Okay?

“Maybe it’s okay if I’m not okay….”

‘We Are Messengers’ sing this fantastic song, and it is so relevant! How can we know how good we have it, if we haven’t had it bad? If I haven’t hurt, what do I have to compare to?

Do you remember the story of Lazarus? Beloved friend of Jesus, brother to Mary and Martha, they lived in Bethany, about 2 miles from Jerusalem. I imagine Jesus stopped at their house whenever He was near. We (hopefully) all have a friend like that, a person who is family – even better than blood family. (Mary is the woman who annointed Jesus with a costly perfume while He was at their table, when Judas complained at the waste of such an expensive item.* – JOHN 12:3) She, her sister Martha, and her brother Lazarus made Jesus welcome. It happened that Lazarus became seriously ill, “So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” – JOHN 11:3‭, ‬5‭-‬6 NASB

What?

He hears that His beloved friend is sick, maybe dying, and He hangs out for two days before He goes to see him? Who does that? I’m sure that Mary and Martha were not okay during this time! Torn up knowing that their brother is dying – who in fact dies after the message is sent – and wondering why their best friend delays coming. Not until the fourth day after Lazarus’ death does Jesus show up. The body is in the grave, beginning to deteriorate and decompose, and the mourning is at it’s peak. Martha met Jesus on the road, and said this:

“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” – JOHN 11:22 NASB

She knows that Jesus could have prevented his death, and she believes – she knows – that He can bring her brother back! What faith!

“Jesus said to her, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” – JOHN 11:25‭-‬27 NASB

Martha wasn’t “okay” with her brother’s physical death, but she was confident in her Lord’s ability to take care of the situation. How many of us can confidently believe as Martha did? She had no doubt that Jesus would receive whatever He asked of God His Father. Do I believe that Jesus is taking care of my situation? I’m not okay with my financial situation. Frankly, it stinks. (That’s my opinion.) But I know that it’s okay if I’m not okay, because I know that my life – such as it is – is in my GOD’s control, not mine. I have hurt and been hurt; I have reached out and been reached out to in good and in bad. Whatever comes, LORD, may I learn to be content. Amen.

[*This perfume is estimated to be worth 11 months wages. According to CNBC.com, the median U.S, household wage for 11 months would be over $40,000.]

Of Money, Swords, and Stuff

Jesus spoke to His disciples as they celebrated the Passover meal together, instructing them and serving them,

“And [JESUS] said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘and He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” “

Later, as He and the disciples were in the Garden, praying, a crowd of people came out to find Him and arrest Him. This is a perfect example of submission to authority. Even though His disciples were armed, the LORD told them to stand down, because He knew this was part of GOD the FATHER’s plan for Him. Verse 53 is telling:

“Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber? While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.” – LUKE 22:35‭-‬37‭, ‬52‭-‬53 NASB

You have probably figured out from past posts, especially if you follow me on FaceBook or Twitter, that I am a stanch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, whether they be swords or the lastest innovation in firearms. I don’t believe that the LORD intended us to be at the mercy of the evil and the depraved in the world (i.e. the Enemy, Satan). We are, however, subject to the authority of our government …… however wrong we believe it to be.

We – I – am blessed to live in a Republic, where every individual is bestowed with certain rights. We have the right to freely speak out against what we perceive to be bad judgement calls by the authorities with the 1st Amendment. The right to bear arms against a tyrannical government is the 2nd Amendment – which also protects our 1st Amendment rights. I’m not a militant, but I may be considered a radical conservative. In our quest to follow Christ, isn’t it also our duty to protect the innocent and the downtrodden? Not to rebel against our elected leaders (no matter how wrong we believe them to be), and not to bring war and violence onto those who disagree with us, but to aid and protect those who aren’t capable of helping themselves.

Our church is currently studying I Peter 2 and what the reality of Christ-patterned submission looks like today. Oh ugh, there, that dreaded word, maybe the most disliked word in the English language!! Submission. It becomes vital for us claimimg kinship with Jesus to understand when to use the sword and when to stop. Why? Because the Enemy is waiting to use our actions against us whenever we refuse to submit. When we submit to the authority of our elected officials, even when they are wrong, the cause of our LORD is strengthened.

“When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.” ” – LUKE 22:49‭-‬51 NASB

It can very difficult to determine when to fight and when to submit. All I can tell you is to follow the example of our Lord and spend time in earnest prayer. Follow the leading of GOD. He’s never wrong. (And His Angel Army is armed! Amen!!)

No Matter What….

What a friend we have in Jesus all our sins and grieves to bear

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer
Oh what peace we often forfeit of what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer
Have we trials and temptations is there trouble anywhere
If we have don’t be discouraged take it to the Lord in prayer

(Words: Charles Crozat Converse (1885) / Melody: Joseph Scriven (1868)

Thought this should be shared to remind us we aren’t alone, today or any day.

Forever and a day….

“However, those the Father has given Me will come to Me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the Will of GOD Who sent Me, not to do My own will. And this is the Will of GOD, that I should not lose even one of all those He has given Me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is My FATHER’s Will that all who see His Son and believe in Him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” – John 6:37‭-‬40 NLT

I often struggle with worry, and I know that worry comes from thinking I have to “fix” everything and provide for myself. I worry about being rejected, both by GOD, and by people. I worry about being alone the rest of my life. I worry if I will ever be financially stable, or if I will be able to meet my basic, everyday expenses each month. I worry my health will deteriorate. My day-to-day life may be a physical challenge, and I don’t understand how I will survive financially, but there is one thing I know and hold on to: I don’t need to worry! Jesus promises He will take care of us. Of ME. He also promises He will never reject one of His own. Just as the father says to Jesus in Mark 19, so I say to Him also: “I DO believe; help my unbelief!!”

Do YOU believe? Have you taken hold of the Promise of JESUS; do you hold on to that Promise to be risen up by JESUS CHRIST on the last day, to have Life with Him forever and a day, for eternity?

Listening to Matt Maher sing “Lord, I need You, O I need you, Every hour I need You – My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God how I need You!” ☝️

I Stand In Awe

Our pastor talked about prophecies in the Bible last Sunday, and how many of them are about JESUS, MESSIAH. Even though the writers didn’t know the who, they knew the when and how, because GOD was directing their pens. It is fascinating to read the prophecies and to see how they have been fulfilled throughout history. Take Habakkuk, for instance. He identifies himself as a prophet, and it is generally acknowledged that he wrote this in the mid-to-late seventh century BC, shortly before the Babylonians captured Jerusalem in 586 BC. He couldn’t know what would happen in the 20th and 21st centuries, yet his words still apply to our world today.

“Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises. Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted. Will they therefore empty their net And continually slay nations without sparing?” – Habakkuk 1:3‭-‬4‭, ‬17 NASB

“Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” – Habakkuk 2:2‭-‬3 NIV

Habakkuk saw wickedness, destruction, violence, strife and contention, laws being broken and the courts subverting justice; he saw that wickedness was overcoming his people. Where was his GOD? Why was He allowing all of this to happen? When would the ALMIGHTY GOD redeem them? These are valid questions; questions I have asked myself, and ones I have heard others asking. Why, GOD? Honestly, to really know the answers, I believe we won’t know until we are face-to-face with our LORD. It will all make sense, then. Meanwhile…….

The LORD has seen fit to equip His Prophets with the visions and revelations that He revealed to them to be recorded in His Word, the book we call the BIBLE. I love this anagram of the word:

B – Basic

I – Instructions

B– Before

L – Leaving

E – Earth

We have the complete set of Instructions, written just for us in our time. Let us be like the Prophet Habakkuk, and lean on the foreknowledge that our LORD has seen fit to provide us. Rather than spending our time standing and questioning the things/circumstances we are in, perhaps we would be better known for our thankfulness that we are alive, that we know Him as our LORD, JESUS CHRIST. Thank You, GOD, for Your Forgiveness, Your Mercy, and Your Grace!

“LORD, I have heard of Your Fame; I stand in awe of Your Deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in Wrath remember Mercy.” – Habakkuk 3:2 NIV

Listen to “I’m A Survivor” by Zach Williams. ( https://www.zachwilliamsmusic.com )

(Image from https://www.everydayknow.com )

Distracted

The enemy of the LORD, my enemy, is quite accomplished at putting distractions in front of us so that our concentration, our focus, is removed from my LORD and onto other things. The truly important things in our lives are often set aside because our GOD focus has been interrupted. For the past week, the enemy, Satan the destroyer and the father of lies has been very successful with distracting me. GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!

I’m not alone in this. There are hundreds, thousands, of Christians who struggle with distracting circumstances every day – maybe even every waking moment. Disease, illness, and failing health are prime examples. When we are focused on those instead of GOD, whether it is me/you personally or someone close to me/you, it is difficult to focus on GOD and His plans.

Trust, or a variation thereof, is used frequently in both the Old and New Testaments. The prophet Jeremiah put it succinctly:

Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD…… Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose Trust is the LORD.” – Jeremiah 17:5‭, ‬7 NASB

How often do we condemn ourselves by refusing to trust in the LORD? This verse from Proverbs is one I have heard countless time:

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

I allow myself to be distracted though my worry and the urge to take charge; to “fix” things on my own, rather than rely on my GOD. How can I believe that He is Almighty enough to create everything, yet doubt that He can take care of me and my problems? Listen to Natalie Grant’s song “King of the World.”

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust

It is so easy to fall into this trap of attempting to control life around us. I’m guilty of doing it over and over and over. Remember this definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” My prayer today is that my focus on the LORD will grow, and that He will overcome the distractions. I’m not strong enough to do it on my own, so I must rely on the Holy Spirit to provide His strength. All we have to do is to ask Him for His help, and He will provide it. Thank You, LORD!

Delighted!

We all have places, people, and things that bring us delight. Babies laughing, puppy and kitten antics, majestic views, beautiful flowers and trees, music, food, children, spouses, friends, loved ones. These things, these delights, as much as we enjoy them and search for them, are all momentary and fleeting. On the opposite side, we also have our fears and frustrations, especially when when we are struck with physical, personal, or monetary crises. When disasters strike the righteous person, we question why. Why does the Almighty, Omnipotent GOD let His people suffer, but He allows the sinners and the lawbreakers, the evildoers, to (apparently) prosper?

I fervently believe that we will have it explained to us one day; the day we stand face-to-face with our LORD JESUS. Meanwhile …… it is important, critical, that as followers of the CHRIST we study and absorb His Word. There are numerous promises in both the Old and New Testaments that everyone will receive a final judgement in front of the Throne of GOD. The enemy of the LORD, the Father of Lies, the instigator who brought evil into our world, will receive his due – and it will not be pretty. All of the fallen, both people and supernatural beings, everything natural and supernatural, will receive their condemnation at that time. Read the Revelations of John! This is what I know to be true:

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.” – Psalms 37:4‭-‬9 ESV

One day soon, Psalms 37:9 will come to pass. All evil that exists will be washed away and removed from earth, and those who have chosen to follow the LORD will be rewarded with a new home – one where heaven and the true, the real, Holy City will actually reside here on earth with us! My conclusion? Fretting and worry on our part indicates that we don’t think GOD can handle the little stuff. I’m guilty, too! Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” – Psalms 37:7 ESV

I know, easier said than done! There’s a song done by Natalie Grant that pretty well sums up what often we do instead of waiting and placing our reliance on the LORD. What do you think?

When we stop trying to contain GOD, then we are able to delight in Him! Amen!