a world full of anger and/or fear? Are you concerned about the things occurring in this nation or in the world? Do you wonder how it might affect you? Do you think of these things or do you ignore it? I praise my God that He is the First and the Last, that He is in control and He knows the outcome of all circumstances whether personal, in our country or in the world. The time is now to seek Him and trust in Him for all things.

...if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2Chronicles 7:14)
For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (1Corinthians 14:33)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Hallelujah!! To God be the glory.

We see a world of confusion, discontent, uprising. If anyone doesn't have peace, they don't know the One who can bring it. He offers peace in a turbulent world by giving the assurance of a perfect hope, one which man cannot give. Our future is secure in Him, no matter what the world looks like around us. It's time for taking heads out of the sand! Look around. What do you see? Anger, killing, blaming, arguing, lying, cheating, stealing, unhealthy, ungodly lifestyles. And it grows. It's like leaven...which is defined as a substance used to produce fermentation. Evil has been fermenting for thousands of years. How much longer will it be able to before God intervenes?

How did that fermentation begin? With fall in the Garden of Eden. Although we can suggest it was Adam and Eve's fault, there is no excuse today when we have a God who is trying to get our attention, whose Word shows us what we need to do to avoid the leaven to grow in our lives. We live in a fallen world with people determined to live as they wish without consideration for God. And so...we see what we see in the world. That is why some have chosen not to follow in the things of the world but in the things of God. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1Corinthians 5:8)

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:14-16,19-23)

Can you see yourself even in the slightest bit in any of the fleshly evidence? Be honest. I do. And what is the fruit of the Spirit? Read it again. Might we be remiss in some of these as well? The things of the flesh will get to the point where God will not tolerate any of it. Like in the days of Noah...He will bring judgment upon this earth.

Lord, I sing praises to You for all You do, have done and are about to do. Because I know You, despite not knowing exactly when or exactly how (And He said to them,"It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority." Acts 1:7), I know the beginning (In the beginning God created...Genesis 1:1) from the end (Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him...Revelation 1:7). 

The world crumbles and people balk or rise up. We takes sides in the world but don't seek the side of He who holds the world and our future in His hands. But He even knows this. He has known this from the first and He knows who will be on His side at the last. I would want to be counted as one who knows my days will be for good and my future secure in the One who will determine how all people's lives will end.

Lord, fill me every morning with Your Spirit that I might walk with You to the end of my life. I praise You for being Almighty God and for knowing the beginning from the end. Let Your kingdom. Let the world behold Your glory and rejoice. Let Your people humble themselves and seek Your face. We already know that Your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Open eyes of unbelievers to see this.

Even so, Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

You Have Not Seen Me

John 21:1 - After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: …

Jesus had been crucified, buried and arose from the grave. Now He set about to return for the sake of the disciples.

He had just been with them and had shown Himself to doubting Thomas. He told him: Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

The next account confuses me. We don't know how long after the Thomas incident this took place. It only states later it was the third appearance...and this happened in the next chapter! We do know Jesus only returned for 40 days so this time could not have been too long since Thomas.

Peter and some of the others decided to fish one night. Peter just makes the very blunt statement: I'm going fishing. What might have been on his mind that led him to just drop everything and go fishing? Perhaps Jesus' visitations were looming in his head and he just needed to do something familiar, ordinary, to take his mind off, or to think about, things. What happened next is a bit like when some of the disciples were met on the road to Emmaus and talked, walked and listened to Him but didn't recognize Him.

They caught no fish that night. Jesus was on the shore waiting for their return. I can't help but sense a warm love that Jesus must have had for these ordinary men. They didn't recognize Him again! He called to them and they didn't recognize His voice. He asked if they had food but of course they hadn't caught any fish. So, again, like one other time when He asked Peter to cast the net on the other side of the boat and it was filled. Well, by this time I would have thought, hmmmmm, this sounds familiar! Click!

But no. They cast the net as they are told and it fills up. Finally: Therefore, that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" And Peter heard this and he put on his outer garment and plunged into the water.

Why, I ask, did they not catch (no pun intended) on sooner?

I wonder if we are all periodically blinded to the Lord's voice, recognition of Him or something He has done because other things consume us? These disciples had just had the Holy Spirit breathed on them. Wouldn't a bit of discernment or recognition have kicked in? Do we, like perhaps they, only look for the big things in our lives as being of the Lord and not the little day to day occurrences?

We can sense His presence at all times if we just remain aware. Viewing/hearing His character in nature, in the unvoiced protection against an accident, in locating lost articles, or just a word from the Lord from His Word one morning.

If our minds are kept on Him, on those heavenly things, we may more easily recognize Him. Stay attuned to what just might be from Him. I'm not saying that EVERY thing, EVERY thought, EVERY word is from Him. But I believe we can discern. And that's what confuses me. Why didn't these disciples recognize Jesus right away?

Were they still so in awe of His return? Did they think the two past occurrences were it and didn't expect to see Him again? Were they just so deep in this "I can't believe He came back" attitude? Don't we do that too? I can't believe that just happened--when it really did and you really DO believe it.

We can believe Jesus died for us. When we have that marvelous moment of recognition of Jesus in our lives, we know something has changed. And yet there are times we ponder: Why did this happen? Why me? Was it for real? It's like a moment of unbelief even though we do believe.

Thank You, Lord, for your presence throughout the day. I pray for those continual thoughts of heavenly things as I go about my days. I pray that prayer of I believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9:24) should it ever crop up. Admonish me to cast my net on the right side if my unbelief arises. Take me back to the day when my sight was restored and I saw with the eyes of my heart who and what truth is…that first day I believed with all my heart, mind and soul. How I love Your Word. There are days I could just bask in it. Good portion of days can just slip by sometimes. I'm feeling blessed because I have not seen You physically. But I have met You spiritually.

John 20:30-31 - And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Hem of His Garment

Matthew 9:20 - And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment.

We all have times of need. We can name our need(s). Think about something right now that you need. it really something you need? Or is it something that you only desire? Can you live without it or do you think you'll just die if you don't have or get it? We know we won't die from being without an unnecessary need. But there is a need from which we will die.

A guest pastor preached at our Wednesday night Bible study last night. He was asked to come back to finish what he'd started the week before while our pastor is on vacation. His message has been on The Right to BE Right.

As children of God, those who have received Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, who understand the reality of what Christ did for us, who long to hear the Word of God preached in truth from the pulpits, who are not hung up in the need for churchly activities, but only the pure, unadulterated Word of God in all it's truthfulness and conviction of sin, we DO have the right to be right.

We have the right because God gave us the right. He has given us His righteousness at the moment we knew that we knew we had met Jesus in a time of our need and "asked Him into our heart," "accepted Christ," "came to Christ/Jesus/the Lord" "gave our lives to Christ," "became right with God," "were saved," or whatever other phrase you want to use to describe the experience.

But Pastor Dave Liebherr of The Church of Acts (his church) said one thing that absolutely drew a word picture in my mind of which I could not let go. It may have been one of his rabbit trail, but it was powerful to me. He said, in my own words here, when we came to Christ we touched the hem of His garment…but now we are clothed in His righteousness. What an amazing picture?

In the Gospels there is a story about a woman with an issue of blood. It's one of my favorite stories. For twelve years she'd been hemorrhaging. Because of this she had to separate herself from society because, by Jewish law, she was considered unclean…and there was no way with this issue she could become clean. She could not mingle with others; she could not go out on the streets for fear of possibly causing others to become unclean because they bumped into her or merely were next to her. Even the medical community, such as it was then, could not heal her. She had exhausted all avenues of healing…except one.

This unnamed woman had heard of Jesus and His ability to heal and when He was to be in her town, she knew she had to take the chance to meet Him. Because she felt this was her last hope, she was determined, no matter what, to try. So while the crowd was preoccupied with His presence, she crawled unnoticed on her hands and knees just to touch the hem of His garment. When she did she was healed instantaneously. Our God is never too early or too late to heal. Imagine the testimony she had to share. Imagine the others she might have led to Christ subsequently. 

What do we do when we have exhausted everything and it seems as though hope is lost? While some go to drugs or alcohol or other become a workaholic, finding hobbies to consume time and thoughts, some go to God. This is the best of all options. The others will drag us deeper into our trouble. Seeking the Lord can produce tremendous results. And what would those results be?

We come to Christ as she did, hemorrhaging from something and some, when they are at their lowest point, will figuratively crawl to Christ just to touch the hem of His garment for a healing. We might even feel separated from others because of what we are going through. Perhaps we've gone to doctors for help. Seeking the Lord instead can produce tremendous results. And what would those results be?

Pastor Dave told us we have the right to be right. We have the right to freely confess our sins…and He is faithful and just to forgive us. There is freedom in open confession. Freeing ourselves of the sins we carry is healing. How many of us, including myself, still cling to old sins because we cannot believe that we have been healed? We still work at being better when the work was already done on the cross. Will we never learn? It's so simple…it really is. And we make such difficulty out of it. So freedom is one result of seeking God.

The story of the cross is simple, although the act was grievous. The reason for Christ's death was simple: He died for our sins. Period. I wouldn't say that what Jesus did was simple, but He made it simple for us. "Receive Me, receive eternal life." That was what Jesus was all about. He didn't change His story.

So, when we do this, when we receive Christ, receive His forgiveness for all our sins, and it's a heartfelt thing on our part, His righteousness is imputed to us. The right to be right with God. We have the right to call ourselves righteous, to the dismay of those who think without Christ they can be because who says you are so special as to receive God's righteousness? I'm a good person, doing good wherever I go but I don't need God for me to do that.

But here's the end of the story: we receive Christ and He then clothes us in His righteousness. This is not Pastor Dave telling us this, although he spoke the words. This is God telling us this. I know not everyone believes the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and that's their problem (sorry!). I happen to believe it is and if the Word of God which is truth tells us we are clothed in His righteousness when we are in Christ, when we have given ourselves and our sins to the Lord, then I'd better believe it. There's another result of seeking God...righteousness unlike any the world could offer.

But there's one more thing we receive as a result of seeking God...eternal life. Our lives on earth will end some day. But being in relationship with Christ secures our eternal reward. No other religious way can do this. That is why scripture was written describing Jesus as the Way, Truth and Life...and only through Him may we get to the Father in heaven.

Oh, I needed to hear this last night. I needed a boost of self esteem. That was my need!! I needed to be reminded that once I confessed my sins God no longer saw my ugliness but only saw a righteous person. This is what God does. He will, however, show us more ugliness as we walk with Him. He wants to remove all that we harbor within that we no longer carry it, that our burden be lighter than it is. It's the pruning process, the sanctification that all believers go through. And I've had two bouts of pruning in the past two weeks. Praise Him!

Pastor Dave told us these three things should be the lifelong basis of our lives in Christ: Joyfulness, thankfulness and prayer. Every day, in all circumstances. God has every right to do as He wishes with each of us…and like the woman with the issue of blood He chose to heal her. We may not be healed of disease, but we can still go through life with joy, thankfulness and prayer because of what we know our future will be like. We can still be good witnesses of God's goodness in our lives...and that gives Him the glory, as it should be. 

When we realize a need for Christ in our lives because we've run out of worldly "needs" and nothing more satisfies, we crawl humbly on our hands and knees and touch the hem of His garment that we might stand to our feet, heads held high wearing the clothes of righteousness.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2Corinthians 5:21,Galatians 3:26-27) 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Virgins, Lamps, Oil and Wicks

Matthew 25:1-5, 13 - Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Jesus told a parable about 10 virgins awaiting the bridegroom. In summary, as mentioned above five were wise, five foolish. The bridegroom here is Jesus, whom these virgins are awaiting. Today those virgins would be followers of Christ and among those who say they follow, half only think they are.

The parable continues stating that these virgins were to always be ready for the bridegroom to return. Their lamps were to be filled with oil and the wicks trimmed. This is my interpretation: without light we cannot see. In the darkness we aren't easily aware of the circumstances around us.

Among those people (men and women) who call themselves believers and ardent followers of Christ, some have grown weary of waiting for His return. Is He really going to? We read He is but it's been thousands of years and He has not yet done so. And they stop watching for Him and let the things of the world become greater than the watchfulness. Our wicks are to be ever trimmed and oil replenished as we wait on the Lord's return.

I think even the Church in general has grown weary of waiting and have fallen asleep like in the rest of the parable. I know this: the world in general has heard before that Jesus is to return only to not see it happen. So the world has settled into a euphoric life of self, self determination and belief that we can pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and bounce back yet again from the troubles we are seeing. And I'm not talking about those who proclaim that Jesus will return on a specific date. The Bible says we cannot know the day or hour, only that He WILL.

I have hinted at for a good amount of time the idea that our days are numbered. News shows the unrest, evil and sin in this least on stations that do not try to hide from the real news. There is good going on but bad seems to be most prevalent. My mind is in a constant state of what I can only describe as watchfulness as the news daily unfolds.

I'm not depressed and don't believe fearful. I'm just waiting for that one thing that totally stands out over all others. That one hint that will grasp the attention of the world that maybe, just maybe, God is trying to get our attention. He's got mine. Has He got yours is the bigger question.

On the other hand, it may not be that ONE big thing. It will be an individual thing, specific to each person that will get their attention focused more on God. It will be crises in lives that will bring person by person to a point here they will ask the question Why is this happening and what is this that is going on on?? It will be sickness, death, loss (of job, house), disaster. Something like this helps to point some to God. Sometimes, sadly, it still doesn't.

That one big thing will be the return of Christ. In the twinkling of an eye. Those who truly believe what the Bible says are vigilant. We see the signs. We wait and we watch. And if God's desire is for you, He can bring trials to hopefully point you to's up to you to decide if you want to trust Him then and begin the process of waiting and watching for Him.

I am reminded of the scriptures that tells us this is what the world will be like when Christ returns.
2 Peter 3:3 - Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts...
2Timothy 3:2-5 - People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Hey, these are the Words of God telling us this, not mine. If one believes the Bible is the truth these words cannot be disputed. They can't be ignored or pushed aside as irrelevant. His Word is timeless. Not everyone in the world is like this...but a majority is according to God's Word.

We must also continue living as we do until He returns...being ever vigilant. We cannot just shut our lives down and wait. We must still be about our Father's business. Enjoy life, yes...but DO NOT forsake God. It doesn't mean we hole ourselves up. We have a right to righteously enjoy life, just not be totally oblivious to what is happening around us and certainly not being those people shown in 2Timothy 3.

There will always be scoffers and I wonder what it will take for them to finally see, if they will. I do know that there will be a time when all righteous people will be removed from earth if they are still alive. One day they will vanish, taken up by Jesus. I can't imagine the horror on that day..the disasters caused as a result of the disappearance of so an instant.

I would want to know the truth about the last days. I would want I understand about the virgins, the lamps, oil and wicks. I would want the light of truth in my life. Jesus is the Light of the world. When you know Him you know the truth.

We have been given the knowledge of these things. It is written in the Bible. It is not kept hidden. It is there for all to see. Even the King James Version is written so a sixth grader can understand it. If you want to be prepared like the five wise virgins, seek God and His Word. Start with the Book of John! Get to knowing Jesus.

2Timothy 3:1 - But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Our New Covenant

Galatians 5:1 - Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Happy Fourth of July! I'm sure we will all be celebrating our independence day in some way. Perhaps it is a good day to take a close look at our liberties and be thankful we still have them (although they are eroding). There's one freedom that cannot be taken away, however...

We have laws. They are here to show us right from wrong. We have a choice to obey them. If we haven't there could be consequences for disobeying. Whether we are caught or not, whether we argue our intentions or not, try to justify our actions, we are guilty. You have to admit that.

If we are caught and must stand before a judge we are deemed either guilty or not. It is not up to us to make that decision. We can get angry or we can accept the charge, pay the fine, do our time to make amends.

God has laws too. And we are all guilty of breaking them. One sin to Him is not greater than another. Sin is sin. Like real life, we will all stand before the Judge and have to account for those sins. It will be the most important trial of our life. If we thought a speeding ticket was uncalled for or some time in the slammer was outrageous, if we have murdered or stolen and it was our choice to do so, it will be nothing compared to the outcome of this coming judgment. You'd better have a good Lawyer/Mediator between you and the Judge.

That's what Jesus is all about. In some miraculous way He has already taken on all, and I mean all, the sins of the world upon Him. The Judge is His Father and the Judge will listen to His Son plead your case, no matter what your sin.

Jesus can be our Mediator. IN and through Him our disobedience is forgiven. We are set free. And when we confess those sins to Him He forgives as far as the east is to the west. Picture Him on the cross, arms outstretched. That's how much He loves you.

Christ brought about a new covenant, one by which we could be set free from the laws/sins/infractions we either cannot or will not keep. Not that we continue to sin when we receive the knowledge that Christ sets us free. We will make mistakes; we always will. But He is there to accept our confession. HE is there, not anyone else. And He is quick to forgive, where mankind isn't always so willing to do that.

You want to be sure you have a good lawyer in this earthly life. You should also want to have a good one for your spiritual life. Today, even, you have the choice. Eternal freedom or eternal captivity. Jesus is the Son of the Judge. If you choose the Son, He will set you free. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)

We celebrate liberty today. Take one more step to perfect liberty, that which only Christ can give. That is the new covenant...freedom from the laws of performing rituals and sacrifices like for atonement for our sins. Jesus became our new covenant whereby He gives us the gift of salvation and the rituals and sacrifices cease. It's called grace. We give only ourselves to Him by confessing our sins to Him and receiving what He has to offer...forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

I heard something last night that I knew but tend to forget. When we receive Christ He doesn't give us just part of our righteousness, He gives it all to us. He IS our righteousness and if we have Him we have every right to claim total arrogant as that might sound to some. I'm thankful for the liberty I have, the true freedom in Christ to have all righteousness upon me. As was said last night, the right to BE right. This is a day to celebrate freedom. Why not ask Him today and have the best, lifelong freedom ever.

1John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Our Father

Matthew 6:9-13

Our Father, who art in heaven...
Thank You Father that You are high and lifted up.  That Your kingdom far surpasses ours, that Your wisdom is greater, Your love is greater, Your grace is sufficient and Your strength is for all who seek it. Your eyes are always upon us and You know the hearts of ALL  people.

Hallowed be Thy name...
I praise You O God for Your holiness and righteousness. I praise You that You give us holiness and righteousness when we seek You and call on the name of our Lord for salvation. You are worthy of all praise and glory. It's all about You. It will always be about You and may we glorify Your name through our lives.

Thy kingdom come...
Yes, come Lord Jesus. Let Your kingdom rule and reign upon this earth in the hearts of the people. Let us daily seek Your face, seek Your kingdom in our lives. Let Your Spirit work in and through us that Your kingdom might be sought by those around us.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...
That is all I desire, that Your will would be done on earth. But we await that day that You will return and Your will WILL be done on earth as You have desired since time began. To be sure Your will will be done. Again, come Lord Jesus.

Give us this day our daily bread...
Thank You for Your Word which is our daily sustenance. Thank You that You are our bread of life. You nourish us and cleanse us by the feeding and washing of Your Word. Purify us this day, Lord, through Your Word, Your bread this day. Let me be fully sated by the only bread which satisfies.

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us...
Thank You that You first loved and forgave us...while we were yet sinners. And that is what You desire us to do as forgive others who have done or said wrong against us. Help us to overcome our pride that we might forgive others. Thank You that You first forgave me.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil...
Keep our hearts and minds stayed on You that Your Word would be ever before us and that Your Spirit would bring remembrance of Your commands to us that we would not do what is wrong. Let the light of Your Word hold us back from the temptations of life, especially those things that are most common in our personal lives. Let us be upright in all our days.

For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
It's all about You. No matter what. It's all about You. Your kingdom, Your power, Your glory. Let the whole world see and believe because Your kingdom, power and glory WILL be seen by all someday. Let it be seen today before that day comes.

Praise You Father, Son and Spirit. You created...You give and You take away...only You are to be glorified on earth as You are glorified by those angels who cry "holy, holy, holy." Let us all cry holy to Your name. Let us worship only You, the one true God. Let us sing praises to Your name. Let us rejoice in who You are. Let us fall asleep with thankfulness in our hearts; let us awake with Your Word in our hearts; let us arise with praise for a new day.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name! Amen.