Wednesday, May 31, 2017

But What Things Were Gain

‬‭Philippians 3:7-11‬ ‭- But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 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; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

What is anyone willing to give up for Christ? What does it even mean? 

As believers we are called to give up the old life for a new one, the old beliefs for new beliefs, a mind filled with man's lies to a mind filled with His truth, and more.

It's a lot to consider. It's not always easy. We are naturally stubborn and prideful. We want it our way and we want it now. It's all about us. What does God have to do with anything? 

God certainly has a lot to do with it. He created. Period. He. He put things into motion. He knit us together in our mothers' wombs. If we aren't praising Him for everything in our lives, but attributing things to our own abilities and/or strengths, He's not in our picture. He's the one who created and gave. 

So, it is vital to know God, to know His Son. It's vital to know Him while we still have the He's the only one who will bring us life, in this world and in death. It is important to know what He says about life. It is important for knowledge and true wisdom, not man's, not our own. We lose to gain, which is NOT an easy thing to understand. We give up our own ideas FOR HIS. We look at our lives and life in general THROUGH HIS EYES. Not our good works but HIS THROUGH US. Not our strength or power but HIS IN US. Are we willing to count loss our achievements for the sake of knowing the One who created? It's a big decision but a life changing one. It's never been said to be easy, but worth it. Can't imagine going through a trial in life without Him. It could be He's all we have. Can you say you absolutely know this? In the end this knowledge is vital. 

I was listening and worshipping this morning to Christian music. Michael Card to be exact. This blog was written a couple days ago. When I heard the song it spoke about all we give up and how freeing it can be. 
'Cause when we say 'no' to the things of the world we open our hearts to the love of the Lord...and its hard to imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind.
(The Things We Leave Behind
The song illustrated how when Simon (Peter) was called by Jesus, he left his fishing boat and nets behind. Another illustration was Matthew the greedy tax collector and how his greed faded away after choosing to follow the Lord. 

We change. We do give up the old life for a new one, the old beliefs for new beliefs, a mind filled with man's lies to a mind filled with His truth.

It is hard to imagine how it all happens. Like my friend's husband who recently passed (I Will Bring You Peace). When his heart was again touched by Jesus, he passed peacefully. The heaviness in his heart was gone, reconciliations occurred. 

Better to know the Lord now and know this peace through all circumstances of life. The world has nothing to offer of any eternal consequence. If we know Christ we have it all. If we can wrap our minds around losing to gain we have it made. 

Jeremiah‬ ‭9:23-24‬ - Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.

Monday, May 29, 2017

I Will Bring You Peace

John ‭14:27‬ ‭- 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. 
Yesterday a friend lost her husband of 31 years. It was not sudden. It had been a battle for some time for him and for her. She knows the Lord and called on His strength and wisdom through it all and while it was hard she never wavered. He had once known the Lord but something eventually got in his way, he lost his focus on Him, so he struggled in this illness. He had very little peace. 

As he came to his last hours he knew he was dying. Perhaps he had known for some time and it was why his testiness and determination not to do as doctors said was so evident. He rejected the peace of God to get him through while my friend called on Him for strength. 

The last couple of days men from church visited him. They would, I know, pray with him and talk about the Lord. One of our younger men, and an elder in our church, said this: The last time I spoke with Tom he seemed very much like a man who knew he lacked the peace of God in his life, yet wanted it. 

When things are going well in life, we can discount the Lord. Why do we need Him? I have all I need.

There's also the opposite when one questions, how is it God isn't helping me now; why trust a God who's not here?  But He is here. He's always here. The very world He created is proof. The fact that seasons change like they always have, that things are born, grow, fade and die to start over again is proof. The gripe that we think if God cared He wouldn't allow some things is our rejection of Him. If we feel He's not with us it might be we have shut Him out. He can still be silent at times, grow our faith. But it doesn't mean He's not there.

What we need to understand is our need for Him and dependence on Him for all our situations. If we do this He will be there to help. He will bring the peace in the midst of trying times. If we have that peace, the grumbling about where is God when we're hurting or scared or in pain won't be there. It's all about His peace. But we need to be willing to acknowledge Him, not shun Him. 

My friend is now confident that in this very difficult time of her husband's life and in his death, he finally reached out to the Lord. It's been a prayer by many that he be broken and in that brokenness he once again turn to God. In that brokenness we finally realize we are nothing and either give in to God or reject Him all the more (not something anyone should do). It's better to go through the brokenness now...and enjoy the peace He brings.

While she mourns his loss, she has been given the hope that she will see her husband again some day. It was all she ever hoped for. Through this she has displayed strength, even when it seemed she was getting tired. She was a witness to her Lord. I saw it. 

Praise You, Lord, for all You do in us. I pray you keep Your children focused on You. Grant us peace in our daily lives. Keep us strong through Your power, that power You give to us.

1Timothy‬ ‭6:12‬ - Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Friday, May 26, 2017

As It Was in the Beginning

John‬ ‭1:45‬ ‭- Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

The Word of God. The Bible, the Son of God, Jesus. God made flesh. True and just. 

In the beginning God...(Genesis 1:1)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John‬ ‭1:1-2,4‬)
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah‬ ‭40:8‬)
“For I am the LORD, I do not change; ...” (Malachi‬ ‭3:6‬)
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matthew‬ ‭5:17-18‬)

God has revealed Himself throughout His Word. From beginning to end. From death to life. How can we say we know God if we don't seek Him? Through prayer. Through Bible reading where truth exists, where the most meaningful things exist. 

Revelation‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭- “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Word, The Truth, The Life

Jeremiah‬ ‭33:2-3,6-8‬ ‭- Thus says the LORD who made it [the word], the LORD who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." ... Behold, I will bring it [Jerusalem] health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me."

It always amazes me to read how the nation of the Israel of the Old Testament and we as individuals are similar when it comes to God's redemption and salvation. God has always used His Word as an example by which we can learn.

Israel and the Jews are God's chosen people. However, just like every people group in this world, all have turned their backs on God. Romans 3:23 states: ...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... And when I think on that scripture, Proverbs 16:2-3 comes to mind: All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirits. Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.

I think about all God has ever wanted from His creation, the people. He has always wanted nothing but each person to stop turning their backs on Him and acknowledging Him as God, the Creator. But we all have failed miserably. It's why He sent His Son Jesus. All we need do is call on His name (from a very true heart) and be saved. And then learn of Him through His Word, follow Him, like His disciples, share the Gospel.

But what does the Word say again? All have sinned and fallen short...we all think we know in our own minds what is right, apart from God. Apart from God our works are filthy rags, but through knowledge and devotion to Him, He will establish our ways. It's not what many want to hear.

So, the opening verses are telling us just what God wanted to do with Old Testament Israel (and still does). God eventually allowed the Gentiles into His sovereign picture. He allowed them to be grafted in to become children of God also...mainly as a means to make the Hebrews jealous, that they might turn back to Him. After all, Jesus died for all mankind.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.‭‭ ...who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ...who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time... (1John‬ ‭2:2‬ , 1Timothy‬ ‭2:4,6‬)

I think about all the denominations in this world, most in existence by mere man. Each has their own idea how church should be, how God desires us to worship Him. And I think again of our works as filthy rags and His not wanting sacrifices but our obedience to Him, heeding His words over the works thing. (1Samuel 15:22) And I think about how some believe only certain people will go to heaven. He died for all…who would receive Him.

If we hear Him, heed His words, obey what we hear (through reading the Word), He will bring the healing as mentioned above. With healing will come peace and truth. He restores lives. We seek God to know the truth. We seek Jesus because He is the way, truth and life and provides the way to this forgiveness. This forgiveness of sins  is the part about all having sinned and falling short of God's glory. If we submit to Him He will cleanse us, make us whole in His sight, and we will become His children.

I heard someone say that because He created all of us we are automatically His children. It doesn't work this way. We must be saved, which God has been trying to show us through the Old Testament and Israel and the New Testament through Jesus. It's true we are all God's creation (Colossians 1:16) and God loves all people (John 3:16) but, according to Jesus, we must be born again (John 3:7). That's where the restoration takes place.

Jesus is called our Redemption, our Healer, our Peace, the Truth, the only Way, and the Life. This cannot be denied. Without Jesus/God, we are lost. He makes Himself known to us. We seek Him for the answers...the truth...not what the world--man--declares. His declarations are for all to view in His Word. He says, "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3)

We do not know until we seek and find. When He sees a heart willing to seek and wanting to know, He will show great things which we just don't know until we have received Him and His Spirit, through being born again! It's a wonderful thing to know and understand. It's not agonizing! It so sets everything in this world into a proper perspective. We can understand why the world is as it is, has been...and will be. We can understand that only Jesus gives us this understanding. He brings us peace. Who doesn't want this peace?

1John‬ ‭1:8-10‬ ‭- 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. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Awake, Arise, Receive the Light

John‬ ‭9:5‬ ‭- "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
I was doing a study on light yesterday afternoon. It all started when I was reading Ephesians 5 and came to verse 14: Therefore He says: Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. There was a scripture reference in Isaiah, which then gave another scripture reference...and light became a theme. Light and life.

I began looking at scriptures with the word light in them. And wouldn't you know, it started at the beginning of time when God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good... (Genesis‬ ‭1:3-4‬) And at the end of the Bible in the last chapter of Revelation, these words are spoken: There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. ... (Revelation‬ ‭22:5‬)  Doesn't that sound like a good thing, the Christ who said He was the light of the world will be the perpetual light for all who followed and endured to the end? All because we follow the Light. We allow His Word to be the lamp unto our feet and light to our paths. The Word that gives life.

God has much to say about light throughout scripture from beginning to end. God created light so all things could be seen. All things that He created...everything shows His Divine character, creativeness, beauty and majesty. Without this created light we could not physically see. The ability to see...His there will be no excuse for the existence of this Divine Creator and that, in the end, all knees will bow to Jesus, the Light of the world.

So God created light. We need light not only to see but so things can grow. Just like God created light so man could see and things could grow, He brought Jesus into the world as yet another Light for our light and life. Jesus said it above, that He is the Light of the world. And He states further that "...he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12) 

Within the Word is written, or expressed in some way, that having light in our lives dispels the darkness. This darkness surrounds us daily, without the light of Christ. We live in the darkness until we choose to follow the Lord. Where does evil abound? In the darkness. Choose to come out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. 

I'm thankful for the Light of Christ in my life. I was taken out of the darkness and brought into the light. I once was blind but now I see. I'm thankful that I recognize what constitutes or brings on darkness. Through study and hearing God speak through His Word it causes one to know the truth...which will set one free (John 8:32).

John‬ ‭1:4,9‬ ‭- In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Road to Damascus

Galatians 1:11-13 - But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.

It's been awhile since I wrote about Paul, once known as Saul, who persecuted Christianity and imprisoned many because of his hatred towards it and those who followed Christ. Many people have Damascus Road experiences. Some great, some not...but both kinds life-changing. Either way, the revelation of Christ occurred. 

Saul was on his way to Damascus one day to persecute Christians some more. The Lord intervened, the light of His presence blinding Saul for a time, and confronted him: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? ... It is hard for you to kick against the goads." (Acts 9) Saul fell immediately to the ground, frightened. This was the revelation he received from Jesus Christ! He appeared to him. 

This so shows that even the most hardened, stubborn, proud and arrogant person can be touched by the presence of God. Acts 9 explains the entire account. Within the verses there is one little word that amazes me. In verse 11: So the Lord said to him [Ananias], "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judah for one called Saul of Tarsus..." 

Two things pop into my head. The street name was Straight.  Straight; good, well; bow, kneel, give, set forth, settle. Webster describes it as: going an undeviated direction, properly ordered, without extraneous matter. Isn't that what happened to Saul? And doesn't that pretty much sound narrow? It is settled we will change, we will give ourselves into the act of bowing to Christ. Saul saw the light of Christ and fell to his knees. In just a moment he he submitted. Sometimes we can be in a situation where we might be scared straight, like Saul, that he changed his attitude drastically. 

I find it interesting that we are told to walk the straight and narrow road to life, through Jesus. Bear with me. Point number two is Christ is our strait gate. In the King James Version: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat... (Matthew 7:13) Strait in this context means narrow and one root word is to abide, establish, present; and another root word means the same as straight, to settle, set forth. Webster's strait means narrow, constricted, tight, difficult

Straight or strait...a choice we make when confronted with the truth. Have we been confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ? Has He shone His light in our lives, opened our eyes to see His truth, caused us to bow before Him, like Saul, and turned our walk to a good, settled, undeviated direction, oftentimes difficult and seemingly narrow?

Following Christ is considered narrow by many. Either it's narrow by design, we choose to do it; or it's narrow as in narrow-minded, not a desired place to be, too many constraints, by those not willing to follow. 

Yes, it's a narrow, difficult road we travel when we choose Christ. And Saul, who eventually became the Apostle Paul, turned from his evil ways and followed hard after Jesus. He totally humbled himself and bowed before God. He suffered his own persecution. It is believed he was martyred.

I believe in the days ahead we will see more demands for Christianity to be silenced. The world will become more intolerant. These are both exciting and disturbing days. Exciting because the Bible tells us that this will happen in the last days. Disturbing because we will see many continue to scoff at the truth. It's sad to see Christ denied by so many when all God wants is for all to receive life.

Paul, as well as every person who truly has been born again, as Jesus says we should, had an encounter with Christ, that Damascus Road experience. While ours might not be on a road, it might be in prison, in a difficult situation, a dream or through illness or addiction. He does try to get everyone's attention. It's a shame we sometimes have to undergo a difficulty to receive Christ. However, like Saul, it was life changing. 

As Saul, he stopped kicking against the goads! Jesus would have used the word goad in this context which means: a spiked stick used for driving cattle. The more resistance, the more goading. Saul stopped resisting the truth of Jesus Christ. It's good to know, however, that Jesus keeps on calling those who continue to kick.

Saul changed. Saul became Paul. He went from persecuting Christians to preaching the Gospel. He went from believing a lie to preaching the truth. He was guided by the devil and then led by Christ. He went from death to life. Hallelujah. This can happen to anyone. If it can happen to the worst of the worse, it can happen to anyone!

Paul said these words below. Once he knew the truth, where it would take him, the end results, he remained steadfast. A lesson for all of us who believe.

2Timothy 4:7-8 - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Creation vs. Evolution

Psalm 139:14 - I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. 

Ah, tackling a touchy topic! I was watching a program on creation. (Sorry, specifics about the program and the narrator have left the building!) The man narrating was once an agnostic science teacher who taught evolution until one day two of his students questioned his theory and he did some doubt to debunk their theory. Long story short, his research drew him into relationship with Christ and opened his eyes to the truth.

Throughout the program he described various creatures and the complexity of each of their bodies, structures and natures. Each one was so very unique. He stated that there was no way all the hundreds of thousands of creatures could possibly have evolved from one single organism like the Big Bang theory supposes. They each had to have, from the very first egg, every component specific to their species.

The Word of God says: So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21)

At the end of the program we were shown a small airplane. We were told that "it seems clear that someone or a design team designed it for flight. But when some people consider how some creatures function, it seems strange to me that they don't acknowledge that same principle. When you look at these amazing animals and insects, it's clear they were remarkably and carefully designed."

This reminded me of Psalm 139 above. Each of us was uniquely designed. When we were conceived, every part of our structure was made to make us different from one another (even in twins, triplets, etc.) And we are unique even though we carry the same design parts as both our parents. Not even two fingerprints are the same. How can that be?

"What I see is art, creation, not a mindless random chance process that produced this thing," this man said. Here is a God who created and eventually came down from heaven into His own creation as the man Jesus Christ, that through His words and the great things He did we might even more realize what He did to create...and cause us to believe...and cause us to look to someone greater than ourselves for our salvation.

Creation happened that we might recognize this Creator, to see that the intricacies of each part of creation can only be designed by a super intelligent Designer. 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 (Romans 1:20). When this is realized, we can only be completely taken aback, amazed that He does exist.

He exists that we might realize His incredible power, intelligence, even love for us that He would give us the things we sometimes might take for granted each day. Through His creation we can know Him, worship Him (not that we worship the creation over the Creator) and exalt Him for the greatness of who He is and what He has done. I thank God for what I am able to see each day.

We do not breathe apart from Him. We did not evolve into this world. We were uniquely His hand. Although He might have created for His own pleasure, it's more about our recognizing Him and that He might draw us into a relationship with Him. He did it for us. He is more than able to provide us with just what we need. So thankful for His creation, His love, His wooing us into redemption. Thank You Jesus.

Jeremiah 10:12 - He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion. 

Friday, May 12, 2017


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...

I had the privilege of waking up at 4:05 this morning. I love the quiet of early mornings. As I sat in my favorite little room with my coffee and spending time with God, I began to see the skies brighten up. Then came the first chirps...the cardinals. 

This particular morning I heard the song of the wood thrush in the woods that surround our house. I so look forward to hearing their pretty song in the morning and at dusk from spring to late summer. It's so soothing to the ears and spirit, really! 

So I determined to get out for my walk earlier than usual to see the sun come up and reflect on the lake in a nearby park. 

I felt all morning like I had just emerged from a very tight cocoon. The sights and sounds of nature were tantalizing. It was as if I'd never seen them before. And after my walk, back home in my little room, I was captured by the flurry of birds at my feeders. We have two cardinals, fitly joined together as a couple, who are always the first at the feeders in the morning. They do not disappoint. 

It truly is the first day of return for nearly all the migrating birds for our area. Grosbeak, orioles and indigo bunting arrived. A hummingbird showed up the other day. Still waiting for my favorites, the wrens. 

But you know what all this means to me? In my admiration and excitement I am worshiping Him; I am not worshiping what God has created. I am thanking Him for bringing these to our little part of the world. This is the start of His new season, a new birth, new life in all we see around us. And even more so, all that we see is nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to what is in store for those who love God. It's not the first time I've posted this 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) Perhaps it's a gentle reminder.

He gives us all we need to know of Him. We can look around and see all He has done for us here and now. How can it get much better, we wonder. If we have experienced in ourselves a new season, new birth and life, we will someday know. We see things now through our human senses but as believers in Christ, born of the Spirit, we will some day see all things differently. 

I'm simple-minded! In other words, it's the simplicity of not needing to know what heaven someday will look like. If it's better than what we perceive today, whatever it is will be beautiful because our Lord will be there and He will be the object of our adoration. 

There is only one true God. If we do not recognize this we will be missing out on so very much some day. Do we indulge or over-distract ourselves that we do not take note of the things of God? Do we let the cares of the world shadow the simple beauty of who God is? Do we close our ears, minds and hearts off to the things of God? If we do, we are in serious trouble. 

We can slip from time to time and, thankfully, He will draw us back and pick us up again out of the pit we have fallen...or jumped...into. He loves us this much. He wishes none to perish. 

So.not.disappointed. He gives new chances. He revitalizes senses and souls. He reminds us of His glorious nature...through nature and His Word. Nothing can compare to this knowledge. Nothing. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard.... It's time to take notice.

Jeremiah 5:21-22 - Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not: "Do you not fear Me?" says the LORD. "Will you not tremble at My presence, who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it?"...

Monday, May 8, 2017

Praise God!

Psalm‬ ‭30:5‬ ‭- For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Praise God. His love endures forever. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He's the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. 

These are the promises of God for those who have chosen to call Him Lord and Savior. 

God gives believers strength to endure, to run the race till the end. Setbacks may occur but if we stay close to Him, rely on Him, He will lift us up. The Bible tells us we will have trials. Through Him, however, we can overcome them. 

He chastens those whom He loves. He works to purify us that we might be a pure and spotless bride. We are held firmly in the palm of His hand. His love endures forever!

Yesterday morning a young man who opens church up in prayer every Sunday started by sharing an experience. He said: You know, some nights can just be really hard with little kids. No one wants to have to discipline a child. No one wants to have to send the kid to bed. Kid feels bad, parents feel bad, there’s a tension in the house. But praise God, when morning comes, it’s a new day. 

I have gone through a few times of discipline myself. Once was this past week. 

He ended there. The child is fine and still loves his parents! Joy came in the morning. I was surprised he didn't go further but maybe he was just grateful that the discipline was over and all went well. Our Father in Heaven is like this. I cannot imagine shaking my fist at Him or becoming angry with Him during or after this time. He is our Father. He is our Creator. He formed us in our mothers' wombs. He breathed life into us. His love for us endures forever. Great is our God.

Revelation‬ ‭3:19‬ ‭- As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

It's Not Enough

1Corinthians 15:36,42-47 - Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a LIVING being.” The last Adam [Jesus] became a LIFE-GIVING spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.

Jesus Himself told us there must be a spiritual birth for eternal faith in Him alone. That spiritual birth gives us true wisdom and a whole new outlook to this life on earth and in God. We seek treasures in heaven, not on earth. The old earthly man dies, the new spiritual man is born. Or so they should!

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water AND the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:5-7)

Did you know that when we die, our spirits live on? Just as some will go to heaven...if they have been born of the Spirit...through faith in Jesus Christ...through our confession of Him as Lord and Savior of our lives...some spirits will live for eternity in hell. It's not a subject many people, sometimes not even the Church, want to talk about. 

It's for this reason Jesus take the burden of our sins upon His own body, nail them on the cross and die. Every sin imaginable...upon His body. I can't imagine and neither can you. And all He requires is our confession of faith in Him, being born in the Spirit, gaining His wisdom and understanding of right from wrong. 

When we receive Christ, this same Spirit of God begins to reside in us also. We are commanded, then, to be baptized. This baptism is our outward expression of our confession of Christ. Jesus was born, died and raised again. Our immersion baptism is symbolic of the same. The old man dies, the new man is raised up. Like Lazarus, like Jesus, like all who have been baptized this way. Baptism is not by sprinkling as a child. What child can confess Jesus when it cannot even speak? Was Jesus sprinkled as a child? Or was He immersed...and then filled with the Holy Spirit? There are no scriptures at all in the Bible that speak of infant baptism. I wonder how all that got started??

So, we can think all we want that we do not need to know the Lord any more than believing He was, but it's not enough. We can think we don't need church, but it's not enough. We can think we are smart enough, successful enough, mature enough, even self-sufficient enough, but it's not enough. We can do nothing of our own to satisfy our spiritual needs and spiritual life. Only Jesus can provide for us. 

Only through Christ can this Spirit of God come to us. We cannot save ourselves. If we could, what was the point of Jesus' death? And what makes any of us think He just died to save all men, no questions asked? Yes, He died for all mankind, but we have to confess Him, confess our sins, repent of our sins...and confess we need Him to cover those sins. We need to live for Him...serve Him. The scriptures talk of being bondservants. A bondservant is one who willingly serves. We willingly serve God. 

I cannot provide this salvation for anyone else. I can only point the way. And the Way is Jesus. Each person must seek Him on his own. It is not transferable. Wisdom must be gained individually through Christ. It's just the way it works. Scripture tells us these things. I have not made this up. Our church teaches this; I know other churches do. I also know that some churches water down the gospel into believing that one simple prayer is all it takes to become born again, with no other decisions made. That prayer is not enough either. It takes an action. 

When a seed is planted it is dry, dead. But given the right conditions it can spring to life. Like baptism, water applied, not sprinkled but soaked, that new life comes forth. From death to life. We are dry and dead without Jesus but through Him and the Holy Spirit we can also spring to new, eternal life.

John 15:5 - I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

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

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Which Ministry?

2Corinthians 3:3-6 - ...clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. 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, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Old and new, death and life. Hearts of stone or hearts of flesh. Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17)

Tablets of stone=Ten Commandments
Tablets of flesh=law of Christ, within our hearts

God made a covenant long ago with Abraham that He would be his God and the God of all his descendants. Abraham had so much faith in God that he was called righteous. 

In the Old Testament God started out with a list of commandments. Because those commandments could not be perfectly kept, there were sacrifices made continually. God finally chose to bring about one final possibility for permanent solution...His Son, who would be sacrificed and die, like all the animals of the Old Testament sacrifices. 

This same  covenant is for those today who seek Him. We become Abraham's descendants when we come into complete and utter submission to Jesus Christ. The other evening in a Bible study we were reminded that living and being in Christ and receiving His promises is predicated on a whole bunch of "if" statements. If we do this, He will do that. I saw an article once that said the Bible is an "iffy" book! It is. A very rough estimate tells me there are hundreds of if statements. It was this way from the very beginning and is still the same today.

God never changes His ways to suit our desires. We must change our ways to suit His. This concept goes so against our human nature...but IF we follow and obey Him, His promises are for us. God only offers one promise to those who do not...eternal death.

Often I write that it is not by our works, our sufficiency, that we attain eternal life. That would be based on the tablets of stone…the commandments, the law, the sacrifices necessary to atone for sin. I came to Christ through the Spirit of God, who changed my heart’s attitude. He took my heart of stone and made it flesh. My sufficiency now is from God. Giving myself to Him I am part of the new covenant. As stated above, the letter (the works, law and sacrifices—apart from God) kill because it is we who try to work for our salvation. But the Spirit gives life...through God’s grace, His Son, His Son’s atoning blood. In Christ alone.

Christ came to fulfill all those laws we could not keep. The laws are there to show us we cannot keep them. If we cannot keep them, there is but one other choice. We must seek a Savior. We must seek the Savior. In Christ alone. It is through the law of Christ and a heart change. Sincerely seek Him and He will save. He will gladly save the lowest of the low, the most wretched person, which we all are anyway. He is no respecter of persons but wishes that none perish. None. When the choice was before me, I chose the ministry of the Spirit, not of the flesh. 

Romans 3:20 - Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Where's Your Confidence?

Psalm 78:7 - That they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.

Confidence is the feeling you have before you fully understand the situation.

This was the saying on the back of a man's tee shirt. I was with sisters in the Lord at the time and we all chuckled. I asked if I could photograph it.

Several thoughts go through my head as contemplate these words. One regards fear, which I believe is the opposite of confidence. The other is, where do we place our confidence? 

This particular tee shirt saying should be how we feel when we set out to do something for the Lord! We needn't worry about understanding the situation. The world might take this little phrase in the way it was obviously intended, when we walk into something that we've not spent time thinking about or weighing in our minds. 

But I look at it this way: if God has set about something for us to do, we just do it. We don't worry about the consequences because He has it all figured out for us. If He has called us to do something, then it's a done deal. We can have confidence no matter what.

Proverbs 14:26 - In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.