Friday, 29 September 2017

First Name Basis

Prov. 8:17  I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

      I was talking with a friend who was concerned about her husband's fears and uncertainty for the future. She felt he was too focused on all the things that are missing in his life right now. I had to remind her that she was a born again child of the living God and her husband had not stepped into that relationship yet. Her relationship with God is on a first name basis.
      When the Lord talks to her He calls her by her name and she responds in like manner saying, "Yahweh, Jehovah, or Jesus." Her husband, on the other hand, is living and trying to access life from the position of an outsider. He is looking in on what God is perceived to be and he may not have the assurance his wife has in her faith because she knows her God personally. Dan. 11:32b But the people who know their God will display strength and take action.
      This is one of the most amazing and fantastic things that happen to an individual who becomes a blood-washed child of the living God. We who know our God have the opportunity to come into relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ and we become children who are known on a first name basis. Rom. 8:15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, "Abba, Father." This is a hard concept for many to accept because it must be done by faith in Christ and the belief that God is initiating this covenant relationship. 
      God knows us by name and we also know Him by name. We will spend an eternity finding out the depths of all the Lord's name because of the infinite nature of our God. He will always be approachable throughout eternity and will forever reveal the full beauty of all the meanings and riches of His name. The name God wants us to know and love is the name of Jesus. For God has exalted His name above every name that is named. Phil 2:9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. It does not get much plainer than that. Jesus is the name to know and know it intimately and receive it by faith.
      Friendship with God is possible and actually expected from God's point of view. James 2:23 And the Scripture was fulfilled, saying, "And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness," and he was called a friend of God. Jesus made a remark that expressed friendship was the relationship He desired. John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. What an awesome thought that God wants friendship with all those He has created. 
      Through the cross and the blood of Jesus Christ, God has made it possible for every living person on earth to enter into a loving friendship with the All Mighty God of the universe. Think about how overwhelming it would be if we were trying to get to God on our own good works. The pressure would be too great to handle and we would end up ruled by a religious self-righteousness and full of doubts. God's gift of friendship is righteous and already done for us. We just have to say, "Yes, Lord, I accept your gift of eternal life through Jesus our Lord."
      Psalm 103:14 For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. Only a God who knows our frame and humanity can reach out and create a way of salvation that brings us ever closer to His Majesty and loving heart. Wow, God knows my name and I can call Him anytime whether my life is going well or seems misdirected. I can count on His perfect love for me to guide me back to His side where I can say,  "Jesus you are so good to me," and hear the Lord say, "I love you Norm." Wow! Count me in that blessing any day. Prov. 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

Friday, 22 September 2017

World's Best Offer

Proverbs 24:3 A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense.
      
      Mark 13:1 As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls.” 2 Jesus replied, “Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
      When reading this scripture we know Jesus is talking with His disciples about the ominous tribulations that would mark the events of the end times. However, there is an interesting side-bar going on because what seems to impress the disciples is the grandeur and magnificence of man's ability to create monuments and works of art to glorify man's accomplishments, even though the building may have been dedicated to God. 
      Throughout history, different cities and cultures were the epicenters of their time. Whether it was one of these locations that brought us the Egyptian Pyramids, Mayan Temples, Babylonian Gardens, Greek Pantheon, Roman Colosseum or Las Vegas the glitter and perceived greatness have been to declare the same thing - look how great and godlike we are.
      Mankind tends to look upon its accomplishments while the Lord is always looking at the people. We build stuff and God builds character within human hearts. We focus on art while God focuses on the artist. We put valuable importance on the buildings while the Lord puts all His heart and love into the population who will inhabit the buildings. Isa. 55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. The best the world has to offer is temporary and earthbound at best. The world system only works in the world and cannot progress into the heavenly courts of God. 
      By faith, we have to be seated in heavenly places for our lives to be fulfilled in what God has created for us and what we were created for. Eph 2:6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages He might display the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. The old expression "We are just traveling through this life and time" seems to be the state we need to understand and live in. We are admonished by the Lord to make sure the temporal things of the world - no matter how wonderful they are - do not take control of our soul and poorly influence our relationship with Christ. 2 Cor. 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
      The world's best offer no matter how glamorous, expensive, or beautiful it is, will never compare to the eternal riches that are ours through faith in Christ. Jesus is the perfect gift of God who meets our very essence of being. The world's best can sometimes meet our human needs, but God's gift reaches beyond that which we can imagine or think. God's best will meet our eternal existence both now and forevermore. The world's best will help us be a bit more comfortable while we live out our lives on this side of eternity. 
      There is nothing wrong with wanting or having nice things this world has to offer. They are wonderful blessings to be enjoyed and received with thanksgiving because they are part of God's gift for living. Just remember to keep the world's best in perspective. Don't become so enamored by the temporary glory of the latest fad, toy, or fashion. As the Lord remarked these things will be completely demolished or lost to our ownership because we are only here for a short time. 
      The house we are to build by wisdom is the one offered in the kingdom of God through God's grace. The one building or place that will not be broken down or demolished will be the place Jesus prepares for us because we chose Him first. John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am. Now that is an offer I cannot refuse. Blessings.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Getting Even

Proverbs 24:29 Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.”

         When it comes to getting even with someone who has hurt or betrayed our personal pride, feelings, or even injured our body, the downward spiral of evenness can only bring more hurt than the original offense. The problem with getting even is the process always brings a person down to a lower level of existence of being because the original offense or slight was already a low blow. You end up at the bottom with the bottom feeders, so to speak, and coming back up to where the Lord is trying to mature your soul can be a hard and arduous time. This is why God says vengeance is His affair and not ours to take into our own hands. 
      God knows the right judgment for the offender and the right cure for those affected. God's purpose is to get both sides into a righteous plan of love and honor. God understands the discipline needed for the offender and the right curing ointment for the one who got hurt. Satan wants us angry at the world so that we become a reactionary and violent people continually living is a state of craving vengeance. John 10:10a The thief comes  not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. At this point, madness creeps into our once peaceful lives and we become unhappy victims of offence.
      How can grace work if retaliation is the constant automatic response? History shows us the affects of keeping grudges alive and festering. The oozing open sore of hurt pride will only put the next generation on a course of prejudice and bitterness. Eze 18:2 Why do you cite this proverb when you talk about Israel's land: 'The fathers eat sour grapes but it's their children's teeth that have become numb.' The children suffer because forgiveness is not a part of their everyday lives. Families who are always looking to get even forfeit the freedom of forgiveness. 
      By this time vengefulness reaches a generational feud, then getting even is no longer the point and the atrocities become greater. We can see this in our recent history with the fallout from the second world war and the festering hurts that came up again in the Kosovo conflict of the 1990s. It will never stop till someone says, "I forgive you and I do it with the grace of God." Luke 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
      We read in the book of Genesis the story of Lamech whose pride had been hurt to the point of dictating the amount of payback that would be satisfactory to his self-importance. Gen 4:23 Lamech said to his wives, "Adah and Zillah, Listen to my voice, You wives of Lamech, Give heed to my speech, For I have killed a man for wounding me; And a boy for striking me; 24 For if Cain is being avenged seven times, then Lamech will be avenged 77 times." Seventy-seven times more hurt in return was now the accepted amount of getting even. If that amount was personal, then how much worse will it get throughout the next generations? 
      This is why I say when people get involved in this endless eye for an eye lifestyle, they become the bottom feeders in society. They are always looking down to a greater baseness of vengeful fulfillment rather than looking up to heaven for healing for their generational hurts.
      If we want to get even with anything in life, we must put ourselves at the same starting line the Lord is standing on. If we start from the top and work the hurt and problem from the top where the Lord is ministering to our soul, we will have ammunition toward the temptation to lower ourselves to the lowest common denominator of a street thug. Yes, there is always forgiveness when we finally turn back to the Lord, but hard to do when we have spent so much time living in past hurts and fantasies of revenge. 
      Jesus uses a reference to put on His yoke. The picture is you are yoked or walking even with Him side-by-side, working out all the problems and hurts. As long as we stay yoked, we will be even with the Lord and that is a place to put our energies into getting even. Let us get close and personal with our Savior. That path leads to forgiveness and peace. May we all find it.

Friday, 8 September 2017

There's No End

Proverbs 11:18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

      I was driving behind a car that had a bumper sticker that said There's No End written with white letters on black background in a Gothic-dripping font. I thought, "That's an ominous and hopeless looking message." Then I thought, "This message is true." There is no end to this world system unless we do something about it. There is no end to an uninspired redundant life. Life will feel like dripping hopelessness unless we do something about it.
      Unless we change our story there will be no end to our chasing of the wind so to speak. The countless million people who get up every day doing the same old thing with drudgery in their hearts and a foreboding sense of what is the point to this endless repetitiveness of just existing?"
 Eccl. 2:18 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. 
      There is no end to this earthbound existence until we change the story we are living in and start thinking heaven bound. Until we realize God’s goodness toward us and begin to say and repeat what God says about our divine creation and purpose for being here, we will not find our God-given and designed destiny. Until we do something that is God-centered and inspired, our story will not change. When we enter into what God has prepared for those who love Him, there will be no end to the dull, insipid, nerve numbing existence that so many trudge along in. 
      As Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” When we have a God-centered life within us, we will stop and consider God's love toward us. Psalm 8:3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
      There’s no end in sight if we do not have a vision for the Lord’s life within us. When we enter His presence, we begin to find our way. Psalm 73:17 Only when I came into God's holy place did I finally understand what would happen to them. With God's leading, we will find the Lord’s reason and purpose for our lives. We will become overjoyed with the fact there’s no end because our eternity is with the mighty God who will forever be expanding our existence to unimaginable and euphoric heights. Rom. 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. 
      How true this Proverb. A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward. Keep working without the Lord in the world system and there’s no end to its life-sapping existence. Enter the righteousness of God through Christ and there’s no end to the joy, blessing, fulfillment, and love God sows within our hearts to discover and live by. Thank you, Lord, in you there’s no end to your love for us. Jer. 31:3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Yes, Lord, in you there's no end to your love and kindness.

Friday, 1 September 2017

DOA Dead On Arrival

Proverbs 2:18 For her house leads down to death, and her paths to the dead.

      God said, "You are a dead man!" What an overwhelming and frightening thing to hear from God. A loud, direct, and plain statement that would shake anyone to the very core of one's being. How do you respond to such a clearly defined statement from God Himself? Gen. 20:3 But that night God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him, "You are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married!"
      This is not being said by some B actor in a B movie. When God says, "You are a dead man," you have to take it seriously because the only place to run is to God Himself. Talk about being divinely positioned between a rock and a hard place. Someone might say, "I thought God was all love, peace, and joy." God is love, but He is also the God of the universe who is judge and Lord of all creation. 
      In Abimelech's defence he did not know Sarah was married to Abraham and through circumstances found himself in this very precarious situation with God. Abimelech did what so many of us do on a regular basis in our everyday lives; he acted on an assumption. When we accept an assumption as true, then we easily buy into the conclusion the assumption presented. Abimelech is about to experience something Richard Rohr said: "Before the truth sets you free, it tends to make you miserable." But Lord, I did everything right according to my paradigm of what right is. I believe God calls this self-righteousness.
     As odd as it sounds we do come into this world having to face death and our mortality. From day one we are dead men walking until we accept Jesus as the Lord of our life. Col. 2:13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 
      So much of the misery experienced by man is because we do not accept or obey what God says to do in life. As the word of God says, "If you abide in my word you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." However, we must submit to the truth the Lord is offering us at the time of need. 
      There may be some hard times getting to the freedom truth brings because of the mental gymnastics we have to process in order to change our thinking toward what God says is truth. Rom 12:2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Eph. 4:23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. There is literally a need for a paradigm shift in our mind, heart, and attitude toward God and His directions for our life.
      Those of us who have accepted Christ as savior are blessed to have a different proclamation over our lives, rather than "You are a dead man."  We do not have to walk the path that leads to eternal death. Prov. 2:18 For her house leads down to death, and her paths to the dead. We get to hear, "Well done faithful servant." Matt. 25:23 His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!' 
      We have been given a reprieve on eternal death because of our faith in the finished work of the cross and the blessed blood of the Lord Jesus which covers all of our sins ever committed. We are no longer dead men walking. We are the blessed and living children of the most high God. Thank you, Lord God, for your goodness toward us.