Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pressing Ahead in the Year 2014

Hebrews 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The year 2013 quickly slips away and we see a new year coming, whether we are ready for it or not. As the ball gets ready to drop and 2014 commences, how should I look at the past year and all it brought? For some people, the year 2013 had great sadness. For others, it may have spelled financial disaster, or the loss of a relationship, or illness. I found I had a mixture of conditions this past year. I choose today, though to look back at the circumstances of my life with a redemptive review. I can either be hopeless or hopeful. It depends on who I am looking at. If I look at myself, I quickly get hopeless. I know that in and of myself I have nothing to boast about, no bragging rights. My life is not wrapped around being in a certain social status, or my own particular claims to fame. But that is OK.

When I accept that about myself, I can then look away from myself and look at the One who lives inside me. With Him, all things are possible. (Luke 18:27)

If I believe in God the way I say I do, I do not need to be going backwards regretting the mistakes of the past. God knew every single detail of my life way before I was ever born. He knew all the trials, all the stupid things I would say and do, all the problems before there ever was one of them. He let them happen anyway, even if it was through a fault of my own. This fact gives me great comfort. Nothing in my life ever took God by surprise. He has never been disappointed in me, because He knows I am but dust, and that I can do nothing by my own power that will be of any use to Him or His Kingdom. It is only Him living inside me that can produce a work acceptable in His sight.

The Apostle Paul had every right to brag about his status as a Pharisee before His salvation. As he so beautifully writes in Philippians 3:4-14. "... If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in HIM, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is in God by faith;that I may know HIM and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed into His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Do you see what he is telling us? We do not have to be tethered to the past, the mistakes and failures and clinging to our own human understanding. No, we can have a fresh start for this coming new year. And if we mess up in the new year (as we surely will) there is always a fresh start every time because God in His infinite patience had His Son pay for every infraction we ever did or ever will commit. That is why Jesus Christ is our very best friend, the friend that sticks closer than a brother.(Proverbs 18:24) No other man or religion can offer mankind what He does: total forgiveness, making us brand new creatures (II Corinthians 5:17) and mercy that endures forever. So, in 2014 I do not need to make any kind of promises to myself, promises I will surely break.

No, I just need to get more and more of Christ. More of His Word and His thoughts inside me. More prayer and communion with Him. As John the Baptist said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3: 30) For only when I am filled with Him am I truly happy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Present of His Presence!

Matthew 1:24 "And she shall give birth to a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He himself will save His people from their sins."
John 1:14 "And the Word, entering a new mode of existence, became flesh, and lived in a tent (His physical body) among us. And we gazed with attentive and careful regard and spiritual perception at His glory, a glory such as that of a uniquely-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
--both verses from Kenneth Wuest expanded translation of the New Testament

I often get into a panic mode at Christmas as I think that possibly my gifts to others won't be "good enough," whatever that means. But during this time, most of the people I bought for probably have more than enough anyway. Gifts sent overseas to the truly needy are the most meaningful to me. I just found out that three little kids in Zimbabwe received the shoeboxes we sent them through a great program called Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan's Purse. It is a simple idea: fill a shoebox with gifts for an impoverished child in a 3rd world country. It is easy and satisfying to do.
I encourage any who read to check into it next year. You will be blessed in participating.

But back to presents, how many will be disappointed with what they receive in just a day or two? Many will, and it will be evidenced by the number of people crowding the store for returns and exchanges on December 26. All this build up for material things and the gifts may temporarily make you happy, but there is always a letdown when the holiday is over.

I can think of a much more meaningful present. This is one that will never be returned by any who receive it. What's more, it comes without cost (for us, at least.) This gift was so expensive, it cost the giver His life to pay for it. This gift will outlast any Christmas gift given by men on this earth. Have you guessed it yet? It is the gift of God in sending His Son in the form of a baby. But Christmas is not just about the baby lying in a manger. No,it is much more than that. The baby grew up and gave Himself as the costliest present ever upon this earth.

"Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!" II Corinthians 9:15

No wonder the Magi from the east brought Him the gifts they did: Gold, for they recognized He was Deity. Frankincense for the gift of worship the baby Messiah, used also in Jewish sacrifices in the years preceding. And finally myrrh was given for anointing His body, which would be beaten and bruised beyond recognition in thirty-three short years. These were truly gifts fitting for the King. (Matthew 2: 10-11)

This gift is given without regard to the merit of the one who receives it. It is not something we can ever pay back, either. It comes without strings attached for us the receiver. (Ephesians 2:8-9)Though when one recognizes the unfathomable value of this gift, it will induce the receiver to humbly give God full control of his or her's life. If we know the perfection of this gift, we can also trust the Perfect Giver to make something good out of our messed up, broken down lives.

One of the innumerable benefits I thank the Giver for today is this special promise that is made to all who takes the gift. It is the gift of His abiding presence, forever dwelling with us. If we get to know Him through His Word, the more we can abide in return with the One who gave everything to buy us back for Himself. His abiding Presence is what we need so desperately in these days of confusion, chaos and economic downturns. This is One gift that will keep on giving, from the minute it is received right into eternity.

Jesus says to His gift recipients in John 10:28-29: "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand."

See? No returns on this one!! But if that were not enough, He also promises that He will always be with us, no matter what we have to face in this life.

John 14:1-3 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

Since Jesus returned to the Father, He has been fixing magnificent palaces for His gift recipients in heaven. When the Father says the time is right, He will be coming like a thief in the night for all those who took advantage of His saving grace.

Are you in Christ today? Then no matter what you are facing: illness, financial difficulties, the loss of employment, the grief over death of a loved one, persecution, no matter what, here is what our Good Shepherd promises to all who take the gift of salvation:

Psalm 23:6 "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever."

If you have yet received Jesus the Savior, I urge you not to put it off one moment longer. For He will soon come for us, His children, and you do not want to be left behind.

Isaiah 1:18: " 'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the LORD, 'Though your sins are as scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.'" That is for anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Psalm 116:13 "I will take the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the LORD."

Receive Christ today, and I promise you there will never be a letdown or disappointment.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

When Less is More...Christ is All!

Luke 1:51-53 "He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty."

It's been harder for me this year to get into the Christmas spirit, as we hit some rough waves from the economic downturn. I always enjoyed trying to find that perfect gift for loved ones, and decorating in our small home, the extra activities and the cards exchanged. This year, there is really no extra money for many of these things, and I am sure some who read this will be able to relate.

Uncertainty. It seems to be all the more common as I grow older. The American dream is not being realized like when I grew up without worries for tomorrow. But then I think of the world my Savior was born into. Was not Jesus born in a time of uncertainty for Mary, his mother and Joseph, who quickly had to get him out of the country because of the mad King Herod trying to murder all the baby boys? (Matthew 1:13-14)

The Jews were oppressed by their occupiers from Rome. Mary had to travel late in her pregnancy to register in the City of David. I don't think she had many amenities then and not even a room when they got there. No, not even a room to give birth to her firstborn Son.(Luke 2:7)

Parties, goodies to gorge on, searching for the perfect gift, beating ourselves into a frenzy to try and create a magical day. Is that what Christmas is all about? As a girl, I always got sad as Christmas morning wore into the afternoon, realizing the letdown as the short,gray December day faded into night.

"Is that all there is?"

I wondered why I still was longing in my soul for something more. I think of the verse in Matthew often when I consider all the people crowding the stores, fighting over the best gifts, myself included. "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd." Matthew 9:36

I need Christ this Christmas, the only light shining in this darkened planet. Is that what you need too? We find that even the most expensive gift sitting under the tree will not satisfy that God-shaped hole the Creator put in each one of us. It is as if Christ is beholding the masses packing the malls all this world over and His heart wants to call out to them all, if only they would listen: "Come to Me,all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Is Christmas a heavy burden to you this year? You need only look to Him. Rest, because you don't have to be perfect. He is perfect for you. If you believe in Him, He shares His very own righteousness with you.

"But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness." Romans 4:5

Who are we trying to please this Christmas as we labor to get the perfect gifts, the perfectly decorated house, have the best Christmas dinner or party? Is that what Christ wants? He doesn't even ask us to remember His birth. It is His death He wants us to remember! "...and when He had given thanks, He broke it (bread*) and said: 'Take, eat, this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." I Corinthians 11:24

*my explanation

This Christmas, wouldn't it be cool if He found us watching and waiting for His soon return? The Apostle Paul wrote: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (II Timothy 4:8)
Instead of having the "perfect" Christmas, let our hearts await for our perfect Savior!"

"And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" II Peter 2: 19

Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
Maranatha! May our Lord come again soon!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why We Should Bless Israel

"God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend. For He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth'; Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength." Job 37: 5-6
As I write this, we are in the midst of a snow and ice storm here in our part of the country. This one seems to be one for the record books with unseasonably cold temperatures hitting the Northwest US. Though the snow is beautiful, it also can be deadly. Sometimes I wonder about how these wild storms appear out of "nowhere."

I heard it suggested that this storm came to fruition as our Secretary of State was once again travelling to Israel for peace talks. This has happened before, as has been pointed out in some eye-opening books, among them being: The Israel Omen by David Brennan, Eye to Eye by William Koenig, and As America Has Done to Israel by John McTernan.

You see, the Jews are the apple of God's eye. In Zechariah, God tells us how special they are to Him: "For thus says the LORD of hosts: 'He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you (Israel*) touches the apple of His eye." Zech. 2: 8

It doesn't go well for those nations who go against Israel. America was at her peak of prosperity when we became the first nation to recognize their re-formed nation in 1948. Think of it, after over 1,000 years they are re-gathered to be a nation again after being scattered to the ends of the earth. This was all prophesied to happen. Isaiah 66: 8 tells us:

"Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall such a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children."

No nation ever came back to life like the nation of Israel. Even the land, which Mark Twain described as desolate when he visited in 1867,came back to life when the Jewish people returned.

So why are we telling the Jews to give up their land? God gave it to them in Genesis 12:1-3:

"Now the Lord had said to Abram: 'Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing, I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

Like it or not, the Jews are the source of many blessings. According to http://www.jinfo.org/Nobel_Prizes.html 193 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to Jews, including ones for the categories of Chemistry, Economics, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology and Medicine.

They have made great technological advances and given us vaccines that stopped the polio epidemic. But that is not the greatest gift the Jews gave us.

The greatest gift, the reason God blesses them is that they are the genetic race which brought forth our Messiah, whose birth we shortly will celebrate.

God promised Eve way back in the book of Genesis that her seed (Messiah) would crush the serpent, the enemy of men's souls. God's plan was revealed in the very first book of the Bible. In Genesis 3, God told the serpent of this enmity:

"And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head And you shall bruise His heel." (Genesis 3: 15)

How did this happen in human history? It happened just at the moment the enemy thought he had won. Jesus died on the cross for us. Blood and water came out when the Roman soldier pierced His side, thereby proving He was dead. (John 19:34)
satan thought he had triumphed, but when the Son of God rose from the dead three days later, his game was up.

It is interesting that the very last book of the Bible tells us how satan hates the Jewish nation, and how he unsuccessfully tries to kill them all so that we humans could have no Messiah to redeem us. Read the story of human history as it is encapsulated in these verses from Revelation 12: 1-10. The Woman is Israel, the Child is Jesus and the Dragon is satan.

"Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down."

If you look at the world today, you see that nearly all the nations have turned against the nation of Israel, including our own USA. It is not good to touch the apple of God's eye. It is not good to curse those whom God cannot curse. (Numbers 23:8) God tells us:

Psalm 122: 6-8
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
For the sake of my brethren and companions,
I will now say, “Peace be within you.”
Prosperity within your palaces.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We're All in This Together

I Peter 1:24-5

And this is the word which was preached to you."

I was so weary last night that I went to bed way early. I simply could not bring myself to do the things I needed to do, so I figured I'd just go to bed and the tasks would be easier in the morning. And this morning, God was faithful to refresh me as I read His Word in the book of I Peter.

All flesh is like grass. The thought hit me to look at others, and myself, in a different way. Human beings are fragile.
We may think we are strong but we have no idea what could happen tomorrow. Our lives are but a fragile breath,here one minute and gone the next. What if I looked at people with that reality?

What if I considered others in the Body of Christ the way God does in I Peter 2:9-10:

"But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY."

Every member of the Body is part of this special group of people. I need to see others in this way, and not according to my own thinking about them. Think of the great price that was paid by Christ to redeem them. Hold them in highest regard because they are "members in particular" (I Corinthians 12: 27).

Consider how high the purchase price was for Christ to redeem us:
I Peter 1: 18-20
"knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you..."

All the gold in the world could not have lifted even one of us out of the pit. Only the perfect Son of God could redeem us by laying His life down for us. That is how much He esteemed us. He saw us having value, even though we couldn't deserve it in a million years.

He was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. Anyone who believes in His Person shares in this same heavenly status as of being paid for with an inestimable price. Oh, how much He loved us to do that for us. I should see my brother and sister in Christ as having incalculable value. Actually, every person on this earth because of the great price paid to make salvation possible to any and all who want it.

And yet each human life is so fragile. My words can either tear down or build up that person. We never know when that person's time might be over. What if they left this earth after I had torn them down, said angry and harsh words?

Oh, for the eyes of faith to walk in this reality instead of "You know how they are!" Instead of attributing sins and failures to people to think of them as chosen, holy, a person of God's very possession. To walk with they eyes of faith. And to realize I don't have to love people because they, on their own, did something to merit my love. No, they are either part of the chosen family of God or are candidates to be in that family. God's love for them can fill me instead of paltry and miserable human love.

It is my wish to live in this reality. Thank you Lord, for revealing your great love for us and reminding us of the preciousness of Your holy gift. Truly something to be eternally grateful for in this season of Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Conversation with God

"But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." II Corinthians 3:18

Beholding as in a mirror...transformed into the same image...why, Lord,do I read no words here of struggling and straining? Is that what You really see? But just look at me! I fail constantly. How can God's Word possibly be true?" Thoughts like these barrage me daily. "You are not making any progress, what's the use?"

Discouragement, wanting to just say forget it, shame.

God is answering through His Word that is not who I am! He says just the opposite:

II Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new."

"That is who you really are!" the Spirit reminds me through His Word.

"Yes, Lord, but..."

"But nothing..."For we walk by faith, not by sight." II Cor. 5: 7

But I have so many weaknesses, Lord...

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God." He replies in II Corinthians 3:5

"Everything within me is screaming that I am not who You say I am Lord!"

"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom we also all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." Ephesians 2: 1-3

That was who you were, He speaks through His Word. There is a big "but" coming now...

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins,made us alive together with Christ... (Eph. 2:4a)

It all comes down to being dead, then, one way or another. Either we are dead in our trespasses and sins, or we are dead to that old person we once were.

Romans 6:5-6: "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."

Our transformation into Christ's image doesn't have anything to do with a self-help program. It comes from beholding the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! (John 1:29) In learning of His total ability, and recognizing our complete and total inability, we can rest in the assurance He is making us into the image of His Son. He doesn't look at us as we look at ourselves.

Isaiah 38:16-17
O Lord, by these things men live;
And in all these things is the life of my spirit;
So You will restore me and make me live

Indeed it was for my own peace
That I had great bitterness;
But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

Thank you, Lord, I will agree with You, and have peace in my soul. Amen.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

28 Years Ago Today...

"When I was a son with my father, tender, and the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me,'Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live'" Proverbs 4: 3-4

As I write this, I think of where I was 28 years ago. I was about to become a new mom with my firstborn son. Oh, how my life changed forever the moment he was born. I see the scene like yesterday. I was in labor since early morning the day before, and around midnight the doctor got called away on an emergency. I was left to push for three hours and feeling a sharp kick under my rib with each contraction. The use of forceps made for a rough delivery at 3:00 am on the nose on Sunday, November 10.

But how soon my pain was forgotten when the doctor held up our son, who only cried softly. A love like no other gripped my soul. It wasn't always easy being a parent to him and his two siblings, and I made many mistakes along the way. But I rejoice this Sunday, for this is the fourth set of Sundays since he made his entrance, and he has made the heart of his father and I glad. I can say this boy of mine has taken to heart learning God's Word and accepted the Lord as his personal Savior. He told me that only recently did he really understand that he needed to make the faith his own. Now Jesus is real to him like never before!

Proverbs 23: 26 "My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways."

3 John 4: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."

He was disciplined along the way, and just like the Hebrew writer said, it was not easy. Hebrews 12: 11 says "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

But it has resulted in our son becoming a person who is law abiding, and hard working. He even told me he wished we had been more strict with him. Four years in our nation's military made a man of him and I burst with pride when I watched him immediately stand still and salute on base when the national anthem was played. This wasn't the teen who had left for boot-camp. No, something happened and this plan worked for the good in my son's life. (Rom. 8:28)

Before he left the military, Jon met his future wife. Now,the tables have turned. He and his bride wait for their own son to be born. How fast the years went by. I can say this Proverb has been fulfilled:

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Then the life cycle will start all over again, as he faces the challenge and privilege of being a father. He in turn will have to seek the Lord as he discovers that one needs help beyond themselves in raising this new life, this totally dependent baby. There is no higher responsibility. And yes, now I will be the doting grandma. I can't wait!

I pray that my grandson also will be one who is:

Proverbs 13: 1 "A wise son hears his father's instruction...:

Happy 28th birthday Jon! May your posterity be blessed!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Not Celebrating Ghosts, But God's Victory!

I Corinthians 15: 13-14: "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen, And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty." Continuing on in verses 17-19 it says "And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then these who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we of all men are most to be pitied."

Today is a day when demonic forces celebrate as humans celebrate ghouls, ghosts and witches. People are afraid when they see a ghost raise up from a grave, and rightly so. But Jesus was not to be feared when He rose up from the grave and appeared to His disciples. For believers are not to be pitied, Christ really did rise from the dead! He has shared with His children His resurrection victory!

“Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him and He vanished from their sight.” Luke 24: 31. I love how it says "He opened their eyes." For my eyes were opened again today, if only in a small way, to the greatness of these facts, and how they forever changed the course of human history. I read in all 4 gospels the account of Jesus showing Himself to the women and the disciples on the third day, when He rose from the dead. Jesus said the kindest words. He is still saying them today, to us, at this fearful time we live in.

In Matthew 28:9, He told the disciples to rejoice, and in verse 10 He said, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me." Did you notice there that He called them His brethren, not just the apostles or people? We have been made brothers and sisters with God because Christ completed His mission of paying for sins fully and presenting His perfect humanity as a sacrifice for us upon the cross. What could be more glorious than that?

In Mark 16: 9-10 it says this of Christ's resurrection: "Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe." How sad they didn't take stock in what Mary told them. She was one grateful lady, to have seven demons removed from her by Christ's power. They still tremble today.

John gives more detail about His appearing to Mary. He reports in John 20: 14-17: "Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

Jesus is now including God as being Mary's God as will as His! How awesome is that! Before the cross and the resurrection that was not possible, but now Jesus is able to say, "...Here am I and the children God has given Me." (repeated in Hebrews 2: 13, originally quoted in Isaiah 8:18).

Finally, in Luke's gospel (Luke 24: 19-27)we read about Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus with some of the disciples, who did not know who He was. "Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days? And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Again, I am amazed when the disciples said in verse 32, "Did not our heart burn within us when while He talked with us on the road, and when He opened the Scriptures to us?"

So, on this day when the world celebrates dead people, haunted houses and the underworld, I celebrate in only One who rose from the dead, thereby changing the course of human history. For the surest bet in the universe is Christ's resurrection, the one that assures the believer's resurrection as well.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How Do You Know God?

"We have no need to fear of Someone Who loves us perfectly; His perfect love eliminates all dread of what He might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what He might do to us, and shows that we are not fully convinced that He really loves us." I John 4:18 (Living Letters: The Paraphrased Epistles by Kenneth N. Taylor

In my reading this morning, I came across a familiar passage from Matthew 25:24 when Jesus told the parable of the talents. Whenever I read those words in the past, I had a funny feeling that I could be the man who had one talent but buried it in the ground.

"Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed."

That is how I used to know God. How do you know Him?

The lord in the parable answered that his servant was "wicked" and "lazy" in verse 26 of Matthew 25. In the Outline of Biblical Usage, wicked is the Greek word ponēros (G#4190) and has these meanings:

I. labours, annoyances, hardships
pressed and harassed by labours

bringing toils, annoyances, perils; of a time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness; causing pain and trouble

bad, of a bad nature or condition
in a physical sense: diseased or blind

in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad


The word for lazy is oknēros (G#3635) and it means in the Outline of Biblical Usage:

I. sluggish, slothful, backward


For me personally, I see how in the past I was both wicked and lazy. (Let's call a spade a spade.) I did not know God as a loving Heavenly Father because I did not invest the time in finding out just what God's character was. The result was I ended up fearful, thinking God was always ready to "drop the hammer" on me.

How could I be fearful when it says this in Romans 8: 28-39?

"And we know all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God, and if we are fitting into His plans. For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to Him-and all along He knew who would-should become like His Son, so that His Son would be the first, with many brothers. And having chosen us, He called us to come to Him; and when we came, He declared us "not guilty," filled us with Christ's goodness, gave us right standing with Himself, and promised us His glory. What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God be on our side, who can ever be against us? Since He did not even spare His own Son for us but gave Him up for us all, won't He also surely give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? Will God? No! He is the One Who has forgiven us and given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? NO! For He is the One Who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven. Who then can ever keep away Christ's love for us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed, is it because He doesn't love us anymore? And if we are hungry, or penniless, or in danger, or threatened with death, has God deserted us? No, for the Scriptures tell us that for His sake we must be ready to face death at every moment of the day-we are like sheep awaiting slaughter; But despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ Who loves us. For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can't and life can't. The angels won't, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God's love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, Or where we are-high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean-nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord."

from Living Letters, Kenneth N. Taylor

Tell me of another god who loves like this God? A god would actually bear that cross up Golgotha's hill willingly and not open His mouth against His accusers? I have never heard of any. Christianity is the only faith that is God reaching down to man, not man trying to reach up to God through works.

Each day I am gaining confidence in the love He has for me, and that He is involved in every detail of my life. That is why Jesus beckoned us in Matthew 11: 28-30 to come to Him. In Kenneth Wuest's expanded translation it says this:

"Come here to Me, all who are growing weary to the point of exhaustion, and who have been loaded with burdens and are bending beneath their weight, and I alone will cause you to cease from your labor and take away your burdens and thus refresh you with rest. Take at once My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find cessation from labor and refreshment for your souls, for My yoke is mild and pleasant, and My load is light in weight."*

*My emphasis

Though I never knew the Lord to be that way, I one day decided it was high time for me to learn, and take on that gentle yoke. He never promises my life to be free from trials, but He does promise that He will give me rest through them. Each day, my pastor says, is given a "24 hour grace packet" by our loving Father.

I don't want to hide my talent in the ground. So I come to Him and learn of Him, of His graciousness, kindness and faithfulness. He promises He will never leave or forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5) If this is the kind of God that you want to know, I encourage you to come to Him today. As long as you are breathing, He will never turn you away. (John 6:37)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dodged Another Bullet? Or Haven't We?

John 9:4 "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."

It appears we won't face default tomorrow here in the good old U.S.A. But I wonder how long it will be until the next shutdown? We are trillions of dollars in debt. How are my grandchildren ever going to be able to pay for it? I fear today's deal may be just "kicking the can down the road." Someday, those debts are going to come due. It won't be pretty.

In the past, I've been caught in the trap of looking for a political savior. Really, right or left politically, there is none who can help us. That is why I propose the only way we should look now is up. Looking beyond the hope of this nation fixing itself, because that would be only because of revival in the churches. But that is not a trend of the church in the last days. Sooner or later, a storm will hit and this country will no longer be what it was. But that doesn't mean we can't have hope, even now in this dark hour. Both Psalm 60: 11 and Psalm 108: 12 tell us the very same words:

"Give us help from trouble, For the help of man is useless."

The word useless in the New King James Version is the word "vain" in the King James Bible. In the Hebrew, the word for vain is שָׁוְא, shav'. It is Strong's # H7723 and in the Bible it is used these ways:

I. emptiness, vanity, falsehood
A. emptiness, nothingness, vanity
B. emptiness of speech, lying
C. worthlessness (of conduct)


Nothing in the meanings above say there is one bit of chance for the hope of being able to rely on people or governments. Even the most kindhearted person will let you down if you give them enough time. But God will never let us down. For a long time in my life, I relied on people to try to give me the help only God could give. And when it came to election time, I hoped fervently a certain leader would be elected.

I believe during that time, God kept saying to me, "Hey, why don't You look to Me?"
He proverbially "taps His toes" and waits to be gracious to us. Isaiah 30:18: "Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you;And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him."

We can have confidence that God remains sovereign in the whole affair, and He is also sovereign in our lives. If we have believed in His Son Jesus Christ as our Savior (John 3:16), God sees to it that our ultimate destination will be heaven. But the choices we make now will determine the quality of our heavenly future, and also how we will weather the inevitable storm that is coming.

Let's say we are close to the Lord's Second Coming. Jesus asked a pointed question that I keep thinking about: "... Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" I don't want sidelined by disaster so I am not prepared to meet Him on that day. It is my hope that He will find faith in my heart if I am to be here then. He also warned in Luke 21: 34-36:

"But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

The word in the Greek for "watch" is agrypneō, in the Strong's G5258, and is used in the Bible this way:

I. to be sleepless, keep awake, watch

II. to be circumspect, attentive, ready

It is in present tense, active voice and an imperative mood. The Blue Letter Bible says this about the imperative mood:
The imperative mood corresponds to the English imperative, and expresses a command to the hearer to perform a certain action by the order and authority of the one commanding. Thus, Jesus' phrase, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mk.1:15) is not at all an "invitation," but an absolute command requiring full obedience on the part of all hearers.


Jesus doesn't give us an option. Since times are hard, it is essential not to be casual in our Christian lives. The Lord will give us wisdom if we only ask for it. (James 1:5)

"...look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21: 28

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What God Wants to Do...More than We Ever Dreamed!"

Matthew 13: 58: "And He did not do mighty works there because of their unbelief."

The above verse grabbed my attention as I was reading the Word this morning. Think about what the implications of these words mean.Jesus wanted to do miracles as He taught in His own hometown. But He could not. Why? Because of unbelief. God wants to have a "green light" to go forward in His plans (beyond what we could ask or think,(Ephesians 3: 20) for our lives. But unbelief stops Him at a red light.

It got me to thinking about the things I may have hindered in my own life because of unbelief. An English Bible scholar named J.B. Phillips once penned a book entitled Your God is Too Small. It is one I definitely need to add to my "to be read" pile. I am struck by this verse: "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" in Genesis 18: 14. God spoke these words to Abraham after Sarah laughed about hearing the promise she would conceive a son in her old age.

Abraham is considered the eminent human role model when it comes to faith (Romans 4: 16-22) and Moses was called the friend of God in Exodus 33:11. What a privilege to be called that by God. Certainly, our Lord Jesus Christ is known as a "Friend of sinners" in Matthew 11: 19. But for Him to call us His friend is quite another matter.

Jesus says clearly in John 14:15:" If you love Me, keep My commandments." He didn't mean we had to do it in our own power, for we have no power at all to live the Christian life without His ability. John 15: 5 says "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

So we may say we love Him, but if we aren't keeping His commandments, we do not really love Him. One day many years ago I found in reading the Word a verse that brought me a huge sigh of relief. I thought I had to do a million things to be pleasing to God, to fulfill His commandments. In this same book of the Bible, the Gospel of John, it told me, who was trying so hard to make myself acceptable before Him.

John 6:28: "Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” verse 29: Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

Faith is the golden key to pleasing God. Abraham proved his faith before God when he was commanded by God to offer up his son Isaac on Mount Moriah in Genesis 22. After waiting all his life for an heir, God finally gives him a son as a miracle, way after he and Sarah were able to produce one on their own. Then God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering in Genesis 22:2.

"Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Abraham did not cry out and say, "Hey, wait just a second here! Didn't you say this son would be my heir?" (Genesis 12: 1-3)

The very next verse (Gen. 22: 3) says: "So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him."

He went forward with what God told him to do, and just as he was ready to slay his son Isaac as the offering, God said (Genesis 22:12) "And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

It was then that God provided a Lamb, who typified what God would do on that very spot thousands of years later. God provided a Lamb in our Lord Jesus Christ, being lifted up on the Hill of the Skull, where He tasted death for every single one of us. (Hebrews 2:9) "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."

All He asks is that we believe Him. He did the impossible part in dying for our sins. He just asks that we believe that He is able to give us a life beyond what we could imagine or think, a life so much better than we possibly could make for ourselves.

Well, then, how do we get faith, some may ask. Paul tells us the answer in Romans 10: 17.

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

We can please God when we take time from our busy lives to hear God's Word and read it for ourselves. When we find a promise that helps us, we can write it down and expect it from Him. As we grow in grace, the promises of God become increasingly more precious to us. For God's Word is the only Truth in the universe, the only thing on which we can firmly rely. We know that we can "take God's Word to the bank," for Jesus says in Matthew 24:35:

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words by no means will pass away."

You can please God today just like Abraham, the father of faith did. Simply believe that Jesus is the Christ, the One who took our sin burden upon His back and paid for every infraction of every single man, woman, boy or girl that has ever lived or will live. Believe He died, was buried, and rose up from the grave. (I Corinthians 15: 1-6) You will suddenly have peace, and your life can have a brand new purpose.

If we have already believed, we can always take stock of where we are in relation to believing God's Word. As long as we breathe, we have more opportunities to believe God's Word. This is true faith, the only thing that pleases Him.

Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

Monday, September 30, 2013

9/30/2013 Blog Tour

Psalm 23 "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

First off, thanks to my God for His everlasting consolation and salvation through Christ.

I want to thank my writing friend, Joan Y. Edwards http://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/blog-tour/ for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour. I also want to thank her for helping me be the writer I am today and for introducing me to http://www.4rvpublishing.com/

If it weren't for Joan, I would not have my book: Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering undergoing edits for publication next spring (May or June, 2014). The Lord did direct my path, just like He did for David in Psalm 23. I would like to tell you a little bit about me and my book in this blog tour post.

1. I started writing as a child. I never thought of myself as a writer though. I did have stories in my head but did not always get them onto paper. One of the stories remains with me today. I guess I should get around to writing it. I remember one thing that encouraged me with my writing as a child. One summer, our library had a little writing contest for children. We were to read the book Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski. I liked the book because of its story line and its pretty illustrations by the author. We were to write a book report about it. I won the contest that summer and received a "Snoopy" statue as a result. Growing up, I did not receive many rewards. I was just slightly above average in schoolwork. So, winning that small contest meant a lot to me. I never thought that it indicated I could have promise as a writer.

2. In high school, I wrote poems about things that affected my life. One of the poems was about my paternal grandmother. I only saw her once a year and "goodbyes" were always difficult because I never knew if she would be around the following year. My poem was called "Wise Old Grandmother" and was published in our high school literary magazine, along with one or two more of my poems.
She is in the picture below, with my Dad and Grandpa. I wrote about the values I saw in her: hard work,sacrifice, and a simple lifestyle.

3. When I went off to college, I ignored my stronger abilities and chose a career in the nursing field because I wanted to help people. It never occurred to me that possibly I could help people through writing instead. Although I loved interacting with my different patients, the medical part was not really for me. I managed to get my bachelor's, but when I married and began having children, I was glad to stay home with them.

4. I home taught my children and in the process, discovered many wonderful books that I had missed as a child. Reading aloud to my kids became a priority and one son claims he still sees some of the stories in his mind. That is when I discovered the wonderful world of children's literature.

5. About eight years ago, when my last child was entering high school, I signed up for the Institute of Children's Literature course, Writing for Children and Teenagers. When I graduated with my Basic diploma and had one of my stories published, I was recommended for the Advanced, Book Writer course. And that is how my book Sure Mercies was born. With the help of my instructor, I came up with an idea to write about my favorite Bible character, David. I always had loved David's Psalms. They helped me through the rough times of growing up and especially as a teenager. My sister got me a fascinating autobiography of David by F. B. Meyer. I wanted to tell more about these Psalms. I also loved reading about heroes of the faith. I came up with 40 of David's Psalms and a person to fit each one of them. In my stories I explained how each person overcame some difficulty in their life and exemplified a portion of that Psalm in that way. Some of the heroes were from modern days, but some in early church history as well. They spanned across the whole church age. I ended up putting a timeline at the end to show how their lives intertwined amongst themselves, one influencing the other like a stack of dominoes. I also put in a study guide for further contemplation on Scripture, and a Scripture index and resource guide. I wanted my readers to understand that not only the Psalms, but the whole Word of God directly fit together as the Ultimate Guide Book for our lives. My audience was originally for teenagers, because I remembered how difficult adolescence was for me personally. I wanted to show Jesus Christ is the best friend we can ever have. It ended up that this book will be appropriate also for adults. I want to reach as many people as possible with the message that in Christ there is hope for the bleakest situation. It is never too late as long as you have breath.

6. I have been extremely blessed to find 4RV Publishing, who was willing to take a chance on a first time author. In addition, I found a wonderful editor (who lived within walking distance) who helped me get my manuscript ready for submission to 4RV. Friends within my critique group believed in my book and helped me to carry on when I was ready to give up. My family cheered me on, with my husband, Kevin, the biggest helper of all. Now, I am hoping to write many more books. I love to write about the LORD and His love, but also have a funny side and enjoy writing about my cat Missy (aka "Super Cat") and her antics. I worked with children of varying ages for about nine years. My own children and the kids I cared for helped fuel my imagination for other children's stories and poems as well.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog. I recently began a new blog specifically about kids and adult books. It is my hope to direct you to great reads on there. I encourage you to stop by there as well. Come on over and also see me at: http://meganvance.wordpress.com/

Sunday, September 29, 2013

100 Things to be Thankful for-Part Two

My gratitude list, continued:

51. God alone made the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1: 1)
52. He created man in His own image. (Genesis 1: 27)
53. He makes everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
54. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13: 8)
55. God is faithful in calling us into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 1: 9)
56. God's agape love is not like man's kind of love. (I Corinthians 13)
57. Three things will remain forever: faith, hope and love. (I Corinthians 13:13)
58. He wants to reward for what He Himself does in us. (Philippians 2: 13)
59. He who began a good work in His children will complete it to the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1: 5)
60. If we are faithless, He remains faithful.(II Timothy 2: 13)
61. Jesus came into the world as a light so that anyone who believes in Him will not walk in darkness. (John 12:46)
62. A bruised reed Jesus Christ will not break. (Isaiah 42: 3)
63. By His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53: 5)
64. Christ's dying sacrifice satisfied God's justice once for all without need of repetition. (Hebrews 10: 12)
65. Christ has made believers kings and priests. (Revelation 1:6)
66. He has washed our sins in His own blood. (Revelation 1:5)
67. God is not willing that any should perish. (I Timothy 2:4)
68. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. (Ezekiel 18:23)
69. God had to bare His own arm for us by sending His own Son. (Isaiah 52:10)
70. God's righteousness is an everlasting righteousness. (Psalm 119:142)
71. There is no other God like our God. (Deuteronomy 4:39)
72. His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 136)
73. We just need to Look upon Christ to be saved. (Isaiah 45: 22)
74. When Christ gave the Sermon on the Mount, He gave "Be-attitudes" and not "do" attitudes. We are transformed without travail by looking in the mirror of the Word. (II Corinthians 3: 18)
75. Moses had to cover His face to go into the presence of God, but we do not have to cover our faces. (II Corinthians 3: 16-18)
76. In the Savior are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3)
77. Salvation is the gift of God, so no man can boast(in and of himself). (Ephesians 2: 8-9)
78. But we are allowed to boast in the Lord. (Psalm 34: 2)
79. We are free indeed in Christ. (John 8: 32-36)
80. The Lord of the Universe humbled Himself to be "born in a barn" among animals. (Luke 2: 7)
81. The Greatest became the least and our ultimate example of humility. (Philippians 2: 5-8)
82. Therefore God has given Him the name which is above every name. (Philippians 2: 9)
83. The Lord knows them that are His. (II Timothy 2: 19)
84. Our names our engraved on the palms of His hands. (Isaiah 49: 16)
85. Not one hair of ours will be lost even if we are hated for His name's sake. (Luke 21: 17-18)
86. Our sins are thrown into the deepest depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19)
87. Through Christ (and Christ alone) we have access to the Father. (Ephesians 2: 18)
88. Overcoming believers in the church of Laodecia will be able to sit with Christ on His throne. (Revelation 3: 21)
89. Whosoever will may come and believe in Christ and appropriate His saving work on their behalf. (Revelation 22: 17)
90. Whosoever may take of the water of life freely. (Revelation 22: 17)
91. There is no other way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven but through Christ. (John 10: 1-3)
92. He calls His sheep by name. (John 10:3)
93. The Church Age will not be over until the "fullness of the Gentiles has come in." He will wait for the very last believer of the Church Age. (Romans 11: 25)
94. He does all things well. (Mark 7: 37)
95. The believer's times are always in God's hands. (Psalm 31: 15)
96. Precious in His sight are the death of His saints. (Psalm 116:15)
97. For the believer in Christ, living is Christ. (Philippians 1: 21)
98. For the believer in Christ, dying is gain. (Philippians 1: 21)
99. For the unbeliever in Christ, it is never too late to change your mind as long as you have breath, because God does not mark our iniquities, there is forgiveness with Him if you seek it. (Psalm 130: 3-4)
100. That He begs us seek Him while He may be found, and to call upon Him while He is near!(Isaiah 55:6)

If you have read this long blog post, I thank you. If you do not have the assurance of salvation as a free gift through Christ, I urge you to look up these beautiful promises from the Word of God, these wonderful gifts freely given through the grace of Another. You do not have to sweat or strain to get to heaven, and no matter what you have done in the past, you can be forgiven. All that work was already done for you, courtesy of the Lord Jesus Christ! No other religion or god can promise you these things. Today can be the day of your salvation!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

100 Things to be Thankful For- Part One

Today marks my 100th blog post here and I would llke to celebrate by naming 100 things I am thankful for. It is my hope that you will find that you can be thankful for them too. Today I will list the first 50 of them, and the next posting will list the remaining 50 things. This list only tips the unfathomable number of blessings we can thank God for each and every day.

(When I went to publish this, I realized that some of my posts were mere drafts, but that is not any reason not to find 100 things to be thankful for! Actually there are 90 postings, but I will still list 100 anyway, for there are actually an incalculable number of things we will praise Christ for, coming one Day soon.)

1. For salvation as a free gift courtesy of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2: 8-9)
2. For being born in a time when we see the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ, since Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948, as Jesus promised that generation would not pass away until we saw the fulfillment of end time prophecy.(Matt. 24: 3-4)
3. For my salvation is nearer now than when I first believed. (Romans 13:11)
4. My name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and yours can be too by faith in Jesus Christ.(Rev 21: 12)
5. That I have been adopted into the family of God forever, and you can be too. (Ephesians 1:5)
6. That God is entirely good. (Psalm 119:68)
7. In God there dwells no darkness at all! (I John 1:5)
8. That if any man wills to do His will, he will know of the doctrine. (John 7: 17)
9. That Jesus Christ (only) is the Light of the world. (John 1: 1-9)
10. That He has numbered every hair upon my head, such is His ultimate knowledge and care for me.(Matthew 10:30)
11. That Jesus Christ fulfilled the law perfectly, thus satisfying God's justice for all those who would believe in Him.(II Corinthians 5: 19-21)
12. That God counts every star, and calls each one by name. (Psalm 147:4)
13. That nothing is impossible for God. (Matthew 19: 26)
14. One Day there will never, ever be a curse again.(Revelation 22:3)
15. That there is no guile or deceit in Christ. (I Peter 2: 22)
16. Christ took my own sins upon His body on the tree of Calvary. (I Peter 2: 24)
17. That my sins which were as bright as crimson are now white like wool. (Isaiah 1: 18)
18. Christ is able to keep me from stumbling. (Jude 24)
19. That no one can take me, or any believer, out of the Father's hand, and He is greater than all. (John 10: 28-9)
20. That He willingly was pierced in the house of His friends. (Zechariah 13: 6, John 19: 34)
21. The thief on the cross didn't have to get his life in order before he was allowed to enter Paradise with Christ, but he entered only through one act of faith in Christ.(Luke 23: 39-43)
22. That all of mankind's sins were collected as it were in Job's bag and placed on Christ. (Job 14:17)
23. Then Christ took all of our transgressions, and they were nailed to the tree and taken out of the way, thereby opening access to the Father to anyone who believes. (Colossians 2: 14)
24. That the last time the Father saw my sins was when He put them on Christ, and now they remain behind His back. (Isaiah 38:17)
25. I have been made a princess raised up from the dust and ash heap. (Psalm 113: 7)
26. Jesus Christ is my Shepherd. (Psalm 23:1)
27. The Lord will make me to stand. (Romans 14: 4)
28. The Lord was the One who knit me together in my mother's womb. (Psalm 139: 13)
29. We all are fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator. We didn't evolve from an amoeba! (Psalm 139: 14)
30. That it is never too late to come back to God if you have strayed, or come the first time if you have rejected Him for many years, for Today is the day of salvation! (II Corinthians 6: 2)
31. That God is/was faithful to the nation of Israel, and we can count on the fact that He will be faithful to His church too! (Romans 11:11)
32. Israel's branch was temporarily broken off so the Gentile nations could be grafted in! (Romans 11: 17-19)
33. That in Christ we are not of any racial or gender status, but all believers are all one in Christ. (Galatians 3: 28)
34. Believers have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1: 3)
35. God is not far from any of us. (Acts 17: 27)
36. All that call upon the name of the LORD will be saved. (Romans 10: 13)
37. Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness for all that believe. (Romans 10:4)
38. If we love His Word, we can have great peace. (Psalm 119: 165)
39. The person that loves God's Word will not stumble. (Psalm 119: 165)
40. I do not have to grope for His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119: 105)
41. Christ will never, no never forsake me or any of His children. (Hebrews 13: 5)
42. God had a plan to save mankind in eternity past. (Revelation 13: 8)
43. Jesus is a friend of sinners. (Luke 5: 30-32)
44. There is a remnant according to grace even at this present time. (Romans 11: 5)
45. My sinful nature was crucified with Christ. (Romans 6:6)
46. I no longer have to be a slave of sin. (Romans 6:6)
47. I have peace with God because of Christ. (Romans 5:1)
48. One day every knee will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Might as well be among them now!!) Philippians 2: 10-11)
49. In our weakness, we can be strong (in Him!) (II Corinthians 12:9)
50. If one is honest when looking upon creation, it testifies to every man's heart of the true Creator. (Romans 1: 20)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Glorying in Afflictions because of Romans 8:28

Psalm 149: 4: For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.

I ran across this marvelous verse this morning in my quiet time. I have read it before, but it commanded my attention today. I found a marvelous little book secondhand at my library yesterday, and it was Called to Pray by Wim Malgo. Written in 1975, it is as relevant today as it was then. The chapter I read today made me want to delight in the trials that have been appointed in my life. Mr. Malgo wrote about what are the necessary conditions for prayer:

"I always feel apprehensive when I hear people pray, 'Lord, please give me power', for our Lord has no use for powerful people. On the contrary Psalm 102: 4 says, 'He weakened my strength in the way.' The feeling of strength drives away the Spirit of prayer."

Later in the same chapter, he said: "If you have bitter disappointments from fellow Christians and fellow men, yes, if even the dearest one you have on this earth has disappointed you, then God has permitted this because He wants to make you a person of prayer. Let me say it more clearly: God takes away all your human props so that you can become increasingly dependent on Him alone."

In combination with what I received from last week's (9/12/13) teaching from the Grace and Truth Ladies Seminar, I found my heart rejoicing. I have had trials that have gone on for years without resolution, but God is in control of all that. In the verse we are all so familiar with, Romans 8:28, God makes us a promise that some would say is "too good to be true." It says: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Judy spoke of what the words "that all things" referred to. In the Greek, the word for this is "pas" and here is what it means:

each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything

some of all types


How many times, in darkness have I mourned over situations that cannot be humanly solved? How many tears have I cried in unbelief of what this verse really means? Romans 8:28 is a promise with a condition, and that is one must be a God lover for this to be true in your life.

There is a fear, often, of becoming a disciple of Christ. For He asks no less than all of our soul, dedicated to Him. He says clearly in Luke 14: 26: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."

Well, how does the Lord get you to hate your own life? In trials, we see just who we really are without His enabling power. He reduces us to the state that we will not glory in our accomplishments, but only in what He does through us. But He also assures us that He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13: 5), and as we continue in His Word, He shows us the glory and beauty of Christ. Also as we continue in His Word, He shows us Who He Really Is and it will automatically make us want to be a God lover, without striving or sweating. Then we realize that all along our lives do not really belong to us anyway, but to Him and that we hidden with Him.

Colossians 3: 3 is emphatic: "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
In this we find true joy and the meaning and purpose for our lives!

I don't know about you, but I don't like my old person clinging to her regrets and moods. I would rather walk in the Truth that says my life is now hidden with Him. And so, I can thank Him for the things that have happened in the past, believing that God is using them to draw me nearer to His side and cling to Him for all my righteousness.

II Corinthians 5:21

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

Galatians 2:20 and 21 also says:
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

I leave you today with the link for the wonderful message by my friend Mrs. Judy Seligman, who expounded on Romans 8: 28 and what it means for believers.


Listen and be blessed!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Creation Groans

Proverbs 24:10 says "If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small." My resolve was tested this past week and it proved to me that it doesn't take much for me to become overwhelmed. Our lovely dilute "tortie" had some serious symptoms and we took her to the vet for our first time. She had been to the vet's before, but that was before we suddenly adopted her when her owner, my dear father in law, unexpectedly passed away. Even cats can mourn. Ours took many weeks to get over her grief and separation. Yet, in the Word it says all the creatures are groaning for something that is soon to break over this sin-weary world.

In Romans we are told that the creation is groaning for their Redeemer to come and make things right here again on Planet Earth. In chapter 8:19-22 tells us: "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

Have you noticed that the earth itself is groaning too? Think of all the increased natural disasters that seem to be a daily occurrence anymore. I think of the devastation in Boulder, Colorado. It is heartbreaking to view the destruction there. Volcanoes are suddenly awakening and people have to run for their lives. There has been an increase in the number of earthquakes, and now there are super-tornadoes, like what hit Moore, Oklahoma this spring. These are just a few of the strange phenomenon that have increased lately. Some may just pass it off as nothing, but I can't. Things are changing here on planet earth, and birth pangs for our new creation have started.

The Animal and Plant Kingdoms of this earth are longing for Jesus' return. They exist for His glory, even as mankind is given that opportunity. But now we see many animals dying in strange ways. Massive fish kill offs, dolphins washing ashore helplessly, birds falling from the sky. Creation is waiting...waiting for that Glorious Day when we will see a New Heaven and a New Earth. There will be no sickness, no death in that Kingdom, and no chance for sin to ever enter it. In the book of Revelation we are promised that these things will be so:

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful." Revelation 21: 1-5

All human beings were born with a God-shaped vacuum in their souls. That is, nothing else will satisfy that hollow place except a relationship with God via His Son Jesus Christ. When we praise Him, we are lifted beyond our cares to see His majesty and power above all things. It takes our eyes away from the situation and onto Him, who is all powerful above every adversity we would ever face. Besides that, it brings peace to our over-stressed and hurried lives.

Psalm 148 tells us:

"Praise the LORD from the earth,
You great sea creatures and all the depths;
Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
Mountains and all hills;
Fruitful trees and all cedars;
Beasts and all cattle;
Creeping things and flying fowl;
Kings of the earth and all peoples;
Princes and all judges of the earth;
Both young men and maidens;
Old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
For His name alone is exalted;
His glory is above the earth and heaven.
And He has exalted the horn of His people,
The praise of all His saints—
Of the children of Israel,
A people near to Him.

Praise the LORD!"

Even the animals will be delivered from earth's corruption. One day, all the sadness of this present life will be gone. One day, the confusion and bewilderment will be answered. And the creatures too, will be praising our Redeemer who makes all things new!

The solution to stress? Look away from myself and my situation, rather let me get back to the simplicity of:

"...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

Will you join me?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

His Truth (really) can set us free...

I am so excited this evening. I just returned from the most amazing ladies seminar message delivered by my friend and mentor, Mrs. Judy Seligman. Judy is a woman who takes God at His Word. His faithfulness to her has been evident to all who know her. She is a woman set free. I wanted to share with my readers some of the inspiration I received.

Did you know that when Christ died on the cross for our sins, He really did pay for them all? (Colossians 2: 13-14)Did you know that no matter what you may have done in the past, when you become a believer, all of that is wiped away forever? (II Corinthians 5: 17) It may seem too good to be true, but it is.

Jesus called out from the cross in victory not defeat, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) Yes, the most tragic thing happened when they crucified our Lord, but it was also the most important and most glorious moment ever in human history, too. In fact, human history was divided by the birth of Christ, even if men call B.C. now "Before the Common Era" instead of "Before Christ." If that moment had not occurred, there would be no hope at all in this world. (Romans 5: 5-8)

His death on the cross took care of all the sins we committed in the past, presently, or in the future. This is not so called "cheap grace." Jesus Christ poured out His soul unto death for us.(Hebrews 5: 7, Psalm 22: 14) There was nothing more He could give, He poured out His life as a substitutionary sacrifice and all the sins of the world were paid for that one afternoon. That does not mean that all men will be saved, for we must take His free gift as an act of faith. (John 3:16) Our will must agree with God's in believing on the person of His Son.
But think of what this means. Our sins were paid for, so we can truly walk free. Jesus said in John 8:36:

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

In my own experience, I did not experience that freedom that Christ talked about. Judy told us tonight what the missing ingredient is if we are not presently experiencing Christ's freedom. It is a simple thing, really.

I can either believe what God tells me in His Word or disbelieve it. Even if it feels untrue with all the feelings within me, it is still true. She shared that for years she had struggled with resentment toward another believer. As hard as she tried, she could not make these feelings go away. Have you ever been there? I know I have, way too many times to count.

The more you struggle to get free from sin in your own power, the stronger the sin monster becomes. In I Corinthians 15: 56 God tells us a curious thing about the law. It says:

"The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is in the law." That means the more you try, the harder you will fail. But if you have reached that point of failure, as I have, many times, you should rejoice. Why? For then you will realize that if Christ does not perform the righteous deeds that the law commands inside you, it will not be done.

Galatians 2:20-1 tells us that we have been crucified with Christ, and why Christ had to die:

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes by works, then Christ died in vain.

Righteousness will never come by works, but only by Christ living out His life through us. He promised us that we would have "rivers of living water" flow out of our heart in John 7:38. If this isn't our experience, then something is wrong with us, not Him.
We need to believe Him: that He lives in us, that He forgave us all our sin debt. And most importantly, we need to believe that when He died, our old sinful self died right there with Him.

Romans 6: 6 says: "knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." We have a choice. We can either let Christ live His life through us, and experience the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control--Galatians 5:22) OR, we can disbelieve it and continue living the lie of the self-life.

He does want us to give up our lives. But that becomes easy when you realize that our lives, without Christ, will only produce misery.

John 15: 5: "I am the vine, and you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing."

Here is the "hard saying" of Jesus, which, when you consider the alternative of living gratifying your old nature, becomes a pleasant thing to do. John 12: 25 tells us the absolute Truth:

"He who loves his life {your own right to choose for yourself what you want*} will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." In hating what that old person so craves, we find a new life of joy and peace in Him. We give up the things that have kept us in misery for so long and finally have the life that we truly longed for.

Tonight, I was reminded that it is as easy as a simple decision. No matter how much my flesh will scream at me, God's Word is truer than that voice inside. I simply have to choose with God and His Word. If I fail, I pick myself up and receive a fresh new start every single time. What other religion in this world will offer you that?

It's never too late, we can make that choice and start having His resurrection life pour through us today!

*my added thoughts

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Desire of All Nations...Accept No Substitutes

Psalm 50: 10
"For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills."

The animal kingdom, just like the masses of unreached humanity who inhabit Planet Earth, all are longing for One Person. They just don't know who that Person is. If they did, they would bow before Him. But Scripture assures us that one day, all people will do so, whether they are in heaven, on earth, or under the earth. For in the second chapter of Philippians, the Apostle Paul tells us the greatness of Christ's condescension. Our Lord, who had always been with the Father in all His glory, at a moment in time limited Himself to come and share in our humanity, not only for time, but for all eternity. After presenting the perfect sacrifice of Himself upon the cross, atoning for the sins of all mankind, He was raised from the dead and glorified by the Father. Paul then says:

Philippians 2: 9-11

"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

As I was reading in Haggai the other day, I was struck by one of the many names of our Lord. He is called the Desire of All Nations. Haggai 2: 6-7 says "For thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 'and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the LORD of hosts."

According to the Companion Bible edited by E.W. Bullinger,(Kregel Publications) the shaking referred to in this verse will occur in the time period known as the Great Tribulation. Already the earth is shaking with more frequent intensity than in generations past. According to this article from the U.K., earthquakes are dramatically on the rise. http://earth.webecs.co.uk/ A chart at this link shows the dramatic rise just from 1973 to 2006. Yesterday, a 7.0 shook near the Aleutian islands in Alaska. It was possible that this quake could have generated a tsunami, but thankfully it did not.

This time of great turmoil is rapidly approaching, but Haggai assures us that people will come to recognize that Christ is the desire of all people. Bullinger says in his notes on Haggai 2:7 that the desire "refers to Him Who alone can satisfy the desire of all nations." In the Septuagint, Jesus Christ in this verse is referred to "the elect of all the nations." He is the only one who will be able to bring true peace to this planet, and restore it, eventually, to a sinless paradise. For one to read this, and not know what the Great Tribulation is, it was described by Jesus in this way in the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 24: 21-27
"For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect."

"See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."

Christ warned that "many" would come in His name. But before He actually returns, there will be a false Christ who will say that he can solve all the problems of the world and the world will be amazed by him. He will come in and make a 7 year peace treaty with the nation of Israel. For the first half, 3 1/2 years, Israel will have peace, but it is a false peace. Suddenly, in the middle of this period, this deceiver, called the Antichrist, will break the treaty and that is when the Great Tribulation will break out in full. He will attack Israel with ferocity and finally, all the nations of the world will stand against the tiny land of Israel. Why? In Psalm 2, in its entirety says:

"Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion." "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.' Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him."

What does it mean to Kiss the Son? Simply to believe on Him, that He accomplished the atonement for your sins upon the cross, and that God raised Him from the dead as I Corinthians 15: 1-7 tells us:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles."

Put your faith in the true Desire of All Nations and please remember, don't accept a substitute.