Order or Chaos?

As I stopped at an intersection of two highways on my way home from church one Sunday, I noticed that cars from two other directions were also stopped. This light took a long time to change because of its location, and we all sat, waiting. No one moved and I thought how senseless that was: that several cars sat stopped and no one could move. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of pictures I’d seen on TV of traffic in third world countries where everyone went all the time, cars bumper to bumper. How could you ever turn left, I’d thought? No one gave anyone else an opportunity to do anything, other than follow the car in front of them. What chaos!

Just as I thought of that chaos, the Holy Spirit spoke to me about what chaos occurs in our lives if we don’t allow God to guide us in all we do. He has a plan for our lives and will show us that plan if we give Him time. Often we’re so busy running from one thing to another, we’re exhausted and don’t even finish all we start or need to get done. Following God’s will for our lives brings clarity and order, just as people obeying traffic lights keeps accidents from happening because traffic flow is orderly.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139:15-16 New Living Translation)

Sometimes since then the thought of order and chaos returns when I’m stopped at a light and waiting while no one moves because there’s no traffic the direction the light is green. Yet, I’d rather sit and enjoy the order traffic lights bring than to experience the chaos of everyone going all the time with no controls.

Am I in chaos or am I allowing the Holy Spirit to bring order to my life?

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The Fog

As my car crawled along the road, I tried to keep up with the truck in front of me so I could continue following his lights. That way I could tell better how the road twisted and turned, praying anyone coming from the opposite direction drove carefully and stayed on their side of the highway. While I’ve driven in fog previously, this was thicker than any I’d ever encountered, so I breathed a sigh of relief when that truck pulled out in front of me, giving me guidance by his tail lights.

At times I’ve gone through periods of spiritual fog, hardly able to see the way ahead. The way continued dark for miles, it seemed. God’s voice looked like it had disappeared, and I couldn’t find which direction to go, so I kept doing those things I knew to do even though I wasn’t satisfied. Finally, the light of Jesus came to my rescue, and even though fog still surrounded me, I followed that bit of light to my destination where I could see clearly.

This fog also comes with our emotions. They appear to have become numb or to have died because of heart-break or harm someone has caused us. We simply can’t see our way out of the confusion and pain. “Why did this happen,” we ask. “What did I do wrong,” we continue the self-blame game. Certainly, we had a part to play, but sometimes that part is to get out of a situation that continually harms us. Then we wonder “Am I strong enough to do this? How will I manage by myself?” We feel surrounded by doubts and insufficiency on every side and don’t yet see those lights of Jesus pulling out in front of us to show us the road ahead. That’s when we bow down in surrender and simply tell Jesus we don’t know how to come out of this darkness and depend on His truth to guide us. We must stake our heart on knowing that God’s Word is true and that He loves us beyond measure, trusting Him to lead us back into the light.

Difficult decisions often bring this same foggy effect mentally. We weigh the pros and cons, but both seem to have unintended and unwanted consequences. We don’t know which way to go and again fog surrounds us. That’s when I’ve determined to set aside two or three hours that I’m going to stay in Father’s presence until I get an answer. I don’t do this feeling stubborn or hard-headed but rather surrender myself and agree to submit to God’s will. It takes uninterrupted time, but I’ve always received an answer to my issue of what decision to make.

I’ve learned that when I rush ahead and make my own decision at such times, I later regret it. But when mental, emotional or spiritual fog surrounds me and I surrender to God while waiting for His light to appear, He always shows me the way to a good destination.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:5-7 New Living Translation).

Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21 NLT).

I AM!

As I praised God a few days ago, I named many of His attributes and then His names, such as Jehovah Jireh, meaning the God who provides (the ram in the bush for Abraham; see Genesis 22:13-14.) With force the name I Am came to my mind. At that instant, I saw the power and the glory in that name. When God told Moses to tell the Israelites who sent him to bring them out of bondage to the Egyptians, He said to tell them I AM has sent you.

We need names for God and His character attributes to help us understand just Who He is and what He is like. Words like Father, Lord God Almighty and characteristics like holy and loving, righteous and forgiving. But God himself doesn’t need any modifiers. He is Who He is. I AM, the same yesterday, today and forever. He was before anything created and called all things into being. God will be after everything on this earth is gone.

We say I am and give our name, perhaps our occupation or define ourselves as parent, daughter or son. I’ve had the experience of learning there are many people named Sandra Meyer in the world with over 100 I counted on Facebook. A few years ago, I found 17 named Sandra Meyer in Texas when I got doctor bills from two different doctors, whom I’d also seen. Even though I get tired of having to give my birth date at the doctor’s or pharmacy, I also am no longer getting another Sandra Meyer’s bills. While I’m an individual and possess unique qualities and weaknesses, just like everyone else, my name is certainly not unique.

God’s name of I AM is unique, however. No one else exists like God. God is all-powerful, always present, and all-knowing. No one else can begin to claim those characteristics. Most people groups choose their god, but the Jewish people were chosen by their God, and from there comes Christianity because of Jesus Christ. He also chose you and me, as John 15:16 states, “You have not chosen me; but I have chosen you.” Most other religions base their ideas on someone who has died, but Christianity bases on Jesus Christ, the Son of God Almighty, who rose from the dead. We rejoice in what Jesus has done and continues to do for us, knowing that our spirits will continue to live eternally with I AM, even after our bodies die.

Do you know I AM? If not, you’re missing so much. He gave His precious Son’s life so that you might know Him intimately. That’s His greatest desire! He can change your life and make it immensely better. After I’d been searching for a closer walk with God as a Christian, He put a song in my heart when I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life as well as my Savior. I was baptized in the joy of the Holy Spirit and became much more aware of His guidance. I began to know my holy Father continually better until He became my Daddy-God, as I pictured myself being a little girl crawling up on His lap when I hurt and needed His soothing ways. Other times I see myself as Isaiah in the book of his name, chapter 6 or as gazing upon the I AM God in Revelation 4.

Wouldn’t you want to know the great I AM in a more intimate way? It’s so easy. Simply accept Jesus as the One who gave His life so all your wrong-doings can be forgiven and you’ll become a child of Holy God. Then study your Bible and pray whatever prayers the Holy Spirit gives you. Let God be your good, good Father with only love for you, no matter what!

Who Am I?

Do you have low self-esteem? Many of us do, and for most of my life I did. Circumstances work to make us feel this way, though our situations may be far different. What changed? I learned who I am as a child of God. I also learned that I need to reinforce the positives in my life and not the negatives because that gives them more power if I think about them most of the time. If you’re in this condition, you might every day look in the mirror and repeat the following:

 When I confess Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, I am saved from sin and have eternal life with God. (Romans 6:23, 10:9; John 17:3)

 When I confess my sins, they are forgiven by God. (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17; 1 John 1:9)

 All my forgiven sins are far from God’s remembrance. (Psalm 103:12)

 I am a beloved daughter/son of the Lord God Almighty. (Romans 5:8; 1 John 6:10)

 I am worthy because Christ died for me. (Romans 8:32; 1 John 4:10)

 When I feel guilty for past sins after I earnestly confess them, Satan is lying to me because I am no longer condemned by God for them. (Romans 8:1)

 God is for me! (Romans 8:31)

 God has promised me good and not evil, and He works for my good. (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28)

 God will hear me when I pray to Him. (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 66:17-19)

 No one can take me away from God. (John 10:38; Romans 8:38 & 39)

 God knows me intimately. (Psalm 139:1-16)

 God chose me and has a purpose for my life. (Jeremiah 1:5; John 15:16)

 God gave me a spiritual gift to be used to glorify Him and help others. (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1 & 4-12, 14:1-6; Ephesians 4:11-12)

 I am not worse or below others, but I am not better than others either. (Romans 12:3)

An old saying tells us that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. This means that we are all equal because God has no favorites. He loves everyone the same, and that is what gives us our worth: that He loved us enough to send Jesus to pay the death penalty for our sins. Therefore, we rejoice because we are the beloved daughters and sons of the Lord Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth.

In the Beginning GOD. . .

Watching the sunrise one morning made me think of Genesis 1:1. In the beginning God. Yes, I know the rest of the chapter details all the things God made. BUT what if we stopped and let God be at the beginning of everything?

  • First thing in the morning, we open the day with God.
  • First thing in a new year, we allow God to guide our plans for the days and months ahead.
  • First thing in a wedding, God becomes the first One of us three.
  • First thing with a newborn, we thank God for that precious life and then ask Him to guide the child throughout his life: first steps, first day of school and all the other firsts.
  • First thing when we face the loss of a job.
  • First thing when illness strikes, do we praise God for being with us before asking Him to heal us?
  • First thing when we face the death of a loved one.
  • First thing when we realize we’re facing our own destiny in heaven or in hell.

You get the idea. Many of us start the day with a devotional time with our Father. Are there other places where we need to put God at the beginning? Let’s watch for new beginnings and allow our heavenly Father to go before us.

My New Year’s Prayer for You

Dear friend, I pray that all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit (3 John 2, New Living Translation.)

What an all-encompassing prayer! I wish it for each of you and for my own family as well. Let’s examine quickly just what the prayer does say. Merriam-Webster says that prosper means: To succeed in an enterprise or activity; to achieve economic success; to become strong and flourishing.

I’d also say that includes emotional satisfaction and fulfillment as well as our health. But if we can’t find contentment because that God-shaped hole grows deeper daily, then we can’t truly consider ourselves prospering either. So we need all of these to be completely prosperous.

I really like the fact that John, the beloved disciple and an apostle, prayed that his friend may prosper in every way. I’m glad I can repeat that prayer for others. I’m sure most of us want to prosper also.

When we think of prospering in every way, we often think of finances first. If we’re concerned about unpaid bills that we can’t meet, then we have no prosperity. And naturally we want our families to be happy within their families – for marriages to be good, children to behave in an appropriate manner, for all those relationships within the broader family to be harmonious. We think of prospering in our work as having a job we enjoy and can do competently, as well as being paid a reasonable amount for the skills involved in the job.

John prayed for his friend’s health, and I certainly wish for others, as well as myself to be well in the coming year. Being healthy is something we’d all like to experience. We probably never miss it so much until we don’t have our health and then realize how important it is in all we do. It is difficult to work when we hurt or feel unwell, whether we’re on the job or work at home. Life is simply more enjoyable when we’re healthy.

Then John says he prays Gaius is as healthy physically as he is spiritually. Evidently Gaius was walking the Lord for John to have said that. Oops! Would we want someone to say this to us? Is our spiritual life healthy enough that we’d want our body to be the same way?

That gives us something to think about, doesn’t it? Often people make a new year’s resolution to lose weight. Maybe this year, we need to make a resolution to help our spirits gain weight and to become and stay healthy spiritually. How does my physical health compare to my spiritual health? What do I need to do to become spiritually healthy?

Poem for Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones This Year

Several of my friends have lost loved ones this year, and I dedicate this poem to them. Some years ago God gave me this idea of the joy those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior and are children of our Father experience when entering heaven. I cannot say this reality fits all who pass this life, for regrettably they turned their backs on the One who could give them this new life. The Gospel of John tells us much about this decision we must make while still alive.

John calls Satan a thief in John 10:10 and we’re told the different purposes he has in our lives and Jesus has for our lives. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they have life and have [it] abundantly.”

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and in 1 John 3:8 we read, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus therefore tells us that Satan wants only our harm, but He came to bless us.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” in John 14:6. The thick veil in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem being torn apart from top to bottom when Jesus died indicates that the way for us to know God as our Father is no longer through following laws and rituals but through simply recognizing Jesus as the One who makes us clean before God so we can become His children.

“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Many people recognize John 3:16 probably more than any other verse in the Bible unless it’s Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

We hardly hear, however, of verses 17-18 in John 3 which say, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Finally, Ezekiel 18:23 records God saying, “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”

If anyone does not realize that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for all you’ve done wrong so you can become a child of God, then I ask you to please contact me or talk with someone who is a believer and find out how when you die, you can go to heaven and know the great joy that this poem discusses, plus so much more than words can express.

My Destiny

Joy unspeakable!
How can I describe this blessedness?
So far surpassing all I imagined
The greatest words cannot do it justice.

“What joy,” you ask,
“What brings such rapture?”

The sight of my Jesus’ face!
How can I picture such love
Such compassion, even for me?
What word describes His glory?
The glory of the only begotten Son!

Then I see my Father!
My Daddy-God.
The tears fall down my face
Tears of humility, adoration and love.
I kneel at His feet and worship
Almighty God!

No eye has seen
No ear has heard
No mind has conceived
What God has prepared
For those who love Him.
(1 Corinthians 2:9)

I cannot tell you all this wonder;
Truly, you must see it for yourself!
 

God Became Human!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men….And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-4, 14 NASB).

The wonderful message of Christmas in a nutshell is that God became human! Though we may not fully understand it, God is undivided in thought or action, yet is three distinct persons with separate functions: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

The Father did not become incarnate. The Holy Spirit only came to live in people’s hearts after Jesus’ resurrection and ascent into heaven. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). Jesus the Son is the one who was born as a baby and lived on earth in a human body, died, was resurrected and ascended into heaven.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God became  human with all the feelings, thoughts and needs we have. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

God became human! May the wonder and blessing of this thought be with you throughout the Christmas Season.

Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!

A Christmas Present for Jesus

How much easier it is to talk the Christian talk than it is to walk the Christian walk. Even moral unbelievers can sometimes pass as Christians if we don’t really know them. Why? Because sometimes Christians don’t appear to live that much differently than the unbelievers.

My husband once worked for a Muslim man from Turkey, who outwardly lived as clean and good a life as any Christian. He was a good husband, father and boss; my husband and others who worked for him respected him for his ability and judgment. He didn’t smoke or drink, curse or talk badly about others. We knew his wife and children, and they all had a good family relationship. He believed in Allah instead of believing in Jesus Christ as his Savior.

How much easier it is to go to church,  give to the church and appear to be a faithful Christ-follower than it is to regularly check out hearts and see if Christ really has first place. Yes, we should and do love our families and care for them. We must give time to our jobs. But no matter what we do, is it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

Obviously we can’t stop every time before we do something and ask, “Am I doing this to glorify God?” But we can ask ourselves if our life purpose is to live for His honor. We can ask ourselves if anything we do would discredit the fact that we claim to follow Christ. Are we loving? That was Jesus’ most outstanding characteristic, for everything He did came from love for God and people.

The Bible tells us to examine ourselves before we partake of the Lord’s Supper or Communion (1 Corinthians 11:27 but see verses 23-32 for context.) Do we? Merriam Webster Dictionary defines communion as an act or instance of sharing or as intimate fellowship or rapport, besides the way Christians ordinarily mean the word. To me, the Lord’s Supper is all of these and needs to be taken very seriously but joyfully. Paul warns that it must be taken seriously. And why joyfully? Because of all God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son sacrificed for us so we can have intimacy with Them.

In Luke 46-49 Jesus compares a person who calls Him Lord but don’t obey His commands to a person who builds his house on sand, but a flood comes and washes away that house. James says someone who doesn’t obey the Word is like a person who looks in a mirror but then forgets what he looks like as soon as he turns away (1:22-25).

Both these Scriptures discuss how believers need to respond to God’s Word. Whether we’re personally reading the Bible or hearing it read, it should touch our hearts and gradually change us so that we more nearly display some of Christ’s characteristics.

Is there any greater present we can give our Lord this Christmas (or any other time!) than to make our life’s purpose to follow Him more closely?

And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him (Romans 12:1-2 New Living Translation).

Story of Anonymus Person

Soon after I posted “Receiving God’s Love,” I realized that I should have stated this story came from the Holy Spirit; it is not my life at all, except that Jesus died for my sins as well and I’m a child of Father God. I had loving Christian parents who very early taught me about trusting in Jesus as my Savior so I could have a child relationship with my Father. I simply don’t want anyone who knows me to think bad of my faithful parents. They were very good to my brother and me.

Receiving God’s Love

God, I don’t really know how to approach You, but a person told me You loved me. Really loved me so much that You gave up your Son on my behalf. Now that’s really hard to believe! I mean, I’m not a good person, so why would You love me or do anything for me?

I’ve been in a deep, deep pit for most of my life. Wanting out but not even knowing how to try to get out. It seemed the harder I tried, the deeper I went. I can’t imagine anyone doing me any favors. No one ever has, so why should You?

But this person told me Jesus loves me and actually suffered all your hatred of my wrong ways, and now I’m free to have a good life, if I only believe that Jesus did this for me. Not only that, but I can become your child. Seems strange for an adult to become someone’s child, even God’s. I didn’t even know my own parents, and my childhood certainly wasn’t something I’d want anyone else to experience.

God, I don’t quite understand all this, but I’m trying. I do believe what I was told that Jesus suffered all your fury for all the horrible things I’ve done. I want to become a different person, a person who can do good for others. I don’t know how I could do anything good for someone; but the person who told me about you, said that I’d find things I could do that would help others. I’d like to be that way – helping people instead of all the evil I’ve done in the past. God, forgive me for all that stuff!

I’ve been rotten and don’t see how anybody could want me, much less You, God. But that’s what I was told, and something happened in my heart at those words. Somehow, I believed them, and they made me smile. I haven’t smiled in a long, long time. I can’t explain it, but something happened, and all the heaviness, anger and bitterness just melted away. Why, I feel like a new person; almost like a little baby just finding out what’s happening in the world and how to adjust to it. Just learning how to be loved, not by a person, but by You, God. Amazing!

Thank you, God, for doing whatever You did to make me feel this way, to give me this joy and this newfound hope. Thank You that Jesus suffered all your wrath over my evil deeds, so I can become a person who’s able to talk with You, to have a relationship with You. God, You are awesome! I just realized that if I’m your child, then You are my Father. What an amazing idea! I’ve never had a father, and now the God of all the universe is my Father. I’m so thankful for this person who told me about You because You have changed my life. You made me a new person, and I love You. I just discovered that: I love You because of what You have done for me. Thank You, Father! Thank You, Jesus!

Where Is Justice in America?

I have never written an article like this one, bringing out specifics in American life the way I do here. But the Lord has put this so much on my heart, that I must speak this word. Please listen because at this point, justice becomes the subject, not the political events.

As Judge Brett Kavanaugh was almost ready to be confirmed by committee to go to full Senate vote as Supreme Court Justice, Sen Dianne Feinstein suddenly revealed a letter a woman wrote her in July. Professor Christine Blasey Ford made accusations against Judge Kavanaugh when he was in high school, which everyone knows of by now. She named three witnesses to it, but all decline knowing anything about the event. Her story has been inconsistent, and she can’t remember exactly where or when. He totally denies her story. He’s been a judge many years, and nothing has ever smeared his character. The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) investigates each candidate each time for each level before a person can become a judge, so they know Judge Kavanaugh well by now.

Days before Ms. Ford was to testify to the committee, supposedly 2 more women have come out claiming similar things, according to media. Chairman of Judicial Committee Chuck Grassley commented in an internet article I saw that Democrats seem more interested in a political takedown than in bipartisan deliberation to find justice.

Justice is the real matter at hand here. The justice of “innocent until proven guilty.” Even if Judge Kavanaugh is guilty, the charges should have been brought up long before they were. Sen. Feinstein should have notified the committee about them as soon as she got the letter from Ms. Ford in July, and also notified the authorities. Why have all these women accusing Judge Kavanaugh gone to the Senator or lawyers instead of the police? It’s a police matter if it’s true. No woman or man or child deserves such treatment!

Why have the Democrats and the media pounced on this and basically pronounced Judge Kavanaugh guilty before either he or Ms. Ford have testified before the Senate? I’d say exactly the same thing if the one being accused was a Democrat and the Republicans were acting the same way. The timing of the actions are not just according to American laws; the timing is political in order to keep someone off the Supreme Court.

Our country can only survive as the one we’ve known and loved for many years if we follow rules of law. God can only bless our country if we follow justice. He gives many words to the Israelites about justice: the wrong they’re doing and the way He will bless them if they do follow the law. Even though we’re not living in those times and aren’t Jewish, I believe those Scriptures still apply to us because God blesses justice. Our country was founded on religious principles. If you look at the major buildings in Washington DC, you’ll see biblical pictures and the Ten Commandments above the Supreme Court. Our founders took the rule of law and justice seriously, and it’s time for Americans to also.

Please read these Scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart about them. All are from the New American Standard Bible.

Isaiah 1:21-23: How the faithful city has become a harlot, She who was full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, But now murderers. 22 Your silver has become dross, Your drink diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels And companions of thieves; Everyone loves a bribe And chases after rewards. They do not defend the orphan, Nor does the widow’s plea come before them.

Isaiah 59:8-10: They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked, Whoever treads on them does not know peace. Therefore justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold, darkness, For brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes; We stumble at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like dead men.

Habakkuk 1:4: Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.

Isaiah 59:14-16: Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands far away; For truth has stumbled in the street, And uprightness cannot enter. Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him.

Jeremiah 5:1: Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, And look now and take note. And seek in her open squares, If you can find a man, If there is one who does justice, who seeks truth, Then I will pardon her.

Jeremiah 21:11-12: Then say to the household of the king of Judah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O house of David, thus says the Lord: “Administer justice every morning; And deliver the person who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor, That My wrath may not go forth like fire And burn with none to extinguish it, Because of the evil of their deeds.

 Amos 5:15: Hate evil, love good, And establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the Lord God of hosts May be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Ezekiel 18:21-23: “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. “All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

 

 

The Way to Destiny

Stuck on the freeway cause it’s been closed due to a serious accident and car fire ahead. No exit to the frontage road for half a mile, after the incident. Yet, my inheritance depends on getting to downtown Houston by 12:00 for the reading of the will. If I’m not there, I miss my future.

Suddenly a police car motions for a car in the outside lane to drive across the median to the frontage road. With my blinker on, the second car signals for me to move ahead into his lane, since I was in the inner lane. As I hesitate, he exits, then a state trooper behind him exits, and the policeman motions that no more cars can drive across the median. That trooper needed to get to the accident, and my one opportunity disappears! I didn’t follow that chance to move when I could have, when I even felt like I should go ahead, and possibility lost the opportunity of gaining a great inheritance.

This describes the way I’ve felt spiritually for a while. Stuck where I was but knowing a better future awaited me. I’ve prayed and prayed more, but still I couldn’t find that release that would lead to my destiny. I determined to spend more time in prayer and Bible study, but I didn’t increase these. My morning time with God satisfied but I needed His presence at night also. I let that time fritter away, however, so I remained stuck where I was.

Suddenly the Lord brought a verse to mind that I’ve known for years. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat (Isaiah 1:29 New Living Translation.) When we have plenty to eat, we leave the table fully satisfied. I knew this verse presented the answer to my quest. I must put aside other things and give quality time to my Lord at night; then I will be fully satisfied.

God doesn’t say that I must spend X hours in prayer or Bible study. That’s legalistic and remains a place where Christ gave me freedom. No, I need to put being in God’s presence ahead of my enjoyment of watching TV or being on the computer. As I obey Him in this, I’ll find complete fulfillment.

Abba, I Belong to You

As my church sang the song Abba[1], I thought in a way I hadn’t previously – yes, I do belong to my Father. That thought struck deep in my heart. I “BELONG” to my Daddy-God. He sacrificed so very much by sending Jesus to die so I could become His child. They both paid with all they had for my eternal life with them and so that here on earth I can have an intimate relationship with my Father God, Jesus Christ my Savior and the Holy Spirit. I am a daughter loving my Father because He first loved me.

First John 4:18-19 (The Message Bible) reminds us: There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life — fear of death, fear of judgment — is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love — love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

I like to call my heavenly Father Daddy-God. The word Abba means an intimate relationship, as a child might say Daddy today or as an adult might say Father. My earthly dad and I had a very good relationship, so I don’t have the major roadblocks some people do who didn’t know their earthly fathers or had abusive ones. I appreciate the freedom this gives me to relate more easily to God than some can.

Someone might ask who a small child belongs to, meaning their parents. That parent has responsibility to take care of and protect that child; he educates and trains the child, as well as providing food, shelter and clothes for her. In the same way, our heavenly Father takes care me, His child, so I do belong to Him, not including the tremendous price He paid for me.

As I thought more about belonging to my Father, I realized that makes it easier for me to resist any temptation that comes my way. I don’t belong to the devil, so I can stand against him and not give in to whatever he puts in front of me. I count on the blessings of my inheritance as a child of God and don’t need anything that will lead me away from those blessings.

Satan may approach me with wrong thoughts or actions, trying to lure me that way. Some of these God emphasized No to – There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Other times my enemy surprises me with those little nagging inclinations that aren’t wrong in themselves but are still activities where I know I need to limit the time I spend with them.

I thought of this verse, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2a NASU.)

I walk along the beach, paying attention to the gulls and other shorebirds. Further down children build sand castles and grab my attention. Suddenly I realize I’ve stepped into a cast net left carelessly behind and my sandals become tangled in it. I almost fall because I wasn’t paying attention.

That’s what the Hebrews verse warns me of – not paying attention when a temptation comes, or I’ll stumble into it without realizing it’s even there. One of those little things that isn’t bad itself but that I have to control is watching too much TV at night instead of studying my Bible or reading godly books. Nothing is wrong with the shows themselves, I just must not let them dominate all my time when I have instructive books to read or a Bible study I didn’t have time for during the day. I like to start my day with Bible reading and prayer, but often don’t have time before breakfast for real study.

Because I belong to Father God, I put on the spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18[2]). This armor covers me from head to toe in front, but safety only comes when I’m fighting. God gives me no protection if I’m running away. Watchful prayer guards me from Satan’s snares so I don’t step into that cast net. I pray with and for others to give and receive mutual support as the body of Christ on earth.

Fortunately, when I do get caught up in temptation, there’s a way back to the loving relationship with my Daddy-God. First John 1:9 (Message) encourages us:  If we admit our sins — make a clean breast of them — he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. My Father doesn’t hold a grudge! He wants our rapport flowing full of love more than I do, so as soon as I honestly turn away from the wrong I’ve done, He’s quick to forgive me and take up where we left off in our relationship.

Abba, I belong to You – now and forever!

____________________
[1] Abba (Arms of a Father)
>Jonathan David & Melissa Helser

You’re more real than the ground I’m standing on
You’re more real than the wind in my lungs
Your thoughts define me
You’re inside me
You’re my reality

Abba, I belong to You 

You’re closer than the skin on my bones
You’re closer than the song on my tongue
You came running down my prodigal road
You came running with a ring and a robe
Grace is the collision on the way back home
With the arms of a Father who won’t let go

Songwriters: Ed Cash / Jonathan David Helser
Abba (Arms of a Father) lyrics © Bethel Music Publishing

 

 

[2] Ephesians 6:10-18: And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. 11 So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. 12 This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

13 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. 14 Truth, righteousness, 15 peace, 16 faith, 17 and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. 18 In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

 

God’s Word in My Heart

Father, I pray that you open my eyes to see your Word in new and fresh ways; help me understand exactly what You’d have me apply to my life today. Give me wisdom as I read this precious gift carefully and thoughtfully. I know I have much to learn from You, but I don’t always take the time to dwell on what I read and fully apply it to my life. Sometimes I read and appreciate what the Bible says; but then my busy day starts, and I never get back to thinking more about it. My mind always finds other things, even TV or other trivial matters to consider, forgetting what You said to me that morning.

Lord, I know that Psalm 19:11 (NASB*) says, “Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Therefore, I must consider the Bible as precious and not read it quickly, just to get the job done. That’s no way to consider what You say to me; no, I must treat it as a very special message.

Other versions say, “I have hidden your word” or “I have stored up your word.” I learned the KJV* of “Thy word have I hid in my heart,” and through the years I have hidden much of it there. But the NASB* says, “I have treasured your word,” which makes me more fully realize the importance of not only reading, or even understanding, God’s Word but seeking it as a rich treasure and then putting it in a vault in my heart so no one can steal it. I also like the “stored up” version. That makes me think of what I meditate on one day I add to what I’ve processed in the past. I don’t simply read the Bible one day and forget it before the next reading; I add to my knowledge and love of God’s Word each time I hear or read it.

That’s the importance I need to give your Word as I read it daily. Father, how wonderful, to be able to access this great gift wherever I am, even on my phone or computer! Different translations help me better understand what the original languages meant to people long ago, so I can apply them today. Although customs are far different, love is still love, and our greatest two commandments still say to love God and love others. Cruel treatment of another remains wrong, even though the types of cruelty differ. Putting someone or something above You qualifies as idolatry, even though we don’t make gold or silver images.

Teach me, Lord God, to treasure to a new depth your holy Word. Though it, You instruct me to apply your principles today so I live a more fulfilled life, no matter what age I am. Thank you, heavenly Father, for the precious gift of the Bible.
_______

* KJV: King James Version; NASB: New American Standard Bible.

Psalm 139

Psalm 139
(The Passion Translation)

As I read this Psalm this morning, I was again touched with the love of our heavenly Father for each one of us. How intimately He knows us, far better than we know ourselves. Read Psalm 139 for yourself and rejoice in your Daddy-God’s immense love. Read it slowly and thoughtfully; let it sink into your spirit and chew on it awhile.

In the description of a baby’s formation, allow the words to help you grasp how precious your whole life remains in God’s thoughts. His perfect plan for your life continues, even though you’ve made mistakes in the past. That’s what I find amazing: In spite of the long detours I’ve taken, my Daddy-God still guides my path to bring me into his will for me. I realize that’s where I’ll be most fulfilled. As the Psalm closes, let the Holy Spirit examine your heart and see if there’s anything that doesn’t fit with God’s perfect plan for your life. Let Him enable you to turn from that and seek Him with your whole heart, soul, mind and body. Then you’ll know God’s full love and joy for you. You’ll find fulfillment and joy in being the whole person your Father created you to be.

I pray God’s rich blessings of realizing how vital to your heavenly Father you are and of finding His love and joy in your life. Amen.

Title: “You Know All about Me”
For the Pure and Shining One
King David’s poetic song

1 Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.

2 You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.

3-4 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book, and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.

5 You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me.

6 This is just too wonderful, deep and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.

7 Where could I go from your Spirit? Where could I run and hide from your face?

8 If I go up to heaven, you’re there! If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!

9 If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there! If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!

10 Wherever I go, your hand will guide me; your strength will empower me.

11 It’s impossible to disappear from you or to ask the darkness to hide me, for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.

12 There is no such thing as darkness with you. The night, to you, is as bright as the day; there no difference between the two.

13 You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.

14 I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord!

15 You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place, carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something.

16 You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book.

17-18 Every single moment you are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that you cherish me constantly in your every thought! O God, your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore! When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.

23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.

24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways – the path that brings me back to you.

Who Is Jesus to Me?

Recently in church we sang songs talking about who Jesus is: our way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper. You wipe away our tears, mend broken hearts, touch every life, heal our diseases, meet every need. Jesus is the Light in the darkness; his blood transforms my life, brings the dead to life, is sufficient for me. He is the highest power so that I am no longer bound to sin and am free!

The Bible assures us Jesus and now the Holy Spirit working in us, fulfills all these vital roles. But do we really trust Him to do these things? To meet our needs, to heal our diseases, to mend our broken hearts?

In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus tells Simon (later called Peter) to put his fishing net on the other side of the boat. Even though these professional fishermen had fished all night and caught nothing, Simon said he would, and he caught so many fish that his nets almost broke, so he called his partners to help catch all the fish. Am I  as willing to do what Jesus tells me to do, even if it doesn’t make sense to me?

Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1-2 in Luke 4:18-19 (NASB): The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.

Are we not financially poor but spiritually poverty-stricken because we haven’t heard of the rescue from eternal death that Jesus came to give us, as well as abundancy in this life? Are we bound in captivity to style, pride or insecurity? Do we have physical infirmities? Are we oppressed by addiction, co-dependency or other issues? This is the year of redemption from all that! Jesus wants to set us free from the dominion these conditions have in our lives so that we have heart-peace and joy in our spirits.

We sing songs with joy about Jesus providing all we need and read the Bible with all His miracles, claiming we believe it. But when the test comes, do I really? Do I depend on my Father God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit to keep promises to me? Have I checked first to see if conditions exist to gain those promises? Do I really understand who Jesus wants to be for me? Am I willing to let Him change my life dramatically, so He can be?

We must question ourselves and ask repeatedly, “Who is Jesus to me?” Am I letting Him be all He wants to be? What is holding me back? Investigate this!

I Sing to You

I sing to You because You are beautiful
I sing to You because You are holy
High and lifted up –
Above all that ever was
Above all that is now
Above all the skies
Deeper than the deepest ocean
That’s less than you are – far less –
But it gives me an idea of just how immensely large You are
But just an idea.
 
Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent –
The words ring true for You
But I’m too small to understand them.
 
Lord, I’m amazed in your presence
I can’t grasp just who You are
But speak to my spirit
Reveal more of yourself to me.
 
Open my eyes to better see glimpses of Holy You
Impress on my heart just who You are
Teach me a righteous fear of You
Teach me your holiness and glory
Let me see You through the clouds and midst
Give me clear vision!

Seeing God on His Throne

Father, I praise and worship You. I bow down before You because You are exalted above all the earth, all the heavens, and all under the earth. Angles worship You; demons fear You. Only mankind dares to ignore You. But I’ve experienced You; I know You. I believe your Word and follow it. I desire to always do your will, but I face battles with myself first of all. Good things but not holy things pull me from You. The worldly culture tries to turn me in that direction, and Satan pulls at my mind and my flesh not to follow You.

Then I see Jesus standing at my heart’s door, knocking to come into those secret places that I’ve hidden from him. Those places I don’t even recognize myself as being walled off from Him. Even though they’re hidden from me, He sees them and asks me to give them as a sacrifice. I tell my Lord that as He reveals them, I’ll lay them on His cross.

Christ says He doesn’t want 75% of my life; He desires 100%. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30 NASB).

Only as we’re willing to come to that place – not of pain and sacrifice – but of joy and righteousness – can we fully enter into Isaiah’s worship of chapter 6:1-8. We see the Lord in more of his fullness than we have previously, and we realize anew how very holy He is, that even the angels continually minister praise, honor and glory to Him. When we see God like this, we realize how much we owe Him and rejoice, bowing before Him. We confess any sin we’ve overlooked beforehand and surrender to His will in all things. We give our Lord our spirits, as well as our minds, will, emotions and bodies. We say, Here I am, send me.

The Tumbleweed

Tumbleweeds. Perhaps you’ve never seen a real one. My father liked to watch westerns on TV, and quite often a tumbleweed would blow across the street. I saw my first ones when we drove through the Texas panhandle going to Colorado or Wyoming during December. When we made that trip in June, I didn’t know which plants were tumbleweeds because they have flowers and don’t show their characteristic tumbling. Only in late fall do they die, the roots separate from the plant and wind blows them wherever it wants. Why do tumbleweeds tumble? Because they broadcast their seeds over acres of land that way.

A few days ago I saw on Facebook the life of a tumbleweed. When it said at the end that when the plant dies, the wind can blow to spread its seeds, suddenly Galatians 2:20 popped into my mind. What? I’m looking at the story of a tumbleweed on Facebook fondly remembering the times we saw them and scripture interrupts my thoughts? Yes, the Holy Spirit immediately awakened me to the context of this plant dying and becoming fruitful.

 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives (John 12:24.)

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20 New Living Translation.)

 The more our old inner nature of sin dies, the greater Christ through the Holy Spirit will live in us. Then we’ll bear a good harvest of fruit for the Lord.