2017 is on its way out. Time to see what 2018 has in store for us. How will we face it? What will be our Focus? What changes will we make? When you think about it, each new year is just a continuation of the last. When you see the words "to be continued", you understand there is more, an addition to the story you just read or the episode you just watched on television. Most of the time I am hit with a feeling of disappointment because I want to know what happens next! I might have to buy the next book in a series or make sure nothing interrupts my schedule for the night the continuing story will air. In some way or another, I am going to make the rest of the story come to light for myself. That might work for these particular instances but when it comes to the "continuing story" of our lives... we have no control over the next chapter. Have you ever thought of the faith it takes to believe we will be able to pick up the book or turn on the TV to see the rest of the story? We believe it because we know the authors and producers have already written it. We just need to be available to connect with what has been written. We don't know what the outcome will be but we wait in anticipation to see what happens next and most of the time, IT ISN'T EVEN REAL! It is a fictitious story! That being the case... have you ever wondered why we have such little faith to trust the Author and Finisher of our Faith, Jesus Himself, to have written the "rest of the story" of our lives; the part we cannot as yet see? For a season, I used to read every day to my late husband's mother when she was in our care. The book was one of those stories from the early west with all the hardships families would face. We would both wait in anticipation for the next day so we could see what the characters were experiencing. It brought us closer to one another in a small way as we shared the moments. None of us know the exact details of our future. However, as we look into God's Word, the Bible, we can see an overview of what he has in store for us. We can understand that the end of the story is and always will be, good! I know we understand that the road to the "rest of the story" will be laced with hardships because we dwell in a fallen, sinful world which no one can avoid. The road will be blessed with many joyful occasions as well. They all come and they go.... from the Grandmas and Grandpas going to the babies arriving. It is all part of this story. We will come to a place where it will all stop. A place where our life on earth faces eternity... the words "to be continued" will flash before us. Those who have put their trust in Jesus, the Son of God who took our punishment to the Cross will have no doubt about what comes next. As one of those, I live my life in preparation for my future home. Citizenship has already been established. I have been studying for it for 45 years. The Apostle Paul told me in the book of Philippians chapter 3 verses 20 and 21: "But our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." Everything that happens to me here is preparing me for the continued story. Because I have received the Gift of Life my Savior Jesus Christ gave me through the shedding of his blood, I have no concern as to the outcome of my future. There are so many who don't have that assurance. They walk in fear of the next chapter; fear of the unseen. I love the words to this old Hymn: "Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine. Oh What a Foretaste of Glory Divine. Heir of Salvation. Purchase of God. Born of His Spirit. Washed in His Blood." If this is your Story, you are praising your Savior all the day long and are confident that when it is time for you to leave this world there will be nothing but amazement and wonder in store for you. "He (God) will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:4 Until then, encourage those who believe, pray for those who don't, be available to share the hope that is within you as we wait together for our stories "to be continued...". Blessings to all who read!
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
As I composed my last post, I was preparing to have a very critical surgery to remove the upper lobe of my right lung which contained some cancerous tissue. I am now on the other side by over two months. Many prayers were answered as I am now cancer free! I will continue to have periodic scans. My preference, of course, would have been to not have had the surgery but through God's amazing knowledge, given to my God-Believing Surgeon, the cancer was removed. I am so grateful and thank you all for praying. Now I would like to talk to you a bit about some Scriptures from the Book of Romans, Chapter 8. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (verse 18) Not many of us want to accept the fact that "sufferings" are a part of Christian life. We want to reserve that for those who don't know the Lord or are walking in disobedience to Him. Well.... news flash... verse 22 tells us that the "whole creation has been groaning together..." No one is exempt from suffering. Some seem to suffer less, some more. If you feel you are one of the elite, just wait, at some moment in your life, you will suffer. It may not be from the ravages of disease or divorce or loss of property for example, but eventually, death will visit each of us through the loss of someone we love. Inescapable unless you have the heart of a rock! Suffering will come. Somewhere in that journey you will find your inner self... that place way down deep within the center of you being, GROANING to be released. Moaning for something better. That place where the indescribable ache and pain would be erased. Not just rubbed over with a dirty eraser so that the residue is seen, but completely obliterated as if never existing in the first place. Well, the entire Creation, anything with the breath of life is crying out with a cry without words. Now we who know the Lord, have received Jesus as our Savior and have the first-fruits of the Holy Spirit "Groan" with understanding as we wait and long for the redemption of our bodies (verse 23). We are being watched as we wait because we alone have and understand the Hope of Heaven. We know the Truth. We know that the reason for all the suffering is due to living in a sinful world and the only way of escape is "death" to ourselves and "life" unto Him... Jesus Christ who took all sin to the Cross and to the Grave. We have the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Door to Eternity in Heaven! As I have said before, we are all going to die physically but we are all going to live forever. The question is: "Where are we going to live forever?" With Christ and the Father and the Spirit OR in eternal separation from the Three in One? We who have that Hope need to be a Beacon for those who don't. As we walk through the sufferings of this world, we have the Holy Spirit who helps us in our weakness (verse 26). He prays for us and through us. He acts as a relief valve in that the "groanings" can get so intense at times we feel we may explode. The Spirit knows how to pray when we have no words to express our pain and our longing. Be patient Saint of God. It won't be long. And the Glory we will experience will completely exterminate the very memory of any and all of what sin and the "god of this world", the Devil, has stolen from us. Jesus has come to give life and give that life in an abundance which description can only be written in heavenly terminology! In that, take heart... pray for one another... encourage one another... be a Lighthouse for those seeking with "groaning hearts" a Refuge and Hope for a solid and never ending future. One where the word "suffering" isn't even a memory! Love in Christ Jesus with Grace and Peace to all who have read these words.
Friday, May 26, 2017
Have you ever thought about it? ...really thought about it? The Word of God, the Bible, tells us in Hebrews Chapter 11 that God created the Universe out of NOTHING! How can that be? I would venture to say that fact is incapable of being understood by the natural human mind. We, being human have an existence confined to planet earth except for an occasional trip into our known space environment. The illustration in this post shows the size of the earth in comparison with the rest of the universe. It takes something called FAITH to believe God did what he said he did. The Bible also says that every man has been given a measure of faith. It even takes faith to believe you have been given that measure of faith. We are told in Matthew Chapter 17 that if we have faith like a grain of mustard seed we can move mountains. Although I cannot claim an in-depth study on the plants in existence in Jesus day, a brief study brought to mind the "mustard seed" Jesus spoke of could be planted one day and begin growing the next. If God is, in fact, the source and the object of our faith... that faith can begin to grow at the first recognition of its planting in our hearts. Of course, the first recognition would be the initial, albeit small, belief in the existence of God. The Prophet Elijah was a man, in other words human as we ourselves. He prayed for rain because there was a drought in the land. His "mustard seed" was a "cloud the size of a man's hand" 1 Kings 18. That cloud began to grow and became a torrential rain! Simon, the Magician in the book of Acts, Chapter 8 "saw" that the Holy Spirit was given by the laying on of hands by the Apostles. He saw miracles and signs and wonders happening by them and he wanted to purchase that unseen something that was the cause of those miracles. He didn't see the Spirit because the Spirit is Spirit but he saw the evidence of the Spirit. We can't see the "nothing" that God spoke out of, but we can see the evidence of it through the whole creation around us. Now we know faith is actually substance and evidence according to Hebrews 11:6. And if we have faith... even the beginning of it, Jesus told us we can "move mountains" and that "nothing will be impossible for us" ...Matthew 17. Therefore, since God cannot lie and his Word is true we can trust that what we cannot see with the eye, actually exists. "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. This is to my Father's Glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:7&8. Simon, the magician, being a new believer, didn't understand that the gifts of the Spirit were not given for selfish gain nor could they be bought with a price. He learned that the Spirit is a gift and a gift has no price and this particular gift was to be used to bring praise and honor to the Giver, God himself. A couple of the things we cannot see with our physical eyes are, the forgiveness of sins and Heaven. Sometimes we cannot see with our eyes, physical healing when it involves the internal part of our body until, through God given medical science, it shows up in some scan or x-ray. We cannot see love but we believe when someone tells us they love us, they are telling us the truth. Eventually we are able to see the fruit or results of our faith or belief. Even when we arrive in Heaven we receive the Goal of our Faith which is the Salvation of our Souls. Until that time of "receiving", we walk in Faith, at times with no tangible evidence of what we are believing. Recently, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. That began a new off-shoot in my journey of Faith. I call it an off-shoot because my main, most traveled road is directly aimed at God Himself. "The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter until the full light of day." Proverbs 4:18. My foremost and of utmost importance is my journey toward a deeper and more intimate relationship and knowledge of my Father God and His Son Jesus Christ and His Awesome Holy Spirit... the Three in One of the Godhead. Along that journey, I am faced with side roads that vie for my attention and challenge my faith. I can set my gaze toward what I think the end of those deterrents will bring or I can get back on the road that leads to real Life! I used to work in the forest clearing roads. The main road would have a destination. Once in a while I would get turned around and head down a road I expected to lead somewhere and ultimately, after several miles, it would come to a dead end. I would have to go back to the map to learn of my mistake. When it comes to faith, believing for anything God has promised or something for which we are petitioning, we have to stay with the map. There will be innumerable side roads to grab our attention but there is only one road that contains the source and the answers we need. Jesus stands at the end of that main road with his arms wide open. He has already carried every sin, sickness, sorrow, pain, shame, accusation and disease to the cross and then left it buried in the grave as he arose to be our Savior, Healer, Redeemer, King, Hero, Champion of our Faith, God Himself yet sitting at the Right Hand of the Father in Heaven with His Holy Spirit sent to dwell within those who would WALK BY FAITH in that FACT! (Now that is a mouthful of Truth!) Therefore, in this journey, I refuse to fix my eyes on anything but the ONE who is standing at the end of my PATH. Reason? He has it all under control and there is nothing I can do within my self or my own efforts to save my soul or my body but trust in the one who gave it all. I can hear some of you now who would say to eat this certain food or drink this certain drink or take this certain supplement... yes! If God directs you... go for it! Just keep in mind, ultimately He has to be the object of our Faith and Trust because we are involved in something much bigger than ourselves... an eternal plan. So, believe with all your heart what his promises are toward those who love Him and walk toward Him wholeheartedly. Focusing on anything other than our Amazing God who created SOMETHING out of NOTHING will not allow Faith to grow and Peace and Joy to prevail as we continue toward our ultimate destination, which is Heaven itself. None of us are leaving this planet alive yet we will all live forever. I choose the only road that will get me eternal intimacy with Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Heaven... the road of FAITH in the Lord Jesus and His death on the Cross. I have FAITH that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is at work in my body to bring about all that he has promised. He has made me alive in my Spirit, united my Soul with Him and will quicken (give or restore life to; spring to life, become animated) my mortal body! I am believing that through the prayers of those who love me and the power of the Holy Spirit I am free of cancer and I will live to fulfill all his purposes for me until that day I reach the end of this awesome, light-filled road to Righteousness! Job suffered much in his body but through it all, his focus was on the object of his worship and I will close with this: "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. and he said (chapter 1 verses 20-22), "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." To quote a precious Sister who has survived cancer for 10 years..."I belong to the Lord no matter what." Let JESUS be the Camera lens of your FAITH to bring real life into FOCUS." Walking the Path with you! Be encouraged today!
Saturday, March 4, 2017
I wouldn't exactly call myself a perfectionist. However, I like to strive for perfection as much as possible. I believe if you are going to set out on any endeavor you should do it whole-heartedly. No one is satisfied with a mediocre outcome. Most every success in life comes from practice. The practice part has always been difficult for me. I want to reach the final outcome "right now". When I don't reach that outcome within the first few times I tend to want to punish myself for failing or falling short. That is NOT realistic. Granted, some need more practice time than others. We have all seen the videos of the amazingly gifted, very young children who sit down at the piano and play a piece of music that would take many adults years to accomplish. Success is as individual as our God-given DNA. Growing up, I loved to play baseball in the middle of the street in front of our house with my big brother. He would often tell me "Barbara, you throw like a girl" and proceed to show me how to throw properly. That of course, was his opinion. During the game, the manhole was the pitchers mound and we would place various items around to be the bases and of course, home plate. I wanted to be the best I could be. Mostly, it was a lot of fun. In my early 40's I joined a co-ed softball team and again, I wanted to be the best I could be for myself and the team. We would go to the batter's cage and practice and practice. I loved the challenge of hitting that ball as hard as I could. The balls would come one after another, after another. You couldn't let down or become weary or your body would be receiving the impact instead of the bat and of course, the ball would fall to the ground or pass you by. At that point, I would again punish myself for being a failure and pummel myself, so to speak, for being so inept. So goes life. We need to learn that the only way to become perfect, or as perfect as we can, is "practice, practice and more practice". I want to address the subject of our FAITH. James:1:2-4 speaks to us of the trials we all go through. None of us are exempt from trials... Believer and Unbeliever alike experience them. Although an unbeliever may have a different definition. As Believers, we learn to understand we can rejoice in those trials because we are given the opportunity to "practice" steadfastness. Holding firm through the trials as well as allowing God's attributes to be released through us in the midst. First step is "Abiding in the Vine..." John 15. Verse 5 tells us that we can do nothing "apart from Him". Hebrews 12:1&2, we see that Jesus is actually the "Author and Perfecter" of our Faith. He wrote the "Faith Book" so to speak. If you read the Bible, you learn that as a man, Jesus practiced faith and learned obedience through the trials he suffered. He can fully relate to our humanity. He was fully man yet fully God. Now he is at the place of Honor at the right hand of the Father's Throne! May we humble ourselves before him and learn of him. In light of the fact that He is the Author and Perfecter and we are not, we can continually come to him during practice to ask for HIS help, counsel, comfort, patience, forgiveness, encouragement... all the things that a perfect Master has to offer his Disciples. We learn that there is no condemnation, reproach or criticism charged to us and we can practice and learn in a safe environment free from guilt and shame. We can stop criticizing ourselves when we don't achieve what we think we should have in a particular time frame. We run all our practices through the filter of God's love and he will determine His will for our lives from day to day. That is all part of becoming "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (in regard to the Faith)". James 1:4. I like to look this way at the opposition to our success, the accusations thrown at us from the enemy of our Faith, as the baseballs coming from that machine in the batter's cage, and the bat, as the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. As we hold up the Shield of Faith and swing the Sword, we not only repel the lies and accusations, we extinguish them by putting out their fire and rending them ineffective in keeping us from "leaving the elementary doctrines of Christ and going on to Maturity". (Hebrews 6:1&2) So, let us take advantage of every opportunity and learn through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the Ministry Gifts he has given and "practice" becoming "equipped for the work of the ministry and the building up of the Body of Christ until we ALL attain to the unity of the FAITH and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:12&13. So, you are not alone... Run with me and the rest of the true Runners. Let's not focus on our weakness but on His strength in our weakness. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 The final perfection will be when we stop "seeing through a glass dimly and see FACE to FACE"! I Corinthians 13:2. By, in and through the Powerful Name of Jesus Christ! So be it!
Saturday, January 21, 2017
You may notice the tone of this post is a little different than usual... a little more personal perhaps. It came as a result of a discussion with a friend via email about Joshua's conquering of Jericho. I invite your comments as well.
So many are hurting and need to know the Good News of what Jesus provided for them on the cross. Most of what I have learned has been through relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son and through the amazing Holy Spirit who is able to make all things clear to me... if I listen. I still have so much, even after 44 years "Born Again", to learn about the Truth. Jesus said, "I am the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE. No man comes to the Father but through me." I love walking in simple relationship with him. So.... I am not the intellectual type nor would I ever attempt to be at this time in my life. I was reading the book of Joshua recently and always have a hard time with the "killing of the innocents". I know that throughout history many "innocents" have been killed. I recently preached a message which included portions of Corrie Ten Boom's book, "He Sets the Captive Free". For those who don’t know, Corrie and her family hid Jews in their home during the time of Hitler and Corrie survived the Holocaust to tell their story. So many things are hard to understand that happen to "flesh and blood" over the millenniums. I don't think God has ever changed regarding his feelings about the "innocent" and the punishment that comes upon those who harm or kill them. I know there is so much to learn about God's plan for the salvation of mankind throughout the Old Testament but it is the New Testament that we live by. The most powerful example of the shedding of innocent blood is the death of God's only begotten son, Jesus Christ, on the Cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that Jesus had NO sin but he became sin for us so that we could live forever. From the beginning of time, there has to have been the shedding of innocent blood for there to be life. It began in the garden with the animals that were slain so Adam and Eve could be clothed. I would hate that fact if it were not for the LIFE that comes about from that shedding of blood. "No greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for his friend." John 15:13. It had to happen. If I were to die for someone, it would be the guilty dying for the guilty because we are ALL guilty. However, that is where the reason for that innocent blood comes into play. "Therefore being JUSTIFIED (just as if I'd never sinned) by FAITH we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1 To me, FAITH is the key. Peter's FAITH in who Jesus was, is the Rock on which the Church is built. God would NEVER let the innocent BC or AD suffer for eternity. Jesus went somewhere in the spirit during those three days while "dead" to set the captives free through the BLOOD which he shed (1 Peter 3:18-20). The Kingdom of God is not comprised of FLESH AND BLOOD but of SPIRIT AND SOUL. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Joshua is an amazing example of the Victory that the Lord gives his people. We, the Church are an example of the Victory of the Lord over sin, death and the grave. None of us are going to escape those things unless that trumpet sounds and the Lord returns before we breathe our last breath. My baby boy, innocent as it gets at age 2 days, struggled for breath and died before I could ever give him the love and nurturing I had dreamed of for 9 months. I was told that God killed him because I was living in sin. I believed, even in my "non" Christian lifestyle that my baby went to Heaven as soon as he died. God didn't kill my baby. My baby died because he had a disease that had no cure at that time. The reason he had a disease is because we live in a sinful, fallen world where a GOOD GOD had pity and mercy upon mankind's stupidity of believing they could do it their own way just as Lucifer in his pride made his own decisions. In God's pity and mercy for us, he devised a plan from the onset of time to make a way for all of us to be with him in Soul and Spirit for endless days... all because of LOVE! God told Abraham to "kill" his son, Isaac. But instead, he provided a sacrifice of a ram and let Isaac live. Abraham was willing... God was willing and followed through with his son, Jesus. Flesh and Blood was sacrificed so that Soul and Spirit could and would live forever and never suffer again! God will NEVER let the innocent die nor those who have become "innocent" by Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He knows the difference between "innocent" and "...those who know to do good but do it not..." James 4:17. God knows the ones who don't understand and the ones who deliberately "trample the blood of Jesus under foot", Hebrews 10:26-29. He is the JUDGE and he is JUST. Joshua said: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15. I am choosing life for the rest of my life!