Freedom

Charles Stanley wrote about surviving “the wait” with courage. He says “Continued delays can be disheartening, especially when circumstances don’t go your way or your burdens become too heavy to carry. Most likely, you’ve experienced heartbreaking occasions before—devastating disappointments that have robbed you of the last of your strength and resolve. The days, weeks, months, and sometimes years go by without any answers to your prayers. The illness, financial difficulty, conflict, loneliness, uncertainty, or need persists. You struggle, feeling the overwhelming temptation to give in to utter despair and fall back into destructive habits.”

I’ve been there. I sometimes feel as though I have spent my entire life there, waiting. Sometimes patiently, but mostly impatiently. The years I’ve spent waiting for answers, through my husband’s illnesses, financial difficulties, so many conflicts; through loneliness and uncertainty.

“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 6:12 NASB

We sang this old hymn written by Isaac Watts in 1708 on Sunday. It’s still a great reminder of what we are waiting for, and of our security while we wait.

Our God, Our Help in Ages Past –
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home;
2 Under the shadow of thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.
3 Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting thou art God,
To endless years the same.
4 A thousand ages in thy sight
Are like an evening gone,
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.
5 Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
6 O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.
(Paraphrased from Psalm 90)

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16‭-‬18 NASB

Exodus tells of the Israelites leaving Egypt. They had been in slavery for 430 years, but their bondage was all they knew and it was comfortable. We are like that. Our sin is comfortable. Our despair is comfortable. It’s often easier to stay in bondage than to change it, but Jesus has come to redeem us, to loose each of us from our shackles, our bondage, the oppression of sin. It is just as true now as what Moses said then, “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” Exodus 14:14 NASB

In Exodus 14:20, God LITERALLY put a barrier between the camps so that the Egyptians cannot attack the Israelites. GOD is working out their salvation; it was nothing that the Israelites did or could do, just as OUR salvation is nothing that we can do. Standing at the edge of death, God creates the way so we can escape death. We are called to live under His Covenant. He has led us through the waters and to our salvation. We are SET FREE from bondage to sin, we are SAVED from the consequences of sin, and we are SPOKEN FOR by the God of the Universe.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NASB

I may not be free of these things I’ve dealt with during my life until the day I die, but I pray that someone, somewhere, might have seen my struggle and realized that my goal is not of this world. I pray that they might see the One God, and the One Mediator in the person of Jesus Christ Who is taking care of me. I’m a terrible example of a Christian, so it will have to be the work of the Holy Spirit!

What Is Important To You?

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace ….” Romans 8:6 NASB

My thoughts and desires – my “needs” (okay, my WANTS) often consume my thoughts so that nothing else seems to matter. That is death. Lord, help keep my mind on what’s REALLY important, especially when it seems to be impossible.

Pastor Wayne Cordeiro said “I don’t have to tie myself to an imaginary, unrelenting cycle to produce more, make more or try to outdo last week’s numbers. I have just so much time in the day, and I want to do what I can with all my heart involved. When the clock runs out, then I’ll say, “Come back tomorrow, and I’ll have more.”

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NASB

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:15‭-‬19 NASB

The New Earth

“But the Day of the LORD will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of GOD, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:10‭-‬13 NASB

What an intense passage! This is the only passage where the end of the world is described. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief: after the Tribulation and the 1000 year reign, the earth and heavens will be remade. Read chapters 21-22 of Revelations. This will not be an “edit” of the earth, but a total re-make. In the above passage Peter says “the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat.” Literally, the atoms, the building blocks of the Universe, will become a cosmic conflagration, causing complete destruction of the earth and the heavens. God made it, He will destroy it, and He will re-make it all perfectly.

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” Revelation 20:11 NASB

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.” Revelation 21:1 NASB

The earth will be new in quality and nature. What a thought! (Read all of chapter 21.)

The Day : it’s on God’s calendar; it will happen. In history, “the day of the Lord” refers to when an entire military campaign took place in one day, so any time God intervenes directly and decisively is a day of the LORD. The day referred to here by Peter is THE Day, like D-Day, only amplified at least a million times! In 1 Thessalonians 5, we are told that the Day of the LORD will come like a thief in the night, and in Matthew 24 “…..even so, the Son of Man is coming like a thief in the night…..” This means any day, any moment. No one knows or can predict the exact time.

So what should we be doing while waiting? I like the way our pastor says it: Clean up, Look up, Speak up. Living holiness and godliness in plural, living them over and over. When you fail, and we all will fail, because we are sinful humans, confess it and move on. MARANATHA; “our LORD comes. We can speed up the coming of the day of the LORD by speaking up through preaching, teaching, evangelism, mission, prayer, and godly living. Live for the Eternal. When Jesus returns, let us be found doing our job; our duty.

“I have not written to you because you do not know the Truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the Truth. Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is Righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” 1 John 2:21‭, ‬28‭-‬29 NASB AMEN.

Every Good Thing; It’s Simple

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from Above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27‭-‬30 NASB

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:7‭, ‬9‭-‬10 ESV

“But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart , ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss ?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart ” – that is, the Word of Faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as LORD, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same LORD is LORD of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved.” So Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Romans 10:6‭-‬13‭, ‬17 NASB

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NASB

Is there a simpler, more easily understood way to say it?

Mockers Will Mock Us, But JESUS WILL Return, Despite Their Mockery

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the Commandment of the LORD and SAVIOR spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers* [the OT Patriarchs] fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water [All but 8 people in all the earth were killed. There are over 270 flood stories across civilizations. In the 1880’s, Hugh Miller researched stories and similarities]. 7 But by His Word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the LORD one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The LORD is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you* [*you = Believers, the Elect. Romans 11 – somewhere out there, the last person, the last elect, will come to Jesus, and at that moment, Jesus will return], not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance [Psalm 90:4; God is outside of time, because He created time].” 2 Peter 3:1-9 NASB

The Bible can be summed up in 3 phrases:1. Jesus is coming (OT),2. Jesus has come (NT Gospels),3. Jesus is coming again (NT).”The Commandment”: Be prepared for the Second Coming, the Return of Jesus Christ. The “last days” are all of the days between the Advents: the First Coming and the Second Coming. The mockers and scoffers grow louder in a crescendo of sound, denying the Second Coming. By doing this, they are fulfilling the prophesies of the Second Coming. Beware of False Teachers! Just because it seems slow to us (i.e. humans), God is not slow. His time is not our time. Remember verses 8-9: “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the LORD one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The LORD is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”God is Power, God is Sovereign. God has an Eternal Perspective. God is Timeless, God is Patient, God is Merciful.“Whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved .” Romans 10:13 NASB“He* [*JESUS] Who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” Revelation 22:20‭-‬21 NASB

Forgiven

“If You, Lord , should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.” Psalms 130:3‭-‬4 NASB

This reminds me of this phrase: Because I say I am a Christian doesn’t mean I’m perfect (far from it!); it just means I am forgiven.

There’s a song the Newsboys sang called You Are My King, and this is the beginning verse.

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your Spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

If Jesus hadn’t voluntarily left heaven and accepted living as a human, and then died as our sacrifice for our sins, where would we be today? If Jesus hadn’t voluntarily hung on that cross, forsaken and condemned, where would we be today? If Jesus hadn’t conquered death and hell, and walked away from the tomb, where would we be today?

It is because of His sacrifice that we live.

Have you accepted that? Because of Jesus, all of my sins are forgotten! Without Jesus, there would be no peace in my life. I pray that you find that peace today!

Siblings

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” ” Luke 10:38‭-‬42 NASB

The One Thing is JESUS.

Martha, the mistress of her house, was always working. Her tasks were good, but they were keeping her from Jesus, from being with Jesus. She’s probably the older sister, used to taking charge and taking care of everything and everyone. Then we have Mary – every time she is mentioned in scripture, she is at Jesus’ feet. At the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:32), when Jesus visited (Luke 10), and when she washed His feet with perfume (John 12:3). She’s probably the baby of the family, not so concerned about housework, and concentrating on being with Jesus. She recognized that He should be her focus. Tasks, and service, aren’t bad, unless they detract from the important thing, which is Jesus. If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves more focused on serving Jesus than on being with Jesus Himself. To hear and learn the Word of God is the most important thing for Christians. It should be our number one priority. “But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Luke 11:28 NASB

Jesus is our life giving oxygen: He said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of GOD.’ ” Matthew 4:4 NASB

“ONE THING I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.” Psalms 27:4 NASB

The GOOD THING is focusing on Jesus, being devoted to Him. It will never be taken away. KNOWING Christ must come before DOING for Christ. Make time. Choose “the good meal” every day; the ONE THING that should overtake the many things. The ONE THING that is necessary for real Life.

(Thankful for Pastor Mark Hitchcock of Faith Bible Church, Edmond OK for his sermon on Mother’s Day 2020, and the outline of my blog today!)

God Speaks

“Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; When I made a cloud its garment And thick darkness its swaddling band, And I placed boundaries on it And set a bolt and doors, And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop’? “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, And caused the dawn to know its place, That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it? It is changed like clay under the seal; And they stand forth like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld, And the uplifted arm is broken. “Have you entered into the springs of the sea Or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. “Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place, That you may take it to its territory And that you may discern the paths to its home? You know, for you were born then, And the number of your days is great! Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, Which I have reserved for the time of distress, For the day of war and battle? Where is the way that the light is divided, Or the east wind scattered on the earth? “Who has cleft a channel for the flood, Or a way for the thunderbolt, To bring rain on a land without people, On a desert without a man in it, To satisfy the waste and desolate land And to make the seeds of grass to sprout? Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth? Water becomes hard like stone, And the surface of the deep is imprisoned. “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, Or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, And guide the Bear with her satellites? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, Or fix their rule over the earth? “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, So that an abundance of water will cover you? Can you send forth lightnings that they may go And say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the innermost being Or given understanding to the mind? Who can count the clouds by wisdom, Or tip the water jars of the heavens, When the dust hardens into a mass And the clods stick together? “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, When they crouch in their dens And lie in wait in their lair? Who prepares for the raven its nourishment When its young cry to God And wander about without food? ….. “Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer? Can you count the months they fulfill, Or do you know the time they give birth? They kneel down, they bring forth their young, They get rid of their labor pains. Their offspring become strong, they grow up in the open field; They leave and do not return to them. “Who sent out the wild donkey free? And who loosed the bonds of the swift donkey, To whom I gave the wilderness for a home And the salt land for his dwelling place? He scorns the tumult of the city, The shoutings of the driver he does not hear. He explores the mountains for his pasture And searches after every green thing. Will the wild ox consent to serve you, Or will he spend the night at your manger? Can you bind the wild ox in a furrow with ropes, Or will he harrow the valleys after you? Will you trust him because his strength is great And leave your labor to him? Will you have faith in him that he will return your grain And gather it from your threshing floor? “The ostriches’ wings flap joyously With the pinion and plumage of love, For she abandons her eggs to the earth And warms them in the dust, And she forgets that a foot may crush them, Or that a wild beast may trample them. She treats her young cruelly, as if they were not hers; Though her labor be in vain, she is unconcerned; Because God has made her forget wisdom, And has not given her a share of understanding. When she lifts herself on high, She laughs at the horse and his rider. “Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrible. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; He goes out to meet the weapons. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; And he does not turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, The flashing spear and javelin. With shaking and rage he races over the ground, And he does not stand still at the voice of the trumpet. As often as the trumpet sounds he says, ‘Aha!’ And he scents the battle from afar, And the thunder of the captains and the war cry. “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, Stretching his wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up And makes his nest on high? On the cliff he dwells and lodges, Upon the rocky crag, an inaccessible place. From there he spies out food; His eyes see it from afar. His young ones also suck up blood; And where the slain are, there is he.” Job 38:2‭-‬41 NASB, Job 39:1‭-‬30 NASB

GOD SPEAKS! Will we listen?

“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:9‭-‬11 NASB

GOD SPEAKS! Will we listen?

Enough

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NASB

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15‭-‬16 NASB

“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.” Psalms 139:1‭-‬3 NASB

You know, I just can’t come up with anything today that can add to these verses. They are enough; JESUS is enough. He is all we need. AMEN.