Thursday, November 28, 2013

A THANKFILLED DAY

Traditional Turkey with all the trimmings
Decked out for the Holiday Meal
Speaking out loud all that you are thankful for does many positive things.

  1. It instantly reduces your stress levels
  2. It lowers your blood pressure
  3. It inspires a natural smile, which lights your entire face up
  4. It steadies your heartbeat
  5. It leaves you with a general sense of well being

I am so very thankful for each and every soul God has allowed us the privilege
to share the gospel with, lead to a saving knowledge of Christ, disciple to maturity,
invite into fellowship with the Body and get to know personally.

I'm thankful for His peace as I struggle with life's difficulties
I'm thankful for friends who help carry the burdens
I'm thankful for family who accept me as I am
I'm thankful for opportunities to know Him more intimately
I'm thankful for my husband (I'd need a lot of pages to fill that in! and he tells me
to add he is thankful for his beautiful wife)
I'm thankful for the forgiveness I've received which enables me to forgive others

May you find yourself smiling uncontrollably and laughing right out loud with the JOY OF THE LORD this Day of Thanks Holiday!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Definitive TRUTH

I have a confession to make.  I am not a Bible scholar.  Oh, I've been reading the Good Book for 47 years now.  I have attended bible classes, completed the ministerial program for credentialing and participated in and taught Bible studies for over 30 years.  I spent three years learning the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew of the Bible, studied the cultural influences at work in those who wrote the words inspired by the Holy Spirit and prayed for wisdom and understanding from God through all of it.  But I'm no scholar.  I would never profess to be an expert or pretend I understand or can explain every verse, every seeming contradiction and I would never declare that I know it so well that I would unequivocally state I know the TRUTH it expounds without doubt of any kind.

I know a few things unequivocally.  I know that in the beginning, God, who already existed and will always exist, created the heavens and the earth.  I know He is Love and in expressing that Love He created Man and made them male and female in His own image.  I know He gave free will to both the Angels and the Man He created in order that we could freely choose to worship and obey Him.  I know Lucifer, created to be the Angel of Light, and 1/3 of all the Angels chose not to worship or obey and were cast out of Heaven.

I know that Man sinned and every man since has been born into sin.  I know God cast Himself in human form and came to earth to redeem Man from sin.  I know that if any living person confesses Jesus as Lord, believes in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead after He was crucified to pay the penalty for our sin and repents of their sin, God forgives and washes us clean.  I know we become new creatures in Christ when that occurs and that Heaven rejoices over all who do.

I know that when we pray, God hears and responds.  The response isn't always the one we were hoping for, or it doesn't come as quickly or in the form we desired, but there is always a response from God, even if we fail to recognize it.

I know that God exists as One unified God manifesting in three persons, as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  I know that the spirit realm is as real and has more powerful effect upon us as this physical realm we live in until our physical bodies die.  I know that God created Man to be Eternal, and our confession of Him as Lord determines our Eternal place either in darkness, separate from Him or in His Presence for Eternity.

All the other stuff?  Some of it I'm not so sure of.  Some I'm fairly sure is rules and regulations man made up to make himself feel better about himself, or make himself feel like he's in control of things he has no control over at all.  Some of it I think has great significance to us, and some I don't think is very important in the scheme of Eternity at all.  Some is designed to help us move closer to the Lord.  Some has been twisted to trick us into moving farther away from God.

I know that we argue the details and meaning of scripture as if we actually have a say in what is TRUTH, and that doesn't glorify God, who called us before the foundations of the world were laid in place to walk with Him in Unity and know the Joy of Salvation. The truth is simply that we are subject to the Living God who created us and all that is surrounding us.  The TRUTH is Jesus, according to what He Himself declared.

I am 100% certain the TRUTH is not for us to choose for ourselves what it is or isn't truth, just as I am 100% certain we are subject to the TRUTH as God presents it.  It is for us to discover His truth, not our own version of truth.  Because one day, each of us will stand on our own before Him with no way to hide anything of our hearts and be judged by the Only Wise God Who is TRUTH.

The only covering allowed is Jesus.  Nothing and no one else.  He Who is TRUTH will speak on our behalf.
The only true choice in life, death and Eternity any of us has for 100% certainty is the choice to choose Jesus or reject Him.The truth is we have no real way to say we "know" the truth for certain, all we can do is be clothed in Him.

I choose Jesus.  What about you?


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bible "hero's"?

As we read about "hero's" in the Bible, those giants of FAITH, do you - like me, think about how wonderful it would be if we could only figure out how to live like that?  Actually putting FAITH into action seemingly without any effort on our part,totally trusting God for our daily sustenance, for everything we need from the least to the greatest?  Imagine speaking out with great boldness about the wonders of God and then BABAM! they come to pass?  Who wouldn't want to follow your God if they were seeing in your life the miracles and signs and wonders happening, right?

What I'm learning as I continue to study Gods Word and seek wisdom through prayer, is that the men and women of the Bible were regular folks like you and me.  They had no more faith, no more insight, no more ability than any of the rest of us.  They wrestled with their feelings, they had failures as deep and wide as we experience.  In researching their lives, however, I've discovered one thing they all had in common.  In spite of it all - in spite of every failure, every shortcoming, every sin, every mistake, every fear - they had a WILLING HEART.

faith + a willing heart = a life balanced by wonder and joy!


Romans 12:3 tells us we all have a measure of faith.  So our lack isn't in faith.  God has given each of us faith.  So we've got it, even during those times we aren't trusting, or operating in faith.  Over and over in the New Testament letters believers are encouraged to "LET" certain things occur, let them happen or be in their hearts, their minds or their actions.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body

The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

[ The Humbled and Exalted Christ ] Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, 


But let us who are of the day be sober,

This "letting" comes out of our free will.  It comes about through a heart WILLING to be obedient, willing to be submissive, willing to yield itself to the work and leading of the Holy Spirit.  It is glorious when it all comes together and that is when we see God do the most amazing things! A willing heart is patient and holds steadfast.  It steadily remains true to the truth God has spoken when things are not so great.  When bad things are all that seem to be happening.  When sad or hurtful or confusing things occur.

With a willing heart, though, even when we are standing on the thin wire of our faith, waiting to see what God will do, there is such a sense of excitement and anticipation.  Like Abram, packing up his family and simply heading out, going where God would send him, without knowing before hand what he would encounter or even what his destination was.  Like Joseph, holding fast to the vision of his life God had given as he sat in prison for all those years, holding on and trusting that God would do what He said He would do.  Like Samuel, so young when he answered Gods call!! It is exciting being in constant contact through prayer with the Father, for even the simplest decision!  When we put it in His hands and walk by faith, amazing wonders occur!

Read about Abram, who would be renamed Abraham.  Read the story of Joseph, of Samuel, and you will discover that every moment of their lives were not just about signs and miracles and wonders.  They had struggles in life, trials to overcome, tough situations to deal with.  There were plenty of opportunities for them to turn away from the Lord, to "let" sadness or depression or despair to rule their lives.  But you will find that their faith, faith like the faith you have in your life, was accompanied by a willing heart, willing to obey, to surrender to the Lord, and the results were miraculous.

Let faith mix with a willing heart in your life, and watch and see what wonders God will work!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

ON WINGS LIKE EAGLES

MOUNT UP ON WINGS AS EAGLES!
James 1:2-4  My brethren, count it all JOY when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be prefect and complete, lacking nothing!

When I read a verse of scripture like James wrote here, I find there are several questions I need to ask and have answered before the application to my life and my situations reveals itself.  Usually, by working my way backwards, from the end to the beginning reveals the greatest truths.

In this case, before I can grab hold of and reap the benefit of being able to “count it all joy”, there must be a testing of my faith, but that testing is supposed to produce a fruit – patience.  And that fruit has to be allowed to work in me, so that I will be brought to the place where I am complete, whole, without lack, which will then enable me to count it all joy even when my situation isn’t joyful.

Then, like Joseph was able at the time he was sold into slavery and later cast into prison, I will have what I need in order to hold on in trusting faith to the truth God has revealed to me, never wavering from it, through whatever trials and tribulations come my way, continuing to not only think right thoughts, but to behave in a righteous manner that glorifies and honors God my Lord and Savior.

To even begin to step in that direction, I need a greater understanding of patience.  If I brush it off too quickly, if I don’t dig into the full meaning and grab hold of it in all it’s depth and width and height and fullness, I will lack, I will not be complete and perfect, and I will not have what I need to hold fast during the testing times of my faith.  When a hard trial comes, I will fold and give in, and then in anger turn to the Lord and ask that ever haunting question “Why, God? Why?”

Patience.  It means to endure or to wait.  But it means more.  It means having the capacity to endure waiting, delay or provocation without becoming angry or upset.  That was what set Joseph apart and that is what allowed his faith to not just pass the testing, but to shine to the end that others saw the light shining from Joseph and were drawn to him.  Were inspired to trust him and to put him in positions of trust.  He didn’t just “endure” his time as a slave in Potiphars house.  

In rejecting what others would excuse as his “right” to be angry about what his brothers had done, he choose to allow patience to have its perfect way in him.  Without a bad attitude, he was able to serve Potiphar well, with all his attention and good intentions, which resulted in his being made the head of Potiphars household affairs. 

When cast into prison, having already taken the steps that moved him forward in developing his capacity to patiently endure without anger, he continued to grow in patient endurance, which enabled him to make the best of his horrible situation.  The keeper of the prison noticed the difference in Josephs attitude which made a difference in Josephs behavior and the conversations Joseph engaged in.  This is what led the jailer to put Joseph in a position of leadership.  This is what set Joseph apart.  It wasn’t some mystical, magical trick or special anointing God had given only to Joseph.  It was Joseph following the principles of Gods Word which is TRUTH, and those principles bringing forth exactly what was promised by God – patience.  Trust.  Faith that God was working all things together for good even when the things themselves were not good.

These exact same principles work for us when we follow them.  Capacity to patiently endure without mistreating others, mistrusting God or falling into a pit of despair and self pity is no more mystical than letting the Holy Spirit lead and guide you so fruit will be produced in your life.  Fruit that blesses you, honors God and draws others near to ask “How can I get some of what you have?”  That’s when opportunity presents itself to you, for you to witness Christ, to share the gospel, to tell others of the love and grace and mercy of God.  God is no respecter of persons, but He does respect obedience to His principles and commands and obedience results in JOY, no matter what the situation is.


My brothers and sisters in Christ, count it all JOY when you fall into various troubling times, and practice patience, that your capacity will be increased, that your influence for Christ will be widened and that your own FAITH will be found true when tested.  Understanding this gives whole new meaning to one of the verses oft quoted:

Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait (patiently endure without getting angry or upset) on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

May the Lord our God bless you this week with opportunity to increase your capacity to wait patiently on Him, and may the blessings of peace and joy be yours as you endure this test of your faith, in Jesus name, AMEN!