Sunday, 27 September 2015

I Say To You

Proverbs 5:1 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding.
       
      Skepticism has become the default condition of the human heart. As pessimistic as this sounds it has become the norm in our lives to doubt anything said by anyone in a position of authority. Whether it is government, financial or health care, these traditional trusted institutes are no longer valued as believable or safe. Psalm 12:1 Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race. 2 Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts. 
      Who can be trusted? Our leaders are not taken seriously nor are they believed. The people in charge of nations have become hamstrung because of all the different voices they are hearing and trying to appease. Many promises are made but few are carried out. Isa. 59:4 No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. Regardless of these bureaucratic snags or a lack of political will to get things done, it seems so difficult for leaders to get anything of significance accomplished. 
      I reckon this is why God asks us to pray for our leaders. 1 Tim. 2:1 I urge then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. I think, God, who is the true King, wants leaders of nations to give all people the liberty of life so they can choose God in life, but as history shows us earthly kings make slaves of their own people and the mistrust continues.
      How do we as a Christian people rise above the mayhem seen on a daily basis? Whose report do we believe? John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. One of the strong points about what Jesus is saying in this verse is the fact that Jesus is saying it. 
      Who is saying the world has been overcome? Jesus is saying it. Jesus is constantly reminding us when He says " Truly, I say to you," it is Himself saying we should take to heart what He says because it is Jesus saying it. Over and over again the Lord is trying to get that point across to us that it is His integrity on the line and His instructions can be trusted.           
      Throughout the Gospels, the Lord is repeatedly emphasising that it is Himself that is saying "I say to you." Think about it. This isn't an ordinary person saying this. It is Christ Himself and we can take comfort in the fact that God will not lie to us. Num. 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? 
      In other words, Jesus is asking us to believe His word for any other reason then He is saying it. Jesus is saying consider who is saying this to you. John 10:37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.
     God has overcome the world and we, His believers, have a position of ambassadorship in this world. Why then are we so fearful of all the events going on around us? The battle has been won and we need to walk as if this truth has entered our hearts. Not in arrogance or with a stout heart, but with the confidence of faith and prayer in our Lord and Savior Jesus. 
      When are we going to believe the Lord's report? Isa. 53:1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? If Jesus said it, then it is so. Where else can you go to get the truth of who we are in Christ? We go to the source of that truth and the true source is Jesus. John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 
      The next time you read the words of Jesus and He is saying "Truly I say to you," believe Him and go and do what He said we can do. Pay attention to what the Lord is telling us when He is saying "I say to you." Take it personally and believe the Lord's words that are never wasted. Isa. 55:11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

East Of Eden

Proverbs 3:29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you.

      Sin truly does separate us from our place in this life, in a neighborhood and throughout the earth. There is no place a person can go and escape the penalty of sin without there being a cost through redemption to bring a person back to Eden per se. Through the disobedience of man, sin made its way into the very intimate dwelling place where God and man lived together. The presence of God's life and love emanated throughout everything living and existing. Eden was the perfect place created by God, where man lived in an open relationship with God his Creator. There was no knowledge of sin or separation from God. 
      Once sin entered the perfect dwelling place where man lived and God visited in the peaceful coolness of the day, all hell broke loose and a new place of existence had to be found for mankind. Gen. 3:24  So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. 
      We have been east of Eden ever since. We see the effects of sin driving man farther away from God's presence when Cain murdered his brother. The consequence was added separation from God, family, plus a farther distance from Eden. Gen. 4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. In the land of Nod or the other side of the tracks as some would say today. The point is, the distance from God gets farther away.
       The basic meaning of the word Eden is delight, finery or luxury. To think that God created and established our dwelling place in the midst of refined luxury and delight is a beautiful picture of what God had intended for us all here on earth. Eden is our true home and place of being, but with a sin conscious world, the result becomes a corrupted version of Eden. Living under our own terms and beliefs brings about increasing separation from God and the delightful place God had planned for us is voided and lost.  
      The beauty of being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ is that we can start finding our way back to Eden and taste God's blessed goodness here on earth. Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. We are fortunate because when Jesus is Lord of our life we can bring the peace of God and Eden to any situation we walk through. Eph. 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. 
      Part of our Christian mandate is to bring the blessing of the Lord back to earth, wherever we live. Isa. 51:3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. Someone might say, "Oh that could never happen in our neighborhood because of all the problems going on." Peace begins at home and then flows outward to the streets. We are to become in heart and attitude the very neighbors we want to have living next to our homes. 
      With time and prayer, God can transform the roughest neighborhoods into places where people would desire to live and raise families. Eze. 36:35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. Will this transforming attitude take effort and grace on everyone's behalf? Absolutely, because with God all things are possible. 
      God does have the original plans of Eden and we can ask Him for the blueprints that would work within our own homes and neighborhoods. Psalm 2:8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You may not be getting along with your neighbors right now, but you can ask God for their eternal souls to be saved and become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Who knows, in the process of time they may become your best friends, helping you create an Eden worth living in. Prov. 3:29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. May we all stop moving east of Eden and bring back the blessing of Eden here and now. Father, in Jesus name, help me be the neighbor I want living next door to me. Amen!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Body-Piercing Art

Proverbs 7:23 Till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

      The art of body-piercing we see these days can raise an eyebrow or cause open-mouth wonderment, as in, "What were they thinking when they permanently scarred themselves that way?" This peculiar fashion statement is not much different then what a lot of people do in their everyday lives to fill the hole in their soul. Scars come in all sizes and types. Some scars are made by wrecking relationships on a regular basis out of fear of commitment or anguish of being hurt again. Others shop till they drop or go bankrupt. 
      Many choose a narcotic to quell and soften the voices screaming in their empty barren hearts that have been molested by circumstance. All pursuits, activities, and endeavours that are done in order to fill the void in one's eternal soul can leave big scars if God is not filling that void. If the festering scars are left too long without God's intervention, then they can bring death. Prov. 7:23 Till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.
      Some say the body-piercings are an outward expression of an inward hurt or trauma experienced. Some just want to be noticed and true enough they are noticed to the point where no one talks to them and the hurt continues. Others do it out of a rebellious intent because it is contrary to what God says. Lev. 19:28 Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. 
      Whatever the motive these people use as an excuse or explanations for doing it, their reasons pales in comparison to Jesus and His purpose for receiving His eternal scars. The one whose piercings and scars are to be noticed is Christ's pierced hands and feet. These scars were sacrificially done out of absolute love and grace for us all and not out of personal style or a fashion phase. Isa. 53:5 But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. 
      In some cases people got there scars and tattoos to be used as a statement to all authority, saying, "Up in your face." However, the markings and welted scars on our Lord's back was received through a whipping that shredded the flesh. With those scars, healing is available for all the hurts that people are carrying in their mind, soul, and body. 1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed. 
      Through timeless eternity when we will live with our God, we will always see and be aware of Christ's pierced hands. Those will be the only scars that count because all of our hurts and all of the unjust events that took place in our lives will be healed completely. Even the martyrs who were painfully tortured and dismembered will be healed of their scars and given a crown for their testimony of love. James 1:12  God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 
      How can we not look to the scars Christ took in His own body on our behalf? His pierced head was scarred from the crown of thorns put on Jesus in mockery. Matt. 27:29 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” What can we say about the scar caused by the spear that opened His side? All we can say is "Thank you, Lord." John 19:34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 
      How can we ignore the holes in Jesus' hands and feet caused by being nailed to the cross, paying in full the sins that were and will be committed? Matt. 27:35 After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. There were a lot of scars made in Christ's body on that day of reckoning, a sacrifice of eternal proportion done for each and every one of us who have been born in God's green earth. 
      There is healing and restoration available to us through faith in Jesus and what He went through for us. The scars Jesus received on the cross was not a fashion statement but a pure and loving act done for our total liberation and deliverance from all sin and bondage. An act of selfless love offered to us as a gift of eternal acceptance in God's kingdom. What can I do but repent and receive that gift from my God and allow His love to pierce my heart. Amen and amen.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

You're One Of A Kind

Proverbs 8:27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth.

      Why did God make my nose this way? Well, you're one of a kind. Why did God make me so short? Because you're one of a kind. Why did God make me this color? Must I say it again, "You're one of a kind!" You are a God-thought. He thought of you and here you are in full splendor of your uniqueness. Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 
      Even your doppelganger might look just like you, but they are without controversy one of a kind; just as you are. We are absolutely irreplaceable; that is how unique we are. Once you are gone from this earth so will your uniqueness be gone. The only thing left that will be you will be what was sown in others. That's what will remain here, only what was sown. Hopefully, it will still be encouraging others to go forth and fight the good fight of faith. 
      Everyone has something to offer the kingdom of God and can be a blessing in this world. You don't have to do anything magnanimous or earth-shattering for God to notice your uniqueness and abilities. After all, He did give you all your attributes. Unlike the tabloid lives of the rich and shameless whose whole persona and dedication in life is to get noticed by someone for personal validation, we have already been noticed by the Lord God Himself. Jer. 1:5a Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.
      Have you ever noticed when sitting down to a big family meal how everyone is so different and has various likes and dislikes? Lots of pronouncements of yum and oh, that looks good. There are even a few silent yuks that are expressed, "None for me, thank you." Some of the family members show up at the table dressed and courteous and others look like they are in permanent dress-down Fridays with the manners of a "Well you know what I mean." 
      All these differences are what makes us one of a kind. We truly are unique individuals, uncommon, and even extraordinary. With those differences we are to stir up ourselves toward the blessing of God's calling with what God has put in each one of us. 2 Tim. 1:6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
      Look at the different apostles Jesus had in His company. From a traitor, Judas, to the warm and loving heart of John who took care of Jesus' mother after His crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus also had compulsive Peter who thought nothing of cutting off the ear of a priest's servant. John 18:10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)  
      The Lord, through the Holy Spirit, hand picked Thomas who wanted the reassurance of the resurrection power of God. When Thomas had it, he went on to evangelize and preach the Gospel outside the Roman empire as far as India. What a unique band of brothers these men were. Truly, all of these men were one of a kind and because of their uncommon valor we reap the benefits of their work sown even though they are no longer on earth.
      Give praise to God for your unique selves. Rev. 4:11 You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things; by Your will they exist, and came to be. When was the last time you thanked God for your personal creation in His image and was grateful for it? No one but you can thank God the way you do because you're truly one of a kind. No one says praise the Lord the way you say it. Your voice print and fingerprint plus your way of looking at life through God's eyes are only yours and your God's. 
      When Christ is your savior there is absolutely no one in the universe like you. When God was covenanting with Abraham about his descendants, God says something so wonderful. Gen. 15:5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the sky and count the stars--if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Wow! Not one star in the universe is like another and therefore not one person in history or life is like another. 
      We truly and most assuredly are one of a kind. Prov. 8:27a When He prepared the heavens, I was there. I was there in God's thoughts and for that personal love and grace God has given me, I shout, "Praise the Lord." Most certainly you can do the same. Yes, "PRAISE THE LORD," we shout, for each one of us is one of a kind! Amen and amen!

Monday, 7 September 2015

My Time On Earth

Proverbs 2:20 That thou may walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.

      What will we do with our allotted time on earth? I'm not quite cramming for my finals as I am only sixty-two years of age, but I have been scanning the recesses of my memories to see if I have been fulfilling the call of God for my appointed time on earth. Remember, each one of us was created on purpose, with a purpose, and for a purpose. We are all given a period of time on this earth to be and do what God has put in our hearts. 
      We are to fulfill what is to be done with the direction of His Holy Spirit. Acts 17:26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Our time on earth is lived out with choices that hopefully brings blessing to God and our fellow man. Prov. 2:20 That thou may walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.
      I was talking with someone who had felt they had wasted their time on earth and was now concerned that they will leave nothing significant that would declare their existence. I pointed out that he had done the most important thing a lot of people never get around to doing and that was asking Jesus into his heart. The time this person has left on earth can be a time of great blessing in God's timing and can move mountains that would seem immovable to some. Eccl. 3:11aHe has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart. 
      The beautification of our souls and resurrected power of Christ within our hearts is our mandate and life purpose. If this realization only comes across our minds late in life, then at least we can ask God to accelerate His plan in our hearts for the remainder of our lives rather then walking around aimlessly and without reason being downcast because we think we missed it. No, Saints, God can do in a day and fulfill in our lives what might have taken a lifetime to accomplish. 
      We walk this earth on God's timetable and He moves it along at the speed and timing He chooses. Mark 13:20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. In another place, God slows down the time for a victory that is needed for His people and purpose. Josh. 10:13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies. Is this event not recorded in [The Book of Jashar]? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day.
      For those who are wondering if there is still time in this world to become a significant blessing to the Lord and His kingdom the answer is yes, there is always time when God is given the reins to your life. God can and will take a short time left in someone's life and make it count for an eternal good. Some might think this is not fair because they have walked their entire life serving God and have not entered into great blessing. Christianity is not a union, run by a local. 
      Jesus tells the parable of The workers in the vineyard who had all agreed to work for a set days wage and when the workers who had worked all day saw that the workers who had only worked a few hours got paid the same, they began to grumble. Read Matthew 20:1-16. 
      The Lord is still offering blessing to whosoever reaches out and accepts it no matter what place and time you are in. God is not moved by needs, He is moved by faith, and if you can muster up faith in God and His love for you, then you can move mountains for the remainder of your time on earth. Mark 11:23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 
      It is never too late to head in the direction God has planned for your life. Don't let the enemy of your soul lie to you by saying, "You are all washed up and it is too late in life for God to have any use or blessings for you." Don't believe that rubbish. You were created on purpose, with a purpose, and for a purpose and God can do in a day for you all the purposes of God that are planned for your life. May the remainder of our time on earth be full of the blessing and fulfillment God has for us. Amen! 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Everyday Is A Comeback

Proverbs 7:2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

     What gives us the ability to get up after a hard knockdown? Why are we so trusting in the love and power of the Holy Spirit within our lives? What is it about the Lord's grace that helps us comeback another day to fight the good fight of faith? Lam. 3:22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. That's it saints: the faithfulness and daily renewed love of God towards us compels our hearts to get up and shout, "Praise the Lord for Christ is my victory." 1 Cor. 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
      We can all think of someone who once walked with the Lord and has fallen away to make a mess of their lives. We have also heard harsh prognostications of their unlikely return to the service of God because they are too far gone into the world. They are sometimes written off with an unforgiving Pharisaical attitude and with finality. Low tones and whispers are saying, "There is no hope for that son of theirs!" I say, "Not so!" Every day is a comeback day for each and everyone of us. 
      The mercies of God are new every morning. They are for anyone who recognizes their need for a savior regardless of how far down the pit they have fallen. How far can a person fall, you ask? Let's look at the madman of the Gadarene. Here is a man who is possessed with a legion of evil spirits and living a harsh and tormented life. Mark 5:5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. 
      The Gospel of Mark says when he saw Jesus he came running to him and worshipped. Mark 5:6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him. I have no idea what had happened to this man's soul to end up possessed by so many evil spirits, but I would think he was in the very bottom of the pit of life; yet Jesus healed and delivered him from his torment. Mark 5:8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. 
      Most likely this man had made the same mess of his life that you see others doing, but the moment he chose to come and ask the Lord for true intervention he was made whole again. The possessed man had to make a choice to be delivered. You cannot force, contrive, manipulate, or cajole a person into healing or rehab per-se. The fallen have to make that choice of their own volition. They have to make the choice to comeback and live.
      From that day onward, every day would be a comeback day for the formally possessed man. Every day, this man like us would have to choose righteousness and choose to walk out the word of God in his life. Prov. 7:2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. We know that there was a true conversion because he wanted to go with the Lord. Mark 5:18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 
      It is interesting that Jesus trusted what he had done for this man's life because he sends him off on his life mission to declare the mercy and goodness of God to his family. Mark 5:19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” In one day this man was a lost cause to society and the next day he has a testimony and is declaring the mercy and goodness of a healing Lord. What a comeback.
      Maybe you know someone who has been written off as someone with a heart of granite and it looks impossible for them to repent and come back to the Lord. Don't give up hope because the Lord's mercies and faithfulness are new every morning. God can turn a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Eze. 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 
      Maybe you have a family member who had brought hurt, suffering pain, and dishonor to your family. Don't stop praying for them. The Lord of glory has them in His sights; there is a comeback day on the way for them. Isa. 43:1 But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. We must remember our righteousness is a gift from God and every day is a comeback day for each and everyone of us. What an amazing grace Jesus has for us all.