Bring It On!

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5.1-5

The opening phrase in these verses makes everything else in the verses below them possible. For example: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God … ” Once we have been justified by faith, and we have peace with God, when tribulations come (v. 3) we can handle them, knowing that nothing can shake our justification – our standing before God. That amazing peace that the world cannot understand allows us to handle tribulations without falling apart. It is true that tribulation works patience, because when tribulation comes, we must learn to wait on God to do what only He can do to bring deliverance in our tribulation.

Look at the progression of spiritual growth here: (1) tribulation, (2) patience, (3) experience, (4) hope, and all of these make us “not ashamed … ” Everything we experience in this process of tribulation is a learning experience. We see exactly what God can do and what He will do. And those experiences lead us to hope. We can look to that hope when the next situation occurs and remember that God showed up the last time. There is no reason for us to think that He will not do it again.

Now look at this last phrase: “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” When you and I acknowledge and accept God’s love and realize that we live each day in the presence of that love, then we can handle anything life chooses to throw at us. Just my thoughts …

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Let It Shine! Let It Shine! Let It Shine!

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1.8-10

If you are like me, you don’t like to talk about sin. But the truth of the matter is we know we are sinners. John speaks pretty clearly about it: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Usually our problem is not that there is not the presence of sin in our lives at any given time, but the problem is in realizing the need for the truth of verse 9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins … ” Confession of sin is such a crucial part of our walk with God. It has nothing to do with whether or not Christ paid for our sins on the cross. It has everything to do with our daily fellowship with God. Confession means that we agree with God that what He calls sin we call sin. The sooner we come to that realization in our lives, the easier it is to confess our sin and have our fellowship with God restored.

Inherent in confession is the truth of this next phrase: “to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Regular cleansing from God means that He has a vessel that He can use for His glory. He will not use a dirty vessel through which to let the light of the gospel shine. A clean vessel is what God will choose every time. I want my life to be a vessel that God can use – always. I believe that is what you want too! Just my thoughts …

Ultimate Protection

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 54.17

As God’s servant, we have a promise from God that is unequaled. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper … ” Satan certainly uses a number of weapons against God’s children. He will use anything at his disposal to attack one of God’s children. We cannot stop the attacks of Satan but we don’t have to be overcome by them. The realization that Satan will not, cannot win should give us the encouragement we need to move on through the onslaughts of the Evil One. Peter reminds us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour: (9) Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (10) But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 Peter 5.8-10)

“ … every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.” Often times the attacks on us may come from other people. While it is sad that believers may attack other believers, that kind of behavior is to be condemned. We may also be attacked by those who are not believers. We cannot allow those attacks to succeed is throwing us off track in our service for God.

I love the last phrase of this verse: “This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” I love the phrase, “God’s Got This!” It may seem like an oversimplification of the issues we face, but it is the truth: God’s Got This! Amen! Just my thoughts …

What a Deal!

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43.2

Have you ever just wanted to sit down across the table from God and say something like, “OK God. I don’t get it. Just when I thought I could count on you, it felt to me like you weren’t there. I don’t understand.” I have felt that way a number of times in my life. Then when I read the verse above, I hear God speaking to me.

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee … ” God doesn’t say just in case something comes us, just know that I will be there. He says,When … ” We are GOING to pass through troubling waters. It is called life and it often has a capital “L”. t simply looms up before us. You know what God said? “I will be with thee … ” The emphasis is on the word “will”. We may not be able to count on anyone else, but we can count on God. These next words convey the same truth: “and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.

There is a difference in water and fire. Fire causes an intense kind of pain. Some events in our lives cause intense pain. Here is what God says: “when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned … ” Again it is when and not if. Most will remember the story of the three Hebrew children and their experience in the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 3.27: “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor had the smell of fire passed on them.” The next time you think you can’t trust God with a fiery situation in your life, just remember the three Hebrew children and God’s deliverance of them from the fire. Just my thoughts …

Suffering? Why Not?

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8.18

Suffering – this is a word that none of us likes to use, but it is something that all of us experience at some time in our lifetime. Suffering isn’t always physical. Sometimes it takes the form of emotional or mental suffering. Whatever its form, it is still suffering.

Romans 8 is one of the most significant chapters in the Bible. Paul addresses so many important issues in this chapter. So it is no surprise that he addresses the issue of suffering. “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time … ” Paul makes the assumption that we will suffer in this present time. Is it too simplistic to say that we live in a fallen world and much of the suffering we experience is simply the result of being in this world? I don’t think so. So often I hear believers blame God for their sickness or the circumstance that has brought about suffering. When my body gets sick, I don’t automatically assume God made me sick. When I am experiencing emotional duress, I don’t assume God created the conflict. Let’s keep suffering in perspective. It will come to all of us. It is only for a season. And God does not forsake us in our time of suffering.

Then Paul says that our suffering is “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” I once read an illustration of a man who said that when he died, he wanted them to put a fork in his hand in the casket. Why someone asked why, he replied, “Because the best is yet to come!” Friend, the best IS yet to come. It is that glory which shall be revealed in us. That’s all I know about it. That’s all anybody knows about it. But, it is coming and we will get through our suffering so we can experience the glory. Just my thoughts …

He’s Watching!

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.” Psalm 33.18

When my kids were small, if we were at the mall my wife or I would say to them, “Walk in front of us, so we can keep an eye on you.” It is comforting to know that “the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him … ” The simple truth that God is watching us all the time should certainly cause careful thought about our behavior. Sometimes when a child does something that seems a little crazy or down right dumb, the parent calls them on it and their response is, “I couldn’t help it.” This response means that they didn’t think about their behavior and the consequence it would bring. So for us it is a matter of continual focus. Since I KNOW God is watching, what would He want me to do in this particular situation? You may be thinking that such a process takes too much time, but let me ask, “Who is it that your are serving? Self? Or your Heavenly Father?” The answer should be obvious but it isn’t always.

It might be a good idea to ask ourselves if we fear the Lord, or if we hope in His mercy. Those are the two criteria mentioned in the verse above. I don’t doubt that God sees the actions of all, but the verse specifically states that He watches those that fear Him and who hope in His mercy. Just a reminder, when I fear Him, I literally stand in awe of Who He is. THAT realization is life changing. And then for me to hope in His mercy means that I do not want to get what I deserve (the definition of mercy) but that I am casting myself on His limitless grace. Just to remind myself of these things brings a more refined focus to my life today. Just my thoughts …

Watch It!

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (30) And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4.29-30

One of the things that troubles me is hearing Christ-followers who have been saved for some time say things that could be called “corrupt communication.” Paul reminds us in these verses that our speech should be “good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” When something I say or the manner in which I say it does not edify the one who is listening, I have just sinned. So what does edifying mean? The word edify literally means to “build the house of another.” The very PURPOSE of our words is to build up others. It would seem to me that this truth would put a restraint on some of the things we say to others “just because we can.” “Just because I can” doesn’t mean I should.

Verse 30 is a vital reminder to us of the One Who lives within: “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” When you and I received Christ, the Holy Spirit moved into our lives. We can never go anywhere without Him and we can never say anything that He does not hear. When we do say something that is corrupt communication the Holy Spirit is grieved. We do not lose our salvation because we have been “sealed unto the day of redemption”, but the Holy Spirit’s ministry in us and to us is halted. At this point, confession of what we have done to grieve Him is in order so that He can be restored to His rightful place in our lives. May we be mindful of what we say and how we say it as we live this day for Him. Just my thoughts …

With His Own Hands!

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2.7

God spoke and the light appeared. God spoke and the firmament appeared. God spoke and the waters and the dry land we put into their proper places. God spoke and things began to grow in the earth. God spoke and the lights appeared in the heavens. God spoke and the creatures of the sea and the flying creatures on the earth appeared. God spoke and the beasts on the earth appeared.

And THEN “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground … ” Everything else God spoke into existence, but when He came to the crowning act of creation, He fashioned man with His own hands and He breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life. I’m not sure how that speaks to you, but I am completely humbled by the realization that after God SPOKE everything else into existence, He took time to PERSONALLY form man with His hands and to personally breathe into his nostrils to give him life.

Let’s examine these verses: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them. (28) And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl o the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Genesis 1.27-28 Every living thing that God spoke into existence he put under the authority of man.

We were not an afterthought with God. We were the crowning element in His creative process. If that does not cause us to see God differently and see our responsibility to God differently, then we have a real disconnect with truth. May God help us to see how SPECIAL we are in God’s sight, and then to live in the light of that knowledge. Just my thoughts …

Grace, Faith, Works – Very Interesting!

!“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2.8-10

Countless numbers of people have come to Christ after reading and understanding these verses. We are saved by grace through faith. While the concept of grace seems simple, I still struggle with why God would grant me grace. The only answer that makes sense to me is that He loves me and His unconditional love allows Him to extend grace to me (and every other sinner).

When I look at verses 9 and 10, I am reminded of two very significant thoughts: (1) I do not work to earn my salvation. (2) I have been created in Christ “unto good works”, meaning that my salvation experience should lead me to a life of good works that will point others to God. I must be aware of my responsibility to this purpose of God for me. I have been “created in Christ Jesus unto good works … ” Good works is not the ONLY reason God saved me, but it is certainly ONE of the reasons He saved me. How will a lost world know anything about the God whose we are unless we become His hands and feet in the world, and we speak as though He were speaking through us?

This last phrase adds depth to these verses: “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” This is not something that just popped into God’s head at the last minute. Quite the contrary. This was His plan before the foundation of the world was framed. So our work for God serves a eternal purpose that will make a difference in time and also for eternity. Just my thoughts …

Let God Do It!

The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14.14

Why is it so difficult for us to let God fight our battles for us? At what point in our rational thought processes do we think we have more power than God, or we know more about our enemy than God, or we can win this battle without His help?

The picture here is one of impossible odds if God doesn’t show up. Israel has left Egypt and Pharaoh decides he has made a mistake in letting his 2 million slaves go, so he sets out after them. When he catches up with them, the children of Israel are up against the Red Sea with no way known to them to cross it. In the verse preceding this one we read these words: “And Moses said unto the people Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever.

Man, we have a hard time standing still, don’t we? In v. 12 the people said, “Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.” Here is an attitude of utter helplessness. But God … “The LORD shall fight for you … ” Israel needed to believe it and we need to believe it. Never mind HOW God is going to do it. We simply need to believe that He IS going to do it.

Here is the hard part: “ye shall hold your peace.” Just shut up and let God be God. He does that far better than you and I ever could. These are just my thoughts …