The Many Blessings of Knowing Jesus

Let us pray: Father, I ask that as we’re in this sacred time of Passover and Resurrection Sunday, enable us to understand in a new way just what it is that Jesus did for us by becoming our Lamb and the blood on our hearts’ doors. As the lamb’s blood saved the first-born of the Jews and delivered them from slavery and death, help us realize more deeply how Jesus’ holy blood delivers us from the slavery of sin and spiritual death.

We thank You Holy God for doing for us what we could never do for ourselves. We acknowledge that on our own we’re unworthy of your goodness; yet made worthy because of your deep love for us and Jesus monumental sacrifice. We become presentable to You as we acknowledge and receive that holy ransom for ourselves.

As You etch all the wonder of this sacred time on our hearts, enable us to not only understand more deeply but to shine the light of that tremendous blessing to others who still live in the slavery of sin and the bondage of eternal death. We come boldly before your throne and ask this because Jesus’ precious blood gives us this privilege. Thank You Holy God, that Jesus empowers us to come to you in his eternal Name. Amen.

Remembering Jesus’ Sufferings

very time I take the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, I stop and think a few moments about what Jesus Christ, Son of God, sacrificed so that I might know Him. I remember his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, and I think about the scourging and how agonizing that felt on his naked back as repeatedly flesh was torn from bone. I reflect on how Jesus shed his blood for me until none was left. Considering that nothing had ever separated Jesus from his Father since eternity began, I know I can’t imagine the horror of taking my sin upon Himself so that they were divided for a time. Probably that was the worst of Jesus’ agony.

Then I thank my Lord Jesus. And my Father, God Almighty, that they were willing to suffer all this for me. What a tremendous debt I owe, one I can never pay no matter what I do or how I try to serve. So, with a grateful heart of love, I again say Thank You.

Consider with me a moment the things Jesus endured. In the Garden even his disciples couldn’t stay awake to pray with Him. Think of how comforting it is to have a loved one with us when we’re grieving, but his closest friends couldn’t stay awake to pray. Jesus’ prayers to be spared the horrors of the cross were agonizing, causing Him to sweat drops of blood.  Reading the Scriptures of those prayers breaks my heart. Knowing what the near future held, Jesus so wanted to avoid the unimaginable torment He would endure, yet He wanted more to follow his Father’s will and surrendered to it.

After his arrest, the soldiers pulled out his beard, mocked and spit on him, putting a crown of thorns on his head. Finally, they scourged Jesus with a whip braided with pieces of iron so that it efficiently pulled the skin from the bones. That continued 39 times because more would kill a person, and many died before reaching that number.

After all this Jesus carried the armpiece of the cross on that broken back until He could no longer, and another had to carry it. As crude nails hammered into his wrist and feet, pain must have been unbearable, yet Jesus didn’t cry out or curse his torturers. Hanging on a cross would eventually suffocate a person, so they naturally used their feet to try to lift themselves up to catch a breath, all the time rubbing that bruised and opened flesh against the splintering upright log of the cross. Arms also rubbed against the splinters in the armpiece, causing even more pain. Yet most people took a couple of days to die, which is why soldiers broke the legs of prisoners, so that they couldn’t lift themselves up to breathe any more. The Son of God did not have his legs broken because He had already accomplished his task of paying for the sin of all people of all time, including you and me. But the soldier had to get his revenge and put his sword into Jesus’ side. That’s when he realized Who was on that cross.

Do you wonder why I thank Jesus and Father God when I take the Communion? How could I not?

How Did I Come to Know Jesus?

I grew up in church so heard about Jesus all my life at church as well as at home. One Easter Sunday the preacher talked about the two thieves who died beside Jesus, and even though I was a child, I understood that I had committed things against God too. I hadn’t known Jesus as my Savior but did that morning. I felt a joy in my heart that I hadn’t known previously, and Jesus became a Reality to me. I knew that whenever I died, I’d go to heaven and spend eternity there, seeing Jesus and Father God face to face.

I could pray and believe God would answer my prayers, growing very close to the Lord. Later I lost that closeness and although I continued going to church, I didn’t pray or read my Bible very much – until I got so hungry for more of God and searched for Him. Then I surrendered my will and asked Jesus to once again be my Lord as well as my Savior. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, which is different from being sealed with the Spirit when I first accepted Jesus. I felt a joy unlike anything I’d ever previously known, like I was walking on a cloud. One morning when I woke our children to get ready for school, one of our daughters said to me, “How can you be so happy so early in the morning?” I told her, “How could I not be, after spending an hour with God?”

The Many Blessings

While the Bible promises enough benefits of knowing Jesus to fill a book, I’m only including a few here. In John 16:7, 13-15 Jesus promises that when He goes away (when He ascends to heaven), he will send Someone else, calling Him the Comforter, the Helper, the Spirit of truth. He will guide us and tell us things to come. The Spirit won’t speak on his own authority but only what He hears, always glorifying Jesus, who then glorifies the Father. In other parts of the New Testament we learn much more about the working of the Holy Spirit and all the benefits He brings to believers.

The first blessing I noticed immediately after this infilling was not being lonely when I was by myself and our home no longer needed music or TV until my family returned. I was shy and didn’t have many friends. We’d moved often, and I wasn’t sure how to make small talk with people I didn’t know well. Therefore, I watched soap operas because they went wherever we did. I was addicted to them. The first three days after I was baptized with the Spirit different things caused me to be gone during the time my favorite shows were on TV. On the fourth day I was home and didn’t even think about the shows when it was time. I was too busy singing. Jesus had immediately taken away my need for relationship with people other than my family; my addiction. I’m not saying this would happen always, just that I’m thankful it happened to me.

A great blessing from Jesus is the peace He gives. No longer did I struggle and feel restless, not knowing exactly what was wrong. That’s what I’d felt, plus an unhappiness I couldn’t explain. Now I had an inner serenity or well-being that had been missing. I’d been miserable because Jesus was no longer my Lord, and the Holy Spirit used that to draw me back to Him. I understood in a new way that my sins were forgiven so I didn’t have that guilt hanging over my head, beating me up about something I’m powerless to change. I felt at rest; my soul was calm as well as my spirit. Now whenever I’m missing this peace and calm, I run to my Father and ask Him to show me the problem.

A deep love fills believers with knowing we’re worthwhile, not because of who we are or what we’ve done but simply because we were worth so much to our Father that Jesus died for us so that we can be God’s child forever. Think of that! If I’d been the only person in the world, Jesus still would have suffered and died for me. That’s amazing! The same is true for you!

The next difference I noticed was a prayer language that wasn’t in English; indeed, my spirit communicated with the Holy Spirit, bypassing my human mind. He gave me ideas for prayer that I’d never have considered. I knew people I’d never met needed food or Bibles, for instance, and prayed for them. He brought prayers to mind of people I knew, though I didn’t know why they needed prayer. One friend came to mind several times and each time I talked with her soon afterward; she or her family needed prayer about a specific problem. Afterwards whenever someone’s name came to mind, I’d stop and pray for them, knowing there was a need. Without knowing what that need was, I prayed in my prayer language because it was given by God for such times (see Romans 8:26-27).

Sometimes when I’m praying by myself or with a group about a subject, I’ll ask something that seems off the central focus that others are praying, but I’ve learned that it’s needed even if I don’t understand all the details. It used to embarrass me when I was with others and this happened because they’d been praying about a certain part of the subject, and I’d interject something from a different angle. But I learned that’s what the Holy Spirit led me to pray so it was ok, nothing so off the wall at all.

Found in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4, the gifts of the Spirit become available to us. God gives these so that we can fulfill the purpose He planned for us before we were ever born. These gifts aren’t meant so we gain a name for ourselves; indeed, I think the people who are most gifted must be very humble people, or at least started out that way. We can’t set a goal of obtaining a spiritual gift and we don’t get to choose which gift we desire. However, we should learn to mature in the use of the gifts. We start as children and make mistakes along the way, but with practice we grow in the use and it blesses others more as we grow.

Talents and spiritual gifts can be related but are not the same thing. Talents are natural abilities we’re born with, which also must grow. Anyone can have them, but they usually follow in a family line. Spiritual gifts are only had by people who allow the Holy Spirit to lead their lives and are given by the Spirit of God, as He desires.

Believers also receive the Fruit of the Spirit. Found in Galatians 5:22-23, these are love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The verse goes on to say that there’s no law against these. Indeed, we can’t imagine people complaining when we demonstrate the fruit, especially towards them. However, we also must grow in living steadily in the fruit through our daily lives.

Another blessing of Jesus is sometimes just saying or emailing exactly what another person needs to hear. We don’t plan anything in particular; it just comes out and is the perfect encouragement or advice. Our Father knows what they need even when we don’t, but He’s glad to use us to bless others. And it’s a great blessing to us when they say, “That’s just what I needed today.” It gives us reassurance that we did hear Him correctly.

I write a blog (dailyGod.net) and it’s another place the Holy Spirit gives me ideas of what to say. I start writing and it simply flows, but if I suddenly find difficulty, I stop and don’t try to force myself to find words. I realize either I’ve misunderstood or it’s not the correct time to finish that piece. I have an internet friend who daily blogs prayers based on Bible verses. She told me she’s a scribe because she doesn’t have to sit and research what she writes: she reads the Bible in her customary order and God gives her the prayer to go with it. That’s the way I write. I don’t sit with an outline and follow all the rules for filling out the details, although I do start with a subject in mind. But even the direction of that may get changed mid-course; I simply write as I believe God leads me.

God speaks to us. He has many ways of doing this and knows exactly how to let us know what He desires. Often it’s through Scripture, but it may be through music or a sermon; sometimes friends say a word or nature gives us God’s thought for that day. My blog contains a section I call “Nature-inspired Thoughts” with many posts that nature stimulated. Occasionally, we’ll simply know we’re supposed to do something, and it settles deep in our heart. If we’re listening, we’ll know when God communicates.

More Blessings

 What are other blessings of being a child of God? John, the beloved disciple, tells us many of these blessings in the three letters he writes the churches. 1 John 1:9 tells us about confession.  We confess our sins when we first believe in Christ, but we do sin afterwards and sometimes unknowingly. For instance, we may hurt a person’s feelings by saying something and not realize that we’ve offended them. Sometimes we do something that doesn’t please God; although the action itself isn’t bad, He has a better purpose for us. 1 John 1:9 tells us that when we confess what we’ve done wrong that God will even forgive us those things we don’t realize.

God perfects his love in us (1 John 2:5). He first teaches us to love and forgive ourselves so that we’re able to love and forgive others. We’re told to love our neighbor as ourselves; but if we don’t love ourselves, that’s impossible. This love doesn’t make us feel more important than others; it gives us an appreciation of who God created us to be. We realize we’re not perfect but also not condemned because of that. When I as an adult made Jesus my Lord and not simply my Savior, I repeatedly berated myself for the years I’d not been the person God called me to be. One day Holy Spirit said to me, “If God forgives you, are you better than He is that you can’t forgive yourself?” That made me realize I’d been putting myself higher than God by not forgiving myself when I knew He had forgiven me. I immediately forgave myself and learned to love myself in the way God intended.

God’s perfecting his love in us often causes pain because the way He accomplishes this is when we need to love someone who is difficult to love, and we’ve all known those people. The reason it’s difficult is because they have hurt us, and we must forgive them, even if we choose not to be around them. Those memories return so we forgive them again each time we remember, until we’re finally able to allow the Lord to take that pain from our hearts.

True forgiveness towards another demonstrates God’s forgiveness of us, blessing us as we learn it. Years ago, I was hurt by a friend, and each time I thought of what she’d done, I mentally saw a billboard with her name on it. Finally, I asked the Lord to help me to forgive, and I then imagined her face and saw her as the usually kind person she was. Another time someone else hurt me repeatedly and the pain went much deeper. I prayed about forgiving this person because about the time I’d think I’d forgiven them, something else happened to reopen that wound. Holy Spirit reminded me of Romans 8:5 (NLT)  God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  When I realized the significance of that single verse, I knew I had to forgive this person because they had not hurt me as deeply as I’d hurt God before I became a Christ-follower, even though I didn’t realize at the time what I was doing.

The Bible tells us to test the spirits to see if something is really from God (1 John 4:1). For years people have gone to fortune tellers or read horoscopes. These are not from God and if we know the Word, we don’t need to ask. But often things aren’t so obvious. Someone on TV may say something and claim it comes from God, but it doesn’t sound like that to us. We “test” the spirit behind that by asking, “Does it conform to the Bible? Does it deny either Jesus’ humanity or his holiness?” If it doesn’t meet these tests, then it’s not from God.

We need wisdom and discernment, so James 1:5 tells us to ask God without doubting and He will give us the knowledge we need. This means if we’re wondering if the person we want to marry is the right one, we can ask. If we’re looking at a new job, a move to a new city or whatever else we need, we can expect our Father to give us the wisdom about whether this is the best thing for us. Because of his great love, He will always guide us to the best for his future purpose in our lives.

Ephesians 1:3 tells us that God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing we’ll ever need. What a great benefit this is! And chapter 2, verse 6 reminds us that God raised us from the dead when He raised Jesus, and we now spiritually sit in heavenly realms because that’s where Christ sits, and we’re united with Him.

Another great benefit of knowing Jesus is that we may boldly approach the throne of God, the Lord Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Hebrews 4:16 tells us this so that we can receive the grace and mercy we need. We go humbly, never demanding, but we also go confidently because God looks at us through the blood of Jesus and loves us mightily.

Although it would probably take a book to list all the goodness we receive when we know Jesus, the last one I’d like to mention is healing. We are assured of this in several places in the Bible, so I’ll only mention two, and both are connected directly with our forgiveness of sin. I confess I don’t understand why we don’t see this more often. I’ve prayed for healing and others have prayed for me, but still I’m not healed. That doesn’t keep me from believing the Word of God, however. Because the Word connects forgiveness and healing, I know I’m forgiven; therefore, I know I’m healed and simply waiting for the manifestation of it.   A New Testament scripture is 1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV): [Jesus] who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. As far as God is concerned, we were healed at the same time we were forgiven when Jesus died on the cross!

The Old Testament tells the same message in Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV): Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me bless His holy name! (2) Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: (3) Who forgives all your iniquities [sins] and heals all your diseases, (4) Who redeems your life from destruction. Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, (5) Who satisfied your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Let us open our hearts and our minds to receive all that Jesus sacrificed so much to give us. During this Passover, let us pass over from old ways of thinking and enter new realms of realization about our blessings from Jesus. This Resurrection Sunday let us resurrect into living on a higher spiritual plane.

 

 

 

Lord, I Believe in You!

“Lord, I believe in You, truly believe in You.” We sang this song in church and after getting home, I wondered just how much I do believe in Him. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He lived on earth, died for our sin and rose again to sit at the right hand of Father God.

       For God so loved the world that He gave his only            begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not        perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 New Living              Bible)

I was a child when I first realized that I’d rebelled against God; in fact, it was on Resurrection Sunday when the pastor described how the two thieves, hanging beside Jesus, were guilty. I realized then that though I’d never stolen anything or broken any major commandments, I’d sometimes argued with my brother or not minded my parents. I’d heard about Jesus in church and at home, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. Even then, I understood that I didn’t really know Jesus or God the Father, not like I knew people. And I knew that had to change, as it did at that moment. Suddenly I knew Jesus lived in my heart as well as in heaven. Specifically, that’s what we say but what really happened is that the Holy Spirit sealed me so that I’d be able to talk with God and go to heaven when I died.

As we approach Resurrection Day or Easter and observe it, I think that song is even more appropriate. Do I really believe all the Bible says about Jesus? The completeness of what He did for us when He died and rose from the dead, lived on earth while many people saw Him, and then He ascended to heaven, where He constantly prays for us at the throne of God? A few scriptures remind me of a bit that Christ provided.

       But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our    sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was    whipped so we could be healed. (Isaiah 53.3)

            He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

Do I really believe God can forgive me, especially if I’ve done a lot of wrong things in my life? Am I honestly confident that He will heal my back and my friend with cancer? Put another way, can I say confidently that I am healed? That my friend is healed, even before we see the results?

I started wondering just how much do I believe God for? Do I really believe He will provide the right job for me when I need one? Do I really believe He will help another friend’s troubled marriage? Do I believe God answers prayers when I pray for my country? In other words, am I confident about these things? Believe means to consider to be true or honest; to accept the word or evidence of. That reminds me of another verse.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1; the New King James uses evidence instead of conviction).

           And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

If my boss tells me he will give me a raise at the end of the month, I believe what he says and begin to get excited about what I can do with the extra money. I have faith that my boss would not say that if it weren’t true. If I can believe a human, how much more should I believe the Lord God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and me! Why do I have so much trouble believing God for other things when I believed Him so easily for my salvation, that He totally forgave me for all the wrongs I’ve ever done, even rebelling against Him? I believe He will continue to forgive me for wrongs when I simply tell Him I’m sorry and stop doing those things.

Our American culture, and especially the last few years, has gone against faith in God, but does that mean I should? Will I believe that the God who created the universe can heal my friend with cancer? That He can provide a job for someone who needs it? That’s what it means to truly trust in God, to rely on Him to provide when no one else can, to believe that He can do what He says He can do. Yes, I trust God to be God! As my faith has grown over the years, I’ve even become more confident in myself because I know who He created me to be and that I am sitting with Christ at the right hand of God, just like the Bible says. If He can do that for me, certainly He can do everything else He says He can. “Lord, I believe in You, truly believe in You.”

           I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:19-20)

          For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6)

Do I realize where I’m spiritually living? Not on this earth, though my body is here, but in heaven with Christ because I believe He is who He says He is; so therefore, I am who He says I am!

          “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Matthew 17:20)

          Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26; also, Mark 10:27, Luke 18:27 and Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.)

As the Bible clearly states, if nothing is impossible with God, then am I fully confident that He will do what He says He will do?

The Apple Tree

One morning recently as I sat at breakfast, I noticed our apple tree in full bloom. I always enjoy seeing it bloom but unfortunately, it produces very few if any apples. Why? Because it sits by itself with no other apple trees anywhere around it. Our son gave us the tree for my husband’s birthday about 20 years ago, and we didn’t realize it needed another one to produce apples. At first it did bear some fruit about the size of a plum, so I made applesauce. The next year the apples were more the size of cherries, so we let the birds and squirrels have them.

I realized when I looked at that apple tree and saw its potential and that unreached destiny, how many Christians are like that tree. They believe in Jesus as their Savior, but they aren’t in any church, so they don’t have the nourishment and cross-pollination of mixing with other believers. They don’t get to interact and be taught. They don’t see other people’s issues and how they handle them, so that if they have similar circumstances they’re better able to deal with them.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25 New Living Translation)

I realize some people work on Sundays and others are homebound and can’t get out; but if you can, let me encourage you to attend a fellowship of believers. Not only will you be taught the Word of God, but others will encourage you through difficult times; they’ll care about you as you care about them. I watch my church on the internet if I’m sick and can’t attend, but there’s an atmosphere you don’t get from the internet or the TV. If you don’t know of a Bible-based church to attend, ask a Christian friend, then search until you know you’ve found the one that God shows you. You’ll be glad you did.

The Battle

Groveling about in the mud of despair
Rejection and pain cast me down
I want to get up – but how?
They hang about so close
Enveloping me
Surrounding and confusing all my thoughts.

Yet, I know a way out of this tunnel
I know I must take it
Or deeper I go.
But I’m so lost in the darkness
Almost giving up hope
Almost but not quite.

I know my hope rests in Jesus my Lord
So I call out His name in desperation.
“Here I am,” He answers me.
“Grab hold of my hand
I died to set you free –
Yes, your freedom rests in Me alone.”

Jesus pulls me from that muddy pit
He washes all the dirt from my face
Then He dresses me with clean white clothes
And tells me, “Next time, put on your armor;
Do not let those thoughts pull you down
But fight with all your might.”

“Fight with all your might
And stand, stand strong upon my Word
Store it up in your heart
For it is your defense;
When distress comes your way.
My Word conquers every foe.”

Satan knows he’s defeated already
But he figures you don’t know
So he attacks with all his might to overcome.
You need not fall, for you have armor
And the sword of my Word stands strong
You will surely win when you stand and fight.
___________

See Ephesians 6:10-18 for details about the spiritual armor of God.

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!
 

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).

Prayer for Those with Debilitating Diseases

(This prayer is for three people close to my heart, but I extend it to others in this situation.)

Father, my heart hurts for people close to me who are enduring debilitating diseases that Satan has inflicted upon them. I know many others face the same or different issues, all of which prove difficult to cure. Only you can touch these loved ones and heal them, Father. Whether you use doctors and medicine or whether You divinely heal them, I pray you touch their lives.

In the meanwhile, give them peace in the journey; comfort them in pain; let them know you stand beside them and your Spirit within them each moment of the day and night.

Father, you know each of their life situations, and I lift those up to you, for you alone know what each one needs at this very moment and in the coming days as they walk through these life-changing challenges. Give them courage, strength, energy, hope and peace. Let them know your very real presence upon them.

Father, if I could, I’d instantly remove each of these illnesses from them; but I can’t. I know you can. That is not a difficult thing for you, Daddy-God! However, sometimes you allow us to walk through these challenges, teaching us more about you along the way. I pray each one learns the lessons you have for them during this time, drawing them ever closer to you, Holy God.

I pray your glory comes out of these situations in whatever way you choose. May you be honored and exalted; and may all these close to me – and others also – have a greater testimony of your mercy and grace in the future than they do presently.

Father, I love and exalt you, for you alone are holy, high and worthy of worship.  You sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins and our healing, as the Bible says in 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB) “He Himself [Jesus] bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed.” In Jesus’ precious and holy name, I ask for your mercy, Holy God. Amen.

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.

Abba, I Belong to You; My Chains Are Gone!

“Abba, I belong to You.” This new-to-me song spoke to my heart, and those words kept going through my mind as I drove home after church today. Words from a second song, which I know, blended with those precious other words. “Break every chain; break every chain.” I sang those two phrases together several times as I drove by myself.

Then the Light came on, and I saw the relationship. And that’s the crux of the whole thing! Relationship! If we’re a child of God, we belong to our heavenly Father, which Abba means. Then Jesus has already broken all those chains off us! He did that at the cross long ago. All we need do is to step out of them.

Maybe we don’t see ourselves in chains. But do you have issues that keep the overflowing peace and joy of the Lord from showing in your life? They may be family relationship, financial, illness, job. Whatever they are, Jesus death on the cross broke those chains off you. So just step out of them.

Now I know that’s far easier said than done. I struggle with the doing myself. But I’m beginning to see myself without certain chains I’ve carried, and that’s a large part of getting rid of them. When we see ourselves as Father sees us, then our hope is built; our confidence in his Word grows until we walk out of those chains. We say we believe the Bible is true, and we do, but often we lack confidence in it. We don’t know that we know that we know!

Good relationships don’t form just because the mind says that would benefit me. Good relationships come from the heart. And we must get God’s promises into our heart and mind so that we know without doubting that they’re true. When we do that, then we begin seeing chains breaking because we know Father’s love does not leave us bound in any kind of bondage. Father’s love, when we really grasp it, sets us free. We’re free but we must recognize it and stand in it. When our enemy tries to make us think otherwise, we must fight for our victory and stand firm that whatever chain has been broken will stay broken. God’s kids aren’t meant to be slaves.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand first against him and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. (1 Peter 5:7-9 New Living Translation.)

No one escapes trouble in this life, even if we’re believers in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Just look at all the people in the New Testament. But sometimes our chains may come about through generational issues that come down the family line, and Christ sets us free from these. He also frees us from addictions of any kind. In an early blog post, I wrote how I was addicted to soap operas because of moving much and not having good friends. That was 40 years ago when TV wasn’t nearly as explicit as it is now, but I didn’t want my children to see what I watched. The Holy Spirit filled my heart and took away the loneliness that drove me to those shows, and I’ve never been interested in them since.

Often we limit God by not anticipating Him being able to do all He says He can. Then we will not find release from our chains. Hebrews 11:6 states, It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Matthew 19:26, Mark 9:23, 10:27, and 14:36 all tell us that ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD. We must believe that to see miracles.

If we’re seeking answers from our loving Father, then we must believe that He will answer us. Otherwise, we might as well not ask. Go to your Father in faith and receive what He very much wants to give you. Tell Him, “Abba, I belong to You.” Then acknowledge that your chains were broken and step out of them!

Understanding the Spiritual Armor

When I first put on the spiritual armor, I had trouble remembering the order, so I learned the pieces from head down and used that way for a while. Then one day I wondered why it was listed in such a seemingly disconnected way. That’s when my Father whispered in my mind that He has a reason for that process. As I thought about this, I began to understand that reasoning and have put it on correctly ever since.

God led Paul to write about the spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:10-18 after telling these believers in Jesus Christ how to live a life pleasing to Him. Paul, being a prisoner in Rome, knew he’d never see them again and so wanted to help them as much as possible. Most likely, Paul intended this letter to circulate to all the churches in the area. This and Philippians are my favorite letters of all those Paul wrote. Ephesians tells us in chapter one where our spiritual standing lives and how blessed we are. Stuffed full of golden nuggets, we do well to study this book repeatedly. Chapter six gives us final instructions for living a genuine Christian life and at the end tells us how to fight all Satan throws against us.

Ephesians 6:10-12 (New Living Translation* – NLT)  Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might.  11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

 Here Paul tells us that our troubles aren’t caused by people but by the spirits and powers ruling those people. When one becomes a Christ-follower, Satan realizes that person is a threat to him and his kingdom, so he starts to attack that one in various ways. That doesn’t mean non-believers don’t have problems also because Satan’s whole aim is to “steal, kill and destroy.” Jesus calls our enemy the thief in John 10:10 and uses these words to describe him. But Jesus goes on to say that He came to give us a satisfying and rich life [not necessarily rich in money or material possessions, though some Christ-followers are] (NLT). That’s what makes following Jesus such a wonderful blessing. Next Paul describes the spiritual armor that protects us from the assaults of Satan. Then, we’re to stand strong even through the assaults. Christians become stronger through the warfare we endure, but our aim centers on standing for Jesus, no matter what. Without this armor, we cannot stand.

 Ephesians 6:13-17 (NLT):   Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17 (The Message Bible** – MSG):   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. I really like this version because it’s so succinct, telling us exactly what’s what.

How do we wear the spiritual armor?

We’re to wrap ourselves in the truth of God’s word, which is the first piece of armor we must wear. Why? Because if we don’t know the truth, the other pieces can’t help us. When the Holy Spirit breaks through to our spirit that Jesus really is the Son of God and that His blood shed so long ago will forgive our sins, then we confess them and turn away from them and start on the path as a child of God. (Please note, salvation only begins with this first step; our full salvation continues as we grow closer to the Lord in this life and finds fulfillment when we arrive in heaven.)

The breastplate of righteousness comes in and gives us that right standing before God, so we can enter His presence and talk with Him. This piece goes over our heart and gives us encouragement to live a godly life daily.

We need these and the other pieces of spiritual armor all the way through our lives because the devil will always try to turn us from the truth of God’s Word. That’s not meant at all to be discouraging but simply states the fact that we do have an enemy who doesn’t want us to follow our Lord.

Next we put on the shoes of the peace that comes from knowing and acting on the Word of God. When we become a believer in Jesus Christ, we receive peace from God because all our sins are forgiven. Afterwards, we’ll find that peace disappears if we stray from God’s way, so we must go back and confess that wrong against God and others; then we’ll regain that peace. This peace also helps us be at peace with other people because once we learn of our Father’s great forgiveness towards us, then we’re enabled to forgive others. For more on God’s peace, please read Philippians 4:6-8 below. I think describing this peace with shoes is important because it indicates that this special inward peace goes with us, no matter what circumstances we face. Paul was in prison when he wrote about this wonderful peace and contentment from God that remains always with us (see also Philippians 4:11, 13 and 19.)

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT):  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Graham Cooke, a godly author and speaker, calls negative thinking “the worship language of the devil” because that’s what he wants us to do. Negative thinking gets us depressed and almost giving up on God. That’s why Paul tells us to keep on thinking about all the goodness of our heavenly Father. Not that we deny earthly problems, but  we realize our circumstances are governed by a God who loves us so much that He gave His own Son to die for us. Unless they were fighting in a war for our country, I seriously doubt I’d ever let one of my sons sacrifice his life for someone who didn’t even like us; yet, that’s exactly what God did! Romans 5:8 (NLT):  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

We take up the shield of faith, which grows larger the more we involve ourselves in Bible study and prayer. Our faith is only enough to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior when we first become a Christian but as we follow our Lord, it grows. We’ll never not need that faith because Satan will always try to discourage it, as the Word says, by throwing those flaming darts of doubt, confusion and lies. That shield is stronger than he is, though, so we can stand faithful as long as we remember that fact. 1 John 4:4 reminds us that the Holy Spirit who lives within us is greater than the devil who rules the world. The Bible goes on to tell us that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith starts at the beginning of our Christian life and goes through till the end. In Luke 18:8 Jesus asks when He returns, will He find faith on the earth?

The helmet of salvation operates best with all the rest of the armor. We cover our heads (indicating our minds, wills and emotions) guarding them against all doubts and lies Satan and the world in general try to throw at us, but we must know the truth to effectively protect ourselves or others when we’re talking with them. When we’re believers in Jesus Christ, we experience a relationship with Him. Being a good person, joining a church or following a certain religious doctrine doesn’t make us a believer. Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship with our Lord.

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This sword only works if we have an experiential knowledge of the Bible. That means we’ve walked with God and can put His Word into practice. We don’t simply read the Bible as we would another book. Jesus used the sword of the Spirit to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (see Matthew 4:1-11) and we’re to do the same thing.

Why is the last piece of the spiritual armor the Word of God? Because everything we think, say or do must be checked by the Bible. It’s the controller of what is and isn’t good for us under God’s leadership. Yes, there are gray areas that aren’t mentioned, things that weren’t even possible during Bible times. For example, television and the internet supplies both spiritual food and spiritual death. Some things remain neutral. When we wear the rest of the armor, we can easily tell which is which. Does what we see build us up spiritually or tear us down? Does it meet the test of Philippians 4:8? If we want to discern the difference, we can. Jesus defeated Satan by using the Word of God and so can we.

James 4:7-10 (MSG):  So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. 8 Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. 9 Hit bottom and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. 10 Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

The Final Act

 Ephesians 6:18-20 (NLT)  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

Why do we put on and keep on this armor? To protect us from all that the enemy of our souls throws at us. And even more than that, it prepares us to pray as the Holy Spirit leads us to pray not only for ourselves but for other believers – those we know and those around the world. We also pray for those who do not yet know our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

We must support ourselves and keep our hopes high in the Lord. Likewise, we must support each other because all of us experience days that discourage us and need a special word of encouragement at that time. Long ago, I learned that when someone’s name came to mind, to pray for that person. This happened several times with the same lady, so I started calling her then to see how things were going. Each time, she needed prayer about something. I learned then to always pray, no matter where I was, when I suddenly thought of someone, especially if they weren’t usually on my mind’s radar.

If we keep up with Christian news, we know many believers in numerous countries are persecuted, jailed or killed for being Christians and spreading the gospel.  It’s our responsibility as free people to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who miss this freedom. We pray for their safety but also their courage and strength to stand strong during persecution. We also pray for the persecutors because they don’t know Jesus as their Savior. We can pray that either by their captive’s witness, through dreams or other ways that they too will accept Christ. Jesus always cared for those who don’t know Him and still does.

Matthew 9:36-38 (NLT   He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Thus, it’s our job as believers to protect ourselves from Satan’s attacks and to pray for other believers, whether we know them or not. As well, our duty and privilege call us to pray for those who don’t know Him that they will accept Christ as their Savior. One way Paul mentions he needs prayer is that he will be bold to say exactly what needs to be said. He doesn’t suggest they pray for his quick release, as I probably would, but I’m not sure I’d pray for boldness to witness when it would likely cost me more persecution. Responsibilities come with being a Christian – to others and especially to our Father who loves and gives us so very much. Will we continually wear our spiritual armor and pray for ourselves, for others and for those who don’t yet know our Savior and Lord?

____________

*   Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

**  THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. l rights reserved.

***  I use these modern Bible translations because they are easier to understand for people whose first language may not be English because this goes on my blog, with many readers whom I don’t know.

Admiration of My Father God

Father, thank you that I can call Almighty God, Creator of everything, my Father! That’s amazing to me – that you would allow your holy Son to come to earth, live a perfect life, die an agonizing death, then go back home to heaven, now sitting beside you and praying for me. That’s unimaginable! No other god ever mentioned on earth would think to do such things; they condemn me and require much of me if I believe in them. But you love me unconditionally. I fathom this only a little but it gives me great joy.

Yes, such joy to know that One who lives eternally understands and loves me with all my shortcomings and inadequacies. You accept me just as I am. I don’t have to try to make myself better. You don’t require that of me; instead, you ask me to simply trust you to make all the inner changes required, and I do. You enable me to change for better. I know that deeply-rooted issues I simply can’t change; the pain from them is too great. But Father, you know how to solve those issues and erase that hurt. You take my sorrow and give me joy. You are amazing!

Father, I can’t begin to grasp how fantastic you are – forever present, holy, just, forgiving but punishing when I won’t give up evil ways, loving even those who turn against you. But you are merciful, gracious, kind, self-controlling to the extent of relenting your anger when I repent and follow you. You look at me with longing for my love and a deep relationship with me, communicating all through the day. Even when I go through trials, you comfort me, giving me your Holy Spirit to guide and direct me.

Awesome, wonderful, majestic, totally true, totally just, totally love – no words can describe you – so far are you above anything I can imagine. But the bottom line is that you love me and are my heavenly Father. Though I can’t totally comprehend all this means, I rejoice in it!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish [in hell*] but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him [in God’s Son, Jesus Christ*] 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 (John 3:16-18 New American Standard Bible.)

* My insertion.

My Daddy-God and Lord God Almighty

I’m so thankful God gives us permission to see and understand Him in two ways; not that we’ll ever fully understand Him in either way but that we grasp a little of His character in those aspects. Daddy-God shows me His individual love for me, like a little child goes to his earthly father when he has a problem, expecting all the time for that father to solve whatever troubles the child. The father wraps the child in his arms and holds them tight against whatever bothers the little one. When I hurt, I feel God’s arms wrapped tightly around me, soothing my pain, comforting my heart. I remember the feeling I had as I sat in my daddy’s lap when trouble or problems came. Continue reading

Hang on to God’s Love

My heart leaks. When I’m in the middle of worshipping God, it often overflows into and out of my eyes. Not the way I’d wish to show my heart, but that’s what happens, whether alone or with others. However, seeing my heart overflow in gratitude tells me that I’m learning to truly appreciate God’s tremendous love for me. That love resides so deep within me that it’s as real as knowing my name. Continue reading

Enduring Trials

The church where I belong is in Dickinson, Texas and I drive mainly on a highway that goes through town going to it, but yesterday when I left from helping hand out supplies to Harvey victims, I went a different direction going home. While I’d seen sheet rock and household belongings out on the side of the road in some places previously, I’d not seen something like this from Harvey. These things piled high on both sides of almost the whole three or so miles I traveled down that street. Likewise, all the side streets looked the same way. It reminded me a lot of the way Galveston looked when my husband and I went there about three months after Hurricane Ike hit and overflowed the island from the Gulf and the Bay. The tremendousness of the loss hit me anew, even though I knew that my church alone had helped 331 different families the last week. Continue reading

A New Day

Do I greet each new morning as an adventure? Do I ask God what He has in store for me that day? No. Usually as I tell Father good morning when getting out of bed, I don’t think of an exciting day, though I don’t dread them either. It’s simply another day, right? Perhaps it would be better to see the day as an adventure; for instance, whose path will I cross that day? Will I have an opportunity to share Jesus with them? Can I pray for them? Will they bless me in some unforeseen way? Continue reading

Deep in the Pit

A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the LORD. LORD, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea! 2 Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress. Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you. 3 For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like red-hot coals. 4 My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite.

17 He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas. 18 Let this be recorded for future generations, so that a people not yet born will praise the LORD. [Psalm 102:1-4, 17-18 New Living Translation]

Have you ever been in this terrible place where it seemed that no matter how hard you prayed, God still didn’t answer your prayer? Maybe you cried out with all your heart and even fasted as you prayed but no answer came. Heaven seemed sealed shut to you, although you saw a quick resolution to other people’s prayers. You wanted to yell, “God, that’s not fair!” We don’t understand why our loving heavenly Father lingers over some prayers. According to Bible principles, God ought to answer them quickly because His will demands their answer. We’re at a loss and can’t explain it but we certainly feel like verses 1-4 of Psalm 102. Continue reading

That God-shaped Hole

Feeling kinda down and don’t know why? Your family life is going well, your job’s OK, finances are sufficient for your needs, health is adequate. Yes, you’re not overflowing in any of these areas but things are sufficient, so then why do you still feel like something is lacking? You’re somewhat depressed without being able to understand the reason.  Let me tell you my story. Continue reading

J-O-Y

For Christmas a few years ago I was given the three letters to spell joy and as I looked at them today on a what-not shelf, I realized the subject of this devotional. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying to find “joy,” consider Jesus first, others second and yourself last. I thought that way for most of my life but the last few years, I’ve realized that the first commandment Jesus said is to love God with all our hearts and the second is to love our neighbor as ourselves (see Matthew 22:37-40). The more I’ve thought about this, the more I say we must love ourselves before we can know how to love others! Continue reading