All for one; ONE for All

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/gal.3.28.NASB1995

All for one. One race, the human race. Ordained by God, the Creator. He created Adam, then he created Eve, and he told them to go and procreate and populate the earth.

Because of Adam and Eve’s bad decision, human kind were banished from the garden and placed in the world ruled by the enemy. Not because God wanted us gone from the garden and His Presence, but because man chose to separate himself from it. That hurt God, and we have continued to hurt Him with our bad decisions ever since. But the ALMIGHTY God wasn’t going to let us, His finest creatures, created in His likeness, to be destroyed by the enemy. He sent His Son, His own being, to earth to atone for our sins. ONE for ALL; once for all.

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.8.38-39.NASB1995

All you need to do is accept His sacrifice, and you can never be separated from the LORD ever again.

My Shelter

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” … For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.”
Psalms 91:1‭-‬2‭, ‬11‭-‬12 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.91.1-12.NASB1995

Who do you rely on? Who do you trust? I mean really trust? There are a few people in my life whom I trust, but there is a caveat. As much as I love them and trust them, I recognize that in spite of that love and trust, they will put their wellbeing over mine. That’s okay, too. They are human. Their immediate families should be their focus. I don’t expect them to put themselves into harm’s ways to protect me. I love them in spite of that, and I don’t judge them for it. There is one upon whom I know I can always trust, always lean on, and always depend on. His name is Jesus. Name above all names.

Do you know Him?

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.5.8.NASB1995

He doesn’t require anything from us. He offers us a gift. A gift that is without obligation, at no cost to us. We use our own free will to either accept it or reject it. There is no in between; no place for indecision. He is reaching out to you. Will you take His hand and accept Him?

It’s Not About ME…

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3‭-‬9 NASB1995

If Jesus is Risen from the grave, nothing else matters. If Jesus isn’t Risen from the grave, nothing else matters. ME

Remember the hymn In Christ Alone? Verse 3 says Up from the grave He arose! Read John 20 “They saw the linen wrappings…” when wrapping a body, they would use 75# of spices in the linen cloths, which would solidify, causing a cocoon like effect. This “cocoon” was empty, and the head wrap was folded up at the place where Jesus’ head was laid!

Christ is the Living Hope. He is the cause of our faith: “Blessed* [Praise, thank] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a Living Hope …” (John chapter 3) Born again is the only kind of Christian there is. Saved by Grace. Receiving a new life through God is receiving your spiritual life. Born once die twice, born twice die once! The Core of our faith: “… through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, …” The angel said “He is not here; He is Risen!”

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ Love and Righteousness! He did not end at the grave!Jesus arose, Jesus lives, and Jesus is coming again. Our inheritance is death proof and fire proof.

HOLY Week

“And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” Mark 11:17 NASB1995 (read verses 11-20) Holy Week. Why is this particular week more Holy than last week, or next week, or any random week? Should we be treating it any differently than the other 51 weeks of the year? Should we be acting any differently this week than any other week? I’ve heard the reasons, and it’s a good thing to focus on the life of Jesus and the events leading to His death and resurrection. Shouldn’t we be focused on His resurrection every week? “Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.” 1 Kings 8:41‭-‬43 NASB1995 THIS. This verse is what this week, this season, is all about: “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 NASB1995 As Christians, let’s concentrate on the strangers; the people we don’t know, who we see in our church and in our daily lives. Make them welcome. How many times have you been in a situation where you didn’t know the people around you? That man or woman or child who is there by themselves might not really be ignoring you. They might be too shy or insecure to reach out. Reach out. Welcome them – sincerely – into God’s house, and continue beyond a single service. Help them feel like they have come home. If God loved us enough to send His Son Jesus to die for us, can’t we love enough to reach out a hand in friendship?

It’s a GOOD Day!

“…. and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 NASB1995

Good Friday! The day Jesus went to the cross. What makes it good? He went to the cross, and He took upon His shoulders the sin of the world. My sin; your sin. He died, yes, but it was an incredible death! Unlike when we die, Jesus didn’t go on to heaven and call it good. He took on sin and death and defeated them. How much more glorious can it be? He died, and He fought sin and death – and what a battle that must have been! – and then, He walked out of His grave! GLORIOUS!

Jesus said “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:28‭, ‬33 NASB1995

Because of His death, I am free to live. Are you? Have you accepted Him as your Saviour? Do it, today, before it’s too late!

What in the World?

A few days ago, I made a comment on social media.

“A German dramatist named Schiller in a play he wrote, said “Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.” I don’t believe in “gods”, but I am thankful that GOD is in control and all of the stupidity – on both sides – will end when He is ready for it to end.”

This is a response I received:

“So you are waiting for your god to end everything and all will be well? If your god is in control, it is doing a damn poor job for everyone.”

Are we waiting for our ‘god’ to end everything? I’m not waiting for Him to end things as much as I am waiting for Him to begin things! It isn’t fair to blame God for the state of our world. We did this, not God. Eons ago, when He created man and placed him in the Garden, God gave him free will. We choose what direction we go in. We choose who we go with. We have the choice of choosing a life of the world, or a life with Him.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.” Psalms 133:1‭-‬3 NASB1995

A blessed life, a good life. We had a guest speaker for Sunday services January 31, Dr. Jonathan Murphy of Dallas Theological Seminary (and hailing from Northern Ireland originally). What he spoke on meshed with the thoughts I had begun here, and I’ve incorporated some of his thoughts into this.

We all know that life can change from blessed to bleak in a microsecond…. How often have you started out a day feeling good about your life, only to have something happen that throws you into a rage? The dog throws up all over the floor just as you are (trying) to leave for work. The kid drops or spills something, making a huge mess. Your spouse says something about your appearance, and it just goes all wrong. The store clerk completely messes up your order.

I love this poem Dr. Murphy quoted:

“To live above with the saints above

Wouldn’t that be Glory

But I live below with the saints I know

And that’s a different story”

– Dr. Mark Hitchcock

Doesn’t that just sum it up perfectly! We want to enjoy the blessings of great relationships in harmony, and from harmony, but that desire isn’t always realistic. It’s something we have to work at. Psalms 133 is a beautiful example of a life to strive for; in fact, the NASB calls it The Excellency of Brotherly Unit.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.” Psalms 133:1‭-‬3 NASB1995

It begins with “Behold” – that is David, saying, “LOOK, watch God’s vision for us! Pay attention here!” He wants us to have harmony in our lives. Look at Genesis 1:1-2. God created harmony. “And it was good….” The wording of the psalmist is very specific “….how good and how pleasant ….” Living in harmony includes diversity, and is pleasurable in God’s design. The High Priest Aaron was the holiest person known at that time, and he represented all people in front of God. Here, he is being prepared head to toe with the precious oil, just as in John 12 and Mark 14, when Jesus is bathed in costly perfume. Harmony = sacred service to God. The “dew of Hermon” symbolizes moisture coming down to the dry lower regions of the land, soothing and refreshing; life giving. Verse three completes the circle with verse one: “For there* (in harmonious relationships) the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.” For there – on the mountain of Zion, Jerusalem, where everyone, is in harmony when Jesus Christ, our ultimate High Priest, our only Mediator, Who prays over us, will return and bring life forevermore.

God does not bless squabbling and dissension.

When we fix our eyes on our High Priest Jesus Christ we want to behave and live like Him.

In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus!

Friends, Christians, listen. Spiritual warfare is REAL. Spiritual warfare is not visible, it is obscured; it is well organized, and it is constant.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10‭-‬12 NASB1995 (read 13-18, too!)

These demonic spirits are in every place of power today, including the US Capitol. We are in an all out attack. Read Genesis: God created TWO genders, male and female – two genders, brought together in marriage. This is a fundamental truth that is being denigrated and ridiculed today, from the office of the president on down. How can a Christ follower support someone who is for “gender neutrality” and killing babies in the womb?

Make no mistake, Satan is alive and active. His goal is to obstruct Christians. No matter what he does, though, he cannot keep our prayers from reaching God! Delays to our prayers can be because of the warfare, where demons are fighting to keep angels from bringing us answers, but not because God isn’t listening or answering. As the end draws near, the demonic presence will intensify. Want the prophecy? Read Daniel 9.

This is the TRUTH: We overcome through Jesus Christ! We don’t fight FOR victory, we fight FROM victory. Stand firm. Jesus defeated satan at the cross. We are fighting from the position of victory and we CANNOT be defeated. Remember this! It will be actualized at the second coming. Meanwhile, satan is out on bail…. Each of us is bound in the snare of the devil, ONLY until we receive Jesus Christ into our life. We can ONLY be strong IN the LORD. The Armor of God IS Jesus.

Our mission is to further the proclamation of the victory of the LORD.

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NASB1995

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, ” Ephesians 6:18 NASB1995

“SUBMIT THEREFORE TO GOD. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NASB1995

A.W. Tozer “It is not the praying sheep that satan fears, it is the Shepherd.” I pray that The Good Shepherd, the Lion of Judah, our LORD Jesus Christ, comes back soon!

“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. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16‭-‬18 NASB1995

Accept Him today, because this is the most important decision of your life!

It’s FINALLY Over

“For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the LORD, that he will instruct Him ? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:11‭, ‬14‭-‬16 NASB1995

What a year this has been. I don’t need to recap it; too many others are already taking that on. Just like every year since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden, 2020 has been crammed full of deceitfulness, lies, misunderstandings, cheating, backstabbing…. if man could do it, he did. Just because the year is over at midnight tonight, don’t expect tomorrow to be any different. We still live in a fallen world that won’t see any substantial change until our LORD Jesus Christ returns.

Does that depress you? Does it mean that we have no reason to live each day?

Not at all! As Christians, we aren’t constrained within the thought processes of natural man, because through Christ, we are super natural. We are beyond this world! Oh, we still have to live here and deal with the natural world and all of it’s defects, but we don’t need to be bogged down in the details. Even though the enemy has temporary power and control in the earth, our GOD has control over our spirits! The enemy can manipulate our surroundings and events in our lives to try and make us miserable, but it’s all temporary. Our bodies will return to the dust they were made from, but our souls, our very beings, cannot be touched by that snake when we belong to Jesus Christ – Creator, LORD of the Universe, Saviour of all who love Him, and our Friend.

Start the new year of 2021 on a high note by allowing Him into your heart. There is NO better friend! Come as you are, “warts and all”. Jesus is waiting for you with open arms, my friend.

In The Storms

Michael W. Smith, in his devotional Still, writes this:

Recently when I went to the mountains, they were hidden by a thick layer of smoke from wildfires. Their beauty was concealed. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t see them! Then the next day it began to rain. The temperature suddenly dropped and the rain turned to snow. The strong winds blew the snowflakes around in heavy swirls. It looked like a blizzard in September! When the storm cleared away, the mountains were revealed in striking beauty. The smoke was gone. The trees and mountaintops were blanketed in white.
The following day, the snow melted and the green appeared. The birds sang, the creek flowed, and the sun warmed us. As the land appeared to wake from death to life, God spoke to me and awakened my heart.

What a beautiful and apt analogy of the some of the things we go through in our lives. We can be in the midst of the ‘fire’, in complete darkness and chaos in our lives, smothering in smoke and flame, thinking things can’t be any worse. We want to give up in despair and hopelessness. Then the rains come. These can be soothing, healing rains, dousing the flames and giving us hope, or it can be a deluge, causing us to feel as though the last of our hope is being washed away. Life can turn into a blizzard of confusion, where we can’t see our hand in front of our face, lost and not knowing where it is safe to step. Am I on the path, or am I about to step off a precipice?

God is there. He is with us throughout these disasters.

In a fire, even with all of their protective equipment and training, people who fight fires can get burned, sometimes badly. Fire can be deadly, even to the most well trained firefighters.

In floods, rescuers wear flotation gear and take precautions, yet some are injured or killed every year.

In blizzards and storms, in avalanches, rescuers have specialized gear and training, and still some sustain injuries and death.

The LORD God is our protection. He is our trainer. His Book provides us the training we need, and the Holy Spirit provides our protection. Learning God’s Word outfits us with our armor, the protective gear that we need to survive the attacks of the enemy.

I feel like a majority of my life has been spent in the fires and the storms of life, without a lot of calm. Many poor decisions on my part have contributed to this, and because of the long reaching consequences of some of those choices, I don’t expect that my life will ever be ‘easy’. Even knowing this, there are many opportunities for me to see the smoke clearing, the rain ceasing, and the beauty of God’s Creation. The green appears. The birds sing, the creeks flow, and the sun warms me. The land – my land, my life, wakes from apparent death to life; God speaks to me and awakens my heart to His Beauty. I may forget, momentarily, but He always reminds me.

For the last few days, my city and state have endured an historic ice storm. Thousands of trees (and consequently vehicles and houses) have been utterly crushed and destroyed. Fierce winds have broken branches and snapped telephone and electric lines. Thousands are still without power. Millions of dollars in damage. Where is the good in this? How can God possibly use this?

Even before the first 24 hours were up, people were posting on social media that they were willing and available to help anyone who needed it, to remove branches, cut down trees, carry debris to the curb. That’s the Spirit moving! Even non-Christians are caught up in it, even if they don’t understand it. What an opportunity for God’s people. In the middle of our personal storms, we have the opportunity to reach out to others and show God’s Love.

The temperature is rising, the rain is stopping, and the sun is coming out. Today will be a good day.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord , ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NASB1995

I don’t know God’s plans for you. I don’t even know what His plans are for me! What I do know is this. I have to rely on Him, because without Him, I am utterly and completely lost.

ALL LIVES MATTER

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13‭-‬14 NASB

I’m so tired of seeing my nation, my world, being divided by color of skin. We are Americans. Not African or Irish or Chinese or Mexican or Italian or any other country. We can’t let politicians, who are really only interested in themselves, divide us! Seriously, people! If you hold dual citizenship with another country, then by all means identity with it! Any British-Americans? German-American? Guyana-Americans? See what I mean? I honestly don’t understand why someone wants to self identify as part of a country other than the one they were born in, unless they want to move to that country to live. African-American is very widely used and claimed by hundreds of thousands of Americans. Why? Are they or their parents from Africa? Besides which, Africa isn’t even a country. It’s a continent. I know, we Americans have appropriated the name of the continent we are on as the name of our country, but understand that the world also refers to citizens of the United States as Americans. Are people from Ethiopia considered African, or Ethiopian? Kenyan, or African? Ugandan, or African? See the question?

Racism is promoted and perpetuated by the insistence of some people to identify as anything other than as Americans. I really don’t understand. I was actually polled the other night (a first!) and when asked what race I was, I answered “American.” I know it’s not a race, but neither is African-American. I should have answered “human”, because there is only one race. Sure, we have thousands of cultures and as many colors, but there is only one race, human. It would behoove us all to grasp onto that fact.

I love my country and the melting pot that it is. I will continue to pray for my country and that somehow, people will see through all this “racial” divisiveness, and I will do everything in my power to defend my country from our enemies, both within and without. Celebrate the diversity of all of our beautiful skin colors and cultural differences, but, please, don’t fight over them!

Jesus is the answer. The only answer. Come to Him today. Jesus said:

“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 NASB