Thankful even though

The political sector of America is more than disconcerting. Even tonight as I type, analysts are predicting the president to once again use executive order to override our congressional representatives. I know many who are angry and fearful, resentful and bitter. It seems as if nothing is concrete or absolute today. Ah, but there are words you can cling to. As I read them this morning, I said, “Yes, Lord I can be thankful in spite of the anxiety filled days in this country.

Psalm 97 The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
Let the many islands be glad.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
3 Fire goes before Him
And burns up His adversaries round about.
4 His lightnings lit up the world;
The earth saw and trembled.
5 The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6 The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples have seen His glory.

Who reigns? The Lord reigns. I am to rejoice. He is not bound or kept from executing His plan. The whole world is under His control. I am thankful in times of unrest and uncertainty, He has a plan.

I don’t know what problems you are facing or what problems keep you awake at night or anxious throughout the day. I do know God has not lost control. How do I know? I see His word fulfilled daily. It’s amazing to watch the events and situations He foretells come to pass. Take notice of things and remember. His plan is not falling apart; pieces are falling into place. We can be thankful; He reigns.

Burning within me,

JOY!

The oppressor

We’ve all seen seemingly innocent people mistreated. The oppressed often has no power or recourse to retaliate. Oppressors are generally in authority in some way. To the oppressed, their situation seems hopeless. Those of us on the sideline are often indignant and angered. We frequently don’t have a way to intervene either. Solomon spoke of the injustice.

Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. Ecclesiastes 4:1

Solomon seems to imply to me that the oppressor too is seeking some sort of comfort. Whatever the case, he shall be judged. That’s important to the observer as well as the afflicted one. God sees. If He did not, we would be hopeless as Solomon who claimed the dead are better off than the living.

Psalm 96:11-13 (NASB)

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
12 Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
13 Before the Lord, for He is coming,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in His faithfulness.

I’ve watched just such a situation over the past 10 years, and it culminated in the past couple of weeks. My heart aches for the one shedding tears. I labor not to hold bitterness for the one who has inflicted the weak one. This morning the Lord showed me again, when He comes all will be made right. Thankfully, praise His name, He judges righteously. He knows all the facts and all the motives. Also, He is faithful to His own. He sees every tear we cry. David cried for Him to keep record of them. (Psalm 56:8)

I am careful not to wish judgment on others. I know I have been an oppressor in my life time. For that I repent. God knows my deceitful heart. I do not want to wish on someone else a punishment for which I have received pardon. I do pray all seek His forgiveness. However, I also know that no iniquity goes unpunished. So in that truth, I pray comfort for the one with tears.

Burning within me,

JOY!

An American Heidi

Some time ago I wrote of a German lady led by the Spirit to confront a joint service in a Christian church in Germany where an imam was to pray.  Her name is Heidi Mund. Today I read of an American Heidi. The lady’s name is Christine Weick. She drove from Tennessee to Washington to proclaim “Jesus died on that cross. It is the reason we are to worship only Him. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. We have built enough of your mosques in this country. Why don’t you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone?” The service where she spoke was being held in none other than the National Cathedral. The house of prayer was full of rugs facing Mecca and backs turned to the cross which Muslims find offensive. Have you heard of this? I had not until I saw a tweet today from Jan Markell and read an article by a nonpolitically correct Donna Wasson. On her site, Rapture Ready, Wasson has an article entitled “Asking For It”. She tells of Weick’s pilgrimage as well as her own opinion of the service. If you are easily offended by the intolerant, don’t read her article. She is vocal about her allegiance to Jehovah God as well as her opinion of our political leaders’ lack thereof.

I searched for Christine Weick’s name on google.com. I only found this information on websites such as Christian Post and Raw Story. Searching FoxNews, CNN and ABCNews did not yield results. I would like to read more of her “incident”. If I remember correctly, the main stream news didn’t report of Heidi either.

Donna Wasson’s article was blunt to put it mildly. I am grieved yet again at how few American Christians have a jealousy for our God. I hope you too will read of this. I hope it bolsters your desire to stand for your Lord. He is coming, and I pray He doesn’t find us shrinking back. (Hebrews 10:38-39)

Burning within me,

JOY!

Daniel 11:32 By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.

Benefits

I questioned the children on the way to school this morning. It’s the month of Thanksgiving, and before making all those exhaustive “want” lists, I want them to list their blessings. I asked them first to name a blessing in their life. I then asked they name a blessing from this morning. They replied as children their age reply. They didn’t ask me to answer in kind. I was ready though. At this stage in my life I am the most thankful I have ever been for the word of God. This morning in particular God spoke to me through His word. Through His living recorded word, He reminded me what I can be grateful to have every day.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV)

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul;  And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Out of God’s great mercy, my sin is forgiven. Stop. That fact should wash peace over our souls. This truth alone is mind-boggling. He heals all our diseases. I know what you’re thinking, not all. Whether in this world or the one to come, God will do away with our diseases. He redeemed us from the destruction our sin brings. He crowns us with loving-kindness and mercy. I know you can name at least one of those today. He satisfies your mouth with good things. I am just sure if you have access to digital media and can read this post this morning you have access to food. It may not be what you were “craving”, but it is good clean food. As David listed God’s benefits, we have access to those too.

As this month of thanksgiving focus unfolds, I read often of anxiety and stress diminishing as we focus on our blessings. I am trying to take that admonishment to heart. I know many hurting people with large problems. This world, however, and the evil contained therein cannot take away the blessings the Father has bestowed on us. As David reminds us, “Forget not all His benefits.” The best are eternal.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Never disappointed

From the Expanded version of the Bible… Isaiah 28:16
“I will •put [lay; establish] a stone in the ground in •Jerusalem [L Zion; C the location of the Temple], a tested stone.
•Everything will be built on this important and precious rock [L …a precious cornerstone for a firm foundation].
Anyone who trusts in it will never •be disappointed [or panic; waver; be shaken; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:6].


Keep believing and trusting Him. He will not disappoint you, ever. Spend time daily in His Word. Truth is ever so important in our tumultuous world. It may seem He has lost control. However, I have heard often lately from the God-fearing, “Things are not falling apart. The pieces are falling into place.” His Word will bear this out.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Dwell on His Word! He repeats this 3 times! See above and below.
Romans 9:33 (EXB)
33 As it is written in the Scripture:
“[L Look; T Behold] I will put in ·Jerusalem [L Zion; C a poetic term for Jerusalem and symbolizing the nation Israel] a stone that causes people to stumble, a rock that makes them fall [Is. 8:14].
Anyone who ·trusts [believes; has faith] in him will never be ·disappointed [put to shame; disgraced; Is. 28:16].”

1 Peter 2:6 (EXB)

The Scripture •says [L contains]:
“[L See; Look,] I will •put a stone in the ground in Jerusalem [L lay a stone in Zion; C Zion is a poetic term for Jerusalem].
•Everything will be built on this important and precious rock [L a chosen and precious cornerstone; C the stone that supports the others].
Anyone who •trusts [believes; has faith] in him
will never be •disappointed [L put to shame; Is. 28:16].”

I have no idea where I am going

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end… But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me. And You will never leave me to face my perils alone. – Thomas Merton

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust… Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, for they have been from of old. Psalm 25:1-2, 4-6

Reflecting

Father Damien was the missionary to the exiled sufferers of leprosy on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai. He gave his life, succumbing to the disease himself, to minister in the name of Jesus to these outcasts. What an example of Christian sacrifice. He wrote of spending time in the following discipline: silence, recollection, prayer.

Today’s lifestyle does not lend itself to the discipline Father Damian practiced. We are busy and our lives are filled with noise. Though we recognize great need for prayer, we don’t prioritize its practice well. Solomon in his oft confusing book of wisdom, Ecclesiastes, promotes Father Damian’s habit.

Ecclesiastes 7:2 (NASB)

It is better to go to a house of mourning

Than to go to a house of feasting,

Because that is the end of every man,

And the living takes it to heart.

The living take our mortality to heart in the face of mourning. If we recognize that we are truly a vapor, how does that change the use of our time and energies? If we encounter the suffering of those around us and suffer ourselves, does that change our prayer priority? The holiday season is upon us. There will be much feasting. Will there be time for silence and recollection and prayer? If we are wise, there will be according to the “preacher” Solomon. Father Damien lived the statement that titles a chapter in Anne Graham Lotz book, “Expecting to See Jesus”. “Live a life of eternal significance – intentionally.” We need times of silence, recollection and prayer to do so.

Burning within me,

JOY!

For more knowledge: I searched for a definition for the word Ecclesiastes. I am pasting an excerpt from the Meriam-Webster website.

Definition of ECCLESIASTES: a book of wisdom literature in canonical Jewish and Christian Scripture

Origin of ECCLESIASTES: Greek Ekklēsiastēs, literally, preacher (translation of Hebrew qōheleth), from ekklēsiastēs member of an assembly, from ekklēsia

That old glory

So many things concern American citizens today. Healthcare, foreign relations, and border security are just a few things in the news daily. Along with these, there is a constant reminder of the untrustworthiness of so many of our political leaders. The scandal amongst Whitehouse staff and selections seems unprecedented. The recent elections have many hoping for positive change. Change, however, that is effective and lasting must come from a source outside of America.

Psalm 85:4-9 (NASB)

4 Restore us, O God of our salvation,

And cause Your indignation toward us to cease.

5 Will You be angry with us forever?

Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?

6 Will You not Yourself revive us again,

That Your people may rejoice in You?

7 Show us Your lovingkindness, O Lord,

And grant us Your salvation.

8 I will hear what God the Lord will say;

For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones;

But let them not turn back to folly.

9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,

That glory may dwell in our land.

Restoration to days of being a world power which influences for good seems impossible. The current culture seems to desire the elimination of freedom while at the same time crying for no restraint to personal desires. The Psalmist speaks of not returning to folly. I believe folly could be considered apathy and a burying of ourselves in pleasure instead of the work of the Kingdom. Salvation this passage states is near to those who fear Him. We need leaders who fear God as well as to show godly fear in our own lives. If we desire glory to dwell in our land, we desperately need God to send revival and restoration. Are we praying or playing people of God?

Burning within me,

JOY!

Keeps us from falling apart

There are times, and there will be times, when it will be absolutely clear that only God’s grace keeps us from falling apart; and even if we cannot hold on to Him, He will still hold on to us. Johannes Facius

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Burning within me,

JOY!

It doesn’t even sound right

My mind wandered down a path during this Sunday morning’s sermon as my pastor described the Great Shepherd. Sheep is one of the interesting words that is both singular and plural, yet singular sheep sounds awkward. “A sheep” just sounds off. Then I thought, well, you don’t see sheep alone. Sheep stay in flocks. That is for their protection, and I assume for the benefit of their owner. If they are all together, predators cannot corner a lone one. If you have multiple, you get enough wool to actually make something.

Christians know the Bible compares people to sheep. It isn’t a flattering analogy because not only are sheep helpless, they are also known to be dumb. Knowing the actual animals live in community reinforces the Bible’s admonishment for God’s people to serve together and to assemble together and to stay close to the Shepherd.

I love the family of God. I know when I have suffered various trials they have prayed for me and with me. They have ministered to me and encouraged me. I need them, and I need the Shepherd. We all do. I have also had the joy of praying for others and ministering to them in the name of the Lord. There is a great joy in serving God’s people.

Don’t convince yourself you are better off alone and the challenge of working out differences with God’s people is not worth it. The adversary would love to find you alone. Your efforts will be magnified when done within the body of Christ. There is a reason we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves. (Hebrews 10:25) We benefit and so does our Father.

Burning within me,

JOY!

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