Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Whirlwind of the LORD

Jeremiah‬ ‭30:3‬ ‭- “For behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah," says the LORD. "And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.
I say this often: I'm so thankful I know the God of this universe who has a plan for the lives of those who know Him. His plans are not for evil but for peace, hope and a future. Praise God!

We His people may go through trials, but if we continue to look up, He will be beside us. He will walk through the storm and be our comfort. No man or woman can do this, i.e., government leader. Our future is secure if we know Him no matter what.

I like what the LORD God later tells Jeremiah the prophet. This is for believers. By the way, believers can be considered as Israel in the Old Testament days...His children, His people. But because of their repeated rebellion against God, He allowed them to be captured, as a means to draw them back to Him. Perhaps with the election we are facing, God may be wanting yet more to stop their rebelliousness against Him. And why couldn't He use our government to do the same? We could be heading into a captivity of our own. It's just so not about a man or woman, especially ones who do not look to God for guidance.

“For it shall come to pass in that day," says the LORD of hosts, "That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them.
Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob," says the LORD, "Nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid.
"For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds," says the LORD, "Because they called you an outcast saying: 'This is Zion; no one seeks her.'
"You shall be My people, and I will be your God. Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD goes forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind; it will fall violently on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the LORD will not return until He has done it, and until He has performed the intents of His heart. In the latter days you will consider it.” (‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭30:8,10,17,22-24‬)

In the end God will judge. He will prove what was wrong and right in the world. His people will endure to the end. How do we know we really are not in the last days? Evil is rampant at all levels. The enemy is appearing to drag down as many as he can. This is why it is important to know Jesus, know the truth outlined in His Word. In the beginning God the end He will return to judge those who have taken Him and His Word lightly. 

The election that lies ahead will be what it will be. God knows. Either candidate could be the impetus for many to receive Christ. I am standing on the truth of God's Word that He can heal anyone not just of disease or illness but of the rebelliousness of sin and not believing in Him. Man's sometimes empty promises are not the promises from a God who desires all men come to Him and believe in Him. His promises are true...and just.

Lord, have mercy on this nation, on those who do not know You, that they might choose You. You can heal anyone, even enemies. If it be Your will... Thank You for Your grace and mercy to us who have chosen to follow You and who put their trust in You. Let us be lights and endure with the Gospel when darkness closes in. 

The Bible tells us that in the last days what we are seeing in the world TODAY will be rampant. Lovers of self, evil, all doing their own thing, immorality and things opposing what God says is good, right, true. We need to know the God who knows the beginning from the end. 

It's never too late to receive the God who has created all things, who loves more than we can wrap our heads around, even those who do evil. Yet in the end, only those who seek Him will receive the best end to this life. It will be a struggle but...God...

Psalm ‭107:19-21‬ ‭- ...they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Deuteronomy 4:29 - But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

I am thankful for a God who is so grace-filled. I'm thankful He is never finished with us. I'm thankful if we continue to seek Him He shows Himself to us repeatedly. 

If you have no idea what this means you may not truly know Him. But always waiting and ready to reveal Himself to you if you seek Him...with all your heart.

I've had three things happen this past week that have been revealing, cleansing, healing and freeing. It's not necessary to go into detail. One is a wound that goes back 55 years, one which I pushed so deep I thought I'd overcome it. I was wrong. It resurfaced but this time because the right words and the perfect timing of God, I believe it won't be the ache it had been for so long. God has shown me through another what Needs to be done.

Another was based upon the 55-year-old wound. I have finally realized, which is almost embarrassing, how much God loves me, how He will not leave me nor forsake me, even when I fail. 

And then Sunday morning God allowed me to hear three times, in a sermon on the radio on my way to church, in Sunday school and then in church...three words which convicted me of a besetting sin...for which I was able, three times, to ask for forgiveness and thank God for showing me. He showed me in the loving way only He can. Conviction with love. Unless you have had this happen it's hard to imagine. 

Step by step this week He has taken the time to heal, convict and cleanse. What an awesome God He is. What grace.

And then as we learned in church, grace is divine influence in man. He puts a desire in us to know Him before we really do. This desire causes our sometimes no more than a moment. It is up to us, however, to respond to that desire. If we do not we reject God. 

He puts a desire in me to become righteous. His grace brings conviction in love, all God's influence in my life. He longs for us to change. I can add yet another thing I read this week. God will take us as we are, but He doesn't want us to stay as we are. There must be a change. 

Here's the best thing: there is nothing we can do to initially receive His grace. He first loved us. He always does, even if we reject Him to our grave. But He also respects our offense to Him...but not without consequences. Those who choose not to bow their knee to Him will not receive a rightful place in heaven. We cannot earn His grace. He willingly gives it. Something we will never be able to explain happens when we respond to Him and His grace. Our salvation. 

We are not saved by infant baptism or growing up and attending any church or being any denomination or how good we think we are. It comes freely from God. It's all about Him. We cannot take any credit for it. It's a mystery how God's grace appears, says our pastor.

'twas grace that taught
my heart to fear, and grace, my fears relieved. 
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed.

The hour, the minute, the second we first believe. I know this happened to me. Do you? It is available every day for all people. His grace is sufficient for any circumstance or trial. It's sufficient for me today and tomorrow, for a lifetime of tomorrows and is available today for 
all who seek Him now. God's grace is the author and finisher of our faith. His is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. He holds your future in His hands. Which future do you wish to have: life or death. His desire for you in life. Do you share that desire? Have you humbly gone to Him and received His precious gift of grace? He waits for those who want it. He desires to heal us, bind up the broken hearted, bring conviction of sin so we can ask for forgiveness and allow healing, with new life, to take place. 

Jeremiah 29:11-13 - For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The One Jesus Loves

John 13:23 - Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.

John 13 shows us how Jesus was a servant to all. It discusses the washing of feet, a custom in those days. It was done for any guest in any home. Usually a servant would be the one to do the work. 

However, at Passover, Jesus' last supper, there was no servant available and when none of the disciples stepped up to the plate (pride or did they just not think of it?), Jesus removed his outer clothes and did it Himself. 

There was a hub bub when Peter said he would not allow Jesus to wash him because he did not think it was right. He was His servant. Jesus insisted. He did this as an example for two reasons: He may be the King of kings and Lord of lords, God come down from heaven, the highly exalted One, Messiah, but He was also a humble Servant. He came down from His throne in heaven to live among us just so He could die for all of us. We are not to think more highly of ourselves, always placing others ahead of ourselves and love on them. 

The disciple John called himself the one whom Jesus loved five times in the Book of John. The question we can ask is if we think he was being arrogant. It could seem as though he were. As children of God (and Jesus called these disciples His children in verse 33), we should unabashedly say the same thing! I think John just had a much deeper understanding of who Jesus was than the rest of the group. He hung on His every word. He worshiped Him in a way the others might not have.

We are all the ones whom Jesus loves if we have submitted our lives to Him. Foot washing was a dirty, humbling job, cleaning a very dirty part of the body. How many really like the idea of someone else washing our feet!? Eeeewwww. 

Maybe that's what Peter felt. No, Lord, you will not wash my feet. That's beneath you and I'm not worthy of it. Oh, but we are worthy if Jesus, who first chose us, wishes to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. He's the One who made it possible for all the filthiness of our sad lives to be washed away. 

What we must remember is if Jesus was willing to love us so unconditionally, we should do the same for others. Remove the planks from our eyes and humble ourselves to accept others for who they are. This can sometimes be hard. Love on them. Forgive their weaknesses. Don't think more highly of ourselves. Be servants to all (a lesson for me!). There is a phrase often used. It's not biblical but it is part of a truth: Jesus loves us just the way we are. It doesn't stop there, though. He might love us just as we are, but He loves us too much to allow us to stay in that place. He changes us. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Reminds me of this verse from a hymn called Man of Sorrows. We are born into sin, unrighteousness, filthy and He came to wash away the sin and guilt by His precious blood:
      Guilty, vile, and helpless we; 
      Spotless Lamb of God was He; 
      "Full atonement!" can it be? 
      Hallelujah! What a Savior! 

There are people who cannot receive Christ because they believe He could never love them as they Peter. That's just not true. He loves us all so much. But there's a condition. receiving Him. Living apart from Him, not knowing or receiving Him...doesn't take His love away, but it saddens Him that there are those who are too ashamed, too proud, too much in control of their own lives, to look up to Him.

Remember, we are all the ones whom Jesus loves if we have received Christ. Let us lean on His bosom. Let us let Him cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Only He is able and He's not too proud to come and wash your feet, so to speak.

Romans 5:8, Galatians 5:20, Romans 8:37 - but God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us...therefore...It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Yes, Big Change!

Acts 8:3,9:1 - As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest...

My mind bounced quickly from one thing to another. Everything is connected! And somehow it all goes back to God. Everything, it seems, is connected to Him. But I haven't always thought like this. I believed differently. My idea of truth was different. 

I was contemplating a statement in our Bible Study Fellowship notes, Lesson 4. God proved His love and concern for human suffering at the cross. To save sinners from the judgment we deserve, God willingly gave His Son to suffer for us. Had His love been less--had there been another way--God would never have sent His beloved Son. Until we receive God's love by faith in His gift of Him Son, we are all perishing.

I began to think of times when "good" people die and "bad" people live. Take a car accident. You have an intoxicated driver who crosses over the middle of the road to oncoming traffic and kills the driver of the other vehicle but he/she survives. Doesn't seem fair, does it? We don't know the mind of God in this. We do know that there is great sin in this world, of which we all are guilty. Neither of these people were good in God's eyes (and why God provided a way). In this instance the one who lives will live with the guilt of what he/she has done the rest of their life. Quite a burden. However...through this, the person might seek God, receive His forgiveness and begin to serve Him. This person's sin can be forgiven. 

I thought of Saul. He persecuted Christians. It's one of my favorite stories. One day on his way to do more persecuting, he had an encounter with God:
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:3-6)

In an instant Saul changed...big time. This is how we all are before we know the Lord. All of us. Saul's name was then changed to Paul. A Matthew Henry commentary says this about his name change: He had two names, a Hebrew name, Saul, and a Roman name, Paul. He was to be sent out to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles so He used his Roman name.

God changed Saul and then used the man who hated Christians to point people to Christ. So it shows He can use anyone...after they have been changed...forgiven, humbled and ready to serve God. In fact later in the New Testament Paul is speaking and he states: This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. (1Timothy 1:15)

I think back before I knew Christ. How I pushed Him away. Walls went up around my heart and spirit. I was not going any further in knowing Him than my intellectual understanding. I was not going to let my heart know Him. This is kicking against the goads! I could say I was a chief sinner too. Many are in this place. Many are even farther away in full rejection of Him. This is rejecting Him. We can choose to continue to reject or we can allow Him to change us. It's for our own good that He does. I just know that my heart changed in a split second and it allowed God to enter in and do even greater changes. Any heart can be changed in an instant. Nothing is impossible with God.

Going back to the BSF note. We all deserve God's judgment. God does not relish in seeing people die. But it happens. It happens to "good" people as well as "evil." But think about what God did for us. He willingly gave up His own Son to suffer for us, to be the sacrifice for our sins...if we would turn to Him, humble ourselves and serve Him. He willingly gave His Son. And His Son willingly obeyed His Father. For us.

Saul/Paul underwent a big change. God can do this in all of us. It's a very good thing. It's life saving, eternal. 

Acts 9:20-22 - Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

That HAD TO Moment

John‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭- Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Just thinking about my having received Christ so many years ago. I go back there every once in awhile because it is as fresh a memory as if it happened yesterday. You know, that should be one of the best recalls a person can have. 

I can look back before this and see the days, weeks and months, even years, where God was preparing me for this particular day. He is so good. To be honest, I had no idea what was happening and what did  happen. I didn't realize I'd been born again. I just knew I had undergone an inner transformation. I just knew I HAD to go to church. I had to know more about Jesus and His Word. I HAD to. That is the evidence. That HAD TO moment. 

I am doing a study of the Book of John. We are in chapter 3. There is a question: From what Jesus told Nicodemus, can anyone know whether they are "born again" or not? Do you know if you are born again? (Bible Study Fellowship, Lesson 4)  My answers are Yes and Yes. My testimony is how I know. It's the one thing I know but is difficult to explain to others. 

Being born again is not something one decides to do on their own. It is something God works in you. It's all in His perfect timing. He reaches people in ways they will understand. It's never the same for each person. It's not a cookie cutter type conversion. God, who knows everything about us, will reach us where we will feel it most, when we need it most. He knows....

The rest of my answer was this happened to me because I know I was filled with the Holy Spirit the moment I realized my need. You just know a change has taken place. Lots of things begin to change. But when I walked out of church what I didn't know was what actually transpired. I'll tell you, I was quite naive! I knew I had changed, knew what I had to do, but didn't know immediately what happened. I had never heard the term born again. Didn't know about receiving Christ. Today I just know. 

Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. (James‬ ‭1:18‬) This is what happened. It was a word of truth out of the mouth of a pastor. It seemed at that time he was speaking just to me when he said only one Person can change a situation, Jesus Christ. 

The Spirit of God did the work. I was born of the Spirit that day. I live in this fleshly body, but God's Spirit dwells within me. That is the difference. 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. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (‭‭1John‬ ‭4:4,6‬)

It's a wonderful thing. Have you had that HAD TO moment? 

Titus‬ ‭3:4-7‬ ‭- But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Friday, October 7, 2016

And There Was Great Calm

Mark‬ ‭4:36-39‬ ‭- Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. ... And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.
I was out for an early morning walk today. Breezy, warm, damp. Like spring. Fall colors, leaves gently falling, pink sunrise, blue skies, wispy clouds, Canadian geese honks. Glorious.

I began to worship God as I walked. For some reason the thought of praising God in the storm came to mind. It had nothing to do with Hurricane Matthew either! That thought came later in my deeper thoughts! 

Storms, literal and internal. I remembered Jesus and His disciples in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. Then there's Mary, Martha ... Lazarus. And the disciples who faced times in prison for their Lord. And the men and women of the Bible who underwent hardship in their lives and knew not why. 

This is us! We all will go through something(s) in our lives. We can have storms as real and big and life threatening as Hurricane Matthew or we can just be going through internal , or closer to home distress. So often we hear someone say, I can't imagine not having Christ in my life during these times. 

Jesus is the only one who will be our shelter in the storms of life. It's sad that people sometimes only call out to Him during these times instead of calling out to Him every day. In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever. (Psalm ‭44:8‬)

We are told to praise Him in the storm and we are to try to avoid shaking our fist at God and asking, Why am I going through this, why me? We are to look to Him and say, Lord, thank You for this storm and for what You are doing in me. Storms come to strengthen us in our faith. Those who recognize God in the storm will realize God has brought them through. Without trust in Him we will not have His peace. 

Lord, let us maintain our peace in storms of life. Keep us focused on You who calmed the sea for Your disciples. You are an amazing God. Thank You for who You are and for how You care. You want our faith to grow. 

Mark‬ ‭4:40-41‬ - But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Monday, October 3, 2016

Who Has Believed?

John‬ ‭12:38‬ ‭- ...that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”

‭(‭Isaiah‬ ‭53:1,3-7,10-12‬)

‭‭Who HAS believed our report? Who HAS the Lord revealed Himself to? 
Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

Just knowing who He is but not seeking Him daily is rejecting Him.
He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 

Do we really know what He has done for us? Can we really put an emotion on it? Do we try? Do we not want to know? Done for us...the rejection, pain, mocking, death. For us... Who else would do this? Yet, if we seek Him, we are spiritually healed.
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. 

We deserve eternal death. We deserve eternal punishment. None of us are good...none...until we have Christ in our lives, until we know Him, until we take Him seriously. Jesus did not deserve death, but He died just for us anyway.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 

When we are wronged do we take it silently? Do we? When someone says something we don't want to hear, how do we react? Can we turn away and let it be? Hard sometimes, isn't it?
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.

Just like it pleased God to give His own Son as a sacrifice, Jesus was pleased to die for all of us whose sins run rampant in our lives. 
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. 

He suffered silently...for you. For me. He took on every one of our sins. He paid our very large debt to God. Are we willing to give our all to Him for what He has done? Are we? 
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. 

Are we still a transgressors before the Lord? Have our sins been truly forgiven? We must know Him and believe in Him as the One who bore our sins. He will remove those sins if we submit to Him. 
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

1Peter‬ ‭5:5-7‬ - ‭...God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

He Alone is Able

John‬ ‭2:7-8‬ ‭- Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.

We've all heard the story of Jesus turning water into wine when the wine ran out at a wedding. This was His first miracle. I am studying the Gospel of John. One of the questions caused us to think more deeply into all the points of this account. I knew this story related to things new and better. Even before I started answering the questions there was a stirring in my spirit. 

Jesus' mother, whom He called "woman," was something that has always stood out. It was not meant disrespectfully. It shows that she was no different than any other person, a sinner like anyone else. She too needed a Savior, and it just so happened that her Savior would be her own son. Just like the rest of us. No one is greater or on the same level as He. 

He did, however, reprimand her! What does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come, He told her. She didn't balk at His answer. She probably realized her presumptuousness and she only told the servants to do as He would say. She knew... 

Jesus turned water into wine. A common, everyday element. It was turned into very good wine. It was common practice at weddings to serve the best wine first, then when all had had plenty of it, begin to serve cheap wine. Who would know? But the wine that Jesus made, out of water, was better than the first and it was recognized. 

God is not going to take the best person first and use him. He reaches out for those in the saddest, weakest, lowliest and humblest state. This is what we all are when we realize a need for a Savior. No matter how good we think we are, it's often our pride which keeps us from knowing God. In our humblest state He removes the impurities creating a new person. That person is much better than before. We must be made new through Jesus for His work in us to be successful. Like His mother, we should not balk at this either. We humble ourselves like His mother and being obedient, do whatever He says. (Verse 5) Allow His work in us.

The host of the wedding said this: Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now! (John‬ ‭2:10‬) Jesus caused a miracle. His glory was revealed in this miracle, not so much for the bridegroom and the host, but for those behind the scenes who saw and heard Him speak to His mother and what she spoke to the servants. He quietly performed this miracle. Some, but not all, saw and heard...and believed. But imagine the chatter later on...oh to have been a fly on the wall. 

Isn't this what happened to those of us who received Christ, who were touched in some miraculous way, who came away from our own personal miracle knowing without a shadow of a doubt we'd been touched by the power of God?! We realized we were not the same, our thoughts and hearts changed, our knowledge was different. We saw things through the eyes of God now. We were made new. Others might have seen a great transformation. Sometimes it's a gradual change.

Only Jesus was able to turn that water into wine. Only He is able to change us, to turn us from sinners to saints and children of God. We are not made new by knowing someone who is, or going to church, or being good. We must "run out" of ourselves. We must call on the Lord to fill us and create a new, better person, like that wine. Then we can be taken to the Master of the feast! We can be reconciled with Him. He can receive that new man to Himself. 

Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭- Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.