Tempted? Ah, This Isn’t Anything Bad….

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” James 1:13 NASB

Sin. What is it, anyway? I’m good. I haven’t done anything horrible. It’s just a white lie. Everybody else is going…. doing it. It’s not so bad. It’s nothing compared to so-and-so.

We are so good at justifying our thoughts and behaviors and actions! Mention sin and see how people around you respond. It doesn’t exist. That’s an old fashioned idea; an antiquated thought. Nobody believes in sin anymore. Just be a good person and you’ll be okay. I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay!

Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.” Deuteronomy 11:16 NASB

Oh people, we have allowed ourselves to be fooled by the enemy. There’s an alphabet soup of aberrant behavior that is not just tolerated, but condoned and celebrated. Whether it is murdering unborn babies, or accepting pedophilia as ‘normal’ behavior; selling your body, living together outside of marriage…. these should be easy for Christians to identify as sin. But what about these? Overeating and gluttony? Abusing the prescription your doctor gave you by not following the instructions? Watching and listening to things that exploit the bodies of young men and/or women; of children. Discrimination, both covert and overt.

Well! I’m certainly not guilty of any of those things!

Oh, but you are. I am. We all are.

“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” Proverbs 28:13 NASB

“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 NASB

Thank God for the gift of the LORD Jesus Christ!

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.” Psalms 32:1‭-‬3 NASB

“I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.” Psalms 32:5 NASB

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24 NASB

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, JESUS the SON OF GOD, let us hold fast our confession. 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 4:13‭-‬16 NASB

Friends, draw near to the Throne of Grace! We, the children of the Most High GOD need to be on our knees, praying for our country, our leaders, our communities. It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent; man, woman, or child; Baptist, Catholic, Church of whatever. As Christians we are called to prayer. It’s the only way to save our home here.

The LORD said this to Solomon. I believe it is relevant to us, today, too.

“…… and [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

What Are You Chasing?

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2 NASB

I’ve spent my life chasing something, or someone. Lots of money and energy expended trying for the perfect partner, job, house, clothes; friends, family. The “perfect” church. Know what I’ve discovered?

They don’t exist.

What? Of course they do! Don’t try to tell me my searching, my life, is futile! ……. And yet, that’s the truth. Most of us spend our lives trying to have the perfect life as we imagine it, when the reality is that all of these things, and all of these people, won’t satisfy us. Sure, we can achieve momentary satisfaction, but it’s fleeting. I think that’s why our world is rife with ruthless people, in business and politics and in their personal lives. Business takeovers. Public lies and shaming. Affairs in the shadows, and affairs in the open, blatantly flaunting themselves. Desperate people everywhere, searching for nirvana.

It doesn’t exist.

We are a created race. Yes, one race, created by a Creator God, and we are created to worship Him. Nothing else can fill that hole. We can search and scrape and fight trying to find anything else to fill it, and that’s what we spend our lives doing. One thing fills that hole in your heart. One thing fulfills your search. ONE thing.

Jesus Christ.

Son of the FATHER GOD. Second, but equal, member of the Trinity, God, Son, Holy Spirit. Saviour of the world. The One; The Way.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16‭-‬18 NASB

In 1670, Blaise Pascal published Pensées, in which he writes:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NASB

Change your focus. Look for Jesus. He will fill your heart in a way you could never have imagined. Not only your heart, but He will fill your life, your mind, your soul, if you will just let Him. He will give you Life Abundant. Even if you struggle financially, even if you are on your own, without a partner, or out of work, Jesus can bring a contentment that is beyond this earth.

LORD, I pray today for that person who is searching, that he or she will open their heart to You and realize real peace and contentment today, right now. Amen.

Scriptural Authority

Is everybody is embraced in the church, regardless of their gender, or sexual orientation, or social status? Many people say that gay people would not be welcome, or that Christians are homophobic and too focused on a person’s outward appearance. Unfortunately, in many churches these statements are true. For a church that is trying to follow the example of Jesus Christ, these should not be true. As in any gathering of humans, we find prejudices and pretensions, but does that make the entire group that way?

I appreciate and agree with Pastor T.D. Jakes on this subject. While on the Oprah Winfrey show, he made this statement:”The perception in our society today is that if you don’t say you’re for same-sex marriage or if you say homosexuality is a sin that you’re homophobic and you’re against gay people. And that’s not true.” The pastor continued, “I’m not called to give my opinion. I’m called as a pastor to give the scriptural position on it,” the pastor added. “Doesn’t mean that I have to agree with you to love you. I don’t dislike anybody. I love everybody.”

Winfrey went on to ask if Jakes thinks being gay is a sin. He responded “I think that sex between two people of the same sex is condemned in the Scriptures, and as long as it is condemned in the Scriptures, I don’t get to say what I think. I get to say what the Bible says,” Jakes said. “I’m not anti-gay, I’m not anti-anything. I don’t want to even be known by what I’m against.”

My opinions don’t really matter. What does matter is what the Bible – God’s Word – says. Christians are to love every person. Not what they do or how they live. Do your opinions take over your actions?

He Promises

“….. seeing that His [Jesus; Jesus as GOD] Divine Power has granted [past, present, and future] to us EVERYTHING [all inclusive, everything we need] pertaining to life and godliness [to live a godly life, a Christ-like life, for us to become like JESUS], through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own Glory and Excellence. For by these He has granted to us His Precious and Magnificent Promises [made throughout the Scriptures] so that by them you [every person who accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour] may become partakers of the Divine Nature [looking more like Christ; living a life in His Image], having escaped the corruption [the rottenness, the stench of decomposition] that is in the world by lust [lust = evil desires of the human heart] – becoming less and less like the world.”

2 Peter 1:3‭-‬4 NASB

According to HIS Will

“God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” Hebrews 2:4 NASB

HIS Will.

What’s your plan? Are you getting ready to celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Saviour, or are you stressing out over presents and sending cards and decorating the house?

Slow down for a moment. Breathe.

We get so caught up in the “holiday spirit” that we forget what the “holiday” is all about. The decorations and the presents and the parties take over our thoughts and actions. We concentrate so much on everything being perfect, we forget why we’re doing all of it in the first place. Are the presents the focus, or the Presence?

Seriously.

I love the lights and the decorations. Opening presents makes me feel like a kid again (especially when they are actually wrapped instead of in gift bags 🤗 ) ….. I could happily leave the nativity up all year around as a reminder of the precious gift we were given by the Lord.

Especially this year, 2019, with the insanity happening in Washington DC, our focus needs to turn to Jesus. What is HIS Will in this mess? Celebrate His birth, His Presence, but be sure to take the time to pray for our nation and our leaders. What a mess.

Raw Honesty

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NASB

Rest in the LORD. That’s where I need to be.

“When we get injured, God covers us. Stop picking at that scab.” Wow. A lady just called in to K Love (radio) and said that. My heart feels like one giant, deep, open raw wound, where I don’t even have enough scab to pick at. God covers that hurt, and every hurt, no matter how big or how deep. I get that. I believe that. But, oh, how it hurts. How did I get into such a bad financial situation? How is it even possible for my heart to hurt this much?

Easy. My choices. My decisions. Not waiting on and relying on and trusting my LORD. Instead, I trusted and relied on a man, and he is leaving it to me to resolve. My heart doesn’t want to give up. My head hopes he will step up. I want him to. Trust is fragile anytime, and mine has been trampled on.

Please pray for me. This time, for this situation, is beyond anything I can see a solution for. It is going to take a miracle, a bonafide, God-generated miracle to heal my heart and this hole I have dug myself into.

Raw honesty. Hard to write. Hard to admit.

“WAIT” He says……

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to You, “Your Face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not Your Face from me. Turn not Your servant away in anger, O You Who have been my Help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O GOD of my Salvation! Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalms 27:1‭, ‬7‭-‬9‭, ‬11‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

That may be my least favorite word in the English language. “Wait.” I’ve been waiting. I’m tired of waiting, so very tired of waiting. “Wait,” He says. If it were a clear “No,” maybe it would be easier to accept. I’m tired of being strong, and my courage fails me.

I’m not strong. I’m weak. I’m not courageous. I’m afraid. My heart is on the ground. My prayers fall with my tears. Why me, LORD? And He answers me, Why not you? I surrender, LORD.

Know My Heart

O LORD, You know my heart!

And OH, what a scary thought that is at times! He knows my desires. He knows my heart. He knows my thoughts before they are even formed. He knows them all; the good, the bad, the ugly, and He still Loves me.

“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. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. ………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. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. ………Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” – Psalms 139:1‭-‬6‭, ‬13‭-‬18‭, ‬23‭-‬24 NASB

Too bad we humans can’t be that way. Not to know each other’s every thought (how scary would that be!), but to love each other without regard for their thoughts. For me, the radical conservative, that looks like loving the raging liberal without judgement; not letting their views on socialism and my Saviour turn my regard into hate. It means that regardless of whether their actions and/or their behaviors disgust me, I will love them, just like JESUS loved me.

Even before I began as a simple zygote in my mother’s womb, GOD knew me and loved me. He knew how I would be as a child. He knew I would come to love Him as a child and young adult, and He knew precisely how, when, and for how long I would turn away from Him – and He loved me anyway. He knows to the second how long my life on earth will be. He knows that even now, as I write about how much He loves me, I struggle with the idea that He can love me, a sinner who continues who stumble and fall through life.

Why does He love us much? Why? We constantly – and continually – disappoint and hurt Him, sometimes inadvertantly, but oftentimes deliberately. We keep doing the things that we know are wrong. We desire things that aren’t good for us. We reject His Son and His sacrifice….. and He keeps on loving us.

AMAZING GRACE. Sweet Mercy. Unconditional Love.

I don’t understand why GOD, the Supreme and Mighty, All-powerful and All-encompassing, Creator, puts up with us puny little creatures who stand on the earth He created as we shake our collective fist at Him. I would have destroyed mankind eons ago and stuck with dogs and horses. They are much easier to deal with! Yet in spite of our rhetorical fist waving, God loved us – Loves us – enough to make the ultimate sacrifice. He sent His Son Jesus to live among us, to teach us, and to die for our sins so that we could have eternal life with Him.

Amazing Grace.

He knows your heart. Do you know His?

Righteous, or Justified?

“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; ….. Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; …..” – ROMANS 3:9-11, 19‭-‬25 NASB

I’m so glad Jesus made sure of my justification, because I know I am not righteous! I love how Charles Spurgeon says it:

“Be glad of heart, O believer, but take care that thy gladness has its spring in the Lord. Thou hast much cause for gladness in thy God, for thou canst sing with David, ‘God, my exceeding joy.’ Be glad that the Lord reigneth, that Jehovah is King! Rejoice that He sits upon the throne, and ruleth all things! Every attribute of God should become a fresh ray in the sunlight of our gladness. That He is wise should make us glad, knowing as we do our own foolishness. That He is mighty, should cause us to rejoice who tremble at our weakness.” —Charles Spurgeon

So, are you Righteous? Or Justified? That is the question. I choose Justified, because I can never be Righteous.