BLESS THE LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
BLESS THE LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The LORD performs righteous deeds And judgments for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children, To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.
The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.
BLESS THE LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word!
BLESS THE LORD, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will.
BLESS THE LORD, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Psalms 103:1-22 NASB1995
My power? What power? I don’t have any. I used to think that I could make things happen, and change my world to suit the way I wanted things. Do you think that you have gotten to where you are through your own effort and power?
“Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”https://bible.com/bible/100/deu.8.17-18.NASB1995
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 NASB1995
I was very busy making my circumstances conform to what I wanted, so much so that I alienated my family. Does your family support you in your power? We weren’t at the point of feuding, but my actions were enough to create a gulf between us. I wasn’t concerned about God’s will, only mine. In my journey through life, I’ve come across several families separated like mine, but there were a few who were feuding, and it tore them apart. I didn’t want that for my family.
He knew their thoughts, so he said, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A family splintered by feuding will fall apart. …. Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.”https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.11.17-23.NLT
Luke 11:17, 23 NLT
Finally, I came across a church with people who could see me, and who helped me to see how my destructive behavior was harmful to me, and to my family. Did my younger sisters and brother see me, and use my behavior as a reason for their own rebellion? I don’t know the answer to that, but I know that my behavior harmed our relationships. I wasn’t working for the LORD. I was working for me, for my heart, and it didn’t work out too well for me.
How is your heart? Are you in control of your life? Is the power in your hands, or have you relinquished it to God? He loves us, and He only wants the best for us. So why are so many people in bad situations? There are consequences for our actions. Sometimes they are immediate, but sometimes they are delayed. I am dealing with the consequences of my actions from years ago, and they will stay with me until I die. Often, we get to deal with the consequences of our parents, grandparents, and so on. All of humanity has to live with the decision, the exercise of their free will, of Adam and Eve. Sin was introduced in the Garden, and runs rampant throughout the world today.
God gave us the solution when Jesus, His only Son, came to earth to have His Blood cover us and cleanse us. I need that cleansing, and I have received it. Does that mean I’m now perfect and my life will be filled with rainbows and butterflies from now on? No, I am forgiven, but I still have those consequences for my actions.
Are you forgiven?
The sixth Commandment of the Ten says “No MURDER“, or “No MURDERING“. It was inaccurately translated in early translations from the Greek to say “no killing“. For centuries, there have been people who have used that to mean that any taking of a human life is wrong, but God was very clear on this if you study Scriptures.
There are things that the the sixth Commandment does not prohibit or forbid. One thing that is not prohibited is the killing of animals, because God gave them to use. In Genesis, God provides all animals for us to use, and in Leviticus, cruelty to animals is prohibited.
The LORD GOD made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.https://bible.com/bible/100/gen.3.21.NASB1995
Genesis 3:21 NASB1995
GOD blessed Noah and his sons: He said, “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the Earth! Every living creature—birds, animals, fish—will fall under your spell and be afraid of you. You’re responsible for them. All living creatures are yours for food; just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else. Except for meat with its lifeblood still in it—don’t eat that.”https://bible.com/bible/97/gen.9.1-4.MSG
Genesis 9:1-4 MSG
A just war is not prohibited, nor is defending our faith and families, self defense, or administering justice – such as in capital punishment. Remember, our God is a Warrior GOD. Individual vengeance is not allowed, but a legitimate government. In Romans 13, Jesus tells us to be subject to our government. We are to respect and love the lives of others; to seek out and cherish the “neighbors” in our lives, because they are the image of GOD.
The sixth Commandment prohibits killing an innocent person, i.e. homicide. All HUMAN life is sacred, but animal lives are not sacred. There are marred and mangled people who do abhorrent, ugly things, but they are still in God’s image. The first murder is documented in Genesis, when Cain became angry at his brother Abel, and killed him. (Read Genesis 4) Negligent homicide is included in this, such as an accident caused by drunk driving, or an avoidable situation where someone is fatally injured. You can imagine other instances as well. By this Commandment, suicide and abortion are prohibited. Life has been cheapened in our society. Suicide doesn’t “end it” for family or for the person whose life is ended. There is a judgment for every person, no matter how they die. However, it is important to note that suicide is not a mortal sin. It is a sin but it is not unforgivable.
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.8.10.NASB1995
Romans 8:10 NASB1995
EVERY life is precious to God. I suggest reading Psalm 139:13-17. Also, follow the science. Life begins at conception; it has been established that a human being is in the process of being formed at that point. Genetics are established at fertilization; it is a human life. Beethoven’s mother had TB, and his father had syphilis. Of his four siblings, one was deaf, one blind, one had dead, and one had TB – if his had an abortion, Beethoven wouldn’t have been born and the world would have missed out on a genius. But today, his mother would most likely have been advised to abort him. Think on that.
Abortion and euthanasia are murder. They are all the same. Even so, they are forgivable. Jesus came to forgive. Euthanasia is the direct and intentional taking of life – it is just doctor assisted suicide. Please understand that this is not the same as allowing a terminally ill person to die. It doesn’t mean to withhold palliative treatment, or needed pain medications. In Matthew 5, Jesus is talking about Commandments, and makes clear it is the SPIRIT of the law that we need to obey. When we have unjust or unrighteous anger, that personal anger is incipient murder, or murder in our hearts and with our mouth. 1 John 3:15 says that when we hate, we murder in our heart. When we call or think of someone as empty headed, stupid, a fool, dull, a moron, undeserving to live, or contemptible, we murder them in our heart. Instead, when we find ourselves feeling these things about someone, respond in KINDNESS. Don’t let the sun set on your malice or anger. It only hurts you.
“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.https://bible.com/bible/100/jhn.3.16.NASB1995
John 3:16 NASB1995
Jesus was MURDERED for us, to save our lives, and for murderers. We did that. We murdered Him….. and GOD allowed us to murder Him. Jesus allowed us to murder Him. Without that, we wouldn’t have the Good News of the Gospel, which is that Jesus died to pardon murderers, which includes every single one of us, every human who ever or will ever live. That’s pretty amazing. I’m a murderer, but I am forgiven. Thank GOD. Can you say the same?
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!”https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.91.1-2.NASB1995
Psalms 91:1-2 NASB1995
Thank you to Pastor Mark Hitchcock of Faith Bible Church, Edmond OK, for your preaching, inspiration, and insight.
“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.”https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.91.1-12.NASB1995
Psalms 91:1-2, 11-12 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.“https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.5.8.NASB1995
Romans 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?
“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 NASB1995Continue reading “Death or LIFE”
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” Colossians 2:8-10 NASB1995
“Temper tantrums, harsh and unkind words, hatred and obscenities have no place in the Christian life. This isn’t about developing some public spotless image, but about deep change in my friendships, family, marriage and dealings with people in the workplace. The new self produces new words and new relationships. Sometimes we’re so eager to get our way that we can compromise honesty and openness. In those moments, though, we’re starting to live outside of Christ and we’re undoing what God has done amongst us.” (from Andy Mason’s Colossians Alive in Christ devotional)
“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 3:8-10 NASB1995
It’s too easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of a charismatic man or woman. In churches and in politics, there are many who have no problem saying whatever they think will advance them the furthest. Acquiring money or followers, they use deceptive to pull us in. They don’t care about telling lies if it gets them what they want. You wants and needs don’t figure in to their plans – but they use our problems as props to get the things they want.
As followers of the Way, Christ followers, lovers of the Truth and the Word, we have to be particular and discerning in who we listen to and what we choose to believe. No one is perfect in this world; I think Paul is quite clear about that. The thing that differentiates you and me from the world is twofold. First, and foremost, as flawed and imperfect as we are, we are forgiven, washed clean, and we are new beings in Christ. Second, as new beings, it is critical that we put on that new self and test everything before blindly following someone because they say the “right” things.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1 NASB1995
“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NASB1995
Don’t be deceived, friends. Test everything and everyone against the Scriptures. If you checking them causes them to be angry or upset, that’s a good sign that perhaps they aren’t the one you should be listening to. Remember that no one is perfect, and we are not put here to judge people. We are here to pray for them and encourage them, and to tell them about Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Light. In the words of Paul:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. Brethren, pray for us . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-25, 28 NASB1995
“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, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9 NASB1995
If Jesus is Risen from the grave, nothing else matters. If Jesus isn’t Risen from the grave, nothing else matters. ME
Remember the hymn In Christ Alone? Verse 3 says Up from the grave He arose! Read John 20 “They saw the linen wrappings…” when wrapping a body, they would use 75# of spices in the linen cloths, which would solidify, causing a cocoon like effect. This “cocoon” was empty, and the head wrap was folded up at the place where Jesus’ head was laid!
Christ is the Living Hope. He is the cause of our faith: “Blessed* [Praise, thank] 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 …” (John chapter 3) Born again is the only kind of Christian there is. Saved by Grace. Receiving a new life through God is receiving your spiritual life. Born once die twice, born twice die once! The Core of our faith: “… through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, …” The angel said “He is not here; He is Risen!”
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ Love and Righteousness! He did not end at the grave!Jesus arose, Jesus lives, and Jesus is coming again. Our inheritance is death proof and fire proof.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5 NASB1995
Like Peter, my desire is to “….. 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 3:18 NASB1995
Some people say that Jesus was a good man. He was not good. He IS GOODNESS. Some say He was created by God. He was not created. JESUS IS CREATOR. He cannot be customized, and He is not Who you want Him to be. JESUS IS. Listen to what C.S. Lewis, an atheist who started reading the Bible in order to prove it false (he was radically changed by his experience), has to say about Jesus:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – C.S. Lewis
Jesus has the Honor of God, and the Name of God.
“And when [GOD] again brings the firstborn [God’s Son, Jesus] into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” Hebrews 1:6 NASB1995
No Jew would ever agree that a man was divine, because that would be blasphemy, yet eight Jewish men who met Jesus wrote first-hand accounts of Jesus as God. His Deity is the Touchstone of Christianity. Jesus didn’t just come to preach the Gospel; He lived the Gospel because He was and IS the Gospel! He says things only God should say, “I AM”. As Thomas said “my LORD and THE God!”
“In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3 NASB1995
“And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” Revelation 21:5-7 NASB1995
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:15-20 NASB1995
“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:9-14 NASB1995
Jesus is God. He is human and divine. He cannot be dismissed or ignored. You are either for Him, or you are against Him. There is no middle ground. This is the single biggest decision you will ever make in your life. It is an eternal decision.
” …… have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:29 NASB1995
“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalms 34:15-18 NASB1995
I’ve done a lot of that in my life. Crying, I mean. Not as a righteousness person, either. Although I grew up in the church, when I left home for college it only took a few months for the enemy to seduce me away from God. Boys (because they certainly weren’t mature enough to be called men), recreational drugs, alcohol, the thrill of being kissed and touched and told how beautiful I was…. I would go home, back to my parents house, for breaks and pretend nothing had changed with me. Reflecting on that time, I’m sure the only one I was fooling was myself. After just 2 years, I left school and married the man of my dreams. It quickly became more of a nightmare than a dream.
A miserable pregnancy, an unfaithful, abusive husband, and I was still pretending to the world and my parents that life was good. The facade was thin, and I think more people saw through it than believed it, but I wasn’t giving up. Pull yourself up, girl! Stand by your husband, submit to your man, and keep up appearances. I couldn’t allow my parents, let alone God, to know how badly I had fallen, so I stayed, the great pretender. As the abuse became more severe, I became more angry and belligerent, especially towards God. How could He allow this to happen? So I turned further away from Him. He didn’t reach down and fix my life, so I rejected Him. But I still pretended to my family.
After eight miserable years, I divorced him and gave up my daughter to a family member. Anything to keep him from having custody. It was like tearing out my heart, but I knew it was the best thing for her. My life didn’t get better. It seemed that I was destined to stay with abusers. The enemy led me to another one. I was mesmerised; in a trancelike state for months, subject to his ….. what? Desires, whims, abuses? I can’t describe what happened, because it was like a dream, or more like a nightmare, that I couldn’t escape from. Ironically, it was my abusive husband who rescued me from that situation.
Was life with him different than before? Not really, but it was better than the nightmare I had been in. For years, I moved from man to man, looking for my Knight in Shining Armor, my Saviour. I lived in a homeless, hopeless state. For a period of time, with my third husband, life improved greatly. Together, we became active in church, putting God in a prominent place in our lives. I’ll tell you now that it’s critical to put God in a prominent place, but unless He is FIRST, it won’t last. It was good, until the enemy got a toe hold into our lives, and pulled my husband away from God and from me.
After that, I spiraled. It wasn’t pretty. Outwardly I looked like I had it together, but inwardly I was angry at God and refused to let Him have my heart. That’s a dark spot. I allowed abusive men back into my life, and several years passed as I pretended to be a Christian but couldn’t allow God to have control. I was going to do it myself. God got my attention. Husband five was my breaking point; my “bottom”. I took him to a Christ-centered 12 step recovery program so that he could get his act together (because there was nothing wrong with me. Ha!).
God has a sense of humor. The husband left, rejecting the program, God, and me. I stayed in the program. Funny thing, my biggest lesson was that I wasn’t so perfect after all!
Life is full of the good, the bad, and plenty of the ugly for all of us. It isn’t easy for anyone, even our children. That’s just a fact. Rich, poor, any shade of color, every continent, every nation. Life is hard. So why bother with living? Because God gave us life through His Son Jesus! Because of Jesus, I can face all the ugly in my life. Because of Him, I can face today. Every. Single. Day. Living with Jesus, and putting Him first means that I am never alone, and it means that when I can’t take the next step, He will hold me and carry me through it.
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12 NASB1995