Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Praise! - May 31, 2015

Psalm 30 (New Century Version)
1 I will praise you, Lord, because you rescued me. You did not let my enemies laugh at me.

2 Lord, my God, I prayed to you, and you healed me.

3 You lifted me out of the grave; you spared me from going down to the place of the dead.

4 Sing praises to the Lord, you who belong to him; praise his holy name.

5 His anger lasts only a moment, but his kindness lasts for a lifetime.
Crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

6 When I felt safe, I said, "I will never fear."

7 Lord, in your kindness you made my mountain safe. But when you turned away, I was frightened.

8 I called to you, Lord, and asked you to have mercy on me.

9 I said, "What good will it do if I die or if I go down to the grave? Dust cannot praise you; it cannot speak about your truth.

10 Lord, hear me and have mercy on me. Lord, help me."

11 You changed my sorrow into dancing. You took away my clothes of sadness, and clothed me in happiness.

12 I will sing to you and not be silent. Lord, my God, I will praise you forever.

A psalm of David. May you be blessed as you meditate and give thanks to God. Have a blessed week!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Wanted - May 30, 2015

John 1:16-17 (New International Version)
16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 14:6 (New International Version)
6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

2 Corinthians 9:15 (New International Version)
15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

We can't help ourselves. No matter how much we try, we can't seem to do what is right. We stretch the truth a little bit here; go a little over the speed limit there; talk about someone we dislike behind there back; linger as we stare at someone on the beach. We borrow a few things from work that we never return; decide that church can wait another Sunday as we go the lake; focus on how much money we can make day in and day out; have no problem disobeying our parents; think that we should have the car our neighbor drives; and join in as our buddies curse without a thought.

If we can see ourselves in any of the things that I have mentioned above, we will find that we have disregarded and very blatantly broken every one of the laws of God given to Moses, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). If we care anything about what happens to us after this life, there will be a day when we finally realize that we cannot keep from doing such things unless we get outside help. We don't like who we are anymore, because the Law of God acts like a mirror showing us how much we really disobey God. By then we have accumulated so much junk and carry so much bad stuff in our lives, that we one day the burden becomes too much for us to bear.

Thank God that He has a heart for lawbreakers! Thank God that His love extends beyond what we have done! Thank God that in His grace and mercy that he has given us a way out; someone to carry the burden of our wrongdoing; someone who took them upon his broken body as he hung on the cross; someone who shed His blood to cover our sins; someone who stepped out of the grave to show us the way back into the love of God. Thank God for giving us the gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our peace and our comfort.

Friday, May 29, 2015

God's Symphony - May 29, 2015

Romans 12:4-8 (New International Reader's Version)
4 Each of us has one body with many parts. And the parts do not all have the same purpose. 5 So also we are many persons. But in Christ we are one body. And each part of the body belongs to all the other parts.

6 We all have gifts. They differ in keeping with the grace that God has given each of us. Do you have the gift of prophecy? Then use it in keeping with the faith you have. 7 Is it your gift to serve? Then serve. Is it teaching? Then teach. 8 Is it telling others how they should live? Then tell them. Is it giving to those who are in need? Then give freely. Is it being a leader? Then work hard at it. Is it showing mercy? Then do it cheerfully.


Most everyone has been to a symphony performance. When it comes to the listening experience, the worst time for the ears is when all the performers are tuning up prior to the beginning of the concert. There is a myriad of sounds, from the woodwinds, horns, percussion and strings. Each readies themselves by playing their notes and scales. Then, just before the conductor walks onto the stage, the first violin plays a long drawn out note, and everyone in the orchestra tunes themselves to that one note.

The conductor walks on, the audience applauds, the orchestra stands...they all sit and as the baton comes down the music begins. Then for the next hour or so, the rooms fills with glorious music. All separate, yet all together, each instrument lending its own sound, as each performer plays, and together they piece together a vision of sound written down many years or centuries before. It all follows the lead of the conductor as he brings out the sound and emotion that the composer wished for all to hear.

Just as a symphony orchestra has many different performers and instruments that combine to play beautiful music, so too the church of Jesus Christ has many different people, gifts and talents, that combine to do the works of God in the world. Each is important to the whole, and all perform their particular task at the direction of the Master. All are important and all must be in unison, for the master work of Christ to be done in the lives others.

God has created all of us to play beautiful music in the symphony of life. It is up to each of us to pick up our instrument and play.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Simplifying Your Life - May 28, 2015

Psalm 1:1-2(New Living Translation)
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.

2 But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.


How great it would be if everyone would just follow the ways of God. Our world would be much more peaceful of we left it all to Him. He gives us the instructions, if we would just take them in and live by them. Then things would really be much simpler.

Unfortunately, we are a stubborn and self-centered people, and the Word of God is contrary to our nature. We choose to go the opposite way, so our struggle is one of overcoming the consequence of our behavior.

Why not simplify your life? Why not choose to read and live by God's Word instead of our own nature? Why not keep the good company of He who made you, and leave it all to Him? Let Jesus Christ be your guide and your life will be much simpler.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Radical Truth - May 27, 2015

 
Hebrews 1:3 (New International Version, ©2011)
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.


I love the way the world is discounting Christianity these days, and relegating it to being just another religion. Worse yet, many Christians would rather quietly practice their personal faith, than have any confrontation about Christianity. We struggle today with another religion that claims to be the true religion and calls itself a religion of peace, while many millions of its practitioners suppress their own people and murder many others for the sake of their god. Meanwhile, people in our country would just as soon place all religions on an equal footing and ask that we all just get along.

The statement from Paul's letter to the Jewish people is a very radical statement. It was radical then and it is even more radical now, because if it is the truth, as I know it is, then it truly offends many people. Why is it offensive? Because if Jesus is who he said he is, then many people will be left having to answer for their personal life of sin. Either you accept God's gift of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ as payment, or you are left standing alone before a mighty and powerful God who will judge you guilty for what you do in this life.

Most would rather take their chances, or believe that the scales of justice will fall on the "good" side, rather than accept this easy payment plan that Jesus provides. Why not be safe than sorry? Jesus Christ, the exact representation of God is waiting to offer you his Way out. Why not accept his offer while you still can?

Photo "Celestial Beacon" by Bosela, 12-17-2008, from stock.xchng

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Don't Give Up - May 26, 2015


Galatians 6:9(New King James Version)
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9(New Century Version)
9 We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up.

There are times in this life when we feel like quitting; times when the burdens and difficulties become so large that we don't think we have it in us anymore to survive. We think that as Christians that somehow this would all be easier, that we would be insulated from the "bad" things. But we were never promised that life would be nothing but "smooth sailing", and Jesus warned us that by following Him, we would even have more trouble. Many in this world face constant persecution and some even death because of their love and service for Jesus.

Everyone goes through times of trouble, and if you aren't going through it now, you will very soon in the future. The great thing about following Jesus Christ is that in the trouble, He promises to be with us. God's plan is not that we won't have trouble, but that we will be refined and stronger for it, and that in facing our difficulties, we will be better prepared when future difficulties come. And if our trouble is because of service to Him, then He will have a place for us in eternity.

Whatever you are going through right now, don't give up. God has a plan for your life, and He will help you as you go through it.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day - May 25, 2015


John 15:13 (New International Version)
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

For many of us the true meaning and depth of someone giving their life on our behalf is too hard to comprehend. Only those who have lost a loved one in the service to this country can understand the true sacrifice given. Most of those who have died in our nation's wars have done so willingly, through enlistment or as a volunteer. They were willing to step up to defend the Nation, their homes, and their families.

Two millennia ago another stepped up to voluntarily give their life on our behalf. He was willing to go be crucified on a Roman cross, so that the penalty for all sins, past, present and future would be paid in full. Jesus Christ should be given the thanks, respect and honor He is due, and accept His gift to us. We need to come to Him with grateful hearts and never forget His sacrifice.

As we reflect on this day, we need to never forget the sacrifice that all those who have given up their lives have made for us. We need to not forget to give them the respect and honor that they are due, and we need to be the caretakers of those that they have left behind. They and their families have truly followed the path of Christ in what they have given to us to secure our freedom.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Concert of Praise - May 24, 2015


Revelation 5:11-14 (New International Version, ©2011)

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”


14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

As I have mentioned before, I love participating in worship on Sundays. It is my favorite time of the week. There is nothing better than gathering with other believers in concert to worship and lift praises to our God and King. Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines concert as,"an agreement in design or plan:union formed by mutual communication of opinions and views".

An article in Christianity Today a couple of years ago, published an article about Jonathan Edwards, a preacher, theologian, and missionary to Native Americans, who was widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian[1] and one of America's greatest intellectuals, where he stated. in a sermon entitled "Praise, One of Chief Employments of Heaven," -"Let it be considered that the church on earth is the same society with those saints who are praising God in heaven".

The article further states that, "This means that when the church gathers for worship it engages in heavenly activity. The worshiping church does not merely imitate what goes on in heaven. It participates in heaven's worship. ...We take up a theme that was begun by others before the throne of God, adding our voices to theirs."[2]

This really caught my attention, and gave me a much greater appreciation for that time we Christians spend in corporate worship. It pointed to the real responsibility we have as followers of Christ that we have proper focus in our praise and worship. As was mentioned also in the article, we are joining in on the worship that is always occurring before our holy God. It is more than just our personal expression and sign of our devotion that originates from us here on earth. We are merely participants in the greater worship that comes from heaven and extends down to us.

Jesus hinted at this when he rebuked the Pharisees for criticizing his followers that began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen, He said in Luke 19:40, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” And again its mentioned in the passage above from Revelation 5:13, that "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them" will worship and praise God.

If you enjoy worship as much as I do, you are part of a universal chorus praising our Lord and Maker, and the Lamb who is worthy of all our praises, in concert before the throne of Heaven. If you don't enjoy worship, or if you have yet to believe in the One who can save you from this world and bless you with eternity, someday everyone will bow their knee in worship Him who sits on the throne. Everyone worships something; make sure you focus on the right object of your worship.

[1]Stanford Encycolpedia of Philosophy,Jonathan Edwards
First published Tue Jan 15, 2002; substantive revision Thu Aug 6, 2009
[2] Christianity Today, March 2011, Page 21

Photo from the website loveworldchristiannetwork.org, 2-21-2008

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Safe and Secure - May 23, 2015



Psalm 16 (New International Reader's Version)
1 God, keep me safe. I go to you for safety.


2 I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord. Without you, I don't have anything that is good."

3 God's people who live in our land are glorious. I take great delight in them.

4 Those who run after other gods will have nothing but trouble. I will not pour out offerings of blood to those gods. My lips will not speak their names.

5 Lord, everything you have given me is good. You have made my life secure.

6 I am very pleased with what you have given me. I am very happy with what I've received from you.

7 I will praise the Lord. He gives me good advice. Even at night my heart teaches me.

8 I know that the Lord is always with me. He is at my right hand. I will always be secure.

9 So my heart is glad. Joy is on my tongue. My body also will be secure.

10 You will not leave me in the grave. You will not let your faithful one rot away.

11 You always show me the path that leads to life. You will fill me with joy when I am with you. You will give me endless pleasures at your right hand.


In these verses, David meditates on his relationship with God. He rests in the knowledge that God cares and will always care for him. The picture is one of a close and intimate friend that brings safety, good things, joy, and guidance. You may have enjoyed this same type of closeness with a dear friend or parent.

Take a few minutes to think and meditate on these words; reflect on the picture it gives you in your mind. Seek comfort and rest in the Lord. As you settle down to another night of sleep, you can feel safe and secure in the loving arms of your Savior Jesus.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Overcoming Faith - May 22, 2015

 
2 Peter 1:3-11 (New International Version)
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


When you come to belief in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, life takes on a whole new meaning. As new believers we are excited and have a hunger for God's word and anything that will continue your knowledge of Christian living. At the same time though, along with the joy of our new relationship with Jesus, we may find that there the more we try to do the right things, the Adversary will do all he can to trip us up.

You see, if your believe that there is a God, you have to believe that their is Satan. But Satan is no more than a fallen angel, created by God, that is always looking to torment those that are not following him and the ways of the world. It is his mission to lead as many as he can away from the love and grace of God as he can. Because of your new life in Christ, you may soon realize that many things you found desirable and appealing about your old life no longer are, and some of your old friends will no longer recognize you as one of them.

So how do you overcome these negative pressures and bad influences on your life? The answer is made very clear in the scripture verses from the Apostle Peter noted above. The step-by-step approach to "insulating" yourself is given starting in verse 5 where is states, "add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love." What's even better is that God gives you the divine power and ability to follow through on the steps.

So if your ready to grow deeper and stronger in your relationship with God, follow the step-by-step instruction from Peter, and you will soon see that you will have a new perspective on what happens to you, and you will experience the joyful life of following Jesus.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Redefining the Wicked - May 21, 2015

Psalm 10 (New Living Translation)
1 O Lord, why do you stand so far away?
Why do you hide when I am in trouble?

2 The wicked arrogantly hunt down the poor.
Let them be caught in the evil they plan for others.
3 For they brag about their evil desires;
they praise the greedy and curse the Lord.

4 The wicked are too proud to seek God.
They seem to think that God is dead.
5 Yet they succeed in everything they do.
They do not see your punishment awaiting them.
They sneer at all their enemies.
6 They think, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us!
We will be free of trouble forever!”

7 Their mouths are full of cursing, lies, and threats.
Trouble and evil are on the tips of their tongues.
8 They lurk in ambush in the villages,
waiting to murder innocent people.
They are always searching for helpless victims.

9 Like lions crouched in hiding,
they wait to pounce on the helpless.
Like hunters they capture the helpless
and drag them away in nets.

10 Their helpless victims are crushed;
they fall beneath the strength of the wicked.
11 The wicked think, “God isn’t watching us!
He has closed his eyes and won’t even see what we do!”

12 Arise, O Lord!
Punish the wicked, O God!
Do not ignore the helpless!

13 Why do the wicked get away with despising God?
They think, “God will never call us to account.”
14 But you see the trouble and grief they cause.
You take note of it and punish them.
The helpless put their trust in you.
You defend the orphans.

15 Break the arms of these wicked, evil people!
Go after them until the last one is destroyed.
16 The Lord is king forever and ever!
The godless nations will vanish from the land.

17 Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.
Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
18 You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed,
so mere people can no longer terrify them.

If you ever need to describe the wicked, the psalm above does a good job of it. The wicked are always in opposition to the good. Even so, wickedness is still attractive to the world. Look out onto the landscape we call the world today.

Do you realize how many things that once were considered wicked are now accepted as normal and good? If you oppose such things that once were seen as wicked, you now become the one who is considered wicked yourself. The world is upside down; it has redefined what is wicked, but that is to be expected in a world ruled by Satan. What seems as a recent event for us is one that has been repeated generation after generation.

God will eventually bring about justice because this ultimately is His world. He is patient in bringing about justice, only because He loves each and everyone of us, and He is waiting for all who are to come to Him to do so. Our responsibility is to make sure that we end up on His side, and that we bring as many people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as we can.

Illustration: Gustave Doré - Dante Alighieri - Inferno - Plate 10 (Canto III - Charon herds the sinners onto his boat); 1857

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Benefit of Confession - May 20, 2015

 
Psalm 32 (New Living Translation)
1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!

2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

3 When I refused to confess my sin,my body wasted away,and I groaned all day long.

4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

6 Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.

7 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.

8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.

9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

10 Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.

11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

When it comes to discussing the results of confessing your sins, no one does it better in the Bible than King David. The Bible says that David was a man after God's own heart(Acts 13:22;1 Samuel 13:13-14)and you feel the closeness of David's heart to the heart of God as you read through the various Psalms ascribed to him. Knowing that he had that intimacy with God, we should look to his words when looking for an example in how to pattern our lives.

But what brings David down to earth is that he too was plagued by sin, just as we are. He sinned against God as an adulterer and murderer, yet because of his confession and repentance, God forgave him. Even so, David paid for the "bad seeds" he had sown through the disintegration of his family and the loss of those he loved. If you study the Psalms further, you will follow him through all of these struggles.

If you haven't brought all your "junk" to God and sought forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ, spend time with David. Follow his example and lay out you life to your God and Savior.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall - May 19, 2015


Colossians 1:21-23 (New International Reader's Version)
21 At one time you were separated from God. You were enemies in your minds because of your evil ways. 22 But because Christ died, God has brought you back to himself. Christ's death has made you holy in God's sight. So now you don't have any flaw. You are free from blame.

23 But you must keep your faith steady and firm. Don't move away from the hope that the good news holds out to you. It is the good news that you heard. It has been preached to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, now serve the good news.


There was a time in my life when I didn't feel very good, looking into the mirror. No, it's not because I am getting older. Before I surrendered to the gospel of Jesus Christ, I was lost and adrift in the world. It led me into many valleys and places I really didn't like being in. During this time in my life, God never gave up on me.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He convicted me of what was wrong in my life, and set my heart on wanting to come back to Him. He made me aware of the "mirror" of His law, what's right and wrong, what's pleasing to God and not, that I would someday be held accountable to.

I love these verses from Paul's book to the church in the Colossians. I can see myself described so clearly in them, that it is like looking into that mirror. I really can see myself, through the bad and the good. Today, I continue to measure myself against God's word. As it says, through Christ's death I have been made holy in God's sight, and in His eyes I don't have any flaws, and I am free from blame. It has been a struggle everyday to keep my faith steady and firm, but through His Spirit I have been able to not "move away".

How about you? Can you see your reflection in the "mirror" of these words? If you can't, take hold of this fact, Jesus Christ died for you, God has forgiven you and brought you back to Himself. Christ's death has made you holy in God's sight. You can free yourself from the chains of your sin and shame, because God has freely provided the way for you. When you surrender yourself and accept His gift to you, you can be sure that Jesus has provided a place with God for you.

If you see yourself in this "mirror" as I do, "hold your faith steady and firm. Don't move away from the hope that the good news holds out to you". This is the mirror that the good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ that has been given to you. So in turn, follow the way that Paul did long a go. Serve the good news, reaching out to all those that need to see their reflection too.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Persistent Prayer - May 18, 2015

 
Luke 18:1-8 (New Living Translation)
1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”


In the passage above, Jesus illustrated through a parable the importance of persistent prayer. The point here is that none of our prayers gets unanswered. We may not feel that way sometime, and there are times when we feel that God has abandoned us, but God does answer in the time that will benefit His children most.

There are circumstances that may hinder your prayers. If you are in sin and non-repentant, God will not listen to your prayers. Notice that I didn't say that He will not "hear" your prayers, because He is aware of everything, even your sinful state. If you will humble yourself, and ask Him for forgiveness, it will open up the line of communication.

What we pay for does have to be in His will for us. If we are frivolous in our prayers, or we are asking for things that are not within His plan for us, God will not gives us what we ask for. We need to always pray for wisdom and make sure we seek His will in our requests.

There are times when the answer you get is NO. Yes, we don't get everything we pray for, for God did not promise us everything when we came to Jesus. He did promise that he would meet all of our needs. In fact, as we mature in our Christian faith, we will ask for personal things much less frequently. If we focus on the needs of others and try to meet those needs, we will find that the very things we might have wanted we will get.

The New Testament talks much about prayer, and this parable is just one example. Bottom line is this, we need to pray about everything all the time, because this is how we communicate with God. Jesus extended his love to us, now it is our turn to love Him back.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Praise! - May 17, 2015



Psalm 91(New Living Translation)
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Flagellum Faith - May 16, 2015

 
Hebrews 11:1-3(New International Version)1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for. 3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Faith; it is the fundamental bedrock that someone needs to believe in God, in Jesus, in the Holy Spirit and in all that we know if we are to be Christians. It takes faith to believe that all that is around us was created by God. It takes faith to believe that God stepped into our world and became a man, to sacrifice Himself on the cross for our immorality, disobedience, and wickedness, also known as sin.

It takes faith to believe that God actually comes to live within us in the form of the Holy Spirit, to give us guidance, knowledge and comfort to live this earthly life. It takes faith to believe that God wrote the whole story down in the Bible, through the inspiration of ordinary men, and that the words come alive, and can speak to us today.

The dictionary defines faith as, "confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing","firm belief in something for which there is no proof or material evidence". People place their "faith" in many things, but can you concretely say that you have faith in God and His plan for salvation? I am of the opinion that it is easier to place my faith in Him, than it is to believe that everything is here by chance. Nothing times nothing still gives nothing, if I remember my math correctly.

No one can convince me that the complexity of everything around me came about by chance. We are also asked, and in fact now teach our children in public school, that a theory is a fact, but to me it takes more faith to believe that we are descendants of apes, than it does that God wondrously created it all. It's a wonder why the scientists have to keep adding billions of years to the age of things, trying to find "the missing link"!

The passage above is the introduction of a great faith chapter in the Bible, Hebrews 11. The writer gives us an overview of the Old Testament's people of faith, and gives us reason for the faith and hope that is within us as believers. He help us as readers understand that we do not have an empty faith, but one that has been built over the millennia.

To me my faith in God increases every time I see a newborn baby, just as it was when I held my own child in my arms for the first time. My faith is increased every time I see the wonders of creation in the coloration and migration of birds, and the complex wonder of the flagellum of a one-celled organism that looks like a mechanical motor(see image above). My faith is increased every time I stand in awe of the beauty of forests and mountains, and every time I see the sun set over the ocean.

To me my faith is increased every time I see a person that was lost and forsaken by the world, turn around and change their life to one of value and tremendous joy, because of the faith they placed in the one who gave me hope, Jesus. If you are having questions about what you believe and your faith, place your trust in God and in His Son, and ask Him to confirm the faith that is within you.

 

Friday, May 15, 2015

No One Like Our God - May 15, 2015



Psalm 103 (New International Reader's Version)

1 I will praise the Lord. Deep down inside me, I will praise him. I will praise him, because his name is holy.


2 I will praise the Lord. I won't forget anything he does for me.

3 He forgives all my sins. He heals all my sicknesses.
4 He saves my life from going down into the grave. His faithful and tender love makes me feel like a king.

5 He satisfies me with the good things I long for. Then I feel young and strong again, just like an eagle.

6 The Lord does what is right and fair for all who are beaten down.

7 He told Moses all about his plans. He let the people of Israel see his mighty acts.

8 The Lord is tender and kind. He is gracious. He is slow to get angry. He is full of love.

9 He won't keep bringing charges against us. He won't stay angry with us forever.

10 He doesn't punish us for our sins as much as we should be punished. He doesn't pay us back in keeping with the evil things we've done.

11 His love for those who have respect for him is as high as the heavens are above the earth.

12 He has removed our lawless acts from us as far as the east is from the west.

13 A father is tender and kind to his children. In the same way, the Lord is tender and kind to those who have respect for him.

14 He knows what we are made of. He remembers that we are dust.

15 People's lives are like grass. People grow like the flowers in the field.

16 When the wind blows on them, they are gone. No one can tell that they had ever been there.

17 But the Lord's love for those who have respect for him lasts for ever and ever. Their children's children will know that he always does what is right.

18 He always loves those who keep his covenant. He always does what is right for those who remember to obey his commands.

19 The Lord has set up his throne in heaven. His kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you angels of his. Praise him, you mighty ones who carry out his orders and obey his word.

21 Praise the Lord, all you angels in heaven. Praise him, all you who serve him and do what he wants.

22 Let everything the Lord has made praise him everywhere in his kingdom.
I will praise the Lord.


This evening as we take the time to rest after a hard week of work, let's reflect on the goodness and mercy of God. Make it a point in your weekend to praise and worship Him for all He has done. Like Jesus, take time to seek Him privately and intimately. Everything we are we owe to Him. Take the time to rest in Him.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

God Speaks - May 14, 2015

 
Isaiah 44 (Amplified Bible)A Revelation to the Prophet Isaiah from God, 2700 years ago.

1YET NOW hear, O Jacob, My servant and Israel, whom I have chosen.
2Thus says the Lord, Who made you and formed you from the womb, Who will help you: Fear not, O Jacob, My servant, and you Jeshurun [the upright one--applied to Israel as a type of the Messiah], whom I have chosen.

3For I will pour water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit upon your offspring, and My blessing upon your descendants.(John 7:37-39 NIV)

4And they shall spring up among the grass like willows or poplars by the watercourses.

5One will say, I am the Lord's; and another will call himself by the name of Jacob; and another will write [even brand or tattoo] upon his hand, I am the Lord's, and surname himself by the [honorable] name of Israel.

6Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the First and I am the Last besides Me there is no God.(Revelation 22:13 NIV)
Do you realize that this is Jesus speaking through an Old Testament prophet?


We are indeed living in exceptional times. No one can say that they have ever experienced times like these before. I really feel that we need to listen to God's word for explanations and answers for how we should handle what we are going through as a Nation and as individuals.

The verse by verse dissection and interpolation is from the Amplified Bible. They do a great job of helping us understand the meaning behind the text. I would encourage you to take a few minutes in a quite place, pray for understanding, and read and reflect on what God is saying.

You will be amazed how clearly you hear His message to us today. I will take the liberty of adding my thoughts in a few places. Oh by the way, be sure to follow the bible reference links I have added and read the accompanying passages as well. This post is a bit long, but the exercise and reading will be worth it.

7Who is like Me? Let him [stand and] proclaim it, declare it, and set [his proofs] in order before Me, since I made and established the people of antiquity. [Who has announced from of old] the things that are coming? Then let them declare yet future things.

8Fear not, nor be afraid [in the coming violent upheavals]; have I not told it to you from of old and declared it? And you are My witnesses! Is there a God besides Me? There is no [other] Rock(Matthew 16:13-20 NIRV); I know not any.


God speaks with His own authority; He alone determines and knows all things!

9All who make graven idols are confusion, chaos, and worthlessness. Their objects (idols) in which they delight do not profit them, and their own witnesses (worshipers) do not see or know, so that they are put to shame.

10Who is [such a fool as] to fashion a god or cast a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

11Behold, all his fellows shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen, [how can they make a god?] they are but men. Let them all be gathered together, let them stand forth; they shall be terrified, they shall be put to shame together.

God now is describing those today who run after the "idols" in their lives and do not seek Him.

12The ironsmith sharpens and uses a chisel and works it over the coals; he shapes [the core of the idol] with hammers and forges it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint.

13The carpenter stretches out a line, he marks it out with a pencil or red ocher; he fashions [an idol] with planes and marks it out with the compasses; and he shapes it to have the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, that it may dwell in a house.

14He hews for himself cedars, and takes the holm tree and the oak and lets them grow strong for himself among the trees of the forest; he plants a fir tree or an ash, and the rain nourishes it.

15Then it becomes fuel for a man to burn; a part of it he takes and warms himself, yes, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. [Then out of the remainder, the leavings] he also makes a god and worships it! He [with his own hands] makes it into a graven image and falls down and worships it!

16He burns part of the wood in the fire; with part of it he [cooks and] eats flesh, he roasts meat and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire!

17And from what is left [of the log] he makes a god, his graven idol. He falls down to it, he worships it and prays to it and says, Deliver me, for you are my god!

That is just like us human beings! We fashion "idols" for ourselves of a job, or possessions, or money, or relationships, etc., without realizing that all we are and all we receive is only because of God. He has made all things and He alone determines our path.

18They do not know or understand, for their eyes God has let become besmeared so that they cannot see, and their minds as well so that they cannot understand.

19And no one considers in his mind, nor has he knowledge and understanding [enough] to say [to himself], I have burned part of this log in the fire, and also I have baked bread on its coals and have roasted meat and eaten it. And shall I make the remainder of it into an abomination [the very essence of what is disgusting, detestable, and shamefully vile in the eyes of a jealous God]? Shall I fall down and worship the stock of a tree [a block of wood without consciousness or life]?

20That kind of man feeds on ashes [and finds his satisfaction in ashes]! A deluded mind has led him astray, so that he cannot release and save himself, or ask, Is not [this thing I am holding] in my right hand a lie?

Because we fail to recognize that God has given all to us, we unwittingly take credit and assume that what we have and do is because of our own efforts, and we rely on ourselves at our own peril.

21Remember these things [earnestly], O Jacob, O Israel, for you are My servant! I formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you shall not be forgotten by Me.

22I have blotted out like a thick cloud your transgressions, and like a cloud your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

The New Living Translation says it this way,"I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” Do you realize what you are reading here? Here is a prophecy about what Jesus would come to earth and do for us 700 years in the future from this writing. This is amazing stuff!

23Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, you depths of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and He glorifies Himself in Israel.

24Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and He Who formed you from the womb: I am the Lord, Who made all things, Who alone stretched out the heavens, Who spread out the earth by Myself [who was with Me]?--

25[I am the Lord] Who frustrates the signs and confounds the omens [upon which the false prophets' forecasts of the future are based] of the [boasting] liars and makes fools of diviners, Who turns the wise backward and makes their knowledge foolishness,(1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV)

26[The Lord] Who confirms the word of His servant and performs the counsel of His messengers, Who says of Jerusalem, She shall [again] be inhabited, and of the cities of Judah, They shall [again] be built, and I will raise up their ruins,

27Who says to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up your rivers,

28Who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd (ruler), and he shall perform all My pleasure and fulfill all My purpose--even saying of Jerusalem, She shall [again] be built, and of the temple, Your foundation shall [again] be laid.

This is another prophecy of the Jews returning to Jerusalem at some future time, and the rebuilding of the Temple. ...The words are God's closing salutation and His statement that He alone is in charge of the affairs of mankind and He will determine all things.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Turning Our Backs on God - May 13, 2015

.

Psalm 53 (New Living Translation)
1 Only fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
not one of them does good!

2 God looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.

3 But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
not a single one!

4 Will those who do evil never learn?
They eat up my people like bread
and wouldn’t think of praying to God.

5 Terror will grip them,
terror like they have never known before.
God will scatter the bones of your enemies.
You will put them to shame,
for God has rejected them.

6 Who will come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel?
When God restores his people,
Jacob will shout with joy,
and Israel will rejoice.


What does God think when He looks down us? Too many of us have placed God on a shelf along with our Bibles to gather dust and sit until absolutely needed. We go through our days and barely give Him a thought. Worse yet, our Nation has forgotten where we have come from.

These days, many in the chambers of our government are openly hostile to anything that has to do with the God of the Bible. It is sad to know that this was not the case in our Nation's past . Within a year of his inauguration Thomas Jefferson, who rode on horseback to church in the Capitol, used to attend services in the House of Representatives. Worship services in the House was a practice that continued until after the Civil War. Throughout his administration Jefferson permitted church services in executive branch buildings and the Gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers.

Why has our Nation wandered so far away from God? Why do so many people in our country prefer to listen to the blather of those who prefer to ignore the One who helped establish this Nation? Why have we allowed them to have such influence on how we are governed and what we are allowed to do in the public square? Why do we allow our schools to teach our children half-truths about our founding fathers, and neglect the truth about the roots of our Republic? Why aren't we more involved making the dramatic changes necessary to correct the course of this Nation? What will happen if we continue to go about our daily lives and do nothing?

This Psalm of David reveals what our Father in Heaven thinks about those who care little for Him and deny His very existence. Let's be sure that we are not counted in that number. Tomorrow as you gather together with family and friends, be sure you remember the One who has blessed you with everything. Give thanks to the Provider of it all, and be sure that with a spirit of thanksgiving you make it known to everyone you know that God is the One to be honored, worshipped, praised and thanked.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Giving Sight to the Blind - May 12, 2015

 
2 Corinthians 4:1-5 (New Living Translation)
1 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. 2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

3 If the Good News (The Gospel) we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.


This is not an easy subject. Sometime it is really difficult. What I am saying is as much as people try to believe in the God of the Bible, and to accept the gift of Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross for mankind's sins, it is a tall order for people who are unbelievers to suddenly give up their skepticism and become believers. Why is this?

The main reason is that the lifestyle that is promoted by the world and the values it espouses blinds people to the wickedness in which they are trapped in. That is what is meant by "Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe". It is as if they are blind-sighted, meaning that although they are looking for the truth; they can't really see it because of the way they are living. Our world has been so blinded by what is called "relativism"("what is right for one person may not necessarily be right for another", "that's true for you but not for me"),that absolute truth and what is morally right and wrong has been distorted, "veiled", from those who are perishing, dying in their sins.

My making the statement that people are "dying in their sins" is considered very controversial in our culture today. Why? Just a few decades ago, especially in the United States, moral absolutes were very easy to identify, and everyone was measured against a Judeo-Christian standard of right and wrong. But because of the failure of Christians to become engaged in the culture during the last several decades, this worship of relativism slowly crept in and the belief in God's absolute truth began to be diminished, until today these Judeo-Christian values are in danger of being eliminated from our culture. We may even see a day when upholding and speaking out for these values in our country will be considered a crime, as it is in many countries in this world.

A good way to test this theory about the erosion of values can be found by watching the Turner Movie Channel. On it you will find screenings of movies from the 1930's,1940's and 1950's. Compare those movies to those made today. The values portrayed by Hollywood then are not the values portrayed by Hollywood today.

And you need only look into the lives of most popular actors of today, and you will see the "fall-out" this has caused in their lives. It has also caused massive fall-out in the lives of those who mimic their lifestyle. Today you also see these same problems creeping into the lives of our politicians, professional athletes, and other "famous" people that the culture idolizes.

I would probably be safe in saying that the majority of people would not want to see their children or grandchildren exhibiting these lifestyles or behaviors, whether they are believers or not. Today's cultural values, exhibited on television and in the movies, in our schools and halls of government, are not those that will ultimately sustain our culture.

This is my message. If you are a Christian and you believe in the plan of God, you need to become engaged first in what you believe and then get engaged in the culture. Take this research and study into "What Do You Believe" and answer that question for yourself. Pick up the references and your Bible and become solid in your faith. Know what you should know.

If you are a non-believer, you need to take a close look at yourself and see if the life you are leading is really one that you can be proud of on your deathbed. Hate to sound morbid, but a hundred years from now everyone reading this will physically be in the same situation, but not necessarily in the same place. You have an opportunity to get your life on the right path; the path God has laid out first for your salvation and then for your lifestyle.

As Paul says it in his letter to the Corinthians,"You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake." Turn your life over to Jesus Christ today.

I wrote this post awhile back, but it is just as relevant today as when I first wrote it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Cold Hearts - May 11, 2015


Matthew 24:10-12 (New Living Translation)
10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.

Romans 1:20-21,29-32(New International Reader's Version)
20 Ever since the world was created it has been possible to see the qualities of God that are not seen. I'm talking about his eternal power and about the fact that he is God. Those things can be seen in what he has made. So people have no excuse for what they do.

21 They knew God. But they didn't honor him as God. They didn't thank him. Their thinking became worthless. Their foolish hearts became dark.
...
29 They are full of every kind of sin, evil and ungodliness. They want more than they need. They commit murder. They want what belongs to other people. They fight and cheat. They hate others. They say mean things about other people. 30 They tell lies about them. They hate God. They are rude and proud. They brag. They think of new ways to do evil. They don't obey their parents. 31 They are foolish. They can't be trusted. They are not loving and kind.

32 They know that God's commands are right. They know that those who do evil things should die. But they continue to do those very things. They also approve of others who do them.

Each and every day we read headlines and hear of stories of  how cold-hearted the society has grown around us. Young women are no longer safe, young men care less about their responsibilities, what was once inappropriate is now mainstream, and what was once wholesome is now a joke. We read of tolerance for things that devalue human life and morals, and anything pertaining to Christianity and faith is now deemed harmful and archaic.

It is amazing that the Bible is always so very clear about what is going on. Those of you reading this, that grew up when I did know that we weren't exactly angels, but we knew what was right and wrong, and we knew about being respectful to adults and each other, and being gentlemen and young ladies, and about consequences. We knew how to protect those weaker than us, and helping those less fortunate, and serving one another.

Why has this happened? What's going on? Is it because progressives in our society think they have a better way than the old-fashioned biblical values of the many generations before and since our founding? Is it because our nation has decided that God has no place in public education and that modern scholars know how to teach about morals better? Is it because education about human relationships was been taken out of the hands of mothers and fathers, and been given to teachers and health clinics?

Is it because our children have now learned that right and wrong is relative, and what's wrong for you may not necessarily be wrong for the other guy? Is it because mothers and fathers now only have to look after their own personal interests, because now they only have to be accountable to themselves? Is it because it is now "my body" and "my rights" and having it "my way"? Is it because all that is important is money, and prestige, and position, and possessions, and politics, and power?

Is it because when you talk about God, "you can't be serious,...what God"? Or, "Jesus? Who's He?" Is it because, "Church? You got to be kidding me! Why should I go to Church?" Is it because, "We have football, or soccer, or swimming, or ice skating, or basketball, or ...golf"? And "There is no such thing as heaven, or a hell, or judgment"? Or, "You worship your way and I will worship my way!"

What is my answer to all this? The answer can be found in Psalm 37:39-40:39 The Lord saves those who do what is right. He is their place of safety when trouble comes. 40 The Lord helps them and saves them. He saves them from sinful people because they go to him for safety.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Who Is Jesus? - May 10, 2015



Colossians 1:15-17 (New International Reader's Version)
15 Christ is the exact likeness of God, who can't be seen. He is first, and he is over all of creation. 16 All things were created by him. He created everything in heaven and on earth. He created everything that can be seen and everything that can't be seen. He created kings, powers, rulers and authorities. Everything was created by him and for him. 17 Before anything was created, he was already there. He holds everything together.


Have you ever been asked to explain why you believe in Jesus Christ? Have you been put to the test by others as to who Jesus is, and whether or not he is really God? There are many cults that exist today that call that fact into question. Some call themselves Christian, yet they deny the fundamental fact that Jesus is not just a mere human but God himself. Then there are other religions that say that Jesus is nothing more than a good moral teacher, attempting to place Christianity on the same level as any other religion. So, how can you know in whom you have placed your faith?

These questions and opinions about Jesus are not a new. In fact these same controversies have been alive and well since the beginning. One of the fiercest critics and persecutors of Christians actually pursued believers in the 1st Century, imprisoning and even killing some of them. He felt that Christians were perverting the Jewish faith and following after a false Jewish Messiah that had long since died. He was so fierce in his persecution that he had gained a reputation as a zealot for the Jewish faith, and he was so relentless that the young Christian community feared him.

Yet, this high-ranking Jewish official was confronted by the living Jesus Christ, and was so changed by his conversion that he became the author responsible for much of the writing of the New Testament of the Bible. In fact he became even more zealous for the cause of Christ than he ever was for the Jewish faith. You know this man as Saul of Tarsus, who after his conversion became Paul. How was Paul so profoundly changed? It is because through his encounter with Jesus, he realized who Jesus really was. In Paul's letter to the church in Colossi, the Book of Colossians, we catch a glimpse of who Jesus Christ really is.

If you are unsure of what you believe about Jesus, be sure that you study each and every word in the passage above. It presents a characterization of Jesus Christ that is so profound, that you either believe it or you don't. You either believe that He is God or you don't. Just be sure you know and are able to defend what you believe.

Photo from the movie Jesus of Nazareth, 1977

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Saturday Praise! - May 9, 2015

Psalm 29(New Living Translation)
1 Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings;
honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
2 Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
The God of glory thunders.
The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
he makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with bolts of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks
and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”

10 The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
The Lord reigns as king forever.
11 The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.

There are days when very little needs to be said but to give God honor and praise for who He is and what He has done. Without Him we would not enjoy the benefits we have been blessed with. No matter your circumstance, whether good or bad, you can count on the fact that He loves you enough to die for you, so that you could be redeemed and spend eternity with Him. Give Him honor and praise; let us lift up the name of Jesus above all else. "Honor the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness".

Friday, May 8, 2015

When God Speaks - May 8, 2015

 
Isaiah 44 (Amplified Bible)A Revelation to the Prophet Isaiah from God, 2700 years ago.

1YET NOW hear, O Jacob, My servant and Israel, whom I have chosen.
2Thus says the Lord, Who made you and formed you from the womb, Who will help you: Fear not, O Jacob, My servant, and you Jeshurun [the upright one--applied to Israel as a type of the Messiah], whom I have chosen.

3For I will pour water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit upon your offspring, and My blessing upon your descendants.(John 7:37-39 NIV)

4And they shall spring up among the grass like willows or poplars by the watercourses.

5One will say, I am the Lord's; and another will call himself by the name of Jacob; and another will write [even brand or tattoo] upon his hand, I am the Lord's, and surname himself by the [honorable] name of Israel.

6Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the First and I am the Last besides Me there is no God.(Revelation 22:13 NIV)
Do you realize that this is Jesus speaking through an Old Testament prophet?


We are indeed living in exceptional times. No one can say that they have ever experienced times like these before. I really feel that we need to listen to God's word for explanations and answers for how we should handle what we are going through as a Nation and as individuals.

The verse by verse dissection and interpolation is from the Amplified Bible. They do a great job of helping us understand the meaning behind the text. I would encourage you to take a few minutes in a quite place, pray for understanding, and read and reflect on what God is saying.

You will be amazed how clearly you hear His message to us today. I will take the liberty of adding my thoughts in a few places. Oh by the way, be sure to follow the bible reference links I have added and read the accompanying passages as well. This post is a bit long, but the exercise and reading will be worth it.

7Who is like Me? Let him [stand and] proclaim it, declare it, and set [his proofs] in order before Me, since I made and established the people of antiquity. [Who has announced from of old] the things that are coming? Then let them declare yet future things.

8Fear not, nor be afraid [in the coming violent upheavals]; have I not told it to you from of old and declared it? And you are My witnesses! Is there a God besides Me? There is no [other] Rock(Matthew 16:13-20 NIRV); I know not any.


God speaks with His own authority; He alone determines and knows all things!

9All who make graven idols are confusion, chaos, and worthlessness. Their objects (idols) in which they delight do not profit them, and their own witnesses (worshipers) do not see or know, so that they are put to shame.

10Who is [such a fool as] to fashion a god or cast a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

11Behold, all his fellows shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen, [how can they make a god?] they are but men. Let them all be gathered together, let them stand forth; they shall be terrified, they shall be put to shame together.

God now is describing those today who run after the "idols" in their lives and do not seek Him.

12The ironsmith sharpens and uses a chisel and works it over the coals; he shapes [the core of the idol] with hammers and forges it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint.

13The carpenter stretches out a line, he marks it out with a pencil or red ocher; he fashions [an idol] with planes and marks it out with the compasses; and he shapes it to have the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, that it may dwell in a house.

14He hews for himself cedars, and takes the holm tree and the oak and lets them grow strong for himself among the trees of the forest; he plants a fir tree or an ash, and the rain nourishes it.

15Then it becomes fuel for a man to burn; a part of it he takes and warms himself, yes, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. [Then out of the remainder, the leavings] he also makes a god and worships it! He [with his own hands] makes it into a graven image and falls down and worships it!

16He burns part of the wood in the fire; with part of it he [cooks and] eats flesh, he roasts meat and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire!

17And from what is left [of the log] he makes a god, his graven idol. He falls down to it, he worships it and prays to it and says, Deliver me, for you are my god!

That is just like us human beings! We fashion "idols" for ourselves of a job, or possessions, or money, or relationships, etc., without realizing that all we are and all we receive is only because of God. He has made all things and He alone determines our path.

18They do not know or understand, for their eyes God has let become besmeared so that they cannot see, and their minds as well so that they cannot understand.

19And no one considers in his mind, nor has he knowledge and understanding [enough] to say [to himself], I have burned part of this log in the fire, and also I have baked bread on its coals and have roasted meat and eaten it. And shall I make the remainder of it into an abomination [the very essence of what is disgusting, detestable, and shamefully vile in the eyes of a jealous God]? Shall I fall down and worship the stock of a tree [a block of wood without consciousness or life]?

20That kind of man feeds on ashes [and finds his satisfaction in ashes]! A deluded mind has led him astray, so that he cannot release and save himself, or ask, Is not [this thing I am holding] in my right hand a lie?

Because we fail to recognize that God has given all to us, we unwittingly take credit and assume that what we have and do is because of our own efforts, and we rely on ourselves at our own peril.

21Remember these things [earnestly], O Jacob, O Israel, for you are My servant! I formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you shall not be forgotten by Me.

22I have blotted out like a thick cloud your transgressions, and like a cloud your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

The New Living Translation says it this way,"I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” Do you realize what you are reading here? Here is a prophecy about what Jesus would come to earth and do for us 700 years in the future from this writing. This is amazing stuff!

23Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, you depths of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and He glorifies Himself in Israel.

24Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and He Who formed you from the womb: I am the Lord, Who made all things, Who alone stretched out the heavens, Who spread out the earth by Myself [who was with Me]?--

25[I am the Lord] Who frustrates the signs and confounds the omens [upon which the false prophets' forecasts of the future are based] of the [boasting] liars and makes fools of diviners, Who turns the wise backward and makes their knowledge foolishness,(1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV)

26[The Lord] Who confirms the word of His servant and performs the counsel of His messengers, Who says of Jerusalem, She shall [again] be inhabited, and of the cities of Judah, They shall [again] be built, and I will raise up their ruins,

27Who says to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up your rivers,

28Who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd (ruler), and he shall perform all My pleasure and fulfill all My purpose--even saying of Jerusalem, She shall [again] be built, and of the temple, Your foundation shall [again] be laid.

This is another prophecy of the Jews returning to Jerusalem at some future time, and the rebuilding of the Temple. ...The words are God's closing salutation and His statement that He alone is in charge of the affairs of mankind and He will determine all things.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Living Gererously - May 7, 2015


Proverbs 11:24-26 (New Living Translation)
24 Give freely and become more wealthy;
be stingy and lose everything.

25 The generous will prosper;
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.


26 People curse those who hoard their grain,
but they bless the one who sells in time of need.

Proverbs 11:24-25 (New Century Version)
24 Some people give much but get back even more.
Others don't give what they should and end up poor.

25 Whoever gives to others will get richer;
those who help others will themselves be helped.

Proverbs 22:9 (New International Version)
9 A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.

2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (New International Reader's Version)
6 Here is something to remember. The one who plants only a little will gather only a little. And the one who plants a lot will gather a lot. 7 You should each give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn't give if you don't want to. You shouldn't give because you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to shower all kinds of blessings on you. In all things and at all times you will have everything you need. You will do more and more good works. 9 It is written,

"They have spread their gifts around to poor people.
Their good works continue forever." —(Psalm 112:9)

10 God supplies seed to the planter. He supplies bread for food. God will also supply and increase the amount of your seed. He will increase the results of your good works. 11 You will be made rich in every way. Then you can always give freely. We will take your many gifts to the people who need them. And they will give thanks to God.

Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? God has created a wonderful circle of generosity: He gives to us, so that we can give to others, and in turn He continues to bless us, so that we can further bless others...and on it goes.

We serve a very generous God, and He constantly gives to us freely. Our lives, relationships, work, income, joy, music, everything we have has been generously given to us by Him. He has even given His only Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins, and give us the opportunity to be eternally with Him. And Jesus, gives us the Holy Spirit who takes up residence in our hearts, and instructs us how we are to be generous to others around us.

The wonderful thing about having a generous heart is this principle, the more generous we are with what God has given us, the more generously He blesses us to be a blessing to the world around us. But we need to be sure that we adhere to the key to this principle of generosity, which is our attitude in giving. We are never to give just to receive, but we must be directed in love to freely give as generously as we can in thanks and gratitude to God.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Light Has Come - May 6, 2015

 
Isaiah 26:9-13(New Century Version)
9 My soul wants to be with you at night, and my spirit wants to be with you at the dawn of every day. When your way of justice comes to the land, people of the world will learn the right way of living.

10 Evil people will not learn to do good even if you show them kindness. They will continue doing evil, even if they live in a good world; they never see the Lord's greatness.

11 Lord, you are ready to punish those people, but they do not see that. Show them your strong love for your people. Then those who are evil will be ashamed. Burn them in the fire you have prepared for your enemies.

12 Lord, all our success is because of what you have done, so give us peace.

13 Lord, our God, other masters besides you have ruled us, but we honor only you.

John 3:19(GOD’S WORD Translation)
19This is why people are condemned: The Light came into the world. Yet, people loved the dark rather than the light because their actions were evil.

Have you ever been up very early in the morning, just before the sun comes up? Especially on a moonless night, it can be pitch black, and just before dawn a faint sliver of light begins to illuminate the darkness. You realize how little light is needed to begin to light up the darkness. It starts out very faintly, but as the minutes pass, the sliver soon begins to fill the sky. The sun hasn't risen yet, but the sky begins to warm up in beautiful hews of purple and red, then orange, and soon yellows. It is a beautiful and amazing, and each day is different from the last.

So it was when Christ came into the dark world, and so too it is in many parts of the world today. The love of Christ begins ever so faintly, in the life of a believer or two, but soon it is illuminating many hearts as the light of Jesus begins to light up the dark souls of many it encounters. Even so, there will be those who choose to stay in the darkness, those who are blinded by the light, and would rather hide where it's dark. If only they allowed a little light to shine in, they would soon feel the warmth of Christ's love.

Many of us may have been in that same situation at one time in our lives, and some reading this might still be there. Although they know of the light of Jesus Christ, they choose to run away from it, and go hide where it's dark. They are so deep in the darkness of their sinful lives, that when Christ's light begins to shine, they would rather not face it. They are happier in the darkness than they are in the light. Darkness hides their true selves, and they fear what the light of day will show.

The Light of God, Jesus Christ, has come into the world. We need to embrace it and allow it to warm our souls. Otherwise we may be trapped in the darkness forever, and find out that we don't want to end up there.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

You WILL Suffer - May 5, 2015


2 Timothy 3:12(New King James Version)
12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Yes, you read it right! If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you call yourself a Christian, you WILL have trouble; you will suffer persecution. If you are a true believer, you are different. The life you lead should be different than the world around you. You should not mix well with others that are "in" the world; like oil doesn't mix with water. People should be looking at you funny! It takes alot of guts to stand up for Jesus.

For my generation that has been tough because we grew up in lukewarm churches; just religious enough to go to church some Sundays, but not enough to take a firm stand on issues that would have made a difference. I believe that our society is in the mess that it is in, because the church was silent as our religious freedoms were slowly taken away. Today, we don't even resemble the society that the founders of our nation envisioned, and our children and grand children are paying for it.

Thankfully, in spite of trouble, there are many young people and others that are standing up for what is right, and making a firm stand for Jesus here and throughout the world. I believe that in the future, all of us will have to stand on one side or the other. Either we will boldly stand for Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, or we will join the mishmash of relativism, being just religious enough not to "make any waves".

There have been times in the past when Christians were called to stand up for true Christianity and for Jesus, and there are many people in our world that are standing up for Christ and suffering much persecution, even death. The question is, when it comes time for you to take a stand, what will you do?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sing a New Song - May 4, 2015

 
Psalm 40:3 (New International Version, ©2010)
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.

Psalm 98:1 (New Living Translation)
1 Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power!


Some time ago, I heard a great message about praise and worship. In it I heard that when you study the Scriptures, its hard to find where praise and worship as singing is done by anyone other than mankind. If you read carefully, most of the time when we think that the angels are singing in praise and worship, they are actually speaking the words. Only in Job 38:6-7 is there a vague reference to the angels singing.

The message went further to explain that God has put the "song" in the hearts of those that He has redeemed. They then express their love and thankfulness to God through lifting up His praises in songs of thanksgiving. Singing praises and worship to our God has become such a part of the faith experience, that one can't imagine what it would be like without it.

If you are a committed Christian, its hard not to be joyful and to lift up praises in song to our God and Savior Jesus Christ for what He has done for us. Some day soon though, God will put a new song in our mouths, no longer about the suffering Servant who laid down His life for our sins, but a new song for our worthy and conquering King who will bring us with Him into His kingdom.

Revelation 5:9-10 (New International Version, ©2010)
9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”


Photo "Praises 5" by Martin, 7-30-2007, from stock.xchng