Saturday, March 18, 2017

THE GODS WHO CANNOT CARRY US







Isa 45:20  "Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save.
Isa 45:21  Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.
Isa 45:22  "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

"As the LORD declares His own greatness, faithfulness, and saving power, it naturally contrasts with the foolish idols of the nation - which must be carried, instead of being able to carry the one who worships them!" - David Guzik
There is one God Who is true, Who can save, Who can carry, and Who will complete His whole purpose in the earth.  There is one way only, in this life, to know Him, to be accepted by Him, and to dwell with Him for eternity.  You cannot use His name, yet create for yourself another god.  You cannot claim to follow Him, yet build your own religion in His name. You cannot tag on His name to things that oppose Him or are contrary to His nature and make them "Christian," such as "Christian psychology" or "Christian yoga."  You cannot make your path to Him just as you please it to be. 
Many who call themselves Christians have made for themselves "gods that they can carry," which are idols in their mind and hearts of the things in this world they truly "worship" or bow down to. Webster's 1828 dictionary says of Worship - 3. To honor with extravagant love and extreme submission; as a lover. That is anything that is contrary to the God of the Bible that they depend on, trust in, embrace, and adore or submit to, other than Him, taking the place of Him.  They tell themselves they are truly worshipping God, because they find a way to add this to their "Christianity."  But can their gods carry them?  When the day of evil comes, the day of testing, the day they are faced with making a black and white decision of losing their standing with the world, their pleasures, their security, and all they hold to in this world; or in deciding for the God of the Bible, bearing His shame in this world, trusting in Him alone, will their gods carry them?  They will be forced to choose one or the other.

There are many brands of Christianity, but there is only one way to know God.  There are many ways being told to the church today as acceptable.  In fact, some embrace all religions, even those that are not claiming at all to be Christian.  "All paths lead to God" they say.  But Jesus said this to us: "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
(Matthew 7:13-14)

Does this mean He has made it hard for us to be Christians?  Are we to struggle and strive to be good enough to find that life?  He has actually made it so easy that it is hard for us to believe!  That narrow way is Jesus Himself, and no one comes to the Father but by Him.  The broad path takes in man's way... his works, or his sacrifice, or his rituals, or whatever he can concoct to make himself somehow attain a level of righteousness or acceptance.  Human pride causes us to think we can save ourselves.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6)

The Jews thought their law was the narrow way... the only way for them to be acceptable.  Yet they could not follow the law.  Christians can also mistakenly think obedience to the law is the narrow way.  They even make up their own laws in their minds at times.  But the narrow way is Jesus.  He is our salvation. He is our righteousness.  He is our truth.  He is our sanctification.  Simply putting our faith, trust, reliance, and hope in Him, Who He is, what He has done, and knowing He will carry us... He will carry out His Word and carry through with His promise of eternal life for all who believe in Him, is the narrow way that God has made.  It is that life that empowers us to walk in righteousness, and be conformed His image.  It is that life in us that keeps us. It is that life in us that carries us through the fiery trials of this life and upholds us.  It is that life that carries us through everything we can think of that would separate us from Him.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present 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.
(Romans 8:35-39)

He is able to carry us.  A false god cannot carry us.  This is why many who think to become Christians but come to a false jesus with a false motivation become disappointed when their jesus fails them and life turns hard, or has great sorrow or loss.  "If God is love how could He do this to me?"  Their god won't carry them through the trials and sorrows of this life, neither will their god carry them into eternity with Him.  It is really a god of self that they desire - a god that will give them all they want in this life. 
How important it is to find the God of the Narrow way - the only way that there is to truly know Him, find His love and His eternal life, and live with Him forever!  He reveals Himself in His Word. Many give forth a word that sounds good - even using some Scripture - yet it is the word of men and not the Word of God.  We must turn to His Word to know Him. If you want to know a person, you go to that person and listen to their word.  You don't go to someone else who talks about them. You have to meet that person himself. You let them speak their heart to you and little by little you learn to know them.  You share yourself with them and you form a relationship.  There is only one way to form a relationship with the God of the Bible.  You must read what He says to you as He has revealed Himself and His plan and His way to you there.  As you do, and His Word is unfolded to you, you learn to have confidence in this true God Who has proved Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ, Who died for you so that you can come freely to Him, and be cleansed of all sin that would separate you from Him, and you receive eternal life now and forever. 
The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
(Revelation 22:17)




Thursday, March 9, 2017

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD


  I'd like to share today a Grace Gem that I think will be a blessing to you. I've always loved Psalm 23, and the thought that the Lord is my Shepherd.  It immediately brings a sense of peace to my soul, knowing that all my needs are cared for by my perfect Good Shepherd.  He cannot ever fail.


Charles Naylor, 1920
 
The Psalmist says of the Lord, his Shepherd, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures," or, as the Hebrew has it, "in pastures of tender grass." What a world of significance there is in this little sentence, "The Lord is my shepherd!"

"He makes me to lie down." He does not compel me. That is not the Lord's method — he finds a better way. If he compelled me to lie down, there would be no pleasure in it. When a sheep is compelled to lie down — it is in fear; it cannot but dread what is to happen to it. So the Lord does not compel me. He leads me in the pastures of tender grass, and I eat until I am satisfied, and being satisfied with the sweet and luscious pasturage — I lie down, content.

While the sheep is hungry, it will not lie down in the pasture; it desires to eat. But when it has eaten its fill, it lies down and rests and is satisfied. In the same way, God feeds my soul day by day; the good things of his kingdom he gives unto me. He satisfies my soul with fatness. My soul desires nothing more than what he gives. If I hunger, he has a supply — and he gives me, and that with a generous hand. He knows all my needs. He supplies every one, that I may be "fat and flourishing, to show that the Lord is upright."

There are many enemies about, but "he makes me to lie down." I am in quietness. My heart is not afraid. The Shepherd stands between me and those ravening wolves. The lion and the bear cannot harm me — for the Shepherd stands as my protector. His eye shall watch, while I lie down. His ear shall hearken and shall hear the sound of their footsteps if they come near. I trust the Shepherd; therefore my heart is not afraid, and I shall lie down safely.

It is trust which enables me to lie down. If I were afraid, I could not thus rest. I would be watching and fearing and trembling. Every noise would alarm me. I would forget about the green pastures. I would forget the tender grass. But he is watching. He has his weapon in his hand. He does not fear my enemies — and while he is watching I do not fear them, for he is strong and mighty. He is greater than my foes. They know it and are afraid. They tremble at his voice. They flee away, but I lie safely. He has said, "I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel — in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel."

"He leads me beside the still waters." When I grow thirsty, the river lies at the foot of the mountain — and down the slope he will lead me; and there in the shade, in the quiet, restful coolness, I shall drink of the waters of quietness and shall be satisfied, and my soul shall delight in him.

The path down which he leads me may be steep — and there may be thorns along the way. But so long as he leads me where he will, he will lead me safely. I must not choose my own way. I must not run ahead of him. I must not leave the path. I must follow close to him. I must listen to his voice — and then he will lead me to the still waters, and there I shall rest in his love.

Then as the evening falls, he will lead me to his fold — and inside its walls of security, I shall rest during the hours of the night. I shall not fear the darkness, for the Shepherd is watching. I shall not fear the wild beasts round about, for they cannot harm me. He will watch over me and bear me up when I am weak. I can rest secure. My shepherd is the Good Shepherd. He loves his sheep. They are a pleasure to him.

Though he sometimes may need to lead by a rugged way — yet I am safe, for he cares for me. He will lead me in the way that I should go. He will enrich my soul with his goodness. Yes, "goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life — and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!" 

You can find more Grace Gems at http://www.gracegems.org/


Saturday, February 25, 2017

JESUS OUR BREAD OF LIFE

John 6:5-12
(5)  Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?"
(6)  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.
(7)  Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little."
(8)  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him,
(9)  "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?"
(10)  Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.
(11)  Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.
(12)  And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost."

(John 6:35)  Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Just as He fed the 5000, and had some left over, the lesson for us is this...He is the bread of life, and when we eat that bread, it is in us a constant source of nourishment that continually feeds us, just as His Spirit is a spring within us that never runs dry that causes us to never thirst again.  Those who eat His flesh, and drink His blood, never hunger or thirst for spiritual life, as He is in them the constant source of it forever.

We look at the crowds as a problem, Jesus looked at the crowds with compassion and grace, seeing their great need.  He already knows what He will do, yet He wants us to be a part of it and reveal Himself through His servants. Lord, awaken us to the dire needs around us with the same compassion as You! As we give you the little bread that we have, make it multiply to feed whoever has need.

He is sufficient for all our needs. We all have a hunger that only He can satisfy. There is "bread" enough for all and even more with some left over.  This was humanly impossible, but not with God. He only looks for faith - for trust in Who He is, His love, His care, His power, His provision for His own. He is our very sustenance. 

Ironside:
Am I addressing someone who finds himself in peculiarly difficult and trying circumstances, and who is wondering if God has forgotten or if He has lost all interest in you? Let me tell you this: if you have trusted Him as your own Savior, His heart is always toward you, and He knows what He is going to do. He is not going to let you down. He is not going to leave you in the lurch. It may seem as though there is no possible way of meeting your present need, but He knows what He will do. We look at the things that we can see. We can become so discouraged and disturbed as we take circumstances into account, but our blessed Lord Jesus Christ is never affected by circumstances.
...Do you feel like wringing your hands and crying out in despair, “Everything is going wrong. All these things are against me.” Oh, no, they are not. God is for you. If God is for you, who can be against you? Our blessed Lord is for you. “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet apart from sin” (Heb_4:15), because “he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Isa_2:18). And He knows what He is going to do. He is planning for you, my brother, at this very moment. He is planning for you, my sister. Believe it. Trust Him, and be assured that He is going to undertake in His own good time for you.
Think on that today.  Let your heart be open to feast on that true bread, until your hunger is satisfied in Him.  Let your soul be filled to overflow so that there is much left over to share with others as well.

Friday, February 17, 2017

ESTABLISH YOUR HEARTS



James 5:7-8
(7)  Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
(8)  You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Ironside:
"So James puts before the suffering children of God the blessed hope of the Lord’s return. Not until He takes over the reins of government will conditions ever be put right in this poor world. So he writes exhorting to patient, endurance unto the coming of the Lord. He uses a little parable to show that Christ Himself is the Man of Patience now while He sits upon the Father’s throne. For just as the farmer, having sown the seed, waits in patience for the harvest, knowing there must first be the early and then latter rain ere a good crop can be assured, so our blessed Lord, having commissioned His servants to sow the good seed waits expectantly at God’s right hand until “the precious fruit of the earth” is ready to be garnered. We, too, are exhorted to be patient, with hearts established in grace, looking up in faith as we realize that the very conditions depicted only emphasize the fact that 'the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.'"

Establish, Webster's 1828 definition:
1. To set and fix firmly or unalterably; to settle permanently.

I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant. Gen 17.

6. To settle or fix what is wavering, doubtful or weak; to confirm.

So were the churches established in the faith. Acts 16.

To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in

holiness. l Thess.3.

(Psalms 27:14)  Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

How do we "establish" our hearts?  As we wait on the Lord it is He Who strengthens, confirms, fixes our hearts and makes them "established" in Him.  Through His promises He gives our hearts the confirmation we need to walk in faith no matter what is around us, or what in the world is happening.  Is your heart established in the Lord?

There are times when our hearts feel faint.  There are times when our hearts are doubtful of His love to us, His promises to us, or His presence in our lives.  These times come only to drive us to His Word and prayer that our hearts might become established in faith in Him, so that when the dry times, the troubled times, the weary times, or the grievous times come to us, our hearts are already established, fixed, firm, not wavering in our hope and trust in Him.  If we faint when adversity comes and become angry or disillusioned with God, it's because our hearts were not established in His truth, and we did not somehow know Him rightly or perceive or understand His ways.  He wants to teach us. He allows the adversity, many times, to do so, so that we'll run to Him and ask.

There are times of trouble where we need to run to Him, to sit at His feet and learn from Him, to wrestle with Him over our own troubled understanding or thoughts or our will that is stubbornly held onto.  When we come to a place of faith in His perfect ways and will for us, and a surrender of trust to Him, we find peace, and our hearts become strengthened and established in Him.

(1 Thessalonians 3:2)  and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,

David Guzik: "To establish and encourage you concerning your faith: Paul wanted Timothy to do two things - to establish and encourage the Thessalonians. Both are necessary, but establishing comes first. Encouragement can really only come after we are established in the right direction; otherwise, we are only encouraged in the wrong course."

This was an interesting commentary.  We can only be encouraged in the Lord rightly, if we are established in the right direction.  Many run for encouragement from friends or counselors but they are looking to be built up in their own will or fleshly desires, rather than to be made right in the Lord according to His Word.  So they never become established in the right direction but instead continue feeding their own flesh, encouraging themselves away from God.  To be established in God, is to be brought in harmony with His Word, all things surrendered to Him, waiting on Him and trusting in Him.  Too often we try to find someone who will agree with what we want and will encourage us in the wrong path, even finding Scripture to support it, taken out of context.  We look for someone who will "tickle our ears" and give us what we want to hear. No wonder so many churches that don't preach the Word but preach a self-centered flesh pleasing "gospel" that is not a gospel at all, are so filled to the max.  How many flock to hear what pleases the flesh rather than to come before His light to have the flesh crucified and to be established in His righteousness?

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
(12)  and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,
(13)  so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

God's desire for us is to conform us to His image, that we may be holy before Him, being made for a permanent dwelling with Him for all eternity in His presence where we will have constant fellowship with Him.  There can be no fellowship with God without this.  We will never make ourselves righteous or be able to be that perfected person, but we have His righteousness dwelling in us through His finished work on our behalf, when we were born again, of His Spirit.  Now He is continually at work in us drawing us to Himself, opening our eyes, enabling us to see and know Him more and more that we will walk in His ways.

We can only enjoy Him now in this life, as far as we are established in Him.  The more we are "supping with Him and He with us" in His Word and prayer, the more established we become in faith, in hope, in love, and in holiness in our walk with Him, as He opens His Word up to us and makes it living and powerful to effect in our lives what He desires for us to see and understand, and He reveals Himself to us, feeding our hearts, strengthening our faith, and filling us with His hope and joy.  It is not a dead word, but it is a living Word full of life able to nourish and strengthen our hearts.  How sad when we deprive ourselves of it.  How much more sad when we deprive our Savior of His time of fellowship with us, and all He wants to show us of Himself and open up to our hearts and reveal to us.  He loves His time of fellowship with His children, just as we love to have that with our own children.

(John 14:23)  Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

I can't think of anything more wonderful in this life than the Father and the Son making their "home" or "abode" with me.  Nothing else in this life I could enjoy or desire temporarily could compare with that.  If you are His child, isn't this what your heart desires? To abide with Him daily in a close fellowship with Him?  Nothing more will "establish" or "fix" my heart in permanent trust and give peace. I pray the Lord will "fix" my heart permanently in His grace, His love, His righteousness, and His will more and more each day, the closer I come to that day when I will see Him face to face. Nothing more will give that peace and patient waiting and endurance as we wait for that blessed hope. Come Lord Jesus!



Thursday, February 2, 2017

CAST YOUR CARES UPON THE LORD





                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm needing encouragement these days.  I'm needing, each and every day, the courage to go on in the face of so much blatant evil in our world. As believers in Jesus Christ and the assurances He gives us of His presence, His salvation, His care, we have that.  All we need to do is turn to Him, look into His Word, and receive once again fresh Manna that sustains us and strengthens our hearts.

We see insanity and spiritual blindness all around us, and those who don't want to be persuaded by truth or facts.  We see unspeakable violence and lawlessness all over the world by those who insist on oppressing and controlling others and demanding their way, regardless of the cost.  We see strife that grows only worse each day with no solutions only those insisting more violently on having their way, regardless of who they trample on.

So I put together something to hopefully soothe the soul, for those who are tired of it, and want to draw close to the Lord, listen to what He has to say, and truly cast the care of their lives onto Him.  I get an email each day from Grace Gems.  Sometimes I find they are just what I needed to get me through a day of anxiety.  Sometimes I find they lead me to His Word where I am strengthened once again or pulled back up out of the miry clay of life's anxieties.  I put together this little video as a meditation when it's short message spoke to my heart in hopes of sharing it with others to uplift your hearts as well.  I pray that it does that. https://youtu.be/EFrqwinRLdA

      

Monday, January 23, 2017

A NEW CREATION



2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Galatians 6:15  For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 4:24  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 1:16  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

By Him - that is, Jesus Christ, all things were created - those things that are evident to our eyes, that we can see, that we can touch, that we can understand. The invisible things also, the spiritual things, the things we cannot see, or understand, or touch - those things He also created.  The most miraculous creation of all, mankind has a very hard time believing or grasping, because it is unseen, yet the evidence of it is there (John 3:5-8).  It is such a mystery that it is very often totally missed, or misunderstood, even by those who are God's children.  This is the miracle of the new creation that He creates within every man or woman who comes to Him in faith, when they are convicted of sin and their need for a Savior.  He makes an entire new creation in them.  It is not seen.  It is many times not even felt.  But the results of this new creation are just as real and valid as those things He created that we see clearly with our eyes.  It is not a mental condition, or an emotional condition, or some philosophy one has adopted.  It is not of our own works. No human can create it (John 1:12-13). It is not a religion or a new way of thinking, though it certainly does change our old way of thinking.  This new life in us, is an entire new creation, that comes completely from outside of us. 

Many think to be a Christian is to join a church and do good works, live the best you can toward your fellow man, and give to the church or the needy, or to partake of certain rituals.  Some think to just say a prayer to receive Jesus means they are "in" and are assured of eternal life, as though there were some magic in that prayer that the very words spoken obligates God to accept.  None of these things can produce the very real thing that God alone can do in a person's heart, that makes them His child.  Only He can create new life.  Only He is the creator.  The new birth is His creation, and the life that is created is His life, not anything of ourselves.  Just as these bodies of ours are very tangible and cannot cease to exist once born, the new life that is created inside of the child of God cannot cease to exist once created.  It is a very real creation.  It has substance. It is "incorruptible" - since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
(1 Peter 1:23)


What does this new creation bring?  How do we know we have had that happen?  As Colossians 1:16 says, it is created by Him and for Him.  It is His life in us which will produce a new heart, a new will, a new desire toward the things that please God (Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 32:39).  He does not take away our will but regenerates or creates it anew, as we have died with Him to ourselves, and have been resurrected with Him to "newness of life" (Romans 6:7-11). It will produce a knowledge of sin that displeases Him and a desire to please Him. Without that, if left in our flesh, we could not ever please God or desire to (Rom. 8:6-9). It will produce fruit - the fruit of the Spirit that lives in us, which only comes from the Spirit and not from the sinful selfish nature of man (Galatians 5:18-24).  This new creation comes about in us as we respond to the Spirit's conviction, the convincing, of sin that we are guilty of, and the penalty of that sin, and the condition it leaves us in, of being totally lost for eternity and separated from God.  As we respond to that conviction by putting our faith in Who Jesus is, God the Son, Who came as man to take on our sin and pay the penalty, and trust in Him to forgive us, justify us from our sin, and put His Spirit within us to make us His own child, we are then born again.  A new creation has been made - something that did not exist before.  It was not our own doing.  We are now created "in Christ Jesus."  It is such a marvelous thing that we cannot grasp or comprehend it.  We are now seen "in Christ" and He in us.  Christ in us is our hope of glory, not our works (Colossians 1:27). 

Though we have this wonderful new nature, the very nature of Christ living in us, it is a great treasure that is living within weak flesh (2 Cor. 4:7), that has not been yet redeemed - therefore the struggle is very strong.  This in itself is one of the sure signs of the presence of that new nature in us.  There is no struggle between flesh and Spirit unless the Spirit is there striving in you against the flesh. 

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
(Galatians 5:16-17)

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25)

There is still our responsibility to walk in step with the Spirit, to yield ourselves to His working in us, and to trust in Him.  As we grow in our walk we should become more and more sensitive to His moving in us and working in our hearts to lead us.  He is our counselor, teacher, and keeper.   We no longer belong to ourselves and He is jealous for us.  If we grieve Him, He lets us know, and He chastises us.  If we take a wrong path He says to us, "no this is the way, walk here."  He promises never to leave us or forsake us, but that He will be in us forever - "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever."
(John 14:16)

... for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
(Hebrews 13:5b)

When we have confidence in this new creation, this new life within us, having been a creation of God and which is by His power and authority, we have the faith we need to rely on that very life and power in our hearts to be there to enable us to live as He would have us to, rather than seeing our walk as a striving in our own power to live up to His law.  It instills in us a love that grows more and more and causes our hearts to want to please Him more than ever.  There have been times in my Christian walk when suddenly I'll be aware of an attitude in myself that is a complete change from where I once was and it happened so subtly in me that I am amazed and I am aware that it did not come from me, or was not of my doing, but God formed that in me as I simply took in His Word day by day and looked to Him.  It was of His new creation.  I find myself rejoicing in what He did in my heart.  When it is of His creation, you cannot boast, but you can rejoice in Him and His work.  You know that it came from Him, not your willpower or striving to change.  Sanctification is of Him, just as the new birth was of Him.  It is that new creation in you, growing in you, and being formed in You as you learn to walk according to it, nothing less. Christ is being formed in all of those who He called and made new.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:29-31)

What can we say then? Thank You Jesus for the unspeakable grace that makes me a new creation! With thanksgiving I bow to You in worship and adoration! What was birthed in me by faith, is now also being formed in me by faith, until that day when I will see Him face to face and be like Him, for I will see Him as He is! 

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
(1 John 3:1-3)

Ultimately, one day we will be free of these bodies of death, and that new creation will be clearly seen and enjoyed in His presence for all eternity! 

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Corinthians 15:49-57)


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

THE HOPE OF THE NEW YEAR




What do you hope for in this new year?  If you voted for Trump you may be hoping for some changes in our government and hoping America will truly be made great again.  If you didn't maybe you are feeling hopeless.  Our true hope in this world for the new year does not lie in any man, but in our relationship with Jesus Christ and His promises. No politician or world leader, or UN decisions or anything else can take away the true hope of the new year.

Romans 5:2  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Ephesians 1:18  having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

Because we have the light of Christmas, in the coming of our Savior to this world, born into this world miraculously as the God-man, taking on human flesh, taking on Himself our sin, and becoming our Savior, we have the light of hope for whatever this new year brings to us as well.  It is out of the joy of that coming, that we look now to the new year.  Even as the world grows darker and the hate and violence grows more determined to snuff out that light, His light can never be put out. It is a sure hope. It is a hope that will not be disappointed for all who embrace it and receive it by faith.

What will the new year bring to the world? Only God knows.  But His Word tells us His ultimate plan for this world, and how it will end.  We have the beginning and the end told to us.  How we choose to think and act will be determined by how we treat His Word.  To those who embrace it, it is a message of undying hope that is sure, and will produce a genuine joy and peace in the soul.  It will determine how you face your circumstances ahead, how you will treat others around you, and what importance you will give to your time with God and your service to Him.

John 1:4-5  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  (5)  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

We don't have to be overcome if we let that light abide in us daily.  It's not the power of a resolution that will sustain us, but the power of His presence in our inner being, guiding and empowering us to walk according to His light.  Let us be  persuaded all the more then, to be feeding on Him, abiding in Him, and focusing our eyes on Him, as we encounter whatever the new year brings our way.  Will we make it a year of selfish pursuits and worldly gain or will we make it a year of pursuing Him and His glory?  It challenges me to come before Him and ask Him to work His will in my heart more and more.  Paul encouraged the believers to "abound more and more" in all their devotion to and knowledge of God, and in their love for Him and one another (Phil. 1:9; 1 Thess. 3:12). Never are we to settle for where we are at, but to always "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  (Phil. 3:12)

Because of that hope that the light of the Gospel brought to us, we have the resources in Christ to do this.  How appropriate that we celebrate Christmas right before we celebrate the new year.  If we take the time to truly meditate on that Gospel of hope and joy, it brings us new strength to face the new year, and a purpose in it.  It sets the heart in the right direction.  It's the Gospel that propels us into the new year and gives us courage to face it.  We always hope for good things ahead, new opportunities, new beginnings and chances to start over in the new year.  The Gospel gives us all of that.  And if the new year should bring hardship or sorrow, it gives us the hope and assurance we need to face it and conquer it.

My prayer for all of God's children in 2017 is that we will abound more and more, in whatever place we find ourselves, in the knowledge and love of God and to grow in His grace in every part of our lives.  My prayer for those who have not yet come to know Him as their Savior is that this will be the year they do, and that they will find the true hope of life that will never fail them.

I also join in with the prayer in Revelation 22:17 - "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:20 - "He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"

May this be the year of  Your coming for Your church, Lord Jesus! Titus 2:13 -  "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."

From our house to yours, I hope you all have a blessed new year!