Monday, April 30, 2012

~ "Today's trifecta winner is..."

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt 19:28)

The Apostles had shown their respect to Jesus, as the first that followed Him, and to them He promises not only treasure, but honor, in heaven. We, too, have been given the opportunity to follow.  We, those who follow and are faithful, will also receive our reward.  Whatever the Lord bestows upon us will be more than we deserve.  We are sinners, all of us, and will deserve nothing.  Even our entrance into Heaven was paid for by someone else.  Who are we to become greedy over what we will receive when we get there?  I'll be happy just to BE there, I don't really much need or want anything other than that.  If sweeping the streets or cleaning the toilets in heaven is my job, I will go well prepared.  

We all regard many "duties" as being beneath us.  For some reason, society has put it out there that mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms and shoveling horse manure are positions for uneducated or ignorant people.  The wages paid for these jobs will barely put food on the table for the worker, let along an entire family.  There are many jobs that do not cover the cost of living.  There are many that quadruple it for doing absolutely nothing.  Fortunately for us, Heaven isn't achieved through "works" and you don't need a college degree nor do you need to keep a minimum balance in your bank account to enter.  As long as you accept Jesus as your Savior and believe that His blood has cleansed you, walk by faith and bow only to Him, you are in harmony with the saints of Heaven.  There is no credit check.

All that we give up to follow Jesus will be returned to us many times over.  Some of us have given up our friends whom we have known for a lifetime, some have given up family (both blood family and acquired family), some have given up lifestyles and homes, some have given everything.  Those of us who can actually admit that our lives are much better and fuller with Jesus in it, as opposed to the "privileged" one we'd become accustomed to, will tell you that is it worth it.  Our moments of joy and happiness may be short lived, but our eyes are not focused on the present - they are focused on HIM.  We live each day in hopes that "today is the day" and wait with an anticipation that is ten times greater than that of a five year old on Christmas Eve...He is our life, our joy, our hope!!!

Decide.  Make a choice.  Choose Jesus over everything else and everything else will fall into place.  Walk out in front with Him and you will reach the finish line and hear the praises of those who have gone before you.  There are no losers in God's race - everyone comes in first and no one is left behind.  The winner's circle is large enough to accommodate everyone who participates.  There is a crown for all of God's people and reserved seating elsewhere for those who choose to be spectators.  Answer the calling of the Holy Spirt and lift your eyes toward heaven.  Your King waits there...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

~ "What Faith Can Do..."

And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (1 Cor 13:2)

Having faith in the "good" times is easy...our faith is tested during our struggles.  Many of our gifts are given to us simply to show us that we "can".  If you grew up like I did and lived the life that I have lived, having "faith" in anyone or anything was hard.  I was always being "let down".  Additionally, there are times when I think that if "they" could blame the state of the economy, the war(s) we are currently involved in, the horrific gas prices and a million other things on me, "they" would!  Yes, Satan has been a very busy little creature these past few days.  But I am not amused.  I am, quite frankly, shaking my head in disbelief!  

The word "charity" doesn't just mean giving to the poor.  To be charitable towards someone is to be kind, is to have a kind or lenient attitude towards, or to be mild and tolerant in judging others.  Since Jesus tells us it is not our job to judge, my guess is to go with the kindness and be a bit more lenient.  I also will go so far as to say that to be open-minded would be yet another angle of charity.

Hate and disgust tend to feed off the continued circle they create.  They are also both very addictive insomuch as if you hear blame laid on someone for something long enough, you will cease to draw your own conclusions and just flat out blame that person without even thinking the matter through.  It hurts the one it is directed at.  They no longer have a defense that will be listened to simply because your mind has been made up.  No matter what they do - they are, and always will be wrong!

So what do you do???  Consider the source of the uncharitable act.  Be "kind and lenient" towards their stupidity, be "tolerant" of what they have learned as a result of their surroundings.  Forgive them for their ignorance.  Pray that God will open their eyes and that they will humble themselves before Him (an apology to you would be nice, but it's not always necessary). 

In this verse, we see that we can have everything and still have nothing.  If we continue to pass blame on others, fail to see the pain we cause others and refuse to accept the fact that we may be wrong, we have nothing.  Charity, as I've said, isn't just giving money or time to a worthy cause.  Charity is love - love towards one another.  Love begins with those around you.  Try to put your own selfishness aside and look at what they might be dealing with for just a second.  If you have faith in God, you can and will move mountains.  If your trust is in the Creator, what could possibly happen to you that He can't handle?  Don't discount the faith someone else has in God...maybe you need to try it on yourself.  Maybe you need to "give up the ghost" of your dead religion and try worshiping the LIVING God for a change.  Maybe you need to have just a small sliver of faith in something other than yourself or your wallet.  Remember, you were a part of the decision that was made so don't be so quick to dump the blame on someone else.  Accept your responsibility in it, answer for it, ask God to forgive you for ever doubting in Him and have a little patience...THAT's what faith can do!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

~ "Remember, we are called to keep each other accountable..."

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:19-21)

In all the sins we commit, the ones done in ignorance are our greatest downfall.  We do many things without thinking about them.  We figure them to be harmless and "in fun".  Whether you believe in them or not, is not the sin - and I will tell you that they are real and should be cautiously stepped away from, because they are not gifts of the Holy Spirit, they are tools of Satan.  We have been desensitized to many of them through television and movies and we do not realize the dangers inherently present when we dabble in those dark arts.  

Reading your daily horoscope is just as dangerous to your inheritance as practicing black magic.  You may laugh and say "oh, it's harmless".  I'm here to tell you that it is very harmful.  We are cautioned many times to not engage in witchcraft, sorcery, divination and the likes many times throughout the Bible.  If it is harmless, why is it in there as many times as it is?  It is written in both the Old and New Testaments and it is forbidden.  It's final destruction of souls is revealed in the Book of Revelation and it has been the forerunner in the great flood and the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. The "power" that comes with this "gift" does not come from God!  

If you're stumbling over this post and are seriously considering no longer reading the rantings of a crazy woman, I urge you to stop and examine your motives for wanting to do so.  Is your decision being influenced by your own ignorance to the Word of God?  Have you thoroughly thought the process through and are you refusing to enter into a covenant of love and devotion to our Lord and Savior?  There is no middle ground - there are only two to choose from - God or Satan.  You cannot have it both ways, no matter what you tell yourself.  

Pack up all that is not holy and head for the trash can outside.  Turn your focus to God - let him direct you, not some inspiration devised by Satan and designed to take you from the presence of the one who created you!  Allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen you.  Submit to the one who can and will give you all things good and plentiful - in his time!  

Friday, April 27, 2012

~ "What love REALLY means..."

And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

John has a habit of repeating to us over and over again that God is love and that he loves us!  We know the full measure of God's love for us.  He sent his son to suffer and die.  We drove the nails into his hands by our sins.  The pain and suffering was caused by all of mankind, not just those who came before him.  He has paid for the sin we will commit tomorrow!  

We have God's assurance that he will not abandon us.  Each day is an opportunity to become closer to him through prayer and meditation on his word.  We have a greater purpose than we realize.  

In him, there is strength.  Our humble beginnings as infants in the world, and as infants in his word, soon change.  We grow and become rebellious teens, questioning everything.  Our quest for knowledge of him never ends.  As we reach our early adult years, we feel we can tackle the world - that we know better than others, we have more energy than those who have been around for half a century.  As we reach that half way mark, we begin to balance our lives more completely. We begin to realize that our lives are nothing without him!  He has guided our every step by his design of life for us.  As we reach our "senior" years, we know our time is short and that soon we will be with him for all eternity.

God's plan for us is loaded with love!  He's packed us full of compassion, understanding and wisdom - we just need to tap into it!  He has a story that needs to be told.  He asks that we tell the world about what he has done for us.  Each of us has a few "miracles" stored up inside that no one knows about!  Those instances where there is no logical explanation; the ones we feel no one would believe are the very ones he wants us to share!  There is great power in testimony!  There is great love that brings about the miracles in your life.  

We are loved - not by what we have done or what we may become - God has shown us that love - in Jesus!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

~ "Promises, promises...

And every living substance was destroyed which was on the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth an hundred and fifty days. (Gen 7:23-24)

When God "fixed his bow in the sky" after the great flood, he did so to remind us that he would never destroy the inhabitants of earth again by water.  That rainbow is the "sign" attached to the promise.  That sign is also a reminder - a reminder that although it will not be destroyed by water, Christ is coming to back to claim it.  Like anything else miraculous that God does, some people don't see the beauty in the promise, just the beauty in the sign.  

Rainbows are beautiful!  They are one of God's promises to us.  I've noticed a greater number of rainbows in recent years.  When I was a kid, if I saw 3, that was a lot.  Now it seems I see them with greater frequency than ever before.  I'm not going to presume that it means anything, although I know for myself, when I would constantly warn my children and they failed to listen to what I was telling them, they experienced the "wrath of mom".  

Just as the rainbow reminds me of the destruction and a promise, so too, does the cross.  In that one act of unselfishness, Jesus destroyed the barrier that keeps us from God.  His blood washes us clean of our sins and makes us presentable to the Father.  The promise of eternal life comes to light in that one, true sacrifice.  

God's word is true.  His authority is mighty.  His love for us is immeasurable.  He calls out to you now, as he does every day, to turn your hearts and your lives towards him, to do what it is he would have you do.  In the end, he is all that matters.  Just because you don't always see a rainbow, doesn't mean that the promise has been broken.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

~ "How to lose friends and disinterest people..."

Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Rom 1:32)

We can no longer sit on the fence or refuse to see God's hand in EVERYTHING.  Some people see only what they want to see, praise only what they want to praise and do whatever it is that "feels good" at the time.  If it comes down to choosing sides, I must go with the side of truth!  It's about finding the right path to heaven - the one without continuing to do as we please and blame it on the Creator for "making us that way", it's about the ultimate sacrifice of letting go of the human trappings of wants and desires.  We all WANT to be happy, to be accepted, to be loved.  

Sin involves choice.  God does not look favorably upon the habitual, unrepentant sinner.  He has no place for them in his kingdom...and it's HIS kingdom, he gets to make the rules and whether we like them or not, they are HIS rules and we can either follow them willingly, or find some other "god" to meet our daily needs.  But be reminded, there is only one, true God and his WORD IS LAW!  I'm not about to impose my creative license of what he MIGHT mean!  He's very specific and to the point; he doesn't leave room for doubt.  

 I've made a lot of wrong choices, bad decisions and have caused hurt and pain to others over the years.  I made mistakes,  I still do.  The difference is that today, I am forgiven, my actions are called into question by one whose authority is greater than any man, woman, or child I have ever met or will ever meet.  It is HIS approval that I seek, not that of my family and friends.  In the end, he is all that matters!  He is the one to whom I must answer.  Acceptance sometimes means rejection.  If I accept what is of God, then I must reject what is of Satan - for there is no middle ground, there is no "fence" to sit on.  

Jesus calls us to be witnesses to his love.  God sees sin as sin (be it murder, lying, stealing, blasphemy, or sexual immorality) (and that "mortal" and "venial" sin I was taught about is pure hogwash).  Time and time again, he has wiped out entire nations for their flagrant disregard of his word.  Failure to follow his law is sure to bring the death of a nation.  

It's time to wake up and start to take responsibility for all of our actions in all of our affairs - not just the ones that we feel like tackling or the ones that won't lose us any friends.  Just because it "feels good" doesn't mean we have the right to "just do it".  Our sinful pride tells us that we have a "right to be happy" - but that does not come before God's right to be happy.  Society's acceptance of sin changes; God's does not!  We are told to abstain from what is sinful in nature - even if that means to harness what "comes natural" to an individual.  God loathes the sin, not the sinner.  Be abstinent in what is not pleasing to the Father and your blessings will multiply.  Be engulfed in your sin and nothing you do will please him.

Christ is coming back!  He will bring with him the judgement of the world and all that are in it.  Are you ready to stand and be judged?  Can you honestly say to him "I didn't know it was wrong?"  Pray for strength now, pray for forgiveness now and get off that path you are on and find the one that leads to the Promised Land.  It may not "feel" as good as the other path, but the reward at the end is eternal.  That feeling will last a whole lot longer!  Pleasure on earth is nothing compared to the pleasure that waits us if we accept and follow.  

We each have our own "cross" to carry - but nothing will ever compare to the cross of Calvary.  So take a deep breath and put that sin in its rightful place.  Ask for strength to lead a life that is pleasing to God from this moment on and you will be protected!  You may still be tempted, but you will have the strength to stand and face the enemy and say "my King has saved me and I am his"!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

~ "At the foot of the cross..."

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matt 6:12)

When I learned these collected verses in Scripture, more commonly known as "The Lord's Prayer", it was never explained to me - "just learn it".  They were words mumbled without emotion.  When I look at this verse today, I see the essence of forgiveness.  It does not represent a chain of events that occur because God forgives me.  It's not "God forgive me and I'll forgive others".  The reality of this verse (which I prayed many, many times) is that God will forgive us in the same way we forgive others.  We are commanded to forgive!  What we don't forgive in others, is not forgiven in us.  Jesus' words, not mine.

All through his teaching on forgiveness, Jesus reminds us that we are to forgive EVERYONE and we are to forgive EVERYTHING!  There is nothing so great that cannot be forgiven.  We tend to think that by being saved we are automatically forgiven for what we do whether we ask for forgiveness or not.  We can do whatever we please, hurt whoever we want, take whatever we need...we consider it a "given".  It may be a "given", but is it "forgiven"???

We are made in the image of the Father.  We walk a path that is often strewn with thorns and rocks, potholes and crevices, and yet we still manage to get from one place to another on our journey.  We get there by the grace of God.  These obstacles build faith and character.  There are many people along that path that throw rocks at us.  They trip us and distract us.  We must forgive them in order to proceed.  They don't need to accept our apology or our forgiveness, but we need to offer it.  Our forgiveness comes from the Father.  In the same way that Christ offered forgiveness for his executioners, "Father, forgive them", we, too, must offer that same unconditional forgiveness.  If Christ could forgive those who nailed him to that tree, we can forgive that "lapse in judgment" of those around us.  Sometimes what we see as innocuous, other see as injurious.  Once again, perspective takes the lead.

Forgive as you wish to be forgiven.  Let go of the "sin" that binds you to the enemy.  Let go of what holds you back from experiencing the true joy and love that comes from the Father.  Allow the Holy Spirit to lift the vail of torment from your soul and let the blood, once again, wash over you.  Rejoice in the power that is in forgiving.  Stand at the foot of his cross and you can forgive anything!

Monday, April 23, 2012

~ "Tickets, please..."

I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. (1 John 2:12)

Hmmm, "little children"???  Yes, "little children"!!!  I've read several different commentaries on this particular verse.  They are divided in their meaning of this translation.  Some say it refers to "all" of the new Christians, some say it refers to the children of the Apostles and some say it is literally referring to children.  In any case, and I choose to go with Matthew Henry's commentary in which he states "The youngest sincere disciple is pardoned: the communion of saints is attended with the forgiveness of sins. Those of the longest standing in Christ's school need further advice and instruction. Even fathers must be written unto, and preached unto; none are too old to learn."

We come into this world as sinners.  We leave this world as sinners.  It is through no fault of our own, but each of us having a free will to either answer the call of Christ or ignore it, is what sets us apart from one another.  I was raised to believe that if babies were not baptized they went to "limbo" (which has since been disbanded).  Quite frankly, I have no idea where they go now (according to the church of my upbringing) but in the words of George Carlin "I hope they promoted them all".  I personally find it very hard (I always did) to imagine that God would send an innocent creation of his to hell (or anywhere else, for that matter) simply because no one sprinkled water on them before they died.  If that is the case, explain to me where all the children of "spontaneous" (miscarriages) and "induced" abortions go.  Baptism doesn't forgive sin - it represents repentance.  It does not absolve you of anything.  The only one who can forgive you of your sins is God!  Yes, Jesus had the authority (and still does) to forgive sins - why???  Simple - he IS God.  Forgiveness is a pardon we received from God.  

When we confess to our Creator our shortcomings and our failures, we admit that we've violated his law and thus are asking that he graciously remove the sin - if we are sincere in our request, it is forgiven.  The ritualistic acts designed by churches to offer forgiveness in an attempt to control its populous are, in itself, blasphemy.  No one, and I do mean NO ONE can forgive but the Father!  No one can act as an intercessor for forgiveness but Jesus.  When we ask others to forgive us for "wrongs" committed against them, can we be sure they have truly forgiven us?  I know for myself, there were times when I was apologized to and I verbally accepted the apology offered, but in my head told myself "I will never forgive them for that".  I'd hate to think that the resentment I continued to carry kept that soul from heaven.  The only guaranteed forgiveness we can seek is that of God.  

Don't let the false teachings of others keep you from enjoying an eternity with God.  Walk in his light, follow his path, ask for and offer true forgiveness (even if you aren't asked for such).  Stop building a wall between you and God.  Stop using the teachings that aren't from his word as a means to step over his truths.  There is only one way to heaven and that's through Jesus.  You cannot buy forgiveness and you cannot sell it.  It's a gift, as I often said, already paid for, in blood...Jesus' blood.  Let it wash over you and cleanse you!  Belong to the true inventor of forgiveness - belong to Jesus! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

~ "7x70..."

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Matt 18:22)

God made a way.  In Jesus lies our guarantee.  Follow his example, listen to his words, write them in your heart.  

There is nothing wrong with being a little angry, provided your anger is properly directed and channeled.  Jesus got angry at the money changers in the temple.  He turned over their tables and caused a scene.  Then he proceeded to heal the blind and the lame.

When Peter asked him "how many times, Lord" - Jesus not only gave him an answer, he gave him something to think about.  No, we are not supposed to keep track until our forgiveness thermometer reaches 490.  If you have that much time on your hands and the ability to keep a running total of forgiveness in your head, you may want to take a tally of how many times you have been forgiven.  "Forgive and forget".  Don't drag the ugliness out the next time you have a disagreement or a fight with someone.  Wipe the slate clean - after all, that's what our heavenly father has done for us!  

Begin today.  Forgive it all and turn the page in your journal of hurts.  It doesn't matter if the people you have hurt forgive you.  It matters that you forgive them.  Confusing?  Not really.  Shine the light on your own heart for a while.  See where your own demons hide.  Look to Jesus to open your eyes.  Look to Jesus to soothe your broken heart.  Look to Jesus to give you the strength to overcome whatever it is that is holding you back.  

We all have painful memories that most of the time we remember only from our own point of view.  We generally fail to see the opposing view point simply because our own injury is what takes precedence.  We don't see the reasoning (whether logical or illogical) behind the action that caused those painful words or actions to be inflicted on us in the first place.  What you see as being done out of spike, may have, in fact, been done out of pure love.  It may have been done out of fear, or even out of genuine ignorance.  Let it go.  It's what's holding you back from a true love ~ God's love!  

More often than not, when you "turn the other cheek", you will find a "kiss" is planted there.  Be open to receive it - and in order for that door to be opened, you need to step far enough away from it so that it can swing wide and let the healing love of Jesus enter your heart.  Take a risk, take a chance...forgive!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

~ "Let my people go (or "Revenge is a dish best served by God - Part 2")..."

Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. (Ex 4:12)

What is revenge???  Defined, it is "To inflict punishment in return for (injury or insult); to seek or take vengeance for (oneself or another person); avenge."  The thesaurus gives vengeance and avenge as  "synonyms" for revenge.  

Throughout the Bible we are told of God's wrath, how time and time again he has avenged his people!  We don't have to read any further than Genesis when Cain killed Abel - God's vengeance towards him for killing Abel (and sevenfold to anyone who killed Cain) caused him to be cursed and "when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth." (Gen 4:12)  

Then a while later in Genesis we have Noah and his task; we also have the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. If we stroll over to Exodus, we find a whole boatload of opportunities offered to the Pharaoh to release from bondage the Israelites.  How many times was he asked???  How many plagues visited him???  What was the ultimate sacrifice???   And did they learn their lesson??? I now direct your attention to the parting of the Red Sea (and subsequent demise of the Egyptians who thought it would be a good idea to pursue the Israelites - aka God's People!!!)  And the vengeance continues!

God does not deal in "karma".  He deals in mercy and grace for those who follow his path and obey his laws.  He offers eternal life, free of charge (paid for in blood - for us - by Jesus), if we accept that gift of grace through faith.  He deals in vengeance when his authority is opposed and he can do that - he is GOD - he makes the rules and even tells us the consequences if we don't follow Jesus (and I think it's a safe bet that the fiery lake that John tells us about in Revelation is a tad bit hotter than the Jersey Shore in August).

Don't ever presume to tell anyone what God does or doesn't do if you haven't read his book.  It's called "The Bible" and it's written with you in mind.  Check it out, it's a rather good read, if I do say so myself...but that's just my opinion.  You may find that the targets of his vengeance are those who blatantly disregard his laws (as in Leviticus 20).  If you aren't convinced after reading this post that God does, in fact, take revenge for his people, continue on the path you are on and you will experience his wrath, first hand.  As in Nehum 1:2, ‎"God [is] jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and [is] furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth [wrath] for his enemies."

Friday, April 20, 2012

~ "Revenge is a dish best served by God..."

Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther [was]. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face. (Esther 7:8)

As any of my young friends can tell you, Esther is my favorite heroine.  She was a "no-nonsense" woman who had courage beyond any woman and faith and beauty that matched.  If you don't know the story of Esther, it's worth the study and I strongly suggest it a "definite read".  

Politics.  That's pretty much what brought about this event.  How many times are we told to "think before we speak/act"?   Haman (whose name, when read aloud, is generally followed by hisses) had pretty much sealed his own fate.  His attitude was that of pompousness and arrogance and he really believed he was "all that".  Enter Hadassah (aka Queen Esther of Persia), winner of the King's beauty contest, woman of God, orphan and champion of her people.  On two separate occasions, Haman has been put in his place and did not get what he thought he deserved (but did actually get what he really deserved).  His character reminds me much of a righteous bully, insomuch as HE thought he was righteous.  In his powerful position and prosperous life style, what he failed to realize was that he picked the wrong fight and the wrong person to fight against - God.  

"Those that are most haughty and insolent when in power and prosperity, commonly, like Haman, are the most abject and poor-spirited when brought down. The day is coming when those that hate and persecute God's chosen ones, would gladly be beholden to them. The king returns yet more angry against Haman. Those about him were ready to put his wrath into execution. How little can proud men be sure of the interest they think they have! The enemies of God's church have often been thus taken in their own craftiness. The Lord is known by such judgments. Then was the king's wrath pacified, and not till then. And who pities Haman hanged on his own gallows? Who does not rather rejoice in the Divine righteousness displayed in the destruction his own art brought upon him? Let the workers of iniquity tremble, turn to the Lord, and seek pardon through the blood of Jesus." (Matthew Henry).

What was true then, still holds true today.  DO NOT think for one minute that justice will not be delivered to those in power who persecute the children of the King.  His judgement will be for those who have faithfully followed him against those who have continually tortured them.  I shudder to think of what is to come (and the light is shining on what is already happening).  But even in their terror, they cannot bring themselves to see the hand of God.  They continue on in their nazi fashion and beg for the assistance of those they have so indignantly blown away.  Not until God is ready for it to end, will it end.  Jesus is coming back and he will see the gallows of righteousness erected and those who have not met his commands will see their lives pass before them as they hang.  

Continue to pray for those in power - all over the world, not just in these United States.  The war we are fighting is nothing compared to the war that is yet to come.  The enemy is gathering his forces, but to no avail.  In the end, when all the blood has been spilled on the battlefields, the King will march across them gathering up those who fought the good fight.  In the end, he will be victorious!  In the end, all things will be as they were foretold.   Decide now which side you are on.  Decide now which battles are worth your energy.  Instead of criticizing and critiquing - pray!  Keep your opinions to yourself and your eyes open.  Like Haman, they will be dealt with appropriately!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

~ "Another fine mess..."

Hear, O LORD, [when] I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. (Ps 27:7)

"What am I supposed to do, Lord?"  A prayer we've all prayed at one time or another.  "Am I making the right decision, Lord?"  Another one.  "Is this what you want from me, or is it what I want for myself?"  There are many more.

Sometimes we begin asking for guidance before we even need it, sometimes we ask when confronted with a situation, and sometimes we ask afterwards.  That last one tends to be me a lot of the time.  Yes, I pray daily.  But sometimes get so "caught up" in what sounds good at the time, without thinking it through, and act impulsively - then I go to the Lord in prayer.  It are those desperate cries that we utter that often need the most attention.  Fortunately, our King does not roll his eyes and tell us "I told you so".  With a gentle and loving hand, he reminds us that we did not consult him first, this may not be part of his plan and he wants us to back out gracefully and return the power to him.

Our human impulses often take us to places we think we want to be and then when we are there, realize that is not where he wants us to be.  So how do we "fix" that?  We don't.  He will.  Most of the time this comes when we get tired of waiting.  We need to learn to trust him just a little more.  He has promised us he will never leave us, so why do we doubt that he will?  He has promised to take care of us, so why do we fear he won't?  Other people, other humans like ourselves, have a tendency to push us to make decisions that will satisfy and pacify them - these are not necessarily decisions that we are comfortable with, nor are they truly what we want to do, but feel we have no choice in the matter - maybe because they do not walk as closely to God as we do.

If you truly want to follow Jesus, if you want him to lead, you have to allow him the room to walk and work.  He will take hold of your life if you let him.  Stop interfering in what he wants for you by injecting what you think you want (or what others think you should be doing).  Let him have the lead; then follow.  Somethings aren't meant for us to accomplish.  Some things aren't as important as others would have you believe they are.  

Be patient and wait on him.  When you become frustrated in that waiting period, pray.  Offer him prayers of praise and thanksgiving for what he has already done for you.  Many of us forget that it took a long time for us to reach the place we are in (and that can be either good or bad).  Don't add to your "drama" by engaging in things not of God, things he may not necessarily want for you or things you feel you "need" to do to please others.  Please one person.  God!  He will take care of the rest.  Do what he asks of you and everything else will fall into place as it's supposed to.  Let your faith in him take hold of you and don't let the enemy get in there with a wrench and loosen all the bolts.  Be strong and patient.  Pray and wait.  Look for his footsteps and follow in them.  He's been knocking on the door to your heart for a long the door and let him in!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

~ "'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far...

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things (Acts 17:24-25)

What do you bring to the Lord as your sacrifice?  No longer are we compelled to offer the sacrifices of our ancestors.  Jesus offered that final "blood" sacrifice on our behalf.  So, again I ask, what do you bring to the Lord as your sacrifice?

Many Christians find it only necessary to act as such when they show up for church on Sunday.  I have even heard some say that they are "going to church to pray to God" or "to be with God".  Their phrase "I have to go to church" fits right in with "I have to go to work".  It's a chore to many, an obligation they really don't want to do, but do it because of some bent or twisted belief system that has become as reflexive as the patellar reflex and serves only to insure that they are still functioning.  Some don't even know why they go - they just do it because they're told if they don't they will go to hell.

God does not live in churches.  He is there (he is everywhere) but he is not restricted to a manmade building.  He is not now, nor has he ever been (nor will he ever be) contained by anything!  Nothing can hold him (as firmly evidenced by the resurrection).  He wants for nothing.  All things are his, as he has created them.  So what could you possibly do or give to him that he cannot do or give himself?  You!  

He wants us to come to him - to lift up our hands in praise, our voices in song and to tell others about him.  Everything else that we do (our tithes, our "good deeds") serves no purpose, gains no "brownie points" if we are devoid of faith.  We do not enter the kingdom of heaven based on good works (Eph 2:9).  It is by grace and grace alone!  He died for YOU.   As individual as you are, so is the sacrifice that was rendered on your behalf.  If you were the only sinner on the planet, Jesus would have gladly gone to the cross for you, yet you cannot bring yourself to bow before him and ask his forgiveness.  What stands in your way?  Very simple - your pride.  Lose it - it's not worth anything in heaven, and it's worth even less in hell.  

Don't let the fear of ridicule stand between you and God.  Remember, they ridiculed Noah, they ridiculed Moses, they ridiculed Jesus...what a great group of people to be associated with!!!  Give him your life today.  Offer yourself to him for the sacrifice he gave for you.  Ask him to take the lead and then follow!  There is no meeting him halfway - you have to go all the way to the foot of the cross.  It is there that you will find the faith you need to receive the grace you desire.  Go!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

~ "The guiding light..."

"I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, And I will not leave them undone." (Isaiah 42:16)

No, we aren't going to discuss the old soap opera that my mother and grandmother watched without fail.  In this verse, God speaks to his people.  He tells them that he will remove the obstacles that lie before them.  In this verse, we see that if God brings you to it, he will lead you through it!

So often we get to a point in our walk that we become frightened and discouraged.  We feel alone.  We question whether or not we really are on the road he has chosen for us and wonder if somehow we've managed to take a detour and not even realize it.  Well, even if we did, God will guide us through that forest and make "straight" the way.  Remember, we are human and make mistakes.  We also have a very cunning enemy working against us at all times.  He will use what ever device he can to convince us that we are not loved by God, not protected by God and not saved by grace through God.  He will tell us that we are not accepted into the family of God.  He will taunt and tempt us when we aren't sure what we are to be doing.  He will lay the carrot with the string attached to it in front of us and continue to drag it a bit further from our reach each time we come close to it.  God doesn't work like that.  He waits patiently for us to realize who it is we're dealing with, accepts our humble apology for doubting and continues to lead us on, all while Satan stands defeated in the shadows.  

Waiting on the Lord is sometimes frustrating.  We feel we should be "doing" something and all the while we are being told to "be still".  There is a reason for the waiting.  Maybe our next blessing isn't quite ready for us, maybe we aren't quite ready for it.  Maybe we need to search our soul for healing before moving on, maybe we need to become a bit more patient than we've been.  Maybe our faith needs to grow, maybe our lives need to change.

Once we have committed to HIS way, he will not ever forget us.  We are set aside as princes and princesses - we are children of the King.  We will receive our inheritance when the time is right and not a moment before.  We are never out of his sight.  With each and every step we take, his light guides us, it shines so often only on the step we are about to make contact with, but it still shines.  He lights our way.  He is our way.  Don't forget that.  Continue to hold him up as your King!  Lift up your voice in praise and glorify him!  Do what ever it is he's asking you to do, even if he's asking you to wait!

Monday, April 16, 2012

~ "AAUGH!!!"

Do all things without murmurings and disputings (Phil 2:14)

Most people know the slogan for Nike Footwear.  The words "just do it" appear beneath the "swoosh" logo that denotes Nike.  It's easily recognizable and usually when seeing it, one automatically recalls the command.  Why?  Because it was such a profound statement and unique logo that it stuck with you.  It wasn't something we were overly conditioned to seeing - it was something different and creative and it attached itself to our consciousness.

When we see a cross, we think of Jesus.  Our mind automatically recognizes that our Savior was crucified to pay for our transgressions.  It should be ever present in our minds, in all that we do, but it isn't.  We most often lose sight of it when we are frustrated, when we are lonely, when we are hurting and even when we are content.  When we are tired, our focus is on sleeping.  We can see nothing else but the pillow and the blankets.  All we want is to be safely tucked into and wrapped in the soft warmth and peaceful slumber that regenerates us without any action involved other than closing our eyes.  We wake restored and refreshed!  Sometimes we have to fight to keep our eyes open long enough to make it there, making the actual act of falling asleep much more anticipated and more greatly desired.  Yet, when we were children, the last place we wanted to be was asleep!  We hated the though, some of us pitched a fit and going to bed was worse than a prison sentence.  We whined and complained and fought and ultimately found ourselves either sore from a pop on the behind or sobbing into that pillow.  Had we just done as we were told in the first place, there wouldn't have been all drama that surrounded the command to "go to bed".

In the same manner, we have been commanded to follow the Word of God.  He's given us step by step instructions and even sent Jesus to show us how to do it.  Yet, there are some that still insist on doing what they want, when they want.  There are those, too, who complain and moan over having to go to church, make excuses as to why they can't open the Bible and read it, have no time to pray and don't really see the point in being involved in anything other than their own little corner of the world.  

Knowing that I will never be good enough to enter the kingdom of heaven, knowing that no matter what I do, it will never be good enough does not discourage me.  I continue to push through the moments of apathy and mental paralysis that accompany those moments (sometimes hours, sometimes days) because although I will never be good enough, Jesus is, and he is in me, and I am in him.  We are a team.  Sometimes I lag far behind and have to run to catch up, but he does not desert me.  He waits for me to come to him.  I do not murmur and grumble at the path I've been chosen to  walk - after all, I was given the choice to follow or to stay where I was - lost and condemned.  

Sometimes its not in what you do, but in the attitude you do it with.  Don't let your attitude towards prayer be one of loathing or complaining - do it with a song in your heart, with a joy that you are able to call upon his name and he hears you.  If you're having trouble with it - ask him to help you.  He never gets tired of hearing your voice.  Make time for him every day.  Make him your number one priority.  Step away from the computer long enough to offer him praise for the fact that you have one!  Offer him praise for the roof over your head.  Offer him praise for the food you eat, the "things" you have and the blessings he bestows on you (especially since you don't deserve them).  For without him, without his guiding hand and loving touch, you are sure to become an easy target for the enemy.  Be strong, don't give up hope, he has great plans for you!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

~ "Baptism (for Mikhaela and Juliana)..."

(Mikhaela Grace & Juliana Marie)

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6)

This afternoon, eight adults will commit to the Christian training of two very young ladies - Mikhaela Grace and Juliana Marie.  The will be “baptized” into the Catholic faith, and although I do not agree with infant/child baptism, I respect and applaud their parents and Godparents for the commitment they will make on behalf of Mikhaela and Juliana.  In today’s world, it is hard enough to raise a child, let alone find people willing to help you instill Christian values and beliefs in them.  

To Mike & Christi, Jim & Jamie - you have been blessed with beautiful and healthy little girls - cousins only 4 months apart.  They will undoubtedly grow up to be each others best friends (considering they literally live “a stone’s throw” apart and will attend the same school and be in the same grade) - always remember that they are your most precious gift from God!  

Katie, Greg, Anna and Michael - the honor and privilege of being a Godparent is very special.  Remind these little girls how much Jesus loves them, remind them of His sacrifice for them and help them to grow into beautiful Christian women.

To their Grandparents and Great-Grandparents - share all of your knowledge, your love for GOD and the many blessings He has bestowed upon you throughout your lives.  Share ALL the traditions that you can with these two very special girls - remember, they are not only adopted into the family of God, they have a birthright as well!  That heritage is just as important!

To their Aunts and Uncles - love them and cherish them, give them your heart and they will give you theirs.

To the rest of their family, friends, as well as anyone who reads today’s message:  Pray for Mikhaela and Juliana, their parents, Godparents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins.  Pray that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will send His Holy Spirit to guide and enlighten each of them as they begin to teach and learn what it means to walk in faith!

Jules - “Mike’s Mom” loves you and will always be there whenever you need.  Mikhaela - Grandma loves you very much and will do her very best to show you the way (and I promised your Mommy and Daddy that you wouldn’t splash the water today, so don’t let me down!).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

~ "Whispering hope..."

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12)

Elijah thought he was all alone in service to God.  He looked for the Lord God in all places, but found him in that "still small voice".  What he didn't realize was that he was not alone, there were thousands who had not bowed to Baal and kept the commandments of the Lord.  Elijah chose to work alone.  He paid the price for that with isolation and loneliness.  How many of us "choose" to work alone when it comes to serving the Lord?  Elijah was the most famous and dramatic of Israel's prophets.  He predicted (through the power of God) the beginning and the end of a three-year drought.  God used him to bring a son that was dead back to life for the child's mother.  He stood for God and was victorious over the priests and false gods of Baal and Asherah.  Elijah appeared with Moses and Jesus in Jesus' transfiguration.  

How often do we feel we are alone in our witnessing?  How often do we think we are fighting a losing battle when it comes to some of the people we feel compelled to witness to?  How often do we wait for the "sign" from God that tells us we've done enough?  As with both Elijah and Moses, God will provide the words and the revelations we need to witness.  Truly our strength for that comes from He who created us.  Many times we listen for the sound of seventy-six trombones and hear only a piccolo.  

What we learn from Elijah is that we are never closer to defeat than in our moments of greatest victory.  We know that we are never alone, no matter how isolated and withdrawn we feel we are because God is always with us.  And as with Elijah, sometimes God speaks to us in quiet whispers as opposed to thunderous shouts.  Listen for God to whisper to you!

Friday, April 13, 2012

~ "The _ _ _ _ _ is yet to come..."

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7)

Matthew Henry tells us that "pride was the main and direct cause or occasion of [the Israelites'] fall".  We are also reminded that "the destruction of Sodom is a loud warning to all, to take heed of, and flee from fleshly lusts that war against the soul".  Far too many "Christians" believe that they can commit whatever sinful acts they desire and will still enter the Kingdom of God upon their mortal death.  They lay the blame for their acts on the teachings of their religious leaders. The "blame" falls on both.  

As God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because their inhabitants were so full of sin, so, too, will He sentence people to hell for rejecting Him.  This is taught throughout the scripture and is a lesson that should have been learned, yet people continue to live in deliberate disobedience to God's commands.  Sinners who do not seek the forgiveness of God will face eternal separation from Him.  This is Jude's warning to us:  all who rebel against, ignore or reject God will be punished and it will not be a slap on the wrist.  Yes, God loves us very much and wants more than anything to offer us His limitless mercies.  No, He will not bend the rules for anyone, for as He is merciful, He is also just.  That should be evidenced by the fact that He did not bend them for His chosen people, so why, therefore, would you think He would bend them for anyone else.  

As we begin to witness the fulfillment of what is prophesied in the book of Revelation, turning to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, would be a very wise decision to make.  Those of you who think that hell is here on earth may want to reconsider.  

God sees all things.  You cannot hide from Him anymore than Adam and Eve could hide from Him; no more than Cain could hide from Him; no more than the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah could hide from Him.  He KNOWS your heart.  He knows and understands the "lusts" of men and He will continue to forgive those who repent and refrain from their ungodly acts.  Ignore Him and you will surely spend eternity away from Him and in the company of others like you.  

Walk away from the preachers and teachers who are telling you what you WANT to hear.  I know that it is often hard to do what is right in God's eyes, but it is, nonetheless, what you NEED to hear that will save your soul and bring you back into communion with Him. 

It is not too late to come to know Him, to ask His forgiveness and to live a life that pleases Him.  These "natural disasters" are only a sample of what is to come.  Choose to be counted among those who serve.  Choose to live a life that may not be pleasant and may be extremely hard at times, but knowing that in the end, you will be rewarded.  Walk by faith - total faith that He will do all that He has promised.  This life is not the one that matters, but what does matter is the way you live it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

~ "Pick one..."

For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. (Micah 4:5)

Turn from all of them now.  Do you spend more time sitting at your computer than you do in prayer?  Are you too busy being entertained by "other" things to spend time with the Lord?  Are you looking for relief from your problems and "addictions" through some external means?  Does your belief in your "right to enjoy life" and "be happy"  get in the way of worship to the King?  If you've answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may want to re-think your choices.  The living God of heaven and earth needs to come first.  All these things (when done without moderation) take you away from God.  They are designed to do so.  They are a temptation and a distraction that some of us cannot afford to partake in.  Yes, God wants us to enjoy ourselves; no, I'm not suggesting you throw your computer or television out the door...but you cannot serve two!  

In my Bible study yesterday (obviously I'm in Micah), when I read this verse (for which there was no footnote in my Bible) the word "whoa" came audibly out of my mouth.  I stopped and read it again and stopped right there to meditate on it.  There is nothing that cannot be accomplished through prayer - NOTHING!  God can and will remove your defects of character if you come to know Him and build a relationship with Him through Jesus.  I am living, breathing proof that God is still in the "miracle" business.  When the Holy Spirit is awakened in you, you become NEW!  You are born again!!!  Those temptations will continue to be a thorn in your side, but you will have a new strength - a greater strength because it is not your own strength that you rely on - it is HIS strength that sustains you and carries you through.  

If you are that bored...get a job.  If you can't get a some volunteer work.  If you can't do volunteer a friend.  If you can't help a yourself!  Get a life - get a life that glorifies God!  Don't have an existence that is comprised of the couch and the television or the chair and a computer.  Take your many gifts and share them with others.  Give back some of what the Lord has given you.  Do it with a smile on your face.  Do it with a song in your heart.  Do it with praise on your lips.  God likes it when we do for others!  Stop feeling sorry for yourself and your situation and quit making excuses for why you "can't" - get off your gluteus maximus and allow God to show you that you can!  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

~ "Bound for heaven...ask me how..."

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, [though] thou be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me [that is] to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2)

"Micah warns the Jews (of both the northern and southern kingdoms) of what continued disregard for the commandments would bring. But much of the book is devoted to the wonders of the third Temple - to be built at the time of the redemption. Perhaps what has kept our interest in this book so strong over the centuries is the clear prediction that at no time in our long, long exile would G-d ever push us away completely... we will never be totally wiped out." - (Rabbi Boruch Clinton)

The "third" temple has been built.  It is not a building accessible in ways we view physically entering into something.  It is entered into by faith.  The Messiah they wait for has already come.  He has brought with Him redemption and forgiveness.  My fear is that what is prophesied of the "beast" (in Revelation) will be viewed by many to be the Messiah they have waited for.  

In the Jewish community, Micah is considered to be one of the "Trei-Assar" (or Twelve Prophets).  They acknowledge that Micah transmitted the word of God as it was given to him.  Christians believe the same. 

In His own words, Jesus tells us that His "kingdom" is not of this world.  This world is wrought with ugliness. God has prepared yet another "promised land" for ALL His people.  Only those who accept Him (Jesus) as the Messiah will enter. All people will either acknowledge Him or suffer the consequences.  Centuries of ignorance will not be an excuse accepted by our mighty King.  Putting it off until tomorrow will could also seriously impact your final destination upon your death.  

Accept the fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah as having occurred over two thousand years ago.  Open your heart and ask the Lord your God to enlighten you.  Revelation is not just for the learned scholars of the law.  It is for all of us.  If you truly desire to know the truth and accept that truth, God will cause you to find the answers to that which you seek.  You only need to ask!