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.

Truths, Halftruths, or Lies?

Talking Heads. That’s one way of referring to reporters. I remember when we believed that the reporters told the truth, and we didn’t need to second guess them, or research to determine the real truth. We trusted that whatever Walter Cronkite said was right; true. Unfortunately, it is no longer true that we can believe whatever is said. The news now is full of blatant partisanship, outright disdain, lies, and halftruths. Nighttime talk show hosts are among the worst offenders, and are so prejudiced that I refuse to watch them. Making a couple of offensive jokes is one thing, but making the entire monolog about disrespecting our elected officials is not acceptable. Even when I cannot stand a person or their politics (and there have been many!), I still should respect the office they hold.

There are reporters whom I hold in great respect, and they are the recorders and reporters of the scriptures; the writers of the Bible. When GOD spoke, they listened and accurately recorded His messages alongside first-hand accounts of their history. In the New Testament, the Gospels are eye-witness accounts, and well researched accounts, of the Life and Testimony of the One known as JESUS CHRIST, MESSIAH. Luke, a physician, began his account:

“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.” – Luke 1:1‭-‬4 NRSV

“Then He [JESUS] said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the SON of MAN, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the SON of MAN be in His day. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.” – Luke 17:22‭-‬24‭, ‬33 NRSV

We should give serious thought to who we listen to, whether on the nightly news or in the pulpit on Sunday, or on social media, 24/7. What is the real TRUTH? Are we listening to GOD’s Truth or the half-truths and lies of the world? I try to follow Luke’s example and investigate, but we all fall victim to the propaganda and outright lies being promoted, at least part of the time. A couple of days ago, we had the opportunity to vote for a number of political offices. For months beforehand, there was a huge amount of rhetoric (i.e. lies and halftruths) that went on from the candidates, their PAC’s, and the groups who supported – or opposed – them. Lines were drawn between parties, and I think people failed to look at the candidate’s records, choosing from emotion rather than fact. As a result, I believe our country lost people who were much better suited for the job at hand than some who were elected. We desperately need to look to GOD for guidance through His Word, rather than looking to the news pundits; the Talking Heads.

JESUS is coming back, I believe sooner rather than later. The earth and all of her people, all of humankind, are in the throes of great trials and tribulations. Just look around! Research it! Matthew 24:4-29 describes how bad things will get here on earth, and it is all happening now. John was a great reporter, and in his book of Revelations, chapters 6-18, he tells in detail everything that will occur before JESUS returns, and in Revelations 19 reveals how JESUS returns:

“Then I [the Apostle John] saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its Rider is called Faithful and True, and in Righteousness He Judges and makes war. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name inscribed, “KING of kings and LORD of Lords.” ” – Revelation 19:11‭, ‬16 NRSV

What does this all mean to me? It means that I need to take everything I hear and carefully weigh it against GOD’s Holy Word, the Bible. I need to be quiet and listen, try to discern the truth behind the rhetoric, and look to the recorders of Truth. Remember this:

Do Whatever He Tells You

Have you ever considered the life of Mary, the girl whom the Almighty Creator, GOD of the Universe chose to be the mother of His Son on earth? This girl, probably a teenager, who believed and followed Him without question? The angel of the LORD came to her – not in a dream, but while she was awake and she knew it was real!

“And he [the angel of the LORD] came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The LORD is with you.” ” – Luke 1:28 NRSV

I would have fainted, straight out! Not Mary. She listened to the message, and thought about it before answering – that’s not my strong suit, to ponder a thing before reacting or responding. She did wonder at the message, even asking the angel, “How can this be…?” That’s more like me – I want to know the What, the Why, the How?

Because she believed, and accepted GOD’s Will in her life – even though it looked impossible to her – she knew the Truth about her son, JESUS, from the moment of His conception, and steadfastly believed in Him throughout His life. When others scoffed, she praised. When He was tortured and killed, she cried for His pain. She supported everything He did with His life. His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
John 2:5 NRSV

Oh, to have faith like Mary, and to be able to say to myself, without reservation, “I will do whatever He tells me.” Easy to say; difficult to put into action for me, because I’m a ‘bottom line” kind of person. I want to see the whole picture before I commit. How does it affect me personally? Our GOD doesn’t work that way…. or maybe He does, and in our human-ness we just can’t see it? What I forget is that He is watching out for me, not sometimes, but all of the time. He knows the bottom line, and He knows the turmoil, the frustration, and the sorrow we are dealing with. I forget that I am not alone, ever. He is with me to catch me when I fall, steady me when I stumble, and pick me up when I can no longer walk.

Is today a bad day? Are you frustrated, almost to tears? Are you worried to the point of being sick? Lately, I’ve had several of those days. Besides having a running conversation with GOD, what can we do? I recite the first couple of lines from the 23rd Psalm, “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” and sing with Hillary Scott and the Scott family “Thy Will Be Done.” The anxiety may still be there, but I find a wonderful Peace when I let GOD take the fear. “What A Friend We Have In JESUS,” sung by Matt Maher – great reminder!!

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but My Steadfast LOVE shall not depart from you, and My Covenant of Peace shall not be removed, says the LORD, Who has Compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:10 NRSV

Forever and ever, AMEN.

Image from http://www.fanpop.com

It’s That Time, Again

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance ….. ” – James 1:2‭-‬3 NRSV

Tomorrow, we vote. At least, I hope and pray we all do! Do we vote our conscience, do we vote party-line, do we vote the politically correct way – or do we skip it altogether because we don’t like the choices? I think that for the followers of CHRIST it has become a battle to know the ‘right’ way to vote. Negative political ads flourish on television and social media, every candidate trying to destroy their opponent’s credibility. Often, it comes down to picking the lesser of the two evils as presented. These are indeed times of trial for us. We cannot, unfortunately, take anyone at their word. It’s a definite challenge to “consider it [ALL] joy,” when it appears to be more of a time to weep.

I know who I will vote for. I have done the research, I have spoken with candidates when possible, I have talked with friends who might know the candidate, and I have prayed. Read the rest of these verses from James:

“…. because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask GOD, Who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the LORD.” – James 1:2‭-‬8 NRSV

I admit to being frightened by so much of the current rhetoric and hate being spewed out across all of the media. The reality is that these United States are being dragged into an exceedingly liberal, socialist time. Regard for Christians is falling rapidly as we embrace diversity in everything, including religion (except Christianity!), and especially the religion of “ME.” Selfishness abounds and is rampant in our so-called heroes of the day. The honor and respect for patriots, our armed forces, and our leaders is rapidly waning as Hollywood and pro-athletes and liberal politicians take over.

What can I as an individual do? Pray. Vote. Most of all, I must bow to GOD’s superior Will, realizing that it may not be what I see as the best for my country….. but that doesn’t mean I will just lie down and let my country go to hell in a handbasket! No matter what happens tomorrow, or in the next election, or the next, I know this without a doubt: GOD WILL PREVAIL IN THE END. There will be much tribulation, and many trials, for CHRIST-followers before our LORD returns, including the rise to power by the Liberal Socialism being touted as the answer to those trials. [Side note: L.S. is NOT the answer! Only JESUS.]

Don’t lay down, and don’t be complacent. Listen to Carrollton sing “Made For This” from their album “Made For This.” Ask GOD, and ask in Faith, never doubting. In the end, Satan loses. How do I know? Because my LORD promises the defeat and destruction of all of the Enemy’s handiwork. (Read the “back” of the Book, Revelations.) Amen!

The NAME

“The Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name in a curse. And they brought him to Moses—now his mother’s name was Shelomith, daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan— and they put him in custody, until the decision of the Lord should be made clear to them.” …… “Take the blasphemer outside the camp; and let all who were within hearing lay their hands on his head, and let the whole congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying: Anyone who curses God shall bear the sin. One who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer. Aliens as well as citizens, when they blaspheme the Name, shall be put to death.” – Leviticus 24:11‭-‬12‭, ‬14‭-‬16 NRSV

Walk around any public venue today, and you will hear GOD’s Name used every way possible, except in Praise. Blasphemy isn’t a term we hear or use much anymore, but that is exactly what we are doing. I’ve had my stint at cursing, and was good enough at it to make people reel at my words (years ago, and it was a terrible habit to overcome). Despite the garbage coming out of my mouth, subconsciously my mind prevented me from cursing GOD directly. Even in those days of shaking my fist at Him, I feared His wrath. WHY, do you think, that so many people curse GOD, but you rarely hear Satan’s name used to curse? Perhaps we are afraid of him, but primarily, I believe it’s because the enemy is already cursed and he encourages blasphemy as part of his plan to subvert us.

Judging from the current language standards, I’d say that the enemy is succeeding in a huge way. It has become the norm to curse and be disrespectful of the LORD; so much so, that we hear it from newscasters, athletes, politicians, teachers, actors, and bosses; on tv and in movies. Even people professing JESUS as LORD use foul language as part of their every day, ‘normal’ speaking patterns. I shudder to think of all those people (including myself) facing the Day of Judgement and confessing our use – no, our misuse – of our language, especially for those who don’t have an Advocate in JESUS. This verse from Proverbs states it well:

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.” – Proverbs 13:20 NRSV

We have to determine who we will walk through life with. Most, if not all, of us chooses badly at some point in our lives, or maybe many times, like I did. Without choosing JESUS as our primary partner in life, I’m not even sure it’s possible to walk with the wise, but I can testify to the folly of keeping company with fools! Do you choose life with the companionship and wisdom of the LORD, or are you past all that and making your own choices? I promise you, choosing to walk through life with JESUS may seem to be more difficult than life without Him, but the Peace and Joy – and Mercy! – more than compensates for our difficulties. The thought of having a Glorious Eternity with Him keeps me going!

Are you confident of your eternity? Take a Salvation check – are you ready? Let’s be Radical Christians together.

“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have Eternal LIFE. “For GOD so loved the world that He gave His Only SON, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” – John 3:14‭-‬16 NRSV

Image credit: http://www.charlesspecht.com

Do As I Say….

So JESUS said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but GOD knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the Sight of GOD.” – Luke 16:15 NRSV

When we don’t fear GOD, we leave a vacuum to be filled by self and the enemy. Luke 16:19–31 is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man – did you know that the name ‘Lazarus’ literally means ‘GOD helps/has helped’? And that this parable is the only one JESUS told where He named the characters? The parable is a way to compare lifestyles and determine if we are living as the LORD would have us live, and if we are hearing – and spreading – the Gospel. The rich man, being tormented and in agony after his death, begs Father Abraham to send Lazarus back to his family to tell them to repent. This is how Abraham answered:

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” – Luke 16:31 NRSV

I believe that JESUS is speaking of His own approaching death and Resurrection. How many thousands; how many millions of people have done/still do just as the rich man, ignoring JESUS in our everyday lives? Are we more concerned about the feasting and partying and our appearances, than we are about those surrounding us who are struggling and in need? We are our own worst enemies in life. We allow selfishness (GUILTY!) to rule our lives, sowing disharmony, discord, dishonesty, and dissension all around us. We live by he “Do as I say, not as I do” rule. Read Exodus 22, especially verse 25. It’s about selfishness.

“Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” – Ephesians 4:26‭-‬27 NRSV

“We can be angry and not sin when we are angry at sin.” – Pastor Mark Hitchcock. Even justified anger can be sin when we use it to attempt to judge others. (Again, GUILTY.)

So [Nehemiah] said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our GOD, to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?” – Nehemiah 5:9 NRSV

It can be a hard lesson to realize how much of the world’s ways we have accepted into our lives. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “keeping up with the Jones’s” and allowing the desires of our hearts to turn from GOD to the selfishness modeled by so many people who claim the name “Christian” but don’t live it. If they can do/have/say it, it must be okay for me to follow their example, right? No, it’s a recipe for disaster with our LORD. He doesn’t tolerate being second in our lives; He is all or nothing, never-ending, ALL-Powerful, and ALMIGHTY.

On my face before Him, Loved by Him despite my constant fails, I say, so be it in my life, LORD, Your Will be done. Amen.

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Illumination from the Codex Aureus of Echternach, 1035-1040, German National Museum, Nürnberg. Top panel: Lazarus at the rich man’s door Middle panel: Lazarus’ soul is carried to Paradise by two angels; Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom Bottom panel: Dives’ soul is carried off by two devils to Hell; Dives is tortured in Hades.

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