Sing to the Lord

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Sing to the Lord,
for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.
—Isaiah 12:5-6

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Tax Time

Here’s another great post by my friend and contributing writer, Patricia Knight.

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Tax Time

By Patricia Knight

Soon we will be preoccupied calculating our annual Federal income tax returns, begrudgingly sending our sums to the IRS.  Since most of us attempt to spend our personal funds wisely, it is baffling to accept that the big machinery of government may be using our funds inefficiently and with impunity.

Taxes have been demanded of workers for centuries. King “Solomon had twelve governors over all Israel, who supplied provisions for the king and his royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year”(1 Kings 4:7). Lest you think that a small task, the following list provides the daily requirements for feeding King Solomon’s court, totaling  thousands of people:

  • 185 bushels of flour
  • 375 bushels of meal
  • 10 head of stall-fed cattle
  • 20 pasture-fed cattle
  • 100 sheep
  • 100 goats
  • Deer, gazelle, roebucks and choice fowl (1 Kings 4:22).

In Nehemiah’s day there was a loud outcry from the people because their tax rates were so astronomically high. The Jewish people were paying as much as one half of their harvest produce and a portion of the tithes to support the temple.  Taxes placed such an extreme financial burden on some families, they were forced to mortgage their fertile fields to pay their assessment. Others in desperate situations sold their own sons and daughters into slavery (Nehemiah 5:1-5).

It is estimated that during Jesus’ time the Jews were paying thirty to forty percent of their income for taxes and temple dues. No wonder the position of tax collector was so despised and the official himself deplored for padding his pockets by collecting more taxes than were actually due.

One day the Pharisees, the religious-political leaders among the Israelite people,  deliberately attempted to trap Jesus by asking Him an ambiguous question. It was a verbal snare designed to destroy Jesus’ credibility no matter how He answered. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “‘Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’”(Matthew 22:17). 

Jesus responded, “‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax’” (Matthew 22:18). Jesus then asked the men to describe whose image and inscription was engraved on the coin. When the Pharisees replied to Jesus that both sides of the coin focused on Caesar, Jesus emphatically responded, “‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’” (Matthew 22:21).

Jesus instructed that all people have obligations to the government as long as those demands do not conflict with their allegiance to God. The Pharisees were amazed by Jesus’ answer and left in utter defeat. They failed to acknowledge that they were daily reaping the benefits of their taxes paid to Rome by gaining access to Caesar’s currency for monetary exchange, traveling on Rome’s government subsidized highways, and enjoying of a degree of military protection and peace.

In our current culture, there are many requirements to our government that do not conflict with our obligations to God. The apostle Paul taught that the people’s main priority is dedication to God: “‘Everyone should submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted’”(Romans 13:1-3).  

Christians are instructed to obey laws and to respect elected officials, as a matter of civil obedience, but also for conscience’s sake (Romans 13:5). We are instructed to pay taxes and to show respect for authority, even if we are aware of corruption. Injustice and fraud likely exist in all governments, yet God rules over them all. “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors (1 Peter 2:13).

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Let us readily participate in any democratic process to lessen the bureaucratic burden of tax laws. Consistent prayer, asking God to advocate change, will unleash power and potential for revision beyond any strategy man can employ.

Two absolutes in life are death and taxes. There is more truth to that age-old axiom than we care to admit. It may seem like taxes have existed forever, but a Christian defines forever as eternal life in heaven. “The imperfection of justice in this life is the strongest proof that in the next world justice and vengeance will be fulfilled to the utmost” (David Augsburger).

Let us adopt Jesus’ attitude when He was apprehended at the temple at age twelve, instructing the teachers of religious law. When questioned about His educational endeavor, Jesus responded, “‘I must be about my Father’s business’” (Luke 2:49). Who among us has the time or energy to complain about tax rates if we prioritize our life’s activities to conform to our Savior’s objectives?

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What Must I Do to be Saved?

Reblogged from As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith.

My bloggy friend, Raymond Gary Candy, has a wonderful blog called As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith. He shared this great post there a couple of weeks ago, a good reminder for those of us who already know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. However, this would be a good tool to use if you’re unsure about sharing your faith with unbelieving family and friends.

Thank you so much, Raymond, for the granting me the privilege of sharing this with my readers.

What must I do to be Saved?

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“And brought them out, and said, Sirs,what must I do to be saved?
(Acts 16:30)

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi,we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (John 3:1-2)

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

“Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4)

Read the rest here.

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NOW is the Future of Social Media!

By Anna Popescu

Published first on February 1, 2015 at Cataclysm Missions International

If you don’t know what Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are or what they have in common, you must either be living a very isolated existence or you live in a place that does not have any kind of technology. I’m talking about social media here, and it is being used by just about everyone these days. And if that is true, the Church needs to hop on board and hang on tight!

Read the rest here.

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Cataclysm Missions International

Beloved, this post is about a project I think is very needed right now. I am sharing this for Nikole Hahn, a friend of mine who is the editor of The Relevant Christion” (TRC), an online magazine for which I write.
 
Nikki recently started a new venture called Cataclysm Missions International (CMI). The mission statement is:
…..
Real Life + Online Life = One Voice
To connect the online world with local churches
and local churches to the online world.
To focus on the story of missions and to equip and educate
the Christian to engage the culture.
…..
Please forward this to your Christian friends who you believe would be interested in either passing it on to their Christian friends, or who might be interested in becoming a part of this great venture, or both! Also, if any of you are interested in becoming involved with CMI, the contact info is below.

CMI-Graphic

 

Please consider becoming a part of CMI. Also, please feel free to share this post with your friends. Thank you!

Copyright © 2015 Cataclysm Missions International. All rights reserved.

Cataclysm Missions International 
P.O. Box 3175 
Chino Valley, AZ 86323 

http://www.cataclysmmissionsintl.com/

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Waiting with Faith

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Rick and I moved to northern Arizona more than ten years ago. Our move went smoothly but getting to the actual move was a wait of faith. We had already found and put a down payment on the house we wanted here and things seemed to be going well with our California house sale until we received two offers that we had to turn down.

The first offer contained unacceptable buyer contingencies and was not a problem to turn down. The second offer, however, was a huge surprise. We had literally just signed the contract to accept the buyers’ offer when our realtor received a call from them saying they had to back out of the deal. An accident had just occurred in which a vehicle drove right into their house! Obviously they had no choice but the timing was stunning to all of us.

Our realtor was frantic with worry but we kept on assuring her that the whole thing was in God’s timing. That amazed her.

Here in Arizona, our builder needed more earnest money to finish the items we had asked him to add, so we had to scramble to come up with those funds. I shared all of this in one of my online writers’ groups when I received a message that really cemented Rick’s and my attitude to trust God while we waited.

My writer friend wrote this about the word wait:TrustInGodsPerfectTiming-AMP

The root word for wait in Hebrew means to twist, to stretch. The original meaning was twisting and stretching fiber to make a strong rope. The idea in Hebrew is that waiting strengthens us by this twisting and stretching process.

The other side of the waiting process is that waiting is never considered a passive posture. While we are waiting, we are to be in prayer about the situation while at the same time continue to have faith that God is already working on a solution.

The wonderful and happy ending is that the third offer we received for our house was for more than we had been asking. If we were in awe of how God structured this whole thing, you can only imagine how this impacted our realtor. On the day of the move, we handed her the house keys after everything was loaded into the moving van. She said, “You were right all along. God did have everything under control!”

Rick and I do not know how God used this in her life but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that God used us and our trust in Him to show her how wonderfully He can work everything out.

Right now, I’m waiting for specific direction for something in my writing life. A few close friends and family are praying with me to know God’s will in this, and I am confident and trusting that He will show me what to do … in HIS timing. What that means to me is that even when I may feel like it’s taking too long to see the Lord’s will in this right now, that doesn’t mean He isn’t already working things out.

This is exactly the time for me to keep on praying while waiting and trusting. How about you, Beloved? 

 

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Faith

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Now FAITH is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
—Hebrews 11:1

 

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Happy Happy JOY JOY

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Have you ever noticed how many Scripture passages there are about being happy and full of joy? Today I’d like to share some of those with you to remind all of us of the immense happiness and JOY we have in Jesus Christ.

Happy

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  • Psalm 63:7You have helped me, and I sing happy songs in the shadow of your wings.
  • Psalm 81:1Be happy and shout to God who makes us strong! Shout praises to the God of Jacob.
  • Psalm 89:16We are happy all day because of you, and your saving power brings honor to us.
  • Psalm 98:3-5God has been faithful in his love for Israel, and his saving power is seen everywhere on earth. Tell everyone on this earth to sing happy songs in praise of the LORD. Make music for him on harps. Play beautiful melodies!

Joy

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  •  Psalm 5:11But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.
  • Psalm 16:11You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
  • Psalm 32:11Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
  • Psalm 47:1Clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy.

This is the praise song that I often sing to the Lord at night just before I go to sleep. It is based on Psalm 5:11:

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I Love You, Lord

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship You, O my soul, rejoice!
Take joy, my King, in what You hear;  
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
in Your ear.

…..

How about you, Beloved? What songs of praise for our Savior and Lord Jesus fill your heart to overflowing?.

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Joy Inexpressible

As I wrote in JOY and FAITH earlier this week, I will be writing about JOY and FAITH during 2015. I am purposely capitalizing those two words, and if you want to think of it as my shouting them, that’s exactly right! How can we feel true JOY or FAITH without thinking of them in such a huge way that we want to shout it out to the world?

Today I’d like to share with you another of Pat Knight’s devotionals. She has written about JOY many times in her writing career, and I always appreciate what the Holy Spirit has given her to share about this important subject.

Joy Inexpressible

By Patricia Knight

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 Joy!

What a small word for such a giant effect it creates in others and us. “Joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8) is how our Guidebook, the Bible, assumes is the attitude and method of every Christian. Joy is dynamic and ready to do its work. Joy can flow out from one person to another or it can rush in to fill a life.

The exchange of wedding vows, the birth of a child, the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord of one’s life are times when joy knows no bounds. It overflows, gushes, whirls, either causing an action or a reaction. We cannot ignore joy. And, who would want to disregard such an important emotion?

The times we remember best in our lives are the joyous occasions, those that offer us great delight and gladness of heart.

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“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalms 126:3). “Filled with joy” is not a phrase I hear used often, but it sure does sound like a good idea to be infused, saturated, slathered with a good dose of joy. Imagine the result if we were all living joy-filled lives. I rarely hear about it, though I have heard of the opposite—”to be filled with anger.” I can even envision that anger at work, as a person’s face reddens and his voice and actions become irrational. As Christians, we are commanded to have joy. There’s no preference of when to have or when to share it. Joy must be an integral part of our being, with instant preparedness for sharing.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:4-7). Notice how joy, thanksgiving, and prayer have all been interlocked in this command. For us to have joy, we need to be thankful. If we follow God’s command to give thanks in all things, we will be joyful people. If we have joy in our own lives, then we yearn to give it away. Living in perpetual communication with our Lord, our supply will never be depleted.

“Let your gentleness be known to all.” God means all-inclusive, no matter to whom, in whatever conditions and circumstances we find ourselves, and for all reasons. The word “all” can be a little tricky. It is a small, three-letter word that can easily be ignored. It isn’t a difficult word to understand, but applying its meaning to our everyday life presents a challenge. In my personal life, I have struggled with expressing joy and thanks for constant pain. There doesn’t seem to be a purpose to it. That’s when God asks me to be thankful and trust Him enough to be joyful regardless of my life’s circumstances. I have to acknowledge that before the pain enters my body, God has approved it and because it is part of His plan for my life, I can thank Him that His will is being done and be joyful in His decisions for my life.

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“The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 51:11).  To be “overtaken by joy”? That is what God says. What would result if all of us took a new approach to joy? I suggest that we all begin a new day with an abundant, heaped-to-the-top-and-running-over package of joy.

Perhaps that sounds a little fantastic, not really credible. If God is in charge, and He tells us that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27), then being overtaken with joy is possible. I want to be overtaken with joy so that there is no room for conflicting negative emotions. Nothing can quench the joy. If it were God’s wish that we be completely consumed with joy, then why do we find ourselves moping about at times, bemoaning our situation? God may wonder too. If He has given the instruction, He will also give the strength and power to accomplish what He has commanded.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”

(2 Timothy 1:7).

God not only fills us with joy but also adds a sweet fragrance to that joy.

“But thanks be to God,
who also leads us in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.
For we are to God the aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved
and those who are perishing”

(2 Corinthians 2: 14,15).

“The fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” Now, that should cause us to smile. So much revenue is spent on cosmetics, many for the purpose of erasing deep frown lines that have formed over the years. Smiling takes substantially fewer muscles than frowning. Did you ever practice smiling in front of a mirror? It provides a light-hearted experience, putting a smile on your face, and one in your heart.

There are some extremely expensive fragrances on the market for which both women and men pay lofty amounts. As aromatic as these may be, there is no sweeter fragrance than that emitted by Jesus. We “are to God the aroma of Christ” among people being won to Him. What a privilege and a responsibility! We need not think we have to spread His joy alone. God manufactures it and gives it to us, the most expensive fragrance in the world, bought with the highest sacrifice in heaven and on earth. Then, God will help us distribute it to the destitute in heart. The source is readily available, renewable, and inexhaustible.

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Joy is one of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). In a long line of attributes, joy is second in line, snuggling right up close with love. We are told to have joy, ALWAYS! Have we been neglecting something important in our lives? We need possession of the immediate joy that sparks a flame of excitement plus the persistent joy that produces a daily expression of happiness and thanksgiving.

Worship flows naturally out of a thankful, joyful heart.

Praise, song and love all emerge from a heart previously primed with joy.

When we are consumed with joy, there is no room for negativism. As we are caught up in serving God and men with a happy heart, we are celebrating God and the joy He places there for us. When we share with others, our joy multiplies and carries with it a sweet aroma. People are encouraged.

Phil2-14-sm--AMPWe are commanded to do everything without complaining or grumbling (Philippians 2:14). I have never learned how to express joy while complaining, nor do I believe God intends for us to combine the two.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:12). Choices are made from the attitudes we form. No matter how negative our lives appear, no one can force us to match it with a negative attitude. Even though we tend to blame others for our problems, we as Christians are to rise above our circumstances. We choose our responses. We also choose joy. Though joy is free flowing and available, we have to embrace it for our personal life style for it to become an effective tool for us. An outpouring of our inner joyfulness is our gift to others.

In my earlier career, I worked at a medical facility where a friend of mine was later hired in the social services department. Martha was the most effervescent, enthusiastic and happy woman I had ever met. She possessed a beautiful smile and used it unsparingly, with a deep, engaging laugh. Other workers were aloof toward her and later shared with me that they didn’t trust Martha and were suspicious of her. They reasoned that she was too happy and smiled too much. I am still shocked by their logic. The unhappy, insecure workers were not going to befriend a newcomer who embodied joy and confidence. Studies have proven the power of a positive attitude in achieving the healing and recovery process. Martha understood the benefit of permeating her life and profession with joy.

Each day we have a predetermined amount of energy. When our supply of energy is used positively and creatively, we contribute to the joy in our lives and in the lives of others. If we look for laughter and sunshine wherever we go, we are able to increase the joy that we discover. Joy shared is multiplied. Joy restrained is limited. God commands that we prioritize joy. Look for the brilliance in the early morning sunrise, the diamonds bouncing off the rippling water, and the crystals radiating from newly fallen snow. Then, store those scenes in your mental imagery and share that beautiful joy with someone else when the opportunity arises.


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“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name”
(Psalm 100: 1, 2, 4).

That same compelling joy will gladden your own heart and travel far and wide to affect the lives of others.

…..

Pat, you are one of the most joyful people I have ever met and I am so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you so much for allowing me to share this wonderful and joyful devotional! 

 

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