Shielded by GOD

“Finally, be strong in the LORD and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with Truth, and having put on the Breastplate of Righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace; in addition to all, taking up the Shield of Faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of GOD.”
Ephesians 6:10‭-‬17 NASB1995

Who’s in Charge?

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Matthew 16:21‭-‬23 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.16.21-23.NLT

Are you looking at life like Peter was? I know that for the majority of my life, that’s how I’ve seen and done things. Strictly a human view, and not waiting for God’s view. Too impatient. I still find it difficult to slow down enough in my thoughts to consider what God would think or want. Who’s in charge of your life? If you consider yourself a Christian, like I do, a follower of Jesus Christ, should we be saying “Get away from me, satan!”?

What are you facing today that you need to pray about and wait for God’s leading? Where are you looking at things from the human view, from our human feelings, instead of leaning on the LORD? When do you need to say, “Get away from me, satan!”?

Love God, then yourself. It’s the only way.

My Shelter

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” … For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.”
Psalms 91:1‭-‬2‭, ‬11‭-‬12 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.91.1-12.NASB1995

Who do you rely on? Who do you trust? I mean really trust? There are a few people in my life whom I trust, but there is a caveat. As much as I love them and trust them, I recognize that in spite of that love and trust, they will put their wellbeing over mine. That’s okay, too. They are human. Their immediate families should be their focus. I don’t expect them to put themselves into harm’s ways to protect me. I love them in spite of that, and I don’t judge them for it. There is one upon whom I know I can always trust, always lean on, and always depend on. His name is Jesus. Name above all names.

Do you know Him?

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.5.8.NASB1995

He doesn’t require anything from us. He offers us a gift. A gift that is without obligation, at no cost to us. We use our own free will to either accept it or reject it. There is no in between; no place for indecision. He is reaching out to you. Will you take His hand and accept Him?

Remembering my Mom, Phyllis Henry

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:15‭-‬19 NASB1995

Today we are celebrating the life of our Mom. Her children and niece, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren, special friends, as many as can be here. It will be livestreaming, too, for you to see. Join us in celebration! http://www.faithbibleok.com at 11am CDT

Phyllis Henry lived a full, interesting life. She didn’t have an easy life, by any means, and she wasn’t perfect. Having a pastor for a husband and 6 children to deal with kept her running, but she found time to help in the nursery at church every Sunday, and to be involved with the WMU, church potlucks, hostessing get togethers and visiting missionaries and preachers, and keeping peace in the family. (You have to be a Southern Baptist to understand 🙂 ) Our house always had to present a put-together face for people to drop in, so that meant keeping kids and toys and the paraphernalia of life out of the living room, and ready to offer tea or coffee at a moments notice.

On top of all that, my Dad was diagnosed with a debilitating disease a few years into their marriage, and the medications prescribed caused serious side effects leading to angina (heart disease) and eventually type 2 diabetes. It didn’t stop him from pastoring full time, going to college at night for his doctorate, visiting the sick, and trying to be the husband and father he needed to be. Mom added nurse, dietitian, and driver to her resume.

Her kids didn’t make her life any easier. We did chores and helped cook and clean as we got older, but children can be pretty self centered and we weren’t that different. School, life, hobbies, church and school activities, music and art lessons, we all stayed busy, too. Add chauffeur and tutor to her list of duties.

There was a lot of rebellion from the middle 4 kids. One left home days before his 18th birthday. I dropped out of college after 2 years and rejected pretty much everything I had been taught. The next two had a lot of craziness in their lives, too. The thing is, no matter how far I went, where or how I got there, and knowing how hurt and disappointed Mom (and Dad) were, I knew they loved me. It wasn’t until years later, YEARS later, when I wrote to Mom to ask for forgiveness that I began to understand Agape love. Dad had been gone for several years, and she said this to me. “There were times when we didn’t like you” (I know it was probably most of the time) “but we never stopped loving you and praying for you.” It’s because of their examples that I have a relationship with my LORD. Their faithfulness, their forgiveness, their love and faith in the LORD Jesus Christ was the centerpiece of their lives.

That’s how God is, I think. As His children, His Creation, we hurt Him and disappoint Him, constantly. But know this. He never stops loving us. He loves you. Maybe your parents didn’t love you. Maybe they loved you enough to give you up for adoption (that’s a powerful love).

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NASB1995

“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NASB1995

Mom loved us, and Mom loved the people around her, because she knew God loved her. She showed that love to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people. She is missed by so many. Her ready smile, her refusal to complain, her ability to listen. I know the angels rejoiced when she joined them.

I’ll see her again, in heaven. Love you.

Happiness, Satisfaction, Joy

What satisfies you? And what makes you happy? Is it your job? Your possessions? Your home, your car, your family, your bank account? I’ve had a great job. I’ve had a big house, full of nice things. I’ve had a husband who loved me, a bulging bank account, a fun vehicle to do road trips and exploring. But was I happy? We had our moments, but we were constantly looking for something more. The prophet Isaiah tells us:

“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 NASB1995

All of those things, those actions, gave us temporary happiness, but none of it gave us – gave me – lasting Joy. In all of this, there were people and circumstances that hurt us. Some were unintentional, but some was very intentional. Anger and resentment stole my joy. It took several years and lots of hurt to find the place where I could hear the words of Jesus and let them soothe my bleeding heart. One of the first things necessary to healing is to learn to let the resentment go. Forgiveness….

“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:23‭, ‬29 NASB1995

“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

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.” Psalms 37:7‭-‬8 NASB1995

I think that many times we go searching for our joy and happiness in the things I’ve talked about above to cover up the anger and frustration we have with others. By covering up and ignoring those feelings, trying to hide it – or outrun it – we are only hurting ourselves. We want joy. We want peace. We want the hurting and the anger and the fear and frustration to just stop.

We WILL have trials in life. People will hurt us. They will leave us, they will disappoint us. Circumstances will change. This fallen world will hurt us. Expect it. The trials we go through are crucial to our maturity in Christ. They allow God to do His greatest works. They produce steadfastness in us. I don’t like what James says here, but he’s right.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2‭-‬4 NASB1995

He says “Consider it all joy” – how is that possible? It’s actually very simple. Joy is a state of mind; we make the CHOICE to Rejoice. Joy is found solely and completely in the recognition of the Sovereignty of God. We are not alone, he says “my brethren” and he means we are connected, sons and daughters through God the Father, and brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. He reminds us that when we encounter all of the various trials, we know that they are the “testing”, like when gold and silver are subjected to fire to remove the impurities. Our testing will be unpleasant,  uncomfortable, and painful but it will REFINE our faith.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you…” 1 Peter 1:3‭-‬4 NASB1995

READ verses 5-9, too! Endurance is an active hope, a living Hope in and through Jesus Christ our LORD. When it takes everything we have to hold on, even when it seems all hope is gone. Remember Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted….” Your faith produces endurance living by and for GOD, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing when we see Him. God prunes us so that we may be more fruitful, and to bring Him Glory; to deepen our dependence on Him and NOT to be be independent and dependent on ourselves. It is through dependence on God that we find true independence, and that is when we will find true happiness, satisfaction, and joy! Trials bring us closer to God “by breaking and subdividing the stubbornness of our hearts.” – Daniel Dyke, an English academic and Puritan. The proper Christian response to trials is to be a source of joy.

“…. for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:10‭-‬13 NASB1995

Ordinary People

“We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with. But we are “harmless,” and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross. We are “sideliners” – coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own.” – Jim Elliot, missionary to the Amazon people.

“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ Luke 10:5

Can you imagine the peaceful spirit that could prevail if we would take the time to speak God’s Word over people?

“At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, LORD of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.
My Father has entrusted everything to Me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” – Luke 10:21-22

I have noticed that the more I think I can handle things and control my life, the more things get out of control. When I think I’m smarter than God, or that my problems aren’t enough to” bother” Him about, the more out of control I am.

God doesn’t need us to be smart or clever. He wants us – me – to be open to Him. Like a child, listening to Him and seeing Him with awe and wonder. Thank you, Father God, for showing me Who You are and for loving me in spite of me. Amen.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Romans 1:16 NASB1995

Death or LIFE

“We have much to thank God for – everything that isn’t hell in our lives is grace.”

Andy Mason, Colossians Alive in Christ

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 NASB1995

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56‭-‬57 NASB1995

“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

“You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” John 13:13‭-‬17 NASB1995

“I will vindicate the Holiness of My Great Name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the LORD GOD, “when I prove Myself Holy among you in their sight.” Ezekiel 36:23 NASB1995

“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:3‭-‬11 NASB1995

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
Revelation 5:12‭-‬13 NASB199

The Scriptures say it all.

“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.” John 3:16 NASB1995

“And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:14 NASB1995

Continue reading “Death or LIFE”

Are You Watching The News?

“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

Lying politicians. Blatant discrimination. Pornography on primetime TV. Government consumed with elitism. Families divided, fatherless children, abused children. Attack after attack on Christian values, in person, on the radio, on social media, on television talk shows and sitcoms and ‘regular’ programming; everywhere, anywhere, you look. Even from the pulpit.

Is there any common sense left in our country, or in the world?

I attempted to open an online conversation with a professing Christian, who is in fact a church leader, after he came out in favor of abortion. I say attempted, because he, and several other people, refused to hear anything against their beliefs that it should be legal and completely up to the woman. But, what about the baby, I asked? Apparently, there is no “baby” until it can survive on it’s own, so at least 6 to 7 months after conception. It’s a “foetus”. Instead of arguing, I bowed out of the conversation. There is ample evidence available about babies in the womb, but there is no point in arguing with people who are entrenched in their beliefs. That said, I admit that I’m pretty entrenched in my beliefs…. but I try really hard to base them in the Scriptures, without picking and choosing. Am I always right? Not at all!

I’ve come to realize this: people believe what they want to believe, and most will take the most comfortable view. I found this prayer in the devotional Good Morning Easter Devotional, by Compassion. It really touched my heart.

Lord, thank You we can have hope in every situation because You are always faithful. I bring You all the situations in my life that are challenging and the prayers that are yet to be answered. I ask that You renew my hope. Please help me to keep bringing good news, to carry your peace and declare that You reign in every season of my life. Amen.

“How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7 NASB1995

HOLY Week

“And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” Mark 11:17 NASB1995 (read verses 11-20) Holy Week. Why is this particular week more Holy than last week, or next week, or any random week? Should we be treating it any differently than the other 51 weeks of the year? Should we be acting any differently this week than any other week? I’ve heard the reasons, and it’s a good thing to focus on the life of Jesus and the events leading to His death and resurrection. Shouldn’t we be focused on His resurrection every week? “Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.” 1 Kings 8:41‭-‬43 NASB1995 THIS. This verse is what this week, this season, is all about: “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.” John 3:16 NASB1995 As Christians, let’s concentrate on the strangers; the people we don’t know, who we see in our church and in our daily lives. Make them welcome. How many times have you been in a situation where you didn’t know the people around you? That man or woman or child who is there by themselves might not really be ignoring you. They might be too shy or insecure to reach out. Reach out. Welcome them – sincerely – into God’s house, and continue beyond a single service. Help them feel like they have come home. If God loved us enough to send His Son Jesus to die for us, can’t we love enough to reach out a hand in friendship?