Friday, 31 January 2020

The Visit

Proverbs 1:8 Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother's knee.

      Consider your ways. Hag. 1:5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Pay close attention to what our heavenly Father has said, and pay attention to the signs of the times taking place in your life. Are you hearing the voice of the Lord and following up on what was said? Or, are you dismissing God's promptings because you have become dull in heart? Pay close attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying. 
      How many blessings have we missed because we did not recognize a visit from God while it was happening? Luke 19:44b Because you did not recognize the time when God visited you. This is what Jesus was expounding upon to the people of Jerusalem. God was visiting them, but they did not recognize their deliverer or signs of the times. The very thing the people were praying for (the coming of The Messiah) was standing with them but they did not receive or welcome Him. So close to the blessing, but ever so far.
      We can all look back and see where we missed a visitation from God. The Lord came warning us, helping us through a terrible situation, or blessing us beyond our expectations. However, we didn't recognize God's presence in the moment that He had visited. We simply wrote it off to good fortune and we lost our opportunity to express gratitude, appreciation, and fully respond to God's goodness in obedience.
      There was a paralyzed man who had been stuck with an infirmity for thirty-eight years. He had become used to the same old excuse year after year for not getting anywhere in life. He hung out with the sick people at the Well of Bethesda. He had no answers as to how to use his faith for his healing. You might say he was like a lot of Christians who are stuck in church and attend Sunday after Sunday but have no victory in their daily life. 
      Jesus visited this man and asked him an interesting question. John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there and realized he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to get well? ” When God asks you if you want to get well or get out of the mess you are in, pay close attention and respond to what God is saying. After being asked the question, the paralyzed man began to tell his sad story and the problems he had in life. He was always missing his chance in life because others got ahead of him. John 5:7 “Sir,” the disabled man answered, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.” 
      When God the Father is visiting you, just take everything God has for you, and throw all the excuses away. If you have a relationship with God, then listen to what He is telling you. Prov. 1:8a Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you. God is looking for a faithful response and not a list of excuses. It is a blessing to have a miraculous visitation from God and get blessed to the max. But, pay close attention and obey what God says to do, so that you keep your blessings alive. 
      We don't know why the paralyzed man was stuck in his situation for such a long time, but Jesus does tell him to stop sinning so that things don't get worse. John 5:14 After this, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.” Had the paralytic missed a previous time of visitation and ignored it like so many people do? 
      I can look back and see three warnings that God pointed out to me concerning my unhealthy lifestyle. I had been visited three times but didn't get the message into my heart. Not paying close attention resulted in a stroke. I have to say that at the next visitation, I was fully alert. When Christ knocked at the door of my now diseased heart, I answered and opened the door wide and without excuse grabbed all the healing I could get. Rev. 3:20 Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
      I had to consider my previous ways and repent of them. I am getting a lot better at responding and recognizing the visits from my Lord. I've got no excuses for Him, just a whole lot of "Yes sir! Do your work in me Lord, and point me in the right direction!" We all need to pay close attention to what our Heavenly Father is asking of us when He visits. Lord, God, please come and visit us again, that we may walk with you and be in Christ as you have ordained it so. Amen!

Friday, 24 January 2020

It's Dumb To Go To Hell

Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.

      Anne Lamott said, "What is the difference between you and God? God never thinks He is you." Therein is the problem, people think they know better than God. In some cases, they choose to believe there is no God, and the nonsense gets worse. Psalm 14:1a The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. However, sometimes in the midst of all the naysaying, there is a glimmer of reason and something precious comes out of the befuddlement of life. 
       I was driving on Vancouver Island with a coworker. We had to drive for a few hours to deliver equipment to customers. It was a divine appointment because the gentlemen I was working with began questioning me about my faith in Christ. We talked for hours and I answered his questions the best I could. A couple of weeks later, he phoned me and thanked me for helping him accept Jesus as his Lord. He said, "It's something you said that made it clear to me." I thought of all the great doctrine that had been expounded upon and I thanked God for all the wisdom He had given me. He went on to say, "What did it for me, was when you said, "It's dumb to go to hell if you don't half to."  
      Well, there you have it, Saints, wisdom in its fullness. Talk about simplifying the Gospel. By simply sharing what Jesus has done for you, is the criteria the Lord has asked us to use when sharing our faith. 1 Pet. 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 
      If you think about what was said, it is dumb to go to hell if you don't have to. Some people think that hell will be some big endless party where every vice is practised with a continual endless supply of fun, fun, and more fun. If all the sinful choices of so-called fun on earth eventually lead to deadly addictions, murders, larceny, and mayhem, then what makes a person think this will become satisfying fulfilment in eternal hell. Truly, only a fool would buy into this party deal Satan has been selling. 
      Others have bought into the lie that they are not worthy of God's love, and therefore, live aimlessly. Satan works overtime on that lie in particular. The devil uses every conceivable argument to deceive people into believing they are not loved by God. It will be so sad for some, who, through gullibleness, fell for this deception and ended up eternally lost because of not accepting God's honest love for them. Imagine, having the choice of believing God or Satan, and choosing the lying devil. Talk about foolishness gone to seed! Prov. 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. Let's face it, Satan does have a credibility problem.
      Pastor Tom Gardner says, "Satan will use an ocean of truth to float a lie." Satan is a master of bending the truth and falsifying the word of God. Even though he comes to us acting as an angel of enlightenment, don't believe him, because there is no love in him. The word says clearly that he is a liar and that is his true nature. John 8:44b When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.
      God invites us to choose Him through Christ and accept the finished work of the cross. Our heavenly Father is at work continually and very patient with us so that we come to a place of repentance and receive real life. 2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Wow, our Lord does not want any of the billions who live on earth to perish. Talk about abundant love. 
      It is dumb to go to hell when God has made a way for us to not go there. We just have to choose who we are going to believe, and receive God's gift of life. May God's blessed wisdom be on us all. Amen!

Friday, 17 January 2020

I'm Coming Back

Proverbs 24:16 The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.

      Luke 4:13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
      What an ominous thought. Every temptation and spiritual battle I have prevailed over in my life will most likely be fought again. Satan will wait for a better opportunity to come back and tempt you into sin. He will wait for a time of weakness, depression, lack, or a sense of loss to deceive you and try and destroy your life. You might say, "I thought I had that old bad habit beat?" You did defeat it. However, it's back to challenge you again during this opportune time. 
      We all feel awful when we fall in an area of sin we once thought we had conquered. What happened? I thought I was over this sinful craving or this damnable desire. Didn't Jesus deliver me from the bondage I once lived in? Jesus did deliver us from that old mess. But, an opportune time has arrived and the tempter is back - so we will have to use our God-given armour to fight the good fight of faith. 
      The advantage we have is that we are fighting from a position of righteousness. Anything of infinite worth is worth fighting for. God's eternal gift to us is precious because within that gift is the resolve to get up and fight again. Prov. 24:16a The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.  
      Those who do not have a saviour to fight alongside them will have to fight the battles of life in their strength. This is why there are so many casualties in the world. We, who are in Christ, have a champion Lord who took down the authority that Satan once had over mankind. By faith, we have our redeemer and we give ourselves wholly to the blessings He has instilled within us. 
      Matt. 13:46 When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it. How blessed we are to have found our pearl of great price and we give our hearts to the value of this great treasure. We can get back up and fight the good fight because we have the priceless pearl (our saviour) working within us. 
      We may have been caught off guard and fallen to a devious trick of the enemy, but God has our back. Isa. 52:12 You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. While the Lord is watching our back, we can get up. With the word of the Lord, we can take back what the enemy has stolen from us. The devil may have stolen our dignity, value, enthusiasm, and self-respect but with God and a repentant heart, we can take it all back in Christ. We can rise above the accusations of the sin and shout, "Through Christ and the cross, I am forgiven!" 
       We never have to stay down and live defeated. Psalm 37:23 A person's steps are established by the LORD, and he takes pleasure in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand. We can get up and fight again. Our steps in Christ have been ordained to rise up and keep reaching for the eternal prize we have in our Lord. 
      Satan might say, "I will be coming back to try and destroy you at an opportune time." But we can say, "Through Christ, I'm coming back also. I'm coming back stronger, mightier, and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit." In Christ, we have our victory, and no one or anything can take it from us. Amen!

Friday, 10 January 2020

O Magnum Mysterium

Proverbs 30:18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not.

      O magnum mysterium. O great mystery. I would have to say that there are a lot more than three things too wonderful for me, and four things that I do not know. The mystery of our salvation that was hidden in Christ is so multifaceted. Jesus is our high priest, redeemer, healer, saviour, and Lord. Jesus is crowned with so many divine titles, that we could not list them all. We would most likely find ourselves repeating the words of John the Apostle. John 21:25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.
      We live in a jaded society that mocks innocence and will not lend their souls to wonderment and mysteries. It seems that the hardness of people's hearts has taken away the awe that once came naturally. Skepticism has become their heart's default setting in life. "Give me proof that God is real, and then I will believe," is the demand of those who have become hardened in their existence. Matt. 27:42b Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. It seems that this - in your face demand - has always been among us. 
      We just have to look to the heavens and see a designer's design that invokes an awe-inspiring shout of, "Wow, look at what the Lord has done!". Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. What a great mystery our God is, and yet, He is so personable, because He wants a relationship with us. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we have peace with our heavenly Father. This concept is so hard for so many to believe. 1 Cor. 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.
      When we take a moment and consider the fact that we are here, alive, and cognizant of our existence, deep down, we know that there is so much more. The Psalmist expresses this sense of awe, and does not seem to have enough words to say all that could be said - so, he simply asks in wonderment, "What is man that God is mindful of him? Psalm 8:3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4 or what is a human being that you are mindful of him, I a son of man that you care for him? O magnum mysterium. O great mystery.
      Perhaps, you can let your guard down just a bit when it comes to believing the possibilities of God working in your life and loving you for who you are. If there is just a small crack in the veneer you have laminated over your heart, then let Christ in and heal your hurts, wounds, and disappointments. 1 Cor. 1:24b Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Pastor Brian Houston said, "You can’t sanctify Christ in your heart if he is not there." Let Jesus in, and see a great mystery transform your life into the blessing you were meant to be.
      You are here because God actually thought of you on purpose. Eons past, God saw you and created your eternity in His infinite self. Oh, what a mystery you are! To have been on God's mind and then through birth, showed up in this space and time to be in a relationship with All-Mighty God. Jer. 1:5a Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. How can you not respond to such incredible magnificence? Wow, what grace has been poured out on us. 
      Prov. 30:18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not. O magnum mysterium. Yes, Lord. There are way more than three things about you that are too wonderful for me, and there are way more than four things about you which I know not. Thank you, Lord God, that we will have an eternity to discover your love for us. Amen!

Friday, 3 January 2020

Coming Out Of The Swamp

Proverbs 11:29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

      2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. Paul, the Apostle, was crying from his heart when he was asking the Corinthian church to grow up and start making mature choices. 2 Cor. 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 
      Why is the maturity of Christians such a sticking point in our personal growth in Christ? It seems that the same people with the same issues come forward week after week for prayer and deliverance for the same old thing. They can't seem to get the victory over the repetitive problem. Outside of being deceived, I think that personal-will within God's love has got to be expressed and exercised to be able to come out of the swamp and mire that many stay stuck in. Jesus has already done His part. We have to stand up by faith and come out of the world's quagmire and be counted for.
      What is the pull in some people's lives that cause them to choose self-destruction and make terrible life choices, keeping them chained in bondage to their circumstances? Why do some people who are given chance after chance to get up and do something right, just continue to fall flat on their face? According to the word of the Lord, God has delivered us from the pit of despair. Psalm 40:2 He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure. Yet, many go right back into the pit and refuse the deliverance available to them. When will the stench of the swamp start to become disgusting in our lives and we finally want a real cleansing? 
      I was talking with an alcoholic who is showing signs of cirrhosis of the liver, and becoming disfigured because of the effects of alcohol on the body. To me, the sad thing is that he has a strong church background and knows he is messing things up by the choices he makes. He always has excuses for his recidivistic return to the bottle. Like so many alcoholics, he is always sorry about the collateral damage he is causing his family, and the few remaining friends have heard it all before. Like most alcoholics, he doesn't do anything about it, he just remains sorry. Prov. 11:29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise. 
      This continual destructive behaviour is a conundrum to me. Maybe it is because, with God's help, I have overcome alcoholism and I wonder why anyone would want to stay in that state of ugliness. Prov. 23:35 And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?” All I can do is hand him over to God's grace and hope this scripture verse becomes a reality in his life. Micha 7:18 Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.
      Only God knows the deep reasons for destructive life choices, and only God can help people overcome when they are truly ready to do so. God will honour our personal choice to be miserable, but He will encourage us to choose life. Deut. 30:19 Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! Coming out of the world's swamp has got to be a continual and daily choice of our will and heart. With the Lord's help and divine power dwelling within us, we can make the righteous choice to choose God and live, but we have to want it. Blessings.