Restored

“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” – MATTHEW 28:5‭-‬6 NASB

The cross couldn’t hold Him, death couldn’t retain Him, and the grave couldn’t keep Him. The cross and the tomb shall remain empty for the rest of eternity, and then forever more. He is Risen, Restored to His Glory, restored to His Throne! Jesus Christ, the LORD of Heaven and Earth has conquered death and hell, and He has arisen, Victorious and Glorious!

He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!

‘Tis the Season!

And what a season it is for me! JESUS is the reason I love Christmas and all the trappings. It’s such a fabulous celebration of the birth of the SAVIOUR of the world, even when we have to do some serious digging through the overwhelming and rank commercialism and secularization of what should be a holy time.

Have you missed me? I’ve missed you! No internet access for a week, and I felt like I had been abandoned in the middle of the desert…. a very cold desert! A full week ago, the closing of the house I was selling and the one I bought finally happened, after being delayed and postponed for weeks. (Long story; not really relevant except to say that I was leaning heavily on my LORD to get me through it with my sanity intact – such as it is!!) The internet provider turned off access at the old house, then couldn’t get me scheduled for install at the ‘new’ house – for a solid week. Oh, the frustration of it all….. Please, GOD, in all seriousness, please I don’t ever want to move again! Then, just for the joy of it, the furnace quit the day I closed. 44° in the house with below freezing temps for the weekend, and this was on a Friday afternoon. Really? I mean, Really? I am so blessed to have family who are well-established in the area, and got a repairman out – only to discover that the furnace was toast. Caput. Finished. Again, thanking GOD for family! Four borrowed heaters kept the house a toasty 60° degrees (bwahaahaahaa!) until they could get a whole new HVAC system installed on Monday. Ah, the absolute joy and blessing of heat! Again, I am so grateful to the provision of the LORD that I could access the funds to pay for the new system.

So, finally, everything I own has been moved. Not moved in and settled, but moved. There’s still a storage pod half full in the driveway to be unloaded today (It’s being picked up tomorrow!) and my helper hasn’t shown. I’m not complaining (okay, yes I am, at least my body is – a little!) because I’m really happy it’s all here. The radio has been blasting K-LOVE and beautiful CHRIST-centered songs since the first day here – yet another blessing! I don’t know how people make it through each day without Matt Maher, We Are Messengers, Danny Gokey, Matthew West, NEEDTOBREATHE,” Big Daddy Weave, Phil Wickham ….. sweet Christmas music, too! (Addendum: the pod is unloaded, cleaned out, and ready for pickup tomorrow!)

The thing about this move I’m most thankful for? Instead of being 35 miles and 45 minutes from my sweet 92 year old mama, I’m less than 5 miles away! As a bonus, a sister and her family (all 13 of them!) are also within 5 miles. Much easier for getting together. I can attend Sunday services with my Mom, and see her much more, just in time for the celebration of our LORD’s birth! Are you excited to celebrate His birth? Not His birth date, per se, but His birth. What a fabulous gift the GOD of the Universe gave us in the baby JESUS!

“The Adoration of the Shepherds,” Gerard van Honthorst, 1622 AD

Throwing Stones

We are so quick to judge and condemn! Actual stoning might not be practiced or legal anymore – except under Islamic law – but the verbal stones we throw are just as deadly. Most recently, the young artist Lauren Daigle has been harshly criticized for her response to the question “do you feel that homosexuality is a sin?” in a radio interview with Domenick Nati. I have great respect for her answer, and I love that she ends the comment with “I’m learning too.” Here is her full response:

“I can’t honestly answer on that. In a sense, I have too many people that I love that they are homosexual. I don’t know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can’t say one way or the other. I’m not God. So when people ask questions like that…that’s what my go to is. I just say read the Bible and find out for yourself. And when you find out let me know, because I’m learning too.” (Emphasis mine) I identify with her answers. I can’t say that I love that someone is a homosexual, but I can certainly love the person. When you read Lauren’s statement, she is encouraging the questioner(s) to study GOD’s Word and discover the Truth for themselves! Isn’t that what we all should be doing? Why do we start throwing stones, instead of encouraging another Christ-follower in her walk with the SAVIOUR? If she is on going on talk shows and sharing her faith with the non-Christian world, who are we to criticize? Why are we so anxious to negate her testimony?

“But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” ” – John 8:7 NASB

When I hear that statement from my LORD, my hands immediately drop the “stones” I’m gripping. I find myself praying for Lauren Daigle in her walk of sharing JESUS with the world. Christian artists are hit by the same temptations that we are – even more than us, because they are such a prominent target for the enemy. Just like any other man, woman, or child, they can slip. It doesnt mean they don’t love the LORD; it just means they are human. If something that we consider inappropriate speech happens, or in our eyes they don’t stand firmly enough, are we, you and I, worthy of passing judgement? Better read John 8:7 again, and consider our own lives before grabbing that stone. In fact, take that pile of stones you have stockpiled and turn it into gravel, then spread it out to make their path a little smoother.

I am not worthy of judging anyone, based on my life. I still do, but lately I find myself dropping more rocks than I throw. I personally have been judged and found guilty by man. The first time I shared my testimony in front of a large recovery group, I was approached by someone who had known my sister for years, and whom I had known for about 6 months. He knew about “that sister,” the one who was fallen and broken ….. but he didn’t know that I was that sister. He had judged – harshly – the person he knew only because of the prayers and his friendship of my family. He was shocked to be introduced to the before sister, and trying to reconcile it with the present sister. When you meet someone new, they only see the now. Would they be shocked at finding out who you were before you surrendered to the LORD?

Sometimes, actually too often, I find myself judging someone without knowing them. We are all flawed, broken, and undeserving of GOD’s Love, yet He still freely offers that unconditional LOVE to us. The only difference – the only difference between me and the rankest, darkest sinner is that I have asked for and received the forgiveness of my LORD JESUS. I still deserve too be stoned to death, but He reached out and washed away all my sins with His Blood sacrifice. How can I judge anyone else? We are not perfect, and instead of condemning the talk or behavior of a missionary to the world, perhaps we should do as Lauren Daigle says and read the Bible. Admit that we aren’t GOD (Thank You, JESUS, for showing me that Truth!) Spend time in prayer for that person. Christians have no need for trash talk!

Go out into the world, Lauren Daigle, and continue to spread the LOVE of our LORD JESUS CHRIST to the world. Praying for you, sister!

Photo credit: https://texasbeyondhistory.net/plateaus/images/ap15.html

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.