“I Need Thee Every Hour…”

It’s almost as if Daniel is praying for us today:

“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.” Daniel 9:4‭-‬6 NASB1995

If God is Sovereign, if He already knows and sees all, why pray? BECAUSE He is Sovereign. We pray to adjust our thoughts and desires to HIS thoughts and desires. The greatest kings and Prophets pray for God’s will to be done, not theirs.

“So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3 NASB1995

What we are in secret when we are in prayer is who we really are. Pray out loud, humble, fervent, passionate, HONEST. Prayer is not about me or you, it is about God.

“Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing MY sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting MY supplication before the Lord my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God, ….” Daniel 9:20 NASB1995

Daniel owns both his sin and the sin of his people. His prayer is full of his confession. The closer we get to God the more we realize how much we are a sinner.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NASB1995

In praying and acknowledging our sin, we acknowledge how much we need God. Every day, every hour, every minute.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35‭-‬39 ESV

As Daniel continues his prayer, it strikes me how relevant his words are to us today.

“O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” Daniel 9:18‭-‬19 NASB1995

He prays one prayer, that God be glorified. His answer came through the angel Gabriel. He said to Daniel:

“At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision. Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.” Daniel 9:23-24 NASB1995

Daniel knows that his people (the Israelites) have neglected following God’s command to rest every 7th day and every 7th year, when the land and animals and people are not to labor but to live on the fruits of their labor from the past 6 days and years. These are the Sabbath day and year: every 7th day, every 7th year, is to REST. These are LITERAL days and years, so he knows that the angel Gabriel is referring to that, and 70 sets of 7 means 70 years × 7 or 490 years.

“So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” Daniel 9:24‭-‬27 NASB1995

In verse 25 is the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, which refers to the decree to Nehemiah to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem that was signed March 5, 444 BC (Nehemiah 2). The 483 year period commenced, and on March 30, 33 AD it ended with the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, 490 years to the day from Daniel’s prophecy (Luke 19:28-40). This prophecy shows that God’s Word is absolutely true and accurate. All of history and the world’s leaders are under His control. His timing is predetermined, accurate, on target, impeccable, carefully calculated. Gabriel also gives us information on the end of this earth as we know it, by speaking of “the prince who is to come”, the antichrist. In verse 26, he tells the ethnicity of the antichrist. He will come from the region of the Roman empire. Right now we are in the interim period between the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the coming of the antichrist.

When God’s countdown resumes – and although we don’t know exactly when that will occur – the antichrist will enter into, or reinforce, a covenant with the Jewish people to rebuild the Temple and resume sacrifices and offerings. This will begin the Tribulation, and will last 3 1/2 years, then the antichrist will desecrate the Temple and rule the remaining 3 1/2 years until Jesus returns.

With all of this coming closer to fruition every day, it is essential to know the Messiah personally! Do you? Are you telling the people you love?

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12‭-‬13 NASB1995

The next event on God’s calendar is the rapture!

Come to Me

“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls . For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 NASB1995

We receive Salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Jesus says “Come to ME.” That is the ultimate statement of salvation. HE, Jesus, the Christ, the One and Only Son of the Most High God, will GIVE you rest. We aren’t talking about a church or a creed or a doctrine, but Jesus alone.

Who can receive this gift of salvation? “….ALL who are weary and heavy-laden” – anyone; everyone who is weighed down by sin and guilt and will accept His salvation. We can’t earn it and we don’t deserve it. “Our merits merit nothing, Christ’s merits merit everything.” No matter what anyone else teaches or claims to know, this is fact: Christianity is NOT a religion of scales, it is a religion of the cross.

Jesus says “Take my yoke: submit to my authority.” When we submit to Him, we don’t become like a slave. He wants us to listen and learn to be like Him: Jesus is gentle, humble, accessible, tender, open, accommodating; He is not harsh or “trigger happy”. His yoke is well fitting, not uncomfortable or difficult. By abdicating control, it allows us to rest in body, soul, spirit.

“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. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,” Ephesians 3:14‭-‬20 NASB1995

Begin the new year a new person. Accept His Gift of Salvation today.

I Heard the Bells

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalms 27:13‭-‬14 NASB1995

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells….. I love hearing the church bells as they peal out their songs, especially on Christmas Eve night. There’s something about the sound that stirs my soul. As they ring, it brings to mind the sounds of angels announcing that the Messiah, Jesus Christ has been born and is waiting, even now for us to believe in Him and to love Him. The ringing bells are the sounds of the angels, reminding us that we are not alone on this earth. There is no need to despair, for our LORD is here and in control. The bells remind us that though He came here as a baby the first time, He is coming again as the Lion of Judah, to conquer sin and defeat for the final time! I can’t wait!

Do You Hear It?

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Said the night wind to the little lamb:
“Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite”

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy:
“Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song, high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea”

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king:
“Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold
Let us bring Him silver and gold
Let us bring Him silver and gold”

Said the king to the people everywhere:
“Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people everywhere!
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light”

– 1962, Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker

Are you listening? JESUS is the answer; the only answer to all of the trials and tribulations and troubles we are dealing with – yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The Child Who left His Throne wants to give you peace. We still have to live in this sinful world, but we have a choice. Live in worry and fearful anticipation of what might happen, or be at peace in your heart.

I have troubles, and I would love to be able to see past them. I have concerns about where my country is headed (the phrase “to hell in a hand basket” comes to mind….) No matter what, I know that no matter what happens, my God is in control. If I should die tomorrow, or in the next 5 minutes, I’m not afraid, because I know where I’m going, and it’ll be FANTABULOUS.

Do you hear what I hear? The Glorious sound of the celebration of my Saviour’s birth, Who came to die and cover our sins with His blood; Who was resurrected on the third day, and returned to heaven to prepare a place for me! Can you say it for yourself?

The angels and all of Creation are joining in the song!!

Patriots and Christians

As Christians, and as Americans, we have been through many trials over this past year. If President Trump isn’t confirmed as president for the next term, we will be facing even more trials. Here’s the question from my devotional this morning that really stood out to me.

“Can [GOD] trust that when your life doesn’t go as planned you’re still going to honor Him and trust Him and live for Him? Don’t make the mistake of thinking your trials are wasted seasons. When you’re living a life to honor God, nothing is wasted. Every trial you go through has significance when the Savior is involved.”

My life hasn’t gone as I had it planned for years. I haven’t honored Him, or trusted Him as I know I should. It’s time I trust in the LORD. If we stand our ground, and defend our rights that are being trampled left and right, we will face even greater trials over the next 4 years. In WWII there was a saying “Praise the LORD and pass the ammunition.”

It may come to that again in order to preserve our freedom to worship as we believe. Are you ready?

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope…..” Romans 5:3‭-‬4 NASB1995

Thank God!

A Psalm of David:

I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods. I will bow down toward Your holy temple. And give thanks to Your name for Your Lovingkindness and Your Truth; For You have magnified Your Word according to all Your Name. On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

“All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O LORD. When they have heard the words of Your Mouth. And they will sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the Glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your Hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your Right Hand will save me. The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your Lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your Hands.” Psalms 138:1‭-‬8 NASB1995

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Everything is a gift. Be thankful for His Mercy, Pardon, Patience, Lovingkindness, Truth. “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,….” Psalms 92:1‭-‬2 NIV

Pray. God delivers His promises in fulfillment of His Word. Don’t forget to say Thank You, Jesus! “….. to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,….” Ephesians 3:19‭-‬20 NIV

Remember God’s Pre-eminence. Eventually, EVERYONE will give thanks and praise the LORD. ALL of Creation will praise Him. He is our protection. Be thankful for all the troubles that have MISSED us. God’s Grace and Mercy will sustain us. He gives us Purpose. He will complete and accomplish His plans for me. God made me and He has a purpose for me!

“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.” Psalms 139:13‭-‬14 NASB1995

“….. being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

Thank God for His fulfillment!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NIV

Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours!

What does LOVE Require of Me?

“Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family.” Proverbs 6:16‭-‬19 MSG

Haughty eyes,

A lying tongue,

And hands that shed innocent blood, 

A heart that devises wicked plans,

Feet that run rapidly to evil, 

A false witness who utters lies,

And one who spreads strife among brothers. (NASB1995)

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7 NASB1995

Jesus’s new, all-encompassing, inescapably simple command is this: We are to do unto others as our heavenly Father, through Christ, has done unto us. When we submit ourselves to God, when we open our eyes and our hearts to Him, the enemy can’t stay. When we fill our hearts with the Love of Jesus, there isn’t room for hate. All those things that God hates are overcome by His Love; real love. It’s not emotional or sexual, it’s knowledge and choice.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34 NASB1995

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 1 Corinthians 13:8 NASB1995

There’s a whole lot of hate being spewed by a lot of people in our country. My country. I don’t like how this presidential election is being handled. Politicians and “celebrities” are publicly lying and hating on the American people. My job, commanded to me by God, is to love these people, and to pray for these people. If the media is correct in calling the election (and I’m not at all convinced that they are correct), the we, the people of these United States, are in deep trouble. All of the things that God hates are embodied in the Democratic party’s candidates….. and yet, as Christians, we are to love them and pray for them.

God help us.

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.