First, Last ….. I AM

This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies: “I AM the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like Me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future. Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim My purposes for you long ago? You are My witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!” Isaiah 44:6‭-‬8 NLT

This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer and Creator: “I AM the LORD , who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. Who was with Me when I made the earth?” Isaiah 44:24 NLT

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Storytellers

Throughout world history, storytellers have been revered. The bards of medieval Europe told tales of bravery and woe, tapestries have been woven to show stories; ancient peoples told stories through songs and tales and in cave paintings and pictographs. The Egyptians painted their tombs, the Romans had their plays and actors. From the beginning, children have gathered together to hear their elders share stories with them. The American native peoples have made clay figurines of storytellers for centuries.

Why do we read to our children, and have story times in Sunday School, and have musical productions and plays in the church? (It’s ALL storytelling…)

“And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” [and Jesus answered] ” ……Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘ you will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; …..But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” ” – MATTHEW 13:10‭, ‬13‭-‬14‭, ‬16 NASB

Jesus also said in Matthew 19:14 to “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t keep them away. The kingdom of heaven belongs to people like them.”

We should be like children when it comes to listening and learning God’s Word. How else will we learn to HEAR what He is telling us? We should open our eyes to the splendor God created; and to SEE all things through a child’s eyes. They hear and see with wonder and with clear vision, and they know through the stories of God’s Word that He watches over His children!

When questioned by the High Priest, Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.” – JOHN 18:20‭-‬21 NASB

Have you heard Jesus? Listened to His Words? Do you have what He brought to you? Read the book of John, and hear.

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” – JOHN 17:3 NASB

Kiss of Friendship

“A judge who says to the wicked, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by many people and denounced by the nations. But it will go well for those who convict the guilty; rich blessings will be showered on them. An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship. Don’t testify against your neighbors without cause; don’t lie about them. And don’t say, “Now I can pay them back for what they’ve done to me! I’ll get even with them!” ” – Proverbs 24:24‭-‬26‭, ‬28‭-‬29 NLT

I can’t think of anything that bothers me more than finding out a friend/family member gave me an answer to a question that wasn’t honest. Telling me what you think I want to hear isn’t being honest! Telling someone else that you think I’ve made a bad decision and not telling me, or getting frustrated with me and not telling me ….. that’s not being honest with me, either. I would rather hear the truth, even if it is upsetting to me, and know that you said it because you care.

Really.

I’ve been reading through social media posts (again), then I read the verses (above) from Proverbs. I wish that every commentator, every blogger, every politician, every news person, would read them, then apply them.

Just my 2 cents.

The Promise

This is now:

“…. but [JESUS] said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for Power is made perfect in weakness.” ” – 2 Corinthians 12:9a NRSV

His Power; my weakness. His Grace; His Mercy, is what has kept me alive – literally – this far into my life. I am lost without Him. My decisions, my “best thinking” is the primary reason for the troubles and hardships in my life. You’ve probably heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I lived it for years. Life is so much better when I say “Your Will be done, not mine.”

This is GOD’s promise:

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” – John 14:2‭-‬3 ESV

The SON of GOD said that He will prepare a place for me. Can it get any better than that? I may live in a hovel on earth (I don’t, presently, but very little separates me from homelessness. It’s just a fact of living on earth), but imagine what awaits us when we leave here! I know that JESUS left His heavenly throne to live and die on this earth to atone for my sins; that He walked out of His tomb after 3 days and that thousands testified with first-hand knowledge to the fact of His Resurrection. I know that He died for ME. Do you? Can you say with certainty that you have accepted Him as your Saviour? If you have, then you have His promise, this future, to look forward to.

And this is my future:

“See, the Home of GOD is among mortals. He will dwell with [us] as [our] GOD; [we] will be His peoples, and GOD Himself will be with [us]; He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3‭b-‬4 NRSV

Can you picture it?? Without GOD’s Promise for my future, life would, indeed, be bleak. My heart cries out for all the people who don’t understand that there is a hell, there is a heaven, and we will spend the rest of eternity in one of them – NO exceptions. Just reading the descriptions of hell in the scriptures is bone-chilling. Hell, Hades, Gehenna, the Lake of Fire…. it goes by many names, just as the “ruler” of hell has many names. Don’t be fooled! He and his demons start out making sin look so innocent and pretty, but it is all lies, deceptions, and untruths. I promise you that it is just a front that they hide behind to trap you. I was snared once. I couldn’t escape his claws and chains for years, and it was ugly. I would see glimpses of light, and I believe they use that to help keep their captives in line.

JESUS saved me. No one and nothing else could. Just JESUS. Call His Name anytime, anywhere, and He will rescue you! When you can’t reach out, He will reach for you. When you can’t see, He will guide you. When you can longer walk, He will carry you. When your burdens are too great to bear, He will take them. He PROMISED. He is the Deliverer, the Great Physician, Saviour of the world. Do you know Him?

Truths, Halftruths, or Lies?

Talking Heads. That’s one way of referring to reporters. I remember when we believed that the reporters told the truth, and we didn’t need to second guess them, or research to determine the real truth. We trusted that whatever Walter Cronkite said was right; true. Unfortunately, it is no longer true that we can believe whatever is said. The news now is full of blatant partisanship, outright disdain, lies, and halftruths. Nighttime talk show hosts are among the worst offenders, and are so prejudiced that I refuse to watch them. Making a couple of offensive jokes is one thing, but making the entire monolog about disrespecting our elected officials is not acceptable. Even when I cannot stand a person or their politics (and there have been many!), I still should respect the office they hold.

There are reporters whom I hold in great respect, and they are the recorders and reporters of the scriptures; the writers of the Bible. When GOD spoke, they listened and accurately recorded His messages alongside first-hand accounts of their history. In the New Testament, the Gospels are eye-witness accounts, and well researched accounts, of the Life and Testimony of the One known as JESUS CHRIST, MESSIAH. Luke, a physician, began his account:

“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.” – Luke 1:1‭-‬4 NRSV

“Then He [JESUS] said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the SON of MAN, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the SON of MAN be in His day. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.” – Luke 17:22‭-‬24‭, ‬33 NRSV

We should give serious thought to who we listen to, whether on the nightly news or in the pulpit on Sunday, or on social media, 24/7. What is the real TRUTH? Are we listening to GOD’s Truth or the half-truths and lies of the world? I try to follow Luke’s example and investigate, but we all fall victim to the propaganda and outright lies being promoted, at least part of the time. A couple of days ago, we had the opportunity to vote for a number of political offices. For months beforehand, there was a huge amount of rhetoric (i.e. lies and halftruths) that went on from the candidates, their PAC’s, and the groups who supported – or opposed – them. Lines were drawn between parties, and I think people failed to look at the candidate’s records, choosing from emotion rather than fact. As a result, I believe our country lost people who were much better suited for the job at hand than some who were elected. We desperately need to look to GOD for guidance through His Word, rather than looking to the news pundits; the Talking Heads.

JESUS is coming back, I believe sooner rather than later. The earth and all of her people, all of humankind, are in the throes of great trials and tribulations. Just look around! Research it! Matthew 24:4-29 describes how bad things will get here on earth, and it is all happening now. John was a great reporter, and in his book of Revelations, chapters 6-18, he tells in detail everything that will occur before JESUS returns, and in Revelations 19 reveals how JESUS returns:

“Then I [the Apostle John] saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its Rider is called Faithful and True, and in Righteousness He Judges and makes war. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name inscribed, “KING of kings and LORD of Lords.” ” – Revelation 19:11‭, ‬16 NRSV

What does this all mean to me? It means that I need to take everything I hear and carefully weigh it against GOD’s Holy Word, the Bible. I need to be quiet and listen, try to discern the truth behind the rhetoric, and look to the recorders of Truth. Remember this:

Are You Listening?

I follow Graham Allen on Rant Nation. Yes, he uses rough language at times, and yet I listen to him. He has lots of tatoos, and I watch him anyway. He posted a video (“The Light of the Lord,” in case you want to watch it 😁 ) about a comment a woman – who said she was a Christian – said to him about his tattoos. She didn’t like the tattoos; therefore, she “couldn’t stand to look at him.” Really??? Woman, did you hear yourself? Are you even listening? I’m working really hard not to be judgemental here…. JESUS has something to say about it, too.

But I say to you that listen, LOVE your enemies, DO GOOD to those who hate you, BLESS those who curse you, PRAY for who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. GIVE to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. DO TO OTHERS as you would have them do to you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

But LOVE your enemies, DO GOOD, and LEND, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be MERCIFUL, just as your Father is Merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. FORGIVE, and you will be forgiven; GIVE, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” – Luke 6:27‭-‬38 NRSV

If that last sentence didn’t grab your attention, perhaps you should read it again. I did. I think maybe we, meaning every single person who claims the name of Christian, should print out those verses and post them on our mirrors so that we see them Every. Single. Day. You might not need it, but I need the reminder. Me. The person who doesn’t love my enemies (I hold grudges and have a hard time letting go of hurts), who has trouble doing good to people who don’t like me, and especially doesn’t want to pray for blessings on any of those people!! Then I read that sentence again ” ….. for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.Whatever I do will – and does – directly affect me. Not ‘karma’, JESUS. Thank you, Graham Allen and Rant Nation, for reminding me what, and WHO, is really important.

Taste and See

“I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak His praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the LORD’s Greatness; let us exalt His Name together. I prayed to the LORD, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with Joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; He saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; He surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the LORD is Good. Oh, the Joys of those who take refuge in Him! Fear the LORD, you His godly people, for those who fear Him will have all they need.” – Psalms 34:1‭-‬9 NLT

JESUS CHRIST, my Living LORD! LORD of ALL; CHRIST Alone, Cornerstone.

“This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my Refuge, my Place of Safety; He is my GOD, and I trust Him.” – Psalms 91:2 NLT

I BELIEVE, LORD, help my unbelief! Just like the man in Mark 9:24, I do believe, yet I struggle to believe that the LORD GOD of the Universe has time to deal with my situation. A true oxymoron! I believe, yet I doubt. “Oh, the Joys of those who take refuge in Him!” Why do we doubt that the Almighty, the One Who created us, the Universe, from nothing (not space dust, not primeval sludge…. out of nothing but His Words as He spoke the Universe into being!) – how do we doubt that He, the LORD GOD Who knows how many hairs are on my head, can take care of my petty (in the bigger picture) issues? It’s just so hard to let go!! (No control issues here …. as the people who know me are rolling on the floor laughing!!)

It is hard to trust, especially when a life has been full of broken promises, heartaches, and fractured dreams. GOD knows this. Isn’t HIS life full of them, too? First, His most beautiful creation, the angel He called Lucifer, rebelled against Him: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” – Isaiah 14:12 KJV. Then, man, Adam, whom the LORD created to be His companion, who was created in GOD’s Own Image : “So GOD created man in His Own Image, in the Image of GOD created He him; male and female created He them.” – Genesis 1:27 KJV – this man and woman, who were given the world, literally given the world, decided they could do better than the LORD in making their decisions. Over and over, man has disappointed, rebelled against, and cursed GOD. What heartaches we have caused our Creator! We break our promises, we bargain with Him – LORD, I promise I’ll go to church every Sunday / start praying / quit drinking (you get the picture!) if You’ll just do this thing for me…. and I’m as guilty as anyone to try to bargain with Him!

We thiink that He doesn’t answer our prayers when we don’t immediately get the answer we’re looking for, but that’s not true. He always answers every prayer that is prayed, it just isn’t always the answer we want. He might say ‘yes’, He might give an audible ‘no’, or He might say ‘wait’. That’s the answer I seem to get a lot, and I know there is a purpose …. but it doesn’t make the wait any easier! What do we do when He says ‘wait’? Get frustrated, irritable, angry? Truthfully, I’ve been all those things. No, it’s much better to do as the psalmist wrote: “Wait on the LORD, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” – Psalms 27:14 KJV

And so I set myself to wait, to pray and to speak His Name; to boast on the LORD, and to taste and see that He is GOOD. Amen!