Thursday, December 29, 2016

In the Details

Luke‬ ‭12:6-7‬,23-24 - Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?
God is in control of all things, even the little things of each of our lives, if we take the time to acknowledge it and look for it. Some may say some things are coincidence, others it's just "luck." But then there's the word that comes out of the scripture above. The very hairs on our head are numbered. He's in the smallest of details. He puts things together, holds things together, raises up and takes down, sees to every facet of life in all places, all manners, all things. It takes faith to believe this. 

If He has a place in your life you will recognize these moments. It can be comforting. If you recognize God's voice, His Holy Spirit, you can be used by Him. That is an exciting thing. To speak into someone's life, to encourage, to bless by word or deed. Anyone can do this without knowing God. When God "issues the orders" it's even more special. 

There were a couple of situations this past week where He had to have been in the details because what could have been annoyances, even a bad experience, came to good ends. God gives wisdom when needed and just sets things in place. 

This was posted on Facebook and it's worth a view. This is a woman who knows the still small voice of God that comes to our spirits from His. If we do what He urges us, we do it in faith. We won't always know the outcome like this woman experienced, but sometimes God likes to reveal these things. Perfect example of faith. Let me add, things like this don't happen like this every day either, it there may be multiple small things that we don't even realize we do that He's in the midst of. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Yes, God's in the details. In all the details of life. Who says He can't  raise up kings (leaders) and depose them? He tells us He does. I'm not going to argue with Him! He's the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I will put my trust and faith in Him over any man. Not any man, but The Man. But we must first believe that He is able. Able to do all and more than we could ever imagine. He is in the details.

1Peter 5:7 - 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.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

It Pleases God

Galatians 1:15-16 - But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood...

Someone posted the underlined parts on Facebook. The revelation of who Jesus is in our lives is truly amazing...and a miracle. Everyone born of the Spirit is a miracle. This happened for me April 18, 1999. I've gone into detail previously. 

Just imagine, God being pleased to reveal Jesus to us. He knew us before we were ever born. He has known us since the beginning of time. These are difficult concepts for finite-minded people to understand. But God....

His love for us is never-ending. He is eternal and His love is eternal. He's the same today as He was yesterday and He will be the same tomorrow. What's also difficult is this: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 When someone rejects or betrays us how do we react? You have to be honest and say it bothers you to some degree, at least for a time. Imagine the vast number of people who have rejected God. Yet this verse still stands true. An all-loving, yet judgmental, God loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) 

It pleased God to reveal Himself to me. I am grateful for this. His revealing is amazing. It's exciting and encouraging. It's hopeful, peace-giving. Nothing else can be quite like it. And it's available to everyone. No matter who one is, what someone has done, how long they've fought against God. His love never fails and He is patient. He will take those people in, no matter what. 

Proverbs 8:17 - I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

In the Beginning, A Merry Christmas

John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In the beginning...there's always a beginning. There is an end too. Our lives have a beginning. They will also have an end.

Jesus had a beginning and it's for that reason Christmas is celebrated. Maybe it wasn't called Christmas then, but it was a merry time, a time for the shepherds to rejoice and the wise men to worship. For some reason this year, however, it has so struck me, more so than ever before, that Christmas isn't just about Jesus' birth. It's about His whole life. You'd think I never knew this by how my thoughts have been on this so much.

Genesis 1:1 states the same, In the beginning...God... In Revelation we have an explanation of the end of all things. God is in complete control of all things. He was there at the beginning and will be in the end. The Word of God describes it all. But the most amazing thing is it shows Jesus from the beginning of the book to the end. The Old Testament lays the groundwork for God's plan for humanity. The plan? To know and love Him first, with all our hearts, to repent of our sins, come away from the things of the world, remain focused on Him, trust in and worship Him. The New Testament gives us a better glimpse into how it is accomplished, through Whom it is done.

In order for us to do achieve what God desires, we must have a new beginning in our life. That beginning guides us into a relationship with God Himself through His Son Jesus...who was born, lived, died and was made alive again...just for us, that at the end of our lives we might have the same opportunity as He and to ensure in our final day have eternal life.

So Jesus was born. The celebration doesn't ever need to end there. Decorations will be put away, snow will melt, Easter will occur and spring will once again emerge, life will go on as usual, and so can our celebration of the Lord who made it possible, through His entire short-lived life on earth, for us to humbly come to Him, receive Him to ourselves and follow Him every day.

Jesus lives today. He is worshipped still by many. Despite the belief that Christianity is dying, God's Word tells us it never will. Those who have followed Him faithfully will come out as winners in that last day. As long as a person has breath (which He gave) there is always the opportunity to seek Him and call on His name for our life eternal.

Christmas is a name for His beginning. It can also be a good time for anyone who has not received the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ and His salvation to receive that gift. It's a good time as any to seek Him. Remember, there will be a final day in all our lives as well as a final day for all of life. If He is not in our lives when His final return is here, we no longer be given an opportunity to receive that free gift.

Revelation 22:20-21 - He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hearts Rent

Mark 1:10 - And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.

I read about Mark's Gospel, how it didn't begin with the birth of Jesus. No manger scene, no shepherds or wise men bearing gifts. Mark just chose to expound on a prophetic word of the Lord's arrival. He began with John the Baptist and his proclamation that there would be a voice crying in the wilderness to make straight the path of the Lord.

I've mentioned before that we all live in the wilderness that was spoken of. There are many voices like John's that cry out to us. A few people in my life were crying out, even if they didn't know it, even when it annoyed me. They were preparing the way of the LORD! They were saying:
*We are nothing without God. (John 15:5
*He is all we need. (Lamentations 3:24)
*In Him is where we should put our faith and trust. (Hebrews 12:2)
*In Him we can have hope.  (1Timothy 4:10)
*The world offers nothing. (1John 2:16)
*Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)

So Mark describes Jesus' baptism. Jesus requests it; John does it. And the scripture that stands out, according to the article I read, is Mark 1:10 above. The words, a statement. Pure and simple. Except for the meaning of one word...parting, or opened. (Depending on which Bible version) 

I had to research this because King James, New King James and other versions say opened or parting. There's no punch to those words...unless you look up the biblical meaning in this context. The New International Version and American Standard and no doubt others use the actual biblical definition: to rend, divide, to divide by rending, break, cleave, split, a violent separation ...He saw the heavens being rent forcefully. It was a powerful splitting of the heavens, not some soft and gentle opening. This was the power of the Holy Spirit being poured out on Jesus before His earthly ministry was birthed. 

I think of another time when the visual of rending or tearing was mentioned. It was when Jesus' life ended. When He breathed His last, God tore the veil, the curtain in the temple that separated the people from the presence of God. Only the High Priest could enter then. But...Jesus took care of that separation by bearing all our sins to the cross and nailing them there on His body. Jesus, our Great High Priest, the only way to the Father. We go through Him. Not by ourselves, not by any earthly man but by Him alone. 

I mentioned the other day that I cannot view Christmas completely separate from the rest of Jesus' life. He was born to die, for us. And today He is alive because of His resurrection. He was for a moment separated from His Father at His death, but reconciled. This can happen to us. If we receive Christ, call on His name, allow our old natures to die that we might be made alive in Christ, we will be reconciled with God the Father. Our sins keep us from God, heaven and eternal life. When Christ is allowed access to our lives that same power that tore open the heavens and rent that veil will come into our lives. I know this. Many others do also.

Jesus teaches in His Word all we need to know. His birth was for a sad but glorious end, just for us, for the multitudes of people before and after us, that we might have eternal life in Christ. In Christ. Not in anyone else, not in ourselves. In Christ alone. All our faith, hope and trust should be in Him. 

When we come to Christ our minds and hearts go through a rending also. They are torn open. It's as if all the lies we've learned through life have escaped and truth enters in and leads us in the way everlasting.

Joel 2:12-13 - “Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Oh my! After the last blog, I came upon this in the mail. I believe it was written a few years ago but it's a message (a long one) that goes into more detail my feelings. I'm so glad I'm not the only one whose thoughts are like this!

So, straying from my normal blogs...I want to share someone else's words. Let's see if it touches on anything I wrote... I can say this: a world of darkness and unbelief is still here... But we still have the opportunity to see the great light...of Christ...if we so desire. Without Christ's birth and death and resurrection there would be no hope for eternal life, in Christ, if we so desire it. I pray hearts would turn to the love of the One who died that we might have life. But you must be willing to give of yourself. It doesn't just come to all. It must be received by humbled hearts.

David Wilkerson
December 5, 2016

We cannot separate Christmas from Christ’s resurrection. You may think of the resurrection as an Easter message, but the birth of the child in the manger can’t be separated from the man on the cross. God’s message to us through both events is one and the same.

As the shepherds gazed on the babe in the manger, they saw a Savior who would redeem all of humankind. When the wise men beheld him, they saw a King who would conquer death. When the prophets looked down to his time, they saw an Emancipator who would open prison doors, unlock chains and set captives free. They all had their vision of who Jesus was and why he came.

Christ was born into a world of darkness and unbelief, when God’s people lived under the terrifying grip of the Roman Empire. Israel’s religious leaders didn’t offer much hope. The Pharisees believed salvation was achievable through works; they convoluted God’s laws into a rigid system of impossible performance. The Sadducees didn’t even believe in resurrection. Very few people had any vision of an eternal existence. This was the darkness Jesus was born into.

When I look into the manger in Bethlehem, I see resurrection coming. I see King Jesus ushering in a flood tide of eternal life. Christ was fully human at birth—it was Mary’s blood that nourished him in the womb and her milk that fed him through infancy—but his birth was also a breaking forth of the eternal. The Bible says, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:16, KJV).

This light was eternal life—the possibility of resurrection from death. Hosea prophesied of the coming Messiah, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction” (Hosea 13:14). When Jesus came, he fulfilled this prophecy, saying, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).

Jesus himself connects his birth to the resurrection: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (6:38-40, my emphasis).

Christ said, in essence, “Do you know why I’m here? Do you know why I was born into poverty, why the shepherds adored me, why the wise men brought gifts, why the angels sang that night? It is so you would have everlasting life.” Christ’s confession points directly to resurrection: graves opening, the dead restored to life, and the ultimate fulfillment of God’s everlasting covenant.

Resurrection is the emphasis throughout the New Testament.

The first church leaders accepted Christ’s incarnation as a reality. Yet their preaching centered not on that event but on the resurrection. As early as the Upper Room gathering at Pentecost, Peter said, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:23-24, my emphasis).

Everywhere Paul and the other apostles traveled, their preaching went beyond Christ’s incarnation and miracles to proceed to the resurrection:

“They came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ” (17:1-3).

At Mars Hill in Athens, Paul preached, “He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (17:31).

Paul also preached on resurrection when he appeared before the Roman governor Felix and before King Agrippa. Indeed, without the resurrection, Paul says, all our preaching of Christ’s gospel is in vain. He explains why: “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Paul is telling us, in effect, “If this is not all about the resurrection, you can forget about the Christmas message. Why preach the birth of Christ? Why be holy? Why pursue spiritual matters at all? Without the resurrection, we remain dead in our sins. Everything we do is in vain.”

This isn’t just some abstract theological truth. Here is the point of all our resurrection preaching: JESUS CAME TO GET YOU AND ME. He was born to live and die and rise from the dead— and to raise us to eternal life with him. He came to bring us home to himself for all eternity!

This was the message of the New Testament church. “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (15:20). In other words, just as surely as the Spirit raised Christ from the dead, he will raise us up too: “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you” (2 Corinthians 4:14).

As I look into the manger, I see a bridge. Christ is the bridge between earth and heaven, crossing over the abyss of death that separates temporal life and the eternal. One day we’re going to cross that bridge, and it will take place in the twinkling of an eye: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Many Christians wonder, “Who will I see first when I’m raised into eternity?”

I’m convinced that when this moment comes, we will all want to see Jesus first. He is Love incarnate—our Savior, Healer and King. Yet I once saw something that made me wonder about others. I walked into our living room to find my wife, Gwen, quietly weeping. She was watching the last home video of our granddaughter, Tiffany, who died of cancer at age 13. She was longing to see Tiffany again.

Make no mistake, Gwen and I will recognize Tiffany when we get to heaven. The Bible says there is no marriage in heaven, but there is love because he is love. All will be one in Christ’s body, and we’ll recognize each other with a spiritual intuition. Scripture says in that moment we will know even as we are known.

Maybe you didn’t grow up with a loving father or mother. Maybe no one in your home knew Jesus or ever showed you his precious love. You wonder, “Who’ll be there waiting for me?” I tell you, you have another family—the family of God. I’m convinced there is no one in Christ’s body who wasn’t prayed for by someone who came before them—an older man or woman, a pastor, a distant relative. You’ll be recognized and embraced with the family love that God has prepared for you in eternity.

I believe God has made worlds as yet unconquered.

We’re not going to sit idle when we’re resurrected. Astronomers have discovered galaxies beyond what we can imagine and planets profoundly larger than the earth. It’s nothing for the Creator of this vast universe to resurrect his creatures from death.

Paul Harvey tells the story of an atheist scientist who traveled to college campuses for decades to lecture on how God couldn’t possibly exist. Years later this man became a Christian. Whenever he was asked why he converted, he answered with one simple word: “DNA.”

Inside every human being is this amazing discovery called DNA. It’s a unique identifier so accurate that someone can be proven guilty of a crime if his DNA is found at the scene. DNA is complex, yet it can be taken from something as simple as a strand of hair. In it, scientists have discovered a “genetic code” with billions of bits of information that, linked together, are unique to that person.

Who created this incredible phenomenon that boggles the mind? Who has known the unique genetic code of every human being since Adam and Eve? Only God. He not only numbers every hair on our heads but has impressed our unique DNA into each strand. That’s what humbled the atheist scientist: the magnificence of a Creator and his ever-impressive creation.

God knows the DNA of every person who has ever lived—and he knows how to reconstruct it when he raises us up on the last day. This should put to rest all the strange doctrines that have arisen over the years about the resurrection. Some say there can’t be a bodily resurrection for people who’ve been cremated or died gory deaths; they can’t conceive of how God would do this. The truth is our imaginations simply can’t fathom the glory of God. Our brains are too finite.

We do know that the bodies God brings out of the grave will be changed bodies. Some think we’ll be spirits, but the Bible makes clear we will be resurrected bodily. Everything damaged, severed or obliterated will be restored in the twinkling of an eye. Hunched over people will walk straight. The blind will see. Those infirm from birth or killed in wars will be whole. Their DNA will be perfected by their Creator!

I think of the resurrection also when I see sad, lonely people at Christmas.

Whenever I’ve walked down the street in New York to buy milk or a newspaper, what I’ve seen breaks my heart. Alcoholic men in their 60’s and 70’s lay on the sidewalk nodding off. They’ve spent decades in a hell of their own making, not knowing where they are most days. I see desperate young drug addicts racing to their pusher as he appears. They’re sleepwalking through life with no hope, no future, just looking to make their next fix happen. On the corner, I see prostitutes no more than 18 years old, dabbing their eyes as they cry over what has become of their lives.

I want to tell them all: “There is a new world coming—a world without sin, poverty or disease. That’s why he came—to bring us to the new world he has created. It’s beyond anything we can comprehend. Your King is coming to get you!”

Meanwhile, resurrection life is already available to us—in this life. We have been promised, “As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

This Christmas season, let us keep a resurrection frame of mind. As Paul exhorts, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him… Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18).

I know on that day I’ll meet a half million converted drug addicts from around the whole earth…scores of addicts and prostitutes who called on Jesus to save and deliver them…and my own family members who have gone before. What a joy it will be. Resurrection—it is why he came!

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?... Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

Sunday, December 11, 2016


1John 5:11 - And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

While many are decorating trees and shopping for gifts for Christmas, I have been contemplating something else, not that I don't frequently.

Christmas is about our Savior's birth. There are different views of the timing of His birth. Some say fall, some say spring. That's not all that important. It's important to  know the real reason for our celebrating. Jesus came to us from on high, was born in the flesh for the salvation of everyone who would believe in Him, was crucified and rose again!  I can't separate His birth from His death and all the time in between. He can be celebrated every day. 

When He was born He gave us the greatest gift of all. It's not about us but about Him. To me the most important part about His birth is the life He gives to us through this birth and a new birth within us when we give our hearts and lives to Him. 

We give gifts like the wise men did. They understood this baby boy was something special. It was His gift of His life for us that is special. His death. And in return we die to ourselves that we might have life. His whole life is an example for us: Being born again in the Spirit, dying to self and living as He lived to share His glorious mercy, grace and salvation. It's one of those fabulous mysteries of God. 

I need not go into the commercialism we see around Christmas. I want this to be about Jesus. He came for the most important reason and I seem to struggle trying to convey this. It's so simple yet sometimes so hard to understand. 

Christ came to this earth not that we lavish each other with gifts but that He would be our humble gift to us.  The shepherds, first to arrive, offered nothing but their humble worship. Perhaps they offered a lamb to the Child who would eventually be our ultimate sacrificial Lamb. 

Everything about the birth of Jesus was amazing. Conceived by the Holy Spirit. Born in a humble stable and sleeping in a feeding trough. A King with humble beginnings and an even humbler, yet tragic, end. That's what I want to think about at Christmas. It's so not about us. 

Is Jesus the central part of our Christmas celebration? Is His name brought up? Is the Christmas story shared? 

Christmas can be an everyday thing...should be. His death and resurrection are just as important. It's why I can't separate any part of His earthly life. All He did for us.... THIS is one amazing God. I pray He becomes a deeper meaning this year. 

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Consolation, Light and Glory, A Story of Simeon

Luke 2:25-32 - And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

I love this account of Simeon. If we have given our lives to Christ we can know what Simeon expressed...a peaceful departure because we have seen our salvation and Light of the world. This light is for Jew or Greek...for all mankind. 

Simeon, a Jew, had obviously known the prophecy of a Messiah who would come to redeem God's people. Many had been looking for a political leader who would defeat their enemies. Many today are still looking for this type of man, missing Who already has come. 

So Simeon went to the temple and the Spirit of God revealed to him the baby Jesus. Has the real Jesus been revealed to you?

We can be looking at times for someone or something to redeem us, to take us out of our problem, lifestyle or addiction. Then when we've had enough, we might look to psychiatrists, psychologists, AA, or friends, family or other groups. Does anyone ever consider God first? 

Simeon patiently waited until this particular day and then his waiting was over he was at peace in his spirit. 

We might be knowing something has to change...or not. We might realize we aren't totally satisfied...or maybe haven't yet. I went through this. It took years of "looking for myself" to realize it wasn't about me looking for me, but about Jesus who was looking for me. In an instant realization one morning, like Simeon, I had seen my salvation, the light of the world. He will work in me till my last breath. 

I hadn't noticed the word Consolation before. We know what it be consoled. Another definition is comforter. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, the one who helps us get through our troubles, eases, comforts. This Holy Spirit also is received when we turn to Christ. We can call on Jesus and His Spirit for comfort, consolation. Simeon knew when he saw. I can imagine the comfort he felt as he spoke the words, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace. 

When we turn to Christ and know that He has redeemed us, we too can now depart this world in peace knowing we have seen the Light of our salvation. Are you at peace? Have you seen your Salvation? Are you convinced you will receive eternal life? 

2Peter 3:9 - ...beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.