Prepping the heart for the future

Years ago I read Corrie Ten Boom’s book, “The Hiding Place”.  I remember thinking it must have been so difficult during those dark days of World War 2. Corrie shared the sorrow of losing her family members to the Nazis. She also shared how God sustained her during those dark days, even in the little things like providing a tissue when she desperately needed one.  With the growing wars and rumors of wars we are experiencing in the world right now, I can’t help but think how important it is that we remain close to Christ. That we don’t allow anything to come between our intimacy with Him. I believe we have some difficult days ahead of us.

The church has been undergoing intense persecution during this last century with numbers increasing drastically within the last ten years. Anti-Semitism is steadily increasing.  We are experiencing the birth pangs the book of Revelation warned us of. It is time for the church to lay aside things that would beset us and share the gospel with unbelievers. It is time we lay aside our denominational differences and follow the Word of God wholeheartedly. It is time we pray for the peace of Jerusalem as we have been instructed. It is time we live out our faith lovingly and in boldness.

I know I need to spend more time in the Word. It is through spending time in the Word that we gain spiritual wisdom and knowledge. It is also through reading the Word that our faith increases. If there was ever a time we needed wisdom, knowledge and an increase in faith, this is it. God wants His people spiritually prepared for what is coming. He wants us free of fear. He wants us equipped to minister to those He puts in our path. It is not a time for lounging or idling. We need to be ready for whatever is coming. We need to have the assurance that nothing is too big for us to go through with Christ!

God does not want His church ignorant of the times we are living in. We are to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves. Matthew 10:16 NKJV 16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves:  be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
He does not want us fearful of what is coming  because fear shows our lack of trust in the only ONE who is truly trustworthy. Instead He wants us to be full of faith, trusting in the ONE who has it all under control, standing firm in our faith and in the ONE  (Jesus Christ) in whom we believe.

2 Timothy 1: 7-13 NKJV For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Revelation 21:8 NKJV But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Jesus has called each of us to follow Him. Some days are easier to do this than others. Regardless of the circumstances we may find ourselves facing, we can be assured that HE is with us through every step of the way. This is His promise to us.  The book of Hebrews has some pertinent words for us today. Words of encouragement and counsel.

Hebrews 13: 1-8 NKJV 13 Let brotherly love continue.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

So let’s encourage each other with these words as we watch prophecy unfold before us. Let us live sold out and fully for Christ and allow Him to use us for His glory and purposes as we wait on His beautiful return!

 

Honoring marriage is still God’s plan

This coming weekend our son is going to marry his long time sweetheart at our home. My husband and I are  looking forward to the wedding and the coming marriage. We have waited for this day for a long time. :)

In a day when marriage is not always esteemed, I am glad they have made this decision. Marriage, though not easy, is still God’s designed plan for a man and woman that wish to be together. The Bible is full of verses on marriage. Today I want to take a look at one of my favorite verses on marriage.

Hebrews 13:4 NIV  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  

Though this flies in the face of political correctness today, God’s view on marriage hasn’t changed. It is a state to be honored by all. It is so important that those of us who follow Christ uphold the value of marriage and offer our support to those who have chosen it.  It still remains God’s environment for sexual intimacy and for raising a family.

It is so important that we show our support by praying for those choosing marriage. We live in a society that puts all kinds of temptations and distractions in our way. For marriage to work, couples have to have the resolve that they will commit their lives to one another regardless of the obstacles and difficulties that come their way. They both must make this commitment. One person cannot a marriage make! For those who are followers of Christ, this commitment is vital. The seriousness of this commitment before God is revealed in Malachi 2:16 NIV 1“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

We live in a society where people marry without seriously considering it is a lifetime commitment. Though there are definitely cases of  Biblically  justified divorce (unrepentant infidelity and/or abuse), many marriages are broken because of a casual view of the state of marriage.  People say they no longer feel affection for or love their spouse and leave. Some leave having found someone they love more.  Others decide they don’t want the responsibility of marriage and want their freedom back. Too often kids are dragged into the mess of a broken family and suffer the consequences of their parents decisions.

The church has a responsibility to show support to it’s married couples with  prayer, sound Biblical  advice when needed and on occasion with practical help. When a couple in our church body suffers, we all suffer. When a family is broken, it hurts us all.  We must do all we can to help couples stay together but if and when that is not possible, we need to be there to help with the fallout.

My husband and I have been married over thirty five years. We have had some wonderful years. We have also had some very difficult years marred by selfishness, immaturity and on a few occasions heartache and the loss of loved ones.  Our marriage has forced us to  learn to mature in ways that can only come from sharing your life with another person. Our marriage has challenged us to be more Christ like in our behavior. We have had to learn to listen to each other, respect each other, love each other in word and deed and be kind to one another even when we don’t feel like it!  These things to do not come easy or natural for most of us. When we neglect to do any of these things, it isn’t long before we need to have a talk  and get things back on track  ;)

I am so grateful that I have been able to share my life with my husband over the years. It has been a good thing. We have gone through so much together and I believe our love is deeper now and more secure now than it ever was.  I wish the same for our son and new daughter-in-law, maybe with a little less difficulty but even that helped mold us! I am glad they have chosen marriage. Though it has become less popular over the years, it is still a good thing in God’s eyes.  I am excited for them and the journey it will take them on. My prayer is that they will have the support of their families and the church as they walk their journey together.  After all, marriage is to be honored by all!

 

 

The smooth season of Summer!

This Summer we have been having such beautiful weather.  After a long grueling winter full of snowstorms, incredibly low temperatures and little sunshine, and a Spring that was colder than usual, I have determined I will not complain about the high temperatures or the intense sun but will enjoy every little bit of both!  I am thankful for the Seasons but must say the Summer is my all time favorite! It is a wonderful reprieve from the cold, difficult days of winter, rainy days of Spring and busy cool days of Fall preparing for a country Winter. I’ve come to compare Summer to the smooth seasons in my walk with Christ.  A time when life moves along rather comfortably. I am determined to enjoy it fully, knowing it will not last forever. Before long, the cooler temps and  thunder storms of Fall will appear and then the blizzards of Winter, of that I can be sure!

Solomon tells us in the book of Ecclesiates chapter 3:1-8 that to every thing there is a season.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.

I believe that for those of us who follow Christ we must learn to be content in every season of life. Embrace each natural and spiritual season for what it offers. Enjoy the seasons of ease,  grow in the seasons of difficulty and know that no matter what season we may find ourselves in, the lover of our soul is right there with us! For now, I will continue to enjoy the blessings of  Summer knowing that soon enough Fall will come and then before I know it, Winter! Out of the challenges of Fall  and the difficulties of Winter,  will come spiritual growth that will prepare me for new beginnings of Spring.

Song of Solomon 2:12 NKJV  The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Have you missed a few roots?

Yesterday I was able to spend the majority of the day in my gardens. It’s only been a few weeks since I last weeded but in that time the weeds wasted no time coming back. Where there had been beautiful clean spaces, now stood multiple weeds. A few things occurred to me. One, that weeding has to be done a little more frequently to keep the gardens looking clean and secondly, clearly I had missed many of the roots when I pulled up the weeds.

If I don’t pull up the root along with the weed, the weed will  rear it’s ugly head back in no time flat making my garden unattractive and cluttered. Sounds a lot like sin in our lives. When we don’t deal with the root of any sin and just try and cover it over with niceties, it will eventually reappear. We can’t hold it back by hiding it. It must be pulled out of us by confession to the ONE who is able to forgive us, cleanse us and restore. As long as the root is still there it will eventually surface above the ground and affect our walk and our witness to others.

When I confess my sin I am  pulling  up and exposing  the root of my sin to Christ. He has promised to forgive me and cleanse me of all my sin thereby, enabling me to move forward without shame.  If I choose to keep the root of my sin buried and just clean up the surface, the root will enable the sin to continue to sprout growth that will manifest in my life. Freedom from the sin can only come from pulling it up by the roots and exposing it to our Master Gardener, Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter if this sin comes in the form of a lowly dandelion or a gigantic hog weed, He is able to kill the root of all sin when we confess it to Him and ask His forgiveness.

1 John 1:8,9  NKJV  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If you have been trying to keep sin hidden in your life, don’t waste anymore time. Confess it to Jesus Christ. Ask for His forgiveness. His Word assures us that if we confess it HE is faithful and just and will forgive us!  Join me in cleaning out my garden, roots and all!

 

Do I need MORE to be content?

Lately I’ve been enjoying watching some of the home  renovation programs on t.v.  They tend to inspire me to do creative things in and around my house. I’ve also found, however, that they also create a bit of discontent within me. I find myself wishing we had more expendable income so we could do more. At times, I also find myself becoming discontent with what I have. Though we don’t live in the lap of luxury, we have more than most in this world of ours. We have loads to be grateful for! We have been blessed with so much inside and outside our home.

I know there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve things in our lives. Change can be a good thing. Some change can makes our lives easier, more comfortable etc. However, the changes that we want are not always possible. The timing may not be right, the finances may not be there, the person may not be ready etc.

The Lord has reminded me, once again, that I must learn to be content with what I have and with the things I cannot change right now. If I allow my discontent to grow, I will find myself envying others and being resentful to those around me. God hasn’t called me to a life of selfish indulgence but to a life of service. When I focus on what I don’t have and not on what I should be grateful for, I become a grumbler. Grumbler’s never accomplish much for the Kingdom!  Just read Exodus 16 & 17.  If it had not been for Moses, these grumblers would probably still be wandering in the wilderness!

I don’t want to grumble, instead I want to live as Paul learned to live.

Ephesians 4:8-13 NKJV 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I am learning. It is a progress but I do want to learn to be truly content in any circumstance. Not because it makes me more noble or holy. Simply because it is what Jesus calls me to do. When I walk in contentment I am usable for the Kingdom. When I grumble and complain and keep my focus on me me me, I make myself insensitive and unavailable for service.

Lord, for those of us who struggle with discontentment from time to time we ask for forgiveness. Please  open our eyes that we may see all that we have to be grateful for! Give us a heart like Jesus. A heart that desires to do your will. A heart that is content in all things. A heart that is yielded to the Holy Spirit. We ask it in the beautiful name of Your Son Jesus. Amen



Hmm what to choose, acceptance or legalism?

Being a follower of  Christ does not immunize us to the constant pounding of the world’s philosophies or new normals.  If we are not hearing this on the tv then we are surely reading it online, in magazines, in newspapers and hearing it from those around us. We shouldn’t be surprised or shocked. The Bible warns us that as time draws close to Christ’s return we will see sin and destruction abound. We surely are seeing it now.

Though it may from time to time upset us, we can take heart knowing that the Word of God told us these things would happen. We can put confidence in the One who knows the beginning from the end. Through Christ and the prophets, God gave us the heads up of what is to come and therefore we know He wins! Christ is returning for His church, a church of which the gates of Hell shall not prevail! That’s pretty awesome news!

When we  see this world of ours grow darker in sin and vain philosophies and when we see natural disasters increase in frequency, we can rest knowing that He is still in control. He warned us that these things would happen before His return.  So how are we to respond to what we are hearing and seeing? Are we to try and legislate the gospel by becoming more legalistic? Are we to just accept the new normals, philosophies and lifestyles that go against the Word of God?

Apostle Paul gives us the answer in his Epistle to the Colossians in chapter 2.

Colossians 2 NKJV

For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

20 Therefore,  if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion,false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

This chapter shows Paul’s knowledge of the human heart. He knew that our most natural response to spiritual oppression from the world is to either become accepting of it, or to become legalistic against it. Neither are correct!  He makes clear that Jesus Christ is to be the focus of our response! We are to remember that it was through Him we are saved and it is through His defeating sin and death on the cross that we are free!  We are to stand firm in what Christ has done for us! We are not to veer from the gospel of truth.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

We are to stay rooted in the truth of the gospel of Christ, knowing we have been made complete in HIM. Not by the law, not by vain philosophies but by Jesus Christ alone, who is the head of all principality and power.

We will never combat  the sin of the world with legalism. It is only through the power of Christ that anyone will be free. 20 Therefore,  if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion,false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

This is such a practical word for our day. Too often, we the church,  react with either  acceptance or legalism to the ways of the world. Paul tells us neither are the correct response. We are to remember that Christ and Christ alone has saved us and freed us! It will take Christ and Christ alone to save others. Legalism will not change their behavior and acceptance will only encourage sin. Our response is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who need Him. To stand firm in the uncompromising truth of the gospel, not being rocked to and fro. To remember that trying to enforce holiness through works won’t cut it and to rest in the knowledge that in Him dwells all the fullness of the God and we are complete in HIM.

Lord, please forgive us for being accepting of things we know displease you. Forgive us for being caught up in things that draw us away from You. We know You alone can save us and You alone can change us. If we slide into legalism, draw us out. Forgive us for trying to replace You with a set of rules. Help us to live in the truth of the gospel, knowing that You and You alone are Savior, deliverer and the One we can trust in.  Keep us close to You Jesus as we wait for Your return.  In Your precious name, Amen.

Too busy to draw near?

Some may have noticed that I have not been too active here for the past few weeks. Our son and his fiance are getting married at our home next month and I have been spending a lot of time trying to whip our property into shape before the wedding. Between staining decks, painting doors and doing some minor inside renovations I have been quite busy. It’s a good busy, but it has not left me with a lot of free time to write.

Because I work full time, some of this work has been done when I get home in the evenings. After working my job and then working at home I have found myself a little more tired than usual. This has resulted in me spending less time reading my Bible and more time plunked in front of the news, or other programs in the evening when I finally get to relax.  I noticed on Sunday, that I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with everything. It is amazing how in such a short period of time we can become caught up in the cares of the world when we don’t balance those cares with enough time in the Word and talking with the One who knows us best. Though I seldom get stressed about trivial things, I was beginning to let things get to me that normally wouldn’t.  I was spending so much time worrying about getting things done that I was neglecting to do the thing I needed to do most and that was talking to God. I noticed I was missing my prayer time.  I mean deep daily prayer time, time where I get to  talk to God about everything going on in my life, intercede for the needs of others and ask Him to lead me throughout the day.

It’s been great getting jobs accomplished around the house. It’s been good to be busy but shortening my prayer time and time in the Word has left me feeling a little more sapped than usual leaving me less inclined to cast off discouragement and worry and more inclined to respond to events and opportunities with a poor attitude. That poor attitude causes me to lose my peace. Obviously, I still have plenty to learn about balancing my responsibilities with my devotional time!   :)

I’m so glad that we serve a Savior that is loving and forgiving. That woos us back to Him, despite our distractions. That longs to spend time with us just as we long to spend time with Him.  Today as I read James 4:7-10 NKJV, it spoke volumes.  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.1Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

It’s time to take the time to draw near to the One who loves me.  He will give me the strength to do all I need to do and more and to do it with the right attitude! As I lay aside my striving and humble myself in His sight, He will lift me up!

“We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.” ~Francis Chan