A Summer of Psalms

God will not deal with you the same way He deals with me.  Whatever is going on in your life, good or bad, the LORD will accomplish what concerns you.  You can have friends close by, go on a rant, beat on your desk and make a dozen whiny posts on facebook – but if you want something accomplished in your situation, you need to hit your knees and talk with your Shepherd.

I’m a sheep too – I have issues!  I’m raising my hand – I’m raising it really high!  I HAVE ISSUES!  I have concerns and people, I have some problems.  Even with all that baggage, I have a God who loves me and cares enough to not only hear my prayers but bring comfort and courage and build character in me as He helps me through my difficulties.  I can see the works of His hands along the pathway my life has taken.  I trust His answers to all the questions I have in life.

If I had a recording of my life and played it back, I could detect exact moments in that movie where I knew for a fact that Jesus intervened and helped me.  I’d take my little red laser pointer thing and circle certain parts of the movie and say, “I prayed for help in this situation, and God came through!”  Knowing the Lord makes my life richer and I place my total confidence is in Him.

His strength has made my soul undaunted.

I love that lyric in this song!  Not only do I love the Lord for helping me, but I love Him for being so patient and kind to me while I was going through some self-inflicted painful times.  We do bring some of our pain on ourselves by doing stupid sinful stuff.  In the beginning, I thought God was really angry at me after that and I could never be made “right” in His sight again; however, I eventually concluded that it was the enemy who wanted me to think that – and give up.  

Now, when I think back, I believe God was weeping for me during those times.  I had strayed so far away and I knew it but didn’t know how to find my way back home to God.  Once I stopped behaving so horribly, it was amazing how quickly it was put under the blood of Jesus and God forgave me!  I haven’t looked over my shoulder.  I keep moving forward, knowing that Jesus is my Lord and there’s no longer any known sin between my Lord and me.

If you have known sin in your life, it’s getting in the way of a relationship between you and God because you see, He’s perfect and cannot look upon any sins.  It’s His desire that you repent of your sins and ask Him to forgive you of them.  To repent just means to turn away from the sin and turn toward your loving Savior, Christ Jesus.  He will come into your heart and life and save you, just like He saved me.

To be saved means you will have a personal relationship with Him and live in Heaven with Him when you die.  You see, just being a good person in this life is not enough.  Your name must be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Only Jesus can save you, through the blood He shed on Calvary.  A Holy God won’t accept a sin-filled soul.  I hope and pray you will accept His pardon and trust Him to help you with your issues today.  🙂

 

 

A SUMMER OF PSALMS

I challenge you to name one thing in this world that never changes.  Time’s up!  Did you think of anything?  No, you didn’t – neither did I.  Everything changes…  EVERYTHING!  The foal in the photograph above is now a beautiful full-grown mare.  Living beings are born, they thrive and do what God intended, then they die and go back to God.  It’s the way God planned it.  The Bible tells us that our time is in HIS hand.  So you see, we don’t need to worry because God has us in His hand all the time.

God never changes.  His laws don’t change.  His justice doesn’t change.  His unending love never changes.  His peace is real.  The joy and happiness He bestows on our lives can only be described as dependable.  It’s honest and there’s no hidden agenda.  If He puts a rug on the floor in front of me, then asks me to stand on it, I know without a doubt He will not pull it out from under me, causing me to fall.  Can you say that about any person on this earth?  Get real – of course, you can’t!  

This body of mine has changed from the time I was in my twenties.  Anyone who is honest will say a great big AMEN to that!  These chan.ges are a huge challenge – but God’s got me, so I’ve got this!  

Changes are inevitable in this life, but it gets dangerous when we as people try to “overrule” God.  Do we rely on our wisdom more than we seek God’s laws?  We simply cannot say that some behaviors are not sinful when God has already said they are.

When pastors are motivational speakers instead of providing instruction and direction according to God’s Word, it’s not a favor to us poor sinners – any of us.  We all need to hear and know God’s truth – all of it.  I don’t hate anyone and care for everyone’s eternal soul.  For Pete’s sake, I’m not perfect and I don’t judge anyone.  God offers redemption for ALL through His Son’s death on Calvary’s cross.  He offers forgiveness for sin – any sin – take your pick.  They’re all alike in God’s eyes.  

Change.  God causes the seasons to change.  He helps sinners to change.  We find Christ, learn what He wants for us, and turn from whatever is not pleasing in His sight.  He patiently helps us to live a life that is pleasing to Him.  Our lives can be so rich and full of Christ when He’s in the center of it.  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Have you heard a Christian say they regret inviting Christ Jesus into their heart and life?  Neither have I – and I don’t imagine I ever will.  We make hundreds of decisions daily, but that is the only decision that will matter beyond this life – what will you do with Christ Jesus?

Sin is fun…  for a season.  It makes your heart beat a little faster and there’s a bit of danger involved and so much risk.  Get caught and you could lose everything.  How much do you want to gamble away?  Even Christians sometimes listen to the enemy when he says it’s not going to really hurt anyone and there’s no risk involved.  It’s a lie.  Be on guard against his lies and ready to tell him to get away in the name of Christ Jesus.

There’s a time when every Christian has to stop playing church, walking the fence, dabbling in the things of God – and get real.  That’s what it means to count yourself DEAD to sin.  Don’t even go there.  Put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6) and make your faith real.  Until you do that, you may be fooling many people – but you know you’re not fooling God and you’re actually breaking His heart.

Once you know that you know you’ve made a decision for God and God alone – get baptized – get washed clean and live for Him.

To be truly ALIVE in Christ is the best!  Once you’ve put all your past sins on the altar and asked God to forgive them, He will – and He remembers them no more (it’d be nice if people would forget, wouldn’t it?)  Sometimes it’s difficult to forgive yourself for your past sins, but think of it this way…  if Almighty God says He’s going to forgive and not bring it up ever again, who do you think you are to hang on to those sins of the past?  You have to forgive yourself and it’s not easy – but if you ask God to help you, He’s faithful to help you forgive yourself.

Once forgiveness takes hold, you can be ALIVE IN CHRIST!  That’s the best life because it’s honest and simple.  Sin keeps us in chains, but life in Christ sets us free!  No lies to have to remember, no sneaking around doing something you shouldn’t be doing, no more drama… just freedom and joy in Christ forever!  🙂

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

In the whole Bible there is hardly another chapter which can equal this triumphant text.  – Martin Luther

It’s only because of Christ and all He’s done for us that we have eternal life.  His grace is the key to our salvation.

Adam’s sin resulted in death for all who are in him, but Jesus Christ’s obedience in going to the cross resulted in justification of life for all who are in Him. Adam’s sin was credited to all his descendants, but Christ’s righteousness is credited to all who are His descendants through faith in Him.  – Stephen J. Cole

We don’t earn eternal life – but we humble ourselves with grateful hearts before the cross of Christ.  We rely upon His grace and mercy in our lives and for our afterlives.  We can make Heaven our home forever if we believe and claim His sacrifice on Calvary’s cross.

Yes, Adam sank our spiritual ship, but God has thrown a life preserver to us. His name is Jesus! What Adam did was the worst thing that ever happened, but what Christ did was the best thing that ever happened.  – Keith Krell

Grace is free to us but very costly to God. – Keith Krell

Even at our worst God loves us.  – Jerry Cosper

God’s the only One who could possibly provide the perfect sacrifice for the horrific sin of man.  As much as we want to think that being a “good person” is enough to earn life in Heaven one day, it’s just not true.  Without the cleansing blood of Christ, we cannot be saved.

We’re not keen on being represented by Adam, but the truth is, if any of us had been the first man, we would not have done anything differently.  The fact is, sin is in this fallen world – but the good news is the gospel of Christ!  He died on Calvary’s cross and that is the only hope for fallen man.  Believe today on Him and you will be saved.  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Before the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus…  all of mankind was in big trouble – by that, I mean we were lost – like, unbelievably, no GPS can help us…  lost!  Until Christ took the sins of the world on Himself – there was no hope of redemption.  That would be a very sad ending for us, wouldn’t it?  But God made sure we were not left hopeless.

Christians have good news to share.  The Savior was sent to earth by His Father – sent here to live, serve, teach and be the ultimate and final sacrifice so that mankind can make Heaven their eternal home.  That is what Easter is all about.  HOPE. It’s the greatest hope imaginable.  When God raised Christ from the dead…  HOPE was born!

Each person has a decision to make regarding the Lord.  You will either accept His gift of hope or you will reject it.  It’s not my job to judge anyone (and I’m quite pleased about that), but it is my job to share my faith…  and so I do.  There’s no fence walking allowed – you will either live on one side or the other.  God is not an elderly grandfather who winks at sin, making excuses for His children.  God is love, yes – but He is also fair and just.  You can’t pretend to be His and go on living like you’re not.

God wants everyone to come to a saving knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He wants us to grow in our faith and share this good news with others.  Being a good person and doing random acts of kindness is certainly commendable and so needed in today’s society to be sure, but a genuine walk with the Lord is what will get you through and to Heaven when this life is over.  Keep it real and honest because you know, God knows everything.

So…  you know which side of the fence you’re living on.  If you would like to meet this Generous Carpenter, it’s not that difficult.  Just have a little talk with Him.  Yes…  WITH Him.  Prayer is a two-way conversation.  Listen – trust me.  God talks back – He speaks to your heart.  Let’s pray:

Dear God,
I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness.
I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died
for my sin and that you raised Him to life.
I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord,
from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will.
I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

If you’re living on the wrong side of the fence (and only you know if you are), I hope you prayed this prayer and meant it.  I also hope that this is the first of many conversations you have with God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Once you begin living your life for God, it’s a journey you’ll not trade for anything.  Putting my faith and trust in God through Jesus was the best decision I ever made.  God bless you.  🙂

 

 

 

PRAYERS & WISHES FOR THANKSGIVING

tl-thanksgiving-2016-11-12-thru-11-24If you live in Kansas or Oklahoma, you’re probably familiar with the Cimarron Turnpike, a toll road in north-central Oklahoma.  The route travels 67 miles, from an interchange with I-35 north of Perry, to Westport, just west of Tulsa.  Before the Pikepass and K-tags came along, it was common knowledge that if you wanted to go to Tulsa, you needed to load up with some quarters to pay the toll.  Every few miles you had to throw a bunch of quarters in the big bowl that looked like a wishing well.

Of course, times have changed and the “wishing wells” are gone.  One thing about the Cimarron has stayed the same, however…  you still cannot make a U-turn!  Not long ago, we made a wrong turn off of I-35 and started heading west toward Tulsa instead of east toward Enid.  Whoops!  We drove and drove…  finally we came to a toll booth.  We had to pay a toll just to get to the exit, which was a stone’s throw to the west.  We did get turned around to head in the right direction.

Sometimes in our Christian walk, we veer off course and need to ask the Lord to forgive us and help us make a U-turn to get back on track.  It’s really up to us how long we drive in the wrong direction.  God does give us freewill because He loves us.  Today I’m so very thankful that God still allows U-turns to His children when we get off track.

Please join me in a prayer of thanks for U-turns:a-prayer-poem-for-thanksgivingAnother name for a U-turn is a do-over, as Lucinda reminds us:do-oversI wish for you the courage to turn around with God’s help.  I wish for you the joy and peace that God can give when we’re assured we’re on the path He planned for us to be on.  I wish for you laughter and freedom as you live for Christ alone.  🙂

 

 

MATTHEW 10:28 ON 10/28

tl-10-28-matthew-10-28-on-10-28

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  – Matthew 10:28

Several friends and acquaintances of mine have recently been diagnosed with terminal illness.  I feel such sadness and heaviness in my heart for them – but I never know the right words to say.  I think back to the time when my dad had terminal pancreatic cancer.  He was dying and we all knew it.  I tried to remember what it was like to be on the other side of the situation – as a family member.  I don’t remember a lot of what people said – but I remember more of what people did.  It was the same thing when my mom passed.  People shared of themselves – they shared light and love when I was a mess.share-light-love

Everyone was kind and encouraging to me – but a few people actually DID things and I remember that.  When my daddy died, a sweet lady in our church not only sent flowers, she included a little ceramic pumpkin for me to keep after the flowers died.  I let her know I thought that was real nice of her.  When my mama passed, even though there were not that many people coming to our house, our pastoral family went above and beyond the call of duty to provide sandwich stuff!  Oh my we did not go hungry!  I remember my sister-in-law and brother-in-law washing dishes and thinking that was so kind of them.

If our loved one knows the Lord, we know they are going to be alright.  We know that they are going to Heaven where everything is just right.  The soul does not die – but lives on – but the family that is left…  well, they are left here to figure out how to begin a new “normal”.   I always ask God how I can help them do that.  I ask God, “What can I DO for them?”

When families suffer loss and are at their lowest, isn’t that when Christian folk can shine the light of Christ in their lives in a very real sense?  Words are fine, but actions are better and make more of an impact on their lives.  After a loss, everything is fuzzy when you’re trying to listen to kind words.  Most of the talk just flies over your head.  You hear what people are saying, but you’re just so grief-stricken, you can’t process what’s being said.

So – how do you avoid hell and make Heaven your eternal home?   Open the closet door where you keep the secrets and sins.  It’s not easy to show God what is inside your closet.  Think about this though – He already knows about it, so…  who do you really think you’re foolin’?  We are so human – but the good news is…  He is so GOD!  If you ask God, through His Son, Christ Jesus, to forgive you of your sins – He is faithful and just to do it.  Trust Him for the rest of your days – and for the time when this life is over.

whats-in-your-closetI pray that you know the Lord as your personal Savior.  This life is brief and these bodies are so very frail and fragile, aren’t they?  I also believe we are living in the last days (I see some of you rolling your eyes) – yeah, I know I’ve said it before – but I’m going to say it again.  Be ready, for you know not the hour.  Did you know that Jesus doesn’t even know?  He’s waiting for the Father to tell Him when to come get us outa here!  It would be selfish for me to say I hope it’s soon because many are not ready – and He doesn’t want any to perish in hell.  He wants everyone to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and ask Him into their hearts and lives.  THEN – only then will the peace of God wash over you and your life will never be the same.  The peace of God surpasses all understanding.  I hope and pray you know HIS peace in your life.  🙂

ROMANS 6:23 ON 6/23

TL 6-23 ROMANS 6-23 ON 6-23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  – Romans 6:23

When we are hired to do a job, we are paid wages (hopefully).  Wages is a monetary payment for work done.  Mankind has a sin debt because we are born sinful.  The only way we can cancel that debt is…  well we can’t cancel the debt – it’s only the sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the cross at Calvary that makes that debt go away.  The verse is not speaking of physical death, but is contrasting spiritual death with eternal life.  If we believe with everything in us that He paid the debt for our sins – then and only then will be receive eternal life and live forever in heaven with God the Father.A WAGE OR A GIFT

All men are the slaves of sin or of righteousness.  God gives us a choice to be a slave of one or the other – no fence walking.  The person who does not place his or her faith in Jesus Christ will receive the wages of sin.  That’s why I write every day, along with prayers that someone will read this blog and receive Christ as their Savior.  I don’t want anyone to miss heaven – God doesn’t want anyone to miss heaven either.  He gives good gifts – very good gifts – and this is the best gift of all.  He sent His only Son to die – to cover our sin debt.  All who receive Him and His sacrifice will also receive eternal life with Him.  Pretty cool, huh?

MUCH TO GAIN

If you choose to be a slave of sin, there is still a wage and it is spiritual death.  It’s sad and void of hope.  It is not God’s will or His plan, but if you reject His will and plan, then you have made your decision and you’ve made your choice.  If you choose to be a slave of righteousness, then you have given your whole self over to the Lord, admitting that you need Him in your heart and life.  It’s at that moment your life changes forever.  Faith is a wonderful gift, along with God’s supernatural and constant presence in your life, and the promise of eternal life.  Life without end – with Him – yeah!  What a blessing!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (3)

I believe the book of James is probably the most difficult book in the Bible to read – not because the words are difficult to pronounce, and there are not any weird names to learn.  It’s difficult because it hits us right in the heart and mind.  The words are so clear – there is no room for misinterpretation, is there?  We get warm fuzzies when we read the book of Psalms, and we feel accomplished after we read through all the begets in some books – but James.  I read it and all I can say is…  OUCH!

The good news is, Jesus paid the price for all our sins long ago, and when I break God’s law (even the stuff found in the book of James), I have the privilege to ask almighty God through His Son, Jesus, to forgive me for my sins.  But I’m nobody special because the same opportunity is available to all who have accepted Christ Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

A LEAF IS A LEAF IS A LEAF (from Week 27 of “Coffee with Jesus”)

From a small bud

Grows a leaf.

It could be big.

It could be small.

It could be red, green or yellow.

But no matter what color,

Shape, or size it may be,

It is called a leaf.

 

It is the same with sin.

Whether it’s my sin,

Your sin,

Or the sin of a brother,

It is called sin.

We shouldn’t look at another

And think our sin isn’t as big;

Our sin is still our sin.

It is our wrong.  It is our debt.

It is our sin.

There is no sin too small

That doesn’t need confessed.

And there is no sin too big

That God can’t wash away.

 

Author Lucinda Berry Hill

www.lucindaspoetry.webs.com

There is not a sin worse than any other sin, although as humans we are tempted to say that one is worse than another.  The Ten Commandments are all equal and they all apply to us.  It’s easy to think of one as more or less significant, but in God’s eyes, they are really all the same.  And here’s a newsflash…  it’s not my job to keep track of your sins.  I know that may come as a shock – but nope…  really, I have enough on my plate just keeping up with my own transgressions.

When I offer to share my faith, it’s not because I think I’ve somehow “arrived” and you need to catch up with me (oh pleeeeeze)…  not even close.  I just want everyone to know Christ as their personal Savior and make heaven their home one day – that’s all.

Dear Lord, I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. You did what I could not do for myself, and in humility I accept Your gift of grace. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

As we’ve discussed in the past, nothing in this world is going to fill that place in your heart except the love of Christ – that hunger in your heart, or HEART HUNGER can only be filled by Him.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.  But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.  For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.”  If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a law-breaker.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment!  – James 2:8–13

Today’s reminder is for all of us to show more MERCY and less JUDGMENT.  I need it, you need it, and I know with God’s help through Christ Jesus, we can do this.  When we show mercy to others, God is pleased and we sparkle and shine for Him!  🙂

JUST PRAY NO! WORLDWIDE WEEKEND OF PRAYER

TL 4-23 & 24 JUST PRAY NO! WORLDWIDE WEEKEND OF PRAYERPrayer:  A constant conversation between God and His people through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  We humbly bow with particular needs on our hearts and minds concerning the United States of America.  We ask God to protect the unborn.  According to Hillary Clinton, the unborn have no RIGHTS under the constitution.  Aside from speaking to her moral fiber, or lack thereof, it begs the question, CAN the constitution ever be amended so that the unborn could have RIGHTS in America?  I don’t have the answer to that question.  I’m not a scholar or a constitutional expert by any means – I’m just a simple child of God who knows that murder is sin, and abortion is murder.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for giving me life.  I know that nothing destroys life more than abortion, yet I continue to rejoice in the fact that You have conquered death by the resurrection of Your Son, Christ Jesus.  I promise to do everything I can to end abortion and commit myself to speak up, write, and never be silent or passive on behalf of the unborn.  I will be active in the pro-life movement and never stop defending life.  Please lead America back to the values it once had, with You in the center of every decision made from the Whitehouse to the local courthouse.  We need to be a country that embraces liberty and justice – especially for our most innocent – the unborn!  May we speak up for them in good conscience because it pleases You.  Lord, through You may America make provision in the constitution that will protect the unborn so they will not be murdered anymore.  We thank You in advance for what You will do.  Help us to hang on to our faith because You perform all sorts of miracles every single day.

We pray this in the matchless name of Christ our Lord, Amen.

We pray for NO MORE HATE.  We pray for peace in our land, in our time.  We pray that God gives us everything we need to STAND UP TO THE WORLD.  While there is so much hate growing all around us, we keep praying and trusting that God will help us.STANDING UP TO THE WORLD

We know as the time gets closer for our Lord to return to earth for His own, things will get worse.  I know I sound very doom and gloom, and I don’t mean to be a downer.  Here’s the good news…  God’s children have a powerful ally in the Lord.  We have a tool called prayer, and it’s the best thing we can do for ourselves and for each other as we lean on Him to guide us down life’s winding narrow pathway.  🙂