Fearless?

Are you fearless for Christ? I confess that I am not. Sometimes I feel consumed by fear and worry about the future, and I am afraid to step out in faith to follow God’s prompting. Jesus showed me what fearless looks like, when He sacrificed His life for mine.​

  “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16 NLT

NOT only am I afraid to offer my life, I’m afraid to take a tiny step of faith and give to the church. Many of you know that I lost my job one year ago, and haven’t found anything suitable in that time. Despite my lack of faith, God has provided. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy. The bills aren’t always paid on time, and I have to decide which one has to wait another month….. but they all get paid, even though it’s not in my time frame. Today I stepped out in faith and pledged a small monthly amount to my radio station. It’s a Christ radio station, listener supported, and the songs I hear are always the message I need at the time – even if I don’t like the song or the message. I know that God will honor my faith. Remember the mustard seed? A mustard seed is just about the size of the period at the end of this sentence…. tiny!

  “The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you!” – Luke 17:6 NLT

How fearless are you?

(All scriptures quoted from http://bible.com)


Build Me Up, Then Cut Me Down

 “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,  and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.” – Jude 1:20‭-‬21 NLT

I had a plan on what I was going to write today, based on verses 20-21, but it seems that God has another plan for today. Previously, I was writing about the dangers of listening to false prophets. Jude expands on this by talking about false teachers. It amazes me to realize that we – humans across the earth – can’t seem to grasp these truths after thousands of years ….. and even more amazed that our LORD, the God Who created us, hasn’t given up on us! Listen closely to what Jude has to say:

  “Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful. And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment. …. In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings. …. But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) …. What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion. …. These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want. …. They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.” – Jude 1:3‭-‬6‭, ‬8‭-‬9‭, ‬11‭, ‬16‭‭, ‬18‭-‬19 NLT

It sounds familiar because it is familiar. From the beginning of man’s existence, we have rebelled against God, and to what end? I’ve said many times we have only two choices; two ways to turn in our lives. Right or wrong, good or bad, Love or hate, God….. or satan. What do we do about this; how do we fight against it? Jude gives some great advice here:

  “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the Power of the Holy Spirit, and await the Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will bring you Eternal Life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s Love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Now ALL GLORY to GOD, Who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into His Glorious Presence without a single fault. All glory to Him Who Alone is GOD, our Savior through Jesus Christ our LORD. All Glory, Majesty, Power, and Authority are His BEFORE all time, and in the PRESENT, and BEYOND all time! AMEN.” –Jude 1:20‭-‬25 NLT

We MUST build each other up! I wonder if the phrase “Hate the sin, love the sinner” came from reading this passage. As Jude says: “…. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” (Jude 1:23b) In a sense, rhe phrase is correct, but remember his caution as well. It is so easy to be swept into behaviors that we know aren’t wrong, just so we can be accepted by our peers. I certainly can’t tell you how many times I have chosen inaction, only to be drawn into things I knew were wrong, or how many more times it will happen. After sharing my testimony for the first time, I was approached by people that I had known for about a year, and who were friends of a family member. They didn’t known me as THAT sister…. They knew me as a different person than they had heard about, and had judged “that sister” for her actions. Having heard my back story through my testimony,  they realized how wrong their judgment was. They hadn’t know my situation or what led me to the decisions I had made, or the truth of why I had given up my child. I say all this to emphasize what Jude said. Again, read verses 22-23:

  “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” 

We must show mercy, remembering always the Mercy we have been shown through Jesus Christ. We can’t know what has happened in someone’s life that led them to the decisions they have made, but we can reach out to them with the Love of Christ Jesus. That’s OUR choice as Christians. “Love Mercy, walk Humbly…..” (Mercy Me). 

Echo Canyon Amphitheater, Northern New Mexico 2016

(All scriptures quoted are from http://www.bible.com )

Who Knew?

When God said these Words thousands of years ago to the Israelites, He knew they would be true for us today. I substituted our nation in the following scriptures to show His Words to us.
​  “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the GOD of [America], says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of [the United States of America], trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, because they are telling you lies in My Name. I have not sent them …. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ” – Jeremiah 29:8-9,11 NLT

There are so many false prophets today! Look at the messages being broadcast on national television, plus all of the other media out reaches there are. Giving money will not get you closer to God. Having a charlatan lay His hands on you and pronounce you healed won’t do anything to save you. Lavish sets and thousand dollar suits and dresses don’t show the gospel. Million dollar buildings can’t get you any closer to God, and expecting God to make you rich will only bring spiritual defeat. 

Have I offended you yet?

A truly committed, saved by Grace pastor won’t waste his preaching and teaching time to exhort money from his flock. His burning desire will be to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen. He will be a humble man, and he will be more concerned with his people than the building where they meet. It is the Elders and the deacons duty to oversee the care and feeding of the flock, and the head shepherd (the pastor) to oversee it, but also to not be averse to doing whatever needs to be done. His focus should be God first, his wife second only to the LORD, thirdly his children, and then his church flock. That’s the example Jesus gave and lived.

I’m not saying all television pastors are false prophets, and there are great men of God leading some of the biggest churches. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts completely. Great men are almost always bad men.” (From a letter written by Lord Acton, historian and moralistic, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887.)  Men called by the LORD don’t want control, they just want to preach as God called them to do. Having said all that, there still have to be funds to maintain the buildings, and to pay a living wage to the pastor in order for him to devote his life to spreading the Gospel. Nobody – NOBODY – needs millions of dollars to live, and many, many pastors work other jobs besides pastoring to they can provide for their families. 

It is imperative we test our leaders, and that our leaders test tnemselves. Paul and John both wrote about this:

  “…. but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21‭-‬22 NLT

  “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from GOD. For there are many false prophets in the world. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.” – 1 John 4:1‭, ‬3 NLT

  “Our actions will show that we belong to the Truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.” – 1 John 3:19 NLT

Look at yourself first before looking at anyone else. (“Look At Yourself” by Uriah Heap. Great song!) We are sinners, saved by Grace and not by works, according to the Gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ. Our preachers and teachers are human, just as we are, and they are not infallible. There will be times when they will stumble and even fall, and it is our job to help them. When Jeremiah wrote his words to the Israelites,  I’m quite sure he didn’t know they would be read by me. I’m pretty certain he didn’t know they would still be true today …… but God knew. 

Don’t judge them; PRAY for them instead. 

(All scriptures quoted from http://bible.com)

KING Of Kings

 “Yours, O LORD, is the Greatness, the Power, the Glory, the Victory, and the Majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One Who is over ALL things.” –1 Chronicles 29:11 NLT

Who am I to dispute this? 

C.S. Lewis, well known scholar, and author of the Narnia books, the Screwtape Letters and more, was a staunch atheist for many years. He began his study of the Bible so that he could disprove it, and instead, he was convinced of the existence of the Almighty LORD and the Sovereignty of Jesus Christ. He had disputed the validity of the scriptures, and after he studied them extensively, accepted Christ as his Savior.  Quite a change. If such a scholarly, well learned man could understand this Truth, who am I to dispute it?

Is it time you faced the truth? “EVERYTHING in the heavens and on earth” belongs to God. I belong to Him, and YOU belong to Him. I said yesterday that the idea of being a slave chafs me, but the truth of the matter is that regardless of my irritation I either belong to God or the world – i.e., Satan, the enemy. We often choose the enemy because of the illusion of beauty and power He presents to us. The idea that we can control our destiny is mesmerizing, and it is false. Throughout life, we are constantly faced with choices, and every choice has two sides. Right or wrong, God’s way or the enemy’s way. We justify our actions and decisions, but does that make them the right choices? Our human nature causes us to stumble continually because we take our eyes away from God and replace the “view” with desire for power. James says it so well:

  “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” – James 3:13‭-‬17 NLT

There will be a Judgement Day. Each one of us will stand before the throne of the Almighty LORD, and hear of our shortcomings and failures as presented by the enemy. “…. every knee shall bow…” This statement brings me such HOPE! When Paul says “EVERY knee,” I know he means that nothing; NOBODY, will remain standing. ALL of God’s creations, including Satan, because he was created when God created the angels, will bow. No matter how much he fights, he ultimately loses.

  “…. at the Name of Jesus EVERY knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10‭-‬11 NLT

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy losing. I like being on the winning team, and that’s where I choose to be. As a child, I was often picked last for teams because I wasn’t very good at sports. With God, I know I am as valuable as any of the other team members. I know this because He sent His Son to suffer and die and return to life – for ME. He did it for you, too. Which team do you choose? Take a knee for Jesus!!!

(All scriptures quoted from http://bible.com)

REBEL

My life has been filled with rebellion. Even now, as an official senior citizen, I still rebel. I don’t like people telling me what to do, or what I should do, and my actions can be unpleasing to God. So why do I do it? What is it that keeps us from living totally honest and honorable lives, especially in situations where being less than these only hurt us?

  “It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.” – 1 Peter 2:15‭-‬16 NLT

I think that verse 16 might give us an idea of why we rebel – why I rebel. The idea of being a slave grates on my nerves, but not the idea of living for Christ and being in God’s will. It’s a bit of a dichotomy. On the one hand, my heart’s desire is to live for Christ; to be the honorable person God wants me to be. Please don’t misunderstand me. I try hard to be an honest, honorable person. My word is important to me. If I say I will be somewhere or do something, I fully intend to do it. Like the old saying, “God willing and the creek don’t rise….” I’ll be there. Unfortunately, being human, my word isn’t always what I want it to be. A situation may arise, or I could become distracted from my plan. As Robert Burns wrote, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft a’gley.”

  “In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; He saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear Him.” “…. You [I] love Him even though you [I] have never seen Him. Though you [I] do not see Him now, you [I] trust Him; and you [I] rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible Joy. The reward for trusting Him will be the Salvation of your [my] souls.” – Psalms 34:6-7, 1 Peter 1:8-9 NLT

Hallelujah and thank You, LORD, for sending Your Son to save me! And that You for Your forgiveness and grace over my human frailties and failures. Amen.

All scriptures are from http://bible.com

I Am Selfish 

I like things to be done my way. There’s a little plaque sitting on the kitchen bar that says “I’m not bossy, I just know what you should be doing.” I’m sure some psychologist or psychiatrist or counselor will read that line and say, “Oh, she has control issues” …. and they will be correct in their assessment. Just don’t get too comfortable in that diagnosis until you have walked in my shoes for a bit. 

  “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:3‭-‬4 NLT

As far back as I can remember, I was trying to impress someone. My older brother and I are very close in age, and as children we were often mistaken for twins. I was thrilled to be seen as his twin; He detested it. My goal in life as a little girl was to be included in whatever he was doing, and I think his goal was to get away from his pesty little sister! Fairly typical, I would imagine …. not many boys want a ” lost puppy” little sister following them around all the time. 

That need to be accepted followed me into young adulthood. I was a Christian, having accepted Jesus as my Savior at an early age. In my childs mind, I wanted my brother to love me like Jesus did. Now I know how impossible that is. No human can possibly love like Jesus did, like He DOES! Instead of resting secure in the ccompleteness and Love of Jesus, I began a lifelong search for the impossible: a man to love me and take care of me, one I could physically hold on to. Boy, did I hold on! I made choices based on looks and on how they made me feel needed. After they got what they were after, whatever it was to them, I would be left adrift in a sea of despair and helplessness. My solution? Reach for another man. While I was wallowing in that desperation, I lost the ability to stay in contact with my family and friends. I lost people and things that were precious to me; I lost my health and I lost my SELF in all the mess. I kept on grasping at the people and things that were keeping me adrift instead of accepting the hand of my Savior, Who was standing right next to me the entire time. The Savior I refused to look at or acknowlege.

That’s about as selfish as a person can be. We keep ourselves so busy doing whatever we have decided is best for us, working on the most favorable impression to those surrounding us, wanting more and more “stuff.” (Have you seen the number of storage places around us???) How much more selfish can we be? Shouldn’t we be concentrating more on what God has to say?

  “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9‭-‬11 NKJV

Am I exalting Him in my life, or am I exalting myself? Am I content, or still grasping for world ingredients regard and approval? Am I ready to worship the LORD instead of the world yet? I want to join in this song!!

  “And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and Honor and Glory and Power belong to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” – Revelation 5:13 NLT

AMEN!

(Scriptures are from http://bible.com)

“Good” Friday?  

Warning: no punches pulled today. May be R-rated……

  “But God showed His Great Love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” – Romans 5:8 NLT

We call it Good Friday, to celebrate the day Jesus sacrificed Himself for us. SACRIFICED. How many of us understand what Jesus did? Even though His actions has been explained and expounded upon by many great scholars, I know there’s really no way I could ever really understand. Keep in mind, Jesus was INNOCENT, something you and I don’t get, because there is not a single person, before or since on this planet who can claim true innocence. So remember, this is a man who has never sinned; a man prepared to undertake the worst torture man has ever thought up.

God sent Christ to die for us… that almost sounds benign. Jesus was wounded, beaten, crucified. Sacrificed. Not just a few minor wounds. He was wounded, literally beaten to a pulp. The Romans were masters with torture techniques. First, after having been mocked, jeered at, and spit on by the soldiers, Jesus was tied to a post and His clothes ripped from His body. I don’t know if it was scorching hot or freezing cold, or some point in between, but here He is, the Son of GOD, naked and tied like an animal in front of a crowd intent on making fun of Him. He was beaten with a Roman scourging whip or what we call a cat-of-nine-tails. (For a very real and accurate explanation of the REAL Roman cat-of-nine-tails, the torture instrumen known as the flagrum, check out http://naturesdesignsonline.com/Cat-of-nine-tails.htm

After Jesus endured this absolutely incomprehensible beating, the soldiers crammed a “crown” made of some type of thorny plant onto His head. There is some discussion among scholars about what plant was actually used, but I can’t see that it significant, any more than what type of tree was used for the cross, or whether there were 39 or 40 stripes. Just imagine what it feels like to prick your finger on a tiny rose thorn or have a sand bur stuck in your finger, and multiply that by any number on your scalp. It would hurt, whether the thorns were tiny or large!

He was then dragged back to court to be sentenced to be crucified, another torture instrument the Romans used and perfected. By this time, He would have lost a lot of blood, and then men handling His bruised and slashed body were probably not being gentle! The Romans created the crucifixion to be a prolonged and incredibly painful way to die. The crosses weren’t smooth, but were instead roughly hewn, full of splinters. Archeological and historical evidence suggests that the uprights were left in place, to be ready to put the cross piece on. I’ve handled a lot of lumber in my life, and I can say without reservation that even a smallish cross beam would weigh at least 30 pounds, and possibly more depending on the exact size and type of wood. To add that weight and roughness to a back that is flayed into exposed muscle and tendon, on a man who has been weakened from blood loss, and expect him to carry it through crowded, uneven and steep streets….. 

Then, in front of His mother and His friends, naked, mutilated, His wrists laid out on the cross beam and nailed – NAILED – to the wood with rough iron nails; lifted up and dropped into place, then having His feet nailed to the upright…. I cannot comprehend the agony. Once, as a preteen, I stepped on a nail on a path and it penetrated my shoe and into my foot. THAT was agony to me, so how much more must Jesus have suffered? An accident for me, and He allowed Himself to be tortured like He was? WHY???

Why indeed…..

  “But He was  wounded for our transgressions, He  was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5 NKJV

I won’t understand why Jesus sacrificed Himself for me until I see Him. I can’t begin to comprehend the GLORY He gave up to come here, for ME. It makes absolutely no sense, yet I know without any doubt that He did it so that I could be forgiven and spend eternity with Him, rather than eternity suffering in hell. It’s amazing, that the King would do such a thing for someone like me! The really cool thing? He did it for YOU, too…

Love.