We’ve all been there. We’ve known our weaknesses since we were children. We’ve struggled with temptation for as long as we can remember. We’ve given in, struggled to avoid it, or done our best to resist it. We’ve wrestled with it because of parents, maybe teachers, or even God. However, somehow the temptation Continue reading
Are you aware that God’s intention for us was a sinless life, one that was righteous and holy? His desire was a spiritual relationship untainted by anything but goodness and blessing. If you check out the first few chapters of the book of Genesis in the Bible, you’ll see that man didn’t understand that. Eve was deceived by the “father of lies,” Satan. She shared the deception with her husband, Adam. They fell under the serpent’s age-old tactic of creating doubt about God’s goodness. Sadly, they believed his lies, and since then, there was only one person in all of mankind that has been able to fulfill God’s intention for a sinless life. His name is Jesus!
The Good News is that Jesus made it possible for each human being to take what He was able to do, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and make that gift their own. Jesus came to Earth with us in mind. Everything He did, He did on our behalf. He chose to not sin. He chose to lay down every part of His life for us, despite the fact that He had no need. He was sinless!
Meditating on the book of Matthew, I came to the third chapter. We find Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, parked in the desert, dressed in camel hair and eating locusts and wild honey. I’m sure many came to gawk at this unusual man who is pointing out the need for mankind to repent (to think differently, or to reconsider in the Hebrew.) John’s cry reaches the area surrounding the Jordan River, and once the people hear his message, their hearts are touched, and their lives changed.
As they understand what they’ve become, and surrender to the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Joshua, they step into the water that separated the desert from the Promised Land. Their lives are changes as a result. Their hearts are again open to God, and they are ready to hear, understand and receive all that God has in store for His people!
However, John is made aware, by the Holy Spirit, of the religious leaders that are coming to be baptized in the Jordan. John is able to know their hearts, which have little desire for repentance. Most have an ungodly desire for an outward show, which has the appearance of righteousness. In the Hebrew righteousness means equity (fairness, justice or impartiality) ~ or justification (the action of showing something to be right or reasonable.) So these men were not fair, just or impartial. They had no intention of showing John, or his call to repentance, to be right or reasonable.
As a matter of fact, John calls them a “brood of vipers!” How would you like to be called a nest of snakes? But John was aware that their hearts were not surrendered to God. Their agenda was to control the people by focusing on God’s Law, which He gave for direction and guidance, as well as all of the man-made laws they added over time to satisfy their own agenda! They saw themselves as untouchable since they were the children of Abraham! John saw their true intentions and told them that God could raise “children of Abraham” out of the very stones if He wanted! He added that there was destruction ahead if they didn’t change their ways and begin to bear Godly fruit!
God hates deception! His greatest enemy is Satan, the father of lies! These religious leaders were focused on deceiving the people, and God was using John to make His point! But God’s mercy is also great! Despite the rules and regulations that had multiplied over the years, God’s heart was for the true repentance and salvation of His people! And so, Jesus enters the scene.
John knows who Jesus truly is ~ the long-awaited Messiah! He hesitates to baptize the only perfect human, knowing his own need to be baptized by Jesus. But Jesus says, “Permit it to be so now, for this is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” This is God’s grace and mercy at work in His Son! This perfect God-Man is standing in the gap for every human being that has ever been born into this world, each one tainted by the inheritance of sin that passes from generation to generation. As Jesus enters the water, He repents on behalf of each one of us. He expressed sincere regret for OUR wrongdoing; our sin. He never needed to do this, but He, the Father and the Holy Spirit are present at this great event ~ the baptism of the only perfect human for the sin of every imperfect human being ever born.
The process of redemption continues as Jesus obeys His Father. And so, each of us, must stand in agreement with all that Jesus did for us! We begin with repentance. We tell God that we are sorry for all that we’ve done to separate us from Him, and we don’t want to do those things any more. We look to all that the sinless Son of God did on our behalf, and we receive His great Gift of salvation ~ through Jesus!
In the days ahead, we will continue this journey through Matthew. This former tax collector ties together the Old Testament prophesies, and the unfolding physical presence of our Messiah on Earth. Join me as we meditate on the great mercy and amazing grace of Almighty God!
We are all on a path of discovery. Many times, the things that we discover, are areas of belief that need to be corrected. Such has been my journey! So much of what I believed, created actions or responses that had no true or godly foundation. Thoughts and beliefs of parents, peers, teachers and preachers flooded my subconscious; a great amount of truth was peppered with half truths and some outright lies.
As I’ve learned to face myself and those around me, I’ve submitted myself to God and His Word. Until His light began to penetrate the dark places in my life and heart ~ places I had no idea were even there ~ I was trapped and entangled in those half truths and lies! God had to show me His Truth, through His Word and His Holy Spirit’s revelation. I had to be willing to see, and agree, before any change would manifest in my life.
The tactic of our greatest enemy is to keep those wrong thoughts and beliefs hidden. If hidden, they can never change, and will distort our perception of our life, and God’s part in it! As I began to see these truths, I was encouraged to write about them. My forever husband had been asking me to write a book for years, but I couldn’t see how that would even be possible! Why would anyone want to hear what I had to say? God, and my FH thought differently!!! This is just the beginning of all that I sense God wants me to share, but here is a brief excerpt from the book that I am getting ready to send into cyberspace!
By this time I had been in ministry for thirteen years. My convoluted ideas about the Trinity, although previously jumbled, were being clarified. Truth was emerging as I sat with the Holy Spirit and read God’s Word. The lies I had amassed from childhood and religion were being exposed and denounced, but there was a lot of hard work to do. The loving God I knew as a child had been hidden by a cloud of lies, and the Jesus who gave His life for me had been accused of taking everyone close to me. My confusion asked, Was He ready to do it again?
This book involves my former ministry life. Sadly, there are many out there who are in similar situations. They involve beliefs, and families of origin, and marriages in crisis. Often, there is nowhere to turn. This was a summary of my experience ….
Year after year, I felt off balance in my own home. I spent time with my Heavenly Father and His Word most days, while I spent the rest of those days wondering if my husband would ever love me again. He had never been “romantic,” but there were times we’d spend a nice evening out or go to a movie. Those times could be pleasant or strained, depending on his mood. Day in and day out, I’d wonder why I had turned into an obligation and why he wouldn’t do what he promised ~ love me forever.
Misunderstanding of ourselves and others, can create great loneliness. I lived there for years. But God wants to show us who we truly are in Him, and to show us the plan He has for each one of us.
This is my story … coming soon as an e-book! You may learn something new. I know I sure did!
About a week ago, I was putting some finishing touches on some writing. Emerging from the background of the music I had playing was a song I had memorized years ago. This song had touched my very soul, bringing peace and joy at a time that should have brought some very different emotions. As I listened to this familiar blessing, I found myself resting in the truths of the song, and singing along with joy!
It was at that moment that I knew I had to share this song with someone out there. You may never have been privileged to hear this song. Some of you weren’t born yet. Some were never in church, or were not aware of contemporary christian music if you were. Some heard it, but had no need for the message at the time. If you didn’t hear or respond to it in the past, I’m sharing it today, and I cannot thank Brown Bannister enough for the truths of this great song, and the Imperials for their wonderful presentation! Give a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfTQg9whI-s
I’ve included the YouTube version with the words so that you can read and reread as you wish! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfvHDYtZosQ
The message is that God loves you, and Jesus already paid the price for everything that would have separated you from God’s love! So just receive that Gift of Grace and redemption, love Him back ~ and PRAISE HIM for all that He continues to do for you!
I was worshiping. The sun was warm on my face. Birds and cicadas were serenading the Creator of the universe. Trees whispered as the warm breeze tugged at their leaves.
As I sat in the pool that was close to our apartment, I sang God’s praises. I was grateful for the life He had given me. At the moment my surroundings resembled a resort and peace and rest were the order of the day. My face was lifted heavenward and I sang His praises, thanking Him for every good gift that was mine!
Feeling as if I needed to change position, I splashed water on my face and arms and turned to let the sun warm my back. Still in the warm water, my chin was now resting on my arms at the pool’s edge. My eyes scanned the area surrounding the pool itself. Lovely plants with light green and deep purple leaves decorated an area close to the “cool decking” that supported my arms just at the pool’s edge. Bees made momentary stops on leaf after leaf as they searched for water or nourishment., but it was the tiny ants that stole my attention.
They moved quickly, scouring the area for whatever it was they wanted or needed. These ants were smaller than any I had ever seen before, but, since I had encountered biting ants in Arizona more than once, I was on my guard.
There were several of them now. Although bees would buzz close enough to be heard, these ants were my focus! I didn’t want any of them to get near my flesh so I was aware of their every move. As they continued their search, I realized that I was no longer worshiping God, but watching the ants. I had taken my eyes off my God and was more than aware of His creation…
I heard three questions. “Can you wet the surface around you to keep the ants away?” “Yes” “Could you use your breath to blow them away?” “Yes” ” Could you use the tip of your finger to eliminate each one?” “Yes, Father!” “Then if I’ve given you the ability to overcome them, why did you take your eyes off Me? WOW!
I had fallen for a classic trick of God’s enemy! He hates all that God is and will whisper fear and doubt into our circumstances. As tiny as that ant was, it brought back the memory of former experiences with their red cousins and turned my eyes away from the God who cared even more about me than the ants.
Humbled, I realized I had taken my focus off the one deserving of my worship, and placed them on the circumstances that were close at hand. Every time that distraction comes, I must see it for what it is and surrender that situation to my Abba Father. He knows the answer to my every problem, and will provide the answers as I surrender each one to Him.
Splashing water all around the area where my back and arms would rest, I turned my gaze upward to the beauty of the blue and cloudless sky, and the only One who truly deserved my attention.
As we walk into this new year of 2016, I challenge you to focus on the One who gave you life, and who continues to love you whether you know it or not!
If you’re like most of the population during this season, you’re trying to figure out what to get family and friends for Christmas. After all, it is the season of giving ~ and getting. There’s a special desire to see that look of joy on the face of the receiver. We may settle for a look of pleasure, Continue reading
After a seeming lifetime of belief in God, I was stopped short one day as I read this verse in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith (Hebrew: moral conviction of religious truth, the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (NIV) I always believed that He existed, but I had somehow missed the rewards part. How could I have overlooked that part of the verse? For years I had embraced the mindset that salvation from my own sin was reward in itself. On this day, however, I was reminded that there is more to the salvation that my Savior provided than an escape from Hell.
As I became convinced of God’s consistent love, truth and grace as it is reflected in His Word, I was able to develop a deeper relationship with Him, and better reflect His Image to others. This portion of the verse made it clear that my pursuit of God, my desire to truly know Him, carried rewards. Some may call these rewards blessing, favor, or promises from God. Whatever term you use, God is the One doing the rewarding. We do nothing but seek Him… not for the reward, because intimacy with God is reward enough, but because we want to respond to His love for us.
This is not about working to earn salvation. That is impossible! This is about a loving God who doles out gifts that cause us to smile and know that He loves us. He is the One who is pleased when His Creation wants to know Him. He is the One who rewards those who truly believe Him and His Word. He loved us while we were yet sinners, according to Romans 5:8, so how much more does He appreciate those who have received His plan of salvation and become His children!
When we really want to please God, we find out what His Word says and then believe and DO it! Jesus paid for a great many things by His death and resurrection. Healing, for instance, was never needed before Adam and Eve made the wrong choice in the Garden of Eden, so Jesus restored divine health with the stripes He took on His back.
God always wanted a prosperous and healthy life for His creation, so don’t believe for a second that God would give you something less than wholeness in your body. James 1:13-15 says, When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (NIV) So, if that “something less” shows up, surrender it to the God who heals, and watch Him do what He does best… create, sustain and restore life as we walk with Him. He created the universe with His Words. We do the same with our words. so speak His Word to remind yourself, and those around you, of all that Jesus redeemed in that ultimate act of love for humanity… for you! That undeserved love is just one of God’s rewards.
Remember, God always tells the truth. His very essence is righteousness and holiness. “God is not a man that He should lie.” (Numbers 23:19, KJV) So let’s trust Him when He tells us He wants to reward (Heb. ~ deliver, give, pay recompense) us, and be thankful as His blessings flow our way in every area of life. Have faith (Heb.~persuasion, conviction, belief) in God and His goodness! It’s what really pleases Him!
In today’s society, many names are given because they sound appealing or because a best friend in grade school had the name. It could be that the name has a link to a family member or a person of renown in history. Some choose names because they’ve belonged to wise men or women, or to one whose life has been remarkable in some way.
Originally, names were meant to state a purpose or to signify a reality or event. The first man, Adam, was so named because Continue reading
To those of us who say we are part of God’s Family, what will our focus be for Jesus’ birthday?
I asked one of my grandchildren the other day what they would be giving Jesus for His special day and there was silence for awhile. Then I shared the Truth of His great sacrifice for us, that God is the consummate gift-giver, and has been since He created this Earth and everything in it! As God’s kids, we are stamped with that same spiritual DNA. He wants us to share with those He’s placed in our lives to bless and encourage them. Sometimes, He creates those “divine appointments” that introduce us to another for a moment or a period of time. Most often He wants to use one of the gifts He’s already given us to help the other. Sometimes He wants Continue reading
Suppose you were told that there was a child in need of a new heart. Your own heart goes out to parent and child alike. You may not know the child but you know you want to do everything you can to save that child’s life. After all, you have a child about the same age. Perhaps you call to speak with the person who gave you the information. You may spread the word through Facebook or Twitter. You use your phone, email or other social media to make sure everyone in your circle is aware of the need. You make a financial contribution or give blood since the blood types match. You truly are fighting for the life of this child!
Then, let’s suppose that tragedy happens. There is an accident, and it involves one of your own children… the one that’s the same age as the child who needs the heart. After the doctors have done all they can do, you’re told that your child will not make it through the night. Fighting for your child’s life will not be possible; the damage to his internal organs has been extensive and irreperable… except for his heart.
You have a choice to make. One that is painful and, if you make it, extremely unselfish. The needed heart has to be viable, and a match for the other child. Your son’s blood type matches. You decide to give the life of your son for the life of another.
Pain grips you as you realize that your son will be gone soon, but his heart will beat in the chest of another. You tell him you love him, that you are proud of him, that he will always be in your heart, and then you watch him breathe his last.
God made that very decision over 2,000 years ago. He offered the perfect, sinless heart of His Son, Jesus, to any who may need it. That decision has brought a second chance to anyone who asked for a new heart. Once you receive that heart, your heart beats with His, because He not only came to Earth in an earth suit, He now lives and breathes, seated next to God the Father, in Heaven. God gave us His Son, and Jesus paid everything for your new life. Have you taken Him up on His offer?
It’s Jesus’ birthday soon. How will you celebrate it this year?