Friday, April 28, 2017

None Besides You

1Samuel 2:1 - And Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation."

I love the entire prayer by this woman Hannah. She waited, she pleaded with God, she was ridiculed. She made a promise to God that if He would grant her the desire to have a son, she would "loan" him to God for His service. When God at last granted her desire for a son, she rejoiced, and rejoiced to give Him her son. 

This entire prayer by Hannah has many truths. (1Samuel‬ ‭2:1-10‬)

And Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation."
If we come to a point in our lives where the Lord's salvation is upon us, we will rejoice. Those who look at us and can't figure out what the whole point of this salvation is all about can become like enemies. 

"No one is holy like the LORD, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God."
He is our firm Foundation. If we stand upon Him we will not fail. He will not fail us. 

“Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the LORD is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed."
If we have His knowledge, we will see the foolishness of our own frail wisdom. We will shake our own pride and arrogance. Like above, there is none besides You.

“The bows of the mighty men are broken, and those who stumbled are girded with strength.”
God alone brings down the proud and raises up the humble. Our own strength must be removed for His strength. He can only use us in our weakness.

“The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up. The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory."
I think of this scripture: And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” ‭‭(Job‬ ‭1:21‬)  Again, He raises up and lowers. None besides Him. 

“For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and He has set the world upon them. He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked shall be silent in darkness."
All true. Feet set on the Rock will not perish. 

“For by strength no man shall prevail. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth."
Only by God. His will, His power, His wisdom, not ours.

“He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed.”
All about Him. Hallelujah.

Psalm‬ ‭71:19‬ ‭- Also Your righteousness, O God, is very high, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Foreigner

Ruth 2:8-9 - Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.”

Image result for gleaning the harvest
I read the Book of Ruth yesterday. It's a story of redemption. Ruth was the daughter in law of Naomi who had lost her husband and both of her sons, leaving only her two daughters in law. Naomi was from Moab.  Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem where her husband was originally from because she had heard the LORD had removed a famine it once had and Moab offered less. (This is a type of the world...what it has is far less than what God has for us.) She was to become a foreigner.

Naomi suggested the daughters in law stay in Moab. She had not much life to offer them, they were familiar with the land of Moab and its people. But Ruth chose to go with Naomi. 

They had little possessions and stayed with a relative of Naomi's husband...Boaz. Ruth went into his field to collect leftover crops to sustain she and Naomi when Boaz caught sight of her. Here's where the redemption comes in because He provides the food and the drink that satisfies! 

The words are so clearly used to describe God's love for us. Ruth came in total submission, in humility, needing much, having little. "And she said, 'Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.' So she came and has continued from morning until now, though she rested a little in the house.” (Ruth 2:7)

Boaz, who is a type of the Lord, heard and offered what he had.  For this Ruth was most grateful. She did what we who have done,  in some way,  after knowing the help of God in our lives. She fell on her face and bowed before him. It is a question so often asked of believers who have received His provision to save us: Why have I found favor in Your eyes? I am a foreigner (unbeliever). 

His answer to us who have humbled ourselves before the Lord: Because we have chosen to leave what we've known to enter into a relationship with Him and a new people (other believers). I think of the scripture that says: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1Peter 2:9-10)

Phrases in chapter 2 that point to what Jesus is and does and causes us to do:
...under whose wings you have come for refuge; she ate and was satisfied, and kept some back; gave (shared) what she had kept back after she had been satisfied; who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead. 

In the end, Boaz takes Ruth as his wife. This is like the marriage, some day, of Jesus, our Lord, and we His bride. 

If we have gone through this process of redemption we can understand the points here. And...we are commanded to share, not keep back, what He has shared with us! That's why I write.

Boaz had mercy on this young woman. Jesus has mercy on those who want it from Him. As the story of Ruth goes on, Boaz is taken by her and takes her as his wife. When God is taken by each of us and, whether male or female, He longs for a relationship with us. Bride-bridegroom. To do this we give up what we have known to enter a new life, in Christ, and be joined with Him and others who have forsaken their old lives. 

Ephesians 2:4-7 - But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

It Can't Get Much Better!

John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

When we have Sunday school we use no other book but the Bible. Why do we need any other book anyway? The scripture above shows us one of the greatest truths: the WORD was and is...Jesus...and the Book. We dissect scripture in Sunday school. It takes weeks to get through a book of the Bible. It's life. It's rich. It's true. And it happens to be the bulk of this blog! 

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)

So, we're finishing up 1Timothy. And what we discussed in much detail in Sunday school today were these verses:

COMMAND those who are rich in this present age not to be HAUGHTY, nor to TRUST in uncertain riches BUT IN the living God, WHO GIVES US RICHLY all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be RICH in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves A GOOD FOUNDATION for the time to come, that they may lay hold on ETERNAL LIFE. (1Timothy 6:17-19)

There is nothing wrong, as we discussed, with having riches. Even the poorest in this country are rich compared to other countries. But, there's an even greater thing we can have that produces riches that far surpass the things in this world. I pondered these words from 1Timothy, more came to me:

...NO OTHER foundation can anyone lay THAN THAT which is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST. (1Corinthians 3:11) The Foundation (hah, FOUND-ation) that is Christ, the Word of God. The greatest Treasure to be FOUND.  Foundation: a body or ground on which other parts REST or are overlaid.  Strong's Concordance's definition of foundation in this verse: the foundations, beginnings, first principals; of institution or system of truth. Not only is He above all things but the solid ground beneath. And all things in between for those who desire Him. We are called to rest in Him. He holds the greatest system of truth being He is the Truth. Foundation - beginning (and the end) - first. It doesn't get much better. 

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; BUT lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For WHERE your treasure is, THERE your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

And there's a promise for anyone who seeks these better things:

I will give you the TREASURES of darkness and hidden RICHES of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel. (Isaiah 45:3)

And there's even more! it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the THINGS WHICH God HAS PREPARED for those who love Him. (1Corinthians 2:9)
His Spirit will let our spirits know the deeper things of God. These are the treasures we should seek. 

Thank You, my God, for trusting me with just a hint of those treasures! May my desire for more continue to grow. May nothing, absolutely nothing, take this desire away. No thing, no person, no trial. May this desire be met by You and revelation knowledge be passed on to me. I want to continually grow in Your wisdom and knowledge. 

Oh myyyyy...

Matthew 6:31-33 - Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" 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.

Friday, April 21, 2017

God's or Ours?

Romans 1:18-25 - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 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, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Oh, sorry for the lengthy scripture. 

I look at what our society is becoming and this is so evident. So.evident.

We may not quite recognize the wrath of God in the world today. We can believe that some of the devastation on earth is a result of our choosing to push God and His views and commands out of this life. It could be. Recall that it's in time of trial that He hopes people will turn to Him and if He has to bring them on... These things might be happening and we don't know it. I know there will come a day when we know and see God's judgment. 

As an aside, I'm hearing more and more Muslims are turning away from Islam to Christianity. This is amazing...and amazingly good. I listened to a pastor or priest giving a sermon on how Muslims need to understand that their killing other Muslims because of their allegiance to Christ isn't vengeance as they would think. It is a win-win situation because these victims, being in Christ, will be with Christ. 2Corinthians 4:17 says For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory...  In light of eternity, even our life on earth, whether easy or hard, is small. What matters is the end and where we stand with God.

So man, in general, with a relatively small number not represented here, live according to their own lifestyles. They choose to believe their lifestyles and ways are better, that anything goes in this world and care not whether it is acceptable to God. It is pride. The pride of life, as the Bible states. The riches of the world. Nothing to do with God and the even better things He has to offer...even in the midst of a life of trials. 

God has shown us from day one who He is, His power and His majesty. He has shown us throughout the Old Testament what He requires. So if we don't read His Word we will never understand this. If we don't read the whole Bible we believe what we want to believe, even believing the lie that He is a tyrant, unloving, choosing to war, kill and destroy. This was all to show us our fate for not loving, trusting and following Him. And so it goes today. He does not change. What He did in the Old Testament was a form of discipline. Sounds harsh but His demands are just. He did nothing but love His people and they kept falling away. They did not glorify Him, nor were thankful for all the times He saved their sorry lives or provided for them.

So today, what does man do? Just about the same thing. Idols are made to replace God. Jobs, children, cars, homes, money, television, hobbies...anything that would replace time with God. And in another way, lifestyles...choosing to be whatever or whoever we want to be instead of what God created us to be. There will be judgment upon us all, as believers and unbelievers, for the things that have gotten between God and us. But there is still hope, no matter where we are in life or what we believe. He will forgive, if we ask Him to bring change to our hearts.

Have we exchanged the truth for lies? Have we allowed the world view or man's view of how we should live cause us separation from the God who loves us so much? He loves us with our sin but doesn't want us to stay in that place...and as I have said, as He has said, wishes none to perish. Do we look to Him or go about our own ways? ...we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. (Acts 17:29)  It's not about who we think He should be but who He says He IS

He is but a call away if we so desire. That call could mean eternal life or eternal death. God's judgment or His wrath? Your choice. He loves you....

Acts 17:24-28 - God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, "For we are also His offspring."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Choosing To...

Colossians 3:12-13 - Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

I have had a recurring thought. As believers we are called to do as the scripture above tells forgive. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:44-45) (Luke 6:27-28, Romans 12:14)

We are called to pray for our enemies, or those who despise us. Why do we choose to let frustration and anger reside within us? All we're doing is causing it to fester. I've been guilty of this. I'm guessing the Lord is trying to get my attention.

One day I went through a scenario in my head. Someone is murdered. The initial reaction is shock, grief and anger. One might want revenge. One might hope for the severest form of punishment upon the killer. But look at what it says above. Love your enemies. Oh, how that so goes against our human way of thinking.

I've seen programs or news briefs where a family member has been senselessly killed, whether by accident or intentionally. In most cases they are angry. I've heard people say they would never forgive them. Some will forgive that person. I wondered what I would do. I know what I'm supposed to do. 

Here's where the scenario went: what if I could be instrumental in ordering the final sentencing? Would I want life or death? Would I want death for this person? My answer became no. Then I had to go further, questioning my motive. Was it because I would want them to have to continually suffer the punishment for what they did? Ouch. That would be my way of exacting my own revenge. But then my thought transferred to what God would want.

The death penalty could bring a person into submission to God, or just add to their resentment of or unbelief in Him. It could cause a brokenness that would lead the killer into repentance and salvation. These things we might never know. 

However, a sentence of life in prison could do the same. It would give a person the chance to receive Christ's forgiveness. And if forgiveness was granted to this person by the grieving person or family, how much more would it cause the killer to give thought to what he (or she) had done? It might be the very thing that would bring one more sorry soul into the kingdom. God wishes that none would perish. 

God is no respecter of persons. All have sinned and fallen short of His glory. All meaning every one of us is guilty of sin in the eyes of God. We all need to repent. We are all equal in God's eyes. One sin is not greater than another to Him. Jesus was here to show He was willing to forgive all, no matter what their standing, no matter what their sin. But...they had (and still have) to repent and receive Him, not get angry or proud and say they don't need Him, they don't need to change their ways or thoughts or actions. A change of heart is what needs to take place.

It's why we must forgive. Jesus forgave all from the cross. In our pride we have put ourselves, those who have not committed great crimes, in better standing with God. We are not. We all have dark, ugly hearts, hearts only the Lord Jesus Christ can change. If we are in Christ we still harbor inappropriate thoughts, words, actions. Our hearts are inherently wicked. Somehow, though, if we are in Christ, have repented of our sins, confessed Him publicly, live for Him, seek Him daily, commune with Him, and repeatedly repent of the sins we commit, His blood covers those sins. What a hard thing to comprehend, takes faith to believe. 

There was a woman who was caught in adultery. The punishment in Jesus' day was being stoned. The religious leaders were ready to do so. Jesus made one simple comment: He who has never sinned, cast the first stone. All the men walked away. It's the same with us. None of us are free from sin. None of us can rightfully exact revenge. That right belongs to God. 

Now, we are allowed to judge. But not with bitter, hateful or angry hearts. We are allowed to judge righteously. If something goes against the Word of God we have a right to judge. I've seen enough garbage on Facebook to irritate me. Fake news, wrong thinking. Some of it can be very irritating, especially if it is an offense to what I know God's Word says to be wrong. I can judge that. But at the end of that judgment the thought always comes...they don't know any better. They do not know Christ nor do they know the truth. It causes a right judgment on my part! I feel sad for them. I feel sad that they do not know the truth and are adamant in their angry defense of the cause(s). 

I'm praying that God will help me further in my, oftentimes, inability to just let something go and forgive. This is all part of His process of sanctification. Bring it on! Will we choose to do this? 

Luke 23:34a - Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Did Not God Save You?

Deuteronomy 4:32 - For ask now concerning the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether any great thing like this has happened, or anything like it has been heard.

I saved this blog for today! Reading in Deuteronomy 4 was like hearing about the very act of salvation. On April 18, 1999 I experienced a new birth. I had exited the old life, the land to which I was very accustomed (but not so comfortable with, as I look back) and began my journey to my promised land, like Israel did when God took them out of their captivity in Egypt.

When that happens your life changes. Your eyes are opened to the truth, you hear God's voice in His Word. He reveals Himself and His statutes. Now we are to obey His statutes over the world's. Deuteronomy 4 discusses this.

We are clearly shown that idolatry is wrong. Israel was led out of captivity by one Person alone...God. They did not get out by their own devices or strengths. They did not wander 40 years in a desert without His protection, provision and guidance. (Oh, they wandered 40 years for a two week journey, but that was because of their own disobedience and lack of trust. He wanted them to trust Him.)

In Deuteronomy 4 the people were asked:
Did any people ever hear the voice of God?
Did God ever try to take a nation out of any other nation using trials, signs, wonders, war and His mighty hand? 
It Israel. Yet to each person who receives Christ and enters into God's covenant through Him it happens also.

We are never to forget what He has done for us. We are to continue to worship Him and put away all the other things that hinder our walk with Him. He is jealous for the people He has saved. He wants our complete devotion and warns us of idolatry...then to any image carved in the likeness of any thing, man, woman or animal. Today, anything, carved or not, that would put Him lower in our worship. Do we awake without a thought of God? Do we thank Him for the day? Do we worship Him or something else? Do we seek His voice throughout the day or is He not considered? 

When we are in the midst of a difficult situation, do we look to Him first for all our needs, especially wisdom or protection, strength or guidance? Or do we seek advice from another source? He IS our Source.

He drove Israel out from among their captors. This world is a very large captor. He wants any who choose Him to be removed from today's corrupt world. He wants us as His special people. He wants to share the greatest inheritance with us, heaven and eternal life. He doesn't give it to just anyone, but to those who recognize the greatness of HIS worth. To remember who it was that took us out of our captivity. 

As God relayed through Moses in chapter 5, The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. (Deuteronomy 5:3) That can mean you, today. He may not have reached anyone in our families prior to us, but today is another day. He keeps on calling.

Take possession of the land He offers. Listen to His voice. Heed His commands. Live in freedom. He seeks all who will listen and take heed. But it must be your decision. He has given us free will. Do we choose life or death, freedom or captivity? When we make the choice it IS glorious. He takes the time to nudge and touch hearts. Can you take the time to respond? 

To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him. Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:35,39) 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

He Directs Our Paths

Proverbs 3:6 - In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

Even more on God's direction. Not that I have never heard this before or known but it seems too be a recurring theme this week. Thoughts have been on what God desires, His ways, trusting Him in all things.

Unbelievers do not understand God's ways nor His direction. Nor do they acknowledge Him in their accomplishments or in the good things He has brought. It's often the thought that they have accomplished... 

I used to do a lot of bicycling about 40 years ago! It was a general pride among all of us that we were able to get from point A to point B under our own strength. Hmmm, what does Psalm 139 say: For You formed my inward parts...and are acquainted with all my ways...(verses 13 and 2)  Our God knew what we could be because He formed us. 

So today I praise Him for what He has given me, how He has grown me, how He has redeemed me in my latter days. It's not about my accomplishments, though I am ever grateful for the full and exciting life He has given me. I may not be as strong and mobile as I used to be, but I am still able to have adventures!

Believe me, life is even more of an adventure when you see things through His eyes and see what He has given all people in this life. The beauty of nature and seasons and differences in landscape. All so amazing. To think that He created it all. Just for us. Just for us to know Him. Just for us to behold the glory of He who created. 

If we can acknowledge all that and show we can believe in Him, He will direct our paths. He will take us through a life in Him and it will be glorious. 

If we would only allow Him to take our hearts of stone and allow Him to transform them into hearts of flesh, what glorious things He would show us. Life in Christ is so much more exciting than we can imagine. Especially if we allow Him to guide and direct our paths.

All it takes is acknowledging Him, receiving Him into those hearts of stone. He loves to give us His wisdom and direct our paths. Praise God for His transforming power. 

James‬ ‭1:5-6‬ ‭- If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Preparations of the Heart

Proverbs 16:1 - The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
Oh my! I'm amazed at how thoughts have come together quite unexpectedly this week.

A couple blogs ago I wrote about preaching the Gospel and how we as believers are to share the good news that Jesus brings. The truth of His Word. That some will receive these words while others will not. It is not up to me to cause the finished work. Only God can do that. One sows, one waters, but God...

Then yesterday I wrote about the accursed thing, which is either sin or something God wants us to rid ourselves of in our sanctification process. If He's wanting to remove something from our lives, we should allow it, that He will continue to stand beside us.

So, I'm reading for the second time a book called, When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent. I've had it a number of years and a friend just told me she read it recently. This goes right along with letting things in our lives go. This time, however, it's letting go of our preconceived ideas how some circumstance in our life should happen. Only God has complete control of things and sometimes we like to get our fingers into it and prolong or block God's work...because we won't let go.

Kent listed two examples of laying down our Isaac. (Isaac, FYI, was Abraham's son. God told Abraham to go to a certain mountain and sacrifice is only son. He proceeded to begin to do what God had told Him, proving to Him his trust in God. And the sacrifice did not take place.) 

So, what is it we have to trust God in complicitly? Two types of Isaacs were mentioned. One type was like receiving word of a terminal illness, financial hardship or death of a loved one. They're unexpected. The other type was like relinquishing our control over personal expectations, someone else or being in charge of our own life. Both include totally trusting God and giving up our control over a situation. We are such determined-to-make-it-right-ourselves people.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who goes through these things. It's a part of our human nature...yet it can be conquered. God's ways are not like ours. God has a plan for each of us, if we know Him. It won't always be what we think it should be, or what we hope it will be. But if done His way it will be better than we could imagine. He takes us out of comfort zones. He uses the foolish things to confound the wise...and we can be considered foolish at times when we say or things contrary to the world view. He uses us when we are weak to show His strength. And all along, He gets the glory so we cannot boast in the accomplishments ourselves. So why do we balk?

I love this God because His ways are higher than ours. He knows the beginning from the end and knows what needs to be accomplished. He is instrumental in His way of preparing our hearts. His way. Another part of this trusting in God is realizing that if we, or another, have to go through some difficult trial to accomplish His will, we need to continue to praise Him. 

This went through my mind yesterday: At the rising of the sun till the setting of the sun, the name of the LORD is to be praised. (Psalm 113:3) And also, in the good times or bad, we are to praise the Lord. In health or in sickness, praise the Lord. We should never give up on God. Another thought to ponder: if things don't go at all as we expect, will we still praise the Lord? Will our love for Him quit? Better not....

Might I praise His name right now!?

So, since Your ways, Lord, are higher than mine and You do know the beginning from the end, I pray that You keep encouraging me to lay down another Isaac...or to keep laying down any I choose to pick back up that You might do what You gotta do. 

Proverbs 19:21 - There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Accursed Thing

Joshua 7:12 - [And the LORD said] Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.

Israel suffered loss of men who were attacking a city. It grieved Joshua and he went to the LORD in his anguish. Our God knows all things! He knew that one man had previously disobeyed the command to not take any possessions of their conquest of Jericho. And here came the consequences.

God revealed to Joshua the fact that one man took of the accursed things and because of this He could no longer be with Joshua in his battles unless that thing had been destroyed.

This makes me think about our own salvation. As long as we cling to an accursed thing, a sin or multiple sins, God cannot stand beside us. If we cling to our sin instead of turning away from it, we cannot be considered children of God. God has His standards. And we must be obedient to them. It's the way it is.

In the case of the accursed things in Joshua, they were possessions. They were hands-on type of things that this man saw, coveted and had to take. What in our lives do we know we should let go of? What do we cling to? Is our reputation or family or things more important than being in relationship with God? Do we seek those things before Him? 

He will require we remove things from our lives that He might sanctify us. But though He wants things removed He replenishes with things above and better, beyond our imagination. But sometimes we cling to those "accursed" things of this world. Today some of these accursed things are considered the lust of the flesh...

Lord, what is it that you desire for me to let go of? What accursed thing do I cling to that You would prefer I turn from? Reveal anything that might hinder my walk with You.

1John‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭- 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. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Only God Can

1Corinthians‬ ‭3:6‬ ‭- I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
Only God can bring someone to a place of repentance. - Jeff Lee, Evangelist

The other day I listened to a message Jeff Lee preached. The above word was one of his opening remarks. A couple other were:
We are living in exciting times (as Christians in this temperamental world)
God wishes that none would perish

If you know the Word of God, you will know all three statements are true! (The second is not in the Bible, however.)

It's springtime in many parts of the world. Time to sow seeds and keep them watered in hopes of producing a crop of vegetables or flowers. But even doing these we cannot completely control what comes up. God knows, though.

Then, looking into scriptures on the last days one without biblical understanding would wonder why we would call these days exciting if real turmoil is around the corner and immorality and hatred of God is increasing exponentially. We have no idea what trouble lies ahead. Can't imagine. 

All I see is a time when true believers begin to realize the return of Christ is closer. We will never know the day or hour but our eyes are glued to the things we see happening daily, and we see through God's eyes. We wait in anticipation for the other shoe to drop. 

I can tell you I am not, at this moment, nervous about it. Maybe I will some day or maybe when the day does come God will pour out His strength and peace over us who believe. I trust He will do this. Just like I trust that should I become ill before then I will work God's will out also in His strength. 

So, back to just a part of Lee's message...I have felt like I have not been of much use for God in my little world. I see little opportunity. I'm a quiet person, a little laid back. I write because I can get my point across without being interrupted which seems to happen a lot when I talk! I've learned to be verbally silent...unless the Holy Spirit really makes it evident I am to speak. That is quite a surprise to me when it happens and words flow or thoughts just ARE!

That brings up the point about it not being anything about me that will seal the deal in someone's salvation. I just sow the seeds and the Holy Spirit of God will do the rest. It's the others' hearts that need to be willing to receive when God calls. And it's all in His timing, not mine. This is the hard part sometimes. I have friends I would love to see saved. They are so hardened to their own beliefs it seems impossible. Or they just aren't interested.

But nothing is impossible with God. I've heard lately that Muslims living in the Middle East are coming to Christ through dreams! Do you realize what a dilemma it is for them to abandon their faith in Allah for Christ knowing they will be shunned by their families and even worse, killed. Their religion is far from freeing, but that captivity I've written about. And it is not peaceful. Oh that these dreams would infiltrate the whole world in these last days.

So, Lee was saying we need to ask for this Holy Spirit power to work through us daily. We are to be allowed to be used if an opportunity knocks. He shared a testimony of being with a group of church people in the waiting room of a hospital where they were praying for someone they knew. They saw a young couple, the guy in a wheelchair, his wife in tears. Someone reached out to them and as a group they prayed for this couple. Lee was looking around at the others in the waiting room. There were tears in their eyes too. 

He believed God was wanting him to pray for all of them. He was a little put aback by this because he wasn't sure what they would think. But he knew the thought came from God and he did. He explained he was a Christian and he wanted to pray for them all because obviously they were all there needing a doctor. He said he believed God is the Divine healer but that He uses doctors also. 

He walked out of there that night not knowing what might have happened to these people. But God does. And it strengthened his faith to do such a thing again when the Spirit of God prompts. We all need to be this aware. And bold.

We may be here in these last days knowing what we know for very important reasons, one being salvation for some. To encourage and inspire another to look to the Lord instead of fearing this world. 

We will not always see the fruit of our endeavors. That's hard, in my mind. It's where trusting God is most important. We will never know how we might have spoken one simple word of encouragement to someone we might not even know. We will never know how much or how little we impacted others' lives. Oh, we so want to know these things. But it's not about us anyway. It's about God and how He works in people's lives. 

God truly does not want any to perish. But some will. They might hear the what they need to do and reject it or make a choice to take God at His Word and turn from what they've always believed, apart from God, and turn to Him to believe the truth. No one gets to heaven without the repentance mentioned above. No one is saved by their attendance at church or their good deeds. It comes from dependence on God and listening to His truths, hearing His voice and believing in them. He wants none to perish...

There truly are a vast majority of people who think they are fine with God. Our pastor preaches the truth, that there will be a remnant that actually are saved. We must be so sure, so close to the Lord, not just about our own business of daily living. It's a hard word. God didn't even spare all of His own people who grumbled, complained and did not trust for His guidance and provision. Imagine a world where He is denied existence in so many lives.

Lord, keep me so focused on what You want me to say or do. Let me be a willing vessel to be used in any way you desire. I know it's not about me. The only thing that is about me is my obedience to You! 

2Corinthians‬ ‭3:4-5‬ - ‭And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God...