Cookies & Cream Christianity

cookies and cream

Today begins the day that the earth, in our part of the world, is about to see the “big thaw.” Our single digit temperatures from a week ago are giving way to a balmy sixty degrees today! My aching bones are so ready. But ever ready on my heart is the answered prayer that there will be a big thaw in the church of God. I speak collectively across every denomination, not one in particular. My stomach turns at the thought of my own prejudiced behavior over the years of salvation where because of biased views I judged another’s faith. In truth I doubt you can point your finger at me without at least a little dirt beneath your nails, it seems to be the nature of the greater majority of us.

We realize that we’re wretched sinners, deserving of a Devil’s Hell, and by the grace of God we are gratefully saved. And for a while we look back at the congregation of God and see them as the greatest thing since ®Oreo cookies. Pure sweetness! But then, little by little, the dogma of men creeps into our hearts, and denominations are viewed as black and white, and the sweetness is gone. One is right, the other wrong, never the twain shall meet. I am not foolish enough to believe that different denominations should meet under the same roof; for those firm in our beliefs trying to convert doctrines would do nothing but cause an even deeper division, but… and here’s where big thaw needs to take place, the lost need to see Christ, not our opinion of Christ.

I believe that this thaw has begun in our community and it stirs my soul when I see churches extending the right hand of fellowship outside the church, whether or not they agree inside.  And while Pastor’s must set the standard, the congregation as a whole is to follow suit.

Jesus spoke a parable in Luke 6 that I believe can work to relate on the matter.

Luke 6:43-46

For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Tell me what type of fruit could possibly come from negative conversations about another church or even worse, specific church members. Rotten. It’s not like I’m airing dirty laundry that’s never been hung on the line, it’s been blowing in the wind for decades. My Mother tells of the two churches in her country neighborhood of Strange Creek, West Virginia, a Baptist and a Methodist no less, that were one in the same when they were kids. They’d attend one in the morning and another in the evening, they’d switch it up just for fun. They’d have church fellowships and all was well. Well, those days are long gone! And the effects are long gone too.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that church attendance is at an all-time low. The fruit for which our churches are bearing is not the fruit of the Word of God, but rather the rotten fruit of men. The concern for souls gets overshadowed by the concerns of men (and women as the case may be.)

Jesus concluded His parable in verses 47-49

Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

When building the Church, the foundation is Christ alone. If you’re building with any other words than His, your not building the church, you’re tearing it down.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all got together for cookies and milk tomorrow afternoon and just loved one another!

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Are You Prepared for the Storm?

RESCUE SQUAD

Friday, January 22, 2016 and I’m contentedly sitting in my house preparing for the first big winter storm of the season here. I’ve got my lanterns ready and my strategy is just to stay put. I made a run yesterday to get my hair done (hey a gal’s got a look good) and did pick up a gallon of milk while I was out. Walmart was busy but not crazy while I was there. I watched as shopper after shopper strolled by with their buggies piled high as if this storm were going to last an eternity. My first thought was… it’s three days people. We’ll make it… But I don’t know their circumstances, perhaps they may not see sunshine until Valentine’s day. Who am I to judge? But it did make me think.

People are so concerned about temporal storms. And yes, they’re bad. I don’t want to make light of them. But where is the cognitive skills when it comes to eternity. They’ve ignored the warnings on that one for a long time. Eternity comes into view at the funeral of a loved one but fades from most minds as they exit the funeral parlor. Many funerals have become “life celebrations” with no gospel at all because it’s “too hard on the family.” Why I’m stuck on the serious note today, I don’t know… but the storm preparation yesterday really made it as heavy on my mind as the forecasted snow will be on the roof tops. And I pray that someone reading this will take my message to heart as they’re hold up in the house this weekend; and spend that time preparing for a storm of a more serious matter.

Luke 8:23-25

But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

That question “Where is your faith?” breaks my heart for so many who don’t understand the concept of faith. Their faith is believing that they believe, not knowing what they believe. Wow, that’s either a pretty deep thought, or I’ve just confused myself. But it’s true! Ask them about their faith and they’re fine… but ask them to define it and the conversation usually takes a detour. The disciples knew their friend Jesus was in the boat, but they didn’t know God was. They were pretty sure He could do something, but they weren’t sure what. So when He spoke to the storm and the winds and water obeyed him they were shocked!

Before they left the shore if they’d have been ask about their faith it would have been fine, but when the storm hit…where was there faith then? I want to ask my friends and family who say they’re “fine” and yet there’s no proof in the puddin’, the same question. Frustration mounts as I see storms ahead of them and I know they’re not prepared. When I do bring the subject up it’s as if I’ve slapped them in the face. How dare I question their salvation? How dare I not?

Okay, so you say you’re fine…

Then why isn’t God in control of your storm? We’ll all have storms, that’s life. But there is a drastic difference in boat ride for someone who knows what they believe, and for those who just believe that they believe but aren’t really sure what that means.

You know Jesus? Yay!!!! If you do. I’m not going to take that away from you and say that because you don’t give me evidence of it you don’t know Him…. But…. That lack of evidence means your faith is in need of rescuing. And not for my sake (although I’ll love it) but for your own. When your child gets on your last nerve and you’re about to jump overboard, Jesus can calm that storm like that (did you hear my finger snap). When you’re up to your eyeballs in debt and a bill collector just took your eye glasses and you can’t see any hope before you, Jesus thrives on giving His people hope. When the news is bad and the prognosis is worse, Jesus can shush the voices of fear. You may be setting in sunny weather, but when the storm hits you need to be prepared.

Preparing for a storm is making sure that your child knows Jesus so that the Holy Spirit can speak to their little heart and help you help them. Get your faith in order as a family. Preparing for a financial storm would have worked better if we’d never get financially strapped to start with, but it happens. Knowing Christ won’t erase poor decisions, but He will guide you every step of the way back out and calm many storms that can take you under without Him involved. Get your faith in order. Bad news may have had nothing to do with any decision you made, but resting in Christ will take a load off your already worn out state of mind. He is so faithful!

Saying you know Him isn’t enough to get you through the storm. You need to know you know Him. Where is your faith? Are you in need of rescue?

Get out your Bible… read the instruction manual.

Go to Church… There’s safety in numbers. Well, maybe not today…

Get the lines of communication open… talk to God.

I love you… God loves you more.

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Satan Loves Snow Days

SNOWDAY

I don’t know about anyone else, but as for me, I need my own cheerleader. One that would ride around on my shoulder and encourage me along the way, shouting “Go, Shari Go… You got this… Victory is yours!!!” Oh, wait a minute, I do have that cheerleader! His name is the Holy Spirit. So why is it I feel so defeated so often? Why is it that at days end I’m crawling under the covers and wanting to pull them over my head and not crawl out the next day? Probably because I’ve sat on the sidelines with Satan much of the day. It’s especially easy when I get snowed in on a church day. Oh, Satan loves snow days! I speak both literally and metaphorically. He loves it when he can cause a deep freeze to come into the soul of a saint and draw our eyes away from the things of God and onto the frustrations of life. It doesn’t take much. Trials, troubles, heartache, seclusion, cabin fever is Satan’s playground. Is that truth or what!

So how do we battle it? The best remedy I’ve found is to “do something.” Not just anything, but something spiritually productive. It sounds like a terrible idea, but cleaning the kitchen can do a soul good with praise music playing. It is no doubt opening up the Word of God that will urge you on today

James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

I’m  pretty sure over the last couple of days I spent more time submitting to Satan. I’ll spend time with God as soon as I… I’ll spend time in prayer as soon as I…. Golly, I don’t feel like doing anything but sitting here by the fire… Hmm… I wonder what’s on television… I know, I’ll praise God in song… wait a minute… I haven’t played that Eagles song in ages…. Good grief!

The days haven’t been totally non-productive, I can do busy church work without Satan uttering a word. I wonder why? Because busy church work when you’re alone doesn’t save anyone. Unless of course you’re sharing the gospel via technology, but that wasn’t my case. What I was working on was good, actually had me ahead of the game on a project or two, but it wasn’t soul stirring for me or anyone else on this cold winter day. It kept my mind busy, but did little for my heart.

So today, my goal is to do something, and make sure that that something is Christ centered, soul stirring and finds me at the end of the day climbing under the covers, saying, “I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow!”

Submit – God, I’m before you today, ready for your service. Please give me direction and the fortitude to follow through. Let it not be by word only, but by deed.

Resist – Lord please remove everything in my path that takes my eyes off you. Draw my mind into your word, fill my head with Your song and my heart with Your wisdom and allow Satan no foothold in my world today. Pummel him with the gospel and cause him to flee like a school girl in a snowball fight.

Amen!

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It’s Your Job

upside down chick

My ministry is diverse to say the least. Every day I am wife, mother, Noni and friend, Sunday’s I’m kind of a jack of all trades: Sunday School Superintendent, teacher, pray-er, marketing, and music. Monday–Friday I’m in Jesus Chick mode – the writer, Tuesday’s I’m Violin instructor, and tonight I’m devotion leader, Wednesday’s I’m youth group leader, Thursday’s I’m a student of guitar, Friday’s I’m a fiddle instructor and advanced fiddle student and Saturday I plan for Sunday. Any given day I can be scheduling music groups or planning events, I have two on the horizon this week! Wow… I just wore myself out. I said all that not to get a feather in my cap, but to say life is busy. Yours is no doubt the same but the list and purpose may differ. My question for you is my question for me as I go through the day to day “stuff”  –   Is this stuff fluff or faith.

I love it. After God dragged me for 5 years I finally got with the program, although it’s still not always clearly defined for me, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt for the first time in my life I’m exactly where God wants me to be. If only I could become who He wants me to be… He’s still working on that. I’ve gone through months and months of guilt about not having a “real job.” Because that’s who I’ve always been and how my life has been defined. I needed a title. I always wanted a job with a uniform because I thought that would be fun and official, I almost had one once… and about the time the company was going to order them and I was settling in to the new me, God yanked that job out from under me and said “Are you kidding?” You’d trade me for a cute shirt? What can I say… I’m fickle.

I’ve always considered my career as a place of ministry, that I would be a light in those dark places. And some of them were very, very dark. And I know I made an impact because many of the people I worked with still come to me for prayer or advice and what a blessing that is! And perhaps for you that is where you are, you are that light in that dark place. That’s a real ministry. But are you treating it as such. Is it fluff or is it faith. Fluff will pay the bills, but faith paves the way to eternity with eternal rewards and if you’re a child of God, it’s your real job regardless of position or title, or cute shirt you wear.

In Act Chapter 18 we find Paul being a tent maker. At least for a while he helped his friends, Priscilla and Aquila, make tents.

Verse 1-3

After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

After these things… it really was some “thing” if you read Chapter 17. In verse six it is said that they have turned the world upside down” and following that he was run out of a few other cities. There wasn’t any fluff involved in what Paul did. He continued in service to the Lord in the position he was in. Whether it be preacher, teacher or tent maker, he preached Christ and he stirred the people up.

That’s what I hope I do for you today. I hope I stir you up and cause you to realize that where ever you are it is your job to speak Christ. You may say, “But it’s forbidden.” That’s a tough place to be in, I’ve been there… and I was asked to stop. But somehow or another God paved the way for me to speak Jesus anyway. I’m not saying it will be easy, and it may take some creativity to bring it to pass, but it’s your job. You may also say, “But there’s nobody around.” If you’re reading my blog, you have a means of spreading the gospel… be creative! I want us to turn the world upside down!

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When healing won’t come, trust His heel

trust His heel

This morning has been a time of worship and praise… I’ve sat with my guitar for over an hour, I’ve listened to worship music and I’ve wept over heart aches and illnesses. Heaven some morning’s seems too far away. It’s not that I’m wanting to die… no I want to live!!! I want to live for Jesus and tell the world of His goodness, but Satan is right on my heels every second of the day. Trying to defeat my witness, he can’t defeat me because Christ is within me, but he can sure do some damage the outer being of who I am. I know that my Savior has his head under His heel because the scripture says so in Genesis 3:15

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

I need that image in my mind… the image of the victory! Satan does his very best to cover it with the grief of the world when healing seems impossible, or distant. I follow the story of Joey and Rory Feeks and my heart aches for them; I want God to take away this heartache from their family and friends and heal her. That’s the kind of “heal” I want today, but it hasn’t come. And so I sing about Heaven and thank God for those songs of praise that cause my heart to rejoice, otherwise it would be in despair and I’d be of no purpose for encouraging you. My heart breaks for children that I minister to who don’t live in the best of circumstances and I want to show them that image of Satan’s head beneath our Savior heel and tell them to hang on. Christ will win their victory. I have friends in the faith whose children have broken their hearts and I want to tell them to keep praying!  God can turn those situations around as quickly as it appeared to get out of control. He’s got this. He will have victory over every evil plot that Satan has devised to bring us down.

So what do you do when physical or emotional healing won’t come? Trust His Heel.

Hebrews 13:5 says Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Content… at ease.

My heart is breaking… allow the balm of His words to soothe it. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I don’t have the strength to get through… then He’ll carry you. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I’m all alone… that’s a lie from Hell. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Nobody understands… yes He does. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I’ve been hurt so deeply… so was He… beyond our imagination and by us. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I’m a failure… no, you’re human. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

It’s not fair… Nothing about this world is, but there’s a better world coming. Until then… I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Thank You Jesus, that in the pits of my despair, You are there. I feel Your presence and Your Spirit well up within my soul as a reminder that You are truth, and Satan is a liar. Thank you for the gift of music that draws my mind into worship and help my friends Lord, to understand that You’ll bring them through. And in the end we’ll see you destroy that demon and his forces that cause us heartache today. And from that day forward there will be only Joy!  Great joy…

Trust His Heel. He  will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

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The Best Weight Loss Program Ever!

Ready2Run Chick

If you’re like myself, who constantly battles weight gain, that headline caught your attention! Or perhaps you seen right through my ruse and knew that it would likely be a spiritual application; either way, I’m glad you’re here. Because I believe my words today will help us all, thin, thick or in between people. The Word of God is one size fits all… really. Not like the apparel size which is anything but truth. Our scripture toda y is found in Hebrews 12:1

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Let me say I’m not a runner and I have no desire to run. It wears me out just thinking about it and runners wear me out talking about it. I love that quote that says, “If you see me running you should run too because something is obviously chasing me, and it can’t be good.” True story. I’m not a runner in the fitness sense of the word, but spiritually speaking, its game on! I’ll run that race. Apostle Paul was a runner… a spiritual fitness buff. I want to wear his line of apparel which no doubt would be done in the coolest of colors because his eyesight was poor so he’d love the bright shades. The fabric would be just the right blends of materials, it would have appeal to the Jew as well as the gentile and would no doubt be made by the prison population with all proceeds going to the Rock of Ages ministry. I know Paul was a tent maker but in these modern times he’d have branched out. And he was a tent maker, so plus size apparel would have most likely been his niche. Just sayin’. Okay… I may have over thought that point.

But back to the race…One of the reasons I don’t like to physically run is the same reason that stops many of us from running the spiritual race, or at least slows us down. It’s the weight! When you’re carting around unnecessary baggage it’s impossible to run with proficiency and good health.

The word beset is not a word that you’ll find us using too much in today’s vocabulary but its synonyms are very familiar – problem, difficulty, afflict, torment, oppress, trouble, worry – sounds like an average day in the neighborhood to me. And not the Mr. Rogers kind of neighborhood. Those are the things that hinder my race, most of which are brought on by me. Just like the weight that clings to my midriff, the things that beset me both physically and spiritually were brought on by poor decisions and lack of discipline. Not all… but most.

So how do we lay it aside, not that I’ve laid it on every side?

We have to run…that means move. We can’t un-sin any more than we can un-eat that bag of chips. We can only move forward to hopefully better choices with better results. What’s hindering your ministry? I know what’s hindering mine… bad decision making in the past. I need to move forward and run with patience… meaning to take my time and do it right. See… Paul didn’t think going fast was a good idea either. I love that guy!

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Cure for the Common Cold

chick in the snow

On a recent internet cruise (where I randomly google ideas) I googled the words “spiritually cold” and the following question came up on a city-data.com thread.

What if u r just plain spiritually cold and nothing holds any significance? I go to church it helps for the moment. I read the Bible and I believe what I read only to come back to a place of distance and coldness. What must I do not to be cold…?

My first thought was, “that’s so sad,“ and then I thought “that’s weird place to find someone searching for answers to such a question.” But it was a spirituality forum on city-data.com, so I guess that’s not so strange after all and praise God they were searching for answers. Most people who are spiritually cold just sit there freezing rather than searching for a solution to their inward drop in temperature. Nobody is immune; this morning it’s a balmy 7 degrees in my neighborhood, and if anyone goes outside without a coat, they’re gonna be cold. If I didn’t have the fires burning in my home this morning that arctic blast would work its way through the walls and windows and the house would be cold too.  The same is true of our spiritual house; if I don’t take some initiative to keep myself warm, the fire won’t go out, but it will get pretty chilly.

So how do we keep the fires burning when life gets chilly? When our pastor of 22 years left in 2014 I worried about our church growing cold as time passed without a new pastor in place. I’d seen it countless times in other churches when the pastor left, slowly the congregation dwindled and struggled to stay encouraged. I don’t take it lightly that God placed me in a church that when faced with the loss of a leader, there were leaders in place that took charge and our church actually grew a little during those times. So how did we do it?

Body heat.

Funny thing about the temperature of a cool room, get a bunch of people in it and it can be sweltering hot quickly. As a church family we stuck closely together. When the doors of the church were open, we were together.

Key – stay faithful. Regardless. No Excuses. Satan will give you any number of excuses that you’ll deem worthy for staying home from church. Don’t buy into any of them, because he knows that there is safety in numbers, both physically and spiritually speaking. Are you in a place of frustration…if at all possible stay put for a while and pray harder until God clearly shows you a path. I hate cold weather, it’s painful to my bones and I immediately want to be warm. But there’s also something about it that invigorates the body. It cause you to get moving! Spiritual coldness can do the same thing if you’re aware of it. Start looking for a place to get moving, a ministry or place of service.

This morning as I prepared this blog I had an “oh snap” moment where I realized it was trash day… 7 degrees… ugh! But it’s a necessity of life and so I bundled up and headed out. A few minutes of getting my things to the curb and I felt the need to do more, so I trekked next door to my Mother’s home and carted her trash to the curb too. Woohoo… bonus points with Mom! A few bonus points with God too no doubt. If I’d stayed in the warmth of the house, necessary things wouldn’t have gotten done and I’d have missed out on a blessing.

The common cold, is a plague in the church. What is it with human nature that causes a comfortable life to be a less productive life? Whether we’re spiritually cold or just in an uncomfortable place we need to stay connected to people. There are times to get away and let God speak to us alone, but that’s not usually a place of service, that’s a place of discovery.

If you’re in one of those moments in time where you just can’t feel God moving, maybe it’s you who need to get moving.

Not satisfied with the direction of your church? Start moving in the direction you feel God leading you and see if anyone follows. They may be waiting on you.

Not heard from God lately? Start moving closer to Him, read His word, hang with His people, listen intently.

That thread on city-data.com was from 2010. I hope that gal got moving. This morning, I hope we’re all moving!

Acts 17:27-28

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

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What are you doing with the big “A”?

big a

Every time I read, hear or think on the anointing of God, my mind goes back to Preacher Walt. A larger than life black evangelist who came to our church for a few years and added a flair to our worship that had not been there previously. How could it have been? We’re a predominately white, redneck, rural West Virginia community. I say that with love and the kindest of intent without shame; I do indeed love where I live and I love the people who live in our community, but we needed Walt to move in and shake us up a little bit. And it did shake a few… they opted for a less loud environment. If you’d come in the doors of Victory Baptist Church on Sunday morning and inspect the crowds fashion sense you’d find everything from Levi and Wrangler, Macy’s and Vans, to straight off the rack at the Dollar General and Goodwill. We have all the bases covered for your comfort level, but if you want a church that makes it about fashion… we’re not your church. We make it about God. But back to Walt. Walt may have given “Mr. T” his first starter kit for jewelry. He loved bling. He also liked fine suits and shoes and everything matched everything and everything was colorful! And when he stood before our congregation to preach he would often put his fingers in the position of the capital letter “A” and speak of the anointing of God, and the privileges of a child of God and by the time he was through you were pretty sure that you alone were the favored child of God and there was no other. Walt preached Jesus, he preached salvation true and free, he did not preach prosperity gospel; he preached truth. And the truth of the matter is a child of God is anointed for purpose and while purpose is not without problems it is with promise. Whew! That’ll preach! will it not? Walt would have liked it!

So my question for us to ponder today is “What are we doing with the big “A”? If you’re saved you have it. God’s placed you in a position with purpose, He’s anointed you and given you the promise of finishing the work that He has started in you. Philippians 1:6 says clearly – Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: – God’s got a plan, but are you workin’ it?

Isaiah 45 tells the story of Cyrus, God’s anointed leader who He literally opened gates that should have been closed.

1Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;

As I understand it the gates of the cities and palaces wherever he came were opened to receive him as conqueror including the gates of Babylon which were “left open one night” for the army of Cyrus to take over the city. Cyrus had to battle, but his ways were made straight in that the obstructions in his path were removed.

I’m not saying that our battles will be without problems. We all know that’s not how life works. But isn’t it great to know that as a child of God, He has already gone before us and prepared the way. We just have to stick to the path!

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

His ways were not only made straight, they were paid in advance.

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

The Jewish Rabbins say that Nebuchadnezzar having amassed riches from all over the world, worried who he could leave it to when he died. He decided that “nobody” should have it. So he ordered ships of brass to be filled with the wealth and dug a place in the Euphrates where he hid them and turned the river on it. Well guess who found it? Cyrus. God’s anointed. Treasures in the darkness… Jeremiah said when he conquered Asia he brought away thirty four thousand pounds of gold and a whole lot more… that’s a chunk of change!

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t found any pots of gold buried in the river, but what I have discovered is that God provides wealth in a variety of forms. Some monetarily, some in unmerited gifts, perhaps in a great job, and others through friends and family. But as children of God we can all find the blessings of God that have been hidden in our lives waiting to be uncovered.

he question again is, what are we doing with it? Reading  on in Isaiah 45 it says

For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.

God said, I gave you these things so that people would know “I am the LORD, and there is none else.” That’s your purpose. When Brother Walt stood before our congregation and shouted… yes, really shouted… he stirred our souls. When he was ask to bless the offering of the day he did so by saying and asking us to say it with him, “I have because I give, I give because I have, and therefore, I am never, never ever, without… it’s offering time! And then Heaven would come down as we rejoiced in the goodness of God. Life’s not always good… but God is.

We need to brag a little on God today…

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Feast on His mercy, Skip the Pity Party

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Twenty six times in Psalm 136 David reminds his audience of readers that God’s  “mercy endureth forever.” I cannot think of a day in my life that I did not need the mercies of God. There have been days that I’ve been oblivious to the need, but it was still there. I’m certain there were days that had I known the risk I was in my heart would have failed. I’m certain of this because I’m a child of God and although God’s thoughts toward me are peace, and not of evil.” (Jeremiah) 29:11, Satan’s desire is to sift me as wheat. (Luke 22:31) That’s quite a contrast.

There’s a variety of mercies of God, I’ve no doubt needed every one; but a great and mighty lie of Satan is that God’s mercy grows weary. And with my many failures I buy it like yesterday’s newspaper for the truth with the end result being feelings of doubt and a lack of self-worth and the ministry of God suffers. And Satan’s evil laugh is heard across the land because he has won one of his little battles. God’s thoughts are peace, Satan’s thoughts are upheaval and destruction and it’s aimed at the children of God and the ministries of God. If he can keep our minds focused on our defeats, our victories will be fewer.

Take back the trophies of grace that Satan desires to steal by reminding him of God’s mercies.

Psalm 36

Start with applause!

1O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

God’s mercy is worth praising Him for and it heaps coals upon the head of Satan to hear God’s people’s applause. Take a minute to thank Him for the many times that God has provided His mercy in abundance.

Stand in Awe

To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Praise Him for His mercy on creation. He created this marvelous universe for us. What a gift! And even though we neglect it and take poor care of it, in His mercy He renews it and rejuvenates not only the earth but the spirit within us when we see the beauty of it all. Glory to God for His merciful gifts!

Stay in the Fight

10 To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

11 And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:

12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.

13 To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:

14 And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:

15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.

16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

17 To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

18 And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

19 Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:

20 And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:

21 And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:

22 Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.

23 Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:

24 And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Look at the many great and mighty battles that God has brought His people through, and the miracles that He worked for them again and again, even after their many failures. There is no excuse for sin, but praise God! who has redeemed us through the blood of His Son Jesus and wants us to move past our failures into victorious living. We need to stop focusing on the failures of the 2015, or 1947. Whatever it is that has you living below the plateau that God has in mind for you. Satan knows if he can keep you looking back, you’ll never move forward.

Stop only for the Banquets

25 Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.

26 O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Celebrate the goodness and mercy of God by stopping to reflect on what He’s done. Take some time out of your day to feast on His goodness and give Him glory but under no circumstances should you attend one of Satan’s pity parties!

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Are you ready for today’s journey?

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Why is it that in my mind the desires of Christ and the word of God are ever ready to spew forth, but the actions that follow are often bound in fear? Why is it that I fall to temptation and my discipline is lacking? In Matthew 4, Jesus withstood Satan’s temptation 40 days, and yet  I can’t seem to make it 40 minutes. Christ’s actions through and after that period of temptation are a road map for us today…

Matthew 4:8-12

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;  And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.  Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

Three things from that scripture that can be applied to life for a successful walk with Christ, and I’m not saying it will be easy, but it’s necessary.

  1. Stand Strong

Again and again Jesus stopped Satan cold with the word of God. If we’re going to fight this battle we’d better have some tools in the arsenal by reading and remembering the words of God. Jesus didn’t say   anything new, He repeated the sentiment of Deuteronomy 8:3 where it was written

 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.

The same holds true for us. Although the tactics Satan uses may appear different they’re the same temptations in a new coat, and although we always think there is a new and improved way of fighting sin there is still only one way… the word of God.

  1. Be ministered to

Following that period of temptation Jesus sat still and was ministered to by the angels of God. Bring on Wednesday Bible Study! Church is crucial to survival. I realize that there are those who cannot get to church because of health or other conditions, and I fully believe that if they desire being ministered to God can make a way. But for those of us with shoes on our feet and a vehicle in the driveway we are without excuse and in a heap of trouble if we choose to stay at the house rather than go to church and be ministered to. It’s where you reload your arsenal for the coming days and it’s where we find encouragement for the battle. Don’t sell yourself short and put yourself at risk by buying Satan’s lies that you don’t need church. You need it! I need it! Thank you Jesus that we have it, there’s plenty of people across the earth that would gladly go in your stead and not run the risk of being killed.

  1. Hit the Road

Temptation for me often comes in idle times. I guess that’s why God created me with a mind that runs  24/7 and is continually filled with “I know what I’m going to do today” notions. As soon as Jesus’ church service with the angels ended, He hit the road. He’d heard John was in prison, He knew there were some disciples along the way He’d be needing to add to His team, there was work to do! And so it is for us. I’m excited about my Wednesday night youth group, I have bows and arrows in my arsenal (for real!) and a lesson on friendship using the characters of David and Jonathan. Exciting days are ahead… but I have  to keep with the program.

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