A Place

a place

Can you remember where you first met your spouse.  Do you remember your first dorm room?  What about the place where you applied for your first job?

Do you remember the place where you gave your heart to Jesus?  For those of you who are married, do you remember the place you were married?  A church, a park, on the beach, a golf course, in an office?

How about the hospital where you were rushed to after an auto accident or where you delivered your baby?  Your first car?  Where you were when 9/11 happened?  The Federal Building in Oklahoma?

I remember where I was when I gave my heart to Jesus … in my bed with my mother praying with me.  I remember the place where I first saw my future husband.  I remember each hospital where my children were born and I also remember the place where I got my first ticket!

Places, both good and bad, are imbedded in our brains.  I remember children around an altar seeking God in the church where we were youth pastors. I also remember the place where I fell across the bed and said, “Jesus … at any cost!”

I recently read an article by Gloria Gaither on her blog that brought tears to my eyes …

In the article she recalls sitting with a long time christian friend who was going to have her 12 year old grandson visit for two weeks and this child had never been inside a church.  This lady had been a christian nearly all her life and had raised her children in a christian home but somewhere along the line this boys parents had never taken him to church.  So this lady told Gloria she was going to take him to the church and show him where his parent had been raised.  The place where we sat, the altar was the place where we knelt and prayed, this is the place where we say our vows in marriage, this is the place where we say goodby in death, this is the place where we can learn about God and celebrate in communion.

“Places” are important to look back upon, places where we build memories and memorials.  That place where we made our commitment to serve God.

Calvary was a place.  The tomb was a place.  The Garden of Eden was a place.  The pool of Bethesda was a place.  Solomon’s temple was a place.  All of these can evoke memories of places we’ve read about or even visited.

Do our children and grandchildren have memories built around God’s church?  Oh, I know we can meet God at any place in any circumstance but it is important to build good memories in the right places.   I know our church buildings look different today than they did in the past but we can still show our children and grandchildren the important places that put us in a good place to meet God.

I recommend that you read Gloria Gaither’s blog and listen to the powerful song written out of this encounter.

Youtube: Gaither vocal band … This is the Place

 

Hymn: There is a place of quiet rest
Near to the heart of God
A place where sin cannot molest
Near to the heart of God

 

I Need A Drink

I need a drink 01

I’ve never been a drinker.  I would be called a teetotaler!  I’ve had less then ten (small!) “for the stomach’s sake”.  But I know there are those who can’t start their day without a drink or get through their day with one, two, three or more.

However, I could say that there are often days when I say, “I NEED A DRINK!”  The Apostle Paul was also often in “thirst”.  What am I thirsty for?  Alcohol? Coke? Water? Coffee?

But if I drink of the above, I WILL be thirsty again, and again and again!

The Psalmist cries out (42:2), My soul thirsts for God, for the living God”. Psalm 63:1, O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”  Psalm 143:6, My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.”

Oh … that describes so many today … thirsty, but for what?  They are in a barren, dry land and need a drink but either don’t know what they are thirsty for, don’t know where to look, not sure where to find drink or what it is that would quench their thirst!

Isaiah 55:1 gives us a clue.  Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters”.  What?  Where?  Whom?  If we don’t find the right kind of drink … we will die.

God has promised to pour water on him who is thirsty(Isaiah 44:3).

Jesus said (John 7:37), “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.”

JESUS is the water of life! If we drink of Him … we will NEVER thirst again!  How do I know that? John 4 … Jesus met the woman at the well as she came to draw water.  Jesus asked her for a drink and she, being a Samaritan, was astonished that He, a Jew, asked her for a drink because Jews have no dealings with Samaritans(v 9).

But Jesus answered, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water … whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Living water?

When we drink of Him, we will have eternal life!  Our thirst will be quenched.  Oh, in the natural we will be thirsty again … for water … and in our spiritual life we will be thirsty  also and that is why we need to drink of Him every day!

If we go without drinking natural water we will become thirsty and eventually die if we don’t drink.  The same is true of the Living Water, Jesus … if we don’t drink daily, we will become dry, parched and begin to shrivel up.

The Bible is our fountain from which to drink, so draw from the fountain of life.  

Revelation 7:16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore”.

Revelation 7:17, For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters.”

Proverbs 25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

Isaiah 21:14, bring water to him who is thirsty

We need water to live, to bathe, to drink, to cook, to grow food …  drink often, drink deeply, share willingly of the eternal life-giving water!

A Matter of Purity

Purity

The first public message I ever gave was a Mother’s Day when we were pastoring in Vallejo, California … Church on the Hill.  This would have been in the early 70’s.

I never wanted to be a public speaker.  I always wanted to marry a preacher and be in the ministry but felt my ministry was to my husband, children and home.

Ronn had asked our women’s ministry director at the church to plan the service for Mother’s Day.  Then she did the unthinkable … she asked me to deliver the message! I did the “proper” thing and said I would pray about it.  I could say that because I felt safe in knowing that the Lord would not require that of me!

A couple weeks before Mother’s Day she asked me if I was prepared and I said, “Oh, no … that is not something I can do!”  Then she looked me in the eye and said, “Have you really prayed about it?”  Ouch!  I knew the answer to that one!  I really had NOT prayed about it because my mind was made up.  So I told her I would pray one more time!

I was working part time in the church office and the next day or so it came to my attention that two married people in the church were having an affair.

I was so angry and upset over this that I left the office, got in the car and went off on some errands crying as I went.  I was asking the Lord, “Why? How can this happen with Christians?”  And as plain as day the Lord dropped into my heart … “It’s a matter of purity.  Purity of mind, heart and body.”  I almost stopped the car as I responded to the Lord, “Lord, that’s not fair!  You just gave me a sermon outline and now I know I have to speak on Mother’s Day!”

Well, perhaps it wasn’t a normal “Mother’s Day” message but here is how the Lord helped me to flesh out that message …

As I look at the church today I don’t see much difference from the worldly way of doing things.  Yet in Ephesians 5:27 (KJV),  Paul tells us that Jesus wants “…a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”  Can any of us qualify?

The Living Bible puts Psalms 96:9 this way, Worship the Lord with the beauty of holy lives.”  Hebrew 12:14, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”  The Bible consistently tells us to be holy even as He is holy.  How do we stay “holy” in this sinful world?

In some churches and in some places holiness is considered to be how long our hair is, how long the clothes are, no make-up and lest you guys think you are getting away with this … I knew a preacher once who thought it was unholy to wear a tie because it was an adornment!  But being holy is so much more than that.

God would not have commanded us to be holy if it was impossible to do so.  In ourselves it IS impossible but with Him He makes all things “Himpossible”.

Eve’s first sin was not that she ate of the forbidden fruit.  She listened to a lie (that being what Satan told her was not what God said or meant) and then she entertained that thought and bought the lie. If Eve had immediately refused the thought the act of sin would never had occurred.

So right there entered MIND IMPURITY.  All of us will be temped and threatened with impure thoughts.  Even Jesus had those in the desert when Satan came to tempt Him.  But Jesus DID NOT think upon those things.  He immediately used the Word against Satan’s temptations.

Proverbs 23:7, For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  If you begin to think upon the thought, as you entertain it in your mind then it slips down into your heart.  Once we begin to let our mind dwell upon the evil suggestion from Satan then it enters our heart or soul.  Matthew 15:19 then tells us, For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.”  Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh!

We cannot stop evil thoughts from entering our mind because there are impure images, sinful suggestions, sexual innuendos all around us.  Satan is the prince of the power of the air and he is going to do all he can to make us sin.

So our first responsibility lies in the area of the mind … put on the mind of Christ, resist the enemy, bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  Be careful what we watch, where we go, what we read … garbage in, garbage out!  What you put inside your mind will come out!

Now that it is in our heart we are facing HEART IMPURITY.  We criticize, complain, bicker, gossip, envy, jealous, fantasize, impure sexual thoughts  — the list could go on and on but you get my point.  Our hearts get hardened and we reach a point where what we once believed was sin no longer condemns us. We think we can get by with sin.

Matthew 15:19 (ESV), “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Others may not know the things that are in our minds and hearts, but God sees all.  Mark 2:89 tells us that “Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves …”  Psalm 95:8 instructs us not to harden our hearts.  When we consistently disobey the voice of God then our hearts do become hardened to the point where we don’t see anything wrong with the way we are or the things we are doing.  Just because no one sees the cancer inside us doesn’t mean it isn’t hurting us.  Maybe you don’t even know you have a weak heart until suddenly you slump over with a heart attack.

God demands total repentance … Joel 2:12, 13 (ESV), “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.

God’s heart cry is, “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, the it might be well with the, and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29, KJV).

Have you ever considered the effect of your sins on the lives of your children, grand children and even great grand children?  The Bible speaks of the sins of the parents being passed on even unto the third and fourth generation!  Oh, what a responsibility we carry!

There is victory if we repent … Jeremiah 24:7 (KJV), “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

If our minds and hearts are impure it won’t be long until the BODY follows.  Even in the Christian community there is sex before marriage, pregnancy  out of wedlock, alcohol and drug abuse, all kinds of sexual sins, physical abuse, etc.  And we wonder WHY?

The body does not act independently of the mind.  Your body does not suddenly shoot your spouse, rob a bank, start an affair.  The thought comes, the thought is entertained, it flows to the heart and if not repented of the body will act.  We cannot think one thing and expect fruit of another kind.

Romans 6:6 says, “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with,  that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (NKJV)

I Thessalonians 5:23 (KJV), “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 13:14 (KJV), “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

There are tragedies to the impure life … after Miriam spoke against the man God had ordained as leader, she became leprous.  After David had his adulterous affair with Bathsheba he saw his child die. Ananias and Sapphire made a joint decision to lie and their death was immediate.

How can we triumph over impurity?  Christ came to set us free but freedom is not the right to do what we want but the POWER to do what we ought!

After David’s sin with Bathsheba he cried out to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 KVJ).

To live triumphantly we need to hide God’s word in our heart so we won’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).  There is a quote that I have often used when talking about the Bible, “This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book.”

God’s Word is our BEST PROTECTION against sin.

There are rewards for a pure life … Psalm 24:3,4 (KJV), “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? … He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart …”.  Matthew 5:8 (KJV), Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

And finally, Galatians 5:16 (KJV), “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Be filled with the Spirit … live your life to please Him!

Cell Groups

cell groups 00

Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho of Seoul, Korea made the model of cell groups popular for churches.  With a church of several hundred thousands I’m sure it was needed for the people to feel connected.  Many churches around the world have taken that cell group model and adapted it to their use.

Some churches have made their cell groups into geographical or neighborhood groupings.  Others into “like interest” i.e: parents with young children, parents with teenagers, seniors, business leaders/owners, teachers, etc.

I got to thinking about biblical cell groups and wondered if I truly even wanted to be in one!  The first one that came to mind was Paul and Silas.  Now that was truly a cell group!  Only two.  Oh, wait … there were three … Jesus was there!  Don’t know that I would want to be in that group.  They had been beaten and thrown into the prison cell.  Not just thrown but had feet in stocks.   What would they have done with a cramp in their leg?  BUT … their group was quite successful in that they got out of their cell group!  How?  They prayed and sang to the Lord and the other prisoners were listening to them.  I wonder if they were thinking “how can they sing in this situation?”!

Suddenly there was an earthquake and all the doors were opened and the bonds were loosed!  I wonder, did they sing THAT loudly? They didn’t use this as a means to escape but as an opportunity to minister! (Acts 16).

Then there was Peter in his cell group (Acts 12).  He was alone, well, not quite.  There were sixteen guards watching over him plus a few angels who were keeping quiet until everybody fell asleep.  I guess maybe it might be OK to sleep in a cell group meeting?  Well Peter did! And so did the guards.  I don’t think that was proper guard duty but they weren’t too worried… Peter was sleeping between them, bound with chains and sentries at the door!  Nap time.  Now it’s quiet.  Dark.  Perhaps some snores.  THEN an angel of the Lord stood next to him, a light filled the cell, the angel struck Peter on the side waking him up, told him to get up quickly and Peter obeyed! Yeah for Peter!  Then the chains fell off (guards were sleeping soundly!!) … the angel told him to get dressed quickly and to put on his shoes because they were going to go for a walk and get out of jail free!

Peter didn’t even think he was awake.  He thought he was having a vision!  They walked right past the first and second guards and then came to the iron gate leading into the city.  The gate opened by itself, they went down one street and the angel disappeared.  WOW!  That was some cell group escape!

Let’s see … then, there was Joseph’s cell group.  Goodness he had been having quite a streak of bad “luck” for several years!  Now he finds himself in prison and he’s the only believer.  But he didn’t sit down and think, “I’ve no one to fellowship with so I think I’ll just give up!”  No, he found others that he could help.  Even in his cell the “Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Genesis 39:21, ESV).  The Lord used Joseph IN the prison cell “until the time…”.  God had a purpose for Joseph in his cell group and He had a time for his release.

Then there was Jeremiah in his prison cell and finally thrown in a dungeon of mud (Jeremiah 37 & 38).  Daniel in his cell of lions (Daniel 6)!  Samson because of his disobedience was in a prison cell but there he repented and brought about a great victory for the Israelites in his death (Judges 16).

If we truly want to follow the biblical example for cell groups maybe we should all be put in prison?  I have concluded that for me … maybe I don’t want to be a part of a biblical cell group!  I might want to stick to one that teaches me how to live for Jesus right here on this planet until He comes for me!

(Most of my “Connie’s Contemplations” have been serious thoughts on my part.  Some of them however (such as this one!) is a little more on the humorous side such as was my “God’s Tattoos”.  So this was written with tongue in cheek!)

Bad Dads, Good Dads

bad dads good dads 01

It is not easy being a parent!  We all wish we had the “perfect” child … always  quick to obey, doing things the way we want them done, never causing us a moment of unrest or worry.  Won’t happen!

The Bible gives instructions on how to be a good dad.  Unfortunately there are some men who are anything but.  Look at some of the examples in the Bible that I would call “BAD DAD’S” (or at least not the best dad’s!) …

JACOB

He was a deceiver from the beginning.  Deceived his brother out of his birthright, tricked his dad into thinking he was someone else, had to leave home to save his life and tricked his father-in-law when he left the family business!

With his own children he favored (really spoiled!) the son of his favorite wife which caused all kinds of hard feelings from his other sons.

However, the instance that really troubles me is when his daughter, Dinah, was raped he didn’t defend her!  It was two of her brothers that took up her cause … now that’s another issue we won’t deal with here!

So as I look at Jacob he doesn’t win the “Father of the Year” award.

As a side bar though, at least he did something right in teaching Joseph about God because Joseph stayed true to God in his captivity!

ELI

We don’t know a whole lot about Eli as a priest.  We do know that he had difficulty discerning between a broken hearted woman and a drunk!  We don’t know why his priestly influence didn’t extend to his two sons but we do know that they were not good men!  They served as priests but I Samuel 2:12 calls them “sons of Belial (the devil); they knew not the Lord”.  These sons refused to obey the Lord, they took the flesh from the sacrificial offering for themselves, they committed adultery with women who came to the door of the tabernacle and they refused to obey truth and quit sinning even when found out.

You might be saying, “but this was the sons … not Eli”.  True, in reading I Samuel 3 we do see that he did talk to them about their behavior but verse 13, “he restrained them not

It IS a dad’s responsibility (and mom too!) to bring discipline and correction and teaching of God’s laws to their children … we cannot force them to believe but Eli should not have let them continue in their role as priests.

I have to hand it to Hannah who trusted God with her dear son to give him to a lousy dad to raise!

KING DAVID

King David was called “a man after God’s own heart”.  He was a mighty warrior and blessed of God.  Again, however, in the parenting department he wasn’t so great!  Three of his children come to mind quickly … Tamar (II Samuel 13) who was raped by her brother and David did nothing.

It is also amazing the reaction of King David to his son Absalom.  Absalom was the one who took the responsibility of dealing with his brother Amnon (the one who raped Tamar) and killed him!  Absalom fled the country and II Samuel 13:37 says, “And David mourned for his son every day.”  No mourning over Tamar!

Going on in the story of Absalom we know that he betrayed his own father and tried to usurp the throne away from his dad.  In the ensuing war David told his men not to harm Absalom if they found him.  But his warning was dismissed and when Absalom was found with his hair caught in a tree, he was killed.

David’s reaction is found in chapter 18:33, “And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 

David had another son, Adonijah, who was Absalom’s brother and he also tried to usurp the throne.  I Kings 1:6 says this of David, “And his father had not rebuked him at any time …”  Doesn’t speak well of being a dad!

Finally in the “Bad Dad” department we must mention the worst father of all … satan!  John 8:44, “… he is a liar, and the father of it.”

God is ALL truth … satan is a liar!!

We are not going to end there … I want to mention a couple “GOOD DAD’S”

JAIRUS

Jairus was an important man in the Jewish community during the time of Jesus’ life on earth.  He was one of the rulers of the synagogue and most of them were not enthralled with Jesus!  But he threw his position to the wind when his only child, a daughter, lay dying.

Jairus went to seek out Jesus and “when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.” (Mark 5:22, 23)

He KNEW Jesus held the answer for his daughter … Jesus went with him and brought life back into the child.

ABRAHAM

This is a hard one because God was asking Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice to Him.  Abraham had waited years and years for the birth of this boy and he LOVED him!  There are many lessons here but that is for another time!  What I want to show is that Abraham proved he loved God more than he loved his own flesh and blood.

The Bible does not give us Abraham’s reaction to God’s command but we do know he obeyed and God gave Abraham back his child.

The best Father of all …

GOD

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God cannot look upon sin.  He will not allow disobedience to His Word to go unpunished.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, He drove them out of the garden.

But He did not leave them alone … in God’s great foreknowledge He already had a plan for deliverance, for salvation and a way for them to come back into fellowship with Him.  The cross was God’s plan!

From eternity God had a plan of redemption.  Jesus left heaven, came to earth born of a virgin, lived as God/man, sinless in perfection, was crucified, buried but ROSE AGAIN that we might have eternal life in Him.  Why?  Because of His great love for us … the Best Dad ever!`

I hope no one who reads this feels that you can’t measure up in the parenting department.  We ALL make mistakes and none of us are perfect! Maybe you feel “I’m a bad parent” …

A number of years ago we were ministering in Japan and at the close of the service Ronn was praying for some missionaries who were from Finland.  Ronn sensed a dark cloud over one of the ladies and spoke to her privately.  She told him that she didn’t feel worthy of serving as a missionary because one of her children was far from God, living with someone outside of marriage and had left the faith.  Ronn felt the Lord saying something to him which he passed on to her … “God was the only perfect parent and he had two children who went wrong!”

So don’t beat yourself up!  Keeping praying, keeping seeking God for His wisdom in the parenting department and He WILL help you.

Comfort Food

comfort-food-collections-950x217

I’ve heard it’s mac and cheese.  Maybe for you it’s chicken and dumplings.  Perhaps it’s just something from your childhood.  I was grocery shopping today and was ready to go to the check out line when I remembered I was out of my comfort food so I did NOT do the right thing … I returned and bought …

Siri says that comfort food provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone … or an individual.

I will admit that maybe mine is a little crazy … just give me some good ol’ tortilla chips!  I don’t even need salsa or guacamole … although that sure sounds good!  Just make those chips salty!

What do I grab for when I feel “the need”?  Tortilla chips!  I have been known to get up in the middle of the night and grab a handful (well maybe two or three handfuls!) while devouring my other comfort food … the Word of God.

It’s so happens that many nights I cannot sleep long or well or not at all so I often have my devotions in the middle of the night (and not always with chips!  Of course it helps when I don’t have them in the house!!)

The Bible is many things to us and it IS and DOES bring us comfort.  What do you go to when you have/are …

lonely
Hebrews 13:5, “I  will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

a prolonged illness
Psalms 103:3, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities: who healeth all 
thy diseases”

a wayward child
Acts 11:14, “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy 
house shall be saved.”

betrayed by a friend
Colossians 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another,
if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, 
so also do ye.”
Proverbs 18:24, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

loss of job or promotion
Proverbs 16:3, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts 
shall be established.”
Romans 12:11, “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving 
the Lord”

barrenness
Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in 
prayer.”

death of a loved one
Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with 
you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do 
not be discouraged.”
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”

spouse’s dementia
Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor 
angels, nor rulers, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor 
depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us 
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

a pending move
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not 
lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, 
and he will make straight (direct) your paths.”

financial difficulties
Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need according to 
his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

marital problems
Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all 
sins.”

singleness
Hosea 2:19, “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will 
betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in 
loving kindness, and in mercies.”

business decisions
Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the 
ungodly, nor stands in the path of  sinners, nor sits in the seat of 
the scornful; but  his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His 
law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by 
the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose 
leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

discouraged
John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may
have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage;
I have overcome the world.”
Psalm 27:14, Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take 
courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

What is it you need?  Turn to “the Word”!  Look in the Book!  

If food is important to our physical bodies (a well rounded diet … not just our favorite “comfort food”!) how much more is His Word, our spiritual food, needed by our spirits!  We can and do find comfort in His Word …but it is so much more!  Study it, meditate upon it, get it into your spirit!

Accursed Things

accursed things00

I have read the book of Joshua many times but reading it the other day a new thought stood out to me concerning the defeat of the Israelites at Ai.

The defeat of Jericho fueled the enthusiasm of the Israelites.  It was a victorious and enthusiastic win … now on to conquer Ai.  God had given specific instructions regarding Jericho and Joshua thought all was well.  However, what is hidden WILL be revealed.  “Be sure your sins will find you out”! (Numbers 32:23).

The instruction from the Lord, through Joshua, was clear (6:18-19), “By all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.  But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasure of the Lord.”

Unknown to Joshua, one of the Israelites, Achan, had taken a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels.

Achan didn’t just disobey but he stole from God!  6:19 makes it clear that all the gold, silver, bronze and iron were to go into the treasury of the Lord.  This was the Israelites first battle and the first fruits belonged to God … spoils would come from later battles.  The “accursed” thing was devoted to God and became “accursed” when stolen and taken for personal use.

Achan thought no one knew.  But God sees all.  God knows.  God reveals.  Discipline and punishment followed.  There are always consequences to sin.  In the Old Testament days Achan’s family also suffered the consequences of his sin.  Achan alone defied the ban, but this disobedience is seen as that of the whole nation because of the Old Testament principle of corporate solidarity.  No person sins alone … there are ripple effects.

After the victory at Jericho Joshua then sent men to spy out the city of Ai. It was a smaller city and the spies saw how easy it would be to conquer and even suggested a small amount of men to go fight.  Joshua trusted his men, sent only 3000 men and the Israelites were soundly defeated.  They were chased back and 36 Israelites were killed!

What happened?  What caused this resounding defeat after such a great victory?  Joshua fell before the Lord, tore his clothes then he and the elders put dust on their heads as an outward expression of deep sorrow and grief.  Joshua even began to question if they should have even stayed on the other side of the Jordan!  Joshua was concerned that when the other Canaanites and inhabitants of the land would hear about the Israelites turning and running … “what will You do for Your great name?”  God’s reputation was at stake!

There was defeat in the land of victory!  Defeat robbed God of His glory!  The corporate body was held back because of one man’s hidden sin! Being defeated by their enemies was one of the consequences of disobedience.

Joshua was on his face before God but God told him to “Get up!  Why do you lie thus on your face?  Israel has sinned, (notice it’s corporate) and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them.  For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.”

Sin held back the victory.  Prayer alone, being on your face before God won’t “fix” it.   There was sin in the camp and the sin had to be rooted out.  Only then could victory be assured.  The people were promised success and prosperity, but only if they acted in obedience (1:8,9).

Joshua “gets up” and follows the instructions God gave to find and deal with the offender.  The people, to be consecrated to God, had to separate themselves from the offender.  Achan was discovered to be the guilty one, he confessed but the punishment was severe … death for himself and his family!

God doesn’t play games!

Here is what God showed me …

What are the accursed things that we as individuals have brought into our lives from the world around us that God has said “NO!” about?  Things that are keeping us from victory?  Things that are hindering our families, our churches, and yes our nation … from the victory that God wants us to enjoy?

There are things that God has said are NOT permissible … being unequally yoked with an unbeliever, fornication, adultery, drinking to excess, lying, looking at pornography, homosexuality (OK, you get the idea!).  Are we going places that are questionable?  Have we become so enamored with the secular world that we want their things?  Do we emulate their “stars”, their entertainment, their dress?  I know I am sounding legalistic but where do we draw the line?

We take the world’s things, perhaps in secret, and think we can remain “holy” and yet when we take the things of the world and try to hide them that alone should tell us we know we are wrong.

Do we desire the things of the world more than the holiness of God?  Do we want what the world has instead of being obedient to His Word?  Who do we love more?  Self? Things of the world?  God?  Who do we want to please?  Self? The world? God?

There is a little chorus that I learned as a small child, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see (ears what you hear, feet where you go …) for the Father up above is looking down in tender love, O be careful little eyes what you see”.

There are steps that lead to sin … Achan saw, he coveted, he took, he hid.  Eve saw, she coveted, she took, she hid.  King David saw, he coveted, he took, he tried to hide his sin.

But God saw it all.

Achan, Eve, King David … you, me … all of us will suffer the consequences of sin.  Yes, God forgives and then He FORGETS!  But consequences follow.  But here is the encouragement from the Lord … now “don’t be afraid, don’t be dismayed … arise, go, take possession”!  And take the spoils!!

One man’s sin brought about this defeat and the loss of 36 mighty men.  One sin is what caused Adam and the whole race to be under a curse.  One sin brings the same result as committing all sins. One lie brought about the instant death of Ananias and Sapphira.

After the cleansing then the Lord spoke to Joshua again and told him to go and attack Ai and they would be victorious and this time they could keep the plunder and the livestock … Obedience brings victory AND reward.

Look at some of the promises …

Deut 28:1-2 “If you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments … the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth …”

Leviticus 18:5, “So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord.”

Isaiah 1:19, “If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.”

I Samuel 15:22, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice …”

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Determine to root out the secret sin … the besetting sin.  Confess, repent and let God begin to bless your life and bring about the victory you so desire!

Fake News

fake news

Personally I am so tired of the “news”!  I listen and then get up and leave or turn it off.  No news.  Some news.  All news.  Real news.  Half truth news.  Fake news.

What is “fake”?  Pretend, deceptive, fraudulent, untrue.

“Fake News” is a relatively new term in today’s lexicon.

Departing from the “news” I began thinking about other “fake news” stories …  (fake news in bold … real truth news in italics) …

“There is no life after death”

Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement.”  

II Corinthians 5:8, “To be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”  

John 11:25, “Jesus said … I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live …”  

John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (ESV)

“There is no devil”

Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say…” (NIV).

Isaiah 14:12, “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!” (NKJV)

“There is no hell”

Matthew 25:46, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Revelation 21:8, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (ESV)

“The 10 Commandments are not valid for today”

Matthew 5:17-19, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV)

“The Old Testament is not for today”

1) “The Old Testament substantially influences our understanding of key Biblical teachings…Some doctrines of Scripture are best understood only from the OT…the NT worldview and teachings are built on the framework supplied in the OT.  In the NT we find literally hundreds of OT quotations, allusions, and echoes, none of which we’ll fully grasp apart from saturating ourselves in Jesus’s Bible.”

2) “Jesus said that all the OT points to him (John 5:39) … if you want to know Jesus more, read the OT!”

3)  “Paul commands church leaders to preach the OT … Paul was referring to the OT when he spoke of the ‘sacred writings’ that are able to make a person ‘wise for salvation’ and the ‘Scripture’ that is ‘breathed out by God and profitable’ (II Timothy 4:2-4).”

(all above quoted from The Gospel Coalition, 10 Reasons the Old Testament is Important for Christians)

“I’m too bad and even God can’t forgive me”

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”  There is NO sin, but one, that God won’t forgive … a repentant sinner He will NOT turn away.  The one sin?  Matthew 12:31-32, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.  And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” (KJV)

“It’s too late to give my life to Christ”

The thief on the cross, moments from death said to Jesus in Luke 23:42-43, “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’.  And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise.’” (ESV)

“God doesn’t love me”

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  (KJV) That LOVE includes EVERYONE!

“Everybody is going to heaven”

I Timothy 1:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”.
Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction …”

“There are many roads to God/Heaven”

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  

Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (ESV)

“I am good enough”

Romans 3:10, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (KJV)

“How can I know the Bible is true”

Fulfilled prophecy!  The Old Testament was written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus and contains over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His life, death and resurrection.  Here are just a few …

1)  The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem … Micah 5:2, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah.  Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.” … Matthew 2:1-6, “Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea …”

2)  The Messiah will be born of a virgin … Isaiah 7:14, “…Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel — ‘God is with us.’”  Matthew 1:20, “…for the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.”

3)  The Messiah will enter Jerusalem triumphantly … Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem  Look, your king is coming to you.  He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey — even on a donkey’s colt.” … Luke 19:35, “So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for Him to ride on.”

4)  The Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver … Zechariah 11:12-13, “And I said unto them, ‘If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear.  So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. … And I took the thirty pieces of silver …” … Matthew 26:14-16, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, ‘How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?’ And they gave him thirty pieces of silver…”

(For a more complete list of fulfilled prophecies, go to “Biblical Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus at CBN.com).

“The Bible is an irrelevant book for today”

The Bible is a book about Jesus and how He can change lives.  It’s a LIVING book.  Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (NKJV).

Malachi 3:6, “For I am the LORD, I change not…” (KJV)

“I don’t need to read the Bible”

II Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV).  If you are a doctor, teacher, attorney or in many other professions you keep reading and studying to keep up on the latest information.  We eat physical food to stay alive … we need spiritual food to stay alive spiritually!

“I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian”

Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (KJV)

“Jesus is a crutch”

Is there a better One to lean on?

“You can’t be sure where you are going after death”

Romans 10:9, “If you confess with you mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  John 10:9, “I am the door.  If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”(ESV)

“There is nothing I have to do” … “There are no rules to follow”

Matthew 22:37-38, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”

Micah 6:8, “What doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

There are MANY verses in the Bible as to the “do’s and don’ts” of the Christian life … We obey because we LOVE Him.

Don’t be mislead by the “fake news” that we hear today from many pulpits … “Jesus Christ the one yesterday, and today, and forever”!!

Willing To Burn?

burn01

I cannot believe I’m living in this day!  The evil that is being normalized, the sexes trading places, wrong being legally made “right”.

I was reading earlier today the story of the three Hebrew young men in Daniel 3.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego … wonder what they would think if they lived today!  They were facing death by burning if they didn’t bow.  We are not even there yet and we are already bowing!

These three did not give in to peer pressure, political pressure or economical pressure and were not afraid of physical pain or death.

Why are we so afraid?  I’ve had to ask myself that question.  Am I speaking out?  Or am I afraid of what my family/friends might say of me?  Would it ruin my reputation?

We are being told that if we don’t acquiesce we will lose funding for schools, we will lose  our church tax exemption, we will lose our pastor’s housing allowance, we will lose  ….

Our children are being brainwashed to think they can “choose” who they will be … male or female!  I can see it now when a pregnant woman goes in for her first sonogram, “Oh, congratulations!  It’s a … whatever you want it to be!”  NO!  We wait to hear “it’s a boy” or “it’s a girl”.  Our chromosomes tell us what we are!

Are we willing to go into the furnace?  Are we willing to die to protect what is RIGHT?

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were willing.  They had a faith in God that was bedrock.  They would NOT bow!  They would not bend their knee to do what was politically expedient.  They were not going to publicly bow and say in their hearts, “God you know I’m only doing this to save my job, my position … but You know my heart!”  NO!  They were willing to burn!

They did not know that God was going to deliver them.  They did not know that He would show up AFTER they were in the furnace!  They did not know that they would be unharmed.  Their faith in God was “whatever happens, I’m His!”

When facing King Nebuchadnezzar their answer was, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

When man’s law contradicts God’s law … we HAVE to take a stand.  We MUST speak up!

Are we teaching our children God’s ways?  Are we speaking up in public school meetings?  Are we teaching by words and actions that we are to live by God’s Word? Or are we saying things that contradict what we believe? Are we watching shows on TV and movies that numb our conscience to sin?

We MUST stand for truth!  God’s truth!

There’s a little chorus with these words … “I will not bow, I will not bend, I will not burn”.

The 13th Floor

13 02

Ronn and I are in a hotel right at this moment … on the 14th floor.  Really?  Not at all … the elevator button tells me that the floors go from 12 to 14.  So in reality we are on the  13th floor.

Just because you ignore something or rename it doesn’t change the reality.

Many hotels, high rise buildings and some airplanes just skip number 13.  In my book that is simply silly.  Did you know that there is actually a name for the fear of the number 13?  The phobia is called Triskaidekaphobia.  However some folks think this number is a lucky number.

It’s a number!

Made me think … are there things in my life that I think will go away if I ignore them or rename them?  Oh, my gossip has been renamed “a prayer request”.  My anger is now called “righteous indignation”.  Explosive behavior is called a “short fuse”.  Speeding (now I’ve gone to meddlin’!) is “keeping up with traffic”.  That shortcut on my tax return is it really a “loophole”? A white lie is still a lie!

Just because culture renames sinful pleasures does that change God’s Word?

So what is my prayer today?  “Lord, help me to live honestly before you and before the world!”… even when I’m on the 14th floor!