Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Not even one thing...

Luke 12:25-30 25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"

Confession time. I have been a worrier all of my life. Let me correct that. I was a worrier, but I am now a new creation. That is the way God sees me, so that is the way I should see myself. But I was thinking a lot today about my history as a worrier. I actually used to think the above verse meant that Jesus said not to worry about those things, but it was OK to worry about other things, the things He did not mention. Things like whether or not people liked you, or whether or not a certain job would come through, etc., etc. That just shows how little I really knew about God. It was pitiful, really. And what a slap in God's face, after all He did for me.

Many years ago, when I was still in elementary school, a kindly neighbor (who I blogged on here about before) had a Good News Club for kids at her home once a week after school. I still remember seeing her face greeting me when I walked in the door. You see, I was worrying back then, in the fourth grade, and she was a good listener. I told her the things I worried about and she helped me with answers from the Bible. The biggest help she gave was telling us all how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Each week we had to learn Memory Verses. My sister and I cheated, we only learned them right before we ran down into her yard for the club meeting at her home next door to ours. But she acted all proud of us anyways, like we had done some great thing learning our Bible verses. Still, we managed to get them all recited, and our prize was a New Testament in a modern version called "The Greatest is Love." She wrote a verse in my Bible in the front that she thought would be a great help to me. Of course, it is a familiar verse:

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7

Now, her fight is over and she is with the Lord, but I remember her kind deeds with gratitude and look forward to seeing Mrs.P on the other side. Somewhere through the passage of years I have lost the Bible she gave me, but I can still see in my mind her giving it to me and the verse she wrote inside it. I thought I "knew" that verse, but every time an emergency came along, it seemed I still pressed the panic button instead of applying Philippians 4:6-7.

Well, let me tell you, I may have been able to recite that verse, but I know I did not "know" that verse. Yesterday, though, I had another little "emergency" come up and I felt like I wanted to press the panic button again. I can't go into detail but suffice it to say I chose to sing songs of praise when I was tempted to panic and I felt the most amazing peace wash over me, in spite of the tight place I found myself in. Suddenly I just wanted to praise Him more and more, He had given me the peace of God which passed all understanding which guarded my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. I did not have to strain or struggle to get it either. It was simply a gracious gift. In the smallest way, I experienced the truth of that precious verse.

This morning I read in Philippians 4 and I read again Paul's instructions about not being anxious. He didn't just say, don't worry about things. Kenneth Wuest in his Greek New Testament Expanded Translation said this of Philippians 4:6-7:

"Stop worrying about even one thing, but in everything by prayer whose essence is that of worship and devotion by supplication which is a cry for your personal needs, with thanksgiving let your requests for the things asked for be made known in the presence of God, and the peace of God which surpasses all power of comprehension shall mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (emphasis mine)

Now if anyone reading this does not know Christ as their personal Savior there is plenty to be worried about. Things are getting too crazy to just be passed off as "nothing" anymore. Jesus said of these times: 25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Luke 21: 25-26) (emphasis mine)

You, too, can have this peace that passes understanding. Now is the time to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who personally bore your sins on the cross of Calvary. For His return could be at any moment. You do not want to be left behind for the judgement that will follow on planet earth, called the Great Tribulation. Today is the day of salvation! He knew every sin you ever committed and already died for it. He also wants to take your worries and bear those also for you, for they are too much for you.Hear His gracious call today, before it is too late!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

He says to His children and to any and all who are longing to come into His family:

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

And for those of us who are saved, yes, it is really true, we do not have to worry about even one thing! Why? For we have a Heavenly Father who hears us when we call to Him with every single one of our needs. It is a much better way than worrying. Trust me, I know.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Running Out of Time...

Phil.3:20-21 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

I've had this funny feeling lately, like I'm running out of time. Surely I can't be the only one? When I see projects to take on or a book I want to read, I often hear a little voice in the back of my head, "But you're running out of time!

I'm thinking more and more about how many days might be left to me here on Planet Earth. Maybe that sounds morbid, but Moses asked God to help him with this when he wrote in Psalm 90:12: "So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom." If I knew exactly how many I had left, I would eliminate a lot of things I do that are needless wastes of time.

I was thinking today that it was thirty-five years ago exactly that Mount St. Helen's erupted on the other side of the country. I remember this because I was a senior in high school and had a pitiful lack of knowledge how devastating this eruption was. Now thirty-five years have frittered away and I am a grandmother with most of my life gone. I never could have dreamed how much our world could change in thirty-five years, how much privacy would be lost, how much technology would evolve, all in the name of "progress." (To be honest, I think I felt safer back then.)

But was there ever really a time of safety on this planet though? No, not since Adam's fall. Now, though, it seems everything is on a roller-coaster ride to the finish, and it feels like we are almost there, folks. That's why I say I feel like I am running out of time. Even unbelievers comment that something unprecedented is changing before our very eyes.

Isn't it strange that the Apostle Paul said time was short thousands of years ago?

I Cor. 7:29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. (emphasis mine)

There are two pathways, two roads, we can pursue with the little time we are given. One leads to life, the other to destruction and death. The world screams at us to join with them as they search for happiness on their road and we can fool ourselves and join along with them, but in the end we will find we have been deceived. It seems like we will have safety with them in numbers, but that is only an illusion, the only real safe place is with Jesus and in occupying our time with the things of His Kingdom until He comes. For He really is coming! The second time He will be coming for Judgment, for He has already been a merciful sacrifice, dying for the sins of the world upon the cross. It is up to us to believe or reject it.

I Thessalonians 5: "1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 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. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him." (emphasis mine)

So, with that little bit of earthly time that is left, I hope to use it profitably. Here are some ideas:

++++I can meditate on His Word day and night. (Ps.1:2)

++++I can pray for the saints.(Ephesians 6:18)

++++I can build myself up in my most holy faith. (Jude 1:20)

++++I can wait for and look for His appearing. (Titus 2:13)

++++I can tell others who may want to know Him as well. (I Peter 3:15)

++++I can thank Him and praise Him for all of His goodness to me. (Ps.34:1)

Can you think of any other ways to use the few precious moments left on Planet Earth before the King returns? I would love to hear them!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Yes, I'm a Mom but...

Somehow today I am supposed to be elevated to almost a godlike status somehow? I am supposed to feel my worth in how well I am treated by my children?

I have often wondered about this. You see, I have three children. Two of them are
still in contact with me but one has sadly left the fold. So days like this one, Mother’s Day, can be difficult for me. It is hard for me not to think of the “what if’s” and “if only’s.”

We mothers are not gods. We have feet of clay, I have learned. I mothered much the way I was mothered, warts and all. Not to say that my Mom is not a great Mom. Guess what? My Mom mothered the way she was mothered, and her mother mothered the way she was mothered.
The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, you know.

So what’s the point of making a big deal of Mother’s Day? Well, we take a day to honor and remember the things she did for us, which should not be limited to just one day a year. We are admonished to honor our parents in the Word of God everyday so that our lives would go well with us. There reaches a point in human maturity when one stops blaming their parents for all of their problems and takes on responsibility for their own life. Yes, we all have been handed a raw deal. It is called the fall of man and it started when Eve took the fruit from the serpent. Ever since then, there has been no perfect mother, and no perfect family. Our excuses might sound good before men, but they won’t stand before God. We each will stand alone.

So, on Mother’s Day, I did get very kind thanks from two of my children and I am quite grateful for that. But could I be happy if not even one of them acknowledged me? That one is a tough one to think about, but if I let my mind think with the Word of God, I could say “yes,” I could still be happy.

You see, my happiness should not depend on the kind of card I get, the gifts I get, the adulation from others. It all boils down to this: ONE Person came down from His heavenly abode and all His glory and took on the likeness of human flesh to become one of us, made from dust and dirt. HE loved me enough to hang on the cross for me until all my sins, and everyone else’s too, were paid for. It comes down to these words describing Christ from the book of Galatians chapter 2, verse 20:
“who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” (emphasis added)

Surely that is better than a card or gift on Mother’s Day, is it not? Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for what I have, but the greatest gift of all that remains is LOVE. His Love, demonstrated by giving Himself for us unconditionally on Calvary’s Cross. It was more of a sacrifice than any mother ever made for her child, it was more than any love one person showed for another, indeed, it was a love that was not from this world.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. I John 3:1 NASB

If a believing mother would happen to read this on Mother’s Day and for some reason is heartbroken for one reason or another, you still can rejoice, no matter what, for you have received the greatest gift of all: the love of God in Christ Jesus!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Most Lonely Moment

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” Galatians 3:13

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." Galatians 4: 4-5

I was reading Matthew 26 this morning, feeling awe as I did so. It tells the story of Christ's time in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his ultimate betrayal by Judas. I have read this story many times before, but it touched me differently this morning. Here was Jesus, God, but also a man. He now knew that "His hour" had come. None of the rest of us in the human race can know what all that entailed, but we can be assured it was a horrifying thought for Him to realize the exact time drew near that He must be separated from His Father, and be abandoned alone to the tree.

He asked His three closest friends on earth to stay awake and watch with Him as He prayed for strength in the garden. If ever He felt vulnerable, it must have been then. Three times He asked, and three times they failed Him.

Incident #1
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (emphasis mine)

Jesus rebukes them by telling them to watch and pray. But somehow they did not or could not hear Him.

Incident #2
42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

Can you imagine how lonely He must have felt at that moment? He knew that soon the sins of the whole world would be on His back and yet His closest three friends did not seem to care enough to stay awake for one hour!

Incident #3- the Final One
44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

There was no more time for rebuking or for staying awake, for now His betrayer had come for the express purpose of turning Jesus over to the authorities. His closest friends: Peter, James and John could not stay awake with Him during the one hour when He was the loneliest Man in the world. I curiously noted that Jesus said to Judas, His betrayer,

50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”

He called Judas "friend!" His closest friends fell asleep when He desired their prayers and now the one who pretended to be a follower turns Him in to the authorities, yet Jesus still called him a friend. He knew what Judas would eventually do, and He knew why Judas had come, yet that did not stop Him from calling him "friend." Jesus knew it all and as a human being, He felt rejection by His closest friends and by the world. On the cross, He was rejected as His own Father in heaven turned His face away while Christ became a sin offering for us, in order that we could have His very own righteousness. (See II Corinthians 5:21)

The thought that Jesus, in His humanity, felt the same pains that I feel is of great comfort to me. Though my troubles could never match His, just to know that He , as a man, knows exactly what I am going through gives me courage to somehow keep on keeping on. The fact that He was alone, utterly and desperately alone, because of my sins, is reason for me to praise Him for the rest of eternity. Also, I thank my God and Father that He did not leave His Son dead in the grave but gave Him resurrection from the dead. Death no more has any hold on Him, nor on us who share in His life!

Romans 6:8-11
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Isaiah 53:5

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Jesus: Our One Constant in a World of Uncertainty

Psalm 78:15-16

He split the rocks in the wilderness,
And gave them drink in abundance like the depths.
He also brought streams out of the rock,
And caused waters to run down like rivers.

Did you ever wonder if you understood what's really going on in our world? The headlines grow more ominous with each passing day. Societal norms that were certain when we were kids are no longer tolerated. Marriages have crumbled, our nation is tottering, the economy teeters on the brink of collapse. In fact,if you don't agree with the political correctness of the day, one is derided as a bigot of some sort. We were raised to grow up wanting the herd's approval, and so are afraid to go against the status quo by standing up for the truth. In fact, what is the truth? Everything is relative, or so we have been taught, there is no right and wrong anymore. As I read this morning in the book of Judges:

"In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (emphasis mine) Judges 21:25

But Jesus warned us this all was going to happen. In fact, it happened even in the days of ancient Israel.

Isaiah says, in chapter 5:

20 ​​"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
​​Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
​​Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

21 ​​Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
​​And prudent in their own sight!

22 ​​Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
​​Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
23 ​​Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
​​And take away justice from the righteous man!

24 ​​Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble,
​​And the flame consumes the chaff,
​​So their root will be as rottenness,
​​And their blossom will ascend like dust;
​​Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,
​​And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 ​​Therefore the anger of the LORD is aroused against His people;
​​He has stretched out His hand against them
​​And stricken them,
​​And the hills trembled.
​​Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets.

​​For all this His anger is not turned away,
​​But His hand is stretched out still."

There is nothing new under the sun. The corruption that plagues us today corrupted the nation of Israel before they were carried away into captivity.

Solomon, son of David, also spoke of a time of confusion in the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 10:

5 ​​"There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
​​As an error proceeding from the ruler:
6 ​​Folly is set in great dignity,
​​While the rich sit in a lowly place.
7 ​​I have seen servants on horses,
​​While princes walk on the ground like servants."

If you want to really know what is going on, the best place to look is the Bible (not the local news or men's opinion) and if you read to the end of the book, you will find out who the real winners are. Though the great men of the earth strut about and make their plans for world domination, God says in Psalm 2:1-6:

Why do the nations rage,
​​And the people plot a vain thing?
2 ​​The kings of the earth set themselves,
​​And the rulers take counsel together,
​​Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 ​​“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
​​And cast away Their cords from us.”

4 ​​He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
​​The Lord shall hold them in derision.
5 ​​Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
​​And distress them in His deep displeasure:
6 ​​“Yet I have set My King
​​On My holy hill of Zion.”

Our times grow more and more confusing, the headlines more and more perplexing. These rulers and dignitaries actually think their plans will succeed. On the other hand, as believers in Christ we know there is just one steady and sure anchor, Jesus our Great High Priest who finished the work and is sitting at God's right hand until, as it says further on in Psalm 2:

7 ​​“I will declare the decree:
​​The LORD has said to Me,
​‘​You are My Son,
​​Today I have begotten You.
8 ​​Ask of Me, and I will give You
​​The nations for Your inheritance,
​​And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
9 ​​You shall break them with a rod of iron;
​​You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”

(emphasis mine)

The writer to the book of Hebrews makes clear to those of us living in these days that He now only speaks to us through the person of His Son, that He alone is the One constant thing to look to and rely upon in an ever-changing world.

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4 (emphasis mine)

Those who put their trust in the Lord will not be ashamed. Let us rehearse and recall the names of God and apply them to ourselves personally in times of trouble: God my shield, my provider, my protector, my refuge, my fortress, my deliverer, my rock. Jesus is the only sure thing in this world of confusion. As I put my reliance in Him, He will hold onto me, as indeed He holds onto everything in the universe. Finally, one glorious Day He'll roll this world up like a scroll, creating a brand new one that will never be corrupted again.