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.

New Life


Read 2 Peter and Jude. (They’re short!)

The author is Simon, or Simeon, Peter, called “the Rock” by Jesus. Peter writes to emphasize his 2 lives, his before and after of meeting Jesus, the Christ. He shows us the difference in our old lives and what we can become through Jesus. Simon Peter describes himself as a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. An Apostle is ‘one sent with the delegated authority of the one who sends him.’ We know that Jesus sent His Apostles out to spread the Gospel and to preach Salvation.

Peter writes “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours” – for there are no 2nd class Christians, we are all equal in the sight of God, “by the righteousness of our God and Savior.” That’s One person, GOD and SAVIOUR, Jesus Christ, not multiple beings but One. Peter reminds us that the substance of our salvation is the righteousness given to us by Jesus Christ: GOD, SAVIOUR, SPIRIT, One person. In his letter to the Romans, he quotes King David: “Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD will not take into account.” (Romans 4:8)
Grace, the free, unmerited favor of God, Righteousness, and Peace are ongoing subjects for Peter. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; ” Ephesians 2:8 NASB He knows these intimately through his own personal experiences, and his desire is that everyone learn to know them, too. To that end, he spent his life traveling and writing, sharing the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Grace and Peace be multiplied” [grow and increase] “to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; ….” Our part, our work, is nothing; all we bring to the table is our sin. We grow through the knowledge of His Word, and full of experiential knowledge, we become God explorers, learning about Him throughout our lives. We all are all born into His kingdom as babies. There are no great Christians born; everyone must grow into their own personal relationship with the LORD.

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17‭-‬18 NASB
2 Peter is all about being learning, knowledge and growth – and that you have to know to grow. These books call Christians to spiritual growth to combat false teachings through the knowledge of the LORD. He was writing to the believers in modern Turkey against false teachings just as we are faced with today, such as there not being a literal hell, gender confusion, and Christ not being the Son of God. All we have to do is listen to what’s going on around us to see these falsehoods in action. Our knowledge of His Word will help prevent us from becoming like these Galatian Christians:

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:6‭-‬9 NASB

Faith and salvation both come from the LORD. As  A.W. Tozer said, “God is never found accidentally.” My prayer is that you have found God, and that you are learning His Words so that you are not deceived by the father of lies and deceit.

“To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Scriptural Authority

Is everybody is embraced in the church, regardless of their gender, or sexual orientation, or social status? Many people say that gay people would not be welcome, or that Christians are homophobic and too focused on a person’s outward appearance. Unfortunately, in many churches these statements are true. For a church that is trying to follow the example of Jesus Christ, these should not be true. As in any gathering of humans, we find prejudices and pretensions, but does that make the entire group that way?

I appreciate and agree with Pastor T.D. Jakes on this subject. While on the Oprah Winfrey show, he made this statement:”The perception in our society today is that if you don’t say you’re for same-sex marriage or if you say homosexuality is a sin that you’re homophobic and you’re against gay people. And that’s not true.” The pastor continued, “I’m not called to give my opinion. I’m called as a pastor to give the scriptural position on it,” the pastor added. “Doesn’t mean that I have to agree with you to love you. I don’t dislike anybody. I love everybody.”

Winfrey went on to ask if Jakes thinks being gay is a sin. He responded “I think that sex between two people of the same sex is condemned in the Scriptures, and as long as it is condemned in the Scriptures, I don’t get to say what I think. I get to say what the Bible says,” Jakes said. “I’m not anti-gay, I’m not anti-anything. I don’t want to even be known by what I’m against.”

My opinions don’t really matter. What does matter is what the Bible – God’s Word – says. Christians are to love every person. Not what they do or how they live. Do your opinions take over your actions?

The Bible is….

The Bible is not fiction or fantasy or fairytales. The Bible is “…… men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (verse 21b)

“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16 NIV
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:19-21 NASB [compare ESV v21]

We know Scripture has Authority (19a), and Peter writes about the Transfiguration to bolster what the Old Testament prophesies say. There are over 300 prophecies about Jesus Christ – He would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, of the tribe of Judah, He would enter Jerusalem as a King, riding on the back of a donkey colt, soldiers would cast lots for His clothing, and He would be crucified. Just to start: Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9, 13:6, 11:13; Isaiah 53:7.

Peter W. Stoner wrote a fascinating book titled Science Speaks. To read it, especially chapter 3, The Christ of Prophesy, go to http://sciencespeaks.dstoner.net

Because the world is dark and dingy, and JESUS is the Light (19b); it is through His illumination that we can see.

“And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” John 9:39 NASB

We think we are autonomous, but this is the truth: We are bound to society’s boundaries through our minds, because our minds are fallen and dark; our hearts, because our emotions, our feelings, are deceptive; and because of our traditions that bind us into place. We are only Protestants because of the people who broke away from tradition. All of these traits must be subordinate to the teachings and authority of the Bible. The Holy Spirit, the Triune God gives Scripture its Authority (20-21). God inspired Scripture; He did not force the writers to write the words by moving their hands across the paper.

Obedience to God’s Word is comparable to parents telling toddlers to do or not doing a thing. We resist God in the same ways as they resist doing what they are told. Since we know God’s wisdom far exceeds that of a parent compared to a 3 year old, why do we resist Him? Because we know that it will cost us to live His way, just as it is often painful for a toddler to live the way their parents tell them to. Our heart compares to sealing wax and the seal… without FIRE to soften the wax/heart, it will only be scratched or crushed. When the wax is softened from the flame, and indelible impression can be made. Even Jesus, Son of GOD and part of the Triune God, submitted to the Father.

Remember – Be reminded of God’s inspired, authoritative teachings through the study and reading of His Word. He created it to be our guidebook, our instruction manual, our map, and our inspiration.

“Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder….” 2 Peter 1:12‭-‬13 NASB

Moral Excellence

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5‭-‬7 NASB

Strive for moral excellence, knowledge of our Saviour, self control, perseverance. Live one day at a time; just for today – do the next right thing. Surround yourself with encouragers. Refuse to quit or give up on what God has called us to do with our life. Live with godliness – literally God likeness; becoming like God/ Christ. Emulate Christ, spend time with Him. Our attitude towards people shows our heart. We should be the kind of person who prays for each other, forgives each other, and is generous to others. Over all, we show love: it is our capstone; our crowning glory when we sacrifice of ourselves for the higher good. As we bask in and revel in God’s love, we can love others.

“Don’t compare me to other men, compare me to Jesus” – Adoniram Judson, missionary to India.

“For it is because of these things that the Wrath of GOD will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—” Colossians 3:6‭-‬10 NASB

I need to watch my mouth. I may not be cursing or using expletives, but I can do a lot of damage to my witness with my words. Ever hear the phrase “Don’t be a Negative Nancy”? (Yes, I know it’s my name, but it was around before I was!) I’ve been around a few “Negative Nancy’s”, and they can spoil an entire day with their attitude. As Christians, I think it’s important that we keep positive things coming out of our mouths. I need to pay more attention to what I’m saying.

Focus

“….. for through Him [Jesus God] God [Father God] created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16 NLT


Why did Jesus leave heaven and come to earth? After all, the Universe was created by Him and for Him, and He was on His throne where He could observe everything and everywhere and everyone. Why leave the glories of a perfect place for this flawed planet, full of flawed beings? What was His focus once here? We go to the book of Hebrews and the words of Jesus Himself for the answers.

“Therefore, when He comes into the world, He [JESUS] says, “Sacrifice and offering You [FATHER GOD] have not desired, But a body You 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 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 in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:5‭-‬10 NASB

Jesus came for the sole purpose to do His Father’s Will, and in doing so fulfill Prophesy: feeding on the promises God has made, verse 7 “In the Scroll of the Book it is written of Me.” God’s prophesies start in Genesis (3:15, 12:2); Isaiah 7:14, 11; 2 Samuel 7:16; through Micah and Hosea, books full of prophecies, and throughout Scriptures. Jesus is the “fulfillment of the laws and prophets”. Out of a thousand prophesies in the Bible, 500 have been fulfilled; 409 of them by Jesus! He is following the Father: in verses 7-9, He is speaking to God the Father, ready to do His Father’s Will. Jesus is defined by following God’s Will. In

John 5:30, He says I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And again in John 6:38, He says  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”


Our focus as Christians, as followers of the Christ, needs to be like Him: Obey regardless of the cost; be patient, honest, and steadfast. Our duty is not to find our freedom but to find our Master, otherwise we are enslaved by sin. Everything is ashes if we are not following the will of God. Remember His Mercy and His Grace! 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!