Friday, April 22, 2005
GOD LIFTS MY SPIRIT
(a purrsonal refreshment)
I found the following on the Internet today concerning President Lincoln:
"Abraham Lincoln, in his 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation, wrote: 'In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed. No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.'
"Lincoln also lamented: 'Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.' His words were true in 1863, and they are true today. We need to repent."
This past week has been the week from hell for me, or so it appears, but I am reminded by Scripture and the words of Abe Lincoln that God is merciful, and He certainly has lifted my spirit despite my circumstances.
It is good to know that by the grace of my merciful God I am numbered among those seated with Christ Jesus in the heavenly places, and because of this I can say certainly with Paul that "...we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this allsurpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 4:7-9; Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV)
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Tuesday, April 19, 2005
GOD IS EVERYWHERE
(a purrsonal celebration)
Through the years I heard in church often that we ought to not forsake assembling with God's people, that the church sanctuary or building is the house of God.
I have also heard that my body is the temple of God, and that the church is not the building but the people.
All of the above is true; however, it's not stressed nearly as much that God is everywhere!! Stay with me now. I'm not talking about pantheism, which unites the order of nature and created things to God in such a way there is no distinctive difference between them. No no no; however, omnipresence is one of God's attributes. I look at nature and stand in awe because it's picture purr-fect, the handiwork of my Awesome God! He truly is the Master Artist.
When I go to the office, God goes with me. He is my Constant Companion. When I have no one else to talk to, He is Someone I can talk to. When I have plenty of people to talk to, He is still in the meeting, for there is nowhere that I can go to hide from His presence.
That fact is both comforting and sobering. I rest in Him at the same time I check my behavior, asking myself often whether I am a proper witness to His majesty, His wonder, His love, and His grace and mercy?
The shear wonder of God's grace toward me, and the fact of His care for my ordinary affairs, and that this high, holy, omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (everywhere) God pays attention to detail concerning me, all of this never ceases to amaze me. WOW!
Scriptures: Genesis 1; Psalm 139:7; John 2:16; Romans 1:20; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Hebrews 10:25; Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)
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Sunday, April 17, 2005
GOD IS IN CONTROL
(a purrsonal hiding place)
Good morning :) It is barely 7:00. I awoke about an hour ago, needing to urinate after fasting while drinking water all day yesterday. I spent my day in communion with my Lord. I went to bed with Him on my mind, as I always hope to do every night.
"IN HIS TIME"
This morning, I woke up comfortably knowing that God is in control of every detail of my life. I take comfort in this, because of His everlasting love for me (Jeremiah 31:33).
Last Wednesday I had a job interview for the first time in quite awhile--a couple months, anyhow. I believed the employment opportunity doors to be closed to me, since every time I phoned my agents (three of them), of late they all said "nothing, sorry, we'll let you know."
Last Wednesday's interviews went better than I expected, and my test results were better than the firm expected, so this appears to be a good thing. The firm fits my prayed-for description of a law firm in which I want to work, having offices in the states where I'd want to work. I learned of this opening from an agent new to me that I just decided to phone.
We who know and love the Lord know that things don't just happen, but rather, we know that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28), because we belong to Him (Romans 14:8) and He is the Master Orchestrator of all events (Isaiah 45:5-7); thus, who are we to question Him? (Isaiah 45:9; Romans 9:20).
I'm learning more each day that it's futile to question God, for only He sees the entire picture, knowing the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-11), even He is the First and the Last (Revelation 1:17; Revelation 22:13); thus, rather than question God, in light of His love, I rest comfortably in His sovereignty.
Do I know today whether I will get that job? No. While I do have good feelings about it; my faith does not rest in feelings; rather, it rests in the power of the God (1 Corinthians 2:5), Who is in control of every detail of my life (Acts 17:28).
Allow me to share the song that is in my heart and on my lips this morning, written by Diane Ball:
In His time, in His time.
He makes all things beautiful, in His time.
Lord, please show me every day,
As You’re teaching me Your way,
That You do just what You say,
In Your time.
In Your time, in Your time,
You make all things beautiful, in Your time.
Lord, my life to You I bring,
May each song I have to sing
Be to You a lovely thing,
In Your time.
For a follow-up to this job interview subject, see "GOD IS ON THE THRONE"
Scriptures: Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 46:9-11; Jeremiah 31:33; Acts 17:28; Romans 9:20; Romans 14:8; Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 2:5; Revelation 1:17; Revelation 22:13 (ESV)
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Saturday, April 16, 2005
JESUS IS THE BREAD OF LIFE
(a purrsonal soul feast)
About three months ago, my pastor gave me an invitation to join TOPS (that is "Take Off Pounds Sensibly"); a TOPS group meets in our church education building on Wednesday evenings. Prior to this invitation, I was convinced that I was okay, didn't matter what or how I eat, I was satisfied and content with myself. I knew this really isn't the case and I was really in denial.
After thinking about my pastor's invitation for a few days, I decided to go to a meeting to "observe". The next week, I joined. I thought, "Why not? This surely can't hurt."
Shortly after joining TOPS, I was at home and on the Internet at Crosswalk.com, engrossed in personal Bible study and using the tools there, whereupon an ad for "The Lord's Table" appeared. I never click ads on websites, but I did click that one and haven't been the same since.
"The Lord's Table" is one of the ministries at SettingCaptivesFree.com, which is designed to lead us to the Lord Jesus, Who alone breaks the power of sin in our lives, setting us free. One of the things I realized immediately is that I was a glutton for food. I ate food for comfort. Sometimes I starved for self pity. In a nutshell, I did not eat right, and certainly was not eating for the right reasons.
The Lord has given us all foods to enjoy with thanksgiving. Our bodies need food to survive, but food cannot satisfy the desires of the heart, so the key to changing my eating pattern, and also my pattern of exercise, is Jesus Himself, for He said that He is the Bread of Life (John 6:35).
If anyone reading this has a weight problem, I encourage you to feast on the Lord Jesus daily at "The Lord's Table". I would enjoy walking with you as we learn daily to feast on Jesus, our "soul food" indeed!
My goal is to glorfy God and enjoy Him forever, and the more weight I lose toward goal weight, the better I feel, and the more energy I have to glorify Him and enjoy Him in everything that I do.
My motto verse in this life-long project is 1 Corinthians 10:31, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Another verse I'm finding to be true in my own life is Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." In fact, Psalm 37 in its entirety is good advice :) Compare this to Matthew 5 and note that Jesus quoted Psalm 37:11 in Matthew 5:5 :)
To date I've lost 30 3/4 pounds over a 12-week period, so I'm averaging 2 1/2 pounds per week. Some weeks I lose more, some less, but I've lost some every single week. I am determined, by the grace of God, to continue losing the excess of me that was witness to the bondage of the food sin I practiced for so many years. To God be the glory, for He is doing great things in this earthen vessel !!
Scriptures: Psalm 37; Matthew 5; John 6:35; 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)
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Saturday, April 9, 2005
(a purrsonal attachment)
I'm in the garden of life with my Lord today. He is the Vine, and I am a clinging branch (John 15:1-11), and the fruit I am to bear is the fruit of His Spirit, that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
One of the promises of Jesus for my clinging to Him is that I'll receive what I ask for. WOW!! The reason for this is that when His word fills me, I speak it. He fills me with His life, His love, His affections, and I speak His words. This happens, yes it does, but the condition is clinging. See also Matthew 6, where Jesus teaches us how to pray.
What a beautiful garden of life. Clinging to Jesus, the true Vine, in the garden of life, I can't go wrong. He is the altogether lovely One, the Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1).
Scriptures: Song of Solomon 2:1; Matthew 6; John 15:1-11; Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
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Friday, April 8, 2005
GOD'S ETERNAL SPRING
(a purrsonal renewal)
Spring pictures regeneration, because it IS regeneration. Let's have an English lesson today, from Merriam Webster.
generate: to bring into existence.
regenerate: to generate or produce anew; to produce again; to restore to original strength or properties.
What happens in the springtime? Leaves blossom on the trees, the grass turns green, and the flowers bloom. Spring is my favorite season, because it represents new life. Jesus spoke to His disciples of the regeneration as being the new world in Matthew 19.28, wherein He said: "Truly, I say to you, in the new world [in the regeneration], when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Paul told Titus (Titus 3:5) that the Lord "saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit". When the Lord saved me, He made all things new and washed me clean from sin.
Every spring I am reminded of God's promise to make all things new. He will. John saw this in Revelation 21:1, saying: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more." I look forward to this :)
Scriptures: Matthew 19:28; Titus 3:5; Revelation 21:1 (ESV)
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Thursday, April 7, 2005
GOD HATES SIN
(a purrsonal definition)
When I grew up, I learned some activities were sin and to be avoided so as to avoid the very appearance of evil. Those "Baptist-church-defined" sins were playing cards, playing dice, sipping any alcoholic beverage, smoking, dancing, lying, gossip, cheating, stealing, gambling (including lotteries and Las Vegas hehe), ouija boards, horriblescopes--er horoscopes, tarot cards and other para-normal psychology and witchcraft and occultic activities, gay sex, masturbation, straight sex unless married, divorce except for adultery, and oaths.
Well, I've grown up from that just a bit. Jesus turned water into wine, Timothy drank wine, David danced, and Gideon gambled. Lying, gossip, cheating, stealing, gay sex, straight sex unless married, and witchcraft and relatives, these things can be found in Scripture as sins, but what I'm learning is that anything that is not done with a believing heart of love toward God and love toward our fellas is sin. Let's face it, sin is with us in this day. If it weren't, we wouldn't have so much to say about it :) When everyone is purrfect--er perfect, the "sin" word won't need to be uttered, because it will become a distant "forgotten" from our minds :)
Hmm, I'm learning that gluttony is also a sin mentioned in Scripture--nothing against the jolly ol' fat St.Nick-type Baptist preachers, but aint it funny how they never included overeating in their sin lists?
As an aside, BTW peoples, I've lost 30 pounds in the last 11 weeks. Yah, I'm working on losing the "glutton" evidences of my past by eating properly for the first time in my life, i.e. (1 Corinthians 10:31) for the glory of God :) Feels good to be free in this area, and I'm praising the Lord for this, for He has delivered and continues to deliver me as I learn to delight in Him and take my comfort in Him instead of in "comfort foods". :)
Let's end this with a summary from Romans 14:23, which states "anything that is not done in faith is sin."
Scriptures: Exodus 20:14-15; Leviticus 18; Leviticus 19; Deuteronomy 5:18; Deuteronomy 18:10-11; Matthew 5:27-28; John 8:44; Romans 1:26; Romans 14:23; 1 Timothy 5:13 (ESV)
Saturday, April 1, 2005
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GOD IS PATIENT
(a purrsonal fact--I WILL be patient!!)
I WILL be patient! God said so! Here is the word of the Lord:
Psalm 103:8: The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
=^..^= Patience is not a command, but rather, it is a product of faith; therefore, I WILL be patient!
Romans 5:1-5: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 8:29: 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.
=^..^= I can be patient, because God is working patience in me through the events in my life day by day.
1 Corinthians 4:13-18: Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Galatians 5:19-24: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, murder, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Philippians 1:6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
James 1:2-4: Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
=^..^= God works patience in me; I rest in Him.
Scriptures: Psalm 103:8; Romans 5:1-5; Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 4:13-18; Galatians 5:19-24; Philippians 1:6; James 1:2-4 (ESV)
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Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Okay, here's the news article that appeared in my email from a Yahoo group member:
GOD IS THE JUDGE
(a purrsonal "news" flash--He will judge the judges!!)
Death Penalty Tossed Over Bible Verses
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U.S. National - APDeath
Penalty Tossed Over Bible Verses
Mon Mar 28, 6:08 PM ET
U.S. National - AP
DENVER - The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday threw out the death penalty in a rape-and-murder case because jurors had studied Bible verses such as "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" during deliberations.
On a 3-2 vote, justices ordered Robert Harlan to serve life in prison without parole for kidnapping 25-year-old cocktail waitress Rhonda Maloney in 1994 and raping her at gunpoint for two hours.
The jurors in Harlan's 1995 trial sentenced him to die, but defense lawyers discovered five of them had looked up Bible verses, copied them down and talked about them while deliberating a sentence behind closed doors.
The Supreme Court said that "at least one juror in this case could have been influenced by these authoritative passages to vote for the death penalty when he or she may otherwise have voted for a life sentence."
Assistant District Attorney Michael Goodbee said prosecutors were reviewing the ruling and could ask the state Supreme Court to reconsider or could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
During oral arguments before the Supreme Court last month, defense attorney Kathleen Lord said the jurors had gone outside the law. "They went to the Bible to find out God's position on capital punishment," she said.
Prosecutors had argued that jurors should be allowed to refer to the Bible or other religious texts during deliberations.
----- End of Article -----
Now, I don't claim the gift of prophecy, but I see in that article a nation crumbling because of the misuse of its own legal system, and I see "dispair" written all over this impending calamity, but I am not discouraged, because God is sovereign! He will deal with each and every one according to their deeds (Jeremiah 25:15). He is a righteous Judge and a God who feels indignation every day (Psalm 7:11).
John saw a vision as recorded in The Revelation that speaks to what is happening. Here is a part of that vision (Revelation 6:9-11): "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, 'O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been."
This is why I have hope. The Lord WILL right ALL wrongs and avenge His enemies, for He said in Deuteronomy 32:39-42: "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven and swear, As I live forever, if I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and will repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh--with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired heads of the enemy."
I'm close to the legal system, working in a law office, but I know that the supreme Lawgiver will not forever allow abuse of His law. He is the Judge of judges.
Scriptures: Deuteronomy 32:39-42; Psalm 7:11; Jeremiah 25:15; Revelation 6:9-11 (ESV)
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Monday, March 28, 2005
GREAT IS THE LORD!
(a personal song of praise to God)
Psalm 96:4 says "For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods." Verses 1 and 2 say "Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless His name; tell of His salvation from day to day."
Two songs fill my heart today. One is from verse 4, "Great is the Lord, He is holy and just, by His power we trust in His word..." and the other is "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, I will sing..."
Truly He is pleased when we bless His name. He has been so good to me, that when I woke up, I had a song in my heart and on my lips. In fact, most days I sing. Today, though, I don't know, I'm extremely happy and blessed, because He is so loving, gracious, and kind to me.
I am blessed with loving friends. I am blessed with family. I am blessed with a comfortable home. I am blessed with my pet cat and a job (or two but the church work is a "fun" job) :)
More of the song is "Great is the Lord! He faithful and true, by His mercy He proves He is love."
Amen! I will sing of the mercies of the Lord!
Scriptures: Psalm 96 (ESV)
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Saturday, March 26, 2005
GOD'S WAY IS BEST
(a purrsonal reminder--It's NOT ABOUT me!!)
In Luke 6:31 Jesus said, "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them." This is commonly referred to as the "Golden Rule".
Everyone knows the "Golden Rule" but somehow, in our daily lives this rule for living just doesn't play out more often than it does. I know that I need constant reminders, and this morning was no exception. If I could just "get this" then living like a believer would be easy! As a Christian, my aim is to please Christ Jesus my Lord, above all else. I know that when I live in the way He taught us to live, He will be pleased, for He said "'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." Matthew 25:40
It's easier to follow the Golden Rule, to act like a believer, when things are going well, but when they aren't it's not so easy, yet both Jesus and his apostle Peter gave great advice for how to behave in wicked circumstances. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus says "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." In 1 Peter 2:12, Peter says "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."
I have always been sensitive to what people think and say about me, but I need to focus my attention away from myself, to consider rather my attitude toward others, treating them with honor and respect, even when they disrespect me or talk behind my back. If I behave in this way, their words will have no value, and the Lord will be pleased with me. After all, it is Him Whose opinion matters, not the opinions of those who gossip, who are "out to get me", etc. I need to remember that "it's not about me." (Thank you, Rick Warren--"Purpose Driven Life")
I'll share a little song and a little prayer
I have decided,
I’m gonna live like a believer,
Turn my back on the deceiver,
I’m gonna live what I believe.
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14
Scriptures: Psalm 19:14, Matthew 5:16, Matthew 25:40, Luke 6:31, 1 Peter 2:12 (ESV)
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Wednesday, March 23, 2005
GOD'S WORD IS TRUTH
(a purrsonal liberation)
Acts 13:51 says "But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium."
Finally, I'm free! For the first time since my separation from my now ex-husband, I finally realize that the guilt I've been carrying is not true. While we were still married, I forgave, forgave, forgave, and forgave again, only to see the same things happen over and over and over again. It was never ending. The women. The addictions. The money going toward the addictions. Not willing to get help. The cat had to be put down due to suffering, in part because of no air, in part because of medicine not being administered in my forced absence. I left 10 months ago today. I could no longer handle the yelling and the isolation from my family and friends and being one of many women. The only "church" I was allowed to go to was a Jewish synagogue. I have nothing against Jewish believers, but I was not comfortable going by myself (that is not my style of worship); I went because that was the only kind he would attend, but after two visits, he would no longer go with me, and since I couldn't go anywhere but there, I stopped going but never gave up my faith; I merely continued fellowship with believers on the Internet.
After many apologies and forgivenesses too numerous to count, I left. I finally realized that my forgiveness was being trampled. It was not appreciated, for the behavior continued unrepentant, but I was still trying to help, I guess cuz I felt guilty for leaving.
In the context of Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas were preaching the word of the Lord and the Gentiles were saved under this preaching, and because of this the Jews rose up to persecute them, but "they shook off the dust from their feet againt them and" left.
In my case, even after separation, I tried my best to help him get re-established, and directed him to helpful sources. Some sources he dismissed, others he minimally "tried". He is nearing destitution as I write this, and I kept saying to myself, "he would not be in such poor condition if I had not left." The truth that my family and friends and counselors kept trying to tell me is that if I did not leave, I would be in such poor condition now right along with him, and we'd both be going down to the pit. One very special friend kept preaching to me that his wasting his money, and not my leaving, is responsible for his impending destitution.
Well, for the first time today I finally GOT that message, and I'm experiencing freedom from that guilt trip now as a result thereof. I saw with my own eyes what this man is doing to waste his money despite the fact he will need it to live alone in a matter of days. I had nothing to do with this.
Now I know beyond any shadow of doubt that the help I was giving while with him was not real help. It was enabling an addiction. I'm not doing that any more. The man needs help, yes. Professional help, not hand-outs. If asked, I will continue to refer him to professional help. Besides pray, the referrals is all I'm in a position to do.
Scriptures: Acts 13, esp. verse 51 (ESV)
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Saturday, March 19, 2005
GOD IS THE LORD
(a purrsonal lesson--He is MY Lord!!)
This morning I was reading through the first six of the "minor prophets" and came upon a reading in Amos 2 that took me to 1 Peter 2:18-19. Amos is prophesying in verses 6 and the first part of 7, saying: 6 Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals-- 7 those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turn aside the way of the afflicted;
1 Peter 2:18-19 says: 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.
The verses following in the Peter passage remind me that Christ is our example, for when He was accused before the crucifixion, He didn't defend Himself but endured, having His trust in His Father, the One Who judges justly, and He (Christ) bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, because by His wounds we have been healed. (paraphrasing 1 Peter 2:23-24; cp. Isaiah 53:6.)
This hit me like a bolt of lightening. One of my boss's complaints to me concerning my work performance was "insubordination." I didn't see it, still don't for the most part, but apparently my boss remembers the bad stuff and not the good stuff. Still in all, I am reminded that, at least in this respect, I have not been like my Lord Jesus, and after reading the Peter passage herein referenced, I will be more mindful to do the Word of God here, for this exhortation is explicit and quite clear to me now.
Lord, I am soooo sorry. I have sinned against You and Your Word, in that I have been disrespectful to my bosses at work. On Monday, I will go to my bosses and apologize to them for my insubordinate behavior and promise, with Your grace, to respect their authority over me from here on out. Please Lord keep this Word before my face when I am tempted, and empower me to overcome the temptation to resist authority.
Scriptures: Isaiah 53:6, Amos 2:6-7a, 1 Peter 2:18-24 (esp.18-19) (ESV)
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Friday, March 18, 2005
GOD'S RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT
(a purrsonal challenge)
In John 7:24 Jesus said "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." In context, the people saw Him doing great things for the good of people and the glory of God on the Sabbath Day, and He was teaching them concerning the things of God, but they would not hear. Instead, they judged Him to have a demon for healing someone on the Sabbath Day. He countered them, reminding them that in order to keep the law they even circumcised on the Sabbath Day if it happened to be the 8th day for someone needing circumcision.
In Matthew 7:1 Jesus said "Judge not, that you be not judged." He continued to explain this, saying that we will be judged by the standards we use to judge others, so before we go judging someone else who has a little fault, we need to look in the mirror at our bigger fault before we go looking to correct another's fault.
The above two passages seem to contradict each other, but taken together, we see that there is a right way and a wrong way to judge, and that we must judge rightly, which requires spiritual discernment that truly belongs to God. In the church (the John 7 setting) God equips us for spiritual discernment just as He equips us for any and all other types of ministry to each other.
Clearly, unless I am living right before our Holy God and have the spiritual gift of discernment, I should keep my mouth shut concerning what I believe to be another's sin. When I'm not directly in the restoration ministry concering sin in the church and yet talking about such sin, I am doing what the Psalmist said in Psalm 50:20: "You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother's son." The Proverbs remind us in 11:13 that "Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered."
Therefore, unless I know beyond the shadow of a doubt and am led of God to be part of the restoration team, I will keep my mouth shut about someone else's apparent wrongdoing, because certainly I'm not above such temptations. Galations 6:1 says "Brothers and sisters, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted."
May God grant me discernment to know when and what to speak and when to keep silent.
Scriptures: Psalm 50:20, Proverbs 11:13, Matthew 7:1, John 7:24, Galations 6:1 (ESV)
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Thursday, March 17, 2005
GOD'S CORRECTING WORD
(a purrsonal conviction)
Matthew 7:12: "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."
This verse is commonly known as the "Golden Rule", and while I was driving to work, I was challenged by this verse. I'm tempted to "road rage" while driving. I very often do not give into such temptation, but the thought is still there. In Matthew 7:1-5, the Lord says: 1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Needless to say, I'm as prone to judging, especially on the road, as the next guy, because I know what I would do in any given driving situation, and not all of it is good.
I was challenged by this Matthew 7 stuff. I need to change my attitude while on the road, so that I'm not thinking about how the next guy may be trying to get ahead. I need to remember that I don't always have to "get there first"; if I remember that, purr-haps I'll be able some day to stop taking them blood pressure pills I've been taking all these years!
Scriptures: Matthew 7:1-5, Matthew 7:12 (ESV)
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Wednesday, March 16, 2005
GOD IS SOVEREIGN
(a purrsonal experience)
This morning was "D Day" in the court system, but before going there, let me just share a fact about our sovereign Lord from Scripture.
Romans 13:1-7 says: 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Now for the hard facts. I owed a debt to a creditor. I was unable to pay what I owed. Over time, the creditor balance was purchased by a debt collection company. The balance was jacked up by the debt collector through the years to more than double the original debt amount. The debt collector sued me for the higher amount. My attorney (whom I work for) answered the complaint and, on the appointed day (today), went to court for me, hoping to settle, though he advised me that if no mercy, I do owe it. I said "I know."
Hmm, this sounds similar to the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, eh? Matthew 18:21-35 says: 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventyseven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.[h] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
The outcome of the lawsuit against me is that the case was dismissed, with prejudice. This means the case can never be started again. The only condition was that a much smaller amount, even a token amount which is less than even the original amount owed to the original creditor, was due to the Plaintiff within 10 days. Because I had most of that money for the settlement amount from an income tax refund and a gracious friend who gave me enough to complete this payment, my boss was able to send a check this afternoon to the Plaintiff, in full settlement of NOT ONLY THIS account, but ALSO OF ANOTHER account with the same Plaintiff but which account has not been taken to court. The result of this settlement, then, is that NEITHER of these accounts can be brought to the court system again, because they are settled in full.
Now for the spiritual reality: As my boss advised me before he went to court for me, I owe, so if no settlement, then payment arrangements, which I would not be able to keep. The Lord knew this was on my mind. I was in prayer continually about it, but I was not really sure just HOW to pray. This is where Romans 8:26-27 comes in, for "26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." Indeed I needed God's help in my prayers, because I just didn't know how to pray, but when the boss left the office to go to court for me, I went to active prayer, the Spirit leading me to pray for mercy. I continued in prayer until it was time for me to begin my workday, by which time I was able to work with confidence and full assurance that my prayer was heard by my loving merciful Lord and Savior. I can say with the Psalmist, "Blessed be the LORD! for he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy." Psalm 28:6
When my boss returned to the office, he told me that the Plaintiff attorney in court was not the Plaintiff's usual collections litigator. He said that the Plaintiff attorney in court on my case told him that on his way to court he was listening to a mass that his priest was doing (he's Roman Catholic) on the radio. Masses include sermons. The attorney said that after hearing the priest's message, and then hearing my boss's plea in my behalf, he took the opportunity to be merciful to me, so while I did pay a token, both debts are forever forgiven, and mercy was granted to me in accordance with God's will.
Every single Sunday since I started going to the church I currently serve as member, we pray from Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV) "Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen." In verses 14 and 15 after teaching that prayer, Jesus continued, saying that if we do not forgive those who sin against us, our heavenly Father will not forgive our sins either. Now, I have no idea what that priest preached on the radio, but I do know that Roman Catholics also recite the "Lord's prayer". In any case, God gave a mercy message to the attorney and used the attorney's priest as a messenger. Further, my boss, also being Roman Catholic, used to go to church with that attorney, so upon meeting in court this morning, they hit it off really well, and my boss found favor with him.
God changes hearts. God moves people. God makes us willing to do His will, in such a way that our own wills are not violated, but changed. God is sovereign, and He changed me. May God continue to conform me to do His will. Amen.
Scriptures: Matthew 6:9-15, Matthew 18:21-35, Romans 8:26-27, Romans 13:1-7 (ESV)
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Tuesday, March 15, 2005
GOD'S LOVE IS PASSIONATE
(a purrsonal illumination)
I touched on this yesterday when I said God knows me intimately. Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived. As the Lord said to Jeremiah, so He said to me "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you..." so that it is evident to me that He (the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ) chose us (believers, including me) in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved (Jesus)." He knew me before He formed me. He loved me from eternity past. He chose me, for "those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He (the Son Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brothers" (and sisters) :)
Thus, I "came to God" and later found that "God drew me". Jeremiah 31:3 is my favorite verse, for it says: The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."
That is the very first Bible verse I memorized following my introduction to the doctrines of grace, and it was this verse God used to show me the truth of what my pastor then was teaching.
God's foreknowledge of me is His love for me from eternity past. In the Bible many times "knowing" is "loving", i.e. "Adam knew Eve his wife" (Gen.4:1,25). God created us to be loving beings, and the best human expression of intimate loving knowledge is sex. See Song of Solomon,
Hosea (in which Hosea's marital relationship pictures God's relationship with His people Israel), and Paul's exhorting husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. This is not agape love--it is much more intimate and special than agape love. To know that the Sovereign Lord God loves His chosen people this much makes me cry tears of joy every time I think of this, and I can't help but to fall on my knees (on padding!) to thank Him for loving me so much that He gave His Son to die in my place because of my sins. WOW!
When I first learned from that special pastor, I felt like the Berean Jews, who "were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." Yes! These things were, and ARE, so!!
Notice that even physical procreation/reproduction is a picture of the Great Commission. "We are called to take His light to a world where wrong seems right" --from song "People Need The Lord". When God gives spiritual life to those with whom we share, this is bringing forth children for God. See where I'm going with this! The whole thing about God's love, and the divine command to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply is the same command Jesus gave to the apostles and to us to bear fruit for His kingdom and multiply saints. I can't think of a better way to say this than the Bible already said it. WOW! We are to love as we are loved. Sharing God's love for us with others is both a privilege and a command. What an awesome God! What a loving God! WOW! I'm speechless now.
I certainly don't mean to confuse sex with intimacy. What I am stressing is the fact that God's love for us is beyond any mere acquaintance--it's much more intimate than that. Certainly I do not mean to imply that God has sex with us! By no means! The fact is, however, that God knows me better than I know myself, and certainly He loves me better than I love myself, and His love is above and beyond what ANY earthly love can represent.
Scriptures: Genesis 4:1,25; Jeremiah 1:4-5; Jeremiah 31:3; Hosea; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 17:11; Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:4-6; Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)
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Monday, March 14, 2005
GOD GOT MY ATTENTION
(a purrsonal reflection)
"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!" I sang this song in church as a child, but it wasn't till many years later when I was 30 years old, that the light went on concerning God's love for me. Now I know that Jesus loves me, He prayed for me (John 17:20-21) and continues to intercede for me. His love for me is both personal and covenantal, and is unconditional--not conditioned on anything that I do or don't do. God's love for me is everlasting. He loved me from eternity past. His love is steadfast. His love is special. He knows me intimately. The Lord's relationship with me is profound. He is my Sovereign Lord, Savior, God, Father, Maker, and so much more. He introduced me to several other members of the Family, some of whom I have come to know and love as the individual Body members that they are.
John 3:7 is the first Bible verse that I heard from God: "You must be born again." Interesting. I always thought this was a command, because it was preached to me through the years as a command by preachers of "hell, fire and brimstone" who were determined to put the fear of God into everyone in their hearing. Compare this with the context of John 3, where Jesus is telling the Pharisee, Nicodemus, that unless one is born of the Spirit, that is God's Spirit, that person will never see the kingdom of God. Jesus was both equating and contrasting physical life and spiritual life. He was not commanding Nicodemus to be born again; rather, He was telling Nicodemus a simple logical fact--that only those who are born of God, i.e. born from above, will see heaven. He says the same thing a different way later in the chapter at verse 16, where it is written that those who believe in Him will have eternal life.
Now, let's think logically for a bit here. Did anyone tell you to be born into this world? Were that so, would you be able to obey such a command? Certainly an infant is without ability to birth himself or herself. We had nothing to do with our physical birth.
The same is true of our spiritual re-birth. We have absolutely nothing to do with it. Stay with me now. I grew up knowing and singing "Jesus Loves Me", but it wasn't till I heard those words "You must be born again" that I knew God got my attention. I knew somehow that He did something, but I wasn't sure just what it was. I only knew that He saved me, but just how much of what He saved me from, I did not yet know.
I started "going to church" and doing all those things "good Christians" do because I didn't want to "lose my salvation" for the Bible says "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"--I didn't realize through my "working" that it really was God working in me.
A few years later, I changed churches, and this second church taught me a whole lot more about this God that got my attention. I learned that He loved me from eternity past and therefore He drew me to Himself. I know that certainly I had nothing to do with this, but God did this because He wanted to. My response to this everlasting lovingkindness is humble praise and thanksgiving to the God of the universe for His special saving love. As I read Jeremiah 31:3 "the Lord appeared to me ... saying 'I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness I drew you'." I have not forgotten this.
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Scriptures: Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:7, 16, John 10:27, John 17:20-21, Philippians 2:12-13, 2 Timothy 2:19 (ESV)
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