Sunday, December 31, 2023

Beyond All Measure

Beyond All Measure 
by David Brenneman 

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.
-How Deep the Father’s Love for Us 
Phillips, Craig and Dean.

So much has happened in 2023, should the Lord not yet come...much more is likely in 2024.  What are you doing to get to know Jesus better?  There's no point in investing in worldly titles and other things that are not going to help you in your relationship with Jesus.  Escaping into fantasy worlds won't help you at all.  Embracing anything of the world that's consuming your limited time on this Earth that isn't helping you to know your Savior a waste, a colossal waste. 

That song is extremely powerful.  Jesus took on the full brunt of the wrath of God on your sin which He bore in your place. The pain, the agony, of His physical torment was nothing compared to the full separation from His Father.  

He died for you...are you living for Him?

You have no idea the impact and the importance of your life in human history.  It is NOT insignificant.  It is NOT a happenstance.  It's not something inconsequential.  Read what this says:

‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭"He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end."

The work of God is you.  

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:10.

The work of God is you. 

Look back over 2023.  Review yourself.  How thankful are you for everything you went through?  The Bible says that in everything give thanks.  Including everything you don't understand why you went through.  Everything you did that you only thought you understood as well. 

The love of God was and is in all of your 2023.  Grace and mercy daily.  Not getting what you do deserve. Getting what you don't deserve and never earned. 

Vast and beyond all measure.  Beyond your ability to understand.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5-6.

Praying now for 2024 is what you ought to do today.  For me, I know from what the Spirit is telling me, there's exciting things coming for me.  I will still pray.  Pray that I don't miss what He's doing in, around and through me. 

Jesus died for you. "Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established." Proverbs 16:3.  That's where it matters most. It's those things that will survive being tested by fire on the day we give an account of our lives before Him. 

So spend quality time with Jesus in prayer.  Make that your habit for 2024.

How deep the Father's love for us How vast beyond all measure That He should give His only Son And make a wretch His treasure...

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

How Deep

How Deep 
by David Brenneman 

Do you realize that you are uniquely you in the eyes of God?  That you, yes you, are so loved that Jesus thought of you specifically while on the cross?   Do you see how deep the love of God is for you? 

2023 might not have gone the way you wanted.  It might have appeared to be disappointing or even disastrous.  But when you set your emotions you see the fingerprints of your Savior?  

I have had many seasons in my life where I felt very alone, yet, I can look back and indeed see where Jesus was carrying me. 

The perhaps most famous chapter in the Bible is Psalm 23.  It's been quoted in countless war movies and quite a few television shows.  The line in it that has stuck out to me was wrapped up in a lesson that the Spirit wanted me not to miss.  "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." Verse 4.  

We are walked through the dark times.  We are not to sit down and sulk.

We are not to choose to be defined by our circumstances.  

Our definition of who we are, our identity, is who Jesus says we are after we come to Christ for salvation.  A very good song on this is by Hillsong Worship "Who You Say I Am"

Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?I was lost, but He brought me inOh His love for meOh His love for me
Who the Son sets freeOh, is free indeedI'm a child of God, yes, I am
Free at last, He has ransomed meHis grace runs deepWhile I was a slave to sin, Jesus died for meYes, He died for me
Who the Son sets freeOh is free indeedI'm a child of God, yes, I amIn my Father's houseThere's a place for meI'm a child of God, yes, I am
I am chosen, not forsakenI am who You say I amYou are for me, not against meI am who You say I am
I am chosen, not forsakenI am who You say I amYou are for me, not against meI am who You say I amI am who You say I am
Who the Son sets freeOh is free indeedI'm a child of God, yes, I amIn my Father's houseThere's a place for meI'm a child of God, yes, I am
In my Father's houseThere's a place for meI'm a child of God, yes, I am
I am chosen, not forsakenI am who You say I amYou are for me, not against meI am who You say I am
I am chosen, not forsakenI am who You say I amYou are for me, not against meI am who You say I am
I am chosen, not forsakenI am who You say I amYou are for me, not against meI am who You say I amOh I am who You say I amYes, I am who you say I am
Who the Son sets freeOh is free indeedI'm a child of God, yes, I amIn my Father's houseThere's a place for meI'm a child of God, yes, I am.

My identity is not wrapped up in my worldly successes or worldly failures. 
My identity is not what people say for me or say against me.

My identity is not in a nickname nor in a position within a company or job that I do.

For me, I am who Jesus has named me to be.  Do you really really understand the power in that?  Jesus renamed Simon to Peter.  Saul was renamed Paul.  We are who Jesus says we are.  Jesus will never call you "Failure" or "Quitter".  He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We just need to ask to be cleansed, to be forgiven.  To be forgiven is to be made right before God.  To be made right is to be put in good standing, to have no judgments against us.  

Do you yet begin to understand and see how deep the Father’s love for us is?

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.
-Stewart Townend.

Before you get wrapped up in the hype of the New Year's day...take time to be alone with Jesus and just be thankful.  Thank Him for who He’s making you to be.  Thankful for all the perceived good and bad of 2023.  Thankful for the great love with which He loves you.  Thankful that He IS your living Lord and Savior. 

Ending a year with thanksgiving will help you to be on a much better footing for the next. 

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Do You Even Try?

Do You Even Try?
by David Brenneman 

When the Spirit teaches you that you are involved in Spiritual you take that seriously?  Because it's written there. 

When the Spirit had it written down that we're to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ...did you believe it?

When the Spirit wrote that we're to be destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God...what were your thoughts on the matter? 

We're given the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  We're given the Shield of Faith.  Are you at all getting comfortable using them?  In these same Scriptures we read that Believer's are indeed soldiers of the cross of Jesus Christ.  As soldiers do, they are always active in being comfortable using their offensive and their defensive weapons to the best of their ability. 

We aren't to come to Christ then act like we're on vacation until either we are called home to Heaven or the Rapture of the Church happens. 

Our lived are hidden in Christ Jesus. Our hand in in His to be lead through life, not to sit down on a bench or beach waiting for life to end. 

The Bible is not just history, it's His Story.  Have you at all attempted to read it all the way through?  He intended for us to.

The Kings of the nation of Israel were expected to write their own copies of the Word of God as they had them.  To make it personal.

Is your time with Jesus personal?  Or do you actually treat Jesus like personnel?  

Jesus is Truth.  So be truthful.  How are you viewing and interacting with Your Savior?  

In this truthful Spiritual War we are REALLY in...are you at all aware of the schemes of the Devil?  Are you at all seeking out what to do to fight against these things that are seeking to get your attention away from God?  Have you knuckled under when temptation taps you on the shoulder so often that you don't even recognize that you SHOULD be resisting?

Going into 2024...pick up your Bible and get serious about what the Spirit is serious about.  Make it a point to be growing in Christ, not sitting idle.  Get rid of thoughts and feelings that are binding you from the righteous life that God desires for you.  Recognize the stumbling blocks that are keeping you from living life in such a way that people see your good works and might glorify your Father in Heaven.   

We aren't to be wimpy soldiers of the cross.   We were empowered by the Spirit of God.  We weren't left to our own devices to figure it out, we were given the Spirit of God to teach us.  Class is still in session until we are at home with Jesus Christ. 

The challenge to you is to really be serious about being who you are meant to be in Christ Jesus.  Forget resolutions.  Forget promises.  We're to be fully devoted followers of Christ.  End of story. 

It may mean giving up things in our lives that we don't recognize as stumbling blocks.  God certainly knows what is for you and I. Ask. Ask Him to cause your spiritual eyes to see what He wants you to see about you.  To see what needs to go and to give you the strength to follow through.

Do you get it yet?  We're here for a purpose.  A divinely appointed purpose.  
Are you at all fighting to fulfill that purpose?  Do you even try?

That's your thoughts for today.  

Be prepared to shed some baggage.  It may mean your favorite this or that.  If it's in the way of you being who you're meant to be in Christ, it needs to go. No "but God!"'s.  Cast it away from you.  The Bible says that God seeks true worshipers. Are you striving for that?  Worshipers who worship in Spirit and truth.  

Take a good look at 2023...
Take a good look at 2024.

Now is the time to be about the Father’s business.  Now is the time to be more in the Word of God than you have been.  Now is the time to be in personal prayer with Jesus.  Now. 

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Oh Yes, it All Matters!

Oh Yes, it All Matters!
by David Brenneman 

"The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭12:13‭-‬14‬.

How often do you really really stop to consider that every single breath, every single nanosecond of your life is so important to Jesus that He is intimately aware of all of you?  

He knows all your thoughts, your intentions.  He knows what inspires you. What you spend your passion on and why. 
He knows what was going through your mind for each heartbeat that He granted to you.  Ever think about that? Every single heartbeat you have ever had has been a gift from God!   Oh how the human race has taken that for granted.

Have you ever considered what you could have been doing had you really embraced faith as you could have?  

Have you ever thought of just asking Jesus questions in prayer rather than asking for things?  I actually was inspired to this by an interview that I saw with Mark Lowry about the writing of "Mary Did You Know?".   He had many more questions but couldn't get them to rhyme for the lyrics.   

The Bible says that if anyone lacks wisdom they are to ask of God who gives it freely to all.   

Your every thought, your every intention is laid bare before Him with whom we have to do. That's what the Bible says.  He searches your heart and mine.  All the time.

Are you making the most of every single opportunity that you are given each day?

Our need to forgive others, forgive ourselves, is with us all the time.  We do ourselves much harm by insisting on not forgiving others.  Forgiving isn't the same as forgetting.  Forgiving is to not impute guilt upon someone for their actions.  Forgetting has to do with the record of the offense.  We are to forgive one another as Christ Jesus has forgiven us. No exceptions.  It's part of what is looked for when Jesus searches our hearts and minds.  Ever thought about that?

Our Savior forgave us of all iniquities, all sins, that we have ever done, are doing, or will do.  By no means should we do anything less for one another.  As we just saw...we forgive because Christ first forgave us.  If we do not forgive one another neither will He forgive us.

"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." ‭‭‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:14‭-‬15‬.

The Spirit with all who are saved knows every iota of what's going on with everyone at all times.  He knows what you are thinking and doing that you've convinced yourself isn't sinning when God's Word says it is.  He knows where and when.  He knows all the lies we tell ourselves...waiting for us to realize it and return to Jesus willingly. 

He knows every single grudge we hold against others...all the small and great ones.  He knows just how deep the roots of bitterness are in everyone.  Some deeper than others. 

Everything we do matters to Our Holy God. 
Every thought matters to Our Holy God. 

Everything.  If it didn't, then why do we read that some day soon we will indeed give an account for it all?  If you believe that Jesus did all He did to save you, then you should believe all the rest that He said about your life now and what's to come when we see Him face-to-face.

A litany of excuses will be likely heard on that day that all Believers stand before Jesus.  No doubt I will have many of my own.  But, my Dear Reader, in this here this now, we can work to minimize these.  We can actively set our hearts and minds towards obedience.  Towards intentionality of heart and mind to live as He intended for us.  

We do not know all that He has prepared for those who are called according to His purpose in Christ Jesus.  We just sell ourselves short by jumping at shortcuts. We sell ourselves short by quitting when He was just getting us going down the path that would have brought Him much glory. 

When you consider this thing of resolutions for the new year...eliminate all of the foolishness of them and focus on only one...your willing obedience to God's will for you in as many areas of your life as He’s wanting in and for you.  You cannot possibly fail at life when you're seeking for your life what God's wanting for it. 

All of you matters to our Holy God. 
All of you was on His mind when He was on the cross.  You are one of the countless reasons why He stayed on the cross.  Don't we owe it to Him to live for Him in all that we do?   

Let that thought embrace you today. 

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

So What Now?

So What Now?
by David Brenneman 

What do you purpose to do in your life to grow in Christ?  To what are you being intentional concerning knowing Jesus Christ better?  

My struggles daily are in the memorization of the Scriptures, but I refuse to let that stop me.  My personal struggles impact my drive and ambition, but I strive anyway.  I make it a point, a high priority, to be intentional in regarding what the Spirit says is important.  What about you?

Are you more concerned about your personal happiness than what you need, what you must, go through to grow in your sanctification in Christ?  This way lies those who would enlist in the military and want out after a few weeks because it's hard and they simply miss someone.  Jesus doesn't want visitation rights to you, He wants all of you.

What are your plans for 2024 to know Jesus more?  What are your plans on spending more, not less, not the same amount of time or effort, to knowing your Savior? 

Paul wrote often of the pressures with and without himself in his concerns for the Church.  Hearing stories that caused him to pray all the more for them, hoping that he and others hadn't labored in vain.

Jesus saved you...are you, have you been, giving Him the table scraps of your time and efforts to know Him?  

While my struggles are heavy upon me, I can't give up.  Once upon a time I had never read through my Bible once.  That bothered me greatly.  Today, I have lost track of how many times I have read through it.  What once was a struggle is now such a part of my life that I hurt when I don't do it. I add whatever tools that the Spirit shows me as I find them.  Most notably, recently, is specific portion of Dr. David Jeremiah's Study Bible on only Psalms and Proverbs.  Soon the group that I am in is going to start a study book by Dr. Charles Stanley on the 30 Life Principles he wrote.  Charles Spurgeon is another good source.  I have a Spurgeon Study Bible that Alistair Begg had a part in.

What did I give up?  Nothing that I truly miss.  I'm not into nor am interested in watching television.  Don't go to movies.  I might watch short video clips to fill time, but mostly I seek ways to learn something new.  

In your 2024 be intentional about your growing in Christ Jesus.  

All those things that you pursue in life that are not helping you to grow in Christ Jesus will one day burn away.  What we do in our lives for Christ are all that will remain when our lives are tested by fire.  

Some do not pursue all they can be in Christ out of fears of what He might ask them to do.  Some do not because they know exactly what it is He wants of them to be doing.  Some have run from His plan and purpose for their lives because they got hurt while serving Him.  They only think they are successful now because they foolishly believe their success defines them.  His plan and purpose for each Believer is both personally growing into the likeness of Christ and to show others the light of Jesus Christ.  To let that light shine before men in such a way that people see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.  That they too might come to Christ for salvation and become His child as well. 

What are you doing in life if you aren't growing in Christ?  You become sedentary, you become lazy, your spiritual muscles will atrophy.  When an event happens that will call for strength, you won't have any.  

My challenge to you all is to do as Paul encourages towards that upward call of God in Christ Jesus for you.  It matters. 

So...for path is clear on personal growth in Christ.  What about you?  Pursuing what the world values is not going to grow you in your walk with Jesus.  Success as the world values it is honesty failure in life spiritually.  Health, wealth and prosperity are doomed to perish with time.  The word of God will last forever.

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Are You Seeking to See or Are You Pursuing Ignorance?

Are You Seeking to See or Are You Pursuing Ignorance?
by David Brenneman 

"‭‭For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete." 2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:3‭-‬6‬.

"There's a war going on out there my friend. A world war. It's not about guns or bullets, it's about the information. It's all about the information. What we see, what we hear, it's all about the information!" - Movie "Sneakers" 1992.

Another very hidden bit of information is that under President Barack Obama, it became legal to propagandize US citizens.  Equally scary is in today's world all news services are essentially coordinated in that effort.  Videos have surfaced that prove the collusion between them all "for the good of the democracy".

This is all said to ask that same opening question: Are You Seeking to See or Are You Pursuing Ignorance?

People are made to believe certain groups of supposed authority.  We are taught to believe what we're told by various people who are employed by city services such as the Police or Fire Department.  We're taught from a young age to believe what Doctor's tell us.  We're supposed to trust these people.  Yet as well we see a volume of evidence that there are those within these hierarchies that are given to corruption.  Yet we persist in doing what we've been told to do concerning believing them.  In no way am I beginning a discussion on truth vs fiction in regards to governments etc.  This post isn't about that.  It's about whether or not you are pursuing God's truth...regardless of what the world is saying.  It's about whether you are making headway in the battlefield of your mind and heart with regards to taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus.  No one is going to do it for you. 

My Dear Reader, you have to be the one to take the active steps that the Spirit directs you to be taking to protect your heart and mind from worldly influences.  Prayer is essential.  Being intentionally in the Word of God daily at a minimum is essential.  Stopping bad behaviors that lead to a life of practiced sin is essential.  Stopping isn't enough, these bad practices must be replaced with good practices.  

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." Ephesians 6:12-13. 

We're an easily duped people.  We trust those who raise us, who trusted those who raised them who trusted those who raised them and so on.  The seeds of trust are part of our DNA.  We want to trust. Adam and Eve easily were trusting of the serpent.  

Scripture points us to the real source of truth and trust. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5-6. 

The Spirit of God within will try to tell you what truth's on you to believe Him. 

Our nature is not to go at life God's way.  It's going to want the approval of the world around us.  We, at our core, do not like conflict.  So we compromise in what we believe, thinking that a balance of the world and the Word of God until we die is good for us.  Sort of easily flies in the face of trusting God with all your heart doesn't it?

Let's dig a little deeper into this.  What are you embracing in your thoughts and actions that do nothing to grow you in Christ Jesus?  In what areas of life are you intentionally looking the other way from the truth of God's Word?  Is spending time with Jesus a drudgery to you?  Is reading your Bible a drudgery to you?  Remember, be honest with yourself, God already knows the answer.  Does all your heart belong to Jesus?  Are you seeking to see life as it is and not what you want it to be?

Paul said they were going after, essentially being on the offensive, against speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.  The only offensive weapon in the Ephesians 6 Whole Armor of God is the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit.  

Are you staying in the Word of God to learn how to discern truth from error?  It's not this person's books, video's or lectures or that person's that are able to divide all truth from all error, it's only the rightly wielded Word of God.  

When we make what is important to Jesus important to us then we will become Disciples of Jesus Christ.  Denying self and taking up our own cross means that we must take up how the Spirit is going to teach us to perceive what life really is about.  Jesus taught the Disciples what life was really about didn't He?

This isn't about being a killjoy.  This is about being a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.  Seeing life as it is, not as we want to see it.  We want health, wealth and prosperity. We are absolutely not promised these after coming to Christ.  We are promised that if we trust in Him, we will become like Jesus. We become His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that we might walk in them.  

You may have Spiritual eyes, but are you using them?  Are you willing to recognize, admit, confess what you are embracing in life that isn't you denying self?  This is as much for you as it is for me.  

Jesus had it written that He told the Jewish leaders, essentially everyone: Go and learn what this means: I desire obedience not sacrifice.  Worldly affairs are going to conflict with you obeying the Voice of Truth. It's going to be disguised as anything but disobedience. It's going to look like wonderful things...all in order to sway your mind and heart. 

Satan can't be happy with fully devoted followers of Christ Jesus.  He's got very little problems with those on the fence because he owns the fence.  He is perfectly fine with compromising people who are easily satisfied with things of this world in place of obedience to God's Word. 

The more we put off obedience to Jesus in life, the more we prolong the wait for His return.  He isn't coming back until that last person who will be saved before the Great Tribulation is saved.  When we aren't living life as we ought to be doing, we're pushing that day out farther.  Jesus came to seek and save the lost.  That mission is ours today.  Satan's going to throw everything he can in our way to stop that.  Every pleasurable thing as well as adversities.

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.  He(or she) must deny himself(or herself) and take up his(or her) cross daily and follow Me. 

You who are in Christ Jesus have Spiritual eyes...are you using them?

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Let Our Words be Few, and Our Praise Neverending

Let Our Words be Few, and Our Praise Neverending 
by David Brenneman 

"Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few." Ecclesiastes‬ ‭5:2.

This thought of let your words be few...reminds me of those who found Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus on that first night and the days that followed.  Oh the still silence that must have happened!  The vast words of praise! 

For us, in our fallible humanity, we can often forget the awe that must have been to those who were there.  That sense of awe can be ours today if we but seek it out.  It's not about the presents we give or receive today.  It is about the One who came to live a sinless life, to die a horrible death on a cruel cross, and endure the full brunt of sin of all save.

To save.  That was the Father’s plan.  

I am reminded of a Phillips, Craig and Dean song "Let My Words Be Few" 

You are God in HeavenAnd here am I on earthSo I'll let my words be fewJesus, I am so in love with you
And I'll stand in awe of you [Jesus]Yes, I'll stand in awe of youAnd I'll let my words be fewJesus, I am so in love with You
The simplest of all love songsI want to bring to youSo I'll let my words be fewJesus, I am so in love with You
And I'll stand in awe of you [Jesus]Yes, I'll stand in awe of youAnd I'll let my words be fewJesus, I am so in love with You.

I never, until now, could think of that as a Christmas song, but it could be. 

"When we all get to Heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!"

In Heaven we'll have no shortage of the right words of praise to give to Jesus. 

Here on Earth we struggle at times to have the right thing to say.  Our thoughts and perceptions get in the way. 

I think also of what others have have 2 ears and one mouth.  Listen twice as much as you want to talk.  

Listening for the words God wants to say to you are more important than what you think you might want to say.  His words are always right, pure and true. 

In your minds eye, stand before the lowly manger and think about who it is that is there. Think about the truth of what Christmas is all about.  Would you stand or would you drop to your knees?  What would you imagine yourself doing?  Knowing that in that place is the embodiment of the Son of God.  The Creator of everything came to Earth to take away the sins of the world and heap them on Himself, making the only way to be right before a Holy God. 

For me, my Dear Reader, I would be speechless.  My words would certainly be very few.  

Many people can be hasty in their words and trip themselves up later.  That's probably where "think before you speak" comes from. 

When you survey the aftermath of today's festivities, do not forget to be in awe of what Jesus did for you.  

Think about the great love with which He loved you enough to take your place on the cross.  When was the last time you told your Savior that you loved Him?  No list of needs or wants, but just called Him up in prayer to say that you love Him?  

Consider all that He has done for you...He does it all out of His great love with which He loves you and I.   "From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky, Lord I lift your name on high!" 

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christ-Like Priorities, a 365 Day Consideration

Christ-Like Priorities, a 365 Day Consideration 
by David Brenneman 

"‭‭‬‬But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also.  I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.  I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it.  But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality— at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.” 2  Corinthians‬ ‭8:7‭-‬15‬.

I am not normally given to redirected links to those outside of Zondervan for posting the Scriptures but this story at the end of this post links to the Biblical perspective  so well. I have seen it many times on Facebook and it's a very strong lesson in perspectives we miss in our living life.

King David and King Solomon both wrote much about life.  About how people were in their lives.  Both, in their own way, poured out their hearts.  

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes of the futility of the pursuits of the heart in this life that are not in accordance with what the Spirit says are important.  We are no different than those who lived hundreds of years ago, thousands of years ago or tens of thousands of years ago.  God the Spirit wrote of there being nothing new under the sun.  Nothing.  There's no new ideas that have not been before.  There are no new desires of the heart that haven't been experienced.  No losses that have are unique to any one individual.  No joys that are singular in nature. 

In this particular Holiday time, of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, it ought to be a time to renew our commitment to His priorities and our purpose for being here.  This story that is linked at the end of the post was written a long time ago and is timeless in its revealing of a heart.  Selfishness and idolatry are among the #1 things on the list of sinful practices of a life not lived as Christ intended for the Believer.  We don't even consider reviewing what we've allowed into our hearts that the Bible says are selfish or idolatrous.  We don't seek out compassion for others willingly because it conflicts with our selfish desires. 

Christ-like behavior is what the Disciples learned and were to teach others.  Christ-like priorities are what future Believers were to be taught from generation to generation until Christ returns. 

This Christmas, consider other indeed as more important than yourselves...for this too is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.  "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4.

The "But God!"'s usually start right away. 

When you give and receive a day from now for most of you, remember to think about that passage.  Remember the story you will read in a little while.  Jesus wants us to love God and love others. There's zero selfishness involved in that statement. 

Our perception on joy is skewed because of selfishness.  Our peace of mind is skewed because of selfishness.  Our protection of ourselves is skewed because of selfishness.  When we put on the love of Christ Jesus towards others, those things just don't seem to matter as much, don't mean the same, do they?  

So whether you get what you wanted or you don't.  Do so with a grateful heart. 

You are not to put off the new self that is in Christ Jesus. We're to put off the old self and it's practices.  We're to be Christ to all, to those who are Believer's and to those who aren't.  Jesus died once for all.  Including those who warmly embrace His free gift of salvation, receiving it as their own as well as all the Genghis Khan's, the Hitler's, Judas's, even the Antichrist who is the center of the book of Revelation that's not been on the world stage yet.  

Jesus came, born of a virgin, born under the Law, to seek and save the lost.  He gave everything to the obedience of God the Father’s wishes.  

Look at your life today, look at this last year.  Would you be described as a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ?  Would the bulk of what's described about your life be for all you did for Jesus or would it be about a bunch of things that don't mean anything in light of eternity? 

Today is the day before we celebrate unlike most any other day of the year.  

My Dear Reader, Christmas begins in your heart, not your wallet.  Be who you were meant to be in Christ Jesus and you will change the world.  What greater gift, outside of the free gift of salvation, can be given to anyone

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Savior

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Savior 
by David Brenneman 

"For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus;" ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭7:5‭-‬6.

When many people look at Christians they don't think that they measure up, that they "can do that".  My Dear Reader, it has nothing to do with your abilities!  Dr. John MacArthur wrote a book a long time ago called "Twelve Ordinary Men".  A very good approximation of the lives of the 12 Disciples.  

When someone says yes to the free Gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ...He begins the work in us.  Sometimes referred to as the Great Physician, Jesus is the one we are to trust with any and all changes in our lives that are right, true, and essential to Godly living. 

When you seek out the help and expertise of a human Doctor, you don't pour over all their education and review their entire work history do you?  You don't brush up on what it means to be a Doctor before you allow them to operate do you?  

The Disciples, those men of God, followed the words of Jesus and created more Disciples.  Teaching them all that Jesus commanded.  These too had to learn similar lessons that these had learned.  After them, others were so trained. 

Our lives are in the hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We aren't to be fussing over what parts of our former life that we want to keep.  Many activities we just won't be wanting to do anymore. Some we might actually be anxious to be rid of.  Still others will have never entered our minds that we might be doing. 

"afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us"...really take this in.

Paul wrote of being anxious about nothing because he struggled with it.  He wrote about it.  He was thoroughly consumed with concerns for all the churches.  He knew depression well.  Locked up and unable to visit the churches.  My Dear Reader you're in good company.  Likewise, that same Jesus is there for you as He was for Paul.

We should not put on an air of peace and contentment when the reality is quite the opposite.  We are to bring whatever is on our hearts to Jesus to deal with.   That's just normal Christian living.  

We are to give thanks in all things.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  When life is painful and when it isn't.  When we're worried and when we are not.  Worry does happen in the lives of Believers.  We all have a sin nature yet to deal with.  Worry, when it's finally brought to Jesus, becomes a prayer.  When it makes laps in our minds it goes nowhere.  So let it out, regardless of reasoning, to let Jesus know how much you hurt, of how much you need Him.

The people who are in the Christmas story are also ordinary people.  Flawed human beings with a history.  We all have a history.  Things we've done, said, to ourselves and others.  Things we regret not doing or saying.  Those in the account written by Luke were ordinary people.  They were special in only one way...they were chosen by God. 

What's your life like?  Thinking it's too much this time of year?  I know that feeling well.  Our world is increasingly becoming against all things to do with Jesus.  They would rather Christmas be only about sales and profits for any other reason than that of the birth of Jesus.  

My mind goes back to family gatherings. Filling a house with family and friends.  Seems so long ago...but the bookends reveal that for those in Christ it will be once again.  Those ordinary people who are saved will celebrate the family reunion of all family reunions.  

The greatest treasure and gift of all is not in what we get or give in this here and now.  It's all about what Jesus did for us. 

Keeping our minds right with an attitude of thanksgiving for all He has done will go a long way with regards to our own inadequacies.  Be thankful.  We should never think we're able to thwart the plan of God for us. My Dear Reader, you and I are simply not that powerful.  

Have worries? Have concerns? Have a stressful life?  May seem weird...but thank God for it.  Ask for His help in dealing with it.  Know that it's ok that it's too much for isn't for Jesus. 

Pray on, pray over, pray through this time of year.  You, my ordinary reader, have the Great Physician, Great Counselor, Great Teacher, at your disposal at all times.  Doesn't charge a deductible, cares not if you think that you can afford it.  He’s covered all the costs.  

Merry Christmas!

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Not forgetting

Not forgetting, the Peril's of Excitement 
by David Brenneman 

Give thanks with a grateful heart,
give thanks to the Holy One;
give thanks, because he’s given
Jesus Christ, his Son.
Give thanks with a grateful heart,
give thanks to the Holy One;
give thanks, because he’s given
Jesus Christ, his Son.

And now let the weak say ‘I am strong’,
let the poor say ‘I am rich’,
because of what the Lord has done for us;
and now let the weak say ‘I am strong’,
let the poor say ‘I am rich’,
because of what the Lord has done for us.
Give thanks…
-Henry Smith 1978. "Give Thanks"

Are there dangers in getting excited?  There can be if it's for the wrong reasons. 

When we forget to thank God in our excitement for what He's doing or has done, it's a slippery slope.  Many times we read in the Old Testament of the almost countless times the people didn't remember to be thankful.  

The good, the bad and the ugly truth is giving thanks is still on each of us daily.  Remembering isn't always easy.   

In a few days there's likely to be presents opened. Excitement is a probability.  Even for some, a measure of disappointment, in not getting something they really wanted.  

"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  

Everything, much like the definition of all, is completely encompassing. All means all and that's all all means.  Everything means everything and that's what everything means.  

When you feel like it and when you don't.  

We are always in the right position when we're coming at life with thanksgiving. 

Remembering the real reason for Christmas ought to bring you closer to a thankful heart.  

"Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms." Psalms 95:2.

"I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing praises to You before the gods.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name." Psalms 138:1-2.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6.

In your praying for this or that, remember what you have to be thankful for. 

Possessions are a fleeting thing.  They are for but a moment.  They either meet our expectations or they don't.  What's rather interesting is how possessions often reveal the heart.  They can cause idolatry to shine like the sun to where the person in question cannot see it themselves.  They can reveal a heart of compassion as well.  

When we get to that moment in the future, when what our lives revealed about our life in Christ, thankfulness is what's to come next.  The crown we receive is given back to Jesus out of thanksgiving for all He did for us, to us and through us.

Before you let the potential excitement get the best of you...take a moment to consider all that the Savior has been to you this year.  He only wants your relationship to get deeper and stronger in the remaining years you have until either He calls you home or He returns. 

Give thanks with a grateful heart...

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

What have You done that Matters?

What have You done that Matters?
by David Brenneman 

"Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—  for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.  Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:6‭-‬10‬.

Paul wrote this oh so long ago, yet, like all the Scriptures its so relevant to today.  "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him." 

Taking stock of this last year, how important was this for you?  How many times did it cross your mind to pour time, energy and effort into what you knew was going to be pleasing to Jesus?  Selfishness is easy, not being selfish takes a great deal of effort.  We're born selfish.  We're born not wanting to consider the needs of others.  We've a world that is sin cursed that proves this daily.

Was reading last night of how life is going to be after the 7 year Great Tribulation judgment.  For a thousand years the people of Earth will not be training for wars with anyone else.  Nobody will be in need of hospitals or funeral services.  Those who die before they reach 900 or so will be considered accursed.  Peace will be prevalent.  Jesus Himself will rule the world.  Satan's influence will be cut off for those 1,000 years.  

To get to that thousand years though, a time that is unparalleled in human history is going to take place.  Those who are saved, those who had been saved, and those who come to Christ for salvation during the Great Tribulation will forever be with Jesus.  The physical people still here will be living that life that the world has never seen before.

In this here this you look back over the important is your closeness to Jesus to you?  How important is it to you to get to know Him better?   

"For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:14‭-‬15

Growing in Christ, becoming more like Christ, is exceedingly abundantly, more important than anything that the world holds dear.  We are to be His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that we might walk in them.  Denying self and taking up our own cross isn't as easy as it sounds.  Any in basic training have to make a constant, serious, concerted effort to deny self in order to succeed in their training to become the soldier for which they enlisted to be.  

It's also not about being like so-and-so. It's not you being as this particular Godly man or that Godly woman.  It's you being the best you can be for Jesus through your walk with Him.  Colossians 3:23-25 "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality."

Jesus is certainly, through the Spirit, working heartily in you. Can you say the same?

You who are in Christ are as much a fisher of men as the Disciples.  You are not all going to use the same bait as others.  Anyone who's done any fishing knows that the bait has to be appropriate to the fish.  The Spirit will teach those willing to learn how to fish the waters they frequent.  The Spirit draws people. It's just for us to point them to Jesus.  

So when you are thinking about your here and now...consider just how much of what you do, say and think.  How much time do you take saying to yourself that you can't do that to yourself and to God?   Many times in my life I have been brought back to the lesson of if God brought me to it, He will see me through it. 

This Christmas is about our Savior coming to Earth to make a way to save humanity.  To make it possible for you to have a real relationship with Jesus.  Are you seeing His hands in your life?  Because they most certainly are there.  

Have you made what's important to Jesus important to you?   It may not look at all like what you are expecting.  What matters is if what you're doing will earn you a "Well done" from Jesus. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.  This isn't a "good suggestion" it's a way of life.  

What can you do better going into next year?  Next week? Tomorrow?  Today?

Your level of experience doesn't matter. 
Your level of obedience does matter. 
Noah had no experience with boat building. 
Daniel had no experience taming lions. 
Moses had no experience leading people or addressing world leaders. 
Joseph went from behind a shepherd of sheep to running a country. 
When Jonah finally obeyed, a country turned to God.  

When Isaiah's sin wasn't in the way, he said "Here am I! Send me!"  Asking Jesus to forgive you cleanses you in the same way.  

Where you go next is up to you.  
What you do next is up to you. 

Both will be reflected on that day you stand before Jesus to give an account of your life.  So, as Dr. Charles Stanley taught...obey God and leave the consequences to Him.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

When You Just Don't Know

When You Just Don't Know 
by David Brenneman 

For someone who thinks a lot, tries to learn what I find interesting, quite often I don't know what to say either to people or to my Savior in prayer. 

I am uncertain if it's to have been written of earlier than now or not, but, sharing something like this is somewhat difficult for me.  With more times than I can count, God's shown me that He's gifted me with an ability to troubleshoot problems.  Has had me learn more and more with no clear explanation at the time as to why.  With all of this...after we moved ability to pursue things has significantly diminished.  My desire to be ambitious or zealous of going after things has significantly dropped off.  I have been trying to seek Godly counsel.  Been trying to understand this stage of life for me.

A pair of really prevalent passages has been Proverbs 3:5-7 "Trust inthe Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." and Proverbs 16:9 "The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps." have been with me for months now.

As a student, I have come to conclude that understanding may only come with time, but not always.  

Sometimes I find myself interacting with people ready to give advice who have yet to sit down with me to understand who I am and what my true story is.   It was several days ago where I mentioned finding that quote by Walt Whitman "Be curious, not judgemental.".  More people have judged me before ever trying to get to know me than I can count.  To borrow a passage from the Bible...probably as many as the sands of the seashore.  

When you think as much as I do on many things at once as I do...grappling for a conclusion is difficult.  But what does the Bible say about not knowing what, how, who and where?  Look no further than the book of Job.  Really look into Psalms and Proverbs.  Read the ending chapters of Daniel.  When taking in the writings of Paul you can gather the truth of disciples that we are, are in training in righteousness.  When we look at basic training in the military, if a new recruit knew ahead of time what was coming, they probably wouldn't attempt what the lesson was about.  

Quite often the Spirit whom the Bible says is our Helper, our Teacher, essentially our Instructor, takes a Believer through something they may not get a reason why. 

Try thinking in my favorite place...outside the box. 

Life is going rather well.  Ever thought about why? 
Life is going rather rough.  Ever thought about why?
Life is going really good. Ever thought about why?
Life is going extremely rough. Ever thought about why?

Many times we're so into the moment we don't think to question it unless the complexity of it really gets our attention.  

In those harder times it's much easier to probably ask God what's going on?  Have I done something to bring this about?  Should I have turned left instead of right? 

David wrote a lot about his feelings and emotions in the book of Psalms.  Job wrote straight from the heart.  Everything else had been stripped away by his pain.  Yet we don't read that he ever knew what had happened to him. That he was front and center of a epic Spiritual battle in the heavens and on Earth. 

Not understanding is ok.  Job lived out his remaining years without knowing and he and his family turned out right.

Knowing actually can become a truly painful experience.  On the road to Damascus, Saul, still breathing threats against what was known as "The Way", had an encounter with Jesus who took his sight for a time.  In his apparent silence, Saul was getting a one-on-one education of truth from the Spirit.  He was having his now new Spiritual eyes opened. Learning the truth about the Scriptures that he had been trained in all his life.  He was getting to know everything that he only thought he knew.  It rocked him to his core.  His house that was built on the sand was moved to being on the Rock. 

It's possible to have peace in not knowing.  Sometimes, I have just had the notion to ask God about things only because I am curious to know.  Sometimes He's answered plainly.  Sometimes He's shown me things that are for me alone.  Things that I was blessed to experience.

Why all of this?  I would ask those reading it for prayer.  I am still rediscovering myself since moving here.  The stress we left isn't here.  The need to constantly be in survival mode isn't there. Opening up isn't as easy as life had been before 20 plus years in that wilderness.  I struggle greatly at creating new friends.  Being that vulnerable isn't easy for me.  I am praying that I find a new job that is a better fit for me.  Am praying that my creativity returns.  I desire to learn always, and there are just obstacles in the way of some of those things.  I want to learn the guitar.  Would like to get into more complex woodworking projects.  Would like to find friends here with similar interests.  Would like to connect with some men of God who would really like to get into my life to help me grow in Christ.  

Growing in Christ is but one key reason we go through so much that we don't recognize as lessons from God.  Growing in Christ is a simple but complex process that He began in us when we came to Christ Jesus for salvation.  Growing in Christ is supposed to attract others to Christ as well.  A developing career that doesn't include Christ is worthless.  

So if, My Dear Reader, you're confused about where your life is going, it's ok.

If we don't trust Jesus in every high and every low, we won't trust Him when everything is going well in all the ways we should.  Our own understanding will get us in trouble every time.  We'll want to pull out of difficult times when He says to hang on. We will run ahead of Him in our excitement when the best course of action is stay behind Him.  We will be in trouble.

Take time to always be in prayer, even if you don't know what to say.  The Spirit really shines in those times.  The Bible promises that He intercedes on our behalf with groanings too deep for words.  I don't know how to really pray.  I can talk to God all the time about what I understand life to be.  I need the Spirit within me to say what I really mean to do you. 

When we read if the eternity to come when Jesus promised to wipe every single tear from our eyes, think of this.  Those tears just won't be from the painful experiences of our lives.  It will also be because only then will we understand much of what was really happening.  We will have tears of joy that He will wipe as well. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.  The mind of man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps. 

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Who Was (Is) He?

Who Was (Is) He?
by David Brenneman 

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." John 1:1-5

"Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 
Luke 1:26-33.

"In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”" Luke 2:8-14.

There's no way to suppose that in such a short amount of time any writer could contain all that could be written about who Jesus was or is today.  

To many He’s the bane of their existence. They hate everything to do with the mention of His Name.  They shake a fist at God for they would rather embrace their sins and sinful ways rather than to turn from them.  They either secretly or openly grope around in the darkness that is sin not wanting anything to do with the Light of Christ Jesus.  They've no desire to hear anything about the birth of Jesus Christ or why He came.  No desire to hear of their need for a Savior.  Sadly, many go to their grave in this anger and wake up in Hell still raging at the torment they will now endure for all eternity. Certainly like unreasoning animals they will not in this life or the next realize the truth of God is absolute, not their way of thinking or belief. 

To those who have embraced the Light of Jesus Christ, a new dawning on what life is really about begins.  Regardless of how agonizing life can be, their future is set in stone.  Written in the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ in His Book of Life.  They learn to love as He first loved them. 

I saw a saying yesterday that is extremely profound.  Coming to Christ isn't just about loving Jesus, it's about loving Judas too.  

Those who do embrace the true meaning of Christmas know that the birth of the Savior was foretold centuries earlier in exquisite, finite detail.  

From before His birth to the day He died on that cross...Satan had tried hundreds of times to kill Him.  Satan's minions raged at His very existence.  Should He succeed at His reason for being here on Earth, his failure would be a certainty.  

More than any man who ever lived, Satan wanted Jesus dead. If he couldn't turn Him to himself, he wanted Him dead. Failure wasn't an option for Satan, but oh how failing he did.  The Father’s decree was to give this same Jesus authority to lay down His own life and to be able to take it up again.  

This same Jesus would allow, would indeed welcome, all the sins of all humanity to be heaped upon Him on that cross.  Every single sin that ever has or would happen. 

Who would volunteer for something such as this?  Who would not just jump in front of a train to save someone but every train? Who would leap on not just a grenade but every single one, to save all?  This Jesus would and did.

This same Jesus sits on His Throne, awaiting a day set by His Father to stand and come back once more to receive all who have looked forward to His appearing.  Scripture says that a great global earthquake will accompany this grand event.  My personal opinion is that the joy expressed in Heaven will be so grand and so great it will be the source of this earthquake.  Everyone in His presence right now would know why He’s standing up. 

Who was He?  He was the foretold One to come who would take away the sins of the world.  He was the One who had to be the perfect sacrificial for sin. He was the One who could only be to endure the cross.  He was the One, beloved by His Father, who would love you and I with a love that the world cannot understand. 

Who is He?  Right now He is the fulfillment of every single prophecy concerning Himself.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He is the Intercessor.  He defends His own against all the accusations of Satan that he presents to Him daily.  He is the One who loved every single person who has ever lived, regardless of if they rage at Him or not.

He will honor their choice. In His success at the cross, choice was handed to humanity.  Choice to accept or reject the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.  Choice that isn't without consequences.  

Jesus, this same Jesus, is going to return at an hour you do not expect.  My Dear Reader, if you've believed what you have read so far, keep on believing that as well. 

Jesus is the identity of Believers.  We who are in Christ are being transformed daily, through obedience to God's Word, into His likeness.  We are not who we once were.  The gift of salvation because of Jesus is free to all who would ask.  Our identity isn't in our world's definitions of it. 

Think about that during this Christmas season. 

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Who Am I?

Who Am I?
by David Brenneman 

Identity is something that we grapple with almost from birth.  We're born, and soon thereafter we're walking and talking. Deciding what we like and what we don't like.  Choosing to follow in the footsteps of others or paving our own way.  Genetically, we're predisposed towards male or female, as God saw fit. It's not a matter of mental choice as some have come to conclude.  

Upon making choices concerning identity we begin to understand that there are consequences with decisions.  Every left turn has as much a consequence as a right.  Every breath we breathe is not our own, this too is a gift from God just as much as our gender. 

Moving forward in our years we are influenced by others, either for the good or for the bad.  Some have our best interests in mind, some, are out to elevate themselves at our expense.  

Our choices are at stake every day.  It began so long ago but continues throughout our lives.  Every single person will inevitably come to a point of addressing the need to know if indeed they have denied or accepted the truth about life as presented by God.  What we choose concerning this will determine our identity for all eternity. 

Without salvation in Christ Jesus, the sentence of death is assured as per the Word of God.  Though they may walk, talk, buy, sell, think, sleep and eat, those who've rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior stand condemned.  The very breath they breathe is a gift of God with the hope from Him that in due time they might change their minds.  The Biblical word for grace is what is played out concerning this. God's unmerited favor...that's what grace means.  Without accomplishing anything of eternal relevance people who've rejected Christ are living empty lives.  While their lives might appear full and they may want for nothing, emptiness defines them.  Fears that they never were meant to carry alone are the waters in which they are drowning.  The truth of Jesus's words are always true of everyone "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul? What would a man give in exchange for his soul?".  A life defined without Jesus is condemned already. Eternal death, that is, a complete permanent separation from God awaits all who reject Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  Not a separation that any understand or know, but one of painful torment. Paying the price themselves for all eternity for their own sins. 

The alternative is to seek out the relationship, the life in Christ that He desires so much to have with each of us.  To know the length and width and height of the love of God in Christ Jesus.  To understand that we cannot be right before the Righteous Lord of all creation in our own merits.  A life in Christ Jesus brings His righteousness to bear on all our sins. Erasing them completely.  Removing them from the equation.  When God the Father looks upon any Believer, He sees the Savior who is Christ the Lord.  Though Believer's stumble and fall because of daily sins, they are forgiven because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Forgiveness is available to all who believe.  A relationship with Jesus is what defines these individuals.  Hope is now possible.  The beginnings of an eternity with Jesus start to define them.  The sentence of death is done away with.  Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  This freedom is only possible by coming to Jesus to be saved, receiving His free gift of salvation that only He provides.  

My Dear Reader, your eternal identity is one or the other of these two.  It's not about success, fame, or fortune. It's not about failure, no notoriety or lack of anything.  Who you are on this matter of salvation is who you are for all eternity.

You are either saved in Christ Jesus or you are not. You are either going to spend eternity getting to know Jesus and all that comes with it or you will spend eternity with the regret of choosing to reject Him. Paying in painful ways that you have never experienced before, forever.  

The gift of salvation isn't like the sin that started humanity down this road.  You must choose.  There is no fence of indecision. Only Jesus writes your name in the Book of Life.  The Spirit of God will someday testify to that signature or will show that you said no.  This choice is for you alone to make.  Once you physically die, that's it.  Nobody can buy your passage from Hell to get you into Heaven's door.  Only Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Father to cover sin. Money or possessions, status, nothing else is going to cut it.

So, my Dear Reader, forgetting what you look like, forgetting where you work, who's family you belong to...forgetting everything else...where do you stand concerning being saved or not?  

When Jesus comes again it will be to take all who are saved in Christ Jesus, those who have died will be resurrected to have a new body first. Those who are alive and are saved will be next.  Hell on Earth awaits those who have rejected the gift of salvation for the next 7 years.  While people will be saved during this time, you don't want to be here.

At the appointed time after those 7 years and the thousand year that Jesus rules this world, there will be a final judgment day.  No questions will be asked concerning who is saved and who is not.

Jesus will separate those who are from those who are not Himself.  There are no do overs, no second chances. 

You can know today that you are saved.  The way is through Jesus Christ alone. 

Let your true identity be found in Christ. He’s waiting with open arms to receive you to Himself. 

"But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 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. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:8-13 NASB 

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Not What We Thought

Not What We Thought 
by David Brenneman 

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many." ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3‭-‬11‬.

"Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You as a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.’" Matthew 25:37-40.

Life, according to the wisdom of the world, is about what you can get out of it.  It's about your achievements, your money, your possessions. It's about where you go, where you have been, who you've known or have been known by.

Life in Christ Jesus is about being in Him, the Vine.  Of being about the Father’s business.  Of denying self and taking up our own cross and following Jesus.  It's putting off the old self and it's practices and putting on the new in Christ.  

Hardly complimentary of each other.  Pretty much oil and water.  Jesus, in the sermon on the Good Samaritan, pointed out how words need to follow up with actions.  Pharisees, Sadducees, Levites and priests, by outward appearance have it all together in serving God.  Yet in His example in the Good Samaritan, it was the ordinary man who was a doer of the Word.  It was the ordinary day-to-day guy who saw someone in need and regardless of how it looked to others, jumped in to help. 

In Christ we have learning to do and it's coupled with applications.  The Spirit teaches by thoughts, by the Word of God and by application.  

It's the example of the Disciples that sets people who are true Christians from those who like the idea of Christianity.  True Christians will inevitably get their fingers dirty in the applications through the Spirit. 

Quite often a Believer will be lead to run into the fire rather than run the other way.  

A life in Christ is to be a reflection of Christ.  We only get a glimpse of it in the Gospels but it's there enough to show us the way.   Jesus said of Himself that He is the Way.   Not just the Way to Heaven but the way to live.  The Disciples were being taught to see the world differently.  Were taught to let go of the importance of impressing people.  Were taught to let go of the craving for possessions.  Were taught that indeed that living in Christ Jesus was going to bring sufferings.  

Thing is sufferings happen to those who are Believers and to those who aren't.  A sin cursed world shows zero partiality.  It's an equal opportunity ruiner of lives.  The Believer has the ability in Christ to overcome the world.  The unbelieving have to deal with the fact that they aren't able to...calling it things like fate.  

There's but one fate that befalls all men and women...that on a day set by the Father...all will stand before Jesus either willingly or not they will confess Him to be Lord.  All will give an account of their lives to Jesus. The Believers will show what they did in their lives for Christ and see that turned into a crown to give back to Jesus. The unbelieving will see just how their lives weren't enough to enter into His rest, into Heaven.  Lastly they will be shown that their names were not written in His Book of Life.  Sealing their fate that eternal separation from God is their eternal painful torment. 

We should be ready both to suffer for living for Jesus as well as be ready to bless others, showing the love of Christ to others. 

"You came from heaven to earth to show the way. From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay. From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky. Lord I lift Your name on high!" 

Life was meant to be a growing relationship with Jesus. From the Garden of Eden it is seen that Adam and Eve were created for a life yet to be seen in its entirety.  A life in unhindered fellowship with Jesus.  Coming to Christ begins us all on that road back to that. There's much to unload to get there.  Personal thoughts and feelings. Emotions and emotional attachments.  Perception of life.  Perceptions of death. Perceptions of God and of His Christ.  There's things to let go of.  Things to agree with Jesus on that are true because He said so.  Things that are what He says they are. 

The world wants us lulled into their false sense of security.  Wants us so into compromise that we fail to believe or admit that it's happening to us.  Do a word study in the Bible on idolatry and it's impact on your relationship with Jesus.  Do a word study on what selfishness is about and how it ruins your ability to add to those things which might become that crown you might have given to Jesus.

Giving indeed is a part of this time of year.  Receiving is actually the lesser of the two.  Jesus said it is better to give than to receive.  

Contentment is never to be sought after from anyone or anything in this world...not in the lives of those who are called in Christ Jesus.  

I am blessed in many ways physically. Am blessed in many ways by way of possessions.  Take a good look at all cemeteries...there's no place for your U-Haul to park for your possessions.  

If my life were to end today, my destination is going to be Heaven with my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Living for Jesus is what my heart is set on doing.  Whatever the Spirit puts at my hands to do, that's what it is.  If someone is in need, and the Spirit says to go and do, then go and do it is.  I make it a point every day to ask for forgiveness from Jesus for those things that I didn't do and should have, both the known and the unknown because I wasn't looking.  The world doesn't want us to have the time to be looking.  Our sin nature doesn't want us to have the time, energy, to be looking. 

If you died today, would you be anxious about where you are going?  If you can point to a time when you came to Christ for salvation, there's nothing to worry about.  If you cannot, then, my Dear Reader why put it off?  Settle that score today.  Lay it to rest.  The world will always tell you what you might lose by coming to Christ, but it can NEVER tell you what you will gain...because it has no understanding of it.

Jesus came as a baby, lived a sinless life among many who tried to kill Him.  Showed us He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Died a horrible death on a cross for all mankind and arose 3 days later defeating sin death and the grave.  All that remains for you is to receive His free gift of salvation.  

"But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 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. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:8-13.

Christmas is much more than we thought.
Jesus is much more than we thought. 

All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.