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God’s Got This

The past few months have drastically changed our world. Our lives have become much more limited in regards to what we can do outside our own homes and also how we can do things. Many of our taken for granted freedoms have gone.

Church gatherings have had to become much more creative in order to continue to be able to meet. Families have had to postpone so many events due to limited numbers being able to gather. Life as we knew it no longer exists.

All that being said, do we need to wring our hands in worry? No. None of this is taking God by surprise. We are living in exciting days where prophecy is being lived out before our actual eyes. God’s got things under control. The characters are all lining up to play their parts in what is to come.

Christians, we have more reason than ever to not be afraid. If we are watching, we can surely see things lining up for our beautiful Savior and King’s appearance. This is the time to get serious about sharing the gospel with those who haven’t heard. This is the time to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the time to spend time on our knees asking the Lord what it is He wants us to do today, and every day until He appears. This is not the time to get distracted by things that keep us from abiding in Christ. There is no time to waste.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.~ Hebrews 10:24,25

So why not start your day today in prayer? Ask God what it is you can do for Him today? Who should you speak to? What can you do for a brother or sister in Christ? Seek Him and His will for you today.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 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.  So encourage each other with these words. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

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!

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 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!

For the Child of God, There is NO Need to Fear

The Bible is full of the promises of God. When we find ourselves feeling out of sorts, alone or most of all afraid, we should dive into the Word of God. It is there the LORD speaks to us. Spend a few minutes today meditating on Psalm 91. It is a Psalm of wonderful promise and security for those of us who love Christ and follow Him!

Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.

    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,

    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;

    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.

15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

Let His Word transform your thoughts from those of fear to trust and reliance on Him. Do what is wise within your power and trust the Creator of the Universe to take care of the rest. He is for you, Child of God, not against you!

Be blessed!

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

Image result for God is shaking the world

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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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.

It’s Time to Share!

 

toogoodJust turn on your computer, tv or open a newspaper today and you will see natural disasters all over the world. There doesn’t appear to be anywhere safe from them. Not only are they increasing, but the strength of them appears to be increasing too.  We are experiencing the early birth pangs Jesus warned us about. As with real birth pangs they start off slowly and gradually increase in both frequency and strength. We can expect the same with natural disasters.

 

We have all seen the headlines with rumors of wars possibly including North Korea, Russia and not to mention all the countries that are currently battling.  The last year alone has brought us into a political environment that increases the chance of war.

Sin, well sin can be found everywhere we look, including in the mirror. The majority of the world has not found or outwardly rejected Christ as Lord and Saviour.  Without Him life is pretty dark and that is exactly what we are seeing everywhere we look.  The world is not a warm, welcoming place without Christ.

So with all this going on around us should we be discouraged? Should we be down trodden and depressed? NO!  A resounding NO!  Through Christ we have every good thing! We have more than we need! We have a truth that cannot be shaken! We have a friend in these times of trouble that is closer than a brother! We have a Savior and friend that will NEVER leave us or forsake us!  We have the good news that we can share with those who have yet to hear or have not listened up till now! More and more people are getting discouraged with this ole world of ours and are looking for something concrete to hold onto.  Well there is nothing more concrete than the love of Jesus Christ and His ability to save people from their sins and  sustain those  people through any situation or circumstance.

Instead of looking at the doom and gloom surrounding you today.  Ask God to give you a heart for the lost and broken. Ask Him to put people in your path today that you can love on tangibly  and share the gospel with. He will do it! He has called us to do this very thing.  Let others know why you don’t walk in fear but by faith.  Be encouraged that God has called you and brought you to a time such as this for that very purpose!

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’”~Matthew 16:15

 

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

 

Life is but a Vapor

This past weekend we lost a dear friend. She had recently been battling cancer and lost her fight. In our minds and hearts we lost her way too soon. She was still young! We didn’t expect to lose her this soon! This morning I was reminded that there are no guarantees when it comes to our life span. We cannot possibly predict what the future may hold for any one of us.  I was hit in the face with this fact almost ten years ago when we lost our twenty year old son Daniel in a car accident. I was reminded of it again this weekend.

There is no certainty, no guarantees and no assurance that we will have another day, another week, another month etc. As much as we like to feel we have control over so much of our life, this is one area none of us can control completely. We can take care of ourselves and try and stay fit but even that does not guarantee longevity.  So what does this mean? Should we live our lives in fear or discouragement knowing just how frail life can be? Should we worry incessantly about what could happen? The answer to all three questions is a resounding NO!

We are to live each day as if it were our last, abiding in Christ and serving as we have been called. NO fear, NO terror, NO worry, just living out our lives with purpose each day as we walk close to the ONE who gives us purpose. Each day is a gift God gives us to walk close to Him and share the gospel with a dying world. As long as we are staying close to Him through our prayer life and increasing our faith through the reading of the Word, we will hear Him speaking to our hearts and leading us. That is how we are to live each day. Not worrying about tomorrow or what it may bring. Simply living each day with His purposes in our heart! When we need wisdom to do so we simply ask for it. He promises to give it to us liberally! When we stumble, we need to repent and get right back on track. Moving forward in the course He has set before us.

We run into the most trouble when we forget that we who follow Christ, have been called for a purpose. We have been bought with a high price, the price of His shed blood. We have not been called to ignore God’s purposes and live out our own plans. When we remember to whom we owe our life and redemption we live with His purpose in mind. We lose the need to control our future. James says it beautifully. James 4:13-15 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. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

None of us knows what the future holds. We do know that we have been given this day! This day to walk close to the ONE who saved us and called us. Let’s remember to seek His face today and fulfill the purposes He has for us! Not worrying about tomorrow, next week, or any time in the future!

Lord, forgive us for our arrogance in thinking we have all the time in the world to fulfill Your purposes. Remind us each day that we need to live close to You, seeking Your face and purposes for our life. Knowing that life is but a vapor! We may not have tomorrow but we have today!   We ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Really? Peace & Joy during a storm?

There is only one way, we who are followers of Christ, can possibly have peace when we go through a storm in life. It is by believing in the depths of our being the truth that God is faithful to us and will NEVER allow us to go through more than we can bear. It is knowing with absolute certainty that NOTHING or NO ONE is able to cause us to lose our peace and joy if we put our trust in the ONE who is absolutely trustworthy. The reason we too often lose our peace when the storms come is simply because we have stopped believing that everything that happens to us has been allowed by the ONE who knows us best!  He who knew us while we were being formed in our mother’s wombs, knows what can be used in the transformation of our character from selfish, self absorbed individuals to sold out, Spirit lead followers of Christ.

The great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon once wrote, “God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.” There is so much truth in this quote. Why does it often take afflictions, trials, storms to grow us up? Perhaps it is because when things are going smoothly we tend to forget the goodness of our God. We tend to fall back into the pattern of thinking somehow we have control over all our circumstances. We forget just how much we need to rely on and depend on the lover of our soul!  When difficulties enter our lives it usually doesn’t take us too long before we are back to crying out to God for His help.

God wants us to go through life knowing, really knowing and believing that ALL things work together to them who love God and them who are called according to His purpose. When we finally really get it, really believe it, than we are able to trust Him regardless of the battle, regardless of the size of our opponent and regardless of the severity of the difficulty. This is how we are called to live as followers of Christ. Not on a daily emotional roller coaster that is fueled by our emotions and insecurities. We are to live by the truth of His Word which tells us nothing can separate us from Christ or His love for us. NOTHING!  If we allow them, afflictions will teach us just how reliable HE really is. If we speak the truth of His word to our situation and believe it in the depths of our being, than we are able to maintain our joy and peace no matter how difficult or severe the trial is. The truth of this has been demonstrated through centuries by all those martyrs who have willingly given their lives rather than deny Christ. They believed the truth of His Word and they lived it! Their lives and even their deaths became a witness for all those around them, that God will give the grace and willingness to endure whatever may come to those who love Him.

If our love is conditional based solely on His gifts and blessings to us it is not really love at all. If we truly love Him and believe He is who He says He is and that He loves us enough to not allow us to endure more than we can bear, we will be able to go through ANY circumstance with joy and peace. 

 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”~Deuteronomy 31:6

I’m not for one second suggesting this may be easy. Yet it is possible. Not by mind over matter or wishful thinking but soley by knowing the truth of who HE is and how very much HE loves us. By knowing Christ’s promises are as good today as they were when He walked the earth.  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.~Romans 8:28  

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;  and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.~Romans 5:1-5 

Our confidence in these truths  grow as we spend time with Him daily in prayer and as we spend time reading our Bibles, the Word of God.

 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.~Psalm 145:18  

 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.~Colossians 4:2

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.~2 Timothy 3:16,17

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”~Romans 10:17

None of us know when trials will come. If we stay close to our Savior and grow in our faith, knowing and trusting Him completely, when they come we will not be swept away. We will be able to stand and endure with peace and with true joy (not surface happiness) but true joy, knowing whatever He allows to touch us is going to work out for long term good!  He will continue to grow Christ like character in us as we go through the very things we wish to avoid the most.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.~James 1:2-4

Ultimately, Christ is preparing us to one day meet Him face to face and hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” My prayer is that we will cultivate a deeper, more sincere walk with our Savior and Lord and that we will hide the Word of God in our hearts so that when the storms of life come crashing in, we will NOT be troubled or dismayed. We will confidently rest in knowing even in this, we can joyfully trust Him!  He is still in control!

Where’s your focus?

For those of us who call Jesus Lord and King, we have so much to be thankful for. For those who don’t yet know Him as Lord and King they have so much to gain by calling on His name. With Him in our life we are able to walk through any situation that life may throw at us. He doesn’t allow His kids to go through more temptation than they are able to bare if they abide in Him through the journey. He may allow a storm in our lives but He will never  bail on us during the thick of it. Never!

 

Too often we slip into a pattern of worry or fear with regards to the future. We forget that the lover of our soul never turns a blind eye to His church. Instead, He waits to hear from us. He longs for our fellowship. He is as close as the mention of His very name!

When we find ourselves feeling far from Him it is usually the result of setting our eyes on the natural. We forget that our relationship is a relationship of faith, not based on what we see but instead on the truth of the Word of God and the revelation of who Christ is through the Holy Spirit.  It is so important that we get ourselves back to the truth of the Word of God and the knowledge of who Christ is and will always be! He is Emmanuel, GOD with us! Don’t forget it! Instead let the truth of that sink into your heart! God loved us enough that He sent His own Son for our redemption. He wanted to restore a relationship with us so much that He allowed His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you and me!  That’s an awesome love right there!

When you find yourself reducing Christ and enlarging your problems, it’s time to get back to this basic truth. It’s time to heed Apostle Paul’s words taken from Colossians 3:1-3 NIV Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

You will only grow in your intimacy and love for Christ when you set your mind on things above. It is there in the realm of faith that He will begin to move the mountains in your life as your lean into Him and trust Him to do so! Keeping your eyes on your problems will keep you bound by them! Keeping your eyes on Christ will allow Him to move mightily!  James 1:8 KJV tells us A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  We can’t keep our eyes focused on our problems and trust God for the answers at the same time. We must exercise our faith and turn them over to Him and trust Him to work everything  out for our good! He promised to do just that!  Romans 8:28 NIV 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.

If you are struggling through a situation right now, take your eyes of your current situation and remember you have been raised with Christ through your redemption. Set your heart and mind  on things above. Remember that Christ is seated at the right hand of God and is ever making intercession for you, His church! There is nothing too big or difficult for Him to handle. Release the fear and stress of your situation into the hands of the ONE who loved and loves you more than His life itself!  Trust Him, He is worthy!

 

 

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!

 

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

 

 

Our beautiful compassionate King!

In our world we see people doing all kinds of evil things in the name of their religion. On a daily basis we hear of people being beheaded, persecuted and murdered by all kinds of vile methods for not converting to radical Islam. People trying to force another by violence to adhere to their twisted ideology. Amid all of this, I am so grateful that we who are followers of Jesus Christ serve a Savior and Lord that does not require that we use violence to draw people to Him. He requires love! How awesome is He! He tells us to let our light shine, He tells us to let the world see His love for them through us! He tells us that when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick and give water to the thirsty we are doing it to Him!  Matthew 25:31-40 NIV 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

In the book of Mark we see our beautiful Lord and King healing the leper after being moved with compassion. Mark 1:39-42 NKJV 39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 4Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

Jesus, the Son of God, the Holy One, the King of Kings was moved with compassion! What a beautiful picture of our Jesus! A King who feels for the cast offs of society and is moved to save, heal and deliver them! A King who does not see class distinction. A King who does not wish any should spiritually perish! A King that is moved with compassion!

Today let the reality of the character of Jesus sink into your heart. Ask Him to give you a heart of compassion for those who are lost, sick and bound. Ask Him to guide you in reaching out and sharing the good news with those who so desperately need to hear it! Let His love and compassion shine through you this Christmas season!

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

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!

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.

 

 

 

 

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

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““

 

 

Don’t stop asking!

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

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

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

Luke 18:1-8 NIV 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Are you worried? Here’s your answer!

Are you worried about what’s going on in the world today? Worried about your financial situation? Worried about your family? The list of things we worry about is endless but there is a solution. In every situation we are to turn our worries over to the ONE who died for us. The ONE who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond anything we can comprehend.

Worry will never solve a single thing. It will only rob us of our peace and joy. When we apply the Word of God to our situations we are able to rest peacefully knowing there is nothing impossible with Christ. Here are but a few words to take deep into your heart and apply to whatever it is you are worrying about.

1Peter 5:6-7 NIV 1 Peter 5:6-8 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.

Romans 8:28 NIV 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. 

Phillipians 4:4-9 NIV Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.

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

Psalm 55:22 NIV 22 Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous be shaken.

Phillipians 4:19 NIV 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

Luke 12:22-26 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?

Hebrews 13:6 NIV So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”

John 6:37 NIV 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 

Isaiah 41:10 NIV 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Deuteronomy 31:5, 6 NIV The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

And finally…

Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Choose to cast your cares on Him!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prepping the heart for the future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

His timing is perfect, mine not so much!

Do you ever get tired of waiting on answered prayer? Do you wonder why God hasn’t responded immediately or at least soon after you made the request? God’s timing is perfect. It doesn’t always feel like it to us, but it is. He knows the beginning from the end and He will answer us when the time is right.  I used to get so frustrated waiting on an answer to something that seemed so simple for the Creator of the Universe to do. Why did He make me wait?  Thankfully I am a bit better at the waiting now.  😉  I have learned that His timing really is perfect. There have been too many answered prayers in my life that have often happened at what seemed like a minute to midnight, for me not to have learned I can trust Him completely! I have also learned that if I submit to Him during those times of waiting He will use that time to make me more like His Son. It is during those times that I learn patience and often long suffering. These two fruits of the Spirit are seldom,  if ever, developed in times of comfort.

If you are waiting on God for an answer, submit yourself to His timing. Keep seeking your answer but while you seek, know that His timing is perfect. Also know that He is trustworthy.  Here are a just a few verses that you may want to memorize for those times of waiting…

Isaiah 40:31 NIV 31 But those who hope in the Lord will re new their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Lamentations 3:25-26 NIV 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,to the one who seeks Him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Isaiah 64:4 NIV Since ancient times no one has heard,  no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Psalm 27:14 NIV 14 Wait for the Lord be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Habakkuk 2:3 NIV 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.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart  and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalm 33:20-22 NIV 20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.21 In him our hearts rejoice,  for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lordeven as we put our hope in you.

And finally one of my favorites…

Psalm 27:13-14 NIV 13 I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Father, we ask that you help us trust You and remain steadfast in our walk with You while we wait on You for our answer. Just like millions before us, You will answer our prayer in Your time and according to Your will. Please use this time of waiting to grow me more like Jesus. Help me allow the Holy Spirit to move in and through me during this time and not grumble or complain.  Thank You Father!  I ask this now in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Profitable words from Proverbs 4

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

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

Proverbs 4:18-27 NIV

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

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

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

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

In Your precious name,

Amen.

The weighty nuggets of Proverbs 3!

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

Proverbs 3 NKJV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He meets us in the practical

This morning I was reading Psalm 146.  I love this Psalm! It is so practical. Though written before the time of Christ, like all  of the Old Testament, it is as relevant today as the gospels!

146 Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

We have so much to praise Him for, for His mercies are new every morning. We don’t have to beat ourselves up over past sin, we need to take  it to the foot of the cross in prayer and as we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us! We can start each day clean!  Not only are we cleansed but He provides for us daily. He knows our needs before we even ask! He takes care of His kids! Praise the Lord, O  my soul!

Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.

How many times have we had to learn this lesson the hard way? Other people are imperfect just like we are. When we count on others for our joy, purpose, direction etc. we will from time to time be disappointed. God, however, through Christ, is available to us 24/7.  He is never to busy to respond. He is always looking out for our best interest. He will never pass on and leave us without His help!

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, The sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever.  

We can trust in the God of the Old Testament, who performed multiple miracles for His kids. Who was merciful to them even when they didn’t deserve it!  The same God that created the universe is the God we have! We hope in a Savior that is true, is faithful, is always interceding on our behalf! We have every reason to be happy!

Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow. 

Wow, that is our Jesus! He opened our eyes so we could see Him as Savior, Lord and King!  He has raised us and multiple millions of others up out lives filled with brokeness and despair! Through His death on the cross He has made those who follow Him become the righteousness of God!  He takes care of the defenseless and they rely on Him!

But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.

How many times have we seen God’s hand intervene on behalf of His children and turn the plans of the wicked upside down?  Isaiah 54:17 NKJV  tells us,17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.   He is our defender!

10 The Lord shall reign forever— Your God, O Zion, to all generations.

Yes He shall and eventually, we shall reign with Him. Revelation 22:1-5 NKJV 22 And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

We have every reason to

Praise the Lord!

This Psalm begins and ends with Praise the Lord! This is a great way to begin and end each day! We serve a Savior we can trust, we can depend upon, who meets the needs of His followers, who is true, who frees us from bondage, who intercedes on our behalf and who we will one day reign with forever and ever!  Praise the Lord!

Replacing lies with truth!

 

John 8:32 NIV 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32 NIV 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

One of the things I love about the word of God is that it really does set us free where and when we apply it. It has the ability to replace lies we have believed about ourselves, about others and about our Savior. If we read it, digest it and then apply it to any area of our life where we are struggling it can and will set us free! The secret is not just to read it or hear it spoken somewhere, we MUST apply it. I was sharing this week with another new believer how fear used to control so much of my life. I would fear making a decision in case it was the wrong one. I would fear God’s wrath more than rest in His love. I would fear man and their opinions etc. It controlled a lot of my life and thinking. When I grew tired of being so fearful I decided to take a look at the scriptures about fear in my Bible. I wrote many of them out. It wasn’t enough just to write them out. When a fearful thought would begin to form I would have to combat that thought with the Word of God and not give it place in my thinking. It worked!  I was being transformed by the renewing of my mind through the Word of God.  I will list just a few of those verses on fear here, my favorite being 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. So when fear would come upon me I could reject the fear  knowing it was NOT coming from God!  Another one is Isaiah 41:10 NIV So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Fear is but one area that a person can be bound. There are too many to list here, however every one of those areas can be defeated through the Word of God if you read it, digest it and apply it! Too often people want an instant fix from the things that bind them but the most effective way to be free is to apply the Word of God to whatever it is. John 8:32 NIV says 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Freedom comes from applying the Word anywhere we have believed a lie in our lives. As I mentioned earlier, my battle with fear was only overcome when I searched the Bible for verses on fear, wrote them out and when fear would try and take hold of my heart, I woke quote those verses and stand on them as they are from the word of God and the word of God is truth!

The Bible is powerful. It is supernatural. It is truth. It can be relied upon, when applied, to change our lives for good. It has the power when applied to conform us into the image of our Savior! That’s powerful! If you are struggling in a particular area of your life and don’t seem to be able to have freedom in that area, it’s time you got serious about getting into God’s word and applying it. Freedom seldom comes without determination. You must decide you no longer want to be struggling in this area and search the scriptures for all the verses on this particular thing and then use that scripture as a weapon! Do not accept every thought that comes but challenge those thoughts of defeat and combat them with God’s word. That is how change comes about! Using the word as our weapon to stand on!

Freedom will come to you  as you replace the lies you are believing  with the truth of God’s word! Renew your mind on the truth!

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.

Yes knowledge is power!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Stand in your confidence in HIM!

In whom can we put our trust and confidence? In whom can we be assured? Psalm 27 tells us. Regardless of our personal situation, regardless of the political environment we find ourselves in, regardless of how hopeless things may seem, we can cry out to Jesus. He will hear us and He will answer! The peace that really knowing that brings is priceless. Though we may feel anxious for a few minutes when trouble arises, we can safely remind ourselves that HE will never leave us. HE will never allow us to go through more than we can bear. We have a hope that cannot be taken away! There is nothing we need to fear! We can be totally confident in HIM!

Psalm 27 NIV

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
    to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

He will arrive on time! If you are struggling right now and don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, it’s time you met Him.  If you are a follower of Christ and are going through a spiritual battle stand strong and take heart, as David says. Wait for the Lord! He will not ignore you. He will meet you in your battle, just stand strong in the confidence of who He is and that He will never leave or forsake you!

Father God, for any who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior we now pray the following prayer:

Lord Jesus, forgive me. I am a sinner. I have done things that have left me feeling sad and ashamed. I ask  You to forgive me right now. I ask that You would come into my life and fill me with the Holy Spirit.  I want a new beginning with You. I want to KNOW that should I die I will go to Heaven. I want to have peace and joy as I live out the rest of my life. Please guide me to a church where I may grow in my new life and help me to understand the Bible as it is Your words to us. I ask it now in the name of Jesus, Amen.

*If you prayed that prayer right now, I suggest you find a local Bible believing church in your neighborhood. I also suggest you get yourself a Bible and begin to read it! It will open up your eyes to just who God is and who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for each and every one of us! Congratulations on your new life in Christ!

If you are a follower of Christ and are struggling in your walk I suggest you pray with me right now….

Father God, I am struggling in my current situation. I need to know, as David did, that I can be strong and take heart as I wait on You to work this out. I ask that You would comfort me with your Word (the Bible) and You would help me to stand on the fact that as David said,  Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.  Because of the blood Christ shed for me on Calvary, I can boldly come before Your throne and know You hear me! I don’t have to doubt or fear that You have left me! I can rest in knowing that ALL things work together for good to them who love God and who are called according to His purpose. As a follower of Christ, I have been called! I put my trust in You right now. I stand on the fact that NOTHING can touch me that You will not see me through. Please remind me as I go through this day, that You are right beside me. I need not fear! I can be confident in You! In the precious name of Jesus my King, Amen

David knew it, YOU can too!

 

I am currently making my way through the book of Psalms again. I love this book! It is full of incredible inspiration, wisdom and deep truth. The word of God tells us that  David was  a man after God’s own heart. Acts 13:22 NIV says 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ and 1Samuel 13:14 NIV 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”  I love the Lord’s mercy towards David. Though David sinned, his heart was tender towards God and he repented and God  not only forgave him but  used him mightily! Perhaps knowing that he was a man after God’s own heart is what makes David’s words of such value to me. He wasn’t perfect, just like the rest of us, but he wasn’t long in repenting after his sins. He valued his intimacy with God. He also knew that God was faithful and true and that He could be trusted with everything, including his life.

David had a life of blessings but he also endured great suffering, some the direct result of his disobedience.  The death of his infant son from Bathsheba, the pursuit of Saul for his life, the separation from his son Absalom, the death of Absalom and more.  Despite his sorrows, David knew God could be trusted. God could be counted on. Unlike himself, God never sinned, yet would still show mercy when a truly repentant heart would call on His name. Though because of his great sin he deserved abandonment, God heard his repentant heart and did not abandon him. When David sought him in earnest, God answered!

Psalm 22 beautifully illustrates their relationship. It also foretells of Christ’s death and suffering for us!

Psalm 22 NIV

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “Let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.

15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death

.16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For He has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden His face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever

!27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

Just as David knew His God would hear his cry and answer, we too can be assured that through Christ, God will hear and answer our pleas.  He will never leave us or abandon us! We can trust Him with every area of our lives, despite how dark or bleak things may seem. Despite what we have done, if we cry out to Him, He will answer and deliver us! We are part of the future generations David spoke of. We can proclaim the righteousness of Christ and declare it! We also have become that righteousness through the shed blood of Christ!

If you are struggling with something, feel abandoned, alone or depressed, call on the name of Jesus. He will hear you! He will not turn away from you!  Just as David said , For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”  He hears the cry of a repentant heart and will not turn away.

Father God, I ask today that you forgive me of my sins and transgressions. I am sorry for the things I have done that have caused separation from you. Jesus, please come into my life, my situation and deliver me from any chains that keep me bound. Free me from anything that causes separation between us. Just as David cried out to You for help, I cry out to You today. I need you in my life. I need your favor and guidance. Please help me to grow closer to You and abide in You daily. Give me a hunger for reading the Bible so that I may learn of You more. Give me a love for others so that I may demonstrate Your love more. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may accomplish all that You have for me to do, in the precious and beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.

HE alone is the WAY

After chatting with a new Christian yesterday, I once again realized the  absolute importance of studying the Bible. If we Christians don’t know the Word of God we are vulnerable to falling prey to all types of false doctrine. We not only run the risk of being lead  astray but also run the risk of leading others astray. We are followers of Christ and therefore must know our bibles. Our bibles are the basis of our faith. It is in the Word of God that we learn of who God is, who Christ is and who the Holy Spirit is. We also learn what Christ has done for us. If we call our self a Christian, it is impossible to separate ourselves from the source of our faith, the Word of God. If we do, than we are Christians in name only.  The young woman I spoke with yesterday was stunned when I told her that the bible tells us Jesus is the ONLY way to Heaven.  She said she had no idea that was true.  When I mentioned that as a follower of Christ we believe the Word of God and that I wasn’t making it up, the Word of God is very specific about Jesus being the ONLY way. If you believe there is any other way to salvation than you  cannot call yourself a Christian because the definition of a Christian is a follower of Christ and a believer of His teachings.

It was Jesus Himself who told us in John 14: 6-12 NKJV  6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

The Old Testament foretells of  the coming of the Messiah and the New Testament tells us of His arrival. Both are full of Christ. It is so important that if we have made a decision to follow Christ that we learn of Him and know what He has done and continues to do for us! If you are believing anything other than what the Word of God says about Christ  and His position as Savior, Lord and coming King, than you are either mislead or you are ignorant of His true identity and you need to spend more time in His Word.

Let’s look at just a few verses that tell us just who He is and what He has done..

Acts 4:8-12 NKJV 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

James 10:1-18 NKJV 10 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All whoever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

1 Corinthians 15:1-28 NIV 15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Romans 3:21-26 NIV 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

These are but a few of the many verses in the Bible telling of salvation through Christ alone. There is NO OTHER name by which we can be saved. It is a truth we must know and share with anyone new in the faith or seeking God. Despite the fact it may not be politically correct in the times we are living, it is God’s truth and as a follower of Christ we must share it with those who ask and those who are seeking the truth. It is only through salvation in Christ that they will receive all the promises of God!

Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for salvation and the opportunity to be adopted into your family through faith in Christ! Please draw us closer to You and give us a hunger for your Word, the Bible, so that we may learn of You and the incredible love You have for each one of us. Keep us from falling prey to false doctrine as we search the scriptures to learn of You and of Christ our precious redeemer, Lord and King. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.” ~Francis Chan

Wallow or Abide? You choose

This week has been a challenge for me. I have continued to battle a cold/flu bug that has left me with a hoarse voice, a mild headache and a cough. We’ve all experienced the symptoms at one time or another and they are not fun. I noticed something about myself this time around. I noticed I had become  so focused on how crummy I was feeling that I really wasn’t spending much time in prayer. I was wallowing. I hate wallowing. Wallowing is a complete waste of time. Nothing ever get’s accomplished when we wallow. I also thought of my brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide, who suffer daily with a lot worse than a cold or flu. Some to chronic illness, hunger or even persecution. They have learned that they can lean into Him during their deep lows.  In fact, there is no one better to lean into than Christ during our deep lows. They know what I am learning. Discomfort, sickness and pain can be a distraction from our walk with Christ or they can be tools to draw us even closer.

If we allow times of discomfort to pull us away from Christ, it’s not long before we begin to bear some pretty ugly fruit. We allow our discomfort to excuse bad behavior. We snap back at people, we put our needs before others, we become callous to others as we gripe and complain about how bad we feel!  Sound familiar?  It does to me! 🙂 What God may be allowing to produce some sweet fruit in us becomes an excuse to produce lemons! However, if we lean into Christ during these times, He will use the time to produce the beautiful fruits of the Spirit in us such as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Galatians 5:22,23 NIV)

We make the choice. So today, I choose to lean into Him, the lover of my soul. I choose to let Him use me this day, despite how I feel. I choose to no longer wallow. I choose to no longer drop the ball on those counting on my prayers. I choose to abide in Christ today.  I choose to allow Him to produce some sweet fruit in me instead of lemons!

Romans 5:3-5 NIVNot only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

“Each of us is as close to God as we choose to be.”~ Dr. Oswald Sanders

A Reminder to the weak

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

For the last few days I have  been battling a cold/flu.  I am not a very good patient.  I don’t like lying around. I don’t like coughing every time I try to speak.  I don’t like missing work and I don’t like feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck. However, this morning I decided that I would spend the day quietly resting and reading the Word. Though we tend to moan and groan on occasion when things throw us off our game, I am believing that even in this cold/flu God wants to speak to me and teach me something. I am assured that even in the difficult times, the valley times, the times of sickness that He is with me and longs for fellowship with me.

So today, I am going to spend time resting my body and resting in Him. Not being able to talk without coughing, allows me to listen more. Not having the energy to do much allows me to rest more. Not having many distractions allows me to focus more on Him. I am reminded of the verse in Romans 8:28 NIV 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.  All of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior and have determined to follow Him can know with certainty that this is truth. Regardless of what is going on in our lives we know He will work it out for our good. Not our convenience, not our temporary happiness, not our comfort but for our good. Though we tend to look to the present, God looks out for our long term good. Every now and then we seem to have to deal with a hitch in our giddy-up. Something that comes up unexpectedly that we are forced to deal with. We can look at these things as irritations and become angry or we can recognize them as opportunities to trust in the lover of our soul! To rest in the promises of His words. To know that though we may not enjoy them, if we allow Him, God will use these opportunities to mature us up. Our faith will increase, our trust in Him will increase and we will grow more dependent on Him.

When we read Romans 8:29-39 NIV we are assured that nothing, no circumstance, no illness,  no person,  NOTHING can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

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.

So whatever you are facing today in your walk with Christ, rest in the fact that you can trust Him to see you through. You can know that He is not willing to let you go! His love for you is eternal. He will not allow anything to separate you from His love!  You, like myself, may not feel like a conqueror today due to illness, sorrow or discouragement but YOU ARE more than a conqueror through HIM who loved us. It is not based on our feelings but truth. Rest in knowing your place in Christ today.

Father, for those of us who are feeling weak or weary today, who may be discouraged or sad, I pray that You will give us the assurance of who we are in Christ. Help us to remember that though our feelings may tell us differently, we are more than conquerors through Your Son Jesus. I pray that you will increase our faith and encourage us through Your Word today as we spend time with You. We ask it in the name of our beautiful King and Savior, Jesus.  Amen

Are you feeling spiritually dry?

Do you ever feel your spiritual walk has become dry?  I know I have at times and I am sure there will be more.  Those times when we don’t feel His presence when we pray. When God seems to be far away. We are not alone in this experience.  David, a man after God’s own heart experienced it.

We see this in Psalm 13.

Psalm 13 NIV

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will You hide your face from me?How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.But I trust in your unfailing love;  my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise  for He has been good to me.

So how do we handle dry seasons? I believe the first thing we need to do is be sure we are not the cause. If there is unconfessed sin in our lives we need to confess it. If we are continuing in sin we need to repent and turn from the sin. Unconfessed sin will build a wall between us and our Savior but there is a fix. Confess it and turn from it! The Bible tells us in 1John 1:9 NIV If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness. Not some, but all!

If we have done this and still find ourselves feeling far from God than we perhaps we need to begin to praise God for all the things He has done for us. Praise is such an important part of our walk. Just as in Psalm 13, after David expresses his feelings of abandonment he ends with something He knows is truth, despite his feelings. He says “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for He has been good to me.”  He speaks truth into the situation regardless of his feelings at the time. He knows that he knows that he knows that God’s love is UNFAILING and that the Lord has been good to him.

We too know that as followers of Christ, His love is UNFAILING and He has been good to us. Begin to praise Him and thank Him daily for every good thing you can remember Him doing in your life and the life of others. Love on Him even when you don’t feel Him loving on you. As you begin to actively do so, it won’t be long before you find yourself enjoying the beauty of His presence again.

I now look at these dry times as times of growth. An opportunity for me to love on my God who is never far from me, despite how I may feel. A time to give Him my praise and thanksgiving despite my feelings! A time to love Him in faith, knowing that despite how I may feel, as the Word says, He will NEVER leave me or forsake me. I can be confident that even without warm and fuzzy feelings my God is ever present!

If you are currently wading through a spiritual dry patch start out by praying and asking God to forgive any sin you have been engaging in. If you are still engaging in it, then it’s time to stop and repent and ask Him for forgiveness. If you daily confess  your sins and don’t believe unconfessed sin to be the cause of the blockage then continue to pray and read the Word and begin to thank and praise God for all He has done in your life and the lives of others you know.  Love on Him as you wait for the dry spell to leave! Put the time to good use!

Why wait?

 I have noticed a pattern in my life. When I become restless for something or some situation to change and I act out on my own to change it, it seldom works out for good. I know I am not alone in this. Too often we respond to our situations with impatience and irritation. We want to see quick results. We want instant gratification. We want, we want…and when we try and force the issue it does not usually end well. Sadly we followers of Christ sometimes forget that without God’s approval a lot of the things we desire and want to force are not the best things for us. Most of us know believers that got impatient waiting on a godly spouse and decided to accept someone that gave them the attention they were craving. One thing leads to another and they end up marrying outside their faith. Ten years down the road they cry out to God, “Why is my marriage such a mess?” We’ve all been guilty of rushing ahead of God’s best for us in one area or another. Though some situations are much more serious when we do this, such as marriage, all situations are more difficult when we rush ahead of God’s will.  Our emotions can often be the driving force that set us on a path outside of God’s will. Hasty decisions seldom bring about the best results. God has created us to have fellowship with Him. He has made a way through Christ, for us to be able to come before Him morning, noon and night. He longs for our fellowship with Him. When we stay close to Him we are much more inclined to wait on Him for our answer. It’s when we take our eyes off of Him that we begin to stress and get impatient for results. The scriptures are full of verses petitioning us to wait on God. To lean on Him for direction, guidance and for all of our needs! Let’s take a look at just a few of them.. Lamentations 3:25,26 NIV 25The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,  to the one who seeks him;  26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Psalm 33:20-22 NIV 20  We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. 21 In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You. Psalm 37:9 KJV 9  For evildoers shall be cut off;  But those who wait on the Lord,  they shall inherit the earth. Psalm 25:5 NKJV 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,  For You are the God of my salvation;  On You I wait all the day. Psalm 40:1-3 NKJV 1 I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. —Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord. I personally love this verse, Psalm 37:34 NKJV 34 Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it. And finally a verse we should all put to memory,  Isaiah 40:31 NKJV But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. The one thing we can be sure of is that we will never regret waiting on God. What He has for us is far better than anything or anyone we could ever gain through impatience. He has our long term benefit at heart. He knows the future. He knows who and what we need in our lives. If you are in the process of making a decision that could affect your future ask God for wisdom. Ask Him for direction. Ask Him to open doors He wants open in your life and to shut doors He wants closed. Seek His will in the matter and then wait on His answer. Rushing ahead without consulting God will not give you the result that is best for you in the long term. It may gratify you for the short term but God’s will in the matter will bring the best long term results! Lord, please remind us to look to You as our source for everything. Teach us to wait on You instead of running ahead with our own plans. Give us a heart that loves You more and more and trusts You in all things. In the name of Jesus, Amen  “Stand still” – keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.” ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The WAY back

It is an amazing thing to me that the Son of God came to the earth in such a beautiful, simple manner. There was no pomp and circumstance at the time of His birth in the lowly manger. He came as a baby in order that He would go through and experience the various stages of life we would and yet not sin. The Word of God tells us He was tempted in every way just as we are. Hebrews 12:15 NIV 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.  Our temptations are not foreign to Him. That in itself is sometimes hard for me to wrap my mind around. When He came to the earth He could have come in all His glory and majesty as the exalted Son of God, but rather He came humbly to demonstrate His love and affection for us in a way that we can understand. He was man and He was God. He dealt with the same things many of us deal, with yet did not sin. Through His holiness and obedience He made a way as the sacrificial lamb for us to become holy. When He willingly sacrificed His sinless body for our sin ridden bodies He opened  the door for our redemption by the blood that was shed.   That is love!

Until we really grasp that fact not just in our head but in our hearts, we will continue to strive to make ourselves acceptable to Him. However, striving will never accomplish acceptability. On our own, we will NEVER be clean enough, kind enough, loving enough, or giving enough. We simply cannot make ourselves be acceptable by anything we do. It is only by accepting that when He died on that cross, His shed blood made me acceptable in the eyes of God. It is through Christ alone that we are able to stand clean before God. It is through Christ alone that we are changed. When we come to Him and ask His forgiveness and ask Him to be Lord of our life we receive the Holy Spirit who begins to work in us to conform us into the image of Christ. Through prayer and prayerfully reading our Bibles we will grow closer to Him and deeper in our walk as followers.  There will be times in our walk that we stumble. It is during these times it is most important that we confess our sin quickly, get back up and move forward. If we allow the accuser of the brethren (Satan) to cause us to feel we are no longer good enough to come before God we have missed the most important message of the gospel.  We will NEVER be good enough. That is why we need our redeemer! That’s why God sent Christ! 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 are a Christian that is struggling with feelings of defeat, discouragement, failure etc. because of a stumble, a fall or outright disobedience than it’s time you confess your sin, and accept His forgiveness. He promises that if we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us from our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (1John 1:9) HE does NOT LIE. Don’t allow pride or fear to keep you from intimacy with the lover of your soul. Pride will tell  you that you need to straighten yourself up first before you come to Christ. You can’t straighten yourself up without Christ! Too often we listen to the wrong voice when we stumble and rather than confessing our sin and turning back to the One who willingly died for us, we try and fix ourselves up first. It is pride cloaked in works.  His love for us is more than sufficient to forgive us and set us back on track!

Don’t waste another minute striving to get back to a place where you feel you will be good enough to come back to Christ. It’s impossible on your own. Instead accept once and for all that the blood He shed on the cross will cover every one of your sins. Not just some but every one. Ask for forgiveness right now and KNOW that  if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Begin to thank Him for His love and mercy and get back into a place of intimacy with Him through spending time with Him and in His Word.

Lord I am sorry for the things that I have done that have grieved You. I am sorry for hurting or disappointing myself and others through my actions. I pray for your forgiveness right now and I believe Lord that when I confess my sin You are true to Your word and that You are faithful to forgive me and to cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness.  Thank You Lord! Keep me close to You and give me a hunger for Your word that I may grow closer and deeper in love with You.

In the precious name of Jesus,

Amen

Give the gift of HOPE

If there is one word to sum up what is lacking in this world of ours my guess is it would be “hope”. For those who have not come into a personal relationship with Christ there is not much to be hopeful for. Politicians reveal corrupt natures on a regular basis, the economy has caused many to lose their homes and savings, evil exists in every city and country, innocent people are being imprisoned for years for their beliefs while pedophiles get off with light sentences.  Is it any wonder that so many struggle with depression and suicide rates have increased?

The World Health Organization states that:

  • Every year, almost one million people die from suicide; this roughly corresponds to one death every 40 seconds.
  • Suicide is among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years in some countries, and the second leading cause of death in the 10-24 years age group; these figures do not include suicide attempts which can be many times more frequent than suicide (10, 20, or more times according to some studies). http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/index.html

It’s a dark world we live in. Without “hope” many just give up. Proverbs 13:12 explains why, 12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,  but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life

If this world, as it is, was all we had to look forward to it would be easy to understand the lack of “hope” we see in most people.  But it isn’t!  We have every reason to hope. God has provided a way for a better life in this present world and in the world to come through Jesus His Son! Through salvation, we have direct access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We receive His Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us. Our longing has been fulfilled through Christ! We can now  operate out of the love Christ has shed in our hearts and thereby are able to make even this world we live in a much better place while we wait on Heaven!

It is so important that we share this “hope” we have received. The same gift we have been given is available to everyone who will call upon the name of Jesus. Without this hope many people will go on to live sad, unfulfilled lives struggling to take them into an  eternity that will be even worse. When we share Christ with others we give them the gift of hope, knowing that He will take whatever mess their life has become, and mold it into something wonderful, just as He did with each of us that know Him as Savior and Lord.  We are to “overflow with hope” as the word of God tells us in Romans 15:13 NIV 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why not let your hope overflow into the life of another today?  Reach out to someone that needs to see the “hope” we have demonstrated by your being the hands and feet of Christ. Let them hear of the “hope” we have through sharing the salvation message of Christ.

As we wait on the blessed hope of Christ’s return, let’s collectively share our present hope with those that need to hear! The book of Titus lays it out so perfectly… Titus 2:11-14 NIV 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Lord, today use me to demonstrate the “hope” you offer to others that don’t know you or those that have been sidelined by sin and the cares of this world. Let my actions and words share the truth of who You are and the hope that You offer each and every person that willingly turns to You.

In your beautiful name Jesus,

Amen.

Are you ALWAYS prepared to give an answer?

As we follow Christ it’s important that we always remember that our lives are to exemplify His character.   I don’t think we really get this until we realize deep down how much He loves us. I spent years knowing in my head He loved me but it really has been only the last few years when I began to believe in the depths of my heart that HE LOVES ME!  Me, who stumbles from time to time. Me, who wasted years living a life without the intimacy I now share with Him. Me, who is so far from perfect it isn’t funny. That’s right, HE LOVES ME and HE LOVES YOU too! The more I think about what He did for me on the cross and what He continues to do for me daily, I can’t help but love HIM!

It’s not enough for us to simply enjoy our relationship with Christ, but out of that relationship He has called us to love and serve others. This is going to look a little different in each of our lives.  Some are called to minister as evangelists, prophets, teachers etc.. others are called to minister in their daily life as parents, neighbors, friends etc. but all are called to minister in one manner or another.  We are to be ready and willing to not only do the labor He has called us to but also to give any man or woman that asks, the reason why. We read in 1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 

Those are powerful words. That means when we are waiting in line for half an hour to pay for our purchases and the cashier is learning as she goes, we need to exemplify the character of Christ and be willing to give the reason why should we be asked. That means when someone cuts us off in traffic we are to exemplify the character of Christ and be willing to give the reason why, should someone ask. That means when someone blames us for something we haven’t done, we need to respond with the character of Christ and be willing to give the reason why should someone ask.  This is something we need to be mindful of regardless of where we are, who we are with or what we are doing.

Often we designate certain areas of our lives that we know we must tow the line so to speak, but the word of God tells us that we should ALWAYS be prepared to give an answer to EVERYONE who asks to give the reason for the hope that you have! The only way this is possible is by staying close to Christ. It is out of His love and Holy Spirit that we are able to see each person we meet as someone He has put in our path. When we abide in Him throughout the day, we see as He sees. When we walk in our own strength we see as we see and will miss many opportunities to share His love to a world that desperately needs Him.

Over the last year I have formed a habit of praying each morning on my way into work that the Lord will bring people into my office that He wants there. I ask Him to help me to demonstrate His love to those He brings in. Yesterday I had a new client come in that was particularly challenging. After listening to her for a few minutes I was ready to respond with some “attitude.”  It was then the Lord reminded me, “Did you not ask me to bring people in? This is one of the people I have sent.”  Instantly, my response changed! I realized it was by His appointment this woman had come into my office and I was to respond to her the way Christ would. It made the rest of our conversation go so much smoother and by the end of the conversation her entire demeanor changed for good!  However, even if it hadn’t improved, I was still to respond as Christ would. It is not dependent on how others treat us but how Christ would treat them.

Too often we become desensitized to the fact that we are His hands and feet everywhere we go and to everyone we meet. If you find yourself struggling with this please join me in the following prayer…

Lord, please stir our hearts to be prepared to answer ANYONE who asks the reason for the hope we have in You. Give us a love for what You love and a hate for what You hate. Let us be Your hands and feet today in all that we do, remembering to do all with gentleness and respect.

In the precious name of Jesus, our beautiful Lord and King,

Amen