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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!

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!

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!

Scripture for today

Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

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!

Can Anything Good Come out of _______________?

Have you ever noticed yourself or others judging people by their background or station in life? Too often, we the body of Christ, fall prey to the same tendency the world does. We too can judge people by their ethnicity, political standing, financial status or where they’re from. In the book of James we are warned to guard ourselves from doing this very thing.

James 2:1-5 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?

God knows our tendency to favor like minded people that appear to be thriving. He knows our weakness towards favoritism . It’s nothing new. In fact one of my favorite stories from the Bible demonstrates that very issue.

John 1:40-51 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. 41 Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).

42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown.

45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.

47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”

48 “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”

49 Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”

50 Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”

Nathanael sincerely questioned, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” The assumption being Nazareth was not a place of importance or significance enough to be the birth place of the long awaited Messiah! The Jews were waiting for their Messiah to come but were not expecting Him to be born into poor circumstances! I love the fact God had his Son born into lowly surroundings with no pomp or circumstance. It shows the heart of God to be tender and compassionate towards all those who would otherwise not feel worthy of being accepted into the body of Christ. Jesus Christ is not a Savior for the privileged alone. He is for everyone, regardless of their status in life! He is available to anyone that will cry out to Him, repent of their sins and follow Him!

So to answer Nathanael’s question YES. YES something good and wonderful did come out of Nazareth. Our beautiful King, Jesus Christ! And you must know that something good can come out of your city or town, regardless of its size or significance in the world! That something is you! A child of God, bought with the blood of Jesus Christ, filled with the Spirit of God and set apart for good works, wherever you live! Never allow any person or any voice to tell you that your status in life is a limitation to God using you right where you are. We are not to judge others and that includes ourselves. If we yield to Christ, He will use us regardless of our family background, financial status, ethnicity or political leanings. Yield yourself to Him today! Make a difference right where you are!

Blessings!

Time for Some Decluttering?

Master Closet Makeover...Part 1 | Master closet, Messy bedroom ...

The one thing I have decided to do during this time of self isolating is to declutter. I am decluttering our home. Closets that have been packed for years are finally being tackled and cleared out. Some things are being tossed, some will be given away and some will be kept for another season.

Cupboards are getting organized. All those unmatched containers and lids are being matched or repurposed for something else. Drawers are being cleaned out and sorted and reorganized before being put back. Clutter is being tackled everywhere!

This is also a great time to tackle our spiritual clutter. All those negative thoughts and areas of our lives where we allow unbelief to remain need to be cleaned out. Too much time being wasted on mindless tv viewing and entertainment need to go. Feelings of self pity and discouragement need to be shaken off.

Instead why not use your time to get back into worshiping and praising our Savior and King? If you are spending the day by yourself sing shamelessly out loud! Why not begin to keep a daily gratitude journal of all the answered prayers and blessings you have in your life? Taking the time to acknowledge all that God has done already for you and continues to do for you is a sure fire way to see self pity go! Why not ask friends and family if they have any needs that they would like you to pray for or over? Spend time in prayer interceding for them! This is the greatest gift you can give anyone!

None of us asked for the situation we currently find ourselves in, where we are required to self isolate, however let’s not waste the time! Why not declutter the outward and the inward! Make the time count for something good!

Ephesians 1:21-32 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

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.

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

Things Are SHAKE, SHAKE SHAKING

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We are living in some extraordinary times right now. It would seem everything around us that has been familiar and secure in the past, is no longer available to lean upon. The Corona virus has literally stopped many from being able to continue to worship so many of the idols of our culture such as sports, live entertainment, celebrities, activities and gatherings etc. Instead people are finding themselves at home self isolating from the rest of the world.

This is a wonderful time for the saints of God to use social media to share the truth of God’s WORD. We recognize what is happening all over the world. Things are being shaken. We were told things would be shaken. It is no surprise to those who study the Bible. Though it can be a terrifying time for those who fear death, for us that are followers of Christ we need not fear. We know where we are going when we pass from life to death and that that day will not come one day sooner than what God has destined for us.

We should be wise and heed the advice of those medical professionals and self isolate when possible. We should take care of our bodies and our families. This is submitting to authorities that are not asking us to do anything against God’s will. It’s the right thing to do. But we need not fear during these days. In fact for many, the situation has presented a wonderful opportunity to spend time in His Word and in prayer interceding for those who need our prayers at this time.

While you may be holed up in your apartment, house or residence you still have the opportunity to let your light shine to others. Call those that are alone and maybe lonely, pray for those who need it during this time, pray for the worldwide persecuted church, spend time in worship throughout the day, be an example to your children, grandchildren and others. Encourage those who may need it right now. In other words let your light shine!

We may be experiencing the same shaking as the rest of the world but we are not to let it shake our faith. In fact why not use this time to press in closer to the ONE who holds the universe in His hands?

Be well, be blessed and use your time wisely while the distractions are minimal! He will soon appear and the time you spend with Him now will keep your heart ready for His appearing!

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,  whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”  Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:25-29

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Take the Time

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As followers of Jesus Christ, we are so privileged. We serve a living God that is available 24/7. He never shuts us out because He’s too busy, in fact, He longs for us to spend time with Him and rewards us when we do.  But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:6)  

In the busyness of your day today, take time to do just that. Get alone with Him. Acknowledge who He is. Thank Him for all He has done and continues to do in your life and in the lives of others. Ask Him to give you direction for the day.

This is the one way we can ensure we haven’t wasted the day.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;  whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (James 4:13,14)

The Overlooked and Underused Gift

 

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One of the most beautiful gifts God gives us is our imagination. It is such a blessing when used right. Most of us have got into trouble when we have used it wrong. Our imagination is such a valuable gift when we are being transformed from our old man/lady to the new creation we are to be in Christ. If we use it correctly it will help us move from who we were to who we now are in Christ.

The Word of God along side the Holy Spirit, is always revealing  truth to us as we spend time in studying the Word and in prayer. It is with revelation of truth that we are able to move forward in our imagination to the new man/woman. Without the Word of truth keeping us on track  and the Holy Spirit guiding us, our imagination is simply used for a selfish, self-serving life.  However with both, our imagination is the thing that will allow our thoughts to be transformed into new thoughts along with new vision! The vision we get of our true identity is than able to be lived out with the power of God.

The Word of God is very clear on the importance of what we allow into our minds. Our thoughts determine how we behave. It is so crucial that our thoughts be on things that are pleasing to God and not distractions and sinful ideas and patterns. With those thoughts we are able to activate our imagination to see things as God sees them and act accordingly. Our imagination is where our vision is seen before it is lived out. Therefore it is so vital to have it surrendered to Christ.

If you struggle with a terrible self image, self defeating talk and a life that is held back by fear and insecurity, ask God to help you take your thoughts captive and to help you replace the lies of defeat and destruction with truth from His Word. Ask for the true vision of who you are in Christ Jesus. Begin to read your Bible daily and allow your imagination to see your TRUE identity and than begin to live that identity through the power of the Holy Spirit. Without seeing who you are in Christ you will not be able to move forward in all God has planned for you. You will be constantly hindered by negative self talk and the voice of the enemy of your soul.  Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.

There is no reason to continue living a life full of Spiritual self sabotage. God has provided, through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit a better way to live.  Ask Him to reveal the truth of His Word to you and let the Holy Spirit guide you into your true identity. Your imagination can be filled with the way God has for you to go instead of the self defeating images of your past!

Ephesians 4:20-32 But you have not so learned Christ,  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.  Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.  “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,  nor give place to the devil.  Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

 

Don’t Get Spooked!

As the prophetic birth pangs increase, how are you going to spend your time?  I asked myself that very question this afternoon. Another hurricane moving across the Caribbean. A 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City. This following Hurricane Harvey, Irma and an earthquake in Mexico last week. The earth itself is telling us to prepare.  So how are we going to do that?

We cannot protect ourselves and our living environment by shielding ourselves in a fortress. We can’t live in fear of the dangers that appear to be increasing around us.  So what can we do?

We can meditate on the words Jesus spoke to us in the book of Luke chapter 12 verses 22 to 34.

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We can focus our hearts and attention on the giver of life, our Redeemer and Friend! By spending time with Him in prayer and by learning of Him more through reading the Word we can increase our faith and trust in Him. As we do this it will allow us to   continue to do the work he has called us to. Feed the poor, tend to the widows and orphans, encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ and minster daily in the ways He has prepared for us.

The world has plenty of reason to fear and worry. They don’t have a relationship with the Prince of Peace. This fact alone makes the importance of us trusting Christ during these days even more important. They are watching to see our reaction. They want peace and we know the answer to that need. It is in having a relationship with Christ! We need to love them enough to tell them!

Instead of getting caught up in the cares of this world, Jesus wants us to stay focused on Him.  He will direct us and give us the wisdom and knowledge we need to live in the days we find ourselves in! With our wonderful Helper, the Holy Spirit, we can maneuver our way through each day in perfect peace regardless of the circumstances, natural disasters or trials we may face.

So  again, 29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Rest in knowing that we can lean into Him, regardless of what we may face.

Time to refocus!

anxiousladyI am sometimes a very slow learner when it comes to spiritual lessons. Fortunately, God is so patient with me/us! He allows us to try our own methods until we realize they don’t work so great and than allows us to refocus on what is important. In fact, through the nudging of the Holy Spirit, He will show us along the way if we listen.

When I find myself getting physically and or emotionally anxious I know that something is off in my relationship with Christ. I have come to realize that that usually follows taking my eyes off the things God has shown me through His Word, His Spirit or other brothers or sisters in Christ and putting them on the natural. The natural is NOT what we are to focus on.  It will limit God working in us and through us!

Our focus is to be on the revelation of the Word of God, who He is and what He has called us to do. Things that are to be accomplished for the Kingdom of God will never be achieved by focusing on the natural. It is through His supernatural revelation and the working of the Spirit that these things will be done by.

If you are finding yourself stressed, strained, upset, fearful or angry, it’s time you get quiet before the Lord and confess whatever it is that has captured your attention away from Him and His promises. Get into prayer and lay it out before Him and than rest in knowing He HAS heard you and will make a way. Rest in knowing He knows everything about you, about your past and your future. He has promised you REST as you walk out this life and He is waiting to provide it to you.  “And He said, my presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Get alone with Him today, confess your sins, lay your messed up emotions at His feet and wait on the REST He promises, no matter what your circumstances are.  REST is not dependent upon good times only. He promises peace and rest DESPITE our circumstances!

“COME TO ME, ALL  YOU WHO LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.” ~ Matthew 11:28

 

How NOT to win the lost

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Lately I find myself getting more disturbed by a trend I see. Christians treating and reacting to non believers as if they were Christians.  Expecting them to live and act like they have been filled with the Holy Spirit.

We will never win others to Christ by tsk tsking them and shaming them. We will win them to Christ by sharing the love of Christ with them. By demonstrating the love of Christ to them.  When you look at your unsaved loved ones, friends, coworkers etc. don’t expect them to behave as if they are transformed. They are not. They are living in the flesh being lead by the flesh. Is it any wonder many are living lives of a hot mess? We did too before we made the decision to ask Christ in!  Thanks be to God that He heard us and gave us the Comforter to guide us in the way we should go.

We will NEVER win others to Christ by merely pointing out all their flaws and criticizing them. It wouldn’t have worked on us and it won’t work on them. Nor is it what Christ has called us to do.

Does this mean we should not speak out about atrocities and abuses in our society? NO. We need to speak out against those who do both but we will not win one single soul to Christ by beating non believers over the head with the Bible.

We need to love on people the way Christ did. We need to help others when we can. We need to pray for those who need Christ! These things are scriptural. Does that mean we don’t share the TRUTH of the gospel with them? Does it mean we should water down the gospel for them?  NO! We must share the truth that will set them free but not before demonstrating the love of Christ to them! No one wants to hear the truth by being smacked over the head with it. Let the Spirit guide you when and how when it comes to sharing Jesus! He is the master of drawing those who need Christ!

When I see a secular parade, protest etc. and I see Christians carrying signs saying you are going to Hell it does not bode well. How about handing out some bottled water and a tract telling them of the love of Christ instead. Live the love of Christ, demonstrate the love of Christ and share the message of Christ! That is what we are called to do.

Ask God what you can do today to demonstrate His love!

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”~John 13:35

 

Listen Closely

“However when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me for he will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”~ John 16:13

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Ever feel like you are just running in circles and never really achieving anything for the Kingdom of God. We all get caught up in the busyness of life and even church life at times without really knowing if what we are doing is making a difference. There is one thing we can be certain of. If we are listening, I mean really listening for God to speak to us through the Holy Spirit, we will hear Him guide us. It may come through the Word as we read, it may come through His gentle, wonderful still small voice or it may come from another brother or sister in Christ. Jesus promised us that the Holy Spirit would guide us and He has never taken a promise back yet.

If you are finding yourself spinning your spiritual wheels and not really sure you are moving in the direction God wants you to be, take the time you need to spend in the presence of God. Allow the Word to speak life and direction to you. When you pray don’t just ask but receive from God. Allow Him to speak to you.  Listen closely as you spend time with Him.

We can save ourselves so much time and heartache if we know what we are doing is the will of Him who called us. It may not always be easy to do but we know that if we are moving in obedience to what He is asking us to do, He will make a way to see it through!

 

When less is MORE

 

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He must become greater; I must become less.~John 3:30 NIV

For us to really be servants of Christ we have to yield our own wills to His. We can’t just do this Sunday morning during church service. We have to do it daily, when or before our feet even hit the floor we must determine that today will be a day that I will surrender my will to His. This means in the home, at work, on the bus, in the store and anywhere else we may find ourselves. This means we may find ourselves being put in some difficult or uncomfortable situations for our flesh. In fact it is very likely that we will from time to time.

We have been called to be FOLLOWERS of Christ. Not LEADERS of Christ. He knows us and loves us more than we are capable of truly loving ourselves. He is a trustworthy leader and earned our dedication on the cross of Calvary.

Let’s use this day for Him! Let’s determine to allow Him to lead us this day to do good works for His Kingdom. Let’s be willing to share our love for Him & others in practical ways today.  Intercede for those who need prayer! Be a support to those who need it! Wherever He puts you and whatever He puts in your path today, do it in submission to Him and do it with excellence!  Less of us and our fleshly wisdom and MORE of Him and His infinite love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CULTURE is not our course!

JESUS CHRIST the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.~Hebrews 13:8

JESUS CHRIST the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.~Hebrews 13:8

If there is one thing a true follower of Christ can count on, it is that culture as a whole, will change and become increasingly bold and accepting towards sin as we draw closer to the return of Christ. it shouldn’t surprise us.  It shouldn’t scare us. It shouldn’t cause us to over react. It shouldn’t cause us to hate the sinner. Jesus told us that as the days draw closer to a close, sin will abound. Accept is as fact. It will happen and it will continue to happen until we see Him face to face!

2 Timothy 3:1-5 Tells us…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.

Though once ourselves bound by sin, we now as followers of Christ, have been given the Holy Spirit! Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to live a life of freedom! In order to walk in this freedom we must remain people of prayer and continue to study God’s Word, which will increase our faith!

We read in 1 Timothy chapter 4 verses 4-16,  that as the Lord’s return draws closer, some people will abandon their faith in Christ and be seduced by the increase in sin.

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We must be knowledgeable of the Word of God and diligent in obeying it so that when our culture continues to grow more and more accepting of things that are clearly marked sin in God’s word we will not get entangled in that sin but will instead  intercede all the more for those who are trapped in it and by it! Our motivation must be love. Love for the lost, love for those trapped in the bondage of sin and love for those who have been freed from it through Christ! WE don’t change when culture changes. We are to remain steadfast to the Word of God. If you find yourself more accepting of sin than you need to get yourself into the Word of God (your Bible) and realize how God sees it. Just because everyone else is doing it  or approving of it does not mean it will ever be okay in God’s eyes.  This does not mean we should battle the increase of sin in our culture with fighting words against those whom we want to see freed! Words spewed out in anger and bitterness will never draw anyone away from their sin and to Christ.  Instead we are to share Christ as Lord and Savior. Without salvation and the Holy Spirit, all of us are bound by our sin! It is only through Christ that we are able to be free and keep that freedom. Quarreling words over sin will never accomplish what Jesus Christ alone can accomplish once He has inhabited the heart of a new believer!

It is after we confess Jesus Christ as Savior that we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to turn away from sin. While we are still dead in our sin it will remain a lifelong struggle. So fighting with a sinner trapped in sin is futile. What they need to hear is the gospel message of salvation. Too often we want people to clean up their lives before they come to Christ when what they really need is the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to bring about real heart change!

We don’t serve culture, we serve Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Our King of Kings and the true Holy One! He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His opinions on sin don’t change. He will always detest sin. He willingly endured the horrific death on the cross to free us of it! He doesn’t take it lightly! It is Jesus Christ that the sinner needs! Whether they are busy hiding their sin or boldly flaunting their sin, Jesus Christ alone can free them of it. Just as He alone has freed us of our past sin and continues to intercede on our behalf before the Father. He alone can bring salvation and true freedom.

So as things grow darker in this world we live in, we are to remain true to the Word of God, which requires us to read it and know it. We are NOT to be influenced or transformed by what culture says is okay. We are to stay true to the course Christ has put us on. The course to take up our cross daily, and follow Him and as we do this we are to share the gospel with the messed up, broken and lost. Once they have given their heart to Christ, we are to encourage them in their faith through the Word of God and in prayer. That is our calling as followers of Jesus Christ.

So each of us needs to be prepared to willingly share the gospel with the lost where they are. Trying to get them to clean up first is futile and renders the cross unnecessary. God has provided a beautiful way of saving and growing up His church. Salvation through Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us over sin. We don’t need to improve on it. We just need to share it!

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.

Oh to have a heart like Stephen!

Reading Acts 6 & 7 just blesses me so much! I love Stephen’s passion for Christ and his desire to share the gospel despite the circumstances! A man of love and faith, fully passionate about our beautiful Jesus! His love was even evident on his face!  All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15) Stephen was filled with the Spirit of God and sold out and radical for His Savior. There was no other Way for him to live. His allegiance was to Jesus!

There is so much we can glean from Stephen’s final day. When the elders and teachers of the law had him falsely accused of blasphemy against the law he didn’t fight back in the flesh but he used a more powerful weapon, he preached the Word of God to them! He didn’t try and justify his actions. He didn’t cry out to God for deliverance, He preached the Word, starting with the Old Testament and leading up to the ONE to whom he loved and followed, Jesus and what a sermon he preached! He knew the Word and he used it. He didn’t rely on his earthly wisdom, but rather the Word.

In chapter 7 we see him preach how God moved through the generations from Abraham up to the coming of His Son and how the “learned leaders” often refused and rejected God’s message and persecuted those who brought it, even to the point of betraying and murdering the Righteous One.

The Spirit of God moved mightily through Stephen as he preached with boldness! He didn’t back down or relent knowing full well that it may result in his death. Stephen’s focus was on sharing the gospel of Christ and Christ alone!

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:54-60)

I can’t help but notice two things, Stephen did not want the Lord to hold their sin against them and his persecution was witnessed by Saul, whom later had his name changed to Paul and who happened to become one of the greatest preachers of the gospel ever!  Stephen’s death was NOT in vain!  We are living in times where are brothers and sisters around the world are often called to share the gospel amid hostile persecution! The way things are going in North America, it soon may be upon us too.

Lord give us a heart to share the Word of God boldly and in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Let us not be cowardly, or cling to things that really don’t matter. Give us a holy boldness to speak the truth when called up to do so! There is no ONE more worthy of our allegiance, than you Jesus!  Let Your Spirit move upon each of us that call you Savior and Lord to be bold and obedient, regardless of the circumstances we may face!

In the beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.

Don’t Leave Yourself Open to Confusion and Deception!

What a whirlwind two weeks the last few have been. With Easter, I was busy preparing and taking part in our church’s Easter play. Visiting family and finishing up a college course have kept me so busy that I have missed one of my favorite things to do and that is why I decided today I needed to get back to my blog.

Life is short and we only have so much time to share the Word of God! The way things are going, prophetically, it may be even shorter!  Today I wanted to just remind myself and others of the importance of sharing the true, whole gospel based on the Word of God. We are held to a high standard when sharing our faith and sharing the message of the gospel with others. We cannot create a new more ear tickling or politically correct version, regardless of what type of pressure we may feel from the world to do so.  That’s why it is so critical that we actually get familiar with the whole gospel.

A lack of the Word of God in our lives leaves us ignorant and vulnerable. We cannot please God being either of these. We are called to study the Word and allow it to take root in our hearts. Picking and choosing certain verses only to try and promote an incomplete gospel is not acceptable in God’s sight. We all must do our best to ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us as we study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman or woman rightly dividing the Word of truth! 2 Timothy 2:15

Without knowing the Word, how can we truly live it? How can we share it? I would encourage you to spend time every day praying and asking God to reveal the truth of His Word to you as you delve into your Bible. It is vital food for every Christian. It is also vital that we feed on it daily! As you grow in the Word of God your thoughts will soon begin to change, your faith will increase and you will begin to be able to live out  a victorious life as a true follower of Christ!

Without knowing God’s Word, we leave ourselves incredibly vulnerable to deception in any area of our life. We can’t live the truth if we don’t know it. We can’t share the truth if we don’t know it. We leave ourselves open to thoughts, attitudes and actions that can draw us away from the lover of our soul, Jesus Christ. There are many people living a life of bondage to lies and deceptions of the enemy. God has warned us in the book of Galatians 1:1-10 of the absolute seriousness of knowing the true gospel and sharing the true gospel!

Paul, an apostle sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised from the dead 2  and all the brothers and sisters with me, To the churches in Galatia:Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you,let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Paul wasn’t mincing words here! We are to know, live and share the true gospel of Jesus Christ! This can only be achieved by familiarizing ourselves with His Words and the Words of His Father, who through the anointing of the Holy Spirit used men to pen them.God wants us to take studying the Word seriously. We will never live out our potential as followers of Christ if we don’t. Why let another day pass without spending time in the Word? Let each of us feed ourselves on the spiritual milk and meat God has provided for us.

As His return draws near, let us grow more like Him so that on the day that we meet Him face to face we will hear Him say, “Well done though good and faithful servant!”

Feed and Tend, the Call for All

We serve a Master with the heart of a servant. I love that about Jesus. He, the Son of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords washed the disciples feet. He cared for them as He cares for us.  He fed the multitudes, He healed the sick, He delivered the bound and set the captives free!  Praise God He is still doing this today!

His heart has always been tender toward those who seek Him. He longs for fellowship and intimacy with those who call on His name. When I read John chapter 21 last night I couldn’t help but think of just how much He loves His church. Just as a loving parent, in the latter days of their life, wants to do what they can to ensure their children and grandchildren will be prepared and looked after after they depart, Jesus did the same.

After His resurrection from the dead, He appeared three times to His disciples. Though His throne awaited Him, though His reunion with the Father awaited Him, He wanted to ensure His church would be taken care of!

John 21 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”

They answered Him, “No.”

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”

11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, whatabout this man?”

22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”

24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

 Jesus wanted to ensure that Peter, one of the founding members of the body of Christ, the Church, would continue His work. He wanted to ensure that the lambs (new believers) would be fed (nurtured) with  the message of the gospel so that they could grow into sheep.
He wanted to ensure that His followers (sheep)  would be tended to or taken care of just as Christ took care of them when He walked with them.  And lastly He wanted to ensure that His followers (sheep) would be fed. That they would continue to be fed the Word of God and the sharing of the gospel in order that the good news would be spread throughout all the world. Well fed sheep are less likely to wander off into other pastures!
 Jesus, just like a loving parent, wanted to ensure that His disciples would continue to fulfill the purposes of God by spiritually feeding and tending to His lambs and sheep. He didn’t leave until He had done so.  Until He had fed His disciples and reminded them yet one more time to take care of the lambs and sheep. He knew their natural propensity to forget what was important and wanted to tend to them and remind them one more time!
That is the heart of the One we serve! That blesses me and makes me sad all at the same time! To be loved by One that loves us that much is truly awesome!
 Our Shepherd loves His herd and we like Peter, have a responsibility to feed His lambs, tend His sheep and feed His sheep. We too are His disciples. Every one of us that call Him Savior and Lord share this responsibility.
It is a blessing and a privilege to serve Our Shepherd! Let’s remember His words to Peter as we start each day!
Blessings!

He’s still moving! We must too!

The last few weeks have been so busy. I have not had time to write as often as I like due to other commitments and responsibilities. Today I am happy to be able to settle in for a few minutes and share some of the things I see God doing in my small circle of life. We serve an awesome God, who not only hears the prayers of His saints but answers them in some pretty awesome ways! Not always in the way we expect, in fact very seldom in the way we expect but in much better ways.

I belong to a smaller country church that through prayer has been growing substantially. Numbers don’t mean much but the growth we are experiencing is also in a body hungering for more of God. Our bible study groups have grown, our worship teams are continually growing and the praise is most times out of this world! Our Pastor is preaching with power and anointing and the congregation is being fed. It is all as a result of the fervent prayer of the saints! We hear of churches having a hard time keeping their doors open, yet ours is growing in all the right areas.  I am so thankful to God for hearing our prayers and answering in the most wonderful ways.

I am also very privileged so see one of our son’s join the ministry. The changes God has done in his heart and life are nothing short of remarkable! As parents, when we see the lives of our children flourish in Christ it has got to be one of the most wonderful blessings we can have. God is awesome!

Also, our church has been joining  together over the last six months or so with a number of other churches for an evening gathering  of worship and prayer. This has been very exciting. To see multiple congregations gather for the sole purpose of worshiping and praying together is a beautiful example of the unity Christ offers the church! No barriers, just one family gathering together.

Despite the fact we are witnessing a wave rising against the body of Christ around the world right now we are called to continue in the work He has called each of us to do. Abide in Christ, pray, seek, study, grow and most of all love on those He puts in our path.  We are to continue working for our King and His Kingdom until He takes us up or calls us home!

His work continues. His Kingdom is growing. His church is being refined. Don’t allow any type of sin or discouragement distract you from moving forward! Instead get plugged in to a church body that is preaching the Word, moving in the Spirit and ministering to the body needs. Time is short. Don’t waste it on things that really don’t matter. Be ready for His return!

I will finish with some words of wisdom from Apostle Paul;

Ephesians 5:1-21 NKJV Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:  “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

 

Did I choose by chance?

It is an exciting thing to know that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God Himself drew you to Him. Do you realize that?  It wasn’t just that one day you made the decision to follow Christ. Before that day ever happened God Himself drew you to the place where you would make Christ your Lord and Savior.

I think many of us forget what an interested and loving God we serve. He creates the desire in us in the first place! He calls us by name and draws us to His Son! It is impossible to come to Christ without the Father Himself first drawing us to Him!

In the book of John Jesus tells us just that. John 6:44-45 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God’. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” What a beautiful thing to know that God was interested enough in you and I that He drew us to His beautiful Son for salvation and abundant life!

If you are struggling with feelings of inadequacy or thinking that you will never amount to much remember this,  GOD loved you enough to draw you to His Son!  That makes you incredibly special and important! He offers you abundant life! He offers you a life of purpose!  He doesn’t draw anyone to Christ to stay in the same place!

Let the awesomeness of that sink into your soul today as you go about your day. You are loved so much by your Heavenly Father that He has drawn you to His Son! When we begin to grasp the truth of the depth of God’s love for us we will live as God has called us to live, like lights in a dark world!

Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV

 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Let the truth lighten you today!

 

DON’T lose heart

When you find yourself in a hard place caused by someone else do you find yourself asking, “God when are you going to answer? When are you going to put a stop to all of this?” Well I have it on good authority that God hears your petition! He is not a god of stone or wood, He is the ONE true living God! Jesus gave us some pretty wonderful encouragement with just this matter in the book of Luke.

Luke 18:1-8 NKJV  Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

Then the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

This is such a powerful nugget that we too often read through quickly and neglect to allow the significance of this word sink in. We are not a people that should lose heart but instead to always pray!  We are not to pray once and give up grumbling  when we don’t receive an answer immediately. We don’t really like to hear it but  God will allow our adversaries to be used in the sanctification process of our walk with Him.  As we go through such a process Jesus tells us  that we are to continue to pray through. God will answer our prayer. He points out in this parable how even the unjust judge will answer a petitioner if they fail to give up asking. How much more can we count on God, who loves us, to answer us! Not only will He answer but He will avenge His elect (that’s us!) So what does that mean? He will hear us. He will also avenge on our behalf. The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of avenge is;

avenge     verb \ə-ˈvenj\    : to harm or punish someone who has harmed you or someone or something that you care about

So not only will God hear us and answer but He will also handle our adversaries. We don’t need to. He will do so in His way, in His wisdom on our behalf. We have no excuse to allow hatred or bitterness against our adversary in. We can count on the fact that if we, His elect,  cry out to God and do not lose heart, He will answer and take care of our adversaries too.

Jesus isn’t talking about an adversary here of our own making. For example, if we have mistreated or sinned against someone and we are receiving the fall out of that, we shouldn’t be surprised. God will allow us to reap what we sow from time to time. 1 Peter 3:15,16 NKJV 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  He is referring to unjust treatment through no fault of our own. This may be as a result of our Christian  stand on issues, our faith itself or for any number of other reasons. Just to be clear we are not to willingly hurt others and call on God to avenge them on our behalf!   😉 However if we find ourselves being unjustly targeted or persecuted we are to cry out to God for help and know that He will answer! He may choose to allow us to endure for a season but we can be sure He will be with us as we do. As we cry out to Him, He will equip us to endure whatever He allows and He will take care of our adversary.

Throughout the world we have brothers and sisters in Christ suffering for their faith. They are not forgotten by God. Their prayers are being heard. Though they may be called to endure persecution for a season or even give their life for Christ, He will be with them every step of the way. He will equip them for the task.  God will not allow them to endure more than they are able to endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV assures us of this.13 No temptation (including the temptation to recant our faith) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

 Perhaps one day, we too will be called to do the same.  Jesus is telling us in Luke 18 that regardless of the unfairness of a situation God permits us to go through, regardless of who our adversary is,  we are not to lose heart! We are to continue in prayer! Just because our situation may not be pleasant, it does not mean God does not hear our cries! In fact, we can be certain He does!  He is JUST and we can be assured He hears our cries!

So whatever situation you may find yourself facing right now, DO NOT lose heart! DO NOT give up crying out to Him. He hears and will answer! He will not allow you to go through one iota more than you can bear. Of that you can be sure!  Jesus said so.

Don’t worry Your Father’s got this!

I love the fact that we serve a God who knows our needs even better than we do. He is not unaware of our individual situations and cares but instead He knows and is willing to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory, through Christ! How often do we live as if He didn’t? How much time do we spend worrying and fretting over temporal  things while we let the things that will make an eternal difference slide?

In the book of Luke, Jesus makes it pretty clear that God is more than capable of taking care of all our needs when we seek the Kingdom of God first. We need to major on the majors and minor on the minors!

Luke 12:22-40 NIV 

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

These words must have seemed so radical to the multitudes listening. These words are still radical today to those of us who have chosen to follow Him! Jesus is telling us to live with eternity on our mind. He is telling us seek Him first! He is telling us to not allow any possession to have a hold on us! He is telling us to trust Him with all our needs! He is telling us to believe that our Father, who clothes the wild flowers is MORE than capable of clothing us with all our needs! He is telling us we are not to live as the pagans live, worrying about how they will take care of all their own needs but we are called to live a life of obedience and service, with God providing for us as we put Him and His Kingdom first! Radical, radical, radical!

I love that Jesus said, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. We do NOT serve a god who is dead, we serve GOD who is alive and knows are needs!  Now that is good news! 

The next time you find  yourself in a situation that would typically cause you to worry or fret remember these words! YOUR FATHER KNOWS YOUR NEEDS! Instead of worrying, bring your needs to the ONE who is more than capable of taking care of any situation. The Creator of the Universe. Jehovah Jireh, our Lord and Provider!  Put God first. Put His Son first. Put the Kingdom of God first. When we do this, we have NOTHING to worry about. He promises to take care of all our needs!  Matthew 6:33 NIV 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Christ is coming back for a church that is longing for His return. Don’t allow anything or anyone to cause you to worry, fear or distract you from that fact. Keep the Kingdom of God as your heart’s treasure. Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamp burning! Be ready for the Son of Man when He returns for you, His bride!

Come Lord Jesus!

 

Aim HIGH in 2015!

Being New Year’s Day and all, I thought instead of making a New Year’s resolution today I would just resolve to do what we are called to do but with more purpose and drive! So many of my past NY resolutions  consisted of fleeting goals and ideals. Things that would fade after a month or two such as eat less chocolate…watch less tv…lose weight… Goals that were small enough to achieve with not too much effort, yet wouldn’t make a huge difference in my life or the life of others. This year I am determined to aim higher. I am asking God to help me walk closer to Christ, become more like Christ and do what Christ has called me to do, the same things He has called all of His followers to do…. None of this can be done without the power of the Spirit of God. Trying to do so would be futile. It would only frustrate me. I am incapable in the flesh, of achieving what God wants to do in me and through me.

Thankfully, God has provided the Holy Spirit to do the work as we yield our will to Him. So this year I desire to to yield more, submit more, seek more and serve more. Not in my own strength but by spending time with my teacher (Jesus) and learning (through His Word) of His ways. In the book of Luke Jesus tells us, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40  I want to be more like my teacher! This in itself is impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit. When we read Luke 6 verses 27 to 38 we are faced with teachings that are impossible to obey in the flesh!

27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”  

Let’s face it, sometimes it is difficult to love and forgive those whom we love let alone those who curse us or spitefully use us. Yet Jesus tells us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us and pray for those who spitefully use us! He goes on to tell us to be merciful and not judge…. But how????

This can only be achieved by yielding our will and heart to the ONE who willingly loved us while we were an enemy of the cross. He did good for us while we hated Him! Our teacher  paved the way by willingly laying down His life for us while we were sinners! He reached out to us while we were still in our sin and extended mercy and grace to us! When we were worthy of condemnation He forgave us! He is not asking us to do what He was unwilling to do. He did that and so much more by offering His sin free body up as a human sacrifice to save us from our sins!

When we begin to grasp the true depth of His love for us, which is revealed through the Holy Spirit, we are able to yield our will to follow Jesus our teacher. A teacher  that is unlike any other. A teacher who offers us new mercies every morning. A teacher who will NEVER leave us or forsake us. A teacher who is closer than a brother. A teacher who will one day soon come back to take us HOME.

So in 2015, I resolve to be a student worthy of my calling. I resolve to spend more time with my teacher. I resolve to spend more time studying His Word. I resolve to obey His teachings and to serve Him with abandon.

If this is the desire of your heart, pray along with me;

Lord, we pray that in the coming year those who call themselves followers of Christ, will seek You daily, study Your Word, obey Your teachings and be Your hands and feet to a world desperate for YOU! Give us the desire to be all we can be. Keep us from becoming spiritually lazy and complacent. When we forget, remind us of Your imminent return and that there is work to be done until then. Jesus, we ask it all in Your precious name, Amen.

Philipians 3:14  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Time for an spiritual EKG?

Have you ever wondered after seeing Jesus perform so many miracles in front of their eyes and giving them the ability to do the same, the disciples could  still doubt His ability to do more? In the book of Mark we see Jesus sending out the twelve men in pairs after giving them power over unclean spirits. They were told to take nothing for their journey, as God would provide. They obeyed and did as He commanded. Mark 6:12,13 NKJV12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them. They saw multiple people saved, delivered and healed before their very eyes. They were witnessing first hand the miraculous power of the Spirit of God!

Yet as we continue in the same chapter when faced with the need for another miracle, they seem to have forgotten that with God all things are possible! Mark 6:31-44 NKJV31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him.34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.  

So soon after witnessing miracles with their own eyes, they forgot that Jesus was more than capable of a task such as feeding a huge crowd. As we continue through the chapter we see their belief in His supernatural ability tested yet again.

Mark 6:45-51 NKJV 45 Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. 46 And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. 47 Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. 48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. 49 And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.

Jesus gave them yet another opportunity to witness His power!

So how is it that after witnessing people being saved, delivered and healed before their very eyes that they didn’t consider His power to multiply food to feed the crowd or walk on water?  Mark 6:52 gives us our answer.52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.   Wow! That is the explanation in a nutshell. Before we get too critical of the Apostles we must take a good look at our own hearts. How many times have we seen God answer prayer, move mountains, save, deliver and heal others and yet find ourselves in a place where we doubt His ability? We too forget that He is the King of King and Lord of Lords, He is our Healer, Deliverer, Savior, Counselor, Friend and more than capable of handling any situation we may find ourselves in! We have only to put our trust in Him to come through. Without faith it is impossible to please Him and therefore we MUST believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him!

Lord please forgive us for having a hard heart. Forgive us for not believing that with You all things are possible, as Your Word tells us! Forgive us for doubting Your love for us and Your ability to work all things out for good in our lives. Give us a tender, trusting heart that relies solely on You for the impossible in our lives. Help us step out if faith and believe that You are who Your Word says You are! We ask this in your beautiful name,

Amen

 

 

Don’t neglect to replenish!

Our bodies and our spirits are both created with a need for replenishing. In order to function properly physically we must find time to feed ourselves and also find time to rest from activity. In order to function properly spiritually we must find time to feed our spirits and also find time to rest from activity. Both are essential. As the body needs food so the spirit needs spiritual food, the Word of God. Jeremiah 15:16 NIV   16 When your words came, I ate them;  they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.

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

 It is an essential ingredient in our walk with Christ if we want to remain sound. It is through the Word that we are able to receive God’s message of love, mercy, grace reproof  and encouragement. It must be a mainstay in our spiritual diet if we want to walk in peace and joy. It doesn’t do us good to gorge on the Word one day and then neglect it for weeks. It must be a daily meal.  When we neglect to feed our spirits with the Word of God, it doesn’t take long before we are basing our joy and peace on the temporal. This leaves us vulnerable to living on an emotional roller coaster and virtually makes us unfit for service.

If we are living based on our emotions we will not be able to carry out the things God has called us to do. Instead we will always be waiting for a better time to do things. A time when we feel happier, more generous, kinder, more giving etc. As followers of Christ we are not called to live by our emotions but to live by the truth of the Word of God. A truth that never changes, unlike our emotions. Can you imagine Apostle Paul dealing with shipwrecks, beatings and all the persecutions he suffered for Christ if he lived by his emotions? I think we can safely say he would never have reached the world with the gospel the way he did!

Just as we need to replenish our spirits with a daily meal of the Word of God, we also need to know when to rest. By rest, I don’t mean avoid doing anything but instead rest in the presence of Christ. Rest in His arms as we lean into Him with our prayer requests. We can turn to Him and lay before Him all our needs, the needs of others and whatever burdens we may be carrying. We can lay them at His feet and rest knowing He is more than capable of taking care of them all!

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

1Peter 5:6,7 NIV Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Phillipians 4:6,7 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, defeated, discouraged or far from God, we need to replenish our spirit with both the Word of God and time resting in His presence. Neglecting both will cause us to stumble very quickly. Both must be part of our daily routine. If you are not in the habit of reading the Word, start today. Pick a time to spend at least 10 minutes reading your Bible. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to receive the Word into your spirit. Ask Him to help you hide His Word in your heart! The same with spending time in prayer. I have found Monday to Friday, I can spend wonderful time in prayer in my car as I drive into work in the morning. It’s quiet and I don’t have any interruptions. I don’t recommend closing your eyes however! 🙂  Just make sure that you do  find some time every day  in the presence of God. Once you get into the habit of doing both daily, you will begin to find yourself growing spiritually and will not become easily depleted! You will have the energy to carry out whatever service Christ has called you to do!

Father God, I pray that You will give me the discipline and desire to both spend time in Your Word and in Your presence daily. Forgive my neglecting both Lord. Keep me close to You and keep my spirit sensitive to Your Holy Spirit so that I may accomplish great things for Your Kingdom in my daily walk.

I ask it all in the precious name of Jesus Christ,

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

 

 

Say NO to fear and dread!

When we follow Christ we can be assured that NOTHING that happens in our life happens in vain but instead we can be certain that God will use it for our good and His glory! That is an amazing and freeing bit of knowledge to be armed with. We are called for a purpose and the things He allows to touch our lives have purpose! Often these experiences are the  training ground for Christ working out His character in our lives. We need NOT fear anything. We have been bought with the blood of Christ into His family and He will never leave us or forsake us, regardless of how we may feel or think at times. It is a promise from the Word of God and it doesn’t lie! Hebrews 13:5 NIV Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

We can look around at this world we live in and see miles and miles of hot mess! Evil abounds! Men murdering men, women and children in the name of their god. Selfishness, corruption, hatred, every type of sin imaginable just about everywhere you look. Though this saddens us and should motivate us to pray and  do what we can to help, it should not and must not discourage us! God warned us. The Old and New Testament are full of prophetic words about the very days we are living in. He isn’t surprised and neither should we be.  We must use these days as opportunities to draw nearer to the lover of our soul, Jesus! We must use these days to let our lights shine by living a life pleasing to God, a life of service, a life of reaching out and helping others, a life of being bold in who Christ is and what He offers each and every person alive if they are willing to choose Him!

We can trust Him in these days! We can trust Him regardless of what circumstance we may be walking through or facing. He loves us with an everlasting love! He will never leave us or forsake us! He extends His arms to us and at times will carry us through dark days. Trust Him and allow Him to minister life to you as you lean into Him. Do not be afraid of tomorrow, but instead know that when you awake, His love is no less for you than it is today!  Proverbs 3:25-26 NIV 25 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,26 for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.  If there ever was a word for today this is it!  Have NO fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked! Why not, because the LORD will be at your side and keep your foot from being snared! That’s a promise!

It’s time to set aside fear, dread and any other emotion that may be holding you bound! Begin to trust in the God of the universe, the God that formed you in your mother’s womb, the God that called you and has a purpose for your life! You can put BIG trust in our BIG GOD!

Father, help us to put aside all fear and dread, knowing these are not from you for You have said in Your Word that You have not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind! Increase our faith and trust in You so that we may trust You in all things, knowing You loved us enough to send Jesus to save us. That’s incredible love! Increase our love for the lost and give us a boldness to share the good news of Jesus with all those that need to hear! Give us a heart to help the broken and needy. Let us use every opportunity in these dark days to bring His light to our world.  We ask it all in the precious and beautiful name of Jesus, our Lord and King.  Amen

How’s your fruit?

As followers of Christ we are called to bear fruit. The fruit we bear is a direct result of being firmly attached to the vine, thereby able to receive nourishment. In our walk with Christ, if we wish to produce good fruit we must stay firmly attached to Jesus, our true vine and continue to receive the nourishment of the Holy Spirit. Both are necessary for us to produce fruit that is pleasing to God.  Acts 2:38,39 NIV “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Without the Spirit of God within us we are unable to produce fruit that will please our Father.  Regardless of what good works we do, they will be done in the flesh and will have no spiritual benefit whatsoever. However, when the Spirit of God lives within us we have the ability to produce fruit that will have long lasting spiritual affects! He has equipped us to produce good fruit that will draw others to Him and enable us to fulfill the purposes He has for our lives.  Galatians 5:16-26 NIV 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Jesus told us that we will be known by our fruit. Matthew 12:33-37 NIV 33 Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 3A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

The good fruit we produce is a direct result of being led by the Spirit of God and not by good deeds done in the flesh. Our flesh is incapable of doing anything that will please God. Our flesh, no matter how well intended it may be, will never be able to please God. It is only those things done as we abide in Christ and are led by the Spirit that please God as we see in the book of John.  John 15:1-17 NIV 15 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

In order to produce good fruit for the Kingdom of God we MUST remain close to the true vine (Jesus) and the gardener (God the Father). This can only be done by spending time with them in prayer, after all  how is it possible to maintain a close relationship with someone when you refuse to spend time with them? It is also vital that we spend time in the Word of God. Our Bible is God’s Word to us! It is God breathed and essential for our growth as we see in 2 Timothy 3:14-17 NIV 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.

Just as any fruit that has been cut off the vine will eventually wither, so will we wither spiritually when we are apart our true vine, Jesus!  Without our attachment to the vine, our fruit will not only wither but eventually rot! Jesus warned us of the importance of producing good fruit. One day each of us will have to give an account for the fruit that we did or didn’t bear. It is a stern warning that each of us should take very seriously!

Matthew 7:16-23 NIV 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

If you find yourself drifting from your intimacy with Christ, our true vine, ask Him to forgive you and get back into spending time with Him in prayer and in studying His Word. He longs for you to spend  time with Him. He longs for you to produce good fruit for the Kingdom! He has called you and equipped you to do just that! Don’t allow anything or anyone to sever your branch from the vine!

Blessings!

There are periods that we forget that in the pursuit of fruit, that if we just abide in Him, then fruitfulness is a guarantee.~Francis Chan

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Are you battling a storm?

It is relatively easy for a follower of Christ to be thankful and have joy when  life is going as we think it should. When we are able to understand our circumstances and things are going well it doesn’t take a lot of will or effort to be thankful or to retain our joy. But did you know that Christ requires more from His followers than “good times joy“? He wants us, His followers, to have joy in spite of our circumstances. To be vessels of His love, mercy and grace even in the midst of our storms. He offers us a peace that truly does “pass all understanding.” His peace is possible during the worst storms. His peace is possible in the midst of any trial. His peace is possible when we find ourselves in the midst of any sorrow.

So why do we often lose the peace that passes understanding when we find ourselves engulfed in trouble, pain or sorrow? Where does it go? I believe it is a result of taking our eye off of the ONE who gives it to us and placing our eye on the circumstance itself. When we forget that nothing that touches our lives has slipped through God’s fingers first, we forget that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear!  The Book of Job tells us that before Satan is able to bring any trial to a child of God, he must first have the Father’s approval.

Job 1:1-12 NIV In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Satan was not allowed to do one thing more than God gave him permission to do! Was God allowing Satan’s abuse for some kind of sick pleasure? No! God knew what Job was able to endure and knew that He would turn it all for good in the end. He knows what each of us are able to handle. He knows what each of us are able to endure. He also knows how to turn what we in our own understanding think to be the most terrible of circumstances into something for good! He is not blindsided by our sorrows. He is not blinded by our circumstances and He at times allows them to accomplish His good.

When we truly understand that EVERYTHING that happens in our lives can be used for good if we keep our eyes on Jesus and allow Him to guide us through the circumstances we will be able to retain our joy! Our confidence is not to be in our circumstances and in what we see, our confidence is to be in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Our confidence is not to be in receiving the answer we think we need,  it is in knowing that God is not playing with our lives but is working out things according to His plan. He knows the beginning and the end and His love for us would not allow Him to shortcut our spiritual growth or curtail His plans for the future.

In the book of Romans, Paul explains it beautifully…

Romans 8:5-38 NIV  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed  18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long;  we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If our life’s focus as Christians is to be blessed and live in comfort than we have not grasped the full truth of the gospel. God has called us to become disciples of Christ. To be led by the Holy Spirit and fulfill the purposes He has called us to. It is not to live according to the gospel of comfort. If we are true followers of Christ we will endure trials, temptations, sorrows and we are not to be surprised when we do. And when we do, we can know that He is working out something good in our lives and has a purpose for allowing it!

If you are going through a time of trial, sorrow or temptation right now, lean into Christ. Don’t try and understand it. Just continue to pray, seek God and trust Him. He has a plan. You may not understand it now and you may never understand it, but it is a good plan. He is always working things out for good to those that love Him and follow Him. Allow the Spirit of God to guide you through your journey with joy, true joy, the joy that comes from knowing and understanding that God will only allow what you are able to bear  and He WILL work it out for good!

I have personally walked through many trials and sorrows in my life. My dad’s suicide, a miscarriage, the sudden loss of my son and the loss of other loved ones and most recently my husband’s diagnosis and treatment of cancer.  I am not speaking glibly when I say that there is a true joy that can only be found in Christ. A joy that comes from knowing and trusting the lover of our souls. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is working your circumstances for good. Rest in that and look excitedly to each day knowing every day counts. As  you lean into Him and allow Him to love on you and use you right where you are in  your circumstances, great things will be accomplished for His Kingdom!

Blessings!

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!

Are you due for a maintenance check?

For the past several weeks our home computer had not been running very smoothly. There were many delays when trying to pull up pages, pages freezing and programs refusing to open.   Though I knew it needed to be done I just  kept putting off running a maintenance check. Today I did it. It was very necessary. It has cleaned up a number of issues. I couldn’t help but think it is similar to our need for a spiritual maintenance check every now and then.  When life gets hard or too busy and we find our intimacy with Christ lagging, our thoughts become negative and confusing and  too often we turn to other things to fill the emptiness we are sensing. We may turn to facebook, online games, tv or other sources of quick fix comfort when what we really need to do is spend time in our Bibles and talking to the lover of our soul!

There is no substitute for time spent with Him. Other time fillers cannot bring about the change we need in our hearts. They cannot restore our joy or peace. They cannot prepare us for what He has in store for us today or tomorrow. Only spending time in His Word and in His presence in prayer can do that.

If you find yourself spiritually running on empty, turn off all your gadgets and get alone with your Bible and Savior.  Nothing will fill that emptiness you are feeling but Christ. He made us that way!.  Ask Him to restore your joy and peace. Read His Word and learn of Him and His beautiful, enduring, patient love for you. Let His words of life change you, recharge you and give you the hope you need to be His ambassador here.

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 9:9-10 NIV The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

John 15:4-5 NIV Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Lord, we come before You and ask that today You turn our hearts back to You. Remind us to seek You when we are spiritually dry and not look to fill our time with worthless things and activities. Restore our joy and peace today as we lean into You and read Your Word. We love You Lord and long to grow into the people You have called us to be. Fill us today with vision for today and the future. We ask it all in the beautiful name of Your Son Jesus, Amen.

 

So Just Who is Jesus Christ?

 

Whenever we feel the least bit uncertain that He is able to be all we need Him to be regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, we may just want to review just a sample of who He is!

John 14:6 NIV Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.”

Advocate with the Father

Alpha and Omega

Ancient of Days

Anointed One of God

Author of Life

Beginning and the End

Beloved

Beloved Son of God

Bread of Life

Bridegroom

Bright and Morning Star

Carpenter

Cornerstone

Christ

Counselor

Creator of everything

Deliverer

Emmanuel

Eternal

Eternal judge

Everlasting Father

Faithful One

First and Last

Firstborn

God

God’s Anointed

God’s Only Son

Good shepherd

God with us

Great I AM

Healer

Holy

Help in times of trouble

Holy Messiah

Holy ONE of Israel

Intercessor on our behalf

Jehovah

Jesus Christ

Jesus of Nazareth

Judge

Just and true

King of Israel

King of Kings

King of the Jews

Lamb of God

Light of the world

Lion of Judah

Lover of our soul

Living bread

Living water

Lord of all

Lord of glory

Maker

Master

Mediator

Messiah

Mighty God

Miracle maker

Most High God

Nazarene

Omnipotent

Only begotten of the Father

Our Passover lamb

Physician

Power of God

Prince of Peace

Prophet

Propitiation for our sins

Rabbi

Redeemer

Resurrection and Life

Righteous One

Revealer

Rock

Root of Jesse

Sacrifice

Savior of the world

Seed of David

Servant of the Lord

Shepherd

Son of David

Son of God

Son of man

Son of the most high God

Teacher

The Way

True Vine

Truth and Life

Unchanging

Wonderful

Word of God

Word of Life

Worthy of all praise

He alone can draw us, redeem us, change us and enable us to serve!  He is our beautiful Jesus! Put your trust in Him for He is more than enough!

 

 

 

Is your GPS set to Christ?

In the last month or so I’ve  had many conversations with people concerned about the crazy world events that are unfolding before us.  Those who don’t yet know Christ as Savior and Lord are worried. Many have long since lost faith in politicians and governments and for some very good reasons. They don’t know how things can possibly get better. They don’t yet know that despite the world’s circumstances, there is ONE they can run to with all their worries, fears, anxieties and He will give them peace. They need to meet Jesus. They need to know the ONLY solution to the world’s woes. We who know Him must be willing to share the good news whenever the opportunity presents itself.

For those of us who know Jesus Christ  as Lord and Savior, we don’t have to stumble about looking for answers. We have the Word of God to guide us. The Holy Spirit to lead us and we can run to the lover of our soul with all our cares! He is available to all who seek Him! Instead of wasting our time making wrong turns here and there He longs for us to run to Him!   I want to share just a few scriptures today to remind us of just that!

Proverbs 18:10 NIV 10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Psalm 34:17 NIV 17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.

Psalm 50:15 NIV  15   ” And call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

If you are struggling, run to the ONE who wants to comfort you. The ONE who died for you and promises peace to those who love and follow Him.

John 14:27 NIV 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Jesus said it and we can believe it! Run to Him, saturate yourself in the Word of God (Bible) and rest in His peace. You will not find true peace anywhere else!

 

“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”~A.W. Tozer

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Hold to, spur on, meet and encourage!

Last week my husband and I spent a week vacationing in the Dominican Republic. It was a great rest for both of us. We were fortunate enough to meet some new friends who are currently missionaries there. One is a fellow blogger.  It was such a blessing to meet people who are helping people in the most practical ways, right where the rubber meets the road. People who are not afraid to get their hands dirty when reaching down to help others in some pretty dark places. It encouraged me to do more.

Meeting with fellow believers should do just that. If we are fulfilling the plan God has for our lives it should encourage others to do the same.  We need each other. We all have times of discouragement and difficulty but God has provided us with a very large family! A family we can turn to for support, encouragement and love. A family of likeminded people who can keep us grounded in the Word of God and keep us in check should we begin to wander into the wider path.

Though our relationship with Christ must be personal, He has given us a large family for support, correction, love and to labor alongside of. The Word of God tells us just how important it is that we maintain relationship with our spiritual family.

Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

When we look around us today we can be assured that the Day of Christ’s return is not that far off. It is so important that as the days grow more evil, we spur one another on toward love and good deeds. There will be times we will feel discouraged with what we see happening but that is not the time to stop sharing the gospel, doing good deeds or being the hands and feet of Christ. It will be the time to spur one another on!  We must not give up meeting together. As the Lord’s return draws closer we must stop making excuses of why we cannot get to church, or bible study or any other gathering of the body of Christ. There is nothing more important than growing in our faith and doing His works! We need one another’s support and wisdom.  And lastly, we must encourage one another all the more as time passes. God has created each of us with a need for others. He did not create us to be an island of our own. We need to be available and supportive to our brothers and sisters in Christ for prayer, sharing of the Word and fellowship.

Lord I pray today that You will reveal to us how important it is that we hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, our hope in the return of our beautiful Savior! Open our eyes to see how important it is that we spur on one another in good deeds! Help us to realize the importance of meeting regularly with our church families! Help us to encourage one another as You would encourage us Lord.  Let us not be found sleeping when You return, but let us be found busy doing Your works inside the church and outside the church.

In the precious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.