I Hate Her / Him

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:22‭-‬24 NASB

“The life we live today will determine the life we will live for eternity.” Mark Hitchcock (Pastor, Faith Bible Church, Edmond OK)

Think about that for a minute. If I spend my time, my life, on earth holding a grudge against someone, hating them, how will that affect my eternal life? I know it can’t hurt my salvation, because that comes solely through God’s Mercy and Grace in Jesus Christ. It can, however, affect my eternal life.

Every person who has accepted Christ as their Saviour enters into an undeniable, unbreakage relationship with the Creator Father. We are saved from damnation with the enemy for all of the ages. That is indisputable. The question of all time is what will it be like, and how will we be when we get to that glorious place called heaven? Does how we live on earth affect our lives in heaven? The Apostle Paul thinks it will:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 9:24‭-‬25 NASB

“….. for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NASB

We are striving for an imperishable wreath, or crown, in our lives. One that will be rewarded to us at the Bema Seat when we first see Jesus, and that will stay with us throughout eternity. Those people I want to hate because of their actions – is it worth it to lose out in my relationship with Jesus Christ? Is it worth losing out on the rewards He wants to give me? Turn them over to Jesus. Lay them at His Feet. Let Him deal with their lies, betrayals, ugliness. I don’t need that trash cluttering up either this life, or the next!

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Willful Disobedience

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of Grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine , I will repay.” And again, “the LORD will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26‭-‬31 NASB

We can know the truth, but sometimes in the moment (oftentimes?) the reality is that we think we know better and that what we are doing isn’t really a sin. Anytime – any time – we are willfully disobedient we sin. Did that strike a nerve? It did with me. I sin many times daily, but I don’t (usually!) consciously choose to do so. If I know the risk, and do it anyway, is that being willfully disobedient? If I choose badly, no, when I choose badly, especially in big decisions, my body immediately tells me. My stomach clenches. I get crazy butterflies….. or an angry swarm of bees….. in my gut. An indescribable ache starts up betweenmy eyes. Then when the error manifests itself and becomes obvious, my heart drops and fear tries to overtake me.

My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your Love….. I could listen to this, and sing along with Josh Baldwin, all day, but right now, my heart is on the floor, and Mercy Me’s lyrics to Even If resonant within me.
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

It is well with my soul. I know it, but I can’t feel it. I know to let God lead. His hands are holding me, no matter what. I know this, but right now I don’t feel it, and that’s on me. All He can do is offer. It’s up to me to accept His help. Amen.

Grace, Compassion, and Justice equal Blessings

“Therefore the LORD longs to be Gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have Compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of Justice; How Blessed are all those who long for Him.” – Isaiah 30:18 NASB

GOD waits on me. He waits on you.

Did you understand that statement? GOD waits on you. He is waiting on me.

Reading the scriptures, the Words of the Living GOD never fail to amaze me. The Truths that are written so matter-of-factly. The miracles. The history. The Almighty Creator put these words into the hands and the mouths of men who put them on paper, so that thousands of years later the words would be here for us to see. Depending on the source you use, some 35-40 actual men put words on paper (or clay or papyrus or parchment) over a period spanning as much as 3400 years. From the very beginning of time, we know there is a Triune God Who loves His creation, and Who made us, humanity, to be with Him. We also know that He gave us the ability through the gift of free will to choose whether we want to be with Him, or without Him. Even when we choose to go our own way, He patiently waits on us.

Who do we think we are that we make the CREATOR wait on us?

What arrogance. What conceit! And yet, He still waits; He even longs for us. Do you remember falling in love? That giddiness you felt in their presence; the longing to be with that person? Just to hear their voice, or to get a note or text? Multiply that a thousand times, and we might get close to knowing how much our LORD longs for us. I’m impatient. I don’t like waiting. I want my love to be here now. I don’t want to wait, and I’m not inclined to be gracious or compassionate about the wait. Isn’t that just like us, though? We want what we want now…… while our GOD waits patiently, graciously, and compassionately for us.

He offers us the shelter of His Mighty wings. His angel army watches over us. The more we learn about the LORD, the more protection we gain from the enemy. How Blessed we are to call Him LORD!!

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalms 91:1 NASB

Image from Pinterest.com.

Know My Heart

O LORD, You know my heart!

And OH, what a scary thought that is at times! He knows my desires. He knows my heart. He knows my thoughts before they are even formed. He knows them all; the good, the bad, the ugly, and He still Loves me.

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. ………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. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. ………Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” – Psalms 139:1‭-‬6‭, ‬13‭-‬18‭, ‬23‭-‬24 NASB

Too bad we humans can’t be that way. Not to know each other’s every thought (how scary would that be!), but to love each other without regard for their thoughts. For me, the radical conservative, that looks like loving the raging liberal without judgement; not letting their views on socialism and my Saviour turn my regard into hate. It means that regardless of whether their actions and/or their behaviors disgust me, I will love them, just like JESUS loved me.

Even before I began as a simple zygote in my mother’s womb, GOD knew me and loved me. He knew how I would be as a child. He knew I would come to love Him as a child and young adult, and He knew precisely how, when, and for how long I would turn away from Him – and He loved me anyway. He knows to the second how long my life on earth will be. He knows that even now, as I write about how much He loves me, I struggle with the idea that He can love me, a sinner who continues who stumble and fall through life.

Why does He love us much? Why? We constantly – and continually – disappoint and hurt Him, sometimes inadvertantly, but oftentimes deliberately. We keep doing the things that we know are wrong. We desire things that aren’t good for us. We reject His Son and His sacrifice….. and He keeps on loving us.

AMAZING GRACE. Sweet Mercy. Unconditional Love.

I don’t understand why GOD, the Supreme and Mighty, All-powerful and All-encompassing, Creator, puts up with us puny little creatures who stand on the earth He created as we shake our collective fist at Him. I would have destroyed mankind eons ago and stuck with dogs and horses. They are much easier to deal with! Yet in spite of our rhetorical fist waving, God loved us – Loves us – enough to make the ultimate sacrifice. He sent His Son Jesus to live among us, to teach us, and to die for our sins so that we could have eternal life with Him.

Amazing Grace.

He knows your heart. Do you know His?

Grow In Grace

The group Kutlass sings King of My Heart:
Let the King of my heart Be the mountain where I run, The Fountain I drink from, Oh, He is my song!

Let the King of my heart Be the shadow where I hide, The ransom for my life, Oh, He is my song!

We grow in Grace when JESUS is the King of our hearts. He helps us grow in our spirit when we submit to His leading. What does that look like? Start by believing the Gospel with your whole heart. We need to connect with the church – other believers – in order to grow. We can’t do it on our own. Another big part of growing Grace is to serve others.

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” – Romans 12:4‭-‬5 NASB

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,” – Hebrews 3:13‭-‬14 NASB (also v.12)

We won’t know, we CAN’T know, God intimately until we are connected to a body of believers, encouraging and being encouraged every day, in person, with meaningful contact between us. Intentional community is critical to our spiritual help and to our growth in Grace. Our intentional community also serves to shield us from the world’s influence. To learn and know the Gospel, we NEED other Christians for the safety we find in their presence, and to give us the time we need. Unlike in the world, there should be no pressure within the body of believers.

If we aren’t growing, progressing in the fruits of the Spirit, there’s a problem. We are constantly being deceived and tricked (stunted in our growth, selfish and self-centered) by the enemy that community/church is not necessary. Wrong. There is NO NEUTRAL in the Christian life! We are either growing or shrinking and being pulled away. I like how C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, puts it:

“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen .” – 2 Peter 3:17‭-‬18 NASB

How do we grow in Grace? By grasping how unworthy we are – Amazing Grace. If you identify as the wretch, if s*(manure) happens – and it will, and if you see yourself as unworthy of God’s Grace, you are probably growing in grace. We grow through an increased knowledge of God’s Word – the WHOLE story, not just bits and pieces, connecting the stories into a unified whole. We need Expository teaching – how to relate the Bible to today, and how to study the Bible; teaching that is about Jesus, and not focused on the preacher/teacher. It’s all about HIM, not us. Glory belongs to Him. Be Passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Growth and maturity is about Him. He is most glorified when we seek the Fame and Glory of Jesus Christ. Faith in Him. His Glory.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” – Romans 6:1‭-‬2 NASB

My Saviour’s Love

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 NASB

In 1905, Charles H. Gabriel wrote these words:

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus
the Nazarene
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous!
How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!
For me it was in the garden He prayed:
“Not My will, but Thine.”
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous!
How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!
He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary and
Suffered and died alone.
When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
’twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of His love for me!
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous!
How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!
How marvelous!
How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!

It’s really hard for me to speak the words to this hymn. They strike a cord deep within my soul; the depth of feeling chokes me up. I am so amazed that Jesus could love me – me, a sinner. It’s hard, no, almost impossible, for me to comprehend.

He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.

Think about those words! Jesus, the Son of GOD, didn’t cry because of the horrible experience He was about to undergo; He sweat drops of blood for me, a sinner, unclean, flawed, and wholly undeserving of His Mercy.

He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own; He bore the burden to Calvary and
Suffered and died alone.

My sins, my sorrows. Not His. Mine.

That last verse, though, WOW. When I get to see His Face, the voice that refuses to work here on earth will get to join the angels and the heavenly hosts, along with all of the other ransomed souls. We will raise our voices in Glorious Praise and Honor to our Saviour. His Love is so marvelous, so wonderful, so indescribable!

“To Him be the Glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:18b NASB

Can You Pay The Taxes Due?

(24) “When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax [the Temple tax; collected each year from every male over the age of 20**] came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” (25) He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” (26) When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.” – Matthew 17:24‭-‬26 NASB

** “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them.” – Exodus 30:12 NASB **

These verses tell us some incredible truths.

Jesus knows everything; He is Omniscient. He is the silent listener to every conversation. He spoke, before Peter had a chance to tell Him of the encounter. He already knew about it! He not only knows all, but He is in control of all, and He cares down to the tiniest details. In verse 25, He asks Peter for his opinion, just as He is always listening to ours.

Jesus is the Son of God, Ruler, King, and Head of the Church. He owns everything. Malachi 3:1b says “And the Lord, Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the Covenant, in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.” – Malachi 3:1 NASB

He already owns the Temple, so why should He pay this tax? He was exempt! Instead of arguing with the tax collectors, Jesus shows us His humility. He paid the tax to avoid offending the tax collectors. It is a wonderful example that He gives us, to forego His rights for the sake of others. The Jews paid ransom money (the Temple tax) as a substitute to going to Jerusalem and working in the Temple, and they paid the priests through their offerings to be sacrificed as the ransom for their sins. We’re exempt! Jesus pays the ransom for Peter here, just as He pays the ransom for us. We owe a ransom to God for our sin, but we are spiritually destitute. We can’t pay the taxes due – so Jesus paid it for us. JESUS pays all; He ransoms all, so we no longer need to!

“For there is ONE God, and ONE Mediator also between GOD and men, the man CHRIST JESUS, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” – 1 Timothy 2:5‭-‬6 NASB

That’s the BEST News ever!