Settle Down, Soul!

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The LORD is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of Peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:4‭-‬9 NASB

Amen! There’s no room for anxiety when the Peace of our LORD washes over you. It’s important we don’t cause others anxiety, too. When we dwell on these things, the honorable, pure, lovely, good …. not only do we free ourselves from the anxiety of the enemy, but we also free those around us of the burden of our anxiety. Our example can show them what a blessing prayer can be.

How is your soul? Are you anxious? Tell God about it. He doesn’t care if you are alone in a closet, knelling by your bed, sitting in a chair, lying on the ground….. He just wants a conversation with you. Anytime, anywhere. Tell Him what you are thankful for (remember, you can always be thankful for toilet paper!), then tell Him what’s bothering you. If you can’t put it into words, that’s okay, too. He knows. He promises us that His Holy Spirit is always with us, ready to carry our groans and unintelligible words and thoughts to Him. And if you’re mad at Him, tell Him! He can take it! Talk, and let your soul settle down.

Is it well with your soul?

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

– Horatio Spafford, 1873


Mountain Fork River, McCurtain County, Oklahoma

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

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

It is well with my soul. Have you ever listened, really listened, to the words of that hymn? If you can, read the story behind the words Horatio Spafford penned in 1873. In tragedy, he found that “Peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). These are the original lyrics, as noted on Wikipedia:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to knowa
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul! b

[a “know” (at the end of the third line) was changed to “say”.
b “A song in the night, oh my soul” (last line)
was changed to “Even so, it is well with my soul”.]

How many of us can say the same as Spafford? Can we lean on our LORD the way Spafford leaned on Him, and go on from tragedy – in peace! – and do the work GOD calls us to? I find it to be a hard task to let go of hurt and resentment, and yes, jealousy, because I compare my life and my hardships to others….. Oh, but that is just looking at the outsides of their lives! Do we really know what those we are looking at with their ‘better’ lives have gone through? Do we know their hardships and their tragedies? No! Even knowing someone well and having a closeup view of their lives doesn’t allow us to understand and to know what they have gone through. As humans, I think we tend to look at others through somewhat rosy glasses, and judge them for having what we think we want/deserve. Perhaps that’s why JESUS said in Matthew 7 not to judge others. For myself, on my own, I find it impossible to have peace and contentment. It is only when I can release the hurt and negativity to my LORD, and lean entirely on Him that I find peace, and then it is truly well with my soul.

Like everything else in life, attaining true Peace – through JESUS CHRIST – is a choice. Like Mary, listen to the words of the angel Gabriel:

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

And let my answer be as Mary’s: “I am the LORD’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:37‭-‬38 HCSB

Amen.

From the Library of Congress.

Who Will Go Up To Heaven?

Have you ever read the letters of the Apostle Paul to the Romans, specifically chapter 10?

“Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to GOD is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for GOD, but it is misdirected zeal.

For they don’t understand GOD’s way of making people right with Himself. Refusing to accept GOD’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with GOD by trying to keep the law.

For CHRIST has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in Him are made right with GOD.

For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with GOD requires obedience to all of its commands.

But Faith’s way of getting right with GOD says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring CHRIST down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring CHRIST back to life again).”

In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart (Deut 30:12-14).” And that message is the very Message about Faith that we preach:

If you openly declare that JESUS is LORD and believe in your heart that GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with GOD, and it is by openly declaring your Faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced (Isa 28:16).”

Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same LORD, Who gives generously to all who call on Him.

For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved (Joel 2:32).”

But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?

That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring Good News (Isa 52:7)!”

But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “LORD, who has believed our message (Isa 53:1)?” So Faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

But I ask, have the people of Israel actually heard the message? Yes, they have: “The Message has gone throughout the earth, and the Words to all the world (Ps 19:4).”

But I ask, did the people of Israel really understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, GOD said, “I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation. I will provoke your anger through the foolish Gentiles (Deut 32:21).”

And later Isaiah spoke boldly for GOD, saying, “I was found by people who were not looking for Me. I showed Myself to those who were not asking for Me (Isa 65:1).”

But regarding Israel, GOD said, “All day long I opened My Arms to them, but they were disobedient and rebellious (Isa 65:2).” – Romans 10:1-‬21 NLT

This letter from Paul should dispel any question you have as to who will go to heaven. Good works; being a ‘good’ person, won’t do it. Following the Law of Moses to the letter won’t suffice. Saying you believe in God won’t work, either, for “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” – James 2:19 NLT

I know where I am going, through the Grace and Mercy of my LORD and my Saviour, JESUS. Do you?

Wonder

“Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention.” – Isaiah 28:23 NLT
I wonder, wonder who, who-oo-ooh, who

(Who wrote the book of love)
Tell me, tell me, tell me
Oh, who wrote the Book Of Love…

The Monotones made this a a popular song in 1958. I know it wasn’t written about the LORD of Creation, but if you look at the lyrics from the chorus, Who else could it be about?

“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.” – John 3:16 NLT

The LORD offers us Life; the LORD knows what we need to fulfill our lives. He knows Who we need – and it is JESUS. It is all about Love, and it doesn’t cost us anything. The price has already been paid in full for us by JESUS. He paid it forward so that we could have LIFE. Listen to this message the LORD gave to the prophet Isaiah.

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink – even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk – it’s all free! Seek the Lo6rd while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that He may have Mercy on them. Yes, turn to our GOD, for He will forgive generously.” – Isaiah 55:1‭, ‬6‭-‬7 NLT

The WONDER of it all!

Life Is Messy

“No one can live forever; all will die. No one can escape the power of the grave.” – Psalms 89:48 NLT

We all sometimes wish we could live forever, but really? Not me. As messy and chaotic as my life as been, it could end tomorrow and I wouldn’t be upset; although I do love my friends and family and my animals. I’m pretty sure they would miss me ….. and that makes death a messy situation. Of course, I am very sure of what happens next, and I look forward to absolute JOY of being with my Jesus and with everyone who has gone on to heaven before me. Our bodies and our brains have expiration dates. In fact, all of creation has an expiration date. Just take a look around you. Does anything last forever? We all know that death is inevitable for all living creatures. From the time of Adam and Eve, that bite of the fruit forbidden to them, mankind and nature have been in a messy downward spiral. The earth is in constant upheaval, and even the stars in space are deteriorating and dying. No amount of research, not cryogenics or robotic bodies, will do more that prolong the inevitable. We can stabilize and preserve, and we can build ….. and it will all come to an end.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything GOD made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His Eternal Power and Divine Nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing GOD.” – Romans 1:20 NLT

I don’t understand how ANYONE can state categorically that there is no GOD; no Creator. Creation v. Evolution – but that’s another blog! For the moment, let’s focus on life and death, and what happens next. I love this first-hand account by the physician Luke, where Jesus tells us what will happen after we die, if we will just ask Him.

“One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear GOD even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” ” – Luke 23:39‭-‬43 NLT

Do you know what will happen to you; where your soul will go, when you die?

Blessed Assurance, JESUS is mine! (Written by Fanny Crosby)

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Know God?

“Yes, they knew GOD, but they wouldn’t worship Him as GOD or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what GOD was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.” – Romans 1:21‭-‬22 NLT

What does your god look like? Is He Majestic and Holy, clothed in His Creation? Is your god clothed in Sooner cream and red, Dallas blue and silver, OSU orange? Perhaps your god is dressed in the latest fashions, or corporate goals. Maybe your god is wrapped up in busyness or children or a spouse. Loyalty, addiction, obsession to something in this world can so easily supplant THE God, Creator and Saviour. Too many times, in our quest to fill that God-shaped hole inside us, we get caught up in the external and the glittery temptations that God’s enemy, Satan, places in front of us. It’s so easy to get sidetracked into his lair, and it can be incredibly difficult to extract ourselves from the webs of deceit he weaves to trap us.

Reflecting on my past, I see clearly many instances where I was hung up in those webs. I was so busy having fun, I could ignore how miserable I was. That’s on way the enemy keeps us trapped. Busy, busy, busy. Career, kids, school, football and other sports, cars, shopping….. rather than dwelling on “What’s in your wallet?”, can we switch focus to “What’s in your heart?” Do you know the Almighty GOD? Is HE in your heart, filling it with love and compassion for His people, or are you cramming tnat hole full of earthly pursuits? It’s lke the sign says,

“Know God, Know Peace. NO God, NO Peace.”

Which part are you? Do you KNOW Peace, or do you have NO Peace in your heart? Be like the author of this psalm: Praise Him, be Thankful for Him, and Pray for God’s help and protection.

“I praise GOD for what he has promised. I trust in GOD, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” – Psalms 56:4 NLT

Pain, Momentary or Permanent

There are many types and causes of pain. It can be physical, emotional, and spiritual. Medical treatments often cause momentary, or temporary pain to us physically, but when the treatment, surgery, adjustment, whatever, is done, we feel much better. Childbirth can be (and usually is) incredibly painful, but the love that floods the mother when she holds her baby for the first time makes all the pain and discomfort disappear. Many millions of people have physical conditions that cause them to be in constant pain. The emotion pain of cutting a toxic person from our lives can hurt so deeply that we can’t imagine living through it. Watching a loved one suffer, or losing a loved one through death, causes us tremendous pain. It doesn’t matter who you are, how “rich” you are, how much power you hold, or where you live, pain will be your companion at some point in your life.

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” – Romans 8:18 NLT

Whether the pain is temporary, fleeting, or something to live with our entire earthly lives, there is a permanent solution. It’s an eternal cure for the deepest, most debilitating pains known to anyone on earth, and it is utterly free, no strings attached. Why, then, do people reject this cure? Who do you know that will reject a gift that is offered with nothing asked for in return? Why are we so suspicious of the gift that will free us, but we grab for the horrible and painful gifts the enemy hands us, gifts that are firmly tied to the giver? I think it’s because the true gift is offered in plain packaging, no frills….. but the enemy wraps his with beautiful wrappings and ribbons and bows and bling.

I confess that for many years I preferred the gaudy gifts. I convinced myself that the beautiful wrappings made up for the ugliness and darkness inside. If I wrapped myself up in the packaging, I could present myself to the world as impervious the the darkness and ugliness. I could hide it from myself. Wrong. There is only so much you can do to hide. EVERYTHING comes to the light, eventually. I have a huge debt of gratitude to the people God put in my path to show me the TRUE Gift. Much of the physical and emotional pain I have dealt with throughout my life could have been avoided if I had paid attention to the real Gift of Love, instead of turning and going through the muck, trying to capture that elusive feeling of “happiness”. Is that where you are today? Treading through the muck, wandering in the pain and hopelessness?

My prayer today is that you will look up, open your eyes and your hands and your life, and really SEE where you are. Reach out to the One Who is able to pull you out of the ugliness! If you can’t stand up or put one foot in front of the other, don’t despair. The One Who is capable of pulling you up will carry you until you can walk, and even then, no matter what, He will ALWAYS be with you. He will never expect you to carry on by yourself, and in fact, even when we turn our backs on us, He will NEVER leave us alone. I know this, because I experience it daily. Even in the darkest parts of my life, He never walked away or forsook me, because I accepted His Gift at a young age…. I just chose to follow the path the world (i.e. the enemy) instead of going with my Savior. I thank the LORD that He didn’t desert me!

Life on earth will never be painless. I struggle financially, I have physical issues, and it is difficult for me to come out of my shell. These will be a part of my life until I die, or until my Jesus returns, and that’s just reality. The beauty of it all is that because I accepted His Gift, l don’t face it alone. His strong Hands are with me to support me and carry me as needed. Plus, I get to spend all of eternity with NO sorrow, NO pain, NO struggles! Don’t know about you, but I would rather live my life now as if Jesus were real (and He IS real and alive), than to face an unknown and dark eternity.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” – Revelation 21:4 NLT

All My Hope

There’s a song by an amazing artist, Crowder, called “All My Hope.” It was written for a friend that was being released from years behind bars, and who had found Jesus while incarcerated. It’s a beautiful song, speaking of redemption and being released from the bars and chains that hold us. In it, he says “All my Hope is in Jesus, Thank God that yesterday’s gone, All my sins are forgiven, I’ve been washed by the Blood…. ”

Jesus is our shelter in the storm, our Rock. He invites us to be washed of our sins so that we can share eternity with Him, and we know there is only One-Way to achieve this. All our Hope, all our Strength, all our PEACE comes from one place, one-way, from Jesus. Simple, yet hard. You say “I don’t want to give up my freedom,” or “Too many rules to follow,” or even “I’m a good person. I don’t need Jesus.” Oh, people! This is such disfunctional and error-filled thinking. Don’t you realize that by saying that Jesus was just a good man or a prophet, you are saying He was insane? Think about it. Jesus claimed to be the Son of the Immortal and Almighty GOD of the universe. How can anyone claiming to be GOD in the flesh, GOD Incarnate, the Living GOD be sane, if it is not true? Look at all of Jesus’ contemporaries who witnessed His death, who saw Him buried, and then saw Him again in the flesh after He came out of the tomb after 3 days. Our contemporaries, David Koresh and Jim Jones, both claimed to be the son of GOD, and we called them insane. They committed suicide with many of their followers…. and they are dead. No resurrection or salvation.

Followers of Jesus know that He is the True Son of GOD. We don’t just believe it, we KNOW it is true. How do we know? Aside from all the eyewitness testimonies of His contemporaries, we know it in our hearts; we feel it in His Strength, and we see His Grace in our lives (even in the bad stuff). I wish that the people who think they are “good enough” to go to heaven weren’t so misguided by the enemy. There is no “good enough” to spend eternity with our LORD, because He is the ONLY One good enough. He is the ONLY One to live a sinless life? Not “good enough,” not a “good” man, and not a prophet. He is the ONE-Way, the ONLY-Way, to GOD.

Are you washed by the Blood of Jesus?

“Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But GOD showed His GREAT LOVE for us by sending CHRIST to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.” – Romans 5:7‭-‬9 NLT

AMEN!!