What shall we say to these things?

There is a battle for our minds. Notice how much rhetoric is geared toward our thoughts. Slogans tell us: “just be happy”, “think positive”, “attitude is everything”. However, the right thoughts don’t trump reality. Pretending my leg isn’t broken will not stop the pain. Telling myself it is just a scratch won’t either. Bolstering myself with the assurance help is on the way just might aid my endurance. Why? I am speaking truth to myself. Truth is powerful. That must be why it is so contested today.

Our thoughts run amuck in fantasy, fiction and horror, especially when we are in dangerous, dire and painful circumstances. It’s hard not to ask “what if”. However, it is an emotionally spiraling quest. We must train ourselves to know truth and dwell on it. As Paul tells us in his “whatever is” list, dwell on what is true (Philippians 4:8).

Romans 8 has a list of facts to store in our late night answer database. One of those is found in verse 31.

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Is God for us? The passage states that He did not spare His own Son but gave Him over for us all. It speaks of the one who died for us is now interceding for us. The passage goes on to recount the impossibility of being separated from the love of God.

For your own thought police, memorize the points in Romans 8 so that you might guide the emotions you experience in the dark hours. Truth triumphs. It sets you and your thoughts free.

Paul believed God. Paul trusted God. Paul instructed others to do the same. Be like Paul; guide your thoughts to God and His truth.  (insert stick figure here) J

Burning within me,

JOY!

Can you watch the news?

The horrors of one day of news is overwhelming. Yesterday, I read a local news station’s report of the blogger who is organizing pro-rape rallies across the nation for this Saturday. One is planned in our home state of Alabama! Another tweet by @ActforAmerica introduced me to a brutality which dumped nausea into my stomach. The stat given was “513,000 women and girls are at risk of female genital mutilation in the US today”. The billboard shown in the article showed devices for such I won’t name. Later in the evening I listened to someone accused of treason continue to campaign in this country for president. This morning I read a devotional by John Piper which described the contract killing of street children to rid society of the criminal adults it is assumed they will become. The corruption of our nation and this world is so scary.

The time I have spent in Romans 8 reminded me that even the earth itself is distressed by the evil that pervades us.

Romans 8:19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

The passage continues to speak of creation being set free from its slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. I can’t help but notice that creation is looking for God’s children to take charge! Me too! I can’t wait for justice to roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24)

Believe me I realize God’s children are not yet perfected and this earth will be destroyed before freed from its corruption. However, we have something to which to look forward. Evil will not continue. It will be defeated when our Lord returns. Then Amos 5:24 will come true. So if you like me become astounded with the news media, remind yourself even the earth wants the evil doers gone.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Who’s praying for you?

Facing uncertainty is tiring. We roll matters through our minds at an exhausting rate. We often find ourselves making the matter worse and worse, especially in the watches of the night. Problems take on a haunting capability in the watches of the night.

There is encouragement in the eighth chapter of Romans. Most of us know this chapter for the verse which promises God works all things together for our good (verse 28). However, there are many assurances contained within this chapter. Reviewing it for peace of mind the past few days, I grasped hold of several thoughts to reign in my active mind. Here is a first: one repeated word in the text caught me. My inductive Bible study training caused me to key in on a powerful concept.

Verse 26 informs us that the Spirit is interceding for us: “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” The Spirit is talking to God on our behalf. Verse 34 encourages us that Christ is interceding for us: “who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” God is three persons, the Holy Trinity. In this passage of Scripture we learn that two parts of that Trinity are talking to the third to which you too are pleading. Who all is praying with you when you pray? The answer is the most powerful Beings of the Universe!

Take heart when you are talking to your Father in the darkness of the night, while those you love are sleeping. There are powerful lovers of you praying with you. There is intercession on your behalf, and you are not alone. Feast your mind and thoughts on truth.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Sleepless

I have arrived at a season in life that has me sleepless. Such seasons make us aware not only of our own pressing need, but of those in distress like us. People everywhere have burdens. Some are temporary, acute if you will. It may be a shortage of funds for a bill or the need of wisdom in a far-reaching decision. For others the need is heart wrenching and ongoing such as a wayward child or a serious illness. Whatever the crisis, we cry out to God. We lay awake through the night praying for our own deep concern and those of the ones we know and love.

If you are in such a season, I have a verse for you. It is the one that comes to mind each night as I am running the gamut of scenarios and responding with pleas to God.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

Since I don’t know what is best. Since I don’t see the hand of God solving my problem. Since all the thoughts of possible negative outcomes plague me. I must remind myself of my God’s character often. This verse reminds me I have a Father in Heaven who gives good gifts when I ask. He doesn’t give a stone when asked for bread or a serpent when asked for a fish. Knowing that truth, knowing His character helps change the frame of mind of a sleepless night.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Remember me

The similes and metaphors of the intensity of emotions are endless. Recently, I was listing mine: alone, hopeless, guilty, doomed. Words from the Scripture came to me. “Lord, remember me.” These are familiar words from the hours of Christ’s crucifixion. One of the thieves realized the man dying next to him was not dying as he was. This man died with resolution. He was not railing at His accusers nor the soldiers carrying out their orders. He was forgiving and loving and providing. The hopeless, guilty, alone, doomed, perishing man realized this One could help him. He cried out, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” As I sat feeling suffocating emotions, I did the same. I cried from my spirit, “Lord, remember me.”

Did He remember the thief on the cross? Christ promised him, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” I haven’t come across a promise He (and His Father) have not kept. He didn’t ask the thief for anything because Christ was taking care of what the thief needed at the very moment he asked. He was performing a substitutionary perfect lamb sacrifice for his sins. Does the “come into Your kingdom” apply to me today? Hebrews states that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God waiting for God to make all of His enemies a foot stool for His feet. Such wonderful imagery, but where is the part about me? Hebrews also proclaims the One who became like me (putting on flesh) suffered from the same temptations as me, and He is living to make intercession for me with the Father. Does the “remember me” apply? Oh yes! And a million times, yes!

Today’s encouraging message is: if you ask, He will remember you. In the depths of your despair, He is interceding. He KNOWS what you feel. He suffered abandonment and condemnation (for our sin). Because of that, He knows what it feels like to be separated from His Father, our Creator. You can TRUST Him. As the song so beautifully reminds us:

HE KNOWS, HE KNOWS
EVERY HURT AND EVERY STING
HE HAS WALKED THE SUFFERING

So don’t remain gripped in the emotions whether they are justified (as the thief’s) or perceived (a lie from the enemy), cry out to the One who overcame, “remember me.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Jeremy Camp’s “He Knows”

All the bitter weary ways
endless striving day by day
you barely have the strength to pray
in the valley low

how hard your fight has been
how deep the pain within
wounds that no one else has seen
hurts too much to show

all the doubt you’re standing in between
And all the weight that brings you to your knees

HE KNOWS, HE KNOWS
EVERY HURT AND EVERY STING
HE HAS WALKED THE SUFFERING
HE KNOWS, HE KNOWS
LET YOUR BURDENS COME UNDONE
LIFT YOUR EYES UP TO THE ONE
WHO KNOWS
HE KNOWS

we may faint and we may sink
feel the pain and near the brink
but the dark begins to shrink
when you find the one who knows

the chains of doubt that held you in between
one by one are starting to break free

every time that you feel forsaken
every time that you feel alone
He is near to the broken hearted
every tear
He knows…

Embittered people

The stories of the hatred of Christians fill the news. Whether a couple is being sued for not baking a cake or a student shot for standing and saying “I am a Christian”, the world is making its stand against those who believe in a Creator God who saves souls. Those who hate the idea of a God to whom they are accountable are lashing out in hostile means against anyone standing in the way of abolishing this “ideology”. David Jeremiah is encouraging the Believers in Christ to “stand up”. He has rallies scheduled and book marks made. He has recently published a book “Agents of Babylon” to remind the Church of the acts of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in days in which the Babylonians sought to do away with a people whose alliance was to the God of the Jews.

As the days of Daniel showed a hatred toward a people group devoted to Jehovah, so the days after Christ walked the earth showed a hatred to those who preached Jesus is the Way. In Acts chapter fourteen, the disciples are preaching and great numbers are believing the good news they share. However, those who disbelieved embittered others against the preachers of the Word.

Acts 14:2-3 (NASB)

2 But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren. 3 Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.

What is in the news today in America and across the world is not new. Since the time God put His name upon a people, they have suffered persecution. Whether the enemy is Satan himself or the people who want to be their own God, time has shown this world will not accept a devotion to El Elyon (God Most High – Genesis 14:18-20) Annihilation of God’s people has been sought throughout history (His story).

What do we do as believers? Verse three in the quoted verses above tells what the missionary disciples did. They spoke boldly with reliance upon the Lord. God is calling us in these days to stand. Many of our treasured Bible teachers are on the subject of the last hours and are encouraging with such words as “occupy till He comes”. The events of our times are foretold. Our days are not out of El Elyon’s control. Happenings are validating His sovereignty as the Word comes to life before the eyes of the world. We need not doubt because of the embittered disbeliever, but rather be fortified.

I challenge you to study the Word of God as never before. Be aware of the happenings all over the world as well as in your own community. Prepare those you love to stand as persecution comes to the door. These are really exciting days. The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is near. Encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:18) Encourage one another to stand. Speak boldly in His name.

Burning within me,

JOY!

My choice

I’ll attend a funeral today. A ninety-four year old minister of more than 70 years will be eulogized. I wonder who will speak. I heard how he paid the college tuition of a church teen. I heard how he won the local bootlegger to Christ through his persistent ministry and care. Who knows all the deeds he has done in the name of the Lord? He outlived his wife and three children. Who knows his grief?

My mind went to my own funeral. Who knows me well enough to “preach” my eulogy? That still small voice whispered to me, “Your lifestyle is not what matters. What matters is your choice. Make sure the one speaking your eulogy tells those in attendance of your choice.”

There are many lords. I will use the word bosses for those who have a hard time with that title being lower case. Your boss may be your body. Your thoughts may center around proper diet and exercise so you look and feel your best. Your boss may be pleasure. You may spend all you have to make yourself feel good. Your boss could be another person. Your efforts may be exhausted showing love to a significant other or child. The crux is there are many lords, but there is only one Savior. There is only One on the day of your death who can deliver you safely into the presence of God, otherwise you are banished to what the Bible calls Hell. That is what I hope is effectively conveyed at today’s funeral and on the day of my eulogy.

So I challenge you today, when confronted with your death, not to reflect on your lifestyle. (It won’t matter if you funded the new church wing, made yearly mission trips or served as the Sunday School director to the day of your death.) Rather, make sure you have made your choice clear. There are many bosses, you get to choose. Keep in the forefront of your mind, however, there is only one Savior.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Philippians 2:9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

My parents failed me

I sat watching my child play baseball. My day was spent there, moving from one field to another while his team played in a travel tournament. I reminisced of my childhood. My parents didn’t sign me up for sports. As a matter of fact, they didn’t take me to dance lessons or ACT prep classes either. I didn’t go to movies, and there were three channels (plus PBS) on our home TV. There was no college fund. My siblings didn’t receive these privileges either. We did consider them privileges and not entitlements. My parents lived their lives. They provided our necessities and many pleasures, which are today considered functional basics. I pondered if I had been cheated. The thought occurred to me that my parents failed me.

I sat at the field with a Joel Rosenberg book in my lap taking notes from his nonfiction “Epicenter”. I realize America’s present state is more precarious than it has ever been on multiple levels, but the state of Israel is in more dire circumstance than her. Israel’s enemies are racing in nuclear weapon development and production. They are forming alliances historians would have insisted would never occur. Israel is threatened daily by her adversaries, who claim to be America’s adversaries as well. I am studying to understand the times in which we live.

My parents were born in desperate times in America. During the depression everything was scarce. People made the most of all that they had to survive. Those who lived through these days carried the memories into their adulthood and habits of life. My parents’ families knew well what having only God meant and how to cling to Him for survival.

I was taught to fear God – one day each person will give an account of how they have lived and what they have done with the knowledge of God’s son. I attended church with my family and had an intellectual knowledge of the Word of God as it was taught. I watched my parents live responsible, respectful and law-abiding lives. I was educated and taught and allowed to think. No emphasis was ever put on my emotions or feelings. Facts were the foundation on which we lived.

As Ravi Zacharias teaches, a better Hebrew rendering of the proverb, “Train a child up in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” is “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old it will not depart from him.” As I have encountered various world ideologies and beliefs, my mind returns to the fundamentals I learned in childhood. Life isn’t about me. God shall be feared. I will give an account of myself to God for my life and what I have done with knowledge of Jesus Christ. Those facts are far from the feelings and emotions espoused on every form of media and in the classroom. Unbelievers use ridicule and unproven theories to belittle what my parents taught me from God’s Word. However, being taught reason allows me to challenge the ridicule and opinions plastered about me. I look at the condition of the entire world and see the Bible my parents revered and believe is accurate and proven hour by hour in my lifetime. “The way” hasn’t departed from me, even when in my younger life I tried to depart from it.

Am I failing my children? Their lives are full of ballgames, pricy education, social functions and numerous frivolities – expensive clothes and technological gadgets. They are inundated with opinions and unproven theories hourly where I didn’t encounter them until I was an adult. Evil is glamorized for entertainment. Christians are considered the blight of an enlightened age. However, did the fundamentals change? Does truth change? Has God changed? If my children build a dynasty here, how long will it last? Their lifetime? Until the nuclear holocaust begins? Until the world economy collapses? Until Christ returns for His church? Will they stand at the judgment seat of God and say “my parents failed me”?

God help me, may the last question’s answer be no! Stop and consider what you are laboring to attain. All my understanding says time is short. The foundations of America are crumbling, as well as the world’s political structure. This is foretold in God’s Word. We must fill our offspring with the truth of the Word of God which proves itself at this point in time, hour by hour. Our time with our children is short regardless if what we know is coming happens in our lifetime. We get a mere 18 -22 years with them in our homes. We get even less time to form their world view. Challenge yourself not to stand before God knowing you failed them.

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old it will not depart from him.

Burning within me,

JOY!

To encourage and bless them

I spoke the following scriptures over my children as this new school year is beginning. I did so to encourage them, remind them and bless them. It is so important to know where our help comes from. What a reassurance to know He does not sleep! It is so comforting to know He keeps us. And, He will forevermore.

Speak the Word to your children. It is everlasting and does not return to its Author void.

Burning within me,

JOY!

My Help Comes from the Lord

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come?

2 My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;

he who keeps you will not slumber.

4 Behold, he who keeps Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;

the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

6 The sun shall not strike you by day,

nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;

he will keep your life.

8 The Lord will keep

your going out and your coming in

from this time forth and forevermore.

English Standard Version (ESV)

Everything that glitters is not gold

In a day when major religious leaders call us all to be one, we must ask ourselves at what cost. Pope Francis, Kenneth Copeland, Rick Warren, to name a few, claim we can all dwell together as one church. However, do certain differences matter?

Martin Loyd-Jones is a deceased pastor of England. (1899-1981) He preached a sermon on cults. Here are points he challenged be considered prayerfully.

Just because we use the same terminology doesn’t mean we believe the same things. Catholics use the word grace, but it involves works. That is not the definition of the protestant.

Jesus is deity; you cannot demean Him or deemphasize Him.

Sin is man’s problem. Much emphasis on the happiness and prosperity of man without addressing the problem of sin is not Biblical.

The Holy Spirit is a person. He cannot be ignored.

The Bible is central, pivotal, key. If it is only used in small measure to emphasize someone’s agenda or point, it is not being used in its authenticity nor with its authority.

Hebrews teaches in these last days God has spoken through His Son. Therefore, when one claims to have a new or special revelation or authority from God they are misrepresenting the Way and the Word.

As we see signs of the one world government foretold in Revelation, we are actively seeing a movement toward one world church. Recognize this too is a Biblical prophecy. Don’t be deceived; don’t let your children be misled. Study and prepare; test all the spirits and cling to Christ and His Word. I have heard it said as the end nears there will be two churches: the mega church and the underground. May we persevere in our faith until He comes.

Burning within me,

JOY!

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