Saturday, December 30, 2017

Battlefield of the Mind

Ephesians 6:12 - For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

This is for YOU! 

Please read this! Don't throw it into the trash just yet. Don't delete it. Don't think it pertains to some but not to you.

I have to remind myself often the statement above! There is an enemy of our souls whose only job is to torment, to steal, kill and destroy, as the Bible says. He's angry and jealous with God and is seeking to take down as many people in this world as he can. He tells lies to everyone. One is how it is not so important to know Him and take Him and His Word seriously and it's okay to live as we desire because He will not allow anyone to not go to heaven. 

It's why we need to be focused on God and the truth of His Word. Truths can be hard. They can shatter what we have always believed, those lies. I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer or a doom and gloomer. I'm just saying people need to know what is right and wrong. God is a good God. He wants none to perish. But He also knows when He needs to judge. And He will. And He will judge those who have not allowed themselves to learn the truth. But here's a promise:

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. (Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬)

Perfect peace. Peace through Christ. Trusting in Him, not self or others, or a religion or denomination. Relying on Him. Knowing Him and His Word. Minds stayed and focused on Him, His truths, His Word. On Him.

Some people who have known me for many years know I have changed. My beliefs are different. My stance on things are different. I thank God for that, while others may not! He opened my eyes when I gave my life to Him. All I had believed, the same lies as everyone else, became blatantly, clearly errors. When the truths poured in I changed, not to everyone's liking. 

The Word of God tells us, once we are saved through the power of Jesus not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. ‭‭(Romans‬ ‭12:2‬)
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

How do we renew our mind? Through the Bible. That's where the truth hangs it's hat. If we get angry thinking we don't need to read His Word, we will miss out on all the peace. It is a battlefield of the mind, which we can overcome! We just need to submit to the truth. The world doesn't revolve around any one of us. Good chance our beliefs do not line up with God's. Who do we think we are believing we are smarter than God? He will judge us on that one! 

There will come a day when we all will know exactly where we stand with Him. Every knee will bow and tongue confess Him to the glory of God. We will be separated between true believers and non-believers. It will either be a glorious day or one of great sorrow. Don't be fooled into thinking you are right with God if you have not tried learning what truth is. 

Isaiah‬ ‭55:8-9‬ ‭- “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Monday, December 25, 2017

And Everything in Between

Luke 2:11-14 -  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

I’m sharing a daily devotion by Oswald Chambers. Our pastor touched on this new birth yesterday at our Christmas Eve morning service. He also touched on the Spirit of God and His influence. Nothing is done, as a friend and I recently discussed, that God hasn’t already been involved in or directed. We have to know that everything must involve Him. Our birth, life, death and everything in between, whether we realize it or not. His hand is in it. Sometimes though our own wills get in the way...

So today is Christmas. The celebration if the birth of Christ. Not that He was born December 25, but that we honor His birth at this time. As Christ was born and entered into life, so too can we all. We are separated from God in this worldly life but Jesus humbly came that we might receive a new life in and through Him.

It is we who must humbly come to Him for our new birth. We must enter into that new life. Believing we are fine in our own selves without Him is a big mistake and misunderstanding.

By God’s Spirit we enter in. This Christmas I pray that the Spirit of the living God would touch all who do not understand this concept and cannot believe it. It’s not just about saying a prayer one time, or repeatedly. It’s not about how good we think we are compared to —.  No single prayer without a heart change accompanying will work. No amount of our works will be the answer.

As He came in the form of a Child, we too must come as little children, removing all the ideas we have accumulated in our time on earth, all the self-taught determinations, misconceptions or lies. We come with an open heart and mind to learn the truth of Who this Man is and what His followers believe. It’s a whole new and different life and it is glorious.

His Birth and Our New Birth

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."  MATTHEW 1:23

His Birth in History. “…that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of—He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate—God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an advent—the appearance of God in human form.

His Birth in Me. “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you…” (Galatians 4:19). Just as our Lord came into human history from outside it, He must also come into me from outside. Have I allowed my personal human life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God? I cannot enter the realm of the kingdom of God unless I am born again from above by a birth totally unlike physical birth. “You must be born again” (John 3:7). This is not a command, but a fact based on the authority of God. The evidence of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that “Christ is formed” in me. And once “Christ is formed” in me, His nature immediately begins to work through me.

God Evident in the Flesh. This is what is made so profoundly possible for you and for me through the redemption of man by Jesus Christ. 

From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition
Bible in One Year: Zephaniah 1-3; Revelation 16

Friday, December 15, 2017


1John 1:1-4 - That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

The disciples knew Christ. They saw Him, walked with Him, listened to Him. We have not had the pleasure of seeing or listening to the Lord  physically. Some of us have met Him, though. Those who have can relate to this: Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. ...while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2Corinthians 4:16,18, Hebrews 11:1)

This is the Christmas season. It’s a time for many to celebrate with parties and get togethers. Along with that is eating (and drinking). Never a shortage of food. Diets are just around the proverbial holiday corner. We get full! Maybe, probably, overfilled, with the food that fills our bellies.

...for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:2)

Remember when the Israelites wandered in the desert? All their needs were supplied. Clothing and sandals did not wear out. They had their fresh manna every day. It came down from heaven. Moses struck a rock and water appeared. Bread and water...

...and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. (1Corinthians 10:4)
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. (John 6:51)

As the Bible says, life is not about the food and the drink as we tend to think it is. This life, this world will pass away some day. Those who do not have the spiritual food and drink will pass away also, eternally. Those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, will not pass away but will live with Christ. 

So, Christmas is a time to celebrate the life of One who gives us all our physical life, but more importantly, eternal life through Christ. We celebrate His birth which led to His life and death...all so we might have life if we choose to acknowledge Him, every day, not just at Christmas. 

John 15:11 - These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Day God Came Down

Oh, come, let us adore Him! 

I woke up about 1:00AM. The Words “the day God came down” came to mind. I jotted them down and thought about them this morning. The intense meaning of it all. Greater than anyone can wrap their head around. 

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

Do you know? Do you really know...that God came down from heaven in the form of an innocent little baby Boy? God came down. Let that sink in. HE came down.

HE came down. He who sits on His glorious heavenly throne. The One who created all things with no more than the sound of His voice. The One who is perfectly loving, holy and just. He humbled Himself to be among the much less-than-perfect that He might be seen and known, that we might be forgiven of sin, made children of God and given eternal life and be reconciled back with our Father in the heavenlies...through faith in this little baby Boy, with that powerful voice. Not faith in our works. Not faith in what we think is our own goodness. Faith in one Man...who CAME DOWN from the highest place to be among us.

He is still here beckoning all who will listen. All who will receive. All who will come to Him humbly as a little child. This Child that was in the very beginning WITH God as well as WAS God, who created, who brought life on earth and now wants to give eternal, spiritual life to ALL. He was born that He might die...for us.

This world is in very heavy darkness as we least for those without this Hope. And there still is hope. This hope is in Jesus. He is the ONLY hope. While this may not be the real season of His birth, we celebrate. We celebrate His life which can bring us life. While this IS the season we do celebrate, some can celebrate every day for His miraculous birth...and for the miraculous new lives He gives those who will receive. It’s not about all the presents. It’s about the gift. His gift, free to all who want to receive from Him.

He came down...for you and for me. For sinners, which includes ALL. Did you know, the first to see Him after He was born were the shepherds, not the kings! He calls the young, the old, male, female, rich, poor, any color, any race. ALL. All who will come humbly. Are you counted among those? Have you received a new life with the very God of the universe, the One who came down for you? If not, He’s waiting. It’s never too late, you’re never too sinful or proud. You can’t be filled with too much anger or hate. He receives ALL. Come, as another little child. Do not be afraid of the great tidings, the good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Listen to the words of Linus from the Charlie Brown Christmas movie. They are God’s Words!

Luke 2:10 - The 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."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Scarlet Cord

Joshua 2:12-13,17-18 - “Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”
So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home.”

Quickly, the first words above are out of the mouth of Rahab, a harlot in Jericho who helped the men of Israel capture the city. A great testimony of "by faith believing." She had heard, and believed, in this God of Israel and the miracles He brought about. Later, because of her deed, Rahab would become an heir in the lineage of Christ!

You really need to read the entire account in Joshua 2 to get a better picture. Please click on the link!

I read an article which picked apart what the scarlet cord in the book of Joshua symbolized. I already knew that it was symbolic of the blood of Jesus and how He saves. But then it delved deeper, taking the word scarlet apart. It is comprised of three Hebrew symbols (from the Living Word article):
Sheen is the one letter God can use to identify Himself, it is God’s signature, and can mean to consume or to destroy or to press. Noon is the letter that stands for activity or life. Yood is the letter that stands for a mighty deed or a deed accomplished.

Do you see? God is the one who is capable of taking our old lives and transforming (destroying) them (sheen) in order to bring us into a new life (noon) through the act of the shed blood of Jesus Christ (yood). Scarlet...

It brought up Psalm 22:6: But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. Doesn’t that sound like Jesus...He was rejected and despised...and later crucified. Well, the word worm here is not your typical meaning. We know to consider someone a worm is like the lowliest creature underfoot. In this instance it means a scarlet, crimson or blood worm, or in Hebrew, tolah. It attaches itself to a tree. It’s offspring feed on its body and when it is about to die they are covered in red. After three days the worm falls to the ground and turns white! Christ has done the same...He was on the cross, shed His blood died for our sins if we receive Him, and three days after this death He arose again clothed in the white of righteousness. And so can we through Christ. We are covered by the blood...

In case you're interested in more information on this worm: Crimson worm.

This Word of God is amazing. I’ve often felt, but could not explain, how there have got to be thoughts and ideas between each letter, word, sentence and line. This just adds to this thought. To say the Word gives life or is life is an understatement. To study the Word takes us deeper in relationship with Him as we recognize Him and into hidden meanings that just open up His Word.

I have a book I go to once in awhile called the Red Thread by Leonard Yonkman. It describes how Jesus can be found in every book of the Bible, and what His name in every book. I’d like to complete it some day!

I’m so thankful for a God whose Word does not go void. Do you know this God? Have you decided to know Him? Did this little “study” interest you? He calls. He wants us to humble ourselves and come to Him. Just knowing who He is is not enough. It was by His work on the cross that we are saved, not how good we think we are. It is not enough to be content with just the basics of Christ. The more we know Him the more we can learn of Him. We must know Him more than just as a thought. He must take hold of our hearts; reside there. We must take to heart just what He has done for us.

We are called to come to Christ as little children. Our adult natures, mindsets and faulty beliefs can prevent this. Can you believe as a little child? You know how they take everything in and trust whatever is said. Try this. It’s not our religion. Man came up with religion. It’s not about a religion but a relationship, as Jesus wants. Do you have the Son of God closely, intimately, in your life? Is that scarlet cord a reality for you?

1John 5:11-13 - And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Luke 17:1-4 - Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

Oh, offenses. There are so many things that offend today. Some are just trivial but some truly do bring offense. It saddens me that evil is considered good and good evil and that evil abounds in greater measure every time we watch the news.

During discussion on offending it was brought up that even if we speak in love if the receiver doesn't want to believe it, it will be an matter how loving our words might be. It was pointed out that even another believer might be offended if they do not want to believe what they have said or done is wrong (whether it be a great wrong or a small one.) Later it was firmly said that one who does not repent is not of God. All these are hard words! I can learn from them myself. 

But above, Jesus says it best, and if we are a follower of Christ, we have to believe His words. Even if they offend someone else. Offenses will be part of our lives if we truly call ourselves Christians. And we have to just turn the other cheek...and keep on preaching, sista or brother!! 

Listen to this man's words from a long article I read. They are not only for believers but those who believe they are but might be on the fence and those who just are not and might even think they are. This is why I blog. I cannot back down because someone is going to be offended. I can't worry what someone else thinks. Even if those who say they read the blogs quit, someone somewhere might read it. We don't know how God works behind the scenes. As we will see, Jesus never quit! Neither are we to.

There are many accounts in Scripture where Jesus delivers a controversial message that is hard for people to accept, and many of his followers abandon Him altogether because of it. You’ll notice that Jesus never backtracks and apologizes. He never chases them down as they walk away and explains that He didn’t really mean all that stuff and really they were just taking it out of context.

In John 6, after Christ proclaims Himself the bread of life, many of his disciples are upset and threaten to leave. He does not beg them to turn around. He just continues right along speaking the Truth. He does not change His Word to cater to those who choose not to accept it. They are alienated by their sin, not by Him. - Matt Walsh, from an article titled, No, Christianity Should Not ‘Welcome’ or ‘Include’ Your Sinful Lifestyle

Jesus had been talking to the Jews, His own people. But they struggled with the idea that He called Himself the bread of life. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (John 6:33) The people He was addressing now asked for this bread. His response was: I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)

Whoa, what a difficult word. How could He be bread that brings life? They wanted something they could hold in their hands and ingest. He was offering Himself. And what about today? People like knowing who God/Jesus is but they are keeping Him at a distance because this personal, intimate relationship, really knowing God, thing, is too hard to understand, or desired to be done. Eat this bread from heaven?? Take Him into my heart?? Take in His words of life?? Digest them?? Whaaaat? It's symbolic, yet it's real. It happens by faith! It happens when one just believes. But it takes one to choose to do this.

Oh how wonderful the results are when we just do it, when we quit kicking against the goads, let our pride or insecurity go, and submit to God. Only good comes from that. Then He can bring blessings beyond our imagination...not material things but spiritual. Assurance for all our fears, doubts. Minds focused on Him and not the world. Letting go to receive more! Hallelujah!!

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth. (Psalm 119:103)
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalms 34:8)

So, I guess I took off on a rabbit trail. The trail we should follow is Him, the Way. He leads to life. He has a lot to say about today's lifestyles, some of which He is offended by. Yet when the truth is spoken, it is an offense to others who do not want to change, who do not want to know the truth, who don't want to believe He would be such an unwilling God. And, another truth be told, when I think I may have offended someone with this truth, it really is God who is being rejected...not me.

I will not turn away from the truth. I will not stop spreading the truth of the life saving gospel of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, the Living Water that causes one to never thirst, the solid Rock, our Redeemer, Savior, Comforter, Prince of Peace, all in all, First and Last, Beginning and End. Almighty God.

Forget denominational lines. Christ is for all people, Jew first, then the Gentile. He has hard words but if they are believed, taken in, pondered, obeyed, they are life. Don't turn away because His words are hard.

John 6:60-66 - Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Good or Better Choices?

Luke‬ ‭16:19-31‬ - There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 
But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 
So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to  Abraham’s bosom. 
The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." 
But Abraham said, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things [hardships]; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us." 
Then he said, "I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment." 
Abraham said to him, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." 
And he said, "No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent." 
But he said to him, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead."

These verses show the difference between heaven and hell. They also prove the lie that ALL people go to heaven when they die. Again, if that were true then it was yet another lie that Jesus died on the cross for no reason at all, that by our "works" or our status, our perceived goodness, we could enter. He died for all mankind, but only those who look to and trust in Him will be forgiven. 

We choose in this lifetime whom we will follow. Have we heard about the commandments, heard the Gospel that Jesus proclaimed, humbled ourselves before Him? Have we made a decision to believe? Do we follow, obey and trust in Jesus Christ or man...or self? The time to choose is now. If someone would die within the next few minutes without Christ, he/she could be in the same predicament as the rich man above. 

Interesting, that last sentence. If they did not listen to God through His Laws that had been given to them for life and to worship God, nor the prophets, there was no way they would be persuaded if they saw one rise from the dead. Sounds like a prediction to occur later, that Jesus would come once again to proclaim His message of life and His resurrection! Still many would not/do not believe. 

What will it take anyone to believe that heaven and hell are real and not to be taken lightly? It's exactly why Jesus calls us...that none would perish. 

Are the good things of life we can put in our hands and handle and delight in today more important than the better things of eternity? It's a choice we make. I leave you with that thought.

Romans 8:2-5 - There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

He Shall Surely Live

Ezekiel 18:4-5,9 - “Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die. But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right...If he has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully—he is just; he shall surely live!” says the Lord GOD.
I’ve been reading the book of Ezekiel and came to Ezekiel 18:4. The soul of the father and the soul of the son are both God’s. If the father chooses not to believe in God and lives unrighteously, God says he will die. However, if the son sees the unrighteousness of his father and chooses not to follow In his father's ways, he will live. This to me speaks of personal relationship.  

This is what Jesus says: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. ‭(John‬ ‭14:6) No one comes to the father but through Him. No one will receive eternal life without first receiving Christ. It’s a personal choice. It’s my decision alone. It’s your decision. If you have heard the Gospel and choose to be like the father above, you’ve made your decision. If you choose to be like the son, you’ve made a good choice. Knowing someone who knows the Lord doesn’t count. 

There is another scripture that tells us that the road to destruction is very wide but the road to eternal life is very narrow. This is also talking about those who will receive Christ and those who will not. There are many religions in the world but not all of them lead to God the Father. There is only one God, one Son, one Spirit and one way. Only one legitimate God. 

God cannot honor someone who looks to a myriad of animals as gods or bows to lifeless statues or the dead that have no power to save. He is not going to honor a religion that believes killing, not loving, is the right thing and treats its women with disrespect. 

There is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ. All souls are His. He has the right to decide who lives or dies...but, thankfully, we have been given instructions on what to do. It’s very plain, very simple. The way He has chosen is receiving His Son, no matter how sinful we might be. He will forgive our sins. But we can’t do it on our own; it must be through Jesus. The rest is also spelled out...Follow Me. Be obedient to His Word. 

Just because someone attends church every week doesn’t mean they will go to heaven. If it’s an obligation or a work (law) it doesn’t count. No man has control over another’s spiritual life. Only God/Jesus. Some will point us toward Jesus but only we can make the decision. It's not based on what we think is good. What counts is having met Christ, realizing our sins, repenting of those sins and then living for Christ from that day on. It’s not living for Him one day a week but every day. It’s having been met by Christ and changing heart attitudes and lifestyles. 

Today is still available to make the decision for Christ. Do what is right in the eyes of God. 

Joshua‬ ‭24:15‬ ‭- And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Close(r) to God

Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:11‬- 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.
One year at Christmas, in my early thirties, divorced, living alone in a small apartment in Milwaukee’s downtown, I felt a need to “go to church.” I needed to feel close to God. And it seemed because it was around Christmas it was a good time to go. I walked exactly two blocks from my doorstep to the doorstep of St. John’s Cathedral. 

I sat in back because I did not come from a Catholic background and I was not a regular church-goer. I guess I was feeling guilty. I wanted to hear the choir. I hoped to feel the presence of God or His angels. The choir was beautiful, maybe even in Latin. I don’t remember if I stayed for service. 

I’ve mentioned this several times in my writing: there is a God-shaped hole in each of our hearts. It is there just for Him to fill. Nothing...nothing...nothing else can fill it no matter how hard we try. That’s how I must have felt even then, before I knew Jesus as my Lord and Savior. How we who know Him can look back sometimes and see the hand of God in our He wooed. How He was piercing my heart that night. Someday I need to list all the times I know He saved me from this or that, or was clearly showing Himself to me, yet I was unaware of it at the time. 

I’m reading a little book that should be an easy, quick read, but it’s taking me deep in thought about this amazing God we have. Truths about this God through everyday occurrences that I realize I have been missing at times. 

The writer was explaining a similar experience as mine: he was with a group of his high school boys at a basketball tournament. He was not on the team but just along. The gym was next to a “towering white tabernacle.” He felt led to leave the gym at one point and go to the tabernacle: “Finding a private place in back, I reached out and place my hands on the outside walls. As I did, my heart ached deeply to go inside. I wanted to walk through the locked doors to feel the wisdom and peace of that secret building. That is, I wanted to step closer to God, my eternal home. Although the cares of the world may bury this yearning to step closer to God, it’s common to all. (Trust in the Lord, Deen Kemsley)

Earlier this week I’d heard a southern Gospel song I’d never heard before. The gist of it was that no matter where you are in life and have no idea what the next day will hold, God is already there. I can’t for the life of me find the lyrics based on my remembrances!! I didn’t rush to my phone to see the playlist because I thought I’d remember, although occasionally the tune to the chorus will come to me. 

He’s always a step ahead of us and also beside us. He was with us even before we knew Him. He has an everlasting love for each of us, no matter how we feel about Him. But what joy we can have if we submit ourselves to growing closer to Him. You might be able to think of all the times in your past when He’s been showing Himself to you. Maybe you don’t recognize them, but He’s hoping you will notice.

Another time as a youngster. I would go outside after dark in the dead of winter. I would lay down in the snow and search the sky. My thoughts were how the stars go far beyond what we can see with our eyes. I was so amazed I could hardly breathe. Like my heart would burst if I could fully understand it all. I don’t remember being taught this but I’m sure confirmation classes were where I heard it. (And secretly, I was hoping I’d catch a cold so I wouldn’t have to go to school...never happened!) 

God wasn’t done with me. He kept wooing me. It took a very long time, but He was persistent and while I wasn’t so willing to drop everything to follow Him, the desire for Him was there buried deep. 

Oh that more would tap into this. We can all attain it. No matter what! No matter who we are, what we have done, how simple or smart, good or bad. I hesitate using this phrase but I will: we can come as we are; Jesus doesn’t want us to stay that way though and He will make us into the person we were truly meant to be. “We have but to repent from our sins, place our trust in the light, and turn to Christ. If we do, we will feel his comfort and know his peace, being born of him. Through the voice of the Spirit, we will know God is there, even in our days of loss and despair.” (Trust in the Lord) Or as the words to the song go, He’s already there. 

Jesus Christ is our treasure in heaven. He is the most important possession we can have. The things of this world are temporary. Heaven is permanent to those who seek Him. And...He’s already there. He’s guiding those who want to be led. He’s calling out. He’s showing Himself in our daily lives if we only look intently. Do you want to be closer? I am declaring His name through the few circumstances listed here. He is worthy! 

Isaiah‬ ‭12:2-4‬ ‭- Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; “for YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.” Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And in that day you will say: “Praise the LORD, call upon His name; declare His deeds among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted.”

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Heart of Man

Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-23‬ ‭- Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

As I was spending time with the Lord this morning the thought went through my head about a comment I've often heard: that the God of the Old Testament was angry but the God of the New Testament is loving. It might appear so. But there are a few scriptures which refute this notion. Of course, these are just a handful! Please don't dismiss the verses.

He never changes. “For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” ‭‭(Malachi‬ ‭3:6‬)
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (‭‭Numbers‬ ‭23:19‬) He just never changes. His Word is true...and just.

He is just. There are many verses that describe His justice. They all point to what He desires of us. If we do not heed Him or His words, He will bring justice. It might be toward an individual or a nation, or the world! He wants is our devotion. He wants us to stop pushing Him aside. We saw what happened when people did that in the Old Testament. He seemed angry; it was actually out of compassion for His people that they would turn back to Him. Today He wants the same. Through His Son Jesus.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ‭‭(1John‬ ‭1:9‬)
Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. ‭(Isaiah‬ ‭30:18‬) Not just wait, but seek...

What I'm getting at is the question why God allows all the disaster and violence we've seen this year. Could it be He's acting the same as in the Old Testament, when His people turned from Him? He had to bring judgment in order for them to again remember who it was who brought them out of captivity...saved their lives. Couldn't it just be that He is wanting people to turn back to Him, like He always has? So, He causes catastrophes to fall on all people. ...for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew‬ ‭5:45‬)  

God wants lives saved and there are times when disasters are what we need to seek Him. It's been said for thousands of years that the only way for salvation is through Jesus Christ, who is God, who is loving...and just. That is our personal answer to being saved. The world needs to understand this too. Just as He was, He is today...and will be tomorrow. Never changing.

Man's heart is inherently evil, all of our hearts, and as God did in the Old Testament He must do in the New. God's will will prevail. And sadly, for some the outcome will not be good because of their reluctance or stubbornness. 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 ‭5:18‬) So when we see the things on the news, think of God. Think of His love for us all and how He wants to be merciful. It may seem He is angry, but it is His compassion that we turn again to Him. Like a father exacting punishment on a child because he doesn't want him to be hurt. God so loves us and the world so wants Him to disappear

Look at what He did in the Old Testament when they turned away, worshiped idols and became complacent about Him. This sums it up very well:
But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath; for He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again. How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! 
For their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant. (Psalm‬ ‭78:38-40,‬37)

Where do you stand with God? Have you received His Son Jesus? Do you love Him? Are you pushing Him away and ignoring Him in your every day life? Do you think your good works alone will be pleasing to Him? He does not desire our sacrifices but a broken spirit and contrite heart. Will He look at your heart and know it is broken and contrite? He is God; He loves, He is just. He will not go away. Will you turn to Him? 

Psalm ‭90:2‬ ‭- Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Not According to the Flesh

2Corinthians‬ ‭10:3-6‬ ‭- For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
Just as I have learned that we cannot totally rely in any man, nor government, to bring about anything this world is in need peace, provision or safety...we cannot rely on our own knowledge when sharing Christ. It must be Spirit-led, as the scripture states. 

Not according to the flesh...not carnal but mighty in God...bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 

In Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in obedience to this Spirit, we are called to preach the Gospel, the good news, of Jesus Christ.

In Christ, we are are told, we are:
*new creatures
*one in spirit with God
*children of light, delivered from darkness
*a holy priesthood 
*ambassadors of Christ
*a people called out of darkness, ready to proclaim His excellence
*the aroma of Christ to God
*are led through Christ to diffuse the fragrance of His knowledge

We will not always be received but we are to be obedient, being the salt and light in a fallen world. Do we look at circumstances of life through our eyes, or political eyes, or through God's eyes? Do we share what is the hope of our calling? 

When we see disasters in this world and people can't understand why they are all happening, do we share we live in a fallen world? Do we 
share that these things were predicted in the Bible? That just maybe we are looking at days when it would be wise to know God before it's too late? This recent shooting in the very small Texas church should be a clue that we never know when our last day will be. Who would have expected this...on a a a very small town?

I share about Christ and the Bible because I know what it means to have been changed on the inside. I'm certainly not perfect and never will be, but I have heard the truth, have experienced a change in my way of thinking and seeing in the world. 

We do not war against the flesh. It's a spiritual war, people. This is what we need to understand. All God has ever wanted from us is acknowledgment of who He is, devotion and obedience to Him. Without these we have no hope for the future and any hope we have in man and his government, policies, laws, are meaningless. Man is not perfect. But! 

Ask Him to reveal Himself to you today. I will ask Him to open the hearts of men to receive this valuable, life-saving knowledge. I will ask Him to show you what the hope is in Him. Just knowing who He is is not enough. Going deeper is the answer. Hearing Him, responding to Him. Being touched by Him. That's where it's at. A relationship...with God...not the church, not rituals...but the Man, Jesus Christ. A life-changing encounter.

Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

No Matter What

2Timothy 4:7 - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Paul, who had been known as Saul of Tarsus, a converted persecutor of Christians, was nearing the end of his ministry. At the time of this letter’s writing to Timothy he was in prison and the verse above and the verse at the end were believed to be his surmising of his soon death...being martyred.
He had been encouraging Timothy, to whom this letter was written, in his own ministry.

You see, whether as an individual or church or ministry, we are called to run the race, to persevere, stay strong in Christ. We will have times when we can grow weary and when we may need or are given, by God, a time to rest. Then it’s time to get back to our work, whatever He has called us to do. And we were so reminded again in church yesterday that: 1) we are all necessary within a church. 2)
not all of our ministries will be the same, like pastors or elders or deacons (how strange would a physical body be if it were all thumbs! 3) we are not all equipped the same; like above, we will be at different levels in our walk and talents and not equal, but vital just the same.

In a race like any marathon or the Olympics, generally there will only be one winner. Some may quit because they are not strong enough and just get tired. Again, not all are at the same level. But there can be many who will finish the race. Finishing is still an achievement. Putting this in perspective with regard to God: I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Some won’t even start this race. It may be considered too hard. I think about what scripture says about the things of the world and how meaningless life is without God. Solomon suggested this in Ecclesiastes when he said all was meaningless, a grasping for the wind; all vanity...and in the end...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) 

Hard but true words. This earth should be considered temporary and heaven the home to look forward to. But that home comes with a price...devotion to God, following Him no matter what the cost, no matter what friends think, no matter the scorns and sneers and disagreements received. No matter what...running the race and enduring to the end.

I think about all those who were persecuted for their faith in the Bible. Then I think about the martyrs in today’s world. And then I think about Jesus who died for us, the persecution and suffering He endured. If He could endure, we certainly can, through His strength and His words of truth and peace. Then there's the fact that there will be a greater reward for all who have followed and endured. The greatest reward one can receive. One that this world cannot promise but Jesus can.

I will add, the shooting in a small town, in a small Texas church can be an example of enduring. We don’t know why God allowed this. We can know that if these people continue to have faith and trust in God they will be able to endure. God never told us that our life in Christ would be easy. We live in an evil world. We won’t see the results unless we trust in Him now but Jesus says this: These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Thank You, Lord. What a blessing to know You today. My great hope for my future. Praise You!

2Timothy 4:8 - Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Humble Yourself

Luke 14:7-11 - So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  

Don’t know why the thought of humility came to mind this morning. It just did.

Jesus was all about humility. He didn’t need to be grandiose in His preaching. ...but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:7) He knew who He was. One of the messages He preached was humility, as did God in the Old Testament.  Remember, He was so humble and cared so much for others He chose to die for our sins. That is the greatest act of humility. To die to self. What we are called to do daily when we choose Christ. 

Being in a humble place in life may not always feel good if our pride gets in the way. We can, however, become humbled but if we are humble to start out we can be raised up. If we are children if God we may not see this raising up until way in the future but it shouldn’t stop us today. Waiting on God is one of the things we do most! 

Do we think of others before ourselves or is it all about us? Do we shove that grocery cart down the aisles cutting people off or go barging through a store as if no one else exists? Do we take the prominent seat at a table and leave the lesser seats to guests? I’ve been guilty at times. Though nothing may happen at the moment, God sees. 

Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of the great; for it is better that he say to you, “Come up here,” than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen.
(Proverbs 25:6-7)

Being humble is not being walked over. It is a choice we make. Oh, there are times when it can feel irritating, especially if we are with someone who is always first to do. There are times it’s nearly impossible to beat them to the punch!

This humility is our being Christ-like. We are called to use Jesus as an example. This is for me too! Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3) It is not debasing ourselves to prefer someone else over us. It’s humility, a trait God prefers! Even if we might be in a greater position in life or job or church. 

I look at our pastor...he may be the shepherd of the flock but he’s always available to fix a roof or even a church toilet, both, and certainly more, of which he’s done. 

It does not hurt to be humble, except it can hurt to have one’s pride besmirched. Shove that pride in a back pocket sometime and see how it feels. You might be surprised. Just as Jesus humbled Himself for us, we are asked to do the same...not only for others but for Him. 

Philippians 2:8-11 - And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Cleanliness and Goodness

Jeremiah 2:22 - For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me,” says the Lord GOD.

As I read this verse I thought about cleanliness and goodness. These things do not occur because we think so about ourselves. They are gotten only through salvation and a relationship with Christ.

God doesn’t look at the outside of a person but at their heart. (1Samuel 16:7) That should scare most people! We can fool man (and even ourselves) with our outward appearance and demeanor but God knows the motives of our heart, whether we are honest, truly kind, or putting on airs to make ourselves look good to others. He also knows whether we are right or wrong in our thinking. Do we know what truth is? With all the ideas in the world, some day everyone will know the truth. For some it will be good; for others not.

I’ve said this many times...because it is so true in God’s eyes...we can do no works of our own to receive the grace of God. We must receive His Son Jesus. It’s not about a religion but a relationship. It’s not about the rituals but the sacrifice...of our old lives and thoughts for new ones. I read this somewhere and must have jotted it down: Christianity is not religion. The Latin word from which the English word "religion" is derived means "to bind up." (Those are the rituals.) Jesus did not come to bind us up in rules and regulations or rituals of devotion, but to set us free to be man as God intended. (This comes with a relationship with Jesus.) - James A. Fowler

As was mentioned by a speaker at our annual church women’s retreat a couple weeks ago, sometimes we might think we are searching for God but it is actually He who is searching for us by His Spirit. Sometimes our hearts are opened to receive Him. Sometimes not. It is our choice to make. (I remember turning Him down a few times over the course of a few years. I turned down invitations to go to church. Ugh, what did I need church for?) Do we want to know the truth or do we want to live believing the lies? Remember Pilate questioning what truth was? 

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” ... (John 18:37-38) Truth stood right before Pilate and he missed it. The truth of who He was. Yes, a King; yes, could even have been Pilate's Savior. 

Jesus is also the way and the life. Our way, to life. The way of righteousness. The truth of God's Word...Jesus THE Word. I could go on with more...

So, rituals are the works that do not save. A truth. No amount of bringing sacrifices in the Old Testament could save Israel. They still had to come repeatedly to present their sacrifices to atone for their sins. Today no amount of good works, apart from hoping He will accept us, will save us! We must come with nothing to offer but ourselves, broken, filled with humility, needing His help, seeking His forgiveness and repenting of our sins. Then we can be saved. 

We've had several baptisms take place in church recently (and no doubt another one in the near future!). These are not infant baptisms. These are adults or children of the age of reason choosing to live for Christ. Some are just that, children. They have come as little children. The adults have all admitted lifestyles that were taking them down the wrong roads, heading into destruction. They realized a need for Christ to save them, not some 10-step program or psychiatric care or hospitalization. They wanted the healing that only Jesus can bring. They didn't want to just wash the outside, but the inside as well. Physical and spiritual. So they laid their burdens down at the cross.

Jesus seeks us. He doesn't want anyone to perish in their sin. But I know not all will heed His call. I know some so truly believe that they are good without God. This is a lie; probably the biggest lie the devil spreads. "Did God really say...?" (Genesis 3:1)  I pray hearts would soften and take in the words of God.

Matthew 23:27 - Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.