A Summer of Psalms

If I read one more article or series of articles about how to be happy, I’ll go cross-eyed permanently.  Every writer on planet earth thinks they know the “secret” of happiness.  Here’s my take on all that…  first, it is not a secret!  It’s in the Bible for all to see, if they’ll take a moment to read it.  Second, it’s not a mystery, this thing called happiness.  God wants to help us be happy.  So, relax in the LORD and you most certainly can be happy.  It’s not difficult – it’s not as complicated as people want to make it.

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the conduit, the go-between, the bridge, between fallen man and perfect God.  Through Christ, we can have a wonderful relationship with Almighty God (isn’t that a humbling thought?)  Believe it because it’s absolutely true!  Accept the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved and your name will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life forever.  It’s not written with disappearing ink.

There is joy in this life and real happiness, hope, and peace of mind and spirit.  Having said all that, I should add that this does not guarantee a life that is free of trials and tribulations.  This happiness the Bible speaks of is not magical.  In this life, we all have a set of challenges.  The great advantage Christians have is the Lord Himself!  He is in our corner as we’re fighting in the ring.  He has everything we need to fight the good fight!

There are some really tough circumstances in this journey called life, aren’t there?  I watched my mother accept a folded flag at my father’s funeral and didn’t think I’d ever seen a lower point in life; however, I could find joy and peace even in that situation because I knew my father was safe in the arms of Jesus and not in pain anymore.  I also knew that my mother was leaning on those same strong arms for her solace.  We hurt – oh, for sure; but, we knew that God through His Son Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit would be with us while we mourned.

I clung to the Lord when my mother passed away fifteen years later.  There are people who say that my faith is nothing but a crutch, but guess what?  I could name some real crutches in this world, and my faith is not one of them.  To trust a loving and forgiving God Who will never change His mind about anything – a God on Whom I can depend brings me comfort!  Things change at a rapid pace in this ol’ world (and it seems they change faster as we get older) – but my God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I love that about Him! 

I find great assurance and stability in the notion that I don’t have to chase after the latest fad or gadget that the rest of the world has to have.  I’m less than impressed with the rich and famous, and in fact, I usually feel sorry for them.  To have your entire being wrapped up in things is very sad.  I know that happiness has nothing to do with owning the biggest and best toy.  Everything in this world is going to decay and turn to dust.  Everybody in this world will die and do the same.  Your relationship with Jesus Christ, His Father and the Holy Spirit is the only path to true happiness.  It is no secret what God can do!  Oh, that should be the title of a really great song!  Wink – I know, it already is!  Silly me.  🙂

 

 

 

A SUMMER OF PSALMS

In nearly every church I’ve attended, there was a SINGSPIRATION service on the 5th Sunday night of the month.  So, today we’re going to have one too.  If we were all together in a room, I’d have you prepare to give your testimony in a POPCORN TESTIMONY time.  Since we can’t do that, you can just think about the time when you gave your heart, soul, and mind to the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.  OH, HAPPY DAY!

I know – it’s a really old song – but hey – it’s good!  This passage of Scripture does tell us to sing a NEW song – although I highly suspect that has nothing to do with the age of the song – lol.

As Christians, we don’t always live on the mountaintop.  This song has helped me in times of trial so many times.

God didn’t want Heaven without us.  Ponder that for a minute or two…

Sometimes the praise just overflows in the strangest places…  I GO TO THE ROCK.  Dottie Rambo’s timeless lyrics resonate even though the great lady is no longer with us.  I know she’s already heard WELL DONE from the Father – but now I want to tell her THANK YOU!

I’m more than convinced that some of the children in my Sunday School class had never heard Christian music in their home.  Every song they learned in our class was the only exposure to Gospel music they’d ever have.  I was so careful to teach the kids just a few songs that I knew they would remember when they needed it.  It’s amazing what God will bring to your mind when you need praise on your lips!

Giving kids a happy beat and the Gospel truth is a good thing, eh?

Even though we call the 5th Sunday service “Singspiration”, not everyone sings.  Some of the people read aloud a short story or poem they’ve written.  It’s that way in our Singspiration blog post.  Lucinda has written something perfect for us about this Psalm.

So, go INTO the world…  praising the LORD all the way!  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

I doubt that we need to review examples of living according to the flesh.  It’s sad to see people get caught up in fast living, only to crash and burn in the end – sometimes literally.  Why does God want us to kill fleshly desires when they seem so attractive sometimes?  The answer is simple:  HE LOVES US!  He loves you and me so much – and He knows that those temptations are dangerous to our bodies and souls.  God wants to protect us – body, mind and soul.  We can’t overcome these things alone.  It’s only through God’s precious Holy Spirit that we can turn tail and run away from harm’s way.  He’s not trying to keep us from having fun!  He’s trying to show us a better way to live – and if we belong to Christ, we need to run into His arms and ask Him to show us His way of life.  Only with the Spirit’s help can we make wise choices.A relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit means that we have everything we need to avoid sin and win.  Of course, we have a free will to choose either way – right or wrong.  Nobody has always chosen the right – nobody that I know, anyway.  We’re not perfect all the time, but we know that if we choose badly, we can turn from that bad choice and ask our loving Heavenly Father, through Christ, to forgive us and forget our transgression.

One day I was driving home from work in a terrible rain storm.  I took an unfamiliar route because I was sure the regular route was flooded.  As I drove, I prayed aloud in the car, asking the Lord to protect me.  I was frightened, but confident that God would get me home safely.

There were not many cars on the road I took, which I thought was strange, but I forged ahead.  When there is water on the road, it’s difficult to gage how deep it is – or the condition of the street below.

The next intersection was full of water – the flash flooding was catching up with me… I felt led to make a left hand turn and go to the street just south of the one I was on.  I made the turn and ended up on a street that was a bit elevated and the water was running off.  I had a straight shot home.  I sang praise & worship songs and thanked the Lord for helping me get home.

I was curious about the flooded intersection where I made the turn.  I went back to look at it, and found there was a very large pot hole – and had I kept going straight, I would have gone in the hole and would probably have water in the car.

When we live life waiting for the next big thrill with no regard for the God who just wants to protect us, we end up being a slave to the very thing we thought was such fun at first.  I don’t understand why some folks think that Christians don’t have fun.  We have such fun – it’s just a different kind of fun.   God protects us and His Spirit helps us stay away from sin because all sin does is cause harm.  God doesn’t want us to be harmed – He wants us to be free!  And so we are.

Free from the law…  oh happy condition.  Jesus is mine, oh precious redemption.

A LIFE OF FREEDOM IN CHRIST…  it can be yours!  🙂

GALATIANS 2:20 ON 2/20

tl-2-20-galatians-2-20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.   – Galatians 2:20

The first step toward understanding the narrow path that we’re called to walk is understanding Paul’s epistle to the Galatians.  In the 20th verse we read that there should be Christ-centered living.  Our Savior lives in us and we live by faith in Him because he loved us and gave His life for us.

Paul emphasizes how life with Christ is so much better than life under the law.  The law could not make men righteous before God, yet in Christ they were made righteous.  By dying to self and embracing Christ, clinging to Him rather than cold, empty law…  they were able to rise to a new spiritual life as they fixed their eyes upon the cross of Christ.

The “old man” – dies to self and the old sin nature – and is given a life of close and intimate communion with God through Christ Jesus.  Faith in self turns to faith in Him, His way, His peace and His love.  We rely fully on Him for pardon, righteousness, joy, comfort, every supply of grace, and eternal salvation.

In Paul, the old law lost its power and ceased to influence him.  That means that he declared himself divorced from such things as the LOVE of money, the PRIDE of life and the DOMINION of hateful and evil passions.  These things that are so meaningful in the world around us, ceased to influence him – and were also crucified with Christ.

While we still live in these bodies of flesh, our spirits are renewed and recharged daily by the Lord.  We’re not given a pass from sufferings, grief or loss in life – but we know that our Lord is there to help us through them.  🙂

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

a-commentary-from-the-heart-8

Fearless is not the absence of fear.  Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you.  – Taylor Swift

You know, if I looked like Taylor Swift and had her talent, I can’t imagine being afraid of anything, can you?  I’m encouraged to know that she feels afraid once in a while like the rest of us – just sayin’…

There are certain real dangers and situations in life that we need to fear.  I don’t roller skate down the sidewalk after dark because it may not be safe.  We know that bad things sadly can happen in the daytime, but chances are, if you’re going to be outside, being out during the day is probably a better plan.

Rational fear is one thing, but when irrational fear gets ahold of us, it’s something we need to ask God to help us overcome.  For some reason, God wanted me to hear a few things about fear today.  Here are a few examples:

I counted 15 separate advertisements for pharmaceuticals.  The drug companies have nearly taken over ad time on every cable network on television.  They want us to ask our doctor about a certain drug because…  oooooh – we may not be our very best without it.

They work the fear factor… sometimes to the point of exploitation in my opinion.  They’re so good at it!  If you’re a baby boomer, you really should be tested for Hep C because oh my…  you may need this vaccination.  Well, for years it’s not been prevalent and I don’t suspect it is now – but the drug ads put that doubt in our minds – that fear – that maybe, just maybe…  and speaking as a baby boomer, we’re not the most secure about health issues to begin with.  Seems a lot of things are falling apart…  so – these ads just want to make that a little worse for us so we’ll pay out $$$ for meds that we may or may not need.

And many pills would make all our lives better – better shapes with diet pills and better sex lives with other pills.  Make sure you don’t get them confused.  If you have a double chin, you’d probably better get that treatment done that will give you a better profile – even though there’s a laundry list of possible side-effects that would be way worse than having a double chin.

You do know it’s all about the bottom line, right?  But they play on our low self-esteem…  our fear of rejection from others.  It’s true!

The big pharma is making big bucks because we let them work on our fears (some rational but many irrational) – fear of not only sickness, but a less than perfect profile or imperfect skin.  Some diseases have to be treated with medication, but most of the advertisements for drugs and treatments are an attempt to make us feel as though we need whatever it is they are peddling in order to look or feel better.

Would Sero-Vital make me look and feel 20 years old?  I imagine at over $100 a pop, it would more than likely land me in the poor house – but hey, I’d look and feel better, eh?just-stop-and-believe

I like to watch Joseph Prince and enjoy his sermons.  I already had this thought about the drug ads running around in my mind – and what do you think he’s talking about?  Yep – he was talking about FEAR.

Babies are born with only two fears.  1) A fear of falling down and 2) A fear of loud noises.  Every other fear is learned.  – Joseph Prince

He emphasized the fact that medical and psychological experts have said this.  Then He shared the text:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  – 2 Timothy 1:7

Ah ha!  Fear is a spirit – a wicked, evil, paralyzing spirit that we can either choose to give attention to – or not.  The spirit God gave us is one of power, love and a sound mind.  He wants us to have a mind free of irrational fears.  How cool if we’d face our fears with bigger faith given to us from God’s Holy Spirit.  Yes…  we WILL overcome!  🙂

LUKE 10:19 ON 10/19

tl-10-19-luke-10-19-on-10-19

 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  – Luke 10:19

I respect anyone who takes these portions of Scripture literally and handle snakes…  but in my mind, this is taken figuratively of the devil, and his principalities and powers, and all his emissaries, who, for their craft and cunning, and for their poisonous and hurtful nature and influence, may be compared to serpents and scorpions.

Serpents are poisonous and scorpions hide so well, they sort of curl up when they’re waiting for someone, and look like an egg.  The enemy of our soul is poisonous but we don’t realize he’s struck until it’s too late.  He doesn’t come along in a red cape and a tail either.  He is the best looking temptation you can imagine.  What’s more innocent looking than an egg?  I know, right?

That’s why we must claim the blood of Christ to overcome the power of the enemy…  the sneaky snake – the cleaver scorpion that will surely cause harm to us and our souls.gods-not-waiting

As Christians we sometimes think we’ve got it all figured out – and that’s when we get in trouble.  About the time we think we’ve risen above the ability to be tempted – BOOM!  We have to walk humbly with our God, remembering that our help comes from HIM and we can do nothing apart from HIM.

Christ is the Vine – we’re only branches – and we need to stay attached to the VINE or we will wither and die – we will be weak in temptation if we forget that it is our LORD Who will protect us and fight our battles.

Stay strong – but make sure you’re not strong within yourself – but strong in Jesus’ Name.  Everything good comes from Him and is unattainable without Him.  The fruits of God’s Holy Spirit are not from our own determination and willpower.  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Self-Control…  those qualities go completely against human nature.  Those are qualities that flow through us by His Spirit.  Having these fruits gives us added strength to trample snakes and scorpions in Jesus’ Name.

When we learn to forgive quickly when we get hurt, correct with God’s Word, offering a gentle nudge instead of a pop on the head, and recognize a temptation to sin, then hand it to God as soon as possible…  God will be by our side.  He will help us overcome because He is faithful and He loves us.  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (3)

110630-where-was-jesus

THE DAY THAT CHRIST WAS GONE

Imagine how the death of Christ affected the people.  The confusion, feeling of despair and wondering why this had to happen and asking what was the point of it must have prevailed throughout the area where the Master once taught, healed, lived.  Jesus tried to explain, but they just didn’t understand – and I don’t judge them for that – would we have understood?  Nothing like that had happened before – or has happened since.

People in our world today still ask why Christ came to earth as a baby and was raised as a human – just to end up suffering the worst beating ever and ultimately dying on a cross.  It’s our favorite question to ask, isn’t it – WHY?

BY HIS WOUNDS

One word – SALVATION.  Christ was the only sacrifice that was worthy to bridge the gap between God and fallen man.  Did He want to go through this?  Have you read the prayer He prayed at Golgotha?  He asked if he could skip it…  but ultimately, for weak sinful people – ones that His Father, God, created and still loved – He went through with His Father’s plan.

So He died – and He’s buried.  Was that the end of the story?  I’m so tempted to say…  tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story…  (what can I say – I miss Paul Harvey!) 

Some churches do a lot of talking about where Jesus “went” (for lack of a better word) – after He died.  Of course we are speaking of His Spirit, not His actual physical body.  His Spirit went to the bosom of Abraham, I’ve been told.  His Spirit went to get the keys from the devil, I’ve also been told.  Frankly, the church I was raised in was not big on talking about that day in-between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  I have wondered though – so I’m going to do what I always do.  I’m going to see what Scripture I can find about it.

There’s not much there…  but I’ll share with you what I’ve found.

David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.  – Acts 2:31

God would not leave Him among the dead or allow His body to rot in the grave.  It’s just like our Father, isn’t it?  He will take care of us in the same way, you know.  As Christ is His child – so are we if we have accepted Him into our hearts and lives.

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.   Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.  – Psalm 16:10-11

At Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.  Isn’t that a comfort?  Amen!

One song comes to mind – HE HOLDS THE KEYS!  And I’ve heard many people sing it, but there’s only one Steve Green.

https://youtu.be/YNrn_yuLIJo

Hang on to hope…  not to be a spoiler, but Christ did not stay in the tomb!  🙂