Friday, April 30, 2021

Can't Take the Strain?

Can't Take the Strain? 

Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD. JOSHUA 24:23 

As John and Debbie canoed down the Arkansas River, they decided to turn around and try rowing upstream for a while. It took about ten minutes for exhaustion to set in, and they gladly reversed course and let themselves be carried. The current of our culture is downward, and many people just drift along with the moral flow. Living for Christ is like rowing upstream. The entertainment industry churns out nonstop programs and movies designed to convert us to secular thinking. Take romance and marriage, for example. If a visitor from space watched an evening of television, he’d think premarital sex was the greatest discovery in history. He would see divorce, cohabitation, same-sex marriage, and immodesty portrayed as glamorous and glorious. Yet the Bible says, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3 NIV). We can’t escape our culture, but we don’t have to be shaped by it. We have to paddle against the current. How long can we stay at the oars? The Lord strengthens those who obey Him. Trust Him to row against the flow.  - Dr. David Jeremiah Morning and Evening 

It's not going to be easy to live differently in a world that sees those who choose Christ as the enemy.  What they say may not be in those words but the sentiment is certainly there.  Christ said that the world would hate us on account of our relationship with Jesus.  

We cannot expect unbelievers to understand the ways of God.  Scripture says that it is foreign to them and they cannot understand.  So how do they? 

How do you find your way in a dark place? Three things at least happen. One, you stand and do nothing. Two you fumble around trying carefully to memorize where things are in your head. Lastly, there is the most effective.  Turn on or create some kind of light. 

An idea is often thought of as a light bulb that is turned on.  So is the revelation of someone's thinking when something happens and they stop rejecting the light of Christ.  I personally have never met anyone who doesn't squint in pain at adjusting from severe darkness to a bright light.  You can likely find several million teenagers who will verbally confirm that thought on any given morning for to get up for school.  They bemoan the light and want to go back to sleep. 

Being different in this world takes a lot of time, energy and effort.  To be Disciples of Christ the huge volume of people who first started following Jesus thought it not so bad.  Then He turned up the volume on the teaching and the need for more than outwardly obedience.  The number began to dwindle.  In their eyes it wasn't so much fun anymore.  Then there was 70. Then later we see the 12.  Sadly we see the one who, although he experienced over 3 years of the light of Christ, still chose to obey Satan.  There's going to be people in your life that will do the same. 

Being different for me has been a way of life in more than my walk with Jesus.  I have been different from birth.  In my rearview mirror examination of my life, for whatever reason, I have been set apart for what plans God has had for me.   

In your life, God can show you just how unique you are in His eyes.  Jesus loves all of us uniquely and at same time the same.  He knows our strength and our struggles.  He knows when we are straining against the oars of life.  He knows when it's safe to relax and when to put more effort into it. 

Being different in this world is what happens when you are in the light of Christ and can see for the first time what it is that's really happening in your world.  You see things not necessarily differently than the world but you acknowledge those things.  The world is in denial.  They may flock together but it will never make them right in the eyes of God. The Scriptures are replete with examples of people from individuals to armys the size of the sand on the seashore opposing the Will and Word of God.  To no avail.  God's Word will stand.  Our suffering may be but a moment but the joy of the Lord lasts forever. 

We may be groaning at the choices and decisions we made or the ones we see loved ones or friends make.  We may really be grieved because of what the Spirit is really seeing in them more than our own sadness at what we see.  We really don't want anyone to go to Hell.  But we cannot force them to open their eyes and hearts to Jesus.  It's horrible to know the pain of seeing people who have given up hope.  Oh it's not exclusive to the unbeliever, it's happened and is happening to believers too.  I have been through it before.  God's kept His promise to never leave me or forsake me.  He's loved me too much to leave me feeling that way.  He can do that for you too.

Another great issue in all this is when the world talks the Church into rewriting what God's said in order to offend less people. 

You won't do anyone any favors by lessening the value of the Word of God. 
You will bring upon yourself the discipline of God to teach you not to do that. 

Prayer is what this comes back around to. 
When the strain gets to be a bit much, prayer is our telling ourselves that we still do need our Savior to handle things.  We will still fight that until we get a glorified body and are with Christ forever. 

Praying when we feel like it or not is essential.  When we feel unworthy or when we do.  Unbelievers can never experience the hope in Christ until they are willing to open their eyes. We can live lives that should Him to them but they have to be willing.

It's been rough going through some of the things that God is taking me through.  I can't see the other side. That side when I see the worst part being behind me. Prayer is where I go every morning and often throughout the day.  I have to keep my hope where hope Christ. 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

When We Walk With the Lord in the...

When We Walk With the Lord In the...

Consider what great things He has done for you. Lord, my God, I shall remember that You have led me all the way these many years in the wilderness, to humble me and test me, to know what was in my heart, whether I would keep Your commandments or not. I should know in my heart that as a man chastens his son, so You, Lord God, chasten me. I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You, Lord, have chastened me severely, but You have not given me over to death. You have not dealt with me according to my sins, nor punished me according to my iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is Your mercy toward those like me who fear You. You know my frame; You remember that I am dust. Great are the things You have done for me— even in the wilderness! I praise You, heavenly Father, for Your love and faithfulness. 

1 SAMUEL 12:24; DEUTERONOMY 8:2, 5; PSALM 119:75, 71, 67; PSALM 118:18; PSALM 103:10–11, 14

Dr. David Jeremiah Life-changing Moments with God 

Consider also this hymn...

When we walk with the Lord in the light of his Word
What a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will, he abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But his smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh nor a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil he doth richly repay;
Not a grief nor a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of his love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor he shows, and the joy he bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at his feet,
Or we will walk by his side in the way;
What he says we will do, where he sends we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.

The hardest thing in life at times is remembering our place before the Living God.

We struggle at times for all the right and wrong reasons. 

We who have come to Christ are to be lights in this world to show others the love of God. We are not called to be a basket that covers the light from being seen.  We aren't to be a blanket that hides the light. Our clothing is to be His righteousness. Not our old garments of sins.  

Indeed there will be times when life hits us hard, but what's more important is that it's never going to be as hard as it could have been because of Christ. 

We indeed at times will want to say much to those we love and care about in regards to having hope in Jesus Christ in this seemingly hopeless world in which we find ourselves.  

The interesting thoughts of my mind this morning are of the nature of light. You can't taste it. You can't smell it. Nonetheless you know it's true and real. 

The parable about the light and not putting it under a basket. That's what hit me this morning about all that the world wants Christians to do.  Hide it behind walls, cover it up. Redefine it even.  

A shining light reveals much.  You will seek out someone or something with it...and often you speak of joy in finding it. The words are brought to you to say. 

That's also what comes in walking with Jesus.  In your encounters with people the light of Christ does all the work to show people Jesus. If it's for you to do the words are given to you by the Holy Spirit as to what to say in that hour. 

Knowing and remembering are often elusive to some.  But the truth of God is revealed in the lights shining from His people who trust and obey Him and His Words.  We will often feel envious of others.  That is temptation trying to put a basket over the light. 

Sometimes in the roughest of times the only right thing to do is shine.  

Farmers know this well. There's only so much they can do in accordance to what's necessary as a farmer. They know that what the sun does without them, what the wind does, what the rain does, are all orchestrated by God.  All without their will or permission. 

We can indeed be in painful relationships with others. But even in this we still need to just shine the light of Christ.  

I have learned from experience to see God go where I cannot in prayer.  Making the impossible possible.  Prayer is more than just talking to Jesus. It's your heart being real with yourself and God. 

Praying without ceasing.  Can a rich flowing river be easily stopped?  How easily is a small creek stopped up?  The more you invest in prayer the wider that creek gets. It's not that we gain more influence over Jesus it Him gaining more of us.

Your heart might be breaking over those you know who you now see and understand that aren't children of God.  This is heartbreaking yet is an opportunity for you to let them see the light of Christ. As the sun with the farmer let Jesus go and do what you can't.  Let them continue to see the love of God.  Maintain your hope in Jesus regardless of what life is like for you. Don't worry about what you will eventually say to them. The Spirit has got you covered. 

Nobody has ever saved anyone else. The only one who saves is Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  We are His representatives. We are Citizens of Heaven.  We may arrange the introduction but Jesus does the rest. 

In Christ hope is never lost.  As long as anyone is still breathing there is hope for Salvation.  

There's two ways to have darkness. Willingly and unwillingly.  We can choose it intentionally or are unknowingly living in it because of no exposure to the light. 

Everyone will be without excuse.  Everyone will know whether they believed or rejected the truth of the light of Christ Jesus. 

Continue to pray. Continue to show the world hope in Christ Jesus.  Even if life is hard that light can still shine.  

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Your Throwing in the Towel, Your Facing the Red Sea

Your Throwing in the Towel, Your Facing the Red Sea 

I remember the days of old, I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. PSALM 143:5 

One thing we can do as we stand at the threshold of transition is to remember how God has helped us in the past. Has He not been good to you? I know there has been some heartache, hurt, and tragedy in the last year. That’s true for all of us, more true for some. As we survey all of what God has done, especially in perspective, God has been good to us. He has met our needs. As God has helped us in the past, He will help us in the future. I have witnessed how God has time and again helped our church. Sometimes we, too, have been at the Red Sea, the enemy has been right on our heels, the wall has been right in front of us, and at the last moment God has opened the way. That’s the God we serve. God will lead us into the future. We have no need to fear since the God of the past is the God of the present.

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. MATTHEW 6:4, 6, 18

An eleventh-century German king, Henry III, grew tired of ruling. He applied to a monastery to spend the rest of his life in quiet contemplation. The prior asked if he, a king, could live out a vow of complete obedience. “I will,” said the king. “Then you are accepted,” replied the monk. “Your first duty is to return to your throne and serve faithfully where God has placed you.” It is easy to grow weary of being a spouse, a parent, an employee, or an employer. Some days we just want to quit! One woman who resisted that temptation was Abigail, the wife of Nabal (1 Samuel 25). Abigail was understanding and beautiful; Nabal was harsh and evil. Abigail even saved Nabal from the sword of David because she chose to honor her husband instead of humiliate him. She drew joy and strength from God, not her surroundings. And God rewarded her when Nabal died. David was so impressed with Abigail that he took her for his wife. Are you tempted to leave it all behind—to throw in the towel? Don’t do it. Make God your joy, and wait for His reward. We aren’t faithful to get a reward, but we are rewarded for being faithful. Dr. David Jeremiah "Morning and Evening"

I can say there's been many times when I have been ready to throw in the towel. Facing a Red Sea before me and an army behind me.  God took the towel that I threw in the ring and threw it back in my face, telling me to wipe my face, you're almost there.

You will get nowhere with men as sinful and as evil as we have in this world.  You will, however, go everywhere you are meant to go in this world when where God is, you are living in obedience to Him.  

Decrying the rulings in this world that go against what you think or believe is really just you venting.  Paul and Silas could have spent their time in prison, chained off the ground, on a wall, gripping and complaining, but they didn't. They instead decided to sing praise songs...and found that regardless of what it appeared to be, Jesus was still there. A jailer and his family were saved. 

You may not like your circumstances. To be honest with you, most of my circumstances I don't like either.  People get irritated when it sounds like I might be throwing in the towel.  Oh he is quitting again.  

Let's be clear about something.  Being open to what God wants of you as a believer is NOT going to make you popular with man.  You will appear to be making stupid, rash, inconsiderate decisions. You will appear to be doing the opposite of what makes sense.  Paul and Silas certainly could be accused of that. Why would you think you who follow Christ would be any different?

You cannot afford to view success and failure as a Christian through the eyes of the world. 

You cannot afford to forget that God is always on time with His answers to prayer. 

You cannot afford to forget what He has already done for you in other circumstances and situations. 

As the hymn goes trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. 

They had been chased for the better part of the day by Pharaoh and right in front of them was the Red Sea.  What was the Lord thinking?  They had nowhere to go!  So what WAS happening? All the people of the children of Israel were not as closely together as they needed to be for the miracle to happen. They were too spread out.  As they all got close enough, THEN, the Lord told Moses what to do. The Lord wanted ALL of them to see the miracle happen. Not just those on a front row seat.  Look to after what happened to Pharaoh and his army. The Lord told them all to teach future generations what great things that the Lord did for them. 

I am really not like most people. Remembering things that at the time made perfect sense I often can't do.  I type a lot. Something to remember things by. The trouble remains is that I still often forget the thoughts behind the words.  I always have to rely on the Holy Spirit to bring me reminders of what He has done for me.  

I am not a quitter in the sense that I just give up.  I am well versed in futility. Of seeing no path forward to look to where God's going that I don't see. 

Many times in my life God's thrown my towel back at me.  Regardless of life's circumstances I am called to obey. If it means a valley of the shadow of death to go through He will lead me through it. If it's peaceful times He will lead me through it.  I must obey. 

This isn't to say that I won't bring up my concerns to Him in prayer. That's a privilege of prayer.  To become a man after God's own heart meant Moses being real with himself and the Lord.  

It really disturbs me when people calling themselves Christians forward Facebook posts filled with swearing as if to say they agree wholeheartedly with it. Or go on a swear word laced tirade of their own on there.  What does the Bible say about the tongue? All who call themselves Christians are representatives of Christ. So tell me would Christ go on a swearing tirade?  

These people are not living like they are trusting in Jesus.  They threw the towel back at God in disgust. Shaking their heads at Him. 

As the famous passage from the Old Testament goes YOU must choose this day whom you will serve. Yourselves or God. You must decide to praise God in your storms. You must look at life through what He's wanting to do through you, not what you want out of life.  If money is all that matters to you, it's what you will receive, but you will be leaving God behind in the process. If your rights are all that matter to you then you will eventually leave God behind and will find yourself on your own wondering where He went. 

Being open to the will of God will set you up for strange and different things in this life.  Many saw my many jobs from 2013 til today as me being unable to cope or they saw me as a quitter.  Have news for all. I was wanting a higher education. I could never afford the tuition. Could never afford the decades of paying it back had I jumped in and went to college.  God provided me a paid education by going where He lead me.  I learned things that no degree ever could.  It made me look like a fool in the eyes of many but it was an answer to prayer for me.  

Are you willing to look like a fool in the eyes of the world? Are you ready to throw in the towel because of life's circumstances?  Stay the course. Remind yourself of the truth of God.  He's still with you. 

I might still have several years ahead of me in this life. Everyone's time can be up at any moment. Either by way of death or by way of the Rapture I will exit this world.  What I do in life must be in obedience to God.  Not because of my wants and desires but because He requires obedience.  

Coming to Christ isn't about you losing out on living.  It's finding out what living is all about. The world won't understand it. Don't expect them to.  You must decide whether you will shake your fist at God or obey Him.  Christians and nonbelievers both must choose. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Nightmares and the Light

Nightmares and the Light 

Nightmares. Nobody's fond of them. 

They can be everything from mild to horrific. Some happen while we are awake, most while we sleep.  Last night I had a nightmare. 

It was of being in what began as a normal time of getting out and driving around. Although I wasn't doing the driving.  We were in a neighborhood looking at garage sales. It began to rain.  I ran into a house nearby and then quickly exited largely because I never asked to enter.  It was a downpour. I am running towards where the car was left. A mudslide was beginning and the one I was there with was in the car.  I was jumping from mound to mound to get to the car. They got out but the onslaught was still coming. We went into a building for shelter but it kept coming. I was throwing trash over our heads trying to make a path to get out. Then thankfully I woke up. 

Being in a trapped situation is perhaps in the top 10 nightmares.  Not knowing how to deal with the situation. Not knowing how to get out. 

Read the following from Dr. David Jeremiah "Morning and Evening"

And [Joseph] was there in the prison. . . . But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. GENESIS 39:20–21 

A famous preacher tells how, when he was a child, his mother paid a neighbor girl to walk the eight blocks to school with him and back each day. He finally convinced his mother to let him walk to school and back alone. Years later, at a family party, he bragged about his independence as a child, how he had walked to school alone. “Did you think you were alone?” his mother asked. “Those first few years, I walked behind you to and from school. You never saw me, but I was there every day just in case you needed me.” That preacher’s mother might have taken a lesson from the experience of Joseph in Egypt. When Joseph was thrown into prison, being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, the Bible says that God was with him during his two-year imprisonment. When we find ourselves imprisoned spiritually or emotionally by our circumstances, we need to remember that God is with us. Though it is dark in prison, pray anyway, every day, for God is near you and listening to your prayers. You cannot be in a place where God isn’t. The day you stop believing God is with you is the day you stop believing God.

A very big take away is that you cannot be in a place where God isn't.  

But what is a deeper truth is many trillions of people have tried to believe otherwise.  They try to ignore what He has made plainly evident.  All the evidence points to Him in this physical world. From sub atomic atoms to the Sun itself.  The wonders of the cosmos speak to His hands in creating it all.  Yet people deny it and live a nightmare that rather running from they embrace. 

I am not seeking anyone to psychoanalyze my reasons for my nightmare.  I know what caused it.  It wasn't something that I ate, although I do still have some digestive distress.  I am feeling hemmed in on many sides by life.  Change happens but right now changes are occurring on all sides of me at once.  Things that used to be stable and that I could count on are shaken. 

But there is a worse nightmare than what happens in dreams or even reality.  The never ending nightmare of closing your eyes here and opening them in Hell. 

God is there as much as He is here, as much as He is in Heaven. He is omnipresent.  Satan is not, and cannot be. He isn't sitting up on some lofty throne made of red fire. He isn't sitting with a trident in his hand, all dressed in red with horns. The Bible says he used to be the most beautiful of Angels. He disguises himself as an angel of light. He goes around disguised as one of the Good Angels of God!  

The nightmare in Hell never ends, at least not in any way that improves upon that tormented condition. At the end of the age of mankind's physical existence, Hell will be cast into the Lake of Fire. People who rejected Christ will be given a perfect body that will be in torment for eternity.  Certainly something worse than Hell is now.  

Rejection of Jesus is the beginning of the worst kind of nightmare.  It never feels like it at all in the beginning.  No nightmare ever does.  

Joseph probably thought he was living a nightmare at more than a few points in his life.  His family sells him into slavery. He is falsely accused of rape. Thrown into prison. Lives his life caring for prisoners. Feeling forgotten by those he helped for several years.  His one thing was his faith. He clung to his relationship with Jesus.  Nothing of his life remained after years away from his Father and his family but his understanding of the language they spoke.  Yet God remained with him.

I indeed am feeling overwhelmed in many areas of life at once.  That's the reasoning behind my own nightmare last night.  But I too know that my Savior is with me.  Regardless of what it is, I still come to Christ in prayer.  Every morning I pour out my heart in prayer. I know He is with me. 
Just as He was with Joseph. 

You, my Friend, if you haven't chosen to receive the free gift of Salvation in Christ Jesus, could be getting ready to live a nightmare of your own choosing.  The gift itself is free but the choice to turn your life over to Jesus is on you.  You have to believe to receive. You must admit you are a sinner in need of His Salvation.  You must ask Him to forgive you of your sin and be your Savior.  You.  In this you are the only one who can end your pending nightmare before it happens. 

If you are in Christ and are feeling like I am, pray. In all things we are to offer up prayers.  Praying without ceasing.  In every aspect of your life Jesus is with you.  It may not be your ideal situation but that never implies that you were ever left alone. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Oh How Quickly We Forget

Oh How Quickly We Forget 

“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 

When the fire is turned up, the more our focus changes.  From several dozen sensations to one or two.  When the fire is abated, we sense no pain, anguish, strife or despair.  In a short while it's as if nothing has happened. 

We can be lulled into the world by it's silky strings of temptation. To buy this bigger, better thing, to buy that item because it's new and improved.  We see the ideal person and are softly encouraged to go through this or that to become like them and THEN you will be happy. Until the next commercial. 

We are bombarded with reasons to forget Jesus. 

We are under a constant attack from waking up til we sleep again.  The reason is simple, Satan knows how to get to each of us better than we do ourselves.  He will not let up in trying to twist our thinking. He will not let up in keeping Christians preoccupied to the point that they miss opportunities to share Christ. He will not willingly let go of those whom he has claimed that thus far have rejected Christ. 

There is a book titled "The Battlefield of the Mind". I have not read it nor have I any plans to do so. It's the title that's important right now.  Because you and I face battles every day in regards to what we think.  We won't see peace from that until Christ calls people out of this world. Some to peaceful rest in Christ, others, whom refused and rejected Christ, to torment in Hell. Certainly no peace there.

The sheer importance of being in God's Word is far greater than any daily need for the local or world news. It's greater than any need for magazines or newspapers. Certainly in our day and age than videos or websites.  Without a renewing of the mind by prayer and time in the Bible, you and I will forget. We will slip and allow Satan a foothold. We will slip and be convinced otherwise because we won't see it. We will begin to forget. 

Someone wrote that many used to read the Saturday Evening Post for a week, due to there being that much content. The same person says that the New Testament can also be read in a week.  If only we could or would treat it with that kind of importance!

Satan will always try both subtlety and overt methods of gaining our attention. He will even convince people that what they are focusing on is THAT important. Pouring hours into workouts to excess. To gain awards. Rather than working to be fit in order to be ready to be out in the world.  

I am by no stretch of the imagination saying that I have arrived at understanding all that God is doing or trying to get done in my life.  If anything I am clueless til the next thing happens.  As the hymn goes "Where He leads me I will follow...". The Disciples had to let go of their perceptions of life by spending time in prayer and praise, time in the Bible, to gain God's perspective. If they did, are we any different?

I struggle more these opening months of 2021 than I think I did in all of the tribulations of 2020.  Physical and emotional issues. Abnormal things at work.  Vehicle problems.  In comparison wearing a mask or getting a vaccine seems to pale in comparison. It's rough and will be for quite some time yet I think. 

I don't understand and in as much as I pray, Jesus isn't ready to explain it yet. I have to follow where He leads. As do you. 

It's an interesting comparison that I don't know if anyone has seen.  The story of Zaccheous and the result of meeting Jesus....and the rich young ruler.  Both were rich, both were Israelites. Both came face to face with Jesus. Only one remembered God's Word.  Both were wrapped up in the joys and benefits of prosperity.  Yet one realized after meeting Jesus that he had to let go of his life if he wanted to find it, the other refused to let go, couldn't bring himself to do it.  God's Word had no REAL place in his heart and mind.  He knew how to obey the rules but not how to obey with his heart.

What are you doing to keep Jesus alive and well within you?  Are your thoughts about you or about the things of God?

Can you stand unashamed and say you have read God's Word in its entirety?  You who claim the name of Jesus, have you read His love letter to you?  A great great problem are those who claim to have read it and have gone away not being changed by it.  The world is more important to them.  Satan will try to snatch away the Word of God to try to prevent people from being changed by it. Jesus said so.

What are you holding in high regard?
What is most important to you?
Is your status in the world more important than your obedience to God?  Is your happiness, the happiness of family more important than you being right before God?

Certainly too...have you even read your Bible in its entirety?  Will you stand ashamed before Christ when asked?  

Where He Leads...will you follow?

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Are You Living on Empty?

Are You Living on Empty?

“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 

A long time ago there was a song that had a phrase in it that said "...running on empty...".

There's been many days, weeks even, that I felt that way.  How about you?

We are in a world that is back to producing the most interesting, wondrous, amazing no avail.  Huh?  You are probably asking.  But you just called them all those nice things then infer that they are worthless? Yes, I did. Rather, God is. Remember He tells me things to write. 

Look at what is in this world today. People warring over countless things.  Words, acceptance, peace, possessions, power, you name it and people are quarrelling over it. 

There is an aim and purpose in this world for all of that.  To separate those who are for Christ and His Salvation, from those who are against Him, and say they are good enough and don't need His Salvation. 

Biblically that's the world since Adam and Eve. 

We are living in what we THINK are incredible times when it comes to the abilities of what man has achieved.  50 years ago nobody was able to do what I am doing right now. Writing a blog, on a phone, that would be read around the world, in seconds.  All of those aspects were impossible 50, 40, even 30 years ago. 

We have lived and are living in a world of instant communication. Yet the communication we should be the most interested in isn't really being done. Between us and God. 

Oh here I go again about that.  Go back a few paragraphs. God's talking, I write, He is talking to you as much as to me.

Apart from God you can do nothing.  That's in the New Testament.  

There's been a lot more with me on trying to declutter. But the more I do the more I realize how much stuff has been in between me and my Savior.  Possessions are the second most accumulated in regards to things between us and God. The first, according to Jesus, is family and friends.  What?  Jesus said if we love anyone more than Him we aren't worthy of Him.  Love the Lord Your God with ALL your heart, mind, soul and Spirit.  That is first and foremost He said. THEN love your neighbor as yourself.  Not the other way around. 

What has taken God's place in your heart? Your family? Your job? Your fancy house, car, other possessions?  You and I will never find peace or happiness if our relationship doesn't have Jesus first in it.

We can have everything we ever dreamed of and still be miserable.  Scripture again says What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

We do have the curse of having to work for a living.  Adam was told that after his fall. But work should never be the end all to finding happiness.  Many millions of marriages have been destroyed in pursuit of happiness in the success of a job. 

Is success such an important thing to you in this life that you pushed God aside?
Has your 'rights' become such an important thing in your life that you pushed God aside?
Is your will so important to you in this life that you pushed God aside?
Have you been wasting the precious time allotted to you in this life on worthless efforts to make YOU happy?

Are you real enough with you that you look in the mirror and see an exhausted man or woman who is really struggling to survive?

Then maybe today you begin decluttering your mental life. Your Spiritual life. Your emotional life. Then work on your physical life.  

Jim Reeves sang a short song a long time ago but it is indeed timeless. "How Long has it Been".

How long has it been since you talked with the Lord And told him your heart's hidden secrets?
How long since you prayed how long since you stayed On your knees till the light shone through?
How long has it been since your mind felt at ease?
How long since your heart knew no burden
Can you call him your friend? How long has it been since you knew that he cared for you?
How long has it been since you knelt by your bed and prayed to the Lord up in heaven?
How long since you knew that he'd answer you And would keep you the long night through?
How long has it been since you woke with the dawn and felt that the day's worth the living?
Can you call him your friend, how long has it been since you knew that he cared for you?

How long had it been since you talked with the Lord? 

You are pulled so many ways in this world.  Go the only way that will matter in God's eyes. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Can You Say It of You?

Can You Say It of You?

The Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken.

I trust in You, Lord, at all times; I pour out my heart before You; God, You are a refuge for me. David strengthened himself in You, his God. You will surely visit me, and bring me . . . to the land of which You swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You had certainly seen the oppression of Your people in Egypt; You heard their groaning and came down to deliver them. You brought them out, after You had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. Not a word failed of any good thing which You, Lord God, had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass. You who promised are faithful. Have You said, and will You not do it? Or have You spoken, and will You not make it good? Heaven and earth will pass away, but Your words will by no means pass away. The grass withers, the flower fades, but Your word, my God, stands forever. You are Promise Maker and Promise Keeper. Great is Your faithfulness, my God! GENESIS 21:1; PSALM 62:8; 1 SAMUEL 30:6; GENESIS 50:24; ACTS 7:34, 36; JOSHUA 21:45; HEBREWS 10:23; NUMBERS 23:19; MATTHEW 24:35; ISAIAH 40:8

Dr. David Jeremiah Life-changing Moments with God 

In this prayer of and using Scripture do the first lines apply to you?

Can you confess and confidently say that it is true of you?  

What I am beginning to like about this book is turning Scripture to prayer.  

My life has been full of my thoughts and intentions in my prayers, it's becoming a welcome happiness to pray Scripture back to the Author and Perfecter of my faith. 

The Church at large is not preaching and teaching the need for Salvation. They are looking to make sin look like a rose garden.  They want people not to offend or be offensive to others in what they say they believe.  Realize well THAT is what Jesus meant in Luke when He asked "Will the Son of Man find the faith when He returns?"

If your faith is seated in your feelings and emotions then it isn't faith. You own both and both are tainted by your sin nature. 

Faith is looking to what isn't seen but is hoped for.  Trusting in what Jesus did to make it happen.  Living not for your good pleasure or your good fortune but for Him. 

Are you more about success in this life than you are in living right in heart, soul, and mind before a Holy God?

The world indeed is a busy place.  Satan is intentional about that.  If ever you want proof, strive to simplify your life.  You will be facing an uphill battle.  It's identical to getting rid of a bad habit.  You can't just not do that thing anymore, you must replace it with something that God wants of you and in you.  An idle mind is the Devil's playground.  You can strip your house and life to the bare walls in an outspoken declaration of getting right with God, but if you do not take the steps to fill that space with what God wants to be there, you will fail and you will return to old sinful familiar ways. 

My life has my Wife, and I in it. In even that circle, Satan tries to get in.  In my own so-called circle of daily responsibilities, I struggle with keeping God as a priority because work demands so much of my mind and body.  Even persistent low level stress is going to disrupt peace. 

The times when I am the most honest with Jesus are the times when it seems the most challenging things become simple. When I am the most honest with Jesus, He does things in me.  When I admit to Him what I cannot do, when I ask Him to go where I cannot, and trust Him to do that, things happen.  That's faith. 

My prayer life is in a constant continuous improvement process.  I will never arrive at the perfect prayer. But I can let go of more of me and let more of Him rule in my life. 

If you cannot find a Church that isn't preaching the whole Bible, keep looking.  Don't settle for warm feelings and well wishes.  Don't settle for a good feeling which amounts to entertainment not worship.  If Jesus, and He did, say that many will claim to have said and done a great many things in His name...He tells them to depart from Him for He never knew careful should you be?  Many isn't referring to a few. Remember He will be parsing out ALL mankind. Separating countless trillions and trillions of people, like the sands of the seashore.  To His left and right.  To those heading for the lake of fire and those heading for Heaven. 

Be careful that your walk with Jesus is not something that amounts to a recreational attraction or attachment. You cannot be a fan of Christ. You must be a follower.  You can't hold admiration for God but not obedience. The Jewish leaders all were fans of God. All who did not truly turn to Jesus for Salvation ended up in Hell. That's the Pharisees and Sadducees. Many hundreds of thousands or even millions of 'Priests' are in torment in Hell. 
Many millions of so-called Church leaders, proclaimed Bishops, Deacons, Elders, Deaconess's, are in Hell ad well.  Because they weren't truly saved.  Just because you fit a job description doesn't mean that's what you are.  In the 1990's there was a show called The Pretender.  A science fiction show of a man who appeared to be just about anyone to satisfy the plot of the show.  Please be sure of the Salvation you claim in Christ.  Is there real fruit to be seen in you that says "Jesus is here"?

Jesus isn't an ideology. 
Jesus isn't a person defined by mankind. 
Jesus isn't to be ignored. 
Jesus is the Savior of the world.

He's wanting to save you if you haven't already been. You must ask Him to. 

You must also be ready for Him to come in and change your life for the better.  To trust Him, to believe in Him.  That He knows what's best for you and your impact on His Plan for others to be saved. 

I highly recommend this book. It's becoming one of my favorites to read.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Looking for a Time of Prayer

Looking for a Time of Prayer 

The following is from Dr. David Jeremiah's book "Life Changing Moments with God" Praying Scripture Every Day:

The Lord was my support. Lord, truly, it is vain to hope for salvation from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; for truly, in You, Lord God, is the salvation of Israel. You, Lord, are my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I cry out and shout, as an inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in our midst! Your angel, Lord God, encamps all around those who fear You, and delivers me. The righteous cry out, and You, Lord, hear, and deliver me out of all my troubles. Eternal God, You are my refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. So I boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Who is God, except You, Lord? And who is a rock, except You, my God? It is You, Almighty God, who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. By Your grace, Father God, I am what I am. Lord God, may I always and only look to You, my Shield, my Stronghold, my Helper.

PSALM 18:18; JEREMIAH 3:23; PSALM 18:2; ISAIAH 12:6; PSALM 34:7, 17; DEUTERONOMY 33:27; HEBREWS 13:6; PSALM 18:31–32; 1 CORINTHIANS 15:10

This is a book that I have owned for quite some time but hadn't begun to use until recently. 

What drew me to it was how Scripture was turned into prayers. 

I know my wayward heart.  I know how easily I can be distracted, be disappointed, be discouraged.  Looking for a ray of hope in the midst of great darkness on days when I need a break. 

Prayer is where I can be me before my Savior and never be misunderstood. 
Prayer is where material things don't matter. 
Prayer is a step in my mind and heart, into the Throne room of my God.

I cannot go through a morning without prayer.  I cannot look at life without Jesus being the only one that I need holding onto me.  Some may trust in horses some may trust in chariots but I will trust in the name of my God as the passage from the Old Testament says. 

I am disappointed in some aspects of my life at the moment, but, my life isn't my own.  I will be, and will be doing what God puts before me to do.  

Prayer is more than a repetition of words. At least Jesus said it better be. He rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees concerning it.  He wants to hear from your heart, from my heart.  

Years ago I went through the agony of a nervous breakdown.  To put it in perspective, I had what had been really important to me, ripped apart and I was forced to watch its destruction. Then the architect of that was making what was left of that experience a very miserable experience.  My confidence and ability to function fell apart.  It took a year for some of that to come back together.  It's taken a little over 7 years to regain and surpass what confidence that I had in my abilities again.  It's been God who has made me successful in the world's eyes. I simply am not that good on my own. It's God who establishes kings and rulers and it's He who removes them. His will WILL be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.  When we are where we are supposed to be in His plan for our lives, failure is not a possibility. 

Prayer will do more that share what you think your thoughts are with Christ. The longer you stay in that moment of prayer you start going deeper in your heart to places He wants you to go.  Beyond the surface to the deep recesses of you.  Literally the heart of the matter. 

Prestige, status, honors, glory, vanity, are all the world wants for themselves. Money, possessions, security are of utmost importance.  All are removed in a heartbeat if God says your time is up.  Nobody will live beyond that point in their lives. Nobody has ever thwarted the limit on the lifespan of an individual.  You make the most of the time you have been given. 

Pursuing riches, safety, all the world strives for and wars to own will get you nowhere.  Storing up for yourself riches in Heaven is where it's at. It's tax free and can't be touched by the IRS.  Jesus wasn't joking around in any parable He spoke. 

The one about the man living securely, was going to build bigger buildings to house his wares. Living life and loving it. Never considered that that very night his time was up. He was going to die. Then who would get all he wasted his life to accumulate? Never says he had preexisting conditions. Never a hint that he had heart trouble, but, my Dear Reader. Oh did he!  

We cannot live this life looking for the next big thing if God's not in it with us.  That's striving after the wind. Wasted effort.  Look for where God leads and stay with Him.  Stop with neglecting to pray. You don't need to be on your knees. Many in the Bible were on their feet, some in stocks hanging on a wall in prison. Jesus is where you are. He is your constant companion.  Would you ever go through life with your physical best friend in this world at your side yet not speak to them?  
Why do you do that with the one who died for you and saved you?  

Prayer isn't glamorous words.
Prayet is you open and honest with yourself and God. 

Prayer isn't a grocery list. 
Prayer is you speaking on behalf of others at Heaven's Throne. 
Prayer is you clinging to the promises of God and reminding Him of them.  

In the ensuing years after that breakdown what has increased with me is prayer.  

What are you doing in this moment between you and Jesus?  What are you pursuing?  Your interests or what He says your interests should be?  Do you strive and stress over life because you left Jesus behind?  

What will you say when you see Him face to face and are kneeling before Him?  Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Will you be covered in shame on that day or will you be rejoicing?

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Looking at the World Through the Wrong Eyes

Looking at the World Through the Wrong Eyes 

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 

When you get up each day, as God grants you that right, what is your perspective on it?  Are you looking at what you are going to get out of today or are you looking at what God's going to receive from you today?

If your aware or not you should be.  A believer in Jesus Christ isn't to be living for themselves.  It isn't about our rights or our desires. It's a life denying self, taking up our cross and following Him. 

You possibly post and repost various things and themes.  You probably say or repeat things that others have said.  Are those things in alignment with words that God would speak?

You go out in this world to do various things.  Is God glorified in them?  Scripture says in Colossians 3 that in all we do, do as unto the Lord.  Thinking goes hand-in-hand with doing. 

Are you glorifying God in your body or is the world too busy seeing you glorify yourself in your body?

Success in our eyes isn't necessarily success in the eyes of God. 

It's easy to also have a feeling of ease when perceived success happens.  We might be blessed with money.  We follow after the way of the world and spend it on ourselves without regard to what mission God has entrusted to us. Mission? Look at the parable of the talents. 3 servants given various amounts to do something with while their Master was away.  That Master is Jesus.  You are the servant.  Will you follow the way of the world in how you serve God? 

We who are in Christ are told by Christ what we are to do in this life.  What to expect as believers, saved through grace as we are.  A chosen people, a royal priesthood.  Children of God.  Not giving the freedom we have in Christ as an excuse to live life like the world does in disobedience. 

Can we spend blessings given to us from God on ourselves? Yes.  However realize the warning that such people are spending their heavenly rewards here on Earth.  You will get to Heaven to find very little there for you. You will also become very self-centered. Not God centered. You will become a mirror of the same people God saved you to go seek and bring to Christ.  They won't see Christ in you, they will see no reason to come to Christ because of you.  Jesus sternly warned of those who caused children to stumble, how much more adults being caused to stumble by other adults!  Is the example you provide really following the footsteps of Jesus or that of a Pharisee and Sadducee? Making someone a twice the son of Hell as the could have been in Christ?

You may not think your views on life matter THAT much, but EVERY person will give an account of their lives before Jesus, and THAT account will be seen by the Gold Standard, the Will of God.  Not the will of you. 

Be wary of who's eyes you look at this day through.  Are you using sinful eyes or are you looking at the world through the eyes of one looking at the mission God gave you to accomplish?

It's perhaps the easiest in our day and age, since the Genesis Flood, to be selfish. Each man doing what is right in their own eyes. Vanity, sexuality, selfishness, pride, arrogance, selfishness of every kind.  My rights, my wants, my, my, my.  People protesting because they want free this or free that.  They don't want to earn anything.  They take up a cause in something and it has absolutely nothing to do with them.  They demand you openly support their self-proclaimed protest or you are against them.  Self, self, self. Me, me, me. I, I, I.  Hmm...where have I read that before...oh yes...the New Testament. Saying that that's how it would be before Christ returns.  People will be just like it was in the days of Noah.  

Before you go out into your God granted day today, get real with yourself about your motives for living.  Will you be ashamed of your selfishness before Christ or will you be able to praise God when you see Him?

God has granted you a life to live...choose wisely...and well.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Troubles in Life

Troubles in Life 

He said to them, “Where is your faith?” LUKE 8:25 

We often begin the journey of faith serving God confidently and enthusiastically—and then troubles come and doubts arise. Sometimes our circumstances can look utterly hopeless, but we never know the reality of our situation until we have sought Jesus’ perspective on it. He knows many things we don’t, and He has power that we can’t imagine. Furthermore, it’s foolish to be discouraged or afraid when Jesus is right next to us to calm, to reassure, to act, and to graciously remind us that, despite our circumstances, we are still in God’s will. Difficulties don’t necessarily mean that we have missed or misunderstood God’s will, but if we need to make adjustments in our lives, He will let us know. Remember the disciples being surprised by a storm as they sailed on the Sea of Galilee? Jesus told them to head across the lake (God’s will)—and then came the storm (difficulties). But Jesus was in the boat right next to the disciples, and He exercised a power we can’t imagine: Jesus rebuked the wind and waves . . . The measure of your faith is revealed during life’s storms. Establishing your life on God’s Word and walking through life with Him bring a security nothing can shake. - Blackaby Being Still with God 

"and I give them eternal life, 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.”" John 10:28-30 NASB

"And He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of people, but God knows your hearts; because that which is highly esteemed among people is detestable in the sight of God." Luke 16:15 NASB

There's oh so many books, videos, lecture circuits on people telling people how to fix their lives.  Doctors in today's world will never tell you how to fix your problem, rather, they tell you steps to maintain your physical state. Money, as the Scriptures say, is the root of all sorts of evil. 

To see all of what you just read come together in one sitting was amazing to me.  Trials are a part of life.  They will be until we are in the arms of our Savior, only then shall we find peace and rest. 

Look at that last passage in particular because it does agree with the others that you read.  What, in your life, is of this world that you value more than your relationship with Jesus?

Was reading in another devotional this morning by Blackaby and he mentioned that in this life, anyone or anything that we value above our relationship with God, expect God to take exception to it.  

In years past, even before writing anything like this blog, I was convicted about things that were revealed to me as being idols in my life.  From sports to science fiction I had things that I was valuing above my relationship with Jesus.  Of course the very first knee-jerk reaction is to proclaim your allegiance to your Savior, all the while pulling a rug over those idols for the moment.  You can deceive yourself but not Him.

What the world holds in high that covers a lot!

We have enough troubles in this life without adding to it on our own.  

We add the biggest and best material things to our lives and when they break we get the biggest and best repair bills or replacement that costs just as much.  

We put our all into family or friend relationships yet neglect our relationship with Jesus.  Then either wonder at the low to moderate levels of stress and anxiety we go through.  

We can self-sabotage our lives by what we value more than Jesus in our lives. When we don't take care of our walk with Jesus first we allow other things to take His place. 

Our lives are not our own we were bought with a price.  The Pharisees loved money. They loved being held high in the eyes of the people. They loved power and authority to control others.  Jesus called them out on all of these things.  In some moments He gave scathing rebukes. Telling some that they make their disciples twice the son of Satan as themselves. 

Where is your life taking you?  Is there evidence that your relationships with others, with the money, power, status, or anything in your life being more important than your relationship with Jesus?

Are you being truthful in your answer? I don't need your answer, but you do.

Are you at all loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and Spirit?  All does not mean all that's left over after everything else. 

We all need to look at what we hold onto when troubles avail us.  The passages before this one of Luke 16:15 speak to the love of money.  Yet it applies to all of the things of this world when Jesus got to what we read in verse 15. 

The cause of many a grief in this world is our own choices.  Of what we hold onto. 

Maybe it's time to get real with you. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Fight the Good Fight

Fight the Good Fight 

“Fight the LORD’s battles.” 1 Samuel 18:17 ESV 

As captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10), Jesus Christ—the sacred leader of God’s elect—is still doing battle on earth. He has said, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NLT). Listen to the shouts of war! Let the people of God now stand fast in their ranks, and let no one’s heart fail. It is true that at this time the battle has turned against us, and unless the Lord Jesus lifts His sword, we don’t know what will become of God’s true church. But let us be courageous, and stand as men. There was never a day when the Christian faith seemed more at risk than now—fierce efforts are being made to establish the spirit of antichrist. We long for a bold voice and a strong hand to preach and publish the old gospel for which martyrs bled and confessors died. But the Savior is, by His Spirit, still on earth—let this cheer us. He is always in the midst of the fight, and therefore the battle is not in doubt. And, as the conflict rages, what a sweet satisfaction it is to know that the Lord Jesus, in His duty as our great Intercessor, is powerfully pleading for His people! Oh, you who watch anxiously, don’t look over the battle below—there, you’ll find your fellow soldiers shrouded in smoke and be amazed at their garments marked with blood. Instead, lift your eyes up, where the Savior lives and prays—because while He intercedes, the cause of God is safe. Let us fight as if everything depends on us, but let us look up knowing that all depends on Him. Now, by the white flower of Christian purity and by the red rose of the Savior’s atonement, we charge you who love Jesus to fight valiantly in the holy war, for truth and righteousness, for the kingdom and the crown jewels of your Master. Onward, “for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15). - C.H. Spurgeon Morning and Evening 

Yesterday two men sent me messages of encouragement.  I certainly am thankful for men who pray!  Rare indeed these can be.  

One sent an excerpt from their devotional, a word from God in Philippians. 

Philippians 4:6-7
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Another spoke of being encouraged themselves in reading what God has me post each day.  Making mention of fighting the good fight.  

Having been born with an inventor's mind, curiosity in not just how things work, but how to both reproduce and improve them comes naturally to me. I ask a lot of questions and research a lot to find answers.  My hardest part is when answers elude me.  My brain multi tasks problems as well.  I may take days, months or even years to arrive at answers.  Sometimes it appears like I am distant or withdrawn in a room with people.  Mentally a whiteboard has appeared as I believe God's showing me answers to whatever had been a question. 

My Dad taught us kids while growing up on how to fight.  Not to abuse that knowledge but rather to keep it in reserve. Hopefully never needing it but having that knowledge.  There's been a few times where it's been to my advantage to have that knowledge. My Spiritual Dad also taught of fighting the good fight as well. He's still doing so decades later and can be found at Prophecy Today Newsletter. Examining today's world in light of Scripture. 

As Kenny Rogers said in the song, "The Gambler", you need to know when to hold em an know when to fold em. Know when to walk away and know when to run. In another, "The Coward of the County", the story of a man taught of his father to avoid fighting at all costs, came to realize there going to be moments in life where fighting is not only your only option but your obligation. 

This to say that we who are in Christ must be prepared to fight the good fight. To follow Christ there is no other way.  You cannot be a pacifist in the Lords Army.  We have an enemy, bu joining the cause of Christ, who cares not if we live or die. As a Christian, though, his preference is death for us because we are no longer on his side.  

Years ago I was in with those that hoped and believed in such a strong work ethic that I didn't want anything but a full time in with one company, to retire, then go on from there.  Then God disrupted that plan. More than once now that I think about it.   I was with the company that I have since returned to after many years.  When I had left I was a beaten man.  A Supervisor was there that made it his job to break people. It was a battle that I was ill prepared to fight. The result was a breakdown. I left and in the ensuing years God took me from place to place to learn new things and to heal my broken soul.  He also taught me that it's ok that I not put in all my time in one place. I wanted to learn but not waste $75,000 on a piece of paper.  
It too was a fight at proving myself to each employer. But, as it was with Joseph, as it was with me. God caused me to exceed expectations.  Part of that passage of fighting the good fight also says to press on.

Toby Mac had a song called "Move!".  We sometimes indeed need to stand firm in the faith, but you can do that while pressing forward.  Advancing the line. 

I have been praying almost daily for the Lord to go before me in battle.  I have to, in light of my weaknesses in both the type of battle and the truth that He has intimate knowledge of the enemy that I face.  We can't fight a good fight alone.  It's just as important to focus on the words of Jesus as it is to talk to Him. 

As even good preachers of God can and should tell you, who write books themselves, don't look to them, look to the cross. Look to the Lord of Hosts. Look to our Mediator between us and God the Father. Look to the Paraclete, the One of another kind of Christ-the Holy Spirit. 

I may fight, I may not know how to fight, but in Christ the battle belongs to the Lord.   I haven't arrived, if you at all get that from this post today. I am still learning, still trying to be growing in Christ.  If it means the current disposition of life means yet another employer, so be it. My life is hidden with Christ. What can man do to me?  In spite of what Satan does, the will of God for me will not be thwarted. You can still fight the good fight while on your knees in prayer. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

May My Repentance Cause Heaven to Celebrate

May My Repentance Cause Heaven to Celebrate 

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near Jesus to listen to Him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to complain, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

And so He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

The Lost Coin

“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” - Luke 15:1-10 

My soul has been distressed of late.  My groanings certainly too deep for words at times in my prayer life.  Often it may sound to God that I repeat some of the same prayers over and over. 

I do attribute a portion of my emotional state to the Spiritual warfare that surrounds this blog.  The rest I know is on me for some weakness on my part. 

Details are unimportant.  God's aware of what has been going on with my life.  He always is aware.  It is at His orchestration. No instrument in His ensemble ever is out of place when He is leading. 

I do face a lot of struggles and stress. Especially in the last 4 months.  Quite possibly longer in some respects. Nobody's gone through 2020 unscathed. 

I am uncertain as to the silence of God in my prayers due to His continued use of me each morning here.  

I imagine each major change in Joseph's life was hard to digest too. In 48 hours he went from having a home and working for his Father to being a slave in a caravan far from home. 

In Heaven, Jesus says, that there is much celebration at the repentance of one person. Them turning to Jesus to be saved is I think a different celebration.  Who tells them of this repentance happening must be Jesus. Nobody from Earth can possibly view the state of family and friends, people's and nation's from their lives with a Holy perspective since they have not yet been glorified.  

Jesus said rejoicing is what happens when a sinner repents.  

There's times when I am overwhelmed with life.  Times when I feel like I am at my end.  Times when my perception is so out of tune that finding which way is up is difficult.  

At no point has my God forsaken me.  I may not hear Him but He has never given up on me.  

Life is not about personal joys and happiness.  For a believer in Jesus Christ it's about becoming more like Him. A Christ-follower is a Disciple. One who sets their mind on becoming like the one they have pledged to follow. 

I read that passage this morning and I have been wondering if there's been a time when I have caused Heaven to celebrate. 

I can relate to Job's distresses. I can relate to the fears of King David in his writing the book of Psalms. I can connect with King Solomon. With Jeremiah in writing Lamentations.  I seem to have a big connection with Joseph.  

What is causing all this in me is me. It's my struggle to let go of what I am being shown that I have to let go of.  I am no super Christian in writing what you read in this blog.  I write as I am lead to write.  If it means laying out my life in front of the world then that's what I write.  Many Prophets if the Old Testament did the same.  

The details are not important, it's how I react is what's important. How I obey is what is important. Psalms 23 seems to be relevant to all this as well.  It's a very popular passage to soldiers in a foxhole under fire.  

Indeed we can all be fooled by the successes of this world, by the way that the world acknowledges what we do, say or think.  We can be fooled by the perceived riches acquired.

Prayer to God is about ourselves and others.  It's the place to be honest and open about ourselves. Details can be used in a prayer but aren't necessarily needed on Jesus's end. He knows.  We may indeed be going through what seems to be a valley of the shadow of death. The important part is His holding us in His hands.  God always knows what He is doing even if I don't. 

Those that know me, please don't ask for details either.  This is a road that God has me on, not unlike others in my not so distant past that have been painful.  Some Spiritual surgeries are just going to hurt. 

Being real with yourself and God is my highest recommendation to all.  Disguising your thoughts and intentions is the worst you will do. You will make the surgery worse.  You are only fooling yourself, not Jesus. 

Where do I go from here? Back to the basics.  Back to what Jesus said.  It's my advice for you as well.  Even if you think all is ok, take heed lest you fall.  Because life is replete with getting broadsided when you least expect it.  

If you too are struggling, leave a comment, just saying "Me too." Both this blog and the other places it's posted allows for comments. Let others pray for you too. Satan loves to get believers to think they are all alone.  He loves to make them believe that independence is the key. That you shouldn't share that you have struggled or are in need because of what family and friends or others might think of you.  

Today is the first day of turning back to Jesus for some.  That is reason to celebrate in Heaven. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Who do YOU love?

Which do YOU love? (HINT: There can be only One).

And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. John 3:19

This isn't public opinion, nor was it of anybody in the history of the world who wasn't the Authority on the subject. Thousands of years earlier Jesus looked down from Heaven to see very much the same as is happening now. In the days of Noah judgement came. Jesus spoke the verse that was quoted, it comes after John 3:16.

When Jesus separates those who are saved and those who are not, He will be declaring who YOU chose. Your words, thoughts and actions will reveal who you are before Christ. There's no time to argue with Him. You are to either join countless trillions in the Lake of fire or you join the host of Heaven. 

Food for thought for today. Remember as well, indecision is a decision. You decide or on that day you will be shown what you did decide.

All have Fallen, All have Turned Away

All have Fallen, All have Turned Away, You and I

But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you. Mark 16:7 

Does God give second chances to those who have failed Him? He certainly did so for Peter. Peter had proudly announced that he was Jesus’ most reliable disciple (Matt. 26:33). Yet Peter not only fled with the other disciples in the moment of crisis, but also blatantly denied he even knew Jesus (Matt. 26:69–75). Peter failed so miserably that he went out into the night and wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). How compassionate the risen Christ was to Peter! The angel gave the women at the tomb special instructions to let Peter know that He was risen. Jesus took Peter aside to allow him the opportunity to reaffirm his love and commitment (John 21:15–17). The risen Lord also chose Peter as His primary spokesman on the day of Pentecost, when three thousand people were added to the church. God's desire is to take you from where you are and bring you to where He wants you to be. When He found His defeated followers hiding together in an upper room, Jesus’ first word was “peace” (John 20:19). Jesus’ first words to you after you fail may also be “peace.” Jesus will find you in despair and bring you peace. Then, He will reorient you to Himself so that you can believe Him and follow Him. Don’t give up if you have failed your Lord. Remember what happened to Peter. God has not yet finished developing you as a disciple. - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

We. It's an inclusive term. You and I, an inclusive small group. Inclusion is the new political strategy. It's being pushed across all of society. 

Inclusion that includes exclusion is what corporations and politicians are striving for. If you aren't publicly proclaiming your allegiance then you are excluded. 

What does this have to do with today's devotional?  We are all in the same place in regards to sin, which is inclusive of all.

We cannot please ourselves let alone all attempts at pleasing God on our own, apart from Him. 

We cannot gather around us people who think the way we do or join people groups in order to sway the will of God in our future. 

We all like sheep have gone astray. Each one doing what is right in their own eyes. Scripture says that.  What results in our world is those who think similarly join together and try to be proud to stand together.  They are joined by others and try to find common ground to stand together. Then that isn't enough and they look to make others think as they do.  Sodom and Gehmorrah was full of inclusion. Sinful inclusion.  Our world isn't being brought down by methane production or greenhouse gases.  It's mankind's relationship with a Holy God that's altering its future and bringing about the impending Judgement of God through Christ Jesus. 

Christianity is under attack more and more each day.  The political world is trying to legislate out Christian values.  They do not want to be inclusive of Christian businesses.  Satan is behind much but is restrained by the Spirit from going too far.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and Spirit. Love your neighbor as yourself.  That's the very definition of inclusiveness. Jesus included everyone He met. They might have rejected Him but He turned away nobody. Even Judas. Judas could have been killed with a thought or word from Jesus but he wasn't.  Jesus broke through all social barriers to reach whom the Father sought to include, which was everyone. 

In our fallen state we look to the betterment of ourselves. Our wellbeing, our wants and desires. Literally if we are honest it's me, me, me.  We look for shortcuts to prosperity. We listen for an crave get rich quick schemes.  Whatever it takes to find a peace that satisfies our life. A peace that fits our personality. 

The problem with that is sin sets people against people. Sin sets you against you. Sin kills people. Sin causes wonderful lives to fall so fast and hard that the person it impacts doesn't know how they got to where they are. 

A right relationship with Jesus isn't what the world says it is. 
A right relationship with Jesus isn't abandoning others. 
A right relationship with Jesus isn't ignorance. 
A right relationship with Jesus isn't giving up on enjoying life. 
A right relationship with Jesus isn't you losing out on living. 
A right relationship with Jesus isn't ostracism. It isn't shunning people. Jesus never did. 

A right relationship with Jesus is required for entry into Heaven. 
A self-defined right life isn't what God's Word says we need. Scripture says we need a Savior. We need to turn and repent of sin. We need Jesus to take our place. We need the seal of the Holy Spirit once we come to Christ.  We need to let go of self and embrace what Jesus wants of us.
Less of us and more of Him. We cannot please God in any other way. The world may call for the removal of Christianity but it isn't something they can stop. No Plan of God can be thwarted. 

You can sit here and reject Jesus or you can come and to Him and be saved from your sin. Your choice determines your eternity.  You may indeed be happy with those of this world you align with, but once you die apart from Jesus, will that temporary happiness be remembered in torment in Hell?

You, my Friend, my Dear Reader, must choose. The answer to your happiness is really who it is you will bow down to. Whom you choose will determine your eternity.  Whom you bow to is who you are showing allegiance to.  You either are aligned with Jesus or Satan.  To be saved sets you apart and against the will of Satan.  To be saved sets you in the camp of Jesus Christ.  There is no middle ground.  

In this Coexist culture realize that Christianity cannot co-exist with any worldly religion. 

You and I are sinners. You are either saved by Grace or you are not.  You must choose, as I had to do, to come to Christ on His terms. Not yours.  He did all the work. He is ready with open arms to receive you.  To forgive you.  

Romans 10:9-10 "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Will You have an Excuse?

Will you have an excuse?
By David Brenneman 

But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, because everything is ready now.’ And yet they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I purchased a field and I need to go out to look at it; please consider me excused.’ And another one said, ‘I bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ And another one said, ‘I took a woman as my wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here those who are poor, those with disabilities, those who are blind, and those who are limping.’ And later the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and the hedges and press upon them to come in, so that my house will be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my dinner.’” Luke 14:16-24 NASB

We live in a world of excuses.  Everyone, like opinions, has many at their disposal.

People tell those sharing Jesus Christ with them come up with both serious and joking excuses.  The truth of life is Jesus Christ and He's not joking about the seriousness of anyone's future. 

Look, if you weren't feeling well, you would likely seek professional help and would expect a certain level of professionalism and decorum. You would expect the one you speak with to be knowledgeable about those kinds of matters.  The worst kind of people are those living in denial of their physical problems.  They jump from Doctor to Doctor to find one willing to tell them what they want to hear.  

The people who feel nothing wrong who are told there's something wrong by Doctors with react with wanting a second opinion, they believe the Doctor or they live in denial of what was revealed. 

You are being told that your Spiritual condition isn't well.  By the Great Physician Himself.  Jesus has said that everyone, to gain admission to His Heaven must receive treatment. It must be through the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone. Salvation comes no other way. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 

You can either live in denial of this truth or you can come to the conclusion that He's right.  

You have been invited.  Read that beginning part of this passage. There's an invitation.  It's not coercion. It's an invitation.  Like those in the realm of the physical world there's a time limit on how long that invitation is open for. 

My Dear Reader are you still clinging to excuses for not taking Him seriously?

Are you so caught up in thinking your joys or happiness you seek in this world are more important? 

What will you do when you too will stand before Christ to answer for your rejection of His invitation?  Jesus didn't give this parable for no reason.  He showed the hearts of man and woman in it. People who believed that they didn't need to take Him seriously.  People who thought more of this temporary life than their eternal life.  You DO have an eternal life to consider. Where you spend it is up to you. 
You're going to spend this life in all sorts of joys and pain. You will have ups and downs. You will have success and failure.  When you leave this world you start living your eternity. 

I don't need to promise you anything. 
I am not going to promise you anything. 

In regards to Jesus being the Great Physician, He has told you what you must do to be saved.  I am a messenger. 

Jesus promised that those who reject what He has said and done will spend eternity in torment and eternal judgment. 
No party with others who also rejected. Jesus gave a graphic representation of Hell in another story.  

"Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, enjoying himself in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed from the scraps which fell from the rich man’s table; not only that, the dogs also were coming and licking his sores. Now it happened that the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s arms; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades he raised his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his arms. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus, so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set, so that those who want to go over from here to you will not be able, nor will any people cross over from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I request of you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not come to this place of torment as well.’ But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31

You only have a choice while you breathe air.  
You only will be able to receive His free gift of Salvation while your heart beats. 

Your possessions can't save you. 
Your family can't save you. 
Your friends can't save you. 
Strangers can't save you. 

Is what you are holding onto in this world really more important than where you will spend eternity?  You choose. 

My heart's desire is that somehow through this ministry that at least 1 would get real and come to Christ to be saved.  I am not a polished writer. What you read is what I am to write by His direction.  

Jesus loved you enough to die for you. The only way the Great Physician could heal you was to take your place. But you must choose it. You must come to Christ to ask. The invitation will soon expire. Either at your death or His return.  He will not allow anyone to enter into Heaven that is not saved by His shed blood. Nobody will sweet talk their way in. Nobody will get in any other way than through Christ. 

What's worse for everyone is He will separate those who did say yes from those who didn't...all without...saying...a...word.

There's no fooling Jesus.

You can fool yourself or others but never Jesus. 

My friend get serious for once and think about this.  You wouldn't have come this far in reading this if He wasn't talking to you.  

Every single second otherwise healthy people are dying.  No warning of any kind.

Do you really want to risk it?

When the excuses run out, will you be left behind realizing that you have forever missed out?  

Change that today and act on your invitation while it's still in YOUR hands.