Friday, 26 October 2018

Nations In Fear

Prov. 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare: but whoso puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
      
      Psalm 2:1 Why are the nations in an uproar, and their people involved in a vain plot?     
      With the advent of easy accessibility to travel anywhere in this world, there has come with this ease the importation of fears, prejudices, diseases, and suspect ideologies from everywhere on earth into our back yards. North Americans live in fear of losing what was once thought to be their inherent right. What is enjoyed and called an everyday right, for a large percentage of the world these rights are an absolute privilege. Freedom, and wealth in most cases are unattainable in so many third-world countries. 
      The skittishness and unrest within the hearts and subconscious of the people seem to be the new norm. The cataclysmic and bizarre events we once read about in magazines or watched on news programs are now reported on near our front steps. What was once seen as an overseas dilemma is now lurking in our neighborhoods. Fear is gripping the nations. A color-coded threat system for the monitoring of terrorist activity is a new reality. Fear now reigns in the hearts of men and no one knows what to do about it. 
      As the Proverb says, "The fear of man brings a snare." The fear of man and the evil he can do brings a snare to the hearts of men and cuts off all peace and assurance causing mistrust in all institutions that were once held as trustworthy. Luke 21:26 People will be fainting from fear and from the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
      What does God say to do during these times of uncertain safety and unrest? He says to trust Him and Him alone. Prov. 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. That is it. Through prayer and relationship with God, trust in the Lord and not in human ability nor their lofty promises. This is God's way to bring back the peace in one's heart. 
      Man is limited to the world and its laws, but God is unlimited and can help in any situation of hard times and needs. Isa. 35:4 Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you. The nations of the world are in torment, but the peace of God is still available to those who ask for it with thanksgiving. Col. 3:15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
     Those who know their Lord are not aimless nor helpless. They do not have to take on the fears that are pumped out twenty-four-seven on all news outlets. We have a mighty God who knows those who love Him and are believing Him for guidance during these days of uncertainty. It may look dire, but as God says, "Do not worry about what falls apart around you because He has you in the palm of His hand." Psalm 91:7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. Nations may fall and the inhabitants may live in fear, but those who know their God will do great exploits and live in peace. Amen and amen!

Friday, 19 October 2018

The Kiss In The Garden

Prov. 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

      Luke 22:48 And Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"
      The act of betrayal that is known as "The kiss in the garden" that Judas used to single out Jesus for the priests to arrest was not the first act of betrayal Judas was responsible for. He had been stealing money from the money bag far earlier in his walk with the apostles and Jesus. John 12:6 Judas did not say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief. As keeper of the money bag, he used to take from what was put into it. I suppose Jesus could have said, "Judas, are you betraying me again, but this time with a kiss?" 
      Like Judas, most people do not become base overnight. Habitual sin usually starts slowly, with a sense of getting away with something that seemed minor at the time. There was some conviction of heart at the time, but not any longer. Now the sin doesn't even register on their conscience. What happened to these once honest people? 

      How did that man fall into adultery when things seemed so good at home? How did she get caught embezzling company funds when she seemed to have more than enough? How did he get so hooked on an addictive substance that he ended up sacrificing his life and family for it? When did the kiss in their garden betray their hearts?
      It is interesting to note that Jesus was sweating blood for mankind, just before Judas came and betrayed Him. Luke 22:44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. The Lord had remained faithful to the salvation plan of God the Father. Jesus was in the act of giving Himself for all mankind, even when at the same time He was being set up for betrayal. 

      This kiss from Judas would have hurt indeed because it represented the callous, hateful, and corrupt state that man's heart was in. Man needed salvation and there was no way to get it except through a willing Savior who said, " Father, not my will but yours be done."
      
When Jesus talks to us about sin in our lives, it may not feel good at the time but as the Proverb says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." Jesus is our friend and He is trying to keep us from falling into the temptation that the kisses of an enemy will bring. John 15:15b I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 
      Sin will betray us every time. The result of the sin may vary and the consequence may take time to reach us, but our sins will always find us out. Num. 32:23 But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. This is why the Lord asks us to confess our sins so that we get rid of them and they have no hold on us whatsoever.
      What if Judas had fessed up to taking money from the money bag? Would he have had a stronger resolve to resist the thirty pieces of silver the priests negotiated with him? Matt. 26:15 "How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?" And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. Easy money had become the kiss that betrayed Judas and he paid for it with his life. 

      What have you been smooching with that may cause major damage to your soul and cripple your walk in this life just because the enemy's kisses are titillating at this time? It may feel like a wound to us because the Lord is dealing with something in our life. However, the wounds of a friend heal fast because they come with the balm of Gilead that will give us all the victory through Christ.
      
The kisses of an enemy may seem sensually nice at the time but will carry a heartbreaking result that will leave people lonely, cold, and destitute of soul. Prov. 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. Jesus is our friend and He will help us through our wounded times to come out as healed, loved, and strengthened. If there is to be a kiss in the garden, then let the Lord kiss us with His mercy and kindness so that we come forth as the righteousness of God through Christ our Lord. Blessings.

Friday, 12 October 2018

October Roses

Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

      The passing of Indian summer announced its end as the last and faded pink blooms struggled to give a display of summer strength. October nights ushered in the chill and frost that foretells the inevitable arrival of winter. Rose bushes supporting their final seasonal blooms whispered a message within me, resulting in one of life's lessons that can be gleaned when one stops and smells the roses.
      I considered the struggles and obstacles that October roses encounter in their daily attempts at existence. Its nemesis of changing temperatures and frequent northerly wind gusts take its daily toll on this flower of romantic intention. The end of their growing season is inevitable, yet these flowers persist in expressing their velvet charm and pastel beauty until the final petal drops.
      This floral expression of survival instills a notion within me, in that I have had the privilege of knowing people whose backbone and character were made of the same persistent integrity and spine for living. Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
      We all know people who in the face of insurmountable odds overcame their fiercest battle and still held the integrity of God in their hearts. Like October roses these saints continued to bloom and express what Christ had put in their hearts, no matter what their season looked like on the inevitable horizon. 

      We can all name a person who brought us a delivering word, help, or answer to our life situation. In that moment they were an answer to prayer to us, yet they themselves were struggling with their own major issues. Like October roses their hearts bloomed large because Christ is the Lord of their heart. Eph. 3:20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
      We read and hear of great acts of courage that take place in written accounts in the bible. David and Goliath. Moses at the Red Sea. Samson warring with the jawbone of a donkey. Elisha on Mount Carmel. Stephen sentenced to death for his faith and praising God as the mob killed him. These incredible acts of courage are ours to build our faith upon through God who made these miracles happen.
      But what about you and me, the everyday person walking out our faith in Christ? Do we have this courage within us? I believe we do because we have all seen it played out in less dramatic forms every day in the saints we walk with. We just have to stop and smell the roses, per se, to see it. 

      These October roses continue to bloom and are not afraid of the next season of their life, no matter what battle is confronting them. Phil. 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Stand up and push forth a display of spiritual strength in the face of your north wind. Bloom where God has planted you in Christ.
      Take the time this week and stop and look at the roses put on their final display. Think of whose courage these roses remind you of. Take a moment and thank God for that person and pray a blessing over them. Eph. 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Be strong in the Lord. Our next season is upon us. Blessings.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Training For War

Proverbs 20:18 Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.

      Spartan Warrior Preparation. He who sweats more in training, bleeds less in war.  
      One of the important mind and heart sets the Apostle Paul wanted us to understand was that we are at war with the kingdom of darkness. We are never to let our guard down as we walk out our Christian life. 

      We are never to think we can coast along in a half-hearted effort. Our attitude is to be as a soldier who is always ready to fight the good fight of faith. We are to be prepared and keep our armor on. Eph. 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
      There never has been and never will be a day of amnesty with the enemy of our soul. There is no day off from being in Christ. We were paid for in full by the blood of Jesus and we are God's people only. Gal. 3:13a Christ bought us with His blood and made us free from the Law. We are in constant training for continual war until we leave this earth. 2 Tim. 2:3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
      When we accepted and personally committed our hearts to receive Christ as our Lord and Savior - this commitment was to be taken as seriously as a soldier who had been conscripted into the army. The soldier's focus is to be on military needs, uses, and purposes only. 2 Tim. 2:4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 

      There is no difference in the Lord's army. If we have accepted Christ as Lord, then He is our commanding officer for now and evermore. Our focus is on Christ and His love for us, plus His desire to bring everyone out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God.
      We are to train our hearts on a continual basis through a relationship in knowing our God, as well as becoming skilled in His purpose for our lives within His will. There are no long-weekend holidays off from walking in the righteousness in Christ Jesus. No time off to go sin and live it up in a time of mindless debauchery, just for a break from Christianity. We are to remain strong in the Lord. Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." 
      Put in the work to reap the rewards of our dedicated workouts through Christ in the love of God or, as the Spartans say, "He who sweats more in training, bleeds less in war." 2 Tim. 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 

      Lazy Christianity does not do anything for anyone. Slothful minded Christianity simply puts a person in a place to be beaten up and destroyed by the enemy of all souls. 1 Pet.5:8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
      Our war is not with each other as the devil would like us to believe. Our war is with Satan and his kingdom. Eph. 6:12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Make sure you know who the enemy is. Train your hearts in the word of God. Fight the good fight of faith. Be strong in the Lord and we will not bleed out on the battlefields as we fight alongside our God. 
      We can be encouraged because Jesus has already won the war for us. We just have to enforce our right standing through Christ and submit to our commanding King and Lord. Psalm 138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. Shall we march together to our promise land and be all we can be in Christ? I pray so. Blessings.