The Promise

This is now:

“…. but [JESUS] said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for Power is made perfect in weakness.” ” – 2 Corinthians 12:9a NRSV

His Power; my weakness. His Grace; His Mercy, is what has kept me alive – literally – this far into my life. I am lost without Him. My decisions, my “best thinking” is the primary reason for the troubles and hardships in my life. You’ve probably heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I lived it for years. Life is so much better when I say “Your Will be done, not mine.”

This is GOD’s promise:

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” – John 14:2‭-‬3 ESV

The SON of GOD said that He will prepare a place for me. Can it get any better than that? I may live in a hovel on earth (I don’t, presently, but very little separates me from homelessness. It’s just a fact of living on earth), but imagine what awaits us when we leave here! I know that JESUS left His heavenly throne to live and die on this earth to atone for my sins; that He walked out of His tomb after 3 days and that thousands testified with first-hand knowledge to the fact of His Resurrection. I know that He died for ME. Do you? Can you say with certainty that you have accepted Him as your Saviour? If you have, then you have His promise, this future, to look forward to.

And this is my future:

“See, the Home of GOD is among mortals. He will dwell with [us] as [our] GOD; [we] will be His peoples, and GOD Himself will be with [us]; He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3‭b-‬4 NRSV

Can you picture it?? Without GOD’s Promise for my future, life would, indeed, be bleak. My heart cries out for all the people who don’t understand that there is a hell, there is a heaven, and we will spend the rest of eternity in one of them – NO exceptions. Just reading the descriptions of hell in the scriptures is bone-chilling. Hell, Hades, Gehenna, the Lake of Fire…. it goes by many names, just as the “ruler” of hell has many names. Don’t be fooled! He and his demons start out making sin look so innocent and pretty, but it is all lies, deceptions, and untruths. I promise you that it is just a front that they hide behind to trap you. I was snared once. I couldn’t escape his claws and chains for years, and it was ugly. I would see glimpses of light, and I believe they use that to help keep their captives in line.

JESUS saved me. No one and nothing else could. Just JESUS. Call His Name anytime, anywhere, and He will rescue you! When you can’t reach out, He will reach for you. When you can’t see, He will guide you. When you can longer walk, He will carry you. When your burdens are too great to bear, He will take them. He PROMISED. He is the Deliverer, the Great Physician, Saviour of the world. Do you know Him?

Perfection!

I am the middle child. Actually, I share that spot with my next younger sister, because out of 6 kids (poor Mom!) I am third and she is fourth – 2 ahead of me, and 2 after her. I am the baby of the first 3, and she is the eldest of the last 3. We have also concluded that most (all!) of us are ADD, and some are ADHD as well, starting with my parents- and it really goes back further than them. My life is an oxymoron 😎 …. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with us!

Whatever spot I choose for the moment, baby or middle-child, I must admit that I have been guilty of pride and perfection much of my life. Is that an affliction? Perfectionism stems from many things, both internal and external. I think that on a subconscious level, we make the choice to be prideful and conceited. I chose both, to hide the damaged, broken parts that I am comprised of. Whatever I did, I did with the attitude that if I did it, it was the right thing to do. Whatever I decided was the right decision, the only logical conclusion in my mind; therefore, anyone else was obviously wrong. I had the attitude that I was invincible, hard and sharp-edged – and I was hard and cut people like a knife with my words and actions. I sound like a bad person! If I was told I had a heart of ice, or that I was hurtful or mean, well, guilty as charged. I was full of pride and could do no wrong because I was perfect. Seems like we all have the tendency to judge others based on our own perceived perfection. For years, I was really good at being perfect, at least on the outside. My ‘inside’ was pretty messed up!

Even now I will find those feelings of pride and perfection, perfectionism and judgementalism, stealing back into my life. I cry out “GET BEHIND ME, SATAN, in the Name of JESUS!!”

When I came to be under the Shining Bright Light of my LORD JESUS through His saving Grace, all of my cracks and brokenness were illuminated. His illumination shows everyone who looks what a messed up person I am, but the LIGHT also shows how He has put me back together. My prayer for us today:

LORD, show us our brokenness. Shine Your Great Light on us and let the world see YOU in that Light. Use my brokenness to illustrate how beautifully You can put us back together, if we just ask You. No matter how shattered we are or how much ugliness we contain, help us to see the beauty of Your Handiwork in ourselves. You alone can take all of our messes and all of the junk we accumulate in our hearts, and create something beautiful.

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the LORD JESUS, to testify to the Gospel of the Grace of GOD.” – Acts 20:24 ESV Amen.

And the ONE who was seated on the throne said, “See, I Am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:5 NRSV

Friend – Oh! What A Friend

Can you imagine GOD, the Great Creator, saying this about you?

“I was overjoyed when some of the friends (brothers and sisters in CHRIST) arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the Truth, namely how you walk in the Truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the Truth.” – 3 John 1:3‭-‬4 NRSV

Yes, I am aware the John wrote this about own his feeling of joy upon hearing that people he had taught about the LORD were continuing their walk with JESUS. So many stumble and slip, it truly is a joy when we know that someone we have worked with and taught about JESUS, and who has accepted Him as their Saviour, is continuing in their walk with Him. I know it was not written to describe how GOD feels about HIS childen, but can’t you just imagine Him saying it about one of us? We know that Heaven rejoices when a sinner is saved, so why wouldn’t He be happy to hear a new ‘arrival’ in Heaven testify about His children’s faithfulness? I pray that after all the years I spent parched in the wilderness of sin, perhaps one person will testify for me in His Presence.

Not to give me pride, because that has finally left me, but just to know that I have given the Almighty GOD a tiny sliver of the incredible JOY that He has given to me with His Love. As I write this, I realize that I do have a Friend like that, a Friend Who will testify for me in front of the Almighty! That Friend is JESUS, and I can testify that there is no better Friend to have than Him. What a Friend we have in JESUS…. Joseph Scriven wrote a poem by that name in 1855, and it was set to music in 1868 by Charles Converse. It has been sung in churches worldwide, and numerous recording artists have performed it, including Bing Crosby, Aretha Franklin, Alan Jackson, and many more. My favorite, though, is a new rendition by Matt Maher. Both songs tell of the incredible love JESUS has for us, and how He willingly takes our sins and our burdens so that we no longer have to struggle under them. (You can get get the lyrics and the music on Google and YouTube.)

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:13‭-‬15 ESV

JESUS is not only our best Friend, He is the Sacrificial Lamb, the High Priest, and our Advocate! He will stand up to the prosecutor, that great liar – the Father of Lies, Satan, when we all (no exceptions) stand before GOD for the FINAL Great White Throne Judgement; Revelation 20:11-15. You might also read Hebrews 4:14-15, 8:6, 9:11-12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6, and 1 John 2:1. There is an an article online on the Advocacy of JESUS written by Amazing Discoveries, titled “Christ’s Mediating Ministry – He is our Advocate,” published August 13, 2009. It goes into great detail and was quite interesting. If you have questions, or doubts, I hope this will encourage you to do your own research, and search the scriptures for the answers. If you leave questions in the comments, I will do my best to help you find the answers, but first, read the Bible – it’s a fascinating book of Truth!

Just a Friend? No, WHAT a Friend! Is He your Best Friend?

“What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God’s eyes, our best. Those which are least supported by devotional feeling…these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard.” – #CSLewis

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Do you know the words to the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”?

Great is Thy Faithfulness, O GOD my Father …. All I have needed, Thy Hand hath provided …. Written almost 100 years ago, and sung in churches across the world, it is on my top 10 favorite hymns to sing (well, it was, when I had a voice! Now, I just immerse myself in the lyrics and sing it in my head. 😁) If you are able to, take a minute to Google Chris Rice singing it. It makes a beautiful moment of worship. Listen to the words. They are straight out of the Bible. Of the hundreds of times I have sung this hymn and read these scriptures, this reality hit me this morning:

GOD, our LORD and SAVIOUR, is Faithful to me – and to you!

I’m having trouble grasping this concept! I’ve always known that we as Christians should be, and try to be, faithful to our GOD and SAVIOUR. But for HIM to be faithful to me? We know that GOD is omnipotent and omnipresent, so why should He tell us, over and over in the scriptures, that He is Faithful to us?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 NRSV

If He sees all and knows all, where does faith come into play for Him? Of course, we’ll never know the real answer until we see Him face to Face, once we have passed from this life into His Life and eternity. My supposition is that because of the Free Will He gave us when He created us, He doesn’t look into our hearts until we invite Him in. Therefore, He expresses to us that He will remainful Steadfast and Faithful while waiting for us and on us. In His Faithfulness, He sent JESUS to us for a visible, real-life example of His Love and His Faithfulness.

“And the WORD became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His Glory, the Glory as of a Father’s Only SON, full of Grace and Truth.” – John 1:14 NRSV

“…. so CHRIST, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” – Hebrews 9:28 NRSV

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of GOD.” – 2 Corinthians 7:1 NRSV

Have you experienced GOD’s Faithfulness in your life? Do you know; can you feel the depths of His Love? JESUS came once (Got that? ONCE) to cleanse us of all of our sins; to relieve us of the necessity to make sacrifices as our ancestors did, and to seal us, once and for all, and bring us into His Presence. Following the words of JESUS and His disciples, we should do our best to live an exemplary life, reflecting Him into our world. Accepting Him as LORD and SAVIOUR doesn’t make us perfect, it makes us forgiven. Read what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

“The Steadfast Love of the LORD never ceases, His Mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; Great is Your Faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” ” – Lamentations 3:22‭-‬24 NRSV

GREAT is Thy Faithfulness! AMEN.

Standing in His Love

“No, I won’t be shaken, my fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your Love…”

What a beautiful reminder to wake up to! “Stand In Your Love” is a new song by Josh Baldwin, and he sings about the power and strength of GOD’s absolute Love for us, and how His Love breaks anything that binds us to sin. JESUS spoke to His disciples after choosing them and told them this – and I believe He intended this for everyone, throughout the ages, who accepts Him as SAVIOUR.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the SON of Man. ….But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. ….If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. ….But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the MOST HIGH; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your FATHER is Merciful.” – Luke 6:22‭, ‬27‭-‬28‭, ‬32‭, ‬35‭-‬36 NRSV

“My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your Love….”

When we attempt to follow our LORD JESUS, but we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone, our fears tend to take over and rule our lives. I know this, because I often struggle to love my enemies – instead of standing in GOD’s Love, I keep trying to do it on my own. I don’t have it in me to forgive my enemies. If it were up to me, they would pay for their transgressions in a long and painful way. My judging would have no mercy – and I thank GOD it isn’t left up to me! I have been given freedom from the chains and baggage of sin, and that forgiveness came completely and undeservedly from JESUS. Shouldn’t I then forgive and love on those who really don’t deserve my forgiveness?

I can’t forgive if I am standing frozen in my fear. If I forgive them, aren’t I somehow condoning* their abuse? (*Empathetic NO, it is not.) When we stand in GOD’s Love, HE forgives for us – and He will judge them according to their deeds. The only way to shed fear, to lock the enemy out, is to turn to JESUS and allow His Love to hold us up to bask in His Light. Fear is a liar; it is a jail of our own creation, and it all comes straight from the enemy.

“No, I won’t be shaken, my fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your Love…”

Can you claim the Promise of Salvation today and let our LORD throw the fears out of your life? “Likewise the SPIRIT helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very SPIRIT intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And GOD, Who searches the heart, knows what is the Mind of the SPIRIT, because the SPIRIT intercedes for the saints according to the Will of GOD.” – Romans 8:26‭-‬27 NRSV

Does GOD Care About ME?

GOD said, “I Will be with you ….. ” – Exodus 3:12a NRSV

In Exodus 3:1-9, GOD shows He cares about Moses and the Israelites, even though He allowed them to spend 400 years in slavery. Verse 7: The LORD spoke to Moses through the burning bush, I have observed the misery of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings …..” GOD cared enough about them to step down from heaven so that He could meet Moses on his level, because it isn’t possible for us as humans to meet GOD on His level. He cared enough about us to send JESUS to us, to live among us and instruct us on how much He Loves us, and on how to remain close to Him.

Psalms 94:9, 14-15 NRSV tells us of GOD’s care for us – “He Who planted the ear, does He not hear? He Who formed the eye, does He not see? For the LORD will not forsake His people; He will not abandon His heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”

He cares and He comes down to meet us – in the Garden, in the burning bush, in the giant fish that swallowed Jonah. He sent angels to Abraham and Issac and others to show His care and protection. When we focus on the issues/problems of our lives and not on the blessings that surround us – yes, even when – especially when – we are in the valley of the shadows, we don’t see His Presence. The binding of sin; frustration with circumstances, anger, jealousy, and etcetera: these things are blinders that the enemy uses to keep our eyes off of the LORD.

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for YOU are with me …..” – Psalms 23:1‭, ‬4 NRSV

A portion of my daily talks with GOD contain that first verse, and I have to remind myself that it has no room for any “buts” at the end of the sentence. I constantly remind myself to trust GOD to know the very best who, what, when, and how for me, not myself. – because my track record in life of choosing the “best” for myself is a huge fail!

Psalms 13 starts as a lament, and it is a prayer most of us have prayed in our lives. Verse 1: “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your Face from me?”
I love how it ends in verses 5-6: “But I trusted in Your Steadfast LOVE; my heart shall rejoice in Your Salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.”

Yes, He cares! He cares enough for us that He left heaven and His Throne to live and die for us, and in doing so He conquered death and hell for us. “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”Matthew 1:23 NRSV

He is with us. What a fabulous thought!

Photo credit NewChristianBibleStudy.org

I Adore ….

“Yours, O LORD, is the Greatness, the Power, the Glory, the Victory, and the Majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O LORD, and this is Your Kingdom. We adore You as the One who is over all things.” – 1 Chronicles 29:11 NLT

Complete this sentence: I adore __________.

Is this your verse, or is your adoration focused somewhere else? Where our focus is, is usually where our adoration is. Our kids, marriage, job, friends, shopping, food, even alcohol or sex – none of these is bad in themselves, but how much of our focus, our adoration, is left for our LORD? How about these – drugs, alcohol, self-gratification through sex or food, selfishness and greediness? When our focus is on these things, there’s no room left in our hearts or minds for adoration of the SAVIOUR. I don’t mean to say that when a person is immersed, buried, in one of these behaviors that they can just decide to change their focus, because that is rarely possible. Addiction of any kind is straight from Satan. He is continually fighting to keep our attention and adoration focused away from the LORD, and the best way to do that is to train our focus onto the highs he gives in those things.

How do we adore the GOD Who is over all things, when we can’t even lift our heads enough to see how miserable we are in our current “adoration”? It is definitely not easy! I follow a blog called beautybeyondbones. It is about a woman’s journey to break the addiction of anorexia and to come to a place where adoration of our LORD supercedes the adoration and worship of the disease. Again, this is not an easy task, because none of us chooses to be addicted to anything. I believe that true healing of any addiction, any disease, is only available through JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOUR. Whatever the addiction, the disease, Satan will not let you out of it easily. When we put any other adoration in front of the ALMIGHTY GOD, we are falling into the enemy’s trap. He makes it so easy to fall, but hard to see that we are falling! Even though Satan tries to keep our eyes down on his path, the Hand of JESUS is extended down to us so the if – when – we open our eyes, He is right there, waiting to help us up and take our burden, that burden of the enemy that is keeping us bowed down from the weight.

Sometimes our only recourse, the only thing we can do at that point, is to breathe the Name of JESUS; JESUS, help me. As we begin pulling ourselves up with His help, we begin to see Hope and to have real Adoration for Him. As His Grace and Mercy begin to permeate our souls; as we see the Light and continue to reach for it, the enemy is pulling with all his might to keep us down. Relapse happens because walking upright while the enemy keeps loading us with regret and hopelessness and self-loathing is very difficult. When we look back, or down, we loosen our hold on JESUS, sometimes letting go completely. Because He is a gentleman, and because GOD has given us free will, He won’t drag us back to Him. It’s always our choice, but too often the enemy has such a hold that he can keep us mired in the addiction – BUT GOD has given us many tools to overcome the enemy and leave his focus, the false admiration, and to see and adore JESUS. Counselors, recovery groups, doctors – GOD gave them the talents and skills to help us recognize where our addictions begin, and what we can do to break the hold it has on us, giving us room to truly adore our SAVIOUR.

I spent many years under the spell of the enemy, wasting my life and “adoration” on me and my way, refusing to see that I was miserable and missing out on a good life, a great life, with my LORD. It took the intervention of family and friend’s prayers, Christian counselors, recovery groups, and even doctors who helped by providing medications to help me break the hold of the enemy. Sometimes I find myself focusing on the past, and I realize that my adoration of the CHRIST is slipping, and I lift my eyes to His Word to read His Truth and Mercy and Hope.

Did you answer the question? Have you figured out where your adoration lies today?

Listen to Zach Williams “Survivor;” Matt Maher’s “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” and Phil Wickham’s “Living Hope.” TRUTH! Only our LORD JESUS CHRIST, the ALMIGHTY and EVERLASTING GOD, is worthy of our adoration. JESUS is the Living Hope – everything else is temporary and will pass away, including – especially including – our enemy. You LOSE, Satan – HALLELUJAH, and Praise the LORD, we are survivors!

“[I] adore You as the ONE who is over all things.”

El Greco “The Adoration of the Name of JESUS”

Image courtesy of The National Gallery, London