Sunday, November 26, 2006

Life Lessons From Death

I want to share some insights that the LORD has given me during this time. These come from my daily Bible reading, the chaplain's message at my BIL's funeral, and meditating on life in general. The chaplain had a really good message which I appreciated so much! He taught on Psalm 90:12--So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. He pointed out that people today seem obsessed with youth and longevity, spending millions to look & feel younger and to live as long as possible. They are focused on the quantity of life when they ought to be focused on the quality of life, on applying their hearts to God's wisdom. I wish I could've taped his message.

At any rate, the LORD used that to remind me that I need to be mindful of what I focus my life on. What are my life priorities? What do I value? If I lost what I value, would I feel like life was no longer worth living? When I leave all this behind, then what? Will I be prepared for eternity? And what will I leave behind for my loved ones? What legacy will I leave them? All these things went through my mind at the funeral and later.

Then these additional thoughts came along:

1) Keep your focus. I should be focused on Yeshua at all times in all ways.

2) Set your affections on things above. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. Keep eternity in view.

3) Be content with what you have. If I am not content with what I have, no matter how much I have, it will never be enough.

4) Love the ones you're with; don't take them for granted. Life is short and none of us know what tomorrow will bring. I need to let those I love know that I love them every time I am with them so that if/when death parts us, I will know that I did all I could to let them know I loved them.

5) Don't sweat the small stuff. The things of this earth will pass away; in eternity most of these trials and struggles won't matter so why let them steal my joy in today?

6) Make today count. I need to be "redeeming the time."

I'm sure that the LORD will continue to teach me His wisdom through these life events and His Word, but for now, that's what He's given me.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Life Happens: Update & Thoughts

My sweetheart and I returned from a trip to Pennsylvania yesterday for my father-in-law's funeral. The LORD was faithful, as always, and watched over us the whole way. The entire 2000+ mile trip was safe and uneventful, praise the LORD! We did have the oil changed in our van and a complete inspection done before we left to be as sure as we could that the van would make the trip. Now, however, we do definitely need to save our pennies so we can get those things fixed on the van that are needing repair. We very much hope that there will be no more funerals or long road trips for quite a LONG time! It was good to see members of my husband's family again, however. We even got to meet his half-sister whom we'd never met before. We did, however, have to forego our family Thanksgiving gathering here, which I'm still sad about. I did realize, though, that my priority was to be with my husband and support him during this difficult season of grief. If I had stayed at home and let him make that trip alone, just so I wouldn't have had to miss having all of our children and grandchildren here for Thanksgiving, I know I would have been making a very selfish choice. Selfishness is one of those besetting sins that I still struggle with, even as I approach my 50th year of life and have been following the Messiah for over 30 years. At any rate, I'm glad that I decided to go with my sweetheart and we did enjoy having this week to spend together, even though the occasion was sad.

The LORD has been speaking to my heart about legacies, as we have said goodbye to my dad in April 2005, and my brother-in-law & father-in-law this month. When we die, what legacy will we leave behind to the ones we love? I read in an Our Daily Bread devotional that when Christian author Josh McDowell's mother died, he did not know if she was a Christian. I have had that same experience with our family members that have died. Some things in their lives suggest that they did have a saving faith in the LORD, but then other things suggest that they only know about Him but did not know Him as their personal Savior and LORD. When I die, I want my family to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a believer and that I will live again because He lives. As Peter shares:

2 Peter 1:3-15 (Amplified) For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). 4 By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature. 5 For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence), 6 And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety), 7 And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love. 8 For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall. 11 Thus there will be richly and abundantly provided for you entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 So I intend always to remind you about these things, although indeed you know them and are firm in the truth that [you] now [hold]. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle (tent, body), to stir you up by way of remembrance, 14 Since I know that the laying aside of this body of mine will come speedily, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 Moreover, I will diligently endeavor [to see to it] that [even] after my departure (decease) you may be able at all times to call these things to mind.

So not only do I want my life to be a continual encouragement to my family now, but I want to focus on the legacy I will leave behind through the decisions I make today, the words I say and actions I demonstrate, the material things I value, the memories I leave to my loved ones. Death could come at any time; I not only want to be ready to meet the LORD, I also want to have a legacy ready to leave to my family, a legacy that will be a blessing to them and an example to follow for generations to come. I'm not talking about financial or material inheritances, but about spiritual legacies. How should, how can I live my life today so that when I die my children and grandchildren will be able to remember my faith, my life of obedience to God's Word, my love for them and for others, and through those memories and the things I leave behind (i.e. my Bibles, journals, letters, etc), remind them to always follow the LORD with all of their hearts?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Life Happens

Since I last posted, we've lost two family members. My sweetheart's brother Maynard died on October 29th and today we got word that his father has just passed away. In addition, my mother is looking at some very serious back surgery next month or she'll most like end up paralyzed in the near future, though I am sure surgery poses it's own set of risks. She sees the specialist on the 29th to determine her course of action. My son Isaac, my youngest child (20 yrs old) and only son, injured his arm a couple weeks ago and has restricted use of it. Since he works on a farm, that makes his life a challenge. I've been hoping and praying that all six of my children and all seven of my grandchildren would be able to be here on Thanksgiving Day for our family gathering around the dinner table. As our family grows, it gets harder and harder to get all of us together at one time because of different work schedules and commitments. Now we will need to decide how to handle my father-in-law's funeral which will be a 900+ mile trip away in Pennsylvania. Our vehicle needs maintenance before it goes on the road that far; we realized that after returning from my brother-in-law's funeral in Augusta, Georgia two weeks ago. Money is tight in our budget, as usual. At this point, I don't know what we'll decide.

But I do know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand. None of this catches God by surprise. He is STILL in control. There is NOTHING too hard for Him. And He still works all things together for good to those who love Him, who are the called according to His name. I know I can rest in His steadfast love and His unending faithfulness. Right now, that's enough.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Content To Be Exactly Who I Am

In my studies into the Hebraic roots of our faith in Yeshua the Messiah I have come across many different websites, forums and blogs, read lots of different articles, and have accessed a great deal of information. Having grown up in the Christian church, I was well aware of the divisions within the church, whether denominational or doctrinal, and even within individual congregations between the different members. Suffice it to say that I was well aware of the "feet of clay" within Christianity. I'm not sure why I expected something better from those in the Messianic ranks and yet I did. Maybe I thought that people who had a grasp on the whole of God's Word, who had embraced Torah observance along with following Yeshua, would somehow set aside their differences and embrace one another in the love that we are commanded to walk in with one another. I think we will always have differences of opinion about the interpretations of scripture and the practical applications of those same scriptures. Yet even with those differences, there can be unity and there ought to be mutual love & respect.

As I have read and studied from these different internet sources, I have come to see a couple of different viewpoints. There are those who believe that if you are going to be a follower of Yeshua, that you need to walk in "Jewish" space, because Yeshua was born a Jew. These folks dive headlong into keeping Torah, along with much of the Jewish traditions and/or rabbinical interpretations. They seem to think that praying Hebrew prayers, singing Hebrew songs, dancing Hebrew dances, and embracing an orthodox lifestyle has more validity than living an unorthodox lifestyle. I am not saying that doing thus is wrong, no, not at all. I am only concerned when those who choose to walk in this manner make it seem as though every other believer in Yeshua should do so as well or they aren't truly a believer in Yeshua. And, unfortunately, I have also seen that those who embrace this lifestyle walk a slippery slope of coming to love their orthodoxy more than they love Yeshua; indeed, many embrace Judaism to the exclusion of the Messiah Yeshua. How tragic! I have also been told that if I was unwilling to follow Yeshua in this "Jewish" space, I should consider that I had no reason to keep Torah and should confine myself to the Christian church. Ouch!

Of course, on the other hand, you have the died-in-the-wool Christians who believe that doing anything that even smacks in the least of "Jewishness" means that you are denying the blood of Jesus, by whom we are saved, and are going back "under the law." Sorry, but I don't agree with that, either!

If you are descended by birth from the twelve tribes of Israel, then I think you should embrace your identity as a Jew, even if and especially if you are a believer in Yeshua HaMeshiach. This is your heritage as a descendant of the Twelve Tribes. You were born into this; embrace it. Then there are others, not knowingly or otherwise of Jewish descent, who choose, as did Ruth the Moabitess, to become one with Israel. That's okay, too. But there are also those who are Gentiles by birth and nationality, who find new life in Yeshua the Messiah, who are adopted into Israel, who are the seed of Abraham by faith (as all believers in Yeshua are), while maintaining their Gentile identity. You can find mention of many such in the book of Acts and in the Epistles.

Over the past couple of years, as we have learned more about the Hebraic roots of our faith and have chosen to walk in obedience to as much of the written Word of God as we understand how to do and are able to do, we have found ourselves not "fitting" into the Christian community any more. So few understand what we see wrong with Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc. So few understand why we would choose to keep the Biblical Sabbath, the other appointed times on God's holy days calendar, why we would give up eating pork and shrimp, why we would wear the tzitzit, why we would study and seek to apply the "Old Testament" scriptures in our walk as "New Testament" believers in Yeshua the Messiah.

On the other hand, as we have fellowshipped with other "Messianic" believers over the past couple of years, we haven't exactly "fit" into that camp either. We do not believe that we need to get a shofar to blow or that we have to learn to read & speak Hebrew for the liturgical prayers or for worshipping the LORD in song. We don't believe that my husband has to put a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head when he prays or that I have to wear a headcovering. We do not believe that we have to incorporate all the rabbinic teachings into our lifestyle, whether that be in our bedroom or in our kitchen or anywhere else in our lives. What is clearly stated in scripture, that we do our best to apply however. We do firmly hold that there is one law for the Jew and for the Gentile. I guess, though, at this point, we don't think that the Jewish interpretation of that law is the only way to live it. We do not want to be Jews. We do not want to convert to Judaism. We are thankful to Yeshua for grafting us into the olive tree, but we are still wild olive branches. We are Gentiles who have been adopted into Israel, so we are Israelites by adoption, but we are still Gentiles by our birth.

Let me use an example from daily life. We know families who have adopted children from foreign countries. These children have come from China, Romania, Haiti, and other foreign lands. They are Chinese or Haitian by birth. Then they are adopted by American families and become American by adoption. That does not do away with their birth identity, however. No matter how long they live here in America, they will always be Chinese or Haitian. They will always carry some part of their cultural identity with them, more if they were older children or teens when they were adopted. Yet as Americans, they begin to assimilate the culture and traditions of the families into which they were adopted. The adoptive family would think it strange if that child refused to become a member of the family, to adapt to their lifestyle and join in their celebrations. On the other hand, the adoptive family would be abusive if they refused to let the adoptive child become one with their lifestyle and take part in their celebrations.

I am a Gentile believer in the Messiah Yeshua. I am content to be exactly that. I do not need to "put on" Jewishness in order to see myself as more valuable to YHWH. I think He is just as pleased with my extemporaneous prayers in English as He is with the liturgical prayers I am learning when we join in fellowship with other believers. I think He is just as pleased with the songs of praise we sing in English as He is with those sung in Hebrew. I think He enjoys many styles of music and of dance. I think He delights in modest and seemly apparel, but that there is no one "right" kind of apparel that fits this definition. And I think there is a day soon coming when all believers, of every people & tongue, tribe and nation, will worship Him together in spirit and in truth, expressing that worship in their own language (the languages that God Himself gave to all the nations when He confused our speech at Babel) as they sing and dance before the LORD. And maybe the Polish folks will learn to do a Davidic dance, while the Zulus will learn to do a polka and the Hassidic Jewish fellas will learn to do a Native American circle dance; get the picture? All of us as one, as "echad", worshipping Him from our hearts, in spirit and in truth, singing with joy in our hearts to the LORD and all of our different languages blending into one wonderful anthem of worship to the Most High! And all of our differences melting into nothingness as we join our hearts in worship to the Lamb who sits upon the throne--one flock with One Shepherd, One God and Father of us all. Amen!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Walking Worthy

Life has been quite busy lately which is why my posts here have been rather sparse, but the garden is done with for another year and autumn is rolling on into winter here in central Wisconsin, so I should have a little more time indoors to focus on writing again, amongst other things. Be assured that I WILL return to my study about words; I need to complete it for my own benefit, if not for anyone else. But today I had a different quick thought that I wanted to record before it slips away from me and gets forgotten in the ocean of thoughts that slosh around in my brain.

We can keep the Biblical Sabbath, the festivals, eat kosher, but if we aren't obeying the LORD in other areas, such as in our interpersonal relationships, the words we speak, etc, what good does our "Torah" observance do us? NONE! If I lived with a man I wasn't married to, but I kept the Sabbath & festivals, etc, what would be the point of my Torah observance? None. If I don't walk in integrity, honesty, faithfulness in EVERY area of my life, what good does it do me to keep these other things? None. There is no special value in keeping the Sabbath, the festivals, the kosher food laws, or other aspects of Torah if we are not going to walk in ALL the Torah--which includes the things that Yeshua taught and that His disciples Paul, Peter, John, and James taught. And ALL of it needs to come from a heart that is committed to the LORD, determined to follow Him, to bring Him glory & honor, to give Him pleasure by our willing, trusting obedience.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Out Of The Abundance Of The Heart--Part 3

Today I want to cover the second point that I introduced in Part 1 of this study: a) the words we speak are an indicator of what is in our hearts. The following passages of scripture put it quite well...

Matthew 12:33-37 (NKJ) Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Luke 6:43-45 (NKJ) For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, not does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

As I wrote in my previous post, I believe that God uses trials and tribulations in our lives to try our hearts, to test our faith in Him and our integrity. Take a look at this...

1 Peter 1:6-9 (NKJ) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.

I also shared in my previous post about Job and Abraham, two prime examples of men who were tested by God and passed the test. Now let's look at some other examples of people whose words express the faith, belief in Almighty God, that dwells in their hearts...

Matthew 8:5:13 (NKJ) Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented." And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, have soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, "Come," and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour. (also in Luke 7:1-10)

Out of the abundance of the faith in his heart, the centurion spoke to Jesus, and as he believed, so it was done for him.

Matthew 9:18-31 (NKJ) While he spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshipped Him, saying, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live." So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples. And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well." But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter, your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour. When Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, He said to them, "Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping." And they ridiculed Him. But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went out into all that land. When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, "See that no one knows it." But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country. (also Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56)

In each of these instances, words of faith and belief were spoken by those seeking healing and they received what they sought. Out of the abundance of their hearts, their mouths spoke, and as they believed, so it was done for them.

Matthew 15:21-28 (NKJ) Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us." But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Then she came and worshipped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Once again, out of the abundance of her heart, her mouth spoke, and she received that for which she believed.

Luke 19:1-10 (NKJ) Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and clumbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zaccaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner." Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

Out of the abundance of his heart, Zacchaeus spoke, giving half of his goods to the poor and restoring fourfold to those he had stolen from, and Jesus said that salvation had come to Zacchaeus' house that day. Quite a contrast to the rich ruler who kept the commandments of God, but who could not part with his riches when Jesus said that he still lacked one thing, that he should go and sell all that he had and give to the poor. That ruler went away sorrowful and Jesus commented that it was very hard for someone rich like him to enter the kingdom of God.

I could go on. There's the account of blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52 and Luke 18:35-43. We could contrast Zacharias' doubt of the angel's message about the son to come, John the Baptist (Luke 1:18-20), and Mary's faith as the angel brings her the news of the Son she is to bear (Luke 1:29-38). Then there's the tragic example of Jesus' hometown, where He was met with ridicule instead of faith and the Word says that He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief (Matt.13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6; John 12:37-40). But most telling of all is the account of the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings.

If you've never done so, I encourage you to read the book of Numbers and take particular note of every time the Israelites grumble and complain against God. Numbers 14 really brings it home.

Numbers 14:1-3 (NKJ) So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?"

Numbers 14:11 (NKJ) Then the LORD said to Moses: "How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?"

Out of the abundance of their hearts, they spoke doubt, fear, and unbelief. As the story goes, Moses intercedes for the people with the LORD because the LORD had determined to strike them with pestilence and wipe them out. The LORD pardons the people but there are still consequences for those who have sinned with their lips in complaining and doubting. The LORD declares that they shall have exactly what they asked for: they would die in the wilderness, never getting to see the land promised to their fathers, but their children, whom they'd said would be victims in the wilderness, those are the ones that the LORD says will inherit the promised land. Pretty sad, huh? It also causes me to think that the LORD attaches a high value to a heart of faith and belief.

Hebrews 3:7-19 (NKJ) Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'" Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

I'll continue with this study in my next post.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Out Of The Abundance Of The Heart Part 2

Today I am going to tackle my first point: God uses trials and tribulations to "try" or test our hearts. All of us face struggles. Sometimes they are small, just the daily things, the little irritations and annoyances of life, the "grain of sand in your shoe" kinds of things. Other times they are big, things like the death of a loved one, a car accident, finding out you have cancer or that a loved one does, divorce, any number of things that come like a bolt out of the blue and catch you off-guard. Unfortunately, at times in our lives these things seem to come in threes or fours, giving us little or no time between tragedies to catch our breath and regroup spiritually. That's when we are most likely to cry out "Why?".

There are many reasons why trials and tribulations come our way. Sometimes we are in the right place at the right time when evil happens, like the girl who was shot & killed in the Colorado school shooting or the Amish school girls who were killed last week when a gunman burst into their school. The families of these girls did nothing to deserve these tragedies; they just happened to be in the right place at the right time to reap the consequences of someone else's sin. Sometimes we are reaping consequences of our own bad choices, like finding out you have lung cancer after years of smoking or having your wife & children leave you after years of dealing with your alcohol abuse. And sometimes life just happens, like when you slip on a patch of ice, fall, and break your leg. There's also the possibility that Satan, the accuser of the brethren, is provoking the trials we face, to get us to deny the LORD who redeemed us (see Job 1 & 2). No matter why the trials and tribulations happen, I think the LORD is vitally interested in our response, that these things are a "test" of the faith that resides in our hearts. You don't think the LORD tests us? Here's what the Word of God says:

Psalm 7:9b (NKJ) But establish the just: For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.

Psalm 11:5 (NKJ) The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.

Psalm 17:3 (NKJ) You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

I cannot study this subject without going to the book of Job. Tragedy after tragedy overtake Job and he has no reason why. In one day all of his material wealth, as counted in oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, and servants, and all of his beloved children were taken from him. Job is clueless as to what is taking place in spiritual realms between God and Satan. All he knows is that everything has been taken from him. Does he demand answers from God? No! Here's what the Word says:

Job 1:20-22 (NKJ) Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshipped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

Then, as if losing all his material wealth and children isn't enough, God allows Satan to afflict Job physically with painful boils that cover his body. Job's wife gets into the act and tells Job to curse God and die. How does Job respond?

Job 2:10 (NKJ) But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Job also says:

Job 13:15 (NKJ) Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.

Job 23:10 (NKJ) But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

There's also the account of Abraham. Take a look at this...

Genesis 22:1-2 (NKJ) Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."

And what does Abraham do? Does he argue with God and ask "why?" No, he gets up early in the morning, saddles the donkey, calls for two of his servants and for Isaac, loads up some firewood, and they head to the land of Moriah. Just like that. When they get to the mountain that the LORD tells him to go to, he builds an altar, puts the wood and Isaac his son on the altar, then takes his knife to slay Isaac. At that point, God speaks again.

Genesis 22:12 (NKJ) And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."

From these scriptures, I conclude that trials and tribulations are part of God's purpose, that He uses them to try our hearts, to test our faith and integrity. So how do our words tie into these times of testing? How can our words be an indicator of what is in our hearts? Ah, but that is for my next post. Til then, my prayer echoes that of David:

Psalm 19:14 (NKJ) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Out Of The Abundance Of The Heart-Part 1

Over the past week, the Holy Spirit has been teaching me about the importance of the words that come from my mouth. This isn't an altogether new study for me. I've been highlighting verses in the Bible that deal with the mouth, lips, words, and speech for many years. What's different this time around is that the LORD has taken me deeper, beyond speech itself to the motives of the heart that prompt that speech. He's connected some dots, so to speak, in my understanding and opened my eyes to some insights that I hope I never forget. Towards that end, I am trying to bring 3+ pages of notes into some semblance of order here so that I can read this again and be reminded. It's my hope that sharing what I am learning will also be a blessing and an encouragement to you in your own walk of faith.

To lay some foundation here, I am generally an honest and upbeat person. I don't do a lot of grumbling and complaining. I am not a whiner. I try to avoid gossip and being fault-finding. I do not use swear words, not even if I hit my thumb with a hammer. I try to speak words that will build up and encourage, that give glory and honor to God, that express thankfulness and contentment rather than dissatisfaction and discontent. However, I am far from perfect and since I like to talk, "in an abundance of words, transgression is not lacking" (Prov. 10:19), so even I have room for improvement, especially after seeing what the LORD wanted me to see in this study.

I work fulltime in a plastics factory with some great people, but unfortunately they don't have a relationship with the LORD, so the words that come from their mouths are often not edifying or expressing thankfulness to the LORD. I hear a LOT of grumbling and complaining, of fault-finding and of questioning those in management. There has not been an across-the-board pay raise in over 4 years and the semi-annual bonuses became a thing of the past 6 years ago. There have been other cuts in benefits as well, as our company has had to make tough belt-tightening decisions in order to remain profitable in a tough global market. I do understand my co-workers' frustrations, as the cost of living continues to rise while our wages do not, however we have a great deal to be thankful for if we are willing to look for it. The grumbling and complaining don't accomplish anything anyway except to make everyone miserable. This past week I listened to plenty of the "life's NOT fair" complaints again, which helped spur me into this study.

As a child, I know I whined that lament plenty of times: "it's NOT fair!" Why could my younger sister get away with something that I couldn't get away with? Why could my brother go do something that I wasn't allowed to go do? Then when I raised my own six children, I heard those same kinds of laments. And you know what? Sure you do! Life ISN'T fair! That's a life lesson that we're all supposed to learn as children. Yet somehow it seems that there are lots of adults walking around today who never learned that lesson, at least if you listen to the things they are saying, that's the conclusion you can reach. "Why does that person get paid more than I do?" "How come that person can take so much time off work and still have a job here? They can't possibly have that much vacation time coming to them!" "I should get paid more cause I don't have any work restrictions like that person does, so if I can do all the jobs here, I should be worth more." And so on it goes. Whether it's the daily irritations and annoyances that cause impatient, angry, belittling, unedifying words to come from our mouths or the bigger trials and tribulations of life that have us crying out "WHY?" and questioning God's loving goodness & faithfulness, the words that proceed from our mouths are very, very important. I believe those words are an indicator of our true spiritual state, whether we are truly born again or not, whether we truly believe God or not. I also believe that God uses the trials and tribulations of life, both the big and little things, to test us, to prove us, to see whether we truly are the people of faith that we claim to be.

I will be examining the following points:
1) God uses trials and tribulations to "try" or test our hearts.
2) The words we speak are an indicator of what is in our hearts.
3) By our words we will be justified or condemned.

Here are two passages of scripture to ponder as I wrap up the first part of this study:

Matthew 12:33-37 (NKJ) Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Luke 6:43-45 (NKJ) For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, not does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Thoughts On Yom Kippur

Tonight at sunset begins Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) on God's holy days calendar. This is one of the special appointed times that God has commanded for His children (see Lev. 16, esp vs 29-31, Lev. 23:26-32, Num. 29:7). This is NOT a holy day that belongs exclusively to the Jews; all of the special appointed times are called in scripture, "the feasts of the LORD" and God has said, "these are My feasts." (see Lev. 23:1-2) Because I have been adopted into His family, by the blood of the Messiah, I believe that I have a right and an obligation to observe His special appointed times.

Because I have not grown up in the Jewish culture where observing these appointed times is the norm rather than the exception, I am still learning the why's and how's of observing them. I do not desire to take on Jewishness and am not a Jewish wannabe, but I DO want to walk in all the ways that my Messiah Yeshua did, and He most certainly observed all of these appointed times. I also understand that the offerings that were commanded for the High Priest to make in the Tabernacle were fulfilled in the offering of the body & blood of the Messiah, that it's no longer necessary for the High Priest to enter into the Holy of Holies once a year with the blood of bulls and goats to obtain atonement for our sins. And yet, there is still great value in this special day.

The passages I have already shared from Lev. and Num. tell us that on this day we are to "afflict our souls." As I looked up this word 'afflict' in the Strong's Concordance, I find that it carries the thought of abasing ourselves, of chastening self, of humbling ourselves, of submitting ourselves. The word 'depress' is used in the definition as well. That reminds me of John the Baptist's words that He must increase, but I must decrease. More of Him, less of me; that seems to make good sense to me.

It also reminds me that we're to afflict our "souls," that this is something that reaches deeper than just a physical discomfort. Humility comes from our heart. Traditionally, those who observe this day will fast for the whole 24 hours. For some, this is a fast from all food & drink, as well as other physical comforts. Fasting is a good thing and I will be doing that also, but I am looking for something that goes deeper than the physical deprivation of my flesh.

Isaiah 58:1-14 gives me pause:

(Amplified) Isa 58:1 CRY ALOUD, spare not. Lift up your voice like a trumpet and declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins! Isa 58:2 Yet they seek, inquire for, and require Me daily and delight [externally] to know My ways, as [if they were in reality] a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God [in visible ways]. Isa 58:3 Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do] you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor. [Lev. 16:29.] Isa 58:4 [The facts are that] you fast only for strife and debate and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Fasting as you do today will not cause your voice to be heard on high. Isa 58:5 Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul? [Is true fasting merely mechanical?] Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord? Isa 58:6 [Rather] is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every [enslaving] yoke? [Acts 8:23.] Isa 58:7 Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house--when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood? Isa 58:8 Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily; your righteousness (your rightness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity], and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. [Exod. 14:19, 20; Isa. 52:12.] Isa 58:9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, Here I am. If you take away from your midst yokes of oppression [wherever you find them], the finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and every form of false, harsh, unjust, and wicked speaking, [Exod. 3:14.] Isa 58:10 And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday. Isa 58:11 And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones. And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not. Isa 58:12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; and you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. Isa 58:13 If you turn away your foot from [traveling unduly on] the Sabbath, from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a [spiritual] delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor Him and it, not going your own way or seeking or finding your own pleasure or speaking with your own [idle] words, Isa 58:14 Then will you delight yourself in the Lord, and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage [promised for you] of Jacob your father; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. [Gen. 27:28, 29; 28:13-15.]

This passage reminds me that God is looking for something more than an outward appearance of devotion to Him; He desires my heart. The following verse says exactly what I believe God desires to see in me:

(Amplified) Psalm 51:17 My sacrifice [the sacrifice acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise.

In looking up verses for this study and looking at their definitions in Strong's, the words 'afflict' and 'humble' come together quite a bit. 'Humble' has basically the same meaning as 'afflict,' at least as it is used in these verses: Matt 18:4, Matt 23:12, James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6. It is also used in Phil 2:8 and Luke 14:11, Luke 18:14 in variations of the word. The passage from Luke 18 is especially appropriate here:

(Amplified) Luke 18:9 He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men: Luk 18:10 Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Luk 18:11 The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men--extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers--or even like this tax collector here. Luk 18:12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. Luk 18:13 But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! Luk 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified (forgiven and made upright and in right standing with God), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

I see this day as a time of introspection, of examining myself to see whether I am holding true to my first love (Rev 2:1-5), of checking my priorities to see if they are in line with God's Word and the goal of the upward call of God in the Messiah Yeshua, of laying aside every sin and the weight that does so easily beset me, confessing my sins that I might receive His forgiveness of them, and endeavoring to restore any broken relationships or make restitution to any I have wronged over the past year. Isn't that what 2 Chron 7:14 says we are to do?

"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chron 7:14 NKJ

But I need to remember that humbling myself, praying and seeking His face is not enough. I have to also turn from my wicked ways. I have to be repentant. Repentance isn't just being sorry for our sin. The word means to turn away from our sin and to walk in right paths again, to follow hard after the righteousness that comes from walking in the Messiah Yeshua's footsteps.

As I humble myself, pray & seek His face, as I turn from my wicked ways, then will He hear from heaven and forgive my sin. Then I will truly know the reality of atonement: At-One-Ment with Him.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Feast of Trumpets

Today is one of God's commanded holy times, the Feast of Trumpets, or Yom Teruah. It's annually a rehearsal for that wonderful day when the Trump of God will sound and the dead in Messiah will rise, then we which are alive and remain will also rise to meet Him in the air and so shall we ever be with the LORD. Which is also a reminder to me to be sure that my heart is right with Him and that I am ready & waiting for that call. Which follows on the heels of my previous post, to take the time to examine myself and see where I need to make changes or reorder my priorities. Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Yeshua!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Time Is Running Out

The following is a post I wrote yesterday for an internet group that I belong to. I want to make sure I don't forget my own advice so I am posting it here, too. With all that is happening around the world, I must not grow complacent and lazy, thinking that our LORD's return is some far off someday sort of thing. Time is running out! Our LORD's return is ever closer. I have always believed that He would return in my lifetime, and though I cannot say that with certainty because I certainly do NOT know the day or the hour of His return, I still believe that it is quite likely to happen during my lifetime--and as the world is going, likely it will be quite soon. The Holy Spirit continually reminds me that this world is passing away and I need to be ready. May I not forget to be ready and waiting...

Each one of us need to examine ourselves and see whether we be in the faith or not. It isn't enough to have grown up in a Christian home, to have been baptized whether as an infant or when older, to have been to confirmation or catechism classes, to be a faithful church member. You must be born again! I know it's been around for ages, but the saying is still true: going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in your garage will make you a car. The only thing that makes you a Christian is believing in the LORD Jesus the Messiah and walking in His ways. It's not even enough to have gone forward at an altar call or to have repeated the sinner's prayer. That's merely a first step. If it isn't followed by a changed life, then it means nothing. Faith without works is dead. Jesus said that if we would be His disciples then we must take up our cross and follow Him. Believing in Him is good, but just believing that He is, isn't enough; the demons also believe and tremble. We must also walk in His ways. And how do we learn what His ways are? Going to church can help, but the first and most important way to learn and to grow in faith is to read His Word every day, regularly. He has given us the Holy Spirit to teach us--and if we sincerely seek Him in His Word, the Holy Spirit WILL teach us. Jesus IS coming back soon; all the signs point to it. I can't say positively that it'll happen in the next 5 or 10 years, but it's closer to us now than it was yesterday. We need to be ready. He's returning for a Bride who has made herself ready, who is eagerly awaiting His appearing, and who is faithful to Him in every way. It's time to put aside the things of this earth, to live like people who are looking forward to that New Jerusalem, to set our affections on things above instead of on things of this earth, for this earth is passing away and all of the things we love in it with it.

It's time to wake up! Our redemption draweth nigh! How should we then live? Are we redeeming the time or are we wasting the precious minutes and hours that He's given to each of us? None of us knows when we will die, how long we have to take our relationship to the LORD seriously; let's do it now! How many of us would ignore a handsome, loving, human lover? Not many of us, I'm thinking, and yet we ignore the Lover of our soul! We ignore His love letters to us--the Bible. We ignore time spent with Him in prayer, communicating the deepest desires of our hearts. What's up with that? I know I need to make some changes in my priorities; how about you? Think about it.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See!

Remember that Christian children's song from Sunday School?
"Oh, be careful little eyes what you see!
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see!
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little eyes what you see."
There's a second verse that talks about being careful little ears what you hear, also.

I've been doing quite a lot of meditating on this, as regards what print materials I choose to read, what television or movies I choose to watch, or what music I choose to listen to. Does it matter what I as a believer choose to fill my mind with in the form of visual or auditory media? I believe it does. This whole subject was one of the areas that the Holy Spirit brought conviction to my heart about way back when the LORD was showing me that I needed to walk as He walked.

Why does it matter so much? One of the things I've learned in my journey of faith is that the mind is the arena of faith and can also be the devil's playground, if we are not careful. Every day I have to make choices about which voices I will listen to: the voices that call me to a walk of righteousness or the voices that encourage me to indulge the lusts of the flesh. I have also learned that the Word of God is my best defense and guide for every area of life. In fact, one of my favorite scriptures is:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (Amplified) Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So, I look to the Word of God to give me guidance in this area of my life.

The Word says:

Proverbs 4:23 (Amplified) Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.

Romans 12:2 (Amplified) Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Luke 6:45 (Amplified) The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.

Psalm 24:3-5 (Amplified) Who shall go up into the mountain of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up to falsehood or to what is false, nor sworn deceitfully. [Matt. 5:8.] He shall receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Proverbs 23:12 (Amplified) Apply your mind to instruction and correction and your ears to words of knowledge.

So from these passages, I conclude that it is very important what I fill my mind and heart with, if I want to have "good treasure" laid up in my heart, so that I can speak words of blessing to others and to my LORD. Also, Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing; it makes sense to me that if I want to have a strong faith, I need to make sure that what I am hearing will help to build my faith rather than tear it down. I do not want to be a "double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:8).

Having established that, how do I decide what I will read or watch or listen to? Are there certain medias that God has put His stamp of approval on and others that He has not? Where would I look for that stamp, if there is one?

First and foremost, I believe that I need to be a daily student of His Word. Once I know His Word and Him, as revealed in His Word, it becomes easier to discern between things that will help me to grow in His image & righteousness and those things that, though they may not be overtly sinful, will draw me away from Him and weaken my faith, being distractions for my time and energy. As Ephesians 5:15-17 (Amplified) says:
Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.

Unfortunately, Scripture does not have a list of "Thou shalts" and "Thou shalt nots" when it comes to print, movies, music, video games, etc. How much easier it would be if you could turn to God's Movie Guide and see which movies get His 2 thumbs up! Instead He expects us to exercise the Godly wisdom and discernment which He gives to us. Some people decide to eliminate all music of certain genres as a result, or to ban all movie-watching, or to limit themselves to strictly Christian books, etc. Certainly it is easier to guard your heart when you eliminate certain things all together from your life and one can do that, but most of us are not willing to go that route. I know I still enjoy watching a movie from time to time, though it is not a weekly or even a monthly practice in my life. I know I enjoy a broad spectrum of musical styles also. And reading is like breathing to me: it's a daily necessity! So how do I make choices that will guard my heart and promote the growth of His righteousness in my life?

Again, I turn to Scripture to find guidelines. Imagine a line scale with Positive on the left end, Neutral in the center, and Negative on the right end. It looks sort of like those pain scales at the doctor's office that go from 0 to 10.

Now, let's define what we mean by Positive, incorporating the Scriptures as we do so. Media that falls into the Positive category would be media that:
1) glorifies and honors God (1 Corinthians 6:20; Hebrews 13:15)
2) exalts righteousness and Truth
3) contains Godly, Biblical values
4) edifies and builds up the reader/listener (Acts 20:32; Jude 1:20)
5) constructive
6) asks honest questions, is seeking for God's purposes
7) encourages us to walk in love and righteous deeds (Hebrews 10:24)

As Philippians 4:8 (Amplified) says: For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

Galatians 5:13 (Amplified) For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.

Neutral media is neither positive nor negative. Examples of this would be instrumental music, particularly classical and folk music. Non-fiction print media that is strictly informative probably fits here, too. There may be other media that fit here, as well.

Negative media is media that:
1) has no place for God or actively dishonors Him
2) exalts sin and unrighteousness (2 Thess 2:10)
3) exalts self above God or other authorities appointed by God
4) disrespectful of authority and others
5) often uses crude, foul-mouthed language
6) tears down, destructive

Psalm 119:36-37 (Amplified) Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to covetousness (robbery, sensuality, unworthy riches). [Ezek. 33:31; Mark 7:21, 22; I Tim. 6:10; Heb. 13:5.] Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity (idols and idolatry); and restore me to vigorous life and health in Your ways.

Psalm 101:2-8 (Amplified) I will behave myself wisely and give heed to the blameless way--O when will You come to me? I will walk within my house in integrity and with a blameless heart. I will set no base or wicked thing before my eyes. I hate the work of them who turn aside [from the right path]; it shall not grasp hold of me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil person or thing. Whoso privily slanders his neighbor, him will I cut off [from me]; he who has a haughty look and a proud and arrogant heart I cannot and I will not tolerate. My eyes shall [look with favor] upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks blamelessly, he shall minister to me. He who works deceit shall not dwell in my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence. Morning after morning I will root up all the wicked in the land, that I may eliminate all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.

Proverbs 4:11-19 (Amplified) I have taught you in the way of skillful and godly Wisdom [which is comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God]; I have led you in paths of uprightness. When you walk, your steps shall not be hampered [your path will be clear and open]; and when you run, you shall not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not go on it; turn from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they have caused trouble or vexation; their sleep is taken away unless they have caused someone to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines more and more (brighter and clearer) until [it reaches its full strength and glory in] the perfect day [to be prepared]. [II Sam. 23:4; Matt. 5:14; Phil. 2:15.] The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble. [John 12:35.]

Proverbs 4:24-27 (Amplified) Put away from you false and dishonest speech, and willful and contrary talk put far from you. Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose], and let your gaze be straight before you. Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright. Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left; remove your foot from evil.

Proverbs 5:1-14 (Amplified) MY SON, be attentive to my Wisdom [godly Wisdom learned by actual and costly experience], and incline your ear to my understanding [of what is becoming and prudent for you], That you may exercise proper discrimination and discretion and your lips may guard and keep knowledge and the wise answer [to temptation]. For the lips of a loose woman drip honey as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil; [Ezek. 20:30; Col. 2:8-10; II Pet. 2:14-17.] But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged and devouring sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold of Sheol (Hades, the place of the dead). She loses sight of and walks not in the path of life; her ways wind about aimlessly, and you cannot know them. Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Let your way in life be far from her, and come not near the door of her house [avoid the very scenes of temptation], [Prov. 4:15; Rom. 16:17; I Thess. 5:19-22.] Lest you give your honor to others and your years to those without mercy,
Pro 5:10 Lest strangers [and false teachings] take their fill of your strength and wealth and your labors go to the house of an alien [from God]--And you groan and mourn when your end comes, when your flesh and body are consumed, And you say, How I hated instruction and discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers nor submitted and consented to those who instructed me. [The extent and boldness of] my sin involved almost all evil [in the estimation] of the congregation and the community.

Proverbs 8:13 (Amplified) The reverent fear and worshipful awe of the Lord [includes] the hatred of evil; pride, arrogance, the evil way, and perverted and twisted speech I hate.

1 John 2:15-17 (Amplified) Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly things]--these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.

My very first consideration for what media I choose to expose myself to should be this:

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (Amplfied) Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord [the only Lord]. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might. And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts.

In the final analysis, any media that takes my affection and focus away from the LORD, from His Word, and from doing His Will does not belong in my life. Even perfectly acceptable music or books or movies, if they occupy inordinate amounts of my time and resources, time and resources that should be spent with the LORD and doing His Will, can be bad. This requires me to continually evaluate not only what media I allow myself to be exposed to, but how much of my time and resources are given to that media. It's all about priorities and being like one of the 5 wise virgins who were ready when the Bridegroom came. Yeshua our Messiah IS returning soon and I want to be ready & waiting, not lulled to sleep by media and unprepared.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


From Our Daily Bread, published by RBC Ministries:

August 26, 2006


READ: Psalm 51

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise. —Psalm 51:17

In the agony of Psalm 51, David seems to contradict himself. He exclaims, “You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering” (v.16). Then, two verses later, he says, “You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering” (v.19). Does God want our sacrifices or not?

Sacrifices resemble the flowers a husband gives to his wife after a heated argument. The wife doesn’t need the flowers. They are valuable to her only if they accurately represent her husband’s feelings. If she thinks they are merely a ritual and do not symbolize his regret, the flowers make the divide between them worse.

God didn’t need the animals offered to Him in sacrifice. Hebrews says, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (10:4). These sacrifices pointed to the once-for-all payment Jesus would make with His own blood when He died for our sins.

What mattered was the attitude of those making the sacrifices. If the offerings were without repentance, the ritual was a mockery. That’s why David wrote, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). —Haddon W. Robinson

Repentance is sorrow for the deed, not for getting caught.

Men Look On The Outward Appearance

1 Samuel16:7 (Amplified) But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

I'm in the midst of reading a book titled Today's Embrace by Linda Lee Chaikin. It's the third book in her series, East Of The Sun. The setting is in England and South Africa in the early 1900's, during the time of the diamond & gold mines and English interests in Rhodesia. There's lots of history here, which always appeals to me. Of course, this is fiction and deals with people's lives as history unfolds. In the story there is a missionary, Dr. Jakob van Buren, who is committed to bringing the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the African tribesmen who are enslaved to the spirits of darkness. I was impressed by the following portion, as Jakob preaches to the Englishmen.

A thought flashed through her mind. She remembered what Dr. Jakob van Buren had said when she'd attended his Sunday service once. Dr. Jakob had been invited to speak at Government House, and his message had not gone over well with those present. Uncle Julien had looked as though he wanted to toss him in the river while the crocodiles were feeding. And Peter had sat straight in his chair with an expression as leaden as the statues in the British Museum.

"Most people," his voice had boomed, with a ragged Boer accent, "prefer their sin clothed with the latest style of sophistication. Pride puts on a pretty face and sits in the theater enjoying a symphony, and we say, 'Oh, these are the good people of the civilized West.' Oh, the raw sin of the naked savage with his doctrines of demons offends our finer natures--as well it should--and so we missionaries come with torches of light, which is God's Word. A Word that reveals His Son Jesus Christ. For we are darkness in and of ourselves. We have no light apart from Him."

"Witchcraft unearths the rotting corpse called sin, and we sophisticates are offended! It is well we should be. But are we equally offended with our own sin? We are all sinners before a holy God, whether that sin is raw, and dark, and openly evil--or hidden behind silks and perfumes, lordly titles, and ambitious national goals for Her Majesty. And the sin of hypocrisy was firmly denounced when our Lord was on earth, but He had words of mercy for the woman taken in adultery!"

"Ah yes. It took the willing death of Jesus on the cross to pay for our sin. Christ is the door to God, and that door is open wide for all to enter. If you come through that door, you will find that the Father of all creation has made you a new creature in Christ. That new spiritual birth is yours through faith in Jesus Christ."

Arcilla shuddered. Oh! How Uncle Julien was offended! His face had been flushed with high blood pressure.

She hadn't liked Dr. Jakob's bluntness, either. Imagine, comparing her little sins to the spooky brutality of witchcraft with bones, gizzards, and snakeskins!

Reading this reminded me of how often I fall into the trap of comparing myself to others around me and thinking that I'm actually doing okay because their sins are so much more obvious and plentiful than mine. What stinking self-righteousness! Pride in self is one of the worst sins that there is! Who am I that I should compare myself to some other person and think I am better than that person? There is only ONE that I should compare myself to and when I do, I will always fall short because He alone is the perfect, sinless Lamb of God. I need to remember to measure myself by Him and no other, lest I be like the Pharisee in the story Yeshua told...

Luke 18:9-14 (Amplified) He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men: Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men--extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers--or even like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! I tell you, this man went down to his home justified (forgiven and made upright and in right standing with God), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

You might think that the temptation is only to compare oneself with those who are outside the Church. That's what the fine, upstanding Englishmen were doing, according to Dr. Jakob in the book I'm reading. And we all tend to do the same: "Yep, I would never kill someone like that wicked person did"; "You wouldn't see me frequenting those strip joints!"; "That guy who molested those little girls deserves to be drawn & quartered! what kind of pervert would do that, anyway? you'd never find me doing anything like that!"; "Those women down on the Strip deserve everything they get. If they're going to sell themselves, they should expect to get beat up or end up with AIDS. You'd never see me doing something like that!" I could go on, but you get the idea. Maybe we wouldn't ever be guilty of these particular sins, but I guarantee you that each of us is loaded down with a burden of our own sin that is just as nasty and ugly to God as any of these are. Just because we can hide our sins under the cloak of being a good Christian doesn't mean that God doesn't see them and weep over them.

We all make comparisons all the time, even with our fellow believers: "I can't believe that John has beer in his frig! You'd never find that in my frig!"; "The Jones' haven't been in church for 3 Sundays in a row. You don't see me missing church like that!"; "I just saw Susan & Bob go into the theater to watch that Harry Potter movie; no way would you get me to go see that!"; "That Ann Smith! She thinks she's so much better than the rest of us because she dresses so modestly all the time. Well, I could tell her a thing or two about real modesty!"; and on and on the list goes. And all the while we are comparing ourselves to these other believers, we fail to see our own self-righteousness and pride, our own besetting sins, that separate us from intimate fellowship with Father God.

Father, today help me to keep my eyes focused on You, to measure myself by Yeshua my Messiah and none other. Help me to guard my heart and my thoughts, to take every thought captive to the obedience of the Messiah, and to walk in Your Spirit, not the spirit of criticism and judgmentalism. Help me to be mindful to be a blessing, to build up and encourage the body of believers, being mindful of those who are weaker in the faith, and to not be arrogant towards anyone. Help me to show Your compassion to those who are still held captive by the darkness of sin, remembering that it's only by Your mercy that I am no longer in the same captivity. Thank You for Your steadfast love and mercies, in the name of Yeshua my Messiah, Amen!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Believe In Me

One of the Christian ministries that I have so greatly appreciated over the years is that of David Wilkerson and World Challenge. I have saved nearly every ministry teaching I've received from him over the years and have quite a collection now as it goes back over 20 years. The latest message from Mr Wilkerson is titled Forgive Me, Lord, For Making You Weep. I'd like to share a couple excerpts from that message and give some thoughts of my own with it.

The scene takes place in Luke 19 as Yeshua enters Jerusalem, in what we've called the "triumphal entry." Then you have the part where He stops, looks out over Jerusalem and weeps (Luke 19:41).

The concept of a weeping God is despicable to the minds of the wicked: "God crying? Why would anyone want a diety that shows weakness?"

Yet weeping is exactly what Jesus did here. The reason for his tears? It was the people's blatant unbelief.

Yet the same issue of unbelief remains today: How does Jesus feel about all the hardness and venom directed toward him in these times? There is a worldwide attitude of rebellion and blasphemy that says, We will not be put under any of God's rule."

Without question, our Lord is a God who feels. And I have to wonder: how can Jesus not be wounded by the great unbelief taking place throughout the world today?

Think of the unbelief of the disciples in the boat with Jesus, as it began to flood from the roiling waves. How wounded Jesus must have been as they aimed these accusing, unbelieving words at him: "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" (Mark 4:38)

It is the unbelief of multitudes of apathetic churchgoing believers that wounds our Lord. How it must pain him to see his people praising him, testifying of his goodness and power, preaching moving sermons on faith--yet God knows it's only lip service. In times of crisis, many of these same people fall away from their faith, thinking God doesn't care.

Yet even these aren't the people who wound Jesus the most deeply. His deepest hurts are inflicted by his closest, most intimate friends.

Yet at Bethany, Jesus had an even more intimate circle. This one was made up of Martha, Mary, and their brother, Lazarus.

This encounter wasn't so much about Lazarus' own death as it was about Christ's own death. Think about it: when the time came for Jesus to face the cross, how would his followers ever believe he could be raised up? There was only one way they would believe it. And that was for Jesus--there, in Bethany, with his beloved friends--to enter the most hopeless situation and work his purposes in the face of the humanly impossible.

I'm convinced Jesus would not have entrusted this experience to anyone outside his inner circle. Such things were reserved for those who were intimate with him, who didn't think as the world thinks. You see, it is only in such friends--people who know Christ's heart and trust him fully--that he can produce a faith which can't be shaken.

The fact is, Jesus knew all the future hardships that would take place in these dear ones' lives. He knew every illness and tragedy they would face. He also knew the destruction that was to come upon Jerusalem. And he wanted to see in them now a faith that would believe in his care no matter what calamity they faced. He knew this was the only thing that could get them through what was to come.

When Jesus finally arrived, Martha's first words to him were, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." These words may sound full of faith on Martha's part. But when Jesus responded, "Thy brother shall rise again," Martha's answer was revealing: "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." In other words: "It's all over for now, Jesus. You're too late."

Jesus replied: "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (John 11:21-22, 23-24, 25-26).

Christ was telling her, in other words, "No, Martha, I am the resurrection and the life. Believe in me, and you'll never die." Again, he wasn't just talking about Lazarus, but about his own death and resurrection. To him, Lazarus' raising was already a settled matter: "Martha, don't you believe I can go even into the grave and do the impossible for you and Mary, all of your days?"

At that point, Martha "went her way" (John 11:28). And that's what most of us do in such situations. We don't settle the issue with Jesus, seeking him in faith, "Oh, Lord, help my unbelief." Instead, we simply walk away, back to our doubts and fears. And that wounds the Lord. Evidently, Martha didn't understand that Jesus wanted more from her than faith for just this one crisis. Christ wanted her to stop all her unbelieving tendencies, and to begin a lifelong trust in him that would see her through every trial.

Now I must ask you: are thngs any different today? Who in this world believes Jesus is God of the impossible? When the Son of man looks on the earth, does he find faith?

So dear saint: are you in the middle of an overwhelming trial right now? Have you prayed, wept and pleaded for help, yet things look hopeless? Maybe your situation has gone beyond all human possibility, and you're thinking, "It's too late."

I tell you, you have been entrusted with your crisis. God could have moved in at any time, but this is his opportunity to produce in you an unwavering faith that you need. He's looking for trust in him not just for what you're facing now, but for every impossible problem from now until you go home to be with him. Make no mistake: he rejoices over you. Yet he also loves you enough to build a faith in you that will see you through it all.

I have a button pinned to my purse, like one of those lapel campaign buttons you're probably seeing sprout up this time of the year. I got it a long time ago at a Harvest concert. It's blue, with the Christian fish emblem on it and the words "I Believe." Friday morning at work a co-worker stopped to remark on how she liked that pin, that it was simple and to the point, which is exactly why I have it on my purse as a small, quiet witness of my faith in the Messiah. The message from David Wilkerson showed up on my desk that same day, challenging me to examine myself, whether I truly DO believe Him or not.

Then yesterday at Sabbath fellowship, the Holy Spirit hit me with one of those "lightbulb" moments. He reminded me of that scripture:

Romans 4:3 (Amplified) For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed in (trusted in) God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness (right living and right standing with God). [Gen. 15:6.]

Oh yes, Abraham believed in God! When God told Abraham to offer up his only son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice, Abraham never hesitated. He called for Isaac, a couple of servants, collected some wood and his knife, and off they went to the mountain where the sacrifice was to take place. Then when Isaac and Abraham climbed the mountain, leaving the servants behind, and Isaac asked him where the lamb was for the sacrifice, Abraham replied, "God Himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering." There was no hesitation, no doubting, no fear, just simple trust in God's loving provision, accompanied by trusting obedience as he put one foot in front of the other. I think he could have taught Martha a thing or two. I know he can teach me a thing or two about believing on the LORD, walking in trusting obedience.

I've heard the story countless times, but yesterday it was as if it settled deep into my heart in a new and vibrant way. I want to believe like Abraham did. I want a faith that will not hesitate or waver or doubt, regardless of the odds stacked against me. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (Job 13:15). It's a fresh challenge to me to really believe, to really take the LORD at His Word, to live in all ways as the believer that I say I am.

LORD, I believe; help Thou my unbelief!

Justified--By Faith Or Works?

Today's devotional from the Days of Praise devotional published by the Institute for Creation Research was really good, so I am copying it here. May it bless you as it has me.

Justified--By Faith Or Works?

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Galatians 2:16)

Some have argued that James contradicts Paul at this point, since James emphasized that both Abraham and Rahab, among others, were justified by works (James 2:21, 25). In fact, this seeming conflict between Paul and James has often been cited as one of the "contradictions" of the Bible.

There is no contradiction, however. Neither Abraham nor Rahab could have been justified by the "works of the law," and James never said they were. Abraham lived before God even gave the law to Moses, and Rahab lived in a pagan culture which knew nothing about it. Furthermore, James himself knew that no one could really be saved by the law, for he said that "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).

Actually, both Abraham and Rahab were "justified"--which means "seen as righteous"--by faith in God and His provision of salvation (note James 2:23; Hebrews 11:31). The righteousness of Christ, who did keep perfectly the law of God, is imputed to believers by faith (Romans 4:3-5). God sees him or her as "in Christ," and so they are justified (recognized as righteous) solely through faith.

However, other men cannot see our faith, and therefore we must be justified in the sight of men by our works. True saving faith inevitably will manifest itself in works of righteousness. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: ... For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:8, 10).
--Henry M Morris

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I Wanna Be FAT

The following devotional is excerpted from an article from the Institute of Creation Research on stewardship. The article is titled Carrying Your Weight. Here it is:

Carrying Your Weight

"Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee" (Genesis 12:1).

When God called Abram to leave his home and go to Canaan, He knew every detail of Abram's journey. Abram, of course, did not. He didn't even know where Canaan was (Hebrews 11:8), let alone understand how God would make of him "a great nation." And yet, he packed up everything and began the journey. Hebrews tells us that Abram followed the Lord "by faith," not by sight. Through his faith, a new nation was born. Through his faith, the great King was born--the eternal King that would redeem the world.

Abram did not complete his journey without problems. Occasionally, he tried to operate God's plan by his own "sight." Rather than be steward of God's promised plan, he attempted to implement plans of his own. However, God's gracious patience with His "Friend" (James 2:23) resulted in Abram's enduring faith, and the fulfillment of God's promises.

Flexible, Adaptable, and Teachable (FAT)

God's accounting of Abram's life demonstrates to us that Abram was unusually FAT. In humility, Abram adjusted his own life--his own way of thinking--in order to fulfill God's directives. But from Abram's perspective, that obedience required him to flex with radical course changes on his journey, learn new ways of living, and adapt to very new surroundings.

As the pace of the world quickens every day, we cometimes feel like we are being left behind. But God is sovereign and in control. He never changes (Hebrews 13:8). And what He leads us into will result in blessings to us and to all those we obediently influence for His Kingdom.

Slaves: To Sin Or To Righteousness

Romans 6:16-22 (Amplified) Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)? 17 But thank God, though you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient with all your heart to the standard of teaching in which you were instructed and to which you were committed. 18 And having been set free from sin, you have become the servants of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose, and action). 19 I am speaking in familiar human terms because of your natural limitations. For as you yielded your bodily members [and faculties] as servants to impurity and ever increasing lawlessness, so now yield your bodily members [and faculties] once for all as servants to righteousness (right being and doing) [which leads] to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But then what benefit (return) did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? [None] for the end of those things is death. 22 But now since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life.

We are all slaves, but slaves to what? Are we slaves to sin, which leads to death, or slaves to righteousness, which leads to eternal life?

God has created all of us with a will to choose. We can choose to disobey Him and walk in our own ways, doing what seems right in our own eyes, thinking all the time that we are "free," yet in reality being slaves of sin and headed for death.

Proverbs 14:12 (Amplified) There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death. (Also Proverbs 16:25)

We can also choose to walk in obedience to Him, living by His rules, submitting our hearts and wills to Him, trusting Him to lead us in paths of righteousness that lead to life, and giving Him the place of Master in our hearts & lives. Everything we do speaks of who is on the throne of our heart and to whom we are yielding: whether self and sin or Yeshua and righteousness. We cannot serve both at the same time; it's either one or the other.

Today may my heart ackowledge Yeshua the Messiah as my Master, my LORD, my King and my God and may I walk in all of His ways with all of my heart! Amen.