Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Evil or Life?

Isaiah 5:20 - Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

I used the word vile in a message sent to a friend. I noticed, certainly not for the first time, two other words use those same letters. And they mean the opposite: evil and live. Of course the word veil is also found. All the words have significant biblical meaning.

We see much that once was good is now considered evil (it’s now offensive) and what was evil is now considered good (must tolerate so as not to offend).  

Vile - dark, evil, immoral, sinful
Evil - wicked, bad, wrong, immoral, sinful 
Live - abide, dwell, reside; to have life
Veil - concealing covering; to hide or partly hide

Let's start with vile:
Jerusalem has sinned gravely, therefore she has become vile. All who honored her despise her because they have seen her nakedness; yes, she sighs and turns away. (Lamentations 1:8) There you have it. The sinner is considered vile. Left in this state we are doomed. I think of the hatred so prevalent these days. There will be a time when it will become their downfall. Their true nature now is evident. I know God will determine the haters' fate. I'm glad they can be forgiven if they choose Christ and turn from this sin.

Evil:
When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things, from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice in doing evil, and delight in the perversity of the wicked... (Proverbs 2:10-14)
In Proverbs 2 the header in my Bible states: The Value of Wisdom. It's always about wisdom but not our wisdom, God's. I'm sure I sound like a broken record but everything is about God, whether one wants to believe it or not. God the Creator owns it all! Evil is becoming more evident. There is a perversity running rampant. What once was good is now considered evil. Look at what we see as "entertainment" on television and in movies. It's not worth watching. Promoting violence. Who needs it? Promoting sex, crime, killing, foul language. Who needs that? Call me old fashioned but there used to be movies that were good without the language. This is vile! 

Live:
Jesus said: The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
The thief is working overtime today to bring people into or leave people in evil. But Jesus Christ changes how we feel about evil. He shows us the benefits from walking away from this evil and living in His light, offering us His righteousness and goodness. He is the light of life. In Him we have life. Praise the Lord!

Veil:
Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. (Luke 23:45) 
We all have a veil blinding us from the truth before we know Christ. This veil is lifted when Christ reveals Himself to us and when we respond. As I've written before, in the Old Testament the Holy of Holies was where only the high priest could enter to meet with God. It was separated by a veil. When Jesus died that huge veil was torn from top to bottom. This veil was so large and made of such heavy materials only the mighty hand of God could rent it. It was torn because God had offered the last Sacrificial Lamb for mankind. This Lamb is available for whosoever will receive Him. Hallelujah! 

One little word spelled a few ways. So much meaning. Jesus came that we might have life; life means repenting of our sins and departing from the vile and evil things of the world. The veil in that temple has been torn. We are considered evil and enemies of God without Christ but through Christ we can be forgiven, can have life and are able to turn from all things vile and evil...and the enemy who loves to sow vile and evil hatred. 



2Timothy 2:3-6 - For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time...

Monday, June 26, 2017

God Had a Plan

In the beginning, God...
Before creation, God...
At creation, God...
At the creation of man, God...
At the time of the first sin, God...
When Cain killed Abel, God...
When the Great Flood destroyed all the land, God...
When Pharaoh's heart was hardened, God...
When Israel was set free from captivity, God...
As Israel finally approached the Promised Land, God...
Always in the midst of Israel's sin, God...
While all the prophets sent out warnings, God...
While people continue to disobey and worship their own idols, God...

...God had a plan.

And God still has a plan. He has always and will always be in the midst of things. In the good, in the bad, in righteousness, in sinfulness. He will use any and all circumstances to bring about His will. You can count on it...because He has said it. Because He is God. Because He was in the beginning and continues to be. For this reason we should praise Him. 

Psalm 113:1-9 - Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. who is like the Lord our God, who dwells on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth? He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with princes—with the princes of His people. He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord! 

All throughout the Bible He has shown us examples of good and evil, how when sin entered into the world and He was dismissed as THE God, He was still there. He had and still has a plan for those who want it. He has seen the denigration of this world...and our nation...but He is still here. Somehow throughout all of time His Word continues. It stands the test of time.

What some don't understand is how He is able to lift people out of a sinful condition...out of pride in believing we do not have a sinful condition or we aren't so bad because our neighbor is worse...or even, that Christian is worse (because he/she is a poor example of a Christian). God will deal with each if us.

God can lift us out of our sin. He can raise poor out of the dust or bring a barren woman the feeling of family. We don't need government to do this!! It doesn't happen in man's way but in His way, through His Way, Jesus.

There's one thing God has kept, THE one thing many people have rejected throughout life...His plan. When people rejected Him in the Old Testament He had a plan. In the beginning He was, and today He still is. In the New Testament He revealed Himself once again to all through His Son, Jesus, who was with Him all along. In the beginning, God... In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1,4)

God and His Word (Jesus) stand the test of time. While people reject Him He will never go away. In the beginning, God... In the end, God... He is to be praised...for His wondrous and perfect ways. 

Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the Lord, am the first; and with the last I am He.’” “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."  And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. (Isaiah 41:4, Isaiah 44:6, 
Revelation 1:8, Revelation 21:6, Revelation 22:13)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Christmas in June

Luke 2:10-11 - Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Okay. So it's one day short of six months from our celebrated birth of Christ. That was purely a coincidence as I read this this morning. While December 25 is probably not the actual date, the meaning behind His birth is.

I love the words...Do not be afraid...I bring you good tidings...for all people...Christ the Lord. Every day is a day to celebrate this time. Every day is a day when He can become those good tidings in the lives of anyone who makes the decision to receive Christ. Every day.

Jesus is alive. He still calls people to Himself through the Holy Spirit. Just like He came 2000 years ago to heal and bring hope to people, He still does today. There is a growing wickedness in the world. It gets worse each news broadcast. But...He is still calling. It may be He is calling a little louder. We need not fear what all goes on in this world with Him as the greatest part of our lives. There is hope and security in Christ, no matter what happens... We need not fear receiving Him either. 

Answering His call is only for good. I write to share these promises of God. What promises? Here are just a few: 

Forgiveness of sin
Spiritual healing
Fullness of joy
Life everlasting
He will never leave nor forsake us
Wisdom
Strength
Protection

The Bible is filled with so many more. His promises are yes and amen. In Him there is no shadow of turning. He cannot lie. Man's promises can be easily broken; they cannot offer a great future or any hope like His. 

I pray that the blind would see, the deaf would hear and hearts would be stirred and yielded that many more will one day hear the words, good and faithful servant. The days are growing fewer...we could very well be in the last days before His return. Or because our days are numbered and we do not know when our last day might be, we don't know if we will have even the chance to receive Him. Heaven is only rewarded to those who will confess their sin, turn to Christ and be obedient to Him. That should be a concern because the alternative is far from good. Today is a day to open your heart to Christ. 

When the time came for the arrival of Jesus, the Savior of the world, the angels rejoiced. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:13-14)  So there is rejoicing in heaven when one more person receives the Son. Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)

There IS great joy in receiving Christ and the promise of heaven. Joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1Peter 1:8). What are you waiting for? You can rejoice, He will rejoice, and those angels will rejoice too! That’s a lot of rejoicing, a whole lot of joy!

Ephesians 2:4-7 - 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, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Willing Vessels of Honor

Luke 1:38 - ...then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

As I took my very early morning walk Monday, the thought came to me about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I thought about how God chose her to exact His plan of salvation. I thought about her willingness and the scripture that speaks of vessels to be used for God's service. 
...in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. (2Timothy 2:20-21)

Although God has used evil or unrighteous people to bring about a plan, if I wish to be used by God, I must be willing and set apart for His service. Gold and silver set apart from wood and clay. That means there needs to be a humility, willingness and obedience. It means being in tune with the Holy Spirit.

Mary was that willing vessel chosen by God. She called herself a maidservant. In looking into that word it means handmaiden. It means she chose to submit herself, humbly, to the will of God. She does not put herself on a level any greater than maidservant. She realized her standing with God. She also knew she was in need of a Savior as much as we do. In her case it would be her Son. The circumstances she would face demanded complete trust in God.

Those who are followers of Christ have also been chosen by God. They are called to be willing vessels for His service. In other verses the Bible talks about the Master Potter. As a child of His, He begins the task of molding and shaping us:
...O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

God asks each of His followers to be willing vessels and to humble ourselves, allow the Master Potter to mold and shape us into someone He would want to use. This is not some horrible thing. He makes us better than we think we are. We don't need to be perfect or know everything. He will use anyone in tune with His Holy Spirit and willing to be led. We are to fully trust in our God and our Lord to know what is right for us.

Like Mary, our circumstances may not be the greatest. It may seem to us, in our human nature, to be an embarrassing circumstance, but God knows. We may be scorned or rejected, like Mary. Hmmm, seems to me Jesus was too. That should be of great comfort.

If God calls us to be His child and we respond to the call, we need to stick with it, follow, and keep ourselves in that place. If He asks us to do something, we need to do it. Mary didn't draw attention to herself, neither should we. We are simply God's servants.

God chose us like He chose Mary. Mary is no greater than we are and we no greater than Mary. God/Jesus are the only ones worthy of such greatness. We are simply willing vessels...to honor God, bring glory to His name and reveal Christ through us for God and by God. The only One who should be on any pedestal is Jesus who is on the greatest pedestal, the Throne of God. No person can put themselves on even ground with Christ or with God. We can, however, put myself on even ground with His maidservant, Mary, as that willing vessel.  

Mary brought forth in birth Jesus as mankind's Savior (including hers). We are to bring forth the Word, Jesus, through His Word that others might meet that same Savior.

Lord, I used to pray every morning to be that willing vessel. I used to pray to be filled to overflowing that I might share what You have given me with others. Help me to remember to do that again. Cleanse me of that which is dishonorable to You. I pray that I would empty myself of who I think I am and fill myself with what You want me to be. Lord, You were lifted up that You would draw all men to You. Your death brings life and light. You drew me unto You. Thank You, Lord, for doing that. You use vessels. Use me. 

1Peter 2:9 - ...you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Everything

Colossians 1:16 - For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

I read this scripture this morning and it got my mind to thinking. Everything began in God's mind. Everything. This is not a new thought.

This is a very simplistic view of this idea. I'm a simplistic kinda gal! 

I was looking at an Oriental style rug we have. It started with God. He created the persons who made this rug. He created the minds and gave the gift of creativity to these people. He created someone to come up with the pattern and maybe another who chose the colors. He created the individuals who developed the use of certain materials and another to create the implements or machinery to put this rug together. There was no doubt a pattern. Today there is software used to develop a template for commercially made rugs. God created all the minds who developed all components. 

It all starts with God. The immensity of it all. It's a lot to take in, a lot to make sense of. This God has it all under control. And this is just about a rug!

Imagine every little thing in this world. Who can take in the great number of shrubs or trees? Or flowers, birds, animals, not to mention people. Everything. Created and managed by God. 

And then there’s us! He knew us before the beginning of time. He knew who our parents would be, when we’d be born and what our name would be. He knows how we will live our lives. He knows when and how we will leave this earth. 

So, if He has all of creation in His control why shouldn't we believe He has everything in His complete control? Do we believe He maintains all of life on earth? He knows the mind of man. He knows the goodness and evil within hearts. He knows who love Him and those who reject Him. He knows the seasons and times. He has given us His Book to show us who He is, what He expected, what He expects. He has brought nations up and taken nations down. And though all these things I’ve stated many times, I will repeat this too: He never changes nor does He lie. What He has said about past, present and future either has, or will, come to pass.

Just very simple words. A simple kinda gal who believes a very simple truth but one which doesn’t jive with some people. 

Then there's His Son, Jesus! The Word states:
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. (John 1:1-3)

There will be an end just like a beginning. God created and it was good. Man messed things up, chose not to obey God and later not to hear Him, and evil stepped in. One day He will come to remove evil to make this world good again. And it’s all in His complete control...according to His Word, which is the truth because God cannot lie. His Word, which shows us what we need to know. 

It’s all about the minute details. God sent His Son, who is also God, to this world to save all of our wretched souls! We all are wretched souls until we know Him, until we humbly, spiritually, bow before Jesus and ask Him to open our eyes to His truth, change   us, but most of all save us. 

Save us from what? The evil in this world. While the Bible says the world, as we know it today and tomorrow, will end, it will be a changed world. Evil will be removed. If one has not chosen to follow Christ, he or she will be removed also. There’s all this talk about global warming, oh, climate change. No one has seen climate change like there will be when the evil in the world is sent to the Lake of Fire. 

Jesus is our hope for our future. The hope for tomorrow. The hope for the next hour. He is in complete control of all things and His plans will prevail. In the beginning He was involved in creation. In the end He will bring about destruction on earth and defeat of evil and then an even better plan, a new Earth. We can all be part of this if we call on Him and seriously follow Him. He holds our lives in His hands. He came to remove our sins. He wants to do this. 

In complete control! He created. We were created to know Him and give Him all glory and honor. Will you do this? He is waiting if you have not.

Nehemiah 9:6 - You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Neverending

Psalm 145:4 - One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.

Nothing will ever be able to eliminate God's people. The world may try to silence Him but God's acts will always be passed on from one to another. And one day He will return for all to see. 


The world can turn away from God but in the hearts of those who devote their lives to the Lord, He will always be there. Once committed to Him, He will not remove Himself from us. We can turn our backs and walk away from Him, break our covenant with Him--but His covenant with us is forever.  He will never turn His back on us. No man can take His Spirit from us once we have received it...and hold on to it.

In days to come, things will look more and more grim. It's only grim to those who do not have Christ as their Savior. We who are faithful in our walk with God will be watched to see how we respond to disaster. They will look and wonder at the peace we have. They will want to know where it comes from and even how to receive it. (At least I hope so.) Even if death is imminent there is peace that comes from knowing what lies ahead for those who have received Jesus for their salvation. If we know the Lord our lives are eternal in death. That's what Jesus is all about, why He came to this earth and why He had to die--for all of us.

One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. That alone should be the praise on our lips--the declaration of our hearts. There is none like God. There is none wiser or honest, more loving, more concerned about our welfare and our salvation. No man on earth can possibly do that. He wishes none to perish.


This Psalm also tells us He is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. His kingdom is everlasting...even if some do not believe this. Only He endures. Other religions may claim otherwise, but the truth of His word will be made known some day. If you aren't sure where you're at with God, know that He gladly will take you in if you seek Him. Seek through asking, communing through prayer. Seek by picking up that dusty old Bible. Read the Gospel of John. Listen to what Jesus has to say about Himself and what He can do for you.

It's so important to understand and know His love for us. When we allow His truth to enter into our hearts, and God, and let Him be our center, here's His promise:

Psalm 145:18-19 - The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Created to Know Him

Ecclesiastes 1:14 - I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.


Ecclesiastes on the surface seems like a depressing book but it really isn't. It was written by wise Solomon who wrote the proverbs. Solomon asked that God give him wisdom over all else but God gave him all else as well!

Solomon pondered life and all that it has to offer. From birth to death, what was the one thing that would make a man great? Even wisdom was a burden because one would then realize that, like Job 1:21 says, ...Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

It's an age old question: What's the purpose of life? We are born, we live, we work, marry, suffer, rejoice, age and eventually die. Nothing lasts forever, except the things of God. He has created, He replenishes, He causes things to die and grow again. Just like nature He can do the same for mankind. Nature comes and goes according to set seasons; what dies returns as new. Man has the opportunity to do the same through Christ. And at the end of time those who become God's children will live forever with Him. Hallelujah.

What is our purpose then? To enjoy what we can while we can? I listened to an online sermon awhile ago. The bottom line: we are here to serve and glorify God, not selves. That's it. If we are not doing that our lives will be meaningless. If we realize we are working for Him then, like Solomon figured out for us, and what others in the Bible have said, none of what this life has to offer has any meaning, but what we do for Him is all that matters.

God didn't create us for nothing but He also didn't create us to do great things, although we can. He created us that we might know Him. And when we know Him we serve Him. He can use all people, great or small, rich or poor, who serve Him. We cause others to know Him, who then can serve Him. The end of it all? Life eternal with the Creator...if we seek Him. 

What this world has to offer is nothing. What we achieve is nothing new under the sun. We can't take it with us. I have mentioned this many times because it is MY understanding of what is "important" to me...I have 39,000 photos on my phone's camera. I probably have more than that on our computer. Who's going to care when I die? It's what I do; it's a gift God has given me. I don't really use this gift to the full potential; I don't try to sell my photos. Occasionally I will print and frame one for decoration or a gift. But it's a vanity, a grasping for the wind! I doubt it's even something I do to glorify God other than to capture His creation.

Everything is a vanity, a grasping for the wind. "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 1:2,12:8) All through Ecclesiastes Solomon is defining these vanities. He spoke truths. It's an interesting and not too lengthy book. Worth a read. But the bottom line as Solomon points out: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

At the top of every page in my Bible is a phrase to describe a main point on that page. Here are the ones from this particular Bible: 

Wisdom excels folly
Everything has its time
A time for every purpose
*Two are better than one
Enjoy what God gives you
The value of wisdom
Wisdom strengthens the wise
Fear God and enjoy life
Time and chance happen to all
Wisdom brings success
Remember your Creator
Wise words are like goads

I like fear God and enjoy life. We can enjoy life if we are fearing God. Life isn't as wonderful without Him. There really is no meaning to life without Him. *Two are better than one! When we understand this, know Him, know our purpose in and through Him, we have it all! There is no hopelessness in Christ. We can accept death. We can know there's more beyond that time.

1Timothy 6:6-7 - Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

What Does Christianity Say?

Psalm 115:1 - Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.

I listened to excerpts from a compilation of old-time preaching! Stern warnings to any who would listen. We don't often hear stern warnings from the pulpits anymore.

Some of the men chosen for this compilation of scratchy preaching were Leonard Ravenhill, A. G. Tozer, T. Austin-Sparks, Duncan Campbell, Ian Pauley and Paris Reidhead. Not all well known? But their words, like the true words of God, pierce the heart and soul, mind and spirit.

Some wouldn't want to hear this type of preaching because of the convicting nature of it. We hear that Jesus loves us, His grace is sufficient, and these are true. Somehow the Church has changed to softer words that might better keep people in church rather than having them scatter.

One of the truths that was preached stuck with me for three days, though I have known it for some time, was this from Paris Reidhead. It was the theme of the entire compilation: Humanism says "The end of all being is the happiness of man." Christianity says, "The end of all being is the glory of God." 

Jesus did not come into this world just to make us happy, content, peaceful, nor just to bless us, though He does. These come with knowing, acknowledging, praising and obeying Him.

It's not about what God can give to us. It's about giving of ourselves. Not taking from Him. It starts out that way when He gives us the gift of salvation. For that we are to be truly thankful. (Ahhh, this was brought up in our sermon this morning!) We generally come to Christ in a time of need. When a child is born it needs its mother and her milk. It needs nourishment in order to grow and learn. As Christians we start out needy until we begin to understand who God is, what His Word says and what His will is.

I read yesterday, surprisingly enough, Oswald Chambers' words: At the beginning of our Christian life we are full of requests to God, then we find that God wants to get us into relationship with Himself, to get us in touch with His purposes. His purposes. We begin to know this God and realize the greatness of who He is. We begin to see His work in our lives.

This is where we need to begin to change. We need to know His purpose in our lives. That purpose? To glorify God. Who wouldn't want to share Him? What has He done for us? How has He changed us? How has He removed sin and bad habits? People, this is how we are to live our lives. Not to glory in the things we have but to glory in He who created these things; not to glory in the new person we are, but who created that new person. Only God does that. We can't claim turning over a new leaf. Our affections are now on Him and the things of heaven rather than the world.

When I say it's all about God, this is exactly what that means. Everything revolves around Him. What He has created, what He has done both in our lives and in the world. How He is using us, even when we don't realize it! All things happen in this world to turn people to Him to acknowledge Him.

When we have tasted and seen this God, it's hard to go back to that old life. Slipping away from Him creates emptiness and unsettledness. We might even begin to glorify ourselves again.

I have watched a friend who recently lost her husband. She has very little. She doesn't know where the money will come from. While she stresses some, which will happen under the circumstances of losing someone, she always goes back to the Lord will provide and she praises Him in all things. She is learning to lean not on her own understanding in this while she looks back at each day and sees His hand in something that only He could have done.

It's not about us. It's all about Him. Christianity says, "The end of all being is the glory of God." He created, He calls, He saves, He sanctifies. He is coming back soon for a remnant who has taken His Word to heart, lived for Him and continues to glorify His name. The road grows more narrow as even the Church softens their stance on this God. The Church in general does not operate by God's will anymore but by the plans of man. It is ever so subtle. Looks good, but did God plant the idea or did man think it was good? (Again, discussed in church this morning!) It's not about the entertainment and the coffee shops and bringing the world view into the church. Remember, in anger Jesus overturned the tables in the temple. How would Christ respond in some churches today if He suddenly showed up? Is He being glorified or would man be glorifying his own achievements in the form of ministries?

Lord, forgive me when I fail to give You glory for something. Help me to lean not on my own understanding but to trust in You above all things. You are to be glorified in and through us, not us. It's all about You. Any change necessary in me, reveal it and help me overcome it.

Psalm 96:4-7 - For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, give to the LORD glory and strength. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

But What Things Were Gain

‬‭Philippians 3:7-11‬ ‭- But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

What is anyone willing to give up for Christ? What does it even mean? 

As believers we are called to give up the old life for a new one, the old beliefs for new beliefs, a mind filled with man's lies to a mind filled with His truth, and more.

It's a lot to consider. It's not always easy. We are naturally stubborn and prideful. We want it our way and we want it now. It's all about us. What does God have to do with anything? 

God certainly has a lot to do with it. He created. Period. He. He put things into motion. He knit us together in our mothers' wombs. If we aren't praising Him for everything in our lives, but attributing things to our own abilities and/or strengths, He's not in our picture. He's the one who created and gave. 

So, it is vital to know God, to know His Son. It's vital to know Him while we still have the time...today...now. He's the only one who will bring us life, in this world and in death. It is important to know what He says about life. It is important for knowledge and true wisdom, not man's, not our own. We lose to gain, which is NOT an easy thing to understand. We give up our own ideas FOR HIS. We look at our lives and life in general THROUGH HIS EYES. Not our good works but HIS THROUGH US. Not our strength or power but HIS IN US. Are we willing to count loss our achievements for the sake of knowing the One who created? It's a big decision but a life changing one. It's never been said to be easy, but worth it. Can't imagine going through a trial in life without Him. It could be He's all we have. Can you say you absolutely know this? In the end this knowledge is vital. 

I was listening and worshipping this morning to Christian music. Michael Card to be exact. This blog was written a couple days ago. When I heard the song it spoke about all we give up and how freeing it can be. 
'Cause when we say 'no' to the things of the world we open our hearts to the love of the Lord...and its hard to imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind.
(The Things We Leave Behind
The song illustrated how when Simon (Peter) was called by Jesus, he left his fishing boat and nets behind. Another illustration was Matthew the greedy tax collector and how his greed faded away after choosing to follow the Lord. 

We change. We do give up the old life for a new one, the old beliefs for new beliefs, a mind filled with man's lies to a mind filled with His truth.

It is hard to imagine how it all happens. Like my friend's husband who recently passed (I Will Bring You Peace). When his heart was again touched by Jesus, he passed peacefully. The heaviness in his heart was gone, reconciliations occurred. 

Better to know the Lord now and know this peace through all circumstances of life. The world has nothing to offer of any eternal consequence. If we know Christ we have it all. If we can wrap our minds around losing to gain we have it made. 

Jeremiah‬ ‭9:23-24‬ - Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.

Monday, May 29, 2017

I Will Bring You Peace

John ‭14:27‬ ‭- Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 
‭‭
Yesterday a friend lost her husband of 31 years. It was not sudden. It had been a battle for some time for him and for her. She knows the Lord and called on His strength and wisdom through it all and while it was hard she never wavered. He had once known the Lord but something eventually got in his way, he lost his focus on Him, so he struggled in this illness. He had very little peace. 

As he came to his last hours he knew he was dying. Perhaps he had known for some time and it was why his testiness and determination not to do as doctors said was so evident. He rejected the peace of God to get him through while my friend called on Him for strength. 

The last couple of days men from church visited him. They would, I know, pray with him and talk about the Lord. One of our younger men, and an elder in our church, said this: The last time I spoke with Tom he seemed very much like a man who knew he lacked the peace of God in his life, yet wanted it. 

When things are going well in life, we can discount the Lord. Why do we need Him? I have all I need.

There's also the opposite when one questions, how is it God isn't helping me now; why trust a God who's not here?  But He is here. He's always here. The very world He created is proof. The fact that seasons change like they always have, that things are born, grow, fade and die to start over again is proof. The gripe that we think if God cared He wouldn't allow some things is our rejection of Him. If we feel He's not with us it might be we have shut Him out. He can still be silent at times, however...to grow our faith. But it doesn't mean He's not there.

What we need to understand is our need for Him and dependence on Him for all our situations. If we do this He will be there to help. He will bring the peace in the midst of trying times. If we have that peace, the grumbling about where is God when we're hurting or scared or in pain won't be there. It's all about His peace. But we need to be willing to acknowledge Him, not shun Him. 

My friend is now confident that in this very difficult time of her husband's life and in his death, he finally reached out to the Lord. It's been a prayer by many that he be broken and in that brokenness he once again turn to God. In that brokenness we finally realize we are nothing and either give in to God or reject Him all the more (not something anyone should do). It's better to go through the brokenness now...and enjoy the peace He brings.

While she mourns his loss, she has been given the hope that she will see her husband again some day. It was all she ever hoped for. Through this she has displayed strength, even when it seemed she was getting tired. She was a witness to her Lord. I saw it. 

Praise You, Lord, for all You do in us. I pray you keep Your children focused on You. Grant us peace in our daily lives. Keep us strong through Your power, that power You give to us.

1Timothy‬ ‭6:12‬ - Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Friday, May 26, 2017

As It Was in the Beginning

John‬ ‭1:45‬ ‭- Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

The Word of God. The Bible, the Son of God, Jesus. God made flesh. True and just. 

In the beginning God...(Genesis 1:1)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John‬ ‭1:1-2,4‬)
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah‬ ‭40:8‬)
“For I am the LORD, I do not change; ...” (Malachi‬ ‭3:6‬)
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matthew‬ ‭5:17-18‬)

God has revealed Himself throughout His Word. From beginning to end. From death to life. How can we say we know God if we don't seek Him? Through prayer. Through Bible reading where truth exists, where the most meaningful things exist. 

Revelation‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭- “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Word, The Truth, The Life


Jeremiah‬ ‭33:2-3,6-8‬ ‭- Thus says the LORD who made it [the word], the LORD who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." ... Behold, I will bring it [Jerusalem] health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me."

It always amazes me to read how the nation of the Israel of the Old Testament and we as individuals are similar when it comes to God's redemption and salvation. God has always used His Word as an example by which we can learn.

Israel and the Jews are God's chosen people. However, just like every people group in this world, all have turned their backs on God. Romans 3:23 states: ...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... And when I think on that scripture, Proverbs 16:2-3 comes to mind: All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirits. Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.

I think about all God has ever wanted from His creation, the people. He has always wanted nothing but each person to stop turning their backs on Him and acknowledging Him as God, the Creator. But we all have failed miserably. It's why He sent His Son Jesus. All we need do is call on His name (from a very true heart) and be saved. And then learn of Him through His Word, follow Him, like His disciples, share the Gospel.

But what does the Word say again? All have sinned and fallen short...we all think we know in our own minds what is right, apart from God. Apart from God our works are filthy rags, but through knowledge and devotion to Him, He will establish our ways. It's not what many want to hear.

So, the opening verses are telling us just what God wanted to do with Old Testament Israel (and still does). God eventually allowed the Gentiles into His sovereign picture. He allowed them to be grafted in to become children of God also...mainly as a means to make the Hebrews jealous, that they might turn back to Him. After all, Jesus died for all mankind.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.‭‭ ...who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ...who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time... (1John‬ ‭2:2‬ , 1Timothy‬ ‭2:4,6‬)

I think about all the denominations in this world, most in existence by mere man. Each has their own idea how church should be, how God desires us to worship Him. And I think again of our works as filthy rags and His not wanting sacrifices but our obedience to Him, heeding His words over the works thing. (1Samuel 15:22) And I think about how some believe only certain people will go to heaven. He died for all…who would receive Him.

If we hear Him, heed His words, obey what we hear (through reading the Word), He will bring the healing as mentioned above. With healing will come peace and truth. He restores lives. We seek God to know the truth. We seek Jesus because He is the way, truth and life and provides the way to this forgiveness. This forgiveness of sins  is the part about all having sinned and falling short of God's glory. If we submit to Him He will cleanse us, make us whole in His sight, and we will become His children.

I heard someone say that because He created all of us we are automatically His children. It doesn't work this way. We must be saved, which God has been trying to show us through the Old Testament and Israel and the New Testament through Jesus. It's true we are all God's creation (Colossians 1:16) and God loves all people (John 3:16) but, according to Jesus, we must be born again (John 3:7). That's where the restoration takes place.

Jesus is called our Redemption, our Healer, our Peace, the Truth, the only Way, and the Life. This cannot be denied. Without Jesus/God, we are lost. He makes Himself known to us. We seek Him for the answers...the truth...not what the world--man--declares. His declarations are for all to view in His Word. He says, "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3)

We do not know until we seek and find. When He sees a heart willing to seek and wanting to know, He will show great things which we just don't know until we have received Him and His Spirit, through being born again! It's a wonderful thing to know and understand. It's not agonizing! It so sets everything in this world into a proper perspective. We can understand why the world is as it is, has been...and will be. We can understand that only Jesus gives us this understanding. He brings us peace. Who doesn't want this peace?

1John‬ ‭1:8-10‬ ‭- 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.