Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What We Behold Is What We Become

I've been preaching it for years, "what you behold is what you become."  It has always proven true in my life and I've seen it always prove true in others'. That's precisely why I preach it.   

In John chapter 1, when John saw Jesus he said, "Behold the Lamb of God."

In Mark 4 Jesus tells the parable of the Sower and the Seed.  He carefully lays out the scene, explaining the fate of each sowing.  Then in verse 9 he says, "He who has ears, let him hear."  I recall praying one day, well into my walk with the Lord, and asking him to give me ears to hear.  He promptly and kindly spoke to my heart...."I've already given you ears to hear. Now hear."


Has he given you ears to hear?  Has he given you eyes to see?  Are you hearing and seeing?   You won't hear, see, or understand anything clearly unless your focus is on what it should be. 



"What you behold is what you become."  Are you beholding the cares of this world...money, health, politics, wars and rumors of wars?  Jesus spoke of these things too, in Matthew 24:6. He said, "when you see these things, don't let your heart be troubled, for all these things must come to pass."

We look at what is currently happening in our United States of America and shake our heads.  The Democrats and the Republicans might as well be called the Hatfields and McCoys.  We are astonished that some we thought would never fall for such foolishness have fallen, some we thought would never be deceived are deceived.  But regarding these very things, Jesus said in Matthew 24:10-12, "And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."

Why is it that we are surprised and astonished?  Why is it that we are shaking our heads and exclaiming, "I thought I'd never see something like this in my own country."  Jesus asked Peter and the others in Luke 8:25, "where is your faith?"  Where is our faith?  Is it in our President?  Our pollical party?  The leaders of our country?  If it is, (even a little bit) we are bound to be astonished by the things that are happening all around us. 



As far back as 1863, William B. Bradbury recognized the need to keep our focus on Christ and not on the cares of this world when he wrote the beloved hymn, "On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand."   "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name."  In the 2nd verse he said, "His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay."  I think he might have been on to something there.

Jesus goes on to make a point in Matthew 24, verses 16-21.  Paraphrasing, he says "when you see these things happening around you act quickly.  Don't dawdle.  Don't fear.  These things must happen.  But keep your focus on me and run to me."  He says in verse 24 "if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.  Behold, I have told you before."  

He has given us ears.  Let us hear.  Paraphrasing again, Jesus said, "I have told you before. Now I'm telling you again.  Please...hear me."  

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."  He wants us to understand that we are not suppose to be focusing on other things.  But he said, "when you see these things, look up, because your redemption draweth near."  We must keep our eyes on him.



What we behold is what we become.  If we behold the cares of the world we become perplexed, concerned, afraid, but most of all focused on the wrong thing, therefore headed in the wrong direction.  If we behold Jesus Christ we become strong, at peace, at rest, unmoved, and secure; headed in the right direction. Up.  And he said, if I be lifted up I will draw all men to me."  These are just small examples of what we will experience in either state.  

The prophetic book of Isaiah clearly states in chapter 60 verse 2:  "For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee."   This is if, and only if, our focus is on Him.  

What we behold is what we become.







Wednesday, May 16, 2018

God's Conditions


"And it shall come to pass, If thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God..." (Deuteronomy 28:1)

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

"IF ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." (Isaiah 1:19)

"If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine"
(Exodus 19:5)

I don't believe that God sends us "bad" things. His word tells us over and over that his thoughts toward us are good; that they are more than the sands of the sea." (Psalm 139: 17-18) "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17) "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy." (1 Timothy 6:17) "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:11)

However, I do believe that God allows difficult, unpleasant situations in our lives to get our attention focused on him. Psalm 119:67-68 says, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes."

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)

In Acts 9: 3-9a we see the Lord knock Paul off his donkey into the road and blind him. "As he (Paul) was nearing Damascus on this mission, suddenly a brilliant light from heaven spotted down upon him! He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Paul! Paul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who is speaking, sir?” Paul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city and await my further instructions.” The men with Paul stood speechless with surprise, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! As Paul picked himself up off the ground, he found that he was blind." If I were Paul I would consider that a very difficult and unpleasant situation!

My understanding of God's word is that he desires to bless us, but sometimes he places conditions on those blessings. Sometimes we have a part to play. This is not always the case. In the account of the children of Israel wandering in the desert for forty years, he continued to bless them even though they constantly murmured and complained. He fed them, gave them water, and even kept their shoes from wearing out! However, we must give attention to the fact that he did not let any of the original Israelites enter into the Promised Land except for two, Joshua and Caleb. The bible says, "they were of a different spirit." (Numbers 14:24)

The Lord was very obviously trying to get Paul's attention. And it turned out that he was eternally saved because of it. Glory!

We must know that even when "bad" things happen to us, God uses them for our good. Genesis 50:20 says, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good."



IF we hearken to his voice.....IF we humble ourselves and pray...IF ye be willing and obedient.

Many times I have read God's promises and failed to see the "IF" at the beginning. We have a part to play. God is not a magic genie in a lamp that we can call on when we need something good. We must devote ourselves to him. IF we give our lives to him, follow him, obey him, and love him, he will bless us. Not only in this life, but forever, eternally.

Praise be to God.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

His Thoughts Concerning Me

As I read my bible I am more and more convinced that half of what we believe is because someone told us, not because it is actually written in the word. For instance, the disciples asked Jesus to "teach them to pray." And what did he tell them? He said, "this is how you should pray. Our Father which art in Heaven......Thy will be done."

I am convinced that our prayer is a lot less words and a lot more worshipping and beholding him and who he is. King David said, "the one thing I desire is to behold (to see into the favor and beauty of God) the beauty of the Lord and to enquire (to look into, to ponder, meditate) in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

Okay, are we called to intercede, stand in the gap, battle it out, pray, press in? Some of it yes, but all of it.? Hmmm... For instance, Jesus did it all and said, "it is finished." So I ask, "what gap are we supposed to be standing in?" He is our All and All and is able to fill our every need. Why do we struggle and strive in prayer to twist God's arm? He knows our every need before we even ask. Yes, we pray. And we are to pray fervently. But again, what does that really mean?

The fact is, our Father is moved by us! Prayer does move him into action! But not by our striving prayer; not the length of our prayer, which is prideful thinking. He is moved to action because of his great love for us when we tell him how we feel. Any loving parent wants his child to come to him, to share his heart with them. And then does that parent say, "too bad, you didn't talk to me long enough, or you messed up", or the like? Of course not. And so even more so with our Heavenly Father.

Battle it out? Hmm....last I knew the battle was the Lord's. (2 Chronicles 20:15) Yes, we are soldiers of the Lord and we are called to battle. BUT, what does that mean exactly? Our battle is not with the Lord, the battle is between our spirit and our flesh. When we pray, "Thy will be done" we are lining our spirit up with our Heavenly Father's and the striving goes away. Like I said, I am learning that prayer, and battling it out, and pressing in, etc, etc, is more about beholding him, worshipping him, meditating on him, loving him, and receiving his love for us, than the actual act of struggling and striving to make something happen.

God is in the business of setting the captives free. And WE are the captives! We have been (and still are) held captive by our false beliefs of who he is and who we think we should be; who and what we believe him to be, and who and what we believe he thinks we are. Therein lies two major keys to a harmonious and peaceful relationship with him.

(Psalm 139:17) "His thoughts concerning us are more than the sands of the sea".

He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. We don't know the end from the beginning. The bible says we know nothing as we ought to.
(1 Corinthians 8:2)

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "all I know is Christ crucified."



















Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lord, Help Me To Walk

Tonight, as I sat across the table from a 60 year old mother, I listened to her tell the story of how her son was born with club feet.  She told of how she couldn't afford the corrective foot wear that was available at that time and how she was so worried that her boy would never walk.  She said that her doctor told her that every time she changed her son's diapers, gave him a bath, and whenever she could, to rotate his feet in circles at the ankles.  She described how that this was painful for her son and how he would cry; how she hated having to do it, but knew that because of it her son might possibly walk one day.  He is now in his late thirties and never did have any trouble walking!

This story made something very clear to me in the spirit.  Our Heavenly Father sometimes has to turn our feet also, maybe even "rotating our ankles" in a certain direction to ensure our wellbeing.  This is often painful for us.  But He, being the Good, All Knowing, Father that he is, does it anyway because like this mom, He wants his children to be able to walk!  

A short and simple story that reveals a big, important truth.  


"To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy..." Jude 1:24

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Prayer Tool

I read a recent blog post from Gary Thomas entitled "Vending Machine Prayer." Gary asked his readers to finish the post with their own examples of a vending machine prayer vs a Spirit filled "in Jesus name prayer." I shared what the Lord taught me a few years ago and it has been a powerful tool in my prayer life. Allow me to share this tool with you.

Several years ago, while on my knees, the Lord opened my eyes to my “vending machine prayers”, and how they were all about me. “Lord, I don’t know what to do. I can’t make him understand where I’m coming from. Lord, I’m sorry that I lost my temper with him.” And on and on….

And the Lord told me “It’s not about you. It’s not about your husband. It’s not even about your marriage. It’s about ME.” And he taught me how to pray….

“Lord, thank you that YOU are bigger than this issue. Thank you that YOU are the healer of all. YOU Lord, are all merciful, and YOU desire that none shall be lost. Thank you Lord that YOU restore my soul. Thank you Jesus that YOU care about our concerns. YOU are a mighty God. YOU are alive and well! YOU never slumber or sleep! YOUR thoughts and intentions are for our good. I trust YOU Father with this situation and believe that YOU will turn it for good.”

Well, by now we all get the picture. God is so compassionate. He doesn’t condemn us for our mistakes. Instead he lifts us up and teaches us a new, better way. He changes us. Thank God, he doesn’t put new wine in old wine skins!


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Creation

I have a creative mind and I love creating. Anything from writing songs, to sewing, to making crafts. I consider myself innovative.

Recently I created some pew bows for our church's Christmas Eve service. I gave it some thought, bought some ribbon and went to work. I had a few ideas of what I could make. I made my decision and started making bows.

I planned on making about ten of them. I was delighted with the way my first one came out. Just like I had envisioned it in my mind. Each one after that was similar, but not identical. I planned it that way and was excited about all ten bows. It thrilled me to have completed all of them and found that each one was beautiful on its own, yet together in a pile they were beautiful in a different kind of way.

I was so excited over these pew bows. Creating gives me a rewarding feeling. I wanted to share my finished product with my family and friends. And I did.

Each time I showed the bows to someone I got a basic, "oh, very nice" response. A response much calmer and low key than the excitement I was feeling over having made them. I wanted everyone to be as excited about them as I was, but no one seemed to be.

I was a little disappointed over this and as I thought about it something occurred to me. Psalm 134:19 says, "I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works." Job 10:8 says, "'Your hands fashioned and made me altogether." And God himself said, ""Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness!" The bible says that everything He created was good.

I got a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father must feel when we are unhappy with the way he made us, disparaging toward ourselves, and others, because we find his creations unsuitable. If I can be disappointed over a low key compliment for my creation, how He must feel when we do this! After all, he created us in HIS image! And we find fault with his creation? I think it must really break his heart.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Never Let Go

I watched a movie entitled "The Guardian", a true story about a Coast Guard rescue worker. It is an amazing story, a good movie. At the end of the movie they played the song, "Never Let Go" by Bryan Adams.

I was struck by how much of a spiritual message there is in this song. Jesus laid his life down on a cross for us so that we may have eternal life. We are called to lay our lives down for others. In other words, "prefer others over ourselves."
Can I give away my last $20.00 to someone who needs it more than I do, believing that God will do what his written word says, and provide my every need?
Can I invite unexpected guests to dinner when there is barely enough to feed my own family, believing God will multiply the loaves and fishes? Can I give of myself, all that I have; offer to help others in any way, believing God will give me the physical and emotional strength to do all that needs to be accomplished?

Can I lay my life down for others when it doesn't suit me? When it interferes with my own schedule? When it is a great interruption of my own plans? Can I do it in all things, big and small? Can I do it every day, maybe several times a day? Can I do it willingly, with a smile, while singing "All Is Well With My Soul"? Can I give up my own hopes and dreams to care for another? I don't know. But I know that God will surely present opportunities for me to practice. He will put people in my path who have needs, and give me an opportunity to serve them. His word says that he has given us "everything that pertains to life and godliness." So then, I am able to do it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He will show me how.


"Can you lay your life down, so a stranger can live?
Can you take what you need, but take less than you give?
Could you close every day, without the glory and fame?
Could you hold your head high, when no one knows your name?
That's how legends are made, at least that's what they say.
We say goodbye, but never let go.
We live, we die, cause you can't save every soul.
Gotta take every chance to, show that you're the kinda man who;
Will never look back, never look down, and never let go.
Can you lose everything, you ever had planned?
Can you sit down again, and play another hand?
Could you risk everything, for the chance of being alone?
Under pressure find the grace, or would you come undone?
That's how legends are made, at least that's what they say."

Bryan Adams

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

There's Nothing New Under The Sun

Recently I listened to a word from a good friend of mine, Charles Russell, who teaches bible and gives sermons on a weekly radio program called "Anchored In the Word". His most recent teaching was from 2 Chronicles 36:16, "But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy." This is the story of Jeroboam, the first king of the divided northern kingdom of Israel, and King Rehoboam, (King Solomon's son) who ruled over Judah, in the south. In a nutshell, Rehoboam went before the wise old men of council and asked their advice on how to rule the people. They told him to "go easy." Then Rehoboam went to the young men of council and asked them. This group said, "don't lighten up on them." So Rehoboam took the advice of the young men and told the people of Judah he was going to make it even tougher on them. You can read their story if you like from 1 Kings, chapters 11 and 12.
I have pondered this story in my heart for a couple of days and I have several thoughts rattling around in my brain.

I marvel in our modern day how we see certain ones come and ask for advice. They'll go to a few different people, then they'll either choose unwise counsel or just go do what they wanted to do all along. We see it often, people are told the truth, but they choose the darkness rather than light. It reminds me of Jesus standing in front of Pilate and Pilate saying "what is truth?" All the while it was staring him in the face. Was Pilate blind to the truth? Or was he willfully blind?

John 3: 17-21 says, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

It seems that these days we are seeing more and more people who have been told the truth and willingly rejecting it, whether about religion, politics, ethics, morals, it doesn't seem to matter. This is wide spread right now in America and throughout the entire world. There have been videos released proving bold-faced lies about things and still people will say, "I don't care, it won't change my mind."

And yet the bible says, "That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

So the question I ask myself then is: how do you help someone see? How do you help them know the truth?

Let's look at Romans 1, beginning with verse 18 and down. (I am using the ICB [International Children's Bible] so it is very easy to understand and very clear.)

"God’s anger is shown from heaven against all the evil and wrong things that people do. By their own evil lives they hide the truth. God has clearly shown them everything that may be known about him. There are things about God that people cannot see—his eternal power and all the things that make him God. But since the beginning of the world those things have been easy to understand. They are made clear by what God has made. So people have no excuse for the bad things they do. They knew God. But they did not give glory to God, and they did not thank him. Their foolish minds were filled with darkness. They said they were wise, but they became fools. They gave up the glory of God who lives forever. People were full of sin, wanting only to do evil. So God left them to follow their evil desires. They traded the truth of God for a lie. Because people did those things, God left them and let them do the shameful things they wanted to do. People did not think it was important to have a true knowledge of God. So God left them and allowed them to have their own worthless thinking. They know God’s law says that those who live like this should die. But they continue to do these evil things. The King James Version says it this way in verse 28, "God gave them over to a reprobate mind." That word reprobate literally means "unapproved" and "void of judgment."

We see this happening before our very eyes. God allowing those who refuse to see the truth, stay happy and comfortable living in their lies.

The key point I want to make is this: They don't have to stay there! In the Old Testament, (before Christ died and rose again) God said, "there is no remedy." He was basically saying, "that's it. I am a just God, therefore I MUST judge sin. I've gone as far as I can go. This is it, you've reached the end of the line, there is no remedy."

BUT, praise be to God, in the New Testament, now that Christ has suffered and died for our sins and risen from the grave, there is! Jesus Christ IS the remedy! We do not have to stay where we are. Jesus said, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it." (Mark 8:35)



"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Heed the Warnings

Today is Monday.  It has been the most beautiful New England day. Cold, but sunny, and the sky was such a deep, rich blue. 

However, going to the supermarket was not enjoyable. The store was so busy! People were coming from everywhere to stock up on extra food, water, batteries, and so on. Why, you ask?
Because tomorrow...


Tuesday: Snow, mainly after 8am. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 25. East wind 6 to 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches possible.

Tuesday Night: Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Areas of blowing snow. Low around 14. Northwest wind 11 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 5 to 9 inches possible.

Wednesday: Snow. Areas of blowing snow after 5pm. High near 26. Northwest wind 13 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Wednesday Night: A 50 percent chance of snow. Cloudy, with a low around 12. Northwest wind 9 to 13 mph. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

One would never guess, judging by today, that tomorrow will be so different.  It's a good thing we have meteorologists to warn us isn't it?

The bible tells us in Romans 1 that "There are things about God that people cannot see—his eternal power and all the things that make him God. But since the beginning of the world those things have been easy to understand. They are made clear by what God has made."

So we can better understand the things of the Spirit because of what we see in the natural. In the natural world we have meteorologists to warn us of a coming storm. In the spiritual realm we have prophets, watchmen, and we have the Holy Spirit himself.

Jesus said, "Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast. You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times." Matthew 16:3

It would be foolish of us to not prepare for the snow storm we know is coming. Extra food, water, batteries, candles...all are necessary.

But are we being foolish by not preparing for the coming spiritual storm that we have been warned would come? Will we heed the warnings we are being given, or are we, in 2017, the same as the people were when Jesus walked the earth? Able to read the signs we are given in the natural, but paying no attention to the signs we are being given in the spiritual?


Selah. (stop and quietly ponder)    

     

Monday, March 6, 2017

His Compassions They Fail Not

Exodus 34:5-6  "Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."


2 Kings 13:23  "But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence."


Matthew 9:36  "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."


Luke 15:20  "So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."


Do you believe it yet?  That our Father is compassionate?  

Just prior to my Mom beginning her dying process my husband and I moved her into our home.  She could no longer be on her own and wanted to come and live with us.  I knew it was going to be a huge life change for us, especially me, as I was the one home with her 24-7, and also a major life change for my mom.  

We knew it was the Father's will that we three do this.  So I asked God, "please Lord, the only thing I ask of you is that your glory be revealed in this situation."  

Time, struggle, and failing health had their way and before too long I found myself feeling desperate.  My daughter Shannon came to offer respite one sunshiny day and I pointed my car south towards the shopping mall for some retail therapy.  

As I often do while driving, I turned on the praise music (LOUDLY) and cruised down the highway singing to the CD.  But this time it wasn't a happy, joyful noise that I was making.  It was a cry.  A desperate, angry at the Lord, cry. Yes, that's right.  Angry.  I shouted the words of the song that I was hearing emulate from the speakers.  All about his glory being revealed.  I said, "LORD, I said I would do what you asked and I did.  I only asked ONE THING of you!  Just ONE THING!  That your glory be revealed.  You tell me how your glory is being revealed.  I'm watching my mother fade farther away from us every day.  And more than that she is suffering!"  I asked just this ONE THING and you REFUSE to answer me!"  

Then, with the music still blasting and the car speeding at 70 miles and hour, a quiet stillness filled the air and for a short moment time stood still. And the Holy Spirit spoke to me. His words dispelled my anger and hurt. They divided the light from the darkness. They filled my soul with His refreshing peace. He spoke so quietly and so incredibly compassionately. He said, "David only asked one thing too." And instantly I recalled one of my favorite passages of scripture: "This one thing I have desired of the Lord...that will I seek after...That I may dwell in his house all the days of my life and behold his beauty."

If only I had trusted what I knew about our Father's nature and character. 



Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29)