God Leads a Pretty Sheltered Life

This is a great piece from the Bible Nerd blog that will really make you think.

God Leads a Pretty Sheltered Life

At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne. Some of the groups near the front talked heatedly – not with cringing shame before God’s throne, but with embittered belligerence.

“How can God judge us? How can He know about suffering?” snapped a brunette, jerking back a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. “We endured terror, beatings, torture, and death!”

In another group, a black man lowered his collar. “What about this?” he demanded, showing the rope burns. “Lynched for no crime but being black! We’ve suffocated in slave ships, been wrenched from loved ones, and toiled ‘til only death gave release.”

Hundreds of such groups were visible across the plain. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering He permitted in His world. How lucky God was, they all seemed to agree, able to live in heaven where all is sweetness and light, without weeping, fear hunger or hatred. Indeed, what does God know about man? What does He know about being forced to endure the trials of life? After all, God leads pretty sheltered life.

Read the rest here.

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Thankful for God’s Salvation

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This is another of the devotionals I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleThis particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving and is perfect for this time of the year as we are contemplating the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday.

 

When I want to thank God for His salvation . . .

I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God
for salvation to every one who has faith.

—Romans 1:16 RSV

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation.

—2 Corinthians 6:2

The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock;
and exalted be the God of my salvation.

—Psalm 18:46 NASB
 

[Peter said] Jesus is the only One who can save people.
His name is the only power in the world that has been given
to save people. We must be saved through him.
—Acts 4:12 NCV

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and
believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.

—Romans 10:9 NKJV

 

. . . I will pray.

Redeeming Lord,

I am always amazed when I consider the depth of Your love for me. You, who created everything in the universe, care for me so much You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. And I will never be able to explain why Jesus came—willingly, determined to rescue me and make me part of Your family. My salvation is more wonderful and amazing than I could ever comprehend.

Lord, You could have simply walked away from Your human creation, washed Your hands, and moved on to a new project. Instead, You walked beyond Your personal disappointment and went to extraordinary, even miraculous, lengths to salvage us. Knowing that moves me beyond words. And then to think that even in the face of so great a gesture toward us, You’ve made Yourself vulnerable by leaving us with the choice to take Your gift or leave it.

I want to be very clear, Lord—I take it! Every bit of it—all You have or want or plan for me! I choose to love You back every day of my life. Thank You for Your lavish gift of salvation.

Amen.

It is not your hold of Christ that saves you,
but His hold of you!
—Charles Haddon Spurgeon

AnytimePrayersForEverydayPeople

[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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Believe!

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 If we really believed that God meant what He said – what should we be like! Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?  —Oswald Chambers

There is a strong connection between the words believe and faith. They both come from the same root word in the Hebrew.

Faith (pistis) is a noun, something you have:

  • a firm persuasion
  • assurance
  • certain conviction
  • Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. —Hebrews 11:1

Believe (pistueo) is a verb, something you do, based upon that faith:

  • to trust in and fully rely upon
  • to accept as genuine and true
  • to be firmly convinced about
  • For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. —2 Timothy 1:12

True faith in God should lead to our believing in what He has done for us.

Some people will think: If I really could believe!  

but the point truly is: if I really will believe.

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.
 
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
but whoever does not believe stands condemned already
because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
 

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world,
but people loved darkness instead of light
because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light,
and will not come into the light
for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
 
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done
has been done in the sight of God.
—John 3:16-21

Jesus places much emphasis on the sin of unbelief:

 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue,
so that they were astonished, and said,
“Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?
 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary,
and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
“And His sisters, are they not all with us?
Where then did this man get all these things?”
And they took offense at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor
except in his hometown and in his own household.”
And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
—Matthew 13:54-58

“This is a tremendous revelation. Note what it was that limited the power of God when He was here. It was unbelief! “He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. He did very few miracles there. My friend, the great problem with you and me is that we do not have faith to believe—and I’m talking about faith for the salvation of men and women. We need the kind of faith that believes Christ can save the lost. He is limited today in your own community, in your church, in your family, and in your own life by unbelief. And this is certainly true of me also. Our Lord states a great truth here. Let’s not bypass it.” (1)

Beloved, read that last verse again:

And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
—Matthew 13:58 

It should not surprise any of us that Jesus places so much importance on the sin of unbelief.

If you have any questions on how to be saved—in other words, in how to completely trust in Jesus—please read my A…B…C… page. And you are always welcome to email me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com. 

Related: http://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/spiritual-life/believe-in-your-heart/

(1) Copyright © 1983. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee

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Rejoice in God’s Will

Here is a great devotional that is a good addition to my JOY theme this year. I read this yesterday at Crossmap.com titledNot Simply to Endure or to Choose God’s Will but to Rejoice in it.” The author of this devotional is none other than L. B. Cowman of Streams in the Desert. 

I live with several chronic pain illnesses and have often pondered the subject of God’s will, especially during this particular season of my life. Is it really possible to truly rejoice in God’s will, no matter what our difficulties are? Yes it is, and Mr. Cowman’s devotional is a good reminder of this. I especially appreciate this part of the devotional: “the most magnificent psalms arose from the most profound agonies of the soul.”

Not Simply to Endure
or to Choose God’s Will
but to Rejoice in it

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. (2 Corinthians 6:10)

A stoic person despises the shedding of tears, but a Christian is not forbidden to weep.Yet the soul may become silent from excessive grief, just as the quivering sheep may remain quiet beneath the scissors of the shearer. Or, when the heart is at the verge of breaking beneath the waves of a trial, the sufferer may seek relief by crying out with a loud voice. But there is something even better.

It is said that springs of sweet, fresh water pool up amid the saltiness of the oceans, that the fairest Alpine flowers bloom in the wildest and most rugged mountain passes, and that the most magnificent psalms arose from the most profound agonies of the soul.

May it continue to be! Therefore, amid a multitude of trials, souls who love God will discover reasons for boundless, leaping joy. Even though “deep calls to deep”(Ps.42:7), the clear cadence of the Lord’s song will be heard. And during the most difficult hour that could ever enter a human life, it will be possible to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you learned this lesson yet?

Read the rest here.

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Please and Thank You continued

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My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
—Psalm 45:1

Several years after Rick and I first moved to northern Arizona, I was trying to make money through my freelance writing. Psalm 45:1 was my writing goal, but still God dead-ended almost every one of my efforts. It took me some time to finally realize that even though I said I was writing for God’s glory, in fact I was not. I spent tons of time furiously trying to earn money through my writing but my ultimate goal was to become a well-known writer.

When I came face-to-face with that truth, I was appalled. How could I have let myself be pulled into such a different direction from when I first started writing? I immediately stopped writing for about two years while I spent more time in the Word.

A curious thing happened during that writing hiatus. God called me to contribute to a book titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. I’ve shared several of the prayers I wrote for that book here before. The daunting part of this is that the editor gave me only three weeks to write 30 prayer entries—yes, you read that right: 30!

There was a big problem with this. I was struggling through some massive migraines during all those three weeks. However, God walked with me through the whole thing because I not only got them all written and submitted on time, there was very little final editing that had to be done. And how interesting that the topics I was assigned to write about were “Prayers of Supplication” and “Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving”—in essence, please and thank you!

One of my posts last week was titled Please and Thank You, which was about my first time as a counselor at Royal Family Kids camp. During that week, I spent my days and nights in constant prayers of please and thank you. In the same way, my heart was constantly uttering please and thank you prayers while God supplied the stamina I needed to write those 30 prayers.

God used those three weeks to remind me of where He wants me:
close by His side, relying on Him alone to get me through
.

A long time ago I read some wise words from an unknown author. They went something like this:

Don’t get so involved with the work of the Lord that you forget the Lord of the work.

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Sinful Man … Holy God

According to Ecclesiastes 7:20,  Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.

That is a real problem with only one solution: Jesus Christ. By His death on the cross, He bridged the gap between sinful man and God.

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God showed how much he loved us
by sending his one and only Son into the world
so that we might have eternal life through him.
This is real love–not that we loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice
to take away our sins.
—1 John 4:9-10

Jesus Christ chose be the bridge between sinful man (all of us) and God. In accepting the penalty for our sins, Jesus’ death on the cross paved the way for us to be able to live in paradise with Him forever. There is one catch: we each need to ask Jesus Christ into our hearts to be our Savior and Lord of our lives.

It is very easy to ask Jesus Christ into your life:

ADMIT that you are a sinner.

BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for you.

CONFESS that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life.

You can read more details about this on my A…B…C page.

I watched this video the other day featuring Chris Tomlin singing “At the Cross (love ran red)” and I know it will bless you as much as it did me:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide.
Where all the love I’ve ever found,
Comes like a flood,
Comes flowing down.

In case you cannot view the video for any reason, go here to read the entire lyrics.

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The Olivet Discourse … Luke’s Version

Last week I shared Jack Kelly’s article, The Three Questions of Matt. 24. I consider this to be a kind of followup to that so I wanted to post it soon after the Matthew piece. Since this one is a Bible study, it is longer but well worth the read.

The Olivet Discourse … Luke’s Version

From GraceThruFaith

A Bible Study by Jack Kelly  

Students of prophecy often pay more attention to Matthew’s version of the Olivet Discourse because of its greater length and detail. But when we bypass Luke’s account, we miss one third of the Lord’s message. That’s because the disciples asked the Lord three questions and in Matthew 24 He only answered the last two. Also, it’s Luke’s answer to their first question that confirms the whole message as it relates to the End Times.

Here’s why. When a prophet revealed events that would take place beyond the lifetimes of the people he was speaking to, the Lord often provided a short term partial fulfillment to validate the distant prophecy. This is because He had told the people that if what a prophet said didn’t come true, then the people were not to fear him, for he hadn’t spoken for the Lord. (Deut 18:21-22)

Read the rest here.

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The Three Questions of Matt. 24

The Three Questions of Matt. 24

From GraceThruFaith

A Feature Article by Jack Kelly  

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3)

One of the mistakes Christians make in reading the Bible is caused by our tendency to look at everything through “Church colored glasses.”  By that I mean we read it as if it all applies directly to us without regard for the context or historical background.  I know Paul said everything that was written in the past was written to teach us (Romans 15:4) but that doesn’t mean it was all written to us or about us.  It means we’re supposed to learn from the experiences of those who came before us.  A prime example of this kind of mistake can be found in our interpretation of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25).  I’ll show you what I mean.

Read the rest here.

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Please and Thank You

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A couple of weeks ago I encouraged you to try the Thank You Challenge 2015. I didn’t remember until recently how and when my own thank you lifestyle began, so I want to share that with you today.
 
Back in the late 90’s, I served as a counselor at Royal Family Kids camp, for abused and abandoned children. On the last night of camp when all counselors and administration staff gathered to pray, we counselors were surprised to receive a special gift. Although we didn’t know it, the camp administration team had been watching all of us counselors as we interacted with each of the children in our charge. They met each night to search the Scriptures and find just the right verse to describe each of us.
 
To my utter surprise, Hebrews 11:1 was given to me.
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God called me to this ministry even though I felt totally unprepared and uneducated for the task. I tried to ignore God’s call on my heart but He kept showing me that He wanted me to go there. I resisted, until one night at a prayer meeting I heard Him whisper to my anguished heart, “I want you to do this for Me.”

How could I ignore that?

One of the little girls in my charge was a particularly tough case. This sweet little 8-year-old had been shuffled from one foster home to another. She was certain of only one thing: that she could expect abuse or negative treatment on a regular basis. Like so many of these abused children, she learned to bury her true emotions and instead developed a defensive posture, along with the frequent tendency to declare “No!” in response to any suggestions, fun or not. 

Her stubbornness was not easy for any of us to deal with. Whenever we were to start anything new, whether it was crafts, chapel, or even games, her standard response was “No!” She would literally crouch down and keep shouting this over and over again. I found myself praying almost constantly that entire week. My prayers would start, “Please, God…” and as the Lord helped me deal with each difficulty, they then became, “Thank you, God…” 

Our goal was to give these children a week of carefree fun, but her tantrums kept testing my patience and that of the camp directors. After a couple of days of this negative behavior, we had a discussion about sending her home early which greatly upset me. How could we take away this one week of fun from someone who rarely had the chance to do anything enjoyable? I pleaded with the directors to give her another chance and they agreed. 

That night I asked God what I could say or do to help her adjust better because I wanted her to enjoy her camping experience. He showed me that her life was full of commands. She was never asked about anything. He then gave me one word: choices. 

Even at camp she was expected to adhere to rules and a schedule, which in itself is not a bad thing, but difficult for her to deal with considering what the rest of her life was like. As I prayed about all of this, God showed me that if she was given some limited choices, her responses might be different. 

That week at camp was a mixture of faith and fear, trust and anxiety, exhilaration and fatigue. God heard my Please and Thank You prayers and honored them as I faced each new challenge. The completely awesome part of this whole story is that before camp week was over, my stubborn yet sweet little charge asked Jesus Christ into her heart. And not only that, but a few years later, I heard that she was a counselor-in-training there! 

Beloved, Please and Thank You are very powerful words. They bless the giver as much or maybe more than the receiver.

 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
—James 4:10

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

—G.K. Chesterton

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