And In Conclusion….

“Now may the GOD of Peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our LORD JESUS CHRIST comes again. GOD will make this happen, for He Who calls you is Faithful. Dear brothers and sisters, pray for us. May the Grace of our LORD JESUS CHRIST be with you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:23‭-‬25‭, ‬28 NLT

What a beautifully written, eloquent conclusion to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church. Wouldn’t it be outstanding if we really treated each other with the respect that Paul treats the early churches? Respectful and loving, blunt and truthful – with love – when we have strayed from the teachings of JESUS. Wouldn’t it be amazing to show our total belief in JESUS, that He can perform miracles in our lives, the way the Roman Centurian did?

“……. And Jesus went with them, but when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to Him, “LORD, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to You. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When JESUS heard this He was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed Him, He said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” – Luke 7:6‭-‬9 NRSV

I want to hear JESUS say that about me.

Photo credit http://www.weheartit.com

TRUST and OBEY

TRUST and OBEY. Difficult words. Trust defined: “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Trust is faith, and faith, well, faith is tough when you have had (or have) pain and betrayal in your life. Then there’s ‘Obey’. The word leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you have no trust, no faith, in the person or persons you are supposed to obey. Parents, siblings, classmates, friends, bosses, the list of people who might require us to obey them is long and varied. I have been betrayed countless times, and I know I have betrayed trust that was placed in me. Betrayal doesn’t have to be deliberate, but the hurt runs deep, making it difficult to trust again. We become guarded in offering our trust and faith, and that impacts every aspect of our lives. Every person who has ever lived or will ever live on this earth – from the first man, Adam, to the newest baby born – will experience betrayal. Even GOD the FATHER, our CREATOR, and JESUS CHRIST, our LORD, have experienced it!

How do we get past it? I submit that there is only one way to escape the unending treadmill of no trust, and that is to look at the perfect record of our LORD. Throughout the recorded history of the thousands of years of earth’s and man’s existence, GOD has never betrayed us. Even in the worst betrayals of man against Him, the FATHER stood with those who chose Him (remember, He gave man Free Will when He created him). He stood beside us even when we persecuted and tortured and murdered His Son, and He allowed it as the Sacrifice to end all sacrifice. He has used the Blood of JESUS to cover and cleanse our sins… past, present, and future, of those who make that choice to Trust in the LORD.

It’s a choice. Making the choice is simple, and it can be difficult for many of us, but it’s still a choice! Whether we like it or not, the truth is that we have to choose between the one who currently rules world or the ONE Who CREATED of the world. The enemy makes the way of world look all glam and glittery and enticing and easy, but it’s all window dressing. Once he gets you and you begin to see how truly ugly it is, it’s really hard to escape from his grasp.

Here’s the GOOD NEWS! It’s never to late to escape! All we have to do is look up, away from the enemy, to see JESUS and realize He has been right there all along, just waiting for you to ask Him for help.

“The Lord is my Strength and my Shield; my heart trusts in Him,and He helps me. My heart leaps for Joy, and with my song I praise Him.” – Psalm 28:7 NIV

Have you looked at JESUS and chosen to trust HIM over the enemy? Listen to the words of the old hymn Trust and Obey, and the way Big Daddy Weave sings it. Verse 2 says:
But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay
For the favor He shows
For the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey

My Fortress

Satan tempted JESUS, saying to Him, “To You I will give all this [worldly] authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If You, then, will worship me, it will all be Yours.” And Jesus answered him [Satan], “It is written, ” ‘You shall worship the LORD your GOD, and HIM only shall you serve.’ ” – Luke 4:6‭-‬8 ESV [Deuteronomy 6:13]

This same enemy who tempted JESUS looks for our weaknesses to exploit. The longing for power and authority as wielded by kings and goverments is a huge temptation for many. Watching the ‘rich and famous’ through media outlets, others want that same financial strength and public recognition. Sometimes, even good things like children are a source of weakness when we desire them and can’t have them. Satan looks at our desires and places correlating temptations in our path. Without JESUS (Listen to “Only JESUS” by Casting Crowns), we can’t withstand the enemy’s relentless assault of our hearts and minds.

“GOD is our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in trouble. ….. ‘Be still, and know that I AM GOD. I Will be Exalted among the nations, I Will be Exalted in the earth!’ The LORD of hosts is with us; the GOD of Jacob is our Fortress. Selah” – Psalms 46:1‭, ‬10‭-‬11 ESV

Thank GOD for His Mighty Fortress! Thank Him for the Gift of Himself in the person of JESUS CHRIST and the HOLY SPIRIT to save us from an eternity of untold and unimaginable agony in hell. Remember the old hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our GOD….”? It was written by Martin Luther in the mid 1500’s, and it is as true today as it was 500 years ago.
A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing:
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work his woe;
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth is his name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,—
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! His doom is sure,—
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers—
No thanks to them—abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also:
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is for ever.

(Credit Wikipedia.org for the information and lyrics)

Remember, with the LORD GOD as our Refuge and our Strength; our Fortress, we cannot lose! Oh, we will lose skirmishes while we are on earth, because the enemy has dominion over the earth…. for now, until our LORD creates the new heaven and earth! Unlike any earthly fortress, whether past, current, or future, our GOD’s Fortress will never fail. (Read the back of The Book – even the devil and all his little demons knows he loses!) AMEN!

(Photo from englishrussia.com )

B.I.B.L.E.

So you like anagrams? Me, too! Here’s another one I have seen:

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. B.I.B.L.E.

For several years, I was a leader in the recovery program at my church. We asserted (and I still do) that 1) Everyone alive has Hurts, Hangups, and Habits, and 2) There are two types of people in the world – those who need recovery, and those who are in recovery. The small groups I led were made up primarily of women who had suffered some form of abuse in the lives; some had been in horrific situations. Why didn’t they just leave, you ask? Oh, it’s not that simple, and it’s a subject I have addressd in previous blogs, so it won’t be dealt with today. In our ‘Basic Instructions’, a very important thing I’ve learned is that any situation we find ourselves in, whether by our choices or someone else’s choices, we don’t have to go through it alone. Read all of Psalm 27. These are a few of the verses I like to share with my ‘girls’ – and also with any man who is struggling. Struggles and hurt are not gender specific!

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. You have said, “Seek My Face.” My heart says to You, “Your Face, LORD, do I seek.” For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” – Psalms 27:1‭, ‬3‭-‬3‭, ‬8‭, ‬10‭-‬10‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

If you are paying attention, I have used these verses in other blogs. They are very appropriate scripture verses to use every day! In verse 10, the psalmists states that his “father and … mother have forsaken” him. I was blessed beyond measure that mine did not forsake me when I was caught up in the enemy’s traps, although they were hurt beyond imagination by my lifestyle. That, unfortunately, is not always the case. For a number of my girls, the abusive lives they were trapped in was, in fact, perpetrated by their very own parents. It’s frequently on the news as well, when parents, foster parents, relatives, and other authority figures are the sources of abuse. I can’t even imagine how an adult can be that way to a child, or another adult. It is straight from the depths of hell. But read on to verses 13-14!

“I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

We read these verses with incredible Hope. I, too, like the psalmist, believe that “I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! I see it every day. The Goodness of the LORD shines through the changed lives of the women (and men) who have sought the LORD in their lives, and allows others to see how Good He is, for:

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be Praised, and His Greatness is Unsearchable.” – Psalms 145:3 ESV

Do you have the Hope, the Peace, the LIGHT of the LORD in your life? He doesn’t care how ‘bad’, how broken you are. He wants us as we are. He is the Great Physician, the Creator and Craftsman. Ony the LORD can repair us and hold us together. Don’t mistake this to say that once you receive JESUS CHRIST as LORD of your life, everything will become peaches and cream. Au contraire, my friends, when we allow Him to Love us as He longs to, the enemy, that prince of everything dark and evil, known as Satan – our enemy will hit us with anything he can come up with to turn our face away from the LORD. It often works, too. When the abuse doesn’t lessen, when our finances get worse instead of better, when illness seems to loom over us and our loved ones, even death…. we can reach for heaven and the Peace of the Holy Spirit, or we can fall into ugliness and despair. It’s always a choice; one that I confess to messing up quite frequently.

“For from HIS Fullness we have all received, Grace upon Grace. …. For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His Only SON, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For GOD did not send His SON into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the Only SON of GOD.” – John 1:16; 3:16‭-‬18 ESV

AMEN. How will you fare when standing in front of The Judge?

F.E.A.R.

I ran across the best anagram!

F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real

How great is that? We know that the enemy wants us to run away from GOD and His Will, so he – Satan – is constantly throwing scary things in our paths. It might be a memory of an instance where we failed in something, or it could be an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. The enemy can’t read our minds, but he is very adept at reading us by our facial and body expressions. From watching us throughout our lives, he can make very accurate guesses as to how we might react to certain things, and he uses that knowledge to put obstacles in front of us. Our LORD knows how devious and sneaky the enemy is, and He provides a Light to show the falseness of those fears and obstacles in the form of JESUS.

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalms 27:1 ESV

“And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the Salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. For the **Egyptians** whom you see today, you shall never see again.”-
Exodus 14:13 ESV (emphasis mine)

Those Egyptians that the Israelites feared are our fears! Replace the word “Egyptians” with whatever fear you are facing at this moment, and say it out loud for the Power of JESUS CHRIST to work in your heart and your mind:

Fear not, stand firm, and see the Salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. For the {name your fear!} whom you see today, you shall never see again. Get behind me, Satan, in the Name of JESUS, for you hold no power over me!

Powerful words! The Name of JESUS. Listen to Chris Tomlin sing the song by that name, The Name of JESUS. What a beautiful, moving, powerful Name!

My Life’s Work

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that in the LORD your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

“I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalms 34:4 ESV

I want to be like Paul, to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD … ” and like the psalmist, “delivered …. from all my fears.” There’s only one way to achieve this, and that is the Way known as JESUS CHRIST. Let Him into your life and your heart, leave the worries and cares of this life in His capable Hands, and spend time every day with Him – in His Word, and in prayer, asking for His Will to be done in your life. That’s it. Simple, short, and sweet.

Make the Plans

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the Purpose of the LORD that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21 ESV

As one of my pastors says, “Make the plans; don’t plan the results.” That’s really hard to do! Our plans lead to a conclusion, the ‘results’. How do we make plans without planning the results? It’s easy to say, but difficult to implement. We plan our lives: as children, we look at people around us, and plan how our lives are going to be. I was going to be a movie star cowboy and marry a prince. 😁 (In case you wonder, I’m not a movie star, but I love horses and have owned several. Does that make me a cowboy? As for the prince, well, no prince, but more the one TOAD…. )

in high school; we are asked to make a plan for our future. College, Vo-tech, or a job? In college or Vo-tech, we have to plan our majors and focus of study. To advance in our jobs, we need an action plan. We plan weddings and birthdays. It’s hard to live without making plans, and it’s good to plan. Planning helps us to see what direction we need to head; planning shows us where we are doing well and where we need improvement; and it shows us what we have accomplished. Planning is a good thing! We hit the wall, though, when we want our plans to turn out exactly the way we want them to, intead of leaving the plan in GOD’s Hands. Yes, I am speaking from experience! I want what I want when I want and how I want …. my plan, my results. Life is so much better when I make the plan, and then I take my hands away and let GOD do as He wills with my plan. Is it easy to do? Not at all! I don’t claim to be good at letting go of my planned results, because I’m not.

I still want what I want when I want it, and that’s not how GOD works. His timing, and His answers, are often out of sync with my timing and the answer I want, but I’m learning. Scriptures tell us over and over to wait on the LORD. Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” and Isaiah 40:31 “…. but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint;” and many, many more. Wait. Wait. Wait; frustrated, anxious, wanting that answer, that thing, now. When I stop trying to control the results, they may not be what I want or when I want, but by letting GOD control the results I have peace. It’s absolutely amazing! We each have a choice. Let our controlling, OCD self rule our mind and body, or let the Almighty, our FATHER, do what He does best – take care of us and provide the best for us. It isn’t a one-time thing. Every day, every plan, every decision has to be given to Him, and it’s really easy to think GOD is too busy to deal with every little thing for us. Nothing is too small for our LORD! JESUS said “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:6‭-‬7 ESV

Photo credit leesbirds.com