BLACK Friday…. But Do I NEED “It”?

Didn’t I say that I don’t like shopping? I would rather wear hand-me-down clothes and eat sour lemons* than shop Black Friday or most any other days. (*I have a closet full of ‘gently used’ clothes that I like and wear, but I don’t like sour lemons!)

“I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” – Luke 19:26 NASB

Been there; lived both parts of this verse. I have struggled financially for a large portion of my adult life. As a result, I hold my “things” tightly. I’m very sentimental, so things given to me by friends and family are held even more dear. I’m not a hoarder, but I do collect things. Did you know that when you have more than one of a type of item, it is considered a collection? From frogs in all sizes and shapes and materials to books, kitchenware, Blue Willow pottery, men ….. (but I’ve told that “collecting men” story before). I have had much, too. My late husband and I did very well financially, and we spent it on food and travel around our home in northern New Mexico. We collected lots of great memories, and I enjoyed having cash in my pocket and being able to pay bills without stressing about how we would cover them. We had much, and we shared much. Because of physical issues and injuries, we lost much, and finally illness claimed my husband’s life. I recovered and made changes in my life; I found a job I loved and did well financially, but I drifted from the LORD.

Through a long story, I have again found myself in financial straits, and consequently I am downsizing and letting go of lot’s of that stuff (with more to follow), and moving into a more affordable (I’m praying!) place. Praying and studying GOD’s Word, listening to positive Christian songs on the radio*, starting to attend a church where I can be spiritually fed; working on the whole fellowship part (I am painfully shy; I’ve learned to disguise it somewhat); desiring to do GOD’s Will rather than mine. Learning again how to worship and give thanks, in spite of – or because of – the circumstances. The preacher used Psalm 100 for his sermon a couple of weeks ago, a ‘Psalm of Thanksgiving.’ (*Thanking GOD for K-LOVE radio!)

“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that The LORD HIMSELF IS GOD; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His Name. For the LORD is Good; His Lovingkindness is everlasting And His Faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalms 100:1‭-‬5 NASB

When I begin to feel overwhelmed (again!), I need to remember this, repeating especially verse 5 of Psalm 100, along with verses 1, 5-6 from the 23rd Psalm:

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely/Certainly Goodness and Lovingkindness/Mercy will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever. ….. For the LORD is Good; His Lovingkindness is everlasting And His Faithfulness to all generations.”

I don’t need much but I want much. I strive to be content in my circumstances. JESUS set the bar for contentment in any situation, and Paul also touched on it, saying “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” – Philippians 4:11 NASB

If we are to be content with less than our idea of the ideal circumstances and situations, I believe we must be immersed in the Holy Spirit. I can’t say that I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance, but I can say that it is what I reach for through Salvation; the Grace and the Mercy of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. I have enough “stuff,” but I can NEVER have too much JESUS!!!

Friend – Oh! What A Friend

Can you imagine GOD, the Great Creator, saying this about you?

“I was overjoyed when some of the friends (brothers and sisters in CHRIST) arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the Truth, namely how you walk in the Truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the Truth.” – 3 John 1:3‭-‬4 NRSV

Yes, I am aware the John wrote this about own his feeling of joy upon hearing that people he had taught about the LORD were continuing their walk with JESUS. So many stumble and slip, it truly is a joy when we know that someone we have worked with and taught about JESUS, and who has accepted Him as their Saviour, is continuing in their walk with Him. I know it was not written to describe how GOD feels about HIS childen, but can’t you just imagine Him saying it about one of us? We know that Heaven rejoices when a sinner is saved, so why wouldn’t He be happy to hear a new ‘arrival’ in Heaven testify about His children’s faithfulness? I pray that after all the years I spent parched in the wilderness of sin, perhaps one person will testify for me in His Presence.

Not to give me pride, because that has finally left me, but just to know that I have given the Almighty GOD a tiny sliver of the incredible JOY that He has given to me with His Love. As I write this, I realize that I do have a Friend like that, a Friend Who will testify for me in front of the Almighty! That Friend is JESUS, and I can testify that there is no better Friend to have than Him. What a Friend we have in JESUS…. Joseph Scriven wrote a poem by that name in 1855, and it was set to music in 1868 by Charles Converse. It has been sung in churches worldwide, and numerous recording artists have performed it, including Bing Crosby, Aretha Franklin, Alan Jackson, and many more. My favorite, though, is a new rendition by Matt Maher. Both songs tell of the incredible love JESUS has for us, and how He willingly takes our sins and our burdens so that we no longer have to struggle under them. (You can get get the lyrics and the music on Google and YouTube.)

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:13‭-‬15 ESV

JESUS is not only our best Friend, He is the Sacrificial Lamb, the High Priest, and our Advocate! He will stand up to the prosecutor, that great liar – the Father of Lies, Satan, when we all (no exceptions) stand before GOD for the FINAL Great White Throne Judgement; Revelation 20:11-15. You might also read Hebrews 4:14-15, 8:6, 9:11-12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6, and 1 John 2:1. There is an an article online on the Advocacy of JESUS written by Amazing Discoveries, titled “Christ’s Mediating Ministry – He is our Advocate,” published August 13, 2009. It goes into great detail and was quite interesting. If you have questions, or doubts, I hope this will encourage you to do your own research, and search the scriptures for the answers. If you leave questions in the comments, I will do my best to help you find the answers, but first, read the Bible – it’s a fascinating book of Truth!

Just a Friend? No, WHAT a Friend! Is He your Best Friend?

“What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God’s eyes, our best. Those which are least supported by devotional feeling…these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard.” – #CSLewis

The LORD Is My Portion

The author of the book of Lamentations is disputed, but regardless of whether it was Jeremiah, his scribe, or someone else, it is a book expressing deep torment. It was written after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC. At one particularly bleak period in my life, had I the eloquence of Jeremiah, I could have written this about my own life. These verses can apply to both our physical lives and our spiritual lives. Can you relate it to your life?

“The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.” – Lamentations 3:19‭ NRSV

Despite his sorrow and angst, Jeremiah doesn’t lose his trust in the LORD. Like David, Jeremiah suffered through soul wrenching sorrow, but his faith didn’t waver ….. unlike mine. I questioned GOD, I blamed GOD, and I cursed the situations I found myself in. I know – my choices, my consequences. When I finally said, “Enough! I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!” Then I could call out to JESUS, LORD, and allow Him to pull me out of the muck and he mire and the just plain ugliness of my life. Am I always thankful of GOD’s Mercies? Do I always accept His Portion and let contentment into my life? The answer is a resounding “No, I do not.” I am human, and my ‘feelings’ and emotions can overwhelm me. Sometimes I prefer to wallow in my self-pity, but a mentor said to me, “Feel sorry for yourself for 5 minutes, then get up and get on with your life.’ Don’t let the ‘shoulda coulda woulda’s’ run your life, because they will ruin your life!

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have Hope: The steadfast Love of the LORD never ceases, His Mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will Hope in Him.” ” – Lamentations 3:20-24 NRSV

I have HOPE in the LORD, AMEN!

Image of the prophet Jeremiah from Wikipedia Commons

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Do you know the words to the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”?

Great is Thy Faithfulness, O GOD my Father …. All I have needed, Thy Hand hath provided …. Written almost 100 years ago, and sung in churches across the world, it is on my top 10 favorite hymns to sing (well, it was, when I had a voice! Now, I just immerse myself in the lyrics and sing it in my head. 😁) If you are able to, take a minute to Google Chris Rice singing it. It makes a beautiful moment of worship. Listen to the words. They are straight out of the Bible. Of the hundreds of times I have sung this hymn and read these scriptures, this reality hit me this morning:

GOD, our LORD and SAVIOUR, is Faithful to me – and to you!

I’m having trouble grasping this concept! I’ve always known that we as Christians should be, and try to be, faithful to our GOD and SAVIOUR. But for HIM to be faithful to me? We know that GOD is omnipotent and omnipresent, so why should He tell us, over and over in the scriptures, that He is Faithful to us?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 NRSV

If He sees all and knows all, where does faith come into play for Him? Of course, we’ll never know the real answer until we see Him face to Face, once we have passed from this life into His Life and eternity. My supposition is that because of the Free Will He gave us when He created us, He doesn’t look into our hearts until we invite Him in. Therefore, He expresses to us that He will remainful Steadfast and Faithful while waiting for us and on us. In His Faithfulness, He sent JESUS to us for a visible, real-life example of His Love and His Faithfulness.

“And the WORD became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His Glory, the Glory as of a Father’s Only SON, full of Grace and Truth.” – John 1:14 NRSV

“…. so CHRIST, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” – Hebrews 9:28 NRSV

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of GOD.” – 2 Corinthians 7:1 NRSV

Have you experienced GOD’s Faithfulness in your life? Do you know; can you feel the depths of His Love? JESUS came once (Got that? ONCE) to cleanse us of all of our sins; to relieve us of the necessity to make sacrifices as our ancestors did, and to seal us, once and for all, and bring us into His Presence. Following the words of JESUS and His disciples, we should do our best to live an exemplary life, reflecting Him into our world. Accepting Him as LORD and SAVIOUR doesn’t make us perfect, it makes us forgiven. Read what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

“The Steadfast Love of the LORD never ceases, His Mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; Great is Your Faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” ” – Lamentations 3:22‭-‬24 NRSV

GREAT is Thy Faithfulness! AMEN.

Do Whatever He Tells You

Have you ever considered the life of Mary, the girl whom the Almighty Creator, GOD of the Universe chose to be the mother of His Son on earth? This girl, probably a teenager, who believed and followed Him without question? The angel of the LORD came to her – not in a dream, but while she was awake and she knew it was real!

“And he [the angel of the LORD] came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The LORD is with you.” ” – Luke 1:28 NRSV

I would have fainted, straight out! Not Mary. She listened to the message, and thought about it before answering – that’s not my strong suit, to ponder a thing before reacting or responding. She did wonder at the message, even asking the angel, “How can this be…?” That’s more like me – I want to know the What, the Why, the How?

Because she believed, and accepted GOD’s Will in her life – even though it looked impossible to her – she knew the Truth about her son, JESUS, from the moment of His conception, and steadfastly believed in Him throughout His life. When others scoffed, she praised. When He was tortured and killed, she cried for His pain. She supported everything He did with His life. His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
John 2:5 NRSV

Oh, to have faith like Mary, and to be able to say to myself, without reservation, “I will do whatever He tells me.” Easy to say; difficult to put into action for me, because I’m a ‘bottom line” kind of person. I want to see the whole picture before I commit. How does it affect me personally? Our GOD doesn’t work that way…. or maybe He does, and in our human-ness we just can’t see it? What I forget is that He is watching out for me, not sometimes, but all of the time. He knows the bottom line, and He knows the turmoil, the frustration, and the sorrow we are dealing with. I forget that I am not alone, ever. He is with me to catch me when I fall, steady me when I stumble, and pick me up when I can no longer walk.

Is today a bad day? Are you frustrated, almost to tears? Are you worried to the point of being sick? Lately, I’ve had several of those days. Besides having a running conversation with GOD, what can we do? I recite the first couple of lines from the 23rd Psalm, “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” and sing with Hillary Scott and the Scott family “Thy Will Be Done.” The anxiety may still be there, but I find a wonderful Peace when I let GOD take the fear. “What A Friend We Have In JESUS,” sung by Matt Maher – great reminder!!

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but My Steadfast LOVE shall not depart from you, and My Covenant of Peace shall not be removed, says the LORD, Who has Compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:10 NRSV

Forever and ever, AMEN.

Image from http://www.fanpop.com

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