Tag Archives: salvation

Come Quickly, Lord!

I look around at the trouble and turmoil in all the earth today, and I cry out, “Lord, come quickly! Surely Jesus is coming now, for it cannot possibly get worse on the earth. Surely evil has completed it’s appointed course.” But looking back at 200ish years ago, the time of the plagues and warring crusades; or a hundred years ago, with WWI, the Spanish flu, and WWII, we find the same cry of the heart that cannot fathom evil could possibly get worse.

Here’s the facts: evil has brought its trouble to the earth since Adam and Eve fell to it’s influence and were sent out of that glorious garden of God. Evil remained through the days of Christ, even as Jesus paid a price none of us could even begin to pay. Evil will remain and grow ever stronger until Jesus returns and ushers His own back into that garden of God. Each age watches for Him, calls for His “soon” return, and expects Him in our today, unable to fathom that evil will possibly get worse.

But only The Father knows the day or hour when He will say, “enough” to evil’s trouble, and send Christ to usher in the eternal Kingdom. Ours is not to know the day or the hour, but to live in such a way as to be ready, should His coming be our now. If, in a hundred years, some child of God looks back from their own trouble with thought of, “Surely today, Lord,” may they see faith and faithfulness in our life story to help them stand firm in the wait.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:42-44‬ ‭‬‬

5/10/22 Prayer

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭‬‬

Father, anxiety over the horrors going on in these days is a plague to our hearts. It is too easy to become anxious over so many evils and atrocities we see happening in our day. Your word wisely warns us to not anxiously look around at these things and be overcome by fear, but to remember that You are God. Through trusting belief that knows You are working for our good, even bringing good out of things Your enemy intends for evil, we enter Your rest and find peace that umpires our hearts in these days. Only in keeping our eyes on You can we walk through evil days in ways that honor and glorify You.

Thank You, Lord, that as we turn our hearts to focus on Your faithful truth, You bless us with strength to persevere as we experience Your trustworthy help. Thank You that You uphold us with Your righteous right hand of power, protection, and provision. In Jesus, I rest myself in You and find your peace that passes all comprehensive understanding. Let Umpire Peace lead me in paths of righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with You, not for my earning it, but for Your name’s sake. In Christ, Amen.

Love has Already Chosen You

You may not choose God, but He has chosen you. How do I know that?

“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.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

He loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son to pay a price you cannot pay, so you can choose a reward you cannot earn: eternity with Him as Father God. If you refuse Him, He will still love you, for He is Love and He cannot deny Himself. He will still love you even while you deny the gift of His Son and choose eternity separated from Him.

However, there will come a time when we all stand before Him. Those who accept His gift while there is still time will enter eternity in His Kingdom. Those who refused His gift will enter an eternity separated from Him. Will they know his hate as they go?

God is love. He does not hate those His Son died to save: all the people of the world. I believe those who refuse Him will know beyond a doubt the fullness of God’s love for them before they are removed from His presence forever, a love we all long for but cannot know except in Him. All who do not choose Him in Christ now will know exactly what they refused: love made full and complete.

Which are you? Are you one who has believed and received this gift of God and are now walking in His love to eternity with Him? Or are you one who has refused His love? It’s your God given choice. No one else can make that choice for you.

Don’t wait until it is too late. Don’t wait until you stand before Him, knowing for the first time the fulness of that love, only to be cast into outer darkness, never to be touched by pure love again. Don’t be one left with nothing but longing for a touch of His love through an eternal hell of knowing His love is out there, just beyond your reach forvermore.

One, Unhindered

One may have to fight for the right of religion, but faith is a heart issue that cannot be dictated, hindered, or stopped.

One may have to fight for the right of assembly, but worship praise and prayer is a personal and private intimacy that cannot be dictated, hindered, or stopped.

One may have to fight for the right to speak what we believe, but belief is a personal choice that cannot be dictated hindered or stopped.

Faith in God is an intimate relationship, a personal choice and discipline with God that no worldly, fleshly, demonic force can dictate, hinder, or stop.

When individuals praise, worship and pray, they do so in the personal and real Presence of God, even in the quiet of our souls, where we are transported to the throne room of the Father, made one with Him and each other. Worship assembles us as one before God, inseparable for all eternity, now and forever, whether we stand under the same roof, or seemingly separated, but truly in one heart.

This deep, abiding, personal relationship cannot be dictated, hindered, or stopped. Not even death can separate us from this love life with God that makes us One. Stand Firm in Faith, and do not grow weary in well doing.

Pardoned and Redeemed

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” Psalms‬ ‭103:2-5‬ ‭‬‬

This in verse 4 really struck me. Forgiveness 1: participates with Christ’s redemptive work toward the person we forgive. We accept Christ’s payment for the sin done against us. He bought it, so the sin done against us is no longer ours to punish or exact payment for through vengeance. It’s God’s to deal with. Let it go. And then…

2: He crowns us with lovingkindness and compassion, not only covering us with His, but crowning us with responsibility, authority and resource to give our love and compassion in His name to those we forgive. His mercy is new every morning. His compassions fail not. This is the reservoir – the River – of resource we work out of as we practice forgiveness toward others.

Father, thank You for empowering forgiveness in me through Your redemptive work toward those who sin against me. I accept the price You paid and relinquish their debt to You. Now pour forth through me Your lovingkindness and compassion to them. Make it new and fresh every morning, and may they see You in my eyes and feel You in my love actions. In Jesus, amen.

The anointing of the cleansed leper

Leviticus‬ ‭14:13-18‬ ‭‬‬

I don’t recall ever noticing the anointing of the cleansed leper’s right ear lobe, thumb, and big toe with blood as is done for the priest, and I especially do not recall the anointing oil applied in each spot over the blood: all done on the right side, the side of imputed power and authority from God. How powerful a picture of not only cleansing, but supply of power, authority, ability.

Then to look up the significance of each body part: the ear for empowered hearing, not only to hear one another, but more importantly, to hear God; the thumb representing authority in ministry and service; the big toe, empowering a stable, strong, straight walk. So powerful.

Father, thank You for cleansing me of the spiritual leprosy of sin that separates us from You. I praise You for the blood of Jesus that fully covers us, and pray the powerful anointing of your Spirit for hearing, service, and a powerful walk with You. In Jesus, amen.

He Makes Me

From the 23rd Psalm, AMPC

I have had Psalm 23 in the classic Amplified version of scripture as my focus for meditation since the 1st of this year. A friend asked me the other day to share any insights I have in it. Awakened by a noise this morning at about 3:30 AM, I started reciting the chapter in my attempt to get back to sleep. Suddenly, as I quoted one line, new understanding grabbed me, opening up this beautiful passage as never before.

“The Lord is my Shepherd to feed, guide, and shield me: I shall not lack.”

This is God’s “who”. He is the Good Shepherd, not because it’s what He does, but because it’s who He is. It is His nature to feed, guide and shield.

The shield is everything from the Warriors shield, including the armor of God, with its helmet of salvation; to the anointing oil with its protective cover and healing balm; to the shield of shelter that hides us under His wing from enemy attach and the worldly elements of heat, cold, rain, sleet, and snow; hate, menace, and torment.

This is His “Who”. From provision of every need, to guidance – wisdom, discernment, to shielding, whether shelter or protective cover: we have no lack of Him – The Shepherd of our soul.

“He makes me…” “He makes me to…”. This is not force over me. It is action and purpose in me.

“He makes me to lie down in fresh, tender, green pastures.” He made us as receptacles. We are created for Him to pour Himself into us. He gives His first and best to us, satisfying and satiating us so that we lie down full and ready to enter His rest, sensing that we are safe and secure in Him. I am awestruck by the assurance He gives that causes my entire being to rest itself in Him.

“He leads me beside the still and restful waters.” This is not rapidly moving waters that can sound wonderful and make you want to kick back and mellow in the peace of it. It’s another place of provision and protection.

Sheep’s wool gets heavy and is very absorbent. When they get wet in deeper water, the weight becomes too great for their legs. Falling over, unable to get up, they drown. The Good Shepherd finds shallow, still or gently flowing watering spots where sheep can drink without drowning.

He does not “leave” them beside still waters. He “leads” them, remaining nearby and watchful, ready to help them up should they fall. Whether we bear the weight of this world, the weight of our responsibilities, or whatever weight is weighing us down and drowning us, the Good Shepherd is our Lifeguard, standing at the ready to respond to our need.

In these places of provision, guidance, and protection, “He refreshes and restores my life: my self.” “My soul (NASB).” The essence of who I am. We learn who we are – who He created us to be, as we walk with Him, knowing His Who at work in us. Then, as we get good at that…

“He leads me in paths of righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with Him, NOT for my earning it, BUT for His name’s sake.”

He directs us into righteousness for His reputation. As we follow Him, we don’t have to fret our ups and downs; only trust that He will get us where we need to be for the glory of His name. Our reputation should express His effective work in our lives.

I think of Moses prayer in Exodus 33. “And Moses said to the Lord, ‘If Your Presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here! For by what shall it be known that I and Your people have found favor in Your sight? Is it not in Your going with us so that we are distinguished, I and Your people, from all the other people upon the face of the earth?’” (Exodus 33:15-16)

“Yes! Though I walk through the deep, sunless {or Son-less} valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me! Your rod to protect and Your staff to guide, they comfort me.”

No matter how bad things are in the world around us, God is and ALWAYS will be God – The Good Shepherd who feeds, guides, and shields us. I shall not lack! So there is no need for me to fear any evil or dread anything I might possibly find or have to face in the valley. In that valley…

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

He still Shepherds us in desolate, wilderness places of dark shadows. When the enemy is raising a raucous all around us, we can lie down, satisfied, satiated, safe, secure, and rested in Him. Though we may be unable to clearly perceive Him in dark, sunless places, we can trust He is there, working on our behalf. That is His Who and He is always doing Himself. Trusting that will strengthen our stance in dark places, for as He is, so also are we. Keep doing yourself in Christ.

“You anoint my head with oil!” This is a mighty shield of protection, I would liken to the helmet of salvation.

Flies, gnats, and other pests swarm the head of sheep. They lay their eggs in the skin, eyes, and ears. These form itchy sores as the larva eat the flesh and begin to burst forth. It causes the sheep to go nuts. They will thrash around, hitting their heads on rocks, trying to get relief and kill the infestation, even killing themselves in the process. Oil protects from the insects being successful at laying their eggs, kills and heals infested, infected areas, and protects the head from injury in head butts – whether in the battle, in discord, or at play with other sheep.

As we experience God feeding us and protecting us even in the midst of a swarming enemy, “My brimming cup runs over.”

We are the cup. The living water of God gushes from us to role downhill to other sheep, some not of His fold, drawing them in, refreshing them, helping them know, “He makes me to lie down….”

“Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!”

The original language’s first word, given here as “surely or only” can be translated to either surely or only: so take the “or” out.

“Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!”

Back in Exodus 33, in verse 18 Moses requests God to show him His glory. God replies, “I will make all My GOODNESS pass before you, and I will proclaim My name, THE Lord, before you; for I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show MERCY and LOVING-kindness on whom I will show MERCY and LOVING-kindness.” (Exodus 33:19 AMPC)

“Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!” We are meant to know, recognize, and express the glory of God. He who feeds, guides, and shields us does so in ways that expresses His glory and makes His name known…for His name’s sake.

“And through the length of my days, the house of the Lord and His presence shall be my dwelling place.” The house of the Lord…the Temple of God: that is what you and I are, corporately and individually.

His presence is in the house, Beloved. My brimming cup runs over. This is what He makes the “me” I am. He makes me.

Deceptive Conscience

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. …” John 14:16-17, 16:8-11

As a Christian who believes Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, I don’t believe I’ve seen anything that makes me sadder than this ideology pictured below that says there is no such thing as sin.

It is true that, apart from God, our conscience does not recognize sin. Our conscience is dead to God, separated from Him, unable to know His righteousness so we can see sin’s contrast and the judgment of God against it. For that, we must have the work of the Spirit of God, drawing us to God and empowering our realization of how our lives fall short of God’s glory, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

To believe that sin does not separate us from God is to believe the lie of Satan, “…You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and YOU WILL BE LIKE GOD, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)

You see, they were already like God – we were created in His image, purely good, with no evil in them. Their conscience was pure, having no thought of sin, for they were like God in all His goodness, following Him in trusting purity. Then the devil led them to doubt the goodness of God and sin entered the heart of humankind, separating them from God and deadening the purity of our conscience.

Now, apart from the help of the Spirit of God, we cannot discern our sin or understand sin’s nature, because we cannot know God. The Devil will deceive us into thinking we know God, leading us to a type of god, a false god, if it will keep us from understanding our sin nature and our need of a Savior. Without God working to draw us to truth and His Spirit opening the eyes of our heart to discern sin in us, separating us from God, we cannot acknowledge need of the Savior when we refuse to believe sin exists and our conscience is deceived. We are lost forever, separated from God and doomed to an eternity without Him, never to know intimacy with the One True God.

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” John 16:8-11

“Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22

FATHER, BLESS US

Father, begin with me. Search my heart. Father, reveal yourself to me. Make me know Your ways. Reveal to me every place in my life where my ways do not align with Yours. Instruct me in righteousness and cleanse me. Adjust my course to walk in Your ways and have Your favor. May Your light shine through me to reveal my God to all around me.

Father, I pray You for me and for all I love and care for: from self, to family, friends, church, and work associates; to city, state, and nation; and, indeed, to all throughout the earth. Let us know Your ways that we may know You, so that we may find favor in Your sight. Consider Your people, Lord, and lead us in Your presence, for apart from Your presence, how can it be known that we have found favor in Your sight, and that we are Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?

Lord, I pray You, show us Your glory! Make all Your goodness pass before us. Proclaim Your Name before us. Be gracious to us and show us Your compassion. Grant us to seek Your face with wholehearted fervor and to find You watchfully and affectionately caring for us.

Be gracious, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out our transgressions. Wash us thoroughly from all iniquity and cleanse us from all sin. Make us to know our transgressions, and that our sin is against You. You alone, we have insulted as we have willfully sinned and done what is evil in Your sight. Make Your people and the nations in which we reside know that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. You, Lord, desire truth in our innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make us know wisdom so that we may repent, make amends, and turn to walk Your way.

I, alone, stand before You, with hope in Jesus, my Advocate, The propitiation for my sin. I cry out to You, trusting You through Christ, to purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness. Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me, but draw near to me as I draw near to You, and fill me to overflowing with the power of Your presence. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit of obedience. Then use me, O God, to teach transgressors Your ways, and turn sinners to You.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; that my tongue may joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it. You are not pleased with burnt offering, thus You gave my Jesus, once and for all; Your Son for me, because You love me. I stand amazed! And, OH, so grateful. Thus, the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

By Your favor do good to Your humbled people. Build the walls of our cities and the nation in which You make us to dwell in safety. Grant provision to our dwelling places, for in its provision of rains in due season and productive work for our hands, Your people live in welfare: possessing health, happiness, and good fortune; well-being. Delight Yourself in us as we humbly walk in the gift of our Jesus.

Father, fill Your people with peace that passes understanding and umpires life. Grant us to so greatly trust You as to remain in Your rest, despite the turmoil of evil in this world. Let us not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious toward wrongdoers. May they wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb, either surrendering to You in newness of Life, or falling to Your justice.

Grant us to trust in You, O God, and do good. May we dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. May we delight ourselves in You and be such a delight to Your heart that You may inspire and fulfill the desires of our hearts.

Father, I commit myself and all my ways to You, trusting with ever growing fervor in You, believing that You will accomplish all that concerns me. I ask You for all around me to have this full assurance and commitment to You, so they, too, may know You and experience Your faithful care. Bring forth our righteousness as the light and our judgment as the noonday. Increase us to rest in You and wait patiently for You. Rest us in You so we will not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Equip us to cease from anger and forsake wrath, refusing to fret, knowing that it leads only to evildoing.

Father, You promise that evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more. We will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. The humble will inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant prosperity. Though the wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth, You, O Lord, laugh at him, for You see his day is coming.

Lord, the wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, to slay those who are upright in conduct. May their sword enter their own heart, and their bows be broken.

Thank You, Lord, for drawing us to Yourself and helping us to know that better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. Thank You that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, made blameless in Him and by Him. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but You, O Lord, sustain the righteous. You know the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever, through Jesus Christ the Lord. May we trust in Your gracious Gift and not be ashamed in the time of evil. In the days of famine, be our abundance.

The wicked will perish; and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish—like smoke they vanish away. The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. For those blessed by You will inherit the land, and those cursed by You will be cut off.

Lord God, I cry out for those in danger of being cut off. I pray You, open their eyes to see, their ears to hear, their minds to know, their hearts to understand, and grant them a spirit of repentance before it is too late to know Your gracious favor. Draw them to Yourself while there is still time.

We cry out for a great spiritual awakening to You in our land, and a great revival in Your Church. Deliver Your people from love grown cold and lukewarm commitment, to the heat of abundant fervor for You and Your ways. Empty us of self and ungodly, worldly, fleshly desire. Fill us up with the Power of Your Presence and spill us out to Your glory and crown: to the glory of Your great name.

Establish our steps, O God. May You delight Yourself in our way. When we fall, let us not be hurled headlong. Hold us by Your righteous right hand and do not forsake us nor let our descendants be found begging for bread. Grant us supply, including a heart that is gracious and lends, and make our descendants a blessing. May we depart from evil and do good, abiding forever in You.

You love justice and You never forsake Your godly ones; they are preserved forever. We cry out for the generations: draw our children to Yourself. May they be numbered among the righteous who inherit the land and dwell in it forever. May their mouths utter wisdom, and their tongues speaks justice. May Your law be in their hearts so their steps do not slip. Do not leave them in the hands of the wicked or let them be condemned when they are judged. May they faithfully wait for the Lord and keep Your way, that You may exalt them to inherit the land; and may our eyes see it.

Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; that the man of peace may have a posterity. The salvation of the righteous is from You, O Lord; You are our strength in time of trouble. Lord, help us and delivers us. Delivers us from the wicked and save us, as we take refuge in You.

In the name of Jesus, I pray You, regard us as good and restore our land. Set Your eyes on us for good, and bring us back as a great nation of people who seek hard after You. Build us up and do not overthrow us. Plant us and do not pluck us up. Give to us a heart to know You, for You alone are the Lord. Make the US to be Your people, and You be our One and Only God. Only by Your grace will a whole nation turn to You with their whole heart. This is what we cry out for, knowing that NOTHING is too difficult for You, and that it is Your desire that none perish, but all come to repentance. Thus we pray with believing hearts in the blessed and holy and honored Name above all names, Jesus, the Christ, amen.

Psalms‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭NASB

Exodus‬ ‭33:12-23‬ ‭NASB

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭AMPC‬

Psalms‬ ‭51:1-19‬ ‭NASB

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:7‬ ‭NASB

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:1-40‬ ‭NASB

Jeremiah‬ ‭24:4-7‬ ‭NASB

‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭NASB

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:9-11‬ ‭NASB

The Eyes of the Heart

‭‭Luke‬ ‭18:18-27‬ ‭NASB

“A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. …”

The wealth of this man was not the problem. God blesses us with wealth and requires us to steward all He gives us in ways that honor Him. This man kept the laws of God and most likely gave to the synagogue and to the poor as God requires. But his heart had apparently fallen into trusting his wealth and taking pride in it, giving it the place of true treasure in his heart, a place belonging only to God. So Jesus points out to him the thing that stands in the way of His right relationship with God.

“… And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. …”

Jesus had a purpose in making this distinction, both for this man’s eternity, and in training those who followed Him. You see, it was long believed that those with wealth were wealthy because they were right with God and pleasing to Him. They surely had a place in Heaven. Hearing Christ’s comment led an astonished disciple to ask,

“…“Then who can be saved?”

Thank God! Jesus assures our hearts, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

We get our eyes off of reliance on God too easily, trusting in self, wealth, kings, etc., turning God’s blessings into a god of our heart. God lovingly points these out to us so we may possess the relationship with Him that He waits to give us.

Nicodemus walked away, dejected, that day. But he apparently took to heart Jesus’s words and became one of the secret followers that helped to bury Jesus, and He stood against those plotting against Him. He may have been a coward and given to riches, but I believe God did the impossible in his heart and we will meet him one day.

How about you and me? What stands as hindrance to our relationship with and testimony of God in our lives? Will we let God work the impossible in us to get our eyes rightly focused for our eternal good and His eternal glory? Today is the day of salvation, for we don’t know that we will have a tomorrow. Choose well the Treasure of your heart.

I’m Praying for You

“Most people have never heard their name and God’s mentioned in a prayer. You may be surprised how willing a friend will be to accept your offer to pray for them.” From a NeedHim.org devotional

This is so hard for me to fathom, being from the Bible Belt and having many praying friends and acquaintances, but the fact is, though many have a belief that there is a God, few truly know Him or understand that He is ONE. And fewer still think of Him daily, much less constantly. We often don’t think to pray for ourselves, and may find it hard to believe that anyone cares enough to pray for us.

My prayer for each one today is that we know Him who is God, that we seek Him for ourselves, and that we each have at least one person we know we can call on with any need and they will be faithful to pray.

I often leave the blessing of Numbers 6:24-27, praying it over people even though I don’t know if they believe. It doesn’t matter if the one prayed for believes. It’s the faithfulness of God to keep His Word and the faith of the one praying that moves the heart of God. So be faithful to pray, and please know you can call on me anytime. I count it a privilege to pray for you by name. 💗🤗🙏🏼

Fearless Ministers of Reconciliation

Yesterday’s post titled “Without Regret” ended with James 5:19-20:

“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

As I reread that verse, my heart gasped with realization. What better way to stop people from understanding their absolute need of God than to make talk of sin irrelevant. Making sure everybody feels good about themselves to the point of their being unable to recognize or acknowledge their own sin, much less to know their need of God’s saving grace, is an enemy tactic: a lie to make people feel they are good enough, having no need of mercy.

In a world where it’s difficult to broach the subject of sin and the need of a Savior, how much more difficult is it in environs where sin is no longer acknowledged, and talk of the sin nature is considered a negative mindset and an insult to one’s character.

With that came thought of this scripture:
“When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.” Ezekiel‬ ‭33:8-9‬ ‭NASB

Old Testament, yes, but it still makes me cringe for the number of times I let fear stop me from speaking to someone regarding their need of the Savior. How many will God hold me responsible for in my failure to speak of sin and the saving grace available to us. Now, I don’t believe we lose our salvation, but we do put a rift in our relationship with God through disobedience, and we do lose rewards that would be credited to our treasure in Heaven.

In Christ, we are charged with the ministry of reconciliation. God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ, and through Him, escape the wrath of God’s death penalty to obtain eternal life in Christ. We cannot make that clear to people without there being an understanding of sin, what it is, and how it separates us from God.

“… Therefore, 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 ‭5:1-6, 8-21‬ ‭NASB

Reconciliation requires us to receive forgiveness for sin, which requires admitting we are sinners in need of the covering of mercy’s grace found in Christ. The enemy of God blinds the eyes of people who refuse to address sin.

We are called of God through Christ to be His instrument for reconciliation, which requires us to address the sin nature and define sin for the sinner in need of the Savior. When we as Christians refuse to address sin issues, we prove ourselves to be sinners, condoning sin with our silence, and making self a stumbling block to those who follow our example, and to those who remain blinded to the reality of the sin nature.

We are called to make God known by lightning up the evil hidden in dark places and by being salt that permeates all we touch with all that God is: His righteousness alive in us; His love pouring through us; His merciful grace freeing us from old ways to the new He bears out in us; His truth separating fact from fiction.

Therefore, Beloved in Christ,
“Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:34‬ ‭NASB

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:6-13‬ ‭NASB

Without Regret

“Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Jesus, Matthew‬ ‭18:15‬ ‭NASB

It appears to me in these days, that it is not considered kosher to speak of things God considers to be sin. It’s considered negative and unpopular to speak of sin or the sin nature. It makes people feel bad about themselves, which is unacceptable in a feel-good society. It’s not easy to address sin issues with people today, just as it was difficult for Paul, who shares this fact with the Corinthians; but his experience shows that it is profitable when received properly, as God desires.

“For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭7:8-10‬ ‭NASB

Addressing sin issues in this world is seen as insulting, it makes people uncomfortable – as it should, and instead of recognizing the person pointing out the issue as speaking God’s judgment in agreement with His Word, the insulted one sees the speaker as being judgmental. We allow feelings of insult to keep us from asking God if what the speaker is talking about is true of us. We fail to recognize our sin nature, and seek God to lead us to repentance that turns from sin to align with Him and become as He is, bearing His image into this world. But to God, sin is a dead serious issue, and we are called to help one another recognize the pit we are in and, if possible, give a hand up from that pit.

The preacher, standing in for our pastor today, spoke of his memory of preaching to his stuffed animals as a young child. The desire and call to preach has always been in him. I have a similar memories. The first thing I remember after accepting Jesus as Savior, at about 10 years of age, is sharing Jesus and the need of repentance with a friend on the next day. Another vivid memory is of being the Bible teacher for our kid’s club, sharing scripture and teaching on things God calls “sin” or “righteousness”. It is in me, and I must faithfully speak warning to the heart that walks contrary to God.

Scripture does not focus on just righteousness, it contrasts righteousness with sin. Contrast produces understanding. I.e., we can’t fully know love without a comprehension of hate.

I know how hard it is to hear and receive such warnings. Sin is in all of us, and I’ve had to ask God if a sin warned against was truly in me. He has used faithful friends to pull me out of pits. Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what I think of you or you, me. We can believe we see an issue with sin as defined and judged by God, in self or another, and be wrong. We can think the person seeing the issue in us is wrong when they are truly seeing clearly. We don’t know the heart like God does. We don’t even truly know our own hearts, either beating ourselves up with harsh self-evaluation or by refusing to receive truth. Thus it is vital that, when a preacher seems to be talking straight to us or a friend takes time to warn us, that we ask God’s opinion and seek His truth with a heart that is ready to hear, receive, and repent.

Don’t fear or ignore the voice God uses to call you out on a sin habit in this life, Beloved. Let it lead you to needed repentance. Fear, instead, being called out for sin when the end of days stands us before the judgment seat of God, where we will find it too late for repentance. Thank those who love you enough to reach a helping hand out with hope of keeping you from that fiery pit. And give God glory for His saving grace reaching out to us through Jesus, even while we are still sinners at heart.

“My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you strays from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that the one who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James‬ ‭5:19-20‬ ‭NASB

Stand Firm

Jesus was not afraid to offend those leading others away from truth and righteousness. He, who is example to all who hear, stood firm on righteousness; He spoke truth out of love that desired to protect His own, and out of desire to win some snared by deception. He spoke with the authority that comes from assurance of His facts, and He did not apologize for the offense the hearer took from His words.

As we make sure we are standing on what is true and right and good, we, too, can love those around us enough to chance offending them for the protection of all, with hope of freeing some.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:1-14‬ ‭NASB

God, or Not God

“… Choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days.” – Read Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:1-20‬ ‭‬‬

When discussing sin issues as defined by the Word of God and Jesus in the Holy Bible, people often say, “but God gives me choice,” which is true. God does give us choice, but that fact does not mean that which we choose is alright with God. All choice is truly between God or not-God. We either seek Him and His ways, or we go the way of our fleshly desire, this world’s philosophy, or demonic influences.

In Deuteronomy, God gives us defining parameters to direct our choice. We are told to choose good or evil, life or death, blessing or curse, prosperity or adversity. And God’s Word defines each of these choices.

Good is who God is, what God does, and what He says. To choose good is to choose God and His ways. All else stands in opposition to Him, which is evil, bringing us into adversity with God. (1)

God is life, abundant and full. Divergence from Him and His ways is death. (2)

God is the blessing, and He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Anything not of God, anything that replaces our affection for Him is a curse, for it robs us of The Blessing. (3)

Following and possessing God and all He is as God is prosperity. He is our exceeding great reward, the supply for our every need. Following hard after Him, keeping Him of first, most vital need and necessity, opens His storehouses to meet our need. And, more importantly, choosing Him as the one and only God and Lord through His gift of Jesus Christ grants us assurance of His eternal Kingdom. (4)

It doesn’t matter how rich we get in this life, without God as our choice, we are destitute and adversity is guaranteed. God allows no other God before Him, nothing else can have His glory. With great wealth comes great responsibility, and one’s first responsibility is to choose God as one’s true treasure. Failing to possess Him, we take our stance against Him, all the way into eternal damnation.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” ‭‭Joshua‬ ‭24:15‬

“Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:19-20

(1) Mark‬ ‭10:18‬ ‭
(2) ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬; Colossians‬ ‭3:3‬; ‭‭I John‬ ‭5:12‬; I John‬ ‭5:11‬; ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:6‬; Romans‬ ‭6:23‬; John‬ ‭11:25‬; ‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬
(3) ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:4‬; ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:5‬; ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:12‬; James‬ ‭1:17‬
‭‭ (4) Genesis‬ ‭15:1‬; ‭‭Malachi‬ ‭3:8-10‬

Be On the Alert

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. … What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’ ” Mark‬ ‭13:30-33, 37‬ ‭

Prophecy can be confusing to us because some speaks of things specific to the hearer, and some for an age yet to be. And some, like here, speaks to both: direct warning to His disciples and warning for future generations. He is telling the disciples things they will see in their lifetime signaling the death of this world and the coming new Kingdom of God. But He is also speaking prophetic, beyond them to all who come after them. Each generation will see these warning signs until the instant of His return.

Like that first generation, we will all ‬‬see these signs ebb and flow like birthing pains, getting stronger, longer, harder, and more severe until the the end is here. We are warned by these signs to be ready and alert so we are found fully prepared for Him when He comes. What’s the sign we’re looking for that tells us this is it?

“For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. … the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matthew‬ ‭24:27, 30-31‬ ‭‬

Like birthing pangs lead to an opening for the emergence of a child, so the harsh, hard, pressing things around us will lead to parting skies and the returning Christ, bringing in a new and eternal age. Are you ready and alert?

Follow God

His science is flawless.

I hear it every day, people boasting the science concerning COVID, both for and against the truths concerning the disease and the treatments, including the vaccine. Here’s what I know: no one fully knows. Science is a learning tool. It helps figure out truth, but until truth proves out through consistent, broad range, experience, science is theoretical. They don’t fully know one way or the other.

But GOD.

God fully knows, not only the disease and the treatments, but the reason and purpose behind its source: whether sent by an enemy intent on destruction, or brought about by God in fulfilling His plans and purposes. God fully knows my body and yours. He knows how the disease will effect each individual. He knows what each treatment will do and which my body will respond best to. He comprehensively understands the science behind the vaccine and the disease.

So, instead of looking at constantly changing scientific theory before it knows, ask the God-who-knows-all His opinion for your dealings with the disease and it’s potential remedies – healing aids. He promises to give needed wisdom to us when we ask with faith to follow His response. Once you get His response, trust Him for the outcome. Trust His purpose and plan. He is always working in and through us for eternal good.

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Double-minded: tossed to and fro by the mind of one’s flesh arguing with the mind of Christ given in the power of God’s Spirit.)
— James 1:5-8

First Order of Preparedness

I am a member of a group of preppers, seeing the signs of the times and making ready for whatever may come. As a Christian, though I believe in practicing wisdom to be prepared for every kind of storm in life, ready to take care of mine and to help others, I know that all my preparations can be gone in an instant. Thus, it’s vital to remember that my hope is not in my supply, but my Supplier.

People say first priority for preparedness is water. I agree. And first priority in water supply is the Living Water, Jesus. I believe that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. All our preparation and learning to live off the land will fail without God’s support, grace, and favor. He grants wisdom for life choices, direction for our feet, protection in the storm, and favor with Himself and with man. He gives supply that gives us safety into the eternal. And He promises that though money may fail us, He will never leave nor forsake us.

We can guess at what is coming and work to be ready, but He knows what is coming to each day and is already there making a way for us. However, there is one thing we know is coming to all of us: death of this shell. How sad it would be to prepare for storms of nature or man, but fail to be prepared for eternity.

God is my hope. He is my help in the day of trouble, my strength in the battle, my shelter in the storm, my Shepherd for the path, my Savior for all eternity. He gives me eyes to see, a mind to know, and a heart to understand; and He brings to my remembrance the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding stored in the banks of my mind at the moment of my need.

Make sure you are one with His vine and that your tendrils are attached to Him as first priority; that you are lapping freely of the Living, Life giving Water. Then make wise preparations with faith that He will be with you and guide you through every challenge until we meet Him in the air.

Robin Meadows says, “Just as tendrils are trained to hold to the fence for support, we need to train our hearts and minds to be entwined with Him and hold to Him. Dependent on Him, we gain supernatural strength to endure even the mightiest storms of life.

“Where does your strength come from? Are you attaching to people or things hoping to find fulfillment and security? Or are you training your heart to be connected to the One who is Strength?”

Enter this, your Rest, and get ready for all that is coming.

Lessons From My Garden: Day 6 • Devotional

Unmerited Favor: All Powerful Supply

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭

Many people see grace and mercy as being the same things, but they aren’t. Scripturally, grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin, distinctly different, and both necessary for redemption, sanctification, and the work of completion.

Mercy is what most use to define both. Mercy is unmerited favor. It is God’s work to protect, provide, and direct to good that we do not deserve – at all, nor can we. Mercy has nothing to do with our ‘do’ and everything to do with God’s ‘Who’. He loves us, therefore He gives us His mercy. He loves us, thus we experience Him deliver us from consequences our actions and choices deserve. When we are spared a just outcome to unrighteous choices and actions, that is mercy. Woo! The stories of mercy I could tell.

Grace is God’s power made perfect in our weakness, giving us strength and ability (2 Cor. 12:9). We cannot produce the fruit of God in our lives apart from His grace at work in and through us. We cannot serve God or know and do His will, His way without His grace powering it. We cannot even possess and work out of faith in God apart from His grace to power our faith. Mercy gifts us a measure of faith; grace empowers us to use that faith.

We cannot be saved apart from Mercy. And we cannot live Christ apart from grace. We cannot be right within ourselves without mercy; we cannot live outwardly the right mercy produces in us apart from grace pouring through us. Mercy saves. Grace sanctifies.

From External Tutor to Internal Teacher

“… Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. …” Galatians‬ ‭3:19-29‬ ‭NASB

The purpose of God’s Law is to tutor us and cause us to realize our need of His merciful grace. It’s intent is to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. Then the power of God through the Spirit of God moves into us to teach us His ways and equip our success in following Him in the likeness of the perfection of Jesus Christ.

Where we fall short, Jesus covers us so we receive the mercy of God. And our weak flesh does fall short of this glory of God. We need God’s mercy, which means we need Jesus who covers us. We need God’s grace which empowers us to live as Jesus lived, thus we need the filling of the Spirit of God that comes through faith in Christ.

By faith to believe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus accomplished on our behalf, we find freedom from sin and it’s consequence – death – eternal separation from God. By the work of God’s indwelling Spirit, we find power to live the freedom granted, as honors the God we possess and profess for all eternity.

Got Jesus? Only believe, receive, and profess Him, and He will seal the deal through the powerful work of the indwelling Spirit.

Patience: Wrath to Mercy

“… What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” Romans‬ ‭9:18-24‬ ‭NASB – https://www.bible.com/100/rom.9.18-24.nasb1995

Our clearest picture of who we are and how we are to be is found in God, as we learn of Him: His who; His do. In this passage of scripture, we see that God withholds His wrath that is justly due to vessels of wrath – fleshly, sinful humans. He does not wish any to perish, but all to come to repentance, so He is patient and enduring toward us. He does this with the purpose of showering the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy.

God’s saving grace transforms vessels of wrath – the walking dead – into vessels of mercy – abundant with Life and made new.

As we surrender by faith to saving grace in Christ, we are transformed from the status of vessels of wrath destined for the penalty of sins death, into vessels of mercy. Because God patiently endured, waiting for us to so trust Him, we are delivered from death to life and repurposed as containers of His mercy.

The thing about a vessel is that it is useless until it is filled up and it’s contents poured out to accomplish its purpose. God fills us with Himself. We carry God, His presence in us: we are His Temple. As His representatives on earth, we are called to bear His image to vessels of wrath, patiently enduring all the struggle that brings us.

As vessels of God, filled with Him, we house His patient endurance for the purpose of being His hands and feet, His heart and desire, toward vessels of wrath. Endurance strengthens patience. Patience accomplishes purpose.

Thus, we add a key to the Unlocking of Patience

Key 3: Patience is an act of mercy that practices endurance, denying the wrath that may be deserved, with the intent that vessels of mercy – including self – may experience the glory of God as He pours His mercy to and through us.

Key 2: Impatience passes unrighteous judgment. Patience works with kindness, tolerance, and trusting gratitude that knows and trusts God’s kindness that leads to repentance and meets every need with perfection.

Key 1: Patience is the fruit of God’s image, enlivened by the work of the Spirit in us. Patience reveals itself in us as we seek the work of God’s Spirit from a wholehearted surrender to His will and way, in the soil of a faith that trusts, believes, and receives.

The True Gift

As I prayed this morning over people I love, our crazed earth, and our need of our Father, the song, “Oh How He Loves You and Me” came to heart. I haven’t thought of or heard that song in years. Since the devil doesn’t want our minds and hearts to know the love of God, I can trust that remembrance to be God, speaking peace and comfort to my aching heart.

From The Christ Child’s cradle-manger to the cross; from the cross to the right hand of the throne of Mercy’s Grace; from ever interceding on our behalf to meeting us in the soon parting clouds, Jesus came and will come again because God loves you and me.

Remembrance of the song sent me searching YouTube, where I found this beautiful rendition coupled with my mother’s favorite gospel hymn, The Old Rugged Cross. By this grace of God’s message to me, I am comforted by my Hope.

“Jesus to Calvary did go, His love for sinners to show. What He did there brought hope from despair. Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how He loves me; Oh, how He loves you and me.”

Isn’t God faithful to minister such love to our aching hearts. “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” (John‬ ‭3:16‬).‬ ‬

Jesus came to set us free from sin and shame, delivering us from the death of separation from The God who so greatly and faithfully loves us. How awesome that is to my heart. And how sad, when the first renditions of this beautiful song listened to were found with wording changed to a more politically correct message, taking “sinner” out of the equation and replacing it with the word “mankind”.

God requires us to recognize that we are sinners in desperate need of our Savior. We can’t fully realize how destitute we are without Him by failing to recognize our sin nature. The politically correct movement of this world refuses to acknowledge fault, flaw, or fact. As scripture warns will come, the politically correct practices of a fallen world have infiltrated the church to bring about a watered down, often false-narrative gospel.

As Paul said, “It is a trustworthy statement, DESERVING FULL ACCEPTANCE, that Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Timothy‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭NASB). There cannot be “full acceptance” when the truth is watered down to make us feel better, more worthy in our own right.

The Gospel of Jesus, the gift He gave is for all mankind. Yes. But it is only possessed by those who can admit their sin nature and destitute need of this blessed gift of a Savior: our Kinsman Redeemer who accepted the penalty of our debt so we can be set free indeed. And what does being “set free indeed” require?

“… “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH, and the truth will make you free.” … “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed….”” (John‬ ‭8:31-38‬ ‭NASB)

We are worthy: worthy of eternal separation from our Holy God, which is the eternal death scripture says Adam delivered us into, because we are sinners made so in the flesh by our relation to that one man. Until we realize that truth, we cannot fully discern the greatness of the sacrifice God’s gift of mercy in Christ has produced on our behalf, freeing us from the sin that separates through the One Man, Christ Jesus, our Lord. Until we understand this truth, we cannot receive God’s gift and be saved. Thus, we must refuse the false hope of the politically correct narrative and come to full acceptance that Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am foremost of all.

Selah

Pause, Ponder, Pray, Praise, Practice His Presence

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalms 1:1-2 NASB

The Selah moments in scripture are calls to practice Psalm 1:2. It is opportunity to meditate on what one just read. Meditation is only truly effective when done so as to place within our hearts the truths of God for use in living Him out into our daily lives. If the Selah does not change us and direct us, it is wasted.

Psalms are chalked full of Selah pauses, but the Spirit of God also calls us to “Selah” – stopping us at some passage we need to understand in facing the day or a situation in life. We must be alert to God’s call to Selah: pause-ponder-pray-praise-practice so as to put on Christ.

One such moment happened to me while reading in Isaiah. In chapter 46, the Spirit of God tweaked my heart as I read verse 25. I recognized that sensation and noted the verse, but continued on. God’s Spirit wouldn’t have that. He kept drawing me back to it, 5 times, 6 times, until I finally stopped with a “What? What, Lord? What are you trying to show me?” That is the day I learned that forgiving as God forgives means forgiving “for my own sake,” so my effectiveness in fulfilling the purposes of God in relationships is not hindered or stopped by bitterness, anger, or such show-stopping issues as a desire for vengeance.

Selah moments are vital for spiritual growth and commitment to following God through life’s challenges. Selah moments grow us in areas significant for things coming into our lives. Selah moments empower knowledge of God and His ways, making us more like Him.

When God inspires a Selah moment: Pause and reread it; Ponder what is said; Pray for understanding of what God desires to teach you and how it fits in your day; Praise God for truths revealed and for His love in teaching you; Put on Christ by putting the truths revealed into Practice. Write it down or bookmark it to revisit it until satisfied that our Spirit-Teacher is finished instructing our hearts. This is Selah.

We are going to spend some time looking at the Selah moments in Psalms. And I may share some personal Selahs with you along the way. The goal is to fine tune our seeking after God through the ministry of The Teacher. God sent His inspired, Living, Life giving Word to teach us about Himself and His ways. Selah, pause and calmly think on that. Are you an effective student of God’s Word under the tutelage of His Holy Presence?

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God is Sovereign

He holds the hearts of kings.

“This is what the Lord says: “The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and I WILL NOT LET THEM GO UNPUNISHED! … Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has planned it?” (Amos 2:6a, 3:6 NLT)

We tend to forget that God is still Sovereign over all. We forget that He holds the hearts of kings in His hands to turn them the direction of His will for His purpose. An enemy attacked us on 911 and God sent us to fight that enemy. He used us to deliver a nation from an evil overlord. That is how He Works.

We are told that “God is patient toward us, not wishing any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We see that fact in God’s words to Abraham as He tells them of Israel’s future slavery and their return to take the promised land. The Lord says, “After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction” (Genesis 15:16 NLT).

God gives the Amorites time to turn from evil, but knowing they won’t, He sets the day when their opportunity to repent is gone. We see God direct the heart of kings against a sinful, unrepentant people over and over in scripture. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We must take His sovereign rule to heart and recognize His hand in our day. And we, as a nation, must repent before God says, “Enough!”

Our Mission is Freedom

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “LET MY PEOPLE GO, THAT THEY MAY SERVE ME.” (Exodus 9:1 NASB)

We who truly and fully profess and possess Christ are already saved by grace through faith. It’s not a result of working to please God and each arn salvation. If someone is telling you that you must work to earn salvation, and work to keep salvation, they are a false teacher. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him. Thus, we don’t have to work and keep working to get and keep saving GRACE. It’s a gift freely given us because Jesus paid the price. Once we truly receive it as ours to fully possess, it is forever.

Now our salvation is worked out for all to see by walking in the gift of freedom to serve and please God, living as His righteous and true representatives, loving God and others in Jesus Name. We are set free to serve Him alone as our one true and only God of gods, Lord of lords, and King of kings.

It is not a hard work we do, for God has put His Spirit in us to make us as He is, living out of who we now are in the power of His supply. I,e.:

  • God is good, and all true goodness seen is Him expressing Himself to the observant. By His gracious supply, we are freed to be and do good in serving and living for Him.
  • God is Love. He loves out of who He is, thus our “do” or “not do” does not stop His love. All true love coming to us and pouring from us is Him. As He lovingly transforms us, He restores us to His likeness so that we are free to love as people who are love as He is Love. Thus, we prove ourselves to be His.

By His grace, as we trust Him, we work out our salvation by walking in the freedom to be as He is and do as He does, free to serve God in the power of His supply. And we have the mission to help others receive and possess this freedom as their own. So go forth in faith, believing, and prosper this day as you carry out your mission for King and Kingdom. As we get into marriage and family through February and our role as God’s Warriors through March, remember that OUR MISSION IS FREEDOM!

Ephesians 2:8-10; John 14:6; Philippians 2:12-13; Romans 5-6.

Deuteronomy 30:11; Romans 12:1-3; Galatians 5:18-25; 1 John 4:7-21.

Know He is Lord!

Reading through Ezekiel, I’ve noted over and over where God pronounces that those He is addressing will know that He is Lord because of His hand toward them. Most of the book pronounces judgment against Israel and Judah for sin, sending other nations to enact His judgment. At the end of their sentence, God begins pronouncing judgment against the offending nations and restoration for Israel and Judah. At the conclusion of each proclamation, He announces, “They will know I am Lord.”

Conclusion: I would much rather know His Lordship by the good He does toward me, than by His discipline for sin. That said, live each day as if He is Lord, for He is! Reap the reward of righteousness, rather than the consequences of sin.

Father, in Ezekiel 36 You proclaim Israel’s restoration as Your faithful people, practicing faithfulness to You by Your power at work in them, doing so for Your name’s sake. I pray, Lord, empower faithfulness in us so Your Name is honored in our lives. We desire to know You are Lord by living like it. Make it so, O God, to the glory of Your Name. Amen.

BLESSings, Beloved.

The Gift, Received

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” – 1 John 2:1-2 NLT

How sad, to have someone standing before us, beckoning us to take the gift He so graciously purchased for us, not realizing it is all we ever truly needed and has the perks of fulfilling our deepest longings. Yet to never reach out to possess it, or to only lightly grasp it, never fully opening it to discover the joys within. This is the world: blind to the truth of Jesus.

Jesus paid the price for ALL THE WORLD. Eternal security is there as a gift for the taking. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, expanding the horizons, yet the world snubs it or halfheartedly takes it in hand without fully unwrapping it, all because it can’t get past doubt to find ever growing belief, which is part of the gift.

This is “the world”, fully covered by Jesus, but blinded by worldly pursuits hidden in dark places; failing to recognize that the greatest treasures are found in the Light of His glory and grace, freely gifted to all who will receive it by faith’s belief. Have you grasped hold of the Gift and started unwrapping it’s treasures?

We leave the ranks of this world to become a citizen of God’s eternal Kingdom by choosing to believe with the faith God sparks to life within us, taking the gift in hand. As we begin to open it and receive all His Spirit reveals therein, faith grows an ever stronger grasp on truth we can fully believe. We unwrap The Gift to discover its treasures through the study of God’s Word found in the Holy Bible, and through growing association with God’s people; through faith filled prayer that earnestly seeks God in all His fullness, trusting His word of promise that those who seek Him this way will find Him. He becomes our greatest, most prized treasure, and life, the greatest treasure hunt, a gift we gladly share. It’s a journey beyond imagination: a journey worth living. Come! Join us, the Kingdom of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Father, I believe. Help my unbelief. Grant me this ever growing faith to trust Your Gift, purchased for me by Jesus, Your Holy Son. Grant me to be filled to the full with Your Holy Spirit, sent to me by the Father, to empower me to fully possess The Gift and the Giver. Let Your Holy Spirit, who is The Helper, Teacher, Comforter, Companion, and Unifying Power, Your Guiding-Light Presence – Let Him have full sway in me, to fill me up, empower my full possession of The Gift, and spill me out to be Your light to others, helping others receive, believe, and possess You. Thank You, Lord, for being my One true and only God and King. Thank You for saving me, not because I somehow earned and deserve it, but simply because You love me and want to spend eternity with me in Your Kingdom, prepared for me. I gratefully receive Your gift, Lord. Help me fully possess it. In Jesus, make it so. Amen.

Forgiveness or Consequence

I heard it said recently that God does not forgive the unrepentant. There are two reasons that come quickly to mind that tells my heart that such a statement is a false understanding. One is found in Jesus. The second is found in God’s relationship with Israel as expressed in Isaiah 43.

First, Jesus. Scripture tells us, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us ALL TO FALL ON HIM.” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB)

Jesus paid the price for our forgiveness before we could repent, and He paid it for ALL. I don’t know about you, but in my understanding, all means ALL. All mankind goes astray from God and His way. Jesus took ALL of our sin to the cross and paid the price of sin for ALL, purchasing God’s forgiveness from sin.

God’s forgiveness stands ready to receive by each of us because of Jesus. God’s forgiveness has nothing to do with us. We cannot earn it or buy it. Though repentance is required, our repentance does not buy God’s forgiveness. Our repentance simply reaches out like a hand ready to receive that which is already ours in Christ. It is ready and available for us before we seek it when we bow to the Lordship of Christ, admit we are sinners, and commit ourselves to following God in Christ’s likeness. Failure to seek it through repentance is failure to possess that which is ready and waiting for us.

Point 1: God has already forgiven ALL HUMANKIND because of Jesus.

My second reason for belief in God’s forgiveness even toward the unrepentant is found in Isaiah 43 as recorded in the NASB. Here we find Israel in the throws of rebellious sin. As God calls their sin against them, he proclaims His heart over them, forgiveness issued despite unrepentant sin.

“You have bought Me not sweet cane with money, Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; Rather you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities. I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I WILL not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:24-25)

This is the very definition of forgiveness. “I wipe out your transgressions (erasing the record of them) and I will not remember your sins (holding them in account against you)” was a present tense promise to Israel. Forgiveness was already there for them, in the midst of sin. God is proclaiming here, “Though I am wearied by your constant sin, I forgive you for My own sake.”

When God pointed this out to me, I asked Him why He chose to forgive for His own sake. Clearly to my heart came this understanding, “Darlene, if I had not chosen to forgive in the midst of sin, I never would have put My Son on a cruel cross for such a wretch as you.” I’m so grateful God forgave all, and held it out for me to receive.

Point 2: God’s forgiveness is for His own sake, that love may reach out to the unlovable.

God’s forgiveness is already there for hands of repentance to receive. Repentance is the hand that possesses God’s merciful forgiveness. But consequences can still come even though we are forgiven. We must not confuse consequences in this life as unforgiveness.

In our Isaiah passage, God proclaims, “… I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I WILL not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together; State your cause, that you may be proved right. Your first forefather sinned, And your spokesmen have transgressed against Me. So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary, And I will consign Jacob to the ban and Israel to revilement.” (Isaiah 43:24-28 NASB)

God forgave Israel’s sin for His own sake, but the consequences of sin were not stopped.

God has warned us from heaven’s throne, giving us the laws that teach us how to keep His way. With those laws God set the consequences that come to sin, not the least of which is the consequence of failure to acknowledge Christ and receive Mercy’s forgiveness. That consequence is eternal separation from God. Though God has already forgiven, failure to receive it requires the consequence for that sin.

Despite God’s forgiveness that is ready for receipt, we can refuse the gift and suffer the consequence. But God’s forgiveness remains intact. It honors the price Jesus paid. And we, who have received God’s gift of eternal mercy through Christ, may still have to deal with consequences for choices in this life. Sex out of marriage, though repented of, can still lead to pregnancy. Your consequence does not mean God has failed to forgive. Consequence is the law of life in a fallen world. But God, out of love and grace, will walk with us as we deal with the results of wrong choices.

Now here is the thing, Love. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:32, that we ought to “forgive others, just as God in Christ also has forgiven us.” God’s forgiveness in Christ was before creation and continues to us post Christ’s fulfillment. It stands at the ready for our reception. Our forgiveness must do the same. We forgive in Christ for our own sake, making forgiveness a gift made ready in likeness to our God.

Who are you holding unforgiveness toward? Jesus paid the price so you, who are forgiven, can escape the shackles of unforgiveness and walk free from sin. Get a box and wrapping paper and make your forgiveness ready for that one to receive when the hand of repentance reaches out to you.

Short of Glory

“… we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:12-18 NASB)

Sin is defined as anything that falls short of the glory of God. All that God created and set in motion was good, possessing intent and purpose. The God-ordained good, intent, and purpose of all things were set to rightly and truly represent Him, His good, His reality, His will and way. Anything that falls short of His glory (His good, purpose, and intent) is sin.

There is an issue in Christian news today concerning a very popular female worship leader and singer who refused to name homosexuality as sin, reportedly for fear of upsetting friends and family in that lifestyle, and supposedly out of fear of losing her fan base.

First off, her failure proves Romans 3:23. When we fail to connect with God’s good, His purpose, and His intent with the goal of giving expression to His glory, we chance actions or words that offend those who are committed to His glory. And, worse still, we chance offending God.

We are to be people of truth, speaking and living truth AS GOD DEFINES IT. Truth is that which rightly represents God’s evaluation of life issues. He tells us in His Word of the morality we are to possess, standing in agreement with His good, His purpose, and His intent. We cannot call what God deems to be evil, good, and good, evil and be true to God. Anything not true to God is a lie.

When we set our eyes on pleasing man instead of God, we tend to turn from the good and correct purpose and intent of God proving ourselves to be sinners. Guess what. She is one, and so are you and I. We sin daily, every time we take our eyes off of Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith.

Second, she denied the truth of God’s Word which clearly reveals the sexual sins humans fall into, including homosexuality. To discern what makes homosexuality, adultery, and fornication sin, we must look at the clearly defined good, intent, and purpose God laid out for sexual relations.

God created mankind beginning with the male of the species. Looking at him, God proclaims man’s need of a helpmeet, thus, God created for that purpose the woman. These two genders have different anatomy that equips them to have sexual relations with the purpose defined through God’s instruction to populate the earth through the bearing of children.

A man and a woman are to come together in COMMITTED UNION (monogamy), and out of that union, they are to make children in the way provided by God; thus making clearly defined family units that spread across the face of the earth.

Homosexuality diverts from the glory of God as they cannot unite as couples and make their own babies. Yes, there are ways to get babies, but not in the way prescribed by God at creation. That being the case, the homosexual lifestyle falls short of God’s glory.

Other sexual sins include fornication: two people who are not married to each other or anyone else, having sexual relations. Some people say, “Well, in the eyes of God, when we have sex, we are married.” The problem is that there are clear indicators in scripture of the rituals or ingredients that make the couple wedded partners. It does not start with sex, but is consummated by sex.

True, God honoring marriage begins as a commitment between the bride and groom to be and their parents, guardians, or the head of the family group, coming into agreement in their union. Most cultures have laws for the legalized, setting apart of that BLESSed union, and we are instructed in scripture to obey the laws of God and the laws of man.

We see in scripture from early days the various ceremonies that set a couple apart in marriage. Though the man and woman were considered set apart to each other from the point a marriage agreement (engagement) was made, they were not to have intimate relationships until after the marriage ceremony.

God fathered both Adam and Eve through creation. Then He, as Father, committed them to each other and gave them to each other in holy matrimony that met the requirements of maintaining His glory. Then sex consummated their marriage. To have sex outside of the order that practices God’s glory, fulfilling His good, intent, and purpose is the sin of fornication. Fornication breaks God’s law of purity in commitment.

Adultery is when two people come together in sexual relations with at least one being married to a third party. This breaks the law of purity in commitment to one partner, and it tends to destroy family units.

Failure to keep commitment often leads to the permanent separation of divorce, which God hates. When a divorced person remarries, this, too, is deemed an adultery. Remarriage flows from the broken commitment to one’s first love, aligning itself with another lover. Thus, God’s Word warns:

“I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32 NLT)

God is ONE Being who represents Himself to us in three entities: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. These three rightly and truly represent God, standing together as One being, fully committed to one another, working together in unity to accomplish all God’s righteous good, intent, and purpose. It was intended that God’s created beings enter into this same commitment and become One in Union with THE ONE.

True commitment requires choice, the opportunity for which God provided in two trees with rules to keep. As we know, Adam and Eve chose death’s separation from God, instead of Life in Union as part of His ONEness. Thus, sin entered the world through sinful flesh that perpetuates itself from generation to generation.

Unity with God requires full commitment to all righteousness, which always moves with Him to accomplish His good, intent, and purpose, out of a trusting relationship with unbreakable bonds. Marriage is to mirror the commitment and unity that is God toward Himself and His creation. Anything that goes outside of God’s design for the bonds of matrimony destroys the image, falsely representing God. So, though divorce was allowed by Moses because of the hard heart of mankind that fails to maintain this unity, divorce is not God’s will. In fact, scripture warns us that God hates divorce.

When we divorce, severing our commitment to be one with our first love, remarriage produces an image of one who leaves the ONE and true God to unite itself to a false god. It pictures the fall of humankind as it chose to leave God and align itself with the intent and purpose of Satan.

Marriage done well pictures the oneness of the ONE God; and Family the oneness of God with His created beings. Divorce distorts both, and remarriage pictures changing alliances from one’s First Love.

Thus we see why God hates divorce. And we see why sexual vice outside of God’s plan is a major focus in scriptural warnings, telling us that those practicing these sins will not enter through the gates of Heaven. Only the righteous get through. And there is the Good News, we will cover in the next post.

Commended by God

“When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.” (2 Corinthians 10:18 NLT)

As I read this today, the commendation first in my thoughts is God’s commendation of Job to Satan. I know! That doesn’t sound so good, does it? But listen to how proud God is.

“Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”” (Job 1:8 NLT)

Wow! I can but only live with hope of catching God’s eye in such a way. But that’s not the ultimate proof of God’s pride toward Job. That which followed is the proof text.

“Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.”

“So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (Job 1:9-12 NLT)

Note that God pointed Job out to Satan. The test coming is God’s idea. God knew the heart of Job toward Him would prevail. He knew that whatever Lucifer threw at him, Job’s heart would reach out in faith to His Father and proclaim truths like, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”” (Job 1:21 NLT)

And then there’s the frustrated discourse with his heart broken wife:

“His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.” (Job 2:9-10 NLT)

I cannot think of one person in scripture, commended by God, who did not walk through trial and testing that proved not only the caliber of their character, but the faithfulness of their God as they continued in faith toward Him. Moses was tried, tested, and grown as he led the people he was charged to guide. Joseph faced trial and testing that grew him to be strong in the skill and character necessary to rule a kingdom. Jesus faced every trial and passed every test on His way to the throne of Glory.

Sweetheart, those God loves, He proves and prunes. Are you going through a hard time, seeing your faith and integrity tested at every turn? It’s not that God has left your side, but more likely that He has recommended you as His righteous child of faith and integrity. He will not leave your side through the journey. And we pass the test by making sure, with every challenge of our faith, that we refuse to walk away from Him.

Look again at the challenge from Satan regarding Job.

“Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” SO SATAN LEFT THE LORD’S PRESENCE.” (Job 1:9-12 NLT)

In order to do the evil Satan intended toward Job, Satan had to leave the Lord’s Presence. That is the test we all face, Beloved. Satan temps us to lose faith and leave the Lord’s Presence. Will we remain with Him, or will testing see us walk away.

Let’s turn now to Jesus:

“…As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” …” (John 6:52-71 NASB)

Difficulty coming into one’s life is not proof one is lost and failing to align with God. Difficulty in life is not necessarily an act of punishment from God. Difficulty can well mean we are commended by God for proving. And all through our test, Jesus asks us, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Those who pass the test are those who remain with Him despite the difficulty that comes to test and try our faith and character.

Stand firm, Beloved. God will not leave you alone in the fires or lion’s dens of life. He is forever with and for you. Your privilege is to stand firm with and for Him, so as to come out not only unscathed by the challenge, but stronger in character and skill for service and smelling like Jesus.