Every Thing, Every Moment, Every Thought

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The LORD is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GOD. And the Peace of GOD, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in CHRIST JESUS. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:4‭-‬8 NRSV

Lauren Dagle sings a song called “Trust In You.” It reminds me that GOD is with me, no matter what I face, no matter where I am, no matter who I am with. He may not move the mountain or part the waters for me the way I ask, but He knows what I am going through because He has already been there. He is right beside me through every challenge and situation, and lifting me when I can’t do it on my own. Perhaps part of the motivation for the letter to the Philippians was to remind them and to reassure them that they are not alone, even while telling them to submit their prayers, their requests, to the Father – with thanksgiving. If we do this, when we pray and worship Him with thanksgiving, then He promises us that He will cover us with His Peace. Do not worry about anything. Any thing.

Like Abraham, GOD has made promises to us. Remember that although he and his wife were well past the ages of creating a child of their bodies (99 and 90, respectively!), GOD had promised Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son and that he, Abraham, through that son, would be the father of many nations. Abraham believed, and he and Sarah were blessed with their son Issac. So GOD hasn’t given you the perfect job, or the perfect house, or the perfect spouse ….. did He promise you would have them? I think not. Does that mean we need to go out on our own, without GOD’s guidance, and acquire them ourselves? Lke Abraham, are we reaching and not waiting? Look at how his not being patient worked out for him, because we are still dealing with the result in the continuous conflicts and wars between the descendants of Issac and Ishmael.

Every Thing, Every Moment, Every Thought – that’s exactly where we need to be looking for GOD; extending our thanksgiving away from we want and into every thing we see of GOD’s Creation; in every moment we are given to breathe on this earth, and with every thought focused on GOD’s Will, rather than on our agenda. I end today with this prayer for you:

And may the Peace of GOD, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in CHRIST JESUS. Amen.

Photo image credit: http://www.open.edu

I Stand At The Door And Knock

The LORD said to John: “I reprove and discipline those whom I Love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear My Voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with Me. …. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the SPIRIT is saying to the churches.” – Revelation 3:19‭-‬20, 22 NRSV

JESUS is a gentleman, unlike His/our enemy who will slither into our lives through the slightest opening – just like the cockroach he is! Here in these verses from Revelations, JESUS is inviting us to the greatest banquet of all time! There’s no entrance fee, no tickets to buy, no bribes to be paid; just walk in through the door He is knocking on, the door to our souls that He is anxiously waiting to hold open for you – for me. No tricks, no lies, no fooling. Those things belong strictly to the enemy, who constantly bombards us with them. Why should we enter with the LORD now, rather than waiting? We need to be prepared, because we have no way of predicting exactly when JESUS will return and shut the door forever. He tells us what will happen if we aren’t ready when He returns in Luke 13:25 (NRSV).

“When once the Owner of the House [JESUS] has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘LORD, open to us,’ then in reply He will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ ”

Are you willing to take the chance of being locked out; left behind? Satan is busy busy busy these days, filling our ears with the lies that there’s no hurry to give up our sins or to go to JESUS now; after all, He’s been promising to return “soon” for over 2000 years! If you listen to the father of lies, he will convince you that it’s fine to stick with whatever we are doing, however sinful GOD says it is, because we are here, and JESUS isn’t. Lies; Liar! I tell you the truth; I lived that way for years until I finally recognized the deceitfulness and ugliness of the enemy of GOD. When we open our hearts to the LIGHT, all of the lies are illuminated in all of their darkness, to be seen for what they are. Being human, we want to slam the door shut so we can hide the blackness within – but it doesn’t work that way. Once seen, we cannot “un-see” the ugliness, but we can ignore it and pretend it isn’t there. (I tried that way, too. Tried and failed.)

Part of our journey with our LORD is to be transparent with others and to let the LIGHT of JESUS, our Salvation, show through all of our cracks and brokenness. He puts us back together, but I believe He leaves those imperfections on purpose. How else could we serve Him effectively when we are reaching out to sinners like us? We have the opportunity to let His LIGHT shine – or we can throw a blanket over it to hide it. It is a beautiful sight when that covering we put over the Light catches on fire. Talk about the LIGHT of the LORD! Where are you in your life journey? It’s said that there are two types of people: those who are in recovery, and those who need recovery. Let that LIGHT Shine! Open the Door quickly, before it is too late.

Beautiful Saviour

This passage from John 1 is one of the most beautifully written passages in the entire Word of the LORD, the Bible we (should) rely on as instructions for our lives …. but, really, how many of us really read instructions, or actually listen when they are given to us? Confession: I have fought rules, any rules, most of my adult life, primarily out of sheer stubbornness. I adopted the motto “Why be normal” as soon as I heard it. After all, what is ‘normal’ anyway? I have learned that the so-called ‘normal’ of this world is not the ‘normal’ GOD wants for us!

“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 without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of all people. The LIGHT shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” – John 1:1‭-‬5 NRSV

Fanny Crosby wrote this song over 100 years ago, and the words transport me into GOD’s Presence every time I see them:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

The WORD became flesh for only one reason: to provide for us, once and for all, the ULTIMATE Sacrifice to wash away our sinfulness and make us presentable to the Living GOD. For we are all sinners in GOD’s eyes and we will all be judged by Him.

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear GOD, and keep His Commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For GOD will bring every deed into the judgment on every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13‭-‬14 NRSV

Blessed assurance, Beautiful SAVIOUR, JESUS is mine! Can you claim it? Are you prepared to stand at the Feet of GOD as He sits on the Great White Throne, as He scrutinizes and judges your life, your every action and every thought? [Daniel 7:9, Revelations 4:4 Revelations 20:11] Do you dare face your creator without an advocate – the Advocate, JESUS CHRIST? Do you know, without a doubt where you will be spending eternity? JESUS is the answer to all of your uncertainties and fears. He has already forgiven you, so don’t you think it’s time – past time – to accept his forgiveness? Jesus said to the Pharisees (highly religious men and the His disciples:

“If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? Those who believe in Him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the Name of the ONLY SON of GOD.” – John 3:12‭, ‬18 NRSV

Listen to “The Way” by Pat Barrett, and “I Am the Way” by Mark Schultz.

Photo credit: Pastor Rick Warren, https://pastorrick.com

WHY Is This Happening? Why Me?

Have you ever found yourself looking at someone who has had something bad happen to them, and thinking that it’s their fault; it’s because of their actions? I have, I’m guilty …. I have judged more than once, and I’m certain to do it again – and if you try to say you have never had that thought, I will call you out as a liar. Bad things happen to bad people, right? If we are “good,” somehow we will be spared? Try telling that to the elderly woman who was battered and raped and robbed. Tell it to the child who lost their family in a fire. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands who have been through devastating storms and fires and earthquakes; volcano eruptions and floods and tsunamis; tell it to people who have lost every material thing they own, along with family members who are killed. Sure, there are bad people among them, but many of those people were what we would consider ‘good.’

Do we, as the human race, deserve all the bad that happens to us and around us? Oh, friend, we absolutely deserve all of the bad! Are we the ‘better person(s)’ because we were spared? Not at all. JESUS answers the question of whether people who are ‘bad,’ the sinners and the offenders, are the only ones who suffer. We need to take heed of His Words:

“At that very time there were some present who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” ” – Luke 13:1‭-‬5 MRS

In fact, Satan (GOD’s nemesis, the enemy of mankind and all of the angelic beings) delights in tormenting the innocent and the defenseless; especially those who are at the mercy of others. He delights in torment, no matter how good or kind the person might be, and he especially takes pleasure in causing pain to all of GOD’s creation, maiming and disfiguring and hurting.

Because Adam and Eve chose to follow the guiles of the enemy, turning their backs on the ALMIGHTY GOD, simply to sample the forbidden fruit in the Garden…. the ONE tree they were to leave untouched out of all the bounty and beauty of the Garden. It lies in our perversity, our determination to do things our way rather than GOD’s way, that opens the door to let the enemy ceate havoc in our lives and in our world. Why does GOD allow it? I confess to not really understanding the ‘why’s’ and ‘wherefores,’ but I do know this:

Paul writes: “For many live as enemies of the Cross of CHRIST; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a SAVIOR, the LORD JESUS CHRIST. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of His Glory, by the Power that also enables Him to make all things subject to Himself.” – Philippians 3:18‭-‬21 NRSV

Paul’s words were true when he wrote them, and they are true 10x or 100x or 1000x today! Regardless of the damage that may be done to my body, or the loss of all my earthly goods, man – indeed, Satan himself, cannot destroy my soul. Jesus assures me of this:

“Who will separate us from the Love of CHRIST? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the LOVE of GOD in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.” – Romans 8:35‭, ‬38‭-‬39 NRSV

Man may hurt and kill my physical body, but I am not afraid. For I know that no one, nothing, can kill my soul. My LORD has my heart in His very capable Hands!

Image: “Heart or Hand” by Shamieka Dean http://www.shamiekadean.com/hand-or-heart/

Acknowledge HIM

“Religion in the United States” is a survey done in 2016, and published on Wikipedia.org. According to the report, 73.7% of adults in the U.S. claim Christianity as their religion. Judaism claims 2.1%, Islam 0.8%, other non-Christian religions are 2.5%, unaffiliated 18.2%, and those who didn’t answer in the survey 2.7%.

I wonder, how many of the 73.7% and how many of the 18.2% of the unaffiliated go beyond ‘religion’ to really know JESUS CHRIST as their personal Saviour? How many of these people live as though JESUS were standing next to them, or show the Love of JESUS to their ‘neighbors’? Are we religious ‘Christians,’ ‘pew-Christians,’ Sunday Christians ….. or are we spirit-filled, life-changing, followers of CHRIST CHRISTIANS?

JESUS said: “I tell you the Truth, everyone who acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, the SON of MAN will also acknowledge in the presence of GOD’s angels. But anyone who denies Me here on earth will be denied before GOD’s angels. Anyone who speaks against the SON of MAN can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the HOLY SPIRIT will not be forgiven.” – Luke 12:8‭-‬10 NLT

Remember, even Satan and his followers know Who JESUS is and admit to Him being the SON of the LIVING GOD. I think they bask in the lies of the so-called Christians who say the words and claim the title but live in the world. I’m sure the enemy rejoices every time a Christian neglects the LIGHT of our LORD, opting for the glitz and glamour of sin. I know that I gave the enemy many years to gloat over my fallen life before my eyes were re-opened to see Truth, the Light, the Hope and Mercy of my LORD JESUS CHRIST.

Fellow Christian, CHRIST-followers, lovers of the LORD, how do we comport ourselves; how do we let the LIGHT shine in our lives? Are we Christian in name only? Listen to For King and Country “Joy” – do you lift your voice in prayer to the LORD, do you choose JOY in JESUS CHRIST? That is Christianity!

Are you too busy to give Him your time? If we aren’t praising the LORD and acknowledging Him in our lives; if His Light isn’t Shining out through our flaws and brokenness, then we are liars living an empty life – EXACTLY what the enemy wants!

“But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most Holy Faith; pray in the HOLY SPIRIT; keep yourselves in the LOVE of GOD; look forward to the Mercy of our LORD JESUS CHRIST that leads to ETERNAL LIFE.” – Jude 1:20‭-‬21 NRSV

Eternal LIFE, or eternal DEATH. My choice. Your choice. “Hallelujah, death has lost it’s grip on me! JESUS CHRIST is my LIVING HOPE.” (Phil Wickham, “Living Hope”)