buildingbodies4christ

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Archive for the tag “God’s faithfulness”

Feeling Full

Many years ago after a large meal with the family, I asked my grand nephew who was about three years old at the time if he was full. He turned to me and asked what’s full? Hum. I never thought about how to define “full” especially when it comes to a full belly. I couldn’t ask him that today because he is big fella now and full doesn’t seem to be in his vocabulary. He always seems to be hungry.

Last week, my family gathered at the beach for our annual beach trip. I think this was our twenty-ninth year of gathering at the same place, mostly in the same house. This year, we had to get a duplex because of the number of family members getting together. We started the tradition with ten family members but we were up to nineteen at the house this year. My parents are gone now, but the nephews have grown, married and have kids of their own.

I once thought our family was built around my Mom. I thought she was our rock that held us together. When she passed almost eleven years ago, I thought we wouldn’t be the same. In reality, we are not the same. I think we are stronger and better equipped because of the foundation she and my Dad laid for us. Yes, both she and Dad are gone now, but the family did not fall apart because of it.

I have come to realize it wasn’t Mom who was our center – our family was (and still is) centered on Jesus. He is the foundation Mom and Dad laid for us. He was the center from the beginning and is continuing in that tradition as my nephews are building their foundations with their families. I love seeing my nephews with their kids and I love seeing how much they love their wives.

When we started this tradition twenty-nine years ago, I had no hope for those boys! They were a hot mess. Mom was not a boy’s mom. She had girls and wasn’t accustomed to the boy’s way of life. It was hard for Mom to cope with the messiness that comes with boys. She was a bit on edge whenever we were at the beach with those young boys. But as they grew up, she mellowed. She loved those boys dearly and wanted the best for them.

I wish she could see them today. I wish she had witnessed what the boys have become and the families they are now raising. Dad got to see it. Before his death, Dad got to see all these great-grandkids. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the capacity to know what was going on. He didn’t really know who all these little kids running around were. But Dad knew my nephews and remembered they were married to those young women. But the kids, he didn’t know they were his children as well. But he loved them just the same.

After last week, I remembered all we had been through; the good times and there were many, and the bad times when the rain didn’t stop for days. The special times with Mom and Dad and houses we occupied for a week – making it our home for that week. The times with Mom and the games we played. The one time she kept winning while our attention was diverted. We laughingly accused her of cheating. We got one of the best belly laughs out of her that I can remember.

The boys told us at Dad’s funeral how he used to talk with them on the crow’s nest about – well, I’m not sure what they talked about since they didn’t go into any detail of those conversations – but the boys all remembered those times with Dad up on that roof top as one of the greatest times with Dad. Year after year, memories are made. Even today as we look back at this past week, there will be memories we can all look to as one of the best times we had at the beach.

After the last four months of being alone, I was feeling a bit empty. Today I am full. I still don’t have a good definition for “full” that I could tell a young child. I just know today my heart and my emotional wellbeing is full. No matter what happens next, I have a memory bank full of hearty laughter, good food, putt-putt games and unending joy, but the best part is that it is all centered on Jesus. Jesus is the reason our family time is sincerely one of the best weeks of our lives.

This annual beach trip wasn’t originally started as a tradition. But I believe it was a God-given idea for the family to be strong through the start of this tradition. Year after year, we decided to do it again. God made it happen and I am so thankful today because of His love for us and for His love of family. It was His idea for the family to be the lifeline in a chaotic world. It is our safe harbor when things go astray. In this craziness we have experienced over the last four months, I truly needed this time of refreshment with my family. Thank you family for loving so well this week!

Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4 (ESV)

Focus and Attitude

How much fear are you feeling today? It seems the world is spinning out of control. With the stock market taking a nose dive for the last week; the election and the virus running the news cycle, it’s enough to cause great fear among us. I know for myself, I have been a bit concerned about all these things. This news cycle is enough for any of us to take a pause to feel a bit concerned about the future. We are living in unprecedented times. Our culture and our times will never be as they were before. Not to give you a real downer today, but just a reality check.

Let’s look at the future for a minute. Socialism will one day rule over us. It’s the way of the future – not just for us in the US, but around the world – we will one day be ruled by the one world government. They will be in charge of everything – from financial, to religion, to how we spend our time. It’s going to happen eventually.

A plague (along with war and famine) will one day wipe out a forth of the world’s population. And one day there will be a one world currency because of the fall of financial systems as we know it today. The future looks a bit bleak, right? The future has been given to us in the Book of Revelation so it will come to pass, one day, but not today.

Today, it’s just a blip on the screen. Socialism won’t come in full force no matter who wins the election, because it’s not time yet. It might be a step in that direction if the socialist candidate gets in the White House. We do have a choice this year on how the future will look for the next four years. Choose wisely, my friends. We still have a congress that will keep socialism at bay for a few more years (hopefully).

The virus that is playing havoc today with the news cycle will die down again eventually. Yes, there will be some sick people out there carrying this thing to the ends of the earth, but it’s not the plague that will take out millions of people. The flu is more threatening than this current virus – so far. It could change, but scientists are working hard to find a cure or vaccine, whichever comes first. And the financial crisis won’t last; stocks will rise again and the economy will bounce back when fear isn’t driving financial decisions.

I took a road trip last week to see one of my dear aunts. Visiting her was such a blessing. Her attitude was so refreshing in this climate of fear. The doctor recently asked her if she had been depressed lately. Her response was why on earth would she be depressed after all the blessings she has experienced in her life? She exuded great joy of all the Lord has done for her. She has an attitude of gratefulness – one that I need to take to heart myself.

When we are grateful for all we have in our lives – all the blessings the Lord has given us – there is no room for fear. When we see our Great God for who He is, there is only hope for a brighter future, because God has all things in His control. Nothing is a surprise to God. It might come as a great shock to us – but for the Lord, this is nothing. If it’s nothing for Him, then why should we be concerned?

We have a focus problem when we are fearful. We focus on the problem and not the One who is in control of the problem. These times maybe unnerving at the moment, but it’s nothing to fear. I don’t like my IRA to drop as it did this week, but I believe God’s in control of my resources too. After all, all the resources come from Him; He knows my needs now and in the future.

I will get out and vote in the next few days for a candidate to run this nation and for those in congress. In November, I will do so again and will hopefully join a larger group that will put the right people in office to do the right thing for God’s will to be done.

And for the virus of the day, I will keep myself healthy – sleep well, eat well and exercise – and take my supplements to keep my immune system running well. There are always steps for us to take as God makes His will known to us. We do our part as God does His.

Our focus should be on doing His will and let the consequences play out as God allows. Keep the faith and do your part too. God is bigger than all this. Trust Him in the midst of our difficulties and let gratitude for a great God exude from you too.

As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the
Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure. Psalm 18:30-32

Two Feet of Jesus

In my small group, we’re going through the Book of Mark. An impression has settled over me concerning these Scriptures. Jesus wanted us to have faith. I know, duh. But really, faith is the key to everything concerning Jesus. David Jeremiah said in one of his teachings about being an Overcomer, “faith is about security in the object of our faith.” He gave the illustration of ice fishing. Is it better to have a little faith with two feet of ice or to have a whole lot of faith with two inches of ice? Of course, it would be a little faith on two feet.

Jesus said we should at least have faith as small as the mustard seed. Even with that smallest of faith, we could say to the mountain move and it would move. That’s a pretty tall order, don’t you think. But it’s the object of our faith that causes the mountain to move.

Jesus could do nothing in the place where there was no faith, especially in His hometown. People grew up with Him. They knew Him or at least, they thought they knew Him. They didn’t understand where He received His education. They couldn’t trust Him because they didn’t know His instruction came from above. They didn’t believe He was the Son of God because they thought He was Mary and Joseph’s son. They didn’t know the back story even when it was given to them in their Scriptures from long ago.

The learned scholars had the back story, they too didn’t believe. They were waiting for the Messiah; yet when He came, they didn’t recognize Him. They had everything before them and they couldn’t see Him. They had no faith in Him. They had more faith in their Scriptures, which were only given so that God’s people would recognize their need for the Savior and recognize Him when He arrived on the scene. But they chose to have more faith in two inches of parchment rather than the two feet of Jesus, the living Word.

Who am I to criticize them? I can be just as bad with my faith walk. Sometimes I put my faith in the wrong things. Money. People. Job. You name it. I have probably trusted it more than I have trusted Jesus. However, I believe my experiences over time have developed more trust in the two feet of Jesus. I still lose sight and have to be reminded. But Jesus continues to give me new insight when I read His Word. Faith – it’s a big deal. We can’t get to heaven without it.

James MacDonald spoke recently about miracles. Jesus performed many miracles (as long as there was faith present) throughout His ministry. Does it still happen? I wrote down from the teaching – “only God can move mountains.” But Jesus said we could do it with faith as small as a mustard seed. The faith is for God to move it on our behalf, not in us. We ask in faith and watch Him move it. He still has the same abilities as He did when Jesus walked the earth. But it still takes faith.

Pastor James said “Miracles are common where God’s glory is revealed. Miracles are uncommon where God’s glory is concealed.” Why do we want a miracle? Will God get the glory for the miracle? Pastor James’ last point was “miracles flow for a deeper faith.” God creates miracles for His glory and for our faith in Him. The more we trust Him the more He’ll do through us. We take greater risks when we truly believe God is who He says He is and He’ll do what He says He’ll do.

Faith. As small as a mustard seed. Two feet of Jesus is more than anything else this world has to offer. Money. People. Jobs. There’s no comparison. God said He would never leave us or forsake us. Do you believe it? We could all use more faith. But if we start with the smallest of faith, He will enlarge it as we lean upon Him as we take the next step and the next. Faith grows more confident the further we walk with Jesus – He might even take us all the way to the center of the ice – but He never leaves us there alone. His two feet are right beside us. Trust Him to get to the other side. Nothing is impossible for those who believe.

I brought him to your followers, but they weren’t able to heal him.”

Jesus replied, “Where is your faith? Can’t you see how wayward and wrong this generation is? How much longer do I stay with you and put up with your doubts? Bring your son to me.”

Then Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him and the boy was instantly healed!

Later the disciples came to him privately and asked, “Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?”

He told them, “It was because of your lack of faith. I promise you, if you have faith inside of you no bigger than the size of a small mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move away from here and go over there,’ and you will see it move! There is nothing you couldn’t do!

Matthew 17:16-20 (TPT)

What is Today?

Have you ever lost track of what day it is? I work three days a week. If the boss calls off one of those days, it gets me off track. When I wake up, my first thought is “am I supposed to get ready for work today?” I have had one of those weeks. I didn’t work on Monday so Wednesday felt like Monday. Then Friday didn’t feel like Friday. This is Saturday, right? If you are retired, you may not be able to answer that question either.

I get a little overwhelmed with all the chaos in the world today. I am weary with all the fighting and hatred that seems to flow through every channel – whether it’s political or not. I get discouraged to think we could never pull through this strife. Maybe we will, but sometimes I don’t ever think we’ll get back on track. I think “Pandora ’s Box” has been opened and it can never be shut again. But then I remember what day it is. Scripture told us this would happen. We are close to the end if not at the very end of the times as we know them. These are the last days and it would be well to remember it.

This week’s reading was the book 1984 by George Orwell. It is a very negative book of a world gone off kilter. I don’t think I have ever read it before. There was a quote read recently which made me pick up the book at the library. It was an interesting vision of the future. Written in the 1940’s during the German campaign to rule the world, the time was dark anyway and the author projected that darkness into word. What’s worse is some of the concepts in his book may be seen in this world we live in today. Sometimes, I would forget this was just pure fiction in 1940’s Europe.

The famous line in the book is “Big Brother is watching you.” Big Brother was the governmental entity of his fictional country Oceania. In his fictional account, there were only three countries – established by the major superpowers – US, Russia and China. All the other countries had been conquered or surrendered to these three powers. And these three were always at war with one another. There was no peace. I am glad it was fiction – but it was a little too real for me and left me feeling this great divide of where we are and where we should be with no hope of crossing the gap.

I know this post seems to be a little down. However, when I picked up my Bible this morning I read a passage which reminded me this is not all there is. Yes, the world has gone crazy. I believe demons have been released for a frontal assault. But this is not the last word, God has it. Things may seem crazy, but God is just putting things into place.

I see this by the way of Israel. Israel is our time clock. All eyes should be on Israel. And God protects His people. He always has and He always will. Look to Israel. They still exist today because of God’s grace and mercy. However, the enemy never gives up either.

Russia, Iran and Turkey are aligning against Israel, just as the Prophets foretold it. The world hates Israel. Why? It’s a tiny country. What have they done to deserve this hatred? They exist. That’s the only reason. Satan has been trying to destroy Israel since God promised Abraham that his nation would bless all others by the way of Jesus.

Jesus was hated by the world system. The world system has continued to hate Israel. This will never change. Jesus said because He was hated, His people would be hated as well. We have seen this in the past, but today it is so more pronounced. Hatred seems to be flowing more freely than ever before. Or maybe we have greater access through many channels.

In George Orwell’s account, they had two minutes of hate speech every week broadcasted throughout the land by the telescreens located everywhere. Two minutes – wouldn’t that be a great relief than the 24 hours we get every day. I know – it’s not that bad – yet. One day, it’s all going to come to a moment of decision which will change the world for good. I don’t know who’s going to make the critical decision, but all I know it’s within God’s timetable and His plans.

Before that point in time, we have an opportunity to remind those around us, “God loves you.” At no other time in history is that message more needed. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. Let us make the most of this day and be the light in this dark world. Someone needs us today.

Dear Lord, help us to make the most of this time before it’s too late. Give us the blessings of grace and mercy to love those around us for the sake of the Kingdom. Let us be the people who You have chosen for this hour. Grant us the wisdom to discern the time and the opportunities that are before us. Help us to choose to live for You and die to ourselves today. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.

Psalm 3:1-3

Let Us Pray

Father, Almighty God, Sovereign King of Heaven and Earth, Creator God,

In You we do trust and believe. Forgive us for the sins that breaks our fellowship with you. For the plight of the poor that we have ignored; for the ones who are enslaved and have done nothing to free them; for the lives we have taken in our ignorance that You have fearfully and wonderfully made them in their mother’s womb; for the blood we have shed because of our hatred of those different from ourselves. There are so many sins against us that they are too numerous to mention; however, You know every one of them. You know our hearts, Lord. We do what’s evil in Your sight. Forgive us Lord God; help us, heal us, change us. Remove these sins from our hearts by the power of the blood of Jesus.

I read just this week of Jim Cymbala’s vision for his church – a church known for its prayer meetings. In his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, he made note of Charles Spurgeon’s declaration about the church. “The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings… If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be a slothfulness in prayer.”

Father, let that not be true today of Your people who gather before You. Let us remember that we are to be a praying church. Nothing will change unless we bring it before You. Let us get right before You and stand on Your promises that You hear us when we pray. Let us once again be humbled in Your presence. Remind us of Your greatness. Let us remember once again that You have all the answers if we would just seek You with all our hearts.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3 we have been rooted and established in love and need to grasp the depth, the width, the height of Your love for us. Not because of us, because we are not worthy; but because of You – there is no being greater; no love stronger or more secure. It’s who You are.

Father, help us to grasp it and internalize it individually. We can only love because of You. You first loved us. You first called to us and drew us near. This love did not originate with us first. We love only ourselves. But by Your grace and mercy, You called out to us. Some of us responded, some of us need more convincing. Father, don’t let up – keep calling us to the fullest relationship we can have with You here on earth.

Change our hearts and change our minds, Lord Jesus. You know what is eating at us and how worried we are. Let us remember You are Sovereign over all. Nothing is impossible for You. Our biggest worry is nothing in Your sight; but because it worries us, You care to intervene on our behalf. Thank you, Lord. We bring that worry to You right now. We ask that You take it from us as we release it to You. Let Your will be done on earth as it’s done in heaven. It’s in Your perfect time and help us to wait patiently for the answer. Let us wait like it’s said in Isaiah 40:31 with hope and renewed strength. Let us soar like the eagles.

It has been said of eagles that they go to the high peaks and wait for the change in the wind; once the wind changes, the eagles take a leap of faith off the edge and soar to greater heights with the wind beneath their wings. We are told in Scripture that the Holy Spirit is like the wind. Our waiting should be like that eagle waiting on the edge – waiting to take the leap of faith, for the Holy Spirit to lift us up to greater heights. Again, this is not because of us; but because we are called for a purpose far greater than we can imagine.

Lord Jesus, we gather together at Your feet; waiting on Your instructions for this time and place. We are here because You have placed us here. But once we hear, please help us do what You ask when You ask it. Let us be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s movement in our lives. Let us not miss the opportunities to reach our communities for the love of Jesus. Let us not miss what You are doing around us. Let us be sensitive again to the Holy Spirit’s quietness. Jesus, we need You desperately to intervene in our lives – not only for our sake, but also for those around us. Let our testimony of all that You have done be made known so that You may receive all the glory.

Come Lord Jesus, come. Shake us awake. Fill us again. Give us a hunger and thirst for Your Word and for You personally to be made known to us again. Lord Jesus, hear these prayers and bring the greatness of Your name to this earth again. Thank You for all You are going to do once again in us and through us – for Your glory.

For all this we pray, in Your precious and holy name – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

If my people, who are called by my name, will 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. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:14b-15

Traditions

Traditions for this day are varied. Thanksgiving holiday in the US has evolved into certain traditions for each family. Food, more food and family, friends, maybe someone significant meeting the family for the first time; but it’s all about tradition. Turkey or ham or both; cranberry sauce, yes, please; and few sides of casseroles, a green bean or two, corn pudding (not so much for me), then of course, dessert (which is “no thank you” for me this year since I didn’t bring my own – I am gluten-free forever more). The focus has been on the food and the relationships around the table for many of us for years. Of course, we give thanks to God above for all He has provided this year and all the blessings that we enjoy on a daily basis. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

After all, this isn’t a “religious” holiday in the traditional sense. It’s a holiday that Abraham Lincoln set aside in the middle of the civil war. It was a time of remembrance to give thanks to God. It began centuries ago when the settlers had a successful harvest for the very first time. Can you imagine the struggles they went through to live in such a land – a land where they actually had to prepare the ground, plant the seeds and harvest the crops? Many of them had no idea how to plant and harvest a crop. But they learned, thanks to the native people who helped them survive.

Our nation is far from the traditions laid down by our forefathers. We have evolved from agriculture, industrial to tech savvy people. No longer do we have to struggle to provide food for our families in the traditional sense. We don’t raise our food in a traditional way. We go to super stores and buy prepared food or plastic-wrapped produce shipped from hundreds of miles away. It’s just not the same as if we actually had to get our hands dirty and dig out those sweet potatoes from the earth.

We don’t have to do the hard labor the season before to get the food on the table today. It’s already done for us. We just go and pick out the best ingredients for a home cooked meal – or maybe head to the nearest Golden Corral for the buffet tradition that someone else prepared and will clean up. We just eat, pay and go. We’ve gotten so far away from the original thought of harvest blessing that the holiday has been lost to food, football and shopping. It’s the kickoff to the real holiday – Christmas and Santa Claus and ho, ho, ho to good girls and boys and lots of little toys.

I’m not saying that what we have today is bad. It’s just different from what it was intended so long ago. It has evolved into our own traditions. But hopefully somewhere along the way, we’ll remember to give thanks to God above for all the blessings of our own harvest season – whatever that hardship we are currently going through or have just come out of. God has seen us through many trials and tribulations through the years, and we have survived another year. God is good all the time! Even when it looks bad, and we don’t think we can survive; look how God has brought us through time and again.

Thanksgiving is about remembering. Remembering the past blessings and knowing God will see us through again. He is faithful. He is good. His love endures for us forever. We can look in the Bible to see how God sees His people through the tough times, but we could also see in our own lives those same things. We can look to the past in this country and see how God has seen this country through the dark times to bring us through. God’s love endures forever. He is faithful, and He is true to His nature.

Let’s remember today the ones who came before us so that we can have this time of food, family and football. We have it good. We have been blessed abundantly. Let’s remember it’s not by our hand that we have done these things. We were created as a people (the church), and as a nation to be a blessing to others because of what the Lord has done for us. It’s because of the forefathers’ forethought to put things in place by the hand of God to give us all that we have today. Let’s remember and give thanks. Celebrate with your traditions and remember to be a blessing to others today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)

Five More Minutes

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a woman’s testimony on YouTube. She spoke of a message the Lord had given her about the time we’re in. She said she saw a clock with the hands set at five minutes before twelve. For the next few days/weeks, that time would come up over and over. Someone would ask her the time, and it would be five minutes before twelve. She said it happened more than once.

I think most of us agree that the last days are upon us, but are we in agreement we’re in the last hour? How about the last five minutes? We see severe events happening now with great frequency. I mean these are not just 100 year events, but 500 and 1,000 year events. Earthquakes have been happening throughout history, but not to the scale we are seeing them today. Flooding, yes these too have been happening throughout history. But the scale of things today is truly biblical. This should not surprise us though. Jesus told us these things would happen in greater intensity and greater frequency in the last days like birth pains (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:8).

Unfortunately, things are going to get worse. I have not made up my mind about the timing of the rapture. I see there could be evidence of a pre-tribulation rapture because we aren’t children of wrath, but I also see that God has never taken Israel out early from their tribulation. Israel has had to endure everything to the bitter end before God rescued them. Usually it was because of their disobedience – they brought it upon themselves. Are we any better at this obedience to God thing? Is the church ready to meet Jesus?

I don’t know how long five minutes is to God. Scripture tells us a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day to God. Time is irrelevant in God’s view. His timepiece is totally different from ours. But if He showed this woman we are close to the end, then maybe we need to pay attention. Maybe it’s time for our hearts to be aligned with God and get on His timetable and His plan.

Last night began Rosh Hashanah, the Hebrew civil New Year. It is first day of the month of Tishrei and also the start of the Feast of Trumpets which is for approximately two days. The Feast of Trumpets is the first of the fall feasts that are considered one of the seven in which the people were to go to the temple to offer sacrifices to God. Jesus Christ has fulfilled the first four spring feasts – his death, burial, resurrection and sending the Holy Spirit all occurred on Jewish feast days. The last three are said to be fulfilled with His second coming and the rapture of the church. The Day of Atonement could be when Jesus sets up the 1,000 year reign on earth and the Feast of Tabernacles could be when we all dwell with Him for eternity.

The Feast of Trumpets could be the day of the rapture. Tradition says that the trumpet or shofar is blowing 99 times and then one long blast at the end. We are told the church would be taken when the last trumpet is blown (1 Corinthians 15:52). Sounds like a possibility. Rosh Hashanah also begins the “Days of Awe” which lead to the most holy day of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

From Jonathan Cahn’s book The Book of Mysteries, the days of awe are days of repentance. The “trumpet signals only ten days remain until Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is linked to the sealing of one’s eternal destiny, as on the Day of Judgment. All ten days are considered holy. Observant Jews do everything they can to get right before God, to make things right with others, to forgive and be forgiven, to repent, to seal up loose ends and to right what was wrong.” All this has to be done before the eve of Yom Kippur (September 30th this year).

So what’s the takeaway for us in this time? We need to be ready. We don’t know the time or the hour of Jesus’ return – when that last trumpet will blast. There is an appointed time for the end. Until then, we’re going to have to go through some stuff. The ride is going to get rougher. Do not be afraid in this last hour. God takes care of His people no matter what. Trust the Lord knows what’s best. Keep looking up. Keep the heart open and receptive to the Lord. Be obedient to what you hear from the Lord. Love others even when they aren’t very loving toward you. They have a mess too and most of them don’t have the Lord to help them through it.

We have been warned time and again by signs and wonders. Everything in the Bible yet to be fulfilled will be fulfilled. Buckle up! It’s really going to happen just as the Bible said it would. Trust God to fulfill His plan in His way and let Him use you in the process. God can and will use you in these last five minutes.

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NLT)

His Love Endures

I woke up this morning with this thought on my mind – His love endures forever. It’s the message from the 136th Psalm, which recounts the Israelite’s journey with the response of God’s love enduring forever as He carried them through as they reached the Promised Land. With that thought on my mind, I recalled the books that I have read over the last three weeks. Three different books with one theme – God carries us through those tough times because of His love for us. Not because of our goodness, but because of His.

The first book was the real life story of enduring brain trauma by Laura Story (When God Doesn’t Fix It). Her husband had a brain tumor that was removed but complications set in. When they got married, they expected a perfect life. But one and a half years in, their lives took an unexpected turn. Their story will never be perfect. Their lives are hard because God didn’t fix the problem or heal Laura’s husband. But God still carries them through. God’s love endures forever.

The next book I read was from Jerry Jenkins (Though None Go with Me) about a modern-day version of the account of Job, if he was a woman set in the early 20th century. The story is about the tragedy of this woman’s life as she endured the hardships of loss, misfortune and loneliness through the ages. She dedicated her life to God at an early age as the “experiment of obedience.” Through all the hard times, she could have cursed God; but she remembered her dedication on that day when she gave it all to Him. The pastor told her on that day that her life would not be easy. And it wasn’t. But through it all, God carried her through. God’s love endures forever.

The last book I finished yesterday was from Francine Rivers called Tamar. It’s a fictional account of the historical story of Judah and Tamar. The story is found in Genesis 38, set in the middle of the account of Joseph’s story. It’s like a little rabbit trail that the writer takes us on as we read through Joseph’s life. I’ll get back to Francine’s story in a minute. This account of Judah’s life is interesting to me.

Early on in my life, I thought Jesus’ line came through Joseph, not Judah. I mean, Joseph got the most write-up, right? So wouldn’t it stand to reason, God had selected him for the role in Jesus’ lineage? Joseph was the righteous one not Judah. Judah did a great injustice to Joseph. However, Judah played a role for God to bring Joseph to the place he needed to be in order to save the Israelites. Judah does step up in the end of the story to help right the wrong, but I don’t know why Judah was God’s man; especially after the story of Tamar. Do you know the story?

Tamar was a Canaanite woman who was given to Er, Judah’s first born son, to be his wife. Er did what was wrong in the sight of God, and God took him out of the picture. Tamar was given to the second son, Onan. Again, he also did what was wrong in the sight of God, and he too was taken out. So Tamar is without a son to carry on Judah’s line, but there was a third son. However, after two sons dying; Judah was not inclined to give this girl another chance. So she was sent back home.

After a time, she realizes Judah is not going to do the honorable thing and takes matters into her own hands. After Judah’s wife dies, Tamar sets up a plan to deceive Judah by playing a temple prostitute. The plan works; she conceives twins. One of those twins, Perez, is the one who is in the line of Jesus. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Francine’s book is about the fictional account from Tamar’s point of view. Although Tamar was a Canaanite, she began to believe in Judah’s God (fictional account). God carried her through the tragedies that she endured through those harsh times. Because Tamar did what she needed to do to carry on Judah’s line, God blessed her and gave her two sons for Judah. Judah did the right thing in the end. And maybe the story of Judah finally taking responsibility for Joseph was because of Tamar. In the end, Judah’s line continues because of God’s love endures forever.

These books made me think of God’s love for us. He really does carry us through; not because of us and our goodness, but because of His goodness and His love for us. His love does endure forever. We are His creation. He called all that He had made very good. We don’t always do what’s right in His sight. But He loves us anyway. His love is shown through His Son. His Son is our example of His love enduring forever. That truly is very good. Thank you, Jesus for Your constant love for us. Believe it and let Him carry you through.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-4

 

The Fulfillment

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 

When I began my college career, I started at a Christian college. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My parents were thrilled with my choice. I signed up for chorus; again to the delight of my parents. They thought I would follow in their footsteps singing in church choirs in my future life. Both of my parents loved singing. When they moved to new towns, they chose churches based on choirs first; preachers second (or at least that was my perception).

I didn’t really want to fall into their footsteps. I really wasn’t musical at all. I could hold a tune, but to sing in such a formal arrangement really held no interest, yet I did it anyway; maybe to please them. However, it was an easy grade. But I hated the black gown that I had to wear in our choral recitals. I didn’t like all the time spent going over the same song until every syllable was emphasized correctly on the right beat. It just seemed tedious. Some love singing in that manner. To me, I endured it.

Every Christmas season, when I hear Handel’s Messiah; I am brought back to that time in the college choir singing the choral presentation. “For unto us a child is born… unto us… a Son is given.” Can you hear it? Being a part of the choral presentation still brings me goose bumps when thinking about it. One hundred plus voices blending together in perfect harmony with such a beautiful arrangement of Scripture. For that alone was a good enough reason to have gone through the tedious practices and putting on that black gown. I lasted one year at that college and in that choir. That was the extent of my choir duties for the rest of my life. I’m done with it unless Jesus calls me to the heavenly choir as a background singer.

As I contemplate Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus’ birth, I look at the names Jesus is given. Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua meaning He came to save us. The name Emmanuel tells us that He is with us; He will never leave us or forsake us. Wonderful Counselor means He is personal with us; we can go to Him with anything. Mighty God means He’s everything to us; nothing is beyond Him. Everlasting Father means He is more than just God to us but shows His loving nature as a wonderful Father who loves us unconditionally. Prince of Peace means He is destined to be King of the Kingdom; the Kingdom that will never end and will be one of peace and love.

God promised a miraculous birth a few centuries before its fulfillment. He put into place everything that needed to happen at the right time. He chose Mary. She would carry the child; give birth in an unexpected place by her understanding but was perfect in God’s prophecy. Can you imagine Joseph having to make the decision to take his very pregnant wife on such a long journey? But he had to go because of the Roman law to go to one’s ancestral home. Joseph was a descendant of King David as was Mary. It just so happens this was foretold as well. Jesus would come through the line of David; be born in David’s hometown of Bethlehem. God chose a Roman government to issue a decree at the time of the Savior’s birth to get them in the right place at the right time. Nothings impossible for God.

We can go all the way back to Abraham and Sarah to see how God planted a seed that would be fulfilled many centuries later. God promised and it happened just as it was foretold. Genesis 17:6 God tells Abraham the promise that would change history. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. God became personal and brought forth the promised son who would bring forth the nation of Israel and eventually bring about Jesus through this ancestral line.

From Abraham to Jesus was written in God’s Word long before Mary had a clue that she was the one chosen for this blessing. The Gospel of Matthew records this genealogy. The Gospel of Luke goes even further back in time to the first man – Adam – from Adam to Jesus. God’s plan was established from the very foundations of the world. Jesus was sent to redeem what Adam had done. It just took a couple of thousand years to bring it about to make the conditions right for the Good News to spread.

If we can see this far back, we can see into the future because it’s all right there in black and white and read all over. God’s future promises will be fulfilled; we just don’t know the timing of it all. But at the right time, it will happen. We can believe it because of Jesus – He was promised, and He fulfilled it all. Birth. Death. Resurrection. Ascension to Heaven. Redemption for all who believe. The promised Spirit to come and be with us until Jesus’ return.

It happened just like He said it would. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). For us a child is born, a Son is given and His government will rule forever. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her (Luke 1:38). And it was done.

Under God

It’s been two weeks since our country’s elections. People are still protesting the outcome. Even in our state, the governorship is still questionable. One would think we are a divided nation. We can’t even agree to disagree. We are called intolerant if we hold different viewpoints. We all hold up a banner of ideologies we are passionate about and will fight for them.

I grew up during the era of the Vietnam War. It was a very divisive time as well. People were protesting the war for whatever reasons; some felt it was not our war to fight; it had nothing to do with us as a nation, and many said we shouldn’t have been there endangering our young men. I don’t remember the protests, but I remember the bracelet I had with a man’s name on it who was a prisoner of war. During that time, my family lived close to an army base. I can remember the windows rattling when the base was practicing war games.

The great thing about our nation is that we have rights that we are allowed because of the forefathers’ forethought of what we needed as a nation to survive as a republic. At one time, there were only the select few who could vote. Protests happened, and women got the right to vote. Protests bring awareness to the problems that most of us would ignore. The sand looks pretty good when the world is falling apart. And if given the opportunity, we would bury our heads in it so we can ignore what others are going through.

As a follower of Jesus, though, we are told to carry our brothers and sisters burdens. We are to fight for the ones who are not able to fight for themselves. We are to carry the banner of God; not to lord it over them but to carry it into battle. We have our own war game that God is preparing us for battle. But that doesn’t mean we join the loud voices of protest; we get in the game. We get into the areas where we can make a difference. We join the political process; we join the military; we join the police force and be the change that everyone is crying out for. We can be the greatest change agent because we carry the banner of God. When we do His will, change happens.

The political climate doesn’t define us as a nation. The forefather’s put in checks and balances; and so far, those provisions have worked to keep a governmental order. God also put in His own checks and balances. God puts His plan in place. We may not see it right away, but God is always at work in the process. The outcome of the elections may not have thrilled half of the nation; however, God has chosen this man for this season (whatever comes of it).

We are defined as a nation by the rights we have. We can protest in an orderly manner. We can raise our voices to make change happen. We have the right to vote. We are allowed many freedoms in this nation, and people still come here for those freedoms. I ran into a woman yesterday whose second language is English. I don’t know her heart’s language. I have only spoken to her when I see her at a restaurant where she works. In our short conversation yesterday, she told me to have a Happy Thanksgiving. I gave her the same wish in return. She understands freedom; she came for it.

Maybe we aren’t so divided after all. We all have the hope of a better future. Some are a bit misguided about how that better future will come about – it’s not about an elected office. A better future involves God. He is the banner in which I will fight for the right to honor and worship openly – but also to be able to tell others about. As a follower of Jesus, I am being prepared for battle. God creates warriors to fight in His army. The fight though is not against other people; it’s against our common enemy – Satan. Satan is the one who is creating the division. As followers of Jesus, we need to see the difference and not fall prey to his snares. We are to be united as one under God – not as a nation, but as a people who live in a foreign place. This is not our home. Our hope is in a better home; home that is to come as promised by Jesus. We are to live as one because that’s what Jesus told His disciples to do. We will be known by His banner when we follow His lead.

Remember, we have much to be thankful for. Let’s live like it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100:3-5 (NLT)

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