Thursday, August 31, 2017

Storms of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus...For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:4-6,8-9) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Love of the Father

Romans 8:38-39 - For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I spent the better part of the week at church at an annual Ministers Conference our church has each year. It's open to pastors from anywhere! This year pastors from New York, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Wisconsin, maybe more, joined us. It's a time of encouraging both for them, the Church and just us regular people!! 

Each year it is amazing. It was especially encouraging this year for me, more than you can know...others were also touched, encouraged and healed. I have had a difficult time, which is not uncommon, feeling the lack of the presence of God and less ability to hear from Him. Bible reading and prayer has been difficult. I have been questioning, seeking and pleading with God for "the old days" when He spoke so much  through His Word. Some might say dry spells shouldn't or can't happen. King David called out in Psalm 13, How long, O Lord, will you hide Your face from me? We can all go through these times, as several of the pastors admitted. 

We are entering a time when we are going to need strength and that strength needs to come from the Father. So we need to know first that His love is unconditional to those who have given their lives to Him and seek Him daily. 

One message after another this week, and even earlier for me, settled in my spirit. Three different pastors or evangelists spoke intertwined messages of God's love. I'm thankful for pastors who can confess dry spells or difficulties. It's through these times the love of God can come through...even if it has to be through someone who is sharing God's Word to His people. As God's people, as His children and the body of His church, we need to come together and encourage and stand behind and beside each other. 

I don't believe I ever thought God didn't love me but not sensing His presence was so hard it felt as though He didn't care anymore. Through this trial my faith has grown, as was expressed in another sermon...that little seed of faith that is all we need. When we feel hopeless in a situation we need to remember how God enters in: through walls, as He did when He confronted Thomas' doubt! He doesn't need a door to go through. He IS the Door! He has gone through more for us than we ever will. Can you comprehend this? It's hard to wrap one's head around this sometimes. He's such a great God.

Some comments are being made on Facebook about the conference. This is my favorite from a mom. It makes me realize again that we all need to come to this loving Father as a child. This Father will always be there when an earthly father could not...when earthly parents or spouses or anyone else could not. 
Yesterday evening was awesome... Was so thrilled that my twins and son got to sit in the service the whole time. Very good message of what I got to hear, had me tearing up in the nursery where I stayed with my granddaughter. ... My heart was overjoyed. At the end the Pastor started singing Jesus Loves Me and while I was in the nursery everything got quieter and my granddaughter stopped and paused to listen. That was awesome. [My husband] told me that our son was singing away to it. He even had his eyes closed singing! During one of the worship songs [one of our daughters] broke out crying. She told me she sensed the Lord. [My husband] said [our other daughter] broke out crying on one of the days I wasn't there and also was lifting her hands praising the Lord! And the crying has nothing to do with sadness! ... Brothers and sisters, you know! I love hearing that my kids can sense and know that the Lord is amongst them! [We] sensed His presence also during the meetings. God is Good! God just showed up! ️️️ We serve an Amazing God! 

Some might claim this was a hyped up emotion. It was not. I've heard over and over how the love of God, the love of His people and His presence is within our church. We are a worshipful bunch. We worship in Spirit and in Truth. One of the participating evangelists, now a good friend of our pastor, admitted that if he ever felt God was ending his ministry and if the Lord allowed, he would be quite happy to move to Milwaukee and sit under the teaching of our pastor. That is quite the compliment. It's why I keep saying I love my church. 

I can't begin to express the love of God! It is eternal, as was spoken last night. While God loves all mankind and wishes that none would perish, if we choose to reject God altogether and live without Him in our lives, a day will come when He has to reject us. That would be eternal life without God, without heaven. Our loving and following Him secures His love for us. It has to be that way. It has to. If we have chosen Him we are His children and this Father will not abandon His children, unless they abandon Him. Earthly fathers can't do this; nor can mothers or spouses or friends. Only God can love unconditionally. Sometimes that's the stumbling block that keeps us from our Heavenly Father. I know...been there...if a parent can find fault in a child, faults that never quit, how can we trust a Heavenly Father? Well, we can! We just can. 

One visiting evangelist preached a sermon about a month ago that I have listened to over and over every time I get in my car. Over and over!! Last night the message that ended the conference brought up the very same things, even some of the same scriptures about the love of God and His thoughts toward us, which are good. These pastors aren't in the same church or the same state. All I can say is hallelujah! It was confirmation and solidified my faith, love and security in Christ. This will be one of those milestones we have as a reminder of what He has done. We were reminded in another sermon to go back to those times.

Father God, thank You for all You do, all who You are for those who know and love You, and to those who will some day know You. 

Psalm 139:1-4,16-17 - O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Doing God Your Own Way

Isaiah‬ ‭55:8‬ ‭- "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,  nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.  
There is a belief, a misconception, that we can do God our own way. This simply is not true. It may seem narrow minded, but trust me it is not, when it is said we must receive Christ. 

There will always be some who want nothing to do with God. There are some who believe in different gods. There are some who believe all religious roads lead to God. But there is only one God, the one who created all things. He is the only one who gives true life to those who desire it. It is by and through Him our lives are changed.

We are all born with some understanding that there is something...Someone... greater because we have been created in His image. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. While we God has given us a way to know Him, we cannot know all about Him. The only way we can know Him is to seek and eventually receive God...Jesus. He always seeks everyone that they might be saved from their "lostness" in this world. Lost because He is not with them. 

The message is very simple: Receive Christ, receive life. There are just so many ways to put it. It is the most important thing anyone can do. And, sadly, the one thing so many resist doing because of man's beliefs.

Big lie: We cannot get to God or heaven in our own merits. If we were so perfect why did God have to send His perfect, holy, sinless Son Jesus to die for us? (Why did a death need to take place?) 

So now, instead of us doing for our salvation and eternal life, we too must self. To those lies. To our ideas of right and wrong. To the world's view of right and wrong. Our focus must be on His view and this rubs people the wrong way. Our self gets in the way of receiving Christ. We want what makes us feel good or comfortable. God's way is not always as comfortable. It means giving up our ways. But, oh, if we do...

But, oh, if we do, we find that scripture that states His ways are not like ours is so accurate and good. We know who we can trust implicitly. He knows what we need more than we do. His ways are always good and true and just, even if it's not what we would choose. It takes a step of faith to do this and more steps of faith to keep on. When we do, there are great promises for us. The greatest is eternal life in and with Christ. 

We people think we are so smart. We think we have it all figured out. We believe in ourselves. Because of this there is division, as we see playing out in the world today. Only God knows the beginning from the end. I want to stand by Him. 

Many are suggesting that because of all the turmoil in the world today, the fact that it has grown quickly and escalates in its ugliness, that these are signs of the last days before the eventual return of Christ. While no one can say exactly when, and I do believe that things are going to get worse than we now see, and He will return. The worse this world gets, the more I long for it. The more I long for the promise of heaven and no more sorrow, tears or pain. I long for this for so many.

We can all long for that. We can all be assured of that by seeking God now. By seeking the God whose wisdom, knowledge and understanding far surpasses ours. He's there for anyone who wishes to receive Him. Any race or religion. He paid the price for all who would receive Him. He crosses over denominational lines because He is not a denomination. He is God. He is above man and man's ways (and thoughts and imaginations). 

I do not expect America to grow great again. No one can be greater than our God. He's the one I am glad to know and whom I will follow. How about all of you? 

Isaiah‬ ‭55:9,11-12‬ ‭- “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Back to Eden

Genesis 2:15-16 - Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

The biblical definition of Eden is house of pleasure. It is also referred to as paradise. I have been ruminating about eternity but somehow this got cultivated. 

Paradise. In the beginning God...created the heavens and earth. He created man. He created man to live in a garden called Eden. Paradise. Heaven on earth. God talked and walked with man. Man's job was only to name the animals and tend the animals and the garden God created…and walk with Him. There was no physical labor involved. It was to be an eternity like this. We don't know if more people would have been added to the garden. That's one of God's mysteries. 

Imagine spending days on end walking and talking with God. Everything was provided. Food was abundant. Clothes were not necessary. There was no pain, illness, sorrow or shame. As long as they obeyed one single command, just one, it was paradise. But Romans 5:12 says, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned… Man was vulnerable. 

Man's free will, a deceitful serpent, curiosity and one disobedient move changed all life. "Did God really say...?"  was the thought that entered man’s head. All man had known till this time was the goodness, presence and provision of God. So man may have questioned, like we do today, if He is so loving why would God _____ (you fill in the blank). So, what could be wrong with eating of this delightful looking tree's fruit?

Test. God wanted obedience...and only required one thing, not to eat of that one tree...for if you do you will die. It didn’t take long for man’s will to take over. 

Separation. Man disobeyed God's command. He became ashamed of his nakedness and was banished from Paradise, no longer saw God or walked with Him. Separated. Sin separated man from God. We are all separated from God until we make a choice. Pain, sorrow, tears became a part of life. This was the new norm. We all know and live this. God was no longer as accessible. Now man had to toil for a living. Life was different. Paradise was lost.

A plan. Fast forward several thousand years. After many years of God trying to get man to obey His commandments and trust in Him for all their needs, He chose an alternative. He had a plan. He chose to come down off His throne and be born and settle among the people for awhile. He would walk with them again. He would look like an average Joe come from humble beginnings. He owned nothing, had no place to live, but had a wisdom people either could not dispute or were so jealous about and intimidated by they wanted Him dead. 

This Man said He was God. He said He could bring eternal life. Did anyone put two and two together and think of Eden, the lost Paradise? Did they remember how He walked with man back then, like He walked among them now? Did they even consider this might be the same Man? Some did. His name was Emmanuel, God with us. How did some not know? How do some still not know? 

Reconciliation: He was persistent. He said if they would come to Him and follow Him, they could experience life that would be like those days in Paradise, even better. The sins of their fathers and forefathers could be forgiven. Life like in Paradise might not be today, but some day and for eternity. They had to believe, trust in His words and be obedient to His commands. Like man in the garden, they could walk with Him, follow Him. They would be reconciled with Him again. They could once again be guaranteed Paradise. Their old, sinful nature could be made new, through Him. 

Fast forward to what the Bible says about our future. Like the description of the Paradise of Eden, in Revelation we are told:
...God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful. … It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:3-8)

Wow, same words and more. It describes Who once was, Who will be…and Who is today for anyone who desires Him. Jesus is the beginning (Genesis, Alpha) to the end (Revelation, Omega). Oh, but the hard words…cowardly, unbelieving, abominable...just a few names for those who do not believe…and fall into the same category as the rest. We are all in that category until we receive Jesus as born again believers. We all must humble ourselves before the living God to become true believers. It’s the only way. Remember Jesus on the cross between two thieves? One totally rejected Him, the other humbled himself and admitted his sin. What did Jesus say to that second thief? Today you will be with Me in Paradise. That’s what He promises. Eden, paradise, Heaven.

People say the Bible is just a bunch of stories. The Bible is a bunch of reality! A bunch of truths. A bunch of wisdom and examples for us to learn from. A bunch of personalities we can relate to. A bunch of stubborn, prideful sinners, some of whom were made new, turned from their sin and walked with God. I have been known to be fickle. I can start a project and get tired of it. Same with books. I can take interest in one thing or another and then lose interest in time. For 18 years I have been committed to Jesus Christ. Through His power He opened my eyes to His reality. I can’t shake it. Even if I grow weary, I bounce back. I once was blind but now I see. This is no whim. 

Isaiah 57:15 - For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Genesis 25:34 - And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

I think we all know what a birthright is, right!? In most cases it is given to the firstborn child. It is a right, privilege, or possession. And it is a privilege.

This one part of our sermon Sunday became a focal point for my thoughts. Salvation is a right. 

Esau's father Isaac gave him the birthright because he was firstborn, by minutes. Esau's twin brother was Jacob. The brothers were as different as night and day, as was suggested in the chapter when God told their mother Rebekah: ...“Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger." (Genesis 25:23)

Esau was, according to scripture, a wild man, an outdoorsman and hunter. Jacob was a mild man and liked being at in tents. Or as I have read, he was most devoted to God and his family. Esau was described as ruddy and hairy where Jacob was fair. Isaac was more drawn to Esau while Rebekah to Jacob. Now don't start trying to come to any conclusions about Jacob! He was, despite this seemingly gentle nature, also a deceiver, which you can read further in Chapter 27.

One day Esau was out hunting and came home, ravenous. Jacob was cooking a pot of stew. Esau wanted some of that food...Jacob said he would give him some if he would sell his birthright (our first glimpse of deception). What an odd request. But Esau did just that...gave up his birthright all for a bowl of stew. He gave up all his rights to his inheritance. At that moment it meant absolutely nothing to him. 

We can live most of our life never considering the fact that we have a Father in heaven who wants each one of us to receive a better birthright. Many people, including myself for a lot of years, thought absolutely nothing about He who gives this birthright.

Salvation is a right. If it weren't I don't think we'd see examples of inheritance in the Bible. But we do. It is important. 

So, have you received the greatest birthright possible? If you have, do you take it for granted? If not, would you like to? We all can receive this inheritance. We will not receive a physical inheritance, nothing we can put our hands on today, but greater is our reward when we get to heaven. It takes no more than seriously receiving Christ. We ask Him to forgive us of our sins and trust and follow Him the rest of our days. It's that simple.

If we have given our lives to Christ, what are we willing to give up our spiritual birthright for? Popularity or prestige, money, addictions, lust? None of those things last after our last breath. But a spiritual birthright is forever.

I've said this a few times...not all people will go to heaven. It is a great myth many denominations have taught. Life doesn't just end and everyone goes to heaven. Our salvation was bought with a price. We need to get beyond taking the afterlife for granted. Without this inheritance, birthright, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. 

I was at our church's youth retreat last week. It was the driving theme for the kids...we cannot be promised another day. Young people think they have their whole life ahead of them...some adults think the same. They think they can wait to give their lives to Christ if they even think that. But what if today was your last and you'd not given Jesus a second thought? What if I'm right? I can tell you things are different with Christ in a life. You have to experience it to understand. It takes a heart willing to bend and take in the truth. 

God loves all people, but He has standards. If you are in your mind an upstanding person, honest, generous, kind, would you want to make friends with a criminal or murderer? You have your standards too. God is righteous and will only associate with righteous people. We can become righteous through Christ. It's the thing called being saved, born again, becoming a new man. 
Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of           God. (John 3:3)

I've been listening to a sermon in my car on eternity. I am considering sharing some of the pastor's thoughts. It might make this thing called birthright, inheritance and salvation more of a desire.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name...          ...lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (John 1:12, Hebrews 12:16-17)