Yes, I Alone –

“ ‘But you are My witnesses, O Israel!’ says the LORD. ‘You are My servant. You have been chosen to know Me, believe in Me, and understand that I alone am GOD. There is no other GOD — there never has been, and there never will be. I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,’ says the Lord. ‘From eternity to eternity I am GOD. No one can snatch anyone out of My hand. No one can undo what I have done. I — yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for My own sake and will never think of them again.’ ” Isaiah 43:10‭-‬13‭, ‬25 NLT

Is there anything ambiguous about this passage? No! He is GOD. THE God; the only God. Why do we insist on elevating other things to His rightful place? He is in control. Whatever I am anxious about, whatever is causing me pain, whoever is trying to harm me, wherever I am, GOD, the LORD, has it all in His Hand. He knows. If I know this, how can I purposely cause anyone distress, including myself through my doubt?

“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

Lord, I cast all my cares to You. You know me so well. You know that even as I lay my burdens and cares down at your feet, I am reaching to pick them up again. Help me, LORD, to let go of those things that burden me; to trust You. I know You have my back. Why do I keep doubting?

Listen to Finding Favor sing their song Cast My Cares from the album Reborn.
When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steals my breath away
When my back pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only One who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

Advertisements

Dealing With Being Single

God knows what we are going through.

Remember Jesus? He was a man, and He lived His life without a mate. I believe that He was probably tempted; after all, He was a man, and He must have been lonely at times…. and I’m sure the enemy made sure temptation was placed in front of Him, too. Mary Magdalene was probably a beautiful woman, and she was close to Him. It is debated whether Jesus was plain, or non-descript, or handsome, but I don’t think that is important (although I do believe He was probably amazing looking). His personality was magnetic; He was charismatic and commanding. I imagine Him as a man Who would draw both men and women to Him. How could He not be tempted? But we know He didn’t succumb to the temptations. He taught us – teaches us – that our Father cares for us enough to want the best for us. He also teaches us that we have to put the Father first, and that’s where it gets hard (for me).

“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NLT

“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 NLT

That’s a pretty big statement from Hosea. The God Who created everything wants us, me and you, to know Him more than anything. When we actually take the time to study and begin to know our Father, we begin to know what real love feels like. I don’t like being single. I want to be half of a couple. Meanwhile, I need to listen to the words of Jesus and keep them in my heart.

“And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:30‭, ‬33‭-‬34 NLT

I don’t know if, or when, my Father will bring someone into my life to be a permanent part of it. I know that he must love the Lord and put Him first, and that he will want to treat me as his queen. Tall order, and one that only God can fill. Ruth Graham, a very wise woman, said “A happy marriage is a union of two good forgivers.” I don’t know that marriage is in my future, but I believe that her statement could also read “A happy relationship is a union of two good forgivers.” Whatever happens, I hold on to these words from the LORD:

“For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your GOD. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’ ” Isaiah 41:13 NLT

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD Who created you. O Israel, the One who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1‭-‬2 NLT

I know that whatever happens, whether I am alone or in a relationship, I will never be alone. The LORD GOD ALMIGHTY has called me by name; I am HIS. Are you single? Praying for a relationship? Hold on to His Words.

Can You Pay The Taxes Due?

(24) “When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax [the Temple tax; collected each year from every male over the age of 20**] came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” (25) He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” (26) When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.” – Matthew 17:24‭-‬26 NASB

** “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them.” – Exodus 30:12 NASB **

These verses tell us some incredible truths.

Jesus knows everything; He is Omniscient. He is the silent listener to every conversation. He spoke, before Peter had a chance to tell Him of the encounter. He already knew about it! He not only knows all, but He is in control of all, and He cares down to the tiniest details. In verse 25, He asks Peter for his opinion, just as He is always listening to ours.

Jesus is the Son of God, Ruler, King, and Head of the Church. He owns everything. Malachi 3:1b says “And the Lord, Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the Covenant, in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.” – Malachi 3:1 NASB

He already owns the Temple, so why should He pay this tax? He was exempt! Instead of arguing with the tax collectors, Jesus shows us His humility. He paid the tax to avoid offending the tax collectors. It is a wonderful example that He gives us, to forego His rights for the sake of others. The Jews paid ransom money (the Temple tax) as a substitute to going to Jerusalem and working in the Temple, and they paid the priests through their offerings to be sacrificed as the ransom for their sins. We’re exempt! Jesus pays the ransom for Peter here, just as He pays the ransom for us. We owe a ransom to God for our sin, but we are spiritually destitute. We can’t pay the taxes due – so Jesus paid it for us. JESUS pays all; He ransoms all, so we no longer need to!

“For there is ONE God, and ONE Mediator also between GOD and men, the man CHRIST JESUS, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” – 1 Timothy 2:5‭-‬6 NASB

That’s the BEST News ever!

Trust and Obey

I remember standing in church as a child and a youth, singing Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, than to Trust and Obey. I believed it; I knew, deep in my heart, the profound Truth in the words. I knew Solomon was right when he wrote this proverb:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NASB

Even then, knowing what I knew, I didn’t let myself completely trust God, especially once I hit the teen years. I began to believe the enemy’s lies. I viewed myself as unlovable – not pretty enough, or popular enough. My body didn’t look good enough. I wasn’t as smart as my older sister or good enough to be part of my brother’s life. My voice wasn’t as clear as I thought it should be, and my range was too limited. I wasn’t one of the ‘popular’ girls. I hated that I was so painfully, excruciatingly shy, and that I wasn’t strong enough to overcome it.

The enemy was winning that battle, and I gave up; surrendered to him for years. As in Ezekiel’s time, I became like the dry bones:

“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry.” – Ezekiel 37:1-2 NASB

My God is stronger than our enemy!

“Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord .'” – Ezekiel 37:5‭-‬6 NASB

“And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” – Isaiah 58:11 NASB

I learned over the years that Isaiah was right, too! The world we live in is like the velley Ezekiel was in, full of the dry bones of people who don’t know the goodness of the LORD; who haven’t received His Mercy and His Grace. Testify of the Goodness of the Lord! Expose the enemy for what he is: deceiver, manipulator, the Father of Lies. We may lose a skirmish, but the war has been won. The battle belongs to the LORD…… and the enemy knows it!

“….. for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” – 1 Samuel 17:47 NASB

AMEN!

Count It All Joy

This passage from James has never been one of my favorites.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the Word of Truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” – JAMES 1:2‭-‬3‭, ‬12‭-‬15‭, ‬17‭-‬18 NASB

I don’t want to hear that I can’t blame my sin on someone – or some thing – other than myself! Yet James said it clearly: “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.I can’t say “the devil made me do it”? I mean, he introduced sin into the world, right? He’s the reason Eve, and Adam, sinned! No, that is flawed. The devil – Satan, the Evil One – did bring in the idea of sin, but we are the ones who choose it over what we know is right. Here’s the thing. Even though we have free will and it is our choice to sin, the LORD in His wisdom gives us a way to circumvent our lack of judgement. Not our free will, but our lack of judgement, our lack of wisdom. The LORD never takes away our free will!

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – JAMES 1:5 NASB

I almost think that James should have written it this way: “But as we all lack wisdom, let us all ask of God ….”

LORD, I ask for Your wisdom, because I know first-hand how flawed my own thinking is, having experienced the consequences of it. I ask for the faith to not doubt You and to wholly submit myself to Your desires over mine. Amen.

(https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Thinker-sculpture-by-Rodin)

Leading to the Cross

On the Tuesday before Easter Sunday, “Good” Friday looms and our focus is on the suffering of Jesus and the Cross. He has just entered into Jerusalem in triumph; the people welcoming Him with jubilation and celebration, thinking that He is going to take over the government of Judea and become their new king on earth. Such excitement runs among them! What thoughts must have been running through Jesus’ mind? I hope He was able to soak up the adoration and love, in preparation of the ordeal He knew He was facing. He knew His central purpose was to die as the sacrifice for our sins. He didn’t deserve to die – unlike the rest of humankind, Jesus never once in His life on earth committed any sin. Never once; not one. His death on the cross is, without doubt, the worst injustice ever done or to be done in all of earth’s history. This passage describes Jesus’ life beautifully.

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of GOD, for it is written, “vengeance is mine , I will repay,” says the LORD.” – ROMANS 12:17‭-‬19 NASB

Jesus could have easily retaliated against the soldiers who beat and mocked Him, and He could have punished the Jewish leaders for their unjust treatment of Him. Legions of angels – His Angel Army – were just waiting on a single word from Him to swoop in and rescue Him! Jesus knows His Father, and He trusted in GOD for ultimate justice and revenge. Peter reminds us of our calling as followers of Christ Jesus in this passage he wrote to followers living a far distance from Rome as they were being mocked and harassed for their faith (much as we are today).

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth ; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” – 1 PETER 2:21‭-‬25 NASB

By His woundsall of His suffering was inflicted on the Son of GOD, endured by the only perfect, sinless man for the sin and the sickness of our souls. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of GOD in Him.” – 2 CORINTHIANS 5:21 NASB Jesus is our Guardian, our Overseer; He is watching over us constantly from heaven, and He left us with His Holy Spirit so that we are never alone.

Do I resemble Christ when I am mistreated? Have you accepted what Jesus did for you – and me – on the cross?

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” – 2 CORINTHIANS 5:20‭ NASB

“My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I’m standing in Your Love!” Thank you, Bethel Music, for this fabulous song, and K-LOVE Radio for playing it!!

A New Heart

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart [Hebrew a heart of flesh] And I will put My Spirit in you so that you will follow My Decrees and be careful to obey My Regulations.” – Ezekiel 36:26 NLT

GOD promised the Israelites a new heart and a new spirit, and that the Spirit would be in them to help them follow His decrees and regulations. Sound familiar? He promised this to His people, the people closest the His heart, hundreds of years before He sent His Son to earth to save all people.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” And again He says: “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” – John 3:3‭, ‬5‭-‬8 NLT

GOD showed Himself to the Israelites many times over the centuries. He started by walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden, and He appeared through signs and miracles such as the burning bush, and pillars of fire and cloud that led the Israelites through the wilderness. He was in His Tabernacle in His Shechinah Glory [literally, His Presence], but the people still wandered away from Him and moved to idols and other gods…..

“For we live by believing and not by seeing.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT

We will see Christ, the Living LORD, when our physical bodies die, but the Israelites had Him there; His physical presence in the Tabernacle, and still couldn’t see Him. Blinded by the enemy, just as so many of us are today.

“For God made Christ, Who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

LORD, grant me a new heart and a new spirit today. Grant me a tender, responsive heart and fill me with Your Spirit in order to follow Your Desires and Your Will. Amen.