Look the Right Way!

MM900395755[1]“Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, and as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy and loving-kindness for us” ~ Psalm 123:2, AMP.

Several months ago God instructed my heart that “A Storm” is coming to our land and He began using me to call many to prayer.

When Sandy hit, I said, “Lord, is this it?”

“No,” He replied, “This is only a part of the greater.”

Then He impressed on my heart that our nation will see its economy crumble and immorality increase like a storm never seen before in our land. So we watch and we pray.

MP900443311[1]Over the past numerous days God has been instructing my heart, and these words penned in a devotional by Sarah Young in her book “Jesus Today” sum it all up: Look the Right Way!

As I have pondered all that God is speaking to me through His word and the words of His People, I realized that I have gained 10 pounds since God’s warning me of The Storm to come. Though I thought I was keeping eyes on Him, I would say that I am stress eating, which signals me that my eyes are looking in the wrong direction.

What if things fall apart? Is that not what we anticipate as a sign that Christ’s return draws near? Does the chaos in the earth make God any less capable of tending to His Own? Have not many generations seen similar storms blow through and lived to tell of the Wonderworks of God in seeing them safely to the other side? “Look the Right Way, Darlene, and press forward with hope.”

I know not what “tomorrow” holds, but I know Who holds “tomorrow”.  He has a purpose in all things, and it is for eternal good and glory. I can rest in Him Who is my Rest, Strong Tower, Secret Hiding Place, Firm Foundation, and Possessor of my soul. He is my Rock out of which the Stream of refreshing and provision come. He is Hope and Song. He sees! Nothing escapes His notice and He cares for all that concerns me and those with me who seek to Look the Right Way. When I look at Him and keep my eyes on Him and His purpose, I find peace that passes understanding and hope beyond measure.

As I have looked at Him, He instructed me on some important things I am to give myself to: loving Him first and foremost, and others as I should be loving myself. My eating is not a loving act toward me, nor Him whose temple I am, so that has got to change. Relationships are vital in this hour, and the busyness of life threatens that, so I must be deliberate in taking time for others.

I must keep up my ponderings, reflecting on the things God shows me and sharing them with you in the hope of being a help to lift youdreaming and happy up in these difficult days ahead. Too often we read His word, hear Him speak, and go off never giving Him time to fully instruct and transform us by His Word. Taking time for reflection, “Pondering these things” as Mary did, is vital to our weathering the storm ahead.

And rest is vital in these days; not only the rest of leisure time that physically rests our weary bodies, but entering into His rest despite the approaching storm. We learn in Hebrews that entering His rest comes through faith that believes God and takes action through obedience. We are not without Hope. He is our Hope. But Hope is most often missed because of unbelief that leads to actions of sin—going against God’s expressed instruction.

Join me, and Look the Right Way, my friend, as the days unfold before us, and smile as the rays of Hope lead you surely through the storms of life.

~*~

Bigger God“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle (forbearing) spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, DWELL on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” ~ Philippians 4:4-9, NASB.

Pondering the Point of Christmas:

“As I see it, there really are only two Gods in this world. There is the Creator who designed it all, who imbues our life (potentially) with meaning and mission. And there is the autonomous self. The lives of each of us orbits One or the other. We choose to live as a child of God or of the lesser god named self. In a way, its the only choice in life that really matters, since all the other choices-our beliefs, morals, priorities-cash out as natural extensions of this one choice. At Christmas, God comes to us as Emmanuel, God with us. But only if we want Him to be with us in life, to orbit His life with ours. This is the choice each of us makes, not by any profession of faith, but by a thousand little decisions each day, to do it His way or mine. Think carefully. Choose well. Merry Christmas.”

Author: Curtis Martin of Fort Collins, Colorado ©

Used by permission

In the Spirit and Power of Elijah, Go Forth!

Read Luke 1:1-20

1 Kings 18
1 Kings 18

“…For he will be great and distinguished in the sight of the Lord. And he must drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit even in and from his mother’s womb. And he will turn back and cause to return many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will [himself] go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn back the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient and incredulous and unpersuadable to the wisdom of the upright [which is the knowledge and holy love of the will of God]—in order to make ready for the Lord a people [perfectly] prepared [in spirit, adjusted and disposed and placed in the right moral state] …” ~ Luke 1:15-17, AMP.

Look closely at this good word. This is us in our day, beloved. This passage gives us a picture of our calling and equipping as the people of God in our day, again awaiting the Messiah. We are the “great and distinguished of God”, having His favor upon us for a purpose, however great or lowly our position in this life.

From the time of our new-birth in Christ, we are given His Spirit and called to be filled and controlled by Him. We are instructed in Ephesians 5:18 to not be drunk with wine, but be filled with His Spirit. The instant of our spiritual birthing, the words concerning Christ became true for us as He breathed on us and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Our calling and equipping, Beloved, is that of John the Baptist, making ready the way of the Lord. In this passage, we get a glimpse of what that call on our lives entails. Simply put, our calling and equipping includes:

  1. Turn the hearts of the people Jesus died for to turn to the Lord their God. Helping people realize that God is, and that He is God of all; their choice being eternity with Him, or without Him: this is our call and the power supplied for our equipping.
  2. We go before Him in the Spirit and Power of Elijah to accomplish His will and announce His way in the earth.
  3. We are equipped to “turn back the hearts of the fathers to the children.”
  4. We are empowered to reach “the disobedient, incredulous, and UNPERSUADABLE to the wisdom of the upright, which is the knowledge and holy love of the will of God.”

God empowers us to reach even the unreachable! Is that not awesome? And all of this is so we can fulfill our ultimate goal, “to make ready for the Lord a people, perfectly prepared in spirit, adjusted and disposed and placed in the right moral state”: ready for His coming; ready to meet Him.

It is so totally awesome to me to realize this anew. Is it to you? But take warning from what came next.

Zachariah doubted the word of the messenger and did what Jesus—and God the Father, hate. He asked for a sign, essentially saying, “Prove to me that your words are truth.” And what did the angel say to him?

“I AM GABRIEL. I STAND IN THE [VERY] PRESENCE OF GOD, and I have been sent to talk to you and to bring you this good news. Now behold, you will be and will continue to be silent and not able to speak till the day when these things take place, BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT BELIEVED WHAT I TOLD YOU; BUT MY WORDS ARE OF A KIND WHICH WILL BE FULFILLED IN THE APPOINTED AND PROPER TIME” (vs. 19-20).

It was good news Gabriel brought to Zachariah, but did he receive it that way? No. He let doubt hinder faith. He chose disbelief over trust in God.

Friend, I bring you good news today. There is no one that God instructs you to share with that is beyond your ability to persuade. Not one. The question is, do you trust God enough to choose to believe His word by faith, or are you stunned to silence through disbelief and failure to trust God. Friend, my words are of a kind which will be fulfilled in the appointed and proper time; and His word does not go out without accomplishing that for which it is sent. You do not need fancy words or desperate pleas to reach the unreachable. All you need is words of love backed up with a life of faith and God will do the rest.

And what does the Scripture say?

“Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?” (Lamentations 3:37)

And again:

“You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

The proof comes as we obey God in faith and see His word fulfilled. So go forth, distinguished of the Lord, and see the glory of God in the land of the living as you fulfill your purpose where you are in the sphere of influence given you (Exodus 33:12-17).

Darlene Davis © 12/22/12

The Conversation

The Conversation, recorded below, was given to me, a humbled follower of Christ. I am Darlene, and I currently suffer with Complicated Grief Disorder (CGD), an emotional disorder kin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, that presents with the same symptomology and is given the same treatment regimen. It is the result of the breakdown of normally good coping mechanisms, brought about by some stressor in life that snaps that system. As a result, I struggle often with almost agoraphobic social anxiety. It is most difficult during the holidays when my stressor has to be faced as family gatherings begin. While looking for some other recorded document, I ran across this and am encouraged again. Here is the story of how the conversation recorded below came to be.

As part of God’s treatment regimen in helping me to deal with my CGD, God led me to the study of Christian Counseling with Light University. Preparing for a trip to Nashville for graduation from that first stage of study and for an American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference, my social anxiety flaring severely, I recall a scripture I received via email from Bible Gateway that kept coming to mind. Going through my deleted files, I discover many others and begin printing them and taping them to index cards that I can carry with me for meditation while on the trip. Reading through the compilation of scriptures God highlighted to my heart, I am amazed to find the conversation I now share with you.

Father, I pray for all into whose hands you put this conversation. May their hearts be helped as they truly comprehend this being from You for them, as much as it was for me. I pray that all the days of their lives will be filled with the sure knowledge of Your presence and Your rich rewards promised to those who choose to believe.

~*~

The Conversation

~*~

Living Water
Living Water

 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. …You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. …I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. …You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word.”

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. …The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. …The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. …So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

~*~

(Psalm 121:1-2; Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 46:4; Isaiah 48:17; Psalm 16:8; 119:114; Isaiah 41:10; 40:31; Psalm 121:7-8; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:35-36)

Christmas, or Not? The Controversy and Our Choice

nativity 02
Merry Christmas

This morning, as I awoke, my thoughts ran quickly to the controversial issue I have been mulling, and yes, fuming over for weeks now concerning Christmas as a Christian holiday and it being “stolen from us in our day and culture”. I am hearing that there are even people gearing up to fight to get it back. And until I started my research, I was leaning toward getting aboard the boat with them. But after just barely starting my research, God began to minister to my heart and lead me to adjust my understanding and perceptions. I am now leaning toward a thought that has hit my head several times of late; that thought being that we need to celebrate Christ in peace with those who celebrate their “holidays” or set another time as a time for our celebration of Christ. Why do I say that?

The very beginning of my research reveals what I have heard for years; that Christmas as a celebration started out of other traditions of the day. Quoting one article on History of Christmas website:

“Believe it or not, many of the traditions that we observe during the Christmas holiday season began way before the birth of Christ. Exchanging gifts, decorating trees, and the burning of the Yule log were all winter traditions that began before Christ was born, but were eventually incorporated into the holiday that became known as Christmas, and became part of Christmas history.” 1

According to this same article, “One theory about the evolution of the winter celebrations to the celebration of the birth of Jesus is that the Roman emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity, wanted to incorporate the pagan winter rituals together with the celebration of Jesus’ birth. In this way, Constantine hoped to help both pagans and Christians celebrate together. Many believe that this is the reason for celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25th. It is widely believed today that Jesus was not actually born on, or even close to, December 25th. Eventually, the Roman church became more successful in making the December celebration about the birth of Christ, replacing any celebrations that were in honor of pagan gods.” 1

Some interesting facts:

†   The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. 2

†   The first Nativity was created by St. Francis of Assisi in 1224 and was a living nativity, set up in an effort to explain the birth of Jesus. The Nativity is exclusive to the Christian faith and the celebration of Christ at Christmas in many parts of the world. 3

†   Decorated trees were used in celebrations long before Christ, as well as being seen as home décor for luck and other such beliefs. It is believed that Boniface, a Monk who came to Germany in the 7th/8th century, first introduced the use of the fir as a Christmas tree, its triangular shape being used to signify the Trinity. 4

†   The 12 Days of Christmas is believed to come from the Zagmuth in Mesopotamia, a festival in support of their chief god, Marduk, who was believed to battle the “monsters of chaos” at the beginning of winter. 1

†   The Council of Tours in 567 established the period of Advent as a time of fasting before Christmas. They also proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany a sacred, festive season. 5

I could go on, but you can read the articles linked below for more information. The fact is that the celebration of Christmas, meaning “Christ’s mass”, is highly linked with celebrations of other non-Christian cultures through adoption of timing, traditions, and symbols. Do we have a right to celebrate it with freedom and respectful consideration by those who choose not to? Yes. Is this season solely ours? No. There are too many other cultures with similar celebrations, some linked with other gods, who have had this same season for eons, long before our choosing it for our purpose of honoring and remembering the Christ.

So what’s the solution?

†   “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31.

†   Remember that “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:20.

†   And, lest we forget, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, INTENT ON ONE PURPOSE. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” ~ Philippians 2:1-8.

Our main purpose for still being here, the reason we continue to watch for Christ’s return, is because He still has a work for us to do in the earth. We are here to represent His interests, and His interests are for us to be an expression of His image in the earth, reaching out to those He died for with arms and attitudes of love. And we are to do so in likeness to Christ, who gave up His high position and all the rights that afforded Him to come here and suffer the loss of all He had for a time so that He might provide a way of saving grace for us. Thus, we are to lay down our lives, if need be, in order to win some. (Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-24)

The celebration of Christ is a heart issue. We cannot force it on others. They cannot truly take it from us. My decision today as I think on these things is this: When I say “Merry Christmas” and someone else responds with Happy Holidays, I will smile and thank them while lifting a prayer for their ultimate blessing. If someone complains about my nativity being visible to all in my front yard, I will do my best to respond to them with grace while standing my ground in celebrating my King. Hopefully as I do so, with respectful consideration for him while still standing firm for my Christ, that person will come to some understanding of my love of my God and will return the respect of my right of choice as I respect their God-given right to choose against Him. Remember, rejection of Christianity and its practices and peoples is not ultimately rejection of the person serving Christ, it is rejection of Christ Himself, and He will deal with that (Luke 10:16; Titus 1:16). Ours is to love Him and love others as He does: unconditionally and incorruptibly.

Are some things worth fighting for? Yes. Are we, as Christians to do so? We are called to “fight the good fight of faith”, so I would say we are to pick our battles well, make sure our heart and attitude in the fight line up with God’s will and way, then stand firm on Him.

We are called to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves in this world. To me, that means to understand the ways of evil and know what God has supplied us in the set-up of world government that can be used to fight the good fight within the legal bounds of His Law and the laws of man, but we must do so always with our role of ambassador in heart, being innocent of unrighteous motive and clear of attitudes that misrepresent Him, standing with His Law when man’s law is in contention with Him.

Christmas is the focus of the Christian in celebrating this Holiday season. But other belief systems coincide with our Christmas. Let them have theirs while we keep ours with respect and peace one to another, or change the date for ours and separate from the rest. It is our choice, people of Jehovah in Jesus, the Christ. What will we do?

References:

History Of Christmas on History of Christmas website: http://www.historyofchristmas.net/page1.html

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas; See also History of old Christmas day: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/ch/old_christmas_day.htm

Nativity History: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/ch/nativity.htm

Symbols of Christmas on The Holiday Spot.Com: http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/christmas_symbols.htm

History of Advent: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/trivia/advent.htm

Sites of interest:

History of Holidays: http://www.historyofholidays.com/

The History of Christmas: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/

The Holiday Spot: http://www.theholidayspot.com/

Who De Judge?

Read John 3:16-21

The judgment of God can be confusing. Why does Jesus say He did not come to judge the world, while in other passages saying He does judge? Why is God the Father the Judge, and yet He has left all judgment to Jesus? Why are we told to not pass judgment, while in another Breath of His Word we are told to judge righteously? I don’t know if I can help make sense of it, but this passage calls me to try. Thus we will break it down and talk it through.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. …” (vs. 16-18).

Jesus IS the Word of God, incarnate, living, and active. He somehow, fully understood by God alone, is the power through which God spoke all into existence. He is the Messenger, I believe the One called the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament who delivered God’s message to man pre-Christ, and now anew as Christ. He is the Word lived out fully before us as an example to us for life more abundant and full. He spoke only as God instructed Him, so every Word given is God breathed through Him from beginning of days to their end. The Word of God is the judgment of God already passed, by which we are already judged.

Jesus is the Word of God come to live as an example and die as propitiation; thus He says rightly that judgment is already passed through Him who is the incarnation of the very Word of God so that those who believe are already judged as righteous in and through receiving His gift of sacrifice and following Him; and those who deny Him are already judged guilty as they refuse the gift of God in Christ and the Lordship He has bought as the living Word of God to direct our life. (John 1:14; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Luke 4:32; John 6:68; 1 John 1:1-5; John 18:37; John 5:30; John 8:28; John 12:48-50; Romans 2)

Thus Jesus did not need to judge the world, because the world is already judged by the Word. The Word is God and is in perfect alignment with all God is and desires. Anything standing in opposition to His Word, stands against Him and is judged guilty. Any in agreement with the Word stand with God and are adjudged righteous through Christ. So Jesus was not sent to judge, because judgment is already defined and passed. But when He is required to pronounce judgment, He does so as the Word of God, expressing the dictates of God that are already set.

We are told to not pass judgment as our right to do so, for in such an attitude we too often judge according to our own ideology of right and wrong. Thus, in doing so, we set ourselves up as a god in His place. He has already judged, and His word is His judgment, set in place to show us how to live in righteousness.

Another reason we are told not to judge is because we too easily look at the external without thought of the internal or the underlying issue of the heart. Only God knows the true intent of the heart of every man, and only He can justly and by right pronounce judgment and pass sentence.

However we are called to righteous judgment. This can only be achieved when we first judge ourselves against the Standard of God’s word and make sure we are in right relationship with Him. We can only fully judge self, with God’s help, as He reveals to us the true intent found in our heart. This is because the heart of our flesh is deceptive and we too easily fool ourselves.

We see this principle as Jesus kneels down to scribble in the dirt, then stands to tell a crowd, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, all dropped their rock and turned to walk away. Jesus knew their desire to stone the woman caught in sin was unrighteous on several plains of thoughts: one – they only brought the woman, leaving the man behind as if he had no part in the sin. The law they were partially following says to bring “them” out for stoning who are caught in adultery, not “her”. Two – He also knew that the heart desire of those leading the unruly crowd was to test Him to see if they could catch Him in sin. I have no doubt that a wrong response from Jesus, and the stones would have been aimed His way. And three – these were forgetting rule one, righteously judge yourself and remove the plank from your own eye so you can see to help another with their splinter. Many in the crowd were more deserving of stoning than our adulterous young woman. Many probably just had yet to be caught. (Read John 8)

We are to judge others only in accord with God’s Word as we can physically see them standing in disagreement to It; and then only as we ourselves are walking in agreement with that area of life in Him. I know someone has committed the sin of stealing when I see them steal, I judge them guilty of stealing because God’s word ordains, “Thou shalt not steal.” And I can rightly address that issue with the person when I do so realizing it is God’s judgment based on His word, and I stand before Him in the cover of His grace, doing the best we can to walk with Him in agreement with His Word, will and way. None are perfect in flesh yet; we are perfected in Christ and we are continually being perfected. So righteous judgment can only be done when we do all we can know to do to be in right standing with God, and as we have a heart attitude that we, too, are but flesh apart from Christ.

“…This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (vs. 19-21).

As we consider the heart issues involved, only God can fully comprehend the intent of the heart of any man. Only He can reveal that intent. And only He can divvy out righteous justice or decide for grace. Our righteous judgment toward self or any other can only truly happen as we realize these things and seek the heart of God to know the truth and follow His will in passing judgment. Because of this, people will either love the Word of God, and run hard to practice it, or they will hate it.

People who hate the word of God most often do so because it is His light to reveal to us our own hearts, whether we stand righteous or guilty. They avoid it for fear that they will have to change their ways, being unwilling to do so. And they don’t like feeling their guilt, so they baulk at His word and our pronouncements of His judgment.

Those who love the Word love it because they realize that it teaches them Christlikeness that restores the image of God to our hearts. Jesus gives us His Spirit to help us choose to love the Word and to instruct our understanding, granting power to follow through with its dictates. Thus we must choose to believe His life, example, and sacrifice, taking it fully to heart and making it our own, so that we may be saved unto eternity and live a life after God’s own heart.

The Bronze Serpent

John 3:

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life” (vs. 14-15).

~*~

“And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived” ~ Numbers 21:9.

Jesus replaces the bronze serpent on Moses staff, the healing balm that takes away the sting of consequences for standing against God and His way. And He brings healing to our sin stained lives from now into out eternity, delivering us safely to our eternal destination with Him. That is what Jesus is saying. Is that not exciting!

There are always consequences for our actions. When we do good, standing in alignment with God’s will and way, we reap a good reward—the blessed consequence. When we do evil, standing in disagreement with God’s will and way, we reap the cursed consequence. As long as we are in this flesh body that brings its fleshly wisdom leading to lust of the flesh, we can and too often do stumble up in our walk with God. But when we look to Jesus as the snake bit sinners of old looked on the bronze serpent head with faith in God to heal them, realizing the promise of healing represented in Christ, He restores life to us. Though there may be residual effects of the consequences to deal with as a scar from a snake bite, God reveals the way to live to the full where we are. And the scars only act as a reminder to keep us from walking that path to sin again.

Thank You, Father, that You do not leave us without hope. You are there for us and have provided the way of healing, not only for our personal lives when we make bad decisions and suffer the consequences, but for our nation. For as we, Your people called by Your name, humble ourselves individually and corporately, praying in earnest and seeking Your face with whole heart, turning from our evil ways to look to the Christ with faith for healing and strength to follow You fully, then You will hear our prayer, forgive our sin, and heal our land. O how greatly we need You, O God, in Jesus, amen.

Take It To Your Heart

MC900434748[1]…take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other ~ Deuteronomy 4:39.

I, along with many others I know, too often struggle with depression. I wrote an email today to just such a one encouraging them in things they can do to help themselves. As I read this simple statement of truth about God this morning, I am mindful of how the things we take to heart affect our thoughts, mental attitudes, emotional stability, and even the very delicate chemical balance of our bodies, all of which affect our mental health and sense of well-being, and our physical health. The things we take to heart will either make us better in every way, even improving our physical health; or they will make us bitter and sickly in every way: mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, relationally, and behaviorally; and yes, even economically.

I am really taking this insight to heart right now, as I know my beloved friend who is struggling with depression is not alone. I am right there with her as the winter season couples with the holiday events that so often lead to depression. Relationship struggles and fear of the “what ifs” have taken my heart captive again. So as I read this with God’s highlight on the “take it to your heart,” I realize that I have to fill my heart with good thoughts of truth worth holding. Thoughts and truths that will help my heart, mind, soul and strength to be in good health and able to withstand whatever might be.

The truth is that the things I let grab my heart and roll around in my thoughts to be taken to heart usually do not happen. When they do, God is always faithful to equip me to deal with whatever that might be. Truth is that the things I often think about what other people think of me is usually not true, and I judge their hearts unrighteously when I take those thoughts to heart as if true.

When it gets right down to it, the thoughts I think of others color their reputation for me. I will give bad repute toward those I think are thinking bad of me, thinking them harsh, unloving and uncaring, often without cause. But I will give good repute to those I choose to take good thoughts to heart toward, giving them grace when they fall because I choose to give focus to the good in them over the bad.

Truth is that it does not truly matter what others think of me, or even what I think of myself. It only matters what God thinks and knows to be true of me. When I focus on what He thinks, it leads to me being and doing things righteously, in ways and with right attitudes and motives that not only please Him, but make me feel better about me, thus causing my actions and responses to be such as gives me favor with mankind.

Things we take to heart, my friend, will make us, or break us. So weigh every thought and intent of the heart on God’s scales, and think good thoughts: thoughts that are right, true, pure, lovely, excellent, of good repute, and worthy of praise, and peace will come to dwell in the heart in which such thoughts prevail.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” ~ Philippians 4:8-9.

Celebrating Jesus – The Advent 3

El Shaddai“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1).

At the ripe age of 100, Abram is about to receive again the promise of God that he will have a son by his barren wife Sarai (90 years old). God knew that at this point in life when they were not only barren, but beyond the age of child-bearing, that Abram would do what he did later, he would laugh in disbelief; just as Sarai would in the next chapter. So He started the conversation with the proclamation of His might as God Almighty: El Shadai.

In our day and age, with the challenges facing us as a people and a nation, we desperately need to remember our God is God Almighty. The problem in our day is people read scripture without the aid of God’s Spirit to teach them and think the truths shared there about God are impossible. They fail to have faith to believe because they see the wrath of God and decide God must be cruel and unworthy of following. They see the miracles reported in its pages and think such to be impossible. Therefore they choose to not believe. They do not understand that God was creating a holy people through which to birth Messiah, the greatest miracle of all that would bring down the curtain of division and make the Holy of holies available to all.

In the Amplified version of Genesis 17:1, we read “…walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect (blameless, wholehearted, complete).” This is the requirement for the people who would be the lineage of Christ, and it is the requirement of those who today profess Christ as Savior and returning Messiah. God needs a people wholly set apart to Him, and then, as today they had to sometimes be dealt with harshly to get their attention and draw them away from false deities of the day that tempted them away from the purity of a relationship with Holy God. Those who struggle to understand, lacking the help of the Spirit to discern the truth, fail to discern that any God worth following must be almighty in power, able to hold His position as God. Not only is El Shadai a God who is able to hold His rightful place as God, but He is able to meet those who follow Him at their most desperate of needs. Without the ability to believe that God is able, why is He worth following?

God is still working a purpose for eternity out in our day, and it requires that people have the choice to believe or not believe, for in that choice we choose “God” or “not God”. Through allowing evil in the earth for a short time—short in comparison to eternity—He has allowed a line to be drawn that gives us choice in whether to believe in, love and honor God as God or not. True love must make room for love to be returned willingly. True love would never force the one loved to love in return. Thus God’s love made a way for us to have a choice in this life. God, or not God, but some other god. Even those who believe there is no god have set themselves up as god to rule their own way. And though there is no other god except the One True God, Jehovah, other false gods exist with a power that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, says has the power of demons behind it.

God called Abraham to believe the impossible to be possible because the God he chose to serve is ALMIGHTY GOD. Out of Abraham’s faith in choosing to believe God for the HIMpossible, God birthed through Him the lineage of the Christ, who was to come out of a people wholly set apart to God as His beloved people. And out of that Seed of Righteousness, Jesus the Christ, He provided the way for His people, Israel, and indeed the entire world, to come into eternal relationship with Himself.

By faith to believe the HIMpossible of Almighty God found in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, we enter into the family of God, being made through Christ into “…a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The season of Advent is a time to remember and proclaim this gift from El Shadai through the lineage set up in Abraham.

Nothing is beyond the ability of God Almighty to take care of, and He will do so in due season. Just as Abraham’s Isaac was born in God’s timing, so that all would know it was God who did it because of the advanced age of Sarah and Abraham that made conception impossible without God doing it, so Jesus coming as Messiah in ways that are beyond our ability to comprehend reveals the work of the Almighty for a purpose that is His own: the salvation of a world of people in need of One True God.

Our situations today are the same, opportunity to watch the perfect timing of God Almighty at work in ways that show Himself strong on our behalf. God is able. As He said to Abraham at the time of conception, so He says to us who will hear today, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). All we need is to have a mustard seed of faith in God, relying on Him, trusting in Him, being confident that He will do the HIMpossible at just the right time to accomplish the greatest good for all concerned. That is His way revealed throughout the ages, working not only on our behalf for our good, but on behalf of all around us who will see and come to believe El Shaddai.

Celebrating Jesus: The Advent – 2

Jesus_103The great King, anticipated by Israel for millennia, came first in an unexpected way: in the flesh of a human, to die as a sacrificial Lamb for the sin of all mankind. Jew and Gentile alike are called to come in under the blood of the Lamb of God, the covering for sin that brings all who will believe into the Kingdom of God. For He is returning one day as that long awaited King to set up His rule in the earth, and all who do not have this covering of blood will be denied access to His kingdom, just as the first born were lost to all not under the blood at the time of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.

Before the Christ was born into the earth, God brought forth John, who would be called the Baptist, called and equipped with the filling of the Spirit to be the forerunner to the Christ. Of himself He said, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said” (John 1:22).

So what does this, “make straight the way of the Lord” mean? The angel who appeared to John’s father, Zacharias, explains it:

“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

It is our faith as Christians that Jesus is the Christ, first come to purchase back the people of God through blood sacrifice of His own flesh, purchasing Jew and Gentile alike, making us one people for God’s own possession in Christ as we receive the gift of this grace by faith. Jesus is the Kinsman Redeemer, paying the full price as propitiation for sin, so we can walk free in Him. Through the power of the Spirit He gives to all who will believe that He is the Christ come first as sacrifice for sin, we are empowered to turn our hearts back to our children and turn from disobedience to righteousness in Christ. Thus we are prepared for the Lord who will return as the long awaited King of kings, ready to set up His kingdom on earth.

So what are we, His people by the new birth of spirit through faith, to do in our wait for His return? I believe we are to “go as a forerunner before Him (who is returning) in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Advent is a time of remembrance the full and completed work of Jesus, past, present and future. We begin by calling to mind the first coming of the King as the Christ Child, the Bright Morning Star who showed the way of righteousness, then gave Himself as Sacrificial Lamb, becoming the blood covered door by which all who believe and receive His gift may enter into His righteousness and find saving grace that grants us relationship with God the Father in our here and now existence while making us ready for the Kings return. Are you ready, my friend? For He is coming back, and when He returns it will be too late for Jew or Gentile to make that choice.

Make ready, Beloved. Your sin is already covered by grace and is setting before you as a gift of His love and desire for full restoration of relationship with you. For that gift to belong to you, you must now reach out to receive it. That gift is received by simply believing that He first came as sacrifice for all sin, including your sin, then, with repentance for your personal sin and willingness of heart to surrender to His work of grace within, reach out to receive the gift of grace He has for you, surrendering all to Him as Lord who purchased the right over you. By His grace sufficient, He will then fill you with His Spirit to empower the journey of a lifetime as He works to restore the image of God in you, step by step, day by day, working to perfect you as His image bearer until the day of Christ’s return (Philippians 1:6).

Celebrating Jesus: The Advent – 1

mary-mother_of_jesus_21Behold, the bondslave of the Lord

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. FOR NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:26-38, NASB)

Advent—the time of remembering what God did through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; what He is doing in your life today; and the earnest expectation and hope of His promised return. One way we can celebrate Advent is to have this attitude expressed by Mary in each day of life and every situation: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; me it be done to me according to your word.”

A bondslave is slave by choice out of trust in and love for the Master. The saying goes, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will for me.” Total surrender to the will and purpose of God, trusting His fulfillment of all the good He desires even when it puts us in precarious positions, is the most glorious place on earth; safe in His perfect will. Celebrate today the relationship with God that is available to us as Bondslaves set free in Christ to choose this love walk with the Father in likeness to the Son.