Saturday, December 13, 2014
People value and celebrate a new year for various reasons. One of them is, it is an opportunity for a fresh start. Most people understand the need we have to flush out the old junk and start over again with a clean page or clean plate.
Other time periods have offered, and can still offer, similar opportunities for new beginnings.
In the Old Testament, the New Moon was a time that was celebrated for a purpose like this.
And we know the Sabbath Day provides, as a byproduct of worshiping the Lord, a refreshment to the worshiper.
However, Ecclesiastes 3:23 tells us that the mercies of the Lord God are new every morning. Here we see that the Lord Himself restores us as we focus on Him and His presence - right here, right now.
And focusing on the Lord Jesus is a delight when He reveals His love and beauty to us. He draws us to Himself as we see that love and beauty giving us an opportunity for a clean heart and new hope.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Last week I was asked if I believe in "the Man Upstairs". It was a sincere question I think, so it deserves a sincere answer.
OK, no one can know if there is a God or what He is like, unless the Lord God reveals Himself to us.
Uh oh. It sounds like He's unknowable.
Well, the scripture does give us hope when it says in Jeremiah 29:
'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' declares the LORD.
And then the Lord gives us even more hope by making this statement in Isaiah 65:
I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me.
Which makes it sound like He's very active in the process of establishing a relationship between Himself and us. And He is. The Lord God is drawing all to Himself, through Jesus.
So how does the Lord God reveal Himself?
Through the written Word of God, which becomes alive in us. It becomes the living Word.
Through the honest testimony of other people that have experienced His presence, and this also produces life in us.
Then we see Him as He is - beautiful beyond description. This makes us hunger for more.
Oh taste and see that the LORD is good! (Exceedingly good!) Psalm 34:8
And He wants you!
Friday, October 17, 2014
Why get baptized? -or - One way to demonstrate your faith.
Romans 10:9,10 says we should confess and believe. (only)
Acts 16:31 says we should believe. (only)
The thief on the cross did not get baptized, as found in Luke 23:39-43.
Then what need is there to get baptized?
Acts 2:38 says we should repent and be baptized.
Yes or no?
One way to connect or reconcile these two thoughts is found in James 2:14-26 "Show me your faith by your works."
The idea I'm pulling out of James 2 is this:
Faith needs to be demonstrated and baptism demonstrates faith.
God's presence is heaven itself.
Heaven on earth (the promise, the down payment, the guarantee of our inheritance as stated in Ephesians 1:14) is God's presence, or more precisely, the presence of the Holy Spirit.
And know this, Psalm 16:11 says, "In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
What is the gospel, or "The Gospel"? It is the very, very good news that the Lord God has made a way to restore each of us individually to Himself, as His child, through the payment made by Jesus on the cross. He has made a covenant with us, which is now called the New Covenant, and He has fulfilled His part of this new covenant/agreement by paying our penalty for us.
And in the process, he is changing us, which is not just icing on the cake. This is new life. This is freedom.
Why did He do this? Because He loves us, each of us.
Now as a forshadowing of that good news, the Lord God set up a system with His chosen people that demonstrated the process of sacrifice or payment for sin. That was also a covenant, and is now called the Old Covenant.
OK, even from the beginning, the Lord God wanted to restore us to Himself, and bless, not curse, His sons and daughters. We see this in Deuteronomy 28 where the Lord God shares the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience. Both the blessings and the curses are quite comprehensive.
Psalm 103:3-5 summarizes the the Lord's blessings or benefits this way
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (NKJV)
Some folks have found that forgiveness of all our iniquities is so wonderful (and it is) that they ignore the other blessings. Alas.
Some other folks have then overcompensated by calling verses 3 through 5 "the Full Gospel". Well, that's OK, but the Gospel itself really does include the whole package.
The New Covenant really is better than the Old Covenant, since the Old Covenant was impossible to keep. But what was promised in the Old Covenant is even better than the expectation of many believers today. I believe the primary reason believers limit the Gospel to forgiveness of sin (and the hope of heaven) is circumstances in their lives.
Circumstances argue against the promises of God. However, if we walk by faith and not by sight, then we choose to believe the Word of the Lord rather than anything else, and eventually circumstances give way to the power of the Lord to save.
The enemy keeps saying to us, "Did God really say ...?", as he said in the Garden of Eden. Rebuke him.
Hey, if you can't believe these declarations:
"He heals all your diseases,
He redeems your life from destruction,
He crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
He satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s",
then how can you be sure He is sharing the truth about:
"He forgives all your iniquities" ?
Hey, stop believing only a part of the Gospel. Jesus loves you.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
I was blessed to babysit my 22 month old granddaughter today.
She was much more active than I was, but we laughed together and enjoyed each other's company all day. Of course this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't spent many, many hours with her in the past, during which she got to know me, and dare I say, love me to the extent that one her age can love. "Papa!", she calls out when I come in the door. It's really nice.
Well, this afternoon she had trouble falling asleep at nap time, so I came into her bedroom and turned the sleepytime music on and leaned on the side of her crib for a while. She decided she wanted out of her crib, so eventually I got her up and held her.
After holding her a while, both of us hugging each other, I had a feeling. Yes, it was a feeling, and I knew this feeling of love I had for her is the feeling of love my Heavenly Father has for me, only His is so much more, of course.
This feeling or knowing is indescribable. It's impossible to explain. Parents and grandparents know what it is, and I understand that aunts and uncles and anyone who truly loves a small child (or even a pet) can also feel this love.
Many of you know the feeling. This illustrates how Jesus loves you - so tenderly and passionately.
Another blog post I recently wrote on August 30, 2014 entitled, "Touch Works Both Ways" deals with this topic, focusing on John leaning on Jesus' breast. I'm sure they not only knew they were loved but they both felt it.
Monday, September 29, 2014
I guess there's a lot I could say about this, but I'll just briefly share that Helen and I were in a four car pile up on I81 in Harrisburg, PA - seven miles from our destination. I was driving.
Since it is an eleven year old car, we did not have collision insurance, and wondered what to do.
But some friends were two hours behind us, going to the same conference, and they offered to tow our car home that night, behind their pickup truck with a trailer I rented. God's grace - really, really. And our friends' grace, too.
Well, I have had some internal dealings, as you can imagine. There has been a pull in me toward feeling blue and guilty and stupid, but I am fighting it with praise, using the praise language the Spirit has given me. And in spite of the accident, in which I am charged with following too closely, I know I am beloved of the Lord Jesus, and beloved by my Father in heaven. I know how I would treat my own kids if they messed up like this. And I trust they do, too. So I will bless the Lord at all times, as it says in Psalm 34. And I will rejoice in the Lord always, as it says in Philippians 4. And that means now, of course. Hallelujah.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
In the book of The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 12, when the disciples "got serious" about praying for a Christian in danger, he who was in danger, (in this case it was Peter) was delivered.
(OK now, I am limiting my discussion to the Bible accounts. I am aware that there have been Christian martyrs throughout the last 2000 years. That's not the point. What the Lord has deemed worthy to include in His book is the point. It's His story, His lesson.)
OK, really? Did they only "get serious" about praying for Peter? Were they not serious about praying for Stephen or James?
Well, maybe they were, but there was no prayer meeting recorded in scripture for these two men.
In the book of Esther, when the queen (and let me emphasize that she was the king's BRIDE) pleaded for her people, the king listened, granted her request, and saved her people.
Can we not also plead for our people who are in danger? Do we not have a special relationship, as the bride of Christ, to the King (the King of Kings)? Is He not compassionate, gracious, and merciful?
Yes, we can plead for our people. We do have a special relationship with the King. And He is compassionate, gracious, and merciful.
OK, so what do we have to do to "get serious"? Let's start with repentance. If I am too busy, or too apathetic, to pay attention to the desperate situation people are in, I need to repent.
If I don't believe my intercession with Father God will "avail much", I need to repent of my unbelief. For it says in James 5:16, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man/person avails much".
Get serious. Pray.
My youngest granddaughter sat right next to me for a half hour yesterday. I was blessed.
In the evening I realized that Touch, as a love language, works both ways (assuming a good functional relationship).
And that made me realize that both John and Jesus felt loved and blessed when John leaned against Jesus' breast during the Last Supper. Yes, Jesus felt it, too.
OK, since Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever, He will feel your love too, as you press in and get close to Him, or try to get close to Him.
Hey, try. He knows your heart. You will bless Him just by trying to press in to Him.
Recently I was talking with my neighbor, and he told me about his cancer treatment and recovery from the treatment.
Chris said it took him only three weeks for him to recover what commonly takes others four to six months.
People remarked about this difference and he told them that "he has God". He asked Father God for healing and substantially received it in the aforementioned three weeks.
Then he said something which I found very profound, "Ask. Just ask. It's that easy!"
Thank you, Chris. Ask. Just ask. It's that easy.
OK, is this documented?
Well, I believe you're asking about his rapid recovery. I can say I saw him a few months ago, after he started his radiation treatments, and I saw the mark they have made on his neck.
But I will give you some other documentation.
7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
13 whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
23 And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Aren't you taking these promises out of context?
OK, read them in context. It won't change the essence.
Are there any conditions on these promises?
Well, there is this matter of believing the Lord God's promises.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
And there is this thing about forgiveness.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
OK, this last condition concerning unforgiveness needs to be expanded a bit. Unforgiveness turns a person's attention inward, towards himself/herself. One would never say it, but one is then acting as if he/she is the most important person of all. What the world system claims, "I'm number one!" then becomes true in his/her life. Very unhealthy.
All scripture quoted is from the New King James Version.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Recently I came across an apparently famous quote made by Bertrand Russell. When asked what he would say when facing God on judgment day, Bertrand Russell famously replied that he would say "Not enough evidence, God! Not enough evidence!"
I'm sure others are thinking the same thing, too.
Well, it was early in the morning and I had some time to think. I thought about the wind, as described in John 3:8. I thought later about Psalm 19, that the heavens declare the glory of God. And Romans chapter 1:20 says His invisible attribute are clearly seen, too. But I know to Betrand Russell and others like him with hardened hearts, these mean nothing.
Then I thought about Jesus Christ. He is the exact representation of Father God as it says in Colossians 1:15 and Hebrews 1:3. The question then should be, "What do you think of Jesus Christ?"
So we will start with that for now.
Now here's a thought. With the Holy Spirit inside me, I should also be (OK, be becoming) the exact image of Father God, and, of course, so should every other believer.
So again, we'll start with the question, "What do you think of Jesus Christ."
But then as we are more and more conformed to the image of Jesus, we will demonstrate godliness in our lives, which will be the greatest evidence of all. Then the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea, as it says in Habakkuk 2:14.
In fact, the whole earth is full of His glory already, as it says in Isaiah 6:3.
Evidence? The evidence is inside us. He's the Holy Spirit bubbling up as a river of life out of you and me, believer.
One more thing, just remember, there is no such thing as hopelessness, when the Lord God is involved.
Do you know that joke - where a wife says to her husband, "Honey, do you love me?" And the husband answers, "I told you I love you when we got married, and if I change my mind I'll let you know."
Well, initially it's funny, but in the long run it's really very sad. Could that really happen? I'm sure it has, alas.
Don't do that to the Lord God, to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Don't say in essence, "Well, I let Him in when I got saved, so I can check that off as complete/done (I got my ticket to heaven so I know where I'm going.)", and then go about living your life as best you can.
He's still knocking at the door of your heart, as we see in these two verses. He wants to know if you still love Him.
(1) Revelation 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (NKJV)
Isn't that written to unbelievers?
Yes and no. It's written to everyone, but here Jesus is speaking to seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.
(2) Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) 5:2
I sleep, but my heart is awake;
It is the voice of my beloved!
He knocks, saying,
“Open for me, my sister, my love,
My dove, my perfect one;
For my head is covered with dew,
My locks with the drops of the night." (NKJV),
See how the beloved (Jesus) views YOU - my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one. His heart is longing for you.
In His presence is fullness of joy. Reach out to Him. Let Him in.
Instructions from Father God are full of godly wisdom - obviously.
So how might we describe "godly wisdom"? Let's start with James 3:17:
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
OK, so if what we hear is not pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy, then it does not contain godly wisdom, and it is worthless.
OH, but this wisdom we are rejecting might be pretty good (or fairly good, or kinda good).
Yes, I understand, nevertheless, not godly. This is analogous to the story of the brownie mix made up with just an ever so slight amount of doggy poop mixed in. You wouldn't even notice the poop mixed in since it is such a tiny amount. But knowing it is there will keep most everyone away from it.
OK, the above is written primarily to the listener. How about the speaker?
Speaker, guard your heart, for out of the heart the mouth speaks.
Read Matthew 15:1-19, which ends as follows:
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man(person) ... (NKJV)
23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you. (NKJV)
How? Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The good part of Good Friday is in Matthew 27:51: "the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom". This is a clear picture of what was happening in the heavenly realm. It illustrates that everyone now has full access to the Holy of Holies. We can come into God's presence at any time, all the time, in fact, right now! As the song says, "Just as I am, without one plea... I come."
On the cross, a great 'swap' took place; Jesus took our sin and we received His righteousness and His access into the presence of Father God. This was the best 'trade' anyone could ever make, and it was Father's idea!
Enjoy God's presence right now! (How? Start by praising Him.) Psalm 16:11 says, "In Your presence is fullness of joy..." He wants you to come to Him.
There is also a Good Friday blog entry below from 23 April 2011.