You WIN!!!

Lotteries, PCH (Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes) casinos; betting on sports, dog tracks and horse racing, fights – human and animal. Schemes on how to make millions, and evangelists who twist the WORD – the BIBLE – to persuade you that GOD will reward you with abundant financial wealth if you just do what they say (starting, of course, with supporting their ‘ministry!’

Everyone is looking for the eeee-sy money; the life of leisure. What shows are popular on tv? Reality shows that promise large sums to the ‘winner,’ gossip shows and ‘celebrity watch’ shows, glorifying the power, glitz and glamour that comes from having millions. Game shows – Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I’ve had a running joke for years, saying “When I win the lottery, I’ll ….. Oh! That’s right, you have to buy a lottery ticket!” (Never have bought one, either!)

If you actually won, how would you use the money?

The reality for Christians is that we don’t need millions. How can I say that? I don’t know your circumstances, or your life. Ah! No, I don’t know your life; I’m too busy negotiating mine to try to know anyone else’s! I care about you, and I pray for and do what I am able to do to help others. So why do I say Christians dontneed money? Here are a few reasons:

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” – Psalms 23:1 NRSV

JESUS said to His disciples, “….. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20 NRSV

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve GOD and wealth.” – Matthew 6:24 NRSV (also Luke 16:13)

I am facing a mountain, and a boatload of cash would go a long ways toward conquering that mountain. I can despair and focus on the mountain, wishing for that mound of cash …… or I can lift my eyes from the mountain, and focus on my GOD. It’s a choice we get to make every day. I choose to look up….. and I WIN.

“To YOU I lift up my eyes, O YOU who are Enthroned in the heavens!” – Psalms 123:1 NRSV

Greedy Little People

“Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” JESUS replied, “Friend, who made Me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then He said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” ” – Luke 12:13‭-‬15 NLT

It breaks my heart to see the families, the friendships, and the relationships that are damaged beyond repair because of greed. I suspect that most of us have witnessed this behaviour firsthand. I have experienced what greed can do in my personal life and in my extended family, and I have seen the consequences of greed in my own and in other’s lives. My Dad had four siblings, and came from a family that was, if not wealthy, certainly well off. When his mother passed, and when he was finally able to go to her house (he was the only sibling who didn’t live in the same city with the rest), he found it stripped of almost everything of value. No, no burglers, just certain family members who decided they would take whatever they wanted. A similar thing happened to my Mom when her mother passed on. I have seen it to a much smaller extent in my immediate family. I have also seen it in wealthy friends (really, multimillionaires – I don’t comprehend that level of wealth!), who were terrified that someone would take advantage of them or scam them to gain access to their money. Paranoia, distrust, bitterness in relationships were the result. Ironically, they were being taken advantage of by the people who were closest to them because of greed.

That kind of behaviour, i.e. greediness, causes hurt and division. People, nothing on this earth is important enough to lose family or friends because of greed. Whenever I die and pass into heaven, what good will it do for me to have all the best and brightest things? Absolutely no good, because nohing from this earth will go with me then. I am blessed to have some little things from my Dad and my grandparents; they have no monetary value, and I am fine with that. I like them for the memories they evoke. My response to greediness is to lable items with whomever I want to have them, to keep a list in my will, and to give things away now. I certainly won’t need any of it, but I especially don’t want to see any grasping greediness in those close to me!

“Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

You may be experiencing sadness, and you might be hurting and becoming bitter because you weren’t left what you wanted, expected, or thought you ‘deserved’. Sometimes it is accidental (not leaving a will or written directions for the survivors), and sometimes it is intentional, sadly. Read the parable of the rich man in Luke 12: 13-21, in fact, read the entire chapter.

“But GOD said to him [the greedy rich man], ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich Relationship with GOD.” – Luke 12:20‭-‬21 NLT

JESUS replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the Word of GOD and put it into practice.” – Luke 11:28 NLT

I often feel like I don’t have much, and then I look around and see how absolutely Blessed I am with family and friends. I have an abundance of ‘things,’ including much of I don’t need. Downsizing is the topic du jour in social and print media, yet it seems that everywhere I turn there are bigger and fancier homes being built. It’s pretty obvious to me that our society is permeated by greed. As for me, I want to sell my (too large) house and get into a smaller one, closer to family…. my priorities have changed, and I attribute any good that has happened to my life to my LORD, JESUS. It is no longer ‘necessary’ to compete with the ‘Jones.’ Earthly weath no longer appeals so much to me. If I possessed monetary weath, I would do everything I could to help my family and friends, and my passions: my church, K-Love radio, the Salvation Army, the National Rifle Association. For me, I want my prayer to always be “Just enough, LORD, just enough,” and “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want” – with NO ‘BUTS’!

YES!!!

In My Defense

“GOD Blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the Crown of LIFE that GOD has promised to those who love Him.“- James 1:12 NLT (Note that it does NOT say “GOD helps those who help themselves.”)

Even though James thought he was writing to his contemporaries; fellow Jews who had been scattered throughout the known world, GOD’s message for him was to be sent through the ages. What James says looks eerily like it was written specifically for us today. For a person of true integrity, when he or she stands before the Great White Throne, waiting to be judged by Almighty GOD, there shouldn’t be many secrets hiding in their heart’s ‘closet’….. However, the outwardly righteous man, or the public presentation of integrity by a woman, could very well be hiding a closet stuffed to bursting with things that are secret and that they don’t want to reveal in the perfect Light coming from the throne. GOD sees past the facade we put up to fool other humans – and it is never a pretty sight.

Integrity defined: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole and undivided.” – from Google Dictionary

Jesus warns His followers, then and now:

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the LIGHT, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you Whom to fear. Fear GOD, Who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.” – Luke 12:2‭-‬5 NLT

Remember the story of David and Bathsheba? This man, who has been declared to be a ‘man of GOD’s own heart’, was an adulterer and he had her husband murdered in order to cover his transgression. A ‘man of GOD’s own heart’, who tried to cover his secrets and hide them from the ALMIGHTY, ALL-SEEING GOD. Do you recall how well his secrets remained hidden? Not long. Days, weeks, maybe a few months, but it all came to the light – and the consequence of those sins was that their son, their firstborn, died.

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” – Luke 12:2 NLT

Could our LORD make it any more clear? Whatever the secret, it will be brought out into the Light. Now is the time to open your heart’s door and allow the HOLY SPIRIT clean out the cobwebs; to open all of those secret places in your mind so that He can do a thorough cleaning. He wants us to be sparkling clean when we stand in front of the Judge, but He will not force us to unlock all those doors. The more you keep them closed up and locked up, JESUS’s death and resurrection can’t completely cover our secret sins.

Are you holding them closed and living your life looking back at them, so you won’t ‘forget’ how bad it/you were? GOD is a gentleman and won’t force us to open the door(s) in this life – but ultimately, when we stand in the box to be judged, those locks will pop open and everything will be revealed. Won’t it be good to not have any secrets to bring to the Light? I encourage you to unlock them and let the Holy Spirit do a clean sweep, right now, today! Listen to Steve and Annie Chapman sing “The Secret Place.” Even now, after hearing it for almost 30 years, it brings tears of joy to my heart. (You’ll have to Google it, or go to YouTube)

Open the door to your secret place. That’s when you find true Hope and Healing – the ONLY Way, through JESUS.


Photo credit: heartafterjesus.blogspot.com

I Am Shocked, I Tell You, SHOCKED

We have it made. Regardless of what is happening in your life right now – financial issues, skin color issues, socioeconomic issues, family issues – we have it made. In the United States, even our poverty level is a huge step up from middle or even upper middle class in many countries. That in itself should have many of us on our knees, thanking GOD for the privilege of being here.

We have it made. Animal sacrifice is no longer needed to absolve us from our sins, because the LAMB of GOD made the ulimate sacrifice for all of our sins, past, present, and future. We only need to accept His freely given gift of LIFE so that we can spend forever, eternity, with Him! Why are we so stubborn, so ridiculously stupid in this reality; so much so that we have become (I believe) the most egocentric society to ever exist? Remember Rome? It was THE world power of the time, and the Romans had become completely self-absorbed when JESUS came to earth the first time. The United States, the premier world power today, might be even more egocentric, elitist, and “all-about-me” than Rome ever was, and look at what happened to Rome. That mighty nation was absolutely destroyed by barbarians, and we (the U.S.) are being taken over on so many levels by people whose goal in life is to destroy us.

“I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from GOD, who called you to Himself through the loving Mercy of CHRIST.

You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning CHRIST.

Let GOD’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.

I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” – Galatians 1:6‭-‬10 NLT

As a Christian, a CHRIST-follower, it is my duty, my responsibility to please my GOD, never man. Sometimes in the course of this duty I will please people, because my responsibility is to 1. Love GOD and 2. Love people as JESUS did. I fail at both pretty constantly, but I know that as long as I keep my priorities straight and acknowledge JESUS CHRIST as my LORD and SAVIOUR, at least occasionally I will please my GOD. I think verse 10 sums it up nicely – we might need this on our mirrors where we will see it every morning! We are charged with sharing the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST as it is written in scriptures, and not making it something it is not. I strive to follow GOD’s Word, and as an imperfect person I make mistakes. It’s possible to twist scripture to defend whatever we want it to, and that is exactly what Paul is writing here.

The Bible is not about how to make money; it is about being a good steward of whatever money we have. It isn’t about thinking how good and righteous we are, it’s about what we can do for others to make their lives better, and not looking for credit and approval. The most important lesson we should take away from scriptures is learning the gospel, backwards and forward as written, in order to be able to share the story snd the LOVE of JESUS CHRIST, anytime, anywhere. Paul was shocked at quickly the Galatians turned from the True Gospel to a twisted version of it. There are so many “options” of gospels to choose from. How do we know the real Truth from the twisted versions, the ones that Satan has carefully crafted to tease us from The Way, The Truth, and The Light of JESUS? It’s easy! Listen to John:

“Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the SPIRIT. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from GOD. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the SPIRIT of GOD: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that JESUS CHRIST came in a real body, that person has the SPIRIT of GOD. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the Truth about JESUS, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.” – 1 John 4:1‭-‬3 NLT

Keep those words close to your heart, and remember:

AMEN!

The Yearning I Feel

Do you know what I’m talking about when I say I have a yearning in my heart, in my soul? It’s that emptiness we feel and try to fill with people, places, and things to ‘make’ us happy. “If I just had that car / job/ house …..” “Getting to travel, that would satisfy me!” “I’m not happy alone. I need a partner.” “I need a child to fulfill me.” “My house / clothes / car has to be perfect for others to see.” JESUS addresses this very attitude while visiting with his friends Mary and Martha. He said to Martha, who was bustling around, worried that everyone was taken care of in her best hostess way, as she complained that Mary wasn’t helping her:

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41‭-‬42 NRSV

Did you read yesterday’s post? It isn’t “The LORD is my Shepherd, but …..” We should be thinking, and saying “I want (or think I need) this thing, but the LORD is my Shepherd.” Mary wasn’t worried about everyone else’s opinions of her. She was concentrating on the One Who mattered, the LORD JESUS CHRIST. I can imagine that Psalm 23 was very much in her mind that day.

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for His Name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff— they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.” – Psalms 23:1‭-‬6 NRSV

The yearning we feel and try to fill on our own is the yearning of our souls to fill the hole in our hearts, but it will never be filled with any person, or place, or thing in this world. We were made with that GOD-shaped hole, and it’s a hole that can only be filled by Him, our Creator. JESUS came to earth specifically to show us how to fill it. He spoke to the crowds near Capernaum and said this:

“For the Bread of GOD is that which comes down from heaven and gives Life to the world.” They said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” JESUS said to them, “I AM the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:33‭-‬35 NRSV

If you are experiencing that yearning, and you’ve tried everything you can to fill it but keep coming up empty, I encourage you to think on these things. Ponder them, research them, and finally, remember this verse and know that GOD doesn’t threaten, He only speaks Truth. The enemy is Satan, the Father of Lies, and even he and his demons know that this is true:

“Whoever believes in the SON has Eternal Life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure GOD’s Wrath.” – John 3:36 NRSV

https://it.aleteia.org/daily-prayer/domenica-29-luglio/

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 ☝️

WHAT? Me, Worry??

I grew up hearing my parents and grandparents say different derivative of this phrase, usually in the form of not to ‘borrow trouble’ or to ‘bring tomorrow’s troubles to today’. According to Wikipedia, the phrase debuted in 1954 in Mad Magazine as a slogan for the character Alfred E. Neumann. Although Mad used it as sarcasm and in derision, the source is actually from scriptures. JESUS taught the crowds who followed Him, saying to them:

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? …. So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ’ or ‘What will we drink? ’ or ‘What will we wear? ’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly FATHER knows that you need them. But seek first the Kingdom of GOD and HIS Righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25‭, ‬31‭-‬34 HCSB

Worry comes so easily to us. I was having a conversation with my sister about circumstances we are facing, and she said that whenever she starts to worry how the situation will work out, she hears this little voice reminding her that GOD is in control of the situation. I hear that same voice whenever I begin to worry about my own situation. GOD isn’t telling us to just lie back and let the world run over us, or that we should expect to be taken care of without doing any of the work. Contrary to popular belief, He also doesn’t say anywhere in scripture that He ‘takes care of those who take care of themselves.’ I’ve found that when I’m ‘taking care of myself,’ I’m not leaning on Him!

I read the most inane comment on Twitter this morning. Avery Edison @aedison tweeted this “Remember babes, there’s nothing moral about work, and you are have {sic} basic human rights to food, water, shelter, health care (among other things) whether or not you work.” (Emphasis mine.) Now, I also read that she’s a comedian, and I suppose the comment could have been made solely for the purpose of getting people to respond – which it definitely achieved – but…… really? Someone has to work to build shelter, someone has to raise (or hunt) food and find a good water source, and someone has to acquire the knowledge to care for people. Sounds like ‘work’ to me. I’m also guessing that ‘among other things’ she’s including clothing, which also requires work. The truly sad thing about this tweet is that even if it is, indeed, made tongue-in-cheek, there are so many people today who assume that it is a truth; that they can coast along and expect society to take care of them.

What an apt analogy for socialism and the state our world is in today. While GOD doesn’t want us to waste our time in worry, neither does he intend for us to sit around and expect to be waited on. Look at Proverbs 12:24, 19:15, and 26:15, and Hosea 12:12. These are just a few examples of hundreds of scriptures referring to work and lifestyles, and especially in Psalms 107:

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for His Faithful Love and His wonderful works for all humanity. They saw the LORD’s works, His wonderful works in the deep.” – Psalms 107:21‭, ‬24 HCSB

Even the ALMIGHTY, the LORD GOD works! He spoke the universe into existence, but then He put His Hands in the dirt to create the clay and mold Adam, the first man, and He reached into Adam’s side to take the rib to create the Eve, the first woman, always to be at man’s side. Who are we to expect that we can do any less than the LORD?

(Photo credit to Vocations Journey – WordPress.com)