Just three words away…

Jesus save meIt’s Sunday morning and my heart is filled to the brim with the goodness of God. I understand what David meant when he penned the words…

1 Chronicles 17

19 O Lord, for thy servant’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all this greatness, in making known all these great things.

20 O Lord, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

His words encouraged me this Sunday morning and I rejoice that God has made this day for me…and you too! What a privilege to go into the house of God and hear the word of God. It hasn’t changed, though men have tried; God’s message is still going out, day after day, week after week. It is unfortunate that it is still being rejected in the same fashion. There will be a day when many will wish they had taken the time to go to church, especially with their families.

This morning my heart is filled with gratitude, for God has shown His great mercy for this “servant’s sake.” He has given me another day that I might serve in His house and share the gospel with young people who need to know the world’s a liar. This evening if the Lord wills I’ll travel to a prison to share the gospel in song to men who are paying the price for believing the lies of the world.

What’s the lie?

That there is peace, contentment or great gain in anything other than Jesus Christ, that is the lie. Men, women and children seek for it every day only to discover at life’s end they were always just three words away…

“Jesus Save Me.”

Did You Find What You Were Looking For?

Perfect gift

Yesterday was a spendthrift’s paradise and a penny pincher’s nightmare. Merchandise flew off the shelves and cars were packed to the brim with Christmas gifts, goodies and bargains… or so I’ve been told. I wasn’t a part of the mayhem and bedlam this year; my shopping was done from the couch with a click and cha-ching, I figured that was a lot easier on my feet and my wallet. But it still didn’t eliminate the issue of finding the perfect gift for the folks I love, it’s tough! I do however know the perfect gift giver!!!

The Perfect Gift

James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

The gifts that God has given each one of us are good, perfect and beyond a shadow of a doubt, just what we need. They’re nonrefundable and un-exchangeable. So why is it they’re not being used? I ask myself that question almost every day. Every Christmas we usually get at least one gift that has us scratching our head and asking “What were they thinking when they bought that?” We’re as hard to buy for as those we’re buying for. But not so with God, He has us pegged from birth, it is we to try to change the game.

The Perfect Gift Perfected

As a child I loved to write, speak and sing. The world inside my mind was always a stage. But over the years I convinced myself I wasn’t good enough at any one of them and pushed those ideas into the recesses of my mind. And upon the occasion that I’d unclutter it, they’d resurface for a while only to be returned to a corner for fear of inadequacy. But praise God for scripture such as that in Psalm 138:8 which says “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.”

God is merciful and patient with me. Praise His holy name for that. Even though I forsook the gift, God never allowed me to forsake the notion and eventually He won me over. I struggle daily with feelings of inadequacy and self-esteem issues, usually masked with comic relief. God said He would perfect that which concerns me, not me.

The Perfect Gift Accepted

Romans 12:2

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Finding that perfect will of God is about as easy as finding the perfect gift for someone because the world is always vying for our attention. It’s not easy, but it’s worthy. Because within that perfect will we’ll find:

Peace

Isaiah 26:3

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

 Love

John 17:23

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

 Contentment

James 1:4

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Are those not the perfect gifts!

Feeling Hurt or Betrayed… this post is for you!

God's favOne of my greatest defeats in life is the heartache of betrayal by friends and family. It takes me forever and a day to get past what happened and get on with life as God’s design intended and I have a feeling I’m not alone. If a stranger speaks ill of you or does you harm you can shrug that off for you are no better or worse without them in your life. But if someone for whom you have invested love, energy and time betrays you; it’s as if a piece of your very heart has been torn asunder. There is no salve that will heal it, nor bandage that can conceal it. Everybody in your circle knows that you’ve been hurt, which for me is worse than the hurt sometimes. Because then I not only have to deal with the pain inflicted by the person who hurt me, but the shame I feel around those who know that I was betrayed. It’s a double whammy kind of day.

It’s been a little while since I have been in that position, but as I read across 2 Samuel 19 this morning the times that it occurred came flooding back into my mind as if someone had opened a gate.  I can still find myself wallowing in the pain like I’ve stepped in mucky miry clay in my favorite shoes; ruining the shoes and causing me to slip and fall back into that despair I felt when it originally happened. What I fail to understand in times like these is that I’ve not only gotten myself stuck in the mud but those around me are being splattered as well as I stomp and kick my way back to dry ground. Even the unsaved know the scripture about turning the other cheek in Matthew 5:39. They may not be able to quote it but they know it’s supposed to be a Christian characteristic that practically every Christian fails.

In 2 Samuel 19, David has just won the battle, but in the process his son Absalom is killed. He’s been betrayed by friends and family. He’s mourning not only the loss of a child but the agony of his son’s betrayal. Joab, the commander of his army has to have a heart to heart about his role as leader and the effect his mourning is having on his nation. They feel they’ve done something wrong by killing his enemy. David sent the whole nation running into their tents like thieves; as if they’d done wrong for doing right. He does make amends and in the process makes a statement that every child of God should know.

After the battle, Shimei, who had been on the opposing team comes to David in great remorse for his behavior begging forgiveness. Abishai, David’s comrade and nephew (his mom was Zeruiah) tells David to forget Shimei’s apology and put him to death because he had “cursed the Lord’s anointed.” Oh how many times I have all but ask God to kill those who have betrayed me. I didn’t want God to kill’em but if He’d have maimed them I’d have been okay with that. But David answers him in royal style and forgiveness.

2nd Samuel 19:22

And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel?

To country quote that for myself … “The battle is over, the damage is done and I’m still God’s favorite.”

That’ll put a shout on you! That’s how you victoriously get past the hurt. Regardless of what someone has done, or what the end result is, they cannot remove you from your station in life that God has given you. If we’re wallowing in pain, we’ve stepped down from our position. That’s an awesome word for someone today… Me for one!

Where Would You Land This Thanksgiving?

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, oil on canvas by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1914). public domain
The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, oil on canvas by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1914). public domain

Pretty much on a daily basis, at some point, I throw my hands in the air and ask God why my country is governed by idiots? And then I remember that they were elected, and we are the idiots. I’m still at a complete loss of understanding why anyone thinks we’re going in the right direction. Liberal or not, Democrat, Republican, Independent, Mountain or Valley Party (Yes I know there’s not a Valley Party, but there should be, because who better to argue with the Mountain than a Valley) And we know that politics is all about argument not solution. My way or highway. Truth?

And so it was that our nation began on the same principal.

pilgrims

A brief study of the original settlers, and I mean brief, because my attention span is not long enough to study history at length, proves that we’re no better or worse than the day we landed. The Jamestown Settlers and those of Plymouth Rock pre-defined the nation. There were those who sought the world and those that sought God and today we have the same dilemma.

Joshua told Israel in Joshua 24:15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

The flesh side of me would like to make this a political rant this morning, but the condition of America doesn’t fall in Washington’s bailiwick. It is we who are accountable for not telling them Who it is we serve. Instead we’ve allowed them to dictate to us that we are in service to them; even though we all know from historical truths that that was never the way government was intended to work.

My study of the contrast of original settlers spurred me on to hang on ever so tight to my Lord and the foundational truths of the Bible. If I am to survive this world on the winning side I must

  • Seek God not wealth, He’ll provide your needs
  • Keep my family together, God gave them to you and you’ll answer to Him for your stand
  • Remember that God gives the increase, He can also cause a decrease
  • Godly cooperation and collaboration is key to the church’s success. There is no I in team.
  • Troubles will come, Stay together regardless
  • Don’t play church, It is not a social club or political party, it’s a relationship with Christ and your ticket to the New World!
  • God’s plan is providential, He opens and closes all doors of potential
  • In all things, thank God, not vessels

As we embark on this Thanksgiving week, whose side are you on? That’s not a political question, it’s a faith question. Are you thankful for the ship or the Savior? Living in America is great but we’ve lived in the land of the free for so long and free will has gotten us into a heap of trouble. We need to spend a little time remembering the foundational truths that allowed the Pilgrims to survive and will help us live successfully in the world today

Are You at His Feet Today?

at His feet

Matthew 19:14

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Early on in my salvation the Holy Spirit may have gone to bed a few nights saying “Wow! that was quite the workout!” It seemed that minute by minute He was guiding and instructing me in a better way to live and removing 34 years of bad ideas or misnomers of what was acceptable for a Christian to do and not to do. I remember sitting in a revival service one evening when Dr. Norris Belcher preached at our church, feeling as though every thought and sin in my life had been revealed. His sermon hit on everything the Holy Spirit had been dealing with me that day. I ask him when I shook his hand that night “Who opened my heart and allowed you to see in?” I don’t think he understood the magnitude of what had happened to me that night as he preached, but I certainly did. I discovered that sermons were supernatural events where, if you allowed, you could be ushered into the Lord’s presence and the light that shined during that time would illuminate every speck of dirt in your soul, and I loved it.

I wanted Him to show me what was wrong and I wanted to get it right. But not always. Many times I would flick the switch back to the flesh and say I’m not ready. It began during that time of my life that I couldn’t get enough preaching. I listened to preaching like many other Christians listened to music, it stirred my soul in a way it had never known and I couldn’t get enough. Not much has changed, I’m still a preaching fanatic. There’s an old time image of Christ with children all round His feet looking at Him adoringly, that’s how I envision myself during those early years, I sat in awe.

But just as we do in the physical realm, I grew up. I’m not just sitting at the feet of the Savior I’m also teaching as I had been taught; I teach Sunday School, I write and speak at ladies events when given the opportunity. Sometimes I get so busy doing life that I forget to spend time at His feet. I go to church, I take notes, I ponder the Pastor’s thoughts but I don’t always prepare my heart to hear the message as God would like.

As I prepare to go to church today, that is my heart’s desire… I pray the same for you.

Whether or not they believe…

BELIEVE 2

John 10

22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.

23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.

24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

Dedicated to Religion

Always a scary thought for me. The Jews were celebrating the miraculous victory and deliverance from the Greco-Syrian control. A time when the Greco-Syrian king took control of the Temple in Jerusalem and forced the Jewish people to abandon their worship of God, their holy customs and reading of the Torah. He made them bow down to the Greek gods and according to the records, this King Antiochus IV defiled the Temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar and spilling its blood on the holy scrolls of Scripture.

As a result of the severe persecution and pagan oppression, a group of four Jewish brothers, led by Judah Maccabee, decided to raise up an army of religious freedom fighters. These men of fierce faith and loyalty to God became known as the Maccabees. The small band of warriors fought for three years with “strength from heaven” until achieving a miraculous victory and deliverance from the Greco-Syrian control. The Feast of Dedication is also known as Hanukah.

The Jewish leaders loved history and tradition, but it was the new non-traditional ideas that they had an issue with; like the fact that God had a new plan and it didn’t involve religion, but rather relationship. The Jews had regained possession of the temple, but lost possession of God’s purpose.

Deviated to Reception

The Jews swerved away from the notion that there would be a new way.

25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.

26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Jesus had come to give a freedom that would remove the Jewish Priests control over the relationship with God and His children. No longer would there be a need to have multiple intercessors on earth, but through Christ Jesus we would have direct communication to the throne room of Heaven; this doesn’t sit well with religion or anyone else who likes complete control of the circumstances of life.

The victory and restoration of the temple began when four Jewish brothers had had enough. I see a little Greco-Syrian tactics going on in our own government today when at every turn they are removing Christian rights and allowing pagan rights to rule. It seems that Christ is no more welcome on Capitol Hill than He was in the temple that day. The Jewish leaders tolerated Him, but they really would just rather have Him gone so that they could once again have full control over the people. The religious leaders didn’t win their battle any more than those who try to thwart Christianity today will succeed.

Destined to Redemption

28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

30 I and my Father are one.

We may have to fight a few battles of our own before Christ comes to claim the church and take us home. But whether or not Capitol Hill believes on Christ, they cannot control the relationship that God has with His people. Glory Hallelujah for that!

Quick Wit and Slow Ears

quick wit slow ears

I do not know exactly how God placed the Holy Spirit within my heart,  I only know that one day I was feeling hopeless and alone and the next day I found myself sitting in a church that I didn’t want to be in, listening to a preacher I didn’t want to hear, and obeying a whisper from without that would soon be within. And almost 19 years later that whisper still resonates in my soul, bringing a joy that I never thought possible. If you too are saved then you “get” what I just said, if you are not saved (meaning you’ve never accepted what Jesus Christ did for you) then you think I’m a babbling idiot; and that’s okay. Read on either way!

John 6:63-64

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

Funny thing about God, none of us fool Him.

Quick Wit

When the Holy Spirit quickeneth a soul, He brings to life that which was dead. That which we didn’t even realize was dead. Nobody threw a funeral, it was just born that way. As we grow up we begin knowing right from wrong and there are conscious decisions being made every day. Do I tell my parents that I broke it, or do I sweep it up and throw it in the trash, hoping they’re none the wiser? Do I study, or cheat?  Do I drive fast or like I’ve got some sense? Those are decisions made with the conscience, it knows what’s right. And so do we, but we have the will to choose what’s wrong. This for me is the part of the evolution theory that has me asking those who believe it “How can you be so smart, and yet be so dumb?” How can a “bang” create a conscience, love, passion, desire, etc. etc. etc.? A bang cannot. Only God can. We are born with quick wit. A toddler knows when Mommy and Daddy say no, they shouldn’t do it again… but they have to try.

The first Non-Profit

The flesh profiteth nothing, meaning it’s no better for having made a right decision; for tomorrow it might make a wrong one if it thinks that it’s more advantageous to do so. It gains nothing in Heaven by having made the right decision, although it may gain in the world because of it. We grow up thinking that the riches of this world are the prize, only to discover that rich or poor, heartache is the same and there is a missing piece of our heart that is never satisfied with the world.

The Life of the Party!

We’d like to live life in the party zone where everything is happy and care free but life happens. We have misfortune, we lose people we love, we’re angry, sad, broken and distraught a great many days, but there can be a party in your soul even in the midst of those times if you have the Holy Spirit within you.

John wrote “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.”

Whether or not you believe in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, I believe that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you right now either from within your soul if you believe, or from without if you do not. I believe that because the Lord led me to this passage this morning and said write, and His work never goes unfinished.

In 1996 He spoke to my soul and said… “You need saved or you’re going to Hell.” This morning He speaks to my soul and says write, it’s time to share the party! Life is only complete with Jesus Christ. If you have Him, perhaps you’re like me and you’re not allowing Him to work in your life to His full potential. He has so much in store for us if we’d only spend more time listening and less time “doing.” He gave me quick wit… I have slow ears. What’s He’s telling you today?

A Thread of Hope

thread of hope

Joshua 2:18

Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.

Threads of Hope…

Over the past few weeks I’ve been privileged to be a part of a Facebook Messenger thread involving about eight people. Various prayers and concerns come down the line and prayers and petitions are spoken on their behalf. It’s been an encouragement to my soul to watch their concern for the members of the group, many of whom I don’t even know other than through this thread.

It reminded me of that thread of hope that Rahab threw out the window to Joshua’s men spying out the land of Jericho. The same thread that was used to help the men escape was the same thread that would later save her own life and that of her family. Should not that be a message to the hearts of the church that we very well could be a thread of hope that saves a soul from destruction?

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

We all face troubles. Today we may find ourselves in excellent shape without travail but that may not be the case tomorrow. How awesome it is to have that thread of hope from Christian friends that we can turn to in our hour of need. God could have saved the Hebrew spies in any number of ways, but He chose to use a harlot who happened to own a piece of real estate right in the heart of trouble. Her life wasn’t easy, she could have given any number of excuses for not helping them out. But she put her safety and well-being aside to help the men of God… and great was her reward!

We don’t do things for other people so that we may obtain the favor of God, but it is for certain that nothing done with His name attached will be forgotten. I’m grateful for the many prayer warriors that God has placed in my path, and I’m humbled that I have the privilege to return the favor because God opened the windows of Heaven when He saved my soul.

I Want God Wednesday!

I want God Wednesday

Craziest thing about wanting more God, we are without excuse for receiving Him. It’s officially Hump Day, that midweek celebration of the weekend being on the horizon. But for the Christian it should be a midweek refresher course on life until Sunday. We say we want more God, but Wednesday night services generally don’t reflect it by comparison to Sunday morning worship. You’ll note I didn’t say Sunday School… don’t get me started there. But back to Wednesday. I self-declared this “I Want God Wednesday!”  Just because it focuses my mind on Him and I really need to get my mind off me; that’s what happens by Wednesday if I’m not careful. I get to worrying about the circumstances of life… laundry, bills, jobs, kids, grandkids and dogs and before long I’m not focusing on godly edification but rather worldly agitations. All the while God is there for the asking even on Manic Mondays and Tiring Tuesdays we just won’t receive the grace and goodness He desires to give.

Steven Furtick preached a sermon a few weeks ago at Elevation church with another grand revelation for me regarding the two spies giving the good report that spied out Canaan land, and the eight that gave the bad report. In that sermon he said that that ratio often reflected the congregation of the Lord in that eight out of ten people have a negative attitude and only two are encouragers. Truth? I don’t know, but it sounds right!

But in the book of Judges, Chapter 18, Verse 7-9, we find another set of five spies who were given the order to spy out the land promised to the Danites but they returned with a good report!

Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man. And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren said unto them, What say ye? And they said, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good: and are ye still? be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land.

So what’s the lesson for “I Want God Wednesday!”? Be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land. You want more of the goodness of God. Don’t be careless and over confident, else you’ll find yourself under attack and at risk of losing the peace God has afforded. God has given you the opportunity to live in a land that is “very good!” But you can’t afford to miss any opportunity to fellowship.

If life is hard… get to church.

If life is easy… get to church.

If life is bad… get to church.

If life is good… get to church.

I had “go to church” in those lines but changed it to “get. It’s a privilege to get to go to church. We need that fellowship with other believers and an opportunity to be encouraged by the Word of God. Church is our own little piece of the Promised Land until we get the full inheritance. Too many people are living after the manner of the Zidonians, so sure that all is well and they know not that the good times are about to end.

Do a little declaring yourself today. Make this your “I Want God Wednesday!” Get to church!

No more Pew Puke… a Monday Message from the Amen

bible in the pew

Revelation 3

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

These things saith the Amen…

The Amen being the steady and unchangeable Lord Jesus Christ, the faithful and true witness who from the beginning of time has watched over His creation. I have to wonder what yesterday was like for Him, or any other recent Sunday. How excited were His people to come into His house?

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The unchangeable, still excited to love on you Lord Jesus Christ knows that the most of His church sat in their pews without so much as an amen or glory hallelujah, they were a pew full of spue. He seen the few that were willing to raise their hand and amen the message… I was one of those, but I could have done better too. I awoke this morning with a determination in my heart to light a fire under my own feet like the one that John saw on the isle of Patmos when he looked at the Lord Jesus. We’re getting a new roof on our church this week, I want to blow the roof off in praise. I want the kids in my youth group to say “that crazy woman is our leader… and she loves us.” I have from now until Wednesday night to stir my heart so that I can stir my Wednesday night class and encourage a few adults in the other classes and churches to jump on board with me.

Enough of being pew puke.

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, th at thou mayest see.

Sunday morning our church was blessed to give the Pastor a go ahead and have the roof replaced on Victory Baptist Church. No debate, no argument over color, just get it done Pastor… we are blessed. We have need of nothing… the Lord has provided for us! Hallelujah!!! But Christ goes on to say you need to buy of me gold tried in the fire. We need an eye opener, some godly wisdom and it starts with a reality check. Yes I love you, but you need a trip to the wood shed.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Be Zealous! Get excited for crying out loud. Stop sitting in your pew with your Bible in your lap making notes for another day… today’s the day. Christ has just knocked on your door and mine.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

This verse is so often to referred to as the verse that calls sinners to come. He’s speaking to the church, not to the lost. It’s we who have locked Christ out of the dining hall to where He has to knock to come back in. How ridiculous is that… He has the food!

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

That’s all of us… red, yellow, black and white, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc., etc. you are precious in His sight. He said He loved us…

We can do better this week. Open the doors wide to what Christ wants to do with you this week. I’m ready! Who’s with me?