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

Peace On Earth

I read this statement this morning: “The New Testament does not say that the angels prophesied peace: they proclaimed peace—peace to men of goodwill toward God.” (Emphasis mine) It’s funny how you can know a thing, and yet read it again and suddenly it hits you. The angels weren’t saying that peace would come to the world, but that peace would be among those with whom He is well pleased. Compare these two versions of Luke 2:14.

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men.

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;”
Ephesians 5:15‭-‬20 NASB1995

“From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. From prophets to priests, they are all frauds. They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 6:13‭-‬15 NLT

I want to be among those people with whom He is pleased, careful of how I walk, filled with the Spirit, and always giving thanks for all things in the name of the LORD. I don’t like being ruled by greed, and it’s easy to fall into it with the materialism of the world so loud and pushy around us. I see so much of it around me, and the longing of wanting what I perceive as my right…. but is it, really? If I should receive what I truly deserve – if anyone got what they truly deserve, I don’t think we would like it very much!

Give thanks for all things. That’s the ticket to a true and happy, full, and rewarding life.

Prayer for God’s Mercy on our Nation

“If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we are a nation gone under.” – Ronald Reagan

Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your indignation toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O Lord, And grant us Your salvation. I will hear what God the Lord will say; For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; But let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land. Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth springs from the earth, And righteousness looks down from heaven. Indeed, the Lord will give what is good, And our land will yield its produce. Righteousness will go before Him And will make His footsteps into a way.”
Psalms 85:14-‬13 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.85.1-13.NASB1995

The psalmist wrote this for the nation of Judah, but I see it in the the United States of America. From school boards and town councils to the Oval Office, Christians are going to have to join together, on their knees, to restore our nation to it’s greatness. We have to denounce – not deny – the godlessness that is rampant in our country. If it is not scriptural, it is wrong. Are we as Christ followers guilty of sinning against God? Absolutely; every day. That doesn’t mean that we can just sit back on our hands and say, “well, I tried.” Prayer is immensely powerful, so if someone says that all they can do is pray; well, that’s the best thing any one of us can do! Take action. Do whatever you can.

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.” — Patrick Henry at Virginia`s U.S. Constitution ratification convention

“The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.” — Samuel Adams at Massachusetts` U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788

We must fall back to the Founding Fathers and listen to them. The majority of them followed Christ. ALMIGHTY GOD gave us the greatest country in the world. We must fight the enemy of God and of man to protect and preserve her. I stand with other Christians and Patriots, and I am not ashamed.

And all the people said ……

What Am I Doing???

It’s your responsibility to lead yourself well by knowing exactly what you’re good at, what bothers others about you, and what your blindspots are. So ask someone today:

1) What am I good at?

2) What is holding me back?

3) What are the blind spots in my life?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalms 139:23‭-‬24 NASB1995

What am I doing to add value to my family, my team at work, my friendships?

Jesus said to the disciples “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

If you are are a Christian, you know that Jesus is God. As God, He is immutable, incomparable, incomprehensible. As man, He is subject to everything that we feel and experience. He felt the weight of responsibility to obey and satisfy His earthly parents just as we do. His ministry was a huge responsibility, to teach His followers the Truth. He experienced hunger and thirst. He got hot, and cold, and was physically uncomfortable. He knew His “job”, and didn’t shirk from it. He spent hours in prayer with the Father, leaning on His relationship with Him to clarify what to say, where to go, what to do. He knew what He was good at, and He wasn’t above doing the lowest jobs. (Think: washing feet) I think He talked to His disciples and listened if they had any criticisms about Him. I don’t think Jesus had any blindspots like we do, and even though we know that He was perfect, He still suffered.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 NASB1995

The bottom line is this. When you are struggling with these questions of what am I doing, what am I good at, what is holding me back, and what are my blind spots, take council from someone who will honestly help you, and pray. Jesus has experienced everything we have, plus more. He has the answers!

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

Deceived

“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

AMEN.

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

Look Around You!

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB1995

Read the whole chapter. When King Asa relied on his own judgement and looked for help from another king first, before asking the LORD, he lost the war. When Asa relied on and trusted in the LORD, he won the war. This is an incredibly important passage for us today. Look around you!

Whatever we are facing, we can do this …. because we don’t have to do it in our own strength. This is such an important verse for Christians today! Not my strength, but the LORD’S strength. God KNOWS. He sees us. He hears us. He knows. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts….. these are the Eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.” Zechariah 4:6‭-‬7‭, ‬10 NASB1995 He is omnipotent; He is looking so “that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” RELY ON THE LORD. It always comes down to that. Rely on, TRUST in the LORD; first seek God, then ask others.

“LORD [YAHWEH], there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.” “…. the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” 2 Chronicles 14:11, 15:2 NASB1995

The Founding Fathers were believers. To know this, all you have to do is read their writings. Were they perfect? No, far from it! They were men, flawed and fallible, just like we are today. But they knew that the God of the Ages, our God, Yahweh, was with them, fighting the forces against them. We are in a battle today! Look around! The forces of evil, the enemy, have the tactics to take over. They are insidious. They lie; they know how to appeal and coerce in order to capture people’s – even Christian’s – minds, and the people don’t even recognize what is happening! God rides the heavens, looking for us, waiting for us to turn to Him, to come down to help us. I can’t untangle my life, but God can. Ask Him. Turn to Him. We need His guidance and His Grace today!

Wash Your Neighbor’s Feet

“So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 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.”

In the days that Jesus lived, people wore sandals and walked to get where they were going. As you can imagine, that made for dirty feet! Typically, it was a lowly job, and the lowest servant’s job, to wash the feet of anyone who came into the house. Jesus took on that role to make a point. Let me ask you, have you ever had anyone offer to wash your feet? (It would be unusual to visit someone today and have them offer to wash your feet. We wear shoes, so it’s not as if we need the dust washed off.) Years ago, my pastor and his wife illustrated this story by asking a couple of members of the congregation to allow them to wash their feet. I was one of those people. It was an honor, but also very a humbling experience. To have someone I honored and looked up, washing my feet. Servants who lead; leaders who are servants. The very best and most effective leaders are servants.

“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. I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:12‭, ‬14‭-‬18‭, ‬34‭-‬35 NASB1995

We fail mightily today at following this commandment. Remember, Jesus gave us the most important commandments.

“One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35‭-‬40 NASB1995

I think, if more of those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, would claim and live these verses, our world would undergo a dramatic change. It starts with me. What do you think?