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?

If It Feels Good…..

“She (god) doesn’t judge because we are all equal. We are all gods; just love everyone. No judgment. If it feels good, do it. Be good and we’ll ALL go to heaven. If you’re good enough, you’ll be rich.”

Ever heard any of that before?

Unfortunately, it’s all part of the feel good, prosperity message the enemy is spreading. GOD is good. He loves us all equally. He is Love. But that’s not the end of the story!

Because He loves us so much, He disciplines us and He will judge us at the great white throne judgment.

“Then I saw a Great White Throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11‭-‬15 NASB1995

The last verse is the one we should focus on. We will all be judged. Everyone, NO exceptions. The question is, when you are judged, will your name be in the Book of Life so that you will have an advocate in Jesus Christ?

I will be judged. All of the bad decisions, all of the hurtful words and actions, all of the poor choices. So will you. No matter how rich, successful, or powerful, you might think you are, you will stand before God on the day of judgment on an equal footing with the most heinous criminals.

The only way – the ONLY WAY – to escape the second death and the lake of fire (*hell*) is to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. After all, He died as the final sacrifice for your sins (for MY sins!), in order for us to have eternal life; so we don’t have to die the second death.

What’s the catch? Accept Him as Savior. Don’t just acknowledge He’s the Son of God, because even Satan and his demons acknowledge Him.

That’s it. Is it too easy, too good to be true? Nope… It IS easy, and it is also hard. I guarantee it’ll be the absolute best decision you’ll EVER make.

Come to Me

“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls . For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 NASB1995

We receive Salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Jesus says “Come to ME.” That is the ultimate statement of salvation. HE, Jesus, the Christ, the One and Only Son of the Most High God, will GIVE you rest. We aren’t talking about a church or a creed or a doctrine, but Jesus alone.

Who can receive this gift of salvation? “….ALL who are weary and heavy-laden” – anyone; everyone who is weighed down by sin and guilt and will accept His salvation. We can’t earn it and we don’t deserve it. “Our merits merit nothing, Christ’s merits merit everything.” No matter what anyone else teaches or claims to know, this is fact: Christianity is NOT a religion of scales, it is a religion of the cross.

Jesus says “Take my yoke: submit to my authority.” When we submit to Him, we don’t become like a slave. He wants us to listen and learn to be like Him: Jesus is gentle, humble, accessible, tender, open, accommodating; He is not harsh or “trigger happy”. His yoke is well fitting, not uncomfortable or difficult. By abdicating control, it allows us to rest in body, soul, spirit.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,” Ephesians 3:14‭-‬20 NASB1995

Begin the new year a new person. Accept His Gift of Salvation today.

When, O LORD, When?

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” “ 1 Samuel 16:7 NASB

When, O LORD, when?

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 NASB

When, O LORD, when?

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalms 32:8 NASB

When, O LORD, when?

“ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord , ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ ” Jeremiah 29:11 NASB

When, O LORD, when?

I haven’t been very patient in my life. I’ve made a lot of poor choices, trying to push God into giving me what I wanted. I’m trying, LORD. I’m just not very good at letting go of my desires and giving You control.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NASB

I’m holding on to this promise.

Tempted? Ah, This Isn’t Anything Bad….

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” James 1:13 NASB

Sin. What is it, anyway? I’m good. I haven’t done anything horrible. It’s just a white lie. Everybody else is going…. doing it. It’s not so bad. It’s nothing compared to so-and-so.

We are so good at justifying our thoughts and behaviors and actions! Mention sin and see how people around you respond. It doesn’t exist. That’s an old fashioned idea; an antiquated thought. Nobody believes in sin anymore. Just be a good person and you’ll be okay. I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay!

Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.” Deuteronomy 11:16 NASB

Oh people, we have allowed ourselves to be fooled by the enemy. There’s an alphabet soup of aberrant behavior that is not just tolerated, but condoned and celebrated. Whether it is murdering unborn babies, or accepting pedophilia as ‘normal’ behavior; selling your body, living together outside of marriage…. these should be easy for Christians to identify as sin. But what about these? Overeating and gluttony? Abusing the prescription your doctor gave you by not following the instructions? Watching and listening to things that exploit the bodies of young men and/or women; of children. Discrimination, both covert and overt.

Well! I’m certainly not guilty of any of those things!

Oh, but you are. I am. We all are.

“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” Proverbs 28:13 NASB

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NASB

Thank God for the gift of the LORD Jesus Christ!

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.” Psalms 32:1‭-‬3 NASB

“I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.” Psalms 32:5 NASB

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24 NASB

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, JESUS the SON OF GOD, let us hold fast our confession. 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. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the Throne of Grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:13‭-‬16 NASB

Friends, draw near to the Throne of Grace! We, the children of the Most High GOD need to be on our knees, praying for our country, our leaders, our communities. It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent; man, woman, or child; Baptist, Catholic, Church of whatever. As Christians we are called to prayer. It’s the only way to save our home here.

The LORD said this to Solomon. I believe it is relevant to us, today, too.

“…… and [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

LOVE IS / IS NOT:

1 Corinthians 13: What is Love?

Love is not jealousy; a burning desire to have what someone else has, or resentment. Those things are an absence of love. When I have to win, and the other person has to lose, is jealousy. Resentment shows in how we respond to other’s success, just as much as how we handle our own.

Love is not bragging, boasting, or publicizing our own success/accomplishments. When we are full of arrogance and puffed up with self importance, we aren’t able to love others because all of our focus is on ourselves. Have you ever known someone who is truly humble? When someone is humble, you cannot humiliate them.

Love is not acting unbecomingly, it is not rude, or discourteous. It is kind and considerate, it is polite. Love is tactful, saying Please, thank you, excuse me. Do the little things.

Love is not self-seeking; it is not selfish. It is self sacrificing. The root of all problems is selfishness, so love is to be empty of ourselves and to look out for others over ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be provoked (i.e. irritable, sharp, prickly, touchy, grumpy, and quick to take offense), these show our failure to love. They are triggers to anger and a temperamental “blast off”, as opposed to a righteous anger or irritability (remember Jesus running the money changers and those turning His Father’s House into a place of business out of the Temple?) We must be at peace with God to prevent this.

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Don’t keep track of grudges and resentments! Love lets the past die, it absorbs the wrong. Good friends are good forgivers. Let it go. Choose to forgive. “I distinctly remember forgetting it.” – Sarah Barton, founder of the American Red Cross Ultimate forgiveness is shown by Jesus and His sacrifice. Knowing we were yet sinners, He left Heaven to die on the cross for our sins. For your sins. For my sins!

Love is not happy with sins or lies. It doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness. Love has boundaries. It is based in God’s Truth. Love doesn’t rejoice in it’s own sins. What of our entertainment choices? Our relationship choices? Are we leading other people into sin through those choices? Love supports the truth, and the TRUTH doesn’t change. It is the same today as it was yesterday or 2000 years ago, and it will be the same tomorrow, and it will still be the same in 20,000 years.

“When love is present, nothing else is needed.” Love is essential to anything I do. Without love, I’m just making noise. Remember this truth – No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. There is no real sacrifice without real love, true love, which is Agape love. This Love is produced ONLY by the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ, Who the church is based on. LOVE personified, the Cornerstone of the church.

Love rejoices with the truth; Love bears/carries, protects, supports, covers or shelters all. Love is everything both for us AND for others. In Genesis 9, when Noah’s sons realized their father was naked and they covered his nakedness without looking at him, that is Love. Real Love offers shelter and protection for our shortcomings and our faults without focusing on them.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NASB

Love believes – not in a gullible way, and not overly suspicious or cynical. Love is encouraging. It takes the best view of people and holds on to it, for as long as it is possible. Love believes in second chances. Love remembers that God isn’t finished with us yet!

Love hopes and doesn’t give up. It has desire with expectancy and it is realistic, but in the dark days it holds hands with Hope. When you get discouraged because life is overwhelming and everything seems to be falling apart, read the end of the Book. I love reading Revelations, because we win!

Love endures and will hold on until there is absolutely no hope left. It is patient and persevering in all circumstances. Love perseveres, it holds on, it endures.

Paul is saying to the Corinthians: “What LOVE is, you are not.” Will we be like the Corinthians, without Love, or will we search Scriptures and study to be more Christ-like and loving outside of ourselves and our own selfishness?

LORD, be with us, Your people during this unprecedented time. Help us all to not just hold on to Your promises, but give us the courage to live your Love and the Truth. Amen.

References: 1 Corinthians 1:26, 29; 4:7, 4:18-19, 8:1; Philippians 2:3, 5-8; Acts 17:16; Romans 4:8; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Hebrew 10:17; Matthew 18; Romans 5:8; 1 John 5:9; Proverbs 10:12; James 5:20; 1 Peter 7; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 15:13; John 13:1

The New Earth

“But the Day of the LORD will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of GOD, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:10‭-‬13 NASB

What an intense passage! This is the only passage where the end of the world is described. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief: after the Tribulation and the 1000 year reign, the earth and heavens will be remade. Read chapters 21-22 of Revelations. This will not be an “edit” of the earth, but a total re-make. In the above passage Peter says “the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat.” Literally, the atoms, the building blocks of the Universe, will become a cosmic conflagration, causing complete destruction of the earth and the heavens. God made it, He will destroy it, and He will re-make it all perfectly.

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” Revelation 20:11 NASB

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.” Revelation 21:1 NASB

The earth will be new in quality and nature. What a thought! (Read all of chapter 21.)

The Day : it’s on God’s calendar; it will happen. In history, “the day of the Lord” refers to when an entire military campaign took place in one day, so any time God intervenes directly and decisively is a day of the LORD. The day referred to here by Peter is THE Day, like D-Day, only amplified at least a million times! In 1 Thessalonians 5, we are told that the Day of the LORD will come like a thief in the night, and in Matthew 24 “…..even so, the Son of Man is coming like a thief in the night…..” This means any day, any moment. No one knows or can predict the exact time.

So what should we be doing while waiting? I like the way our pastor says it: Clean up, Look up, Speak up. Living holiness and godliness in plural, living them over and over. When you fail, and we all will fail, because we are sinful humans, confess it and move on. MARANATHA; “our LORD comes. We can speed up the coming of the day of the LORD by speaking up through preaching, teaching, evangelism, mission, prayer, and godly living. Live for the Eternal. When Jesus returns, let us be found doing our job; our duty.

“I have not written to you because you do not know the Truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the Truth. Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is Righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” 1 John 2:21‭, ‬28‭-‬29 NASB AMEN.