Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Because I Say So!

Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:24-25‬ ‭- And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.
The message Sunday was on familiar spirits. Familiar spirits refers to necromancy or evoking the spirits of the dead. Briefly, these familiar spirits take us away from God and His Holy Spirit. They are the deceiving thoughts or words that oppose God. Before we know Christ we are considered dead in spirit. These spirits control our lives, deceiving us into believing the things in the world are fine. They deceive us into believing the opposite of what God believes and that societal beliefs should be tolerated, not the things of God.

There is both an evil and a good spiritual realm. If you don't know the Lord that evil realm takes precedence. If we know the Lord, these familiar spirits work hard to draw us back to the evil one. Far fetched? Don't recognize it? It's there.

Anyway, as pastor was preaching he made a statement. When children are doing something they shouldn't, parents will say No! And if they ask why sometimes the answer is Because I say so!

Well, God does the same. He has given us commandments to live by. He has shown us that apart from Him we are nothing, that we operate in our own strength. We are independent of Him. We are disobedient to and rebellious toward Him. We, without our knowing it, are weak apart from God. And most of all, self-centered. 

The entire Bible is filled with God's words for us, His because I say so'sHe has given us countless examples of right and wrong and what happens if we do right as opposed to if we do wrong. He has every right to impose these commands because He is God and because He knows what's best for us...and especially because He wants the for us.

So, Because I say so

Many think the Bible only contains a list of do's and don'ts. God's Because I say so's are for our own good, just like a parent who only has the good of their children in mind. If you've been a parent you can understand this. Now apply that understanding to a God who loves your children (and you) even more .

God knows everything. He knows the beginning from the end. He knew us before we were yet born...even from the before beginning of time. He knew our names. He knows 
what we need. He knows the state of the world's disobedience and what all we will have to go through in life. 

It's why we need a Savior. It's why He offered up His Son for us. If we are serious about Jesus, while we still will go through life's trials, they will be worth it if we just listen to God when He says, No and tacks on Because I say so!  

Because He says so. Because He knows. Because He loves us. Because He wants only the best for us. Because. Because He says so we will be able to get through life with Him beside us. Because He says so we will have everlasting life. But we must be willing to believe what He says is true, unconditionally, and come to Him with forgiveness in our hearts for our disobedience. It's what He requires. Just because...He says so! 

Sound one-sided? Parents listen to their kids putting up a fuss when reprimanded. Do you put up a fuss also and say No to HimStop putting up a fuss and put on Christ.

He wants none to perish in their sin. He wants to remove that sin. He sets boundaries but our rebelliousness rejects them. Why do we need to do what He requires? Because God knows. God rewards as well as punishes (like a parent). He is a good God and a just God. If we go on being rebellious, we will get what we deserve. Be born of God. Follow Him because He says so. Have life. Know truth. Be blessed with spiritual blessings. Have the God of all creation on your side and guiding you through trials. You will not be alone. 

People do not want to hear about sin or believe that they are sinners. And they do not want to hear Because He says so. You can change your thinking, confess your sins, because He says so isn't so bad. 

1John‬ ‭5:3-5‬ ‭- For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Confession

Hebrews‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭- Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

I started this blog this morning after reading this scripture before church. Finished it this afternoon. I say this because of the lyrics to a song I posted at the end. They ended up fitting so well.

How can I not hold fast the confession of my hope? I confessed Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior 17 years ago. I confess I have strayed now and then but I always came back. The (reverent) fear of the Lord draws me back. I'm drawn because His Spirit reminds me of what there is on the other side of life on earth, both the good promises and the bad ones. 

Holding fast to my confession started with a confession, too. I confessed ...with [my] mouth the Lord Jesus and believe[d] in [my] heart that God has raised Him from the dead...and I was saved. (‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:9‬)  This was a special moment. There was a change that took place in my heart and that change grew.  I had been touched by the Spirit of God, no doubt about it.

Have you ever done this? Did you confess Him and was it heartfelt, not out of obligation? More importantly, did it change you? Is God more important to you today than other things? Do you take time to be with Him, talk to Him, request His strength and wisdom for each day, thank Him for what you have, being content in the process? Is your Bible handy? Do you read it? 

Jesus must be confessed and considered daily. He must be so central in your life that when you forget to address Him you feel disjointed. How do I know this? I have been guilty. 

We need to confess our sins daily to Him. Yes, to Him. We 
all have sins to confess...daily. If we do not confess our sins daily I believe that is yet another sin...one of pride, believing we have 
no sin. The Word has words on that. Oooh, I was only going to post one verse, but I need to do more: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1John‬ ‭1:8-10‬) Honestly, I think pride is the #1 sin. 
I confess that Jesus is the Son of God, that He came for you and me to die for our sins so that one day, when/if we confess Him and profess our faith in Him, He will cleanse us of all unrighteousness and we will be called children of God. Some people may think I've taken this a little too far. 

If professing Him as Lord and Savior was good enough for the disciples, it's good enough for me. It's an amazing thing that He does. Others may wonder what happened or why I changed, but 
the truth is, God is the one who did the change. People planted seeds in my life, others watered those seeds, but God ultimately brought the change in me. (1Corinthians 3:6)  He still is in the business of doing this. 

I can say He has saved me. He is the hope I cling to. When all else fails, He remains and doesn't change. Here are those lyrics I mentioned from I Still Serve an Amazing God:
I still serve an amazing God
He's been with me every mile my weary feet have trod 
He still cares, He still hears, 
He's still mending broken hearts and drying tears 
This old world is bound to change, but I'm glad I know the One who always stays the same 
And my song will ever be: Amazing God, You're still amazing me.

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 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

So Simple

Matthew‬ ‭19:14‬ ‭- But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

I came across this stashed away in my IPad notes. Short and oh so sweet. 

A friend and I were at lunch the other day (in April). This is the same friend I mentioned the other day. We talked, as usual, about the things of God. It's always uplifting conversation.

She told me how she was with her two granddaughters when they were like four and six. Today both are adults, one married. The oldest girl decided to bring out a children's Bible from which to read.

Before they started the older girl asked, I have Jesus in my heart, don't I Grammy? To which the response was, Yes, you do!!! (I'm guessing there is something special about Grammies and their grandchildren. I think back on my Grammies and one of my Grampas. My friend was present when her granddaughters both received Christ.) 

The younger granddaughter then asked, Do I have Jesus in my heart? Grammy's response was, I don't know if you do. The little girl pondered it but still wasn't sure. 
Grammy: If you're not sure, ask Jesus.
Girl: Will you pray for me?
Grammy: No, you need to ask Him yourself. I can't do it for you.

So the four year old prayed and prayed! She asked Jesus to live in her heart. To this day she follows the Lord. This wasn't some contrived prayer someone asked her to pray. It was a prayer from a sincere, childlike heart. 

It's THAT simple. It comes from a pure heart of desire. When 
God hears and knows the heart is sincere of anyone who seeks to have Him become part of their lives, He will not refuse. 

An adult can come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as simply as this four year old girl. Often our idea that we know it all and there's no more room for childish behavior get in the way of knowing our Creator and our Father. Consider Jesus' words. Consider knowing truth. It's not something one regrets. 

Matthew‬ ‭18:2-3 - 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.‭‭ 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

His Shed Blood

Leviticus 17:11 - For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.

I get together about once a month with a long-time friend. We chit-chat, talk about the Lord, laugh, eat, play cards, sometimes weep, talk some more. Thursday after we'd been together awhile, discussion inevitably turned toward the shootings in Orlando, where 49 people were gunned down by a radical Muslim claiming ties to ISIS. His reason: they were, predominantly, homosexuals. 

This was a tragic situation. These people did not deserve it. My friend made a comment that I understood but it was as if it didn't need to be further discussed. She said, "Funny how it's always about blood." It wasn't until yesterday morning that I really pondered the comment.

Yes, for both the Christian and Muslim faith it's about blood. There's a difference though. Our Christian faith required one Man to die for all, the shedding of His blood to bring life to many. The radical Muslim faith requires the death of many, all who reject their beliefs, by the shedding of blood by their own hands, bringing death. 

The scripture above explains it. Life is in the blood. I brought this up briefly in yesterday's blog. Sacrifices in the Old Testament were all about blood being shed. An animal was sacrificed to atone for the sin of the person offering it up. However, the animal sacrifices were never enough. They had to be done repeatedly. It was a precursor to Christ being sacrificed, killed, His blood being shed, in order to save the lives of anyone who proclaims Him as their Lord and Savior. Except Jesus died only once. And rose again. 

We do not share the same God as the Muslim faith. Our God does not promote killing unless it is to fight an enemy, to save lives. Jesus says He is the way, truth and life and no one goes to the Father but by Him. 

I do not condone the practice of homosexuality. God tells us clearly that it is a sin...an abomination. I do not despise homosexuals. That's just one sin in a multitude of sins. We have all sinned. There are many common, day-to-day sins we practice. Lying, for instance. Or what about lust? Pornography? Cheating? Abortion? Anger? Impatience? The list could go on. What I'm getting at is I cannot point fingers. My sins are no less than anyone else's. 

I read an article that has some people blaming Christianity for this act of violence in Orlando. I can't even wrap my head around that. I cannot imagine saying these 49 people deserved it. True Christians will not hate. Those who call themselves Christians and display hatred are not real Christians; they give true Christianity a bum rap. Then, I read this this morning in my devotion. Perfect timing! 
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1John 3:13-15

This is why we all need Jesus. His blood was shed for each of us. It was shed for the 49 people who died. It was even shed for the man who shot them, as difficult as that may be to understand. This is a truth: Our Lord gives anyone life, as long as they receive Him and turn from their sin. We are totally lost without Jesus. 

Like my friend said, Isn't it always about the blood? It is. The blood of the Lamb of God...which gives life. We never know when our last day will be. Death could be swift or an illness could drag on. But one day each of us will die. Have we allowed the blood of Jesus to wash us clean of our sin today and give us eternal life? If not, today is the best day to do so. 

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace...

Friday, June 17, 2016

There Was A Man

John‬ ‭1:6-9‬ ‭- 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 of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin, was called to be a witness of Christ. Jesus hadn't started His ministry yet, but John was pounding the paths, countrysides and ways preparing people for this Man who was to be the Savior of the World. 

John had been questioned by the religious leaders, Who are you; are you Elijah, or a prophet? What do you say about yourself? His answer was: I am "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Make straight the way of the LORD,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” ‭‭(John‬ ‭1:22-23‬)

As believers we are all called to be a voice in somebody's wilderness. Jesus nearing the end of His ministry said this to His disciples: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark‬ ‭16:15‬)

Those religious leaders did not like the competition. They did not like the idea of Jesus upsetting their way of doing the religious duties. He came to be the final act of atonement through His death. But what would the religious leaders' jobs be if they did not have control over the people? They were worried. Jesus said He was the way, truth and LIFE. These religious leaders were not. 

The laws were not obsolete. These laws showed how difficult it was, and is, to keep them all. Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Matthew‬ ‭5:17‬) Jesus came to fulfill the laws! Fulfill: do what is required; succeed in doing. Jesus did it all; He paid the price; He did what was required and He selflessly succeeded. No one else could, then or now. 

Not one single good deed or specific prayer or devotion to anyone else will work. We come to Christ alone, have faith in Him and ask Him for forgiveness of our sins. In Christ alone. ...John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John‬ ‭1:29‬) The entire Bible shows this from Old Testament to New. 

Old Testament sacrifices required an animal. Blood needed to be shed. These sacrifices were offered on a regular basis. Who shed His own blood? Who was the ultimate sacrifice? Didn't He die just once? Didn't He arise from the dead? And what does the Word say when we come to Christ? We too are made alive, in Christ. 

We come to Christ in faith believing His death on the cross was enough. He came to earth knowing His ultimate end. He knew He would become the sacrifice. John the Baptist preached Jesus as the Savior. Jesus commissioned His disciples to preach it. The disciples carried on the only tradition necessary...preaching who was the only way, truth and life. 

This is why I do these blogs. It's partly my voice. Hopefully my voice will reach into someone's wilderness and show Christ. I proclaim Him as my Savior. I have chosen the only way, the only truth and the only life. 

Our churches should be preaching a simple message, that of Jesus Christ. The only thing necessary is hearts opening to receive Him. Acknowledgment of one's sins and realizing that only Jesus has atoned for those sins. We cannot do enough to receive Christ but His gift of life comes free. The veil in the temple was torn when Jesus died allowing direct access to God. Church rituals are not the way. They are very much like the animal sacrifices which did nothing. He is the only way, truth and life. It means having faith in what Jesus has done and absolutely nothing to do with anything we have done. The only thing we do is receive Christ.

Ephesians‬ ‭2:4-6‬ ‭- But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Our Ebenezer

1Samuel 7:12 - Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”

There is an old, old hymn called Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing. Not sure if many churches sing it anymore. I have grown in appreciation for the worshipful words of some of the older hymns. Some of today's music is fine if it lifts up the name of Jesus and doesn't focus solely on self. He has done it all, He has paid the price. Which, as I wrote those words, reminded me of yet another old hymn, Jesus Paid it All!

I was listening to the Come, Thou Font hymn as I was driving home from out of town. I put it on repeat and listened to it several times. It is still, four days later, on repeat! The word Ebenezer is used and I knew I had heard the explanation to it. I looked it up to refresh my memory.

Quote from an article by the Apologetics Press: The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words ’Eben hà-ezer (eh’-ben haw-e’-zer), which simply mean “stone of help” ... When Robinson wrote his lyrics, he followed the word Ebenezer with the phrase, “Here by Thy great help I’ve come.” An Ebenezer, then, is simply a monumental stone set up to signify the great help that God granted the one raising the stone. 

If we have had an encounter with Jesus, we have an Ebenezer. It can refer to the issue of our salvation. He has helped us in some way through His power. We have turned to the Lord after as many years as it has been for us of turning our backs on Him. It’s raising our stone of help up in gratitude for what Jesus has done for us; for forgiving and removing our sin from us. For some that might be overcoming alcohol or drugs. For others it might be prostitution, lust, fornication. Yet for others it could be anger, self-pity, pride. If there has been a change, an overcoming of our sin, if we have sought the Lord for His forgiveness and walk away from it, we can raise our Ebenezer, begin building that monument to God. Each act of overcoming another sin is another stone added. We will never be done building! 

I can't help but think about the fact that Jesus is considered the Chief Cornerstone, a sure foundation. 

Last week we had our floors buffed and coated. We "hired" some young men from an organization called Teen Challenge to remove all the furniture. When it came time for them to replace the furniture, a wonderful thing happened. I only asked the man who organized and brought these guys if there were great testimonies in these young men? He said, Yes, ma'am, and proceeded to have each of them give their own personal testimony, something I did not expect. Teen Challenge is a faith-based organization, I might add. They overcome their addictions through the power of God in their lives, Bible study, discipline and prayer. It was wonderful to hear as they shared.

Do not be deceived. We all have sin in our lives to overcome. We are born with a sin nature. Can't be helped. Doesn't matter who our parents are or what they have accomplished in life...or even how accomplished we seem to be. Eventually we will step into exercising our own sin. Not one person can escape this sin without Jesus. He came to die for that very reason. He was the only…only…sin-free Person. Because of that He became the perfect sacrifice for all who call on His name. It is by His help, by the price that He paid that we can be made whole and righteous.

Besides the verse about the Ebenezer, I couldn't help but have the lyrics Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above. That's what we must do, give our whole heart to the Lord. We will receive the wisdom of God when we do. Wisdom teaches right and wrong. Yes, take my heart, Lord, and seal it for Yourself.

Proverbs 23:12,26 - Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge. My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sacrifice of Our Lips

Hosea‬ ‭14:2‬ ‭- Take words with you, and return to the LORD. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.”

There you have it in a nutshell. Just as Israel repeatedly turned away from God who called them His children, who saved them from captivity,  provided for them, and kept taking them back after they had forgotten all these things, it is what He desires for us to do. Have we, too, forgotten all the good God has done for those who love Him? 

This one verse shows what God desires. I have read this before, but it stood out so vibrantly this morning! It says to take words to Him, not going to Him and showing how good we perceive ourselves. The only true sacrifice is of our lips. 

I hear frequently people will not receive the free gift of salvation because they believe they are not worthy. They want to clean themselves up first, make themselves presentable before the Lord. It doesn't work that way. He wants us to come just as we are and He will do the miraculous act of cleaning us up, changing us from the inside...starting with the heart...out. 

We can only receive Christ when we humble ourselves before Him. Jesus came humbly to this earth. He humbly took the beating, spitting, mocking for His honest claim that He was the Son of God. He did this for each of us. Who do we think we are if we believe we can take our perceived goodness before Him and expect Him to receive that? I'm speaking also for myself here. The Word says none of us is good or righteous in ourselves.

If we humbly go to the Lord and take words with us, words of humility, not pride, this is what He will receive. This is non-negotiable this to come humbly. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:17‬)
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah‬ ‭6:8‬)

On another note, imagine an entire country that would do this...

Lord, let us all come boldly before you, no matter where we are in our walk with You, even if we are not walking with You, and let us plead our case: Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips. We are so unworthy, but You will receive us through Your grace and mercy if our hearts are honest with You. Praise You, Lord, for Your goodness and mercy toward sinners like us. Praise You for what You have done for us. Thank You, Lord.

Hebrews‬ ‭13:15‬ ‭- Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

Friday, June 10, 2016

It Is Well

Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭- Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

I posted awhile back one verse from the hymn It Is Well With My Soul. I was listening to this song in my car the other day. I want to post all the lyrics this time and a little background on how the song came about.

The writer, Horatio Spafford, was a successful businessman living in Chicago. He lost his only son at the age of two in the great Chicago fire. This was followed by an economic downturn. Both occurrences devastated him financially. He and his family already had a vacation overseas planned but he needed to attend to business matters so he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead of him. Their ship collided with another causing it to sink very quickly. His wife survived, but all four of his daughters perished. As he traveled to meet his wife he wrote the well known song. 

Spafford was a devoted Christian and it does certainly appear that his faith in God surfaced mightily. When we are faced with tragedy of any kind, there is only one place to go...on our knees, and pray to our Father in Heaven for His strength and comfort. Did Spafford question why? Did he get angry? We all grieve differently and perhaps he might have...but in the end, he relied on God and His Word to get him through. This is the amazing power of God, through Christ and His Word...if we know it and it is written upon our hearts and minds, we already know where our comfort lies. If we know Christ and He dwells within our hearts (and He is also the Word that dwells there), we are assured of peace. 

Now the lyrics:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul
It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul
It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul
It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul
It can be so well with all our souls. No matter, as Spafford said, what our lot might be, if we have God securely dwelling within our hearts, our souls will be well. Jesus paid the price for all of us if we so desire to acknowledge Him so that we can have forgiveness of sins, peace in trials and more...and have the blessed assurance, the hope that comes from being in 
Christ. There is nothing...nothing...more important than Christ. If you don't know Him today you may not handle a trial. You may not have the peace that passes all human understanding. It's good to know Him now. Then you will instantly know where to turn.

John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭- These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Great Things

Psalm ‭31:19‬ ‭- Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men!

Our Lord longs to do great things with each of us. All of creation is for His glory. He has always done great things for those who want Him to. When we submit to Him, give Him our lives, He can do great things in and through us too. It was His plan all along. Now we must seek Him for this.

We just had our floors buffed and coated. We needed help moving furniture. We have some association with Milwaukee Teen Challenge. This is a faith-based organization for men and women (not necessarily teens) who have abused use of mainly drugs or alcohol. It is a year long program where through the love of Christ they are taught discipline through the Word of God until they have recovered. For many, the power of God is undeniably successful. And they begin to see it and live it out.

So we had a group of four students in the program and Mark, the Dean of Men, remove the furniture one day and return a couple days later to replace it. When they were done this afternoon we all went out back on the deck to just enjoy the weather and chit chat. I asked Mark if these four guys were great testimonies. He said, "Yes, ma'am, they are." I did not ask for their testimonies, although it's an encouragement to hear them. Mark pointed to one guy and asked him to give a one minute testimony. And he had the other three do the same. 

The last young man had been the quietest of the bunch. Maybe he'd not been in the program as long. He began his touching testimony. He grew up in a great, church-going family environment. He said he was married to a beautiful wife and had three children. One day she left, leaving the children behind. It was devastating to him. He began drinking heavily. He became silent, turned his head so no one could see him and remained that way for a very long minute. He apologized and admitted he had never told anybody that. I'm assuming the part about his wife and family. Then continued his story about how his mother has been an encouragement in all this and is taking care of his children. I think he apologized again. 

Mark told him it was okay to feel like that. I chimed in that it is another step towards healing. It so reminds me of what Jesus said: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew‬ ‭11:28-29‬)  Jesus is a much better comfort than drugs or alcohol. 

Sometimes we carry burdens we really should let go of. We can shove them so deep within to put them out of our minds. But they never go away. We are told to face the struggle head on. It's all we can do. If we do it with the Lord, He will help us. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2Corinthians 4:16-18)  I think of the three men in the Bible who were thrown into the fire. Their professed faith in God alone saw them through. They came out of the fire unscathed without even an odor of smoke. And bystanders asked who the fourth person was...only three entered. Our God will be beside us in trials if we allow Him.

When we allow ourselves to unearth these hidden things buried so deep and go through the hurt to release them, we begin our healing. We confess our hurts to Him. We lighten our burden. And it's part of why He has given us Jesus. He has told us above to give Him the burden. But that means submitting to Him. 

I think God can do a great work in this young man. He might even have caused him to reveal this secret thing. I know from experience when we admit something a burden is lifted. It's like Jesus is right there ready to start healing. This is an amazing God we have. He can do great things in and through each of us when we give in to Him and give our burdens to Him. He fights our battles. He strengthens. He comforts. After the tears are shed we rest, an inexorable rest. We understand just what the peace that passes all understanding is. I'm praying that Jacob, this young man, will experience this. 

After the guys left I stopped to pray for them, for perseverance in their time with Teen Challenge and after. As I prayed, a scripture ran through my head. God is so faithful. He cares so much about each one of us, more than we can imagine. He will do this if we give our lives to Him, receive Him into our lives and hearts. It's all He wants. I pray Jacob will experience this. The scripture:

‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:25‬ ‭- So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten...

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Revelation 1:1,3 - The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. ... Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

There is a song. Contemporary worship. It's called the Revelation Song. We sang it Sunday. I know worship is not just about the music. I love music; from 4th grade on when I was introduced to flute lessons and band, I grew in my appreciation of music from John Philip Sousa to classical and later country, hillbilly (yes), down home gospel and hymns. I have grown to enjoy the older, more sedate and sometimes rip-snortin', hand-clapping gospel songs.

Anyway. We sang the Revelation Song. The lyrics are below. To get a flavor of the music, click on THIS LINKAs we sang this Sunday I was overwhelmed again at the words. It's the words that are important, the meaning and worshipfulness of them. A way of sharing with God what we know in our hearts. And the truth.

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven's mercy seat

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You

Clothed in rainbows of living color
Flashes of lighting rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor strength and glory and power be
To You the only wise King


Filled with wonder awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your name
Jesus Your name is power, breath and living water
Such a marvelous mystery


Bear with me as I share as this song comes right from the Bible. I share the very scriptures. The Book of Revelation is not only about the events that are to come. It is a revelation of Jesus Christ, who is to come. It describes His awesomeness. Some of these verses are from other parts of Old and New Testaments, including the Psalms. 

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.
And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. ...
The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” ...
You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”
(Revelation 4:2-3,5,8-9,11) 

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain...
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation..."
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
(Revelation 5:1,6,9,11-13)

People, this was not just some active imagination proclaiming these things. The Bible is God-breathed. It is truth. You will find no false words in this book. The song is worshiping the God of all creation. We must keep our eyes focused on the King of kings, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Blessed are those who read and hear the prophetic words written...and believe.

But know this, He tells us that one day every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father. All of creation will worship Him. I will proclaim His name today.
All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; they shall sing praises to Your name. Selah. Psalm 66:4 
But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these [disciples] should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19:40 

Someday everyone who has not bowed before the Lord will know without a doubt what they missed, struggled over or outright rejected. But all will still bow...they will worship Him. If I don't proclaim the name of the Lord, perhaps the rocks would cry out. Stranger things have been known to happen. 

John 17:17 - Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Titus 1:1-3 - Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior...
Paul was addressing Titus, a fellow believer and follower of Christ. These letters Paul wrote to various people were to encourage, admonish or strengthen the addressee. In this case it was to build up believers' faith and their knowledge of the truth...in what Paul preached...simply, Jesus Christ. 

Paul started off with a bit of an introduction, as he usually did. He called himself a bondservant of Christ. If we are followers we are all called bondservants. If we are in Christ we take on the attitude of one willing to allow our God to direct our lives. This is not in the sense that we are puppets but we allow His Spirit to guide us to do the right thing, the best thing. Another way to put it is He must increase, but I must decrease. (John‬ ‭3:30)‬ ‭ Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke‬ ‭9:23)  It's safe to say this is where God loses people. 

Faith in God and having truth of His Word are part of a godly nature. As is explained next, with these we can have the hope of eternal life, which God promised us right from the start. If we believe all He says is true we do well. There's no picking and choosing scripture. It comes as an entire truth. The Word was written to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteousness. (2Timothy 3:16)

The last part of this scripture shows that Paul preached these words, as did Jesus and any other follower of the Lord. Sometimes Jesus' words can be hard to swallow. Might I say this may be conviction. A person might not be adhering to these words. Are we ever perfect? I know we are not. But if we disregard something the Bible teaches as true, we are sinning. But God can use these words to change our thoughts, reveal truth.

We are called to trust and believe that God's words and His Word (and Jesus the Word) are all meant for our good. I listened to a sermon the other day about a specific sin. The pastor illustrated a box. Within that box were God's specific standards regarding the subject. It clearly defined what the Word says. Anything outside that box was sin. That's why there is a Bible. That is our "box," our boundaries.

Still, none of us is ever perfect but we should be striving to adhere to God's commandments and all other proverbs or parables He has chosen to help us. A parent scolds and sets boundaries for a child as protection. Think of God, our Father doing the same through His Word. If we are not following them we are as disobedient as any strong-willed child. 

If we follow Christ, we have become His children. What a privilege that is. If we are proud of our Father, in awe of Him, we want to talk...or write...about Him. We want to share who He is and what He has done for us and what He can do. We want to edify and bring hope to others. We want to glorify Him in our lives. When we are obedient to Him, He truly does lavish us with good.

Being a bondservant is not a bad thing. If you ever worked for someone who was great to work for, had integrity and honesty, didn't you want to do the best you could? Haven't you spoken of this employer? Haven't you even been amazed at how great it was to be part of his team? That's how I feel about God. I'm so thrilled that He cared enough to tap at my spirit that I would recognize Him and receive Him. But this is better than any job...this is as permanent as I am willing to allow it to be. As long as I remain grounded in His Word and strive to learn and change, I have that hope for my future. 

Titus‬ ‭2:11-14‬ ‭- For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

You Are the Temple

1Corinthians‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭- Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

I'd like to show you a similarity between two things. It shows how the Old Testament has just as much to reveal as the New. Things that have taken place in the past relate to things of today. There are thousands of parallels, types, symbols, prophecies in the Old Testament. In fact Jesus can be found in every Old Testament book. 

Back in the Book of 1Kings I was reading about King Solomon. You know, he asked God for wisdom over anything else and God gave him so much more because of it. And it was he who wrote all the wisdom of Proverbs. Solomon was King David's son. He was given the privilege of building a temple, which was dedicated to God, a place where God's presence could reside, where the Ark of the Covenant was stored in the Most Holy Place. It is said it was a place where His name could dwell. The Most Holy Place could only be accessed by the Jewish High Priest. This place was completely shut off by a very large, heavy curtain, or veil, from everyone else.

Something to keep in mind, God does not need a building in which to reside. God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. (‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:24) Like a church today, the temple was a place for the Jews to come to worship God. If worship is done correctly God's presence will be there. It can be anywhere at any time. How? He is simply God. And even today, while we attend our church services, pay our worship to God on His holy day, we can worship Him any time. I just got done...

Here's an excerpt from 1Kings 9 where God speaks to Solomon after the temple is built:
1Kings‬ ‭9:3 - And the LORD said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually."

There was a catch, though. "Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever... But if you ... at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight..." (1Kings 9:4-7)

This refers to Israel. But let me say this can refer to believers of Christ. This is one parallel or type. Before Christ, people followed and served God (sometimes). Today we follow Christ and serve Him (sometimes). 

What I'm getting at here is when we receive Christ as Lord and Savior, we become the temple where He resides. It is not built with human hands. It is built within a heart that has changed by Jesus Christ, simply by asking Him to reside there, change our hearts, give us wisdom to know Him in an intimate way. If we do not turn to Jesus and continue to worship our own lives as they are without Him, we will not be His. That's a pretty harsh statement. But God refers to it above. 

When the day of final judgment comes, we can be cast out of His sight. Jesus had this to say: Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matthew‬ ‭7:21,23‬)

Remember when Jesus died? Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split... (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭27:51) This meant that access to God was open to anyone providing those "anyones" went through Christ, bowed their hearts before Him, repented of their sins and asked for His forgiveness...then lived for Him, through Him, by the power of His Holy Spirit. Jesus became our Great High Priest, One higher than any man. Do you see this? God does not dwell in temples made with hands; He will live in our heart. But we must ask Him in. He won't come in without our invitation. 

He died for, as my pastor says frequently, whosoever will call on the name of the Lord. He's thankful, as am I, to be counted as one of the whosoeversFor whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans‬ ‭10:13)

But we have the same catch as was explained to Solomon. ‭‭We must walk in integrity of heart and in uprightness. We must follow His commands, which means we must know them (through the Word). If we do these things, His throne will be established within our hearts, spiritually, forever. His presence will be with us always. He will be forever looking over us, protecting and providing for us. If we have chosen Christ, we are His people and are in the land that God has given us, just like the land that God had given Israel...we become His people.

Sound unimaginable? It's not. Call out to Him. Watch what He can do with your heart, soul and mind. He will dwell within your heart. You can become His temple, filled with His Spirit. He will give you wisdom. That veil has been torn for you. Access has been given to you. Go for it.

Ephesians‬ ‭2:19-22‬ ‭- Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.