Thursday, 19 May 2022

Accusing God To His Face

Proverbs 8:13 All who fear the LORD will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech.
      
      Jesus said, John 15:25b They hated me for no reason.
      Genesis 3:12 The man replied, “The woman you gave to be with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.” What Adam said with aggressive blame in his tone of voice was, "None of this is my fault, GOD! The woman YOU gave me made me eat the fruit that I did not want any part of. This is YOUR fault and YOUR mess to clean up! I am innocent of all wrongdoing!" And the Lord's love went to work right away to clean up the mess that the deceived heart of man had caused from the beginning. God judged the original liar who sowed the biggest lie of all when the serpent said, "You will not surely die if you eat of the fruit from this tree." With this deception, Satan had accused God of being a liar. Adam and Eve believed the lie and became subject to death the moment they had eaten. God's redemptive plan started immediately. Gen. 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
      We are still accusing God of all kinds of things that are our fault and caused by our stupidity. "Why God did YOU let this happen to ME?" is a common sentence that flows so easily from our mouths and our hearts. The mouth speaks what the heart contains. Luke 6:45b For of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaketh. I think the devil does his best work with the lie that causes people to question and mistrust the integrity of God. Once Satan has a person wondering about God's love, to be true or false, it becomes a slippery slope as they reject anything God says, and everything God does for them becomes questionable to their deceived heart. Mal. 1:2a “I have always loved you,” says the LORD. But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”
      When we think about the arrogance that humankind has become so talented at expressing, it makes us wonder how the Lord can keep loving us, and yet, He does. Mankind has learned how to justify every imaginable evil there is, and in most cases, God gets blamed for it. I know someone who is on government assistance because he chooses not to work but complains continually about how hard his life is and how bad he is treated. "Why does God let this happen to me?" he says in a way to disguise his laziness. Why doesn't he just go spit in God's face and accuse Him of not being Jehovah-Jireh? Either God is who He says He is, or God is the liar you believe Him to be. If you are at that stage of existence then your troubles are about to increase with great intensity.
      When we live our lives where we no longer trust God, we end up becoming reckless in our actions and end up blaming everything that unjustly happens to us on someone or something else. We become like the people who are described in the book of Malichi whom God is trying to reason with. These people had gone their own way and questioned everything God said. The Lord patiently explains His love for them and the good that awaited them if they chose God's leading. But the retorts from the people were arrogant backtalk. Mal. 1:11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 But you are profaning it when you say: ‘The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.’ Really, the Lord's table that is prepared before us and set in the presence of our enemies, is defiled and contemptible? How foolish they had become. 
      The Lord's remedy for overcoming the infectious lie Satan sows so freely amongst the people of this earth is to hate evil and to grow in the wisdom and love of God by accepting His gift of salvation through Christ for our eternal souls. Prov. 9:10 Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. The Lord says if you are going to hate anything, then hate what causes us to blame God and each other for our sins. God says to hate pride, arrogance, corruption, and the perverseness of thought. Prov. 8:13 All who fear the LORD will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech. This is a good place for us to start taking responsibility for our choices. The reverence of the Lord and hating what God hates will help us remain in honest fellowship with our God.
      God invites us to come and reason with Him regardless of the sinful state we are in. Isa. 1:18 Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Reasoning implies an intelligent exchange of thoughts and ideas. Even though our All-Mighty God is inviting us to reason with Him in love, it would be wise on our behalf to do more listening than talking. God is our saviour. Our salvation is not gained by anything we do to impress Him. The Lord is our deliverer and redeemer. Our Heavenly Father is the healer of our fallen condition because we do not have the answers for our healing, otherwise, we would have done it by now. No Saints! Jesus is Lord, and we are, in eternal need of His gift of salvation. Get out of God's face and stop accusing Him for your problems and start praising Him for solving them. Amen and amen!

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Sinners Wanted, Apply Within

Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded.

      Jesus said in, Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Our Lord Jesus is looking for sinners and wants all the sinners He can find to apply within the finished work of the cross, where Christ's blood sacrifice has been given for every sinner to be washed of their sins. Applications for this cleansing gift of grace that cleans one's soul is a simple but crucial act of faith. All a sinner has to do is admit they are a sinner, and receive Jesus as their personal Lord. Applications are open to anyone. John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 
      If you are a sinner or have ever transgressed God's laws throughout your life, you are welcome to come before God the Father by accepting the blood sacrifice that Jesus gave of Himself through the crucifixion on the cross. This sacrificial gift covers everyone's shame, hurts, lusts, and evil past or present life. Just apply within the grace of our Lord's forgiveness. Eph. 2:8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.      
       Sometimes it is hard for churched people to welcome sinners into their assemblies of worship. Sinners do not feel welcome in church, and yet Jesus who is the head of the church invites sinners of every kind to come and join His family of brothers and sisters in Christ. Matt. 11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Churched people often forget where they were when Jesus found them eternally lost and bound.
       I remember a dipsomaniac whose struggles with alcohol were known in the community, but he came to church regularly. At one evening service, he came in late and made his way to the front seats with his pants lowered to reveal a lot of his backside while stumbling, and bouncing off of parishioners as he made his way up the center aisle looking for a seat. Gasps could be heard, with looks of indignation expressed, and judgmental smarmy snickering was being exchanged amongst the faithful. I then heard a still small voice from within my spirit say, "The difference between him and the people here, is that their addictions and sins are well hidden and not on full display the way this man's addiction is clearly seen. In some cases, they are just as stumbling drunk, dishevelled, and weak-kneed in their daily lives as this lonely intoxicated soul is. What everyone needs to know is that I love him just as I love everyone in this building." A lesson I will never forget.
       The church is only as mature as much as we are mature and loving within our relationship with Christ. We tend to advertise Christian freedom while wearing a denominational straitjacket. I'm not saying to let any unruliness take over the assembling of the saints, but remember, sinners who show up at church looking for redemption and real love will not know all the rules of the recorded agreements and statements of faith that were voted upon at the denominational headquarters. Voicing our self-righteous indignation at the young man wearing a Megadeth T-shirt who showed up at a church service because he was invited to come and see what the Lord is doing in people's lives - would not be a righteous hand of invitation. He might not see the genuine love of God he is looking for if he is judged at the door with looks of disapproval. Don't forget, you use to wear those ugly paisley ties with a polyester shirt to church meetings, and no one crucified you.
     The Apostle Paul, who claimed to have been the worst sinner, made it clear in his epistles that Christ came to save sinners. 1Tim. 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. Like Paul, we can all lay claim to being the worst sinner because sin is sin. What really matters is that we stop sinning. Prov. 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded. The sinful nature that was once predominant in our souls has been replaced with a new life in Christ, and the Lord's righteousness is now available for us to walk in for the rest of our eternal lives. 2Cor. 5:21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
      Ex 17:1a The entire Israelite community left the Wilderness of Sin, moving from one place to the next according to the LORD’s command. I don’t know if this scripture was meant to be a play on words but nonetheless, good advice. Leave the Wilderness of Sin and follow God. At one time, we were all sinners who came to Jesus through an invitation from the Holy Spirit. Lost Sinner was stamped upon our hearts. All we could do was look to Jesus and receive the grace and gift of salvation He gave us by faith in His cleansing blood. The only qualification we had for His grace was that we were sin-stained and lost. As I walked up the center aisle towards the throne of God's grace, I was also dishevelled, weak-kneed, and stumbling in sin, but my application for eternal life was granted by God's merciful love. Thank you, Lord, for loving me. Amen! 

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Drowning In Memories

Proverbs 10:7 We have happy memories of the godly, but the name of a wicked person rots away.


      Ecclesiastes 7:10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. I once wrote, and I still believe, "The only good thing about the good old days is that they are gone," especially when the old days are the only thing a person thinks about. People can become so trapped in the past that they no longer try to live today.

      It is much easier to deal with memories that are pleasant and joyful because they sometimes encourage us to believe in an optimistic future. Good memories are helpful as they can inspire us to realize that things can get better. It is a harder journey for a lot of people to deal with and try to manage the hurts that horrific memories bring back in living colour. The relenting torment of these aching recollections will keep people from advancing beyond their ever-present thoughts of how they were poorly treated. Continually thinking about the old hurts, and rehashing the events that created the dysfunction in their present lives, will have an unnatural control of their mind and will give no room for peace to be found. 

      The difficulty of being reconciled with our painful history can be overwhelming for some people and a never-ending torment for others. We are now seeing how the memories of the First Nation's children who were forced to attend residential schools are still feeling the repercussions they suffered. Those children are now elderly people who are still hurting. The effects on these people and their culture have got to be reconciled or the pain will continue to be a generational curse. The brutality and shaming practices that were allowed to be used upon these children at the time, were inhumane, and cruel. Yet, these people were expected to live inspired lives and function normally once returned to their homes. How could they not become maladaptive in their plight to function when they had so many questions that needed answers as to why they had been treated like a burden society had to rid themselves of.

      The anguish that is suffered within the souls and spirits of anyone who has memories of being brutalized makes it hard for them to even believe there is healing for better things. Healing in the spirit is also needed as much as healing within the soul. Ex.6:9 So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage. Depressive and painful memories will keep many wallowing in hurtful reminiscence while keeping them stagnant from moving ahead. We have no choice but to reconcile with our hurtful past because if we do not face that pain with God's healing power, that dark shadow will negatively control our thoughts causing a repeat performance within the next generation. 

      Breaking this bondage will take the light of God that can stab any darkness and rip apart the gloom that has enveloped a heart and mind. However, we have to want that healing with all of our hearts. God's righteous fire burns everything and that includes the injustices we have suffered throughout our lives. I, for one, have had to forgive the events of my childhood to be able to live a healthy and meaningful life today. I had to forgive the brutality and abuse that my father dispensed on my mother, siblings, and myself. I have written extensively on the subject of my father's inability to have loved, nurtured, and protected his family. We cannot go back and fix the problem at the point where the torture took place, but with the Lord's forgiving grace we can be healed from the point where we choose to forgive. Matt. 6:14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

     The problem for many who continue choosing the companion of old shadows that darken the present noonday brightness is that they will rewrite scenarios in their minds and will end up with a patchwork of selective memories that are distorting the real events that took place. The children of Israel had been set free by God but in their hearts, they were still slaves to their past. Num. 11:5 We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna! The manna was the healing bread that the Lord had provided each day for the collective healing of a nation. Yes, it was a daily food provision, but the morning reminder as the manna was gathered demonstrated that God their provider could meet anything needed to live in wholeness. However, as is today, if we do not accept God's healing and step into His redemptive health plan with an honest heart the result will be as it was with the children of Israel - an insipid idea of existence.

      The choice is ours. We can either swim and bathe in the anointed love of God's present affection that will eventually heal all pain and hurts. Or, we can drown in the infectious waters of hurtful memories that move like the creatures in nightmares coming from beneath ready to bring us into a hell of loneliness. The Lord's salvation is too precious a gift to be ignored as the way back from our painful past. If we hand over one hurt after another until the healing balm of Christ's sacrifice makes us whole, we will eventually be healed. There are enough people in this world living with a shadow-sickness that gets darker as the days go by. We who are in Christ can live in the light of God's healing. Ex. 15:26b For I am the LORD who heals you. We just have to want it. In Jesus name, Lord God, help us call on Your name for the grace needed to choose life. Amen!

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Our Credibility Is Waning

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

      Our credibility will become real to ourselves when we stop borrowing the credibility of others or using high-end stuff, such as (cars, portfolios, and properties) to define who we are. Take away the possessions of a person and what remains is the real person. We do not have to borrow or steal the status of others to be affirmed in this life when we have the Lord's assurance of His love abiding within us. Our standing in the Lord is based on what God says is true and what righteousness is in Christ, and not what we mistakenly think it might be. Righteousness, integrity, and credibility in Christ are what God proclaims these virtues to be.
      At times, some Christians presume to have spiritual credibility by trying to make God say something He did not say or even meant to be implied. They sometimes mix their faith and the spurious correlations of their syncretistic beliefs into a form of personal dogma, creating an illusion of credibility. These polymorphic views are manifesting in church circles because of undisciplined lifestyles, uncontrolled emotions, and their adopted soulism that leads them into carnal choices rather than being changed from glory to glory by the conviction of God’s word that leads believers into righteous living. 
      The upshot with this loose method of belief is that any hair-raising or goosebump sensation these people experience will become their divine guidance system to their high-minded spirituality, when in fact, their soul is now in a position to be self-deceived by any bump in the night noise. The credibility they thought they borrowed from God's word to falsify their personal value and fabricated doctrine, ends up judging their immature faith. By claiming to be more open to the ways of God, they end up closed to the Lord’s conviction of true righteousness that validates our eternal lives in Christ. 1Tim. 6:20 Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. 
       We see what happens when credibility and integrity are borrowed rather than lived and grown into. Samuel's two sons had corrupted the priesthood that came to them through nepotism. Samuel was a man of God who lived by faith, and all of Samuel's prophecies came true. 1Sam. 3:19 So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. Samuel was a loved Judge of Israel. His sons took over the responsibility for the nation's spiritual well-being. The problem was that Samuel's sons Joel and Abiah were corrupt, and the only reason they were in control of judging Israel and the priesthood was that they got the job by default. The little credibility these young men had, was the credibility and integrity that Samual had walked in his whole life.
      Joel and Abiah had no integral heart for God to minister the way God wanted the priesthood to work. Pretending to have a form of Godliness because of the priestly office they held, and the garments they wore, did not hide the reality that they only wanted the money and power that came with the position. 1Sam. 8:3 But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice. The sad thing is that these (I'll do religion my way) sons had corrupted the priesthood to the point that the people of Israel felt better off with a worldly governmental system rather than what God had set up for them to remain free people. 1Sam 8:5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
      Without the Lord's righteousness at work within our souls, our credibility and integrity are only as strong as we are in the flesh. Whereas, when we are walking in the Lord's salvation we have the leading of the Holy Spirit to strengthen our resolve to choose God's righteousness rather than our own. By faith, we have the strength to make the harder choices that have to be made because the integrity of God is at work within us to help us make the hard decisions our flesh does not want to make. To stop our credibility from waning, we will have to keep choosing Christ's righteousness and not our version of it. Prov. 22:1a A good name is more desirable than great riches. We will have to depend on more than our good name to be in right standing with our Heavenly Father. We will have to be saved in the name that is above every name Jesus our Lord. Blessings and peace be on us all.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Sorry To Inform You

Proverbs 21:2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.
            
      Japanese Proverb: If you understand everything, you must be misinformed.      
      How has it become possible that so many people are absolute authorities on everything and anything ever said, done, or invented throughout the history of this world? Just wondering because I am still learning so many of the mysteries that life has to offer. It must be dismal for countless individuals to have reached the pinnacle of all knowledge and know that there is nothing left to learn or experience in life because they know all that is knowable. This may come as a shock to some of you, but, I am sorry to inform you that you have been taking yourself way too seriously lately. We need to get healed from the inflated egos that are now the default setting in many of our lives. 
      We have to start learning how to laugh at ourselves again. Prov. 17:22a A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. Getting rid of the hyper seriousness that has lodged within our self-awareness would be a good place to start humbling ourselves so that God can get through to our hearts. Prov. 21:2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart. To become an authority on anything takes a lifetime of intense learning, and even then, there is still vast amounts to learn. We may have a lot of information about a particular subject and have been involved in that field our whole lives, but there is more to learn.
      Ugh, especially lately, when someone says, "I have done the research, and I have all the information on that subject," I cringe inside because their foundations of fact-finding are already yesterday's news and those facts have become challengeable with new findings. At this point, I think about their spoken claim, "I did all the research" and think, "Everything they are about to say is true, except for the parts that aren't." Life, news, and times are ever-evolving and new information is forever coming forth. I am sorry to inform you, that we will never know all that is knowable even if we are convinced we do. 
      I realize that a lot of people are finally coming out of the lengthy restrictions and lockdowns that have quelled the hearts and emotions of many. These same people are ready to explode with a lot of things to say, but please have some thought before you say what cannot be taken back after it is said. We will be judged for our spoken unbridled opinions, and we will have to make an account before God of our idle and empty words. Matt. 12:36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. Ouch! This scripture has always convicted me because I talk a lot. Oh, grace oh grace pour out on me!
      The only truth that does not change is the love God has for us and His righteousness that has been given to us through Christ. Mal. 3:6a For I am the LORD, I change not. Even then, we are the ones who are changing within our relationship with our Lord. The Lord's eternal hope is working within us and is maturing our spiritual growth in His righteousness because His all-knowing presence is alive within us. The wisdom we might want to adopt is to take the grace God has given us and put our full strength into acknowledging the only all-knowing God so that when we need to know the truth of a matter, we have the loving source of all knowledge helping us understand. Psalm 139:2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 
       Like so many people coming out from under a funk and fog of long-term memory loss, I too have to recognize that not all is well with everyone. We will all need a time of healing and grace for each other to find our way back to a semblance of normality - if there is such a thing. Only God has the all-knowing answers to what is needed right now. Only the Lord has the rest we are looking for. It is in Christ that we live and have our being. I am sorry to inform you that you do not have all the answers to your life, even if you think you do. No, we do not know all that is knowable, but Jesus, our Saviour does. God bless and help us all.

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Consider God's Word

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection.     

      Job 23:12 I have not departed from the commands from His lips; I have treasured the words from His mouth more than my daily food. When someone asks me to help them figure out what they should do in a particular situation (and if they are a Christian,) I normally ask them, "What does God's word say about it?" The word says to ask God for instructions, direction, and wisdom for life. James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. The word of the Lord explains how to approach a problem that one may find themself in. You might have to read and do some digging, but you will find the answer because God's word is contemporary, and it will have answers for the confusing and hyperbolic times we live in.
      Do not steal was written thousands of years ago, and it still means the same today. Do not bring a false accusation against another person still means the same today as it did when the finger of God wrote it out on stone tablets for the children of Israel. Ex. 24:12 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain. Stay there, and I will give you the tablets of stone on which I have inscribed the instructions and commands so you can teach the people.” The word of truth does not change, however, we tend to change what we consider truth to be, and therein is the problem and the reason for so many of the counselling sessions that are going on.
      If we would just stop and consider God's word on the particular event or circumstance that is perplexing us, we would have fewer problems to deal with. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. We could save a whole lot of hurt in our lives if we would do what God has already said about the situation. For instance, it is not the ten suggestions, it is the ten commandments. That aspect of the word and life has not changed regardless of whether some governmental law has legalized something God says is iniquity. Sin is sin, no matter if the transgression is legal.
      Our Heavenly Father allows us the freedom to reason with Him, and hopefully, our choices of reason will result in what God has asked us to do and be, for our sakes, and the glory of God. Hag. 1:5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Interestingly, parents want their children to obey them because they are the parents. However, these same legal guardians reject the parenting of God the Father. Parents have difficulty understanding when their children disregard the rules of the home, but it is permissible for these same parents to disregard the rules of life that God has declared right and true. Can we have both ways? I don't think so. If honouring our earthly parents has a promise of life, then how much more life will there be for us today and evermore when we honour and consider God, our Heavenly Father. Ex. 20:12 Honour your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.  
      Can God's integrity be trusted? Does God's honesty hold up, and can it be depended upon? Is God's truthfulness reliable? Prov. 30:5 Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection. Considering God's word and drawing faith from it, will help in deciding that we can believe God. After contemplating who God is and realizing His omniscience, then yes, God can be trusted and loved with all our hearts. Therefore, obeying the Lord is the right, smart, and divine thing to do. Num. 23:19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
      The ability to stop and consider what is said and what is going on around us has become a lost art. Flying off the handle and speaking our mind (regardless of what is in it) has become the new norm. If you want to know anything about the science or facts on any subject, just ask the man on the street. The modern man has become an authority on everything, including what has not been invented yet. Our hubris knows no bounds. Mega information is coming at us with lightning speeds from every imaginable platform there is. Sorting out the fabrications and lies has become difficult to tell from the truth of anything said or written. We need a standard that remains true and forthright.
      God's word is still a safe place to get an honest answer if one is looking for truth with a sincere heart. Jer. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. There are no gimmicks with the Lord. He is faithful and true to us and will not change His love toward us. Yes, consider His word.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

I Was Wrong

Proverbs 29:1 Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.

      Before having a stroke, I was living a very unhealthy lifestyle that caused heart disease, which led to a stroke and all the suffering that came afterward. I had to repent and ask God for help to establish a healthier lifestyle because I was wrong in my previous health choices. I even had the nerve to question God as to why He had not warned me of the health issue - when in the middle of that very thought, God showed me that on four occasions, in four different towns, where and when He had warned me. The thing was, I did not recognize the severity of the warning. I was wrong in my estimation of the potential problem. 
      I had recently discovered something about a writer whose books I do not like, and I had judged the writer to be as unlikeable as his books. I came across an interview with this author and I was astounded at the amount of work he has put into helping those who cannot read and the generous donations he has given to thousands of schools, libraries, and scholarships for the advancement of literacy to help the poor and marginalized people throughout North America. I was wrong about him as a person, and I had to repent concerning my attitude toward him. I still do not like his books, but I have found a new admiration and respect for the soul and heart of this writer.
      I was talking with my automotive mechanic about one of his employees whom I felt was a loser. It turns out I'm the loser for thinking it. The man in question has one of the best work ethics in that business establishment and is one of the most reliable mechanics working there. I was wrong in my judgment of his character and abilities. I had judged a man before I got to know him. Prov. 30:10 Never slander a worker to the employer, or the person will curse you, and you will pay for it. Again, I had to repent. We do not always get it right, but when we are wrong we should admit it, or we will be in danger of becoming destroyed beyond recovery.
      The downfall of King Saul was his stubbornness not to accept criticism when he was wrong. Saul's insecurities could not handle a rebuke from his son Johnathan or other members of his royal household concerning David's faithfulness toward the king. Prov. 29:1 He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. Saul was suspicious of all the people around him and accused everyone of conspiring against him. His obdurate determination to be right when he was wrong was clouding his judgment in all areas of his life. 
      The emotional immaturity that was influencing Saul, allowed a spirit of pride that drove Saul to madness. The oddness of this needless suffering was that he needed David to play music to help drive away the heavy spirit of depression Saul was fighting. 1Sam. 16:23b David took a harp, and played with his hand: So Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. The person Saul hated, was the one helping him through his self-made anxiety. All he had to do was admit he was wrong and act upon that fact. Saul died a jealous man believing a lie because he would not admit to being wrong.
      The pride of life can cause unnecessary problems in all aspects of relationships. 1John 2:16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. How many marriages could have been saved had a spouse admitted to being wrong? How many partnerships could have prospered had management admitted to being wrong when the work plan was not prospering? Admitting we are wrong is a quality of heart that comes from God and places us in a position to be helped and forgiven. I've been wrong about a whole lot of things, and I am so grateful to God that He was not wrong about me. Yes, even when we are wrong, the Lord loves us and helps us make it right. Blessings.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Tested And Approved

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.      
      
      I have heard people express what they wanted to be inscribed for an epitaph on their tombstone or voiced at their funeral. I have not thought much of what would be said about me as I would be with the Lord, and nothing said on earth at that time would matter. I haven't given much consideration as to whether it is important what I want to be said about me when I go on to be with my Lord. The importance that some people put upon the impressions they leave concerning their lives made me wonder if I was missing the point of something important in life. Why didn't I give it much thought and why was it not important to me?
      What is often said about most men at a funeral is the same old boring thing, "He was a good provider." Of course, that should go without saying, as this is what a husband, father, and provider of home and family is supposed to do - be a provider. In some cases, things that are said are not true. I remember some people expressing platitudes at a memorial about a deceased man I knew well. According to some of the mourners, he was a great father and an understanding husband with a generous heart. The truth was, that he was an obnoxious abusive husband, a brutal father with very little compassion or mercy except for people who he thought he could get something out of. Of course, one does not stand up and shout at a person's memorial, "What a load of rubbish." We just bow our heads and think, "When is this going to be over?" Maybe this is what Jesus meant when He said, "Let the dead bury the dead."
      I do acknowledge that this man could have repented for his actions and choices in life before he died, but that is between him and his creator. We never know the heart's negotiations that take place on a death bed. I firmly believe in the fact that Jesus gives us every opportunity to repent and accept Christ's sacrifice before death. Even if the person is in a coma or delusional, Jesus can get through to them. Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Only God truly knows what should be written on our gravestone, because He has been there every minute of our life and has the real account of who and why we are the person we were when we passed on.
      As I said, I have not given much thought about what would be the inscription stating who I was, until I was reading Romans chapter sixteen. The scripture verse jumped out at me, and I said out loud, "There Lord, that's it, this is what I want to be said about me when I am gone. I want what is said about Apelles." Romans 16:10a Greet Apelles, the one tested and approved in Christ. Oh my, yes, yes, yes Lord! May it be said that I was tested and approved in Christ. Isn't this what everyone wants? It is as great an accolade as, "Well done good and faithful servant." Matt. 25:23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’
      The reality is, if I or any of us want Apelles' words said about us, then we will have to live up to the statement's value and truth. We will have to come through some tests in life and be approved, reproved, and sanctified throughout our lives to own those simple words. I cannot do it on my own, but Christ who lives in me can make it happen. Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. What a simple mission statement, tested and approved is - when compared to all the epitaphs that are out there. 
      One day, we will all meet our Lord and maker. I try to have no final judgments on anyone's life because that is the Lord's work. If the things said are honest and true concerning the integrity of those who have gone on, then thank God for the righteous people who have given us an example of forthright living. Prov. 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. I am blessed to have found the inspiring words, tested and approved in Christ. These words have become a beacon set before me. May we all come through the tests we were created to accomplish during our short time on this earth. May we all help approve each other in the love of God. Amen!

Thursday, 24 March 2022

I Quit!

Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.

      "That's it, I quit. I'm done, count me out. It's over, I'm finished with the ministry," The minister wanted to say out loud, but couldn't because the question awaiting him, just hung there, like a church bell ready to be rung. "What are you going to do once you shut it down?" came the question to his mind. "Oh, something or other," he said. Therein is the dilemma. What are you going to do with the calling upon your life? The Apostle Peter had to answer this question after the Lord had been crucified. Not sure what was coming next, Peter went back to fishing. John 21:3a Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” Not a bad idea. Just shut it down, and go fishing. Then what?
      I believe I am describing what a lot of men and women who are in church ministry contend with, as some have tried to quit and get out of ministerial responsibility, serving the poor who will always be with us, and enduring the sometimes laboriousness of church life. These worn-out ministers find themselves in a confused and wearisome situation while having deep inner questions to answer that are running at lightning speed through their minds. "What next? How do I turn off the conviction of my heart concerning the calling of God? What would I do, and if I find something to do, how do I go about it? Will God support my decision?" Rom. 7:24a Oh, what a miserable person I am! I feel miserable for staying and damned for quitting. What do I do with these thoughts? "Help me, Lord," becomes the constant prayer of desperation.   
      Jeremiah found himself in a similar situation. He had become disheartened with prophesying what God had put in his heart because the result of saying what God had spoken was constant persecution against himself. He was lowered into the bottom of a well for being forthright. Jer. 38:6a So the officials took Jeremiah from his cell and lowered him by ropes into an empty cistern in the prison yard. He was feeling the pressure of being whipped, then bound with stocks. Jer. 20:2 So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the LORD’s Temple. The suffering that Jeremiah went through because of the calling that had been placed upon his life at birth, had become burdensome to live with.
      Jeremiah wanted to quit the whole thing but ended up saying, he had an inner compelling desire to speak because God's word burned in his bones. Jer. 20:9 But if I say, “I will not mention His word or speak anymore in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. He admits, "Yes, indeed I cannot hold back the anointed unction of God's living word." The word of the Lord lives and moves, for it will do what God says the word will do. Isa. 55:11 So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 
      Some may sense the assignment God has given them to be too hard to bear, and like Jonah, they want to quit the assignment they have been given. As Jonah did, they run away as far as possible from God. Not a good plan or even possible since God is everywhere. Jonah wanted out of the responsibility of the ministry assignment he was to bring to Nineveh. However, after he had reluctantly agreed to go to Nineveh and prophecy what he was supposed to proclaim, again Jonah wants to quit, but this time, on his own life. Jonah 4:3 Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live. We can end up tired of everything churchy and ministerial if we are not close to the heart of God. We can find ourselves - put out, burned out, and fed up with what we perceive to be unthankful people and the toil of ministry work. Becoming bitter rather than better, we end up on the slag-heap of washed-up ministers gasping for a breath of holy air.
      Elijah, with God's clear directions, had pulled off one of the greatest feats on Mount Carmel by calling down fire from heaven to consume everything on the altar and consume the altar itself. One would think Elijah had it all together and possessed an arsenal of ministerial weapons at his disposal. Yet, after his incredible victory over the four hundred priests of Baal, when threatened by Jezebel, he runs away wanting to give up and die. 1Kings 19:4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
      We need God at all times, especially when we want to give up. The Lord has the answers, and He will continue to give them to us if we ask by faith. James 1:5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. If we are going to give up, then let us quit believing the enemy of our soul who lies all the time. If we are going to quit, then let us quit doubting God and doubting His love for us. 
      Father, in Jesus name, Help us ask you for help when we feel overwhelmed and want to shut down. Lord, fix our hearts with grace and your courage, so we can prevail when the desire to give up is the strongest. Prov. 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. May God's face shine on all the ministers who are sowing God's love into our lives. We look to Jesus who did not quit while on His way to the cross to die for us all. Amen!

Thursday, 17 March 2022

A Lonely Place

Proverbs 18:24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

      I prayed out loud, "Lord, what is wrong with me? What is this agitation boiling up in my soul?" I feel like I'm fighting something I cannot touch. I can almost catch glimpses of it in my spiritual peripheral vision, but it remains a mercurial shadow on the edges of thought. I’m convinced I see a pending storm with a gun barrel grey ceiling pressing down upon me, even while the sun is shining on every side. My eyes are focused on a bright and clear day, but my soul feels a darkened membrane stretching against my mind. Father, I just want to give up. "Am I depressed?" I asked. I questioned again, "Lord, can you tell me, what is agitating my soul?” I heard a soft, "You are lonely."
      I said, "Everyone is lonely, we have been in restrictions and lockdowns for over two years. Besides, I have friends and lots to keep me busy." Again, I heard, "You are lonely." How have I come to this lonely place? Is this one of the aspects of being human, where we must process and encounter the test we are shadowboxing? Do we have to go through a dire valley to understand the lessons being taught in our souls? This wretchedness is too real to ignore or escape its festering. Psalm 55:6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Where is our God who gives us rest?      
      Do I put on a mask and fake it till I make it? If I wear a mask, it will reveal what is within me by the mask I am using. If my mask is happiness, I am covering up the sadness within my heart. If my mask is bravery, I am hiding the cowardice at work in my conscience. If I wear the mask of confidence, I am hiding the fact that I feel like a cardboard cutout empty of substance. Psalm 69:3 I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Heavenly Father, I need a saviour, not a formula. I don't need three steps to overcome blah blah blah. I need to be heard in my moment of uncertainty. Are you there Lord?
      Maybe this is a battle against demonic giants whose shadows tower over my existence. Satan is the one who murders the visions of holy men who end up in lonely places. From this empty place, I received an illumination of thought. The Holy Spirit is listening to my groans. From out of the depths of my groanings is my sincere heart wanting God's affirmation of purpose and declaration of love. Rom. 8:26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. Even in a dark place, we look for light to find our way, while we call upon our Lord to send His healing oil that anoints our soul and resurrects our lives into the joy of relationship with our God.
      Yes, Lord, I see there is life after being buried under the lies of the enemy. If we trust in your goodness and trust your leading, we can come out of dark places. For you are a friend to the downcast and a Lord to the needy. Prov. 18:24b But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I will look to the heavens and hope again. For this dry place is but for a season. Our hope is in God, and He will sustain us with the love of His graciousness. The salvation of God is for all man, even the corrupt and inventors of evil. One drop of the Lord's blood can change the vilest of souls. Yes, Lord, there is hope in your grace.
      As I prayed, God sent His healing oil through an anointed friend who ministered the majesty of the Holy Spirit upon my soul. Fragrant oil dripped upon my heart and I left the lonely place for the garden of God's Eden. I found other souls resting there. "Your battle is won," they shouted, "You have been tried and found to be alive in the grace of God's divine love." Thank you, Lord, for your goodness of heart and for delivering me from the lonesome place of endless wastelands. I will remember to put on the whole armour of God, that I may extinguish the spears of burning darkness. Lord, you are good and worthy to be praised. Thank you, God, I am home. Amen!