Thursday, June 27, 2013

Because He Loves Me...a Thought for the Ladies

Have you ever played the child's game while holding daisies in your hand, and as you pluck off the petals you say: "He loves me, He loves me not?" But if we played that game and it was Father God we were talking about, then we would be speaking complete foolishness.

For if we read our Bibles, we could never come to the conclusion "He loves me not." The Bible is a giant love letter from one end to the other, revealing God's love revealed to the infinite degree to a lost and hopeless human race who could not earn it or deserve it in a billion years.

"Yes," someone might say. "I've heard that a million times now."

But the real question is, "Do we believe that God really loves us and all that really entails?"

I speak from my own experience. Just recently, I had a chance to go see a doctor for a "free visit" so I thought I didn't need to consult my husband about it. If it didn't cost us anything, I reasoned, then I didn't need to check with him. But deep down, I was afraid that he would say no, so I just went ahead and did it anyway, not staying under his protective covering.

In the Bible, women are told to submit to their husbands for their very own protection. A woman can easily be deceived by the greatest deceiver of all time, as was demonstrated in the Garden of Eden way back in Genesis chapter 3. Eve willingly took the fruit from the serpent because she trulybelieved it would make her wise and be good for her. But Adam took the fruit from Eve because he loved Eve too much to be separated from her. He knew full well what he was doing though.

We women get ourselves into trouble when we don't trust that the Lord has put our husband over us for our protection. I didn't make it up, it is written in the Scriptures! And believe me, the first time I heard I had to submit in premarital counseling, I hated the very idea! In the natural, it does seem miserable and degrading,most certainly going against the grain of today's society.(Yet its commanded in I Peter 3:1, Eph. 5: 22, and Col. 3: 18 and follows in the footsteps of Christ, who submitted completely to the Father's will.)

When I returned from the doc's though, completely convinced that I now had the answer to my health problems and ready to invest a lot of hard earned money, I was ready to recruit my husband. He saw newfound hope for a cure for my problem and he went along with it.

But then I did more exploring. I looked up some names on the back of one brochure they had given me. I didn't like the huge marketing look to it all. I talked to a trusted Christian friend. She directed me to an article to read about the type of testing they did. After I read it, I groaned inwardly. I confessed my sin before the Lord.

All of this could have been avoided. I knew I should have asked my husband, even though it didn't involve money initially. When it got right down to it, I saw the reason I failed this test: I didn't believe that God loved me enough to provide the very best for me, even if my husband would have said NO. His NO would have been for my safety.

Submission is really not about you and your husband anyway. It is about you and the Lord. It is about trusting that He has allowed you to be with your man and that He will sovereignly guide you in your life through your husband. We ladies can battle that all we want, but early in my marriage I heard this Proverb and it froze me in my tracks:

Proverbs 14:1 "The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands."

Do you see how I could have hurt our finances? My husband went along but he told me if I would have asked in the first place he would have said no. We women have great power over our husbands.

Oh how I wish I would have applied Proverbs 14:1 part "a" from the minute I walked down the aisle! Thank God though, that He can redeem our mistakes:

Lamentations 3:21-3 "This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. [Through] the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. [They are] new every morning; Great [is] Your faithfulness."

Even if we have failed, God's mercies are fresh for tomorrow. Men crave our respect, even though society has ridiculed respect away from many of them. Have you noticed even the commercials make the men look stupid and the women look smart?

But the whole reason we can show respect and listen to our husbands, with God's enabling power, is because we are confident that God loves us and will meet our every need as we stay under the authority God has established for us as married women, and that is through our husbands, even if he is unsaved or ungodly. God is greater than that small difficulty and is still working all things for the good in your life if you are a God lover. (see Romans 8: 28)

Kenneth Wuest, expanded translation of I John 3: 1-3:

"Behold what exotic (foreign to the human heart) love the Father has permanently bestowed upon us, to the end that we may be named children (born-ones, bairns) of God. And we are. On this account the world does not have an experimental knowledge of us, because it has not come into an experiential knowledge of Him. Divinely loved ones, now born ones of God we are. And not yet has it been made visible what we shall be. We know absolutely that whenever it is made visible, like ones to Him we shall be, because we shall see Him just as He is. And every one who has this hope continually set on Him is constantly purifying himself just as that One is pure."

This is not our permanent dwelling place, so we don't have to be so comfortable here anyway. Let us concern ourself more about making sure we will be both close and pleasing to Christ when He comes back for us, and not have to shrink away from Him in shame. Amen?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Find Shelter before the Storm

Can you see the storm clouds on the horizon? Much as you may not want to see them, the sky continues to blacken as the world continues to spin. What is going on?

I read somber words in the book of Zephaniah today during my time with the Lord. He was the prophet in the time of Josiah, King of Judah, before Judah was destroyed by Babylon in 586 B.C. Although he spoke to the Southern Kingdom of Israel, who carried on David's royal line, he also was speaking to the whole world. He not only spoke of Judah's destruction but of the "Day of the Lord."

To those of us who study Bible prophecy we believe this day will come in the time called the Tribulation Period, a time that will come after the true Church has been removed from this planet. This will be a time of sorrow and destruction like no other, a time that no man on earth would ever want to be here to experience. Jesus informed us that when the antichrist, a man who pretends that he in fact, is God, sacrifices a pig in the Jewish Holy Temple in Jerusalem, that that would be the sign that would kick off the great tribulation. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 24: 21-4.

"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."

In Zephaniah today, correlating with the Matthew passage, Josiah's prophet sorrowfully foretold what would happen to Judah, and the earth in the last times. This agrees with what Jesus said.

Zephaniah 1: 14-18
"The great day of the LORD [is] near; [It is] near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. That day [is] a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers. I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the LORD; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse. Neither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the LORD's wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land."

Don't you see the symptoms already? People are distressed because silver and gold are failing them, the lands are being devoured before our eyes. It is just the thunder rumbling in the distance yet. It is warning ...find shelter. Are you on the outside?

There is a place of safety...You don't have to stay and face this storm here.

Did you notice in the above passage it says that God pours out wrath because men have sinned? Today, since the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of the Son of God there remains only one sin left that will not be atoned for. Do you know what that one sin is? Simple childlike faith in the Son of God.

Jesus gave us the answer in the book of John. He said to the Pharisees in John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am [He], you will die in your sins."

Wouldn't it be nice to know that as the headlines get more frightening each and every day, you do not have to vainly hope that things will somehow get better? Do you really think they will? As David wrote so long ago:

Psa 20:7 Some [trust] in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

King Josiah the king was spared being carried into captivity. Though his father Manasseh was an evil king, Josiah restored temple worship as a boy king and is remembered for being one of the godly kings of Judah. Zephaniah, after writing of gloom and despair for Judah, went on to speak of the love of God with some of the most tender words in all Scripture, in my opinion.

Zephaniah 3: 14-17
Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all [your] heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, [is] in your midst; You shall see disaster no more.In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet [you] with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

To anyone who has not come into the Place of Shelter yet, that is what the Lord of Love wants to do. He wants to quiet you with His Love, He wants to rejoice over you with singing! "How could He do that?" you might ask. You might think that your sins are too great for Him to forgive, too great for Him to endure.

But God's shoulders are/were strong enough! When He carried the cross up Golgotha hill for us all 2,000 years ago, He had you personally in His mind. His body and soul were strong enough to include the heinous wickedness of all of our sins. In His first Advent, He dealt sin the death blow. In His second Advent, He will vanquish evil forever. Through Hosea the prophet God says:

Hosea 14:4
I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely
for my anger has turned from them.

Why did God say that? Because His Son satisfied His justice on the cross forever, once for all time.

II Cor. 5: 14-5: For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

So now, whoever you are, whatever you've done, can come inside for shelter from the storm. I hear the thunder...see the flashes...hurry, come on in now.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Honor Your Father...That Your Days may be Long...

"'Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5: 16

Today is the day in which we honor our fathers for the role God has given them in our life. Whether you have had a situation of happiness or sorrow with your earthly Dad, God's principle remains the same, honor your father. As a little girl, I had what I call magical thinking toward my parents. I believed everything they told me, and thought they could make all of my problems go away. As I matured, I outgrew that kind of thinking and sadly came to realize that people, even my parents, could not solve my problems.

Even after walking with the Lord many years, I still leaned on the arm of the flesh for way too long. The Lord had to discipline me like an earthly father would to show me that He was the only one I could lean on. In my reading today, I cam across these words in Isaiah 31: 1:

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, [And] rely on horses, Who trust in chariots because [they are] many, And in horsemen because they are very strong, But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, Nor seek the LORD!"

That is exactly what I did for many years, by constantly running to people, even though I had the Bible and its multitude of wisdom. One day it occurred to me, God's verrrry slow learner, that He meant just what He said.

Isaiah continues in verse 2:

"Yet He also [is] wise and will bring disaster, And will not call back His words, But will arise against the house of evildoers, And against the help of those who work iniquity."

As I read verse 3 (which I have read many times before) a light bulb went off:

Now the Egyptians [are] men, and not God; And their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out His hand, Both he who helps will fall, And he who is helped will fall down; They all will perish together. (emphases are mine)

Worldly wisdom tells you if someone is nasty to you then you should be nasty back to them. Get them back with ferocity! It also says if you want to get rich, play the lottery often and maybe you'll hit one day, and then you won't have to work anymore. Don't worry about having integrity, nobody else does, so why should you? These are some of the things you might learn when you "go down to Egypt for help."

Dad taught me wisdom that lined up with things taught in the Bible. The chief morsel would have to be this:

Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise,(v.7) Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, (v.8) Provides her supplies in the summer, [And] gathers her food in the harvest.
(v.9) How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? (v.10) A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep-- (v. 11) So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.

Dad put up with my foolish complaining when he asked me to help him carry firewood back to the house that was chopped down over the hill. We would burn the wood in our family room fireplace. I was a "little continual dripper" like the nagging Proverbs wife in grade school!

"It's too cold out here, Dad!" I would start the whining after only carrying about two loads. Dad never minded a bit of cold, his blue eyes would twinkle like Santa Claus out there. He would just keep trudging and expect me to do the same.

I think that's why Dad singled me out to go help him, which I saw as a "grave injustice." Little did I know what Dad had to do when he was my age.Every morning he would be up before dawn to feed and care for all animals in the family barn. On the Iowa farm, Dad only had one pair of shoes to wear to school and had to pay his own way to get through college. It was a feat that no one else in his family did. I was a foolish ingrate, but thank God for His mercy in showing me the way to repentance.

I thank God for my hard working earthly father. To this day, Proverbs 6: 6-11 has never characterized him. He works from sunup to sundown at age eighty-one. His mind is sharp as a pin. He honors the Lord with the firstfruits of his increase. (Proverbs 3:9) He delights to go to the house of the Lord, and fellowships with his wife of fifty-five years in the Word every day.

No matter where you are with your Dad today, it is never too late to make a fresh start. Even if he did you wrong, God put him in your life for some reason. Maybe you will never know it until eternity. I encourage you to thank God for your earthly father. In doing so, your faith will be built up and your burden will be lightened. And that is what Christ came to do. (Matthew 11: 28-30)

1Th 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

If you are estranged from your earthly Dad, there is no time better than "now" to be the first person to take a step in reconciliation. Even if he won't, you'll know in your heart you tried. You will have peace, your days on earth will not be filled with anxiety, with strife, with a constant running from yourself and others.

But last of all, even if your relationship with your earthly Dad wasn't what you hoped it would be, in your sorrow remember that God's love will never, ever change towards you:

I John 3: 1 assures us ultimately:

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don't recognize that we are God's children because they don't know Him.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Where's the Peace?

2 Cor 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him v.15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,everywhere. v.16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?

"And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you. Amen." Romans 16: 20

One day soon, this crushing will be a reality.

Peace...the world clamors for it. But without knowing the God of Peace they cannot find it.

"For when they say, Peace and safety! then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape." I Thessalonians 5: 3

Isaiah 2:3 Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2: 4 He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.

When will this happen? We can never effect this "peace on earth" by ourselves! Can people suddenly have a change of heart on their own and the whole world will suddenly become good on its own? Not a chance! No, this will only be when the Messiah returns and is with us once again! All men will have to make their choice as to whose side they are on: with Christ or with the Devil and his angels. There is NO middle ground.

This weekend I attended a cultural event honoring a famous photographer, born in our local area, who certainly beheld some of the world's most tragic moments in the 21st century. He brought them to our attention through his famous work. He captured them with a click,and some of these shots even changed history. Yet at the end of his life he despaired at all of the destructions he had witnessed and possibly didn't have personal faith that Someone had come into human history, Someone who cared about every detail of these tragedies, every single loss. That This Man was the solution to them. He was the One who had borne every sorrow, every grief. (See Isaiah 53.) Faith in His person mitigates the sharp blows of life on this tragic spinning ball we call "Earth." For believers, we are only pilgrims passing through, the Earth is not our Mother, but God is our Father and Jesus is our Brother and Best Friend.

The Beatles sang, "There will be an answer" in Let it Be.I like to sing to myself, "Jesus is the answer." You see, no matter what the problem is, the answer was solved at the cross of Christ. Tetelestai! That does not minimalize in any way the suffering or tragedies of man down throughout the ages. But a Perfect God has provided a Perfect Solution to any one who is willing to "Look Up." The problem is never with God but always with man and his unbelief. That is the only sin that will keep one out of heaven.

John 8:24: "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

When we behold human injustices, simply asking God why, while acknowledging that He has all knowledge and we do not, (instead of shaking our fists angrily at Him) can be the first step in getting to know this Person who would be so kind as to bear our sins on a tree of wood.

In knowing Him as our Saviour, He gives us Peace.Ephesians 2: 14-18 tells us:

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When the Enemy Taunts

"Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me." Micah 7: 8

Did you ever think you had a troubled situation under control but then it comes back and taunts you once again? I call these experiences "dark nights of the soul." The picture above reveals the state of my emotions when this gets the worst of me: bleak, hopeless, gray, all while an oppressive voice haunts with, "Where's your God now?"

Certain situations in my life can only be conquered by an an aggressive onslaught of Scripture BELIEVED when my failures are brought to mind. The passage above was condensed from a longer portion I wrote in my notebook this morning from Micah chapter 7. Though written thousands of years ago, it could have been written today. So many people I talk to are walking around with hearts broken from one kind of trial or another. Many have given up on the Christian life, or worse yet, think that God has given up on them.

Micah 7:7 But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

7:8 Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.

Also these words of comfort from the end of the book:

7:18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.

7:19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our [fn] sins into the depths of the sea.

Mic 7:20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.

This was the latest among many Scriptures I have added to this notebook. It is time to replace the lies with the Truth of God's Word.

John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. v.32 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

If we want the Mind of Christ, we have to be willing to change our thought systems, not let the enemy have sway over them. How can we do this? By saturating our minds with the Truth by abiding in His Word, as Jesus said. What does abide mean?

abide is meno, #3306 in Strong's Greek Lexicon, and it means:

1) to remain, abide

a) in reference to place

1) to sojourn, tarry

2) not to depart

a) to continue to be present

b) to be held, kept, continually

(In thinking on the Word of God, my added interpretion here)

b) in reference to time

1) to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure

a) of persons, to survive, live

c) in reference to state or condition

1) to remain as one, not to become another or different

2) to wait for, await one

I write this in order to help someone else who may be struggling. You are not alone.It is the end times, and the enemy does not want you to continue in the Word of God. He wants to distract and destroy any interest we have at all in God's Word. The more you go on in the Word, the more of a threat you become. Don't be afraid. Press on.(Phil. 3:13) Read the back of the Book. Christ wins, and He shares the spoil with all who identify with Him now, in time.