Are You Ready?

Are you ready, prepared for disaster and break-ins and violence? We frequently hear about being prepared; being safe, through the media. We put burglar bars on our doors and windows, we have alarm systems and safe rooms, we have our emergency stash of food and water. We know to evacuate in certain circumstances, and to barricade ourselves in others. Not knowing when a burglar is coming, we attempt to thwart them before the act. I am a firm believer in having a plan, and a back-up plan. My late husband and I taught a personal safety course alongside a firearms safety course, focusing on being ready for danger so that our students wouldn’t be caught unaware. I still offer private lessons, because I want people, and specifically women, to understand what to do in an emergency and the best form of defense for each individual.

JESUS is our ultimate teacher of self-defense. He teaches us throughout the scriptures how and why we need to prepare for His return, and also, for the death of our physical bodies.

“Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the SON of MAN [JESUS] will come when least expected.” – Luke 12:39‭-‬40 NLT

It’s very different to be prepared (or think we are prepared) for a physical attack as opposed to a spiritual attack. We should prepare for physical attacks, but that doesn’t need to be our focus. We have to be ready for the constant, incessant, spiritual sneak-attack from the enemy, whose desire is to keep us off balance and unprepared for our LORD’s return. We have the WORD of GOD to instruct us on keeping us ready, but we ae constantly ignoring it and doing our own thing – but “our thing,” as opposed to GOD’s “thing,” isn’t our thing at all. It is the enemy, putting those thoughts in our heads.

Rather than letting down our spiritual defenses, JESUS is all about keeping the devil in his place. He came to do battle with the enemy for our souls, and He will return to claim those souls as His own. Jesus is not a peacekeeper; He knows that the only way to defeat the enemy is through warfare. We see it in our physical world, too. People who consider themselves peace ‘keepers’ want to negotiate and make concessions to avoid conflict, while true peace makers know that the only way to peace is through battle. Whether spiritual or mental or physical, we who are followers of CHRIST are locked into the battle!

“And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other!” – Luke 12:47‭-‬48‭, ‬51 NLT

Do you yearn for peace? Are you a pacifist and your stated goal in life is to “give peace a chance;” to do away with conflict; is it “peace on earth?” Those who choose pacifism over JESUS are like the servants in verse 47. I’m sorry to burst your pacifist bubble, but your “peace on earth” is not gonna happen as long as Satan has his foot on this earth. We are fighting the Good Fight, preparing for JESUS to return, whenever that might be; maybe while you are reading this, maybe in an hour or a decade or an eon, but rest assured, JESUS will return!

Are you ready?


Revelations 19:11-16

The LORD Is RIGHTEOUS

A Psalm (poem) of King David of Israel and Judah:

“For Your Kingdom is an EVERLASTING Kingdom. You rule throughout all generations.

The LORD always keeps His promises; He is Gracious in all He does. The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.

The eyes of all look to You in Hope; You give them their food as they need it.

When You open Your Hand, You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

The LORD is Righteous in everything He does; He is filled with Kindness.

The LORD is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in Truth.

I will praise the LORD, and may everyone on earth bless His Holy Name Forever and EVER.” – Psalms 145:13-18, 21 NLT

Of course David, the king of Israel, who owned a staggering amount of wealth and who had a multitude of beautiful wives would write this! But was David always so blessed? I don’t think so…

You can (should) read David’s story, starting with I Samuel 16:1 and ending in I Kings 2. David was the youngest of seven brothers, and spent his formative years as a shepherd, protecting his flocks from dangerous predators with only a slingshot as a weapon. He was beloved by King Saul for killing the mighty Philistine warrior and champion, Goliath, effectively and singlehandedly ending the war with the Philistines. David loved Saul’s daughter Michal, who was given to him to be his wife. His best friend was Jonathan, who was Saul’s son. David became despised by Saul because of David’s popularity with the people, to the point where Saul and his army came after David to kill him. David became king after King Saul died, and he spent much of his life in battle. He had eight documented wives, plus concubines, and he had 19 sons and one daughter (documented). After he had an adulterous night with Bathsheba and she became pregnant, David had Uriah the Hittite murdered so that he could marry Bathsheba. Their first child, a son, died as GOD’s punishment for their sin. David’s only daughter, Tamar, was raped by her brother Amnon, and later, David’s son Absalom rebelled against him, instigating a bloody, violent civil war. Yes, David was a man with much to be thankful for – talented, handsome, popular, a great warrior – but he was also a sinful man who made many bad choices in his life, causing disastrous consequences, both for himself and for his family.

Lust, adultery, murder, violence. He sinned, grievous sins. When we are honest with ourselves (and others), we admit our sinfulness. David was forgiven by the LORD because of his remorse and confession, and perhaps the greatest reward he received from GOD was that he would become part of the lineage leading to JESUS, our LORD – GOD become man, transcending time and space to live in our world for a time. David loved GOD beyond measure, but he still sinned against Him. David knew when he did wrong and repented, even though he continued in his sins. We are so much like David in this! Whether you have ( or are currently ) coveted, lusted, were disrespectful of your parents ( and haven’t we ALL been, at one time or another? ) lied, or put other people, places, or things in front of the LORD ( this includes OU, OSU, and professional football and sports! ) – whatever commandment(s) you have broken, you/we have sinned against God.

Okay, now the GOOD NEWS: When we love GOD, and we accept that JESUS, His Son, is our LORD and SAVIOUR; when we show remorse and ask for forgiveness, He will forgive us! Hallelujah; David’s words become ours:

“The LORD is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. Surely Your Goodness and UNFAILING LOVE [Mercy and Grace] will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the House of the LORD FOREVER.” – Psalms 23:1‭, ‬6 NLT

AMEN!

Photo credit: “King David playing the Harp” by Gerard von Honthorst (Google art project)

#TheLORDalwayskeepsHispromises,#TheLORDisRighteousineverythingHedoes,#PraisetheLORDForeverandEver,#MercyandGrace

And In Conclusion….

“Now may the GOD of Peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our LORD JESUS CHRIST comes again. GOD will make this happen, for He Who calls you is Faithful. Dear brothers and sisters, pray for us. May the Grace of our LORD JESUS CHRIST be with you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:23‭-‬25‭, ‬28 NLT

What a beautifully written, eloquent conclusion to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church. Wouldn’t it be outstanding if we really treated each other with the respect that Paul treats the early churches? Respectful and loving, blunt and truthful – with love – when we have strayed from the teachings of JESUS. Wouldn’t it be amazing to show our total belief in JESUS, that He can perform miracles in our lives, the way the Roman Centurian did?

“……. And Jesus went with them, but when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to Him, “LORD, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to You. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When JESUS heard this He was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed Him, He said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” – Luke 7:6‭-‬9 NRSV

I want to hear JESUS say that about me.

Photo credit http://www.weheartit.com

Fix My Eyes

Have you ever come across a verse in the Bible that makes your eyes pop open, because it is so relevant to you in that instant that it’s as though GOD Himself just spoke it out loud to you? I love it when it happens to me!

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my Light.” – Micah 7:8 NIV

BOOM. Take THAT, Satan! So much of the time, we are so overwhelmed by the circumstances we are in that we become totally focused on putting one foot in front of the other. As we are trying desperately to see the next step, and hoping it is solid enough to hold us, we forget to lift our eyes enough to see the hand stretched out to assist us. We act like we’re blind, feeling our way through the flood or fire or rain of our situation, tap tap tapping the path, hoping for a clear way. Why are we so determined that we have to do it on our own – like a 2 year old, “I do it!”; that we have to assert our independence, when the LORD of the Universe is waiting right beside us, ready to help??? Is it such a bad thing to accept help?

Miss Independence. If I were in a pageant, that would be me. I can do it. I grew up trying hard to be accepted by my big brother, and I knew I had to be strong and not a “girly-girl” to be one of the guys. When I went into the workforce, I found a job in a builder’s supply, the heart of ‘man-world’. If I couldn’t prove my independence, my ‘I can do it’ attitude, I wouldn’t survive in that atmosphere….. so that’s what I did. The men learned that if I was told I couldn’t do something (implied was ‘because you’re a girl‘), then I would do everything in my power to do that thing. Whether it was determining the difference between a framing hammer and a finish hammer, or stocking 50# boxes of nails and screws; learning to drive a forklift and unloading (and loading) trucks, I did it. Presented with a challenge, my attitude became “I will do it …. on my own, and I don’t want your help.” Those years, and all of those jobs would have been so much easier, so much more pleasant, with someone at my side helping. After years of the struggle, I met and married a man who was truly a partner to me. He didn’t challenge me; he worked alongside me and we learned from each other.

That’s the relationship we can have with JESUS! He doesn’t dominate the relationship, He doesn’t ‘boss’ us, He is there, beside us, to carry our burdens so that we aren’t staggering under them. We may still stumble and fall, and the enemy will still come at us with his arrows and throw obstacles in our path, but with JESUS at our side, we have the help we need to go on. Keeping our eyes fixed on JESUS, we aren’t focused on the ugliness of the enemy….. and trust me, he is UUUUG-LY. Worry, anxiety, frustrations, hurts and hatefulness, bullying, gossip – these are ways the enemy gets us to gradually look away from JESUS, until we are immersed in them and we’ve completely lost sight of the LORD. That’s his goal! Don’t let him win.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with GOD’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with CHRIST JESUS Himself as the Chief Cornerstone. In HIM the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the LORD. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which GOD lives by His SPIRIT.” – Ephesians 2:19‭-‬22 NIV

I pray today that my eyes will stay fixed on my LORD, and off of the frustrating circumstances. I’ve read the back of the Book, devil, and you LOSE, dude.

Listen to Fix My Eyes by King and Country ☝️

Trust …. In GOD, or Man?

When I finally stopped my busyness this morning, and realized I was pushing GOD behind all these ‘pressing’ matters of daily life, I opened my ears and heard this song by Unspoken on the radio:

You brought me this far
So why would I question you now
You have provided so why would I start to doubt
I’ve never been stranded, abandoned or left here to fight alone
So I’m giving you control

Immediately following was this song, sung by Tenth Avenue North:

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

How many times do we do just these things that are addressed in these words, feeling stranded, abandoned, and alone; feeling hopeless, in pain and in tears? Every day? Right now? This minute? I confess to all of these feelings and more, sometimes. I have HOPE, though, because I know that my GOD is here and in control. He never left me to deal with all the junk in the world by myself, but instead, He has always been right beside me, even when I was blatantly ignoring Him! The song by Unspoken goes on to say this:

If peace is a river then let it sweep over me
If I’m under fire I know it’s refining me
When I hear you calling out I follow now wherever the road may go
I know you’re leading me home

And Tenth Avenue North ends their song with these words:

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

What a promise! When we stop running from GOD, and we call on Him to save us through our faith in the LORD JESUS CHRIST, He is right there. Remember what Paul said when writing to the church in Philippi?

“Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: REJOICE! Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the Peace of GOD, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in CHRIST JESUS.” – Philippians 4:4‭, ‬6‭-‬7 NIV

What an incredible TRUTH is spoken here! Once we become a child of the Living GOD, Creator, Architect, Great Physician; the real Master of the Universe, we are set free from the worry and angst of this world. We receive His Perfect Love and His Peace; a Peace that is inconceivable and incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t received it. It doesn’t mean that suddenly everything will come up roses; rather, I believe that it means that we will come under heavy attach by the enemy, Satan. He doesn’t want us to find contentment in our circumstances, and he does everything possible to get us to blame God for the bad, the evil in the world, and especially for anything that has happened (is happening) to us.

Again I ask, are you feeling stranded, abandoned, and alone; are you feeling hopeless, in pain, and in tears? It isn’t easy to rejoice in horrendous situations, or when things are falling apart around us, but I promise you, when you lay whatever it is at the Feet of JESUS, He will give you Peace! In recovery ministries, we suggest writing (yes, picking up a pencil or a pen and a sheet of paper, and actually writing as a tangible, visual reminder!) a Gratitude list. Nothing to write down because life is just that bad right now? You say nobody loves me, I’m alone, no job, sick (sick and tired of being sick and tired yet???), and etc….

Here’s a little help. Number one on your list could be: Toilet paper.

Okay? Now, go from there. I had to start with some real basics when I began the journey, and toilet paper made it on my list! I can add that I am alive, reasonably healthy, have transportation, I can drive, and I have my animals. Does that help you get started? By myself, by ourselves, we are not enough. With JESUS, we are. Trusting in man, and trusting in myself only gets me into trouble. Trusting the LORD may not get out of my trouble, but He does carry me through it. I am not alone.

AMEN.

Thank You GOD, I’m Not EVER Alone!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” – Isaiah 43:2 NIV

I’m so glad we don’t have to do this stinkin’ life journey alone! That statement hasn’t always been true for me. I ran long and hard, trying to get away from GOD. I couldn’t get away from Him, not matter how hard I tried. Once you accept JESUS into your heart, you’ll never be alone again. (“Reckless Love”, sung by Cory Asbury really gets into how much our Creator GOD Loves us!) While I was running and rebelling against everything that is true and right, my GOD never deserted me or turned His back on me. Once His, always and forever His, Hallelujah!

I ran into flood waters and fires and all manner of dangerous situations, and through it all, through all the years I turned my back on Him – He never waivered. He pulled me out of life and death situations; He didn’t let go of me. Stop and think about this: When emergency personnel reach out to rescue a person caught in flood waters, they get wet; they risk everything to save someone who is in trouble. Firefighters run into the flames, and risk being burned or injured themselves for someone they don’t know. Military and law enforcement, firefighters, any emergency personnel – these people are all heroes in my book! If mere men put themselves in danger to rescue me, how much more will my Saviour? He Loves us that much, to save us through His sacrifice. (“I Am Not Alone” sung by Kari Jobe ….

We are promised Hope and Peace and most of all, Love, through our faith in JESUS CHRIST. Paul says it so eloquently in one of his letters to his fellow followers of Christ, many of them brand-new Christians, in Rome:

“Therefore, since we have been Justified through Faith, we have Peace with GOD through our LORD JESUS CHRIST, through Whom we have gained access by Faith into this Grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the Hope of the Glory of GOD. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, HOPE. And Hope does not put us to shame, because GOD’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through the HOLY SPIRIT, Who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:1‭-‬5 NIV

May the Peace of our LORD JESUS CHRIST reside in your heart. Listen to “Because He Lives” sung by Matt Maher – “I’m alive, I’m alive because He Lives …. ” absolutely beautiful!

So, does this picture look like trouble, or what???

Hold My Hand!

Parents all over the world say to their children, “Hold my hand!” We reach out to our children to (try to) keep them out of mischief and trouble, and we’ve all seen or experienced the child who twists and turns and pulls and cries in order to get loose. Think about how protective a human parent is …. how much more must our Creator Love us and want to protect us? Regardless of how irritated and frustrated we become with our children, or how much they pain us, we don’t stop loving them. Neither does our LORD quit loving us when we make poor choices. He is right beside us, holding our hand, through every life event, every sickness, every trial we go through. He holds our hand while we are making life-changing decisions, and He continues to hold it throughout our lives.

I am personally at a crossroad, facing some major life decisions. Would you pray with me that I see clearly the direction the LORD is urging me to go? Hold my other hand, as He holds my right hand? As the Apostle Paul wrote: “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the LORD JESUS – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful Grace of GOD.” – Acts of the Apostles 20:24 NLT

“For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your GOD. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’ ” – Isaiah 41:13 NLT

Photo credt Hellokids.com