Words

“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our LORD and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of GOD. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” – James 3:7‭-‬10 (http://bible.com/116/jas.3.7-10.NLT)

I can attest to the pain words can cause. There have been times when a physical slap would have been preferable to the deep wounds caused by someone’s words. Both hurt, but my body heals more easily than my heart. We use words to lift up, and we use words to tear down. When one of my bosses would say “well done,” hearing the praise always stimulated my productivity. On the other hand, when all I heard was criticism, my productivity would suffer even more. Even a “hello” or “good morning” goes a long way in cultivating a positive attitude, which in turn goes to better performance. It’s not just for bosses, either. Does your day go a little better whenever you are greeted with a smile or a kind word? What about your spouse, your friends, your children? Can you see the difference in them when they hear good words, positive words, over negative?

“But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.” – James 3:14 (http://bible.com/116/jas.3.14.NLT)

Before you jump up and say you aren’t jealous, and you aren’t selfish…. Attitude check! Personally, I work on not being jealous and selfish, and at times, it really is work. It was pointed out to me a couple of days ago that I am selfish. I don’t like it, but it is a correct assessment. I am selfish, and that is difficult to admit. I can certainly make excuses. I’d say I’ve worked hard to get what I have. The reality, the TRUTH, is that what I have isn’t mine. It ALL belongs the God, and I should be more willing to share and to give Him credit instead of me. Oh, I’m grateful that God has seen fit to bless me so abundantly, and I know I am exceptionally blessed with family and friends and partner who love me despite my flaws.

Our tongues are worse than a sword at times. We can tear someone so far down that they may take years to recover. Words hurt, but words can also heal. Consider these words from Paul:

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, …. in defending and confirming the Truth of the Good News.” – Philippians 1:3‭-‬4‭,‬7 (http://bible.com/116/php.1.3-7.NLT)

Give thanks for those around you, whether they lift you up or try to tear you down with their words. Return their words with love and joy, and lift them up in with good words.

Sinful Nature. Truth.

“So now there is NO condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the Power of the Life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1‭-‬2 (http://bible.com/116/rom.8.1-2.NLT)

So, WHY do we keep on sinning???

This is a question that really bothers me. I know the answer, and it continues to bug me. We sin because we are human. We are created in God’s image, and we were created to be companions; to worship and fellowship with Him. Our fatal flaw, AND our saving grace, is the free will God gave us. He didn’t create robots to follow Him without question or thought. He made us with the ability and the desire to know Him and to Love Him because we choose to. He gave us bodies so that we can can see the beauty, hear the music, taste the bounty, and feel the creation. He gave us hands to create, and minds to comprehend. We can build incredible buildings and carve things from solid rock that defy imagination. Hearing nature’s music and the music we make with instruments from our hands and our breath can transport us into beautiful places in our minds. And even with all of this incredible talent and ability our God imbued us with, with all of the intellectual ability He created in us, we continue to turn our backs on Him???

We are selfish. We want what we want when we want it. We are snobs to those who don’t meet our standards. We are petty and hold grudges instead of forgiving. We take advantage of the weak and we have little compassion for the hurting. We are cruel when it suits our purpose, and we despise those who threaten us. WE choose the ugly over the beauty, time after time after time. WHY does God allow this to go on? The answer, though simple, is not pretty. He allows it, because we choose it. Free will.

Yep. We CHOOSE the ugliness and the hatred and the despair. We choose the things of the world over God. There’s no one else to blame; it lands squarely on my shoulders and on yours. (Told you it wasn’t pretty.)

“He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand.” #CSLewis | #ScrewtapeLetters

It is up to us…. no, it is up to ME, to choose to walk (stumble, crawl) with God. No one else can choose for me, and no one but you can choose for yourself. We all know how, too:

“For this is how God Loved the world: He gave His One and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.16.NLT)

Not believe that Jesus is real, but believe IN Him. Even Satan and his demons acknowledge that He is real! Believe IN Jesus Christ as your Savior. Make the RIGHT choice.

Amen.

Sing to the LORD

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:2‭-‬3 (http://bible.com/111/eph.1.2-3.NIV)

Grace and peace; praise and blessings. We should be shouting and singing and dancing over our salvation for the eternity we get to spend with our LORD! Instead of rejoicing, we let the mundane creep in and take over. Anger and frustration are what fuels us, and depression slides into our minds because we don’t have the earthly goods or status we decide we “deserve.” Let me assure you, my brothers and my sisters, if God were to allow us to have what we DESERVE, we would most likely want to be in hell instead as a reprieve from what we deserve….

“Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight; so You are right in Your verdict and justified when You judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:4‭-‬5 (http://bible.com/111/psa.51.4-5.NIV)

“There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done.” Ezekiel 20:43 (http://bible.com/111/ezk.20.43.NIV)

I am among the most guilty of men and women, thinking I deserve better than what I have received in my life. Someone asked me recently what I would do if I were handed a check, tax-free, for $500,000.00. I replied that I would pay off all of my debt and then help my family. He seemed startled by my response, and said that the first thing he would do is take his family on a long cruise. My reasoning is nothing noble. I believe that God created the family unit so that we would have a built-in support system. We have bastardized the family so much that it is barely recognizable any longer, and it is a rare family (in my experience) who reaches out to each other to help in need. I thank God that for the most part, my birth family is one of the rare ones. We have our issues, and we have been (are!) extremely dysfunctional, but we know that in a pinch we can count on each other. For that alone, knowing that my family loves me in spite of my past, should be enough to be singing God’s praise!

It is through Christ alone that we can love each other. If you don’t have a family – blood or otherwise – that you can rely on, oh, my heart goes out to you. Did you know, once you have been adopted into God’s eternal family, you’ll never, NEVER, have to go through the rest of your life alone?

“In Christ alone

my Hope is found

He is my Light, my Strength, my Song

This Cornerstone, this Solid Ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of Love, what depths of Peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the Love of Christ I stand!”

My Shelter in the Storm…. What AMAZING Grace!!

Is It Jerusalem… Or The U.S.A.???

Is It Jerusalem… Or The U.S.A.???

“Hear us, SHEPHERD of ISRAEL, You who lead Joseph like a flock. You Who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken Your might; come and save us.

Restore us, O GOD; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.

How long, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, will Your anger smolder against the prayers of Your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears; You have made them drink tears by the bowlful. You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, GOD ALMIGHTY; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.

You transplanted a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. Its branches reached as far as the Sea, its shoots as far as the River. Why have you broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its grapes? Boars from the forest ravage it, and insects from the fields feed on it.

Return to us, GOD ALMIGHTY! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root Your Right Hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at Your rebuke Your people perish. Let Your Hand rest on the man at Your Right Hand, the son of man You have raised up for Yourself. Then we will not turn away from You; revive us, and we will call on Your Name.

Restore us, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.”

Psalm 80:1‭-‬19 (http://bible.com/111/psa.80.1-19.NIV)

Oh, My Aches and Pains

My body hurts. Well, not really; at least, my WHOLE body doesn’t hurt. My joints ache, especially when I do physical activities I’m not conditioned to do (like running and jumping and lifting heavy weights, and mowing and weedeating. Ugh!) Sometimes my lower back gets so tight I can barely move, or my upper back will spasm so it’s difficult to breathe.

I’m NOT complaining! If I hurt, it’s usually because I’ve been doing something physical. I’m thankful, instead, that I am ABLE and CAPABLE of doing those things, even when the end result is lineament and ice packs. I’m thankful, because I saw my Grandma and my Dad reach a point where they were unable to do even simple physical tasks, and, at least for now, I can still work. I have friends who have been crippled by abuse and who are unable to do seemingly simple tasks, and I am grateful that despite the things I have dealt with in my life, there is still much I can do. I know people who have such severe disabilities that they are confined to a wheelchair, unable to take care of their most basic needs.

I am grateful for my aches and pains. I may complain, and I certainly get frustrated when I find that I am unable to do a physical task that was easy for me a few short years ago. I am envious of the woman who can still grab a 100# bale of hay and load it in the pickup; who can climb onto a roof carrying heavy buckets and roofing material, dig post holes, or work in the garden. It frustrates me that it takes me days now to complete a task that only took a few hours before. But still, I am thankful! Even though I can no longer do what I was able to in the past, I am thankful, because when Jesus returns and I get to join Him and my Dad and my Grandma, and all the others who have gone before me, the aches and pains will be GONE. I will see Z and Lexi, J and C, and all my friends and family who are restricted on earth by physical issues; all of them running and jumping and praising God with perfect bodies and perfect voices. What an absolutely glorious life to look forward to!

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5:1 (http://bible.com/111/2co.5.1.NIV)

Here’s the kicker. Do you KNOW you’ll be there with us? It’s very simple to make sure.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20‭-‬21 (http://bible.com/111/2co.5.20-21.NIV)

“For GOD so Loved the world that He gave His One and ONLY Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life….. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the Name of God’s One and Only Son. John 3:16‭, ‬18 (http://bible.com/111/jhn.3.16-18.NIV)

ALWAYS, and in EVERYTHING…..

“…. ALWAYS giving thanks to GOD the Father for everything, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20 (http://bible.com/111/eph.5.20.NIV)

and AMEN!

The Law

The LAW. Civil, criminal, or spiritual, we love to hate the law.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is Life and Peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to GOD; it does not submit to GOD’S Law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please GOD….. [But] those who are led by the Spirit of GOD are the Children of GOD. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “ABBA, FATHER.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are GOD’S Children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of GOD and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” Romans 8:6‭-‬8‭, ‬14‭-‬17 (http://bible.com/111/rom.8.6-17.NIV)

“If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” In jails and in prisons across the world, the inmates all claim they are innocent (Really. Just ask them!). Christians, and those claiming Christianity, the “religious,” are no different from the worst criminals. We don’t like looking at our (constant) sin – and regardless of what any leader or preacher might say, we are ALL guilty and WILL be held responsible for our sins. Thank You, Jesus, that we have an Advocate Who will defend us when God the Father sits on the Judgement Seat and looks at our lives!

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. CHRIST JESUS Who died—more than that, Who was raised to Life—is at the right Hand of GOD and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of GOD that is in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.” Romans 8:34‭-‬35‭, ‬37‭-‬39 (http://bible.com/111/rom.8.34-39.NIV)

Verses 38-39 hold ALL of our hope for our souls. Nothing – NOTHING – can separate us from our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. Nothing. Paul wrote it so eloquently and completely! If there is nothing else that I have ever said is worth remembering, these verses should capture your heart and your mind. Once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are safe from the eternity of fire. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal; once saved, always saved. Do you want Jesus to suffer the cross again, every time we tell a “white” lie (a lie is a lie, period…. and I am guilty) or every time we sin? I think anyone would say “NO!”

We are not slaves, to be crushed by the world. Instead, we have received ultimate freedom through His suffering and pain. We are also not immune to the trouble the world (i.e. Satan, the enemy) will dump on us. No, as Paul reminds us, “As it is written: “For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Psalm 44:22) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who Loved {LOVES} us.” Romans 8:36‭-‬37 NIV http://bible.com/111/rom.8.36-37.NIV

The Truth of those words is staggering! “Jesus Loves me, this I know, For the Bible tells me so.” Still true; Amen.

Challenge

I challenge you to study God’s Word! Even though it was started 4000 years ago and finished 2000 years ago, it is as true and applicable today as it was then! Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth, but they are also directed to us today:

“…. to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our LORD Jesus Christ—their LORD and ours: Grace and Peace to you from GOD our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ. …. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our LORD Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our LORD. …. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:2‭-‬3‭, ‬8‭-‬9, 17-18 (http://bible.com/111/1co.1.2-18.NIV)

George Orwell nailed it in his statement. As Christians, we must – we MUST – speak truth. I don’t mean we should go stand on the street corner with signs, shouting “the end is near!” No, it’s within our families, among our friends and coworkers, to our neighbors we need to be speaking. These are the people we need to speak God’s truth to. Our freedom is in Jesus Christ, and I will not give up my freedom lightly! I will do all I can to protect yours, too, as I stand with Christ.