Sin v. Virtue

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 NASB
“Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.” Psalms 105:3 NASB

January 2, 2020 – Looks like we all survived the New Year festivities! What about the dreaded New Year Resolutions? How are we doing with those? Many years ago, I made the decision not to make resolutions anymore. Honestly, I think that one of the best resolutions that anyone can make is to take life one day at a time. If we aren’t spending our time looking over our shoulders for pursuit from our past, or fretting about the future, how much time would it free up for us?

The best ones of all?

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 NASB
“Glory in His Holy Name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.” Psalms 105:3 NASB

We can focus on which of the seven ‘deadly’ sins we struggle with (for me, that would be all of them) – pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth – or we can put our focus on the LORD and the seven virtues Jesus modeled so faithfully for us – prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and charity.

If we focus on these virtues and on rejoicing in the LORD always, don’t you think everything else would fall into place? The enemy will fight us on this, and he’ll fight hard, because he doesn’t want us content in the LORD. He’ll throw roadblocks and ‘bricks’ at you, but know this:

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the Love of GOD, which is in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.” Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NASB

Yes, it’s hard right now, but our eternal life with our LORD will be worth it! HALLELUJAH and AMEN!!

Reflections on Life in 2019

This past year is not how I expected my life to be at this point. My plan was to be contentedly – if not happily – married, retired and living on a small farm, traveling, and living a comfortable life with family and friends close.

God, apparently, has something different in mind!

Single for the past 10 years, widowed since 2001, unemployed for since April 2016 except for a little part time work….. NOT the way I saw my life!

A year ago I moved 35 miles to be closer to my Oklahoma family; Mom, sister, nieces, and their families. We have other family (4 more siblings and their families!) and it’s the most I’ve been involved with my immediate family since my college years. It has been a huge blessing to be this close for the past year. Since moving, I’ve been attending worship services with my Mom, and what a blessing that has been to me, too. Being able to participate regularly in corporate worship is something that we don’t give enough credit to, and hearing the teaching of God’s Word is incomparable. If you haven’t been attending church regularly, I can’t recommend it strongly enough. We need it in order to focus on the important things in life. I want to be like Simeon, for I have, too, seen the LORD’S CHRIST, Who is JESUS:

“Now LORD, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your Word; For my eyes have seen Your Salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the Glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:29‭-‬32‭ NASB

There is insanity in our country’s capital, and the liberals and socialists are attempting to overrun this great nation we live in. Every day, the news is full of murder and mayhem. Christians and conservatives have become the ‘whipping boys’ of society, and political correctness is making it difficult to speak without offending someone. At times, I am filled with hopelessness and despair at everything that is going on. In spite of all this, and even though I still don’t know what plan God has for me and my life, I have HOPE.

Happy 2020.

Living On The Incline

“Christianity is lived on an incline, and if you’re not moving forward, you’re slipping backwards.” – Tauren Wells, God’s Not Done With You, a 10-day devotional on Bible.com.

“Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed.” Matthew 26:69‭-‬74 NASB

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17 NASB

It’s a slippery slope we live on; so easy to fall into envy, greed, jealousy, lust, gluttony, pride, anger, laziness…..

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He [Jesus] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NASB

Now is a good time to concentrate on the positive. It’s also a time when many of us make resolutions for the new year. I quit making them, at least publicly, because I never kept them. Actually, there is one that I have made, and it is the same one as this year comes to an end and we go into a new year. Spend as much time as possible in study, prayer, and meditation. I believe that when we put God first, everything else will fall into place. Not always how we want, or think it should be, but according to God’s Will.

“The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:17‭-‬18 NASB

Pray always. Whether in your quiet place, or a church building, or walking down the street, it’s simply having a conversation with the LORD. He always hears us.

“But JESUS Kept Silent …”

“… And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the Living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the Right Hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” ” – Matthew 26:63‭-‬64 NASB

What a powerful statement!

Jesus never bragged about Who He was. He stood silent when He was accused of being seditious against the government, and in fact, He never called on His followers to overthrow the government. He was tried and convicted on hearsay, so that He could stand before us, and die for us, on the cross. Could you – can you – stand by and be accused of crimes and keep silent? Do you? At work or school, at home, how many times have we defended ourselves, rightfully or wrongly? Especially when working around kids, a very common phrase we hear is “but I didn’t do anything!” I have defended myself many times (right or wrong), and I’m sure I will many more times in the future.

But Jesus kept silent….. The only truly innocent person to ever live, when accused, kept silent. The God of the Universe, Creator, Son, Living LORD Who calls Heaven home, showed us how to live and how to turn the other cheek. He was born for that moment. No argument, no grandstanding, no yelling. What a wonderful example for us to follow as we move into a new year.

And JESUS Was Born!

The God the Father speaks to His Son, God the Son, Jesus, and to the Heavenly Hosts, before Jesus was born as a man – all man and all GOD:

“And when He again brings the Firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says, “Who makes His angels winds, And His ministers a flame of fire.” But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness above Your companions.” And, “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands; They will perish, but You remain; And they all will become old like a garment, And like a mantle You will roll them up; Like a garment they will also be changed . But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.” But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” – Hebrews 1:6‭-‬14 NASB

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.” – Luke 2:10‭-‬11 NASB

Heroes

I had a lot of heroes while growing up. Gene Autry, Roy and Dale Evans, Zorro, Superman ….. the Black Stallion, RinTinTin, Flicka, Lassie (yes, animals were among my heroes!) ….. just to name a few. Later in life, I began to understand how difficult life can be. As I witnessed them coping with all that life threw at them, I realized that my Mom and Dad, and my Grandma Thomas were my real life heroes. Ultimately, I have come to see that there are truly many heroes in the world. Every day, countless people – police, firefighters, service members, emergency responders, and more – put their own lives on the line over and over for us, people they don’t know. There is no way to adequately express our gratitude for these heroes! However, the biggest, greatest, most important hero of all time gets skipped over.

Here are the Words of Jesus, God the Son, to the Father God, before Jesus was even conceived and born, from Psalms 40:6-8 (quoted in the book of Hebrews).


“Therefore, when He [JESUS] comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, But a body You [the Father] have prepared for Me; In whole burnt offerings and  sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the Book [Old Testament] it is written of Me) To do Your will, O God.’ ”  After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and  sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them ” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “Behold , I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first [animal sacrifice] in order to establish the second [sacrifice – Jesus]. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:5‭-‬10 NASB


To paraphrase the Rev. John Flavel from a sermon in 1754, “All the OT saints were saved on credit, Jesus’ sacrifice paid the bill”. His blood to cover our sins. My sins. Your sins. Have you accepted the payment Jesus made for our sins? Mary’s little Lamb, the final sacrifice, once and for all. He is the Lamb to be sacrificed, and the Shepherd to protect us. He is the only One Who can save you.

“Mary had a little lamb, whose fleece was white as snow…..”

Who is your Hero?

A Time of Thanks

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8‭-‬9 NASB

Christmas is coming. What are you going to be grateful for? Jesus, the reason we even have something to celebrate, or how much “stuff” you get?