Thursday, April 30, 2020

Problems Assail

Run Toward Challenge

Mike Wittmer

He looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17

Tom chased the young men who were stealing his poor friend’s bike. He didn’t have a plan. He only knew he needed to get it back. To his surprise, the three thieves looked his way, dropped the bike and backed away. Tom was both relieved and impressed with himself as he picked up the bike and turned around. That’s when he saw Jeff, his muscular friend who had been trailing close behind.
Elisha’s servant panicked when he saw his town surrounded by an enemy army. He ran to Elisha, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” Elisha told him to relax. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then God opened the servant’s eyes, and he “saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (vv. 15–17).
If you strive to follow Jesus, you may find yourself in some dicey situations. You may risk your reputation, and perhaps even your security, because you’re determined to do what’s right. You may lose sleep wondering how it will all turn out. Remember, you’re not alone. You don’t have to be stronger or smarter than the challenge before you. Jesus is with you, and His power is greater than all rivals. Ask yourself Paul’s question, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Really, who? No one. Run toward your challenge, with God.

What wakes you up at night? How can you give your worries to God?

Help me, Jesus, to truly see that You’re bigger than any problem facing me today. Thank You for Your everlasting presence!

- Our Daily Bread

Problems assail us. On every side it seems.  Whe intend to do the right thing and there are times when what we think is right is wrong. 

Our world is changing in ways nobody dreamed possible...not unknown though, just not thought possible. 

I am no different than you in facing problems in each day.  From the small to the great.  Some are easily dealt with, others take planning.  Because it's too much to properly resolve in a day. 

Then there's the problems in ourselves. We honestly can't trust ourselves.  Believers and unbelievers in Christ both have the sin nature to warp and twist our thoughts.  In Christ we who have Jesus have the indwelling Holy Spirit.  But it's up to us to listen to His words. 

We tend to try to tell the Spirit what we want and what we need.  Then we head right back into trouble.  

Prayer is the cornerstone of a relationship with Jesus.  It will take you from just praying over food and family to deeper things.  Like your troubles. Like the things on your heart and mind.  

Prayer is beyond essential.  It's a two way method for drinking the Spiritual waters that our soul needs to survive.  

I need my prayer time with Jesus.  I need to come to Christ throughout the day. A line from a Christian song say "I'm not a warrior, too afraid to lose. Broken people are exactly who you choose".

I am a broken person.  By no means is my life all in order.  If it weren't for slow persistence what is sorted and cleaned in my physical world wouldn't have happened.  In my Spiritual world it's slow persistence of the Spirit in me to make me more like Christ. Sometimes with a swift kick in the backside. 

I am a needy person. In reality we all are.  Even Howard Hughes who thought he had everything his heart ever desired was lacking in his end. He still had a need for a Savior.  What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?  That one is from Scripture.  What could a man give in exchange for his soul?  The answer to that question is Christ.  Born into sin we have no ability in ourselves to be right before a Holy God.  It's not possible.  No amount of good deeds is enough to cover 1 sin. No going to a man in a booth to confess sins is enough to save you.  In Christ Jesus alone is Salvation possible. 

Today, let alone this week, my troubles are complicated and compounded.  Have been facing things that I hadn't considered nor imagined.  

I pray in these times as much if not more than in the more peaceful times.  My Redeemer lives. My Jesus is with me especially when I have no idea how to proceed next.  I know that the bulk of what I am facing is Spiritual warfare.  Satan doesn't want this blog to survive. He doesn't want my walk with God to survive. 

My God is greater.  I don't know what today brings.  I just know Jesus leads the way.  I stress not about this virus or world leaders.  Because God is doing what He said would happen.  It's blows my mind when Christians rage against the things that are ordained by God in His Word.  You want your life to be prosperous and great or do you want His Kingdom to come on Earth as it is in Heaven? Take your pick. You can't have both.  I, personally, want Christ to return.  I want to rest in Him. I long for the day when I finally am held by Jesus and am told the journey is just beginning.  That He loves me and is so glad to see me. 

There are indeed things that I hope to accomplish in life, such as learning to play my guitar, to stand in a space shuttle. But it's ok if I don't as long as God's will is done in my life.  

I want Spiritual eyes to see. I want to be obedient to my Jesus.  I may not be understood by people but I am by Him. 

Pray today for your walk with God. If you haven't been having one then today's a great day to start.  You may face what seems to be impossible, God excels in doing the impossible.  Trust and obey. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


You are my refuge in the day of disaster. Jeremiah 17:17 ESV 

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine. We have our seasons of darkness and storm. True, it is written in God’s Word that “her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17 ESV), and it is a great truth that religion is designed to give people happiness on earth as well as bliss above. But experience tells us that if the course of righteous people is “like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18), sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain times, clouds cover the believer’s sun—he or she walks in darkness and sees no light. There are many who have rejoiced in God’s presence for a while; they have basked in the sunshine in the early stages of their Christian lives; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters” . . . but they suddenly find the glorious sky is clouded over. Instead of the prosperous land of Goshen they have to travel a sandy desert; in the place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to the taste. They say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Oh, don’t say that, you who walk in the darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the bitter water; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows (see Psalm 137:1–2). Perhaps the Lord originally gave you a smooth, unclouded path because you were weak and fearful. He moderated the wind that blew on a newly-sheared lamb—but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter the rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten limbs of self-dependence and root us more firmly in Christ. The day of disaster reveals to us the value of our glorious hope. C.H. Spurgeon Morning and Evening 

My friend, in all truth, we are not adequate to live this life, regardless of the time in history in which we live, apart from Christ. 

The Disciples lived many years right along side of Jesus yet had to be repeatedly shown the same lessons.  There was indeed a lot of groundwork to be laid before they had the Holy Spirit. 

We really aren't much different.  We had to live this life without Christ to learn we need Christ.  We have to leave the shoreline of comfort to be in the boat. At risk from the weather of life that would reach our little part on the waters. 

Our feeble oars we often try to put in the water to give ourselves direction often do not work.  

To be lead by the Spirit often requires we keep them in the boat.  Reminds me of fake accessories such as plastic shutters on my house. Look nice but don't do anything. 

What direction was the boat going when we read of Jesus being asleep on it?  Where were the Disciples and He going?   
When the weather changed all that didn't matter.  It must have been a good sized boat for Jesus to have a place to sleep. 

Storms don't bother God. Storms obey God. 

We are like the Disciples in our reaction to the crashing waves.  The turmoil of the political landscape. The turmoil of a physical thing such as this virus.  The boat of life we are in is being tossed around. 

But we are in Christ, those who are saved that is, so why are we stressing and troubled?  Isn't the God that is with us in the calmest times of our lives the same God in the midst of the storm?

Did somehow God change His character or His attitude towards us during the storm?

He promised never to leave us nor forsake us.   Is His granting of a storm in our life evidence that we must stand up and fight to handle the storm or is it something else?

It's something else.  That same God in the peaceful times is the same God in the storm.  He says of Himself in the Scriptures that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Do you truly believe this?

Or are you becoming panicky because of what your eyes see but your soul does not?  Don't trust your physical eyes in a storm.  They can deceive you.  

Scripture says that in everything give thanks.
Scripture says for us not to grumble. 
Scripture says to put on the full armor of God. 
Scripture tells us what to tell the storm.

That GOD is God of the storm. 

A group called Casting Crowns has a song called "Praise You in the Storm". Listen to it. 

The Apostles had far greater storms to deal with than we do in our lives.  Chained to a wall feet off the ground stretched out on that wall. In a dungeon.  The conditions there were not the 5 star hotels of today.  Yet they broke out in song.  Singing praises to God in that storm.  What happened?  God brought the jailer and his family into the Kingdom.  

We do a tremendous disservice to our Creator when we allow our circumstances to overshadow what He is doing.  

I am easily guilty of this.  I see the situation and react in a physical way, not in the Spiritual way I ought. 

Jesus tells storms what to do and where to go.  They don't tell Him. 

We who are in Christ have an obligation to live as the Bible says.  In obedience, not obstructing, the work of Jesus in this world.  Is our rights more important than leading someone to Christ?  Those in the jail that day had given up all their rights in faith to find a family who needed Jesus. 

What did Jesus say? There is no one who gives up or loses what they have in this world for the sake of the Kingdom that won't receive back much more in this life and the life to come in Heaven. 

I have a quirky disposition concerning storms.  Thunderstorms.  I enjoy them. 
My ideal thing would be a wide porch and a comfortable chair to sit in while it rages and I fall into a peaceful sleep.  Watching the power of God in the moments that I am awake through them. 

Take time today to be thankful for your storms.  Yes, be thankful.  Be grateful for the things you go through for God.  

Set aside your personal take on things and remember that we are not to be grumblers.

Rejoice always in Christ.  Praise Him in the storm. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

There WILL be a Day...

My Dear Reader....

This is just a note to tell you some things that I do believe and am convinced are true.

Many in this world are looking for some semblance of peace and hope, of a normal life and security in getting through the day. My hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Way back in 1975 is when I came to Him to be saved. It's not always been the best of times for me but that's what I brought to the table as far as a relationship with Jesus goes. It had nothing to do with what Jesus brought to it.

In my beliefs, as you likely have been reading on here daily, is that I do believe in the return of Jesus Christ for His Church. It's rather interesting to hear and know what I see is different than what is in the media. In some way, to me, it IS like a voice of one crying out in the wilderness. I hear one distinct clear voice while the world shouts about the situation gripping it.

It is no secret that I believe the God of the Bible. I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I believe that Jesus Christ came to earth, lived a sinless life, was crucified and died on a cross for my sins. I believe He arose from the dead 3 days later and has conquered sin, death, and the grave. He sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. I firmly believe that He is coming again, and very soon. I believe that He took away my sins when I asked Him to come into my life and be my Lord and Savior and to forgive me.

I have seen too much evidence in my life to discount the works of God in my life. When success comes to me in anything, it's not my place to say it was me that did it, it belongs to Jesus for making things happen. If I have failures, it's not the fault of Jesus in my life, it's either something I did that I wasn't to do or it was His plan for it to be that way to teach me to be more like Him. It's up to me, in all things, to trust Him as He leads me.

This current world situation is no surprise to the God of the Bible. For at least the last 2,000 years nobody ever thought that the events of the book of Revelation would ever come true in their lifetime. In a 4 month time span one pandemic has changed the landscape of the planet. What was not believed possible, we are now on the doorstep of.

Today is the day to make sure you know if you are saved. Not tomorrow, not after this is all supposedly said and done, today.
It pains me to know that many that I do know won't be going to Heaven when Christ returns. They will indeed be living in the events of the book of Revelation. I can only point you to Jesus, it's up to you to have that same conversation with Him that I had.

With Prayer and Jesus as my constant companion, I am not stressing as many I see in the news as doing. Many people are putting off coming to Christ because of all kinds of reasons. But none of them will matter once He does come and He gives the call to all who are saved to come with Him.

Interesting that it says in the Bible that "peace and safety" will be what people are wanting when Christ returns. Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.

Tell me, what is the prevalent message people are crying out for in the world today? How many warnings of what's to come must the Spirit of God give this world? Noah preached for a hundred years and nobody believed him. When the flood came people were marrying and being given in marriage. it was BOOM and there was the flood. No more warnings, no escape. Jesus said so it would be when He returns.

My prayer is that all who read this will be sure today that they know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Incorrect Impressions

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9 

As Christians, we talk about God “opening doors” to us as a means of His revealing His will. What we are asking God to do is engineer our circumstances to match what we think would be best. The problem is that we misunderstand what the door is. Jesus said He is the door. Circumstances are irrelevant, for no one can shut the door that Jesus opens (Rev. 3:8). If you have substituted activity for your relationship with Christ, then circumstances can disrupt your activity. When the activity is hindered, you may assume the door has been closed. Yet, if Christ is the door in your life, He will guide you into every experience of Him that He wants, and there will be nothing that people can do to stop Him. When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison at Philippi, it appeared that the door to their ministry in Greece had been violently and firmly closed (Acts 16:22–24). The reality of their situation, however, was that their Lord had opened a door of ministry to a previously unreached group of men in prison. The Philippian jailer and his household would become a significant nucleus of the new church in Philippi. From a human perspective, a door had been closed; from God's perspective, Paul and Silas continued to minister exactly where God wanted them to. When people oppose us, we may try to take matters into our own hands to accomplish what we think God wants. This reveals that we do not really believe Jesus is the door for our lives. If we did, we would be assured that through Christ we have access to everything He wants to do in and through us. - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

Our impressions of situations tend to get us into trouble without our having realized it.

Our impressions on what constitutes life, let alone a successful life lead us into trouble. 

We all have heard people say things that were meant to motivate us into actions.  

We also have been taught many wrong perceptions of what life is about as well.

We think we know a direction and just as Blackaby is saying, start praying for 'doors' to be opened.   We see people we love or care about and the direction of their lives aren't going as we would like and pray, honestly, something selfish about changing the circumstances we SEE.

God doesn't see things like death as an end.  It's a transition.  Salvation is from death to life.  Physical death is from what we physically see, if we are in Christ, to standing before Him in a moment.  For unbelievers it's from what they see to standing in Hell.  Blunt but that's the truth of God's Word. Scripture says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  If you are absent from the body as an unsaved person your next moment is in Hell.  Jesus conquered sin death and the grave.  It applied to everyone.  But our choice to accept or reject Christ determines where we go next.

Doors.  Opportunity. 

I have my thoughts on a career.  But the reality is my career is what God says it is. 
I have friends at a crossroads too.  Had had the same career for a long time.  Neither of us is seeing 'open doors'.  What it seems that God's really saying is do what I give you to do.  Not by sight but by faith. 

People also get zealous when they think they have it all figured out in what God is doing and surge ahead.  Problem with that is you are leading in those situations not God.

We still tend to bring our sight along on a faith journey. An emulator is a bit of software that mimics the original so closely its hard to tell it from the original. We tend to try to emulate our physical perceptions into our Spiritual world. We see things happening and jump the gun on what's next. 

If we truly believe Jesus is the door, why do we look for other doors?

I am certainly in limbo in my career. Desiring to do more and achieve more it sort of feels like my boat has no movement.  I can put my paddles in the water but it does me no good without a direction. 

It appeared that 4 months ago I had it all figured out.  The next big step.  I was evidently wrong.  Because I didn't just get what I had believed was next for me.  In fact I am to train someone else to do what I desired.  The position wasn't for me to keep.  My vision of a future wasn't God's. 

My dear reader please keep in mind our earthly jobs are intended to have heavenly consequences.  What we do is meant to further the Kingdom of God.  From the greatest to the least in the Church that is why we are still here.  It isn't to get a diploma or a degree.  It isn't even about saving humanity from a virus.  It's about lives lived in such a way that the unsaved and unbelieving know they experienced God today. It isn't about prosperity.  It isn't about fine cars and houses.  It isn't even about fancy church buildings.  It is about what we do in this life for Christ.  

But what about what horrible things my government is doing!?!  They are taking away my rights!  My friend have you prayed about it or are you just going in endless circles complaining about it?  If you are a believer in Jesus you have an Advocate.  What's the purpose of having an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, if you aren't using Him?  It is like being in court, having Perry Mason, the fictional best lawyer ever, as a lawyer yet telling him to sit and be quiet, you got this!  

Where is your Spiritual sight taking you?

We can walk with God but still forget He leads the way.  Psalm 23.  

We can be with Jesus yet forget who it is that sees what we see.

Our peace eludes us at times because we see the storm yet forget who is in the boat with us.  We cry out to God yet forget He is in us. 

I ask Jesus to go with me into work each day.  I am not wise enough to live my life by my sight.  I will deceive myself.  I will believe what my physical eyes see.  Jesus wants the Spiritual eyes to be developed. 

He is the way, He is the door.  No power on earth can stop His preordained plans for us if we but trust Him.  Raging against your fellow man shows your lack of belief that God's got this. 

Pray for your obedience today. 
Pray for your heart to be right before God today.  
Pray for your circumstances but be ready for God to change them. 
Grumble not but see the hand of God and thank Him for the day. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Dangers of Today...

“Blessed is he who watches.” Revelation 16:15 NKJV “I die daily,” said the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:31 NKJV). 

This was the life of the early Christians—they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. Today, we are not generally called to pass through the same fearsome persecution. If we were, the Lord would give us grace to handle the test. But the tests of the Christian life these days, though not as terrible as in Paul’s time, may be more likely to overcome us. We have to bear the scorn of the world, but that is a small thing. Its allurements, its soft words, its insincere speeches, its flattery, and its hypocrisy are far worse. Our danger is that we will grow rich and become proud, give ourselves up to the trends of this evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth isn’t our particular trial, worldly cares can be just as harmful. If we won’t be torn to pieces by a roaring lion, we might be hugged to death by a bear. The devil doesn’t care which, as long as he destroys our love for Christ and our confidence in Him. I fear that the Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft, silken days than in the rougher times like when Paul lived. We must be awake now, for we travel Bunyan’s “enchanted ground”—we are likely to fall asleep to our own ruin unless our faith in Jesus is real and our love for Him a vigorous flame. Many in these days of an easy profession are likely to prove weeds, not wheat (Matthew 13:24–30); hypocrites wearing pretty masks, but not the true-born children of the living God. Christian, don’t think these are times when you can disregard watchfulness or holy zeal; you need these things more than ever. May God the eternal Spirit display His great power in you, so that you can say, in softer things as well as the rougher, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 ESV). - C.H. Spurgeon Morning and Evening 

Was reading this last night and it's truth stuck with me til this morning.  Surely it must be a Godincidence.  For there are no coincidences with God. The thoughts that come to mind relate to several sermons heard yesterday on contentment and God.

Be anxious for nothing is the verse of the hour these days.  What's worse is people denying they are.  I am one of those, for whatever reason, that does this.  On the surface I am not stressed.  Yet getting to sleep at night my mind tends to not want to shut down. 

The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.   This is what just about everyone today is looking for, if they were honest.  Believers and unbelievers alike are seeking peace and confessing it or not they know it is found in Christ. 

Spurgeon reveals something in this particular devotional.  A fearful fact of the Church today.  It was written some time ago but sure is relevant to the hour in which we live. 

The great danger of our world isn't the coronavirus or the flu in its various forms. It's our culture and political landscape. It's our level of prosperity and moral decline. 

How much more evident than when God takes away the bulk of the idols of the land?

Have you ever watched a video or Television show where people make an adventure out of exploring an area after they drained the water on purpose or a drought removed the water from what once was a town or city? 

People start guessing at whay kinds of people lived there, what it must have been like.  

We do indeed live in a time of idolatry.  Did the world really think that God would allow it to go on unchecked?  Idolatry was rampant in various cities where Paul visited.  He would preach, likely be attacked in some form, but the Word of God would still be planted.  He would then be moved on.  In our world it's so saturated in it if preached against you will be hunted down regardless of your rights under Freedom of Speech.  There's no place to go and not be harassed. Until God provided a way to show the world its idolatry.  

Reality is what Spurgeon said.  We live in an insanely prosperous time.  In knowledge, in materials and frivolous things.  In his day, the people of the world planned out days if not weeks or more in advance of visiting family members or friends.  We just look at our watch, make a call, and go. No thought beyond that.  

We, and I include myself, have such prosperity at our fingertips that a want is fulfilled in a click or tap on a device.  

In Paul's day a prostitute had to be sought out.  Today they are practically a business.

Idle minds are the devil's playground.  

Contentment is lost when impatience rules.  We as I was reading in Blackaby's devotional, almost never take Christ along in our decision making.  That was a blow to the stomach.  

Oh my dear reader of this I am just as guilty as the world.  Having a walk with Jesus yet not taking the time to rely upon Him.  The dangers that Spurgeon speaks of are what we are drowning in. 

We have a governmental system that is ever trying for more creative ways to be our god.  It's not just the United States but much larger, the United Nations.  They do not want individuals deciding on how they should live their lives.  Surely if you look at their decisions since they were founded you would see it.

Why would they do this? My friend it's all been written. Even the times in which we live.  Written.  Scripture cannot be broken, it must be fulfilled. 

If the first 2/3rd's of the prophetical statue in Daniel were 100% accurate, what makes you think that the last 1/3rd won't be?

Iron mixed with clay is the beginning description.  A very odd but real combination.  The strength of forced rule mixed with the softness of clay...the will of people. 

We live in a world where the so-called will of the world is being forced upon everyone.  Including those in the Church. 

Go back a few American Presidents and you find a speech about a New World Order and a confident statement that they WILL be successful at creating it.

Reality is Scripture said they would be because of that statue in Daniel. 

The Church also had the problem of prosperity in that many segments wasted billions of dollars on buildings and lavish accoutrements that really didn't bring God glory at all.  They assumed they had money so they needed to look good to maybe attract a dying world.  No thought, no real thoughts, on how to further the Kingdom of God.  If those billions that have come into Churches were spent on what Jesus said, there would be no poverty in this world.  No homeless in this world.  Widows and orphans would be fully cared for.  Debt wouldn't be where it is. 

Spurgeon was right about the dangers in which the modern Church lives. 

It's funny but not funny how the more you let go the more clearly you see things.  The kid that thrashes about because of not getting what they wanted cannot hear the parents.  A quiet child can hear instruction.  When God has to take the steps to remove idolatry and to be clear it's idolatry because it's affecting the Church then maybe the Church really is in danger.  

Relationships are rarely cultivated.  Yet Jesus was all about building them.  We indeed are in a time of 6 feet of separation yet the craving is growing for personal contact again.  

God is in this storm yet He is showing the world what has to be. What has to come. 

Letting go of the idols in your life isn't easy or God wouldn't be taking the steps He is. 

Yet it will eventually be that the world will unite behind a world Leader who claims great things to fix all they have been told is wrong.  His success will cause them to worship him.  Global idolatry will shift from the many to the one.  It's shifting right now. 

The Church indeed is under attack as Spurgeon writes and it doesn't even realize it.  If they were alive today Paul or even a Billy Graham in his prime would be in danger of prison time to shut them up.

Look at your heart today.  Look at your relationship with Jesus today.  Is any of it not where it should be? Fix it while you have the time.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Oh What were YOU thinking?

“Do this to remember me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24 NLT 

According to this verse, it seems that Christians can forget Christ! There would be no need for this loving warning if there were not the fearsome possibility that our memories might prove treacherous. And this is not simply a fear. It is, sadly, well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility but as a regrettable fact. It seems impossible that we who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb, and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, would forget our gracious Savior. But even if the idea is startling to the ear, it is sadly too apparent to the eye for us to deny the crime. Forget Him who never forgot us? Forget Him who poured out His blood for our sins? Forget Him who loved us to the death? Can it be possible? Yes, not only possible, but our conscience confesses that it is a fault with all of us—we treat Him a wandering traveler who stays just for a night. The one who should be the ongoing resident of our memory is only a visitor there. The cross—where you would think memory would linger and neglect would never intrude—is desecrated by our forgetfulness. Doesn’t your conscience say this is true? Don’t you sometimes find yourself forgetful of Jesus? Some lesser thing steals away your heart, and you stray from the one who should hold your affections. Some earthly business captures your attention when you should fix your eye steadily on the cross. The incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things, takes our souls away from Christ. Human memory may preserve poisonous weeds while allowing the rose of Sharon to wither. May we tie a heavenly forget-me-not around our hearts for Jesus our Beloved—whatever else we let slip, let us hold tightly to Him. - C.H. Spurgeon Morning and Evening 

May it never cease to amaze me how God always brings about reminders at the right time. 

I know of believers obsessing over this coronavirus. Know of unbelievers also worried about it.

Tell me, you who say that Christ is your Savior, where is your faith? Is not Christ still alive and still on the Throne of God?

Has it happened at some point in 2020, after around 8 thousand years of this world's existence that Jesus all the sudden took a vacation and stopped keeping His promises?

Have you forgotten who Jesus IS?

Spurgeon wrote what he did, obviously, a very long time ago yet it is so true today. 

Unbelievers are flocking to online Churches and Christians are avoiding them.  

Church isn't a building.  The Church is the body of Christ in this world.  We are to be firmly attached to the vine of Christ. Recieving what we need from Him daily by way of focus and intent on the Word of God and prayer.  

While it is right to take this virus seriously, we need not give God a black eye through a lack of use of common sense.  

Show me a place in Scripture where it says it is right to tear people down?  One place and then I will be silent.  

Show me where it says that God ever breaks promises.  Just one will do and I will be silent. 

Show me where Jesus said He would ever fail at what He was doing.  

Scripture HAS to be fulfilled people. 
It MUST be fulfilled.  We are living in a time when Scripture IS being fulfilled.  Instead of praising God many believers are taking to rebellion and instead of showing Christ to the world they are showing their sin nature in all its glory!

Remember whose you are!  We who are in Christ have no rights unto ourselves. We belong to God.  We are not here to create a utopia for the world to see.  We are aliens and strangers in this world.  Our home is in Heaven not Ohio not England not Greece.  

We and those who haven't come to Christ yet CAN be forgetful.  What kind of example are worried, rebellious Christians to the unsaved? 

If you are stressing then where are your eyes?  Peter took his eyes off Jesus and what happened?  All the Disciples cried out to Jesus in the storm they were in while He slept.  What did Jesus ask them? Where's your faith?  He rebuked the storm and it immediately obeyed. 

Open rebellion rather than obedience to God is giving the unsaved and undecided no reason to come to Christ. 

Scripture says to pray for those in authority over us. 
Scripture says to do good to your enemies.
Scripture says to do what you do as unto the Lord. 
Scripture says to fill our hearts and minds with Psalms, hymns and Spiritual songs. 
Scripture says to love one another as Christ loves us.
Scripture says that prophecy has to be fulfilled. The final kingdoms of this world are being formed.  We are heading for a one world Government.  Hate to break it to you but that's the truth.  What's more is it is to our advantage that it comes!   It means my fellow believers that Christ is coming soon!  Which would you prefer, Christ or going back to the way we were?

Remember today whose you are if indeed you are saved in Christ. 

If you haven't come to Christ you have plenty to be worried about. Because it's just you and you don't have the promises of God on your side.  You can change that right here and right now.  Let today be the day of your Salvation.  You think it's a coincidence you stopped to read this today?  Do an online search for Romans road.  Claim the promises of God for you. 

Today let us remember, those who are in Christ, whose we are. 
Today  let us pray for those who haven't yet.  

Remember to let the light of Christ shine in your world...not your own.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

What are you Doing?

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 

There are those who feel that they must be constantly laboring for the Lord in order to meet God's high standards. Jesus gave a clear picture of what our relationship to Him ought to be like. He is the vine, the source of our life. We are the branches, the place where fruit is produced. As we receive life from Christ, the natural, inevitable result is that fruit is produced in our lives. In our zeal to produce “results” for our Lord, we sometimes become so intent on fruit production that we neglect abiding in Christ. We may feel that “abiding” is not as productive or that it takes too much time away from our fruit production. Yet Jesus said that it is not our activity that produces fruit, it is our relationship with Him. Jesus gave an important warning to His disciples. He cautioned that if they ever attempted to live their Christian life apart from an intimate relationship with Him, they would discover that they ceased to produce any significant results. They might exert great effort for the kingdom of God, yet when they stopped to account for their lives, they would find only barrenness. One of the most dramatic acts Jesus ever performed was cursing a fig tree that had failed to produce fruit (Mark 11:14). Are you comfortable in abiding, or are you impatient to be engaged in activity? If you will remain steadfastly in fellowship with Jesus, a great harvest will be the natural by-product. - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

Have listened to my Pastor's mini-video's this week.  Sort of ties in with this from Blackaby. 

If indeed you are in Christ, how's it going?  I can relate to the works driven approach that Blackaby is talking about.  I can remember trying to be busy for the Lord but the relationship wasn't developing. 

It isn't so much about doing things for Christ that matters as much as it is the relationship.  He is the vine, those in Christ are the branches.  He is the source of Spiritual life, without nourishment and everything that comes from the vine we ain't going to be doing a whole lot FOR Christ. We might be doing stuff 'in His Name". But oh my dear reader, be oh so sure of your having a relationship first. 

In Revelation you can read it.  Trillions of people will be saying to Jesus of them doing this in His Name and that in His Name...He says depart from Me, for I never knew you. 

There was no relationship.  

A friend in a part of his prayer says that he prays that the Spirit would empty him of him and let the Spirit do what needs done. 

Do you?  If indeed you say that you are in Christ, how is the relationship going?  Do you spend time in prayer?  Not reciting a grocery list of things you want and need, but just talking and listening to Jesus?

Do you set aside time to be reading the only book ever written that's alive?  Do you sing songs in your heart to God?  Is He really important to you?  Not as an employer.  You see that's the reality of those Jesus said to depart from Him.  The reality of an employer-employee relationship is you get paid to do something you agreed to in exchange for being paid. You put on a face of obedience in some cases. You do what you are there for and you leave at the end of the day to go do other things. While on the job you put on a show for appearances sake.  Be real.  That's what it is. If you had the chance and the choice you likely would prefer to be somewhere else. Some may say they love their job. To be truthful, God showed me that I should never do that as a Christian.  It puts that job before Him. 

So do more with your relationship with Jesus.  Introduce new ways to learn from Him.  I had put it off for years but listening through the Bible was an awesome experience.  You begin to visualize the Word. A true good use for your imagination.  Try asking Godly men what they are reading.  Where are they in their Bible. Are they using devotionals. If so, which ones?  

I get it that it's inevitable that you must work to make a living.  In Genesis that is part of the curse of sin on man.  So yes as it says in Colossians 3 we should work hard for those in which we are employed as unto the Lord rather than man.  But keep the priority right.  It's as unto the Lord.  Giving your best.  Not wasting time. Not cutting corners.  

But when you clock out...get back to the vine again in your Spiritual need.  Grow that relationship.  When I get out of my car in the morning to go in, I often am still praying. Often I say that last part of the opening verses we read today. Lord please go with me because apart from you I can do nothing.  

This world has a whole lot of time on its hands.  People getting restless because God removed most every idol, for a time, from man.  But what are people doing with that time.   What are you doing with that time?  Idle minds are the devil's playground they say.  Be intentional about time in the vine. 

Be personal about your prayers.  Ask Him to show you more of Him.  Feed on what He WILL bring to you. 

Remember the relationship has to come first or the work for Christ is in vain. 

How do plants grow? By staying connected to the vine.  How will you grow in Christ? Same way.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Hungry Yet?

Hungry Yet?

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35 We know how to use physical bread. Whenever we are hungry we simply go and eat. Do we do that spiritually? Jesus said if we believe in Him, we will never be spiritually hungry or malnourished, for He is the “bread of life.” Every time we face a spiritual need, it is a simple matter of going to Christ and allowing Him to provide us with what we need. Our problem is that sometimes we interpret Scripture based on our own experience. We say, “Yes, but I remember a time when I was spiritually hungry.” If that is true, then either God did not tell the truth, or we misinterpreted our experience. Could it be that we tried to satisfy our spiritual hunger with human resources? Could it be that we relied so heavily upon friends and the experiences of others that we have never learned how to go to Christ for our own spiritual food? Could it be that we had a great spiritual feast several years ago, and we were so “full” of Christ that we thought we would never have to eat again? We grew lean and hungry because we were still operating on an encounter with God we had years ago. If you are lacking something spiritually, it is not because God does not have an abundance of resources prepared and available for you. It is that you have not come to Him in faith as He invites (John 10:10). When God gave manna in the wilderness, the children of Israel had to go out each day to receive God's daily provision. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Spiritual nourishment is something you must seek daily. Have you found spiritual food from Christ today? - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

Nourishment and need...thinking on this and reading my Bible this was read today too.

Luke 18:15-17 "And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

I know of people who struggle with much throughout their lives.  They claim that they are saved and yet struggle so much.  In all likelihood they probably are saved.  They just need to stop rejecting the manna that God has provided each day for them!

We live in a world where just about anyone can Google the Bible to begin reading it. We can download a whole Bible to Kindle in less than 20 seconds. That which took centuries to write. 

We try so hard to do things 'for God' that really aren't at all.  They are our wants wrapped up in a description of something for Jesus. 

Really, there's no excuse for not reading your Bible each day.  It's alive, it's food for your soul.   It's also convicting.  But also too it's commanded. We do want our wants to be met.  Given enough time we can even rival Perry Mason the famous fictional TV lawyer in presenting our case in our defense of those wants before God. 

We can also be the kind to think that we aren't worthy to ask God for anything.  Leaving untold blessings untouched in Heaven that were meant for us.  All because we didn't ask.  

But it all starts in our hearts. I find it interesting that all it takes is a pandemic to put a level playing field in the Church today.   Currently there are no megga-Churches. There are no small Churches.  The Church has returned to its roots.  It is back in the home. 

We will face things in life both good and bad, matters not if you are a believer in Jesus Christ or not.  The difference for the believer versus the unbeliever is who stands with them during it.

Read in Genesis of the daily food the Lord provided.  Read what Jesus said of praying for your daily bread.  Jesus knows what you need in life, it's up to you to come and get it.

My day doesn't start right without being in my Bible and my devotionals.  It's always an AND thing.  Never an OR thing.  There's no book written or will be written that can do only what the Bible can.  Jesus said apart from Me you can do nothing.  That was written in the Bible long before it was ever quoted outside of it.  You can read all kinds of devotionals or other Spiritual help books.  You can attend all kinds of groups that teach all kinds of Spiritual things.  But if the Bible isn't at the center.  You are doing nothing more that eating a bowl of sugary cereal that will give you a high then leave you hungry again. 

Spiritual Growth comes from real Spiritual food in the Spiritual world.  Not from people's opinions on it.

Not from Charles Stanley, not John McArther, not David Jeremiah.  Not any preacher with hundreds of books written. 

Growth in Christ comes only from the Spirit empowered book that is the Word of God. 

I think of that old hymn...

Oh soul are you weary and troubled 
No light in the darkness you see

Turn your eyes upon Jesus look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

My dear reader.  If indeed the worries of this life are choking you...turn with all your heart...back to the source of your life.  The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.  Able to divide soul and Spirit.  

No other book in the history of the planet can claim that!

Every single thing written in it will come to pass.  Anyone can write a book about the past and be 100% accurate.  Try writing it centuries in advance and still be 100% accurate. 

For those reading this who haven't come to Christ, think about how bone weary you really are.  You have been struggling your whole life to this day to live.  Jesus is your answer.  If you are truly honest with yourself you have no real peace in your life.  It's only found in Christ. 

For those struggling in this hour of humanity...go back to your Bible. Read again of how God delivers.  Find again that peace you forgot is yours. 

I struggle every day myself.  Don't get some impression that I have arrived.  These reminders to you are just as much for me.   

My sin nature is just as cunning, seductive, slick and deceitful as yours.  We really are our own worst enemy.  We can convince ourselves of just about anything being true when it isn't. 

There's times in many people's lives, like mine, when a Doctor tells you that bloodwork shows a deficiency in something, like Vitamin D. To get you back on track you are prescribed a prescription strength version of it to kick start your body.  Then after its complete you maintain it with what you can buy over the counter.  

Gorging yourself on Scripture will give you a lot but not what you need.  Sounds kind of counter to what I have been saying huh? No. It's really not.  Small plates of food are much more enjoyable than parking a chair at the buffet.  You will never really get something valuable out of the meal if you don't have time to savor it. 

Daily reading is like daily eating.  You need it every day and if you are troubled then yes maybe a little more will help.  

Take time today to be in your Bible.  Find out what God has for you today on His menu.  Find the peace of God that passes all understanding.  

Thursday, April 23, 2020

When Christ Returns...

When Christ Returns 

Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them. For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left.  [Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.”] And answering they *said to Him, “Where, Lord?” And He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.” Luke 17:20-37 NASB

You know, there are those who believe the Scriptures and those who don't.  Those who take most of it seriously and those who think most of it is ok.
Scripture itself says it is ALL God breathed. Useful. 
What we read in this today is our generation.  People thinking IF Christ is coming they can live how they want up til then and get a last minute reprieve. Slide in under the wire.  Get saved at the last minute.  
Read for yourself what Jesus said. 
People are going to be working, laughing, living and dying when Christ returns. 
The moment will come with such suddenness that it will be like lightning. Scripture also says it will be in the twinkling of an eye. Seems to me a lightning flash and an eye twinkle are probably equally as fast. 
People are bemoaning their moments in time right now.  Don't like the threat of the coronavirus. Don't like the plans of government to deal with it. Don't like no sports, don't like this or that.
The world is getting ready people.  Scripture is not going to be put off forever from coming true.  A birth pang in a woman's body is preparing it for something yet to come.  Making adjustments and changes to her body so that the next one that comes can happen. 
We have had global birth pangs for centuries. They are increasing in frequency.  In this example of childbirth. Notice the similarities. The frequency increases for a reason. 
Are you ready? My dear reader, read again the words of Jesus.  People were going around in their daily lives like normal when God sent the flood before Noah. People were going around in their daily lives like normal when fire and brimstone rained on Sodom and Gehmorrah. People were just going through life when all the sudden it happened. 
Consider this truth.  The flood of Genesis, the judgment on Sodom and Gehmorrah...were births. There were birth pangs that lead up to those events happening. God sent warnings before they happened. Noah preached for a hundred years. Sodom and Gehmorrah were not taken without warning.  
We have been warned. 
Christ said so.  He is returning at a time when people least expect.  Jesus said people will be going about life like normal when He returns.  But will you be ready?
Will you be covered by the blood of Jesus Christ? Is your name written down in the book of Life?
Are you doing what God has for you to be doing, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ?
These are far more important questions than when is the supply of toilet paper going to catch up with demand. 
Even more important than a cure for the coronavirus. 
This world is perishing.  God is returning. 
Know for sure today that when that moment comes that you are ready for it!
If Jesus said it, THAT is how it WILL be!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Are You Completing Your Work?

Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” 1 Kings 18:41 

Success can distract you as you seek to follow God's will. Elijah's primary assignment was to announce when a drought would begin and end (1 Kings 17:1). God had told him to proclaim to King Ahab that the drought was an act of judgment upon a people who worshiped idols rather than God. In the middle of Elijah's assignment, a spectacular thing happened. Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal and called fire down from heaven, putting hundreds of priests of Baal to death. This was one of the most awesome displays of God's power recorded in Scripture. Elijah could easily have focused strictly on that event. Fire falling from heaven is much more spectacular than a rainstorm! When something spectacular happens, we can easily be sidetracked. If Elijah lived today, he might have begun a “Calling Down Fire from Heaven” ministry! The dramatic is far more appealing to us than obedience to the mundane. Destroying hundreds of Baal's prophets would appear to be a climactic victory for any prophet of God. Yet Elijah persisted in his assignment. He announced the coming rain. This had been his primary message, and he delivered it. If you aren’t careful, you may become so distracted by the successes you experience that you never complete what God originally assigned you to do. Will your success today cause you to disobey tomorrow? - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

It's interesting each morning how everything falls into place when I get up, make my coffee, and sit down to spend time with Jesus in reading and writing. 

There's indeed work to be done by all who come to Christ.  You have a job to do.  It isn't about you punching a ticket to get out of Hell free.  

When we come to Christ we are born again...with a purpose.  Not just to keep us from the fiery torment of Hell.  It shouldn't be that we go on living as if now we have a means to do what we want and be forgiven later.  We grow in Christ if indeed we are born again into His likeness.  We learn to walk and talk as He.  We must do all the same as we did in the physical.  Learn the elementary truths. Learn to crawl.  Learn to walk. How to clothe yourself. How to handle life around you. What will harm you and what is beneficial. 

God also has a special plan just for you. 

You may not think He does but He does. 

In my life it took many years to realize what I was to be doing.  In my point of view I was indeed distracted along the way.  As Blackaby was talking about.  I wasn't thinking of the layers of thinking that Jesus employs. Scripture says that His ways are higher than ours. His thoughts are not our thoughts.  He orchestrates the thoughts of multiple billions of people every second of every single day.  We can't even orchestrate a single thought in our own lives and get it 100% right.  Not without His help. 

Are you living for Jesus or yourself? 

Paul mentions running a race as one who has their eyes set on the prize at the end. 

Are you running a race or casual walking through it?  A mind focused on winning removes distractions.  It's aware of its surroundings but keeps moving on in the right direction. 

Charley Pride is one of my favorite artists.  He loves Gospel music and has many Gospel songs.  One is called "This Highway Leads to Glory"

I remember when I was a little boy
Down on an ole country farm
We'd go to church on Sunday and I'd hear the preacher say
If you want to see my Jesus you gotta stay on the King's highway

This highway leads to glory but it's no easy ride
You'll find all kind of exits can throw you off your stride
Some will lead to fortune and others lead to fame
Some will lead you so far wrong you won't return again

Oh you just stay between the white lines
Obey all the right signs
Keep your eyes open all the time
Oh you just stay between the white lines
Never pass o're the yellow line
And you'll get to heaven right on time

Satan's on this highway he walks on every side
Tryin' to flag you down don't give him a ride
He will try to stop you at just any cost
You may stop too long and your soul maybe lost

Oh you just stay between the white lines
Obey all the right signs
Keep your eyes open all the time
Oh you just stay between the white lines
Never pass o're the yellow line
And you'll get to heaven right on time
Oh yes now you'll get to heaven right on time

Some may wonder how a soul may be lost?  There's such a thing as living but not living.  Jesus mentions in the parable of the seeds of different places the seeds went and what happened to them.  It's how a soul reacts to the word of God for Salvation.  

We choose to be engaged in the mission God has for us or we choose to lay out and try to coast into Heaven.  Scripture says there will be some who do enter into Heaven pretty much by the skin of their teeth.  As in the flames of Hell singeing them on the way in. 

Retirement is perhaps the worst word to be applied to Christians.  Some retire from their God given mission in life when they retire from the job they used to do.  Look at what the Bible really says on it.  Our retirement program begins when God calls us home.  

Many years ago I did some work with Dr. John C. Whitcomb.  The man was the most Godly that I have ever met.  Even when relaxing his mind was on what God would have him do.  Not long ago God called him home. The very night of that calling he was still working on a paper for the ministry.  Still doing what God called him to do until his final breath. 

I have work to do, as do you my dear reader.  We are the easiest to convince that we deserve this or that.  That we earned this vacation or that journey here or there.  But what are you doing about your mission for YOUR Savior?  

Jesus went through His life here on Earth with His eyes on the mission God the Father gave Him to do.  He could just as easily ruined the Father's time frame by doing things that indeed were right, true, and good in the world's eyes but it would have ruined the plan of God for man.  Scripture says that at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  The right time. 
Not too early, not too late, the right time. 

I too have hobbies, but I do not let them get in the way of doing what God puts before me.  I may struggle through life at times because of the unexpected, but, my friend, I am expected to live in obedience. 

So what's God's plan for you?  Do you even know it or do you know it but have been avoiding it?  In my early years I will confess there were times it scared me. I would have dreams of being on a road that I could never see the horizon.  Never see where I was going.  Until I began to just trust Jesus those dreams didn't go away. 

Be careful also of twisted Scripture.  We can just as easily do what Satan tried to do with Jesus in the wilderness.  Convincing ourselves of something in Scripture that's not entirely accurate. 

That's why being a part of a Bible preaching Bible believing Church is important.  You can find those more mature in the faith to talk to to make sure you understand the Scriptures accurately. 

Be in prayer.  Can't emphasize that enough.   Talk to the Author!  

Be about the work God has for you. Eternity depends upon it for the unsaved around you.  You are to be the light in the world.  Not kept under a basket.  But set out for all the world to see. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Remove and Replace

For he said, “Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” Exodus 17:16 The Amalekites were the persistent and relentless enemies of the Israelites. When the Israelites sought to enter the Promised Land, the Amalekites stood in their way (Exod. 17:8–16). Once the Israelites were in the Promised Land and seeking to enjoy what God had given them, the Amalekites joined the Midianites to torment the Hebrews in the days of Gideon (Judg. 6:3). It was an Amalekite that caused the downfall of King Saul (1 Sam. 15:9, 28). The Amalekites continually sought to hinder the progress of God's people and to rob them of God's blessing. Thus God swore His enmity against them for eternity. As you move forward in your pilgrimage with the Lord, there will be “Amalekites” that will seek to distract and defeat you. God is determined to remove anything that keeps you from experiencing Him to the fullest. If your commitment to your job is keeping you from obedience to Him, God will declare war against it. If a relationship, materialism, or a destructive activity is keeping you from obeying God's will, He will wage relentless war against it. There is nothing so precious to you that God will not be its avowed enemy if it keeps you from His will for your life. King Saul mistakenly thought he could associate with Amalekites and still fulfill the will of the Lord (1 Sam. 15:8–9). You may also be hesitant to rid yourself of that which causes you to compromise your obedience to God. Don’t make the same mistake as King Saul. He did not take the Amalekites seriously enough, and it cost him dearly. - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

Oh what can be written on this alone would keep me here all morning and indeed I would be late for work.  

We are easily seduced by the smallest of things.  A gesture, a nod, a single word or even a phrase or question or quote.  Said in just the right way, justification begins to take a seat.  We are extremely susceptible to taking the wrong road because of our sin nature. 

It doesn't take much.  Scripture says to take every thought captive.  Tells us, for these obvious reasons, to fill our hearts and minds with psalms, hymns and Spiritual songs. Making melody in our hearts towards God.  To pray without ceasing.  Intentional acts of the mind.
What gets so many in trouble is "Ahh! Leave me alone! I don't want to think right now!" 

Ah yes the slippery slope. 

Tired bodies mean tired minds. Tired minds make mistakes.  It's not the mosr profound of statements but it fits what we are just now talking about.  A greatly recorded set of statistics is the lack of sleep by Americans.  What they will put themselves through to 'enjoy' themselves. 

But I would gather it's more of a global pandemic than this virus that's gripped the planet.  

There is a battleground alright but it's not found in the physical world. 

It's in your mind.  It's for control of you.

Satan wants people to die without Christ. He wants to twist Scripture to his own ends.
He wants people to be so concerned or consumed with the things of this life that they cannot fathom the person of Jesus Christ taking a real interest in them.

There is a truth about habits, the same applies to sin.  Unless you stop and repent (turn away from) AND replace with what is good and right in God's eyes, you will keep going back to it. 

It may even be something that appears to be good for you.  That's where self deception comes in.  Oh don't get me wrong, it isn't the same for everyone.  What is a temptation for you might not be for me. And the other way around as well. 
But if you are honestly consumed with a job or physical activity and neglect your relationship or use it as your reason NOT to have a relationship with Jesus then my dear reader it's a problem. A BIG PROBLEM. 

Our walk with Jesus is the most important thing in your life and mine. It's not about sports or movies or knickknacks. Not about 4 hours in a gym and not once giving God a moment of your time. 

He doesn't have to, but does, grant you the right to breathe.  It's not that automatic. Look at how many people have intentionally died from holding their breath.  Only to be intentionally brought back to prove that point. You can force your body into that.  But why would you?

My friend, why would you continually avoid the subject of God in your life?  Why would you ask Him into your life yet live however you want to? Why would you go to Church on a Sunday yet live like the rest of the fallen world as soon as you hit the parking lot?  Why put on a show for yourself and others? Some do this! They deceived themselves in their own thinking!

I know My sheep and My sheep hear my voice.  Jesus said that.

Are you one of His sheep?  

Be sure my dear reader, be sure.

The Spirit will guide those in Christ Jesus to be more like Christ. Removing any encumbrance that gets in the way.  All too often we keep reaching out to pull back into our lives that which He removed. 

Interesting thing is the word downsizing. 

A safe word to say we have too much and are finding creative ways to get rid of the stuff or justify keeping it.  Once you start it will take a while or it will just hurt all at once. 

In your mind and heart, the Spirit does His own downsizing. Removing thoughts and actions from us either with or without our willing cooperation.  But He does accomplish it.  Either while you are alive or right at your death the work of the Spirit will be accomplished. 

You will have a greater testimony in this life for Christ if you obey now rather than later.  Remove the things you know you ought not to be doing and replace with what the Bible tells you.  

Think on this topic today.  Don't make excuses for your behavior. Don't justify why you aren't obeying Jesus.  I promise you, everyone, is guilty of one or both of these.  Compare your thoughts and actions to Scripture.  Toss out what shouldn't be there.  Replace with what it says should be.  Remove idol's from your heart.  Remove negative thoughts. Clean up but do it with the Spirit's help. 

Remove and Replace. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Living or Living?

. . . that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death . . . Hebrews 2:14 NKJV 

Oh, child of God, death has lost its sting—because the devil’s power over death has been destroyed. So stop being afraid of dying. Ask God’s Holy Spirit for grace, so that by an intimate knowledge of, and a firm belief in, your Redeemer’s death, you will be strengthened for that dreaded moment. When you live near Calvary’s cross, you can think of death with pleasure, and when it comes, welcome it with intense delight. It is sweet to die in the Lord, a covenant-blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment, it is a return from exile—a going home to the many mansions where loved ones already live. The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and striving saints on earth seems large, but that is not true. We are not far from home—a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread, and the soul is launched. How long will its voyage be? How many tiresome winds will fill the sail before it is lowered in the port of peace? How long will that soul be tossed on the waves before it comes to the sea that knows no storm? Listen to the answer: “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8 ESV). That ship has just departed, but it is already at its haven. It just spread its sail and it reached its destination. Like an old boat on the Sea of Galilee, a storm had tossed it—but Jesus said, “Peace! Be still” (Mark 4:39 ESV), and it immediately came to land. Don’t imagine a long period between the moment of death and the eternity of glory. When your eyes close on earth, they open in heaven. The horses of fire (2 Kings 2:11) aren’t on the road for an instant. Oh, child of God, what is there to fear in death, when you know that through the death of your Lord its curse and sting have been destroyed? Death is now just a Jacob’s ladder, with a base in the dark grave and a top reaching to everlasting glory. - C.H. Spurgeon Morning and Evening 

Those that lead this charge against this particular virus, and if you listen, to others like it...always begin their talk with numbers. 

People are more than a number to the Creator of the Universe.  Jesus thought of every single person who ever has lived and will live in the history of the world while nailed to that cross.  In those moments on the cross, Jesus believed all of them and all of you were worth what He was going through.  

My friend death, to many, is a fearsome thing.  To me, and maybe I am just that different, it is exactly as the verse he quoted. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  In an instant, you leave one place and are at the next. 

I can't prove my next statement but I really do ascribe to the notion that since the cross, it's Jesus who shows up to bring people to where they go next.  He conquered sin, death and the grave.  He is King over all including death.  We were and are that important to Him that I have trouble believing He would relegate that to another. 

We live in uncertain times.  But they really are not so uncertain.  The Bible is playing out before our very eyes.  There's more than enough evidence to those with Spiritual eyes to see to see the hands of God. 

There was talk already on a global immunization program. A card or something to have to prove you were ok snd safe to do business with.  Similar wording is always looked at as the description of the mark of the Beast in the book of Revelation.  Whether or not it's directly tied to that idea is irrelevant, people in the Church are on the alert. 

We who are in Christ are in Christ's hands.  He is in the Father's hands.  He is the Creator of the Universe.  He sets the rules and standards by which we can live our lives. The so-called laws of nature.  The principles of the laws of thermodynamics.  The laws of gravity.  Of electricity.  Of motion. God rules all of Creation. 

We, are given choice, because of the work on the cross by Jesus.  It was the Father's Plan and it was perfect.  Be clear on this, Satan is NOT the equal of the Father or Jesus or the Spirit.  He is a created being who fell from his position in the hierarchy of Angelic beings because of pride.  He wanted the Throne of God. He wanted the worship of men and angels.  He is the one who convinced Cain to kill his brother.  He convinced Eve to sin and to go convince Adam to do the same.  Death came because of sin.  Death is not just a separation of the soul and body.  It can be an eternal separation from man and God.

Hell is very real.  Not just from the description given by Jesus on it, but proven by modern day accounts of people on their deathbed.  Crying out in pain at the fact that as death draws nearer the heat and flames of Hell licked at their feet.  All the while they gnashed at God in anger.  Refusing to be saved by Jesus.  It's recorded.  You can indeed find it.  

Then there are those who just don't see it coming at all.  Believing that the day is their oyster and it's there to be enjoyed!  They have money and time and go live as if there's no tomorrow.  Yet as the parable said of one such man, they are fools because their time comes and who will get their wealth and possessions?  

They are still others who scrape by.  They are not forgotten before God.  But all must come to Christ in whatever state they are.

We all are equal in that we all die at some point.   This isn't a lesson in morbidity. It's a fact of the Bible and life.  

Jesus promised a peace that passes all understanding.  Think about that.  While it's well documented of people rejecting Christ slipping into the fiery Hell, there is equal evidence of that peace that passes all understanding on the faces of those who have believed in Jesus Christ for Salvation.  They entered deaths door more alive than they were at their physical death.  They know their Master is on the other side.  They know that in a moment they will be embracing Jesus Himself.  That the battle of life has been won.

Jesus does not wish that any perish to spend eternity in Hell.  But reality is that the choice is yours.  He paid the price that all men and women must pay at the end of their lives on this world.  But if you haven't received Christ as your personal Savior, you will pay that price yourself.  For those who are saved, Jesus paid it in full.  For those who rejected it, they are on the hook for that debt personally.  Nobody can buy their passage from Hell to Heaven.  The only acceptable way by the Father is through the Son. Jesus Christ. 

Look at your life this day my friend.  Have plans for it do you?  Guess what? So did everyone else who woke up dead.   We have people we know who have died from this coronavirus.  Their end may have not been what they envisioned but Jesus was with them just the same.  

What plans should you make for today? 
Try this...Lord what would you have me do?  Let's do this together.  Let me remember my life is in your hands.  Apart from you I can do nothing.  Let me live this moment for you.  

Read the story of the Prodigal Son.  The other son, the one who didn't do as his brother.  Who always did what he was told was very bitter at his father and brother.  Why? Because his obedience wasn't out of love or respect for his father. It was out of selfishness. He lived his life without learning how to really live.  Are you living for yourself or for Christ? 

That's your question for today. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Prove it!

Prove it!

It's not just the Jews who ask it or have asked it, are you asking it?  Even today people want God to prove something to them before they will believe. Or they think that He can't possibly forgive their sins.  When on the cross, EVERY SINGLE sin everyone in history ever committed was placed on Him. From Adam until the end of the book of Revelation. He already knows everything about you and still wants to forgive you and save you. You were worth everything to Jesus and what He endured to provide a way to save you. You.

   The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”

The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?  If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?  If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”  Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.  John 10.

Books and Service are not Enough

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39–40 

Bible study will not give you eternal life. You could memorize the entire Bible and be able to discuss minute issues of biblical scholarship and yet fail to experience the truths found in its pages. It is a subtle temptation to prefer the book to the Author. A book will not confront you about your sin; the Author will. Books can be ignored; it is much harder to avoid the Author when He is seeking a relationship with you. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day thought God would be pleased with their knowledge of His Word. They could quote long, complicated passages of Scripture. They loved to recite and study God's Law for hours on end. Yet Jesus condemned them because, although they knew the Scriptures, they did not know God. They were proud of their Bible knowledge, but they rejected the invitation to know God's Son. Can you imagine yourself knowing all that God has promised to do in your life but then turning to something else instead? You may be tempted to turn to substitutes. These substitutes aren’t necessarily bad things. They might include serving in the church, doing good deeds, or reading Christian books. No amount of Christian activity will ever replace your relationship with Jesus. The apostle Paul considered every “good” thing he had ever done to be “rubbish” when compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). Never become satisfied with religious activity rather than a personal, vibrant, and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

To what do you look forward to in your day upon waking up?  To be honest, for much of my life I really didn't.  Look forward to anything that is.  

I am really excited for this day though.  This is the 500th message that God's brought to me to share with all of you. 

But what else is there, you may say, upon looking at the title of this one.  There's every type of attempt at a life with Christ from the child to the grave.  The grave?  Yes. There's those who only come to Christ before they die.  Essentially their life with Christ begins at their end.

It's not difficult to understand what a Pastor friend once told me concerning those you see on television who claim to be preachers.  You have no idea what they are really like off screen. 

The difference in the Bible to man is the Bible is indeed alive.  It's examples relevant.  The Author is available for comments all the time, 24/7.  But look at what Blackaby is saying too.  We have modern day Pharisees and Sadducees.  Evangelicals who aren't about teaching the necessity of a relationship with Jesus. 

Oh they can pop out books like McDonald's does hamburgers.  Books on their view of prophecies.  Their views on self-help.  Their views but not necessarily on the relationship with Jesus. 

I do read devotionals. But I start, always, with my Bible. There's no point in their devotionals without the relationship with Jesus. Prayer, praying, must be at the root of your relationship with Jesus.  Being honest with Him and yourself.  We are infected by something alright. It's worse than anything else.  It's called sin.  Sin wants nothing to do with a right relationship with Jesus.  It looks out for itself.  Pride is its cornerstone.  Getting what it wants is most important. Even if deception is necessary.   It will twist Scripture. It will make you too busy to remember to pray or give thanks to God. 

Devotionals are a good supplement but it's not a substitute for the real relationship with Jesus. 

Groups are no substitute for a real relationship with Jesus. 

Government is no substitute for a real relationship with Jesus. 

Family is no substitute for a real relationship with Jesus. 

Friends and even your spouse is no substitute for a real relationship with Jesus.  

That relationship is what's to fuel your relationship with others.  Not them first and God a distant 3rd.  There is no substitute.  

You may be scorned and mocked because you choose Jesus first.  Well surprise surprise Jesus said if you follow Him expect that from others. King David, in my reading this morning, was celebrating with all His might before the Ark of the Covenant, bringing it to Jerusalem.  His wife thought it a royal embarrassment. That the King would comport himself in such a way.  Bad enough she thought it, she said it outloud.  Her servants heard it...if that wasn't bad enough...she said as much to King David.  She didn't believe that the Lord was worth celebrating?  She died childless. Honored not the rest of her days. She wouldn't let the Lord have first place in her heart...He would withhold His blessings.

Jesus showed clearly that He loved talking with people. Loved the intimate moments of conversation.  He still does today.  

Aside from my prayers throughout the day, I pray on my way to work. Just my Jesus and I alone in the car.  Sharing what's happening in my life and what's on my heart.  

This blog was a result of seeking to serve Jesus in some way.  I have been limited for decades because I can't memorialize words and phrases that well.  God reminded me of the day in which I live. He gave me a portable means of Googling Scripture.  The Spirit would give me enough to get started and I could find the rest.  But all of this is still an offshoot of the relationship with Jesus. 

Make sure your priorities are right.  Your relationship with Jesus is the absolute, unquestionable, first thing in your life. 

If your mind isn't on Christ at the beginning of your day it's likely not going there the rest of the day. 

Big name preachers are out there, but, be mindful that you do not worship the ground they walk on.  Many have dozens of books.  But only one book is essential. The Bible. 

The relationships that are to come from what has been called The Great Commission, the last orders from Christ to His Disciples, are Christ centered.  He is the focus.  Not their employer. Not their families not their friends.  Read what it says. Matthew 28
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”"

You see the focus?  But also realize that Jesus said a man's enemies will be members of his own household. Every form of distraction will try to get in your way.  Even seemingly good things can be bad. Protesters can have a right idea but give God a black eye in their way of displaying their angst.  They honor not God nor give heed to God not necessarily needing our help in dealing with people who aren't aligned with Christ. 

So look at your life with Christ today if you indeed have one.  Where is your focus?

I know in these days in which we live this virus is putting a hurt on physical activity and relationships but none of those constraints apply to you and God. 

Quit looking for exceptions to the rules in this physical environment.  Look for a better relationship with Jesus. 

He is the what? Author and what? PERFECTER of our faith.  We are what? His workmanship. We are His masterpiece.