Rejoice!

Sometimes it’s good to look back down
We’ve come so far; we’ve gained such ground
But joy is not in where we’ve been
Joy is who’s waiting at the end

As I sat down to write this afternoon, these lyrics came to mind (taken from the song “Run After God With All Your Heart”). In my case, I am looking back to where my health was from January to April of this year, and I am thanking God for how far He has brought me. It’s easy to still be discouraged when I think that I’m not where I want to be yet, but why would I complain when God is continuing to do a work in my life?

Nobody likes to be around someone who is always down, and I imagine that is true for God as well. As long as everything is going well, we are full of praise and adoration for Him, but when something happens that we don’t like, we grumble and complain and fret. How that must make Him sad! After all, He is still as powerful as He was last week, but we very quickly lose sight of that.

I confess that I do this too often, but I pray to lift up my eyes of faith to see what God is doing instead of focusing on the negative that can cause discouragement and depression. I want to “rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

I would like to see every Believer share more praise reports than prayer requests. We have both, and I love to pray for my Brothers and Sisters, but often the needs overshadow God’s goodness. In the midst of our trials, let’s not forget to rejoice because He is good!

Are You Starving?

As I was doing my Bible study last evening, Romans 1:28 jumped out at me:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.

Matthew 5: 6 says:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

If you are not hungering and thirsting for God and His righteousness, if you do not long for it as though you were starving, may I submit that you may very easily fall into the category of those who do not like to retain God in their knowledge? These people are “filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness,” among other things (Romans 1:29). If you are reading this, I’m guessing you would not put yourself into one of those categories, but if you are not actively seeking God, spending time with Him, studying His Word, you may very easily find yourself falling into an alternate lifestyle and then wondering how you got there.

In Matthew 12:30, Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me.” You cannot serve God and the world. I see so many who act like they can have all this and Jesus too, but we serve a jealous God. He wants our full devotion. He does not want to compete with the plethora of entertainment that we have today.

D.L. Moody is quoted as saying:

The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.

If you never have time to read God’s Word or spend quality time in prayer, I challenge you to examine your heart and ask yourself why. I understand there are busy days and busy seasons, but there should not be busy lifestyles that keep us from doing the most important things. Most of us do not forget to eat or drink, at least not usually the whole day. If you have time to do that, you can find time for God. Download a Bible app and read while you eat if you need to, but make sure that you are getting God’s Word into your heart so that you don’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

This hit me in a new way last night, and I am asking God for help to make the time to draw near to Him, to continually learn of Him, to listen to Him. If you and I are too busy to do those things, we are simply too busy.

Consistent Inconsistency – Part 5 – Children & Church

Let us consider another inconsistency, but let me first warn the reader that it may cause some real heart searching, especially if you have children.

The scene is the same just about every week. Families struggle to get up on Sunday morning. Many have not bothered to prepare their hearts throughout the previous week, and especially the Saturday night before. This quickly becomes obvious as the rest of the morning progresses.

Breakfast is rushed and the parents are shouting at the kids to “Hurry or we will be late to church.” With a final flurry of activity, everybody runs out and jumps in the appropriate vehicle. On the way, the driver is pushing past the speed limit and hoping that a policeman is not sitting over the next hill with a radar gun. In the back, the children begin to bicker and then fight. The parents both threaten to stop the car to take care of the problem that does little to straighten out the children. The little ones are mostly immune to the threats because they have already figured out long ago that the parents don’t really mean what they say.

Every now and then, a word of wisdom may grace the conversation. One of the parents will remind their offspring that “we all need to settle down as we are going to worship the Lord.”

Arriving at their chosen place of worship a few minutes late, the parents send their children off to a little classroom. In the room, they only manage to get through 45 minutes due to the seemingly endless supply of snacks and juice. During the class, they may receive a pithy little lesson which may come complete with puppets and pages to color.

Stated otherwise, this means: Continue reading

You Are…

You are my Glory and my Hope
Perfect in all Your ways
You are the One in Whom I rest
You are my Hope and Stay

You are my Wisdom and my Rock
The Blesser of my soul
The Hearer of my painful cries
You’re holy and faithful

You are the One in whom I trust
The Strength’ner of my heart
You are my Shield and Protection
You’ll never more depart

You uphold all your righteous ones
You are my Hiding Place
You are the One Who gives me food
My Light, my Truth, my Grace

You are Alpha and Omega
You are the First and Last
When You come back to take me home
My sin will all be past.

Words by Violet Escalera – January 2017
(Can be sung to the tune of Amazing Grace)

From Everlasting To Everlasting

There is no subject greater than the subject of God. He has such attributes and characteristics that we can contemplate on them and still never be able to understand Him. So many things in the Bible talk about how great God is and yet He was able to do the opposite. When He was on earth He was fully God and fully man. He died on the cross for our sins yet raised Himself up from death. He is everywhere all the time yet time is no problem with Him. A thousand years are as one day to the Lord and one day is as a thousand years to Him. 2 Peter 3:8. He has always been alive and always will be alive.

One of my favorite meditations on the Lord is that He has always been and always will be. Psalm 90:1-2 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

psalms-90-4

I like to start off with a smaller number of a thousand and think back past that. A thousand years ago the Lord was alive. I haven’t even been alive 100 years. Beyond that is the time the earth was created. What an amazing time that would have been to see the universe created out of nothing. A million years ago, which was before the earth was created, God was alive then and no one around. After that is a trillion years and I can’t even comprehend how He could have been alive and nothing was needed on His part to sustain Him.

He is also to everlasting. He has always been and will always be. Yes, we will live for eternity after we die but how are we able to think of time in such tremendous numbers? Forever is a very long time and it goes in such a way that there is never any end. Yet the Lord was forever and will be forever. Can you bring your mind around such awesomeness? No one can because God is way beyond our understanding.

As I continue back and forward in the contemplation of time I can’t help but wonder at the complexities of our Savior. There is nothing that can compare to Him and all that He is. We hear the word ‘awesome’ bandied about as if the things of this earth are awesome but the things this generation says awesome about are not. They may be really good or something we like a lot yet that term can only be applied to the Lord in its truest sense. He alone is awesome! He alone is worthy of all praise!

My Strength and My Portion

Psalm 73:25-26 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

As I look back over my life I am struck by the many times I’ve failed the Lord and others. I’m also struck by the many times family and friends have failed me. Each thing that I do is tainted with sin even when I think I’m doing things for the right reasons.

Whom have I? I think I have friends and family that will love me and never let me down but they let me down. I think I will be able to move forward and never let the Lord down or my friends and family yet I continue to do so. The reality is that I have no one except the Lord Who never lets me down. He is the only One!

Whom have I in heaven? Everything in this life points to the Lord Jesus Christ no matter what it is. The look of love from your sweetheart, the great fellowship within the church, the time of rest given where you recuperate from the cares of life, a wonderful day in which everything goes right, etc. are all pointers to the Person Who made all these things possible. Each gift we receive is from the Lord and should point us to the Lord. Our response should be total and complete adoration of God, the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. James 1:17

Whom have I in heaven but Thee? People will fail you so you cannot keep your focus on them, it must be on the Lord. Leaders can fail and preach something that is contrary to the Word of God but we are to study God’s Word so we know God Himself. This will keep us from falling into the trap of false teachers. How do I know which teacher is false and which is true? The Word of God gives me discernment as I study it. I don’t study the Word of God just to gain discernment. I study it so I will know God and, in knowing Him, I discern who is teaching truth and who is teaching lies.

jesussatisfies

So the question is, Whom have I in heaven but Thee? This leads into the answer, there is no one but the Lord. Not only in heaven but on earth. There is none upon earth that I should desire beside Thee. If anyone or anything comes before the Lord then we are in sin against God. Our love, worship, and adoration of Him should be such that everyone and everything we care about is like hate compared to our love for Him.

There is none anywhere whether in heaven or on earth that should be so adored as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. No one should be so desired as He. As we struggle through each day what can we find that is so desirable? Can the world satisfy us? Can our flesh satisfy us? Can others satisfy us? Can addictions satisfy us?

No! A thousand times no! My flesh fails me all the time. When I think I found something that makes my flesh happy and satisfied, it crumbles like the dust and soon I have nothing but bitterness and sin. My heart fails me, as well. The Bible is clear that my heart is wicked and sinful. Jer. 17:9. It is totally corrupt and nothing good about it. My flesh and my heart fails me continually but….surely something satisfies?

Yes, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever! So, in finishing up contentment we find that only the Lord can satisfy. When I was a child, a song came out that we sang a lot at church and home.

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
Only He can change your heart and make you fully whole.
He’ll give you peace you never knew
Sweet love and joy, and heaven, too
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

The Lord is the only way to true satisfaction and contentment. He’s the only way to be able to change and grow, whether physically or spiritually. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Nothing and no one can live apart from Him because, in Him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:28. Praise God that He is the strength of our hearts, those who are true believers, and our portion forever to make into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!

Bending Our Will To His

As we pray to the Lord, His power changes our lives. I can’t remember who said it but someone made the comment that when we pray to God we don’t pull Him to us to do our bidding but He bends our will to His. This is similar to anchoring a ship to the land. You don’t pull the land to the ship. Instead, the land holds the anchor and the ship is then pulled to the land. I like this analogy as it reminds me that prayer is one of God’s means of changing me to become like Christ not changing Christ to do what I want. As we pray, the Lord changes us and gives us a view of Him that we wouldn’t otherwise see.

In this body of sin, it’s so easy to forget Who is in control of all circumstances and think we have to be the ones controlling the situations to force everyone to do what we think is right. It’s like the little girl, who is a master controller and manipulator, going into the kitchen and telling her mom, “I’m making up the food today and you will sit down.” That, instead of asking her mom if it would be alright for her to make the food and would Mama like to sit down and rest awhile? That is fine between adults but a little child has no business demanding that her parents obey her anymore than we have the right to order God around, even if we think it’s for a good cause.

godswill

We should be so contented with the Lord’s dispersion that our hearts go out to Him in worship and praise through each situation. Of course, we cannot simply sit there and say, “Que sera sera!” We are commanded to pray and do it fervently. James 5:16-17. We are commanded to be kind to our enemies and pray for them who despitefully use us. Matthew 5:44. We are to do many more things because we love to obey the Lord’s commands but our contentment should be found in Him and not in ourselves or this world.

May our hearts be so overwhelmed with the Lord that we can say with the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever!!” Psalm 73:25-26.