How Great Thou Art!

How Great Thou Art! Powerful old hymn:

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

“Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment* [*BEMA] seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:9‭-‬10 NASB

God wants us to do well. He wants us to be rewarded….. throughout His Word, He gives us the instructions on how to gain these rewards. He tells us that whatever we treasure shows where our heart lies. Everything we have belongs to God, so the focus of life is not what we have here on earth, but should be on what we send ahead.

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” 1 Timothy 6:17‭-‬19 NASB

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19‭-‬21 NASB

The preacher Adrian Rodgers said “Don’t give what’s left over, give what’s right.” And “Don’t give till it hurts, give till it feels good.” (Paraphrased)

“And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42 NASB

Where is my treasure? Is it in front of me, so that I am heading towards it and heaven; or is it behind me and I am held back by it in the form of my earthly thoughts and goods? God expects an investment and a return on our TIME here on earth. There are several stories in scripture relating to a master entrusting his servants with money to see how they handle the stewardship and responsibility. That’s what God is doing with us; entrusting us with His world to see how we do. I haven’t been a very good steward throughout my life, but our gracious and Merciful LORD lets us start each day fresh. The Scottish preacher Thomas Chalmers said: “I had forgotten two magnitudes: I thought not of the littleness of time, and I recklessly thought not of the greatness of eternity.” Another, anonymous source said quite succinctly “When you kill time, there is no resurrection.”

“So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 90:12 NASB

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15‭-‬16 NASB

We are participating in rewards, partnering in ministry – we need to be intentional and thoughtful in our thoughts, our actions, and our prayers. Prayer is simply asking God for something.

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:5‭-‬6 NASB

Whatever you pray for, don’t give up. God’s “NO” is better than anyone’s “Yes.” A passionate prayer life shows trust and devotion. We each have our OWN race, no one else’s, but we aren’t running alone. Run to WIN. What is holding me back? Our “race,” our life, is our testimony to God.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of Faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the Right Hand of the Throne of GOD.” Hebrews 12:1‭-‬2 NASB

Are you in the race? The first step is the hardest, acknowleging that we are sinners (I am a sinner), and that we are totally reliant on the Mercy and Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. We are all equal at the foot of the cross!

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Let Us Make Man in Our Image

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:26‭-‬28 NASB

We are made in GOD’s image. Look in the mirror. What do you see? From whitest white to blackest black, and every shade of skin between, we are made in God’s image. Man or woman, we are made in God’s image. African, Asian, Pacific Islander, European, American (North or South), whatever continent or landmass you are from, we are all made in God’s image. It makes me crazy when people insist on separating us by color! I have sisters and brothers that don’t match my skin tone, but that doesn’t make our relationship any less. I saw a post online about two little girls who insist they are twins. They are not biologically related, and their skin color is quite the opposite, and that doesn’t matter at all to them. As far as they are concerned, they are twins.

Of course we are different culturally. That’s a given. I celebrate cultural diversity, and love getting to know different customs and culinary styles. It’s fascinating to see how different our customs can be even when we are in the same nation. From deep in Cajun country to the Navajo farmer to the California surfer there is probably as much or more cultural difference as between a Midwesterner to a Moscovite. But color? That’s a man-made distinction that doesn’t – shouldn’t – exist in God’s universe. We are all people of color, excepting albinos, who lack pigmentation in their skin. Even then, we could consider them the basis for all of the rest of us!

So what then, you ask?

As Christ followers, Christians, it is imperative that we lead the movement of taking “race” out of our vocabularies. My sisters Deborah and Brenda, who just happen to have different parents and darker skin colors than me, are still my sisters. They aren’t a different race. We are all part of, and full members of, the human race. Celebrate the diversity of skin colors and body shapes and unique faces that our Glorious God saw fit to populate our world with!

Can I get an AMEN, people!!

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Lest We Forget

July 4, 2019. 243 years ago, a group of men gathered, in secret, to forge ahead with actions that would end up costing many of them – literally – their fortunes and their lives. They did it in the name of freedom. Freedom from tyranny, freedom of religion, freedom to decide their own fates. Freedom to escape the rule of ‘class’. Were these men perfect? Far from it! Did they make mistakes? Absolutely! Yet they forged ahead, determined that their children and their children’s children and so on would have a place to live in freedom.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the People. No country, no nation before us was ever started with a Populous government! With all of the controversy over the Betsy Ross flag and Nike’s decision to pull their shoe that displayed it because it is a “slave” flag, let me refer to Article XIII of the Bill of Rights:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Was there slavery? Yes. It was in the form of both outright ownership of persons and indentured servitude. Was it against the Constitution? Yes, it was. Is it still occurring in the United States? Yes, I am sorry to say, although it is to a much lesser extent than in other countries. Our ancestors fought wars to prevent undue rule and unjust rule. The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War; WWI and WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afganistan, the Middle East….. We are still fighting over unjust practices and inhumane treatment. The Civil War wasn’t about slavery; it was about States rights!

What’s my point?

There will never be a perfect place to live on this earth, because humanity is flawed to the core. No man or woman is perfect, and we will all do and say offensive and stupid things. Bearing that in mind, and knowing that in these United States we are all responsible for ourselves, we are Blessed! What other country allows such blatant disrespect to it to flourish within it’s borders? Where else on earth can people publicly make fun of and disrespect their leader without experiencing dire consequences?

Since 1776, millions of men and women, United States citizens, have given everything for our freedom. There are currently hundreds, thousands, military personnel putting their lives on the line, every single day, for our freedom. Ditto for the Police officers, Sheriff departments, Border Patrol Agents, every type of Law Enforcement; all First Responders – Fire, EMT’s. Where else in the world do these freedoms and protections exist? Nowhere, to the extent of those in the United States.

It’s a day to be thankful. We can worship how and when we please, we can speak out – and act out – against our government in freedom.

GOD BLESS AMERICA.

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FREE GIFT

Who doesn’t like getting presents?

I mean, really! Someone hands you this beautiful gift; are you just going to set it down and ignore it? I have a nephew who takes his time, gently taking it apart so the paper and ribbon aren’t wrinkled or torn. Not me! I’m one of those people …… I have a hard time not ripping off the paper as soon as I have it in my hands! Whether you are a precise, patient unwrapper like my nephew, or an excited ripper like me, are you going to turn your back on the giver and the gift? You’d think not, but millions of people over the ages have done – and do – exactly that.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – ROMANS 6:23 NASB

Jesus Christ Himself told us “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – JOHN 3:16 NASB

Jesus, Son of the Father, Creator of the Universe, Almighty GOD, left His place at the Father’s side, to bring us the Gift of Salvation through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. We ignore that gift at our own peril!

“These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the Presence of the LORD and from the Glory of His Power, when He comes to be Glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed – for our testimony to you was believed.” – 2 THESSALONIANS 1:9‭-‬10 NASB

That gift is for you. Doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you have been; who you are, what you upbringing or social status might be. We all stand on equal ground at the foot of the cross. God alone knows what you’ve been through, and He still wants you. He is still standing with His Hand stretched out for you to grab hold of. What are you waiting for?

And Justice For All

Watch the Pledge of Allegiance, a word-by-word meaning explained by Red Skelton, on YouTube, recorded 14 January 1969….. and watch it all the way to the end. It’s only 4 minutes out of your day and totally worth it!

“For justice may be slow and invisible, but it always renders its true verdict in the end.” – Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

I am so blessed to live in this country where our Pledge of Allegience includes these words: “under GOD” and “with liberty and justice for all.” Is it true? Is there liberty and justice for all? Nope, not even close. But – why? Whose fault is it that we are so lacking in those two tenets? It’s very simple, really. This is a nation made up of human beings. We are not just, individually or collectively, thanks to our inherent sinful natures, but as a nation, we try. There is no other place in the world that has the freedoms that we have, and it is because of the strong Christian faith of the founders of our country. That said, it is also a country of severe injustice and prejudice. Those attitudes won’t ever be completely overcome as long as humans are in charge, and that is why it is so critical for us – the followers of the LORD JESUS CHRIST – to tell others of the Gospel. There will be JUSTICE FOR ALL in the end!

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.” – JAMES 5:7‭-‬12 NASB

Are you prepared for Justice to be meted out in your life? If I were to be judged on my own merit, I would be sent straight to hell. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, go straight to jail. I thank Jesus that He is my Advocate, and that He has covered my sins with His Blood. The scales of Justice will show every human to have ever lived as severely lacking….. It is only through the Grace, Love, and Mercy of our God, and through the Blood of Jesus that was shed for us that we won’t be consigned to hell. We may not see justice in our lifetime, or it may seem to be slow, but there will be Justice for all in the end. GOD will see to it.

Are you ready to face Him? Have you pledged allegiance to Him?

Betrayed

Who betrayed Jesus the most, Judas or Peter?

Both men loved and were loved by Jesus. We despise Judas for what he did, and we call anyone who betrays us a “Judas”. Does taking money for his betrayal make him worse than the one who swears allegiance and then denies Him? I’m not convinced that there is a “worse” between the two. We like to vilify Judas, and we praise Peter because of his missionary work after Jesus ascended. We know that Judas hung himself in remorse, and Peter went on to become a champion for Jesus. Does that make up for Peter’s betrayal?

Judas –

“When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” …… “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.” – JOHN 13:21,26‭ (“Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He. ” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them.” – JOHN 18:3‭-‬5)

Peter –

“Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.” – JOHN 13:26‭, ‬38 (Then the slave-girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” ….. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.” – JOHN 18:17‭, ‬25‭-‬27)

Judas felt deep remorse, so much that he couldn’t live with his conscience, and so he ended his life by hanging himself. Did he, in his guilt and shame, receive forgiveness? I hope he did. As heinous as his action in betraying his Lord, Judas did what was required of him to bring Jesus to the place of His sacrifice for our sins. He did as God ordained. Who am I to judge?

“Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.” – MATTHEW 27:3‭-‬5

Both men were separated from God by their actions. We can see from the scriptures that Peter received Mercy. Did Judas? Sometimes I feel like a Judas, knowing that things I have said and done in my life were motivated by money, and other times, like a Peter, denying knowledge of my Lord either by words or by omission. Do you ever feel like either of these men?

All scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

Stuck In The Muck and Mire

“But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – LUKE 22:21‭-‬22‭, ‬40 NASB

When I turned on the radio this morning, and a new song by Matthew West was playing. It’s called “Unplanned.” I was unplanned. My 2 younger sisters and my younger brother were unplanned. Should we then not be allowed to live? How many of you, my wonderful readers, were unplanned by your birth parents? I can’t hear the song without being brought to tears. What a slap in the face of the Creator it is each time an unwanted, unplanned baby is destroyed! We betray our Lord with each abortion that is performed. I supported the abortion industry for years until I realized exactly what I was supporting. I wasn’t supporting women’s rights, I was supporting a massive industry that was all about money. As a society, we are stuck in the muck and the mire of political correctness, in which there is very little that is correct.

“…. behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table…..”

That hand was my hand. Betraying the God of the Universe; betraying His Son, and putting His life on the line, just as we put the life of every single innocent baby on the line with each abortion performed. Jesus had to bear that sin on the cross!

Charles Spurgeon, one the greatest evangelists to ever live, said this, “for those claiming to be Christians, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper will also deceive you, if you rest your salvation on them; when you are near death you will find them too frail to be supports to bear the weight of an immortal soul’s eternal interests. It will be worthless when you lie dying, if your conscience prompts you to say, “I went to church or to prayer meetings so many times a week.” You will find it a poor dressing to your soul’s wounds to be able to say, “I made a profession of godliness.” Oh, your facade will all be torn away from you by the rough hand of the skeleton called “Death”; you will need a real Savior, vital godliness, true regeneration, not baptismal regeneration; you will need Christ, not sacraments; and nothing short of this will do “at the end.”

Are we merely claiming to be Christians, the Christians Charles Spurgeon talks about, resting our ‘Christianity’ on an outward show of rituals and attendance, or have we put Jesus in our hearts and our consciousness? Are we listening to our Lord apeak in our lives? I am a massive failure at hearing God in my life. Many times, I hear Him and then I do what I decide to do. I know one thing: I do not want to continue to be that hand on the table betraying my Lord! Abortion – or rather, the opposition of it – may not be your ‘sword’, but I believe it should be in every Christian’s arsenal.

Please hear this: There is forgiveness for having an abortion, or for having facilitated one (or hundreds). That doesn’t mean it’s okay to sweep our participation under the rug, so to speak. I am grateful I didn’t have an abortion, even though I was not prepared in any way to raise a baby*. I was blessed beyond measure that a family member was there to step in and adopt my child, and I know that there are hundreds of Christ-followers who would give almost anything to be able to have those unplanned, unwanted, babies. (*I wanted my baby, but was emotionally, physically, and financially unable to care for the child…. and the father was even more ill-equiped than I.)

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” – PSALMS 139:13‭-‬16 NASB

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” – ISAIAH 53:4‭-‬7 NASB

Jesus bore the weight of every single child lost through abortion. Like Him, they are lambs, and we are the sheep that are silent. We will do well to immitate Him. As Peter tells us,

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit ….. ” – 1 PETER 3:8‭-‬9‭, 12,18 NASB

Matthew West announced this song on Twitter with the following message, “As long as my God holds the world in His hands, I know there’s no such thing as Unplanned. Watch the music video for Unplanned from the @UnplannedMovie at the link below. https://t.co/hsd7HT0ruT pic.twitter.com/yg1bU2L3WN

Oh I don’t believe in accidents
Miracles, they don’t just happen by chance
As long as my God holds the world in his hands
I know that there’s no such thing as unplanned