Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Thursday, December 18, 2014
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
Peace is one of the last things that Christ left His disciples before ascending to heaven. His peace is a position. Worldly peace is the absence of strife, fear, war, doubt, worry, etc. That peace cannot totally exist.
All throughout His earthly ministry Jesus faced opposition from rulers, religious leaders and people who did not agree with His message. Yet, Jesus was always at peace.
Before I became born-again, peace was the one thing i wanted most in my life. No matter the day, hour or minute I was in a state of rage. Until...I cried out unto the Lord to heal me and take away the anger. Now I had peace within me. I was in a place of peace.
All during the church age men and women of the faith faced life and death situations in which they were asked to renounce Jesus as the Messiah or face death. In fact the early church, because of persecution, was forced to flee their hometowns and in doing so took the gospel message to other cities and towns thereby spreading the gospel. What if they had simply chosen to bow down to the pressure and stop telling the world about Jesus?
I marvel at the feeling of exhilaration I get when telling someone about Jesus or answering questions about my faith. A settled peace comes upon me because, this is what I want to do. Thinking on it from that angle, this being what I want to do, now I see why Jesus was so at peace.
God's word provides me with great comfort because there are no mysteries. If the Almighty says something is going to happen, well guess what? It is going to happen.
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, nor the son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
WOW!!! I could end it there. G O D I S F A I T H F U L
There a days when I struggle in my flesh to find peace in a world that does not know peace. But, my inner man trusts in the One True God. David sought the LORD when the Amalekites raided their village and took the families of the soldiers captive. Despite David's own men wanting to stone him.
First Samuel 30:6 tells me "David encouraged himself in the LORD."
The world looks at Christians as divisive and uncooperative. And that's ok. We are set apart from the people and ideals of the world that go against biblical cannon. Yet, the peace of God, flows through those who are called His own. My souls longs to be in His permanent presence and when that day comes i shall finally understand the peace that surpasses all understanding and keeps my mind and heart in Christ Jesus.
The last four days have like a roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, I don't like roller coasters. Can you imagine how I feel?
First Peter 5:8 'Be sober, be vigilant; because your advesary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.'
This scripture has been at the forefront of my mind lately because I have been battling my flesh and at times the word of God.
You may be thinking "Why is there a picture of an empty chair?" "What does it represent?"
Two very good questions. I shall go on.
On the second sunday of every month a group of people from my church go to a local nursing and visit some of the residents. Actually, this is a ministry we have had for several years. Whereas before we would go into the nursing home and have a short service (we would sing a few songs and give a message.) But now we go from room to room and speak with those who will have us and talk about whatever they would like to talk about. This particular sunday i wanted to visit a lady whom we have not seen for almost three months. Ms. Eileen, the resident in question had not been feeling well since October. During our visit then she was not feeling well and stayed in her room to rest up a bit and did not want visitors. No problem. I was hopeful that we would see her in November. Fast forward to November and Ms. Eileen is feeling even more under the weather and did not come out her room all that much in the preceeding weeks. There is some worry on my part but not a great deal. When we first started going room to room and talking with the residents Ms. Eileen would always be sitting in the chair above waiting for us to get off the elevator happily awaiting to hear about days (in between visits) and us hers. Most of the time we talked about families and church and general world events.
If i remember correctly, August, no September, I had the chance to ask her about her eternal salvation and share the gospel message. Ms. Eileen assured me that she was a born-again believer in Jesus and I was happy to hear that.
This past Sunday I found out from lady who lived in the same area with Ms. Eileen, that she had passed away a few days prior to our return. My heart sank a little and I found it difficult to move. I just blankly stared ahead and mumbled "thank you." From that moment the intensity of the war increased. Satan tried to convince me she was not born-again. He told me that i was wasting my time coming to the nursing home and reaching out to people who were all but forgotten about, by their own families.
Silently I prayed and I asked God to comfort her family and help them find peace in all of this. Ms. Eileen had no children of her own but she talked about other kids within her family and how she loved them as her own. She loved talking about life and her friends her in the nursing home with her and how they enjoyed their "golden years" together. There was no sorrow in her voice but an acceptance. Ms. Eileen did not live bitterly. Several times we would pray for her family, friends, sister and even the staff at the nursing home. Her thoughts were never about herself and the only time she asked for prayer was for some pain she was having in her back.
I fought back some tears because we still had many residents to visit and I did not want to be in a daze. It was hard to accept her passing, but I know she did not suffer. For the next 40 minutes we continued on with the Lord's work and Satan remained steadfast while trying to get me off track.
Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16
My faith in God will see me through these next few days and subsequent visits to the nursing home.
I cannot let anyone or anything deter me from what He has commissioned me to do. It is God who searches and knows the heart of everyone. God knows its intricacies way better than I ever will. All I can do is remain steadfast in the Lord, and remember that the war we fight is for the eternal souls of everyone we come in contact with.
I look forward to seeing whom God will place in the chair next.
(See you in part 2)
Friday, December 12, 2014
I stayed at a friends house last night and his mother and I got to talking during a commercial break while watching The Big Bang Theory.
Celeste told me about an interview she caught a few minutes of on a show. The person being interviewed was Dolores Hart a former actress who gave up the glitz and glamor of Hollywood to become a nun.
Ms. Hart was asked a question about evil. Celeste, said her response stuck with her because she thought it was 'thought provoking'.
Ms. Hart said "Evil, is the absence of love."
I paused upon hearing this and found it to be 'thought provoking' indeed.
How true. Because of sin in the heart of man, evil will always win out...unless the love of God breaks through. It is the love of God displayed on the Cross of Calvary that can change us. In a way i agree with Ms. Hart's statement. But, i would say "Sin, is the absence of love, which results in evil acts."
Saturday, November 22, 2014
"Sing you a song! Honey he cannot sing you a song, he's working."
An unseen pair of eyes gazed towards me, exspectingly. I had not seen nor heard her, yet she knew where i was.
"Hi." The little voice called out.
"Hello. How are you?"
"I'm okay." She replied as I looked around for the source.
As I made my way to the end of the isle I finally saw her and I was smitten.
How could she have possibly have seen me?
Little Ms. Myla was about 2 feet tall and her eyes and smile took up most of her body because they were alive with joy.
Myla looked from her mother to me, thinking we both would cave and I would be allowed to sing her a song.
Mother gently put her arm on her shoulders and walked towards the register to check out.
"Maybe next time he can sing you a song?"
Mayla's mom was apologetic as she said "She asks everybody to sing her a song."
Both Myla and I smiled at that thought. Myla would get her song and I would get to see her again.
I should have asked what her favorite song is.
Looking at Myla I could not help but think of my own children when they were her size. (O how I miss them.) My heart began to ache and tears were filled my eyes. Quickly, I finished the transaction but Ms. Myla wanted to talk with me some more. We talked about the nice weather and the Christmas season. (To have the innocence of a child.)
Myla just smiled and smiled. Her mother peered down at her with such love in her eyes. It was good that they lingered for a few seconds more as Myla and I got to know each other a little. Judgding from the patience of her mother, Myla probably greets everyone she meets and takes time to get to know them.
Jesus makes a couple of references about children in the scriptures.
The first one is "suffer not the children to come to Him..."
The second, "unless we come to Him as little children..."
Looking at Myla i quickly realize how precious I am in the eyes of God and how my joy should be in Him. And I should sing Him a song.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Time is not something we have a lot of, although most people seem to think we do.
The greatest realization of how little time we have comes with the knowing that Jesus could rapture the church any day now. It is that sense of urgency i try to get across to the people whom i witness to on a daily basis. Christ's imminant return.
When I share Jesus Christ with people, one of the more common responses that i get, if not the most common response, is " Not now. Give me more time to think about it."
Inwardly I sigh, outwardly I just say "ok."
A part of me wants to yell at the top of my lungs "Time is not something you have a lot of."
However, in my spirit I stand pat and wait for the Holy Spirit to lead me.
Ephesians 5:15-17 says "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
Sometimes i have great difficulty excercising patience and managing time. Like most of society today i want "it" instantly. Hurry, hurry, hurry. My zeal for wanting a lost soul find salvation often leads to a battle between my spirit and my flesh. I think back to Calvary and the two thieves on either side of Jesus. The first thief took the road more traveled by the people of the day and chose to ridicule Jesus questioning His Lordship by saying "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us."
The second thief knew, by observation and conversation, that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and promised Messiah sent to redeem a lost and sinful people.
Herein is the great divide amongst humanity today--time.
Thief #1 while on his cross did not see the need or urgency to get his life right with God because his words relayed the desires of his heart. "Save me from this horrible death and i will believe you."
Thief #2 chose to take advantage of what little time and life he had to find forgiveness for his sins and be redeemed from death and eternal damnation. "I am guilty of my crimes. Remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
As we all know the second thief did enter into the kingdom of heaven as a newly received child of the Most High God. Only then did i come to see that my timeframe is not the same as God's timeframe.
God is not bound by time or space nor is He subject to the will of mankind. The same cannot be said for mankind. We are bound by time, because at some point our bodies will fail us and we shall all surely die. We are bound by space, because we cannot be in two or more places at one time. At the prescribed time ordained by God we will hear the salvation message and accept or reject it. At the prescribed time ordained by God people are born and people die.
The apostle Peter wrote in his 2nd epistle verses 3-4 of chapter 3
knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."
I too am part of the problem because i procrastinate a lot, thinking i have the time. Sometimes my own fears come into play. Yet, how could I pass on the opportunity to be a servant of God? That may be the last chance they get to hear the message of salvation and say yes to Jesus. Someone may be on the cusp of saying yes and only need to hear of the great love of God for them.
Time is not our enemy but when it comes to doing the will of God time is of the essence and not to be wasted.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
His grace. God's amazing grace.
Ephesians 2:8a For by grace are you saved through faith
The grace of God can be found at the Cross of Calvary and the blood that Jesus shed on that very same cross for you and I.
Without this, we as sinners, who are soooooo unworthy to even come before the Most High God, will find death and eternal seperation from God.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Good morning again.
Being a believer in Jesus Christ brings me great joy. On many occassions i get the chance to talk about my Saviour and share the message of salvation. Last night was one of those times and I loved it. Sorry. I LOVED IT.
Rich, whom I shared with, asked me to get him a bible. Getting bibles for new believers and those who are searching for truth is also one of my greatest joys as a child of God. He is searching for truth and here (pic below) is where he will find it.
Please pray for his salvation and deliverance. Thank you and God bless.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
"A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9
Let me start by saying i am not in an airport or planning to fly (now or in the near future). My layover was of a different kind. A godly kind.
Having finished up at the library i went to Wendy's to visit someone who, by the way had gone home, so i got a drink and decided to watch some tv. My plan (see above verse part a) was to get in and get out. God however, (see last half of verse) had other plans.
A few minutes into my drink (i am a slow sipper) a gentleman walks in and sits a couple of seats from me. Two days prior we had a brief conversation about the news and that was that. While eating my sandwhich I had a sinking feeling (still in the two days prior) that I had missed the chance to share the gospel with this man. I quick scanned the parking lot to see what direction he went but could not locate him. Me thinks he has an invisible cloak?
My prayer: "Lord give me another chance to speak to him. I know i missed the chance to share Jesus, please forgive me."
Fast forward to today and God answered my prayer. Here was he.
Rich asks me "Do you work?"
Odd question as an ice breaker but i am game. "Sure."
(In my mind i am furiously thanking God for the answering my prayer. )
In-between bites of food and washing it down we talk.
Rich is new to the area coming from Syracuse, New York and he is looking for some part time employment. I give him the names of a few places that are hiring and he thanks me.
(He is eating and I am literally dancing in my seat because God is good.)
With the door open I tell Rich how I prayed to see him again and get the chance to talk to him.
He chuckled and echoed the same sentiment. Rich desperately wanted to meet people and befriend them so he can feel more at ease in his new environment.
I take one last look at my watch and decided Adventures in Odyssey can wait. (how selfish of me)
We continue our conversation and Rich tells me some things about himself and I too let my hair down.
( I'm laughing right now. NO HAIR! )
Our lives almost parallel each other's and it helps to break down any barriers that remained between us. Rich tells me how hard it has been to get established and find work but in his own words "I am not giving up." Good attitude.
Continuing on he speaks of wanting to finish his college degree and get back into real estate sales.
From time to time we look at the news and comment. As for me I tell him about my job and the things I like to do and I mention going to church and reading my bible. The air grew quiet for a few minutes and he said he went to church from time to time. More silence. Rich next says something about the Ebola virus and I asked him what it meant to him. "Just another virus, but here in America."
My eyes light up and I could sense the presence of the Spirit as I kind of corrected his statement. From that point we talk about the church, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and bibles.
I asked him "Is there room for God in your life?"
"No not right now." is the response.
Having said that he goes into detail about his plans and what he hopes to accomplish by the time he turns 85. At present he is only 42.
I have a bad habit of telling people they are under no obligation to answer any of my questions when i get more into talking about the bible. No one has taken me up on my offer so far. I should stop asking and just take away the option.
Rich is comfortable talking about the bible so i go on.
I pose this question to him. "What about the end of you life?"
He thinks for some seconds and says "hopefully i have enough money and am settled where i can just live in comfort."
Hmm. Not what i was expecting. Let me try a direct approach.
"You have your life planned for the next 40+ years. Lets just say you have done what you set out to do, you reach your target retirement age. Now what? What have you done about your eternal salvation?"
It must have come out of left field because he said nothing for almost 3 minutes.
"I go to church some Sundays." His statement was more of a question to me in hopes that I would say that is acceptable for salvation.
"Rich, do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?"
"I believe in God."
-inwardly i am praying for Holy Spirit guidance because I dont want to offend him and risk him putting up a wall.-
Before I could go on more news about the Ebola virus dots the television.
"It is a sign of the times."
Whoa! Rich said it not me.
I mention to him how profound his statement is. Right there i tell him about why the world is in the shape it is in and what to expect. Not grasping my point he says he will be ok with his money and house and car, nothing extravagant. The stock market and real estate will take care of him.
(I push the door open wider.)
"No Rich. Those things will fail you and many others who put their trust in them."
"What do you mean?"
I stop and pray some more choosing my words carefully.
Pointing to the tv screen I tell him that mankind has turned its back God and is now paying the price. Abortion, same-sex marriages, crimes against children are part of it. To put a name on it, sin.
We have steadfastly refused to turn back to God.
"Not everybody is like that."
"No they are not. But sin is sin."
Now for the kicker. I tell Rich about God's love for all of humanity and how He provided a way for us to receive forgiveness for our sins through Jesus Christ and the blood He shed on the cross.
"God is love."
"Yes, God is love. But, God is also Just and will judge us based on our lives and whether not we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour."
His eyes glazed over and he turned away. However, I still heard his words. "I never knew that."
I did not say anything. He needed to digest what was being spoken to his spirit. My spirit was praying for him to hear the truth and receive it.
"I have been thinking about these things for a while (spiritual things) but i put them off. Now i am not so sure. I need to get back to church and read the bible."
I asked if he had a bible and he said no. I offered to get him one and he was quite happy.
In the closing minutes of our talk I tell him how I came to Pennsyvania and part of my testimony and gave the glory to God, because I could do nothing without Him. God brought me out of my situation and placed me where I am.
We say goodnight and agree to talk somemore tomorrow. I asked Rich if he would let me pray for him and he declined. No hurt feelings.
We look out the window to see a slow and steady rain is falling. Shaking hands we go our seperate ways into the night.
Walking on cloud nine and not feeling the rain I lift up my voice and pray for Rich' salvation and for the Hand of God to be upon him as he goes home and thinks about all that he heard. I sing praises to God for His mercy and grace.
I CANNOT WAIT FOR TOMORROW. I WANNA SEE WHAT ELSE GOD HAS PLANNED FOR ME.
Come, Thou Almighty King
rule on this earth
as You rule in heaven
Come, Thou Almighty King
hear our praises not
from Your heavenly throne
hear O Lord from before our faces
Come, Thou Almighty King
Come, Thou Almighty King
to claim Your own
Eternal praises to
Sunday, October 5, 2014
I had a few minutes before bible study tonight so i went into the sanctuary to pray a little just to get into the right mindset.
As i began to pray the peace of God filled me. Very welcoming I must say.
I smiled and just basked in His presence. However, not long into my quiet time, laughter filtered through from our fellowship hall (where we have our bible studies) and into the sanctuary followed by light conversations.
My quiet time was 'un-quietted'. Guess what? I smiled all-the-more. Why? God says in his word "forsake not the assembling of ourselves (body of Christ) together." How beautiful and sweet it is to gather together and enjoy the fellowship of one another. During this time of trials and tribulations we need to encourage one another. Knowing the people in the room we all come from very differents areas of the country and walks of life. Apart from each other we are different people however when we come under the banner of Christ, we are all the same. One mind, one body, one Spirit.
God was surely pleased and we are to please Him in all we do.
In the sanctuary God's presence is there among His own.
In the bible studies the Spirit of God teaches us.
In the center of it all is Jesus the Christ.
How was your Sunday spent?
Thursday, October 2, 2014
I, I, I.....
I did not want to wake her, so i hung my head and said a prayer.
My eyes started to tear up. The battle had begun. "Lord, please no."
I turned my head into the breeze to staunch the flow. Victory!
How much longer? I looked at my watch and it was almost 10pm.
My hands were trembling as I held the cup of coffee and bag of sandwhiches.
Still no movement from her.
A couple blocks away I see the lights from a coming train and desperately wanted it to awaken her.
I put the food on the seat next to me to keep from spilling the coffee.
(My hands are shaking more feverishly now.)
The train rolls past with horn blasting and not so much as a twitch from her.
"Maybe she's dead?" I think silently.
More prayers offered up on her behalf and I say one for me. Almost ten minutes have passed, so i decide to wake her.
"Excuse me, ma'am."
My heartbeat quickens.
Just as I was about try again she awakens.
"Hmmm." She slowly stirred.
I quickly offered my apologies for having to wake her and gave her the cup of coffee.
Quizzically she looks at me and says "thank you."
She fully sits up on the bench and we start conversating.
"I was dreaming."
Oh do i feel bad.
Three days prior I had heard of her.
Two days ago i offered her a donut while on the way to work. Interestingly enough, I apologized for not having any coffee to go with the donut.
"That's ok." And she gladly accepted the donut.
Today, last night actually, i got her a full meal.
-end of backstory-
For the next 10 minutes we talk about 'mutual' things and we connect with ease.
Our lives are not so different by the way. She is from Pottsville and a recent transplant to Hazleton.
For a few days she has had a rough go of it, but things are starting to fall into place, I assume.
Her story takes on a more personal tone and I become silent.
She takes a sip of her coffee, reaches into the bag and grabs a sandwhich.
In that short span of time I go back in time to 1995 and the beginning of my second year of hell.
Everything becomes blurry as my eyes start to water and my throat constricts.
"Lord no, please!"
(At this moment I recall walking around the streets of downtown Wilmington, Delaware just wanting to find a place to rest my very weary body. It was the beginning of the fall season and I was cold. The mission was full and I had nowhere else to go. So, i wandered the streets for about 6 hours. With no strength in my body to go on I come to the vestibule of an business. The guard inside the lobby said he could not let me into the building but I could sleep inside the first set of security doors. My eyes with tears flowing say a million thank you's. "No one will be here til morning. I'll wake you before anyone arrives." He watches me as I sink to the floor and into a dark abyss.)
She looks at me and i turn my head elsewhere, not wanting her to see the tears.
We talk some more, laugh a little bit and agree to see each other again.
Slowly i take my leave of her and go home. I look back and catch her looking at me. More goodbye's, more prayers and more sorrow in my heart.
Sleep was hard to find. I kept thinking back to my days of being homeless and all the people whom God sent my way to help me. Was I ever truly grateful for them? You bet. Where are they now? If i only knew. God does though and I pray for them and I thank God for the part they played in getting me back to my Saviour.
Even in the wilderness, God took care of the nation of Israel. They never hungered or had want for anything. The prophet Jeremiah spoke of an everlasting love that God bestowes upon His children. It is with that love that God draws us to Him. Even in my time of wandering God never left my side. He provided for me, protected and preserved me. It is my fervent prayer that God would do the same for this lady with whom i have been blessed to meet.
I promise to have her name for you in a future blogpost.
Soli dios gloria
(To God alone be the glory)
Monday, September 29, 2014
I smile as i think about the goodness of God towards me. Reflecting only on my life, my youth was wasted following after foolish things. I cannot change the past but I appreciate Jehovah all the more because I see His hand was continually upon me throughout my days.
God was never important enough to me to seek out a relationship with Him while I was growing up and noticing the world around me. Yet, i told all who asked, I was a believer. I even wore clothing that professed my faith. How ironic that those things were the extent of my relationship with Jesus...only on the outside.
Later on in life after much hardship I began to see that God was not God to me. Had He been real to me I would not have made some of the decisions I made growing up. Praise God for His compassion and mercy. I did not know much about Him even though I grew up in the church and sang in the church choir. As I get ready to close out my day I am drawn to the story of Rehoboam in 2nd Chronicles 12 and how his life is characterized by the scriptures.
Verse 14 "And he (Rehoboam) did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord." In plain text, Rehoboam did what he wanted and nothing good came from it. Rehoboam is the son of Solomon the wisest man who ever lived. Rehoboam was party to some of the greatest testaments of Solomon because he was the kings son. Surely he saw things that only a precious few did. I know he saw the Hand of God upon his father because Solomon had peace through his entire kingship. What happened? Rehoboam reigned on the throne of Israel after his father Solomon died. WOW!!! This apple fell far from the tree.
He wanted to blaze his own trail and make his mark in life. Well, he did. But for the wrong reasons.
I grew up around many godly people and saw the Spirit of God upon them. As with Rehoboam, I wanted to blaze my own trail and do what i wanted to do. And I did. Many failures followed. Indecision and insecurity was bedrocks within me. I was lost. I did not set my heart to seek after The Lord. How easy was it for the people back then to say "This is the son of Solomon. He will reign as his father did with much wisdom and godliness." WRONG.
Solomon's faith, trust and obedience in God was not passed on to Rehoboam. Much like my mother's faith in God and those who taught me as a child in the church growing up, I could not claim their God as my God unless I set my heart to learn of and from Him.
The scriptures say imphatically that God looks on the heart. The outward man (body) will perish but the inward man (spirit) needs to be renewed because that man is spiritually dead. He is the one that defines who we are in our hearts. Praise God that His Holy Spirit continued to pursue me while i was running in the opposite direction. Now I live for God. Believe me I still struggle in life, but now I know that God is with me through all things. Did Rehoboam renew himself in the LORD? I cannot say. But, it nice to know that God did not forsake me while my heart's throne had other god's sitting on it.
Good evening. How was your work day? Great I hope. Mine was pretty good.
For my devotional tonight i sang the song "I Am Resting".
Somedays are harder than others to make it through and i often need a little extra push. Today started out like that but as it went on, I found peace in The Lord. So, when I got home from work i read Psalm 17 and verse 8 stuck out to me. It reads like this "keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings."
That's a pretty amazing thing to say to God. Yet, God honors us, if we honor Him. I am touched by what i read and am comforted also.
So without further ado, one verse (third verse) and the chorus from I Am Resting.
I am resting from my fear and doubting
resting in the working of my Lord
He has promised and He will perform it
He is faithful to His precious Word
I am resting in the love of Jesus
I'm resting, yes, I'm resting
I am resting in the love of Jesus
I am resting in my Savior's love
Good night and God bless
Saturday, September 27, 2014
"...weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5b
I don't want to wait until tomorrow.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
The following words are the chorus to hymn number 66, I sang this morning to The Lord. The title of the hymn is Fill Me Now. Did you sing to The Lord this morning? If so what song?
Fill me now, fill me now
Jesus come and fill me now
Fill me with Thy hallowed presence
Come, O come, and fill me now.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Psalm 96:6 "Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary."
Corporate worship can be a wonderful thing. It is beautiful in sight, as all of God's children come together in one accord lifting our eyes to heaven seeking the face of our eternal Father. Our holy hands raised in surrender to Him and His will. Hearts joined together by a desire to honor God alone, who is worthy to be praised.
Exodus 15 records, I think, one of the earliest forms of corporate worship. At the very least it is an outdoor tent service.
Their former captors and enemy has been vanquished, their freedom has been secured and now they are on the path to the Land of Promise.
Sounds like us today, does it not? Yes.
Our enemy Satan has been defeated by Jesus Christ at the cross of Calvary, who at the same time secured the freedom for all those who would make Him their LORD and Saviour. Three days later when He walked out of the grave our salvation was established in heaven, our future Land of Promise.
Several times during worship services in my church I have wept, simply because, it seems so unbelievable. I now have a hope and a future home.
David wrote in Psalm 139:6 "such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain into it."
Yet, despite my unbelief, God made it possible.
Standing in the sanctuary in the very presence of God with others who experienced His mercy, grace and goodness, through the blood of Jesus, humbles me. We are only offering back to Jehovah what belongs to Him. PRAISE.
Let me close with Psalm 30:12
"To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever."
Corporate worship is a preamble to our (prayerfully soon) heavenly worship. What David said, I want to say, I hope it is what your are saying or want to say as well.
"Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head."
We all know these to be the words of Jesus, spoken of in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
As I lay here and reflect on some things the aforementioned scripture came to my remembrance.
At first I meditated on His words. Next I read both accounts. Then I became confused. I needed to pray.
Then, I looked at the words spoken before and after the words of Christ.
A certain scribe approached Jesus and said "Master I will follow You wherever You go."
One of Jesus' disciples said "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
Notice how Jesus is addressed by the two men. One calls Him Master, and the other calls Him Lord.
Not unusual. Jesus had many followers and admirers during His short time on the earth. I too follow Jesus and admire Him. However, the words that Jesus say speak a great deal more about the life and hearts of each man.
The scribe wanted to follow Jesus simply because of the notoriety associated with what Jesus had been doing. It was the 'human honor and glory' he sought when he called Jesus, Master.
As for the disciple, calling Jesus, Lord, was at odds with his request to 'first go and bury his father'.
Jesus clearly wanted both men to know that His goal was only to do the will of His Father in heaven.
If Master and Lord were the first words off their lips then why were they putting Jesus second?
My breathing slows some as I self examine my use of the words Master and Lord when I speak to and of Jesus. Is He really Lord and Master of my life? Oh yes He is? There is no doubt. But there are times when I abuse the privilege by putting myself first and Him second. 'Self' has no part in the plan of God because conflict will arise.
Jesus also wanted to convey that there was nothing on this earth that would detract Him from His mission.
"I have no home, no family, no business commitments and no designs to go after any of those things." (Paraphrased)
Up until the time of the thirtieth year of His life Jesus had all of those things. Yet, when the time came to "go forth and proclaim the gospel message" Jesus forsook all other things and went.
Is it easy to lay down our rights and lives for the sake of others? No.
Is there any glory or honor in the work of the kingdom? Not if we are looking for it on this earth.
Can we make provisions for our loved ones before we go? Not likely.
Jesus is our example in all things. His life of surrender and servant hood is part of our spiritual foundation. When I call Jesus Lord and Master am I doing so with an attitude of surrender and a willingness to serve? Or am I calling Him Lord and Master while applying conditions?
Jesus says "follow me."
It is as much a statement as it is a question. What will you say to it?
Monday, September 22, 2014
Psalm 77:13 "Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great as our God?"
Sunday is my favorite day of the week because I get to spend it in the house of God.
I get to spend that day, in corporate worship, with fellow believers and followers of God Most High.
On this day God is present with His people. In the sanctuary God meets with us and His Spirit dwells among us as we remember the work done on the Cross for our eternal benefit.
Here in the sanctuary is where God instructs us and equips us for the days to come. Our faith is increased in the God who makes all things possible, because nothing is impossible for God.
The lost find salvation.
The dead are made alive.
The sick are made whole.
The lame are made to walk.
God's sanctuary is a shelter for His children.
Here, between the altar and the door, we stand in the very presence of Jehovah our creator.
We lift our voices and praise Him with songs song from the very depts of our souls.
Walls are knocked down and bonds are broken.
We worship Him in spirit and truth, because HE IS GOD.
God has come down from heaven to redeem us from sin and pull us from the hands of death and hell.
God has given us the power to overcome all things.
This time with like minded lovers of Adonai, is not like the time we spend individually with Him during the week.
We are all made One when we come together. In each other we find encouragement, we find joy, we find peace, we find help and we find that it is all made possible by God. The arm cannot do the work of the legs, nor can the eye do what the ear is made to do. Just as the physical body cannot function without all of its parts working in conjunction with one another, neither can the body of Christ function without all of its parts working together. Scriptures says we are One mind, One body and One Spirit.
Our God is a great God because His is the only God that has always been...
Our God is a great God because He will always be...
Our God is a great God because He has ordained ours days...
Our God is a great God because there is no one higher...
Our God is a great God because He is "I AM"
Here in the sanctuary is where the power and glory of God are seen.
Here in the sanctuary His lovingkindness fills us.
Here in the sanctuary we lift up holy hands to the One.
Here in the sanctuary our soul finds satisfaction in Him alone.
Here in the sanctuary we sing praise with joyful lips.
Here in the sanctuary the King of Heaven joins us.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Awakened this morning at 6am and i do not know why. I am scheduled for work at 12 noon. The days of me sleeping in are rare indeed. Will i ever get past waking up early? Of course I could spend the time in prayer with The Lord? That is a much better idea.
As I sit here typing this I have the Worship Central album "Let It Be Known (Live)" playing on Spotify
In the past few months I have noticed that i am slowing down physically. My activity level has decreased substantially and my aches and pains have increased substantially. We are going into the third week of September and i have only put about 60-70 miles on my bike. By now in a normal year i would have at least a two or three of hundred. That is how much i love riding my bike. (By bike i mean a Mongoose hybrid mountain bike, no motor involved). Looking back on the past few months I cannot say that i did anything special that kept me from riding. Yet, something did.
In Psalm 38, David spoke of a great restlessness and uncertainty he was experiencing in his flesh.
Verse 3 "There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, nor any health in my bones because of my sin."
David displays a deep understanding of sin, its consequences and how it greatly affects him. This sin, probably unconfessed, is causing him to lose sleep, affects his health and his mind, just for starters.
Pretty soon this sin becomes like a stone around his neck.
For the chosen of God, sin is not something we want to hold onto.
Sin: 1. separates us from God
2. causes God to hide His face from us
3. will not allow God to hear the sound of our prayers, let alone our voice
4. forces God to leave us go in our sinful desires (pursuits of the flesh)
Now tell me, what person redeemed by the cross of Christ, can endure being separated from God?
David says in this Psalm also I am troubled and bowed down (v.6), feeble and broken (v.8), having great turmoil within my heart (v.8). WOW!!! Hangovers are more fun than this.
David realizes his sin does not only affect him but those around him also. His family and friends want nothing to do with him and his enemies are closing in for the kill. Sin is not pretty and it never will be. The pleasures of sin are fleeting and leads to destruction.
The thing that i loved to do like riding my bike have been replaced by something less meaningless.
What once brought me a great amout of joy and pleasure now sits on the side wasting away.
David has come to that point with God and so have I. For a season David sinned against God and is reaping the harvest of his sin. My sin has been an in-and-out relationship with God and His word. Some days i am hot and some days cold. God wants us to commit to Him daily. Daily prayer, daily time in the bible and daily time in His presence. David call this a psalm of remembrance. How apropos.
Due to his relationship with Jehovah David says, verse 15 "For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O LORD my God."
It should not take long to recognize sin my/our lives. The Spirit of God makes me/us aware in an instant. My/our willingness to seek forgiveness and turn away from it determines God's response.
Verse 18 David speaks "For I will declare my iniquity; I have been in anguish over my sin."
Now that he has confessed his sin David finishes his prayer with words of expectancy (v.21-22).
"Do not forsake me, O LORD
O my God, be not far from me!
Make haste to help me, O LORD, my salvation!"
There are many inticements in the present world that keeps us from God. However, if we want to maintain our relationship with God we must deny the flesh daily and follow after the Spirit daily.
Hmm! Maybe God is waking me early just so i can spend that extra time with Him?
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
As i sit on my back porch and look around at the night sky i realize that God is good.
That i already know, but sometimes i fail to let God know.
Many days go by and in my heart i am rejoicing because i know the King of Eternity.
Still, in those same many days, i often forget to stop and just be still.
Have you ever been in my shoes?
Life is getting away from me at the moment and I do not want to get caught in the riptide.
A gentle breeze.
The cries of a bird as it takes flight.
The swaying of the trees.
An oddly shaped cloud.
All these point to the greatness of God.
Yet, as I look around at the works of His hand, I fail to look within myself.
God's greatest work was me and you and the whole of humanity.
My heart beats to a different tune because of God.
My life has a different meaning because of God.
The benefits of being a child of God are immeasurable.
(I could start but never reach the end).
Lord, everything begins and ends with You. As You are the Alpha and the Omega, how could it not?
You are Holy
You are Righteous
You are Glorious
You are Faithful
You are Eternal
You are my God
Let me live a life that will bring You praise and glory and honor.
In Jesus name I pray. Amen
Saturday, September 13, 2014
What a mighty God I serve.
I figured I would start out with that statement. This past weekend has been the fantastic finish of a terrible week slash phenomenal beginning to this week.
Satan, the great deceiver, has designs on all of God's created, namely those who are born again. With his tactics he tries to steal, kill and destroy (1) our walk with the Most High, (2) he attempts to destroy our testimony to others by causing us to doubt, become fearful and generally make a bad showing of God sometimes, (3) we become distracted and may not spend as much time in prayer or reading our bibles. There are other things I could name but I am sure you get the idea.
Let me just say, he had me doing all three and then some this past week.
I have a journal that I keep and from time-to-time I chronicle certain weeks in them. Usually I go day-by-day but for some reason I choose to look back on the week and write. Everyone of us has experienced bad moments, days, weeks and months at some point in our lives. I CAN add the word years but that is another story. During this time of testing I leaned on one thing, the word of God. I looked through the scriptures to find peace and encouragement and to remind myself of the promises God has given to all whom He calls His own. The God of peace filled me and a quiet assurance followed thereafter.
Why was this such a bad week you say? The internal struggle.
I believe the bible is the very word of God. It is divinely inspired and infallible (without error).
The bible has an answer for everything. Yes, everything. Most importantly it tells me about God's love for me and how I can find forgiveness for my sins and inherit eternal life."
As we draw closer to the return of Jesus (rapture) Satan increases his attacks on the children of God.
"You really don't believe everything in that book do you?"
"God does not really love you."
"Once a sinner always a sinner."
"There is no hope for you."
On and on it goes. His words are subtle at times and direct and painful most others.
Have I listened to him? I would be a liar if I said no.
Yes, I have doubted God's word. Many times it made no sense whatsoever to me.
Yet other times I feel overwhelmed and unworthy of the revelations His Spirit gives me.
We call them 'nuggets'. Seems such an inadequate word when considering the source of it all.
I titled this post "banner or burden" and put it in the form of a question because God's word is either or.
A great example of this can be found in Exodus 17. Israel is at war with the Amalekites, Moses is on top of a mountain holding the rod of God in his hand. As Moses holds up his hands Israel is winning the battle, however as his arms weaken and fall down, the Amalekites start to prevail in battle. As we all know Israel wins the battle and the Amalekites are destroyed.
My point is when God is our banner and held high, victory is assured. NO MATTER HOW LONG THE BATTLE. When we lower our standard (another name for banner) the enemy capitalizes on our weakness breaks through our hedge of protection and victory seems to be in there grasp.
Last week was a reminder that I needed to keep my banner high and recognize God is fighting the battle for me. Discouragement comes when I look at the length of the fight and question the necessity of it. The bible says we win the battle, but during the war the end is not always in sight. That is where I was last week. Moses did not know how long the battle would go on, but he held fast and Aaron and Hur supported him and in the end Israel is victorious.
In Christ we have the ultimate victory. War is never pleasant. The loss of life is great, and pain and suffering are prevalent. However, in this battle for the souls of all mankind, the stakes are definitely higher.
Our hope is before us in Jesus Christ and the Cross of Calvary.
Just as God instructed Moses to build an altar, we too can build one, and know that Jehovah-Nissi has sworn..."victory will come and only by My hand."
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Battles are being fought everyday. It seems as if there is a new 'hot spot' everyday. There is no need to get into all of that because we all get the news in some format. However, the greatest battle is the one for souls. Yours, mine and everyone else on the earth.
Job's life is about to get a great deal more complicated. Satan has Job in his crosshairs and will put all of his efforts trying to get Job to forsake the LORD God. Chapter 2:4 So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life."
Speaking with the confidence that his plan will work, Satan feels quite sure that Job will cave.
Job is stricken with painful boils from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet.
As far as i can tell Job has not uttered a word against God. There were times in my life when I have questioned God as to why certain things have to happen to me, i.e. bad things. During my times of trials and tribulations I have often discovered how shallow my faith is and how shallow I view God.
My faith was not always the greatest. It was based on God giving and me receiving. So, as is endured the chastening of God and the badgering of Satan the holes in my reasoning were exposed. God has proven Himself to be faithful, in the days of harvest and times of famine. Job chose to see his God in that light also.
Satan assumed that Job would question God about this his physical condition, but he did not. So Satan goes to Plan B--the wife.
Mrs. Job says "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!"
Job retorts "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?"
Talk about your tableside discussions! WOW!
Truth be told, Job hit the ball out of the ballpark. Shall we accept the goodness and blessings of God without having to endure hardships and loss? I was a loooooooong time in receiving this truth. In the New Testament cannon we have Jesus Christ and the Cross of Calvary. But in the Old Testament we have God. Let me reword that. Job, in the Old Testament, has a personal relationship with God.
That is why God said that Job was unlike any man on the earth, full of integrity and blameless and honest. That is also why Job could rebuke his wife and call her a fool because she challenged God.
How easy it is to look at life around us and feel we have a sense of entitlement just because we are children of God. Hey God how about no more bills, no more sickness, pain, worry, hunger, crime, drugs, alcohol and so on? I am born again. I am a joint heir with Christ. Show me some love.
Me, myself and I. (There really is nothing new under the sun.)
Job has a good report because he knew that no matter what, he did not want to be defined by his earthly possessions. Job wanted to be defined as a man who trusted in the Most High God. Job held fast to God and we too must do the same, in all matters of our lives, if we want God to hold fast to us.
Remember: "...in all this Job did not sin with his lips."
God bless you and have a great day.
--to be continued--
Friday, September 5, 2014
Forgive me for jumping around like this with my blog posts but this will be a short three part side trip in the life of Job.
The "Great Divide" post is halfway done and will be posted by Wednesdy at the latest. While taking a break from blogging i picked up my bible to try and jumpstart my brain. I am having trouble with a transition point and needed to stop writing as my frustration started to grow with each incomplete sentence/thought.
God said that Job was "like no other man on all the earth. Job is a man of honor and integrity, who feared God and hated evil."
Pretty heady words don't you think? Yes!
God is God so there is no need to explain Him. But Job on the other hand i wanted to look into a little closer. Here goes nothing!
Looking at the words which God himself spoke says volumes about the kind of person Job was. Now the bible says "God is no respector of persons", meaning He does not favor one human being over another. Some of you may say differently and are able to back it up. However, God speaks only of the character and characteristics displayed by the person in whom He is verbalizing.
God called David the "apple of His eye" and Noah "found grace" in the eyes of the LORD. Why? It is their 'living examples' of God. David's heart can be seen throughout his writings in the Psalms, in how he ruled the Israelites, in the testimony told by others as we read the bible. Good or bad, God is the center of David's life. Noah, despite God's warning of the coming judgment and building the Ark, was steadfast in his witness of the love and grace and mercy of God, trying to get the people to repent and turn from their wicked ways and back to God. Noah very well could have wiped his hands of the people around him, but His understanding of the character and nature of God led him to do otherwise.
As we can see character displayed in relation to God causes God to speak as He does of Job, David, Noah, Moses, you and I. It has nothing to do with God picking and choosing whom He wishes.
What would the Author of my life say about me?
Have I presented myself as blameless, honest and faithful?
The character of Job was on display for all to see and He represented His creator with the upmost joy and reverance.
Have I? I hang my head in shame.
As my pastor says "we are all under construction." Yet even in life we present ourselves and the God we represent to the world around us whether we want to or not.
Job is off to a good start, but what happens when adversity comes?
--To be continued--
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Cruxificion was the worst form of death within the Roman Empire. Many people avoided it and sadly, more than enough experienced it. It was said that Pontious Pilate once cruxified over 2,000 Jews in one day in response to an uprising. How true is that I don't know, but he did have his moments.
Jesus it says in Hebrews 12:2 'endured the cross and despising the shame, and is now seated on the right hand of the throne of God.'
Looking back at how Jesus died, there can no beauty be found. He was beaten, scourged and tortured. He had a crown of thorns imbeaded on His head, before being nailed on the Cross. Scriptures say Jesus was so badly disfigured that not even those who knew Him could recognize Him.
Beauty? Cannot see it.
Jesus took upon Himself the sins of humanity so that we could find redemption froms our sins and have the hope of eternal life. As he hung on the cross looking out at those present and those not yet alive, Jesus endured what was meant for me. Jesus' breathing was laboured. His broken and battered body bled from the open wounds while His life slowly ebbed away.
Beauty? Cannot see it.
As the people gazed up at God's glory (Jesus) against man's fury (cruxificion) there was nothing beautiful to behold. Yet, in between the glory and the fury stood the Cross.
Sin cannot be in the presence of the Glory of God. Why? Because God is Holy and Righteous and Just. Sin causes God's fury to fall upon man. We have turned our backs on our Creator and sought after our own god's and idols. Namely ourselves.
God's fury (justice) needed to be satisfied, and once again, between the glory and the fury stood the Cross.
Many songs have been written about the Cross, but two stand out to me. The first one being the classic hymn Old Rugged Cross and the second, a modern classic itself The Wonderful Cross.
These two songs talk about the suffering of Jesus on the cross, but they also belay the hope of the Cross--salvation through the shed blood of the only One whose death can give life.
Before the Light of Jesus shone within me I could not see beauty in an ugly world, full of ugly people, full of hateful words and actions.
Beauty? Cannot see it.
You know what? Something wonderful happened to me. I found Jesus. Now, that Cross shines brighter than the sun. The glory of the LORD is risen upon me. It is now within me.
Beauty? Now I can see it.
Three days later Jesus walked out of the grave. His death on the cross was not permanent. The life we gain as a reslut of the Cross is permanent.
Arise and shine; for thy light has come. Let us be the light in a world of darkness.
Jesus in His holiness and glorified body, now that is BBD.
Beautiful Beyond Description.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Paul asked The Lord three times in 2 Corinthians 12:9 to remove the thorn (not a literal thorn) that has become a constant source of pain to him. Paul attributes this thorn in the flesh as a messanger from Satan. Paul however, may not have felt it was necessary because the Cross had taken away his sins and cleansed him beyond measure and he now was willingly a servant, bondservant of The Lord and committd to serving Him.
Having made his request know Paul waited for an answer and received this from God.
"My grace is sufficient for you: My strength is made perfect in weakness."
The grace spoken of here is sustaining grace. This form of grace upholds us in those times when we seem unable to stand or go on. We are definitely at a weak moment in our life as a follower of Jesus Christ.
It is in the wee hours of Tuesday morning (0313) that i find myself writing this blogpost. Why?
I am weak. I needed to be in the presence of the LORD and find shelter. And forgiveness for my sin.
Need I ask why this scripture came to mind? No!!
God has given me the strength, grace, power and means to overcome this besetting sin in my life. Yet each day is a struggle to not recognize it.
"Lord would it not be better to just simply take it away from me?" (that is my flesh crying out).
My spirit on the other hand says, "thy will be done." The conflict rages.
God's grace has been a mystery to me because it is found in many areas of the bible and it seems to take on many different forms. I know that grace is the undeserved favor of God and I stand by that. I, Darryl, am undeserving. But it does not end there.
Grace...carries the Power of God
...strengthens us in moments of weakness
Like I said many forms and there are more.
Paul goes on to say (verse 10) "I take pleasure in infirmities (human frailty), in reproaches (overbearing attitude), in necessities (times of need), in persecutions, in distresses (anguish of soul) for the sake of Christ: for when I am weak (seems to be always) then I am strong (God's multifaceted grace is there to keep me).
So it seems to me that I should always glory in the LORD because at no point in my life is His grace not doing something for me. What a hard lesson it is to learn but unless I learn and understand the grace(s) of God the buffeting Satan does to me will cause me to succomb.