Monday, January 30, 2017

Can't Argue That

Mark 5:19 - ..."Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”

"Every word (of the Bible) inspired" was a note in my Bible. Some might believe the Bible is not the inspired Word of God. They might look at it as a book of books written by men and miss the inspired part. The truth is, God worked through those men, gave them inspiration...His inspiration...that we might know.

Before those books were written, however, these men all had to have an encounter with God. 

Another note said "can't argue my testimony." I have a testimony. I remember it like it was yesterday. I know many people who have testimonies. Our church is full of them. And we should not be ashamed of that testimony. Some might not want to share how they were alcoholics, into drugs, prostitution or pornography, had anger issues, or liars or thieves. It might be too embarrassing. But that's what makes a testimony. It shows the power of God in our lives! Everyone will have a testimony, even if it's not so blatantly bad. And everyone has need of a Savior. Everyone.

The thing is, we, in our church, as well as others, all had an encounter with God. This takes us onto the subject of blind faith. There is no such thing as blind faith. Our faith comes from, and hangs on, the Word of God, those inspired words that He chose certain men to write...that we might know. A Book we have that we might know Him, His ways, commands, His character. I know I've written about this before.

Then there's Psalm 131. It's all of three verses. There are some things we read in God's Word which we just don't understand. And that's okay. We just believe it because it is in God's Word...because it is His truth. His thoughts are higher than ours. The Psalm reads:
LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever. 

We are to come to Christ as little children who just trust freely. He has nothing but good planned for us. As adults we think too much. As children, though, we just hear and believe, trust.

So one day Christ made Himself known to me and there was no way I could back away, no place to hide. I didn't even want to. He gained access to my heart, mind and soul. It became my testimony. I can't argue that! Even though at the time I didn't quite understand what was happening, I know that what happened, what I felt, was real.  In time I realized I was beginning to become a new creature. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2Corinthians 5:17) ...we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:20)

So God's Word is inspired. His Word becomes life to us after we have humbled ourselves before Him and allowed Him access to our hearts and minds. That change in me got me to understanding His Word. It's His Word that was probably "annoyingly" preached or heard that began the change. His Word does not return void. It is an amazing thing, His words. What's that old song? It just popped into my head: 
I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me...

That old story is in His Book! The history of His-story. Inspired by God Himself. And those who know this story want to share. Like suggested in the opening scripture, "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you." 

He is real. His Word is real. He is life, as is His Word. His desire is for us to have a testimony of how He saved us...that He may get all the glory, since we can do nothing on our own to achieve this salvation but to receive what He has to offer. Then we share our testimony...and Him...through His Word. As we are to do. I confess this God who caused a change in me and gave me my own testimony. Something I can't argue. 

Matthew 10:32-33 - “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What the Lord Did For Me

Exodus 13:8-9 - And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, "This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt. It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt."

Oh, how I love the Word of the Lord! Even in the Old Testament we see the signs of what He does for those, to those, who want to know Him and of Him. These verses are referring to a feast Israel was to observe each year at the same time as a remembrance of what God did for them. By His power, setting them free from Egyptian captivity. They were in bondage. They couldn't have done it without Him. 

Likewise, if anyone has received Christ, they know what the Lord has done for them. If Egypt is a type of the world, that individual has been brought up out of it. He has been lifted up from out of the world to become God’s children. One always looks up to or for God. If we approve of someone, we look up to them. If we have fallen down, we arise. If we have gone to sleep, in the morning we get up. It's a new day. So we look up to Him, we receive a new life, it's a new day.

When someone has received Christ, His law, or His Word and His Spirit, become part of us. He imparts wisdom to us through these. They hold a special meaning for us. The Old Testament law has been replaced by God's grace; however, it is important to know the laws, what is right and wrong, what God's punishments are for disobedience and the promises for obedience. But He also knows it is impossible for us to keep those laws to the letter and we cannot strive in any way to keep laws, whether His or a church's, to please Him, so He sent His Son that by Him and through Him we are made righteous, when we receive Him, when we call on His name to save us, forgive us for our sins.

When one receives Christ it is by His strong hand. Elsewhere in the Word it is said that He first chose us; we did not, on our own, choose Him. It's not by being raised by godly parents or going to church or determining we will be a good person. It is by His strong hand...and His Spirit...that we felt His power and a desire to know Him more. It is then that He brings one out of Egypt, or out of the world, where our thoughts are not the thoughts or inclinations of the world anymore. We see where our thinking was skewed and how the world tells us one thing but God tells us the opposite...and we believe it. What seemed good at the time is now "evil." We recognize how the world is upside down.

And for these thoughts and voicing to others we know we might be ignored. We will lose friends. Division in families will occur. And we have to be reminded that this will happen if we choose to hold steadfast in our belief of the truth of God and His Word. So be it. But, hallelujah, if one person...just one...might want to know more about Him and seek Him and allow Him to enter their heart. I'd love to see that happen...just once. I know what the Lord has done for me...and continues to do. 

If one doesn't know the Lord and reads this, I know the thought, how arrogant, might come to mind. But I'll tell you, as a friend said recently, we cannot possibly convey this idea of what has happened to us to someone who doesn't know the Lord. No one can know what has transpired within another person's heart, soul and mind. But praise God...

**this can be for anyone.***

It's what God would want. He calls and calls but sometimes we don't hear or we don't want to believe. But He will still continue to call.  

My prayer is that all would heed His call if they hear.

Philippians 3:8-9 - Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Stubborness in My Soul

Matthew 26:33,35 - Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.

No one ever truly knows how they might react to a confrontation about their faith. In the comfort of my "room" within our house it's easy to say I would stand my ground for Jesus. But you can see above even Peter (as well as the other disciples) failed according to Jesus' own words. When Jesus was arrested, they scattered and Peter denied the Lord three times. Three times! These guys walked with Jesus, lived with Him, touched Him, heard Him speak, yet they denied knowing Him when trouble came upon Him. They feared for their own lives.

After Jesus' death He sent, as He said He would, the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit gives us wisdom, strength and guidance, elements of being a follower of Christ. Because we are made of flesh and blood we need His Spirit to guide us through certain things, strengthen us when our flesh fails us and wisdom through the remembrance of His Word how to react or what to say. We need to be truly rooted and grounded in Him and His Word to experience this...and have given ourselves over to Him.

Peter and the disciples had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew their weaknesses, as He knows all of ours . He said this to them: ... All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: "I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered." ... Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times. (Matthew 26:31,34)

I have always been independent and somewhat strong-willed to the things I believe most in. I have a bit of rebelliousness in this area too. No one is going to tell me that belief in our Lord to the degree with which I feel it is wrong. It may not be for everyone, which is sad, but it's right for me. It's right no matter how one looks at it because Jesus said so....I am the way, the truth and the life. No one **no one** comes to the Father except by Me. (John 14:6)

There is a stubbornness in my soul and the souls of others who believe wholeheartedly this is true. We have spiritually met God and He has convinced us of this. I don't say this with a proud spirit or arrogance but in humility because confrontation by the God of all creation is a very humbling well as freeing and exhilarating...and available to anyone!

So if I should be confronted by someone who asks what my beliefs are in God I would gladly respond. I would love to share my beliefs if someone would only be interested in hearing. To be stifled in this is very hard. It's why I write. I would not argue but let it go if they didn't agree or felt I was a little fanatical! I would hope that at that time the Holy Spirit of God would give me the words to speak. He has on occasion.

If it would ever come to the point where defending my faith to save my life were to happen I would definitely need the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen me. We could be told if we didn't deny our faith our spouse or a loved one would be killed. A very hard decision to have to make. If I would deny my Lord it would be a similar fate as Judas, the disciple Jesus chose and knew would betray Him. First the realization of what was done, then the remorse. Judas killed himself for his betrayal because the guilt was so great. This was, after all, the Son of God.

What happens when there's an automobile accident and the one who caused it and caused a death realizes what has happened? Imagine the pain of knowing a death occurred. The guilt. They may not take their lives but they certainly will feel the agony for a long time. 

In the case of our denying Jesus, something even more as severe as Judas' death takes place. We lose all hope of eternal life because we have denied Him. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” (2Timothy 2:11-12We must give up our idea of what it means to know God and submit to His. This submission is far from bad or wrong. We must die to our ideas, our sin, in order to be alive in and with Him. Then will come the Spirit and His guidance.

We have two options. Know God, know His promises (both good and bad) and maintain a strong stance on this, through the power of the Holy Spirit, or...deny God, scoff at His promises and remain rebellious against Him. One way leads to life, the other death. 

Jesus has never wanted, nor ever will, anyone to perish. The love He has for all of us is immeasurable by our human standards. He loves us while we are still sinners and no matter what we believe, how much we balk, how much we scoff, He will take a sinner's repentance in a heartbeat. That's the best news anyone could get. He is available to any and all. He's no respecter of persons. A heartfelt plea to Him for forgiveness of our wickedness to and without Him is all it takes for Him to transform anyone. 

So while this is a hard word, it is true. I continue to be stubborn about this because all throughout the Bible God has told us these things. His Word is the truth. His Son Jesus is the truth. To deny Him is to deny the truth. 

Mark 8:38 - For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Genesis‬ ‭41:57‬ ‭- So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands.
The story of Joseph is one of my favorites. Joseph was one of twelve brothers. He was favored by his father Jacob. Jacob was a God-fearing man. The favoritism caused jealousy among the brothers and they sold him into slavery in Egypt and then lied to their father.

In a nutshell... Many years later Joseph had obtained Pharaoh's favor. He was given the responsibility of the storehouses in Egypt. A famine took place in the land of Joseph's family, Canaan in Israel. The brothers were sent to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph met his family but kept his identity a secret for a time. 

Eventually he let himself be known to them and he told them not to be grieved by what they had done (forgiveness) because: God sent me before you to preserve your life. God sent me before you ... to save your lives by a great deliverance. (Genesis 45:5,7) And later he said to his brothers: 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)

This story, account, speaks to us today also. There is a spiritual famine in the land. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. ...(Hosea 4:6) Many live in a famine without recognizing it. They live without the knowledge of the God who created them. They live without the knowledge of truth. 

Sometimes, though, God will introduce a time or season or event in one's life where this famine is recognized. The bottom will seem to fall out. God might intervene and draw them to Him. Then, like we see above, all bad turns to good. This is what Jesus Christ does. He makes good out of the wreck we've made of our lives. He delivers us and makes us alive. He saves us.

I also know that not everything we see happen in our saved lives as bad is. It might be God's wake up call for us or He's in the process of working something in or out of our lives for the better. So we really shouldn't be complaining but rejoicing believing in a God who is no doubt up to something good. 

I cannot emphasize this Joseph saved his family through an act of evil upon him brought on by his own brothers, Jesus saves us from the evil one who only comes to steal, kill and destroy. We are all brothers and sisters with the devil until Jesus delivers us from all that. 

Later Joseph's father prophesies into the lives of all his sons. Here's what he says about Joseph. There is one small phrase that truly packs a wallop: 
The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel)... (Genesis‬ ‭49:23-24‬)
I see the archers as his brothers. And later it is clearly in reference to Christ our Shepherd who delivers us and who is the Rock of our salvation. Hallelujah!

I find it interesting, while no coincidence at all, that it is the grain Joseph's family came to purchase. This is the basic staple of life. We need grain to feed livestock. Grain produces bread, a very wonderful staple in today's diets, although now we seem to even have developed health problems because of it. Is this because we aren't eating the same type of wheat as in the biblical days? The idea of God is not as popular nor important as it once was. Perhaps our treatment of wheat has changed also. Bread should not be bad for us; Jesus is not bad for us. 

I love God's Word, the richness of it, the admonition, promises, convictions and especially the examples. Examples for us to learn from, promises to recall and encourage, conviction to pierce our hearts into obedience and faithfulness to Jesus, our Deliverer. I pray that the famine in the many hearts and souls who do not know in this Jesus would be satisfied (and if a heart does not recognize a famine yet, that it be made known) by Him. He is the manna come down from heaven, the bread of life. He came that anyone who receives Him would have everlasting life. He came to deliver you from death to life. His hand is outstretched even now. Do not die for lack of knowledge. 

John‬ ‭6:49-51‬ ‭- Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 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.

Monday, January 16, 2017


Hebrews 11:6 - But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Our sermon yesterday was called Pursuing God and the opening scripture the one above. For the true believer this is done with diligence which is described as with haste, earnestness, striving after anything, interest, one's self most earnestly

I'll tell you the scripture above touched a few hearts. It's all about faith. A lot of people I know are faithfully waiting on God for something. By faith we believe all that God has promised. By faith we believe that He exists. By faith we believe that nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible with God...not always happening, but still not impossible. The question has been asked several times, if our prayers aren't answered will we still trust God? My answer, who else can I trust? 

Driving to church I was trying to imagine how much more there is to God than what we see. What might it be like to stand before God someday? Standing probably will not happen for me. I will be flat on my face before Him. We can look around us and see His beauty, His character, His nature, but with our finite minds, we cannot possibly comprehend the absolute greatness of who He is. We just can't comprehend Him. Our minds can't go there. It is purely by faith that we know some day we will understand. We cannot comprehend all He is. 

I remembered a part of a study from the Book of Revelation where the angels in heaven were heard crying out, Holy, holy, holy. They did this 24/7. Can you imagine doing that? I sure can't, but imagine seeing Him face to face...which even seems impossible. We don't know what it will be like and how we will react. It was said that perhaps these angels, for every "holy" they cried out, they were seeing yet another of the infinite...infinite...attribute of God. It will go on for eternity.

People, we think we are so smart. We might have degrees, even really fancy ones. We might have the highest IQs. We might be able to quote scripture or have memorized poetry or lines from movies, even know the stats of our favorite ball team from today to years past. We may be successful in whatever we do. We may be well-known in business or sports or entertainment. But the fact is, we are absolutely nothing without God. None of this matters more than He. Our pastor said he heard one time, The answer is always Jesus. So what is the question? 

Diligently seeking the Lord will provide some knowledge but certainly not all. I know that one day every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord, out of absolute reverence for Him. Not one will be able to not do it. Some will still hang on to their rebellion against Him, but they will bow. Their end will not be good. I pray when I bow it will be out of sheer love and humility before Him. 

So in the beginning here I said our minds cannot comprehend Him and all He is. This is what faith is all about. Faith in what we cannot see, touch, taste, or smell. Nothing. We just have to believe...and look forward to the day, with hearts just bursting, that we will see a glimpse of more than we can know with our finite minds. I long for the day when I hear or participate in all the holy, holy, holies. I long for the day when my faith becomes sight and I see Him face to face. I long to see the greatest Promise of all.

We are to pursue Him today. We will get glimpses of Him but only glimpses. Our earthly bodies or minds would not be able to tolerate more than the little we do see. Those who diligently seek Him will be rewarded someday. Hallelujah. I hope this includes you. 

Oh, Lord, how I love You.

Romans 11:33-34 - Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Oh, What They Did!

Genesis 33:3 - Then he [Jacob] crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

Oh, the forgiveness and grace of our Lord. Oh, the humility.

Jacob and his brother Esau were at odds with each other as young men. Jacob fled for fear of losing his life to his brother's hand, even though Jacob had initially deceived Esau. But now many years later, after Jacob had been deceived (what goes around comes around?) by his father in law, God told him it was time to go back home, to his land and his brother; He would deal well with him when he did. 

So, despite trepidation and some precautions, Jacob did return. Despite God's words, His promise that all would be well, Jacob had some fear of the unknown. And when the time came he bowed in total humility before his brother. And his brother was no longer angry.

Isaac, the brothers' father, had unknowingly blessed Jacob, the second son with the inheritance Esau should have had as the first son. Part of that blessing was that Jacob's brother Esau would be a servant to him. So, in this case of deception, older would serve younger. 

I think about Jesus and how He came, the King of kings and Lord of lords, to serve us through His humiliation, mocking and death on the cross...for those who would call on His name to be saved. He came not to be served but to serve. This is our Lord. Once we have gotten to that place of understanding Him as our Lord and bowing before Him, then it is our duty to serve Him and let His story be told. When we bow in total humility before Him, His forgiveness envelopes us. 

It's all about Him, serving and obeying and trusting in Him. We can do nothing in this life on our own, but in Him we can do all things. Later in Genesis we will see how God uses Jacob, whose name by now has been changed by God to Israel. Israel...God's land and His people. 

Matthew 20:26-28 - Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

To Save Lives

Genesis 50:20 - 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.

There are many biblical stories that describe what seems to be hardship situations. Situations which seem unfair. But God...always has a plan. There are reasons for everything all of us experience. We don't always understand them but if we are open to believing we can't know everything and believing still that God is in control of all things, we will be better off.

Remember these things: 
  • Egypt is symbolic of the world, of the things not of God, of evil, as it were, decadence, over the top power, fame, fortune, excess. 
  • God always has a plan. He can use evil or discomfort to bring it about.
  • If we trust in Him, no matter what, His plan will be for our good.
  • Only God truly knows what we have need of. 

Yesterday I finished reading about Jacob and his deteriorating relationship with his father-in-law. Jacob needed to flee from his family in one country because his brother wanted revenge against him. And after being situated in that country for many years his father in law became upset with him so God told him to go back to his family and the previous land. Imagine being between a rock and a hard place. But it was God's suggestion. If he trusted God it would be okay, though he didn't know what the outcome would be. It would be fine. Reconciliation would take place! And because Jacob's life was spared, so was the lineage to Christ. And what was His role? To save lives

There's Moses. He was born a Jew. To save his life his mother put him in that little basket on the river. Pharaoh's daughter found it. Without her knowing it, Moses' mother became the nursemaid. The first 40 years Moses learned both his Jewish roots and the ways of Egypt. Again to save his own life, he fled to the mountains and became a sheep herder. Forty more years pass. During that time Israel is captured by Egypt and they are made slaves to pharaoh. God then calls on Moses to save them and lead these people out of Egypt back to their land. Moses needed those 80 years of training in Egypt's ways, his own Jewish roots and how to lead in the hills with sheep, for this important task. To save lives. I am reminded that we are all like sheep in need of guidance...(Isaiah 53:6)

Joseph's brothers were jealous of him because he was their father's (Jacob) favorite. Some wanted to kill him but rather than have his blood on their hands they decided to sell him into slavery. And guess where he ended up? Egypt, again. As a servant in his house, pharaoh's wife took a liking to him and attempted to seduce him. Joseph would not have it, but in trying to escape from her lost his coat. Out of anger because of the rejection, she used this to get him sent to prison. He was there for many years, an innocent man. Yet God used him in an extraordinary way and he was then released to become second in charge of Egypt, maintaining the storehouses. When there was a famine in Israel, Joseph's brothers were sent to Egypt to purchase food. Long story short, they met up with their brother, reconciliation took place, and Joseph saved his family.

God led all these people in one way or another into circumstances that, like I said, seemed unfair. Yet God knew the outcome already. He knew the preparation necessary in just these three lives. (Believe me there are more stories...Esther, Ruth, Noah, Jonah, Jeremiah, Job, and more...Jesus.) They were all used to save in some way. Sometimes salvation didn't occur, just like today. 

If we are believers and followers of God our lives may be in training for some end result. It probably, ultimately, even if we don't see it, will be to save someone's spiritual life. It may not be is as great a way as these three stories, but somewhere someone will have benefited. We don't see His plans. We live out our lives in that faith in the unknown and unseen going about His business. But God knows. Maybe not knowing or seeing takes the possibility of our pride out of the picture. God gets the glory. 

We trust in Him, right up to our last day. We stay obedient to our Father. We read His Word so we can know and hear our Shepherd's voice and be reminded of the times people of long ago went through trials just to see God's hand in the end. He speaks to us through His Word. All that is written in the Bible is for us to learn from. Examples of God's goodness to His people and His judgment when we choose not to trust and obey. 

We will never be perfect. We will take wrong turns or be disobedient at times. We might not hear God's voice because we are distracted by our own desires or thoughts. But God is in the business of saving lives. We have to lose things in our lives to gain the life He has to offer. Who is willing to trust Him in all things? Who is willing to look at difficult situations as stepping stones to greater things? He is the Good Shepherd. He will guide us and go before us, like He did with these three people. He will work behind the scenes. Who is willing to trust in Him till death's door is upon us?

Matthew 24:12-14 - And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Genesis 17:10-11,13 - This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. ...and My covenant  shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
Circumcision is a cutting; cut off, cut down. It was required by God for Abraham to show his commitment to God (above) and all his descendants, Israel. 

From Abraham's son Isaac came the people of Israel and eventually Jesus. Oh, first Abraham fathered the son, Ishmael, who became the precursor to Islam but this union was not ordered by God. It was an action not of faith but of doubt and acting out without trusting God.  He definitely gave Abraham the promise that his descendants, an eventual great nation, would come from his loins with his wife, not her maidservant.  [God said] "...for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.” ‭‭(Genesis‬ ‭21:12b-13‬)

So Israel is a very small but great nation in the eyes of God, which seems to be hated by some. Yet others tend to be sympathetic to the Islamic cause. A little more on this later...

Circumcision also means setting oneself apart from others, to be cut off. Abraham was to do this too, as we as believers are...division and covenant between God and those who walk with Him. Abraham was told to leave the country where he lived and settle in a land to which God directed him, which he did. He was to separate himself and his family from those in the land.

In Abraham's day circumcision was a physical sign of devotion to God. Proof that they agreed with His covenant. Today that circumcision, through Jesus, the descendant of Abraham and Isaac, is of the heart. We allow this circumcision of our heart to prove our devotion to God the Father. The heart being circumcised is of a spiritual nature. And we are also told that God's Word cuts deep: For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. ‭‭(Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬)

Circumcision and cutting. Important in a desire to know this God.

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. ‭‭(Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:6‬)
(Old Testament)
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh--(Philippians‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬) (New Testament)

That you may live and not be confident of the flesh. We are to trust in God, not man. Set apart. Faith in what is unseen vs. what is seen, God vs. man. If we allow our hearts this circumcision, God's covenant, will be with us. That same covenant as with Abraham. 

So if we have allowed this circumcision of our hearts, we are counted as part of the very people God calls His own, Israel. This same covenant God referred to with Abraham becomes ours. It also means realizing the importance of this tiny nation and its people. If we do not support His people, His nation, we really are not part of His covenant. There is 
blessing and cursing that comes with that. 

There are some who hate Israel. If you look closely, some might be of the line of Ishmael and a jealousy and hatred of a people God chose as His own over another who believes they should have received God's blessing way back when. If you know the whole story you can see His words are specific regarding inheritance and covenant.

The Jewish people, as hard as some might find it to hear, are God's chosen. Jesus was in the line of Isaac, not Ishmael. Yet any descendant of Ishmael may also become part of the covenant if they choose to believe in Christ. That being said, anyone would be welcome into the kingdom. It's our choice to make. 

John‬ ‭4:22-24‬ ‭-You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Assuredly, I Say

Matthew 6:2,5,16 - Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

Three times Jesus tells His disciples these words. He has been sharing with these men how to act with humility and how to remember that God sees not only our acts but our heart's motives. 

The first time He mentions these words is in regard to charitable deeds. It is better to quietly do or give rather than openly. He says, not sound a trumpet...that you might receive glory from not let your left hand know what your right is doing...

Then Jesus tells these men: ...your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 

Likewise when praying it is not necessary to do so with fervor, flowery words or repetition to draw attention to self. It is to be done humbly, often in a quiet place, alone. Again, your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

And then when fasting it is not good to have the appearance of one who is. It draws attention to the individual. He says, yet a third time ...your Father who sees in secret will reward you. All we do in the quietness of our inner selves is what He sees and rewards. 

Remember, Jesus came humbly into this world and He lived a humble life. He left this world in a tragic manner yet humbled Himself even then by not speaking up to defend Himself. He is to be our example of humility. I believe pride is the root of all our sin. It is not all about us but all about what our Father does in and through us and whether what we do is for self or for Him. We seem to have a problem with this pride, all of us.

Later in this chapter of Matthew Jesus is talking about where our treasures are, there's where our heart is. Is it all about Him or all about us? Are our hearts set on Him or our achievements and accomplishments? Do we give Him any glory for what He has done through us? Do we give Him any credit at all? Do we want recognition or do we want God to be seen in us? Do we shine His light or our own?

Jesus concludes by telling the disciples, as a teaching also for us, that we are not to worry about our lives because God's got a handle on it all. He's got the control if we allow Him. If we believe we must be in complete control, we've no faith in our Father in heaven. I look at the vitriol after this last presidential election. We need to understand that God is in control and He knows just what He is doing. If it means one side determined to go after the other, who knows what it might bring about in God's plan. Some will have faith in God, others will believe He has nothing to do with anything. 

This God is the only means to life. We cannot do any more ourselves to bring life. He has complete control of our lives, even the number of hairs on our head, the number of our days. It is suggested we turn to Him and trust Him for that life. If we follow Him all our needs are met. Even if we do not have much, He supplies the necessities...the first being salvation of our souls with the end result being life everlasting. It's that life that is most important.

Apart from God we do not have this. Apart from God we will have our own reward, which amounts to very little. With God, we are secretly rewarded...a better reward than that which we receive from our own means. 

Matthew 6:32-33 - For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Beginning Anew

Genesis 1:1-2 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

A few days ago I wrote about new beginnings that start with God. Today is the first day of our new year and the first day of reading from God's Word. Another beginning. And don't you see the beginning He created?

He created a world and went on to fill that earth with life forms, flora and fauna, then human life. He only wanted that this human life commune with Him, worship Him, obey Him. 

This is what the beginning was all about. It's also why He sent His Son to this earth that eventually grew corrupt, after years of people seeing how this God created just by speaking, could part waters, kill enemies, provide food and water from the most unusual sources...and so wanted to commune with them face-to-face...until in fear the people said to stop.

This is not a God who is to be feared like some tyrant or dictator. He's a loving God who is our Father in heaven and who treats us as we would our own children (or should). If they are disrespectful, they should be reprimanded. If a reprimand doesn't work, punishment is necessary. He does it because He loves us. 

The first thing God created was light. Without light we cannot see. God's light so shines that we might see Him. In the beginning it is so clear.... Just as God spoke all of creation into existence (so that we might not have any excuse not to know of His existence), all we need to do to be in God's stead is call on Him, to seek forgiveness of our sins and turn away from them and walk with Him. He will say, "It is good" when we do that.

He created a division between heaven and earth and land and seas. He desires a division between the righteous and unrighteous. He asks that we separate ourselves from them. Land is a solid ground, water is not. He asks we plant our feet on solid ground. And once we do this we are to produce good fruit for our service for Him. Even He has divided Himself from us. But we can have a spiritual connection with Him if we notice the difference between light and dark, good and bad, wisdom and ignorance, firm and unstable, humble and proud, submissive and rebellious. God blesses the good. He has provided all we need on this earth, therefore He is all we need. It's up to us to recognize all He's done. 

When we seek Him and follow Him, like the Spirit that hovered over the face of the waters, this same Spirit will hover over and through us. My goodness, who wouldn't want to know that the God of creation so desires to be within us...the same Spirit that created all things? When one submits to Him, He creates again, a new person with a new spirit of their own and a new beginning, through Him. Amazing. 

Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse...