Friday, April 11, 2014

As We Approach Holy Week

I think it is a good thing to ponder these scriptures and to mediate of just what exactly Jesus did for us on that  Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday 2,000 years ago.    This is is a post I put up a couple of years ago, and it still speaks to my heart.  May God richly bless you with His presence during this Holy Week.

JOHN 19:1 So Pilate then took Jesus, and flogged him.



19:2 The soldiers twisted thorns into a crown, and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple garment.

19:3 They kept saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and they kept slapping him.

19:4 Then Pilate went out again, and said to them, "Behold, I bring him out to you, that you may know that I find no basis for a charge against him."

19:5 Jesus therefore came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment. Pilate said to them, "Behold, the man!"

19:6 When therefore the chief priests and the officers saw him, they shouted, saying, "Crucify! Crucify!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves, and crucify him, for I find no basis for a charge against him."

19:7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God."

19:8 When therefore Pilate heard this saying, he was more afraid.

19:9 He entered into the Praetorium again, and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer.

19:10 Pilate therefore said to him, "Aren't you speaking to me? Don't you know that I have power to release you, and have power to crucify you?"

19:11 Jesus answered, "You would have no power at all against me, unless it were given to you from above. Therefore he who delivered me to you has greater sin."

19:12 At this, Pilate was seeking to release him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you release this man, you aren't Caesar's friend! Everyone who makes himself a king speaks against Caesar!"

19:13 When Pilate therefore heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called "The Pavement," but in Hebrew, "Gabbatha."

19:14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, at about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold, your King!"


19:15 They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"

19:16 So then he delivered him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led him away.

19:17 He went out, bearing his cross, to the place called "The Place of a Skull," which is called in Hebrew, "Golgotha,"


19:18 where they crucified him, and with him two others, on either side one, and Jesus in the middle.

19:19 Pilate wrote a title also, and put it on the cross. There was written, "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS."

19:20 Therefore many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

19:21 The chief priests of the Jews therefore said to Pilate, "Don't write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'he said, I am King of the Jews.'"

19:22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."

19:23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also the coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.

19:24 Then they said to one another, "Let's not tear it, but cast lots for it to decide whose it will be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which says, "They parted my garments among them. For my cloak they cast lots." Therefore the soldiers did these things.

19:25 But there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

19:26 Therefore when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son!"

19:27 Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" From that hour, the disciple took her to his own home.

19:28 After this, Jesus, seeing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I am thirsty."

19:29 Now a vessel full of vinegar was set there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop, and held it at his mouth.

19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished." He bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.

19:31 Therefore the Jews, because it was the Preparation Day, so that the bodies wouldn't remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special one), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

19:32 Therefore the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with him;

19:33 but when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was already dead, they didn't break his legs.

19:34 However one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.

19:35 He who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, that you may believe.

19:36 For these things happened, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "A bone of him will not be broken."

19:37 Again another Scripture says, "They will look on him whom they pierced."

19:38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked of Pilate that he might take away Jesus' body. Pilate gave him permission. He came therefore and took away his body.

19:39 Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.

19:40 So they took Jesus' body, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden. In the garden a new tomb in which no man had ever yet been laid.

19:42 Then because of the Jews' Preparation Day (for the tomb was near at hand) they laid Jesus there.

I am the thorn in your crown; I am the sweat from your brow; I am the nail in your wrist; I am Judas' kiss; I am the man who yelled out from the crowd for your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground....BUT YOU LOVE ME ANYWAY!!







For this reason you came:   But you love me anyway.

ISAIAH 53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? [1]
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected [2] by men;
a man of sorrows, [3] and acquainted with [4] grief; [5]
and as one from whom men hide their faces [6]
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief; [7]
when his soul makes [8] an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see [9] and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, [10]
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, [11]
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

He was CRUSHED for us. He BORE our sins. He DEFEATED death. He LIVES even now in heaven. He is STILL working on our behalf as our INTERCESSOR.

Praise Jesus Christ, He is risen. We serve a RISEN savior!! May His name be praised forever!

Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Conduct Yourself Under Persecution

Yes, my friend, you are highly favored of God.  He has an incredible inheritance that is awaiting you in heaven.  You may have to go through hell to take possession of it, but be assured that it will be worth it. The Bible tells us that "eye has not seen; nor ear heard; nor mind imagined the things that God has planned for the people who love Him" (paraphrase, mine 1 Cor. 2:9)!




I am currently studying the book of 1 Peter. This book was written by Peter to the scattered Christians throughout the Roman empire just prior to the intensification of persecution under Nero.

I cried when I first read through this book; although I have read it many times before.   It hit me this time that Peter was anticipating his own death, and this book was written to encourage the believers in how to stand firm in the true grace of God (which is salvation) under persecution.

I know you've all read accounts of the atrocities that occurred during this period of history...i.e., using people as human torches to light up their barbecues and cook-outs, boiling people in oil, tearing off their flesh...it is not for the fainthearted!

And so, beloved Peter, tells them (us) these things to help them stand firm in their (our) salvation under persecution. You say, so why should we know  these things, we are not under persecution.  One only has to read the news or articles in any publication to see that things are setting up where almost anything can and will be held against Christians, and with the knowledge that men have now, who knows what levels of torture people will be put through.

I have read many things about experimentation on the brain, and as a person with a brain anomaly, I can think of nothing worse than mind control or some sort of brain torture.

That being said, here is Peter's advice:

1)   Put away all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander.  It doesn't matter what they do to you, just keep your eyes on Jesus; focus on how HE went through His torture and death and ask Him (in the words of  Kay Arthur) to stamp eternity on your eyelids.  Ask Him to help you see everything (through eyes that are eternal) what is eternal - not temporal!

2)  Like little babies, long for pure spiritual milk so that you may grow up into what God has intended for you when you take ownership of the inheritance that is being held for you in heaven.  You don't want to be like an immature person who is handed great wealth upon the death of a family member and just goes out and wastes it.   You want to know how to live within that inheritance; how to make use of it wisely.

3)  Remember, Jesus is a living stone and He was rejected by men, too, but He was and is precious and chosen by God.  You, too, are a living stone, being built into a home for Christ, in order that you may be a part of His priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus, and you are precious and have been chosen by God. Now how important is that in the plan of God?  Very.  You are important to God.  Stand firm.

4)  You, thank God, are a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people who belong to God.  When you recognize that, you cannot help but proclaim how excellent He is that called you out of darkness into His light is!!!  How can you not stand firm when you realize His GREAT purposes and intent for you in eternity?

5)  At one time, you were a no one, without mercy and heading for eternal death.  Now, thanks be to God, you have obtained mercy and are a child of the most high God!!!

6)  DO NOT, I repeat, do not, allow the passions and desires of your flesh take you back to where you were.  Be self-controlled, and stand firm.

7)  No matter what is going on around you, behave honorably so that when others speak against you as having no honor, people will say "no way!  that one wouldn't do that"!

8)  Remember, your good deeds (prepared for you to do by God before the foundation of the world - see Ephesians 2:10) will bring glory and honor to God on the day of His appearance!

9)  Give proper respect to the authorities!  Yes, this means all authorities, "good" authority and "bad" authority, for it is put in place by God himself.  The thing you don't do is:    don't break God's laws.

10) Live free, doing good to all.

11) Give honor to everyone.  Especially love those that love Christ.

12)  Endure graciously.   If you are punished for doing bad things and endure graciously, what credit does that give you?  But if you endure graciously when being punished for doing good things, this gives you great credit in God's eyes.

13) These are the things to which we, as believers in and followers of Christ, have been called.  He suffered; we suffer.  He committed no sin, no deceit, He did not revile or threaten, but He continually entrusted Himself to God who judges justly, and we are to do the same.

Lord, God, Father of All, it is my prayer today that whatever I say and do, it will bring you glory and honor.  I pray that this writing comes from you and not me.  I pray that the one that you want to reads it would come and be brought to enlightenment about you.  Open the eyes of their  heart, Lord, that they may know what is the hope to which you have called them, that they may know what the riches of your glorious inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of your power is toward us who believe, and to know that the GREAT power that you used in raising Jesus Christ from the dead is at work in us who believe.  I pray this in Jesus' mighty, powerful name.  Amen





Monday, February 17, 2014

Will Jesus Find Faith on Earth When He Returns?






For my devotional time this year, I bought the book, "Streams in the Desert".  Today's devotional is on praying in faith. You may have an earnest desire or hope for something, but that is NOT faith.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (NAS)
 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.  (NLT)

Jesus tells us in Mark 11:24
I tell you, you can pray for anything, AND IF YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED  IT, it will be yours.
 It struck me like lightning this morning, quick and out of the blue - that this is what is wrong with my prayer life.  I do not pray in faith.  The book of James tells us that if when we ask God for something (wisdom, or whatever), if I do not ask in faith that He will do it, I am like a double minded woman and should not expect that He should do anything for me (James 1:7-8).

So, I spent time meditating on that and that alone.  I must ask in faith.  Then the Holy Spirit nudged me to think about the fact that God's will must be taken into consideration when I ask Him for anything.  You see, He has a will and a purpose and a plan for each and every person, place and thing that He creates.   So we must ask that whatever we want is in accordance with God's will and perfect plan for life.

For example, if we are praying for the salvation of a loved one, God's Word tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

We can, therefore, take comfort in knowing that God's will is not that any man should perish but that all should come to repentance, and we can pray for people's salvation in faith.

But then, once again the Holy Spirit nudged me and reminded me of a verse in John 14:13:

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

We must, therefore, include in our prayers and petitions, the name of Jesus Christ.   If we ask in faith, in accordance with God's will and in Jesus' name, we can ask in full assurance that it will  be done!  Knowing that this is so, we must also include our thanksgiving to God for His hearing our prayers, and for His response. 

Maybe this is so simple to some of you reading this.  Maybe it hits you like it hit me.   I have been struggling in prayer.  I have asked for some things over and over and over again, but as I look back and reflect, I don't ever really remember asking in this way.  I immediately asked the Lord to forgive me; for my lack of faith, lack of asking accordance to His will and plan and for not giving Him the thanks and glory that is due to Him.

The Holy Spirit then nudged me one more time in the direction of thanksgiving.  Do you ever have a hard time thinking of things to thank God for besides family, friends, health and home?  I do, but the Lord showed me today that when we see Him as He is:  the giver of all life, the sustainer of all life and that He holds everything in place by the power of His will, and that He is the redeemer of all that should believe on His Holy Name, then we will think to thank Him for EVERYTHING:  the color red, the soft summer rains, the beautiful flower growing in my yard or on my window sill, any and everyTHING.  We can look at people who are in our  lives and realize that there are no coincidences with God;  He is in charge and always working according to  His plan, and then we can see that He uses all people to work in our lives, and we can thank him for everyONE.  He places us in locations at times in which we have little to do with it for His purpose and plan, so we can thank him for everyWHERE we are located.  

Needless to say, my worship this morning was transformed simply by looking at God for who He is, what He says, what He's doing and for what He is going to do.   I hope this helps just one other person to worship God in spirit and truth today.

Lord, Thank you for your word, for your Holy Spirit who teaches us all things, and for your great creation, ability and desire to  hold it together.  Thank you that you who have such power would think to notice one who is such as me.  I have no goodness, no righteousness, nothing that would make you notice me, but in  your wisdom, before the world was created, you knew me and called me, and in Jesus, you  made me your child.  How can I ever say thank you for that?  For in that you thought I was worthy for such love and sacrifice, you showed me that I have value and purpose in this life.  I, therefore, in knowing this and applying it directly to you, have no recourse but to give you my life, whatever is left of it, to use as you see fit.

I ask that you would bless the reader of this, and if by some mistake of mine, I have misrepresented you, that your Holy Spirit would bring clarity and truth and understanding.  I ask these things in the mighty, matchless name of Jesus, my savior.  Amen.









Sunday, January 19, 2014

War - What is it Good For?





Do you remember that song from the 60's/70's?

I had a couple of events merge in real time last week and cause me to sit down and really think about warfare....actual warfare and spiritual warfare.

One of the things that has been in the news a lot lately is Operation Redwing and the story of Marcus Luttrell.  Marcus is a NAVY SEAL who has written a book entitled The Lone Survivor which documents the events of Operation Redwing in which he and three other Navy SEALs  were on mission to locate, get as much information on and possibly kill a Taliban/Al Qaeda operative who was hiding in the Afghan mountains.  As events would have it, Marcus was the lone survivor of the mission.

I went to see the movie last week which was really unbelievable because I have a thing about watching violent, bloody movies.  I can't do it.  However, I knew the story, and decided that I would go with my husband to see it.  Well, I hid my eyes with my hands a lot of the time or I had my head down on my husband's arm so I couldn't see what was going on when it was particularly bloody, but the movie is nothing if not extremely moving

I hate war.  I don't like when people kill each other or try to harm each other.  So don't get me wrong here.  I am not glorifying or advocating warfare.  But what struck me about this is how each side was trying to get up higher than the other so they would have the advantage, and how they would shoot and kill a few members of the other team and then the SEALs would be forced (because there was only 4 of them as opposed to 100, more or less of the Taliban/Al Quaeda fighters who had the advantage and WERE up higher than them) to jump off the mountain.  They would roll and tumble and hurt themselves even more than they already were and then they would begin again to climb the mountain and begin fighting again.  Their ability to persevere to the point of death and how much they could take was amazing. 


Also this week, I finished my Bible study on the book of Ephesians.   As you probably are aware, the sixth Chapter of Ephesians (the last Chapter) tells us that we are in a warfare, too...a spiritual warfare and that we are to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand against all the schemes of the devil. 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 

Those military men had not gone unarmed into the battle and they had trained unimaginably hard to learn proper offense and defense in situations where it doesn't seem like they will be able to survive.  That's what they're known for.  Isn't what I described above basically what we're doing every day of our lives against Satan, His demons, our flesh, and the world and its temptations.   We battle by reading the Word of Truth, the gospel of salvation, taking in the ingrafted word which is able to save our souls.  We battle by taking up the shield of faith and batting away the incoming shots against us from the devil and his minions.  We take refuge behind our helmet of salvation which protects our heads from shots and protects our thinking, we put on the breastplate of Jesus Christ's righteousness which protects our vital organs, and without which we will never stand in God's presence .  We put on our shoes which help us to be ready and prepared to take the good news of Christ's gospel wherever He sends us.  We hold it all together with the belt of truth which is Jesus himself, whom the Bible tells us is Truth.  Further, we take up the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God and which we know is sharper than any two edged sword and able to cut between muscle and bone. 

Plus, we battle from a higher position than Satan and his angels, principalities and rulers and authorities.  We battle from the same position as Christ, from the throne of God himself.  We don't have to try to work our way to positions more favorable for there is no position more favorable.  Christ has defeated Satan. Period. And because Jesus lives in us, we can rest assured that we, too, can defeat Satan.


The book of Ephesians tells us in Chapter 2, verses 4 through 7:
  
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Last, but certainly not least, He tells us to "be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints".  Just like in actual warfare, the SEALs had each others' back, we are to have our brothers' and sisters' backs by praying for them; lifting them up...covering them with prayer. 

We are at war, brothers and sisters,and I know who wins the war, but He puts us in places where we have to fight against the enemy, too...to strengthen us, prepare us and to enlighten us.  Have you readied yourself for the battle today?


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Motto for 2014: BE HOT FOR GOD...GET WISDOM THAT WON'T LET YOU DOWN OR LEAD YOU ASTRAY!!



Anyone out there besides me who desires more of God's wisdom?  James 1:5, 6 tells us that "...if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to ALL and without reproach...BUT let him ask in faith, without any doubting, FOR THE ONE WHO DOUBTS is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind....that person must NOT SUPPOSE that he will RECEIVE ANYTHING from the Lord."

Let me see, that means that if we want wisdom, all we have to do is ask God (all knowing, all powerful, all present and FILLED with wisdom) and He will give to us.   Ahh, ahh, ahh, not so fast.  You must ask in FAITH without DOUBTING that He will give it to you.   Faith?!  You know - the conviction of the truth of anything!   So:  Ask, Believe in Faith that He will Give it to you; and He will give it to you GENEROUSLY and without REPROACH (rebuke or disapproval).

God's Word tells us in Romans 10:17:  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

To obtain faith, we need to be hearing the Word of God.  So the equation looks like this:  

Faith(hearing the Word of God) + Ask + Believe = Receive

Isn't that interesting?  The book of Proverbs tells us much about wisdom in its first three chapters.   Chapter 2 tells us the moral benefits of wisdom:

 1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. 12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, 13 who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. 16 It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. 20 Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

First, we see that "fear" of the Lord is the "beginning" of wisdom.  Fear the Lord.  That's right.  He is not your bosom buddy, he's not your main man, or your "pal".  You must have reverence, awe and respect for the one who created you, the world and everything and everyone else in it.  When you start to see how small you are in the grand scheme of things, and how big God is, you begin to have wisdom.

So, too, the knowledge of God leads to proper respect, awe and fear of the Lord, and you only gain the knowledge of God by seeking Him.  The world is full of people who want to teach you about God, but it is my opinion that the only way to really seek Him is through reading and studying the Word of God yourself and by listening to people who read, study and ADHERE to what God's Word says in its entirety.  The whole truth and nothing but the truth, in LOVE.    Don't listen to people who want to merely win you over by telling you what you WANT to hear.     2 Tim.4:3

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
  Our ears must be tuned to what God has said in His Word which does not change.  God does not change:  He is the same YESTERDAY, TODAY and TOMORROW.

In these verses of Proverbs, we are also given conditions which we must meet in order to receive proper knowledge of God and fear of  him:

First, we must receive (accept) His words.  How many times have you heard people use words similar to these:  "I just can't believe in a god who would do that" or "my god just wouldn't do that"  or "my god is not one who would hurt anyone or anything, he is a god of love."  Friends, there is a lot to know about God and we will never completely understand Him or His ways.  We must not be presumptuous about Him but read His Word with our ears open, and our mind and heart willing to learn about and accept Him just as He presents Himself in His Word.

Secondly, we must treasure his commandments.  I know what you are thinking.  Yes, it is hard.  Because we are sinful and love sin, it is hard to hear, accept and love what He commands us to do.  (Old and New Testament both are still 100% in agreement.)  We must treasure them enough to read them over and over and over and retain what we are taught.

Third, we must make our ears attentive to wisdom.  You read that right.  We MUST MAKE our ears ATTENTIVE to wisdom.   That means when we read, no matter how hard or unappealing it is to our ears, we must submit to what we read, take it in, absorb it and, when we are being taught by another who is also wiser and knows more about God than we do, submit to what they know from reading, receiving, treasuring and submitting to God's Word after years of practice.   Then, you can be more successful when you go to the next step of...

Inclining our hearts to understanding.  When we involve our hearts in the treasuring of His Word  and making our ears attentive to wisdom, then it is a given that we will have a passion for what we have learned and we will increase our pursuit of God and His wisdom through His Word and others who have a like passion for it.

It goes without understanding then, that as you do these things, you will cry out to God to increase your knowledge of Him, your fear of Him and your understanding of His wisdom, His design, His plan, and His love for you.  I see it as a circle; unending and ongoing until we die or He returns and takes us home.

I have been crying out for God's wisdom.  I know that in the year ahead there will be trouble; there will be pain, and there will be challenges.  I know that I need Him and His wisdom to get through these things.   I have written this out in blog formation so that I can check against this list to see if I am pursuing God in a right manner.

I know that God keeps His Word...He keeps His promises.  I know that God is the Creator, filled with wisdom and knowledge and understanding FAR beyond my comprehension.  I know that God loves me.  No one else I know would be willing to be spat upon, beaten beyond recognition, have their beard pulled out of their face, hung on a cross with nails in their hands and feet, and die. for. me because I liked to sin or because I wanted to sin, or because I was compelled to sin.  Nope, no one.  Only Him.  Only Jesus.  Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, my Savior.

And so, yes, I have the knowledge of who He is, and I have knowledge of what He can do.  He has all the power in all the universe to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that He purposes to do.  He can rain down fire from heaven and destroy cities; He can cause a person to drop dead as a result of trying to deceive Him, and He holds the key to Hell.  What have I got to  fear from man when God can not only destroy this body of mine but also throw me into hellfire fore eternity?

Yes, so I have the beginning of wisdom.  My prayer for this new year is that I will receive His words, I will treasure His commands, "Make" my ears attentive to wisdom, "Incline" my heart to understanding  and cry out to Him for discernment and understanding.

I pray that you, too, will catch fire for God and not be found to be a laodiciaen.   Don't be lukewarm about God.  That will not get you wisdom.   My motto for 2014...'BE HOT FOR GOD...GET WISDOM THAT WON'T LET YOU DOWN OR LEAD YOU ASTRAY!!"

Father God, this is my heart, my prayer for the next year:  Please give me your wisdom and how to deal with life in this evil generation.  Give me more love for you and for my fellow man and woman.  Give me discernment and give me steadfastness and determination.  Don't let me give up.  Inspire me to keep on keeping on and to keep coming back to you for more.  In Jesus' name.




Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As the Year Ends, Don't Raise a Toast, Raise Your Ebenezer

1 Samuel 7:12:  Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, "Till now the Lord has helped us."




 
As I read and study the Bible , I am struck by how many times in the Old Testament the nation of Israel turned away from and back to God.  That is the situation in the 1 Samuel text quoted above, and in honor of Israel's return to worshiping the one true God, Samuel took a stone and and called it "Ebenezer" because "Till now the Lord has helped us."  Thus, one of the names of God is "My Ebenezer".  Ebenezer means "stone of help."

The Lord has certainly been my stone of help this year.  It has been a year of change for me and my family, and none of the changes have been small.

In April, after a long 18 months away, my son came home from spending time in a wilderness boys' camp due to a period of anger and rebellion towards my husband and me.  Although we have some inkling what caused the anger, it still isn't clear to us why he felt he had to react in the way he did, and we are still coping daily with snippets of rebellion and anger.

In June, my daughter moved to  Nashville to start a doctor of physical therapy program at Tennessee State University.  Having her live so far away and seeing her in between long interludes has been difficult simply because I miss her.  She and I have always been close and spent a lot of time together, but as I look toward the future, I see her asking me less and less for advice and finding her own way.   It causes me to wince when I think about it, but I suppose all mothers and fathers do that when their children leave to make their own way in the world, and begin their own families.

My husband is dealing with stress of several kinds and in ways that I don't feel comfortable with, and it is very difficult to see how it is affecting him, especially as he is aging.  To be beset with major financial changes at age 62 is hard when you have always been used to having money and doing what you want with it.

And last, but certainly not least, the challenges of having Parkinson's Disease and undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery has really put my faith to the test. 

But God has been my refuge, my strong tower, my hope, my Savior, my friend and my Ebenezer this year...my stone of help!  Strong and mighty is He who holds the framework of my life in His hands - stronger and mightier than the one who rules this age, stronger and mightier than anger, rebellion, fear, and loneliness; more dependable than money, jewels, silver or gold; and strong enough to carry me through surgery, recovery and learning how to live with disability, The Lord God is my Ebenezer!

I lift Him up today and everyday because I love Him, need Him and desire Him and all that He imparts to me by way of His holy spirit.  I could not make it through such tough testing and daily living without Him.  Looking back, I know that until now, the Lord has helped me everyday of my life.   He has been there through the right and wrong, the fear, the dread, the laughing and smiling, the tears and every time that there has been hope for a new day; holding my hand and cheering me on, advocating for me and calling me forward through the race of life which is, no doubt about it, hard.  I am running this race with His help and so today, I lift my Ebenezer for the year 2013.   God Almighty, My Ebenezer.

Lord, you know my heart, I don't always show it, but you are the center of my life.  Never a day passes without thinking what you think, without a prayer of some sort, without looking to you and your Word about what to do and how to do.  Thank you, God, for choosing me, loving me, saving me and bringing me to this point in my life where I realize that without you, my life is meaningless.  I thank you for the old year and all you have taught me, and I look forward to the new year which will, no doubt, bring about changes and challenges that I know I could not face without you.  None of us know where we will sitting just 12 short months from now, but I pray that nothing with separate me from your love, including my will, my pride and my ability to sin.   Forgive me for the things I did in 2013 that did not bring you glory and inspire me to do everything I do in 2014 to bring glory and honor and praise to your great name.  I don't know who will read this, Lord, but for each and everyone who passes by, I pray that you will are or will become the center of their life, to the praise of your glory.  In Jesus' name.   Amen.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Mary Pondered All These Things in Her Heart

This is a blog I wrote several years ago, and I thought it worth re-printing with just a few modifications:

You know how it is, moms, when our children do things, we store them up in our hearts to take out over the years, to review and cherish because our children are so precious to us.

Mary was no different from you and me in that way, but her child certainly was different, and I am sure, he gave her many things to hold in her heart that were very different from the ones our children give us, didn't He?

I imagine that many of you are like me during this season, reading the first three chapters of Luke. It seems like I do that every year, and each year the story holds just a little more in it that speaks to my heart as a mother and a child of God.

As I meditated on the Christmas story this morning, I paid particular attention to Mary.  Maybe it's because my own children are getting older and living their own lives,  and when you add to that the fact that I've put a whole lot less of the meaningless into the holiday the last five years, less focus on food, fun and shopping and more attention to God's Word, His Son, and living a godly life, but the words, "and Mary pondered all these things in her heart" spoke to me.  What exactly does it mean to "ponder"?  The online dictionary defines it as:  To reflect or consider with thoroughness and care; to meditate on over time.

Imagine having angels show up at the birth of your child, or shepherds who left praising God and spreading the word that your child was a special child, the redeemer of mankind!  That's one I'd want to pull out and ponder now and again. 

Imagine being the mother of the son of God and watching Him grow up, learn to talk, say "mama" and "papa", take his first steps, lose his first tooth, tie his shoes and other ordinary things? If we as mothers of ordinary, everyday children store up their lives in our hearts, think about how Mary must have felt knowing that her son was the Savior of the world. Every thing he said or did must have made an imprint upon her heart and mind.


Imagine losing your child for three days and finding him in the Temple teaching the teachers and adults; you're in a tizzy, and he calmly tells you that you had to know that he would be about his father's business!  That's another one I'd have to think about.
Isaiah 53:3 says that Mary's son was a "man of sorrows", men "despised" him, "rejected" him, hid their faces from him and gave him no value. How does a mother hold that in her heart?   I certainly know from experience that when my children are sad, but really not just feeling sad, but living with sorrow day and night, or when other people make them feel unwanted and don't see their value, it gives me great pain in my own heart! Strong's Concordance states that the word "sorrows" is translated from the Hebrew word makove which means physical and mental pain and sorrow of the soul.  Yes, Mary's son was all those things, but think about the pain this must have brought to Mary's heart?

Then there's the Wedding at Cana in John 2:1-10. The wedding host runs out of wine and Mary goes to  Jesus and tells him about it and he tells his mother that it's not time yet for him to do miracles and reveal himself.  She tells the servants to do whatever he tells them to do and as a result, the wedding host ends up serving the best wine last when it is customary to serve the best wine first before everyone is tipsy and don't know what's what.

John tells us in his gospel that if all the things Jesus had ever done were written down that there would not be enough books to hold them!!!

As we celebrate his birth today, whether it's in quiet contemplation or boisterous family gatherings, let us ponder anew the miracle that occurred that day in Bethlehem. God became flesh and dwelt among men, lived with them, loved them as friends and family, and died for them and us.

Yes, God himself saw our helplessness and cast off all about himself that was holy, godly, and supernatural, and became a "man of sorrows", "bruised for our iniquities", and "wounded for our transgressions" so that we might be restored to our intended relationship with God the Father.
  
Everyday is Christmas as far as I'm concerned. Emmanuel, God With Us, Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Jesus Christ, Y'eshua, Messiah came and paid the price so that we might be set free from sin and its consequence...death!

Take the time today to ponder in your heart, like Mary, the many things that have been written about her son in the Bible (the one and only source for truth)!

May God bless you in the new year with his presence, his peace and his love and grace.