Restored

“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” – MATTHEW 28:5‭-‬6 NASB

The cross couldn’t hold Him, death couldn’t retain Him, and the grave couldn’t keep Him. The cross and the tomb shall remain empty for the rest of eternity, and then forever more. He is Risen, Restored to His Glory, restored to His Throne! Jesus Christ, the LORD of Heaven and Earth has conquered death and hell, and He has arisen, Victorious and Glorious!

He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!

In The Eye of The Storm

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” – Isaiah 55:6 NIV

In The Eye of The Storm is a song by Ryan Stevenson that really speaks to me right now. It’s not my walk, necessarily, that is stormy, but that doesn’t make it less real – or deadly. Whenever someone close to us finds out they are dealing with cancer or another health issue, we feel so helpless. What can we do? I’ve heard people say “I can’t do anything else, so I’ll pray…..” (or some variation of it). I wonder why we say that?

Praying is the most powerful thing we can possibly do, especially when the affected person might not be a Christian!

Seek the LORD. Call His Name. Search the scriptures. Pray. Pray more. Talk to GOD. He is there. Always. Whether you whisper to Him, or scream at Him; carry on a conversation…. all He wants, all He is waiting for, is us asking for Him. Of course we all want our loved one healed, the sooner the better. Isn’t that what we ask for, plead for? I don’t know why we have to go through these things – only, wait, I do know.

It’s called consequences, and just for the record, I despise that word. I hate that we have sin and evil in the world. So am I saying that that the person who has a diagnosis deserves it? Well…… yes, actually. Even the tiniest baby, the newest newborn. We are flawed, sinful beings, and we deserve much worse than anything we see on this earth. Why? Because we have taken the free will our Creator gave us, and we have rejected Him and chosen the world. Thank GOD that He has seen fit to deliver us from what we deserve through the sacrifice of His Son for each of us!

Truly, GOD doesn’t want any of His Creation to suffer, especially the innocent. When we ask for His deliverance from our consequences, He always answers. Always. His answer may be yes, it may be wait, and it may be no. We don’t ever want to hear anything but yes! As harsh as it may seem to you, we don’t often (ever?) get our happily ever after on this earth. We will suffer. I hate it, but it’s true. There is only one way to get the real happy ever after. Ready?

“JESUS answered, “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6 NIV

“For GOD so Loved the world that He gave His ONE AND ONLY SON, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For GOD did not send His SON into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” – John 3:16‭-‬17 NIV

Once more, the words of JESUS. He doesn’t want us to suffer, but He knows that we will because of where we live (i.e. earth).

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have Peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NIV

Like Paul, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…… that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of GOD. In the same way, the SPIRIT helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the SPIRIT Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And we know that in all things GOD works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:18‭, ‬21‭-‬21‭, ‬26‭, ‬28 NIV

AMEN.


Hurricane Irma. Image from the Daily Express.

Oh, Jerusalem

“Comfort, comfort My people, says your GOD. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s Hand double for all her sins.” – Isaiah 40:1‭-‬2 NIV

Jerusalem, the “city of peace.” This is an ancient (over 3000 years old) – and very modern – city that has been completely destroyed twice, and partially destroyed several times. King David claimed it in the name of LORD for the Israelites, and throughout history it has been called the most favored city of the LORD. There is a battle continuing even now in Jerusalem between the Israeli and the Palestinians. We know there is a major battle over the city still to come, because it was prophesied thousands of years ago, telling of the LORD’s return.

“Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights on a day of battle. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day – a day known only to the LORD – with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. The LORD will be King over the whole earth. On that day there will be One LORD , and His Name the Only Name. The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses, and will remain in its place. It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.” – Zechariah 14:3‭, ‬6‭-‬7‭, ‬9-11 NIV

What Hope the LORD gives! This passage was written over 2700 years ago, and once again, the prophet nailed what would be happening to Jerusalem and Israel in the 21st century. Are you anxiously awaiting the LORD’s return, or are you a scoffer who doesn’t believe? My friend, my heart hurts for you if you haven’t called on JESUS for your salvation. Our hope, the world’s hope, Jerusalem’s hope – indeed, the only hope – all lie within the MESSIAH, LORD, the CHRIST, JESUS.

“And everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved.’ ” – Acts 2:21 NIV

Image: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/New_Jerusalem

I Think There’s A Theme Here ……

Throughout the scriptures, there is a common thread. Actually, I see two, although they are tightly intertwined. The first thread is obvious: YAHWEH, the ALMIGHTY GOD, shows how much He Loves us and Treasures us, from Creating us to sending His Son, JESUS, to redeem us. The second thread is about us, humanity; how to live the best life possible, Worshiping and Loving our LORD and each other. He created man for companionship, for Him and for each other. He doesn’t need us, yet He desires a relationship with us. Humans, on the other hand, can’t live without that relationship. Before you start to argue the point, allow me to clarify: without a relationship with the LORD, we merely exist. To truly live, we must rely on Him as our LORD and as our primary companion — Yet we find it so difficult to acknowledge this Truth.

Think you’ve got your life under control? Really? I just finished reading an eye-opening book, “The Seat Beside Me” by Nancy Moser. If you truly think you’ve got it all figured out and that you are in charge of your life, I would encourage you to read it, and focus on the story of Dr. Anthony Thurgood. He had it all together, too, large and in charge….. until he realized he didn’t. Don’t read it if you find the thought of not being in control a disturbing concept!

I tend to be controlling and “in charge” until I remember where my “best thinking” has taken me. I have a difficult time asking for and accepting help, yet if I read (and follow!) the Word, that is exactly what I should be doing.

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9‭-‬10 NASB

Got that, self? “Woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” Here are more verses in favor of working together rather than (selfishly) alone:

“…… and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds …..” – Hebrews 10:24 NASB

“For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ” you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Galatians 5:14 NASB

If – When we choose to love our neighbor as GOD commands, it becomes easier to link ourselves with their needs and offer help, whether physical or spiritual.

“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak Truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” – Ephesians 4:25‭-‬27 NASB

“Do not grieve the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD, by Whom you were Sealed for the Day of Redemption. 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 4:30‭-‬32 NASB

Easier said than done! It is in our sinful nature’s to hold all of the evil within us. Bitterness can easily take hold of us when we feel we have been wronged. Wrath, anger, clamor, slander, malice – I have not only felt them, I have exercised them exceedingly in the past. I still contend with bitterness at times when it appears that the persons who have wronged me seem to prosper while I struggle. It’s not fair! Even so, this is what my LORD and my GOD ask of me:

“Let the Word of CHRIST richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with Thankfulness in your hearts to GOD.” – Colossians 3:16 NASB

Why does He ask this of us? For this reason:

“There is ONE body and ONE SPIRIT, just as also you were called in ONE HOPE of your calling; ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, ONE GOD and FATHER of all Who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4‭-‬6 NASB

“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.” – John 3:16‭-‬17 NASB

If we truly love our “neighbor” as ourselves, won’t we want them to experience the Life, Love, and SALVATION as offered by our LORD, just as we do?

Image from:

http://www.fbclagrange.net/resources/sermons/yahweh-sabaoth-the-lord-of-hosts/

GOD Still Speaks

I love the ways God uses the Old and New Testament writers to speak to us today. Even when it is not something I particularly want to hear, it’s always something I need to hear. Is that true for you, too?

“In this is Love, not that we have loved GOD but that He Loved us and sent His SON to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if GOD so Loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen GOD; if we love one another, GOD abides in us and His LOVE is perfected in us. By this is Love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world.” – 1 John 4:10‭-‬12‭, ‬17 ESV

Notice the word John uses to start the sentence that I highlighted above: Beloved. That one word sums up how the GOD Who created the universe – not just our little earth and and everything in it, but every galaxy, every planet, every star, down the the most minute particles and atom and beyond – this word says how He feels about each and every one of us! Mind-boggling, don’t you agree?

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your GOD.” – Leviticus 19:33‭-‬34 ESV

There are two points I see here. I think John is referring primarily to our brothers and sisters in CHRIST, but also to our brothers and sisters in humanity – everyone on earth is part of my (our) family, and I (we) should love them. Love the PERSON, not being swayed by the life choices or lifestyle, ethnicity, or social or financial status.

Secondly, GOD specifically tells His People of Israel to treat the foreigners among them as they treat their fellow Israelites, but I don’t believe He was limiting His Voice to Israel. Jesus gave us the Golden Rule: “Love thy neighbor as yourself” in Matthew 22:37-40. ( Anyone who loves the LORD should be practicing these commands.) Who is my neighbor? It is not just the person who lives next door or in my neighborhood. My “neighbors” consist of every person I come into contact with – each shop clerk, every irritating person in line or traffic, co-worker, study group…. all neighbors, even the family member you really just don’t like. Do you see how this ties together? We have neighbors and strangers among us. They could be from another country, or a different religion, or value system, or lifestyle. They could be a recovering addict. Even in our immediate family we can have “strangers and foreigners”.

Look around. Are there “foreigners” around you? How do you treat them? I have to look at myself, and examine how I treat the foreigners around me; I need to love them and pray for them daily. Here’s a great way to remind ourselves!

Image from: https://scpeanutgallery.com/2017/10/29/21st-sunday-after-pentecost-29-oct-matthew-2234-40-the-bottom-line/

Note: This post is not politically motivated, nor is it in favor of granting illegals asylum in the United States. That is an ENTIRELY different subject!

AWE

Adoration and Worship with Extravagance

Adore the SAVIOUR with our submission and surrender to Him; Worship the Son of GOD with humility, recognizing that He is 100% GOD and 100% man; be Extravagant with your worship and adoration. Remember the Magi, who brought the CHRIST Child costly and extravagant gifts to show their adoration and worship of Him, and to show the world that they saw in His Person a greater King than any other.

When GOD’s arch-enemy, whom we know by many names, tempted JESUS, our LORD answered him by quoting scriptures: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the Mouth of GOD.'” (Deuteronomy 8:3) Then Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the LORD your GOD to the test.‘” (Deuteronomy 6:16, Luke 4:12) Matthew 4:4‭, ‬7 ESV

The definition of insanity for people in recovery programs is “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” Does that ring any bells? You may not be participating in a formal recovery – for any hurts, habits, or hangup, and absolutely not limited to drugs or alcohol – but most people have acted out this definition of insanity at some time in their lives. Satan is a perfect example. He is a megalomaniac, maniacally desperate to show GOD that he can defeat Him, but all the enemy is doing is banging his head against the proverbial wall. Satan knows he loses in the end, so not only is he an insanely slow learner (pun intended), but we humans continually follow his lead….. over and over, expecting different results.

Instead of wasting our time and our lives chasing the irresponsible and impossible, whatever that may be to you, we would be so much better served spending more of our time in AWE with GOD. Not giving up our dreams and goals, but rather in looking at life, learning to recognize when we are falling into insane behavior, and following GOD’s Will rather than our own. There’s a big difference between giving up because we don’t succeed at something, and in falling into the addictive, insane behavior the enemy wants us bogged down in.

Our LORD GOD wants us to be successful. Our challenge is to distinguish between the Will of our LORD and our will, which is probably being manipulated by the enemy to move us away from GOD. By spending time in AWE, and accepting JESUS as our SAVIOUR, we defeat the enemy, and he hates to be defeated.

Adoration and Worship with Extravagance; AMEN.

“Adoration of the Magi” – Leonardo de Vinci

A Spicy Christmas

I opened my box of spices this morning! (Remember, I’m still unpacking and organizing from my move 😁 ) It was an insulated box, and the moment I lifted the top, the wonderful aroma of all the spices drifted out and enveloped me in warmth and memories. Cinnamon and nutmeg reminded me of my Grandma and my Mom making our ‘Christmas pudding’ and loads of cookies. We always had Apple Pudding, a cake-like dessert redolent with apples and cinnamon, and lots of assorted cookies…. add in vanilla and nutmeg and allspice; turmeric and chili powder, and the room becomes a tumult of spicy smells.

All of this reminded me of our SAVIOUR and the gifts that were brought to welcome Him to our world. Frankincense, an aromatic resin used as an ingredient of the incense burned in the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, as a symbol of the Divine Name. Myrrh, another aromatic resin was brought to JESUS. It was also used in the Temple, both as a part of a consecrated incense and as an ingredient in the Holy anointing oil. I believe they were brought the CHRIST child to Glorify Him as the Divine LORD, and in preparation of His Body for His death.

From http://www.gotquestions.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html :

Frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. The gift of frankincense to the Christ child was symbolic of His willingness to become a sacrifice, wholly giving Himself up, analogous to a burnt offering. [Myrrh] was a spice and was used in embalming. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Savior when He was about to be crucified, as a stupefying potion (Mark 15:23). Matthew 27:34 refers to it as “gall.” Myrrh symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and affliction. The baby Jesus would grow to suffer greatly as a man and would pay the ultimate price when He gave His life on the cross for all who would believe in Him.

The Magi, or the wise men of the East as they are popularly called (Matthew 2), brought gold to JESUS along with the Frankincense and Myrrh. In that time, gold was used as currency, jewelry, and for decorating. The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold, and many of the accoutrements of the Tabernacle and the Temple were made of gold (Exodus 25; 1 Kings). It was a symbol of royalty and divinity, so it was quite an appropriate gift for the CHRIST-Child, the King of the Jews. By receiving the gold, Joseph was presented with the funds He would need to take his family to Egypt, as King Herod set about his massacre of all the baby boys in his kingdom, also known as the “Slaughter of the Innocents” (Matthew 2).

As we breathe in the wonderful, spicy aromas of this season, take time to worship the Baby Boy, the Son of GOD; the One Whose birth brought all of this about, and eat a Christmas cookie for me!