Saturday, August 19, 2017

Doing God Your Own Way

Isaiah‬ ‭55:8‬ ‭- "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,  nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.  
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There is a belief, a misconception, that we can do God our own way. This simply is not true. It may seem narrow minded, but trust me it is not, when it is said we must receive Christ. 

There will always be some who want nothing to do with God. There are some who believe in different gods. There are some who believe all religious roads lead to God. But there is only one God, the one who created all things. He is the only one who gives true life to those who desire it. It is by and through Him our lives are changed.

We are all born with some understanding that there is something...Someone... greater because we have been created in His image. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. While we God has given us a way to know Him, we cannot know all about Him. The only way we can know Him is to seek and eventually receive God...Jesus. He always seeks everyone that they might be saved from their "lostness" in this world. Lost because He is not with them. 

The message is very simple: Receive Christ, receive life. There are just so many ways to put it. It is the most important thing anyone can do. And, sadly, the one thing so many resist doing because of man's beliefs.

Big lie: We cannot get to God or heaven in our own merits. If we were so perfect why did God have to send His perfect, holy, sinless Son Jesus to die for us? (Why did a death need to take place?) 

So now, instead of us doing for our salvation and eternal life, we too must die...to self. To those lies. To our ideas of right and wrong. To the world's view of right and wrong. Our focus must be on His view and this rubs people the wrong way. Our self gets in the way of receiving Christ. We want what makes us feel good or comfortable. God's way is not always as comfortable. It means giving up our ways. But, oh, if we do...

But, oh, if we do, we find that scripture that states His ways are not like ours is so accurate and good. We know who we can trust implicitly. He knows what we need more than we do. His ways are always good and true and just, even if it's not what we would choose. It takes a step of faith to do this and more steps of faith to keep on. When we do, there are great promises for us. The greatest is eternal life in and with Christ. 

We people think we are so smart. We think we have it all figured out. We believe in ourselves. Because of this there is division, as we see playing out in the world today. Only God knows the beginning from the end. I want to stand by Him. 

Many are suggesting that because of all the turmoil in the world today, the fact that it has grown quickly and escalates in its ugliness, that these are signs of the last days before the eventual return of Christ. While no one can say exactly when, and I do believe that things are going to get worse than we now see, and He will return. The worse this world gets, the more I long for it. The more I long for the promise of heaven and no more sorrow, tears or pain. I long for this for so many.

We can all long for that. We can all be assured of that by seeking God now. By seeking the God whose wisdom, knowledge and understanding far surpasses ours. He's there for anyone who wishes to receive Him. Any race or religion. He paid the price for all who would receive Him. He crosses over denominational lines because He is not a denomination. He is God. He is above man and man's ways (and thoughts and imaginations). 

I do not expect America to grow great again. No one can be greater than our God. He's the one I am glad to know and whom I will follow. How about all of you? 

Isaiah‬ ‭55:9,11-12‬ ‭- “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Back to Eden

Genesis 2:15-16 - Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

The biblical definition of Eden is house of pleasure. It is also referred to as paradise. I have been ruminating about eternity but somehow this got cultivated. 

Paradise. In the beginning God...created the heavens and earth. He created man. He created man to live in a garden called Eden. Paradise. Heaven on earth. God talked and walked with man. Man's job was only to name the animals and tend the animals and the garden God created…and walk with Him. There was no physical labor involved. It was to be an eternity like this. We don't know if more people would have been added to the garden. That's one of God's mysteries. 

Imagine spending days on end walking and talking with God. Everything was provided. Food was abundant. Clothes were not necessary. There was no pain, illness, sorrow or shame. As long as they obeyed one single command, just one, it was paradise. But Romans 5:12 says, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned… Man was vulnerable. 

Man's free will, a deceitful serpent, curiosity and one disobedient move changed all life. "Did God really say...?"  was the thought that entered man’s head. All man had known till this time was the goodness, presence and provision of God. So man may have questioned, like we do today, if He is so loving why would God _____ (you fill in the blank). So, what could be wrong with eating of this delightful looking tree's fruit?

Test. God wanted obedience...and only required one thing, not to eat of that one tree...for if you do you will die. It didn’t take long for man’s will to take over. 

Separation. Man disobeyed God's command. He became ashamed of his nakedness and was banished from Paradise, no longer saw God or walked with Him. Separated. Sin separated man from God. We are all separated from God until we make a choice. Pain, sorrow, tears became a part of life. This was the new norm. We all know and live this. God was no longer as accessible. Now man had to toil for a living. Life was different. Paradise was lost.

A plan. Fast forward several thousand years. After many years of God trying to get man to obey His commandments and trust in Him for all their needs, He chose an alternative. He had a plan. He chose to come down off His throne and be born and settle among the people for awhile. He would walk with them again. He would look like an average Joe come from humble beginnings. He owned nothing, had no place to live, but had a wisdom people either could not dispute or were so jealous about and intimidated by they wanted Him dead. 

This Man said He was God. He said He could bring eternal life. Did anyone put two and two together and think of Eden, the lost Paradise? Did they remember how He walked with man back then, like He walked among them now? Did they even consider this might be the same Man? Some did. His name was Emmanuel, God with us. How did some not know? How do some still not know? 

Reconciliation: He was persistent. He said if they would come to Him and follow Him, they could experience life that would be like those days in Paradise, even better. The sins of their fathers and forefathers could be forgiven. Life like in Paradise might not be today, but some day and for eternity. They had to believe, trust in His words and be obedient to His commands. Like man in the garden, they could walk with Him, follow Him. They would be reconciled with Him again. They could once again be guaranteed Paradise. Their old, sinful nature could be made new, through Him. 

Fast forward to what the Bible says about our future. Like the description of the Paradise of Eden, in Revelation we are told:
...God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful. … 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. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:3-8)

Wow, same words and more. It describes Who once was, Who will be…and Who is today for anyone who desires Him. Jesus is the beginning (Genesis, Alpha) to the end (Revelation, Omega). Oh, but the hard words…cowardly, unbelieving, abominable...just a few names for those who do not believe…and fall into the same category as the rest. We are all in that category until we receive Jesus as born again believers. We all must humble ourselves before the living God to become true believers. It’s the only way. Remember Jesus on the cross between two thieves? One totally rejected Him, the other humbled himself and admitted his sin. What did Jesus say to that second thief? Today you will be with Me in Paradise. That’s what He promises. Eden, paradise, Heaven.

People say the Bible is just a bunch of stories. The Bible is a bunch of reality! A bunch of truths. A bunch of wisdom and examples for us to learn from. A bunch of personalities we can relate to. A bunch of stubborn, prideful sinners, some of whom were made new, turned from their sin and walked with God. I have been known to be fickle. I can start a project and get tired of it. Same with books. I can take interest in one thing or another and then lose interest in time. For 18 years I have been committed to Jesus Christ. Through His power He opened my eyes to His reality. I can’t shake it. Even if I grow weary, I bounce back. I once was blind but now I see. This is no whim. 

Isaiah 57:15 - For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Birthright

Genesis 25:34 - And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

I think we all know what a birthright is, right!? In most cases it is given to the firstborn child. It is a right, privilege, or possession. And it is a privilege.

This one part of our sermon Sunday became a focal point for my thoughts. Salvation is a right. 

Esau's father Isaac gave him the birthright because he was firstborn, by minutes. Esau's twin brother was Jacob. The brothers were as different as night and day, as was suggested in the chapter when God told their mother Rebekah: ...“Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger." (Genesis 25:23)

Esau was, according to scripture, a wild man, an outdoorsman and hunter. Jacob was a mild man and liked being at home...living in tents. Or as I have read, he was most devoted to God and his family. Esau was described as ruddy and hairy where Jacob was fair. Isaac was more drawn to Esau while Rebekah to Jacob. Now don't start trying to come to any conclusions about Jacob! He was, despite this seemingly gentle nature, also a deceiver, which you can read further in Chapter 27.

One day Esau was out hunting and came home, ravenous. Jacob was cooking a pot of stew. Esau wanted some of that food...Jacob said he would give him some if he would sell his birthright (our first glimpse of deception). What an odd request. But Esau did just that...gave up his birthright all for a bowl of stew. He gave up all his rights to his inheritance. At that moment it meant absolutely nothing to him. 

We can live most of our life never considering the fact that we have a Father in heaven who wants each one of us to receive a better birthright. Many people, including myself for a lot of years, thought absolutely nothing about He who gives this birthright.

Salvation is a right. If it weren't I don't think we'd see examples of inheritance in the Bible. But we do. It is important. 

So, have you received the greatest birthright possible? If you have, do you take it for granted? If not, would you like to? We all can receive this inheritance. We will not receive a physical inheritance, nothing we can put our hands on today, but greater is our reward when we get to heaven. It takes no more than seriously receiving Christ. We ask Him to forgive us of our sins and trust and follow Him the rest of our days. It's that simple.

If we have given our lives to Christ, what are we willing to give up our spiritual birthright for? Popularity or prestige, money, addictions, lust? None of those things last after our last breath. But a spiritual birthright is forever.

I've said this a few times...not all people will go to heaven. It is a great myth many denominations have taught. Life doesn't just end and everyone goes to heaven. Our salvation was bought with a price. We need to get beyond taking the afterlife for granted. Without this inheritance, birthright, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. 

I was at our church's youth retreat last week. It was the driving theme for the kids...we cannot be promised another day. Young people think they have their whole life ahead of them...some adults think the same. They think they can wait to give their lives to Christ if they even think that. But what if today was your last and you'd not given Jesus a second thought? What if I'm right? I can tell you things are different with Christ in a life. You have to experience it to understand. It takes a heart willing to bend and take in the truth. 

God loves all people, but He has standards. If you are in your mind an upstanding person, honest, generous, kind, would you want to make friends with a criminal or murderer? You have your standards too. God is righteous and will only associate with righteous people. We can become righteous through Christ. It's the thing called being saved, born again, becoming a new man. 
                
Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of           God. (John 3:3)

I've been listening to a sermon in my car on eternity. I am considering sharing some of the pastor's thoughts. It might make this thing called birthright, inheritance and salvation more of a desire.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name...          ...lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (John 1:12, Hebrews 12:16-17)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Feed My Sheep

John‬ ‭21:17‬ ‭- He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”
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After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared before the disciples and stayed with them awhile longer before being taken up to heaven to be seated at the right hand of God at His throne. Above Jesus had just commissioned Peter to be like a pastor, to tend to, watch over and continue, as Jesus had done, to feed the sheep the Word of God. 

Thinking about a conversation with a friend from the other day, the scripture reference above came to mind, which I blurted out. Peter, the impetuous disciple. I'm so glad there are examples of all different personalities in the Word. We are all different with a variety of gifts and talents. We are not to compare ourselves with others. In the body of Christ, His people are not the same. 

If we are born into the kingdom of God, our major emphasis is to serve Him and that includes helping to "feed" others in the Word. How we do it will vary. No two people will be, or even should be, like another. We are all created by God and have different talents. Doesn't make one better than another, especially if we are part of the body of Christ. As my friend had accidentally commented, Don't worry what thinkle peep!!! Listen:

But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty..." (1Corinthians‬ ‭12:20-23‬)

I am just me and I realized this past week from various sources that I am being used to encourage others, which God knows has just encouraged me...when I needed it most! He's so amazing. And I'm just thrilled to be a child of His, with a simplistic love for Him and simplistic knowledge and understanding of Him. I'm content in this realization. Praise Him! He is so faithful. If my words are simple, so be it. 

Along with this scripture I was reminded of the question by Jesus, "What is that to you?" in answer yet again to a question Peter had regarding the disciple John (whom Jesus loved...not that He didn't love the others also!). Jesus had just shown Peter the manner of his death and the question Peter asked was about the means of the disciple John's death. 

Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper... Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” (John‬ ‭21:20-22‬)

This shows that we are not to worry about or compare ourselves to anyone else. I am going to personalize this. I am God's creation. He knows me better than I do. My job as a believer is not to follow anyone else, but to follow Jesus. When I do follow Him, He will direct my paths in the way that is best for me, not anyone else. We are all, as children of God, called to feed His sheep, and be a light in this dark world. 

I have been encouraged myself this week in small ways, culminating in this blog! I know what I must continue to do. It's what I've been doing for a long time yet wondered if it was time to stop. I have my answer. 

Thank You, my God. 

Matthew‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭- Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”




Wednesday, July 12, 2017

In The Wreckage



107:25-30 - For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that it's waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven.


When all goes well in the world or in lives there is a propensity to not have a need for God. There is no thought to what He has given or accomplished in lives, if that thought even exists. His voice, His call, His guidance and concern cannot be heard or felt over the noise of success and, all too often, distraction. All seems well; no need for God.

Then one day disaster strikes. Illness, death, job loss, dishonor, whatever might be causing turmoil. Who knows where this eventually takes a person. Drugs, alcohol, depression, thoughts of suicide, embarrassment? 

As I prayed this evening after reading the above scripture which yet again suggests that God brings down in order to raise up. The words that almost shouted at me as I uttered them out loud were in the wreckage of this world and in our lives. That's what it takessometimes for man to take notice of God. When there is nowhere else to go. When friends or family cannot help or console. When all seems lost. There is always One who cares. There is always One who is waiting for those who suffer to reach out and seek Him. 

I did this awhile back. It was a difficult time in my life. I did not know where to turn. I knew I couldn't give up. I knew there had to be a solution. I just didn't know how I could solve this problem. And eventually through someone, I "met" Christ. He knew I needed help. He knew it would be easy now to persuade me. And it was...so easy. And it was said that day that we cannot fix some problems on our own, but Jesus Christ can. 


In my church are many people who rely on God daily. Often through overcoming of drugs or alcohol, cancer or long illnesses, or unsaved family, or prodigal children, people have shared publicly they didn't know how they would get through these situations without the Lord. Oh, that others would understand this. 

Praise God!


Psalm 107:31-32 - Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, and praise Him in the company of the elders.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Giver of Life

John 10:10 - 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.

I am going to ask you to do something for me. But first...

There is only One who gives eternal life, Christ Jesus. If you think that life automatically comes by just knowing who He is without His being a very big part of your every day life, you are mistaken. That is exactly where the enemy wants you. It's his job to steer in wrong directions. He's as alive as Jesus Christ. (Think about the good and bad consciences that show up on shoulders!) He's a very jealous, prideful and destructive being. Also, he is just as active in this world as Jesus. He knows his time is almost up and that Jesus, the one who will reign victorious and will win the final battle. It's this enemy's job to bring as many as will ignore God's warnings into destruction along with him. 

While this may sound harsh, sometimes it's those hard words that need to be said. Jesus had many words of warning and rebuke along with words of His love for all. No child likes to be scolded for doing something wrong. It's even harder for an adult to be scolded by God!

So...I read an article about how science is close to creating eternal life of their own through stem cell technology. The article stated that Genesis 3:4 comes to mind: Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” That serpent has been our enemy since then.
  
A quote from the article: I believe we are watching humankind’s God-denying lust for the ultimate conquering of death in an attempt to thwart the curse that Yahweh has decreed upon a fallen creation. Of course, Yahweh will not be thwarted. He will not be mocked. To create and to give life – real life – is the glory of Yahweh himself. That glory will not be shared with fallen man.

That glory will not be shared...

As I began to read the article an indignation came over me. And sadness for those who think they are doing good in trying to create life without God. The idea has been around a very long time that man believes he can be like God. Some already know where that has taken them. Others alive who hold to this belief will one day also know. Satan thought he could be like God. It got him cast out of heaven. When someone dies without acknowledging God, heaven is not attainable.

I'm thankful for knowing the truth. It IS necessary for eternal life. Our life and our truths are not what matter. Only God's truth matters. Only God gives life. Only God. 

Okay, so here's what I want you to do: Read John 10. It's a picture of Jesus, our way to eternal life and the enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Please do not be deceived. One Way, one Door, one Truth, one Shepherd. That's it. Go for it...

John 10:28 -  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.



Friday, June 30, 2017

Up!

Psalm 122:1,4 - I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD." Where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to the Testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.

It's always "up" with God. This Old Testament verse today it might read: Where the children of God go up to hear the preaching of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and give Him thanks.

Because He is greater we are to bow before Him. We look up to Him for our trust and faith. He is seated on high and knows all that goes on below. Even as we seek Him our attitude and character will be "up." Yet God tells us that He will bring everything that we try to place above Him down. 

Some will not consider Him. Instead they will look to themselves as great:
Their land is also full of silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is also full of horses, and there is no end to their chariots. Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. (Isaiah 2:7-8) 
God has a word for that.
The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up—and it shall be brought low— (Isaiah 2:11-12)

God also tells us that we are to look to Him in times of trial, not to look to man or government, composed of mere men. ...“O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2Chronicles 20:6,12)
There could very well come a day when we cannot understand anymore what this world is coming to. For those who know Christ, we recognize the signs. It's why we look to Him now...always. Our silver, gold, power, name, status means nothing. None of our stuff will satisfy, protect or save. Only staying focused and trusting in Him. Looking up. All these things will be brought low. In our personal lives and in this world. 

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. (Micah 4:1)

We are told to look up because our redemption draws near. God brings us up out of the miry clay. He will seat us with Him up in heavenly places if we draw near to Him and receive Him as Lord and Savior. Everything points up to Him. And rightly so. One day He will be recognized by all. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth(Psalm 46:10). He will. And all will bow before Him, believers and unbelievers alike.

What's the difference between a believer and unbeliever? A believer is one who has confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so: only if one believes in something can one act purposefully. In other words, one whose confidence, existence and reliability is in God, is a believer. It's our attitude toward God and faith in Him. It is our relationship with Him. We need that relationship, not our religious beliefs. So, an unbeliever has no real relationship, no trust or faith in God, but perhaps in themselves, man. Harsh words but true.

Believers will soar on eagles' wings with God. But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31). God isn't promising an easy ride while we live on earth; but if we stand steadfast, run the race with endurance, we will receive the prize in the end...eternal life with Christ. 

Even above the mountain tops is where God resides. 
His foundation is in the holy mountains. (Psalm 87:1)  The mountains are only the foundation! The world is His footstool. His throne of grace is higher than we can imagine. Everything beneath Him that is not of Him will be consumed. For behold, the LORD is coming out of His place; He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him, and the valleys will split like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. (Micah 1:3-4) 

I love how the Old Testament so strongly builds us up to the New Testament's coming of Christ and how He fits into this picture of hope and salvation. It is through Christ that we will not be added to the judgment and consumption He will bring. But we need to know Him. We need that relationship, not the ritual of paying attention just on Sunday but every day. We need His Word every day. We need communion with Him every day. This is a true believer. Not rote prayers, but our own words spoken each day to Him. Let us look up, go up now. Rise above the junk of the world, think on the things that are worthy and receive the things of heaven. Personally seek Him.


Isaiah 2:11-12 - The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up—and it shall be brought low—

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...