Nancy Henry – I love sharing the HOPE of JESUS. "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12 NLT
Satan is devious. He wants us to question God and rebel against Him, but if we forget God, that’s even better. He wants us to succumb to the lusts and pleasures of the flesh. He knows how dark and depraved our human nature truly is. BUT he doesn’t “make us” do things – he can’t force us to do anything, ever … it is OUR choice. “But God,” made us ALIVE. We DESERVE death, but because of God’s Mercy we have LIFE instead of hell and damnation.
Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. Micah 7:18 NASB1995
But GOD Who pardons our sins and rebellion, Who is limitless, unending, and Who loves us in spite of who and what we are.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But GOD, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of GOD; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which GOD prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 NASB1995
Compare: Buddha’s dying words, which were to “strive without ceasing” to the dying words of The CHRIST, Jesus, whose words were “It is finished.” By Grace and through Faith in JESUS we can receive Salvation …. Both of these are gifts of and from God; there is nothing we do can earn them. Because He died…. it was never because of anything I could say or do. No justification.Just like the thief on the cross, it is always just because “the Man on the middle cross told me to come.” We are HIS workmanship; we are HIS Masterpiece!
But GOD demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NASB1995
“But when the fullness of the time came, GOD sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, GOD has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “ABBA! FATHER!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through GOD.” Galatians 4:4-7 NASB1995
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 NASB1995
“And so the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a SAVIOUR, who is CHRIST the LORD.” Luke 2:10-11 NASB2020
As Americans, we are especially blessed. Even with all of the ridiculous shenanigans (I’ve always liked that word) in Washington and around the country, we really are blessed. That said, I know there are many who are struggling and suffering, and my heart and prayers go out to them. I’ve never been particularly good at being thankful in the midst of suffering, or being cheerful in times of stress. Pretty much the opposite… and definitely not like James tells us:
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” James 1:19 NASB1995
That’s a verse I really have to work on applying in my life! Coming up on Thanksgiving, with Christmas following close behind, I find that this might be the thing I struggle most with. I think most families have that person that we struggle with liking….. or even tolerating. God knows, and He is very clear on this. After all, being fully aware of the plans the Pharisees had for Him, and knowing that Judas would betray Him, Jesus showed love to them. He showed love to the thief on the cross next to Him. I am to reflect the love of God by showing love to everyone around you whether they deserve it or not.
If you don’t have that “special” person in your life, I almost envy you. However, if we are honest with ourselves, I expect that we have that someone whom we don’t like. Whether their actions or their personality. You, or I, might even be that person to someone!
LORD, Father God, I bring this to You today, and pray that You will take the resentment and anger and frustration from me, and help me to show Your love to that person. It’s only through YOU that I am able to do this. Let me be a blessing to that person, so that they might see Jesus. Amen.
Deceived. Denied. Abandoned. Deserted. Lied to. Ignored. Lied about. Awkward. Hurt. Introverted. Rebellious. Angry. Lashing out. Acting out. This is me. This was me. I have endured them, and I have lived them. I did them to my parents and family, to friends, and to God. People who did these things to me became objects of loathing and derision. Why should I ever speak to them, let alone forgive them?
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NASB1995
In what sense is this commandment “new”? The old command was to the Jewish people to love their fellow Jews; the new command from Jesus is to love ALL people, regardless of nationality, love one another as disciples of Jesus. The old was to Love as you love yourself, but the new is to Love as Jesus loves you.
Wait! You mean, love those people who abused me???
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18 NASB1995
Jesus gave us a new proof of Love; a new pattern. In His time, the Hebrew slaves were not required to wash feet because it was the lowest of tasks, but Jesus did it. He performed a humble service, the lowest of low, to demonstrate His love and devotion to His friends, but also to the one who would betray Him. These acts that can be seen, to show visible love to all peoples, are what we are called to do. It doesn’t mean that we literally need to be running around and grabbing people’s feet to wash them, but we are to use humble, visible things. The Apostle John wrote a lot about Christian love for one another: John 15:12 “This is my Commandment…. Greater love has no man than to lay his life…”; 1 John 4 “This is love: …”; John 13:5-15.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (not selfish or self centered) “…do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Show the love. It is a verb, active, through attention and service, act as ‘slaves’ to the LORD. Love = to live for. SERVE.) “Rejoice in hope, [because you are] patient in tribulation, [because you are] constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” [Don’t entertain to impress; hospitality is sharing practical Christianity. Acts 4:34 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” When we are cursed and maltreated, bless and love them] “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” [Not by fixing anything, but just being there, even when rejoicing is harder when it is something that you want that doesn’t happen.] “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own estimation.” Romans 12:9-16 NASB1995
Agree on the basics. Be humble – think of yourself less, not less of yourself. Befriend the unimportant; make them feel important. Be open and willing to say I am wrong, I am sorry; admit to not knowing everything. If Jesus is truly your Lord and Saviour, He says that “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 NASB1995
“You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.”
– Amy Carmichael
“Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.” Micah 7:18 NASB1995
“….. everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”
Victor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning, 1946
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 NASB1995
What do you believe? Deep in your heart, what do you hold dear? Are your actions consistent with your beliefs? Does your behavior follow your heart? Is Love guiding your thoughts and actions? “Love God; Love people.” Is that reflected in your life?
I confess that I really don’t like a lot of people. Often, they annoy me. I’ve thought that I would be happy far out in the wilderness, with only me and my animals…… but truthfully, I like electricity and refrigeration and all the modern conveniences (like hot water on demand!) More importantly, God doesn’t intend for us to be alone. Even though I don’t have a life partner, I have a lot of partners to share life with. God created the Christian family and community so that we aren’t always alone. Across political beliefs, economic boundaries, health, housing, family size ….. God binds us together.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:9, 14 NASB1995
Hypocrisy, noun, defined by Merriam-Webster: 1. a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not : 2. behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feelHis hypocrisy was finally revealed with the publication of his private letters.especially : 3. the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religionour conventional morality often serves as a cover for hypocrisy and selfishness
We are moving into an unprecedented state of affairs. It is more important than ever for Christians to band together and support each other. Government is stepping into areas never before seen, dictating where we can meet and how many can meet, what we wear (masks), and what substances we put in our bodies (“vaccines”). It’s all for “the good of the people”. In order to shop for food and to travel, it’s becoming more common to have to produce a “vaccine passport”. It is being suggested that without this “passport”, you soon won’t be able to receive your social security, SSI, unemployment benefits, or any other government assistance.
You say that doesn’t affect you? Are you quite certain?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10 NASB1995
I’m no better than anyone else. Neither am I any worse than anyone else. I’m not a particularly bad person. I have been – and still am – very blessed. I try really hard not to be a hypocrite. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, or a survivalist. I believe that government has it’s place, and I believe that we have an obligation and a responsibility (especially as Christians) to live in such a way that it does not harm or infringe upon others. Our lifestyles should encourage and enrich others, and bless others, and not harm others.
The book of Revelations reveals the taking over of the earth by the beast, and of him requiring every person to receive the mark of the beast. I’m not a Bible scholar, and I don’t interpret scriptures. There are plenty of people out there doing that. All I can do is read and study and pray that God reveals the meaning to me. What I see happening right now is perhaps not the mark described by John, but it is absolutely a precursor to it. Many people have been convinced or coerced into taking it. Is it “the” mark? I don’t think so, but in good conscience, having read and studied about this current “vaccine”, I cannot (will not) take it. I can’t say what will happen in the future, but I pray for those of us who haven’t received it. Whether you agree or not, I hope you will pray also.
And remember, it isn’t a conspiracy theory if it is true.
“In the world you have tribulation….” That is true for every one of us. No matter how much money we might have, or what country we live in. Doesn’t matter what color our skin. Whether of indigenous heritage, or recent immigrant, or long established family; farmer, herder, town or city dweller, we will always have tribulation. People we love will die. We lose our livelihood. We will be persecuted for what we believe, or what color we are, or for how we live. Why?
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9 NASB1995
Almost since the beginning of time, satan, the devil, has been after God’s Creation. He wants it for himself. He wasn’t satisfied with being the most beautiful creature that God created, he wanted it all. Does that sound familiar? In history, so many leaders and rulers have been greedy, narcissistic, evil, and cruel, but no one compares to the Enemy of God’s people. Once the most beautiful, and now the ugliest.
“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!” Isaiah 14:12 NASB1995
The Darkest Day in America. The day thousands of Americans were killed – massacred – on American soil by a small group of terrorists. That’s the anniversary we just marked. We can lament and weep over this day, following the example of the prophet Jeremiah. His people and his city, Jerusalem, were captured by the Babylonians. The city was destroyed and left as a pile of rubble, just like our twin towers. Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet, the man of sorrows”, wept over his people, just as we should weep at the ongoing attack on christianity. September 11, 2001; Nine eleven, is a symptom, a beacon. We can relate to how broken Jeremiah was when he wrote this:
“I am the man who has seen affliction Because of the rod of His wrath. He has driven me and made me walk In darkness and not in light. Surely against me He has turned His hand Repeatedly all the day. He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away, He has broken my bones. He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship. In dark places He has made me dwell, Like those who have long been dead. He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy. Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer. He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked. He is to me like a bear lying in wait, Like a lion in secret places. He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drunk with wormwood. He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust. My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness.”
God is unfailingly faithful, and the purpose of a godly lament is the regeneration of hope in your heart. God wrote this book through Jeremiah to remind people of the complete destruction, of not glossing over sin, and of total confession. The transgressions of Israel were laid out from A to Z. Can you imagine if he were writing about America? Jeremiah pours out his lament to God, then he writes this:
“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.” Lamentations 3:21-26 NASB1995
How could this happen? How did we get here? How did this happen? Verse 12 says “He bent His bow and set me as the target of His arrow….” God did this, God is in the midst of it. Jeremiah isn’t showing defiance, but asking God “how is Your covenant going to survive?” Samuel Johnson said “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” We need to constantly reminded to trust God; to allow Him to work His will in our life. How will God’s covenant survive if we don’t live it? Remember the scriptures. God’s faithfulness is on display not because of the destruction but in spite of it. God PROMISES. Consistency in discipline shows affection; He will do what He says He will do. God is faithful.
God’s unrelenting faithfulness, His lovingkindness, abounds and overflows. The compassions and mercies of God are unlimited, and they are brand new every day. They are immeasurable. Have confidence in God’s faithfulness – change your thinking from “great is HIS faithfulness”, to “great is YOUR faithfulness”. In verse 24, “my portion” means “God is everything”. In verses 21 and 24, we read “I will hope in Him”, and in verse 25, “I will wait for Him”. We must be patient, as we are assured that GOD IS FAITHFUL. He provides. Wait for Him!
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” Galatians 1:3-9 NASB1995
“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 NASB1995
We definitely have tribulation in this world! As we come closer and closer to the Rapture of the saints, life as we know it will continue to get more difficult for Christians. Our world is shrinking by the day, as governments across the face of earth are joining in mandates and ruthless anouncements. Republic and democracy alike are shrinking, as administrators behave more like despots. Are we in the Great Tribulation? I can’t answer that because I am not a Bible scholar, and I don’t have a direct line from God telling me when Jesus is returning. I just know that we are getting closer. Minutes, hours, days ….. years? No one knows, and no one can predict it. Are you ready??
“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 1:3-9 NASB1995
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” John 17:20-23 NASB1995
We can’t allow things like CRT, mask and vaccine mandates, skin color, party lines, or denominations to divide us! As Christians that means that we have to go back to the Word – the BIBLE – to guide us. We have to live now. Not based on 100 years in the past, on how our ancestors behaved. We have to live now. Take care of others and help others based on the now. We also have to stand up for what is scriptural, and stand against secularism. Not judging. (That’s really hard for me, especially when the people “in charge” are going against everything I believe in!) Remember who is in charge of this world until Jesus returns!
“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” Revelation 12:9-12 NASB1995
That last sentence gives me chills. “….the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” Especially this: “having great wrath”. The enemy is after earth with a vengeance. All of it, not just Christians! We bear the brunt, because he hates us above all else on earth. His goal is too pull us away from Jesus, and to destroy God’s Creation. Remember the Truth. God wins. Jesus Christ defeats satan in the end. The dragon and death are vanquished! Hold on, stand up, for freedom and for Jesus!
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:15-16 NASB1995
There’s a whole lot of bitterness and anger, sarcasm, and spiteful speaking in the world today. Mask or don’t mask. Vax or don’t vax. Guns or no guns. Illegal aliens or migrants. Woke or not woke. Two sexes or multiple sexes. One God, or no god. Stand for the flag or kneel. Freedom or submission.
I don’t mask. I’m not anti-vaccine in general, but I choose not to get the covid vax. I believe strongly in the First and Second Amendments, and I think that every American should be trained in handling firearms. I am not Woke. Life begins at conception, and abortion is murder. If someone wants to come to the United States, they should come through legal channels – otherwise, they should be sent back. I believe that God created man and woman. Period. I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus died for me. I proudly stand for the flag, and in the (famous) words of my ancestor, “Give me Liberty or give me death.”
I try really hard to be respectful of other people. It can be difficult, especially when they are disrespectful of the things, and the people, I hold dear to my heart. It’s really hard when they disrespect my Saviour. The following is from my devotional today, and it struck me right where it needed to: in my heart.
Words can be used in many ways. They can be meaningful and healing, offer optimism and encouragement to someone in despair, and resolve disputes. A kind, compassionate, thoughtful, or caring word can calm troubled waters, give hope to the hopeless, heal a broken heart, and be a light to those around us. However, hateful, cruel, harsh, or careless words can be used to wound, discourage, or create disagreements by being a disgusting odor that echoes what is in our minds while stirring up strife. When someone provokes anger, their words feel like a sharp knife that leads to pain, and even in some cases, revenge. When you provoke someone to anger with words or actions, at that moment, you are unconcerned with their well-being, the condition of your soul, or the glory of the Kingdom of God. If you love God, why would you want to provoke anger in someone who is also made in His image? Those who love God are careful of their words, so their tongue does not lead to sin by provoking others to anger (Psalm 39:1).
“Let Love Turn Us Away from Our Wicked Ways” By: Dante Bowe & Andrea Fisher
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB1995
LORD, help me today, tomorrow, and each subsequent day to put all the bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander in this world away from me, along with all malice. Help me, LORD, to be kind to others, tender-hearted and forgiving, especially to those who try to get under my skin and trigger me, just as You have forgiven me. Amen.