Troubles All Around Us

“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
2 Timothy 3:12 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/2ti.3.12.NASB1995

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jhn.16.33.NASB1995

“In the world you have tribulation….” That is true for every one of us. No matter how much money we might have, or what country we live in. Doesn’t matter what color our skin. Whether of indigenous heritage, or recent immigrant, or long established family; farmer, herder, town or city dweller, we will always have tribulation. People we love will die. We lose our livelihood. We will be persecuted for what we believe, or what color we are, or for how we live. Why?

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”
1 Peter 5:8‭-‬9 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/1pe.5.8-9.NASB1995

Almost since the beginning of time, satan, the devil, has been after God’s Creation. He wants it for himself. He wasn’t satisfied with being the most beautiful creature that God created, he wanted it all. Does that sound familiar? In history, so many leaders and rulers have been greedy, narcissistic, evil, and cruel, but no one compares to the Enemy of God’s people. Once the most beautiful, and now the ugliest.

“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!”
Isaiah 14:12 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/isa.14.12.NASB1995

The Darkest Day in America. The day thousands of Americans were killed – massacred – on American soil by a small group of terrorists. That’s the anniversary we just marked. We can lament and weep over this day, following the example of the prophet Jeremiah. His people and his city, Jerusalem, were captured by the Babylonians. The city was destroyed and left as a pile of rubble, just like our twin towers. Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet, the man of sorrows”, wept over his people, just as we should weep at the ongoing attack on christianity. September 11, 2001; Nine eleven, is a symptom, a beacon. We can relate to how broken Jeremiah was when he wrote this:

“I am the man who has seen affliction Because of the rod of His wrath. He has driven me and made me walk In darkness and not in light. Surely against me He has turned His hand Repeatedly all the day. He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away, He has broken my bones. He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship. In dark places He has made me dwell, Like those who have long been dead. He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy. Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer. He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked. He is to me like a bear lying in wait, Like a lion in secret places. He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drunk with wormwood. He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust. My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness.”

Lamentations 3:1‭-‬10‭, ‬15‭-‬17 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/lam.3.1-17.NASB1995

God is unfailingly faithful, and the purpose of a godly lament is the regeneration of hope in your heart. God wrote this book through Jeremiah to remind people of the complete destruction, of not glossing over sin, and of total confession. The transgressions of Israel were laid out from A to Z. Can you imagine if he were writing about America? Jeremiah pours out his lament to God, then he writes this:

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.”
Lamentations 3:21‭-‬26 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/lam.3.21-26.NASB1995

How could this happen? How did we get here? How did this happen? Verse 12 says “He bent His bow and set me as the target of His arrow….” God did this, God is in the midst of it. Jeremiah isn’t showing defiance, but asking God “how is Your covenant going to survive?” Samuel Johnson said “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” We need to constantly reminded to trust God; to allow Him to work His will in our life. How will God’s covenant survive if we don’t live it? Remember the scriptures. God’s faithfulness is on display not because of the destruction but in spite of it. God PROMISES.   Consistency in discipline shows affection; He will do what He says He will do. God is faithful.

God’s unrelenting faithfulness, His lovingkindness, abounds and overflows. The compassions and mercies of God are unlimited, and they are brand new every day. They are immeasurable. Have confidence in God’s faithfulness – change your thinking from “great is HIS faithfulness”, to “great is YOUR faithfulness”. In verse 24, “my portion” means “God is everything”. In verses 21 and 24, we read “I will hope in Him”, and in verse 25, “I will wait for Him”. We must be patient, as we are assured that GOD IS FAITHFUL. He provides. Wait for Him!

Shielded by GOD

“Finally, be strong in the LORD and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with Truth, and having put on the Breastplate of Righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace; in addition to all, taking up the Shield of Faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of GOD.”
Ephesians 6:10‭-‬17 NASB1995

Death or LIFE

“We have much to thank God for – everything that isn’t hell in our lives is grace.”

Andy Mason, Colossians Alive in Christ

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 NASB1995

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56‭-‬57 NASB1995

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3‭-‬5 NASB1995

“You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” John 13:13‭-‬17 NASB1995

“I will vindicate the Holiness of My Great Name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the LORD GOD, “when I prove Myself Holy among you in their sight.” Ezekiel 36:23 NASB1995

“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 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. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:3‭-‬11 NASB1995

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
Revelation 5:12‭-‬13 NASB199

The Scriptures say it all.

“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 NASB1995

“And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:14 NASB1995

Continue reading “Death or LIFE”

The BABY In The Manger

The Scriptures tell us Who Jesus is. This is my Jesus, my Saviour. Do you need more?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1‭-‬2 NASB1995

“And when He again brings the Firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” Hebrews 1:6 NASB1995


“Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I Am.” ” John 8:58 NASB1995

“And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” ” Mark 2:5-7 NASB1995

“But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.” ” Hebrews 1:8 NASB1995
“And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” ” Revelation 5:13 NASB1995

Moral Excellence, Take 2

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5‭-‬7 NASB

We start in verses 1-4 with “We have received a Faith….” and follow with the attributes we want to model as followers of Jesus Christ. Our Justification and our Glorification are all God, but our Sanctification is for us and God. It requires diligence on our part. God does His work but ours MUST follow, and we should be working on them simultaneously, not separately.

Moral excellence isn’t an attitude, and it doesn’t mean Christians are any better than anyone else. We sin just like non-Christians. The difference should be that we are consciously working towards a “cleaner” life; getting rid of the “rocks” and “weeds”, the trash and detritus, the people and things that separate us from our LORD.

We search out knowledge. It is how we grow, and is essential to a healthy spiritual life, learning and knowing God. Our knowledge must be applied and lived out in our lives. We gain it through Bible studies, by meeting together in small groups, and in our personal reading and study of God’s Word in a daily quiet time. Knowledge of His Word helps us by intensifying our worship, and it sustains us in time of crisis.

Self Control – this is a trait that is laughed at by many who are out in the world. Get hold of yourself? Reining in passion and desire? What happened to “If it feels good, do it”? In controlling our desires rather than being controlled, we exhibit one of the fruits of the Spirit: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 (also verses 19-21) NO ONE and NO THING should control me other than the Master. (Proverbs 16:32, 24:16)

As Christians, our perseverance can be evident in a “Never give up” attitude. Perseverance produces maturity. Perseverance prevails. “….. knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:3 NASB We live one day at a time; just for today – doing the next thing; refusing to quit or to give up what God has called us to do with our life. When we surround ourselves with encouragers, it is much easier to persevere. (Recommended reading: “Suffering is Never for Nothing” by Elizabeth Elliot)

Godliness means literally “God likeness, becoming like God/ Christ.” We are to emulate Christ, and to do that, we must spend time with Him. The Rev. Adoniram Judson said “Don’t compare me to other men, compare me to Jesus.” Will people say that of me – or of you?

How do we show brotherly kindness? The word Philadelphia means literally to “love your brother.” It’s our attitude towards people. Brotherly kindness isn’t just about our physical, familial brother or sister, but it’s about all of our human “siblings,” regardless of color, nationality, or proximity. True brotherly kindness prays for each other, forgives, and is generous to others. This naturally leads to the last of the fruits of the Spirit, love.

Love for others is the capstone, crowning glory; the willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the higher good. All we have to do is look at the example set by Jesus; His sacrifice starting with leaving Heaven’s throne and coming to spend a lifetime on the earth. His sacrifice lead to the offering of His life on the cross, and culminated in His victory over death with His resurrection. I’m thankful that He doesn’t require that of us! As we bask in and revel in God’s love, we can love others. There are many Scriptures on loving others: John 13:36, 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5 for just an example.

“We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19‭-‬21 NASB

I KNOW

I KNOW by Big Daddy Weave
You don’t answer all my questions

But you hear me when I speak
You don’t keep my heart from breakin’
But when it does, you weep with me
You’re so close that I can feel you
When I’ve lost the words to pray
And though my eyes have never seen you
I’ve seen enough to say
I know that you are good
I know that you are kind
I know that you are so much more
Than what I leave behind
I know that I am loved
I know that I am safe
Cause even in the fire to live is Christ, to die again
I know that you are good
I don’t understand the sorrow
But you’re calm within the storm
Sometimes this weight is overwhelming
But I don’t carry it alone
You’re still close when I can’t feel you
I don’t have to be afraid
And though my eyes have never seen you
I’ve seen enough to say
I know that you are good
I know that you are kind
I know that you are so much more
Than what I leave behind
I know that I am loved
I know that I am safe
Cause even in the fire to live is Christ, to die again
I know that you are good
You are good
I know
On my darkest day
From my deepest pain
Through it all, my heart, will choose to sing your praise
On my darkest day
From my deepest pain
Through it all, my heart, will choose to sing your praise
On my darkest day
From my deepest pain
Through it all, my heart, will choose to sing your praise
I know that you are good
I know that you are kind
I know that you are so much more
Than what I leave behind
I know that I am loved
I know that I am safe
Cause even in the fire to live is Christ, to die again
I know that you are good
You are good
I know

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Benji Cowart / Hank Bentley
I Know lyrics © Word Music LLC, Weave Country, Howiecowie Publishing, All Essential Music
So that’s the question. I know. Do you know?

All Men Are Liars

“I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.” What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me?” Psalms 116:11‭-‬12 NASB

I didn’t say it first, but I have to agree. All men are liars. Before you men get all up in arms, know this: all women are liars, too. There’s only one man, one human, who has or ever will walk this earth who isn’t a liar, and that man is Jesus, Son of God.

Argue all you want; you know that’s a true statement.

Oh, we are capable of being truthful, and I believe that most most people want to be honest, at least for the most part. Some people can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie. I look for the good in people. I want to believe you when you tell me something. I want you to be believe me when I say a thing. Mostly, you can. Like everyone else, I am fallible. I don’t usually mean to say untruths – lie – although, like most people, I do occassionally. Sometimes to spare your feelings, sometimes it’s to spare my feelings, and sometimes it’s just because I don’t have the energy to deal with it – and yes, that’s a cop-out that every single person has done at one time or another.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NASB

Is really so difficult to follow through; to say what you mean and do what you say you will do? I offer my heart too easily, and I take people at their word. I would like to live in a world where a man’s word truly was his bond. No written contracts necessary. This world, our reality, requires us to have promises in writing and witnessed, and even then the promises are broken. The courts are full of broken contracts and promises.

Watch your heart. Spend time talking with the LORD. Listen to the wise counsel of believers. Most importantly, both personally and in business dealings, treat the other person as you want them to treat you. You can’t expect any better than that.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NASB

Examples?

I know I should be writing every day. Why don’t I? I have no excuse. God said it; I should obey. We as Christians are commanded….. so why don’t we obey? Isn’t that the age old question, from Adam and Eve until now? It isn’t like God is asking anything that requires a massive intellect, which is good since most humans don’t have that. We are intelligent; most of us are ‘smart’ enough that we think we know better than the God Who created us! (Spoiler alert: We aren’t!!) As Christians, followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we don’t have a lot of rules to follow. Primarily, we have two. Shouldn’t be that difficult, right? Love GOD, and love others (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30). Lover, love, love; all the world needs now is love. We make it hard. God has equipped each of us to fulfill anything He asks, so I know it’s in there….. can we reach down and grab it?

Gentle: “having or showing a mild, kind, or tender temperament or character; moderate in action, effect, or degree; not harsh or severe.” (Similar to kind, tender)

Kind: “having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature; moderate in action, effect, or degree; not harsh or severe.” (Similar to goodnatured, kindhearted)

Humble: “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance; of an action or thought) offered with or affected by a modest estimate of one’s own importance.” (Similar to meek, respectful)

Meek: “quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.” (Similar to patient)

Patient: “able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.” (Similar to uncomplaining, tolerant)

Jesus tells us we need to demonstrate these traits to others in our lives. We are to be the example to the world with our behavior.

Fellow Christ-followers, how are we doing?

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Colossians 3:12‭-‬14 NASB

Top Rule of Living

For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” Matthew 7:2 NLT

That’s a lesson that we need to be reminded of, over and over, from the youngest age and on throughout life. We hear the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) Do we apply it in our lives? It takes on a little more importance when they are learned together. Not only does how we treat others determine how we are treated, but we will be judged by how we treat them. As critical as it is to treat others with fairness and respect, keep this in mind also.

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” Matthew 7:6 NLT

That is not to say that we should treat those people with disrespect or with loathing. I believe that we – Christ followers – need to be especially circumspect in our treatment of those whom we view as unholy. There’s a fine line between loving the person and hating the sin, and losing the love altogether to hate both. It’s easy to lose ourselves and fall in with them, and get our hearts trampled in the process. This is why it is so important to stay in fellowship with other believers.

“….. and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24‭-‬25 NASB

Love one another, but don’t focus so hard on the person that you can’t see what surrounds them. Do you see positive people and things, or are they surrounded by chaos and insanity?

“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:20 NLT

Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? Do you feel the need to “win” by beating everyone around you? (This is so me…..) Our “fruit” doesn’t have a chance to grow or mature when we are busy trying to “one-up” each other, or “keep up” with others. My actions need to reflect my beliefs, and not be dependent on anyone else’s behaviour. How I treat others needs to based on GOD’s Word, not man’s, and how I view myself needs to be from the Father’s focus, not mine. If – when – I view myself properly as a child of the King, a Princess in the Kingdom of the Almighty God, it is far easier to view others with a benevolent spirit.

It’s a much nicer view than the alternative!