Thursday, March 21, 2013


  Today I want to write thinking of my sister-in-law, Judy. She's dying with brain cancer and only has a little time. I know she awaits the Lord and her family is wanting her to go and be done with the pain in this life. But there will be a loss in the their heart as they (we) say good-bye.
  There pops up this little word called "Paradise". In looking up what Scholars say, it's a Persian/Iranian word and means something like "a beautiful park." The Greek writers used it of Persian public parks and in mythology there are stories from varied people where the great hero's that have died live with the gods. When one examines the word, the word is used close to fifty times in the OT Greek usually translating the Hebrew word for garden. It's not a surprise that it is used in Genesis 2-3 of the Garden of Eden. Prophets like Ezekiel and Isaiah spoke of a restored Israel and their land to a state of "Paradise". (Just read Isa. 35 to see this.) These all point to an earthly state of affairs.
  It is clear that the word "Paradise" came to mean more than an earthly location. We hear it from Jesus speaking to a dying thief in Luke 23:43. Paul speaks of being caught up to "Paradise" not knowing if he was in the body or out in II Cor. 12:1-3. Upon reading these, questions begin to flood in our minds. But here's the thing. Too many equate "Paradise" as some kind of waiting-room where the forgiven wait until after the judgment and then they get into heaven. But looking more closely at II Cor. 12:1-3 and how the Jew's expressed their words, "Paradise" is heaven. The Jew's expressed there were three heavens or heavenlies. One was where the birds fly. There was the outer space beyond the realm of the earth. The third heavens was where God Himself dwelt. That's where Paul went that he calls "Paradise." Jesus speaks to the church at Ephesus in Rev. 2:7, that the over-comers would eat of the tree of life which "is in the Paradise of God." The tree of life is in this "Paradise" where the angel of the Lord protected anyone from getting to it from the very beginning (Gen. 3). Christ opened the way to God's presence.
  I realize there are lots of questions and I don't claim to have it all on. I'm just reading the Scriptures for what it says without reading too much into them by speculating. It looks to me that "Paradise" is how we relate to God being with Him. It's not a somewhere up there term but a presence of God Himself and we exist in His presence. It looks like that to me but I could be wrong. I've been wrong before.
  In all, from my view, Judy will be in the "Paradise" of God, eating of this eternal, grand and glorious tree of life as that is what the Spirit says to the churches for the one who overcomes! Judy will conquer death because Jesus lives!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


  The only way to keep from being overdrawn at a bank is to make sure you deposit more than you take out!  You must put more in and make no demands on your account to be overdrawn. 
  The same can be said in the lives of people. This can be true in a marriage where a husband/wife make emotional demands without ever making deposits. They find themselves emotional spent with nothing more to give. In other words, they are overdrawn! Over and over a mate keeps telling the other, "Trust me!" yet over and over they abuse that trust. The one breaking trust has a difficult time understanding because they may be sincere but do not see their pattern of living has "overdrawn" the other. The broken trust time and time again has become an emotional withdrawal of the other until there is nothing left to withdraw any longer. The result is mistreatment on one side and hardness on the other. Trust is proven, not spoken! (Jam. 1:22-25) Both are headed in directions that will destroy eventually. The one comes with withdrawals, "forgive me", yet in the process makes no deposits in the heart of the other to assure them they are trustworthy! There are no reasons given to trust and make the other believe that the account is honorable. The result is the one thinks the other is being hard on them not letting them forget mistakes when in reality the one that is untrustworthy has yet to deposit trust within the heart of the other by their attitude and actions. This same kind of withdrawals happens not only in marriages but between friends, family members and employees! Most of the time, the guilty bend people until they break and then take an attitude or complain when the broken one does not act like everything is fine. The broken are simply overdrawn and have nothing left. 
  What are we to do? To the one who has given over and over finding themselves emotionally overdrawn, it's time you start putting a deposit into the heart of Jesus. One goes too long without depositing something back into the heart and you will be completely, emotionally ruined. There has to be time for intake. To the one who has taken and keeps taking, they need to show some humble service to the Lord and make a deposit in the heart of the one spent! The Lord forgives but we can't abuse His forgiveness and with forgiveness there must be fruit that results. That is a deposit that assures the bankrupt of a sincere life lived in honor and dedication! It shows a commitment to Jesus and the other that is overdrawn. There you find grace to help in time of need!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"A False Love?"

  People by the droves speak of the Lord and His love. On facebook you see all sorts of religious posts, many times with good sounding logic but far from Biblical truth. What's worse is those who post such are ignorant of the word of God to know the difference. We all agree that we are to love God and that with His love are to love one another. We agree that even our enemies should be loved. In all this, Jesus taught us that He loves us and we should love Him.
  But there is something that threatens all this love so many speak about. It comes in the form of falsehood and the majority aren't even aware of what they are doing. It's a doctrine believed that we disobey God, go after things that make us happy and feel good but it's all okay because, after all, God loves us and we love Him! Let's party and drink it up but that's okay because God loves us and we love Him! Let's use the profane words of the world from time to time and that's okay because God loves us and we love Him! Let's speak some off-color joke or statement that is degrading or filthy but it's okay because God loves us and we love Him! In all this, it's like an unfaithful spouse saying to their mate: "I'm unfaithful to you, but I still love you!" That's a rather blatant contradiction wouldn't you say?
  Among the many teachings of Jesus concerning love, there is one teaching that stands on the peak of His ministry: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15) "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." (John 14:21)
  God does love us and is faithful to His teachings. We, too, should love God. But the claim to love God while being unfaithful to His word and keeping His commandments is a self-deceived person! Our love for the Lord must be expressed by the life of obedience to His teachings. We must line up with His word and not some false type of stance. Anything less is not true love but a false love coupled with a false sense of security.

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Trust God Over Emotions"

  We have a variety of God-given emotions. We feel sorrow, guilt, shame, embarrassment, disappointment, hope, anger, fear, love and the list goes on. We are created in the image of God with many different emotions.
  Emotions are not wrong until we start living for feelings. Decisions are made that provide desired emotions at times. Somehow we grow to be comfortable with an emotion, even though it could be destructive or negative, we embrace it!
  Take those who are addicted to drugs. They are addicted to a feeling created by their chosen drug. People with anger issues feel better once they have expressed their anger. Parents browbeat their children and those children grow up to think that feeling guilty is normal. Compulsive people act without thinking in order to achieve some feeling to feed their want. It seems more and more are being driven by their emotions and many have become a prisoner of their emotions. Too many live for feelings! It carries over into our worship of the Lord that we want to "feel" something!
  What many fail is to learn to live for God and obey God. Jesus had emotions but did not allow His emotions to rule over the will of God. When facing the cross for a lost mankind, His heart was hurting, His fears were high but yet in it all, "Thy will be done!" was what His life was wrapped around, not His feelings. We can experience a whole range of emotions while serving the Lord but those emotions must not be the master of our lives. We must keep our emotions in check and learn to obey the Lord over what we feel. This is the key to emotional balance! Let God direct your steps. David spoke these words: "My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken." (Psa. 62:1-2) Let God master your life, even your emotions. Again, it's okay to feel, just don't let your feelings be your director and guide in matters of this life. Jesus is Lord!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"What's Happened To Repentance?"

  I have often wondered what has become of repentance? It seems to be slowly fading into the background while embracing everyone no matter what they have said or done. Repentance is a response of the heart turning from sin to righteousness. It is the very fiber and substance of Christianity! There is nothing in Christianity that is valid without repentance. Baptism is not baptism without repentance, it's just getting wet! Love is not love without repentance, it's just a feeling. Worship is not worship without repentance but empty lip service. Fellowship is not fellowship without repentance but a social club of friends. There is nothing more important in our relationship with the Lord than repentance!
  That being true, why has repentance become so neglected? How come the Lord's church is fighting itself because sin abounds and little repentance? People get worked into a huff and leave a local congregation. Suddenly one day, they just show up and want things to pick up right where they where before they left. Relationships were strained and the belief is there should be complete acceptance without repentance. What has happened to repentance?
  In the OT, priests were instructed to call people to repentance but they failed in this responsibility at times.  The Lord through Malachi the prophet reminded the priests saying about Levi, their tribal father, that he walked before God with true instruction, uprightness and turned many back (repentance) from sin (Mal. 2:6).
  James speaks to the church: "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."  (Jam. 5:19-20) That's the aim. We should not be catering or appealing to people that have wandered away without calling for repentance. We need to help them "turn away" and "turn them back". We cannot ignore sin and sinful practices. Without repentance, people who once named the Lord as their sin bearer, will lose the battle of sin and be lost forever. People advance their sin, their sinful attitudes and are never called to repent of their past sins or sinful attitudes. Doesn't it make you wonder what has happened to repentance?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Is It Really Worth It?"

  All the talk. All the heartache. All choices we make. Why do we do what we do? Why did Israel do what they did? To send a people into a wilderness with nothing for forty years of wanderings for what? God sending Jesus, born of woman, to live some thirty-three years and die? All this pain. All this suffering.
  We turn to our present world and see so much suffering and pain. We reflect on the history and how God entered the history of man. We are faced it challenges and sometimes they are like mountains. People hurt one another. Violence is a daily occurrence. Innocent children are slain. What is God doing? What is God thinking?
  Here comes the apostle Peter. He failed so many times and his ultimate failure was the denouncing the Lord he had embraced and promised to die for. What pain must have entered his heart. But these words he pens inspired by the Spirit: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." (I Pet. 1:3-4) 
  Since God has gone to such great lengths both in the past and through Jesus Christ, there has to be something grand, something wonderful beyond description awaiting us. An inheritance of such magnitude that human words can't explain it! God subjected His people to a severe wilderness with one thought in mind: 'My plan is to bring you home!' All the punishments of Israel, the trials people went through was not forever. 
  Here we are and our trials, our difficulties are not forever. Home, home with God is forever. A place of only the dwelling of God, never mixed with evil or any corruption. In the presence of God where we find imperishable and undefiled qualities that will never fade with the using. We look around us and see corruption. We listen to God's voice through His word and He speaks what He has accomplished for us through Jesus. The only question we must ask ourselves: Is it really worth it?  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"What's Our Nehustan?"

  It seems we understand little about holiness. Holiness has lost is luster! It happened in Israel. In their desert journey the nation complained against God and Moses saying, "The people spoke against God and Moses, 'Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.'" (Num. 21:5) Food from heaven. Food provided by God. The Lord had enough complaining and as punishment the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit! Many died. God gave the people a way to be saved. Moses was told to make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard and those who look upon it would live! That bronze serpent was God's tool for their salvation.
  Years went by and what happened next? The people turned the bronze snake, God's holiness, into an object of worship! They named the bronze serpent Nehushtan. They burned incense to it and worshiped it as God! It wasn't until King Hezekiah broke it into pieces and this idolatry was brought to a halt (II Kings 18). A holy, saving opportunity from God was turned into something unholy by man.
  There is nothing that has changed today. God's grace came through Jesus Christ. A saving grace revealed in the Son of God. God's grace has been turned into a license to do whatever because grace covers all. The church has been turned into a denomination. God's love and forgiveness into a freedom to believe whatever as long as you believe. Truth has become subjective and righteousness relative while acceptance is universal. God is being remade in our own image!!!
  The holiness of God must remain holy. If we rename or redesign or remake any holy blessings from God into something He never intended, are we worshiping our Nehustan?

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Daily Living"

  Whatever you practice in your daily life will be reflected in times of difficulties. When things are going well for us, most just ride the wave of good with little effort toward working on their faith. I know this too well as I have done this at times in my life. When our faith is shallow, our practice isn't concerned about righteousness and holiness that the Lord has called us to, when the struggles hit all sort of thoughts and anguish come into our hearts.
  People wonder during those times if God has abandoned them. People question if God is punishing them from something in their past and it haunts them. These things reveal how little we have developed a trust and assurance in our heavenly Father. If we question something from our past, did we ever find the forgiveness of the Lord? And then we hear the response, "I never forgave myself!" Our lives and thinking drift to this extent. You can't forgiven yourself! Forgiveness is found only in Christ Jesus and forgiveness must be embraced. It's His forgiveness based on the covenant (Heb. 8:12) that was made with us when we entered Jesus. One either accepts it or denies it!
  With all this, your life will take on what you have placed your heart around. If holiness and a deep appreciation for the Lord's dealing with you lead you into a greater love, when the difficulties hit, you will practice and lean on His love and holiness. If a lack of love and sincerity is your practice, you will find little love and back away from the Lord when times get tough. With that, you never realize that all trials that come are for your testing, to streamline your faith, to remove hurtful parts of you and bring assurance and the ability to endure which takes you to God. What do you practice each day?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Too Much Talk"

  It's rather amazing how many refuse to confess their sins but are quick to point out they aren't perfect! You hear it all the time, "I'm not perfect!" Most of the time that is spoken in light of sin. Who speaks about perfection? God speaks of His Son's perfect life and perfection is something we should strive for in light of our Savior but never are we spoken as perfect on our own!
  Here's our thought for today. We seem to be so busy explaining why we sin, why we fail that we never confess that we have sinned. When we sin it seems everyone is to blame for my sin other than myself. It's the way I was raised, it's my parents fault, it's the environment I grew up in, it's our culture, it's our friends, it's our fears, it's our doubts, it's all complicated, it's lack of people accepting me, it's because people don't understand, it's because you haven't walked in my shoes, it's because...and we continue to add to the drama in our lives and the shallow living because we have an excuse for every element of our sinfulness. When we have finished our speech, why we had no choice but to sin and that makes us not responsible! We talk too much and explain too much!!!
  God speaks: "I'm willing to forgive your sins but you must be willing to confess there's something that needs forgiveness!" "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Sticks and Stones"

  We have heard the old saying, "Sticks and stones my break my bones but words will never hurt me!" How would you feel if you found out that really wasn't true? They were three friends of Job who tried to comfort him while he dealt with the pain of boils and the broken heart of losing his children. Here is what he said in response: "How long will you torment me and crush me with your words?" (Job 19:2)
  There is nothing more hurtful than deep, barbed verbal thrusts! Words can scald and burn. Words can bury someone. Words that are used in this manner come from callous people. The Scriptures teach: "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." (Eph. 4:29) Unwholesome, rotten words never help a situation. Our tongues should be given under the power of the Lord so we can control what is said. In the heat of the moment, in a time of need, words need to be spoken that edify, build up the one with whom you are dealing with. Situations deteriorate into arguments because unwholesome words are spoken. The result? No grace to help in time of need to defuse the moment and the situation goes toward evil and the power of the devil.
  In the book of Revelation, the Dragon, who is called the devil and Satan (Rev. 12:9), used ceaseless words to accuse the followers of the Lamb. The Scriptures teach he accused them day and night (Rev. 12:10). When people use their tongues to accuse another, especially if they don't know the whole situation, who are they acting like? Where has their tongue been given its power? "And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity;...and is set on fire by hell." (James 3:6)
  Vicious words can fall from the lips of those who claim righteousness! Armed with rightness for our cause, we use words to embarrass, words that exacerbate guilt, words that humiliate, words that maim and isolate! And it is done many times under the name of the Lord! Words thrust to put someone in their place to allow their maximum affect! Words to shame and bring guilt. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can forever hurt me!" God, forgive us and our tongues and use us to your glory!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Life AFter Death"

  "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death." (Rev. 12:11) These are those in heaven and their victory because of Christ Jesus.
  We face many obstacles, some greater than others. There are too many voices that we allow to direct us. Listen, dying is not our real enemy! Living without God is the real enemy!!! The blood of the Lamb means something or at least it should to us when we face health issues and death. It seems people's view of the blood of the Lamb expresses their view of life after death. There are those who aren't sure there is life after death. There are those who hope there is life after death. There are those who know there is life after death but it lacks beauty and power. And finally those who know the Lord lives, they too live even in the face of death.
  When it comes our time to die, and that day will come unless Jesus returns first, will we insist that God keep us alive or question His intention of taking us from those we love? Our faith in the Lord Jesus should lead us to facing the tough realities in this life knowing that God is moving us toward the completion of His loving and kind purpose - bringing us home to Himself! A faith that does not see that does not see any overcoming because of the blood of the Lamb. A faith that does not trust and commit our lives into the hand of the Lord even when facing death is a poor substitute for the faith offered in the Scriptures. It seems to me that we, in America, live in a constant state of anxiety about something because we put too much value on things and comfortable living while looking at painless, instant dying!
  The true purpose of faith and our existence should be shaped by One who chose to give up His life for us. Our faith should deepen and be shaped by the One who did not spare His own Son but brought Him to death for us - and He lives! What if our Lord Jesus Christ, the One who died in my place, had talked His way out of the judgment hall, avoiding the cross to save His own neck?

Monday, March 4, 2013

"The Delight of God"

  Some how we miss God! And at times, miss God badly. We don't realize who He really is and what He stands for. The older I get this is becoming much clearer to me how little I really know my God.
  Micah states that God pardons iniquity because He delights in unchanging love (Micah 7:18). He delights! Do you realize God delights to pardon you? God wants to forgive and it is a thrill for Him to forgiven. We don't seem to get that. It's true God is holy and does not look upon sin. It is true sin will be punished. What what about the humble, penitent one who knows they have failed and in need of pardon? This is where God looks, wants and delights to forgive! Why do you think there is joy in heaven over the repentance of one soul?
  God doesn't dare us to come to Him! He doens't want to strike us down! He waits for us with open arms, always watching and looking to see if we want His forgiveness. You say you're not sure? What do you think Jesus was meaning when He taught Luke 15? Go ahead, read it for yourself and see if God is watching and waiting. Our God, our Savior delights in forgiveness. It thrills Him when we return to Him. I've known people time after time ask God for His forgiveness only to be beaten down again with sin's sinfulness. Their heart grows weary. They conclude there is no way that God can accept them because of their continued failure. But that's just not true about God.
  Does God delight in our sin? No! Does God smile at the result of our sin? Never! Is God charmed at our wickedness? No sir! Does anything give God exulting joy? YES! Being able to extend mercy pleases Him so deeply it is hard for us to comprehend. The opportunity to forgive thrills the heart of God.
  Isaiah speaks if those in sin would forsake their sinfulness and return to Him with their hearts, He would ABUNDANTLY PARDON (Isa. 55:7)! Why? Because the ways of God are not the ways of man (Isa. 55:8)! God pardons the sincere in heart abundantly. It is His delight to do so. You see, the guilty hearted know they are in need and the heavenly Father who died for us knows He has the answer to our sinfulness and it thrills His heart when we come to Him, humbling ourselves. He delights in His unchanging love. When are we going to accept this?