Scariest Words

What are the scariest words you have ever heard? You’re fired? You’re hired? Marry me? …… We’re pregnant? Your loved one is dying?

All of those words have definite impact on our lives, but I don’t think they are the scariest you’ll ever hear. Knowing just how flawed and imperfect we are as humans, try these:

“If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He Who said, “do not commit adultery,” also said, “do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the Law of Liberty.” – JAMES 2:8‭-‬12 NASB

No matter how good we are, we are guilty of breaking all of God’s laws. ALL of them. Ever told a “white” lie? Took a paperclip that really didn’t belong to you? Shared a bit of “harmless” gossip? “Admired” someone of the opposite sex just a tad too long? Became angry or took offense at some slight? By stumbling on one point of the Law, we become guilty of breaking it all.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: “According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God’s restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.” (Emphasis mine)

According to my understanding, the Law of Liberty is the Gospel. Through the Mercy shown to us in and through Jesus Christ, we receive forgiveness…… but we must accept that Mercy, that Gift, in order to receive His forgiveness, and to be freed from the final judgement of the LORD. I don’t want to be seen as a “good” person! I want people to see – and know – that I am forgiven; and how I am forgiven. That’s why we must share the Gospel. “Good” can never be good enough; only forgiveness will suffice in the end.

Are you good, or are you forgiven?

This Is Timely….

“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” – JAMES 4:11‭-‬12 NASB

I don’t think James was speaking about man’s laws here, but God’s. There isn’t a person on earth who can say they are better than another, because even though our outward lives may appear “better”, God looks at our thoughts over our actions. Our thoughts make us no better than the worst murderer, because who hasn’t murdered someone in their thoughts? Or whose thoughts would reveal that they have desired a man or woman who was not their spouse? Who hasn’t wished for gold and riches, a bigger better house, more clothes and more things? Just because someone looks all clean and prim and proper on the outside, doesn’t mean that inside, they are the same. We have to remember, too, that in God’s eyes, sin is sin. A lie is no better or worse than murder – and everybody has lied.

“You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.” – James 5:5 NLT

So. What to do?

I think that all we can do is to do as Jesus did, and continually pray to the Father, not my will, but Thine. Actually, that’s the best thing we can do! I’m far from perfect, and I count myself among the worst of criminals, but there is one thing I know without a single doubt: I have been forgiven of all my sins, and one day I will see my Saviour! O Glorious Day, one day He is coming! Listen to this hymn, Glorious Day, sung by Casting Crowns.

Do you know that Truth? Can you sing without hesitation that when He returns, He is coming to sweep you up with Him ……. or will you be at the Judgement Seat, wondering what happened?

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s One and Only Son.” – John 3:16‭-‬18 NLT

#NOT_Entitled

“And [JESUS] said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” ” – Luke 22:35‭ ( also read v. 36) ESV

“Places in the Heart,” a 1984 movie with Sally Fields, Danny Glover, and John Malcovich was on last night. It was my first time to view it, and I found it to be poignant and moving; a story of suffering, strength, and overcoming. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. Set in 1938 rural Texas, a homeless man and a blind man set out to help a recently widowed Mrs. Spaulding (Sally Fields) save her farm. Moses (Danny Glover) showed up on her doorstep without anything (“no moneybag or knapsack or sandals”) – but he was willing to do whatever needed to be done. The blind man, Will (John Malcovich), had been put out by his well-to-do brother-in-law and had very little with him, yet he was also helping however he could. Mrs. Spaulding’s sister was betrayed by her husband’s infidelity, and Moses was brutally beaten by the Ku Klux Klan (self-professed Christians and deacons of the church in the movie).

Moses, Will, and the sister are great examples of the way we should be reaching out to those in need around us. The last scene in the movie is a church service where the preacher reads 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love passage.”

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1‭, ‬4‭-‬7 NASB

Although it didn’t excuse the bad behavior of those pious, so-called Christian men against a widow, a black man, a blind man, and a wife, you could see the guilt on their faces; the shame and embarrassment for their actions. They thought they were entitled to their behavior because of the color of their skin and their social status. No matter the skin color, from whitest white to blackest black and every shade in between, discrimination and judgement are far too common among us. Example: I am discriminated against because I am a divorced, radically conservative, Christ-following white woman …… I could join the marches, screaming obscenities (or wearing obscene hats), but I won’t, because to me, it appears that the most vocal, most discriminatory, and most judgemental are the most entitled. (Yes, I’m judging, but look for yourself at the designer clothes, expensive hairdos and manicures, and the cars they drive….. )

As a Christian, a Christ-follower, it is expected of me (of us!) to show the LOVE and the Mercy and the Grace that I (we) have received. Not expected by the world, but expected by our SAVIOUR. I confess, I struggle with it! My faith is tested whenever I know I need to step out of my comfort zones. To literally let go of every material thing, and to embrace what JESUS said …… where is my faith? Letting go – not so much, but holding on? Now, that I’m good at!

Remember the two criminals being crucified with our CHRIST? One was mocking JESUS and rebuking Him, telling Him to save them all from the death they were facing. The other criminal replied to the first with these words – and we are that other criminal: “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” ….. #NOT_entitled, but Forgiven ….. Hear what JESUS said! “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” ( – Luke 23:41‭-‬43 NASB)

Lauren Wells sings “Fully known and Loved by You….. ” Listen!

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ” for Your sake we are being put to death all day long ; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:35‭-‬37 NASB

From Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

God having manifested his love in giving his own Son for us, can we think that any thing should turn aside or do away that love? Troubles neither cause nor show any abatement of his love. Whatever believers may be separated from, enough remains. None can take Christ from the believer: none can take the believer from Him; and that is enough. All other hazards signify nothing. Alas, poor sinners! though you abound with the possessions of this world, what vain things are they! Can you say of any of them, Who shall separate us? You may be removed from pleasant dwellings, and friends, and estates. …… the soul that is in Christ, when other things are pulled away, cleaves to Christ, and these separations pain him not. Yea, when death comes, that breaks all other unions, even that of the soul and body, it carries the believer’s soul into the nearest union with its beloved Lord Jesus, and the full enjoyment of him for ever.

Well said, Mr. Henry. (And nope, not a relation 😉 )

Follower of Christ, Lover of those who don’t know JESUS – the unlovable, picking up my sword to follow Him; deserving the absolute worst and receiving, instead, unmatched, unimaginable Love and an eternity with Him ….. that’s my goal. What’s yours?

Image from:

https://www.heartlight.org/articles/201305/20130527_feetofjesus.html

Standing in His Love

“No, I won’t be shaken, my fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your Love…”

What a beautiful reminder to wake up to! “Stand In Your Love” is a new song by Josh Baldwin, and he sings about the power and strength of GOD’s absolute Love for us, and how His Love breaks anything that binds us to sin. JESUS spoke to His disciples after choosing them and told them this – and I believe He intended this for everyone, throughout the ages, who accepts Him as SAVIOUR.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the SON of Man. ….But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. ….If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. ….But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the MOST HIGH; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your FATHER is Merciful.” – Luke 6:22‭, ‬27‭-‬28‭, ‬32‭, ‬35‭-‬36 NRSV

“My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your Love….”

When we attempt to follow our LORD JESUS, but we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone, our fears tend to take over and rule our lives. I know this, because I often struggle to love my enemies – instead of standing in GOD’s Love, I keep trying to do it on my own. I don’t have it in me to forgive my enemies. If it were up to me, they would pay for their transgressions in a long and painful way. My judging would have no mercy – and I thank GOD it isn’t left up to me! I have been given freedom from the chains and baggage of sin, and that forgiveness came completely and undeservedly from JESUS. Shouldn’t I then forgive and love on those who really don’t deserve my forgiveness?

I can’t forgive if I am standing frozen in my fear. If I forgive them, aren’t I somehow condoning* their abuse? (*Empathetic NO, it is not.) When we stand in GOD’s Love, HE forgives for us – and He will judge them according to their deeds. The only way to shed fear, to lock the enemy out, is to turn to JESUS and allow His Love to hold us up to bask in His Light. Fear is a liar; it is a jail of our own creation, and it all comes straight from the enemy.

“No, I won’t be shaken, my fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your Love…”

Can you claim the Promise of Salvation today and let our LORD throw the fears out of your life? “Likewise the SPIRIT helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very SPIRIT intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And GOD, Who searches the heart, knows what is the Mind of the SPIRIT, because the SPIRIT intercedes for the saints according to the Will of GOD.” – Romans 8:26‭-‬27 NRSV

Guilt Is An UGLY Thing

Guilt is built into us from the moment we begin life. From a two-celled zygote (I remember my high school science!), to a fully-formed baby, to a 100+ year old person, we are guilty of sin. It’s in our DNA, thanks to the decision made millenia ago by the first man and first woman, and it is furthered by our upbringing. ‘You should be ashamed of yourself!’ ‘I can’t believe you would do such a thing.’ Even, ‘You’ll never amount to anything.’ There are hundreds of variations on this theme. Even David, the great and renowned king of Israel, had guilt about his actions. Only one man has ever lived a guilt-free life on this earth, and that man is called Jesus.

“Have Mercy on me, O GOD, because of Your Unfailing Love. Because of Your Great Compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in Your sight. You will be proved right in what You say, and Your Judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But You desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; You have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O GOD. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your Presence, and don’t take Your HOLY SPIRIT from me.” – Psalms 51:1‭-‬11 NLT

There is a release from guilt that can only come when we surrender it to the LORD. It’s an incredible release to be free from that burden! My prayer today is that whatever guilt you are hanging on to, no matter what it is, you will let it go. It’s never easy, because we are taught guilt from an early age – but it can be done! Sometimes, too, guilt is caught up in unforgiveness, which makes it doubly difficult to shed. We need to remember that forgivess, or asking for forgiveness, is what we have to do in order to gain freedom ftom guilt. Read David’s song as your prayer today.

Listen to Natalie Grant sing “More Than Anything.”

Lies, Deceits, Untruths

“Rescue me, O LORD, from liars and from all deceitful people.” – Psalms 120:2 NLT

I’m angry.

Nope. Try again.

I’m ANGRY!!

Better…..

One lie I’ve heard over and over is that we are where we are by our own choices. NO. I did NOT choose for my late husband to spiral into a pain-filled opioid addiction, exacerbated by VA doctors, which led to increasingly irrational, irresponsible, erratic, and dangerous thinking, and ultimately his death. I did NOT choose to lose our business as a result of his illness. I’m angry because he left me here alone, to deal with life on my own. I’m angry because he lied to me when he said he wouldn’t leave me, that we would face the world together. Even 20 years later, the hurt sometimes tries to overwhelm me.

Nope, it’s just not right. How can we pledge “to have and to hold … for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part,” never knowing when sickness will strike? When death will take our partner? We did them all, but death? Death is too final. When we say those vows, I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority don’t even register the ‘death’ part. I didn’t, because I knew he wouldn’t leave me alone. He pledged all those things to me, but it wasn’t true. He did leave me. I guess I lied to him, too, because I put my physical safety over him and left him to face his last year on this earth, alone. I’m angry about that, too. I deserted him when he needed me most.

Most of all, I’m angry at the serpent, the belly-dragging, dirt- eating deceitful creature we know as the enemy. The father of lies, the false accuser, adversary…. I won’t even give him the satisfaction of saying his name here. This lowest of the low, this creature introduced lies and deceits, trickery and untruths, ugliness and evil, into our world. He resorts to these tactics to pull us away from GOD. I’m angry at the illnesses, the evil, the creature has introduced into our beautiful world. The Liar has perfected his methods over the millennium to the point where he knows what to do to cause us to doubt GOD; to doubt the TRUTH that JESUS is LORD, and that the HOLY SPIRIT will carry us out the muck of lies, deceitfulness, and untruths…. IF we allow Him to.

I find the strength to forgive Ron through the work of the LORD in my life. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. Sometimes, like today, as I reflect on my life, I remember the anger and sorrow and the feeling of being deserted, even before he died, because of the illness and addiction. I miss him and the things we shared; the laughter and the adventurous spirit, the incredible talents he had. I miss his willingness (and patience!) to work with me, to answer my questions, and teach me. I miss his strength, and I miss his presence. I don’t miss the frustrations of his illness and addictions.

Jesus said, “Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me….” – Matthew 16:23 NLT

Thank You, JESUS, for putting the deceiver behind me! Listen to “Point to You by” sung by We Are Messengers at https://g.co/kgs/eJqUCB

Forgiven

Listen to Crowder sing ‘Forgiven’ – Powerful!

“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31 NLT

I am not perfect. I am flawed, broken, and sinful…. and I am forgiven. Forgiven for every bad thing, every sinful thought, every flawed decision I’ve made. Being human, I have followed in the footsteps of the first couple, thinking I could run my life better than the Creator GOD. I almost had it right, but I left something out. You see, when you say ‘I can run my life just fine,’ you are putting an ‘i’ in the word, making ‘run’ become ‘ruin.’ But – how can GOD find the time to deal with my issues when there are millions upon mlllions of other people who have real problems that need help? Besides all of us, there is the entire universe for Him to deal with! What can I say? The Omnipotent, omnipresent LORD, King of all kings, cares about us. He cares about me. Listen to what JESUS said:

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only GOD, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” – Matthew 10:28‭-‬29‭, ‬31 NLT – In Luke 12, JESUS also says “…. the very hairs on your head are all numbered ….”

Even though I am forgiven; despite my brokenness, JESUS wants me to follow the Father’s Commandments. Does He want me to give up everything to follow Him; to be rigid in my following of the Ten Commandments given to Moses? After all, GOD gave the to us. I love how my Saviour simplified the Ten and all of the laws into Two Commandments.

“Loving GOD means keeping His Commandments, and His Commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:3 NLT

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the First and Greatest Commandment. A Second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 NLT

Are you forgiven? Do you LOVE the LORD? Accept Him and Proclaim Him – Find your Freedom in CHRIST JESUS today! ☝️