If It Feels Good, DO It!

“And now we thank You, our GOD, and praise Your Glorious Name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from You, and of Your own have we given You. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.” – 1 Chronicles 29:13‭-‬15 ESV

It’s hard to let go of people, things, and especially money, that we think we deserve. Oh, my friends, if we really got what we deserved, I imagine we would all be in some really rough, ugly circumstances. One of my ‘life-partners’ (yes, I’ve had too many, and I have married too many – but that’s for another time) liked to throw scriptures at me. One of his favorites was “Wives, obey your husbands.” (1 Peter 3:1a) In his mind, the words before and after that single sentence were irrelevant to him. He needed my obedience (read: servanthood) to make him happy. He expected me to accept his selfish behaviors, his affairs, to make him happy. My feelings and concerns were of no importance as long as I was catering to him. He had had a rough life and he considered ‘happiness’ his due. Like the hedonists who came before him; like his contemporary hedonists, and like the many who are still to come, He lived the creed “If it feels good, do it.” A commitment was just a tool to get others to support him and do as he wanted – the commitment itself was just a string of words to use as a tool. I read an article this morning that really nails this topic in relation to real happiness, which can only be found in our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

“A Deeper Look At What The Bible Says About Happiness,” by Owen Strachan on the websire “explore God” at https://www.exploregod.com/what-the-bible-says-about-happiness-paper

Every thing we have, every healthy relationship we have, every financial blessing we have, does not come about because of us. They are all from God. Like the author of 1 Chronicles, we should be thanking GOD for the abundance He has Blessed us with. If you think you don’t have any of those Blessings, take a look around you. Even bowing under the strain on me right now, I can count many Blessings (Be thankful for toilet paper! Thanks for that reminder, Katy). God doesn’t promise continual happiness on this earth; however, He does promise Grace, Mercy, JOY, Peace, and contentment within our hearts when we walk with Him. Happiness is fleeting; Joy is not. Happiness; abiding, forever Happiness, will be ours when we join our SAVIOUR in heaven.

And now I thank You, my GOD, and praise Your Glorious Name. …. For all things come from You, and of Your own have I have given You. …. My days on the earth are like a shadow .In JESUS’ Name we pray these things, Amen.”

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?

The LORD Is My Portion

The author of the book of Lamentations is disputed, but regardless of whether it was Jeremiah, his scribe, or someone else, it is a book expressing deep torment. It was written after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC. At one particularly bleak period in my life, had I the eloquence of Jeremiah, I could have written this about my own life. These verses can apply to both our physical lives and our spiritual lives. Can you relate it to your life?

“The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.” – Lamentations 3:19‭ NRSV

Despite his sorrow and angst, Jeremiah doesn’t lose his trust in the LORD. Like David, Jeremiah suffered through soul wrenching sorrow, but his faith didn’t waver ….. unlike mine. I questioned GOD, I blamed GOD, and I cursed the situations I found myself in. I know – my choices, my consequences. When I finally said, “Enough! I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!” Then I could call out to JESUS, LORD, and allow Him to pull me out of the muck and he mire and the just plain ugliness of my life. Am I always thankful of GOD’s Mercies? Do I always accept His Portion and let contentment into my life? The answer is a resounding “No, I do not.” I am human, and my ‘feelings’ and emotions can overwhelm me. Sometimes I prefer to wallow in my self-pity, but a mentor said to me, “Feel sorry for yourself for 5 minutes, then get up and get on with your life.’ Don’t let the ‘shoulda coulda woulda’s’ run your life, because they will ruin your life!

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have Hope: 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 3:20-24 NRSV

I have HOPE in the LORD, AMEN!

Image of the prophet Jeremiah from Wikipedia Commons

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.

You WIN!!!

Lotteries, PCH (Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes) casinos; betting on sports, dog tracks and horse racing, fights – human and animal. Schemes on how to make millions, and evangelists who twist the WORD – the BIBLE – to persuade you that GOD will reward you with abundant financial wealth if you just do what they say (starting, of course, with supporting their ‘ministry!’

Everyone is looking for the eeee-sy money; the life of leisure. What shows are popular on tv? Reality shows that promise large sums to the ‘winner,’ gossip shows and ‘celebrity watch’ shows, glorifying the power, glitz and glamour that comes from having millions. Game shows – Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I’ve had a running joke for years, saying “When I win the lottery, I’ll ….. Oh! That’s right, you have to buy a lottery ticket!” (Never have bought one, either!)

If you actually won, how would you use the money?

The reality for Christians is that we don’t need millions. How can I say that? I don’t know your circumstances, or your life. Ah! No, I don’t know your life; I’m too busy negotiating mine to try to know anyone else’s! I care about you, and I pray for and do what I am able to do to help others. So why do I say Christians dontneed money? Here are a few reasons:

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” – Psalms 23:1 NRSV

JESUS said to His disciples, “….. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20 NRSV

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve GOD and wealth.” – Matthew 6:24 NRSV (also Luke 16:13)

I am facing a mountain, and a boatload of cash would go a long ways toward conquering that mountain. I can despair and focus on the mountain, wishing for that mound of cash …… or I can lift my eyes from the mountain, and focus on my GOD. It’s a choice we get to make every day. I choose to look up….. and I WIN.

“To YOU I lift up my eyes, O YOU who are Enthroned in the heavens!” – Psalms 123:1 NRSV

Standing in His Love

“No, I won’t be shaken, my fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your Love…”

What a beautiful reminder to wake up to! “Stand In Your Love” is a new song by Josh Baldwin, and he sings about the power and strength of GOD’s absolute Love for us, and how His Love breaks anything that binds us to sin. JESUS spoke to His disciples after choosing them and told them this – and I believe He intended this for everyone, throughout the ages, who accepts Him as SAVIOUR.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the SON of Man. ….But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. ….If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. ….But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the MOST HIGH; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your FATHER is Merciful.” – Luke 6:22‭, ‬27‭-‬28‭, ‬32‭, ‬35‭-‬36 NRSV

“My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your Love….”

When we attempt to follow our LORD JESUS, but we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone, our fears tend to take over and rule our lives. I know this, because I often struggle to love my enemies – instead of standing in GOD’s Love, I keep trying to do it on my own. I don’t have it in me to forgive my enemies. If it were up to me, they would pay for their transgressions in a long and painful way. My judging would have no mercy – and I thank GOD it isn’t left up to me! I have been given freedom from the chains and baggage of sin, and that forgiveness came completely and undeservedly from JESUS. Shouldn’t I then forgive and love on those who really don’t deserve my forgiveness?

I can’t forgive if I am standing frozen in my fear. If I forgive them, aren’t I somehow condoning* their abuse? (*Empathetic NO, it is not.) When we stand in GOD’s Love, HE forgives for us – and He will judge them according to their deeds. The only way to shed fear, to lock the enemy out, is to turn to JESUS and allow His Love to hold us up to bask in His Light. Fear is a liar; it is a jail of our own creation, and it all comes straight from the enemy.

“No, I won’t be shaken, my fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your Love…”

Can you claim the Promise of Salvation today and let our LORD throw the fears out of your life? “Likewise the SPIRIT helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very SPIRIT intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And GOD, Who searches the heart, knows what is the Mind of the SPIRIT, because the SPIRIT intercedes for the saints according to the Will of GOD.” – Romans 8:26‭-‬27 NRSV

Every Thing, Every Moment, Every Thought

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The LORD is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GOD. And the Peace of GOD, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in CHRIST JESUS. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:4‭-‬8 NRSV

Lauren Dagle sings a song called “Trust In You.” It reminds me that GOD is with me, no matter what I face, no matter where I am, no matter who I am with. He may not move the mountain or part the waters for me the way I ask, but He knows what I am going through because He has already been there. He is right beside me through every challenge and situation, and lifting me when I can’t do it on my own. Perhaps part of the motivation for the letter to the Philippians was to remind them and to reassure them that they are not alone, even while telling them to submit their prayers, their requests, to the Father – with thanksgiving. If we do this, when we pray and worship Him with thanksgiving, then He promises us that He will cover us with His Peace. Do not worry about anything. Any thing.

Like Abraham, GOD has made promises to us. Remember that although he and his wife were well past the ages of creating a child of their bodies (99 and 90, respectively!), GOD had promised Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son and that he, Abraham, through that son, would be the father of many nations. Abraham believed, and he and Sarah were blessed with their son Issac. So GOD hasn’t given you the perfect job, or the perfect house, or the perfect spouse ….. did He promise you would have them? I think not. Does that mean we need to go out on our own, without GOD’s guidance, and acquire them ourselves? Lke Abraham, are we reaching and not waiting? Look at how his not being patient worked out for him, because we are still dealing with the result in the continuous conflicts and wars between the descendants of Issac and Ishmael.

Every Thing, Every Moment, Every Thought – that’s exactly where we need to be looking for GOD; extending our thanksgiving away from we want and into every thing we see of GOD’s Creation; in every moment we are given to breathe on this earth, and with every thought focused on GOD’s Will, rather than on our agenda. I end today with this prayer for you:

And may the Peace of GOD, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in CHRIST JESUS. Amen.

Photo image credit: http://www.open.edu