Monday, October 23, 2017

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 saw this: 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 inended. (This comes with a relationship with Jesus.) - James A. Fowler

As was mentioned by a speaker at our annual church women’s retreat last Thursday night, 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. 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 before Pilate and he missed it. Jesus is also the way and the light. The light on our path. The way of righteousness and to life. 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 God, 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. 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 who have not yet gotten into the adult world of sin. 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. 

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)

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.”

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chain Breaker

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

I won’t do this too often! But I got frustrated posting a blog from my iPad tonight and am too tired to use the computer!

A man in our church is in a troubled marriage, has two or three little girls, and he was not doing well this past week. He asked our church for prayer. And he made the decision to get baptized this morning. It was another one of several recent wonderful baptisms. God is seeking and saving the lost. Praise Him!

This I suspect was partly why what I’m sharing below transpired. New to me...and I like it.



Psalm‬ ‭107:8-11,13-15‬ ‭-
**Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!**
For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons—because they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the Most High...
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces.
**Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!**


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Eat Them Words!

Jeremiah‬ ‭1:6-9‬ ‭- Then said I: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But the LORD said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speakDo not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.”

We are not fully equipped in our own strength or abilities to share Christ but through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are equipped by knowing God’s Word, by ingesting it so we know it. God’s Word is truth (John 17:17).

There very well could come a time when believers in the Lord Jesus Christ could be persecuted for standing firm in their belief of Him, for taking a stand on the firm foundation of the absolute truth of God’s Word, including those things the world says are offensive and which 
issues, by their standards, should be tolerated. It can be hard to stand on the truth without caving under pressure...and looking like the bad guy.

There are great promises in His Word. Promises of good--and destruction. You either believe His Word--or you don’t. No one gets to sit on the fence and believe what they want. Either/or, right/wrong,  yes/no, life/death. The one side of the issues are what believers are accused of being offensive about. But if we eat them words of truth we will gain the power to continue to speak in and stand firm on that truth. 

I think about how many people of the Bible faced prison or death for their belief in Jesus. They could have saved their lives by denouncing Him. They gained their strength by the power of God. They knew, and walked with, the Word who was made flesh! Where does each of us stand? Do we know the Word, both written and the Man? 

Like I last posted, the Word can be both sweet and bitter. (Revelation 10:8-11) Sweet to those who believe the words and bitter to those who reject it. 

Psalm‬ ‭119:103-104‬ ‭- How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Salty, Sweet, Bitter

2Timothy‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭- All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
In prayer this morning I thanked God for His perfect and timeless Word. It brought thoughts of other things related!

As the Bible states, the Word is truth (John 17:17). The words within this Book are God's very words spoken through men by His Spirit for each of us. These words inspire, teach, exalt, transform, excite, prophesy and encourage. They can also convict, condemn...and hopefully by this bring about new life if taken in and absorbed by the reader. 

I thought about how I can read some days and get excited because I see just where scripture is speaking of the days we live in. The words that were written thousands of years ago. Timeless words from a timeless God. Nothing surprises me anymore. Disturbs me, but doesn't surprise.

I thought about how the words I read today may not have the same meaning the next time. I may see something new or deeper. There's always an expectation of new understanding, going deeper with God. 

I thought about the life-giving words. The promises. When there are hurting people, whether they think of themselves as hurting or not, all around the world, God's Word could bring them comfort. 

I thought about how one who does not accept these words rejects God (John 12:48). That's a pretty strong statement coming from Jesus. Missing out on something so extraordinary. God Himself gave us these words. GOD! The Almighty. Our Creator. Our Savior. 

I made oatmeal for breakfast this morning. I forgot to add salt; it was awful! After I sprinkled a little in, it enhanced the flavor. Because I was still writing this blog, I thought about salt and God's Word. (Naturally!) It's a very wonderful saltiness! It's been seasoned just right. It's why it is exciting to read, it is palatable!

We are told to taste and see that the Word is good (Psalm 34:8). Salt acts as a does the Word of God. It is also likened to honey (Psalm 119:103). Salty and sweet. It can be bitter, too. Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter ‭‭(Revelation‬ ‭10:10‬). The bitterness, sadness, destruction comes when we see the results of those not following God, rejecting Him...and His Word...which is there for us to learn from

There are prophetic words in the Bible. They were for the people then and for us today. Some words were good, some not. They are in this Book for us to understand life in general, what was, is and will be. We are dead (what was) until we receive God's precious gift (what is) of life. That extends to eternal life (what is to be). 

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭119:105‬)  I'm not the greatest for memorizing but God certainly has put into my spirit words I needed to remember. As I write these blogs His Word pops into my head. I believe He/it gives me inspiration. 

So...don't know why this popped into my head...
Moses killed a man - Jonah disobeyed and tried to run from God - David lusted after another man's wife and had him killed that he could have her - Gideon was skeptical and reluctant - Paul started out hating and persecuting Christians, then became a strong advocate for Christ -The disciples were not perfect - and Judas delivered Jesus into captors' hands that led to His crucifixion (though it was God's plan, as was the 
result of each of these amazing men). 

I add this I guess to say it shows that those God chose for important roles throughout the Bible were flawed. And there are many others besides these few. So are we all. It's through the Bible we find the stories of these people. It's an encouragement. Though imperfect, most of them knew God, served Him and came to grips with their sin, by God's hand, and their hearts changed and repentance took place. 
      ***We can learn a lot, even identify with some of the people.***

People, listen. Our salvation is not something to be taken lightly. It has life and death consequences. That's all I'm going to say. If you've read any of my blogs you will note an underlying theme. God's Word is truth. It is full. It is sweet like honey, seasoned as with salt, and can be bitter at times. Kind of like life...yet God's Word brings a real life. 

Psalm 119:1,9,11,17,25‬ ‭- Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD! How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.

Friday, October 6, 2017

In YAH is Everlasting Strength

Isaiah 26:3-4 - You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.

This is one of my favorite scriptures. We can't always rely on man for strength. Man fails. But God...never fails for those who are focused on the Lord. 

This may not be fully understood without the Spirit of God's help. That only comes with a relationship with Him, meaning that trust in Him. 

I'll tell you, I would not want to be living apart from the Lord in these days. I see what's transpiring, am saddened by it all, and am thankful I have the Lord's peace and strength. I know, my life is not falling apart in front of me. But I guarantee it can some day. Trusting God now, praying for His peace beforehand. It's all I can do. Will I become anxious? Maybe so. It's our human nature. But when we cry out to God, then His strength should kick in. 

He tells us that His Spirit will remind us of His Word. Oh, those promises that He will never leave nor forsake those who wait upon Him, trust in Him. And...worship Him in good times and bad because He is worthy of all praise, honor and glory, no matter what. 

That's all I have to say...except, do you have confidence in an unseen God? Can you have faith in that which is unseen? Do you know His presence? Do you know His promises? It's never too late to know for sure. He is always available to receive your request to for Him to enter into your life, fill you with His Spirit and bring you truth from His Word, and knowledge too. 

His promises are true. (2Corinthians 1:20)

John‬ ‭14:27,26 - Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ...the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

So Flawed

Ecclesiastes 7:20 - For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.

Short one! 

People can believe in their hearts they are good people by comparing themselves to murderers, thieves, perverts, you name any thing that is wrong, but there is none that is good, none. 

As human beings we are flawed, so flawed. It is proof, and the reason why, we need a Savior. 

God will not have us apart from salvation through His Son, Jesus. Plain and simple. Jesus said He was the truth and the way to life. I would not say this, but God does...those who reject His Son are fools. 

The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.  
The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one. (Psalm 14:1-3, Romans 3:10-12) 

Fool: one who acts unwisely and imprudently (Websters)...stupid fellow, dullard, arrogant one, according to a Bible dictionary.

The Gospel message is one of admitting we are fools, unrighteous, dead in our sin and in need of a Savior. God provided that way to life eternal by sending His Son Jesus. By His death He took upon Himself every sin imaginable of every person, past, present and future. We can't fathom that. This is our Savior, who was, is and is to come. This is why it isn't just about knowing who He is but knowing Him in our hearts and spirits. He will receive anyone. But we must put aside our pride and arrogance and admit we are no good! 

1John 1:8 - if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best

Mark 8:36 - For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

The statement to prepare for the worst, hope for the best, has been used a lot these past couple of weeks with all the intense weather that has occurred. 

Other statements recently heard:
Once the storm comes it's too late to take action, so do what you need to do before it comes. 
•You can replace the material things, but lives cannot be replaced. 
•Err on the side of caution.
•Evacuate or die. (Yikes)

These are all true statements for life situations. It is also true when it relates to the salvation of our souls. Many believe God is not important in ones's okay to believe in God, in their own way, or whatever god they desire, but there is only one true God who can provide the hope in our salvation and His name is Jesus. 

He requires an intimate relationship with Him, like a father to a child or husband to wife. He requires a repentant heart, not sacrifices or head knowledge of Him. Denomination means nothing to Him. He wants your heart. He wants your commitment. He doesn't just want you on Sundays but everyday. He wants you in your home, at work, at play. He wants your complete focus and devotion. 

Salvation is real and important. It's serious business. Those who have experienced it know! They know the changes that have taken place. They know the voice of the Lord. They know His power. They are gaining wisdom and revelation of who this God is. 

There will always be controversy about this subject. Remember, even Jesus encountered scoffers and persecution. Why would He have gone through all this if His Gospel message of salvation wasn't true? We are to seek Him while He may still be found, not wait, because we don't know when our last day will come...we must be certain today. I understand some think this thing about salvation through Jesus might be a myth. Then this: If what I believe is wrong, then I have nothing to lose. But if I’m right, then those who think contrary have everything to lose. Reread the opening scripture.

So, when the storms of life come, whether natural disasters or personal ones, who do you turn to? Doctors, science, government or anything of man can do just so much and I'm not saying we shouldn't seek their help when necessary. But when the chips are down and we consider where we will be when we die, do we have peace and hope in what Jesus did and what He tells us we have to look forward to? Our physical lives, once done on earth, cannot be replaced... People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)... unless we have received Christ as our Savior. There's nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution. Have we been evacuated from our worldly lives leading to death or have we sought the One who has died that we might live? Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1John 2:15)

Straight from Jesus: 
He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25)
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)  
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27) 

Hope comes only from Jesus. Spiritual life only comes through Jesus.  He came that we may have eternal (spiritual) life. He came to give us hope and peace. We will still encounter storms of life, but we can know our hope is secure, even if we die. How about others? How fearful might they be? Consider the list of statements above and consider Jesus, the one who saves.

Jeremiah 17:5-7 - Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Food for the Soul

Proverbs‬ ‭24:13-14‬ ‭- My son, eat honey because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste; so shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul; if you have found it, there is a prospect, and your hope will not be cut off.

The Proverbs were written by King Solomon. He was the wisest man of his day. He prayed for God to give him wisdom over anything else and it was granted to him. It is something we all should seek (from God) everyday.

We all know honey is a thick liquid, sweet and easy to eat. If anyone has eaten the more solid honeycomb it requires a bit of chewing yet also provides much deliciousness. 

This reminded me of another scripture that tells us we need to grow in maturity in the Word. When a child is born it only has milk and soft foods. As it grows it develops a taste for solid foods. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭5:13-14‬)

It is God's desire that we fill ourselves with His Word. By it comes wisdom. That wisdom shows us who God is, what we are here for, what we should do, how we should do it and the difference between good and evil. It shows us all we need to know for a good life, not necessarily one that will be easy, but how to get through those calling on God, His Word. It is food for the soul.

True wisdom, from God, gives life. It gives hope. I'm certain nearly everyone is given the opportunity to get this. It comes through the power of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. Receive Him when He beckons. Take in the sweetness of the Word, Jesus, and learn true wisdom. 

This says it all: ‭

Psalm‬ ‭119:103‬ ‭- How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Am I Pure From My Sin?

Proverbs 20:9 - Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin”?

Other scriptures tell us our deeds are as filthy rags, that no one is good, not one. For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin. (Ecclesiastes 7:20) 

It's why Jesus chose to go to the cross. God so loved us and He wishes none to perish. But we have our own choice. Go to the cross as Jesus did and die to sins and ourselves...or not. One leads to life, one to death. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Jesus made the way. He is the Way. This is the truth, and He is that Truth. He alone brings life. He is the Life. There is no other way to eternal life but through Him, through believing in His death, and knowing that death alone paid the debt. Not by our good works. Again...For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.

Some churches encourage works, drum it into a person so they feel obligated to give. Money or offering up sacrifices of time will not work. Jesus comes first, not the church, not the pastor or priest. We should do good, for God first, out of love for Him and others...not to grant us access to heaven. Jesus comes first. He's always first. Not self. ...not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:9) ...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

This is all scriptural and because the Bible is the truth, how can we deny it? 2Timothy 3:16, 2Peter 1:20, John 17:17. When we deny these words, we deny God. The Bible tells is this too! Mark 8:38

Peter denied Jesus three times in a very short period, but he grieved so deeply that he had and repented. I denied God for most of my life by immaturity, believing in God, and that Jesus was His Son who died for us and thinking that was all I needed. And not attending church. Huh, I’d even been baptized as a child. I thought I was good to go. I considered myself a good person compared to others. This could be all of us until a day comes when the right words are read or heard that touch a person's heart or conscience...and like Peter, repentance takes place. Praise God!

These words might bite: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1John 1:8-9) No one wants to believe they are sinners. But the truth is, we are and we must humble ourselves before an Almighty God, either now while we have a chance, or some day soon when He returns. Now leads to life; later leads to death. Choose Jesus now or the enemy, heaven or hell, life or death. Only He can cleanse of unrighteousness. 

By the way, why all the scriptures, you might ask. Because they point to the truth. They are direct from God, every one of them. The Bible was written so that we might know God and come into relationship with Him. If you are not ready now, will you be soon? 

2Timothy 1:9 - …who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began…

Friday, September 15, 2017

Resurrection and Life

John 11:3-4 - Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha and all were very close friends with Jesus. When Lazarus became ill his sisters called for Jesus to come and heal him.

Jesus didn't go immediately but lingered where He was. In the meantime, Lazarus died. The sisters were consumed with grief and disappointment because they believed had the Lord shown up sooner, He could have healed their brother.

But God...has perfect timing in any circumstance. As noted in verse 4 above, His timing would glorify God! That's His way. There are things we absolutely cannot do on our own, but when God, Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit steps in, BAM, it is finished! It is done.

Lazarus was raised from the dead, even after he was wrapped in burial cloths and put in a tomb. Though Jesus seemed to be late, He did show up. And all He was call out: "Lazarus, come forth!" I think it was our pastor who said he'd heard, or he surmised himself, that had Jesus not specifically said the name of Lazarus, all the dead might have come out of the tombs!

This is what Jesus does for us. We are all dead in this life until He calls us to come forth. To come out of our tombs, to follow Him that we may have life. He called me. He has called others and He may be calling you.

We cannot get to God in our own ways. It has to glorify God, not ourselves. It has to be through Him. Last Sunday we had a mother and son water baptized in church (Fleet Farm water trough!). Both had been delivered from hard lives. She from a life of lust and drugs, he from crime, at 17! What joy in the faces of both when they committed themselves to this baptism, death to life in and through Christ. Nothing they did apart from believing He would remove them from their lifestyles, relying on Him, trusting in Him and maintaining their lives in Him.

When Jesus died He said, "It is finished." His death would bring life to all who would humble themselves and accept His free gift of life through Him alone.

The old lives are finished for this mother and son, providing they do not turn their backs on Jesus. They walk in the newness of a life in Christ.

Like Lazarus walked out of his grave clothes and the tomb into a resurrected life, so does anyone who chooses to live by, through and for Christ. Has this happened to you? Do you recall a time when a drastic change took place?

Jesus is no more than a call away. He will hear if you are serious. Is He calling, "Come forth?"

James 1:16-18 - Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

But God

2Chronicles 20:6 - “…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?”

Whatever the situation, one can find a BUT GOD... He is In.Control.Of.All.Things. He is sovereign, having supreme power and authority. Despite what happens in the world and in our personal lives, our God reigns! Look:

The LORD shall reign forever and ever. (Exodus 15:18)
The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, and the LORD sits as King forever. (Psalm 29:10)
BOTH riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. (1Chronicles 29:12)
The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)

I was with a friend from church for a couple days on a fun road trip. As with any time with a fellow believer, discussion turned to the things of God. In one instance she said she truly stood strongly on the words, BUT GOD. 

I just want to list a few of them. They are encouraging for whatever the situation. God is in control of all things. I know it's a lot of scripture, but take the time to read them. Maybe they will speak to an area in your life. 

His rightful authority:
But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. (Psalm 115:3)

God as Judge
But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another. (Psalm 75:7) 

His presence:
And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him... (Acts 7:9)

His strength
My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

His love and mercy:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) 
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us… (Ephesians 2:4)

As Creator
…but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it… (1Corinthians 12:24)

Our warrior
But God will wound the head of His enemies, the hairy scalp of the one who still goes on in his trespasses. (Psalm 68:21)

God's choice:
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty… (1Corinthians 1:27) 
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. (1Corinthians 12:18)

His way of salvation: 
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. (1Corinthians 3:6-7)

His faithfulness:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1Corinthians 10:13) 
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)

His power:
The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, and be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. (Isaiah 17:13) 
The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness. (Proverbs 21:12)
My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26) 
But God raised him from the dead… (Acts 13:30)

Scripture doesn’t lie because God can’t lie. All He has written for us through the power of the Holy Spirit in men, is true. Try Him out. Think you’re too guilty of your sins? But God… Think He wouldn’t love you? But God… Think you don’t need Him? But God… is able to transform us into the man or woman HE knows we can be in Him. His plans are for good, not evil. His plans are perfect. His ways not like ours, but a whole lot better.

Our God reigns…forever. We can too if we give Him a chance. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

All of Creation

Isaiah 40:26 - Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.

I know I can be very simplistic in my view of God. (Come as  little children, Jesus said.) Yet there is a very deep understanding that wells up in my soul.

It is hard for some to understand that all of creation was made by the Lord. Not by His hands but by His very voice. He commanded and it was so. It's something we just have to take at His word. 

If we cannot fathom God creating, it may be that we have missed this point...that all we have, all we are, all we will be given is because of Him. 

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest urges us to look beyond ourselves, our things, our own strengths and look up at Who is the Creator. We can do in our own strength but it is truly God who gives us what we really need. We may be missing out on many things in this life if we have not sought Him in all things.

Do we ask if this is what the Lord would want us to do? Is this the right decision to make? Is this the direction to go? Is this purchase the right one? Do we really need this? 

We can begin to understand God just by taking in all we see around us. Take a good hard look. Don't let another day go by without seriously contemplating just the things of nature. Chambers suggests we turn our imagination "aright:" If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in Nature. In every wind that blows, in every night and day of the year, in every sign in the sky, in every blossoming and every withering of the earth, there is a real coming of God to us if we will simply use our starved imagination to realize it.

Starved imagination. Wow. Have we come to a place where we have taken nature for granted? Do we look and think, ho hum, when we see something outside even the living room window? Or do we become excited again at even the most common occurrence? Can you quiet yourself at all during the day and think about Him and what He has done for you? Have the things of each day consumed your thoughts? Has something else become more interesting than a relationship with the God who created you and has a great plan for your life, one you cannot imagine? The simplicity of it all...the childlike faith...the enjoyment of the small things. 

If this is you, Chambers suggests we may be caught up in ourselves. Is your imagination looking on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself? Your work? Your conception of what a worker should be? ...when you are (finally) up against difficulties you have no power, you can only endure in not look back to your own experience; it is God Whom you need.

Our lives should be consumed with thoughts of God. Where is He in this circumstance? Did He leave you or might you have left Him? When tragedy strikes where do you first turn? Do you call out to God for strength first? Do you ask for His guidance, peace, comfort? Or do you call on help from family, friends, or even internalize and attempt to draw from your own so-called wisdom or strengths. God will provide what you need but you need to seek Him above all things.

God is real. He is powerful to those who seek Him. He is always there for any need. He may not always answer in the way you would want, but He knows what's best, what we need most. 

Even in the throes of illness we need to focus on what His will is. He can heal if He so chooses, but if the choice is death, He is in that as well. The illness did not come as a surprise to Him. It is our attitude during this time that might be God's test for us. Do we still draw His strength for the moment or the day? If we are His children and in right relationship with Him our greatest assurance that no matter what we endure, we are His.

Are our imaginations starved for God as Chambers asks? Take the time to ask Him directly to help you get a grip on who He is and of what benefit He might be to your life. He is more than willing to listen if you are truly interested in knowing Him. You may not realize it but I think we are all starved for God at some time in our lives. That's when He begins to show up in little things in our lives that don't make sense...yet. The people who are put in your path, the things you begin to hear and might even be annoyed about. It happened to me; it can happen to you.

Let your imagination go and let it consider the truth of who He is, He who was and is and is to come. Start with taking the time to view nature. That's where He began before He created Man. Consider the intricacies of it all. Consider the depth of wisdom it took to create it (which is nearly impossible because of the enormity of it all) and then consider the intricacy of even your own creation, your birth. Nothing was made by accident. Not even you. Rejoice in the fact that being here, today, in this lifetime, can give you the opportunity to know this incredibly awesome God.

Psalm 102:25-28 - Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end. The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You.

Monday, September 4, 2017

What Shall I Render to the Lord?

Psalm 116:12-17 - What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me? 
   I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. 
   I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people. 
Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints. 
   O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds. 
   I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.

What does all this mean? As I read this this morning I thought of all the people who have gone before the Lord and received their salvation. They have met with God, recognized Him, called upon Him, chosen His free gift of salvation and now serve Him.

What happens when this free gift is received? The main thing is outright acknowledgement of God our Father, Creator, Redeemer. We recognize Him as sovereign over all. We see His hand in all things. Our hearts and minds change through Him. We grow in the knowledge of our Lord. We begin to know truth. Yesssss. We recognize how flawed our thoughts and hearts once were. And this is all good.

We will pay our vows...we will bring to Him a heart of thankfulness for what He has done in us. We will rejoice in our salvation, which only comes from Him. In this world we can be successful, but it ends when our lives end. Salvation through Christ brings a different, lasting type of success. Wise Solomon came to this conclusion:  “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” 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 1:2-3,13-14)

There truly is nothing more important in this life than to walk with God. Only one who has chosen this course can understand this. 

At first it seemed curious the statement: Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. In the context of the other verses, I see this as the rejoicing that God and the angels do when one comes to Christ. We are now His saints and we have given up our old lives, the old man has now become new. We have died to ourselves and have become alive in Christ. This is precious to Him. 

I am reminded of the one stray sheep Jesus referred to:
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!" I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:4-7)

I imagine He leaves that sheepfold daily for that one lost sheep. That prodigal son or daughter. That one Saul who would be made Paul. He knows them all by name. 

When we give in to His calls, His outstretched hand, He loosens the bonds of this world and its lies and death. As the song goes: 
All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now compared to this...
Knowing You, Jesus

We become His! The price of His death was paid for us. Can we even fully understand this? God Himself came down from the throne of heaven to live on this earth that He might die for all mankind...all who would seek and serve Him. Who does that? This is hard: He is God to those who do seek Him. If one does not, He is not their God and we are not His child. He died for all, but not all will receive. Not all will give up that old life for a new, sure, everlasting life. 

So, He continues daily to call. Daily He reveals Himself. He works to break hard hearts, that none would perish. He longs to hear the call of the seeking heart and the final words of joyful thanksgiving for the free gift, His salvation. Will you render your life to the Lord? To render means to give up and yield, break down. Will you render to the Lord for the benefits He offers you? His gift. His life. Freedom in Christ. Everlasting life.

Psalm 107:8-11 - Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons—because they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the Most High...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Storms of Life

Psalm 91:14-16 - "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

Everyone is aware of the disaster of Hurricane Harvey and the devastation in Texas. It's heartbreaking.  I did not have a title for this until I typed something later. Funny how that works. 

As I read this scripture this morning I thought of the people of Texas and prayed for the many who have lost their homes, possessions and even family. They have nothing. They will rely on others for a time for food and shelter. 

Food and shelter are physical needs. What about emotional? Others can offer words of support but they might not take away the pain of very raw emotions. But there is One who can. His name is Jesus. If we call upon the name of the Lord, He will supply all our needs, including those emotional ones. He can bring the peace and comfort to anyone's life, if they know Him and call on Him for their spiritual salvation and needs they have in this life on earth.

Amid these people I have prayed that many would know our God and His power in their lives. I have prayed that through this tragedy the love of God would be seen in those believers who do know Him and because of their testimonies, unbelievers would look to God for the source of their strength and salvation.

When we get to a point in our lives when nothing else gives comfort, because of illness, death or great losses like Texas, may we find the hope and strength that only Jesus brings.

Many times it's through tragedy that we come to Christ. We have to be broken. Tragedy can bring us to our knees with the realization we are vulnerable and that we cannot always save ourselves, nor can money, family or friends. But God... Listen to what He can do, if one is willing to receive Him...

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...For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:4-6,8-9) 

God is great in mercy. He offers a great gift, not one that we can work for, but one we can receive. This gift is Jesus. I realize that in times of tragedy not all will turn to God. Anger over what they have gone through, questioning how a God who is supposed to be so good could allow this, will be their choice. I pray this is not the case in Texas.

In this life we have never been promised all goodness. We live in a world of sin which brings about disappointment, illness, death. But God...who is rich in mercy...made a way that we could endure all things. There's the key word, endure. Who hasn't endured something in the natural knowing there was relief on the other side of a situation? Take just a common cold, sinus infection or inconvenient, minor (or major) surgery. Once this is over things will be better, we might say. A doctor can get us through, our body's healing process and our determination and patience can get us through.

But...I'm talking about a more important thing, the hope and goodness that will come after an even bigger tragedy in life. Again, examples: A report of cancer, loss of a limb that changes a person's life altogether, death of a child, loss of home or business. Where do we draw our strength now when doctors can only do so much or when insurance (if one has it) can only do so much? That way is Jesus Christ. He is our Great Physician and Provider. He is the Door, the Light, our strong Foundation, our Rock, the Living Water, the Bread of Life, our hope, peace, salvation. He takes care of His own. But you have to become part of His own first.

That's why it is good to know and trust in God now, before any trial. You will know immediately who to go to. And, as His Word tells us, He will bring the comfort, strength and peace in the midst of our illness, loss or trial. 

God will provide through others for Texans. They will receive from believers and unbelievers. They will benefit and survive and move on. But my prayer will still be that many people will come into a saving relationship with Christ as a result of this...when they see (hopefully) how believers respond to the tragedy and hear testimonies of their survival, how they called on Him in their worst time of need and He brought help, how, despite all loss, they still praise the name of their God.

Who will you cry out to for help in a trial, when the storms of life hit hard? He is there. For all people, all ages.

Psalm 56:3-4 - Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?