Thursday, March 28, 2013

Washed Squeaky Clean in the Blood of Another

How often I think I must "do" when the Lord says its "done." Tetelestai! (John 19: 30) How appropriate, since we approach tomorrow (Good Friday) the day when we remember the Lord's sufferings for us upon Golgotha's tree. I think to myself, "Oh, I know this already, but when it comes right down to it, I act (and feel) like I don't really believe it.

I have undergone health problems for the past month or so and lately, became somewhat lethargic and just wanted to sleep the day away. Instead of just accepting that this was one way of God letting the rest heal me, I fretted over not getting anything accomplished in my house, or with my writing, really having nothing to show for the day at all. Just lots and lots of sleep.

Do you think the Lord was upset over the fact that I wasn't doing much? No, but somehow I got into this slave mentality thinking, basing my "merit" on works.(Yep, just like Martin Luther!) I should know this by now, the Lord deems us all as pitiable, for that is why He had to come and do all for us, bear the full weight of all our sins and iniquities upon His back upon the wood of Golgotha. I love what our friend David the Psalmist says in Psalm 103:

Psalm 103:10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, [So] great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

12 As far as the east is from the west, [So] far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father pities [his] children, [So] the LORD pities those who fear Him.

14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we [are] dust.

The Hebrew word for pity is racham. In the Hebrew lexicon it is #7355 and means " to love, love deeply, have mercy, be compassionate, have tender affection, have compassion"

For me to even think I can add something is shameful.

Today is a new day though. I woke up rested and aware that the Father has magnificent love for me, even though it seems a battle rages inside me to believe it. How could He love someone like me?

Well, the answer comes that it comes from Him the Giver Himself and of His own essence, which is Love.

Psalm 130:3 If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?

4 But [there is] forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.

5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.

6 My soul [waits] for the Lord More than those who watch for the morning--[Yes, more than] those who watch for the morning.

There, we have it! We do not have to go around the world searching! Right in the book of Psalms again we hear that the Lord will not, cannot hold our iniquities against us! For Jesus Christ's sake, He cannot! The main problem I have, (and if I may be so bold to suggest that maybe some reading may have too) is our own guilt and shame over our iniquities that holds us back from fully daring to receive it all from Him. It is certainly not God or His Son who stops us as Christ was poured out as the Final Sacrifice upon the cross for us that day outside Jerusalem.

Oh, Lord let me wait like the Psalmist in joyful expectation, knowing that all my shortcomings, failures and faults have been washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb. Thank You, no matter what is happening in this world, I can place my confidence in You for Your free gift of salvation. Amen.

One last note- For a testimony of one man who received the grace and love of God after losing everything he had in this world materially at age nine, tune in to CBS's 60 Minutes for an interview with Bishop Abraham Nhial, one of the original Lost Boys of Sudan. It will be aired Easter Sunday evening, check your local listings.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Peace and Safety?

We hear many words today about the Palestinians and the Israelis finally being able to live together, side by side, in a place where there will be "peace and safety" at last. In fact, this is a goal that many of our recent Presidents have wished to achieve: bringing about the coveted "two state solution." Like it or not, the one tiny country of Israel in the Middle East affects every other country on this planet.

But no one has succeeded in bringing this solution forward. Even today, rockets were fired into Israel while the President was there. Peace and security, peace and safety. I don't see any sign of it on the horizon. The Israelis desperately want peace. Their backs are up against a wall. They are surrounded by enemies who want nothing more than to destroy them. And the Iranians nearly have their bomb ready to fire upon Israel. Just like Haman in the days of Esther.

Hasn't that always been the way? In the Old Testament we heard of the Philistines, the Amorites, the Midianites, the Canaanites warring against Israel for just a few examples. Goliath is the representative of them all,for he demonstrated fully the satanic plan to destroy the Jews, so no Messiah could ever come. David took 5 smooth stones, but he only needed one to sink the stone into Goliath's forehead. He overcame the wicked one through faith in God's plan to deliver him.

David relied on the Lord, not the stones:

1Samuel 17:45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

1Samuel 17:46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

Did you notice the very last words David said, "that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel?"

But the Israelis today are making a tragic mistake. They are not looking to the One True Deliverer, the only One who can save them from their enemies. They are sadly looking to make a deal with men. One day, (I believe it could be very soon) they will make a deal with a specific man. The Bible calls him the Man of Sin, among many other names. This man will have very cunning words and he will, unlike all the times before, finally be able to broker a peace deal between the Palestinians and the Jews.

There will be "peace and safety." For exactly three and one half years the Jews will be fooled into thinking this Man of Sin is their Messiah, but then all hell will break loose. He (who is also known as the Antichrist) will slaughter a pig in the Holy of Holies in their temple in Jerusalem. Then the Great Tribulation, the most horrible time the earth will ever see, will begin. Jesus told His followers exactly what to do when that situation occurs in Matthew 24: 15- 44.

1 Thessalonians 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

When the Jewish people (desperately looking to others for peace right now) cry out in recognition to Jesus Christ, knowing that He all along was their true Messiah, then He will return with His saints and deliver His people Israel.

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn.

You see, the tiny nation of Israel, after being destroyed by Titus of Rome in AD 70, was scattered to the ends of the earth. In May 1948, by a miracle, God brought them together as a nation again. The prophetic time clock began ticking according to Daniel's 70 weeks prophecy then. God told the Jewish people through Zechariah the prophet:

Zechariah 12:3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

I believe that we are seeing that now. If anyone is reading this and is not sure what all this talk of coming trouble means I urge you to consider that Jesus Christ came into this world for all of us. He came to bear the sins of every man, woman, boy and girl. Though there are terrible things transpiring now, it is only going to get much worse when the Great Tribulation begins. When you place your faith in Him by trusting that He died upon the cross for you, and that God raised Him three days later because He was satisfied with Christ's payment for our sins, then you, too, can have eternal life, no strings attached.

This is the most important decision you will ever make. I beg you not to put it off. Jesus loved you so much He was willing to do that for you, and even if you were the only person on earth He still would have done it for you. His love for you is as high as the heavens, so receive Him while there is still time.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

With Apologies to Saint Paddy....

Dear Brother Saint Patrick,

Did you know what the world is doing today in your name? Today there will be so many drinking and getting intoxicated in honor of you, old friend. Will there be accidents and people killed for "having too much (Irish) fun?" I speak as (at least a partially) Irish woman. Their ignorance of what you went to go to Ireland for is, to them, bliss, I suppose. They really have no idea who you were or what you stood for.

I really didn't either until I took some time to research your life. I didn't know you didn't come from Ireland, but Britain. I also didn't know that you were kidnapped as a teenager by Irish raiders. Here is where I have to make a personal apology to you, Patrick. My maiden name is Irish. I happened to get out a library book about Irish names and what they meant. When I looked up my maiden name, it said that my ancestors may have been the ones to ....gasp!!...kidnap you, dear brother, and take you to Ireland in the first place!!

{*I discovered this in the book: Clans and Families of Ireland: The Heritage and Heraldry of Irish Clans and Families by John Grenham, published by Wellfleet Press, 1993.}

Somehow, though, from your place in heaven, I don't think you would be angry with me for telling you this. You see, you told us that you were a pagan at the time you were kidnapped. You didn't come to faith in Christ until you were herding the sheep on the rolling, rainy green hills of Ireland. In your hours of desperation, it was then that you prayed to the Christian God, who answered and heard your prayers.

Suddenly, the kidnapping of you, Patrick, had a reason. Those people who had stolen you from Britain had never heard of Jesus and his redeeming sacrifice. They were pagans, and needed to hear. You were the man to tell them.

You also taught them to read and write. It wasn't long until your home country of Britain was invaded by barbarians and the Dark Ages descended upon Europe, but you had taught the Celts well. God sent you, there, brother.

Who knows what would have happened if those crazy seafaring Irish warriors hadn't snatched you that day? God took a pagan teenage British boy and turned you into a missionary for a country who had never heard the name of Christ. You had a big part in preserving civilization, too.

But somehow, as in most all other holidays, the truth gets twisted. It becomes an excuse for getting drunk. Scripture warns believers though:

Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Patrick, people, even believers, may think there is no fun in that, but that isn't true. There are nine fruits that we can "imbibe of" as much we want, there is no rule against them:

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
5: 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

So I thank you for allowing God to use you in His great plan of evangelism and preservation. I thank you that in your writings you point not to yourself, shamrocks, and leprechauns, but to Christ. I am looking forward to meeting you in heaven, brother,

in Christ alone

Oh Lord, we await the greenery here, like in the land of Ireland. Green speaks of your unmerited grace to mankind. May knowing Patrick's true purpose in the "land o' the green" give us courage to spread Your light in the darkness (Matt.5:14-16) as well. Amen.

+Dedicated to JEV, who once loved studying Patrick.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Am I Beholding Vanity?

I have often wondered why the Apostle John wrote that last verse in his epistle in I John:

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." I John 5: 21

According to my own line of reasoning, it didn't seem to go with the rest of the epistle. And besides, idols were for the Israelites of old, right? They were forever worshipping the Ba'als, Molech, or the other false gods the foreign people worshipped. Surely a modern, Bible believing Christian couldn't have idols in their life.

No, God had to forbid the Israelites from worshipping other gods, but not me, a modern day believer.

Exodus 20:3 says "You shall have no other gods before Me."

Nothing like internet, or the love of books or movies or social media, or anything like that could be an idol... Nahhh. Nothing like that could influnce me from the Word....

Exodus 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness [of anything] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth; Exd 20:5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth [generations] of those who hate Me,

You don't think that God would do anything like that do you or me to any child of His who put something or someone more of a priority than Him in their life? Ouch.

It is very subtle how this can happen. But we live in the day of a million and one distractions here in the West. So many things want to keep us away from what can and should be our first priority: the Word.

If we really love Him, like we proclaim as we sing in our praise choruses at church, then we should have time for Him each day to spend with Him in His precious Word.

I have talked about my friend Judy in previous blog posts. Before she was saved, she prided herself on being a voracious reader and being able to talk about many books. After her conversion, one day the Spirit convicted her in her spirit, "What are you going to do about My Book?"

Solomon, the wisest man in all the world, who foolishly threw his wisdom away for idols (hundreds of beautiful women, who never did satisfy his longing heart anyway), wrote this about the world's books:

Ecc 12:12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books [there is] no end, and much study [is] wearisome to the flesh. Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. Ecc 12:14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

In fact, the quotation from Ecclesiastes was Solomon's conclusion to his life's quest for meaning. He had found life was complete vanity except for the fearing of God and keeping His commandments. The lascivious life (wine, women, and song) was meaningless to him in the end. Even having David for his father had not given him enough wisdom to stay the course. He failed the prosperity test and he realized fearing God was the only solution at the end of his life.

The Old Testament's injunction to "keep the commandments" could also be compared with Jesus's statement in John 14:23, which says:

"Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.'"

The word "keep" is tereo. In the Greek lexicion it is G5083, and the definition is:

to attend to carefully, take care of

a) to guard

b) metaph. to keep, one in the state in which he is

c) to observe

d) to reserve: to undergo something

According to this definition then, if I am "tereo-ing" the Word of God, I cannot be loving all the attractions the world has to offer me as well. I have to make a choice and it IS a difficult one. After all, no man can serve two masters. Matt. 6: 24

So many little time. I would love to read so many of them. (Just take a look at my bookshelves!!) I do try, but don't get through too many. I consider it a delicacy when I do finish one, especially when it hits me powerfully. But my main focus has to be the ONE book.

Jesus called it the one necessary thing.

Jesus came to the house of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. Martha was going crazy trying to serve Jesus supper. Mary was just sitting there at His feet, listening to Him. She should have helped Martha, right?

But it was Martha that got the rebuke.

Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

Luke 10:42 "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

No, idols are not just little Buddhas sitting on the mantle. It can be any (good) thing that keeps me from the BEST thing- Christ, and His Word, which will not ever pass away.(Matt. 24: 35)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I am weak- but He is Strong!!

In many pulpits you may hear that God wants to fill your pockets and nothing more than to make you a huge success in the eyes of men. Problem is...ahem..if you study your Bible carefully... that isn't what happened to God's choice servants... (think Jeremiah in the pit, or John on the island of Patmos)... and that most certainly isn't what happened to Jesus on the cross, our prime example.

Why do so many believe it then?

A while back, at church, a guest pastor filled in with a message about our utter dependence on God and mentioned the Beatitudes. I may have blogged about this already but in the first Beatitude Jesus says:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

He explained that the word for poor in the Hebrew Greek Lexicon is #4434 "ptochos" In my Spiros Zodhiates Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible (KJV), (a wonderful study Bible which explains from the Hebrew and Greek definitions the meanings of many words) means:

"poor and helpless; one who in his abjectness (ptosso) needs lifting. One who has fallen from a better estate.
{A different Greek word-my explanation}(penes- 3993) may be poor but he earns his bread by daily bread by daily labor; but the PTOCHOS is so poor he can only obtain his living by begging. The penes has nothing superfluous, while the PTOCHOS has nothing at all."

Do you like being described as "ptochos"? That is the way the whole lot of us are, the whole boatload of us human beings on this earth, whether we like it or not. Did you see the second sentence in the definition? "One who has fallen from a better estate?"

That is an offense, my friends, unless you are rightly adjusted to the grace of God and know it is all of HIM. It is the offense that keeps many from receiving Him, to think they are poverty stricken before Almighty God. When we come to Christ, we have to admit we have nothing to give Him. He must do all for us. When I read this, I had an "Aha!!" moment flash into my soul.

The world has its little slogans and maxims that blind the eyes and dull the ears of people to the Truth of the Word of God. How many times have I heard this lie from the pit,

"God helps those who help themselves."

I challenge anyone who reads this to comment and show me one place in the Bible where it says that. I believe the first Beatitude says just the exact opposite. "He is so poor he can only obtain his living by begging."

But David knows God doesn't delight in watching us grovel. Once we come to Him, admitting that we have nothing to offer Him, He is like the father in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15: 11-32, who kills the fatted calf and throws a party for his long lost son. The angels rejoice over one sinner coming home!

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Ps. 51: 17.

That is only one verse, you say. Here is another I found in my Psalm study today while not even looking. In Psalm 6, David is very sick. He speaks of being "sorely vexed" even in his bones. The bones (Strong's Hebrew Lexicon #6106) "etsem" refer to his bodily essence, substance, or frame.

In Psalm 6: 2 David pleads with the Lord:

"Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed."

Well, since I knew what the Lord said about the poor in spirit, I was curious to know what the word weak meant in this verse. I looked it up on the Blue Letter Bible website ( to find the meaning of the word. It is Strong's #536, used only one time in the Old Testament, 'umlal. It means to languish, to droop, to hang down the head.

David said he was hanging his head down, he was weak. But that was in and of himself. Because just a few Psalms before, in Psalm 3, David said that the Lord was the lifter of his head, and that was when he running from his own son Absalom, trying to steal the Kingdom from him!

"But Thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head." Psalm 3: 3

The Apostle Paul also was afflicted with some affirmity after receiving a heavenly revelation in II Corinthians 12. He prayed three times for God to remove it. But God did not remove it. He let Paul remain in the state of utter weakness. Paul ended up saying that God's strength was made perfect through weakness.(II Cor. 12:9) I wonder what those prosperity teachers would tell Paul if he were to be in their congregration.

I breathe a sigh of relief. To me, this is good news. I am weak and I know it. I can sing the little song from my childhood days, "Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones (like me) to Him belong, they are weak (PTOCHOS-but that is OK, because....) He is STRONG!!!!