I Am Strong

From God’s Not Done With You, a devotional by Tauren Wells, on http://www.Bible.com:

“When we admit that we are prone to failure, that our strengths aren’t strong enough to save us, we find the power to live righteously through Christ….. When sin affects our opportunities to use our strengths, a perfect situation can become a perfectly wrong situation.”

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12‭-‬13 NASB

Did that hit you like it did me? It’s when I stand on my strength, and rely on my abilities, that I fall. It’s that old “I can do it” attitude. When I rely on me, I fail. I’m a “fix-it” person. If there’s a problem, let’s fix it. Don’t wait, don’t take time to pray about it, just get it done. I’ll do it if it kills me.

Sound familiar?

I’ve known so many people with that attitude. Then there’s the opposite: those who sit back and do nothing, expecting God (or man) to step in and take care of the problem with no effort from them.

In my opinion, both attitudes are equally wrong. The Bible doesn’t say that God takes care of those who take care of themselves. It also doesn’t say to be lazy and expect others to take care of you. God gives us our strengths, our talents, to use in conjunction with Him and His Will. Do I do that? Unfortunately, no, not like I should. Sometimes I’m determined to do whatever it is on my own. No help. Other times, I give up, and want someone to to do it for me. I’ve turned many opportunities into disasters with these attitudes. Even Peter, the Rock, loved by Jesus, fell when he tried to stand on his strength over the Lord’s.

“And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75 NASB

We need to weep for the many times we have denied Christ by trying to stand on our strengths rather than His. I weep for all those times, past, present, and future that I stand on my own. I’m human, I will continue to fail, but I am also a child of the King, forgiven for my failure.

Lord God, help me get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’ that I can stand without You; help me to take heed of Your Will so that I will not fall. I know that no temptation has ever overtaken me, or will ever overtake me, but such as is common to man; and I know that You are faithful. You will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able as long as I depend upon You, and with the temptation, You will provide the way of escape also, so that I will be able to endure it. Amen.

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Treasure Hunting

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; …..Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
2 Corinthians 4:7‭-‬9‭, ‬16 NASB

It occurs to me that the majority of humans, me included, spent our lives searching for treasure. Monetary treasure, relational treasure, the treasure of children. We think these things will complete us, and bring us satisfaction. It’s so sad when we realize that none of these, nothing that we can do or obtain on this earth, will bring real, heart-filling satisfaction. There’s only one way to reach that. It isn’t politically correct, or socially acceptable, to say this. In many parts of the world, you can lose your life for telling others this truth….. but that doesn’t make it any less true.

One way to reach the real treasure, satisfaction, completion, in our lives. One way. The real “Golden Ticket”.

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4‭-‬5 NASB

Through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, through His Blood that was shed in His torture and ultimately in His hanging on the cross, we receive our satisfaction and our completion. It is the only way. Even when we don’t think we are broken, we are. The saddest thing in life, to me, is to see people who are “above” it all. Those people who believe in their power, that it is through their efforts that they will find their treasures. Believe me, I am not in a position to judge anyone, because I am the most guilty of all.

God loves us most when we recognize our brokenness; when we finally realize that there is nothing we can do the fix ourselves. No matter how talented or smart or wealthy. We are totally dependent on Him. I’m working on switching my focus from the treasure hunting of this world to the anticipation of the treasures of heaven, where our hearts are full of the Glory of the LORD! I’d like to have an easier life, and I’d rather be with a companion, a partner, than to continue to be alone, but I’m trying to focus on the right things, the God things, instead of the earth things.

God turns our brokenness in a beautiful treasure!

HOLY

A.W. Tozer said “Our image of God shapes what we value, what we pursue, what we don’t pursue.” That should initiate some soulful searching. What, exactly, is my image of God?

Who is God?

He is His Holiness (Tozier “The Knowledge of the Holy”). His main attribute, according to the scriptures, is that He is Holy. Holy Holy Holy; My Holy Name. In Ezekial 39:7, the LORD says My Holy Name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let My Holy Name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.”

“And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His Glory.” Isaiah 6:3 NASB

Over and over, He refers to Himself as Holy, the Holy One, My Holy Name. The writers of scripture acknowledge that He is Holy and He is Glory: Psalms 99:5,9, 103:1, 111:9; Isaiah 40:5, 57:15; Revelations 15:4 “For You Alone are HOLY…”

“Then He [the LORD] said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is Holy ground.” ” Exodus 3:5 NASB

To whom then will you liken Me That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.” Isaiah 40:25 NASB

“I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am GOD and not man, the Holy One in your midst, And I will not come in wrath.” Hosea 11:9 NASB

The centrality of His Holiness is shown by His Son as He teaches us the way to pray in Matthew 6:9 –

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed – HOLY- be Your Name’, or as some translations say “may Your Name be kept Holy.

Holy is His Name, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. He is beyond words. We should be awestruck, in awe. when we see him for the 1st time. The biggest problem for humanity is the realization that God is Holy and we are not, but thankfully, Jesus took our unholiness and covers it with His blood, making us holy through His righteousness. Because of Him, we will stand blameless before the Lord!

“Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.”
Jude 1:24‭-‬25 NLT

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the LORD!

Not Me …..

“Not me!” A familiar phrase for anyone who spends much time around kids. Generally, it’s said because someone is in trouble, but consider what the Apostle Paul wrote, and what Jesus said:

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – GALATIANS 2:20 NASB

Not me!

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” – JOHN 10:27‭-‬29 NASB

Was they making excuses so that we could live however we pleased? Knowing that our salvation is permanent, a ‘done deal’, so we can say and do whatever comes to our mind, without regard to anyone else? It appears that many who claim to be Christians use these scriptures just that way.

Joe McKeever, preacher and writer at crosswalk.com and http://www.joemckeever.com writes this:

The person who goes on sinning as before, as 1 John puts it in several places, is not saved and never was. (Emphasis mine)

The person who has no desire to live close to the Lord Jesus and to please Him and never has had, is probably not saved and never was.

However, that said, we say without fear of contradiction that in Heaven there will be people we never expected to be received. We will be surprised again and again. And, just as certain, there will be people we expected to find in Heaven who never made it.

God is the judge and not us. We see through a glass darkly, the same way we do everything else. We see doctrine through that darkened glass also, and no doubt get some things wrong.

Let us always come with humility to these matters of eternal significance. And let us pull back from the foolish who have all the answers and tolerate no dissent.

He’s right. When I accept Jesus as my Saviour, I’m asking Him to walk with me in my life, guiding my path and my decisions. Does that mean I’ll always do and say the right thing? Not at all! My free will, my stubbornness, and my vanity will continue to get in the way and trip me up, and I will want to yell “It’s not me! I didn’t do it!” …… I need to let go of all that and allow myself to relax in the arms of Jesus, He Who lives in me.

Not me, but HIM! Image from Pinterest.com

FREE GIFT

Who doesn’t like getting presents?

I mean, really! Someone hands you this beautiful gift; are you just going to set it down and ignore it? I have a nephew who takes his time, gently taking it apart so the paper and ribbon aren’t wrinkled or torn. Not me! I’m one of those people …… I have a hard time not ripping off the paper as soon as I have it in my hands! Whether you are a precise, patient unwrapper like my nephew, or an excited ripper like me, are you going to turn your back on the giver and the gift? You’d think not, but millions of people over the ages have done – and do – exactly that.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – ROMANS 6:23 NASB

Jesus Christ Himself told us “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.” – JOHN 3:16 NASB

Jesus, Son of the Father, Creator of the Universe, Almighty GOD, left His place at the Father’s side, to bring us the Gift of Salvation through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. We ignore that gift at our own peril!

“These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the Presence of the LORD and from the Glory of His Power, when He comes to be Glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed – for our testimony to you was believed.” – 2 THESSALONIANS 1:9‭-‬10 NASB

That gift is for you. Doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you have been; who you are, what you upbringing or social status might be. We all stand on equal ground at the foot of the cross. God alone knows what you’ve been through, and He still wants you. He is still standing with His Hand stretched out for you to grab hold of. What are you waiting for?

Justified

“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; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” – ROMANS 3:21‭-‬31 NASB

That’s a long passage. For some of us (ADD’ers, unite!), it’s easy to get lost in the words and not realize the simple message in there. I am not a scholar, by any stretch, and I certainly don’t mean to try to change anything or manipulate any words. My goal is simply to help us/myself understand what is being said. In short, I think this sums it up:

1. Everybody is a sinner. We all need of redemption.

2. Nothing we can do or say will redeem us.

3. Jesus was sent by GOD to redeem us.

4. All we have to do is to accept Him, by Faith.

Faith. Not words, not attitude, not works. God, the Almighty, the Father and Creator, tells us there is one way to spend the rest of eternity with Him. One. Way.

“….. if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation…..” – ROMANS 10:8-‬13 NASB

Growing up in the church, I loved to sing,and this hymn, especially the chorus, is one that you can close your eyes and lift your hands and really allow the Holy Spirit to carry the words as an anthem, an offering of thanksgiving to the Lord.

Living, He loved me; dying he saved me;
Buried, he carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
One day He’s coming–O glorious day!

Listen to this hymn as sung by Casting Crowns; GLORIOUS DAY!

Are you justified? Is it a glorious day for you?

Religion Is Dirty Word

I don’t really like the word. It almost has a negative conotation to me, so I thought it would be good to do some research on the word. What does the word ‘religion‘ mean to you?

Merriam-Webster defines religion as

1 : (1)a : the state of a religious – a nun in her 20th year of religion. (1)b : the service and worship of God or the supernatural. (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.

2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

3 : Archaic : scrupulous conformity. Conscientiousness.

4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.

Examples of religion in a sentence:

*Many people turn to religion for comfort in a time of crisis.
*There are many religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion)

Even though they list ‘scrupulous conformity’ as the archaic definition, I feel like it’s the one meant by most people today when they speak of religion – like it’s a curse word, almost. ‘Scrupulous conformity‘. Do you even have a reason to believe as you do, or do you just go through the motions? Is just habit to go to mass / communion / confession / Sunday (or Saturday) service? Are you consciously pursuing a relationship with the LORD? This is a serious question, not just for the lay people, but for the church leaders as well. It doesn’t matter what your title is: from the newest Sunday School teacher and nursery worker to the most well-known evangelist, and even to the Pope – are you consciously pursuing a relationship with the LORD?

Having religion is much more than keeping the ‘rules’. It is more than being spiritual. To me, real religion, real spirituality, is the conscientiousness of consciously pursuing a relationship with the LORD.

“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 1:26‭-‬27 NASB (Read all of James chapter 1)