So-called Brother

As followers of Jesus, we need to be aware in our relationships and in our actions/activities with friends who have not yet accepted Christ as their Saviour. It’s easy to be drawn into things that don’t honor our Lord. While this knowlege is important, we also need to hear this warning letter that was written to the Church in Corinth. I don’t think we consider this as much as we should.

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” – 1 CORINTHIANS 5:9‭-‬13 NASB

Not just in our association with non-Christians, but with other Christians, we have to watch ourselves. Are we cautious in our relationships? Do we take care in our business dealings? We all know of businesses that have the Christian ‘fish’ or the symbol of a cross in their advertising. I’ve read advertisements where they claim to be a ‘Christian’ business. I think we need to be extremely careful doing this!

Instead of advertising our Christianity, I believe we should let our actions and our ethics speak of our love of the Lord. Just because there’s a fish or a cross on the sign doesn’t make that business Christian – but it does set a precedent, especially if/when there is a problem. There are hundreds, no, thousands, of examples of a so-called Christian business person who has taken advantage of or treated their customer unethically. I imagine we’ve all seen it or experienced it.

Actions speak louder than words….. but words are still important! Today, may we all make a conscious effort to let our every action reflect the Light of our Lord. Just like the moon, which doesn’t have any light generating capacity itself, yet shines so brightly when reflecting the light of the sun, there is no light in us alone; it all comes from the Saviour, the Son.

Even Demons Believe

Did you know that Martin Luther wanted to delete the book of James from the Bible? It was a surprise to me!

“You believe that God is one* [One early missive reads there is one God]. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected …… ” – JAMES 2:19‭-‬22 NASB

James wrote about faith and works. Is faith complete without works? Can you do the works without the faith? The book of James is focused on these questions, but my laser eye (hahaha!!) focused instead on verse 19: “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” How often do we recognize this? When confronted by someone who insists that there isn’t a god, how do we react? Do we react? Or do we respond? I think this verse from James is the perfect response to such a statement! An even better response is the one we live in our daily lives. If demons believe in the One True God, and still go about their business of bringing evil into the world, then isn’t it up to us as believers to bring the opposite into the world?

“And [Jesus] said to him, ” ‘you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” – MATTHEW 22:37‭-‬39 NASB

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “vengeance is mine, I will repay,”says the LORD.” – ROMANS 12:9‭, ‬17‭-‬19 NASB

If more Christians, Christ-followers, dedicated themselves to live life in opposition of the demons, the way Jesus commands us in Matthew and Paul shows us in Romans, think of the impact! Even the demons believe …… but while they hide in the dark and shudder in fear under the gaze of our God, we are privileged to enjoy the Light of His Son, and it is up to us to reflect that Light back into the darkness covering the world. No Fear!

Listen to Love and the Outcome sing King Of My Heart.

Light

“Then GOD said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. GOD saw that the light was good; and GOD separated the light from the darkness.” – GENESIS 1:3‭-‬4 NASB

Light: What would we do without it? Assuming that we could exist without it, how could we get around or see to do anything? GOD the Creator knew before He ever created us that we would be dependent on light. Even the blind need sunlight to survive! It seems like the role of light is being discounted today. In cities, after dark is when people go out to meet and socialize. We work in buildings filled with artificial light, but it is far different from the light of the sun. Compare a tomato grown under artificial light to one grown in the sun. Their taste, and their colors, are not the same. People are that way, too. Without the light of the sun, we are wan and pale. Living in the dark is bad for our health, too. We need the sun for our bodies to produce the right vitamins, and the lack of sunlight can cause depression and anxiety.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” – ISAIAH 5:20 NASB

Physically healthy people understand the importance of sunlight over artificial light. A good doctor encourages their patients to get healthy doses of sunlight so that they will thrive. Just like our physical bodies, our souls need the Light of JESUS. Without Him, they become dark and twisted.

“Then JESUS again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” – JOHN 8:12 NASB

GOD spoke to Saul (later known as Paul) and said, “But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ ” – ACTS 26:16‭-‬18 NASB

He also spoke to every one of us who comes to accept JESUS as their LORD and their SAVIOUR, saying, “You are the Light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and Glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” – MATTHEW 5:14‭-‬16 NASB

Ask yourself this: Am I reflecting the Light of JESUS and letting it shine in my life through my brokenness, or have I hidden His Light if favor of the darkness of the enemy?

I Stand At The Door And Knock

The LORD said to John: “I reprove and discipline those whom I Love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear My Voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with Me. …. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the SPIRIT is saying to the churches.” – Revelation 3:19‭-‬20, 22 NRSV

JESUS is a gentleman, unlike His/our enemy who will slither into our lives through the slightest opening – just like the cockroach he is! Here in these verses from Revelations, JESUS is inviting us to the greatest banquet of all time! There’s no entrance fee, no tickets to buy, no bribes to be paid; just walk in through the door He is knocking on, the door to our souls that He is anxiously waiting to hold open for you – for me. No tricks, no lies, no fooling. Those things belong strictly to the enemy, who constantly bombards us with them. Why should we enter with the LORD now, rather than waiting? We need to be prepared, because we have no way of predicting exactly when JESUS will return and shut the door forever. He tells us what will happen if we aren’t ready when He returns in Luke 13:25 (NRSV).

“When once the Owner of the House [JESUS] has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘LORD, open to us,’ then in reply He will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ ”

Are you willing to take the chance of being locked out; left behind? Satan is busy busy busy these days, filling our ears with the lies that there’s no hurry to give up our sins or to go to JESUS now; after all, He’s been promising to return “soon” for over 2000 years! If you listen to the father of lies, he will convince you that it’s fine to stick with whatever we are doing, however sinful GOD says it is, because we are here, and JESUS isn’t. Lies; Liar! I tell you the truth; I lived that way for years until I finally recognized the deceitfulness and ugliness of the enemy of GOD. When we open our hearts to the LIGHT, all of the lies are illuminated in all of their darkness, to be seen for what they are. Being human, we want to slam the door shut so we can hide the blackness within – but it doesn’t work that way. Once seen, we cannot “un-see” the ugliness, but we can ignore it and pretend it isn’t there. (I tried that way, too. Tried and failed.)

Part of our journey with our LORD is to be transparent with others and to let the LIGHT of JESUS, our Salvation, show through all of our cracks and brokenness. He puts us back together, but I believe He leaves those imperfections on purpose. How else could we serve Him effectively when we are reaching out to sinners like us? We have the opportunity to let His LIGHT shine – or we can throw a blanket over it to hide it. It is a beautiful sight when that covering we put over the Light catches on fire. Talk about the LIGHT of the LORD! Where are you in your life journey? It’s said that there are two types of people: those who are in recovery, and those who need recovery. Let that LIGHT Shine! Open the Door quickly, before it is too late.

In My Defense

“GOD Blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the Crown of LIFE that GOD has promised to those who love Him.“- James 1:12 NLT (Note that it does NOT say “GOD helps those who help themselves.”)

Even though James thought he was writing to his contemporaries; fellow Jews who had been scattered throughout the known world, GOD’s message for him was to be sent through the ages. What James says looks eerily like it was written specifically for us today. For a person of true integrity, when he or she stands before the Great White Throne, waiting to be judged by Almighty GOD, there shouldn’t be many secrets hiding in their heart’s ‘closet’….. However, the outwardly righteous man, or the public presentation of integrity by a woman, could very well be hiding a closet stuffed to bursting with things that are secret and that they don’t want to reveal in the perfect Light coming from the throne. GOD sees past the facade we put up to fool other humans – and it is never a pretty sight.

Integrity defined: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole and undivided.” – from Google Dictionary

Jesus warns His followers, then and now:

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the LIGHT, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you Whom to fear. Fear GOD, Who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.” – Luke 12:2‭-‬5 NLT

Remember the story of David and Bathsheba? This man, who has been declared to be a ‘man of GOD’s own heart’, was an adulterer and he had her husband murdered in order to cover his transgression. A ‘man of GOD’s own heart’, who tried to cover his secrets and hide them from the ALMIGHTY, ALL-SEEING GOD. Do you recall how well his secrets remained hidden? Not long. Days, weeks, maybe a few months, but it all came to the light – and the consequence of those sins was that their son, their firstborn, died.

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” – Luke 12:2 NLT

Could our LORD make it any more clear? Whatever the secret, it will be brought out into the Light. Now is the time to open your heart’s door and allow the HOLY SPIRIT clean out the cobwebs; to open all of those secret places in your mind so that He can do a thorough cleaning. He wants us to be sparkling clean when we stand in front of the Judge, but He will not force us to unlock all those doors. The more you keep them closed up and locked up, JESUS’s death and resurrection can’t completely cover our secret sins.

Are you holding them closed and living your life looking back at them, so you won’t ‘forget’ how bad it/you were? GOD is a gentleman and won’t force us to open the door(s) in this life – but ultimately, when we stand in the box to be judged, those locks will pop open and everything will be revealed. Won’t it be good to not have any secrets to bring to the Light? I encourage you to unlock them and let the Holy Spirit do a clean sweep, right now, today! Listen to Steve and Annie Chapman sing “The Secret Place.” Even now, after hearing it for almost 30 years, it brings tears of joy to my heart. (You’ll have to Google it, or go to YouTube)

Open the door to your secret place. That’s when you find true Hope and Healing – the ONLY Way, through JESUS.


Photo credit: heartafterjesus.blogspot.com

The End …. or A Fresh New Beginning

What happens when we die? Is there a heaven – is there a hell? Where is heaven? Absolutely. Both the Old and New Testaments record their existence. A classic example is the story JESUS related to His followers in Luke 16:19-31, telling of the rich man and the poor man. The story is impressive in the Truth that is shared, and a very poignant warning to those who reject our LORD JESUS CHRIST. As the rich man can see into Heaven, or Paradise, I see that as a part of the eternal torment of hell. He gets to see throughout eternity how beautiful is. The poor man doesn’t reply, and I think that goes to what John has written in Revelations 21:4.

“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” – Luke 16:31 NLT

“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

Read that second part of Luke 16:31 again, and consider the person telling the story – JESUS. He knows that He will be crucified and buried for three days, and that He will rise from that grave, and people will still reject Him. Because of this story, it is clear that as soon as a body dies, the soul is instantly transported to the heavenly banquet – aka Paradise, Heaven – or as quickly, the ones who reject CHRIST go directly to the place of the dead – aka Hell, Sheol, Hades. If we die before JESUS returns to destroy Satan, our corrupted bodies are buried and our indestructible souls go to one of these two places. We aren’t going to be in limbo, we aren’t going to purgatory, and we won’t be reborn into another physical body. After the Second Coming of our LORD, when He defeats the enemy forces led by Satan, then Heaven, the dwelling place of GOD ALMIGHTY, will come to our new earth. Those who have acknowledged JESUS as their LORD and SAVIOUR will come to abide in the House of the LORD, with the Creator FATHER GOD, JESUS the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT. IMAGINE! Look at how John describes it:

“Then I saw a NEW Heaven and a NEW Earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down from GOD out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I saw no temple in the City, for the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY and the LAMB are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the Glory of GOD illuminates the city, and the LAMB is its Light. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty – but only those whose names are written in the LAMB’s Book of LIFE.” – Revelation 21:1‭-‬2‭, ‬22‭-‬23‭, ‬25‭, ‬27 NLT

Will I finally get to meet you there?I pray it is so!

I Declare The LORD’S Ministry

“…..[I] declare to you what [I] have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the FATHER and with His SON JESUS CHRIST. [I am] writing these things so that [my] joy may be complete. This is the Message [I] have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that GOD is LIGHTg and in Him there is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:3‭-‬5 NRSV

Lived it. Been there. As JESUS experienced life and was tempted by the enemy, so have I been tempted. Unfortunately, my humanity kept me in the darkness, succumbing to temptation after temptation – the complete opposite of my LORD and SAVIOUR. I tried to hide His Light in my life, because I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and I didn’t want to stop. I was living the life …. but in reality, was I even living? For years, I ignored right from wrong and let the enemy rule my life. I was having so much ‘fun’, I could (sort of) forget (i.e. ignore) how absolutely miserable I really was. I lived the definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Yep, absolutely, I was living the life ….. the life of insanity. Even when my late husband and I got involved back with a church, we partied on Friday and Saturday nights, then get up Sunday morning to attend services. It’s difficult to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground when they are in two different worlds! Eventually we figured that out and became involved with our church families. It was a much more peaceful way of life, even as busy as we were. When my husband became very ill, he became addicted to his pain medication and dropped out of church. At the same time, he became increasingly paranoid and verbally abusive. Satan had regained control of him and successfully turned him against everyone who cared about him. JESUS warned us about this happening in the scriptures:

“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, searching for rest. But when it finds none, it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.” – Luke 11:24‭-‬26 NLT

It’s true! I ran away from the situation and became angry at GOD because He allowed it to happen, shattering my dreams. I determined not to be overcome that way ever again, and set about finding people I could ‘fix’. How’d that work out for me? Not well! Those people became my focus instead of GOD. I left the fellowship and closeness of my church family so that I could focus on my friends – i.e. projects! – and fix them. I tried fixing both women and men, but especially men. I ended up bouncing between unhealthy relationships, and ultimately, not fixing anything. What I did, though, caused emotional harm to myself and ‘my’ people. Smart? NO! Painful and damaging? YES! There was so much ugliness back in my life, until one of my ‘projects’ lead me to a recovery program at church. I went to support him (no, to FIX him) and ended up staying in the program for myself. He left left the program to pursue his passions – lies, drugs, alcohol, sexual encounters, and more lies. Now he is permanently out of my life, and I am concentrating on keeping my heart focused my LORD. It’s the only way to go from mere survival to living.

Listen to Casting Crowns. Their song “Only JESUS” really sums up what my life was all about before complete surrender to JESUS instead of the world, and I hope you’ll take a minute to go to their website and listen to it.

Make it count, leave a mark, build a name for yourself
Dream your dreams, chase your heart, above all else
Make a name the world remembers
But all an empty world can sell is empty dreams
I got lost in the lie that it was up to me
To make a name the world remembers
But JESUS is the only Name to
remember