Sunday, January 31, 2016

What the Lord Has Done

Exodus 13:8 - And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, "This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt."

The Jews celebrate a feast called Passover...a time when they remember how He delivered them from captivity in Egypt, which is what is alluded to in the scripture above. So my response is to remember what He has done for others, and what He has done for me, be thankful and worship Him. 

This is what the Lord has done. 

He has called me. He has opened my blind eyes and changed my heart toward Him. He has delivered me out of the hands of my enemy who is in the world (Egypt). Now...You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1John 4:4) 

He has forgiven me of all unrighteousness. He has given me His Holy Spirit and dwells within me. He is the vine and I am the branch. He was my door, is my way, my life, my truth. He is my Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer. He is my encourager, peace-giver, strength, wisdom. He is all in all.  

This is what the Lord has done! I did nothing. He caused me to hear and respond. 

While I may not have a son to tell...He commands us to tell the world what He has done. I base this on what He did for Israel:

And Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. ...
It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.
So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, "What is this?" that you shall say to him, "By strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”
(Exodus 13:3,9,14,16)

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the 
salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever."
So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.
‭‭(Exodus‬ ‭14:13,30-31‬)

The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
You will bring them in and plant them In the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
‭‭(Exodus‬ ‭15:2,17‬)

It is hard sometimes to recognize today the power our God has over us and our lives. I think about the political battles. I think about the fact that God once gave Israel over to the king that they so desired, not to be led by the priests who followed God and judged based on His standards. The people got what they wanted. Same goes for us. We will get what the people want...yet it will be by God's power. We may not recognize how it's done, but some day it 
will be quite evident. 

This world thrives on man's attitudes, their strengths, wisdom. Not many seek God for this. Those individuals who truly do put their hope, confidence and strength in God will endure. It's in Christ alone. That means there is a very great minority still seeking truth...and a majority that will get what they want. While sometimes it is hard to know if I fully trust in God, there is a part of me that knows He will provide when necessary...strength, wisdom, spiritual insight...strength being number one on my list! 

While this was written yesterday, we sang a couple songs in church this morning that mentioned what the Lord has done and His being all in all. Don't tell me that was a coincidence. He is very able to do this. It is what the Lord has done!

But here's what I will end with! It gives me hope and confidence in this world. In Christ Alone

Exodus 15:18 - The LORD shall reign forever and ever.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Everlasting Ordinance

Exodus‬ ‭12:14‬ ‭- So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
I'm sure I've written about this before. This is about Israel just before God delivered them out of Egypt. They were instructed by God, through Moses and Aaron, to do some things. Although it speaks of a celebration, the Passover, the everlasting ordinance that would be between God and His people, it is clear that it is the everlasting ordinance between God and "whosoever will" believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved and have everlasting life. 
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. ‭‭(John‬ ‭3:14-15‬)

Ordinance: An action prescribed, statute.

This ordinance speaks of a feast, which the Jewish people still celebrate, in remembrance of that day thousands of years ago. I'm sure you know the story. Each family was to kill a spotless lamb, apply the blood to the doorposts and lintels of their home, then roast the meat and eat all of it...or if there was any remaining, burn it. The angel of the Lord would come later and kill all the firstborn of every Egyptian household, both man and beast. It would be brutal. But none of the people of Israel would be touched because of that blood on the doorposts of the homes of the Jews. It was an everlasting ordinance between God and His people.

They would be set free from their captivity in Egypt. They would then be led to the land which God had already set aside for them. 

Our salvation is like this. We receive Christ, through the blood of our spotless Lamb of God, and through Him alone we are set free from the slavery of the world's clutches (Egypt). Through this sacrifice of His life for ours...and then ours for Him...we have entered into a new birth, new life, new land that God has promised to those who believe. 

However, if one has not applied that blood to the doorposts of their heart, it will not happen. It is a heart matter. It is not an intellectual knowing of who Jesus is, but a heart knowing of Him. We recognize and regret our sins, repent of them and thank Him for His wonderful act of love on that cross for each of those "whosoever will" receive Him.

We can proclaim each day the salvation that saved us from the evil one who wishes to daily take control of our lives. We become part of the very same everlasting ordinance. We claim the right to say we are the children of God, not by the good things we do but by the very sacrifice of that spotless Lamb of God. Not our plan for salvation, but God's plan for mankind's salvation.

Is that blood of the Lamb over your heart? Have you decided to give your life to the One who gave His? It's the only way it can be done. can be an everlasting ordinance, something God requires. Yet His requirements are for our good...for our life everlasting. Won't you consider it. Won't you share the idea with your friends and family? 

Exodus 12:23-24 - For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hallelujah and Amen!

John 14:26‬ ‭- 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.
The other morning I had something happen that I wish would happen more often. It was incredible. I was just beginning to wake up, either on my own or because of what was transpiring. In my head or my spirit or heart, I was rattling off one scripture after another describing God and His greatness. I knew I had also been doing it in my sleep.

As I became fully awake it continued. I was able, over a couple of days, to think back on that and it dawned on me: God's Word tells us He will bring His Word to mind by the power of His Spirit, when we need it. 

I have shaken my head repeatedly over this and desiring more of it. I've had songs in my head when I awake. This was better! I know that if I should ever be in a situation where I am without a Bible, I can rely on His Spirit to bring into remembrance His truths and promises. 

In our study in Revelation there is a section that says the Apostle John, seeing events that were to take place, was asked to take a small scroll. Then he was told to eat it but advised that while it would taste sweet like honey it would turn bitter to the stomach. The explanation to this is: Only as we take God's Word into our own lives can we speak even hard words of truth in love. ... But people would not obey or listen, so the scroll was a message of judgment. It tasted sweet, but because people were not willing to listen, it left the prophet [Ezekiel] "in bitterness...and deeply distressed." (Ezekiel 3:1-15) (BSF, Lesson 15, Revelation)

I bring this up because of the sweetness of waking up with His Word in my spirit. I can't tell you... Yes, it is sweet. But there can be some hard truths to it also, especially for those who choose not to know this very word of God.

What happened is God's incredible power at work. It will happen in those who believe and seek more of Him. 

In the Old Testament the people were instructed to know and keep His Word ever before and within them. Moses instructed the people after receiving and sharing the Ten Commandments: 
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.(Deuteronomy‬ ‭11:18-19‬)

The more we spend in His Word, the more it will be ingrained in our spirits...for times when we need them. They are good, true and just, as is He.

Psalms‬ ‭34:8‬ ‭- Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Change of Heart

Deuteronomy 32:18 - Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, and have forgotten the God who fathered you.

Wondering what's happening in the world? I'm sure more people than we know are wondering. Many think it's just a glitch in "something." Maybe we need a change in the county's leadership, more tolerance, gun control. Maybe it's the climate! Something. How about a very special change of heart? The only change that would be beneficial would be returning back to God.

I had two occurrences this week that I were closely related. I received an email from a friend wondering:
*Why God doesn't do something about all the evil happening in the world.
*Why He won't do something NOW, instead of waiting.
And then...I was amazed the other morning when a physical therapist at the hospital where I volunteer sat down with a patient in a small waiting room I was in. He picked up the Bible on the table next to him, opened it randomly and read aloud Deuteronomy 32:18 above. I had to comment: Sounds like what's happening in the world today. Even the patient commented on its content. This IS what is happening...and God sees. 

If you read that verse in context there's more. It tells a truth. It should open our eyes. Just a few points from this song of Moses as he proclaimed the name of the LORD. Moses wanted God's people to hear him: Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. (Deuteronomy 32:1) These words. How important. We have done the same thing. Hear these words. They bit then and they bite now.

God is: great, our Rock, perfect, just, truthful, without injustice, righteous, upright, our Father
But the people (us included) have become:
Corrupt - perverse - crooked - foolish - unwise - have no faith.

Here's what He says He will do and who those are who reject Him:
And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith. They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; they have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell; it shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap disasters on them; I will spend My arrows on them. 
They shall be wasted with hunger, devoured by pestilence and bitter 
destruction; I will also send against them the teeth of beasts, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword shall destroy outside; there shall be terror within for the young man and virgin, the nursing child with the man of gray hairs. 

For they are a nation void of counsel, nor is there any understanding in them. Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!
Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them. 

Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand. For I raise My hand to heaven, and say, “As I live forever, ...I will render vengeance to My enemies, and repay those who hate Me." (Deuteronomy 32)

But praise God for what He promises those who take Him seriously, who reverently fear Him, who rejoice in His return:
Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people. (Deuteronomy 32:41,43)

As for the email I received. It took days to write a response. Days of praying the words weren't too much and right. 

What is happening in the world and why hasn't God done anything; why is He waiting? While my answer was much longer, the first answer is sin! We have, like Israel thousands of years ago, removed God from our lives. And that isn't just ignoring Him. It's believing the lie that some churches promote that God is good but nothing about repentance or His anger and His being just, not liking our sin. Yes, God loves us. He loved us so much He sent His Son to die for us.

So here comes the hard part.

We think because we have grown up in a church, attended classes and Sunday school, sing in the choir, are "basically good people," that we don't need to receive Christ with all our hearts. We don't need to get baptized again because we were as children. If we are not born again as Jesus tells us we must be, we have not received Him. If we have not sometime in our lives 
believed we are filled with sin, confessed Christ, repented of our sins, 
believed He has removed those sins and begun to live for Him, we have not really received Him. 

So sin abounds and it's not a popular subject because no one wants to admit they are something other than what they think they are. Me included! There are days when I have to remind myself I am no one apart from God. I have to remind myself of what He did for me. I have to take stock of my life today and ask for forgiveness when I feel I have failed Him...again...and again. This is what we (should) do. Am I living for Him?

Why won't God do anything? He did. He sent Christ. It's what we aren't doing. Receiving Him. Instead we are pushing Him further out the door. So He allows these disasters in the world and even in our lives through sickness and strife to draw us to Him. To ask these questions and begin to seek Him. 

He IS going to do something. But it may not be what many would like to see. He will return. But He will return to bring justice. He will return to remove His saints from the mess we've created and the foolish unbelievers and scoffers remain will remain to face the ultimate judgment, the wrath of God. It will not be pretty. He will destroy this earth one more time that He may return and reign for 1000 years with His dedicated followers.  

So it is important, timely, urgent, as we repeatedly say in our class on Revelation, to let people know of the coming judgment and how to avoid it. To, unapologetically, preach Christ. To, if necessary, offend like Jesus did, with His hard words. 

Things have not changed. The Word remains the same. The salvation of Jesus Christ remains the same...You must be born again. God never changes. He remains the same today... For I, the LORD, change not...(Malachi 3:6) Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Hebrews 18:3) 

So, a change of heart is what we need. Only Christ can do this and through the power of the Holy Spirit. We need Christ for that. He must live in our hearts. We must abide in Him and Him in us. He must be our vine that brings life. He must be the living water, the bread of life. His words must be in our hearts and on our minds. We must commune with Him daily and worship Him. We must recognize His greatness in all we see. 

Oh, Lord, great is Your faithfulness. Your mercies are new every morning. Your promises are true and just. They are yes and amen. You are King of kings and Lord of lords. Your Word never fails. You are honest and true...and just. You love unconditionally. You are longsuffering for us. But it can't last forever because You have said You WILL return to bring judgment. Lord, search my heart and see if there be any wickedness in it and then purify my heart and make it whole. Let the meditation of my heart and the words of my mouth be pleasing to You, O my God and my Redeemer. 

Deuteronomy‬ ‭32:4‬ ‭- He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

How Can I Not?

Mark‬ ‭16:15 - And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."

How can I not do this!? This was a question brought up in our Revelation study by one woman after reading carefully what will occur in the future, maybe closer than we know.

In our study this week we were shown some of the things this world will--will--go through in the last days. While we may not understand all the imagery of Revelation 8 and 9, it again points us to Who, not what, is in control and Who we can trust. Read for yourself! 

We have to believe that even though we live on earth in an earthly body with earthly desires, there are two unseen spiritual atmospheres. Some of us can feel the presence of them. There is a joy about one but a heaviness and sorrow about the other. 

With that, listen to a few of the things that will happen in those last days. Remember that if it is in the Bible it will happen. God does not lie but He also wants us to be fully aware, warned and prepared for those days. These are judgments that will take place. This may seem like a lot of scripture but nothing says it better. 

...hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. (Revelation‬ ‭8:7‬)
...something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭8:8-9‬)
...a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. ...A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter. (Revelation‬ ‭8:10-11‬)
...a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night. (Revelation‬ ‭8:12‬)

That's just the environment. Imagine a third of all crops, water, fish and animals destroyed and less sun to grow what remained. That would be a problem. This will be done that man will look to God and believe. He will be controlling all this. But there is more.

Next the judgments upon man. A bottomless pit was opened and locusts swarmed out. They were not to harm (the remaining) vegetation but were given authority to torment anyone who was not of God. In this prophecy, however, there are still many who, like Pharaoh in Exodus, hardened their hearts and refused to repent and still would not bow to God. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five monthsTheir torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭9:5-6)‬ ‭Five months of wishing death. 

Next 1/3 of man was allowed to be killed by a huge, powerful army. And yet, even after that some would not bow to the Lord. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation‬ ‭9:18,20-21‬)

This bowing to God is not just the idea that we believe there is a God and taking the idea He will return lightly or believing it won't happen in our lifetime. Bowing means submitting to Him, asking forgiveness of our sins and following and obeying Him. It is something we must do. James 2:19 says: You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! If the demons know and they tremble over God, shouldn't we? With reverent fear. 
The Lord is merciful. These things must come to pass as signs. We haven't  seen anything like this yet but it will happen. He tries to get our attention personally even today with financial hardship, illness, murder, theft, terrorism. Weren't we shocked at 9/11? Aren't we concerned about the rise in terrorism, human trafficking, unnecessary violence? Still some don't get it. He will step it up as the days go on. Jesus would prefer that none perish, yet He knows that will not be the case. These are the stark warnings for us that we might come to Him and believe, trust, have faith in and obey Him. Even if He waits 25 years, knowing Him is His desire. Underlying all this destruction is His love. It might not seem like it, but it's there. He keeps warning and warning. He loves us so much.

How can I not do as the opening scripture tells us? Do I expect everyone to listen/read? No. Do I want people to harden their hearts all the more? Of course not. How can I not share what the truth of God's Word says? 

How many times do we, even believers, have to hear what God commands us and reject it? We are all guilty of putting other things before Him, as came out in our Revelation study yesterday. God's warnings are for our good. He is delaying His return, for awhile, that more would submit and receive Him. But...He could come any time. Or anyone could be struck by a car or sudden illness. We must know Him before disaster arrives. Then we can look to Him to get us through. No one or thing can compare. 

How can I not continue to share His love and warnings? How can I not say it like it is? How can I not? His words might be hard to believe, unless you know Him. We cannot be content in this world with all its trappings. Do the things of this world really satisfy or do you always desire more? People throw their money into lotteries hoping to win the big one. How about throwing your heart at the throne of God for the greatest reward of all...eternal life. The greatest gift we can receive is Jesus Christ. All that money will not satisfy in the long run. It will not prevent our death or the death of others. It will not bring our salvation either.

In class we all agreed that what we share with others isn't always going to be received joyfully or thankfully. Most will reject the words of God. That is the greatest burden we all carry. But Jesus says to give our burdens to Him. We do what is required and let Him sort it out.

C.S. Lewis said: If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. I know that many will say they are satisfied in this world. Jesus tells us not to seek the treasures of the world that perish but seek the things of God. It goes against the human mind. We are told that we are to have faith in those things we cannot see. Wow. Jesus' followers had the opportunity to see Him and believed (and even then there were those who wanted no part of Him). Through His disciples and others after them, the testimony of Jesus Christ has continued...among those who have not seen Him. Only He will remain in the end after the earth is gone.

Matthew‬ ‭10:32-33‬ ‭- Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

Monday, January 11, 2016

But Now I See

John‬ ‭9:25‬ ‭- He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

I began reading a book called Jewish Culture and Customs by Steve Herzig. He a Messianic Jew meaning He has become a believer in Jesus Christ! While the book is about customs and culture the first chapter explains how Herzig became a believer after a life of Judaism and "kosherness." 

He questioned his believing sister one day after giving his life to the Lord, How do you know that you are born again? He questioned because he didn't feel any different. Her answer was that God would make HIM the best person HE could be and not to compare himself with others. And he stated that he now understood what the scripture above meant.

The blind man from John 9 is a wonderful story of healing, not just physical but spiritual. Only one who is born again will fully understand it.

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” ‭‭(John‬ ‭9:1-3‬)

Like this man, we are all born spiritually blind. We did not ask for this. We are blind until God reveals Himself to us. It's a personal thing. It can happen at any time, anywhere. But it comes only through an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Somehow He starts poking at your spirit. He might send a person or persons into your life who agitate! They press spiritual things on you, like attending church, or talking about their church and Bible studies they attend. This happened to me and I was agitated.

Then one day you completely fall apart. You can no longer resist His urgings. And He walks into your life and you don't know at first what hit you. With that the scripture above becomes reality.

I can't say I was fully aware immediately that my sight had come to me but I saw things differently. I had a desire to know things. I understood when I studied the Bible. I understood, in time, what being born again meant. The eyes of my heart were open to the things of God. And it was addicting.

Like I said, until we have this type of encounter with Christ we will continue to be blind. We will read what God's Word has to say and for the most part get it from one level. In Christ, with His Spirit in us we will begin to understand more, but we will never understand everything. The more we want to learn, however, the more He will reveal. A pastor can help but we are not to rely on just a man for our spiritual understanding. We go directly, humbly, to our God and His Word and He will show us.

I am so thankful for God's relentless bugging me! It took years and I remember the day before how I so strongly resisted only to receive Him the next morning. I feel ashamed at times for the resistance but I know I had to go through it to realize where I had been and where I am now.

It's not good to resist. We are to resist the devil and flee from him...but not resist and flee from God. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Then our sermon in church yesterday was about the parable of the sower. The Word of God is preached and it can fall on four types of ground: the wayside, hard and impenetrable; stony places with little earth; thorny places where the growth of the seed is choked out; good ground where the seed will be nourished. Which soil has the Word fallen on in your life? Listen to what Jesus said: In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them" But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. (Matthew‬ ‭13:14-16‬)

This is the miracle of new birth. Once blind, we see. We are all born blind sinners until we have an encounter with Jesus and become healed. Then others will see and know what God has done. He gets the glory. I'd love to hear testimonies!!!

April 18, 1999   (my testimony)

John‬ ‭9:26-27‬ ‭- Then they [religious leaders] said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Strangers in This World

Genesis‬ ‭17:8‬ - Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

God made a covenant with Abraham in the Old Testament. That covenant was to to make him a great nation, he and all his descendants. If we are in Christ we are one of those descendants and we are part of this covenant. The land we will inherit someday will be heaven. We are strangers to this world, but not to heaven.

God calls all believers peculiar people. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...‭‭(1Peter‬ ‭2:9‬) Have you been called out of darkness into His marvelous light? As believers and followers of Christ we will be "hated" by the world. We will be criticized, looked down upon, ignored, scoffed and even persecuted for our beliefs...even the truthful, uncomfortable words of the Lord. Words which some people find impossible God would say.

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (‭‭John‬ ‭15:18-19‬)

This covenant still is for all who call on the name of the Lord. It is available to anyone, no matter how sinful...rebellious, stubborn...against God one might be. Being against God includes those who know of Him, but do not know Him intimately, spiritually.

For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, as were all our fathers; our days on earth are as a shadow, and without hope. ‭(1Chronicles‬ ‭29:15‬)  Like Israel in the land God gave them, they were only passing through in their life. That land was not really theirs, but God's. Kind of like heaven! Our lives on earth are fleeting; yet beyond life lives an eternity. That eternity is either heaven or hell. And...they are an eternity. Forever. 

God tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and all other things will be added to that. We are not supposed to worry about tomorrow because today has enough trouble of its own. And God knows all our needs before we have need of them. The whole point is to trust in God for our lives. But how can we trust Him if we don't know Him? How can we be part of the marvelous covenant He has between Himself and His peculiar people? If we are in Christ we are those peculiar people that others look at and wonder how in the world we can take Him so seriously. in the world! 

If we are in Christ we share the future kingdom: Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here. (John‬ ‭18:36‬)
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ... (‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:20‬)

Again, we can all be part of the kingdom of heaven...if we seek Him first, trust Him, and then wait eagerly for the Savior. God's everlasting covenant has been carried through the whole Bible. It is for anyone. It is for those who today scoff and believe that others are acting as if they are superior. The fact is, we are not. By God's own words He has said otherwise. We are peculiar people! Some might think they are superior...that's a given. I am no better than the greatest sinner because everyone sins. I have this going for me, though: I have recognized my sins, recognized my need for a Savior and have received Christ as that one and only Savior. I have learned what the truth is. And, again, anyone who wishes to know the truth can. It's that simple.

‭‭John‬ ‭17:14-17‬ - I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Oh, Them Days

Revelation‬ ‭9:3-6‬ ‭- Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.
Ah, yes. Revelation! The study continues. The Bible shows us in this book what physical signs will happen in our future. Very similar things happened early in the Old Testament also. Remember the plagues? Frogs, lice, boils, thunder, lightening, hail and fire, waters turning to blood so they become undrinkable, and other torments. 

If those happened in the Old Testament, what we see in the New Testament will happen also. God does not lie. He has written the Bible so we may know, be warned...and know there is a Way we can have for hope, protection, eternal life. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor 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. ‭‭(Acts‬ ‭2:19-20‬)

While the plagues of Exodus were mostly earthly, the occurrences in Revelation are more cosmic. Maybe even our growth in technology has something to do with it. 

But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately. Then He said to them, Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. ‭‭(Luke‬ ‭21:9-11,25-28‬)

These are exciting times for those who trust the Lord, who have responded to His call to allow Him to become Lord and Savior in their life. We see the signs, the wars, rumors of wars. We are to trust Him in all things. We are to realize He is in complete control over all we see happening, especially if we can't make any sense of what's happening. If Revelation teaches anything, it is that we keep looking up because our redemption draws near. But woe to those who scoff. Woe to those who like Pharaoh in the Old Testament rebelled right to the end, allowed his heart to be hardened, perhaps became frightened but would not show it, even after the death of his firstborn son. 

In Revelation it says that there will be a group who do the same. They will refuse to repent of their sin, call on the Lord for salvation and shake their rebellious fists at Him. Any of us could do this if we are not prepared. Even believers. But if we call on Him now and truly trust in Him our chances are much better. We may go through trials, but if we remain steadfast we will be protected and saved by the Lord, Himself. He will make a way where there seems to be no way. (Isaiah 43:19)  Who can comprehend what He can do? Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Romans‬ ‭11:33)‬ ‭

Though there will be a Day of the Lord where His wrath will come to this earth for its sin and rebellion against Him, for those who know Him, it is the glorious hope talked about in Titus: ...looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ... (Titus‬ ‭2:13)

There's always a positive side to all the Bible tells us. There may seem to be a lot of don't do this or that, but like a father wanting only good for his child, God has to be stern, because He is holy and we are so not. We fall so short of being good...He must separate Himself from us until we receive the free gift of salvation from His Son Jesus. He is the only way. All the accounts in the Bible point us in some way to Him. We must believe all the things in the Bible. If we don't search the scriptures how will we know? We cannot rely on man...only God.

Here's a sobering truth:

2Peter‬ ‭3:2-6‬ ‭- ...that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

You Cannot Hide

Psalm 139:1-2 - O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.

Psalm 139 is one of the best psalms. It is a comfort to those who know Christ. It may not be a comfort to those who do not know Him. But here is a truth: We can never go anywhere where God can lose us. - Chris Tringali  That can also be a comfort…or not!

I'm going to concentrate on one aspect of that comfort. As I listened to a preacher (Chris Tringali) read this psalm I was struck by words I figured he would talk about in his sermon. I wrote this before listening to his message. We'll see if we think alike!

Yes, God knows everything about us. Once a person made the comment that she didn't believe God could know all things. Oh, my, He does. He created everything...and us. How could He not? In our human minds we can't absorb the idea that God is able to know what I think, what I'm about to say or do before I do well as for every person alive today, from every continent, in every language. And remember everything all people have said or done. Way too much to think about. 

So when we are faced with tragedy of any kind, He knows about it. He knew before it happened. And we who know and trust in Him know He will take care of this situation or illness, whatever it is. It may not be handled the way we thought, but it will be done. I feel bad for those who don't know God and who do not have Him to rely on. Life would be pretty scary without His leading the way. I'm not saying we won't have some trepidation in whatever we go through. It's a human emotion. But beneath that we can have a peace that unbelievers don't understand. And it draws us deeper into the Lord so we know who to turn to for strength. 

It was these two verses of scripture that stood out this time as I read the whole psalm: If I say surely the darkness shall fall on me, even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. (11-12) In our darkest moments His light will shine on those who seek Him. Nothing is hidden from Him. What may seem dark to us is light to Him because He has the answer. In our dark moments His light will shine for us. In darkness we cannot see; hope is lost. With His light we see Him and peace returns.

We are encouraged in scripture to always stay focused on the Lord. Jesus is the Light of the world. His light will not go out. If we choose to search for comfort elsewhere first, that very light will not be there. Jesus' light is everlasting. It will shine always for those who seek Him.

We live in a dark world where evil runs rampant. We can have peace if we know Jesus as Lord and Savior. As long as you have that Light you will have peace. What do we hear repeated frequently around Christmas? For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (For He Himself is our peace...‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:14a‬) He will not be hidden from you. He knows your every thought afar off! He knew it from the beginning of time. Let His light shine in your life, to illuminate your path. We can never go anywhere where God can lose us.

We celebrated Christmas. Christmas is about Christ, our Savior. He was born to die. But He also rose again. He is the one who knows everything about us and wants to give us peace and joy in the midst of all discomforting things. Know Him, have His light, know His peace. You cannot hide from Him. No matter what you try to do. He came to wipe every tear from your eye, to give you a hope...and peace. So running from Him is silly. I know this. I ran; I struggled; I pushed Him away. 

Was this what Pastor Chris preached? Uh, no. But He did bring in the part about Christmas! He did conclude with something like this: Through all our troubles, if we know Him, we can praise Him in the storm. If we are His, even though we fail at being holy and righteous, He is still there. Don't know Him? He is still there, waiting for you to know Him. He knows your deeds and He's willing to forgive...if you will know Him. Then all His peace and joy will be yours. 

John 8:12 - Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Sheep Hear My Voice

I am going to use the words of Jesus to share a truth. And at the end you must watch an incredible, short video. This has been on my heart for days. It's a simple truth. It's a well known picture of a truth. And then comes a wonderful real life example of this truth.

The True Shepherd

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." 
‭‭(John‬ ‭10:1-5)

The Good Shepherd 

...“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
‭‭(John‬ ‭10:7-18‬)

The Shepherd Knows His Sheep

...“The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
‭(‭John‬ ‭10:25-30‬)

Jesus' words are true. He does not mince His words. Jesus is the only way, truth and life. Only He is the Door. Only He is the Shepherd. No one else. No other man, woman, leader, government, pastor, priest, rabbiNo one. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) Anyone we place in higher esteem than Christ is wrong. Only He laid down His life for our sins. Only He has risen again. Only He offers eternal life with the Father (As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father)...if we know Him. Has He called you? Have you heard about Him? Have you responded? Do you know Him? Has He called you by name? Do you know His voice? Do you follow another voice? If you aren't sure, ask Him to reveal Himself. Read the Gospel of John. He will tell you all about Himself. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

The sheep come to the Good Shepherd. They know He can be trusted. Why not allow yourself to trust Him? 

This just warms my heart: