Stand Strong: fight evil with good

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God help us! Exercising wisdom is even more important when such evil events as these [Paris bombings and shootings, ISIS barbaric slaughtering, and senseless murders like that of Amanda Blackburn] stir us into considerations of retaliation.   Naturally our inner being cries out “Why?!!” and “they’ve gotta pay for this!” Justice is a Godly trait found in mankind… but God also teaches us to trust His ways over our own so that matters are not amplified by our impromptu, even well-intentioned foolishness.

It takes great restraint at such times as this! It truly is more than we can bear! That’s right; don’t you think history shows that these things drive people to search out the Almighty? Doesn’t it cause people, tribes and nations to fall before Him, broken beyond any human help, souls crying out to the God who has been longing to save them from the power of sin over their lives? Such horrific events are redeemed by the redemption of previously lost souls.

God help us all to respond in the Spirit as Jesus demonstrated with His life and teachings in the Holy Scriptures. Self-sacrificing, obeying God’s instruction and loving even those who persecured him, Jesus showed compassion for the people, and stood up against the pious and evil with the truth and love.

Likewise, we can face evil with preparedness and the steadfastness in God, faith, hope and love. Jesus said we can do this to. Being a true Christian means we strive to be like Him. It is easy to forget how very much Jesus was a “man of sorrows, aquainted with grief”…scorned, rejected…persecuted. Are we willing to do that? Really?

If so, we must remember it is not accomplished in our power, oh no, it is God’s and His alone. His truth assures us. His love encourages us. His Holy Spirit empowers us. How else would it be possible to go on?

Only through Jesus and the work accomplished on the cross, can we even see that God forgives every sin that is delivered to the washing of His blood. God is a delivering God! His forgiveness is far beyond our human, justice-demanding understanding. Truth is: ALL of us have sinned against holy God and deserve to die. Praise God, His mercy provided the payment for my sins at Calvary! Have you received that precious gift?

I pray for all those suffering, including those deceived by the lies of ISIS, who both willingly and unwillingly serve the evil which damages so many lives, including their own.

Unfortunately, there have been and will be further innocent lives lost in the battle between good and evil. Jesus’ sacrifice showed that such things are not outside God’s plan to overcome. He uses even these tragedies for God’s greater glory.

Not one of his lambs is lost. Some are moved from this world to their heavenly home sooner as God deems best. We who choose not to reject His lordship can be sure that we remain in His care throughout all eternity. Our beloved will be missed here on earth, but we can only imagine the utter fulfillment they are experiencing in their heavenly home. Comfort is felt when we look forward with even more anticipation to be rejoicing with them in the future.

My prayer is that every life lost has a soul ready to meet the Almighty, face-to-face, and give an answer for how they lived when He delivers the true judgement and makes all things right again.

There WILL be true justice, comfort, and endless goodness for those who live as our Maker intends. There will be holy retribution delivered to the deceitful, wicked and evildoers. It just isn’t likely to be realized in the world we live in filled with evil.

Shouldn’t we pray all the harde? Should we not pray with more fervency…more turning to God for His direction, mercies and power to persevere in seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our Lord…inasmuch as it depends on us, live at peace with all men…be a good reflection of Christ to the world? After all, this is not just a physical/emotional/political battle but a hightening spiritual war. Just as from man’s beginning in the garden, Satan’s evil is working to get man to act selfishly, in his own power, without regard to God and fellow man.

God’s Word tells us that spiritual battles are only won spiritually… best fought by every child of God being ready and equipped: suited up in full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), standing in unity through prayer and enpowered by the Holy Spirit. God promised that His Church will not be overcome even if all hell comes against it. So, God help us, let’s STAND STRONG and give glory to God who is our all in all.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!

Let the Church of God be a strong tower for those struggling in walking by faith and a bright beacon to shatter the darkness.

 



A Modern Parable: Computer and Our Spiritual Journey

20140210-153759.jpg“Our lives are run [enabled, controlled] by one of two ‘operating systems,’ either the [natural] flesh or the Spirit [supernatural]” -Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

THAT was the statement made on this morning’s radio program “Revive Our Hearts” that spurred this post.

Suddenly I was developing an analogy between the computer and our Christian walk. Sort of like the object lessons that Jesus would use to explain spiritual concepts, my creative mind hurriedly captured the thoughts for a modern day parable. Any brand names are used for illustrative purposes only.

Let me start with the initial phrase and build from there:

Computer and Our Spiritual Journey.
Our lives are run [enabled, controlled] by one of two ‘operating systems,’ either the [natural] flesh or the Spirit [supernatural].”Computer and Our Spiritual Journey
The pure operating system was made by the Creator to work perfectly: powerful, useful, pleasurable and efficient. When initially installed properly the OS works great in and of itself.
But we users [people, believers or not] make operator errors. We must interact with other programs and the internet [world] which are infected without becoming infected ourselves. When, not if, we do encounter problems [sin, embedded patterns of behavior] we must turn to the manufacturer [God, personally in prayer] and/or the manual [Bible, THE source] to know how to identify the problem [discern and identify sin] and how to properly fix it. [The Word of God instructs us how to repent and reconcile, purge and correct].
WE, ourselves, must be diligent at installing [applying] the latest upgrades [truth of God’s Word] and pay attention to ‘error messages’ [warnings] to prevent ‘bugs, viruses & crashes’ [sin in thoughts, patterns and behavior] from slowing our progress. It is our responsibility to exercise care.
We must stay alert for unwanted ‘spam’ [diversions] and “false links” that hijack us to a foreign place or plant a “worm” [not so unlike that ‘snake’ in the garden] which causes bad things to happen [as we stray from pure truth], often when we are carelessly unaware.
Carelessness can result in having the Enemy be able to steal the contact info for all our friends or even our passwords. Then the enemy will not only infect our system, but also those of others. He can send out all kinds of junk [problems] to all our contacts [loved ones] without our even being aware of it via background programs running invisibly. [we war with not just the “seen” but the unseen]. Worse yet…these false links are sent out in OUR name. Our testimony , reputation and relationship with others is damaged! The Trojan Horse is allowed into the gate because your friend trusts you not to harm them.
We ALL need to be discerning when receiving messages; even from friends, lest we ensnared.
How do we do that?

These are just some of the basic things that I have learned:

1. Know your Operating System (OS)
– If you have a MAC based [Christian] system, then you need to know that a Windows program [non-Christian] will NOT work with it, and vise versa, UNLESS there is a [conversion] program [Holy Spirit] is at work as well. Likewise, if you are used to working on an Apple based computer at home and then at work they use an IBM, you will NOT be able to operate in the exact same way.

2.Know where you are going and why.
-A link (place you are heading) sent without any explanation (no ‘Re:’ in an email’s topic field) or one that makes promises of instant gain or other “too good to be true” outcomes are earmarks of trouble…EVEN IF sent from a friend or family member! [God’s Plan is Understandable, true and knowable by our purposely seeking God and His ways]. Appearances can be deceiving- false labels and promises [deceit and lies are Satan’s forte] are more easily recognized when we study the truth [Bible and its teachings].

3. Know your “friends”.
– Really know who they are and help them know when you believe they are under attack.
-The definition of the word “friend” has been warped to include not just our true friends, but also acquaintances, service or business contacts and previous strangers. The nature of the Internet allows some people to assume false identities and to put forth falsehoods much too easily. By personally knowing your friends…you can watch out for one another against the various dangers surrounding us.
[the book of Proverbs speaks to the importance of keeping good company, dangers, and the need to not only beware of enticements but to put distance between evil and ourselves.]

4. Know the SOURCE!
– There are many places that offer us information and even FREE programs, items, music, computers and devices. In this I quote an oft repeated Army phrase– “STAY ALERT; STAY ALIVE!” [Bibles numerous warnings on deception and staying alert and wickedness] Remember that problems often enter by posing as temptations and pretty packages. [remember the temptations of Jesus Himself by Satan who twisted the truth. The victory came as Jesus quoted God’s Word… not an interpretation…the ACTUAL words of Holy Scripture revealed and overcame the deceit].
Likewise, There are ways to check if a link is taking you to where it “says” its taking you (view sources). In general, the old rules of common sense is right on, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” AND “nothing is FREE”. Also, the more familiar you become with Truth, the more easily recognized is deceit.

5. KEEP CURRENT. [don’t stop growing in righteousness]
“Use it or lose it”. The longer that you’ve been away from your computer, the greater the chance that there may be more work to bring it up to date. Everyone can see this in that a daily attended E-mail box has hundreds less waiting items than does one that hasn’t been opened in a week! The junk builds up, important items may be overlooked and opportunities and deadlines missed.
It’s important to install updates and upgrades, because they most always have improved filters of junk and fixes of problems. BUT…even with those… KNOW the source. It is possible to get a blindly sent email CLAIMING that you just need to install this onto your computer or click this link or tell them your password, birthdate and Social Security ID! Don’t fall for it! There are legitimate ways for real people to get those private pieces of information and it does NOT involve email where we don’t REALLY know who is asking or what they intend to do with the information.

Although God created man in His own image and pure. Because of sin, this Life is NOT problem free! We must turn to God [the Creator, manufacturer] for a rebuild [forgiveness and grace; the application of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross paid for our sin=justification] and then subsequent training and upgrades [sanctification, growing in Godliness]. God’s way is not just an “additional” program or “add-on app”! God’s way is the Operation System! We can do NOTHING (good, holy, right) without Him!
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I pray this modern day parable is helpful to you in some way. I hope you have enjoyed this little analogy and that it has given you pause to think about other ways that God uses in our everyday life and activities to continue to teach His ways to us. Of course, it is MOST important to be reading, learning and applying the Bible to our lives. But it is nice that He uses things all around us to turn our minds toward Him.

I would love to hear your own thoughts. Please leave a comment below.”

The Wonders of Christmas

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As Christmas is just now officially arriving at midnight I wish you a WONDER FILLED Christmas! Not just an occasion for gift giving and receiving, singing and feasting, but a really marvelous time of being caught up in the wonder of Christmas. I wish for you, and your entire family, the kind of wonder that is displayed in this photo (thanks Isha S.).  Do you see the beautiful blend of delight and awe, curiosity and joy that is seen as this young child reaches out for the Christmas tree ornament? THAT is the kind of Christmas I wish for you!!

Delight in the love and merriment of gathering our families and friends together. Awe at the fact that God; the Almighty Creator of Heaven, Earth and everything, sent His only son to earth that we might receive forgiveness and mercy and be allowed to have an everlasting relationship with Him.

The curious excitement at exploring the many sights, sounds, foods and traditions that accompany this special time of celebration. And finally the JOY, pure bliss, of learning that it is not our ability to buy loads of gifts, or give the best presents that make Christmas so very special. It is not the things that make this time most memorable. Rather, I have learned in the leanest of times, in the poorest of health, even when we don’t have the time and energy to participate in a lot of different activities that the modern world thinks typify Christmas celebrations; it is even at the darkest of times, that we come to learn Christmas is NOT about things… it’s about people.

Most importantly, as we center around the true meaning of Christmas, we learn that Jesus was more than just some baby born in a stable over two thousand years ago. Jesus demonstrated what Christmas is all about. It’s about giving of ourselves. Even in the poorest of surroundings, when it looks as though we have nothing of value to give, there remains this truth. There is no greater gift than giving ourselves for the sake of others.

So for those friends of mine who must rest up for three days to be able to have enough energy to be able to even attend a gathering of family for a few hours (and then need another day or two to recover), I say, “rest up. For your just being there is a great gift to your loved ones.” To those who are so very sad or depressed because the lack of sunshine or the reminders of dear ones who have passed on are causing your emotions to weigh heavy upon your spirit, I say, “take heart. Your loved ones love you; sadness included. Get dressed, chin up, and get out that door to your friend’s or families gathering. Allow yourself the grace of knowing that your emotions may be down, but that your heart and soul may be uplifted simply by purposing to go out and partake in the wonder of Christmas.”

You see, if God can take the form of a tiny helpless human child for the sake of bringing hope to others, we can follow this example. It cost Jesus greatly to forgo the ultimate bliss of heaven and enter into our world. Yet, because He did, we have been given the greatest gift of having our sins forgiven and an eternal relationship with the Holy God who created us and wants so much to have a good relationship with us that He sent His only son Jesus to accomplish this for us. He was an example of how to give of ourselves for the sake of others. And when we do give of ourselves it always costs us something. Yet, in so doing we receive back many more blessings than we could have even imagined.

Christmas joy and wonder are so very simple. . . it is in looking around you . . . intentionally opening your eyes to see the many beautiful things that God created, gives and shares with us. Just look at the children. Jesus Himself valued the simple way in which a child comes to understand his world; how they come to faith in Jesus. “Let the Children come to Me,” Jesus commanded as adults tried to keep them away from Him. Everyone knows that it is so much more fun to celebrate Christmas with a child in the home. The bubbly excitement, the many questions, the laughter and wide-eyed awe that are seen with children are good reminders for all of us to get back to the basics of what Christmas is all about.

As Christmas 2013 is now officially here, I wish you a Christmas filled to overflowing with the love that Jesus Christ brought to us that very first Christmas. May you discover it first-hand and then dare to share what you’ve found with others, so that your joy (and theirs) may be multiplied many times over as God’s presence fills the missing void. “Glory to God is the Highest!” the angels proclaimed on that first Christmas. Let us join in that song, now and forever.

 

Happy Birthday Jesus! O’ what a wonder you are!

Shepherds and wise men, paupers and kings;

all who would follow the star.

 

Coming as helpless babe. Your life for us to give.

Humble or sickly, poor or common;

ANY who sought you could live.

 

We celebrate you Jesus! All else put asunder.

Lights, gifts and presents, music and gatherings

YOU are the source of ALL wonder.

 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” — John 3:16    The truth is so simple. Have you believed?

I pray that you, dear reader, will discover the deepest and sweetest sense of wonder yet known to man . . . may you discover the sweet gift of Emmanuel ( God with us ) . . . Jesus Christ who came to be the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, and should you choose, your Lord and Savior. Merry Christmas!