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There is One we can trust

One of the most wonderful things we have, as followers of Christ, is the knowledge that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us. No matter our circumstances, He is faithful to His flock. This is one thing we can stand on in a world where so much is being shaken. Friends may disappoint us, politicians may deceive us, family may abandon us but Jesus Christ will never leave us or forsake us! Never.

Because of this fact, we need not fear the future. As God is shaking things up preparing for Christ’s return, we are going to see many of the comforts in life we have always taken for granted removed. The plan for a one world government is already underway. With that plan will come changes to our freedoms and liberties. We have already seen our ability to attend churches diminish in many cases due to the so called pandemic. This is just the beginning of the changes that are planned for this world. That being said, do we need to run in fear? NO.

In a free society we should be able to call out and challenge our government for diminishing our freedoms and I think it is important to do so by our votes and with our voices. However, ultimately this old world as we know it is eventually going to get darker. God’s Word says so.

2 Timothy 3:1-9 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.  For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

 They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires.  (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.)  These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith.  But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres.

It is not a surprise to God, nor to those who study their Bibles. God knew and continues to know exactly what will take place and He also planned for us to be born in such a time as this!

So though the future looks grim in some ways, it is also exciting to be alive knowing at any time the trumpet could sound and Jesus Christ could take us up to be with Him!

While we wait there is still work to be done. We must spend time studying God’s Word for direction. We must pray for the unsaved. We must pray for our government officials. We must be the hands and feet of Christ in whatever way He leads us to help and serve others. We must encourage one another with our blessed hope! We must trust that God will continue to guide us through whatever the future holds! Let’s listen to the rest of Paul’s words to Timothy.

2 Timothy 3:10-17 But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance.  You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it.  Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.

 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.  You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

So as we learn to navigate through the coming days, rest assured Christ will be with us every step of the way. He will not leave us as orphans. Our good Shepherd loves His sheep!

Romans 8:35-39 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Blessings!

Don’t Begrudge the Apple of His eye

One thing all true followers of Christ must check is their opinion and attitude towards Israel. Too many have come to the conclusion that Israel and the Jewish people no longer have any importance to God. They have sadly accepted replacement theology and feel the Church alone is the apple of God’s eye.

We know the Church is the bride of Christ! Praise God for this fact. We are loved by Him and we anxiously await His appearance to take us home! We must not forget however, that God is NOT done with Israel. In fact, the end of this world as we know it will revolve around the restoration of Israel! God has not deserted his people. He has grafted us gentiles into the family through the precious blood of Christ but we must never forget He has not forgotten the apple of His eye! The fact that Israel once again became a nation in 1948 showed the mighty hand of God working behind the scenes to draw His people back to their homeland. He drew and is continuing to draw them back so that He can fulfill the promises of Zechariah 2.

When I looked again, I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand.  “Where are you going?” I asked.

He replied, “I am going to measure Jerusalem, to see how wide and how long it is.”

 Then the angel who was with me went to meet a second angel who was coming toward him.  The other angel said, “Hurry, and say to that young man, ‘Jerusalem will someday be so full of people and livestock that there won’t be room enough for everyone! Many will live outside the city walls.  Then I, myself, will be a protective wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the Lord. And I will be the glory inside the city!’”

The Lord says, “Come away! Flee from Babylon in the land of the north, for I have scattered you to the four winds.  Come away, people of Zion, you who are exiled in Babylon!”

 After a period of glory, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me against the nations who plundered you. For he said, “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession. I will raise my fist to crush them, and their own slaves will plunder them.” Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me.

 The Lord says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you.  Many nations will join themselves to the Lord on that day, and they, too, will be my people. I will live among you, and you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me to you.  The land of Judah will be the Lord’s special possession in the holy land, and he will once again choose Jerusalem to be his own city. 13 Be silent before the Lord, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.”

Sadly, due to many influences in our culture this bitterness towards both the Jews and Israel has even seeped into the Church. If you have hardened your heart towards the Jewish people or the land of Israel, it’s time to repent and ask God to forgive you. He has a stern warning for anyone that hates His people or plans harm against them.

Genesis 12:1-3 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.  I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

God doesn’t want us to idolize Israel or her people but he does want us to love and respect them as those He has chosen for His own purposes. So please check your heart for any resentment or bitterness you may have towards them. If you do find yourself harboring anger or jealousy or even hatred than ask God to forgive you through the blood of Christ. Begin to study the scriptures that show God’s love for the Jewish people. Read the book of Revelation and see how God will pour out His Spirit on Israel and His people after the church has been caught up in the clouds. He is not done with Israel and it’s important to keep our hearts tender to that fact.

Blessings!

No Time Like the Present

There is such tension in the world today. We are seeing various forms of social media censoring things that just a few years ago would never have been censored. Main stream media are not reporting the news as it is actually happening but rather in the slant of what suits their current agenda. We see a decline in religious freedoms taking place. People in many places are still not allowed to attend church. If they can attend, they can’t sing due to the mask restrictions. More Christians, worldwide, are dying for their faith than ever before. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. (John 15:20) Things are becoming increasingly uncomfortable and there is no sign things will get better.

Having said all this, does that mean we should throw up our hands and crawl into our basements and retire? NO!! Absolutely not! God has called us to occupy until Jesus appears for His church. We are not to stay silent. We are to share the gospel, speak out against evil, defend the orphans and the widows and live each day as if it is our last! Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. (Ephesians 5:11) Those that are afraid to engage in our culture by sharing the truth need to grow a backbone. The days of quietly letting others speak up with the gospel are over. It is the responsibility of each and everyone of us. Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. (Proverbs 29:25)

Our time here is short. We must use it wisely to further the Kingdom and help others escape the coming wrath. A wrath that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy! Too many Christians are sitting back and waiting for things to return to normal before they go about the Father’s business. Things will likely never return to the normal we once knew.

If you are struggling with fear of sharing the gospel, ask God for courage. Ask Him for wisdom in knowing how and when to share. Don’t waste another day simply living for yourself and your comfort! Time is short. Live so as not to be ashamed when He appears to take us home!

While We Wait for our Bridegroom

It is a beautiful thing that we can come boldly to the throne of God with our prayers and that we can have absolute trust that He hears us. This would be impossible if it weren’t for the blood of Christ being shed for our sins! None of us are good enough on our own to stand clean before the throne of God. But we can praise God for the fact that Jesus Christ made Himself the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us. He became the sacrificial lamb for you and for me. Our guilt and shame have been sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb and therefore we can stand clean before Him when we pray.

It is so important we remember that when we come before God in prayer. We can ask His forgiveness and know because of Christ’s shed blood we will be forgiven. Too often the accuser of the brethren, (Satan) tries to distract us with guilt and shame when we begin to pray. We must ignore his voice and believe fully in the power of the shed blood of Christ and it’s ability to make us and continue to make us the righteousness of God!

If we listen to the voice of the accuser we are much more likely to give up praying and grow weak in our faith. This is one of his tactics and we must be wise and fully rely on the Word of God to counter his schemes. Our prayer life is our life line not only for us but for those God has called us to intercede for!

As we navigate ourselves through the coming days it is critical to keep our prayer lives alive and well! Family members, leaders, friends, the unsaved and fellow believers are all in need of our prayers. We have been told to hold fast to the promises of God and support and motivate one another as we see time drawing closer to the return of Christ for His church. We can only do this if we are walking closely with the Lord Himself and this is impossible if we don’t keep in close touch with Him.

If there was ever a time to stay in close communion with Christ it is now! Don’t let anything keep you from that intimacy. He truly is coming back for His bride sooner than we think! Let us all be ready when that trump sounds! Start each day communing with the lover of your soul!

And so, dear brothers and sisters we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house,  let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:19-25)

Discernment- The gift that keeps on giving!

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find accurate, honest news today. The various stations have their own political agendas to promote and sadly news has become their tool to do so. That’s why it is so important to ask God for discernment in the times we are living. We need His supernatural discernment and wisdom to know what is true and what isn’t!

Oxford’s online dictionary describes it as follows:

dis·cern·ment

Noun

  1. 1.the ability to judge well.
  2. 2.(in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding.”without providing for a time of healing and discernment, there will be no hope of living through this present moment without a shattering of our common life.

We are being fed consistent propaganda through the media causing many to fear sickness, fear man and yet the One we are to truly fear is the Creator of the Universe, God. You won’t find that on the news or tv programming.

Therefore it is so important that you pray for discernment. We need to hear and act on the wisdom of God during these perilous times. God is faithful and will never leave us as orphans. He will speak to us through the Holy Spirit and lead us in the way He wants us to go.

If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,  who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. (John 14:15-18)

So as you start your day in prayer, ask God for discernment for the day. Every day counts as we draw closer and closer to the appearance of Jesus Christ to take us up to be with Him! Discernment will help you to make decisions that will please Him as you walk through your day!

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,  that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,  being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)

God bless!

And I Will Look Up!

With all the chaos going on around us these days it is easy to start the day with news updates, social media updates and the like. This morning I was reminded by the words penned by David the best and most effective way to start every day.

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD. In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. (Psalm 5:1-3)

It is so important we start each day acknowledging the very presence of God in our lives. Through Christ, we can boldly come before the throne of God and make our petitions known. He longs to hear us cry unto Him and seek Him in every step of our day.

Today, rather than start your day looking at things horizontal, why not look up? After all it is the LORD alone that can really make a difference in our lives and in the lives of those we have the opportunity to impact.

Today LORD we choose to look up and acknowledge you first and foremost before we attempt to weave ourselves through the day! Thank you for giving ear to our words! Thank you for hearing our cries! We bless your name this day!

Labor Has Begun

The days we are currently living in so accurately express the birth pains stage of prophecy. Every day we see religious freedoms become less and less available. Natural disasters have greatly increased. Lawlessness abounds. There is increasing turmoil building in the Middle East. False teachers and doctrines can be found anywhere you look. Sin is rampant. Famines and earthquakes are on the increase.

Matthew 24:3-8 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you,  for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.  And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.  Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.  But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

Though the times are going to get increasingly difficult, we have to praise God for the fact we are living in days where we get to witness the scriptures be fulfilled in living colour before our very eyes! We may well be very close to the appearance of Christ!

Let’s not waste any more time on frivolous things. It’s time to pray for the lost in our families and the world! We need to pray for our leaders and the darkness that surrounds so many worldwide governments! We need to pray for the body of Christ as never before!

Why not dedicate a set time every day to get alone before God and repent and intercede for all of the above? Reach out to others who also discern the times and join together in prayer in person or if distance is an issue, via a social media platform such as face time.

Let’s do our part to prepare others for the beautiful appearance of our Lord and Savior so that none of us will need to be ashamed at his appearance but rather we will be excited at just the thought!

1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

FEAR: The Cat that Likes to Roar

We are living in the strangest of times right now. The news is inundated with stories filled with reasons why we should be worried, afraid and distrusting world leaders and heads. There are so many conflicting stories about how best to tackle this virus and most of them are generated by immense fear.

As followers of Christ we NEED NOT BE AFRAID! If we have diligently studied the Word of God we know how this ole world ends and we win! If we allow fear to rule our lives we will be spiritually and emotionally crippled! 1 Timothy 1:7 says For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. If are decisions are being driven by fear than we are NOT following the voice of God but of the deceiver.

So how do we live without being driven by fear? We get back into the Word of God. All through the Old Testament and the New Testament there are so many examples of God leading His people through dark and very dark times. Today, we have the Helper (the Holy Spirit) to guide us and direct us as we seek His Word daily through prayer and reading the Bible. Ask God for boldness. Ask Him to drive out fear and replace it with trust in His power, His love and self discipline. He already knows if you are being driven by fear so He won’t be shocked and yet He will hear your plea and answer. That’s who He is!

I’m always a little taken back when I read Revelation 21:8 “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Cowards are listed right there with the adulterers, murderers etc. That’s eye opening to say the least. Therefore, it is very important that we not be lead by fear or driven by fear. It will lead us into the wrong decision and response every time.

When fear appears in your life like a mighty lion and roars it’s lies at you you must respond with the Word of God. Take the Word and wield it like the mighty sword it is. Counter each lie and fearful thought with the truth of God’s Word. If you don’t know where to start do a search of how many times we, as people of God, are told, “fear not or do not be afraid.” It is imperative we receive that in our hearts! With the 365 times we are told not to fear we should begin to realize how serious it is to obey.

So today, when the cat (deceiver) comes up and begins to ROAR fear in your ear, respond in a way the LION of the tribe of Judah would have you respond. Wield the truth from the Word of God back at him. His roar is nothing but a small meow compared to the ROAR of the Word of God! It is the only way to counter his roar. Ignoring it or giving in to it will only bring defeat. Use the mighty weapon of the Word God has given us as many times as needed. Resist him and he will flee.

Have a blessed day!

Heart & Obedience aka Be like Nehemiah!

Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah | Coram Deo ~

I have been rereading the book of Nehemiah and it is such a wonderful book for so many reasons. One of my biggest take aways from it is that we should all have a heart for the people around us. It should grieve us to know that there are so many people lacking faith in Christ and direction when we have the answer.

Nehemiah 1 In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.

 They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.  Then I said,

“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,  listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned!  We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.

“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations.  But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’

 “The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants.  O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”

In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer.

Nehemiah was obedient to the call on his life. He listened to God and obeyed, despite the fact he had to be brave in asking for permission. His heart ached when he saw how his people were suffering and needed direction and when he heard about the state of the wall.

I suggest you read or reread the book of Nehemiah this week. It is a book that illustrates how one person’s obedience and faithfulness to God can make a huge difference in the lives of many. Your obedience or disobedience will always have an impact on those around you.

My prayer today is that we too will be like Nehemiah. We will obey the calling God has put on our lives and follow through, despite how difficult it may be, despite opposition or grumblings. The spiritual health of others may be dependent on it! Stay the course!

Nehemiah 6 Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates.  So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.

But I realized they were plotting to harm me,  so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”

 Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.  The fifth time, Sanballat’s servant came with an open letter in his hand,  and this is what it said:

“There is a rumor among the surrounding nations, and Geshem tells me it is true, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel and that is why you are building the wall. According to his reports, you plan to be their king.  He also reports that you have appointed prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim about you, ‘Look! There is a king in Judah!’

“You can be very sure that this report will get back to the king, so I suggest that you come and talk it over with me.”

 I replied, “There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing.”

 They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.

 Later I went to visit Shemaiah son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home. He said, “Let us meet together inside the Temple of God and bolt the doors shut. Your enemies are coming to kill you tonight.”

 But I replied, “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!”  I realized that God had not spoken to him, but that he had uttered this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. They were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me.

So on October  the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun.  When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.

 During those fifty-two days, many letters went back and forth between Tobiah and the nobles of Judah.  For many in Judah had sworn allegiance to him because his father-in-law was Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan was married to the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah.  They kept telling me about Tobiah’s good deeds, and then they told him everything I said. And Tobiah kept sending threatening letters to intimidate me.

Blessings!

Don’t Waste this Time

Pin on GO.

Do you believe Jesus Christ is going to appear soon to take up His church? Are you sensing that time for the body of Christ is short here? I do. I have never been more convinced that time is short. I really believe we must use every opportunity the LORD gives us to share the gospel with those that need to hear it, including those who need salvation and those who once knew Christ but are currently living in rebellion.

For those of us who can’t work right now, why not pray and ask God to show you ways you can be used to share the message so desperately needed by this world? Jesus Christ came to save sinners! He is not willing that anyone should perish and be lost for eternity!

2 Peter 3:3-10 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.  Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood.  And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.  The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief.

What will it matter if you helped people with material things during the pandemic but neglected to share the gospel which would help them for all eternity? We are to be the hands and feet of Christ but we are also called to share the good news to those that need to hear it. We also have a responsibility to remind those who have fallen away from Christ that the time is short and His return is imminent. Whether it’s today or in 5 years, they need to be ready.

I have committed to praying for the unsaved during this time but I know that is not enough. We must share the gospel however the LORD allows us to. It may be through social media, a phone call, a letter or a conversation while social distancing in a store.

Let’s do our part to help people be spared from the evil days to come. The pandemic is bad but the book of Revelation tells us for those that are left behind things will be far worse or an enormous scale!

So brother or sister in Christ, pray and ask God how you can be used during this time. He is always looking for willing vessels. We don’t have to be perfect. We must have a heart for Him and be willing.

Have a blessed day!

A Death to Celebrate

The Cross of Jesus Christ

Every day we get fed an updated count of those who have died with the COVID 19 virus. The worldwide numbers are mounting. Each one of those deaths represents someone’s father, mother, sister, brother, aunt, child etc. Each one of those deaths brings heartbreak and sorrow to the surviving family and friends.

Today, Good Friday, let’s reflect on one death that though it brought sorrow at the time to those who loved Him, has also brought immeasurable joy. The death of our precious LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. For without His death we would remain lost. His willingness to be obedient to the Father and die a horribly painful and violent death at the hands of those who mocked Him is what has given us our salvation!

Jesus Christ offered Himself up as the sacrificial Lamb of God for you and I. Let us never forget the high price He paid for our salvation! Without His death there would be no resurrection! Without His death we would not receive the Comforter! Without His death we, as His followers, would not be able to look forward to His appearing again! Praise His holy name forever!

Mark 15:21-41 A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)  And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”).  They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it.

 Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece.  It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.  A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.”  Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days.  Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

 The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself!  Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.

The Death of Jesus

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.  Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah.  One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”

 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.  And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome.  They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Lord Jesus-Help us never to forget the price you paid on Calvary to save us from our sins. Keep our hearts tender towards you always. We love you and are so thankful for the love you demonstrated and continue to demonstrate daily in our lives. In Your precious name, Amen.

Watch out for PRIDE

What is the Biblical definition of pride? - Quora

One of the greatest stumbling blocks for the child of God is pride.

The Merriam Webster defines pride as follows:

PRIDE noun Definition of pride 1: the quality or state of being proud: such as a: inordinate self-esteem CONCEIT b: a reasonable or justifiable self-respect c: delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship parental pride

2:  proud or disdainful behavior or treatment DISDAIN 3a: ostentatious display b: highest pitch PRIME 4:  a source of pride the best in a group or class 5: a company of lions 6: a showy or impressive group a pride of dancers

With the words, “inordinate self esteem”, “conceit,” and “ostentatious display” in mind, we can see a perfect example of all of this in Lucifer’s fall.

Isaiah 14:12-15 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’

 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

We currently live in a culture that encourages us to be prideful. To stand up and be heard, to toot our own horn, to make sure people are paying attention to us! The danger comes when we insist on doing any of these things solely to have our egos stroked. This attitude has deeply penetrated the church. You don’t have to look too hard to see online, televised ministries promising more for you if you give and support them! Some share a gospel that is more about being blessed than about blessing others or taking up your cross and following Jesus wherever He may lead. Pride in “their” ministries and accomplishments overrides the tender, humble heart of a true follower of Christ. I doubt many of them started out with that attitude but over time old slew foot began to creep into their hearts.

All of us are susceptible to becoming prideful. No one is immune. We must diligently guard our hearts from becoming that way. One of the best ways to do this is to daily remember that you did not nor can you ever earn your salvation. It was blood bought by a Savior that willingly suffered immeasurable pain on a wooden cross for YOU. That’s what should center us every day. He paid the price for us! Though we didn’t and don’t deserve it, He did it out of love for every one of us!

Our lives and ministry will never be on track when we forget that for one minute. How we live and what we do to minister to others must always be from a place of humility and love. Knowing He has given us this life. He has redeemed us from the pit of Hell, He has provided us with a Comforter to help guide us and lead us.

If you find yourself getting a little puffed up and proud about “your” ministry or accomplishments bring your heart back to the cross. Keep it real. Just remember the words of Solomon taken from

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.

Stay safe and be blessed!

Get Things Right

This current time of self isolating can really be a blessing in disguise. It is giving many people, around the world, an opportunity to have time to get their life in order spiritually. Many of us fill our lives with jobs, chores, friends, family and leave very little time to spend with our God in prayer.

God longs to have us spend time with Him. He has created us for fellowship. If you have found yourself out of fellowship with Him lately than why not take this opportunity to turn things around? Why waste another day spinning your own wheels? Cry out to Jesus Christ while He can still be found. No one knows how long they have on this earth and today is the day you have been given!

Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says,
    “Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
    Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
    but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for He is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
    He is eager to relent and not punish.

Instead of filling your day with menial tasks, take some time today in your prayer closet and ask the Lord to forgive you for neglecting Him. Thank Him for every good gift He has given you, including your salvation! Spend time talking to the lover of your soul. Get things right between you. Don’t waste another day or opportunity to be in the presence of Christ!

Our Daily Walk

DAY BY DAY

Our walk with Christ must be something we rededicate ourselves to DAILY. It isn’t a Sunday only or Tuesday night Bible study only kinda walk. It is a walk of daily commitment to speak to, heed the voice of and follow in obedience to Jesus Christ.

Why not begin each morning, before your feet hit the floor, by thanking God for another day? Invite Christ into your day and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you! Putting our LORD as our number one priority before we begin our day is the best way to start. It keeps the long term goal in the forefront. To take up our cross DAILY and follow Him!

Luke 9:23-25 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY and follow Me.”

Lord let our day start with you! Help us keep our eye on you from the start to the end and glorify you in all that we do today. In Jesus name, Amen

Our All Encompassing Savior

I love that we serve a Savior that didn’t just come to save us. Though that in itself is WONDERFUL! Our Jesus came to pull our souls out of the pit of Hell but also to do so much more. He came to make living on this earth less traumatic and painful in so many ways.

Our transformation begins at the time of our rebirth. The time we repent of our sins and ask Jesus Christ to be LORD of our life. It is a starting point for the rest of our life! Jesus doesn’t leave us in the state He finds us. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we begin our transformation from glory to glory. We are to continually become more like our Master! That too is WONDERFUL! What Jesus does is offer the gift of salvation to even the poorest of the poor. He doesn’t leave us in the broken state He finds us. Through the power of the Holy Spirit he will heal those areas of our life that are broken and messed up. Where we are bound by demonic influences and lies, He will set us free! Where we are spiritually blind He will open up the truth to us through His Word! Where we are tormented or oppressed, He will deliver us!

Luke 4:14-21,

Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. 15 He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. 17 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
19     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21 Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

That is the Jesus we serve! Our Savior takes care of all our needs if we let Him. If we yield our will to His, speak to Him daily and read the Word of God regularly, He will reveal truth and shine His light into all the dark areas of our life that need healing! This can take time, but He is faithful to His Word.

Humble yourself before Him and ask Him to go into all those dark areas of your life that you need cleaned up! Allow Him to complete the work in you that needs to be done. As you yield, He will not disappoint!

Have a blessed day!

Purpose in Your Heart

3 Reasons Why David Was a Man After God's Own Heart - Guarding the ...

The direction of our day is going to be determined by the “purposing of our heart.” As followers of Christ, we are not to be lead by feelings alone. We our to be lead by the Holy Spirit who will not impose Himself on us. If we want to have a day where we will walk in victory and glorify God we must begin our day by purposing in our heart to do the will of God.

Our flesh does not desire to yield to the ways and things of God. It is always happy to reach out and grab those things that make us feel good for the moment. However, those same things are often the things that draw us away from abiding in Christ and our peace. If we want to walk in peace and true joy it is only achieved through walking in obedience to the will of God, regardless of our circumstances.

So if you want to have a day of true peace start your day by “purposing in your heart,” to walk in holiness being lead by the Spirit of God. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead you throughout the day. Seek the Father’s will in all you do. Talk with Jesus, thank Him for all He has done and ask Him to use you as His hands and feet while you live your day for Him!

Be like Daniel, a man with an excellent spirit! Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Scripture verse for Sunday March 29, 2020

love like Jesus Archives | Page 4 of 8 | Redeeming God

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40

Are you Excited for His Appearing?

Will Jesus' second coming be in the clouds? I'm not so sure...

Did you know that one day Jesus is going to appear and those of us in Christ will be caught up to ever be with the LORD?

1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

This should be the “blessed hope,” of every follower of Christ.

Titus 2:11-14 This is our “blessed hope,” as the Bible calls it! For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Each morning we should prepare ourselves that today may be that very day! We need to live every day waiting on His glorious appearance! So whatever you do today, do it well, do it with excellence as you live your day honoring God. Regardless of your responsibilities, you can pray as you carry them out. Find time to read the Bible. Even a few verses that you can meditate upon throughout your day.

If you live every day waiting on His return it will keep your heart tender and sensitive to His voice and leading and that dear friends is exactly how Jesus Christ wants us to live!

Have a blessed day!

Whose Voice Are You Listening To?

Have you noticed that when you make a decision to allow God into every area of your life that you find yourself battling negative thoughts and feelings? Suddenly things you thought were long past conquered rear their ugly head again. The more you press into the Word of God and prayer the hotter the battle becomes in your mind.

You are not alone. This is why we are told to fight the good fight. The battle must be won in the mind. Every thought must be taken captive! To start we must realize that many of these thoughts are not even our own. They are provided by the accuser of the brethren, Satan himself. He has a vested interest in you not abiding in Christ. He wants to keep your mind preoccupied with thoughts that draw you away from your intimacy with the King of Kings. Many Christians begin to discontinue their push for intimacy with God when they think the thoughts are their own. How can I love God when I think such negative, bad thoughts? Well my dear friend, many of these thoughts are NOT your own. They are used to make you feel shame and fear and that is to keep you from pressing in with God!

When you find yourself battling negative thoughts you must begin to refuse to give them any credibility. You must replace the thought with scriptural truth. For example when you are trying to pray and the thought, “God doesn’t really care about my needs. This is a waste of time..” you must counter that thought/feeling with TRUTH. This is where it is vital that you compose a list of Scripture verses that speak truth over the lies you have been believing and listening to. So in this case you would speak out, Ephesians 1:4-8 “ Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son  He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. Does that sound like God doesn’t care about you? NO it is a declaration of just how much He does care about you. Before he made the world He already knew YOU would be part of His family! That is amazing and truth!

I believe much of the church is walking in defeat because we are spending too much time allowing the enemy of our souls to whisper, speak and shout lies and we accept many of them as truth instead of replacing the lies with the truth of God’s word. ANY area of your life that you are believing lies in will cause you to walk defeated. This is not God’s plan for you. To begin to walk in victory is is absolutely vital that you take the time to write out the thoughts that plague you the most. Those negative thoughts of defeat and discouragement. Then search your Bible for the verses that counter those lies. Write down the negative thought/belief and beside it write down the TRUTH of God’s Word that addresses that very lie. Next time the thought comes counter it with the Word of God. Use the mightiest weapon we have, the Word of God.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ

Any thought, belief or idea you have that causes you to distance yourself or feel unworthy of God’s love is never from God. The exception to this is if you are walking in rebellious sin and haven’t repented of it and are still giving it place in your life. In this case you MUST confess your sin, renounce your sin and turn from your sin. God will not ignore your sin but He will forgive it once confessed! Praise God for His mercy!

So during these days of self isolating why not sit down and ask God to help you compose a list of the lies you have been believing over yourself and to show you the TRUTH in His Word that will counter those lies. Use this time to lean in to Christ and to begin to walk in victory in the areas you have up till now, walked in defeat!

Image result for person with satan speaking in his ear

Every day is our FATHER’S day

I love the fact that regardless of whether we have a living father, a father engaged in our life, a father that cares or a father that doesn’t care for us now and perhaps never will, the one thing that every follower of Christ can be assured of is the love of a Heavenly Father.  His love knows no bounds. His love has been demonstrated to each of us who call Jesus Christ Savior and Lord in the most wonderful and powerful way possible.

He loved us when we were most unlovable. While we were up to our eye balls in sin, He saved us through the sacrificial death of His most precious Son!  That’s powerful love! That’s limitless love! That’s love that we should never take for granted! His love exceeds any possible love that an earthly Father could demonstrate because He was willing to send His perfect, blameless Son to a painful and agonizing death on the cross for you and I in order to restore a relationship with Him.

1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The incredible love and mercy God demonstrated to us and continues to demonstrate to us through Christ is too much for us to really fathom. Just as Peter points out, we have been given a new birth (salvation) and a living hope of Eternal life all because of God’s great love towards us!

We have no excuse to live a defeated life as a follower of Christ due to the less than perfect actions of our earthly fathers. We have been given restored relationship with the Creator of the Universe, the Father to the fatherless, the lover of our souls through Christ and we need to move forward in the freedom that comes with that.

We serve a living, loving and merciful Father who has provided us with salvation and the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk out  the calling He has for our lives in victory! So let us lay aside our self pity and excuses and let us move forward as we abide in Christ and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. Let us be thankful every day that we have a Heavenly Father that loved us and continues to love us more than any earthly father ever could. Let us praise Him and show our devotion to Him by obeying His Word and living  a life of service to Him, through Christ.

Blessings!

What’s bubbling to your surface?

Each one of us lives out our story of faith. Every day we are faced to deal with situations and people that cause us to react. Our reaction tells others a great deal about our character. God has called us, through Christ, to be salt and light in an otherwise dark world. Do our words and actions demonstrate the salt and light of the gospel or do they demonstrate a heart of self pity and complaining?

When we are driving down the road and someone cuts us off, our reaction is a direct result of what is inside us. If we have been thinking throughout the day of how difficult life is, how hard we have it or how unhappy we are, our reaction will not be too sweet! What comes to the surface during a crisis or a sudden upset is what we have been telling ourselves right up to that point. What we feed our minds bubbles up out of our mouths!

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.~Proverbs 23:7

 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.~Philippians 2:14-16

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.~James 4:1-3

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him,  rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.~Colossians 2:6,7

As followers of Christ we too often react with criticism, negativity and self pity because that’s what we have been feeding ourselves in our thought life all day! What goes into our thoughts comes out of our mouth. If we want to react and respond as Christ would, we need to feed our mind and heart on His Word. We need to be in an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, even in the difficult times. Taking up our cross often involves difficulties and trying times.

When we find ourselves reacting negatively to people and things we need to readjust our heart! We need to spend time with our Savior and  get back into the Word of God. It is necessary. It is essential if we want to live as Christ has called us to live, loving Him and serving others, there’s no other option.

I am so thankful that when I screw up and get waylaid in selfishness, I can ask the lover of my soul to forgive me and get me back on track!  He longs for our fellowship and is willing to forgive us over and over again.  So if you have been complaining, griping or just responding with an ungrateful attitude to your circumstances perhaps it’s time you get on your knees before Him and ask for forgiveness. Ask Him to get you back on track with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. Ask Him to illuminate the Word of God before you read your Bible and allow it to penetrate into your heart and mind. Allow the Word to conform you into the image of Jesus so that you too can be the salt and light this world of ours so desperately needs!

It’s the SAME Spirit!

We follow the same Jesus that the disciples followed. We are filled with the same Spirit that filled them. The words that Jesus gave to His disciples are words for us today. He didn’t say, “I am with you always, until the last of the 12 disciples dies.” NO. Matthew 28:18-20 says 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  He is with us always! To the very end of the age! The same Jesus, the same Spirit abides with us today! 

I believe we need to remind ourselves from time to time that the Holy Spirit that moved in the book of Acts is still moving today. It is up to us to make a daily decision to read the Word of God and listen to the voice of the Spirit to lead us. When we do we are able to do wonderful things for the Kingdom of God. When we don’t we are merely living out a fleshly existence with little to no fruit.

Once the disciples repented of their sins, made a decision to follow Christ as their Lord and were filled with the Holy Spirit they became power kegs for the Kingdom of God. They literally turned the world upside down with the gospel. First to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. We too have the ability to turn our world upside down with the gospel, if we yield ourselves to the purposes that God has called us to. First and foremost we must grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and secondly we must obey the Word. Being fired up to serve God without knowing who He is or what He wants us to do is a waste of time. We must learn of Him and that comes through studying the Word prayerfully. We must also spend time with Him in prayer daily. The saying, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak,” is more than just a cute phrase. We can’t live out a life of faith on old studying habits. We must continually be in the Word and allow God to transform our thoughts and life by the washing of the Word over our hearts and minds.

Too often we are walking around weak and defeated because of our lack of studying the Word and inconsistent prayer life. There is no excuse for this. We have the same Spirit that led Jesus, Paul, Peter and multiple others that have accomplished great things for the Kingdom. It is time we got serious about allowing that same Spirit to lead us into the works God has called us to do. NOTHING good will be accomplished by trying to please God with our own thought directed efforts. He has called us to abide in Christ. Abiding requires spending time with Him.

The book of Acts is so full of wonderful examples of how the men and women of God allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them in what to speak, who to speak to, where to go etc. We to need to be led by the Spirit. We need to keep our hearts tender before God so we can hear the still small voice of the Spirit when He leads and then OBEY!  When we do we will have the boldness to share the gospel and therefore see souls won for Christ, we will see signs and wonders and we will be growing in our walk with Christ as we should. The Word of God doesn’t change. The Spirit of God doesn’t change. The purposes of God don’t change. As you read the following scripture remember, it is as relevant for us today as it was for the Apostles..

Acts 2:14-21 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.18 Even on my servants, both men and women,  I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Father God: Remind us that we your sons and daughters are to be led by the Holy Spirit. Give us a heart that longs to share the good news of Christ with those who desperately need to hear it. Keep our hearts tender before You so that we may yield to Your will and accomplish much for Your Kingdom.  We ask it in the beautiful name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Embolden Your Church Lord

With so much worldwide persecution of the church going on it is vital that those of us with the freedom to live and share our faith openly without fear of death and torture do so. It is also critical that we spend time in prayer praying for those who are currently going through incredible testing of their faith. Too often we are afraid to share our faith because of fear of being ridiculed or thought less of when many are required to give their life for doing so. We are not called to be cowards. We are called to be unashamed of the gospel (good news)  that saved us, freed us and will continue to preserve us until He comes again!

Romans 1:16,17   16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”  (Faith not FEAR)

Jesus made it very clear in Luke  chapter 9 that those of us who call Him Savior and Lord and have made the decision to follow Him MUST be willing to do a few things.

Luke 9:23-26 NKJV 23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

The life of a Christian is a life of intimacy and service to the ONE who called us.  We cannot do it in our own strength. We can only live  a spiritually fruitful life by DAILY surrendering our lives to HIM. By yielding our will to HIM. By spending time in HIS presence. Through the  power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. By searching the scriptures daily to learn of HIM and His purposes for each of our lives.  When we are willing to daily take up our cross we are usable by God for His purposes. If we are too busy consumed with fear,  worldly concerns or self interests we are wasting precious time that He has give us to be used in service. There are so many that have yet to hear the gospel. So many hurting that need a touch from Jesus. So many broken lives that need to be restored to the ONE who died for them.

My prayer is that the Lord will embolden my faith as I yield to Him. That He will strengthen my resolve to follow Him, regardless of the cost. That I will NEVER be ashamed of the gospel of Christ! For as the Word of God says, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and is himself destroyed or lost?”

Lord, forgive us for our complacency and lack of faith. Forgive us for allowing fear to play a part in our walk with you.  Please increase our faith. Embolden us to speak the truth of the gospel whenever we are given the opportunity to do so. Create in us a heart that longs to spend time in Your presence and in Your Word. Give us a burden of prayer for our brothers and sisters all over the world who have been called to suffer and die for the sake of the gospel. Help us deny ourselves and take up our cross daily for You! Lord may we live our lives as Apostle Paul did, not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes!  In Jesus beautiful name, Amen.

 

 

There is a cost!

 

In my personal bible reading, I have once again worked my way through the Old Testament and am currently in the book of Matthew. Instead of reading through each chapter in my usual full speed ahead mode, this time I am savoring  my time reading and sometimes rereading several times, the words and actions of Jesus. There are just so many details I have missed in the past. This time through, I am going to take my time and enjoy learning the details of the ONE who died for me.

This morning I was dwelling on some verses in Matthew 16.  Verses 24 to 27 are powerful, serious words! 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done.  I have heard these verses throughout my Christian life so many times yet the weight of the message has never hit me harder than it did today. This is a message  for the double minded. It is a message for the fence sitters. It is a message for the luke warm Sunday Christians. It is a message those who are trying to get their life worked out before they get serious about their commitment to Christ.  This is a message for every person who claims to be a Christian. As a Christian we are to be a  follower of Christ. To follow Him we must walk in His footsteps on the path that He leads us. We must be willing to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. Denying ourselves is not easy but it is required. Taking up our cross is living a life of sacrifice but it is required. Losing our life and self interests for those of the Kingdom of God is not natural in the flesh, but is required.

Some  have the idea that those who willingly give up the comfort and ease of a selfish life to serve God with abandon are the “super spiritual” people. A little too radical. A little too zealous. However, this is what Jesus requires of all His followers.  He requires we live a life of obedience and service to Him, our High Priest! This will require sacrifice of all types. This will require doing things we don’t always like to do. This will require pouring ourselves out to others, even when we don’t feel like it. We serve a radical Savior. Nothing He did or commands comes natural to us. It is by His Spirit we are able to accomplish all that He has for us to do. John 16:12-15 NIV 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that He will receive what He will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what He will make known to you.”

Christ  didn’t just call us to Himself and than leave us with the difficult task of trying to figure out how we are to follow Him, He has equipped us! With the Holy Spirit living within us and the Word of God to guide us we are able to fulfill His purposes if we are willing. But in order to do so we must be willing to deny ourselves our own ambitions and take up our cross and follow Him, walking each day with the Holy Spirit guiding and teaching us how and where to serve. He may lead us into some dark places where He wants us to show the light and love of Himself to others. He may lead us to some very uncomfortable situations where we are to be His hands and feet. North American Christians have been blessed with inordinate amounts of freedom in following Christ.  Denying  ourselves is a difficult task because we are not used to denying ourselves much of anything when we have been blessed with so much. When it comes to taking up our cross, it is a decision that seldom results in our death. There are brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the globe that understand the high cost of both denying themselves and taking up their cross as they are living in countries where they may not only face persecution but death to do so. Many are  martyred on a daily basis because they are willing to deny themselves and take up their cross! They understand the cost of being a disciple. For those of us in North America, things are changing. There is a rising rebellion and bitterness towards the church.  One day we too may be called to give our lives for Christ. If so, we must do so willingly, knowing one day He will reward us for what we have suffered and done for His Kingdom.

If we have made the decision to follow Christ, follow is what we must do. My prayer is that each one of us will lay aside those things that are holding us back and willingly say, “Lord I am ready to follow you completely! I am ready to deny myself, my selfish ambitions and comfort and am willing to take up my cross and follow you wherever You will lead me!” This is the heart cry of a disciple, this is to be the heart cry of every one of us who has made Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessings!

“He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian’ without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.”~Francis Chan

 

 

Should I stay or should I go?

 

For the last few years I have noticed a wonderful thing happening. Many of the body of Christ have grown discontent attending churches where the Spirit of God is not moving. Churches that have become nothing more than religious tombs where the Word of God has been so watered down and political correctness has become the staple. There is a stirring in the hearts of God’s people. A stirring for more. It happened to me a few years back and I see it happening over and over to others. God is drawing those who are earnestly seeking Him into a deeper walk. A walk that requires obedience to His Word, loving on others and allowing Jesus to not just be Savior but Lord also.

For too long many of us were content with being small c Christians, when we have been called to be big C Christians.  Christians that will be seekers of God and His Word. Christians that will walk in obedience, even into the hard places. Christians that will serve not just sit idly by as others serve. He is doing something wonderful, scary and powerful in His church. We often hear on the news that people are leaving many of the mainstream churches. Attendance is down. Churches are closing. Despite this there is a wonderful thing happening. Some of those people are leaving churches where God’s Spirit is not moving to churches where God’s Spirit is moving! They are being relocated to grow and serve elsewhere.

For those truly seeking, God will lead them where they may be fed and where they may feed others. Sometimes discontent is a good thing. Sometimes it causes us to seek out more! By no means am I suggesting that people leave a church if God has placed them there in order that they may be used to bring about necessary change. Nor am I suggesting people flip from church to church looking to be entertained and served. What I am suggesting and seeing is that when people are serious about growing closer to Christ and hungry for growth it may be necessary that they leave behind a church that is refusing to move forward in God. A church bound by men’s traditions where the Spirit of God is not allowed to freely move.

Prophetic signs tell us that  it is not likely too long before Christ takes His followers home to be with Him. If so, we would be wise to use the time left wisely.  To get involved with a Church that is preaching the full gospel. To sit under the teaching of men and women that are walking in obedience to Christ. To serve along side brothers and sisters that are committed to being the hands and feet of Christ to a broken, messed up world. I am not suggesting these churches will be perfect, after all you and I are there right? 🙂  However, they are headed in the right direction. They are allowing the Spirit of God to move. They are people of prayer, lining their lives up with the Word of God. Not perfect but true seekers. It is in this atmosphere we are able to grow spiritually as a family and from that growth are able to reach out and use our lives in service inside and outside the church building!

Ephesians 5:14-20 NIV  14 This is why it is said:“Wake up, sleeper,  rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.15 Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:18-23 NIV 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.22 And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.

Ephesians 4:1-16 NIV As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:  “When He ascended on high, He took many captives and gave gifts to His people.” (What does “He ascended” mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Acts 2:17-21 NIV 17 “‘In the last days, God says,  I will pour out my Spirit on all people.Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below,  blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

If you are seeking a deeper walk with Christ and are longing for more and you are in a church where the gospel is being watered down or perhaps no longer even preached and the Spirit of God is no longer moving,  it is likely time for a change!   Ask God for wisdom and direction in where you should be attending. He will open up a door for you to walk through. Life is too short. God has a place for you to grow and serve. Ask Him and He will show you!

Blessings!

 

 

Why bother studying?

Are you aware of the many verses in the bible that instruct us to study the Word of God?  If you haven’t been studying it, you may not be! If you are a follower of Jesus Christ it is vital that you become a student of the Word of God. Without studying the Word we will never know who our God is, who our beautiful Savior is, who the Holy Spirit is and what God expects of us as we follow Christ. If we are lazy in our studying we will crippled in our thinking and in our walk! Without renewing our mind on the truth of God’s Word we will never walk in truth or victory. We will be vulnerable to the world’s way of thinking.

Let’s take a look at just some of the Bible verses  that encourage us to study God’s Word….

2 Timothy 3:12-17 NIV 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

Joshua 1:8 NIV Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

 

Deuteronomy 11:18-28 NIV 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.22 If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him— 23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. 24 Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. 25 No one will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go.26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

 

Psalm 119: 9-16 NIV How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lordteach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

 

2 Timothy 3:1-17 NIV  But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescuedme from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

Psalm 119:105 NIV 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

 

Romans 12:2 NIV Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is His good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

2 Timothy 2:15 NIV 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

 

1 John 2:3-6 NIV We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them.This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.

These are but a few of the many verses found that tell us of the importance of studying and knowing His Word!  I will wrap up with one final scripture. Here we see how imperative it is that we have the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, as part of our complete armour in order to walk out our walk with Christ!

Ephesians 6:11-17 NIV 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

We need our sword to fight! It is critical to have an offensive weapon to strike back at our opponent!  (Satan) The Word of God is that sword!

We all need to use our time wisely! Life is short and we have much to do before the Lord Jesus returns! Don’t neglect spending time in His Word. It will change you from the inside out and prepare you for any battle you may face!

Blessings!

 

 

 

Ever feel like Habakkuk?

Despite Habakkuk’s strange name, there is a lot we can learn from him. Habakkuk was a prophet called to preach a message of repentance to the people of Judah. He found himself ministering among stubborn, rebellious people that had hardened their hearts toward God. He sees violence, strife and contention everywhere and his heart aches because he doesn’t see an end to the rebellion of his people. He finds himself getting frustrated with the fact God is allowing the wickedness to continue!  (Ever feel that way when you see the atrocities taking place today?) The book of Habakkuk contains the conversation between Habakkuk and God.

Habakkuk 1 NIV

The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.

Habakkuk complains to God about the people…

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.

God answers Habakkuk…

5 “Look at the nations and watch—
    and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe,
    even if you were told.
I am raising up the Babylonians,
    that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
    to seize dwellings not their own.
They are a feared and dreaded people;
    they are a law to themselves
    and promote their own honor.
Their horses are swifter than leopards,
    fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
    their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
    they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind
    and gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
    and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
    by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—
    guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”

Habakkuk cries out to God again….

12 Lord, are you not from everlasting?
    My God, my Holy One, you will never die.
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment;
    you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
    you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
    Why are you silent while the wicked
    swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
14 You have made people like the fish in the sea,
    like the sea creatures that have no ruler.
15 The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
    he catches them in his net,
he gathers them up in his dragnet;
    and so he rejoices and is glad.
16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net
    and burns incense to his dragnet,
for by his net he lives in luxury
    and enjoys the choicest food.
17 Is he to keep on emptying his net,
    destroying nations without mercy?

God tells Habakkuk that He will use the Babylonians to chasten the people. They will find themselves ruled by a “terrible and dreadful” people. Though Habakkuk wants his people to repent, he is afraid when He hears whom the Lord will use to chasten the people.  Much like ourselves, Habakkuk wants to see the people repent and turn back towards God but his initial response to God’s answer of how He will bring it about is great fear! He knows it will be a painful, harsh time for the people.

I can’t help but feel for Habakkuk. I know when I pray for the nations, friends or family that are lost and in rebellion I want to see them turn to the Lord without having to endure great trials or painful circumstances but I also know that often it is in those great trials and circumstances that God is able to get their attention! Times of comfort and ease seldom cause one to cry out to God!

Habakkuk 2 NIV

I will stand at my watch
    and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
    and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

God answer’s Habakkuk…

Then the Lord replied:

“Write down the revelation
    and make it plain on tablets
    so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay.

“See, the enemy is puffed up;
    his desires are not upright
    but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness
indeed, wine betrays him;
    he is arrogant and never at rest.
Because he is as greedy as the grave
    and like death is never satisfied,
he gathers to himself all the nations
    and takes captive all the peoples.

“Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying,

“‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods
    and makes himself wealthy by extortion!
    How long must this go on?’
Will not your creditors suddenly arise?
    Will they not wake up and make you tremble?
    Then you will become their prey.
Because you have plundered many nations,
    the peoples who are left will plunder you.
For you have shed human blood;
    you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

“Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain,
    setting his nest on high
    to escape the clutches of ruin!
10 You have plotted the ruin of many peoples,
    shaming your own house and forfeiting your life.
11 The stones of the wall will cry out,
    and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.

12 “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed
    and establishes a town by injustice!
13 Has not the Lord Almighty determined
    that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire,
    that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

15 “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors,
    pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk,
    so that he can gaze on their naked bodies!
16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory.
    Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed!
The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you,
    and disgrace will cover your glory.
17 The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you,
    and your destruction of animals will terrify you.
For you have shed human blood;
    you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

18 “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman?
    Or an image that teaches lies?
For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation;
    he makes idols that cannot speak.
19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’
    Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’
Can it give guidance?
    It is covered with gold and silver;
    there is no breath in it.”

20 The Lord is in his holy temple;
    let all the earth be silent before him.

God shows Habakkuk the heart and sins of the people. The pride, the violence towards one another, the bloodshed, the wickedness towards their neighbors and the idolatry cannot go on without judgment! He will do what He deems necessary to get their attention and cause them to repent!

In the third and  final chapter we hear Habakkuk respond.

Habakkuk 3 NIV

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.

Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy.

God came from Teman,
    the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens
    and his praise filled the earth.
His splendor was like the sunrise;
    rays flashed from His hand,
    where His power was hidden.
Plague went before Him;
    pestilence followed His steps.
He stood, and shook the earth;
    He looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled
    and the age-old hills collapsed
    but He marches on forever.
I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
    the dwellings of Midian in anguish.

Were you angry with the rivers, Lord?
    Was your wrath against the streams?
Did you rage against the sea
    when you rode your horses
    and your chariots to victory?
You uncovered your bow,
    you called for many arrows.
You split the earth with rivers;
10     the mountains saw you and writhed.
Torrents of water swept by;
    the deep roared
    and lifted its waves on high.

11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
    at the glint of your flying arrows,
    at the lightning of your flashing spear.
12 In wrath you strode through the earth
    and in anger you threshed the nations.
13 You came out to deliver your people,
    to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
    you stripped him from head to foot.
14 With his own spear you pierced his head
    when his warriors stormed out to scatter us,
gloating as though about to devour
    the wretched who were in hiding.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
    churning the great waters.

16 I heard and my heart pounded,
    my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
    and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.

Habakkuk makes it clear that he does not completely understand God’s choice in how He will deal with the rebellion of His people. Despite this, he acknowledges that the just shall live by faith and not by what they understand! He acknowledges that God’s wisdom is beyond His and yields to His wisdom, despite not understanding it!  What a word for us today! We are living in days of great rebellion towards God, when right is deemed wrong and wrong is deemed right by the world. It would seem that evil prevails and that many have no time for God or salvation in His Son. When we turn on the news we see so many atrocities going on throughout the world that it is hard to even take in! We too get frustrated at times like Habakkuk did  and wonder why God is allowing it all to continue!

Just as God did not let the rebellion go on unchecked in the days of Habakkuk, God has ways beyond our ways of getting people’s attention! It may come in a form that we don’t like! Our nations may undergo some dark days ahead. God’s loving heart is always to draw people to Himself. He demonstrated this beautifully by sending His precious Son to die on the cross for every one of us! To be the ultimate blood sacrifice to cover our sins!  As we journey through the coming days, whatever they may bring, let us keep our heart tender before God. Let us trust in His wisdom. Let us say like Habakkuk said, “THOUGH THE FIG TREE DOES NOT BUD AND THERE ARE NO GRAPES ON THE VINES, THOUGH THE OLIVE CROP FAILS AND THE FIELDS PRODUCE NO FOOD, THOUGH THERE ARE NO SHEEP IN THE PEN AND NO CATTLE IN THE STALLS  YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL BE JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR. THE SOVEREIGN LORD IS MY STRENGTH: HE MAKES MY FEET LIKE THE FEET OF A DEER, HE ENABLES ME TO TREAD ON THE HEIGHTS!

Lord Jesus as we wait on Your return keep our hearts tender and soft before You.  Let us not get hardened by the wickedness around us. Help us guard our hearts from becoming angry and frustrated with the things we see. Give us a love for others that will surpass our pride, fear  and arrogance so that we may openly share the gospel with those who need to hear of You and what You have done for them!

Thank you Lord!

Amen

The Hope of Hosea!

As I read through many of the early chapters in the book of Hosea, I couldn’t help but feel sad and even a bit angry. Hosea was an Old Testament prophet called by God. At a time of relative ease and prosperity in Israel, Hosea was called to bring a message to the people of Ephraim (northern Israel) that God was displeased with their sin and adulterous ways and that judgment would come.  They had rejected God and  instead worshipped idols. They were living a life of apart from the God who had called them, delivered them and provided for them.  Hosea’s personal life was used to illustrate this exact scenario. He was instructed to marry Gomer (a harlot) and as a result his personal  life accurately illustrated what God was feeling and dealing with. His people had become rebellious and turned to others over Him.

Through much of the book we see Hosea telling the people of Ephraim that God hates their sin. He will not continue to tolerate their sin. He will bring judgment on them as a result. This message is hammered over and over.  Judgment is coming.

Hosea 4 NIV

Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
    because the Lord has a charge to bring
    against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
    no acknowledgment of God in the land.
There is only cursing, lying and murder,
    stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
    and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Because of this the land dries up,
    and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
    and the fish in the sea are swept away.

“But let no one bring a charge,
    let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
    who bring charges against a priest.
You stumble day and night,
    and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother—
    my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

“Because you have rejected knowledge,
    I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
    I also will ignore your children.
The more priests there were,
    the more they sinned against me;
    they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.
They feed on the sins of my people
    and relish their wickedness.
And it will be: Like people, like priests.
    I will punish both of them for their ways
    and repay them for their deeds.

10 “They will eat but not have enough;
    they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,
because they have deserted the Lord
    to give themselves 11 to prostitution;
old wine and new wine
    take away their understanding.
12 My people consult a wooden idol,
    and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
    they are unfaithful to their God.
13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops
    and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar and terebinth,
    where the shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution
    and your daughters-in-law to adultery.

14 “I will not punish your daughters
    when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
    when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
    and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
    a people without understanding will come to ruin!

15 “Though you, Israel, commit adultery,
    do not let Judah become guilty.

“Do not go to Gilgal;
    do not go up to Beth Aven.
    And do not swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’
16 The Israelites are stubborn,
    like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the Lord pasture them
    like lambs in a meadow?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
    leave him alone!
18 Even when their drinks are gone,
    they continue their prostitution;
    their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
19 A whirlwind will sweep them away,
    and their sacrifices will bring them shame.

How God’s heart must have ached to see those whom He had called and favored choosing to “desert the Lord”.  Sound familiar?  We see the same thing happening today. Multiple people are still choosing to reject knowledge and serve idols and though they may live in relative ease right now, God’s judgment is coming.  With the way prophecy is being fulfilled today, it may be sooner than any of us think!  I thank God that the message of Hosea was not without hope! Chapter fourteen brings a beautiful message of hope! God doesn’t leave us without a way back to Him!

Hosea 14

14 Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
    Your sins have been your downfall!
Take words with you
    and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
    “Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
    that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Assyria cannot save us;
    we will not mount warhorses.
We will never again say ‘Our gods’
    to what our own hands have made,
    for in you the fatherless find compassion.”

“I will heal their waywardness
    and love them freely,
    for my anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
    he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
    he will send down his roots;
    his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
    his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
People will dwell again in his shade;
    they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like the vine—
    Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.
Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
    I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a flourishing juniper;
    your fruitfulness comes from me.”

Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
    Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
    the righteous walk in them,
    but the rebellious stumble in them.

Despite their rebellious hearts, God didn’t give up on His people in the time of Hosea and He is not giving up on us now!  We serve a God that loves us so much! He longs for us to fellowship with Him. He gives us every opportunity to turn our messed up, sin ridden lives over to Him. He has provided the most precious and beautiful way to do this and that is through His Son Jesus Christ! By calling on the name of Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior we are given the opportunity to be forgiven and be clean before God. Just as Hosea spoke, ” Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips,” God offers us the same opportunity to us. If we have rebelled, we can turn to Him and ask forgiveness, He is faithful and just and will forgive! If we have never known Him as Savior and Lord, all we need to do is ask Him to come into our life and be our Savior and Lord, to forgive us of our sins and to fill us with the Holy Spirit! The same God of Hosea is longing to have fellowship with each one of us today! He has provided a way and that way is Jesus!

Oh the things we can learn from Daniel!

 

 

I just finished reading the book of Daniel. I love this book. There is so much to be gleaned from it. Despite it’s prophetic importance there is another reason I love to read it.  There is just so much us New Testament believers can learn from this Old Testament man of God. The Hebrew meaning of Daniel is God is my judge. Daniel exemplifies this throughout his lifetime. He is always obedient to the God of his fathers. His life is an example to all followers of Christ. We are to be obedient, when it is and isn’t convenient. We are to obey when we have an easy word or a difficult word to bring. We are to look to God as our source and not look to man for our rewards. We are to keep ourselves in close intimacy with Christ so that we may hear from Him when He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.

In a day when Godly character is becoming increasingly rare, even among believers, Daniel stands out as a beautiful example of just that. His life was anything but stress free yet he didn’t complain. Often the circumstances he found himself in were dire, yet rather than  grumble He sought God. His obedience and character were far more important to him than his comfort. He lived a life dedicated to serving and obeying God regardless of  the situations he found himself in. Oh how we all need to learn this!

Let’s take a look into this wonderful book and as we do, let’s keep our eyes on Daniel’s character and how he responded to the circumstances and situations he found himself in.

Daniel 1 NIV

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning,well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar;to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.

Daniel 2 NIV

In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.”

Then the astrologers answered the king, “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”

The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”

Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”

Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.”

10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”

12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.

14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.”

25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”

26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”

27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:

29 “As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. 30 As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.

31 “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

36 “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries,for you were able to reveal this mystery.”

48 Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. 49 Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.

Daniel 3 NIV 

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.

Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10 Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Daniel 4 NIV

King Nebuchadnezzar,

To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:

May you prosper greatly!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are His signs,
    how mighty His wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
    His dominion endures from generation to generation.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.

13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.

“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.

17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”

Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— 22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.

23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’

24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
    his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
    are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven
    and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
    or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.

Daniel 5 NIV

King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.

The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.

10 The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. 12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”

13 So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. 16 Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.

18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.

22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. 24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.

25 “This is the inscription that was written:

mene, mene, tekel, parsin

26 “Here is what these words mean:

Mene:  God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

27 Tekel:  You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

28 Peres:  Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, 31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.

Daniel 6 NIV

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:

“May you prosper greatly!

26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

“For he is the living God
    and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
    his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
    he performs signs and wonders
    in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
    from the power of the lions.”

28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Daniel 7 NIV

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.

Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.

“The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.

“And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’

“After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.

“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.

“While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.

“As I looked,

“thrones were set in place,
    and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
    the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
    and its wheels were all ablaze.
10 A river of fire was flowing,
    coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
    ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
    and the books were opened.

11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

15 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 16 I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.

“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: 17 ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. 18 But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’

19 “Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.

23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.

26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’

28 “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”

Daniel 8 NIV

In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as it charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.

As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. It came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at it in great rage. I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power. The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.

Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11 It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.

13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?”

14 He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.”

15 While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.”

17 As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.”

18 While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet.

19 He said: “I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. 20 The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king. 22 The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.

23 “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.

26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.”

27 I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.

Daniel 9 NIV

In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill— 21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:

24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

Daniel 10 NIV

10 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.

At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.

10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

15 While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16 Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. 17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”

When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

20 So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.

Daniel 11 NIV

 And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.

“Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.

“The king of the South will become strong, but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be betrayed, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her.

“One from her family line will arise to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious. He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone. Then the king of the North will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country. 10 His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress.

11 “Then the king of the South will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North, who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. 12 When the army is carried off, the king of the South will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands, yet he will not remain triumphant. 13 For the king of the North will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped.

14 “In those times many will rise against the king of the South. Those who are violent among your own people will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success. 15 Then the king of the North will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. 16 The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it. 17 He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South. And he will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him. 18 Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them, but a commander will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back on him. 19 After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more.

20 “His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle.

21 “He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. 22 Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. 23 After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. 24 When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time.

25 “With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. 26 Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. 27 The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. 28 The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country.

29 “At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. 30 Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.

31 “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. 32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.

33 “Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. 34 When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. 35 Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.

36 “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. 37 He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. 38 Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his ancestors he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39 He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.

40 “At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. 41 He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. 42 He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. 43 He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites in submission. 44 But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. 45 He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.

Daniel 12 NIV

12 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”

Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”

The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”

I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?”

He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

11 “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.

13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.

God was able to entrust so many prophetic words to this man because he was trustworthy. His heart was always set to please God and be obedient. He knew the scriptures as we see when he refers to the book of Jeremiah. We know he loved his people despite their rebellion against God because of his prayers of intercession on their behalf. He was a man that loved God and was willing to take a stand for Him regardless of what was threatened.  This is the calling God has for each and every one of us. We are to be obedient, faithful and bold in our walk with Christ.

Father God, we ask today that You would forgive us for our times of disobedience and faithlessness. Cleanse us of all unrighteousness Lord. Create in us a heart like Daniel’s. A heart that desires to be obedient, regardless of the cost. A heart that loves others enough to intercede for them. A heart that will remain true to You God. We ask it all in the precious name of our Savior and King, Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Idleness and Pity are not your calling!

It is a wonderful thing to be part of a church family. Just as with any family there are many different personalities and giftings among the members. You will not find any perfect people among either family. You will find people that hopefully are growing in love for one another and learning to reach out and touch the lives of others within the four walls of the church and outside the four walls. Just as our biological families should give us a place to grow and develop, hopefully in a safe environment, our church families should do the same.

The church is a place where each member should have a purpose and function. God has gifted each of us uniquely to minister to others in such a vast variety of ways. We are all to use our giftings. Sadly some come to church hoping to have their needs met without ever learning to help meet the needs of others around them. They get discouraged and disappointed when others seemingly let them down, yet seldom reach out and help others in need themselves.

There really is no place for selfish ambition or selfishness in the church. Paul gives us clear instruction on how we are to function as a family in Romans 12. As we can see, no where is there a place for selfish ambition or selfishness. We are all called to serve. If you find yourself disappointed in others or discouraged that your needs are not being met, perhaps it is time to start using your giftings to be a blessing to others. We are to live a poured out life, not a life sitting idly and waiting for others to pour out on us.  Time is too short to be wasted in pity and idleness. We all have been called for a purpose. Seek God for your purpose among the body and get busy fulfilling it!

Romans 12 NIV

 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;

if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,faithful in prayer

.13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;  if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

If we live each day serving as we have been called to serve, we will be too busy to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s time for each of us in the body of Christ to wake up and begin to live as we have been called to live, as a living sacrifice serving our brothers and sisters and reaching out to a world that is dying. Read and reread Romans 12 and perhaps write it out as a daily reminder of what we have been called to do. Let’s not waste another day!

Did you receive your wake up call?

I am currently reading through the book of Jeremiah. I can’t help but think of how Jeremiah must have  felt when he was told by God to warn His  people and the nations of the coming judgement and calamities. He was a prophet called to rebuke, warn and encourage the people to turn from their idolatry and sins and humble themselves before God. The same message that must be proclaimed today.

Today many in the church are asleep, living lives of comfort and compromise. Serving themselves with little concern over the lost and broken. It is time that each one of us realize the times we are living in. Just as Jeremiah knew judgement was coming, we too know judgement is coming. It is imperative that we, the body of Christ, be alert to the signs of the times and get busy fulfilling our callings. Revival will come when the church humbles itself and begins to walk in obedience. The world will never be attracted to a sinful church, we must be the light of the world. We must demonstrate the love of Christ to everyone, everywhere. As long as we are dabbling in sin we will not be free to do so.

In my life, God has been showing me areas that I must fully surrender to Him. Areas I have held back. Areas I have been selfish. Areas I have been unwilling to commit to Christ. The time has come for me to be wholly in. I believe the Lord is saying the same to all of His kids that are willing to listen. The time is short before we will see Jesus face to face. We need to get our priorities set and move forward as He leads us.

This is not a message of doom and gloom but of encouragement. We have a beautiful, loving Savior who longs for us to see Him face to face. When we do we want to run to Him with abandon and not walk to Him in shame. He came to save us and set us free from all that would hinder our walk with Him. We need to repent of the things that are keeping us bound and ask Him to break any chains that keep us back from moving forward in living out the walk He has called us to.

Ephesians 5:1-15 NIV 

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness,but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our King is coming back to a church without spot or wrinkle. My prayer is that each of us will humble ourselves before Him and turn from those things that are keeping us from living a life of holiness and obedience. There is much work to be done and we the church, are the laborers.

Lord, forgive us for our apathy and sinfulness. Wake us up to the times we are living in. Give us direction and a heart to share the gospel with the lost. Keep us close to you Jesus, as we wait on your return.  In Your precious name, Amen.

 No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.~A.W. Tozer

Don’t stop asking!

I used to think that if I asked God for something and He didn’t respond immediately the answer was no. My faith was immature and not based on scripture. One of my favorite parables today is found in Luke 18. It is the parable of the persistent widow. I love this parable!  For years I had read it but had not really grasped it’s importance. Jesus told this parable, IT IS IMPORTANT!  🙂 Understanding it’s importance has changed my prayer life.  When I am praying for something or someone that is very important to me,  I no longer ask a few times and then assume God is saying no.  When I consider giving up I remember this parable and remember that there are times God expects us to persevere in our prayers. If something is important enough to ask Him for, we must be willing to show Him we are serious about it.

When my children were little, often one of them would ask me for something and then when I answered, “We’ll see,” the request would soon be forgotten. When they didn’t forget and kept asking I knew this was something they really wanted. Sometimes adults, like children ask for silly things that they really don’t want or need. Sometimes we come to God and ask for foolish things that would harm us rather than help us. James 4:3 NIV When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  It really is a blessing that God does not answer some of the prayers we offer up. In hindsight, I know in my life I have asked for some things that would have not been good for me in the long run.

When we have a serious request or burden and we take it to the Lord in prayer we must be willing to persevere. We must be like the persistent widow and show our seriousness about the matter. Jesus himself shared this parable, Jesus who knows the heart of the Father like no one else. If He is saying we must be persistent than that’s good enough for me!

Luke 18:1-8 NIV 

18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

 Jesus tells us that if the unjust judge will eventually give in, how much more can we count on a holy, just God to answer His chosen ones! We who follow Christ, must not be wishy washy when we come to God with our prayers and petitions. Through the blood of Christ, we can boldly come before the throne of God with our requests.  If our requests are asked with wrong selfish motives, God will not answer them but if we come to Him with legitimate requests that are not simply for our own selfish pleasures, we can expect an answer. We must be willing to not give up, just like the persistent widow. We must continue to bring our requests to the ONE whose timing is perfect. He WILL answer!

We should pray when we are in a praying mood, for it would be sinful to neglect so fair an opportunity. We should pray when we are not in a proper mood, for it would be dangerous to remain in so unhealthy a condition.~Charles Spurgeon

 

 

 

Watch, Pray and Be Ready

 

Matthew 24:44 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Matthew 24:44  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Last week my husband and I spent a relaxing, wonderful week visiting my sister in Florida. As always we had a great time. We were ready for some rest and relaxation after a busy summer and we got it. I did notice however that the world didn’t take any rest and relaxation. The Middle East is aflame with the war in Israel and Gaza, ISIS is massacring Christians and fellow Muslims in Iraq, there are daily atrocities being committed in Syria along with massacres in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, there is an ongoing battle between Russia and the people of the Ukraine and still more.

Though it is wonderful to be able to take a holiday from our jobs and our everyday life, there is NO time to take a break from our prayer life. We need to be vigilant in holding up our brothers and sisters at home and around the world in prayer! We need to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem! We need to pray for all those innocent people caught in the various wars and battles around the world! This is not a time to become lazy in our prayer life! There are too many people counting on the people of God to faithfully keep them in prayer, interceding for them in situations that are dire and could become dire at any time. We must pray for those who are being martyred around the world, that their life will speak of Jesus right up until the end. That they may be given boldness and peace during their times of persecution.  And of course, we are to pray for our families, friends, neighbors an our communities.

I am feeling a call to prayer like never before. The world is experiencing some mighty birth pains and scripture indicates the pains will only get greater and longer until the great tribulation. My prayer is that we will be faithful in praying, helping and sharing the gospel in the days we have. All indicators indicate that our beautiful King is coming back sooner rather than later. May He find us faithful and obedient to the calling He has given each of us. May He find us working to further His Kingdom. May He find us ministering with the gifts He has given each of us. May He find us taking care of all those He has entrusted to us.

Jesus told us keep watch and know what is going on so we can be aware of the times we are living in.  

Matthew 24:4-13 NIV Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

We are seeing now experiencing some of these very birth pains.

He also told us to be ready for His return and not be caught spiritually sleeping. Matthew 24:36-44 NIV  36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

 

Though we all have earthly responsibilities we must take care of, let’s not lose sight of the things that really matter for eternity. Let’s keep watch, pray and be ready for the return of Jesus, our beautiful Lord and King.

 

 

 

Choose to cast your cares on Him!

1 Peter 5:6,76 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6,7 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

This week I heard some disturbing news.  It was something that I have been concerned about in the past and it is now reoccurring. The event itself doesn’t matter. My response however does. When I first heard my heart grew heavy and I felt incredibly frustrated. I want the situation to be resolved immediately and without any upsetting consequences. It has been a reoccurring concern for some time and it would be great to see it finally resolved.  However, it may not happen that way. It may continue to drag on for some time.  I have had to make the decision to trust God in this matter. To lean on Him to take care of the situation and any of my concerns regarding it. This is how we must live.

In the past I have often allowed my emotions to run wild with the onset of disturbing news. I have given in to the discouragement that often accompanies it. It has never helped me or the situation to improve. In fact it has left me with a poor attitude that kept me from being useful in doing the things God would have me do. At times I have sulked thinking somehow that would get God’s attention and He would step in and fix the situation immediately. All of these responses are those of an immature follower of Christ, of which I have been guilty! 🙂

Yesterday when I heard this disturbing news I grumbled for five minutes and then remembered I follow a Savior who understands all things. A Savior who is able to take any situation and work it out for good, no matter how difficult that may seem to me.  I follow a Savior that loves me and loves those whom I love even more than I do! I follow a Savior that has told me to cast my cares on Him for He cares for me!

This Savior does not owe us an explanation of why some things happen and why there is often a waiting period on our answer. His Word is good enough and His Word tells me in 1Peter 5:6,7 NKJV

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

So instead of fretting, whining and allowing any situation to upset my peace and joy I choose to humble myself before Him and cast my cares on Him for I do know He cares for me just as He cares for you!

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!

 

 

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

What can YOU do?

The news is filled with stories of people all over the world being persecuted by corrupt governments, dictatorships and extremists of various kinds such as Boko Haram,  desiring to silence anyone who does not accept their ideology. It would seem that much of the mainstream media ignores the stories and fails to engage people in speaking out against the terror. As followers of Christ, we have an obligation to pray for and do what we can to speak out and help others that are suffering. It doesn’t matter if they live in our cities and towns or not. We should not ignore their pleas.

As I was reading Proverbs 31 today, verses 8 and 9 really stood out. Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die.Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.  Is the church fulfilling it’s obligation to do this? Are we spending time on our knees interceding for those who are speechless, for those who are being martyred daily, for those who cannot care for themselves?  I know many of our churches are giving to missions and helping in areas that are near and dear to our hearts but I can’t help but believe there is so much more we could be doing. 

There are actions we can take on a slightly more political angle. We can sign petitions speaking out against some of these horrors. We can write letters to our members of parliament and request they get involved in some of the solutions. Our church families can pool resources and give to those who are combatting some of these issues such as International Christian Concern ( www.persecution.org ) who stand up for  and assist the persecuted, abused and neglected.  It is so important that we don’t just ignore the pleas of those suffering. The word of God tells us we have an obligation to help do what we can!  Not only that but God promises to take care of those who care for the needs of others.

The book of Proverbs is chock full of examples..

Proverbs 11:25 NKJV 25 The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.

Proverbs 28:27 NKJV 27 He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.

Proverbs 22:9 NKJV He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.

Proverbs 3:27-28 NKJV 27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.28 Do not say to your neighbor,“Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” when you have it with you.

Proverbs 14:21 NKJV 31 He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.

Proverbs 17:5 NKJV He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 19:17 NKJV He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lordand He will pay back what he has given.

Proverbs 21:13 NKJV 13 Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.

Proverbs 21:15 NKJV 15 It is a joy for the just to do justice, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.

Proverbs 22:22-23 NKJV 22 Do not rob the poor because he is poor, nor oppress the afflicted at the gate;23 For the Lord will plead their cause, and plunder the soul of those who plunder them.

Proverbs 23:10-11 NKJV 10 Do not remove the ancient landmark, nor enter the fields of the fatherless;11 For their Redeemer is mighty; He will plead their cause against you.

God has called us to serve. His word reminds us over and over again that we are not to neglect others. He will hold us accountable for the things we could have done and didn’t do. Why not ask Him what He would have you do? Where can you be most useful in serving? Why not be a voice for the suffering? Why not speak out for those who are persecuted?  Why not contribute to an organization that is making a difference in helping the suffering? If we all do our part, others will see the body of Christ as the light we have been called to be. Perhaps it’s time we push off the bushel we have been hiding under and let our light and love shine in this dark world of ours.

If we remain silent and refuse to act when we see atrocities being committed, are we any different than the rest of the world? We have a voice that we can use to speak out, educate and intercede for others. Let’s use our voices, first in prayer and second in pleading on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves, the persecuted, the needy and the poor.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (or women) do nothing.”~ Edmund Burke

Profitable words from Proverbs 4

I am so grateful for the mercy and grace God has given us who believe in and choose to  follow His Son. We are blessed! When Christ died on the cross for each of us, He died willingly. When we turn to Him and confess our sins, acknowledge Him as Lord and follow Him, we inherit all the blessings of the children of God. It took me so many years to finally understand that works will never make me more like Christ. I must believe that the work He did on my behalf on the cross was complete. Trusting in Him and allowing Him to now work through me through the power of the Holy Spirit is the way I choose to live my life. I don’t ever want to forget the wonderful mercy and grace that has been extended to me and to everyone that chooses Christ as Savior and Lord. I know longer have to strive to feel accepted. I am accepted.

Knowing who we are and what we have inherited as children of God should give  us the heart and confidence to extend the good news to others. It should also cause us to want to reach out and demonstrate His love to those in our lives and those He brings into our lives. So how do we do this without stumbling ourselves? How do we keep moving forward in our walk? As I make my way through the book of Proverbs I see so many awesome words of wisdom to help us in our walk with Christ.  Today I want to focus on Proverbs chapter 4 verses 18-27.

Proverbs 4:18-27 NIV

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, (we are able to be the love of Christ in a dark world!)
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day. (until HE returns in all HIS glory!)
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble. (sin blinds)

20 My son (or daughter), pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.  (the scriptures)
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart; (learn them, memorize them)
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.   (Matthew 4:4 NIV Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”)
23 Above all else, guard your heart, (do not let anything come before your relationship with Christ)
    for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (in a day where perversity and corruption abound!)
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you. (keep your eyes on Christ!)
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet (don’t get caught up in the various snares of sin)
    and be steadfast in all your ways. (keep moving forward!)
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;  (as Paul says in Phil. 3:14 “We must press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.)
    keep your foot from evil.

There are so many encouraging words found in this Proverb to help us victoriously live as followers of Christ.

Lord, help us to always remember that we are to bring Your light to a dying world. Help us to demonstrate that light by living in close communion with You today. Help us to keep our hearts and lives free of the snares of sin by keeping our gaze fixed on You Jesus.  We love you Lord and desire to keep moving forward until we see You face to face!

In Your precious name,

Amen.

The weighty nuggets of Proverbs 3!

In my personal bible reading I am now working my way through the book of Proverbs. I love this book. Like the book of Psalms, it is a where the rubber meets the road book. Each chapter is full of beautiful nuggets of truth. If we applied all the nuggets in just one chapter to our lives we would live so much more victoriously in our walk with Christ. I am asking God to help me to apply these nuggets.  I don’t want to just read of them but I want to apply them better to my daily life. Today we are going to read the third chapter of Proverbs. This proverb is so full of important nuggets of truth it should not be read quickly but instead we need to seriously consider each one!

Proverbs 3 NKJV

My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.

Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.

13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.

19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
20 By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew.

21 My son, let them not depart from your eyes—
Keep sound wisdom and discretion;
22 So they will be life to your soul
And grace to your neck.
23 Then you will walk safely in your way,
And your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror,
Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;
26 For the Lord will be your confidence,
And will keep your foot from being caught.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,
When you have it with you.
29 Do not devise evil against your neighbor,
For he dwells by you for safety’s sake.
30 Do not strive with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.

31 Do not envy the oppressor,
And choose none of his ways;
32 For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord,
But His secret counsel is with the upright.
33 The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the home of the just.
34 Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble.
35 The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools.

Lord Jesus, help us to apply the beautiful truths of this chapter in our daily walk with You. Let us not just read your Word but let us hide it in our hearts and not sin against it! I pray that You will give us a heart that desires to know Your Word and obey it even when we don’t feel like it!  Where we are sluggish, make us dutiful. Where we are fearful, help us to lean into You with abandoned trust! Where we are selfish, help us to give and give more! Where we are foolish, let us ask for wisdom for You promise to give it to those who ask!  Where we are envious, give us a heart of compassion and kindness!  Where we resent correction, help us to receive it joyfully knowing it is out of Your love for us that You do it.  Lord, take each of our hearts of stone and make them a heart of flesh so that we may love You more and love others as You have called us to. In Your beautiful name Jesus, Amen.

What’s driving you…faith or feelings?

Do you get easily discouraged by things people say and do? Do you find yourself withdrawing from activities when you don’t feel appreciated? Do you get upset when you feel God isn’t answering your prayers quick enough? Every follower of Christ will be faced with situations on a daily basis that may cause them to feel something that makes them uncomfortable. What you choose to do or how you choose to respond tells a lot about your walk with Christ. Are you finding yourself combating those negative feelings with the truth of God’s Word or do you cave in and succumb to them? Our spiritual maturity can be measured by what we allow to control us. If our feelings are driving us then we are likely to find ourselves in a constant state of unrest.

Christ promised us peace. If His promise is true than why do so many struggle with fear, anger, bitterness, jealousy, rage etc? It is because we are putting our feelings before our faith. When we do this we allow them to control our behavior. The Word of God says  in Hebrews 10:38 NKJV 38 Now the just shall live by faith;  But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” We cannot please God when we choose to live by “feelings,” only when we live by faith. Faith is trusting in His Word and in Christ to fulfill His word in our lives. When we live by feelings and draw back from our faith, He is not able to reach us through His word.  Instead we are choosing to believe in what we see and feel! 

The best way I have found to counter living my life by my feelings, is to interject scripture verses into my situation. When I find myself in a new situation that would typically cause me a lot of discomfort I remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Phillipians 4:13 NKJV.    If I am struggling with bitterness towards another that I believe to have offended me I can give in to those feelings and act accordingly by allowing it to take root in my heart or I can choose to believe what the word of God says in Hebrews 12:14-17 NKJV14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.  When I realize that the word of God has a powerful warning like this against allowing a bitter root to spring up in me, I am not willing to become enslaved by bitterness.

If I find myself in a situation that causes me to be afraid I can choose to cave into that fear and thereby shut out hearing God’s voice  or I can lean into Christ and remind myself of   2 Timothy 7-12 NKJV where I am told, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.12 For this reason 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 what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Do you realize that if everyone since the time of Christ had lived by their feelings, the gospel would NEVER have been shared?  Men and women would have caved at the first sign of rejection or persecution!  You and I would still be lost.

God has given us feelings and they can be wonderful but if you base decisions on feelings alone you may soon find yourself outside of God’s plan for your life. Several years ago,  I met  a  married mother of two  who had recently become a Christian. Her marriage was going through a difficult patch.  She told me that one day she was down by the  pond where she sat watching a family of ducks swim. She watched as the mother duck left the side of the male duck and began to swim beside another male. Her ducklings soon followed. This woman determined that God was trying to tell her, through the ducks, that she was to leave her husband and find another.  That God wanted her to be happy with a new man… I tried to explain to her that God hates divorce. Unless she was in danger or her husband was unfaithful to her, God would not want her to leave her husband. She said HE wouldn’t have given her the sign and the feelings she was feeling if it weren’t true…. Though it now seems a little ridiculous that someone would base their future on ducks on a pond, some Christians still make important decision based on their feelings and not the truth of God’s word.

Most  areas in our lives that we find ourselves defeated or discouraged are usually areas that we are still living through our feelings. Moving past our feelings is vital as a follower of Christ!  We all must learn to walk out our walk by faith. To do so requires spending time learning the scriptures. When a thought first comes to us we are to take that thought captive. Is it truth? Does it line up with the word of God?  If not dismiss it before it begins to affect your feelings or behavior in a negative way.  We have been given truth and the truth will not only make us free but keep us free when we choose it!

Is it time YOU lightened up the darkness?

Matthew 5:14  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden."

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

As I listened to the news this past week I couldn’t help but think so much of what I was hearing could have come right out of the book of Matthew…

Matthew 24:3-13 NIV 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Today Christians are being persecuted and martyred all over the world.  Evil is increasing. What is wrong according to scripture seems right and what is right according to scripture seems wrong! Believers are being caught up in all kinds of false doctrine  and abandoning their faith. The picture looks a wee bit gloomy! However, there is another side to this picture. Things are happening just as our Savior said they would. He is not taken by surprise and neither should we be. As we see prophecy being fulfilled it should encourage each and every one of us to prepare for our King’s return! We should use our time wisely and share the love of Christ and the gospel freely! We who know Christ as Lord need not sit back and criticize unbelievers. They are unbelievers and therefore do not know Christ  nor have  the Spirit of truth in them. We can’t expect them to act or behave as those of us that do. They need to hear the truth! They need to see it demonstrated in the lives of every born again believer!  They need our prayers!

Instead of getting discouraged and disheartened, why not get busy doing the work we have been called to do. To live our lives as the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Let’s encourage one another as we journey through these dark days! Let’s remember that He is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle. Let’s be that church!  Let’s bring the light of Christ to a dark world that desperately needs Him!

“Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell.” ~David Platt

Yes knowledge is power!

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

I am convinced that as followers of Christ, our greatest struggles are in the  areas where we have not learned or decided to apply the Word of God. We often compartmentalize our lives. There are those areas we easily yield to God and there are areas we keep to ourselves. Areas where we still go by sight and areas we allow our faith in Christ to direct us. It is a type of schizophrenic Christian walk. The Word of God tells us that we are to yield every area of our life over to God. We are to trust Him in all things. We are to abide in Christ daily and without reservation.  Proverbs 3:5,6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight.  

So why then do we hold back from doing this? Perhaps for some it is rebellion. They just don’t want to yield to Christ just yet. They feel there is still lots of time to get things right. For others though, I believe it is a lack of knowing just what the Word of God says on matters. When we are ignorant of the scriptures we are open to being lead astray. We also lack confidence in the power and authority of God in many areas of our lives.

As Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” In this instance, I’m not referring to academic knowledge but rather knowledge of God’s Word. As we delve into His Word we become transformed by the renewing of our minds. We begin to see things as God sees them. We begin to see our faith grow. We begin to trust Him, knowing that many before us have trusted Him and He has not disappointed. We begin to apply the authority and power we have received through Christ into our lives and are thereby able to make a difference in this world we live in! His Word is life changing! It is supernatural! It is powerful!

Hebrews 4:12 NIV 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Romans 10:17 NIV 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Matthew 4:4 NIV Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Isaiah 55:11 NIV 11  So is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Too often we struggle because we do not read the Bible  and therefore don’t apply it to our lives! We live by sight more than by faith.

I personally believe there is a new thing happening in the body of Christ. I am excited with what I am seeing. Many believers are hungry for more of Christ in their lives. They are turning to the Scriptures for guidance, for knowledge and to hear the voice of the One they love. Worldwide, there are discipleship groups rising, new and old followers of Christ wanting to spend more time in the Word and growing into the disciple makers Christ has called us all to become. There is no doubt that as we grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, we will grow in our authority of the Word. We will begin to apply the Word of God to all areas of our lives! This is how we will be able to fulfill each of our own parts in the  great commission.  By knowing the Word, believing the Word and obeying the Word. By doing what Jesus told each and every one of us to do in Matthew 28:16-20 NIV 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

Believing for MORE!

I’m excited for the things God is teaching me these days. One of the things that I am learning is  to not get discouraged while waiting on the evidence  of things not yet seen!Hebrews 11:1 NIV tells us 11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. I am growing in my confidence in God’s fulfillment of His promises. What we see with the eye currently is not what will be if we hold fast to those promises, not wavering. 

James 1:2-8 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

There have been many times in the past that I have been double-minded. Not sure if it was God’s will to do some of the things I have asked for and therefore doubting even as the words were leaving my mouth. My confidence in the lover of my soul is changing. I believe I am seeing Him more for the beautiful Savior, healer, deliverer, Lord and King that He is and that it is His desire to give good gifts to His followers.  Now I am not referring to lavish homes and cars, not that these things in themselves are bad! I am referring to all blessings that enable us to fulfill His purposes in our lives. Peace, joy, sound mind, health and strength as we need it to do the labor He has called us to. We are the called to be the light of the world and what good can we do when we are moping about in ongoing depression, anxiety, fear and bondage!  If we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior and have made a decision to follow Him, we are entitled to freedom from all these things! 

2Timothy 1:6-8 NKJV says  Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

God wants His church whole. He wants us living a life of obedience and  abiding in Christ daily. When we do, we are in a position to minister to those He puts in our path. To be a light in the darkness.  We are free  to pray for others and see answers.

James 5:16 NIV 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

I am learning that as I commit myself wholly to Him, to confess my sins before Him daily, to lean into Him, to believe Him, I am able to make a difference in the lives of those around me.  I am able to share the gospel and demonstrate the love of Christ to others and that is what He has called each of us in the body of Christ to do. His last words on earth tell us just that.

Mark 16:9-20 NIV When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating;  he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

My prayer is that each one of us will grow in our confidence of His love for us, in our faith and trust in His word and what we are able to accomplish through Him! As we do we will see the fulfillment of the great commission!

Father God, we thank you for Jesus. We thank you that we can fully trust in Him and rely on His love and kindness. Lord create a clean heart in each of us and renew a right spirit within us so that we may walk close to You and fulfill the purposes You have called us to. Let us be a light in this world. Let each of us do our part in the great commission. Increase our faith through Your word. Let each of us preach the gospel  and confirm Your word by signs and wonders as we do so. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.