What Are You Chasing?

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2 NASB

I’ve spent my life chasing something, or someone. Lots of money and energy expended trying for the perfect partner, job, house, clothes; friends, family. The “perfect” church. Know what I’ve discovered?

They don’t exist.

What? Of course they do! Don’t try to tell me my searching, my life, is futile! ……. And yet, that’s the truth. Most of us spend our lives trying to have the perfect life as we imagine it, when the reality is that all of these things, and all of these people, won’t satisfy us. Sure, we can achieve momentary satisfaction, but it’s fleeting. I think that’s why our world is rife with ruthless people, in business and politics and in their personal lives. Business takeovers. Public lies and shaming. Affairs in the shadows, and affairs in the open, blatantly flaunting themselves. Desperate people everywhere, searching for nirvana.

It doesn’t exist.

We are a created race. Yes, one race, created by a Creator God, and we are created to worship Him. Nothing else can fill that hole. We can search and scrape and fight trying to find anything else to fill it, and that’s what we spend our lives doing. One thing fills that hole in your heart. One thing fulfills your search. ONE thing.

Jesus Christ.

Son of the FATHER GOD. Second, but equal, member of the Trinity, God, Son, Holy Spirit. Saviour of the world. The One; The Way.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16‭-‬18 NASB

In 1670, Blaise Pascal published Pensées, in which he writes:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NASB

Change your focus. Look for Jesus. He will fill your heart in a way you could never have imagined. Not only your heart, but He will fill your life, your mind, your soul, if you will just let Him. He will give you Life Abundant. Even if you struggle financially, even if you are on your own, without a partner, or out of work, Jesus can bring a contentment that is beyond this earth.

LORD, I pray today for that person who is searching, that he or she will open their heart to You and realize real peace and contentment today, right now. Amen.

Now to Him

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NASB

It is so easy to be judgmental based on how a person looks. We can look at someone on a street corner & think “Get a job! Quit begging!” But do you know their circumstances? Personally, I find it difficult to understand how – and why – anyone is homeless with all of the resources available now… And yet, I spent several months living on the street years ago because of my own bad choices. I was too proud to reach out for help, so God used others to help me out of that pit. Not with money, because He knew that wouldn’t help me, but with a place to stay and food to eat until I got my health back, and I could get a job and my own place. We look at the outside, but thank God that He looks at the heart!

“I thank Him who has given me strength, CHRIST JESUS our LORD, because He judged me Faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received Mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief*, and the Grace of our LORD overflowed for me with the Faith and Love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received Mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:12‭-‬17 ESV

*Unlike Paul, I was not ignorant of God, nor was I an unbeliever. Still, in His infinite Mercy and Grace, the LORD of the Universe forgave me and took me back into His arms. How thankful I am for His Mercy and my wholly undeserved forgiveness! I remain convinced that of those people who helped lift me out of the muck, some had to be angels in disguise. Take time today to thank God for what you have, and do something good for someone. We never know when we might be entertaining angels!

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NASB

Forgiven

“If You, Lord , should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.” Psalms 130:3‭-‬4 NASB

This reminds me of this phrase: Because I say I am a Christian doesn’t mean I’m perfect (far from it!); it just means I am forgiven.

There’s a song the Newsboys sang called You Are My King, and this is the beginning verse.

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your Spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

If Jesus hadn’t voluntarily left heaven and accepted living as a human, and then died as our sacrifice for our sins, where would we be today? If Jesus hadn’t voluntarily hung on that cross, forsaken and condemned, where would we be today? If Jesus hadn’t conquered death and hell, and walked away from the tomb, where would we be today?

It is because of His sacrifice that we live.

Have you accepted that? Because of Jesus, all of my sins are forgotten! Without Jesus, there would be no peace in my life. I pray that you find that peace today!

Stand Firm

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” 1 Timothy 1:15 NASB

Do you feel like a prisoner? Sometimes, since we’ve been in this pandemic, I feel as though I’m under house arrest. Honestly. I get 2 or 3 days a week to go to my job for a few hours, and I’ve gone to the drug store to pick up prescriptions twice since this began. Twice, I’ve gone to a big box store for a couple of items, and once to a grocery store for basics. In some ways, it doesn’t bother me at all. I’m an introvert, so not being “allowed” to be surrounded by people is wonderful….. but to be told that I can’t go if I choose to….. that’s different!

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NASB

I confess to having some real hard feelings towards some of those in government, especially the ones who sit in their huge houses purchased with our money, refusing to return to work, as millions of Americans aren’t allowed to work and support their families. Then I read this verse from Matthew, where Jesus tells the parable of the slave who was forgiven his debt to his master, but refused to forgive the debt a fellow slave owed to him:

“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:35 NASB

I need to stand firm in the knowledge that GOD is in control of this mess. Instead of anger and disgust (or maybe fueled by them), I need to be lifting up these people in prayer. When I raise my head and my hands to the One Who created the world, I find the freedom the LORD wants me to have. When I turn my head away from Him, thos negative feelings rush back into my heart and my head.

Thy will be done, LORD. You alone can Stand Firm and hold us up. Thank You for Your Mercy and Grace upon me, a sinner of the worst kind. I believe that You are a GOD of the Highest kind; in fact, You alone are GOD.

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13‭-‬14 NASB

Anxious Thoughts

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Psalms 94:19 NASB

In 1872, a young wife and mother named Annie Hawks penned these words:

I need thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine
can peace afford.
I need thee, O I need thee;
every hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to thee.

In times like today, when so many people are frightened and worried, these words offer Christians the comfort that we are safe in the arms of Jesus. For those of you who want that comfort, it’s within your reach. I know how it feels to believe that you’ve done something that can’t be forgiven. I know what it means to be standing on the outside looking in, deep in sin and wondering how He could possibly reach me – and thinking that there was no way the LORD would even want to reach me.

Please, listen.

No matter what, God knows you and loves you.

He forgives, no matter what. Liars, cheaters, adulterers, thieves, even murderers. Don’t take my word for it! Read the Bible! The greatest people in it are sinners. Moses was a murderer. King David was greedy and an adulterer. Rahab and Mary Magdalene were prostitutes. Peter lied. Paul persecuted the early Christians! There are many, many more, too. Nothing can separate you from the Love of the LORD, once you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. He is our salvation. No one, and nothing, here on earth can save you. Not Buddha, not Mohammad, or Joseph Smith, or any of the other thousands of imposters.

“For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His ONLY Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have ETERNAL LIFE. For GOD did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16‭-‬17 NASB

Believe it. Believe HIM.

Pray About Everything

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NASB

Every time I read this verse, it strikes me.

“Anxious for nothing.”

“In everything…. let your requests be made known to God.”

“….. prayer …. supplication …. thanksgiving ….”

I’m not supposed to worry about anything. Anything. Geeze Louise, how does that work??? Not worry when the money runs out in the middle of the month? Not worry when the kids are sick, or I’m sick? Not worry about the person traveling in the snow and ice? Not worry when the boss says “You’re fired”, and you are the sole income? Not worry about that family member who is addicted to drugs or alcohol? How does that work?

“…. in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Prayer (noun): a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.

Supplication (noun): the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly. “He fell to his knees in supplication”

Solemnly, seriously, on our knees – whether literally or figuratively – ask God for help while thanking Him for the situation. The Serenity Prayer (used by many 12 Step programs) by Reinhold Niebuhr is a good place to start.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Testify!

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God! Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:28‭-‬29 NASB

When I was 5 years old, I knelt with my daddy and prayed for Jesus to come into my heart. Yes, I was rather a precocious child. Strong willed. Over the years and into my teens, we had numerous missionaries in our home and church, teaching and preaching and discipling. Active in all aspects of church life, going to camp in the summer and lots of activities revolving around Jesus, it was easy for me to believe. As a teen, I knew I was called to serve God as a missionary. At 18, I left home to attend college, determined to follow my LORD. I attended a Christian college where I would be surrounded by by my peers, and I would be supported on my journey.

Life; the world, intervened. Let me assure you, Satan is alive and well at Christian colleges, looking for any cracks and openings in our shields of faith. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

He found my weakness, and I fell to his tempations. I strayed from my Lord and stayed away, running from God, for many years. Like Moses, I spent 40 years in the wilderness, only mine was a wilderness of sin. God gave me many opportunities to see His Mercy and His Grace. I mostly ignored Him, and chose to blame Him for my circumstances. I even fell back on that Mercy when I found myself in dire circumstances, but I wasn’t ready to let go of my worldly ways, so I would plunge back into that life.

I have compared my lost years to the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the dessert. I started out trusting God, then I slipped away from Him. The Israelites received His Mercy many times throughout their journey – manna and quail when they were hungry and had no food; water where there was none; deliverance from the Egyptians. His Mercy fed and clothed me at times, and He delivered me from certain death more than once. God didn’t destroy the Israelites because of the prayers of the righteous, and He didn’t destroy me – or allow the enemy to destroy me – because of the prayers of my family.

Some of us have to hit our “bottom” before we can see Jesus. We don’t take anyone’s word that He is real, He loves us, and He wants to forgive us. Sometimes we are like Thomas, Doubting Thomas, and we think we have to “put {our} fingers into His wounds” before we believe.

“One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the LORD!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His Hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” He said. Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at My Hands. Put your hand into the wound in My side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My LORD and my GOD!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE WITHOUT SEEING ME.” John 20:24‭-‬29 NLT

I’m so far from perfect, it can’t be measured, but the LORD GOD of the Universe thinks I’m worthy of His pursuit. What a humbling thought! I continue to sin and to stumble. I have doubts and I worry. But…..

I am so grateful that He doesn’t give up on us; on me!

GRACE and Miracles

(from Grace Awakening by Lead Pastor Jay Risner)

17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. 1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, 2 and he said, “I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. 3 “For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. 4 “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ 5 “Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, Weeds were wrapped around my head. 6 “I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. 7 “While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple. 8 “Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness, 9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.” 10 Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” Jonah 1:17, 2:1-10 NASB

What differentiates between Christianity and th other world religions? C.S. Lewis said “It’s easy. It is GRACE and MIRACLES.” Because God gives us both, Jonah went from Fleeing the Lord’s Presence to Seeking the Lord’s Presence. Whenever we sin, w go through these steps to seek Him:

First, the AWAKENING – Fully realize the depths to which we have fallen. Being away from God means to ALWAYS be moving down ….. spiritual decline dulls our response to God. In verse 3, Jonah realizes that God threw him int the water by using the sailors hands. God often uses the hands of others – even the hands of unbelievers – to carry out His Plan. God’s divine wrath is like a divine flood; the sea is the equivalent of death to Jonah. In Luke 15 prodigal son “came to his senses.” What has awakened, or is awakening, our hearts to our desperate spiritual condition/situation with God?

BELIEVING comes after Awakening – verse 4 shows the consequences of our sin; the despair in looking at ourselves turns to Faith when we turn to God. [John 3 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness…..” Heb 12 “Lay aside every sin that entangles….”] Sin runs deep within us and Grace is not cheap. Belief; saving faith means acknowledging we need a substitutionary sacrifice, and that sacrifice is JESUS. Through Him we receive Grace. But what is Grace? Grace is favor to an undeserving receiver by an un-obligated giver. Colossians 1:6 God gives us salvation even when we don’t deserve it.

After Believing comes REPENTING – verse 8. Repenting does not require Faith, but Faith makes repenting possible…. When we repent, we show our gratitude through WORSHIPPING – verse 9. Thankfully, we are not required to offer sacrifices to show our repentance because Christ has covered our sins with His Blood: “Salvation is from the LORD.” God appointed the fish to swallow Jonah, and then He commands the fish to throw up Jonah. God orchestrates our lives…. look at His Grace and His Kindness.

“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.” 1 Timothy 1:8‭-‬11 NASB

Hallelujah, my sins are gone!

FAITH BIBLE CHURCH – Edmond, OK
Believe. Grow. Connect. Serve.
http://www.FaithBibleOk.com

God Only Knows

Have you heard For King and Country perform their song God Only Knows? They’ve released a new version; a collaboration with Dolly Parton.

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17‭-‬18 NASB

Life gets so heavy sometimes. Things don’t go our way. Illness and disease happen. People die. Animals die. The love we are searching for doesn’t materialize…. or it goes away. There are as many afflictions as there are people, and we don’t know what anyone else is dealing with. Two people with the exact same affliction will respond to it completely differently.

“But that person has it made….!” Really? Are you quite sure of that? Do you know what they are going through? Do you know the road they traveled to get to where they are? We need to be praying for the driver who just cut us off and shouted obscenities; for the clerk who was rude, the coworker who ignores us, who gossips. Pray blessings on the people who hurt you. God loves me in spite of the mess I’ve made of my life, and He has forgiven me of all of my sins. I need to follow that example Jesus set on the cross: “Father, forgive them….”

My afflictions are temporary. So are yours. They don’t need to control our lives.