Listen. HEAR.

I have a really hard time keeping my mouth shut. (Really????) All my life, I have struggled with listening. I’m going to blame it in part to being ADD (or ADHD) – my brain has a difficult time focusing. Anyway, I listen, but when I hear a point I want to respond to, my mouth immediately starts moving before the person can finish what they are saying. I’m quick to hear, but equally quick to speak. My Dad would say “Think before you speak.” In his first letter to the church, James says to be quick to hear and slow to speak.

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
James 1:19‭-‬20‭, ‬26‭-‬27 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jas.1.19-27.NASB1995

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
James 4:1‭-‬3‭, ‬17 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jas.4.1-17.NASB1995

I know that speaking before thinking is wrong. A sin. I’m actually much better now than I was, and I strive to continue to be better at listening first, and hearing what is really being said, rather than reacting to the first thing that hits me. Responding, instead of reacting. As Christians, we need to be able to do that. There are so many conflicts that the enemy is throwing at us and threatening us with. Prayerful responses. I’m talking to me, especially.

LORD, be with me as I struggle to find Your voice instead of my own. I pray for those who read this, and who might struggle as I do to listen and to think before speaking. Help me, help us, as Your children, to promote You rather than us. I love You, LORD, and praise You. Thank You for the life You have given me. In the Name of the Saviour, Jesus Christ, I pray. Your will be done. Amen.

Who’s in Charge?

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Matthew 16:21‭-‬23 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.16.21-23.NLT

Are you looking at life like Peter was? I know that for the majority of my life, that’s how I’ve seen and done things. Strictly a human view, and not waiting for God’s view. Too impatient. I still find it difficult to slow down enough in my thoughts to consider what God would think or want. Who’s in charge of your life? If you consider yourself a Christian, like I do, a follower of Jesus Christ, should we be saying “Get away from me, satan!”?

What are you facing today that you need to pray about and wait for God’s leading? Where are you looking at things from the human view, from our human feelings, instead of leaning on the LORD? When do you need to say, “Get away from me, satan!”?

Love God, then yourself. It’s the only way.

To Politicians Everywhere

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

For your hands are defiled with blood And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness.

No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly.

They trust in confusion and speak lies; They conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity.

They hatch adders’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth.

Their webs will not become clothing, Nor will they cover themselves with their works;

Their works are works of iniquity, And an act of violence is in their hands.

Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood;

Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Devastation and destruction are in their highways.

They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks;

They have made their paths crooked, Whoever treads on them does not know peace.

Therefore justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us;

We hope for light, but behold, darkness, For brightness, but we walk in gloom.

We grope along the wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes;

We stumble at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like dead men.

All of us growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves;

We hope for justice, but there is none, For salvation, but it is far from us.

For our transgressions are multiplied before You, And our sins testify against us;

For our transgressions are with us, And we know our iniquities:

Transgressing and denying the Lord, And turning away from our God,

Speaking oppression and revolt,

Conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words.

Justice is turned back,

And righteousness stands far away;

For truth has stumbled in the street,

And uprightness cannot enter.

Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.

Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.”


Isaiah 59:1‭-‬15 NASB1995

http://www.bible.com

When I Cry

“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalms 34:15‭-‬18 NASB1995

I’ve done a lot of that in my life. Crying, I mean. Not as a righteousness person, either. Although I grew up in the church, when I left home for college it only took a few months for the enemy to seduce me away from God. Boys (because they certainly weren’t mature enough to be called men), recreational drugs, alcohol, the thrill of being kissed and touched and told how beautiful I was…. I would go home, back to my parents house, for breaks and pretend nothing had changed with me. Reflecting on that time, I’m sure the only one I was fooling was myself. After just 2 years, I left school and married the man of my dreams. It quickly became more of a nightmare than a dream.

A miserable pregnancy, an unfaithful, abusive husband, and I was still pretending to the world and my parents that life was good. The facade was thin, and I think more people saw through it than believed it, but I wasn’t giving up. Pull yourself up, girl! Stand by your husband, submit to your man, and keep up appearances. I couldn’t allow my parents, let alone God, to know how badly I had fallen, so I stayed, the great pretender. As the abuse became more severe, I became more angry and belligerent, especially towards God. How could He allow this to happen? So I turned further away from Him. He didn’t reach down and fix my life, so I rejected Him. But I still pretended to my family.

After eight miserable years, I divorced him and gave up my daughter to a family member. Anything to keep him from having custody. It was like tearing out my heart, but I knew it was the best thing for her. My life didn’t get better. It seemed that I was destined to stay with abusers. The enemy led me to another one. I was mesmerised; in a trancelike state for months, subject to his ….. what? Desires, whims, abuses? I can’t describe what happened, because it was like a dream, or more like a nightmare, that I couldn’t escape from. Ironically, it was my abusive husband who rescued me from that situation.

Was life with him different than before? Not really, but it was better than the nightmare I had been in. For years, I moved from man to man, looking for my Knight in Shining Armor, my Saviour. I lived in a homeless, hopeless state. For a period of time, with my third husband, life improved greatly. Together, we became active in church, putting God in a prominent place in our lives. I’ll tell you now that it’s critical to put God in a prominent place, but unless He is FIRST, it won’t last. It was good, until the enemy got a toe hold into our lives, and pulled my husband away from God and from me.

After that, I spiraled. It wasn’t pretty. Outwardly I looked like I had it together, but inwardly I was angry at God and refused to let Him have my heart. That’s a dark spot. I allowed abusive men back into my life, and several years passed as I pretended to be a Christian but couldn’t allow God to have control. I was going to do it myself. God got my attention. Husband five was my breaking point; my “bottom”. I took him to a Christ-centered 12 step recovery program so that he could get his act together (because there was nothing wrong with me. Ha!).

God has a sense of humor. The husband left, rejecting the program, God, and me. I stayed in the program. Funny thing, my biggest lesson was that I wasn’t so perfect after all!

Life is full of the good, the bad, and plenty of the ugly for all of us. It isn’t easy for anyone, even our children. That’s just a fact. Rich, poor, any shade of color, every continent, every nation. Life is hard. So why bother with living? Because God gave us life through His Son Jesus! Because of Jesus, I can face all the ugly in my life. Because of Him, I can face today. Every. Single. Day. Living with Jesus, and putting Him first means that I am never alone, and it means that when I can’t take the next step, He will hold me and carry me through it.

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12 NASB1995

Are You Watching The News?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31‭-‬32 NASB1995

Lying politicians. Blatant discrimination. Pornography on primetime TV. Government consumed with elitism. Families divided, fatherless children, abused children. Attack after attack on Christian values, in person, on the radio, on social media, on television talk shows and sitcoms and ‘regular’ programming; everywhere, anywhere, you look. Even from the pulpit.

Is there any common sense left in our country, or in the world?

I attempted to open an online conversation with a professing Christian, who is in fact a church leader, after he came out in favor of abortion. I say attempted, because he, and several other people, refused to hear anything against their beliefs that it should be legal and completely up to the woman. But, what about the baby, I asked? Apparently, there is no “baby” until it can survive on it’s own, so at least 6 to 7 months after conception. It’s a “foetus”. Instead of arguing, I bowed out of the conversation. There is ample evidence available about babies in the womb, but there is no point in arguing with people who are entrenched in their beliefs. That said, I admit that I’m pretty entrenched in my beliefs…. but I try really hard to base them in the Scriptures, without picking and choosing. Am I always right? Not at all!

I’ve come to realize this: people believe what they want to believe, and most will take the most comfortable view. I found this prayer in the devotional Good Morning Easter Devotional, by Compassion. It really touched my heart.

Lord, thank You we can have hope in every situation because You are always faithful. I bring You all the situations in my life that are challenging and the prayers that are yet to be answered. I ask that You renew my hope. Please help me to keep bringing good news, to carry your peace and declare that You reign in every season of my life. Amen.

“How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7 NASB1995

Look Around You!

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB1995

Read the whole chapter. When King Asa relied on his own judgement and looked for help from another king first, before asking the LORD, he lost the war. When Asa relied on and trusted in the LORD, he won the war. This is an incredibly important passage for us today. Look around you!

Whatever we are facing, we can do this …. because we don’t have to do it in our own strength. This is such an important verse for Christians today! Not my strength, but the LORD’S strength. God KNOWS. He sees us. He hears us. He knows. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts….. these are the Eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.” Zechariah 4:6‭-‬7‭, ‬10 NASB1995 He is omnipotent; He is looking so “that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” RELY ON THE LORD. It always comes down to that. Rely on, TRUST in the LORD; first seek God, then ask others.

“LORD [YAHWEH], there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.” “…. the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” 2 Chronicles 14:11, 15:2 NASB1995

The Founding Fathers were believers. To know this, all you have to do is read their writings. Were they perfect? No, far from it! They were men, flawed and fallible, just like we are today. But they knew that the God of the Ages, our God, Yahweh, was with them, fighting the forces against them. We are in a battle today! Look around! The forces of evil, the enemy, have the tactics to take over. They are insidious. They lie; they know how to appeal and coerce in order to capture people’s – even Christian’s – minds, and the people don’t even recognize what is happening! God rides the heavens, looking for us, waiting for us to turn to Him, to come down to help us. I can’t untangle my life, but God can. Ask Him. Turn to Him. We need His guidance and His Grace today!

Are You Assembling With Like Minded Christians?

“…. and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB1995

Our walk with Christ is personal; it is not private or individual, and it is critical for our spiritual health to come together with fellow believers. Are you too lazy to get up and get ready to attend a service? I have been, too many times. We can be conceited or arrogant, and think we don’t need the church. It’s possible to worship when out in nature, and as uplifting as it can be, it can never replace meeting with others of God’s people. Worldliness will also cause us to abandon Christ. When sports or shopping keeps away from church, we are hurting not only ourselves, but others who rely on us to be an example of Christianity. Willful sin cuts us off from the lifeline of the church.

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” Hebrews 10:26 NASB1995

A passion for Christ, Who is the head of the church, is a passion for the church. Just as it was the custom of Jesus to attend services (Luke 4:16), it should be our custom, our desire, to attend church and be with God’s people. Gather together in God’s Presence, His “church”. Christ promises to be with us, when 2 or more gather…. it is a time of renewal; a reference point that helps us define where we are in our lives. Being together helps us to consider and encourage others. When we are active and participating, we help the church to be all that it can be by encouraging others through our attendance, and through praying for each other.

We are preparing for the end of the world as we know it: there is wide spread apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), a move toward a one world government, and the pandemic. We need to gather today in preparation of the ultimate gathering at the Rapture. We aren’t going to live here on earth forever, but know this: everyone will live SOMEWHERE for eternity. Will you live in Glory with Christ, or will you be stuck for eternity in agony with the enemy of Christ? Only you can decide.

What in the World?

A few days ago, I made a comment on social media.

“A German dramatist named Schiller in a play he wrote, said “Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.” I don’t believe in “gods”, but I am thankful that GOD is in control and all of the stupidity – on both sides – will end when He is ready for it to end.”

This is a response I received:

“So you are waiting for your god to end everything and all will be well? If your god is in control, it is doing a damn poor job for everyone.”

Are we waiting for our ‘god’ to end everything? I’m not waiting for Him to end things as much as I am waiting for Him to begin things! It isn’t fair to blame God for the state of our world. We did this, not God. Eons ago, when He created man and placed him in the Garden, God gave him free will. We choose what direction we go in. We choose who we go with. We have the choice of choosing a life of the world, or a life with Him.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.” Psalms 133:1‭-‬3 NASB1995

A blessed life, a good life. We had a guest speaker for Sunday services January 31, Dr. Jonathan Murphy of Dallas Theological Seminary (and hailing from Northern Ireland originally). What he spoke on meshed with the thoughts I had begun here, and I’ve incorporated some of his thoughts into this.

We all know that life can change from blessed to bleak in a microsecond…. How often have you started out a day feeling good about your life, only to have something happen that throws you into a rage? The dog throws up all over the floor just as you are (trying) to leave for work. The kid drops or spills something, making a huge mess. Your spouse says something about your appearance, and it just goes all wrong. The store clerk completely messes up your order.

I love this poem Dr. Murphy quoted:

“To live above with the saints above

Wouldn’t that be Glory

But I live below with the saints I know

And that’s a different story”

– Dr. Mark Hitchcock

Doesn’t that just sum it up perfectly! We want to enjoy the blessings of great relationships in harmony, and from harmony, but that desire isn’t always realistic. It’s something we have to work at. Psalms 133 is a beautiful example of a life to strive for; in fact, the NASB calls it The Excellency of Brotherly Unit.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.” Psalms 133:1‭-‬3 NASB1995

It begins with “Behold” – that is David, saying, “LOOK, watch God’s vision for us! Pay attention here!” He wants us to have harmony in our lives. Look at Genesis 1:1-2. God created harmony. “And it was good….” The wording of the psalmist is very specific “….how good and how pleasant ….” Living in harmony includes diversity, and is pleasurable in God’s design. The High Priest Aaron was the holiest person known at that time, and he represented all people in front of God. Here, he is being prepared head to toe with the precious oil, just as in John 12 and Mark 14, when Jesus is bathed in costly perfume. Harmony = sacred service to God. The “dew of Hermon” symbolizes moisture coming down to the dry lower regions of the land, soothing and refreshing; life giving. Verse three completes the circle with verse one: “For there* (in harmonious relationships) the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.” For there – on the mountain of Zion, Jerusalem, where everyone, is in harmony when Jesus Christ, our ultimate High Priest, our only Mediator, Who prays over us, will return and bring life forevermore.

God does not bless squabbling and dissension.

When we fix our eyes on our High Priest Jesus Christ we want to behave and live like Him.

In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus!

Friends, Christians, listen. Spiritual warfare is REAL. Spiritual warfare is not visible, it is obscured; it is well organized, and it is constant.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10‭-‬12 NASB1995 (read 13-18, too!)

These demonic spirits are in every place of power today, including the US Capitol. We are in an all out attack. Read Genesis: God created TWO genders, male and female – two genders, brought together in marriage. This is a fundamental truth that is being denigrated and ridiculed today, from the office of the president on down. How can a Christ follower support someone who is for “gender neutrality” and killing babies in the womb?

Make no mistake, Satan is alive and active. His goal is to obstruct Christians. No matter what he does, though, he cannot keep our prayers from reaching God! Delays to our prayers can be because of the warfare, where demons are fighting to keep angels from bringing us answers, but not because God isn’t listening or answering. As the end draws near, the demonic presence will intensify. Want the prophecy? Read Daniel 9.

This is the TRUTH: We overcome through Jesus Christ! We don’t fight FOR victory, we fight FROM victory. Stand firm. Jesus defeated satan at the cross. We are fighting from the position of victory and we CANNOT be defeated. Remember this! It will be actualized at the second coming. Meanwhile, satan is out on bail…. Each of us is bound in the snare of the devil, ONLY until we receive Jesus Christ into our life. We can ONLY be strong IN the LORD. The Armor of God IS Jesus.

Our mission is to further the proclamation of the victory of the LORD.

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NASB1995

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, ” Ephesians 6:18 NASB1995

“SUBMIT THEREFORE TO GOD. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NASB1995

A.W. Tozer “It is not the praying sheep that satan fears, it is the Shepherd.” I pray that The Good Shepherd, the Lion of Judah, our LORD Jesus Christ, comes back soon!

“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 NASB1995

Accept Him today, because this is the most important decision of your life!