Sunday, July 31, 2011
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thes 5:3)
When the end comes, as John reminds us, we will be asleep in our beds, unaware that we've had the last chance to accept Jesus as our Savior, as forgiveness of our sins and thank God for His mercy and grace. We will be awakened by the sound of a trumpet and life as we know it will end. Those of us washed in the blood will be whisked away, never to look back and never again to suffer or be in pain. Those left behind, well, I won't be one of them, so it's not something I have to think about. I will be safe and sound in the arms of Jesus!
While we are here, we are commanded to love, to obey and to honor the plan God lays before us. We very rarely know what that is. We are encouraged to grow our faith to unconditional acceptance of what He brings for us. God's reasoning is often lost on us weak and two-dimensional humans. We cannot see what lies ahead - only what it right in front of us.
Accepting God's will for us is often harder than we'd like. Being a child of God, we are never promised that the road we travel will be easy - only that it will be worth it! Accepting God's will for us can be painful, it can be heartbreaking. Being a child of God, we are promised that we won't get what we deserve, since we deserve nothing anything we receive is a blessing. Accepting God's will for us requires humility. Being a child of God, we know that He will not leave us, nor forsake us - and just because it may not be what we want, it is most definitely what HE wants. He sometimes says "no" - more often than not. He sometimes says "wait" - building patience within us. He sometimes says "yes", and in that "yes" is the continued reliance on what He has in store for us.
We cannot control God, nor can we control the life that awaits us today or tomorrow. When a mother is in labor, the anticipation of the birth is overshadowed by the pain she is in (even with today's technology and medication - there is still pain involved). She pushes and screams in pain and begs that it be over. But until that little person is delivered into the waiting hands of the doctor, she cannot rest, she cannot stop. Once that baby has been born - the pain vanishes and the focus is on that blessing - that miracle that is laid upon her chest...her child!
God's blessings generally follow the most painful times in our lives. We will not see them through the tears we shed on our way there, but we will know, without any doubt, when they have arrived. Don't give up, don't give it! Don't play the "stubborn" card with God - He has a way of humbling the most stubborn of all people. Tell Him you aren't happy with the hand you've been dealt, but don't back away from it. Play it out! You may only have a pair of two's and feel like there is no possible way to win - what you don't know, is the the other fellow holds no cards of any value. Your lowly hand could be the best! Rejoice in what He gives you, for it is what He wants for you right now. Hold tight to your faith and remember the verse in Jeremiah - (29:11) - He knows the plans He has for you - hold tight to that and walk forward, don't bat an eye and don't hesitate. Don't stop rejoicing all the way through and your reward will be great! Cry if you must, but don't despair! Before long, you will be "safe and sound"...
Saturday, July 30, 2011
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ep 1:7)
To say that "there is power in the blood" is an understatement. Without the shed blood of Jesus, there is no redemption. Old Testament teachings remind us that atonement for sin came through animal sacrifice -it was the "blood" that cleansed the sin. Even from the first sin of disobedience, in the garden. God, Himself, performed the first sacrifice to show us how it's done. By making clothes for Adam and Eve, He put an innocent being to death in order to cover them with it's fur.
Jesus was innocent of the charges levied against Him. He was guilty of nothing, yet He was crucified as a common thief. He took on the weight of all our sins - all of them, not just a few here and there - every sin that had ever committed or would ever be committed. Remember, He is God - on His mind that day were all the transgressions of the world for as long as it had been in existence and for as long as it would continue to be in existence. He suffered greatly for what is now free to us. Salvation!!!
Every one of our sins was accounted for on that day. The rest is up to us. We can either accept or reject the power of the blood. We can either accept or reject the grace and mercy which is ours for the asking. We can either accept or reject the road that is laid before us. If we accept, we must profess. We must believe and be obedient. We must spread the good news to all who can hear and will listen. No one is above forgiveness, no one will escape the physical death that comes as a result of the sin of man.
Once we're forgiven, it's forgotten - wiped away as if it never existed. That is why it is so important to ask for it and make the effort to refrain from it. Our "changed" behaviors, attitudes and thought process (which comes to us through the Holy Spirit) causes those changes to occur. The "want" to change must be greater than the sin itself. I look out over the social networking sites and still see foul language, using of His name in ways that are not of praise and vulgar images that flow through the news feeds like water through a fountain! The time is now! Do not allow your "false gods" (you idols, your heroes) to come first and foremost in your lives. Make the change, as for forgiveness with sincerity, humility and honesty. Half hearted attempts will not be satisfactory - give Him your all!!! Give HIM the honor and joy that you tend to reserve for your celebrities - He's much more impressive than any of them (and much more deserving - after all, the gifts and talents you admire in them came to them through Him)!
So remember that the grace is God's voluntary and loving favor given to those He saves. We can't earn it, nor do we deserve it No religious or moral effort can gain it, for it comes only from God's mercy and love. Without God's grace, no person can be saved. It comes as a result of the perfect and final sacrifice!
Friday, July 29, 2011
Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? (Is 48:7)
The NIV (New International Version) of this verse is an easier read: "Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"
You cannot be saved by works of service without faith in Christ. Our faith lacks sincerity if it doesn't reach out to others. Pleasing God is more than following His rules - it's what we do for Him and others! He wants our "service" to go beyond our own personal growth to acts of kindness, charity, justice and generosity. It isn't an "either or" arrangement. It has to be both. God is very serious about feeding the hungry, providing shelter to the homeless, clothing the naked and He is very adamant about turning your back on your family.
God does not make promises and then go back on His word. He does not bribe us with rewards and then retract them. He does not change the rules after we've achieved the first step of the transformation. He is constant and consistent. He does not have ulterior motives and He is not selfish. He doesn't play the "favorite" game and His justice and His love are equally shared with all. God's scale is always balanced. We are all His children and we are all answerable to Him for all that we do and all that we fail to do. Our actions and inactions will be called into question one day.
When you agree to something, you are obligated to follow through on that agreement. The decisions that affect the lives of others, those whose lives change because of a promise, a pledge or a guaranteed that you have made can cause more damage than you realize if you rescind your offer. "Changing you mind" out of selfishness or greed without reliance on God (or without asking Him for guidance) is as dangerous as playing with fire. Not using the same "measure" in your dealings with others (for whatever reason) is also something that causes irreparable damage (especially to the one that is the recipient of the "shorter" stick). Taking advantage of those who have, knowing that their love for you is so great that they would never say "no" and then casting them aside when they have nothing left to take from them is, without question, an abomination before the Lord!
God's ultimate plan for you is but a prayer away. Remembering that He will not leave you, nor will He forsake you is not only a promise, it's where faith is born. Take courage knowing that He can and will do whatever it takes to protect you from the cold, nourish your body and soul and help you to overcome the hurt and pain that is heaped upon you by others. He will not relinquish you to the enemy even when it feels like he is closing in on you! You are HIS! He will NEVER let you go!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. (Heb 11:30)
If you know the scripture of how this came to be (Joshua 6), then you know that the Lord's hand was most assuredly responsible for the collapse. God showed them that nothing is impossible with Him and that all you need to do is have faith! You may sit and say to yourself after reading that there is no way walls of that magnitude could fall to the ground with just seven days of marching around it, the blast of a trumpet and the shouts of the people. You may think that the walls were probably a puny pile of stones or that it had some serious construction flaws. Those walls, were in fact, 25 feet high and 29 feet thick in some places. In this act, God surely showed His power! It was their faith in God's promise that brought down the walls.
So often we are faced with "impossible" situations. We examine them, try to find a logical solution, try to fix them ourselves (when there is no possible way to do so) - then we exclaim "it is hopeless". For God, there is nothing that is impossible, there is nothing that is hopeless and there is nothing beyond His reach. Sometimes all we need to do is have faith! God does not need our help. Often we are told to "be still" and "know". Having faith means not only to believe that God can and will do what is necessary, but it also means stepping back and allowing Him to do it! Great faith comes from great trials. It is only through continued reliance on Him that we develop the faith of those who marched around Jericho. It is only through continued devotion to Him that we develop the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It is only through continued prayer that we develop the faith of Esther. It is only through faith in Jesus' death and resurrection that we shall see God! Faith in one means faith in all. All that God has promised will be realized. He does not go back on His promises to His people. If you are a child of God, then you are guaranteed by faith, through grace the rewards of His Kingdom.
So, step aside, march around your "walls" and allow God to topple them to the ground!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah. (Gen 26:35)
On Sundays, I do nothing...it's my sabbath. I attend church, come home (occasionally have kids wandering in the front door for dinner), feed the dogs, and write this post. That is all I do. I have listened to my Father's command and set aside one day of rest and honor to Him. I do not answer the phone, I do not transact business, I do not read email. This past Sunday I watched "Fiddler on the Roof". For those of you born at the tail end of the 20th century (or even this one), you may not have ever heard of the musical and have no idea what I'm talking about. It is set in Russia in 1905 and centers on a small, Jewish community, and one family - Tevye and his five daughters. He attempts to maintain his Jewish tradition while outside influences (the Tzar) threaten that way of life.
Esau, the son of Isaac and Rebekah, also threatened that which was handed down by God to the Israelites. This sickened Rebekah. Esau not only married on Hittite, he married two of them! He took them without asking, without talking and with out the blessing of his parents (something unheard of in those days). Matthew Henry tells us "It should seem, the wives he married were provoking in their conduct towards Isaac and Rebekah; those children have little reason to expect the blessing of God who do that which is a grief of mind to their good parents." What you need to remember here is that unlike those of us born in the 20th or 21st century - they fell under the law, not under grace. Their lives were much harder in some areas, yet simpler in others. To venture outside the law was an unforgivable violation. Esau, when faced with important decisions, tended to choose according to the immediate need (instant gratification) rather than the long-range effect.
Even though God allows certain events in our lives to accomplish His overall purposes, we are still responsible for our actions. All the consequences of our acts are important to consider. It is possible to have great anger and not sin. It is possible to have great hurt and not seek revenge. It is possible to be in great distress and not walk away from God. Sometimes common sense isn't all that "common". Esau's choices in life, no doubt were choices he must have regretted bitterly. I doubt he was the type of person who considered the consequences of his actions, reacting to meet the needs of the present without taking into consideration what he was giving up to meet those needs.
We are all, in some aspects, a "fiddler on the roof". He represents the part of each of us that continues to worship and honor God, to imitate Christ and to call upon the Holy Spirit for strength. He is the part of us "trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck (Tevye)". Do not lose your balance. Remember to keep all things in perspective and do everything to the glory and honor of God. Allow Jesus to be your compass and follow that path laid before you. Let the Holy Spirit surround you with strength to go where you are sent and do what it is you are asked to do, whether you understand it or not - allow your faith to grow deeper each day and you will not be a "grief" in God's eyes!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? (John 3:4)
It wasn't until this morning that i grasped the reality of this verse. We tend to think that being born again is a simple, painless accomplishment that hurls us into our afterlife. We accept Christ, we are born again.
The most beautiful things in this life, do not come to us easily. They are a continued work in progress. As I stood with my son, my daughter-in-law, and her mother at 1:37 this morning, I witnessed the birth of my granddaughter. Yes, she is perfect! Yes, she is beautiful! It took over nine months of shaping and growing within her mother, another 12 hours of labor, some of it hard, some of it easy - but painful all the way. It took about 10 minutes of concentrated effort on my daughter-in-law's part for Mikhaela Grace to enter the world! God's perfect miracle!
Our walk of faith is not an easy one. Being born again is not just something you do. It is the very real and very painful realization that we are nothing, sinners destined for the grave. Without the hand of Jesus leading us, we cannot enter. Without the Father's forgiveness we cannot proceed. We are but infants; we know nothing about that which the Father has in store for us. Our rebirth is often as painful as our natural birth was. We, too, must suffer through the trials of life that bring us to the foot of the cross. We, too, must be pushed beyond our own limits in order to rely totally on Him. We, too, must be cleansed and wrapped tightly before being placed in the hands of our capable Father. He then holds us, lovingly whispers to us in gentle tones, and tells us that we are loved. From that point on, we grow. But our growth will not come without pain, it will not come without sorrow and it will not come without loss.
Our tears of pain will become tears of joy and utter disbelief at the beauty of the life within us, the revealing of the life that awaits us and the struggles we will face from the time we accept Christ until the time He walks us into Paradise! We are chosen, adopted into a very well-to-do family! There is no greater honor! We are accepted as "chosen". We are loved as equally and as generously as the nation of Abraham! There is no birth certificate that bears our name, but there is a witness to our re-birth! He will attest to our heritage! He will validate our adoption! In Mikhaela's case, she has an opportunity that not many have. You see, not only does she have the opportunity to become a "naturalized" child of God through her acceptance of Jesus, she goes before the Father as one of the offspring of Abraham! She is directly descended from one of the twelve tribes (as is her mother, her grandfather and her great-grandparents).
It does not matter what events bring us to the foot of the cross, it doesn't matter what horrors we face in this life, it doesn't matter how much or how little we suffer in order to reach that cross. Our pain and suffering can never compare to the suffering of our Savior as He took the nails for us! In His blood we are cleansed. Through His resurrection He breathes new life into us! The sorrows of our hearts are known to Him and He will comfort us. He will not abandon us to fend for ourselves! We are His! He feels our pains, shines brightly with us in our joys and will one day, take our hand and lead us safely into the waiting arms of our Father!
(photo: my son, Michael and my granddaughter, Mikhaela Grace)
Monday, July 25, 2011
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (Ps 51:1)
Yesterday, I challenged all of my friends to read this Psalm. I challenged them to look at their lives and what they consider to be important. I challenged them to not look to the beliefs they were taught, but to the calling of their heart. I challenged them to read my daily posts.
Spending time in prayer, praying "written" prayers, as I have said before and have written in my book, is something I could do very well. I could recite a rosary, all the prayers I was compelled to memorize and could even go through the entire order of the Mass without picking up a book. Yes, very impressive - but not to the one who matters. There is nothing I can do that will impress Him.
David's song comes after his incident with Bath-Sheba. If you aren't familiar with the story, it goes like this: David committed adultery with Bath-Sheba and murdered her husband to cover it up. Although he had sinned with Bath-Sheba, he acknowledged that he sinned against God. He knew that his actions had hurt others. He asked for forgiveness of his sins and our merciful God did just that - he forgave him!
David went on to be the greatest king in Israel. He is part of the ancestral line of Jesus. He is listed in the "Hall of Faith" (Hebrews 11). He is described by God as a "man after his own heart (1 Sam 13:14). Along with his adultery with Bath-Sheba and the murder of Uriah, he directly disobeyed God and took a census of the people and didn't deal with the sins of his children in a decisive manner.
What David brings to us, in this day and age, is his willingness to honestly admit his mistakes. That is our first step in dealing with them. We also learn that forgiveness doesn't remove the consequences of our actions, and that God wants our complete trust and worship.
Get back to the basics of praising God. Get on your knees if you must. Ask Him for forgiveness for the acts you have committed against His commandments, ask Him to not only forgive you, but cleanse you! Ask Him to wash you cleaner than snow. Ask Jesus to come into your heart and guide your steps. Ask Him to strengthen you where you need to be strengthened and soften you where you need to be softened. David is said to have had a "whole heart", as opposed to Saul (who had no heart) and Solomon (who had only half a heart). Be David - ask for forgiveness and be sincere. Ask for the courage and strength to bring you through the battle you are in right now and the reward will be greater than you realize. Turn from the sins that haunt you the most. Bring them to Jesus, leave them at His feet and stand tall. You are forgiven!
(image - "David and Bathsheba", Marc Chagall, 1956)
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Deut 31:6)
"Jesus commands my destiny" -- This hymn, "In Christ Alone", is so beautiful. The words to it reach into your soul and remind you just what you are doing here and why.
Satan loves his joys, but he will meet with defeat. He cannot win - he will not win. When God closes a door, He does indeed open a window! There is nothing on this earth that the power of God cannot overturn. His strength is not imaginable and His love is indescribable. So much so that He, Himself, came here to attest to the fact the God is love, that God does care, that God does know and that God understands.
These past two weeks we have walked through each one of the laws He gave to Moses. There is no question as to what God has commanded from us. There is also no doubt that we humans cannot measure up. Nothing we ever do will be good enough to enter the gates of heaven. We could never hope to keep even one of these. If you're sitting there shaking your head saying "you're wrong" - think again! I'm sure you can find one instance in your life that you have broken the Law of God.
God knew this. Thus, He came to earth in human form, Jesus! He died for our failure to obey the law, He died for our inadequacies, He died for our deliverance. It is "in Christ alone" that we can stand before the Father, shielded in His sovereignty and cleansed by His blood. That "cornerstone" is still being rejected through defiance, through immorality, through murder, through hate and through indifference. We have nothing to fear if we walk in the light. Even in the darkness, His light shines to lead us to Him. God made Himself right with all of humanity. He has kept His promises and will continue to keep them. Only when we stand on the solid ground that is Jesus Christ, can we be saved from the raging storms that wash over our pitiful lives. We are not worthy, we do not deserve anything from Him! There is not one of us who can proudly boast that we are the perfect creatures He calls us to be! There are no excuses for anything we do or do not.
God will not fail us, He will not forsake us! In Christ alone, are we made worthy - no one else, no other way. Go to Him now, through Jesus, and ask for forgiveness. Ask for courage and strength to do His work on this earth. Humble yourself before Him and become ALL that He so richly deserves from you! Make a place for Him in your life, make a place for Him in your heart. Your soul belongs to Him, don't sell it to the enemy for anything! The price that was paid for it is greater than anything Satan could give you for it. Put your pride in your back pocket and confess your sins and acknowledge His greatness! Your time is running out. Only in the power of Christ can you stand!!!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind (Col 2:18)
Roughly translated: if you pray to angels (or anyone else for that matter), you are disclaiming Christ, who is the ONLY mediator between man and God! It is an insult to Jesus, who is head of the Church (not denominational - the Church of Christ as a whole), to use any intercessor other than Him!!!
I was raised to pray to others. If my troubles were heavy - pray to St. Jude. If my pets were lost or sick - pray to St Francis. If I wanted to sell my house - get a statue of St. Joseph, bury it in the ground upside down and pray to him. The list goes on and on! The other fallacy that was ingrained in my head was "patron saints". There is a saint for everyone and an everything. St. Michael is the guardian of law enforcement. St. Raymond is the patron saint of pregnant women (I know that because I would joke about that with my ex-husband - whose name is Raymond). Everyone knows of St. Christopher - the patron saint of travelers. I do recall a time when the Church in Rome "uncanonized" him and people began to sell and purchase "Mr. Christopher" medals to wear and statues for their cars. I do believe he's been recanonized - but I couldn't tell you in absolute certainty.
Satan's presence in the certain denominations of churches is so apparent, so sly and deceptive, that those who worship there do not even see it - they truly believe they are acting and performing in the manner that God would have them perform! How can anything that takes away FROM God be OF God??? Remember, He is a jealous God and tells us so! He wants us to come to Him and ONLY through Jesus!!! All our prayers should reflect praise and honor before petition and must be sent only through Jesus to intercede to the Father on our behalf. We do not get anywhere praying to a dead person. All those ritualistic mumblings, all those self-serving blatherings are distasteful in the eyes of the Lord. The notions upon which these practices are grounded were merely the inventions of men, and not by divine revelation. Any church whose rituals include praying or honoring anyone other than God frightens me!
Pray to the Father, through Jesus. Offer praises and thanksgiving to the Father, through Jesus. It is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone that we come to be in the presence of the Father - not angels, not martyrs and not saints. Through Christ alone are we redeemed!!! A very high price was paid for our immortal and eternal souls - honor and respect the one who shed His blood for it!
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. (Exodus 20:17)
Here we are at the last (I'm sure some of you are relieved to know that you have survived most of the ten). This last commandment tells us that we shouldn't want what does not belong to us with an overwhelming desire. It is perfectly natural to admire something that someone else has, but when the desire turns to an obsession or the devising of crafty plans to attain it, imagining the worst scenarios in which we could claim it as our own, then we've crossed the line.
Jealousy plays a big role here, as does envy. Although "covet" is not a word we use in daily conversation (and many of us may have been spared years of needless horror if that word had been explained to us as children), it is nonetheless the word God has chosen to remind us that wishing for something that someone else has, overwhelming desires to possess what is not ours to possess and wishing for what we cannot have is not something He wants us taking up our time with. Dreams (setting goals and achieving them) are not coveting; however, schemes are! Taking unfair advantage of situations, using wealth or power to achieve something that rightly belongs to someone else, deliberately offering less for something to someone when it's worth is greater (bargaining out of greed), taking unfair advantage over someone who is stuck between a rock and a hard place, not honoring a contract (verbal or written) because of a loophole - yes, most of that is legal, but all of that is sinful!
This commandment is about respecting what is not ours; what is someone else's - be it their spouse or house, toys or joys! It does not cover "aspiring" - because that, my friends is what separates the desire from the sin. If you see something beautiful, there is nothing wrong with wanting something that exhibits the same beauty. If you see a beautiful woman or handsome man, it's not wrong to admire their physical attributes and use that as a model for what you would like to be or have. The sin comes in wanting THAT particular person or item. The phase that will generally run through your mind is "how can I get that" or "maybe when the spouse is dead".
These "appetites" of "corrupt nature" are all lust. We know that lusting after anything is a sin, therefore we need to re-learn and reprogram our hearts to differentiate between the fine lines of this commandment and the will of God. When we pray for what we want, as opposed to what God wants for us, are we, in fact, violating His final law? When we ask for something that is not ours (regardless of whether it is someone else's), are we praying out of need or want? Only you and God know what is in your heart, what the longing of your soul is crying out for. Make sure that your prayer is one of need, not greed!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. (Ex 20:16)
Whatever is not true is obviously false. Suppressing the truth, speaking unjustly, prejudicing someone's reputation, slandering, backbiting, tale-bearing (gossip) all fall under this commandment. Lying. Be it a grand scale fabrication or the little white kind is most definitely NOT in keeping with the law of God.
Think about it. How many little white lies have you told? You know, the ones that won't hurt anyone? Just a little stretch of the truth. How big was that fish, really??? How much of your own opinion did you add to that story about the guy you work with??? What really happened - quit or fired - what did you do to save face??? All those pile up - they all violate the commandment.
When we lie (our insinuations, innuendos, evil suggestions) we cause others to suffer in character, credit, and reputation, and in work. We take away from their "good" name and turn it into a nightmare. Constant misrepresentations of the truth about a person over years, telling stories that may have been true 20 years ago as if they are still relevant today, condemning their good works by overshadowing their failures (that happens a lot with husbands and wives and parents and children), all cause others to view these individuals in an untrue light. Our lies give us the unfair advantage over others, they build us up as we tear others down and we continue to hurt those whom we chatter about whether they know it or not. We teach our children that certain lies are okay. We've learned to live the lies of our ancestors and those promises we make and fail to keep are also lies.
We lift our requests to the Lord, do we lie in them too??? Are we genuine in our prayers for others? Do we pray for those we tell we will pray for??? Do we earnestly go to the Father on their behalf or are they just a name we wander across on our prayer list???
Look into your heart and ask for forgiveness. Stop lying to yourself and to others. Stop trying to lie to God - He knows you too well! Make a commitment to Him and to yourself to stop committing this sin. Let the past be just that and let today be a new day of truth and honesty in your life and your heart. Those who you would utter untruths about will thank you!
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Thou shalt not steal. (Exodus 20:15)
Another commandment that seems relatively simple - if it doesn't belong to you and you don't have permission to have it - don't take it.
We all know the obvious definition of stealing...but what about the amount of time you goof off at work because you just don't feel like doing work on any particular day? What about that copy paper you needed to print out your resume at home and ran out of paper, what about the 40 minutes you spent on the phone with your friend? Then we come to the items the check out girl forgot to ring up or the extra change she gave you. That, too, is stealing. Stealing someone "thunder" is also a sin (for those of you who don't get that one - it's when you spread someone else's good news to others - denying them the joy of delivering it themselves). Stealing someone's reputation by telling others things they would not know (gossip). The only time that stealing is allowed is when you are playing baseball!
If you have to invent a way to justify what you've done (I was bored, I just had to share it, it was her mistake), then you've broken the commandment. Stealing is not just taking material goods. There are more ways to steal than I have time to write. Matthew Henry (a much more eloquent writer than I) sums it up with these words: "This command forbids us to rob ourselves of what we have by sinful spending, or of the use and comfort of it by sinful sparing, and to rob others by removing the ancient landmarks, invading our neighbour's rights, taking his goods from his person, or house, or field, forcibly or clandestinely, over-reaching in bargains, nor restoring what is borrowed or found, withholding just debts, rents, or wages, and (which is worst of all) to rob the public in the coin or revenue, or that which is dedicated to the service of religion."
Once again, we must reflect the will of God by "setting things right". Give back, apologize, ask forgiveness, don't do it again! Be willing to confess to the God of mercy and grace all the things that take you away from His gifts to you. Be ready to accept the consequences for your actions regardless, knowing that He will not allow you to be destroyed and you will be given all that you need. Don't just take - ask. If the answer is no, He will provide another way. You cannot steal the gates of heaven and you cannot take what does not rightfully belong to you. Start today - stop today! Hit your knees and ask forgiveness for all those harmless infractions - they may not have harmed anyone else, but if they're bothering you, then they have harmed someone - you! God has a way to set things right - let Him set things right with you!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)
Let me just say this: Jesus says that if we've thought of doing it, we've done it in our heart. Cheating is cheating whether it's a peck on the lips or full out tonsil hockey - if there is lust in your heart, then you are guilty of committing adultery. And all you single folks out there that think it's okay to have sex with your "significant" other - once again - God says NO!!! Yes, I do have a lot to answer for when I go before Him...yes, I am forgiven! Part of being a Christian and recognizing the sins of the flesh is not only to ask forgiveness for them, but to cease from committing them! What about you??? Do you have sins of fornication, extra-marital affairs, lewd sexual acts, or homosexual acts? Guess what? They all fall under this commandment and if you are arrogantly continuing to commit them, then you are not in the good graces of the Father!
"But I love him (or her, or them or him or whatever)" - God says NO!!! And taking it only as far as "heavy petting with no intercourse (yes, I know I'm dating myself here) if you aren't married (especially if you're married to someone else) is also a NO!!! The statement and title of today's post was uttered by a married woman (whom I was friends with) that I caught in the back seat of a car not belonging to her husband and with a man who was not her husband. "I had too much to drink" is not an excuse, either. Her testimony is, as she put it, "ruined" - but what she failed to see is that none of us has a "perfect" testimony. But lying about it certainly will not make for a good interaction with our heavenly Father on judgement day. God doesn't want us to make up flawless professions of our Christian life to others - He wants us to share the sins of the flesh, the sins of the heart. We must be vigilant in our walk with Christ! No, we won't get it right every time - as a matter of fact, we'll probably get it wrong more than right - but we MUST make the effort! Deliberately going out and thinking that because your husband or your wife doesn't know gives you the false security that your "secret" is safe. Guess what again??? God knows!!! And don't think you can stand before Him and justify it - the response will most likely be "what part of NO didn't you understand???"
There's an awful lot of sin in our world. Pictures of things that are not what the image reflects (some people were posting images (of whatever - I don't know, I blocked it) that were designed to look like genitalia - some find it funny - I find it disgusting (as I'm sure God does as well). Pornography, incest, child rape (any rape), what we call "sexual harrassment" - they all fall under this commandment. And those who are victims of these (that is, not willing participants) are not guilty of breaking this commandment. In fact, there's another verse that applies specifically to those who commit the acts - but again, another post.
Examine your heart, read the word of God and study what He has to say on this subject. There are numerous verses with regard to all the sins that get lumped into this commandment. Satan has much power in the disregard of this one! Far too many people (Christian people) have their opinions based on what society accepts and not what God accepts --- GOD SAYS NO!!!
Monday, July 18, 2011
Thou shalt not kill. (Ex 20:13)
Another commandment one would think is rather simple to understand. In the commentaries I read, I get two totally different takes on this: one states that any act of killing (war, hatred, punishment) is against this commandment; one states that necessary war, defense of oneself and magistrate justice are not forbidden. So how do you determine if you are in violation of this commandment? There in lies the challenge.
We will start out small - don't kill anyone! If you don't commit the act, you are half way there - I say "half way" simply because Jesus tells us that if we harbor hatred and anger towards one another in our heart, we have already committed the act. He tells us also (in Matt 5) that "an eye for an eye" is no longer an acceptable behavior. There was a time when I believed in the electric chair, the gas chamber, lynching and the firing squad. There was also a time when I believe in a woman's right "to choose" when it came to abortion. There was a day (quite recently as a matter of fact) that I rejoiced at the death of a terrorist. There are times when I wish that God would just remove certain people from the planet sooner than later. So what am I guilty of? If I am harboring hatred and anger in my heart, yes, I am guilty of violating this commandment!
If you haven't figured this out by now, there is not one of these ten commandments that we can keep perfectly and at all times. There is always a false bottom to our box of "good". That is why one man came to earth to show us the way and to take on our failures at the cross of Calvary. Only through Him can we be perfect! Only through His shed blood can our pitiful lives be redeemed. It's not what we do...it's what's been done for us!
Turning our lives over to Jesus (who was murdered, i.e. killed for our transgressions) sounds easy enough. In doing so, He asks that we live a life like He did - be kind and loving, obedient to God and willing to do whatever He asks of us. Sometimes it's not easy. But then, the reward for such is greater than anything we can possibly imagine! We must continually ask forgiveness because we will continue to sin - regardless of how diligent and prayerful we are. Don't use your tongue to destroy others, don't kill their spirit, don't drown their attempts at being better people. Forgive them what sins they may or may not have committed against you - for somewhere someone is forgiving you. Walk away from the evil that lurks on your doorstep and lift your hands in praise, not anger. Respect life, it is not yours to take!
Sunday, July 17, 2011
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matt 12:36-37)
When the evil of this world reaches in and taunts your heart and your mind, when you feel as if you've been cast aside by every individual you have ever cared about or loved, when you've done everything you know how to do to be forgiven and accepted and you are still mocked, abused and discounted - trust in Jesus!
There may be people in your life who cannot or will not let go of insignificant details of the past. Things you have no recollection of, they will hold you accountable for. There are people whose sociopathic tendencies and personalities may infiltrate your Christ-centered world and and tear you up. Constant anger and hatred towards others is not a Christian attribute - it is a device of the enemy. When their distraction causes you to think along the same lines, when you find yourself looking forward to their judgment day so that they will finally hear from the Creator of life Himself that they showed no love or kindness towards you - trust in Jesus!
A Christian KNOWS that everything they utter will have to be accounted for. The saving grace, the blood of Christ, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit all bring about CHANGE in a sinner's life! Yes, we will continue to sin - but we will not be comfortable in doing so. We begin slowly by following the will of God more adherently, we try (often without success) to follow the commandments of our God. In our failure, we admit to him that we are, in fact, incapable of such a task, that we need forgiveness and that Christ is the only defense we have. He is what allows us into the presence of God. He has paid for what we cannot!
So, when you feel all these weights of the world and those who live in it, when you've reached the end of that thread you hang by - trust in Jesus...and live!!!
(photo by Tracey James)
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Ex 20:12)
I thought this one would be an easier one, since I am both a parent and a child. When looking back at my childhood (and for those of you who have read my book), I was not one who was consummately obedient. When found out, I would always receive a punishment that they felt was deserving. I did not necessarily agree. I personally believe that overly disciplined and extremely regimented children tend to be without limits once they reach the "real world" from having led such a sheltered life while being raised. I think that my father would disagree with that statement; however, my children would agree.
As parents, we don't always make the right decisions - but that does not preclude us from being obeyed and respected. We are human, we will make mistakes. In that same breath, our children will one day (God willing) become parents, and understand first hand why so many of the things they felt were harmless, were, in fact, denied them simply to teach self control, patience and determination. They will understand the love a parent has for their child and that they aren't being "mean", they are just preparing them for life beyond the confines of their home. Yes, there are some parents who take it to the extreme and literally abuse the right to be worthy of honor and respect, yet God tells us that we are to respect them. Confused? Don't be - because God has a plan for each child that it born into this world and although some suffer abuse, even death, their purpose here is fulfilled. I know this is hard to accept and understand. I have several friends who have witnessed the loss of a loved one due to abuse by a parent. I, too, have suffered abuses that I'd rather not mention at this time. I've also seen lives destroyed by adults who were abused as children - not breaking the cycle and moving from the abused to the abuser. Sure, I could be angry with God for allowing it to happen. I could walk away and stomp my foot and tell God - "forget it - I'm not forgiving them for that" - and it will only result in my becoming a bitter, vengeful person.
God commands us to honor and respect our parents - He puts no conditions on that. And by the same token, once raised, once we become adults watching our parents grow older and weaker, we again must remember that we are commanded to continue that honor and respect. We should be comforting them, making their aging process easier, helping them to retain some decency in their final years, helping to maintain them financially if they need that as well. It's about "honor and respect". I have a friend whom I've known for many years (too many to count, actually) and I am ever amazed at the love and compassion he has shown for both his father (who went on to his reward about year and a half ago) and his mother. His mom suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Lately she's becoming more incontinent and often she forgets which of her two son's she is visiting with - yet, with a smile and a jovial attitude, he cares for her, visits her in the facility in which she lives, researches and prays about the decisions he must make regarding her medical care and physical well being and continues to love her as she loved and cared for him so many years ago. That, to me, is what this commandment is all about.
God may not have blessed you with an abundant childhood, your parents may not have always been the role models you would have liked them to be, they may not have always been able to express their love for you in words or in deeds that we associate with love - but they are, regardless of their shortcomings, your parents. For that alone, they deserve the honor and respect God commands us to afford them. I know for many of you this is hard...but know that God has forgiven them for their sins (if they were born again) and that we, too, being born again, are told to forgive them as well. Maybe that rotten childhood you had, has caused you to be a better parent. Maybe the "sins of the father" will not be repeated in the next generation because God blessed you with the mercy and grace He dispenses only to His children. Regardless of whether or not they ever come to know the Lord, they will answer to Him. Take comfort in knowing that God's justice is greater than worldly justice - and it is eternal! And when you consider all that the Lord has thrust upon us with regard to our parents, we must then, without hesistation, look to our FATHER in Heaven, who also deserves our "honor and respect" not to mention our praises and thanksgiving for ALL He has so freely given!!!
Friday, July 15, 2011
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Ex 20:8-11)
In this day and age, I don't really think God has any particular day in mind -- Matthew Henry writes: "God is to be served and honoured daily, but one day in seven is to be particularly dedicated to his honour and spent in his service."
The argument of whether it is Saturday or Sunday that we should observe, takes away from the purpose of the observation -- to give thanks and praise to our Heavenly Father, to rest -- why do we spend hours debating on which of those two days it should be? And who says it has to be one of those two days anyway???
One day in seven could be a Monday this week and maybe a Friday the same week, followed by a Thursday the next. As long as one day in seven is set aside for rest and honor of God - and this debate could go on for as many more decades as we have left on this planet. Being in "service" to God is not "working for God" - it's praying and resting, just as He commands us to do! It does not necessarily mean going to a church service either (although that is the custom and we are told to do that as well in the New Testament). God knows your heart! No work should be done on the sabbath. It's a time to take care of the soul! Obviously, works of absolute necessity or of mercy would alone be accepted. It's not a day designed to travel the countryside, take in a ball game or suck down some beers, get your nails done, pay your bills or go shopping - it's a day of rest - God says it's "hallowed" and He has set it apart and made it sacred. So once again, who are we to change what God has called "law"?
Remember, in Mark 2:27-28, Jesus said "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore, the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath". God created the sabbath for our benefit, not His own. He derives no benefit from having us rest on the sabbath, but we are restored both phyically and spiritually when we take time to rest and focus on God. The intent of God's law is to promote love for God and others. So, in keeping with His law, take your one day and rest and focus on your Creator. The blessing and direction is to keep holy the "sabbath" day, not the sixth or the seventh day!
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)
So, it's time to clean up your act, clean up your potty mouth - get the blasphemy, the irreverence and the slang out of your vocabulary. "OMG" - "Geez" - "Holy whatever" - they need to disappear...replace it with something, anything but what you are using (if you are using any of these). My ex had a favorite expression in which our Savior's name surrounded the most vulgar word of all (and I am ashamed to admit it, but I, too, at one time, spoke those words in anger and hate). This commandment may be only one verse, but there's a lot packed into that verse. Taking the name of the Lord "in vain" is not just swearing (or cursing). There are a few aspects that bear listing.
When we voice those idle utterances that we've come to say without even thinking, He's listening! It has to be a conscious effort to erase them from our vernacular. We say so many things without really thinking about what we say or how we say it (or even how it sounds). I spent four years in Tennessee and during that time I acquired a "southern twang" and a few catch phrases that just don't get the same look up here in Pennsylvania. I'm asked all the time if I'm from the south (I just smile, chuckle and tell them I'm actually from New Jersey - talk about your double-take).
Our rash swearing (mentioning God's name or his attributes), taking an oath without a just reason (you can swear to God in a proper oath - but not amongst your friends when relating a story of another friend - as in "I swear to God, he just did that").
I think additionally, although many times said in jest, "God will get you for that" has become acceptable, but it, too, portrays a hint of hypocrisy - how do we know what God will and will not hold us accountable for individually? Many things said in jest, are at the expense of our Heavenly Father, and I as I'm sure he "gets" the joke, I don't think He approves!
Now for the second half of this commandment...yes, we will be called to account for all of our undertakings, and God Himself be the avenger of those that take His name in vain. I already have enough to answer for, I do not want to add that to the list.
It's one thing to be praising God and Jesus ... it's another to be condemning something or someone in Their names! We do not have the authority to "damn" anything or send anyone to hell - so why do we push the envelope with our Heavenly Father? It's simple - not a hard commandment to follow - just a hard habit to break.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Ex 20:4-6)
I refer to this commandment as "the one that got away" simply because I didn't learn it until about four years ago. It was not one of the ten I was taught in school or church. The Catholic Church removed the second Commandment against MAKING graven images from the list of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. This presents them with the problem of only having 9 Commandments. They resolve this problem by splitting Commandment number 10 into 9 and 10. That is: 9. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife. 10. You shall not covet your neighbour's goods. Imagine my surprise when I realized that what I had been taught was not the Word of God! God tells us over and over again in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, and Paul reiterates it in his first letter to the Thessalonians not to make any graven images, not to worship them, to bow down to them nor to serve them. He is very specific here - and there are many, like me, who were raised to pray to Mary, kneel and pray at statues, to genuflect.
So what does this "one that got away" tell us? First, it tells us that we are forbidden to worship even the true God by images. Our worship must be governed by faith, not by imagination. We must not bow down to these images or show any sign of respect or honor to them, much less serve them constantly, by sacrifice or incense, or any other act of religious worship (including prayer).
Matthew Henry (my favorite commentary to read), puts it rather simply: "The use of images in the church of Rome, at this day, is so plainly contrary to the letter of this command, and so impossible to be reconciled to it, that in all their catechisms and books of devotion, which they put into the hands of the people, they leave out this commandment, joining the reason of it to the first; and so the third commandment they call the second, the fourth the third, etc.; only, to make up the number ten, they divide the tenth into two. Thus have they committed two great evils, in which they persist, and from which they hate to be reformed; they take away from God's word, and add to his worship."
Remember, our God is a jealous God - who tells us to keep His Commandments - ALL of them!!! This one speaks volumes!!!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Ex 20:3)
Well, this seems pretty straight forward. One God - just Him, nobody else. Sounds simple enough too, doesn't it??? Not quite as simple as one may think.
Today, in this world, we have many 'gods'. There is the god of money, the god of fashion (both men and women), the god of prestige, the god of 'things', and lets not forget the god of 'sports'!
God doesn't tell us that these things are bad. He doesn't tell us not to work to earn our living, not to dress appropriately, not to enjoy our success and the things we've acquired and not to enjoy a good ball game. What He does tell us is that He is to come before all these things. "Well, I go to church on Sunday" you may say. Good for you! Glad to hear it! What do you do the other six days of the week? Church is an hour. Take out eight for sleeping and that leaves you with 112 hours. We'll give you two for Sunday (getting there, getting home and actually worshiping) leaving you 110 hours. Take out 45 for work (I'll give you an hour for the commute) which leaves you 65. I'll be generous and give you 14 hours for meals (it doesn't generally take an hour to eat but again, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt). That leaves 51 hours. (You see where I'm going with this, don't you?) By the end of the week, you have about as much "play" time as you have "work time" and yes, we all deserve to rest and relax and enjoy our time off - but what about God? Where does He fit into your schedule?
Out of those 112 hours you are awake, you've given Him 2! On your list of "gods", does He fall to the bottom? Is everything else more important than He is? Examine your own heart. What 'gods' can you NOT worship by allowing them to consume your time and energy before giving it to the Lord? This is not to say that you cannot enjoy a good movie, buy a new outfit or go to a ball game. Moderation! God's list of "do's and don't's" include excess and laziness in the "don't" column. When you buy that new outfit, was there something else you could have done with that money? Was there a family in need who may have benefited from it? When you ate the 5 course meal at the restaurant, was there a person you know who could have used not only a good meal (at an obviously less expensive restaurant) and the company of someone? That baseball game you went to - could you also have taken a friend with you who really could use a day out? Think of what others think. Not their opinions, but what it might be like to not have what you have. Would you not want someone to offer you a little joy if the tables were turned? That's part of what's on the "do" list! All that you have in your life you have because God has blessed you! Yes, you've worked hard for it (some work so hard that they come home from work one day and their family is gone). Don't neglect your obligations to you fellow man and to your family. Put God above all - He should come first, for it is to Him, and only Him we offer our praises and thanksgiving! Don't get so caught up in your toys and joys that you thank Him as an afterthought! Thank Him every day, for everything! Take the time to spend with Him - take 20 minutes - read His word, sing Him a song and offer your praises (not just your prayers). Make Him your priority as you have always been His!
Monday, July 11, 2011
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Ex 20:1-2)
Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I remember someone telling me that the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God were "shelved" when Jesus came. I was told He gave us two new ones and that the original ten no longer applied. Whoever you were - you were wrong!!! Fill up your coffee cups and take a short walk with me through both the old and new and you will see that although Christ's command to us is "to love the Lord, your God and to love your neighbor as yourself", He does, very profoundly, address all ten of the "original" laws handed down by God.
In Exodus 20:3 - "Have no other gods before me" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 4:10 "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve". There is the first commandment.
In Exodus 20:4 - "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" -- Jesus said, in Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters." (For my Catholic friends, please note that your church had deleted this commandment (and as far as I know, they haven't put it back in) - the commandments you learned as 9 and 10 are, in fact, one commandment - but I'll get to that later).
In Exodus 20:7 - "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 5:34 "Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne"
In Exodus 20:8 - "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" -- Jesus said, in Mark 2:27-28 "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore, the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath"
In Exodus 20:12 - "Honour thy father and they mother" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 10:37 "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me"
In Exodus 20:13 - "Thou shalt not kill" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 5:22 "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement" (this one here may be one a few thousand people may need to revisit right now)
In Exodus 20:14 - "Thou shalt not commit adultery" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 5:28 "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (and ladies, this does apply to you - just switch out the words).
In Exodus 20:15 - "Thou shalt not steal" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 4:40 "And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also"
In Exodus 20:16 - "Thou shalt not bear false witness" -- Jesus said, in Matthew 12:36 "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement"
In Exodus 20:17 - "Thou shalt not covet (thy neighbor's house, wife, servants, goods or anything that belongs to him)... -- Jesus said, in Luke 12:15 "Take heed, and beware of covetousness"
So here you have the foundation of the law handed down by God to Moses and you also have the law spoken to you in Jesus' own words. To sit here and elaborate on each one this morning would take us into lunch (and I have to be to work at 9). Over the next few days, I will try and devote some time to these (unless our Heavenly Father has something else in store for me). Take the time this morning and read the entire chapter in Exodus (20). If you have time, read commentary on it.
Although we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, we still must implement these laws into our lives. They are not archaic, they've not been "recalled" and they certainly are relevant to living a Christian life! The "laws" that we no longer fall under are not these Ten Commandments, but the laws governing sacrifice and worship written in Leviticus (another series for another time). Don't get caught up in the two "loves" - yes, these are the two great commandments, but if you look at the original ten, the first three fall under "Love the Lord, your God" and the second seven fall under "Love your neighbor"...Jesus merely explained them for our understanding.
Know the Word of God, know what is expected of you - in His court (or any court for that matter), ignorance is no excuse! Get to the heart of the matter, learn the commands given to you by the Father and reiterated by Jesus! Get it right, get it straight! If it was important enough for Jesus to come and give us further instruction on, then it is important to obey! KNOW the Word of God!!!
Sunday, July 10, 2011
For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (James 3:2)
My Dear Christian Friends:
We are not perfect. We are very far from it! The only thing that "perfects" us is the blood of Jesus! We will make mistakes, we will continue to sin, up until the moment of our death. Accepting the Lord into your heart causes change to occur. Our habits must change. Our personalities become softer. Our love for others becomes deeper. Whether we like someone or not, we love the, because they are a child of God.
This past week I have seen some of the most heinous statements and comments made by people who call themselves Christians. It disturbs me! I've seen more compassion from atheists! Shame on you!!! Yes, this morning I am pointing fingers! No, I am not perfect! I've offered suggestions and it seems like no one is listening.
God abhors your opinionated utterances of His children!!! Your anger and the way you are dealing with it are as offensive to God as the soldiers who spat on Jesus were!!! My shock and disbelief in your attitude reminds me that I do not want to be that kind of Christian! YOU are the ones who give the church a bad image! YOU are the ones that people use as a reason to not go and worship God in a formal setting! Your advice to others is nothing more than your own pompous and puffed up, self-gratifying hogwash (yes, hogwash - maybe you can understand that term - it's what remains after you clean pigs). Even your children are spewing ugliness (and no, my kids aren't perfect either - but the exception there is that my children do not profess to be Christians!).
James tells us that our words, our actions and our thoughts come under scrutiny by our Heavenly Father! If one of those offends - the whole body offends! Bridle your tongues - bridle the whole body (and in some cases, bridle the mouths of your children). Start acting like the Christians you claim you are. Start lifting people up in prayer instead of offering them idiotic suggestions and your condescending remarks! Each of us has a hard "row to hoe" and you aren't making it easier by pouring cement on top of it! Worry about your own garden first, and when yours is perfect - then you can go help your neighbor make his perfect!!! In the meantime, pray!!! Pray the serenity prayer that is usually used to open an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting: "God, grand me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change, COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference."
"There's no such thing as perfect people ~ come as you are, broken and scared ~ and be amazed and be changed by a PERFECT GOD!!!"
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15)
I really must get more sleep - or a larger coffee cup! The alarm clock is not my friend and Satan would rather I stay in bed, not write this post and just do nothing of any significance today! Sorry, he loses!
Yes, today's verse is the model for the "AWANA Clubs" (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed). No matter how old we get, no matter how well-versed in the Bible we become, there is always room for more knowledge. This morning I'm off to a workshop at my church. The speaker, a learned man from Tennessee (yes, I know), will be instructing us on how to better know the Old Testament (it's chronology, key verses, etc).
The enemy would much rather I stay at home and do nothing. The more knowledge of God's word we attain, the more of a threat we become to him. I'd like to be the equivalent to the atomic bomb! Knowing God's word enables me to know God! His love letter to me is filled with wonderful stories of His compassion, His justice and He answers every question I could have within those pages. All that He expects from me is also written in there. His truths are laid out for all to discover. All I need to do is read it and then live it.
Take the time to discover the joy that is hiding in plain view to anyone who picks up His word! Find yourself a Bible study class, or start your own. There are many wonderful study guides on the marked (and a lot of them on Amazon for a fraction of the cost). If you don't have the time to do a "group" - do it on your own. Get to know the Creator through an "in depth" walk through the Bible. Pick a book you are particularly drawn to and find a study guide that compliments it. You can never hope to know all the wonderful things there are in His word, but if you take the time to read it and study it, you will be a little more knowledgeable tomorrow than you were yesterday!
Don't be ashamed to admit you love God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit! Don't hesitate to get to know the purpose and plan that has been laid out for you! Study and show yourself "approved". Know the Word of God! Don't leave it to the 20 minute sermon you listen to on Sunday morning...take the initiative to get to know Him better! There is a whole world of wonder waiting for you in those pages! All you need to do is open and read! Take the time today...it may be the only opportunity you get to truly come to know the Lord before He calls you home!!!
Friday, July 8, 2011
What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him (Job 31:14)
Each one of us has an exit/entrance interview with God. No one will be exempt. Atheist and preacher, general and private, young and old, rich and poor...everyone! What will you bring to Him on that day? What will you offer Him that tells Him you walked the path of righteousness in Jesus' name? Your good intentions? Your "tomorrows"?
It's hard to be a Christian if you look at it as a job. You have so much time each day to get your work done, and you live for the weekend so that you don't have to do anything that pertains to the job. But then again, some Christians I know only work an hour a week. Perhaps they feel that their souls are "independently wealthy" and they do not need to put forth any more effort than attending church once a week. That's a very unsettling thought! They grumble and groan as they drag their feet getting dressed and out the door to go to their church assembly. They complain all the way there about the traffic or the economy. They walk in a minute or two before the service starts, sit in their pew half asleep, scramble to write out a check that does not reflect anywhere near ten percent of their income, keep looking at their watch and run out the door before the service ends so they don't get stuck in the parking lot. While they're jockeying for position to turn on to the main road, one of their other loyal church-goers cuts them off, they flip them the bird and utter an insult equating their mother to a NYC prostitute and drive like Tony Stewart for the first 2 miles of their trip home. They walk in the door, throw down the keys and pop the top on a cold one and hole up in front of the TV for the rest of the afternoon! Wow! All that in one hour! What an accomplishment!!! Our Heavenly Father must be very pleased with THAT devotion!
Get excited about serving the Lord!!! If you aren't being fed (spiritually) at the church you are at - find another one! There are plenty of them out there! Look forward to getting up, put on your best (not the jeans you wore to the concert the night before - unless they are the only clothes you own). Get there early. Talk to people, ask about their week, share with them yours. Make a new friend! Sit where you won't be distracted, listen intently (sometimes what you think may be a "waste of time" sermon can turn out to be one of the best ones you will hear). Wait until the service is over. Talk to the person who sat in front of you or behind you. Even if it's to only tell them that you hope they have a great week! Grab a few of your friends and go for lunch - it doesn't have to be a five-star restaurant - go to the burger joint down the street. Fellowship! It's the key to living a good Christian life! Share your thoughts with others. Listen to theirs! Build a resume that includes devotion, caring, love, compassion, understanding and charity!
Do everything to glorify the Lord! From the smallest task of your day (which is probably brushing your teeth) to the most difficult - do it with all your heart and soul! Make it an offering to Him...not a chore, not an eye-rolling event - do it because He asks you to! Put forth an honest effort to bring honor to His gift to you. Use your talents in ways that others cannot. Find a "cause" either within your church walls or your community that reflects service to Him. There are many ways in which to do so - you don't need to create a new one (unless, of course, the Lord lays that on your heart). Find one! Give the very best you can to it (not money - time, devotion and prayer). Do it with a smile on your face knowing that God is pleased with your offering! And when the time comes for you to stand before Him, you won't be twisting your hands and looking at your feet ~ you will proudly stand before Him and say "I did this for you!!!"
Thursday, July 7, 2011
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23)
We all have our countless sins. Not a one of us is without it. Not one of us is pure. Not one of us is worthy. Yet, we inherit that right through Jesus! Only through His blood are we redeemed before God. Without acceptance, we will suffer the agonies of hell.
I've recently read a book by Billy Graham, "The Key to Personal Peace". It's a short book (about the same length as mine). Within the pages designed for the new Christian, this "old" Christian found a few gems to polish up and use. We are never too old or too mature in our walk with Christ that we cannot discover new views and truths. In Chapter 3 of his book, Mr. Graham tells the reader what sin is. He gives five descriptions taken from the Bible and explains each one. The one I found particularly helpful for my friends whose "beliefs" take root in their intellect rather than in their soul. Mr. Graham puts it like this:
Fifth, sin is unbelief. Unbelief is a sin because it is an insult to the truth of God. The Bible says, "Anyone who believes in the Son of God has the truth that God told us. Anyone who does not believe makes God a liar, because that person does not believe what God told us about his Son" (1 John 5:10) Unbelief shuts the door to heaven and opens it to hell. Unbelief rejects the Word of God and refuses Christ as Savior. Unbelief causes people to ignore the gospel and deny the miracles of Christ. So, unbelief is a sin.
You cannot walk through life with your own interpretation of something guiding you if you know nothing about that which you are supporting. In other words, if you don't read your Bible, if you don't educate yourself on what's in it, how can you assume (yes, I know the definition of the word "assume" and that is precisely why I am using it here) to know enough to make a determination that it is not what we are told it is - the Word of God! Your opinion does not count here. Your opinion is just that, and opinion (once again, I know the phrase that follows that one as well).
We will all agree that there are certain foods that are good for you - some of them are vegetables. I eat two - carrots and potatoes (and tomatoes - but we aren't getting into that discussion here). I cannot stand the rest of them, I gag on them. How absurd would it be of me to tell anyone who would listen that the nutritional values of the other vegetables are just someone's opinion and not fact? I know absolutely nothing about nutrition other than I need it to live. How the "values" are determined - not a clue! That doesn't make me ignorant, it just means that I trust that those values are accurate based on the educated analyses of those who put the numbers on the boxes.
So, take the uneducated opinions of those who will attempt to tell you that they are not "sinners" and that they don't need to read "someone's interpretation of what God says" and put them in the same trash can that I put my distasteful veggies in. Listen to the word, read the word and know the word! Unbelief is as dangerous to a Christian as a loaded handgun is to a child. Too many horrible things can happen. Hold on to your faith, trust in God and remember that we all fall short! Only through the acceptance of Jesus (who is God) can we ever hope to walk through the gates of Heaven. When those tiny little receptors in your brain fire off and you see but a glimmer of understanding - know that your soul is being satisfied and that your eventual destination will bring forth a complete understanding of what your human mind can only hope to grasp. What is beyond our understanding now will be illuminated and that light will shine more brilliantly than we can imagine! Hold on to the truth ~ it will set you free!!!
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. (Ecc 7:15)
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am not political, I don't choose sides and I don't often express my opinions outside of a group of close knit friends. On a rare occasion, I may post a status line on Facebook denouncing an idea or a theory, but for the most part, I generally keep it light and politically free.
Two months ago, the world learned of an execution that was carried out on the man who was responsible for the deaths of thousands. There was no trial, there was no conviction, but we all knew he was guilty, he claimed responsibility for the attack, so his death brought a small measure of closure for many of us. This man not only committed crimes against our nation, but in doing so, his excuse was that it was his god's command that he do so. He was a child of our Living God. He chose a path away from Him. I closed that post with "We remain, ONE nation, under GOD, indivisible, with liberty and JUSTICE for all." At any time during his life, he had the opportunity to fall to his knees and ask forgiveness from OUR Father in Heaven and accept Jesus as his Savior.
In our own selfishness, we forget the sins we've committed in our hearts, towards others and out of anger. Our criminal justice system is set up to provide all members of society who are accused of crimes the opportunity to have their case heard and decided on by a jury of their peers. Remembering that just because something is "legal" doesn't make it "right" - how many of us have committed sins against God by ignoring His law? How many times have we chosen to walk away and bury our heads in the sand? In the quietness of your own heart, I ask you, are you free of sin? Have you never done anything against God? Have you never done anything illegal???
Do not pray for Caylee Anthony...she is in the arms of Jesus and does not need your prayers. Pray instead for Casey Anthony, who has been given a gift. Pray that the Lord will find His way into her heart and that her life, with the acceptance of Jesus, will change. Pray that she will be able to ask for forgiveness and humble herself before Him and walk the path He has laid before her. God has a plan for her as well.
Whether Ms. Anthony is guilty or not is no longer relevant. She has been found "not guilty" an a court of law. Blaming the jurors for allowing a murderer to go free is also irrelevant. Instead of slamming the prosecutors and those who brought her to trial, instead of filling your time uttering phrases like "she'll burn in hell" or "she'll get hers" - pray for her! We all know that God's justice is greater than man's and we also know that His compassion and ability to forgive is also greater! Stop condemning her and leave it to God - that's HIS job, not ours! Our job is to pray!
King Solomon's verse reminds us that better ten who are guilty go free, than one who is innocent be condemned. Jesus' words in John 8:7 ring very true here - "...He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Stop throwing rocks...
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. (John 4:3)
Jesus knew that the Jews wanted to take His life. He wasn't ready for that to happen, so He moved on. He still had more work to do. When the time was right, He would submit to the authority given them by the Father, to fulfill the prophecy.
When we look at the short span of His teaching life, the amount of time He spent on earth doing what He was born to do, we expect our answers to come within a short window of time as well. Somehow we gage all that should occur on a three-year calendar. If you look back to the Israelites, they wandered the desert for 40 years. They were exiled to Babylon for 70 years. Our "instant" society seems to think that the Lord's hand should be swifter than it is, and we forget that there are reasons why our answers to prayers may take decades.
Sometimes God's plan for us and His allowing so much time to pass can be frustrating (to say the very least), yet all the while He continues to watch over us. Sometimes the events that occur in our lives that we think are punishment or "unfortunate occurrences" can be the largest blessings - we only need to be patient and wait on Him to reveal the whole picture. A minor injury which can take you out of the game may just be the one thing that saves you from the life altering one you'd have received had you continued to "play". I learned that yesterday! God often moves us away without a reason or an explanation. He knows what we don't and sees the long end of things, where we can only see what it right in front of us.
Sometimes we never know why circumstances change, why we are "moved away" from certain things. God knows why - that's all that matters. In His time, He may reveal those reasons to you, then again, He may not. Sometimes He allows us to know why in order for us to be drawn back into His presence and realize that the whole time we were under His protection - generally from a worse situation than we were in originally.
Take heart! God has a good plan for you to follow. His motives are pure and worthy of praise. His reasons may not be clear at first, but most of the time, in HIS time, He will let you know why that particular part of your life was surrendered. Just accept what He's given you - there is a reason! Don't question it - just do it! Continue to live the life He's designed for you and all will be fine. Don't give the enemy room to stand, let alone take up residence. All things do work for the good for those who believe in His power and love!
Monday, July 4, 2011
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Rev 22:14)
The only promises that are worth believing in are the ones that come from the Father. People will promise you anything to get their way and when you do your share, they inevitably renege once they've gotten what the wanted from you. The words of men are not bound by men, but the Word of God is firm.
The enemy uses these tools to bring you to his level. What seems too good to be true (in this life, and this does not apply to the Word of God), usually is. All the beautiful schemes and plans laid out to you by those around you are done to gain power over you. You become their property (and whoever said slavery is no more, has yet to walk in the shoes of those who are not "well to do" and have been left with no choices - only demands). Sometimes the saddest moment of their lives is to wake up in the morning and find that God has not yet decided to bring them home to His kingdom. They walk through life alone and struggle to maintain their composure, only to be brought, once again, to the bottom of the barrel that has nothing in it but their lost dreams and failed attempts at success. They wake up to find that their nightmare continues on into the day and that although the Lord is with them, they are alone and there is no one but Him who understands or even cares about what they are experiencing and the desperation they are feeling is often overwhelming. They have run out of options.
Pray for them. Pray that the Lord will end their suffering one way or another. Pray that the Lord will allow them to walk into the light and rejoice with Him. Those who make the honest effort at keeping His word, at doing His work, who live for Him, are in His hands. He provides for them because they are faithful; but their isolation becomes their prison, and like Paul, they know that their reward will be great, when it finally comes.
So pray that the Lord will send them the strength they need to continue to do His work, that they will undoubtedly find comfort and joy through knowing they are in His care, that He will continue to provide for them and that they will not lose hope. Ask Him to continue to have His blessings fall on them so that they can continue to live a life that is pleasing to Him and do so without the constraints of those who yield control over them. Ask Him to lighten their load a little and light their path a little more. Ask Him to comfort them. Ask Him to fulfill His promises to them. Ask Him for a miracle!
Sunday, July 3, 2011
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:17-18)
With all we have, we still want. We tell ourselves that we are satisfied with whatever the Lord provides for us, but we are always "dreaming" of that bigger house, that "easier" life, that "perfect" world. It's okay...it's human nature!
Knowing that the day will come when all of this passes away is sometimes what keeps us going. Like remembering years later an event which you thought would never arrive, and realizing that 20 years have passed, so too, will be that day we have sacrificed for and prayed for. When it arrives, we will immediately rejoice! The suffering we've experiences, the pain we've endured, the anger and the desperation of our past will fade graciously into nothing. We will rise!
There is a purpose to all of this (this life we live). There is a promise as well. We are called to serve the Lord with all we have, in every area of our existence. Not just on Sunday mornings, not just when it's convenient, not when we feel like it - always! He watches over us always, so who are we to think we can sit back and have the kingdom laid at our feet without doing anything for His glory? I am not about pleasing those around me, I am about pleasing the Father in Heaven (as my kids would say - "that's the way I roll").
Don't worry about what others think of your open prayers, your comments that God reigns in Heaven, worry about what God thinks - after all, they are His prayers we utter, not our friends. It's not important if the words are "politically correct" or if something you say may offend a non-believer. We weren't put here to please others, we were put here to please God. Let the Holy Spirit guide your words. If they give honor and glory to the Lord, they can't be wrong. Rise to the occasion, rise to the calling of Jesus!
Standing before the Creator will be the single, greatest moment of each of our lives. Do you want to stand there with your head bowed in embarrassment, or in reverence? Do you want to look into the eyes of Jesus and see His joy or His disappointment? Do you want to hear the words "well done" or "move on"? Rise! Lift your hands! Praise! Rejoice! If it is for HIS glory, it can't be wrong!