Under Judgement

“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ” – Luke 7:33‭-‬34 NRSV

Which are you? Are you judged by the people around you because you don’t eat bread* or drink wine, or are you being judged because you do eat bread and have a glass of wine or beer? ‘Bread’ can be changed to many other foods – different meats, or any meats; being vegan or vegetarian or gluten-free or Kosher or avoiding any number of different foods – for many reasons. Just because I have wine or beer with my meal doesn’t make me a drunk, and if I should choose to eat a certain way my reasons shouldn’t be questioned or cause ridicule….. and yet it is. Not me in particular, although it has happened. Christians are not alone in judging other people. Look around at the negative posts on social media, the absolute ugliness and denigrating of each other in politics, the so-called ‘reality’ shows on television. So much name calling and general put downs. It’s really disgusting that so many people calling themselves Christian participate in this behavior.

JESUS said this to His disciples: “If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for My sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23‭-‬24 NRSV

I’m not very good at denying myself. Looking at myself and those around me, it doesn’t appear that many of us are any good at it. Credit cards maxed out, huge mortgages, vehicle loans, personal credit lines, store credits…. where does it all end? We are judged for what we have – and we are judged for what we don’t have. For it to end, we have to make a beginning. As we go through each day, beginning now, whenever a negative or judgemental thought forms, take a second to realize that you don’t know how or why that person is the way they are. The wealthiest person can be the most emotionally miserable and bereft, and the one whose appearance is of extreme poverty might be content in their soul. Until we know that person, we can’t understand their pain.

My Life’s Work

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that in the LORD your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

“I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalms 34:4 ESV

I want to be like Paul, to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD … ” and like the psalmist, “delivered …. from all my fears.” There’s only one way to achieve this, and that is the Way known as JESUS CHRIST. Let Him into your life and your heart, leave the worries and cares of this life in His capable Hands, and spend time every day with Him – in His Word, and in prayer, asking for His Will to be done in your life. That’s it. Simple, short, and sweet.

Oh, SNAP

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21 NIV

Read that again! Several times the scriptures talk about the tongue, and how it is the most powerful weapon we own. From the Psalms to the book of James, there are multiple verses that tell us how dangerous and damaging – even damning – the tongue can be if we don’t control it. I can testify to that! It can be a little comment, like “oh, you look so much cuter that way,” or “wow, you look really nice today.” Was the recipient not cute before? Does that person usually look bad? I know those are the kinds of thoughts that have gone through my mind when I get what I call ‘backhanded compliments’. Other times, we can be quite deliberate in our put-downs. “You really need to lose that extra weight. That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen! Why do you stay with that loser? Your place looks so much better without all your pictures and clutter/junk around.” Really? My body, my ‘stuff’, my home. If our choice of partners are such losers, and we, as friends see it but don’t say anything before the relationship gets too involved, what gives us the right to be ugly about it later? Who are we to critique anyone else?

“Follow GOD’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of Love, just as CHRIST Loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to GOD. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for GOD’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” – Ephesians 5:1‭-‬4 NIV

What a Friend we have in JESUS… Forever and ever! He will never give a ‘backhanded compliment’, only Truth in His unchangeable, unfailing, incredible Love. My prayer is that GOD will open my ears so that I really hear how my comments sound, before they leave my mouth! Guard my heart and my tongue, O LORD. AMEN.

I BELIEVE In Mercy and Grace (Thank GOD!!)

I BELIEVE In Mercy and Grace (Thank GOD!!)

“As for [me], [I was] dead in [my] transgressions and sins, in which [I] used to live when [ I] followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit [Satan] who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” (Emphasis is mine – Instead of pointing to ‘you’, I admit my complicity in these charges laid out to the church in Ephesus by the apostle Paul.)

“But because of His Great LOVE for us, GOD, Who is rich in Mercy, made us alive with CHRIST even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by Grace you have been saved. And GOD raised us up with CHRIST and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in CHRIST JESUS, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His Grace, expressed in His kindness to us in CHRIST JESUS. For it is by Grace you have been saved, through Faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the Gift of GOD – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are GOD’s handiwork, created in CHRIST JESUS to do good works, which GOD prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:2‭-‬10 NIV

Have you heard “This I Believe (The Creed)” by Hillsong Worship?” It begins like this:

Our Father everlasting
The all creating One
God Almighty

Through Your Holy Spirit
Conceiving Christ the Son
Jesus our Savior

I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus

Knowing that I am a sinner, and that I am only saved from an eternity of pain and suffering because of JESUS CHRIST and His Love for me – for me – (even though I deserve His wrath!), makes me incredibly thankful for GOD’s Mercy!

There are no coincidences in life – as I began writing this morning, this beautiful song by Hillsong came on the radio, and a little later Lauren Dagle’s song “Trust In You” began. I need those reminders to help me look beyond my own troubles and focus my eyes back on the LORD and His Mercies.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the LORD JESUS has given me – the task of testifying to the Good News of GOD’s Grace.” – Acts 20:24 NIV

What is your life worth to you? Do you believe that this wondrous, incredibly complex being that is you, this creation of the Almighty GOD of the Universe, is just going to turn to dust when you die? Do you believe you will be reborn in karma, or just cease to exist altogether? I don’t understand those views. Intellectually, maybe, but in my heart? No…. we are too intricate, our bodies too intriguing, to have come from nothing without the guiding Hand of the Creator. Come to JESUS and the cross where He has already died for your sins. GOD’s Mercy and Grace awaits you!

Image credit: LCC Daily Devotions

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 ☝️

To The Unknown GOD

“For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The GOD who made the world and everything in it — He is LORD of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so they might seek GOD, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Being GOD’s offspring then, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination. Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, GOD now commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the MAN He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.” – Acts 17:23‭-‬31 HCSB

I found this on eBible.com, written by S. Michael Houdmann (http://www.gotquestions.org/normative-ethics.html).

CHRISTIAN ETHICS

Unlike the other normative ethical schools, Christian ethics answers the questions. It identifies truth (God), outlines the basis of ethics (principles found in the Bible), and even lists some universal laws that apply directly to the unchanging truth.The problem with manmade ethics is that they start with a false assumption of truth and try to build from there. Deontology says ethics are based on obligation, without basing that obligation on God’s truth. Consequentialism says that “good” is truth, but then can’t define what “good” is. Relativism says we cannot know the truth. And virtue ethics claims that we can work to embody truth ourselves. Only Christian ethics says that truth exists (Psalm 51:6), truth is knowable (Proverbs 3:3), and we will need help from the Creator of truth to find it (John 14:16-17). It is foolish to base a standard of behavior on our feeble notions of the truth of the cosmos when the Truth Himself is willing to guide us (John 14:6).

I love research!

Our LORD GOD is Absolute, the Alpha and the Omega, and He will sit as the Final Judgement on all of His creation. Are you prepared to stand before Him? I know I have been forgiven and redeemed by the MAN our GOD has appointed, and I know that this MAN, JESUS CHRIST, will be my Advocate and show me as Righteous in front of the ALMIGHTY at the Great White Throne Judgement. NO ONE is Righteous without the Covering of the Blood of JESUS, and the Saving Grace and Mercy this MAN JESUS CHRIST has provided us. I ask again, are you ready? Remember, only HIS Judgement matters!

Jesus Christ, My Living Hope

Sung by Phil Wickham, this song is a beautiful anthem, a praise hymn, and a glorious tribute to the HOPE that is only found in JESUS CHRIST.

Who could imagine so great a mercy?
What heart could fathom such boundless grace?
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken, I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior, I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ, my Living Hope

“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” {JESUS} said to {the Pharisee}, “Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the Greatest and most important Command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” – Matthew 22:36‭-‬40 HCSB

How can we not love and worship the LORD? He left heaven and His Throne to live a life of hardships here on earth; to be tortured for nothing more than being Himself, and to die a horrific death on the cross for each and every human who will ever live. He came as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins; to give us unlimited Love and Forgiveness and Mercy and Grace. There is the beauty of it all! Would you be willing; would you volunteer, to be tortured, mocked and spit on, and then nailed to a cross until you died, in physical agony the whole time, for the neighbor you barely know? The coworkers who gossip behind your back? JESUS did that and more, and He did it willingly, even knowing that He would be rejected by millions. I don’t have that kind of mercy or grace! I have a difficult time just being civil to some people, and to die for them? I don’t think so.

What tender Mercies our LORD pours over us! Jesus Christ, my Living Hope, Sustainer of my life, SAVIOUR and Redeemer. Amen!

Yes, I know it’s a shameless plug for Phil Wickham! But….. just listen to that song!!!