Great is Thy Faithfulness

Do you know the words to the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”?

Great is Thy Faithfulness, O GOD my Father …. All I have needed, Thy Hand hath provided …. Written almost 100 years ago, and sung in churches across the world, it is on my top 10 favorite hymns to sing (well, it was, when I had a voice! Now, I just immerse myself in the lyrics and sing it in my head. 😁) If you are able to, take a minute to Google Chris Rice singing it. It makes a beautiful moment of worship. Listen to the words. They are straight out of the Bible. Of the hundreds of times I have sung this hymn and read these scriptures, this reality hit me this morning:

GOD, our LORD and SAVIOUR, is Faithful to me – and to you!

I’m having trouble grasping this concept! I’ve always known that we as Christians should be, and try to be, faithful to our GOD and SAVIOUR. But for HIM to be faithful to me? We know that GOD is omnipotent and omnipresent, so why should He tell us, over and over in the scriptures, that He is Faithful to us?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 NRSV

If He sees all and knows all, where does faith come into play for Him? Of course, we’ll never know the real answer until we see Him face to Face, once we have passed from this life into His Life and eternity. My supposition is that because of the Free Will He gave us when He created us, He doesn’t look into our hearts until we invite Him in. Therefore, He expresses to us that He will remainful Steadfast and Faithful while waiting for us and on us. In His Faithfulness, He sent JESUS to us for a visible, real-life example of His Love and His Faithfulness.

“And the WORD became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His Glory, the Glory as of a Father’s Only SON, full of Grace and Truth.” – John 1:14 NRSV

“…. so CHRIST, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” – Hebrews 9:28 NRSV

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of GOD.” – 2 Corinthians 7:1 NRSV

Have you experienced GOD’s Faithfulness in your life? Do you know; can you feel the depths of His Love? JESUS came once (Got that? ONCE) to cleanse us of all of our sins; to relieve us of the necessity to make sacrifices as our ancestors did, and to seal us, once and for all, and bring us into His Presence. Following the words of JESUS and His disciples, we should do our best to live an exemplary life, reflecting Him into our world. Accepting Him as LORD and SAVIOUR doesn’t make us perfect, it makes us forgiven. Read what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

“The Steadfast Love of the LORD never ceases, His Mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; Great is Your Faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” ” – Lamentations 3:22‭-‬24 NRSV

GREAT is Thy Faithfulness! AMEN.

You WIN!!!

Lotteries, PCH (Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes) casinos; betting on sports, dog tracks and horse racing, fights – human and animal. Schemes on how to make millions, and evangelists who twist the WORD – the BIBLE – to persuade you that GOD will reward you with abundant financial wealth if you just do what they say (starting, of course, with supporting their ‘ministry!’

Everyone is looking for the eeee-sy money; the life of leisure. What shows are popular on tv? Reality shows that promise large sums to the ‘winner,’ gossip shows and ‘celebrity watch’ shows, glorifying the power, glitz and glamour that comes from having millions. Game shows – Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I’ve had a running joke for years, saying “When I win the lottery, I’ll ….. Oh! That’s right, you have to buy a lottery ticket!” (Never have bought one, either!)

If you actually won, how would you use the money?

The reality for Christians is that we don’t need millions. How can I say that? I don’t know your circumstances, or your life. Ah! No, I don’t know your life; I’m too busy negotiating mine to try to know anyone else’s! I care about you, and I pray for and do what I am able to do to help others. So why do I say Christians dontneed money? Here are a few reasons:

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” – Psalms 23:1 NRSV

JESUS said to His disciples, “….. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20 NRSV

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve GOD and wealth.” – Matthew 6:24 NRSV (also Luke 16:13)

I am facing a mountain, and a boatload of cash would go a long ways toward conquering that mountain. I can despair and focus on the mountain, wishing for that mound of cash …… or I can lift my eyes from the mountain, and focus on my GOD. It’s a choice we get to make every day. I choose to look up….. and I WIN.

“To YOU I lift up my eyes, O YOU who are Enthroned in the heavens!” – Psalms 123:1 NRSV

Greedy Little People

“Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” JESUS replied, “Friend, who made Me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then He said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” ” – Luke 12:13‭-‬15 NLT

It breaks my heart to see the families, the friendships, and the relationships that are damaged beyond repair because of greed. I suspect that most of us have witnessed this behaviour firsthand. I have experienced what greed can do in my personal life and in my extended family, and I have seen the consequences of greed in my own and in other’s lives. My Dad had four siblings, and came from a family that was, if not wealthy, certainly well off. When his mother passed, and when he was finally able to go to her house (he was the only sibling who didn’t live in the same city with the rest), he found it stripped of almost everything of value. No, no burglers, just certain family members who decided they would take whatever they wanted. A similar thing happened to my Mom when her mother passed on. I have seen it to a much smaller extent in my immediate family. I have also seen it in wealthy friends (really, multimillionaires – I don’t comprehend that level of wealth!), who were terrified that someone would take advantage of them or scam them to gain access to their money. Paranoia, distrust, bitterness in relationships were the result. Ironically, they were being taken advantage of by the people who were closest to them because of greed.

That kind of behaviour, i.e. greediness, causes hurt and division. People, nothing on this earth is important enough to lose family or friends because of greed. Whenever I die and pass into heaven, what good will it do for me to have all the best and brightest things? Absolutely no good, because nohing from this earth will go with me then. I am blessed to have some little things from my Dad and my grandparents; they have no monetary value, and I am fine with that. I like them for the memories they evoke. My response to greediness is to lable items with whomever I want to have them, to keep a list in my will, and to give things away now. I certainly won’t need any of it, but I especially don’t want to see any grasping greediness in those close to me!

“Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

You may be experiencing sadness, and you might be hurting and becoming bitter because you weren’t left what you wanted, expected, or thought you ‘deserved’. Sometimes it is accidental (not leaving a will or written directions for the survivors), and sometimes it is intentional, sadly. Read the parable of the rich man in Luke 12: 13-21, in fact, read the entire chapter.

“But GOD said to him [the greedy rich man], ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich Relationship with GOD.” – Luke 12:20‭-‬21 NLT

JESUS replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the Word of GOD and put it into practice.” – Luke 11:28 NLT

I often feel like I don’t have much, and then I look around and see how absolutely Blessed I am with family and friends. I have an abundance of ‘things,’ including much of I don’t need. Downsizing is the topic du jour in social and print media, yet it seems that everywhere I turn there are bigger and fancier homes being built. It’s pretty obvious to me that our society is permeated by greed. As for me, I want to sell my (too large) house and get into a smaller one, closer to family…. my priorities have changed, and I attribute any good that has happened to my life to my LORD, JESUS. It is no longer ‘necessary’ to compete with the ‘Jones.’ Earthly weath no longer appeals so much to me. If I possessed monetary weath, I would do everything I could to help my family and friends, and my passions: my church, K-Love radio, the Salvation Army, the National Rifle Association. For me, I want my prayer to always be “Just enough, LORD, just enough,” and “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want” – with NO ‘BUTS’!

YES!!!

Can’t We Just Be Friends?

“There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24 NLT

Been there, and done that. No matter how hard we try to prevent being hurt by our friends, it will happen. Betrayed in our trust, our friendship rejected; hypocritical – being one way with us, and talking about us behind our back. It is so easy to let the betrayal of people we trusted rest in our hearts and fester, and for our minds to seek revenge. Betrayal from someone we are close to can turn us against trusting anyone else; it can turn us against GOD ( how could He let that happen???), and that is exactly what the enemy wants. Our LORD wants us to know true friendship with Him, which is why He came to earth. I believe He wants us to understand that as humans, we are flawed. We sin in our selfishness, our betrayals, our desire to have more to show we are ‘above’ others.

We will always disappoint and let each other down. In order to have true friendship with another person, first we have to recognize the ONE ABSOLUTELY TRUE FRIEND we can ever have is JESUS. When He is our Friend, our SAVIOUR, we can rest easy in that friendship. He will never turn his back on us, he will never leave us, he will never betray us in any way. I have disappointed, betrayed, humiliated, and turned away from people I have called friend, and people I have called friend have done the same to me.

I don’t have many people I would call friend. I have lots of acquaintances, some good, some not so good, but I know the people I now call friend will be there for me in a crisis – and I would do the same for them. I’m still learning to be a good friend, and the example I use is the friendship my LORD JESUS models for me. Humans will always fail us; knowing JESUS as my SAVIOUR gives me the one friendship I can utterly depend on. I’m not disparaging my friends! I love them, and I count on them, I am just acknowledging that they are human, as am I, imperfect and flawed.

Friendship, to me, is knowing that they will disappoint me (and I will definitely disappoint them, because we are human), and loving them anyway. I have a best friend here on earth, and I work to be the best friend I can be, but my Best and Truest Friend, JESUS, resides in heaven, preparing a place for me to spend eternity with Him. What a concept! JESUS CHRIST, LORD of ALL, the Triune GOD, CREATOR of the Universe – He Loves me! WOW.

Is He your BFF? Are you looking to Him to see what true friendship looks like, or are you sticking with the friendships of this world, flawed and broken? Open your Bible, or if you don’t have on, download one for free at https://bible.com/bible and check out these scriptures. I pray that they will change your life!

Romans 5:8 (see below)

I John 1:9

James 4:8

Revelations 3:20

Matthew 11:28

“But GOD showed His Great Love for us by sending CHRIST to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in GOD’s sight by the Blood of CHRIST, He will certainly save us from GOD’s condemnation. For since our friendship with GOD was restored by the death of His SON while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the Life of His SON. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with GOD because our LORD JESUS CHRIST has made us Friends of GOD.” – Romans 5:8‭-‬11 NLT

HALLELUJAH! What a FRIEND we have in JESUS!

The End …. or A Fresh New Beginning

What happens when we die? Is there a heaven – is there a hell? Where is heaven? Absolutely. Both the Old and New Testaments record their existence. A classic example is the story JESUS related to His followers in Luke 16:19-31, telling of the rich man and the poor man. The story is impressive in the Truth that is shared, and a very poignant warning to those who reject our LORD JESUS CHRIST. As the rich man can see into Heaven, or Paradise, I see that as a part of the eternal torment of hell. He gets to see throughout eternity how beautiful is. The poor man doesn’t reply, and I think that goes to what John has written in Revelations 21:4.

“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” – Luke 16:31 NLT

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” – Revelation 21:4 NLT

Read that second part of Luke 16:31 again, and consider the person telling the story – JESUS. He knows that He will be crucified and buried for three days, and that He will rise from that grave, and people will still reject Him. Because of this story, it is clear that as soon as a body dies, the soul is instantly transported to the heavenly banquet – aka Paradise, Heaven – or as quickly, the ones who reject CHRIST go directly to the place of the dead – aka Hell, Sheol, Hades. If we die before JESUS returns to destroy Satan, our corrupted bodies are buried and our indestructible souls go to one of these two places. We aren’t going to be in limbo, we aren’t going to purgatory, and we won’t be reborn into another physical body. After the Second Coming of our LORD, when He defeats the enemy forces led by Satan, then Heaven, the dwelling place of GOD ALMIGHTY, will come to our new earth. Those who have acknowledged JESUS as their LORD and SAVIOUR will come to abide in the House of the LORD, with the Creator FATHER GOD, JESUS the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT. IMAGINE! Look at how John describes it:

“Then I saw a NEW Heaven and a NEW Earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down from GOD out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I saw no temple in the City, for the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY and the LAMB are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the Glory of GOD illuminates the city, and the LAMB is its Light. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty – but only those whose names are written in the LAMB’s Book of LIFE.” – Revelation 21:1‭-‬2‭, ‬22‭-‬23‭, ‬25‭, ‬27 NLT

Will I finally get to meet you there?I pray it is so!

Blue-Footed Booby and the Platypus

It’s almost the end of July here in the center of the contiguous United States. The average temps run in the mid-high 90’s, and we’ve been topping out the 90’s for the past several weeks with equally high humidity….. Today, it feels more lke October – it’s chilly!

I’m not complaining!

Our Creator GOD has a sense of humor; I am thoroughly convinced of it. Who else would have the creativity to make a snowquakenado? (FYI, that’s when you have snow, an earthquake, and a tornado, all at the same time. Only in Ooooooook-lahoma!) Who else has the genius (and sense of humor!) to make the Platypus, the Blue-Footed Booby, or the Pangolin? Who else could have engineered the complex, precise mechanisms of the human body; not only physically complicated, but the brain. And especially, what human would make something to be their companion, and then give them free will? In all of the Robot novels by Isaac Asimov, robots are limited in the scope of what they can do. They are constructed to never be able to harm a human (e.g. The First Law of Robotics: 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.)

When humanity was created by GOD, it was designed to be companionship for Him, never causing harm to each other or to GOD’s incredible earth. The difference between humanity and robots is that we are not constrained by a similar law. Instead, our Creator gave us free will, and we have been making poor choices ever since. Still, despite our best efforts to belittle and minimize the LORD, He continues to love us, forgive us, and reach out to protect and save us. I certainly wouldn’t be open to any person who treated me as badly as I have treated my Saviour!

He has kept His sense of humor throughout the ages, regardless of mankind’s actions. Look at the variety of humans! We come in a plethora of colors and shapes and sizes and abilities. In our wildest imaginings, could a mere human have done the same? Oh sure, we’ve manipulated gene pools and adapted, but we haven’t created anything. After humanity’s diversity, there are the animals…. really, a Platypus??? A Blue-Footed Booby??? And that’s just barely tapping the surface! I haven’t even started on the lanscape or the ocean or the stars and planets…. You’ll never be able to convince me that GOD is a dour, grumpy old man 😁 that doesn’t enjoy laughing with His people!

P.S. Don’t pet the Platypus!!