Guilty As Charged

Hold tight to the following words!

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If GOD is for us, who can ever be against us? And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from GOD’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from GOD’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the Love of GOD that is revealed in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.” – Romans 8:31‭, ‬38‭-‬39 NLT

I hope you will take time to listen to Matt Maher sing “What A Friend.” The song was written in 1855 by Joseph M. Scriven as a poem to comfort his mother in Ireland. Since then, it has been set to music and translated into many languages, and has been performed by artists as diverse as Alan Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and Ike and Tina Turner. To me, it perfectly illustrates what these Scriptures are saying! Verse two begins with these words:
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

We are all guilty of something. We have all been disappointed, and we have all disappointed, sometimes inadvertently and sometimes purposefully. We have all been hurt, and we have all hurt others. We are all beset with trials and problems, so how do we handle them and resolve them? I know I deserve / have deserved discipline and punishment for the myriad of misadventures that have occurred throughout my life. I am not guilty of actual murder, but I have considered it, so does that make me guilty in my heart? Of the other commandments, I have broken them all. GOD wasn’t Number One for most of my adult life – I am guilty of trying to stuff Him into a corner and ignoring Him. We [humans] are guilty of poor judgement and decisions that take us far away from our Father, when all He really wants is our Love and obedience. We are guilty collectively, societally, and individually, of doubting GOD and betraying His Love for us. We lie, cheat, envy, covet, and steal; we have many other gods before us. Sports, shopping, careers, food, even family, get in the way of our worship of the One True GOD.

What’s to be done? How to we get to the point that we can claim the promise in Romans 8? Simple. Accept that JESUS is the Son of the Living God, that He came to earth to live as a man, and that He submitted Himself as the final blood sacrifice to save us from our sins and eternal death; He was resurrected from the grave and lives today and forever and ever, amen.

Guilty? Yes. Flawed and imperfect? Yes.

Forgiven? YES, Hallelujah! Can you say the same?

www.bible.com

Assumption Will Get You NO-Where

When we are little, we make the assumption that our parents and grandparents and family will always love us and protect us. As a young woman, I made the assumption that I would be loved and cherished and provided for by my [first] husband…. and each successive relationship after that. Oh, what a severely flawed assumption! We assume that our babies will outlive us. My parents had assumed that I would finish college… (I didn’t). Especially when we are young, we assume that we will marry the right person and get the right job, the right raises and the right house, and that as a result, life will be good.

How’s that working out for you?

You’ve probably head the phrase, “To Assume make an ass of u (you) and me.” The only safe assumption is the one that is based on reality, and the Truth as found in the Words the Creator:

“I will be Your GOD throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. To whom will you compare Me? Who is My equal? …. Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones. Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am GOD! I am GOD, and there is none like Me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. … Listen to Me, you stubborn people who are so far from doing right. For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now!” (Isaiah 46:4‭-‬5‭, ‬8‭-‬10‭, ‬12‭-‬13a NLT)

“For the Grace of GOD has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to GOD, …. (Titus 2:11‭-‬12 NLT)

We can’t rely on assumptions to be accurate or to become reality. The ONE thing, the ONLY thing that we can assume and get right is this: Our sins are forgiven when we accept JESUS as our LORD and SAVIOUR; this is a singular TRUTH! We will continue to sin and get things wrong because we are flawed humans…. but when we are covered in His Grace and His Mercy we can know with certainty that we will get to see JESUS face-to-face, and that’s no assumption!

Without Love

Listen to ‘I Just Need U.’ sung by Toby Mac.

Last night put the heavy on me
Woke up and I’m feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showing me (showing me)
Some days it’ll lift you up
Some days it’ll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain’t got enough….”

Every day, every night, every hour, every second, I just need You, LORD. Without Your Love, I am nothing, but with it, I am everything. We search all over the world, looking for love in mankind, and if we ever think we have found it, we will be disappointed. We (all of humankind) seem to think that we can do what we want, with whom we want, wherever and whenever we choose, and we do it with impunity. When I’m searching for love on earth, and ignoring the only Love that will never let me down, I am living for me rather than GOD. We mock the LORD of the Universe when we decide that our decisions about love and justice are better than His. We often act with impunity, and to what end?

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of GOD. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” – Galatians 6:7‭-‬8‭, ‬15 NLT

Without love we are nothing. Paul wrote about love, true, unselfish LOVE, to the church at Corinth. As followers of JESUS CHRIST, we really should take this to heart.

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1‭, ‬7 NLT

While we search for love, GOD, through the sacrifice of the LORD JESUS, and the presence of the HOLY SPIRIT in our lives, He is waiting patiently for each of us to let Him in so that we can experience real Love, lasting Love, never-failing and never-ending LOVE. Without LOVE, I am nothing. With the LOVE of the LORD, I am everything.

Yep. Awkward Is My Middle Name.

Awkward. No confidence…. That’s how I usually feel when I’m in public. I say awkward things, if I can say anything. My mouth gets ahead of my brain, my feet get away from my body, my tongue twists so that words come out wrong – so I cover it with a false bravado. Growing up, I was a gangly kid, and too awkward physically to play organized sports. I have often envied those people who can stand in front of others and sing, or speak, or play an instrument. How wonderful it must be to be at ease in a crowd!

Unlike me, JESUS was never awkward. He grew up knowing exactly Who He was and what His role in life on earth was to be. He was beloved and sought after by thousands of people. First, the shepherds from the hills of Bethlehem, a little later by the Magi – and Herod, who wanted to kill Jesus. When He began His ministry, people from all walks of life, from the outcasts of society to the religious leaders and even some high ranking Roman officals, sought Him out. They sought to learn from Him, and to be healed by Him. Can you imagine?

“The people recognized Jesus at once, and they ran throughout the whole area, carrying sick people on mats to wherever they heard He was. Wherever He went—in villages, cities, or the countryside—they brought the sick out to the marketplaces. They begged Him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of His robe, and all who touched Him were healed.” – Mark 6:54‭b-‬56 NLT

There is one occasion when I don’t feel awkward, and that is when I am privileged to stand and share my testimony of how Jesus saved me from the desperate, downward spiral I was in. He picked me up out of the ugliness, more than once saving my life both literally and spiritually. He can do the same for you. It may be awkward at first, because we are so ingrained that we can take care of ourselves. All I can do is ask, “And how is that working out for you?” (Not so good for me, until I let the LORD have control!)

“And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have ETERNAL LIFE. For this is how GOD Loved the world: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have Eternal Life.” – John 3:14‭-‬16 NLT

(from http://www.VirtueOnline.org)

Making My Plans

“(1-3) We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives. Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.

(8-9) Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.

(16) How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver!

(19) Better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud.

(33) We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.” – Proverbs 16:1‭-‬3‭3 NLT

I see a pattern here. My plan was to marry a man who would take care of me, who would cherish me and provide for me and our children. My plan was for a White Knight, a Prince on his charger to sweep me off my feet, and we would live happily ever after. Ha. Then reality set in. My ‘Knight’, turned out to be controlling, abusive, and unfaithful. Some ‘Prince’. To prove just how stubborn I could be, and because I didn’t believe in divorce, I stayed with him for most of 8 years. When I finally had enough, I left him, and promptly fell for another ‘Prince’. He made so many promises, only to break them all, and my broken heart was just collateral damage to him. Still thinking I could make better decisions than GOD, I married my best friend. He had a daughter, and was still emotionally tied to her mother. Not the way to start a marriage, but a good way to end one.

A couple of years passed, and a good friend from my past contacted me. Ron was divorced, too, and our friendship thrived and became a deep love. We were involved in the local church, we had adventures and loved life together. GOD was important to us, but He wasn’t number One all of the time. With Ron, I knew I was loved, and I was confident he wouldn’t leave me. He was far from perfect, but then, so am I. We had a number of good years, then an injury brought in drugs and addiction. I had to leave for my physical safety, and it broke my heart. Of course, I blamed GOD for not keeping him – and me – safe.

I became entangled in another relationship, and another, and another. I was searching so hard for another ‘Prince’ of this world, I was neglecting the True Prince, the Prince of heaven, JESUS. Even though I was attending church, I felt judged and condemned by my peers, and eventually left that church because of it. Another broken relationship. I was batting 1000 with my plans and decisions! There was a recovery program at my sister’s church, and I began to attend it. Not for me, of course, but for my new husband …. another one of my plans, to redeem him. He couldn’t handle the program, because he would have to stop using drugs and alcohol and sex outside of our marriage. He bounced back in and out of my life for almost three years. I found out that the program was for me, and I began to rely on my LORD, my JESUS, rather than my husband – who was completely unreliable. My pastor told me several times that once I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, I would do something about it …… and until I reached that point, I shouldn’t complain. Harsh? Perhaps, but it was – and is – the truth. My husband was arrested and was tried for a horrific crime, and my breaking point was when he confessed to me that it was true. He went to prison (for life, I pray), and I immersed myself in recovery.

I’m very cautious now about making plans. Everything gets prayed about, and although I don’t always get the answer I want, I’m working on accepting them. Yes, no, or wait ….. it’s not an easy thing to wait on the LORD, and I’m sure I don’t always hear Him correctly. I think that when I don’t get a clear yes or no, the answer is to wait, and I am not very good at waiting! Sometimes I find myself feeling anger at Ron for falling into his addiction and allowing it to tear apart our life together, and then dying on me. We were supposed to grow old together! No matter what we plan, or how well we plan, things – and people – go wrong. In the Scottish poem “To A Mouse,” Robert Burns writes:

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

Yep, the best plans go awry….. It’s certainly been proved right in my life! Whatever the plan, no matter how small or how big, it will go better if we let GOD have the reins. We may think we’ve got it handled, but I know from experience that whatever we do, it’s always better when we include GOD in the process!

(from TV Tropes ….. )

Obedience To No Earthly King

Watching the amazing fairy-tale wedding of the ‘American Princess’ Megan Markle to Prince Harry this morning, I am awed at the pomp and circumstance, the gilt and lace. Royals have long fascinated the American people, and I am no exception. Imaging being a part of a royal family is something many children dream of, being treated with deference and preferential treatment as a royal Prince or Princess. But here’s the thing: as a follower of CHRIST, I am a royal. I have been adopted into the family of the GOD of the Universe, so I am, indeed, a Princess of the highest order of royalty!

I read that 90% of Americans say they believe in God, but they don’t turn to Him when they are in need or in trouble. Have we really become so arrogant, that we consider our decisions and our will better than tne Almighty Creator GOD? We the people of the United States don’t have an earthly king, but wasn’t our country founded with a supernatural King? Our Constitution and our legal tender bear the words “In God We Trust” ….. but do we, really? I things we are more like the country of Israel when it was written about in the book of Judges:

“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” – Judges 17:6 NLT

Seems to me that we are doing about as good today as the Israelites were doing then. Idolatry was rampant. There was rape and murder and theft as a matter of everyday life, and it is the same in America today. So many things, and so many people, have replaced the LORD in our lives. America has been struggling for years, becoming more and more morally and ethically compromised, and all of these professing Christians watch – or worse, participate – in the depravity that has become the norm. Our nation, over the past decades, has become a laughing stock to the world. As a people, we have become weak and ineffective. As Christians, people who follow JESUS, we have clear instructions on what we should be doing. We don’t need to show obeisance to any earthly monach (although we should, as a matter of courtesy); we owe obedience to the LORD.

“Then if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT

We are fortunate to have elected a leader who isn’t afraid to pray or use the Name of God in praise. Pray for our leaders, that they will stand on the Christian principles that this nation was formed upon, and lead us on their knees.

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the LORD, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by GOD. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” – Ephesians 4:1‭-‬2 NLT

Amen.

Guilt Is An UGLY Thing

Guilt is built into us from the moment we begin life. From a two-celled zygote (I remember my high school science!), to a fully-formed baby, to a 100+ year old person, we are guilty of sin. It’s in our DNA, thanks to the decision made millenia ago by the first man and first woman, and it is furthered by our upbringing. ‘You should be ashamed of yourself!’ ‘I can’t believe you would do such a thing.’ Even, ‘You’ll never amount to anything.’ There are hundreds of variations on this theme. Even David, the great and renowned king of Israel, had guilt about his actions. Only one man has ever lived a guilt-free life on this earth, and that man is called Jesus.

“Have Mercy on me, O GOD, because of Your Unfailing Love. Because of Your Great Compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in Your sight. You will be proved right in what You say, and Your Judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But You desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; You have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O GOD. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your Presence, and don’t take Your HOLY SPIRIT from me.” – Psalms 51:1‭-‬11 NLT

There is a release from guilt that can only come when we surrender it to the LORD. It’s an incredible release to be free from that burden! My prayer today is that whatever guilt you are hanging on to, no matter what it is, you will let it go. It’s never easy, because we are taught guilt from an early age – but it can be done! Sometimes, too, guilt is caught up in unforgiveness, which makes it doubly difficult to shed. We need to remember that forgivess, or asking for forgiveness, is what we have to do in order to gain freedom ftom guilt. Read David’s song as your prayer today.

Listen to Natalie Grant sing “More Than Anything.”