GOD Will Chase You Down….

“Then they called on the LORD and said, “We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O LORD, have done as You have pleased.” So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. Then the men feared the LORD greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”

Jonah was a Prophet, a spokesperson for the LORD to the nation of Israel. He was respected and revered by the people because of his prophesy that Israel would be expanded back to its original borders (2 Kings 14:25) He was the first prophet to be sent specifically to preach judgement to another nation….. and he refused to go. Instead, he ran the opposite direction, boarding a boat to take him far away. He was self-righteous, he had no compassion, and he thought himself better than the people of Nivevah; that they didn’t deserve to be saved. To Jonah, God was a means, not the end – he loved the recognition, comfort, prosperity, and the blessings he received but not the worship of God, and yet in spite of Jonah, God saved the sailors. Those pagan sailors demonstrated more compassion for ONE man than Jonah did for the entire city of Ninevah. Jonah said No to God. Jesus said Yes. I want to be more like Jesus and less like Jonah….. tuned in, listening, paying attention to what God is saying.

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Victory

Oh Victory in Jesus, my Saviour, FOREVER….

Such a great hymn! Do you happen to know it? With so many churches going to Praise and Worship music, a lot of the older hymns are falling by the wayside, and people don’t get to hear the beautiful stories they tell. Don’t get me wrong! I love singing and praising the Lord, whatever the music. This one, Victory in Jesus, makes me want to jump up and raise my hands – think about it. We are Victorious!

” ‘No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,’ declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 54:17 NASB

No weapon. Isn’t that the perfect verse? And this:

“….. but thanks be to GOD, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57 NASB

No matter what happens, my God has my back. When I’m in the midst of a crisis, even – especially even – when it’s one I have created, I don’t always remember this. I’m not in control of my life, regardless of how hard I try to be! We are all at the Mercy of the Living LORD. The enemy is constantly looking for ways to trip us up, and he will definitely use our own words and actions against us. He and his minions want us to fall and to fail, and to forget what we have to look forward to in our Eternity with Christ. If he can keep us looking behind us, focusing on our pasts, then we can’t be looking forward…… and when we aren’t looking forward, we trip. I don’t mean not to remember our pasts. It’s important to remember, so that we don’t go down those paths again. Just don’t dwell on it. (If you are OCD like me, you know that I am fully aware of just how difficult that can be!)

HOWEVER……

Look at these words the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:

“Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:153-‬21 NASB

Our LORD, our Jesus, is not constrained by the bounds of sinful humanity. He can do anything, and He can do it in ways that are beyond our comprehension; beyond anything we can conjour up in our imaginations. Don’t be afraid to have honest conversations with Him. Ask Him for the desire of your heart. Be specific. Above all else, remember this:

” ‘No weapon that is formed against you will prosper’ ….. declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 54:17

Can I get an Amen???

https://bible.com/bible

Peace of Christ

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” – COLOSSIANS 3:15 NASB

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – PHILIPPIANS 4:7 NASB

Peace. What a wonderful word. Sometimes, when I hear it, I have to chuckle as I recall the idealized thoughts of teenagers – “I want to see peace on earth; Give peace a chance; All the world needs is love, love, love…..” Sure, sure. Who doesn’t want all the fighting and evil to go away? It’s a nice thought, granted, but is it realistic in the world we live in? Unfortunately, no. As a follower of Jesus Christ – not as a Christian who is defined by the world – I believe it is for us to speak out:

“…… but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness …..” – 1 THESSALONIANS 2:4‭-‬5 NASB

When I allow the Peace of Christ in my heart, it allows me to more easily see the evil, manipulating ways of the world, and enables me to speak out against it. His peace teaches me to be content in my circumstance ……. and I continually work on that!

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the Will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – ROMANS 12:2 NASB

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.

Worried?

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 PETER 5:6‭-‬7 NASB

Verse 7, especially, is favorite verse of many, used to assure people that God loves them, and it’s true! He loves us very much, and He wants us to cast aside our anxieties, our worries, onto Him to carry instead of us. But, is it okay to just quote verse 7? It must be taken in context, as we should be diligent to use any scriptures. Verse 7 is not a new sentence, and must be included with verse 6. In humility, give your cares to God….. Are we doing this? Do we hand over our worries and our anxieties in humility? Worry is overwhelming! It is chocked off, divided; it gives a small thing a BIG shadow, and it can give us the ILLUSION of control. Worry is telling God we don’t trust Him to take care of the things that matter to our hearts. Our pride takes over, evidence of a prideful heart – the opposite of humility. Pride prevents us from giving our worries and anxieties to God. The word used here in verse 7 is singular, so it includes all of our anxiety, worry, and what if’s in one big bundle….. not some of them, ALL of them.

Sometimes it’s easy to get our concern confused with our anxiety. Concern is different; it’s a “good” worry. Concern isn’t self-focused or self-reliant. Jesus modeled the attitude and behavior for us; the perfect example:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. …..but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” – PHILIPPIANS 2:3-4, 7 NASB

Like David, in Psalm 55, we need to turn our worry and anxiety over to God, and have confidence that He will provide what we need. (Remember though, need is not always the same as want!) Concern is not worry. Trust God – Carry it or cast it on Him. Trade worry for trust.

Thank God for what He is going to do instead of trying to fix it myself. He already took care of our biggest burden, our sin burden. why wouldn’t he take care of our little burdens?

I Surrender

“Lord, make me humble, but don’t let me know it.” Dwight L Moody

Continuing Pastor Mark Hitchcock’s sermon from Sunday …… he talked about humility in our Christian life. It makes me wonder why so many Christians are so proud.

“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 PETER 5:5‭-‬7 NASB

“Pride is the soil from which all sin grows.” Mark Hitchcock

Merriam-Webster describes “servant” as “someone that serves other. A “subject” is “to make oneself amenable to the discipline and authority of another,” or, to be under someone, a servant, of service to someone else; humble. nothing we can do on our own, all depends on GOD. The phrase here, to “clothe yourselves” means to tie it on, like an apron on a servant – like Jesus did when He washed the disciples feet.

“….. and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to – continually fighting, open warfare – the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34, 16:5, 6:16-19) Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, ….” – 1 PETER 5:5‭-‬6 (Deuteronomy 8:2-6, James 4:10)

“Clothed in humility” ….. are we scantally clad?

Do you see what the message is? We must consciously come under the Hand of GOD. Not just in this moment, but continuously, as we go through life. It’s so easy to let pride, the I can do it attitude, creep in! GOD will exalt the humble, not man. It may be this life, and it may not be, but it will definitely be in GOD’s Kingdom and Eternity.

Remember these words of the old hymn by Judson W. Van DeVenter, published in 1896? This is what he said of his inspiration for the hymn:

For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, He caused me to sing. (Emphasis mine)

I Surrender All
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.

Refrain:
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

I surrender all, I surrender all, All to Jesus, I surrender all.

Ready to Defend the Faith

“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” – 1 PETER 2:17 NASB

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing …..” – MATTHEW 6:1‭-‬3 NASB

“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts (v. 13-14 are from Isaiah 8:12-13, with ‘Christ’ substituted for ‘Yahweh’), always being ready to make a defense (apologetics: a rational and reasonable answer or account for the HOPE that is in us, or why we believe what we believe) to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” – 1 PETER 3:13‭-‬16 NASB

What is this Living Hope, that we would want to honor all people, or care for those less fortunate, or even be willing to submit to suffering for it? If you go back to 1 Peter 1, especially verses 3-5, we see it clearly stated:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His great Mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” –
1 PETER 1:3‭-‬5 NAS

Apologetics in a nutshell. John Piper said (“Make a Case for Your Hope”, October 19, 1980) about verse 15, “….. literally Peter said, “Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts ready always to make a case . . . for your hope. This suggests that there is a very close connection between reverencing the Lord Christ in your hearts and always being ready to make a case for your hope. ……. How shall you always be ready to make a case for your hope? Answer: Reverence the Lord Christ in your heart, and you will always have a reason to give for why you are hopeful.

Charles Ryrie’s book “Basic Theology” looks like a good resource for really digging onto what you believe, and for understanding how and why you come to your conclusions. I’m convinced that not only does GOD exist (Genesis 1:1), but He is the Creator of everything. He is Triune, equally GOD the Father, GOD the Son, and GOD the Holy Spirit. The Bible is His Word, communicated through humans to put it into written form, and not to be disputed or changed by us. GOD the Son, Jesus, left heaven to live an unimpeachable life as a human; born of a virgin, 100% GOD and 100% human. He was brutally tortured and killed by us, only to conquer death and the grave, rising up out of that tomb in a glorious, resurrected body three days later. His return was witnessed first-hand by hundreds of people, and His transformation and ascent into heaven occured in front of witnesses. God wants to communicate with His creatures (that’s us!), and He does it through His Book, the Bible, and through prayer. In the Book, we can read the 500 prophecies that have already been 100% fulfilled; and the 500 prophecies still to come. He is GOD and He has come for me; He is my Hope – the ONLY Hope of life and eternity. Enthroned in our hearts, He is the Living Hope – the only Hope in a seriously depraved world. I have experienced – and embraced – that Hope and Mercy in my life.

Have you embraced the Living Hope of Jesus Christ? Are you ready to defend your faith?