Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nothing is Impossible

Matthew 19:26 - But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

A scripture often heard. A true scripture. God’s timing is impeccable. 

I have several favorite stories in the Bible. God is amazing. He does some powerful things and uses the people least likely to bring about His plan. They all, in some way, turn us to God or Jesus...and salvation. No way is it, nor nothing is impossible, for God to bring about His plan, whether it be accomplishing His will in the world or salvation to the masses. We can think we know what He’s up to, but we really can’t be sure. Oh, some day we will know for sure. When we see the signs the Book of Revelation shares with us. 

So these stores…many regarding salvation! There's Noah and his ark and the very strong symbolism of the ark, the open door, the only way into the ark's safety, and Jesus. Jesus tells us He is the way. He is the door. He is the shepherd who leads. 

Moses delivered Israel, God's chosen people out of slavery in Egypt, Egypt being a symbol of the world (even today's world). He saves us from the slavery to sin in this world…just like Jesus.

There's David, a boy small in stature, compared to all his tall, strong brothers. He, not those able-bodied brothers, was instrumental in felling Goliath, a so-sure-of-himself giant. He uses the foolish things to confound the wise. I love that! Remember, Jesus humbled Himself. He didn’t use big words or any power but the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember, He uttered not a word of defense to His innocence as He was led to the cross…for each one of us.

I was foolish most of my life, wrapped up in a worldly lifestyle unlike many others today. I was ensnared. If it made me happy, I went for it. I was proud in my accomplishments. I believed lie after damnable lie. No one could change MY mind about who Jesus was. That pride said if others could live without Christ, doing their own thing, then how in the world could God punish the majority?! He wouldn't do that. Not a question, a period. Another lie.

More about this God's plan. His plan goes way back to the Old Testament. Adam and Eve, for starters! Despite the sin these two committed, His plan was carried out, though they paid for it and today we do too. Abraham and Sarah, both in the midst of old age, a woman well beyond child bearing years. But God used them to perpetuate the blood line of Christ. And through the ages, as Matthew and Luke both point out in genealogies, all are involved. 

Think about it... He used a simple maiden named Mary to bring about the birth of our Savior. She had to suffer embarrassment, silently, (like Jesus) when everyone thought she was pregnant by Joseph. I heard some interesting facts:
*The blood of a child comes from his father alone, and the male sperm is the source of the blood
*The body of an embryo comes from his mother alone
*The blood of Adam came directly from God when God breathed into him the breath of life
*Sin is transmitted only through the blood 
*The Holy Spirit contributed the blood of Jesus and Mary contributed His body - (Mart DeHaan) 

Jesus, being born of the Holy Spirit, therefore, a we know, had no sin. This is amazing! Look at paternity testing to identify a father. Jesus was in the beginning when creation was made. He and the Father are one, therefore He is Creator. This should cause us to pause and contemplate His abilities. 

So, how amazing is our God? His thoughts are higher than ours. He is in control of all things. Yet...He cares enough but the smallest details of our lives and wants to see all of us saved. Yet some refuse this magnificent gesture.

Another New Testament story is about the persistence of a woman with a 12 year issue of blood. She so desired healing. She sought hard enough. Enough to crawl on her hands and knees in a crowd to only touch the hem of His garment. Jesus healed her. He can heal physically and spiritually. It's the spiritual healing that is most important. Even if our physical healing doesn’t happen, our souls are good to go. All this healing is taken care of when we humble ourselves and ask Christ to forgive us for our sins…and follow Him.

A woman from Samaria, an outcast in her village for having had many husbands and now was living with a man. She had to obtain her water at noon to avoid all the others who went early in the morning. One day she arrived at the well only to see a Man who asked her for water. Jews often steered clear of Samaritans. Not Jesus. He knew she would be there. He knew her state and the condition of her sinful heart. But His purpose was salvation. In their discussion He revealed Himself to her…and she ran back to the village to tell everyone she could she met a Man who knew everything about her…and to come and see Him. He forgave and healed a woman. She no longer needed to live a life of shame.

I think of the story of Saul who persecuted Christians. It’s one of my favorites. It can bring hope to many. He was on his way to Damascus to work on persecuting more. Out of the sky a light blinded him. He could do no more than fall to the ground. He instinctively knew who it was. The light blinded him for three days but later was restored. He had been forgiven and now Saul, who was called Paul, became one of the most vocal, powerful men of the Bible. All by the power of God. We all live blind to the truth of Christ until His light comes into our lives and opens our eyes. I once was blind but now I see! This is a truth.

All the stories of redemption in the Bible. All the shame that was relieved. All the sin forgiven. All the lives now changed. Redemption of God's people (which is still playing out in the world today), redemption of individuals. Jesus saves. He's at work in Asia, Europe, even in the Middle East, and Africa. Missionaries have shared the Gospel with remote villages. God has shown people who He is in visions and dreams. We are told this will increase as the days draw nearer to His return. Come, Lord Jesus.

Nothing is impossible with God. It's good to remember when you question why some won't receive, who don’t want to hear the Gospel’s good news. There's still always hope. And if after that nothing happens, you remain grateful that you believed. Some day in heaven, somehow, those people will not be mourned. No more tears, no more sorrow. Another amazing mystery.

Jeremiah 32:17 - Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Who's Drinking the Kool Aid?

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

What an amazing message in church yesterday morning. Delivered by a late 30-something "elder." He's not a preacher but a teacher. So he taught. On something that just so has my mind wrapped up on these days. Truth.

Please excuse me if I repeat one of the best scriptures on truth above. It's the whole message about truth.

Tyler started by explaining there can be more than one way to see something and both can be right, like two different views of a car accident. 

There is such a thing as absolute truth, according to God. It can be known. He shared what Pastor says often regarding the meaning of scripture: Two people can look at a verse and have two different interpretations. Either you are right and I am wrong or I am right and you are wrong. But we can't both be right. In order for anyone to know absolute truth we must know where this truth comes from. There is only one truth. Many others and myself are not drinking the Kool Aid! 

The only truth comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. I understand a person first needs to have a certain belief that He exists in order to agree with this statement. That means not suggesting that God's Word doesn't mean that for today. 

Belief is a difficult thing to explain. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24) The truth is, we must be taught and learn and live truth by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is where belief comes in. If we have not experienced a moment in our life when we know we were touched by the power of the Holy Spirit then absolute truth might become a problem.

There are times when we know what right and wrong, truth and lies, good or evil are. We just know. I have had discussions with friends on how wrong abortion is only to get the response it's a woman's choice or the situation has to be considered or think of the pain caused the woman. Absolute truth says it's wrong, and this will be argued unmercifully. God's Word says it's wrong, despite the fact some people twist what His Word says to suit themselves. 

God's Word is the truth. Period. If He says something is wrong, it's wrong, will always be wrong because He said so and He never changes His mind to make us happy. Some day the absolute truth will be made known. And a lot of people will be disappointed, angry, sorry they hadn't listened or believed. All people's lives are at stake when it comes to this Truth.

The truth is: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)  Jesus is all truth. If we don't know Him, don't believe this with every ounce of understanding, we do not know the truth. There's a lot of unknowing going on in this world. Just what the devil ordered. Why would he want anyone to know the truth? How could he continue in his destructive habits if everyone knew the truth? He'd be toast, as he will be someday.

Jesus is the only way to this truth. The only way. The only way to life too. No truth, no life. Someday the truth will be made absolutely known. And as I said, anyone who has avoided this truth, rejected it, scoffed at it, said someone was drinking the Kool Aid, will be very surprised. 

In order to avoid the deceptions that are here today and will increase as the days go on, we must have this Holy Spirit power. We must have discernment. Not man's discernment but God's. I'm both terrified and dismayed that there are a lot of people I know without this understanding. But it is not by my power they change. They have to want to and they have to have Christ and His Spirit living within them. To the point where nothing else matters. All I can do is share truth.

Lord God, I pray that I would continue to grow in Your truth. I ask for Your strength, Your power to trust, learn and any cost. I might lose all my friends but if that's what has to happen to be counted Your child, then let it be. Give me the love and power to stand my ground for Your truth. Give me both a passion for Your truth and compassion for those who don't know it. I will forever praise You, my God and my King, You who holds the truth, who gives generously to those who want to receive. Open deaf ears, blind eyes and soften hearts to receive all You have to offer. Let perception be not of this world but of You. There is only one truth. Let it be known. 

John 14:16-17 - And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Traffic Numbers

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Not everyone goes to heaven. Got your attention?! Don't stop reading!

I saw a meme on Facebook one day. It said: The fact that there is a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven says a lot about traffic numbers. 

Now while I don't believe the highway/stairway are fact, this statement otherwise is true. Painfully true.

There is only one way to heaven...through Jesus Christ. There are certain things that must be done to achieve this. We have to realize that God is seeking us. He does love us. So, we must believe in Him, repent of our sins, of which we are all guilty, turn from them, give our lives to Him, proclaim His name, preach the Gospel. No one on earth becomes a saint before receiving Christ. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Not everyone is going to heaven. We are not children of God until we receive Him. Until then we are His enemies. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:10

What I say is quite often the same message written in different ways. That's because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is simple. His message has always been simple and will remain simple. It was truth when He spoke it; it will be truth forever. His Word never changes and neither does He. 

His love for mankind will never stop and I'm certain He is grieved in His own way when people reject His simple message: I am the way... Not by works, by self, by any other means. Only by and through Him. That means giving up of self, giving in to Him and trusting in Him. 

We wake up in the morning and know that He has given us another day. We didn't do it. We didn't do anything during the night to achieve it. Many don't think this way. 

Jesus tells us we must come to Him, believe with all our hearts in Him, turn from our day-to-day type of living, and begin to live according to how it has been pointed out in His Word. We can say we adhere to His basic Ten Commandments, but we are guilty of all of them. If we don't love God and put Him first in our life, daily, we've broken the first and most important one! No other gods before Him... Maybe later I will explain them all. 

Sadly, many are rebellious (including believers at times, speaking for self). They don't know His Word, are filled with the pride of life, of accomplishments achieved through their own means, without regarding God. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1John 2:15-17Are we perfect? No. Will we fail at times? Yes. Can we get back in God's grace? Absolutely.

Let's face it, when was the last time you asked God to help you? Asked for His wisdom or strength instead of devising your own plan? Asked for His protection? Huh? Have I hit a nerve? I'm willing to admit I hit one for myself!

While the highways and stairways are not literal, they do represent what will happen to people who do not receive Christ as the only way to heaven and those who reject Him. But this receiving isn't by just knowing who Jesus is. It's a heart issue, one we know we have undergone if we one day are touched by His Spirit and a change occurs within us. A change that causes us to see God in a different light. I once was blind, but now I see moment. To know deep inside God has changed thoughts, desires, actions, words. To the point where He is on our minds often, daily. To the point where His Word is an important part of our day. To the point where we communicate to Him throughout the day. In other words, we seek Him! 

No, there is no literal highway or stairway. But the road to destruction is deadly and descending. The road to life goes up and few will be ascending to heaven and eternal life by that "Way."

Jesus is always ready to know and hear those who are willing to choose Him. If you really want to know Him, call out with a heart of repentance to Him. He will be elated to take you under His wing. He does love all mankind, just can't accept them all. It takes commitment. It will not be a smooth ride. But it will be worth it. Eternal life or eternal judgment. Which would you choose? 

Do you seek God? Do you read the Bible? Do you pray? Think about it. You may not know as much about God as you believe you do. The narrow gate includes the people who do; the wide gate is where those who do not are wandering. Don't be part of the "few" listed below. 

Matthew 7:13-14 - “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

To and Fro

Interesting group of scriptures below. One searches for those he can destroy while the Other searches for those who want life, whom He wants to deliver out of the other's grasp.

And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going TO AND FRO on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” (Job‬ ‭1:7‬)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil WALKS ABOUT like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1Peter‬ ‭5:8‬)

For the eyes of the LORD run TO AND FRO throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. ... (‭‭2Chronicles‬ ‭16:9‬)

For His EYES ARE ON the ways of man, and He sees all his steps. There is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. ‭‭(Job‬ ‭34:21-22‬)

It has been said that whatever God does satan imitates. He knows the Bible. He knows his eventual demise. Because he was thrown out of heaven for his pride in believing he could be as great as God, our adversary, the devil, has been on a rampage to destroy and taken down the people of the world. He is succeeding more than not. He walks to and fro looking for his prey.

Anyone who refuses to follow God, refuses to believe He is Creator, believe His Word is as true today as it was when it was first written, that it is a Book that brings life whose commands are for our good, is being taken down the slippery slope that satan has led them to. 

Take a look at our recent election. There's a bit of similarity there. One has sought people to believe the lies. While the other isn't totally pure as the driven snow, he may believe he can improve what has been broken. I hope so. Only time will tell. (I will trust in the Lord my God over any man.)

I've believed for a very long time that all of our sins come out of pride, which both candidates have plenty of. We want what we want, we do what we want to do, at others' expense. We do not want to compromise our beliefs, our desires for the sake of someone else. It's my way or the highway. These don't need to be as extreme as pure evil might desire it but I'm guessing it is called being self-absorbed, self-centered, selfish. Think about it. Can't you see this behavior in your own lives at times? If you don't, the Bible has a verse for that too! If we say we in no uncertain terms we are liars, we sin, so... If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1John‬ ‭1:8‬)

This is where the devil wants us. He did it to Eve in the garden and he keeps right on doing it today. The devil will continue till he's toast! If we don't want to be toast along with him we need to be seeking God. As the scriptures say above, God is looking for those who want to seek, know, obey, be loyal to, and worship Him. As much as God is looking to and fro for someone seeking Him (and often not finding one), the adversary has many more in his grip to take you down his paths of unholiness and deceit. He's got a much greater following. He makes things look so enticing. It's all part of his lure. Money, cars, sports, television, sex, name a few...are his ways of keeping our focus off God. 

This past election used two individuals who lured us into believing they were best. They may both be deceivers. Some know one definitely is. Just rewards some day for that person. The 

other...time will tell. Maybe just rewards for both. Just rewards for us too if we struggle with our relationship with God.

The only way to avoid what satan will receive as punishment is to allow God to find you looking for Him. There is darkness, deceit and death in following after the world view which is the devil's view. There is only light, truth and life in following Jesus. Jesus will forgive us, daily, of our sins if we confess Him and admit our sinful natures to Him. Really He will. The Bible tells me so. Jesus loves me and He loves you too. Really.

Don't let the devil's deceit prevent you from turning to Him. God already knows all about you, sees your every move, knows your every thought...and knows your sinfulness. But He wants to take that tarnished nature of yours away and shine you up, clothe you in His righteousness. He does not want you to be devoured by the adversary. He wants you to seek Him for His forgiveness. His Word teaches us what we do not know we do; it shows us the truth and exposes lies and deceit.

Luke‬ ‭23:34‬ ‭- Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” 

Monday, November 7, 2016

And A Light Shines in the Darkness

John‬ ‭1:1-5‬ ‭- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

God is in control. I'm thankful I can say I know that. Everyone can have that peace which only comes by humbling self and turning fully to the Lord. Knowing truth, trusting Him. Life without full knowledge of the Lord is no life at all. He brings life and light into our lives. He has given us His Word to teach us.

God sent His Son to be the Light in a dark world, and this world is dark. It will be until He returns. Until then there are to be many people like the Disciple, John, to proclaim this Light. Without this Light we do not know the Word. If we do not know His Word we sit in a very dark place.

We have an election in tomorrow. It's anybody's guess how it will turn out. I just know that God is in control. He already knows. How do I know this? His Word has shown me. He knows the beginning from the end in all things. This world continues in darkness. A newly elected president will not be a light in this world. No man can be The Light of the world. But we can share who this Light, this Man, Jesus, and His Word is.

Without this Light we might agonize over this election. All I have been able to pray is, "Lord, Your will be done." Do our part as voters then trust Him with the rest. I often think about how someday God will judge us all. He will judge our political candidates. Whatever either has done that should not have been done will be judged...hopefully before that day they might humble themselves before God and truly repent of their sins. Hey, that goes for all of us! 

I think about King David and his pleas to God for vengeance over his enemies. We know that some day God will avenge. The enemies will be struck down, but not necessarily when and how we would like. O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongs—O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render punishment to the proud. LORD, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph? They utter speech, and speak insolent things; all the workers of iniquity boast in themselves. (Psalm 94:1-4)  Hmmmm, sounds familiar.

My hope and trust is in the Lord. His vengeance will come. He will come to bring it about. What we need to do today is to believe on Him. Scripture says vengeance is His. Would I like to see evil, even the evil in this election, now. Yes. It only seems fair. However, God may have plans to use that evil. Perhaps to draw more to Him, perhaps to bring about what we deserve as a nation allowing God to be forced out and evil to run rampant. A little leaven leavens it all. 

I see trouble ahead no matter who gets elected. Why? Because we are humans wanting to take vengeance into our own hands. Jesus says we are to respond without anger and evil or we will be judged in the same better than the evil. 

God is in control. Let Him do what He does best. His ways and thoughts are not like ours. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. (‭‭1Corinthians‬ ‭2:11‬)
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)

A true believer should understand this. There might be a struggle inside but we know we are to submit to His authority. There should be a peace in our spirit knowing only good will come in time. Trouble may arise. The enemy may come with his own vengeance, through the evil in this world. But we are overcomers in Christ if we have become true believers. He calls us that He might teach us His ways, that peace would be settled in our hearts and spirits. Do you know Him? Have you that peace? Do you know the "rest of the story" as written in His Word? If not, ask Him to guide you to knowing Him.

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.