Monday, March 31, 2014

The Word, God, Life and Light

John 1:1-9 - 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.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness to of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

The first paragraph makes my heart leap. The enormity of all that is said in those four sentences... Jesus is that Light. I know I've repeated this many times. Jesus is the Word. He was with God because He is God. Since God created all things that were made then Jesus was part of that also. Since God brought life to this world, Jesus did too...and He is the life. And the Light. Of the world. That anyone who believes (condition below) in this Light, because of anyone who witnesses of that Light, might have this life.

Condition? Spiritually we are dead to our sins and the Light exposes those things in the darkness (of our hearts), which is the first step to life in the Light, in Christ. This is probably the biggest obstacle because no one wants those things hidden in darkness exposed, or wants to admit that some of the things we do are sin.

Do you see? Jesus is the true Light which would love to give light to every man who has and will come into this world. He came for all mankind. He came as the Light to reveal Himself. He comes to bring life but it means admitting the sin we have so He can forgive us of it. Allow the Light into your life and that you too might become a witness of this Light. 

Ephesians 5:13-14 - But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Day of the Lord

Zephaniah 2:3 - Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD's anger.

I chose to read the Book of Joel. I knew it would be a prophetic word for the people of Israel. I also knew it would be a word for the people of today. Prophetic words tend to be hard words laced with if-then or if-when statements meaning if you do this, God will do something. If we turn to God, He will save us. If we choose God, He is our protector, provision, guide. If we reject Him, we are forever lost.

As I read the thought occurred to me to look up the phrase used frequently...the day of the Lord. While that phrase is used to describe the time just prior to Jesus' return, and while prophetic words are hard, God always has an upside to things. Stick with me till the end... You see, I started with a scripture that shows us what we should do to avoid the calamitous day of the Lord before presenting the harder stuff.

If the Bible says there will be a day of the Lord in the future, there will be. For some it will be a glorious day. For others, dreadful. The problem is...not many realize it. Many may not even have heard of such a day. It not only is a day of God's wrath upon all those who reject Him but a day of joy for those who know Him and will be received into His kingdom. Like the Word says, Do you suppose that I [Jesus] came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. (Luke 12:51) That's quite the statement considering He is called the Prince of Peace. The peace He gives comes out of a relationship with Jesus.

There will always be division among man (and we see it today). Some do not believe in God at all, some hate Him, some are just offended by any mention of Him. And to some those who have made a choice to believe are looked upon as peculiar. We have a choice in our beliefs. Following Him is not something one can say they do because they are church goers or call themselves Christians. A follower is serious about God. It's not just head knowledge but heart. And only God knows anyone's heart. And only He will know at the time of the day of the Lord where anyone truly is.

The day of the Lord. There were several scriptures about it. The day itself will be one of destruction (Joel 1:15), darkness and gloominess, clouds (Joel 2:1-2). The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it? (Joel 2:10-11) "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. (Joel 2:30-31)

Who can endure it? Read on.

Not just Joel spoke of the day of the Lord. The prophet Obadiah, and others, mentioned the day of darkness to come for those who oppose God and His people (again, Israel then, Christ followers today). “For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head." (Obadiah 1:15)

This is why we must be ever vigilant in these days. We do not know the day or hour He will return. The signs are before us, we are living in the midst of them. They are both unsettling and exciting to believers. Others believe it is just another period of time that we will get through. But as I've posted before about the characteristics of the people and lifestyles today, it's looking pretty much like what God has told us it would be like. ...lovers of selves and money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God...(2Timothy 3:2-4).

These are the signs we cannot dismiss. These things will only get worse and then the Lord will come quickly, unannounced, like a thief in the night. If we choose not to pay heed, see what happens. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (1Thessalonians 5:3)

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2Peter 3:11-13)

The prophets warned. While the warnings were and still are stern, there is the upside. Most of the words describing the day of the Lord are difficult. But there is always an upside. Jesus says, I am the way, the truth and the life. Know Jesus and you will know truth (both good and bad), gain understanding, have wisdom, know peace, know life.

And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls. “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” Then you shall know that...I am the Lord your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame." (Joel 2:32,12,27)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

From Lost to Hope

The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:1-3)

And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:5-8)

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. Jesus said...I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:1-4,6)

These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here. (John 14:25-31)

Wow. We are admonished for being a godless, sin filled, imperfect people. And we are. Yet besides being pointedly shown our sins, God shows us there is hope. He provided a way which leads to righteousness. His name is Jesus. God sent His only Son to become the propitiation for our sins. He became the sacrificial Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Yes, takes. He still does today. He died once for all 2,000 years ago but that sacrifice is as legitimate today if we choose to receive Him as our Lord and Savior.

When we do He brings His peace that passes all understanding. And that's the beauty of it. Despite all we see in the world, the wars, famines, pestilence, persecution, we can be above it all, in Christ. ...those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31). We can be part of the population that God calls righteous, those whose thoughts are on the things of God and heaven.

Praise God He provided this way, an answer to the troubles we encounter in this world. His message is simple: Jesus. The Apostle Paul said this: And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1Corinthians 2:1-2)  That is the simplicity. It is the truth. It is the truth that saves.

Jesus will return. First for those faithful who have placed their trust in Him, who have sought wisdom through His Word, recognized the signs of the last days, looked up in anticipation for His second coming. Then to rule and reign on earth again with those who sought Him. Then in heaven for eternity. Will He find you faithful?

...God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ... ...I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed 
from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:16-19, 1Thessalonians 5:9)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Trials, Grace AND Wisdom

Hebrews 10:32 - But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings.

Certain things change when one becomes a Christ follower. I don't mean a Christian, but a Christ follower. One who hungers and thirsts for Him. One who craves His Word and is changed by His words. Many will say they are a Christian but don't go to church, don't believe all the Bible is true, support the very things God calls abhorrent, even believe God is not all He claims to be. They believe God is good but fail to understand His judgment. They are able to justify their actions believing God is love and He'd understand...after all, there are others who are worse.

Like I've said, certain things change. When we come to Christ we see things differently; we have an understanding unlike what we had before. We change as we grow in Christ. We are, hopefully, more aware of our sin and while some churches call for a specific time of confession, we are called to repent of our sin immediately...and we are able to go directly to God. Hebrews 4:16 alludes to this: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Last Sunday our pastor's son Aaron preached a good word. The title of the sermon was Remember.

There were two points that stood out to me. One was, paraphrasing: We are to grow and mature in Christ. You have everything if you have Christ. You can't be valuable to Him unless you're going through something. It's the trials that build us up. Through the trials we see God work, we become strengthened, we grow. There's something greater on the other side. There's a blessing. In this trial we find truth and see what He wants us to see, but these trails must be faced. They must be walked out.

It's true sin has caused us to have to have trials in our life. God allows them...the purpose of which is to look to Him for strength and wisdom...and to glorify Him when we do. If we are in God's will He will get us through it.

Aaron continued by saying when we are in Christ and following Him we can at times seem as though we have gotten lost somewhere. We question whether we've done something wrong because our trials are not there. We wonder if this is a time of rest or if we have missed something somewhere and have fallen away from Him.

His response was to remember...what Christ has done for us. If we haven't had a trial lately does it mean I am not the same as before? Have I grown spiritually weak, fallen away and far from God? Do I feel condemned? Remember! Remember when your eyes were first opened to the things of Christ. You don't go from darkness to light without remembering that moment. Then we are to stand fast on that.

I certainly remember that day! I was in a trial at the time and that is exactly when we are most vulnerable to receiving Christ, when there's nowhere else to go for help. I remembered just about every second of the day my eyes were opened to the glory and grace of God.

If we feel, now that we are in Christ, that things are different, he pointed out it may seem like we are lame. That lameness can be healed. He shared an account of a man with a withered hand whom Jesus healed. If we feel we've become withered or maimed, it doesn't mean we've been cut off. The withered or maimed areas can be healed. Just stand in your faith in Christ. Come to grips with areas of your life that may be a problem; i.e. anger, bitterness, judgment, those things that grow and fester.

And more that spoke volumes to me: Esau was willing to give up his inheritance for a bowl of stew. (Genesis 25) He placed little value on this birthright. If we are in Christ we should not forget the true birthright He has given us. Don't let anything take it away; don't be tempted to give it up for some worldly possession. Nothing is more important than that birthright. If we are experiencing anything, take it to God. Ask for support from your church family. But remember His grace toward you that one particular day you saw the truth of who He is.

I believe we don't always realize we are in a struggle. Maybe it has been there a long time and we live with it somehow. It surfaces occasionally as a reminder. And some struggles are more difficult than others. Some people are stronger than others...hopefully, in Christ, not in their own strength.

God has granted His grace when we received Him as our Savior.  We need to be ever thankful and mindful of that. We have not been cut off from Him if we are faithful to Him in even the small things. Let me end with this and isn't it amazing, a little break from my wisdom from the Proverbs and it shows up again. Go figure!

James 1:2-6 - My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wisdom Beckons

Proverbs 9:1-2 - Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars; she has slaughtered her meat, she has mixed her wine, she has also furnished her table.

God's wisdom gives us all we need. It's all there ready for us to partake of. Wisdom beckons us to come, to become satiated in her. Some will understand and gain this wisdom, others will not. Without wisdom we are considered simple (verse 4). It is defined in this proverb as foolishness, lacking in understanding, dead, in the depths of hell (verses 12,16,18).

Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. (verses 4,5)  This may be the proverb, but it could also be Jesus' call to us. He asks us to become wise, to choose life over death which means choosing Him, the Bread of Life (John 6:35) and drink of His truth, His wisdom, for He is the new wine and brings new life.

Wisdom comes with truly knowing and fearing God. It's receiving Him and His wisdom and taking Him seriously in life. It's knowing our days on this earth are limited...all will come to a day of death. After that death, then what? Where will we go? Can we say we know for sure we will have eternal life? We can if we have God's wisdom and the understanding that we must have Jesus. Wisdom beckons us.... Heed the call...

Proverbs 9:10-12 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.

Cost of our Beliefs

Daniel 3:11-12,14-18 - ...and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.” Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” 

Taking yet another break from the Proverbs! But not from wisdom...

I read an article or listened the other day to something that got me thinking. How willing would I be if put in a situation to stand my ground for Christ? Look at Peter. He denied Jesus the times when he said he never would, when he said he'd be willing to die or go into prison for Him. And then there's the other end of the story about the three young men above who would not bow down to any other god.

Lord, have mercy on us.

What if, and it could happen, the time came when we would be called out for speaking the truth when others didn't want to hear it...or it was against the law? Can't you see the push for tolerance today? There is denial going on right now. There is compromise even in the Church. There is a desire for all denominations to come together but not necessarily in unity and one belief but in the belief that there are many ways to believe. Sadly, Jesus is not always considered the only way, truth and life anymore. His Gospel message is becoming compromised so as to not offend. Hey, Jesus offended people...they even put Him to death for it. Even some who call themselves Christians say it is okay to change the truth of God's Word. Who's believing the lie?

Anyway, would we shrink back and remain silent if we were counted as those who believe Jesus is the only way to the Father? Or would we say what we know to be truth? The thought crossed my mind: what if I was told I'd gone too far and it was time to take back what I had said, renounce my belief that Jesus is the only way to the Father? That if I didn't others I know would be killed, tortured or imprisoned? That sent a chill.

More than once in the past few months this has been said or read: I might lose my wife (husband) for my beliefs in Christ. He can be quite the divider at times! Are we willing to allow that to happen to save our own soul from eternal hell? Only if the time presents itself will we know. I wrote earlier about Denying Christ. That's what we do if we say someone else's life is more important to us that His. Ouch.

Anyway, this sounds pretty ominous. We may think it even sounds far fetched. But the Bible talks about it. Many back in Christ's day were imprisoned or killed for speaking their beliefs. In other countries Christians are now imprisoned, murdered. Whose to say it won't be long before it will be commonplace in our country? We are not immune, nor are we a safe haven. Evil has spread everywhere. Freedoms are being removed little by little. Doesn't government want more control of everyone and everything? Isn't what's good being considered bad and bad good? (Well, I realize it's a matter of perspective.)

When will people take notice? Ah, but there's the in the days of Noah the people mocked and scoffed... What right did Noah have to tell them of God's plan? What right do we have today to say Jesus is the only way to life...the Door, the Gate, the Living Water, Bread of Life, the Savior, Redeemer...God in the flesh? What right do we have to share our beliefs to anyone? God says we must do this if we are Christ followers. And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Mark 16:15, Matthew 24:14) That creature might be you!

We could all be faced with this decision I described above...if we are Christ followers. If we are not following Christ, we're off the hook, but our eternal life is greatly at stake. This could be a very hard decision. If we want to receive eternal life we cannot deny Christ. No matter what, we must not back down in our beliefs even if parents, spouse, children or friends are dangled before you as the recipients of something you don't want to even consider because of your decision.

This will be a time when we have to put all our faith and trust in God for the outcome. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abdnego above, they escaped the fiery furnace (the future hell). And if they would not have escaped, their claim was the same: they would not bow down to any other god. They knew and trusted their God.

Are we willing to do this? Perhaps it is time to consider this. Like I said, it may seem far fetched to think this could happen, but...  In order to have the wherewithal and strength just in case, we need to understand the importance of Christ in our lives now. He cannot be just some thought once in awhile, like on Sunday, or a name spoken out of disgust or anger. He must be worshipped daily. His words must be our daily bread, our heavenly manna. Can you say you do this, even a few times a week? Can you say you rely on Him right this moment? Can you say you have a close connection to Him if you don't?

Praise God if you don't! Wait, let me explain! He is willing to forgive you today if you want. Anyone can change, climb over the fence, break down the stubborn walls of defense or open their hearts for Christ. We need Him. If you think you can live apart from Him you believe the lie. 2Thessalonians 2:11 says God will send a powerful delusion so that many will believe the lie because they rejected the truth. Jesus is the truth. The lie comes from the devil. I'm thankful my church tells the truth.

It is never too late to listen to this truth and receive Christ. Your life is at stake whether you believe it or not. And I pray that if the day comes I have to deny any relationship here on earth over Christ, I will be strengthened by Him alone. Will you stand with me? There's strength in numbers.

And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"  ... whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (Luke 18:7-8, Matthew 10:33)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Implanted Words

James 1:21 - Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

I love to write. It's how I express my thoughts. It's how I learn. It's how the things of God are more deeply implanted in my heart and soul. It works for me!

Recent posts have been on wisdom, how to attain it, where true wisdom comes from. It comes when you search for it...when you search the scriptures, get to knowing Jesus, hearing His words which bring life.

As with any other post on this subject, true wisdom comes from God. We can have the world's wisdom but God's is makes the world's wisdom not so wise. If we do not want God's wisdom, we will have the world's. Like the scripture above tells us, we are to humbly receive God's wisdom...and that comes from reading His Word and knowing it, planting it within our hearts, carrying it with us always.

All throughout scripture God tells us Himself, through the prophets, through wise men, that we need to hold the words of God close that we will have life. His words do bring life. If we are feeling condemned by His words, well, maybe we need to ask Him why. Don't ask me. He will help you if you sincerely want to know Him. If you don't, true wisdom will always be illusive.

I don't say this to be mean but to be honest. Jesus is honest, and so is God. His Word is filled with honesty...if you do this, then...and the result can be either good or bad depending whether you are doing God's will or your own. Jesus was not always liked, even by those closest to Him. Some scattered when He spoke because He was truthful and the truth was not always what the people wanted to hear. But it didn't start with Jesus... What was handed down to us from the New Testament scriptures originated from the Old.

The only thing new in the New Testament, is the newness of life that is yours by receiving Jesus Christ. He came as a new covenant for people because the old didn't work...the works sacrifices didn't permanently cover the sins of the people. What they needed was a Savior so God provided His one and only Son Jesus for that. You will find in the New Testament how to know Jesus and how to obtain His mercy and forgiveness for your sins. And when you do, when you read His Word, listen to His voice, with humbleness, you may be inclined to seek Him more, which is a good thing!

Like I said before, Jesus spoke words that originated in the Old Testament. He is in there if you search for Him. The message is the same, old or new, His words are life and a treasure. Let me give you an example. While the first part of this is Moses speaking to Israel, God initiated the words that Moses should speak to His people:

Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. ...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.  (Deuteronomy 11:18-21, Matthew 6:20, John 15:7-8)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In the Beginning, Wisdom...

Proverbs 8:22-23 - The LORD possessed me [wisdom] at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.

Today my words will be few. Yesss, some of you might think! Continuing for one more session in Proverbs 8! Since all of Proverbs 8 is discussing wisdom, how interesting to read this. Wisdom was in the beginning, even before creation. And, according to other posts, who else was at the beginning? And who did I say exemplified wisdom last post? Who gives us wisdom?

If you remember, Jesus was in the beginning before time began. He was with God and was God (John 1:1). He was part of creation. Wisdom was His in the beginning because He was God. And if we really want true wisdom, it is through Christ who is wisdom (1Corinthians 1:30), that we receive it, through His Holy Spirit.

You cannot separate the words of wisdom from Jesus. He is the Word made flesh. To see it written like this just continues to amaze me. Jesus is so seen in every book of the Bible, Old to New. I so wish other to get it. It's not complicated. Yet so profound at the same time. Can you tell I don't lose my excitement? It's like I've never read this before.

God is so into the intricate details of everything. It's hard to believe He cares so much but He does. And to think some believe He is a God far removed from us, that He doesn't pay attention to all our needs, that He doesn't know everything about everything... HE is the one who created it all! Scripture says when a sparrow falls, is He not aware of it and doesn't He care? Believing these things, believing what His Word says is true wisdom.

We cannot receive true wisdom without Christ and that's all I can say. And to receive Christ we must receive Him, confess our sins, repent of them, follow Him and obey His commands. All the wisdom we need comes from one Man.

Lord, I pray You pierce hearts with this knowledge. Let it become understanding and wisdom to those who do not see. And it comes with the knowledge of Christ. I cannot do this on my own; only through You.

Proverbs 8:27-31 - When He prepared the heavens, I [wisdom] was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.

Let me finish with the last verses of this Proverb. Think about the words Jesus preached in the New Testament. Sound familiar? Jesus=wisdom.

Proverbs 8:34-36 - "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the LORD; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wisdom Not Riches

Proverbs 8:8-9 - All the words of my mouth are righteousness; nothing crooked or perverse is in them. They are all plain to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.

All throughout the proverbs wisdom and understanding is looked upon as the best thing to have. As I mentioned before, Solomon asked for it over riches...he got riches as well because his original request pleased God. But, we should not confuse grasping for wisdom for the sake of obtaining riches, except for the kind of blessings God imparts. And His blessings or riches, while sometimes in the natural, are also spiritual...better than those things we can lay our hands on.

Last post mentioned the excellence of wisdom. God's wisdom brings only good. Only. And as this proverb (and others) continues, the words of wisdom are true and plain and right only to him who understands.

This is where Jesus comes in! When we receive Him, as we are instructed to (Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...Acts 2:38), we become filled with His Holy Spirit. With His Holy Spirit we will find it easier to understand the truth of His Word.

To receive Christ is the greatest gift. He has all we need, the greatest treasure. The way, truth and life. We cannot have true life (or truth) without Christ. Many pursue other things first believing these are the things that bring life. In the end, and we've all heard this before, we leave this earth with nothing, not even our accomplishments. But in Christ we have all that is good, all that we need, spiritually.

We are to desire His wisdom and understanding over silver or gold. Wisdom is better than rubies. Better than treasures. Do you see? Nothing else compares to God's wisdom, which comes through Christ, because He became our wisdom (1Corinthians 1:30). In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). When we receive Christ we become in Him and in Him we receive this wisdom.

Don't know how this fits in here but a thought popped into my head...I am always reminded that no matter where I live, no matter what house, what community, what city, it makes no difference because if I have Christ and I am in Him, He will be there. In Him is peace and contentment. Amen. Whatever He chooses to place me...there He is to provide my every need. Praise the Lord. 
Receive Christ, receive wisdom and understanding. Be open to understanding. Be open to receiving Christ.

Proverbs 8:14 - Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

It Could Cost Your Life

For at the window of my house I looked through my lattice, and saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of understanding, passing along the street near her [harlot's] corner; and he took the path to her house...and there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart...So she caught him and kissed him; with an impudent face she said to him:...I came out to meet you, diligently to seek your face, and I have found you...Come, let us take our fill of love until morning... with her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him. Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, he did not know it would cost his life. (Proverbs 7:6-8,10,13,15,18,21-23)

There really is not much I can add to this. Wisdom and understanding given by God is what we need. We should desire it. There is a great deception in the world that is like the harlot, drawing people into believing lies. Many walk through life like this young man devoid of understanding. Without God's wisdom people can fall into the trap of enticements of good things to bring false hope and peace in today's world.

Without knowledge one can be deceived and caught in the snare. The trap and the snare bring death if one is not able, or willing, to escape.

This was about a young man. We are told we are to come to Christ as little children. Parents are told to raise up their children in how they should go. It all starts at an early age, this wisdom. Doesn't always work that way in the world, and sometimes parents raise up children with the wrong wisdom, but we can still come spiritually as children into the truth, wisdom and knowledge of Christ. And what does He promise? Life in Him. The life it will cost is worth losing...a life of deception.

Anyone can put off the old thought patterns for new if they desire. The young man above died to deception and lies. Christ redeems lost lives and offers wisdom and understanding that brings life. Not knowing, following or listening to Christ's words will bring death.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-19, 21-24)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Raging Seas

Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:14-17)

Everyone knows the story of Jonah. Some may think it is just a fable or myth fabricated to enhance the intent of a lesson. If God is able to create the world who's to say He can't cause anything to happen? Including a man surviving being swallowed by a "whale."

I'll bet there are many things that happen in this world or in our own lives that we don't even perceive as by God's design, things He has not made us aware of or we have not noticed. They may be like a raging sea or just a delay. God's hand...

Example: you get up in the morning, get ready for an appointment, have your coffee, breakfast, spill coffee on your shirt, which you need to change. The only shirt that is suitable needs pressing. Now you're running a little late. Shirt ironed, you're on your way. You get in car and forget you needed to get gas. Another delay. You head to your appointment, taking a quicker route allowing you to get there just barely in time. Later you hear about a deadly accident on the road you would have taken. It took place at the time you would have been there. Your life might just have been spared.

Think that's impossible? Why? What's to say this is just one more time in your life when God wanted to get your attention? It might happen more than you think, in ways we couldn't imagine. In good ways or bad. But it was looked at as "karma" or fate.

Jesus walked on water. He calmed a raging sea. He opened blind eyes, healed broken bodies, fed thousands with next to nothing. He allowed for a great fish to be present to save Jonah's life. And although these men on the cargo ship were not believers at first, it's quite evident they were after they tossed Jonah into the sea, the water calmed and their lives saved. Don't you think they put two and two together? And...their plea to a God they did not know to not be charged with Jonah's death was also met.

Who says God doesn't intervene in our lives? We might just be missing it. Take a close look around you and things that have transpired. Maybe God was trying, or is, trying to get your attention.

While we may not ever know if God caused this or that, whether good or bad, we can know, and believe with all the wonder of a little child, that our God is in control. If we can take this knowledge into our lives, believe it, believe then in God, then were one step closer to taking Him at His word.

I like how the New Living Translation says this: The sailors were awestruck by the LORD's great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him. They vowed to serve Him. They offered a sacrifice. Today some churches, not all, we are told we must make a sacrifice to receive Christ. That sacrifice is our own lives, spiritually. We turn to God and worship Him, not the gods we have created in our everyday lives. Our lives...a sacrifice to Him. This is our vow when we call on Him to be our Lord and Savior, and ask for Him to save us from a spiritual death.

Jonah's story is as real as any story in the Bible. If it weren't there'd be no need for the Book to give us right wisdom and knowledge for everyday living, introduce us to Jesus and no command to give our lives to Him. Jonah, like Jesus, was willing to sacrifice his life to save those ship's men (and came forth again after three days). Jesus did that for all, anyone willing to hear and obey...even for people today. Today's not too late!

Romans 10:13 - For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  (And Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

True Wisdom is the Fear of the Lord

Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 

There's only one place for true wisdom and knowledge. Our God is Creator; He wrote the Bible which in its entirety offers us true wisdom and knowledge. He asks us to seek, take in and treasure His Word for both of these.

The Proverbs are chock full of statements regarding wisdom and understanding. I scanned them wanting to post a few but a few became too many. I began in the first chapter but knew it would be impossible to pick just a handful. That just goes to show that there is a purpose for all God has to tell us.

I think this proverb, and I'm sure others, sum up the intent of wisdom and knowledge:

My son, if you receive my words, 
And treasure my commands within you, 
So that you incline your ear to wisdom, 
And apply your heart to understanding; 
Yes, if you cry out for discernment, 
And lift up your voice for understanding, 
If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, 
And find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)

In fact, all of Proverbs 2 sums up God's desires and intents for our understanding. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; (Proverbs 2:6)

This wisdom acts as a shield; it guards and preserves those who heed it. When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, (Proverbs 2:10) then we are preserved and kept from evil in any form.

This doesn't mean we won't be faced with trouble or death but we will have a hope that God will be there in and through it. With God's wisdom and knowledge we can know we are forever preserved. This Word, these proverbs, tell us we need God (Jesus). If we seek Jesus...and He is the Word,  having all the answers...we have that hope of eternal life, even when evil overtakes and destroys physically.
[But] do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28) In other words, without the Lord we can be destroyed and cast into hell.

This whole life of ours should be based on God, what He has done for us, gives us, offers us. He created us that we might see and seek Him. Some will see and know Him early in life, others later; some, sadly, on their death bed...and even there some can refuse His offer of eternal life. Not everyone goes to heaven despite the very popular notion.

We must seek wisdom and knowledge for eternal life in God/Christ Jesus. Not just head knowledge either, but heart, living out the words of wisdom, not that we'll always do right. ...let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3:1-2) Long life, eternal life, peace through Christ.

With true wisdom we set the foundation of our lives. With God's wisdom only that foundation is sure. Lord, open the eyes of understanding! 

I think this proverb is what got me started: In the end...The blessing of the LORD makes one rich...and He adds no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22) Only God's blessings upon us make us rich. And they are not always what we desire. Spiritual blessings are attainable with His wisdom and knowledge. It's all about Him, always and forever.

Maybe I'll share more on these proverbs. They are quite valuable.

Proverbs 3:13-14 - Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

God's Wisdom

Solomon was a wise man. He asked God for wisdom over anything else and God was so pleased with this decision He gave him everything else also. Sadly, in the end Solomon did not heed God's words of wisdom and he fell away from God's favor. What did Solomon do? Against God's command and admonition, Solomon intermarried with women of a different culture, who did not know his God. God told him they would lead him astray and worship other gods. And, as usual, God was right.

This is very similar to believers staying separating themselves from unbelievers. We are called to be in the world, not of it because believers can be lured to the gods of this world. And I believe this happens a lot, even within the Church. I know I can be swayed from time to time also. I think we all can.

Anyway, in this proverb Solomon is admonishing others to listen to those who are wiser. Seek the truth. Know God's laws and commandments. Then you will be as wise as Solomon and be in God's favor. Seek wisdom above all and God will see to it everything else will fall into place. Although it is Solomon speaking, try to imagine it is God. Most of these words can certainly be His words to each of us. It was God who directed Solomon to write them.

(Solomon fell from God's graces and never returned to Him. Yet, God gave him wisdom in the pass on to us. Like Solomon, we can fall after receiving this knowledge.)

I have underlined the phrases that stuck out for me.


1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
2 For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law.

3 When I was my father’s son,
Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 He also taught me, and said to me:
“Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.

5 Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.

And in all your getting, get understanding.
8 Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings,
And the years of your life will be many.
11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in right paths.

12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go;
Keep her, for she is your life.

14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,
And do not walk in the way of evil.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
16 For they do not sleep unless they have done evil;
And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness,
And drink the wine of violence.

18 But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.

20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.

23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.

Even after writing these words Solomon stepped off the path. We can all be vulnerable. It's why we must keep our eyes on God and His wisdom.

You see the good wisdom produces when done God's way. We so want to think otherwise though. We want to do it our way. I think of all the different ways we elevate Hollywood, some televangelists, so-called prophets of God today, sports figures, singers. I'm not saying all are bad. I'm thrilled when a sports figure truly proclaims the glory to God, or we see evidence of true dedication to God in whatever arena they are in. I'm thrilled with true humility among these people.

God tells us it's not about us but about what He can do through us if we let Him. The first wise thing is seeking Him above all else. Relying on His wisdom and receiving instruction from Him. Then we will be on the right path. We will have the surest foundation in our life, the only good foundation, not the one that will sink in time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lacking Understanding

Proverbs 1:20-22 - Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge."

Boy oh boy. These are some hard words.

In order to have godly wisdom we must first believe in God. Then we must receive His Son. Then we receive the power of the Holy Spirit. We have it all.

Wisdom and knowledge become ours when we search scriptures, sit at Jesus's feet and let the words of God sink into our spirits, hearts and minds. It's not that difficult. It all starts with submitting ourselves to a relationship with Jesus, not our religion.

God calls daily. His creation shows all who He is: the wonder, creativeness, complexity of  Him, His beauty and also His fierceness. Yet many miss Him.

I believe in this proverb, those who do not heed Him, search not His scriptures, are the simple ones. These are not my words. Only God knows how much He desires each of us take Him seriously. Simple here means naive or lacking experience or understanding.

I know He's God and His thoughts are greater than ours. His ways greater too. If someone agitates or offends in some way, how do you feel? I know God is different, but imagine how He feels. Perhaps it's more pity than anger; sadness that some don't see Him. He must feel both. He sent His Son as proof as to how much He cares. He allowed His Son to die for us. There's the pity. He also has shown judgment. And part of that judgment is eternal death and damnation for those who scoff, who will not take Him seriously...hating the knowledge of Him or the wisdom He wants to share...or not thinking His wisdom is all that important.

Just a thought.

Read further in Proverbs 1 as wise Solomon continues to share a rebuke to those who forsake God's call and wisdom. Sometimes I even feel rebuked when wise words are put before me! It sounds like some day all who who have disdained His counsel will realize it. He is offering wisdom to us today. He wants only good for us. Why reject that good?

Proverbs 1:23-25 - "Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke..."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Selfish or Selfless?

Matthew 18:1-5 - At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me."

Isn't it just like us to question if we are better than someone else? Oh, the pride. The thing is, none of us are better than another. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. All of us. And to think otherwise is also pride. We are to come as little children. I've said this many times before. Jesus loved the little children. They were important to Him. He did not cast them aside.

Anyway, that's just the intro to this whole thing! This is something I have contemplated writing for a very long time...and I have had this written for several days. Today I am owning it. I love my new church (of a year now), The Church in Wisconsin. I have often wondered how God would have planted this church in my path and why because it is filled with young families and lots of children and babies, as well as the truth of God's Word, which is very important!

I did not have children and never learned how to deal with them. I was raised an only child, to add to the history (spoiled, selfish). I have, in the past, thought some babies were cute but never wanted much more to do with them. I managed to steer clear of them. Maybe it was a hidden defense of mine...stuff down what you have not had so it won't hurt. Logical defense mechanism.

For a very long time I've had a secret, known only by a very few people. Long before I was born again...before I received Christ...back before my first marriage, when I was young and foolish and vulnerable, I allowed myself to be swayed. I did an unthinkable thing. I had an abortion. That is very hard to write.

I was five months from getting married. To be honest I don't know whose idea it was. I can surmise but I don't want to. It happened. I believe I have forgiven all in this situation, including myself. I know when I received Jesus one day, my sins, and this one in particular, were forgiven. And only He could have orchestrated years later a very real, wonderful encounter with Jesus as I fed and burped probably the only baby I ever did this to.

Not until I joined this delightfully life and love filled church did I start to warm to children. Not the first few weeks but in time. These children are not farmed off to a nursery so parents can "enjoy" their worship and sermon, maintaining they can be more focused on the worship and sermon. No, these children are part of the family. When I say we are a family, that's what it is, the way it should be. How I love these children!

When I first started attending I couldn't tell whose children were whose because there is a lot of sharing and loving going on! When one family isn't able to attend church because of work or sickness, another family will bring their children. There is so much lack of self. Do I wish I'd had even one child? Yes. You grow differently. Self is not as important. Such an important part of being a true Christian. 

As Jesus said, become as little children to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus loved the little children. He rebuked His own disciples for wanting them out of His way. I wonder if He would suggest putting them in a peer environment? Children are like sponges, aren't they? Aren't we surprised at what they understand even at a very young age? Why shouldn't they learn how to act in church as children; why shouldn't parents learn how to discipline and children learn to be displined?

What does any of this have to do with my admission? I am sorry that I had to lose a child, to grow from that point into believing children are a waste of time and only take away from the things we wanted to do, that it was okay to not have children. As I did a search on the phrase (which I never came across) that was so prevalent in those days, I came across site after site proclaiming that purposely not having children was admirable, not selfish, that there was a completeness without them, that people could have it all without children, that children tie them down. I can't even comprehend what God thinks of these statements.

Just my thinking, but Jesus did not want those children removed. He said, for of such is the kingdom of God. Again, children were important to Him. To add to that, the Bible states abortion is murder. Imagine what He must think today about all the people willing to give up a child because it is inconvenient. And I get it about rape; there is still adoption. Sadly, I can add murder to my list of sins....yet which has been forgiven of me by my receiving Christ (in addition to other sins).

I think about how different my life would have been, how I'd have grown up less selfish, giving more, loving more. Perhaps that is why I am at The Church in Wisconsin, to learn to grow more into these attributes, which are more Christ-like attitudes. I pray it is so. I believe I came to Christ as a child, willing to accept what was in the Bible. Willing to believe all that Jesus said and what was written by various individuals, in both Old and New Testaments, by the Spirit of God. 

I have come to grips with my indiscretion and sin(s) of years ago. I have come to realize that not only is this child in heaven but that we will be reunited some day. I learned back then to be hard hearted and maybe I still need some healing. I pray more of that would be chipped away that I would become a softer person. Yet...Jesus lovingly did in the Spirit for me what He did for real with children...He took them...and me...up in His arms...and showed His love for me...despite what I did. That's a whole other story.

If Christ is able to forgive me of this, He is able to open anyone's eyes to their indiscretions, whatever they might be, and forgive anyone. He is in the forgiving, saving, redeeming and sanctifying business (but first He has to show you the yuck). And if we do not ever get to this place of admitting our sin, turning from it and leaning on Christ, we will encounter the wrath of God. And He is most desirous for all to come to Him as a little child asking for forgiveness. You cannot imagine the peace and freedom that comes from letting go of those things that so consume. We must allow ourselves to go to Jesus as a child and take Him in. What joy and peace there is. 

Now to press the "publish" button...

Mark 10:13-16 - Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.