Oh, Jerusalem

“Comfort, comfort My people, says your GOD. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s Hand double for all her sins.” – Isaiah 40:1‭-‬2 NIV

Jerusalem, the “city of peace.” This is an ancient (over 3000 years old) – and very modern – city that has been completely destroyed twice, and partially destroyed several times. King David claimed it in the name of LORD for the Israelites, and throughout history it has been called the most favored city of the LORD. There is a battle continuing even now in Jerusalem between the Israeli and the Palestinians. We know there is a major battle over the city still to come, because it was prophesied thousands of years ago, telling of the LORD’s return.

“Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights on a day of battle. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day – a day known only to the LORD – with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. The LORD will be King over the whole earth. On that day there will be One LORD , and His Name the Only Name. The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses, and will remain in its place. It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.” – Zechariah 14:3‭, ‬6‭-‬7‭, ‬9-11 NIV

What Hope the LORD gives! This passage was written over 2700 years ago, and once again, the prophet nailed what would be happening to Jerusalem and Israel in the 21st century. Are you anxiously awaiting the LORD’s return, or are you a scoffer who doesn’t believe? My friend, my heart hurts for you if you haven’t called on JESUS for your salvation. Our hope, the world’s hope, Jerusalem’s hope – indeed, the only hope – all lie within the MESSIAH, LORD, the CHRIST, JESUS.

“And everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved.’ ” – Acts 2:21 NIV

Image: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/New_Jerusalem

Trust and Obey

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

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

“And we know that GOD causes all things to work together for good to those who love GOD, to those who are called according to His Purpose.”-
Romans 8:28

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is Good; For His Lovingkindness is Everlasting. Oh let those who fear the LORD say, “His Lovingkindness is Everlasting.” The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.” – Psalms 118:1‭,4,6-7 NASB

This hymn by John H. Sammis, written in 1887, captures the beauty of trusting in our Father God:

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

    • Refrain:
      Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
      To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
  2. Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
    But His smile quickly drives it away;
    Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
    Can abide while we trust and obey.
  3. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
    But our toil He doth richly repay;
    Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
    But is blessed if we trust and obey.
  4. But we never can prove the delights of His love
    Until all on the altar we lay;
    For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
    Are for them who will trust and obey.
  5. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
    Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
    What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
    Never fear, only trust and obey.

Sweetly written, sweetly sung, and sweetly true.

He IS Coming Back!

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the Word of GOD the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His Word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the LORD one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The LORD is not slow about His Promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:3‭-‬9 NASB

Sometimes, I just want GOD to send me a text saying “This is what you need to do,” and “Just so you know, I’ll be back on this date at this time.” I would love to feel completely confident that each thing I do corresponds with His Plan for me. Am I alone in wondering and asking? I think not, else why would JESUS and His disciples make such a point of telling us to be ready for His return? Peter was speaking directly to the current population on earth when he wrote this letter! GOD is not slow to keep His Promise to return to earth and to defeat our enemy, Satan, nor is He slow when it comes to answering our prayers (our ‘wishlists’ for Him). No, if you read the Bible, His Word, you will find countless examples of the LORD keeping His promises. We are such a hard-headed bunch, we have to keep asking Him to prove Himself to us.

Really?

When GOD promises, you can know without any doubt at all that His promise will happen. With our prayer requests, He always answers, but it is often not the answer we want. We throw temper tantrums and hissy fits, like little children who don’t get their way. Countless scoffers maintain that JESUS MESSIAH hasn’t come the first time, so how could He be coming back? This I know without a shadow of a doubt: JESUS came as the MESSIAH, just as FATHER GOD promised; He died for us on the cross, He was resurrected from the grave, and He will be back! (We just don’t know quite when that will be…..)

The world is, and always has been, full of mockers of JESUS MESSIAH. Mock all you want, just remember this:

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He Who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in Righteousness He judges and wages war. His Eyes are a flame of fire, and on His Head are many diadems; and He has a Name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His Name is called The WORD of GOD.” – Revelation 19:11‭-‬13 NASB

“In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with GOD, and the WORD was GOD. He was in the beginning with GOD.” – John 1:1‭-‬2 NASB

Just making sure everyone knows that JESUS IS LORD, HALLELUJAH and AMEN!

(Image from Pinterest.com)

Distracted

The enemy of the LORD, my enemy, is quite accomplished at putting distractions in front of us so that our concentration, our focus, is removed from my LORD and onto other things. The truly important things in our lives are often set aside because our GOD focus has been interrupted. For the past week, the enemy, Satan the destroyer and the father of lies has been very successful with distracting me. GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!

I’m not alone in this. There are hundreds, thousands, of Christians who struggle with distracting circumstances every day – maybe even every waking moment. Disease, illness, and failing health are prime examples. When we are focused on those instead of GOD, whether it is me/you personally or someone close to me/you, it is difficult to focus on GOD and His plans.

Trust, or a variation thereof, is used frequently in both the Old and New Testaments. The prophet Jeremiah put it succinctly:

Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD…… Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose Trust is the LORD.” – Jeremiah 17:5‭, ‬7 NASB

How often do we condemn ourselves by refusing to trust in the LORD? This verse from Proverbs is one I have heard countless time:

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 NASB

I allow myself to be distracted though my worry and the urge to take charge; to “fix” things on my own, rather than rely on my GOD. How can I believe that He is Almighty enough to create everything, yet doubt that He can take care of me and my problems? Listen to Natalie Grant’s song “King of the World.”

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust

It is so easy to fall into this trap of attempting to control life around us. I’m guilty of doing it over and over and over. Remember this definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” My prayer today is that my focus on the LORD will grow, and that He will overcome the distractions. I’m not strong enough to do it on my own, so I must rely on the Holy Spirit to provide His strength. All we have to do is to ask Him for His help, and He will provide it. Thank You, LORD!

My Utmost…

Oswald Chambers writes in “My Utmost for His Highest,” Let Us Keep To The Point (and I fail miserably at this….)

My Utmost for His Highest

“. . . my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed . . . .” We will all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus the areas of our lives He has asked us to yield to Him. It’s as if Paul were saying, “My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest—my best for His glory.” To reach that level of determination is a matter of the will, not of debate or of reasoning. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point. An undue amount of thought and consideration for ourselves is what keeps us from making that decision, although we cover it up with the pretense that it is others we are considering. When we think seriously about what it will cost others if we obey the call of Jesus, we tell God He doesn’t know what our obedience will mean. Keep to the point—He does know. Shut out every other thought and keep yourself before God in this one thing only—my utmost for His highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone.

My Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness. “Whether it means life or death—it makes no difference!” (see Philippians 1:21). Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing exactly what God wanted. But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide—for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.

Lord, the range of Your power, the touch of Your grace, the breathing of Your Spirit—how I long for these to bring me face to face with You. Forgive my tardiness; it takes me so long to awaken to some things.”

The Apostle Paul wrote “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.” – Philippians 1:20 NLT

It’s very difficult to to add anything to these two men of God, Amen!

I Will Be With You – In Spite of You!

I will be with you (in spite of you). I can hear the King of Heaven whispering this in my ear, especially when I’m being particularly stubborn and insistent that “I can do it!”

“In desperation, I turned to heaven ….. Hallelujah, Praise the One Who set me FREE!” (Words from “Living Hope” by Phil Wickham)

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) says “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” – and speaking to Moses, the LORD said to him, “WHO has made man’s mouth? WHO makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” – Exodus 4:11‭-‬12 ESV

We sure are a hard-headed bunch! From Adam, the first man, to the newest baby in this new year, both verses remain true. We are determined to be in charge (HA!) of our lives, and often the lives of those around us. Let me know how that’s working out for you. Generally, all that it accomplishes is to frustrate (and irritate) all parties involved. When we stop for a minute and listen, we hear that quiet whisper, “I AM WITH YOU – in spite of your thoughts and actions.”

Can you hear it? Do you believe it? Listen! Start fresh this year and determine to listen more and talk less. Remember, two ears, one mouth. Must be some significance there…..

“JESUS CHRIST is the same yesterday and today and forever. ….. Now may the GOD of Peace Who brought again from the dead our LORD JESUS, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the Blood of the Eternal Covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His Will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through JESUS CHRIST, to Whom be Glory forever and ever. Amen.” – Hebrews 13:8‭, ‬20‭-‬21 ESV

As the great Martin Luther King Jr. said it so very well: “Free at last, Free at last, Thank GOD ALMIGHTY we are free at last.” (from his speech, I Have A Dream”)


Die Erschaffung des Meschen, von Ephraim Moshe Lilien 1903 (Translated: The Creation of Man) illustration for the book Lieder des Ghetto by Morris Rosenfeld

Perfection!

I am the middle child. Actually, I share that spot with my next younger sister, because out of 6 kids (poor Mom!) I am third and she is fourth – 2 ahead of me, and 2 after her. I am the baby of the first 3, and she is the eldest of the last 3. We have also concluded that most (all!) of us are ADD, and some are ADHD as well, starting with my parents- and it really goes back further than them. My life is an oxymoron 😎 …. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with us!

Whatever spot I choose for the moment, baby or middle-child, I must admit that I have been guilty of pride and perfection much of my life. Is that an affliction? Perfectionism stems from many things, both internal and external. I think that on a subconscious level, we make the choice to be prideful and conceited. I chose both, to hide the damaged, broken parts that I am comprised of. Whatever I did, I did with the attitude that if I did it, it was the right thing to do. Whatever I decided was the right decision, the only logical conclusion in my mind; therefore, anyone else was obviously wrong. I had the attitude that I was invincible, hard and sharp-edged – and I was hard and cut people like a knife with my words and actions. I sound like a bad person! If I was told I had a heart of ice, or that I was hurtful or mean, well, guilty as charged. I was full of pride and could do no wrong because I was perfect. Seems like we all have the tendency to judge others based on our own perceived perfection. For years, I was really good at being perfect, at least on the outside. My ‘inside’ was pretty messed up!

Even now I will find those feelings of pride and perfection, perfectionism and judgementalism, stealing back into my life. I cry out “GET BEHIND ME, SATAN, in the Name of JESUS!!”

When I came to be under the Shining Bright Light of my LORD JESUS through His saving Grace, all of my cracks and brokenness were illuminated. His illumination shows everyone who looks what a messed up person I am, but the LIGHT also shows how He has put me back together. My prayer for us today:

LORD, show us our brokenness. Shine Your Great Light on us and let the world see YOU in that Light. Use my brokenness to illustrate how beautifully You can put us back together, if we just ask You. No matter how shattered we are or how much ugliness we contain, help us to see the beauty of Your Handiwork in ourselves. You alone can take all of our messes and all of the junk we accumulate in our hearts, and create something beautiful.

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the LORD JESUS, to testify to the Gospel of the Grace of GOD.” – Acts 20:24 ESV Amen.

And the ONE who was seated on the throne said, “See, I Am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:5 NRSV