Finding Joy in Sorrow

​Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to usRomans 5:3-5 ESV

Find joy while we suffer? That is the Christian’s lot in life. We are, like C-3PO, made to suffer in our created and fallen form. The joy we find in this world is awesome when we do but it is only temporary. Not to be a downer but the only source of true joy is through the love and faith we have in Jesus. Paul is telling us that without Jesus and knowledge of God’s love within us, we have no joy. We are made to endure much and exercise perseverance in all that we do. 

This Christmas season is really rough for myself, many of my close friends, and family who lost loved ones within the last year. I have been in contact with a few already to check up with them because this a time where many will enter a period of depression and understandably so. This is a season where instead of being sad that those folks are no longer with us, rejoice that they are at peace and no longer physically suffering. 

We are not to ask God “Why?” because if the devil hears you questioning God and doubting Him, you make an easy target.

The Adversary likes to hit us in the times of deep sorrow and suffering so we lose our hope in Jesus and doubt that God loves us. We are stronger than that. Even when we are at our lowest, God’s love will never leave us. He is tugging at the whole heart while the devil is only allowed a portion. It is how hard the devil tugs that determines how much we lose sight of God.  

What can we do? Remember that God places the right people in the right place whether you cry for help or not. God wants you to come back to Him and not be lost in the darkness forever. He is the most forgiving Father who let His Son pay the price for our sin and death. He also created us as caretakers of each other. When one begins to suffer from any situation, we need to be the source of comfort and bring the person back on the right track. When we call on Jesus and are being cared for by one of God’s Children, we are in great and awesome hands. 

If you are having trouble finding the joy in sorrow, look around, you are not alone. Others feel the same but here it is, the joy of knowing that the sorrow you feel right now is temporary is one source of joy. Another is that the joy you seek may not be the intended joy that God has for you. I speak from personal experience on that one.  The joy God has for us will come but sometimes the night lasts a very, very long time. 

CHRIST THE KING Sunday

Today in many churches and church calendars it is CHRIST the King Sunday.  Isn’t every day His? It is the last Sunday of the church calendar year. This is celebrated as a pre Advent event. We are in Nashville at Trevecca today after visiting my mom for thanksgiving returning our daughter to school and while here we will experience the service. Should be interesting. This week we be in preparations for the celebration of Jesus’ birth and we look forward to sharing how much Scripture foretold of His coming. 

Belief In Man-Made Or Divine: The Misguidance of the Youth Today

11 18 2017

Answers in Genesis speaker Ken Ham posted an article recently on the things Millennials are turning to for answers and a belief system. The two systems have been around for a very long time but have been perverted to fit man’s desires for understanding. Now God does say that He placed the heavenly bodies out there to show signs and wonders but what signs and wonders was He talking about. These signs are placed so we would understand patterns of life, weather, travel, and our place in the world.

Man has used these signs to try and predict many things using certain designs in the sky. One of the predictors recognized by man is the zodiac which apparently dictates how we will act in certain events. People actually relied (and some still do) on as to how they will go about their day and their let the stars dictate their reactions towards others. God warns us not to do this “divination” or future knowledge seeking to rule our lives. Rather we should rely on our conscious thought which is guided by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

Now I used to believe the accuracy of the zodiac, but when I began to trust in God I found the inaccuracy of how it dictates our social practices. Meaning, purpose, and hope aren’t found in trying to discern patterns in the motions of the heavenly bodies. If you stay within the bounds of the interpretation and the specified social circle in which the interpretation tells you to stay in and away from, you do not really experience life. Letting the stars dictate actions removes us from our God given purpose of being caretakers of this world.

Spiritualism, not what some may think! It is man’s attempt to find purpose and meaning apart from God and his revelation to us in his Word. It is man seeking truth through his/her own inner being and reaching out to the “spirits” in the world. Spiritualists do not put their trust in God but seek inner peace where there is none.       

The article states that the individuals in question are those who are in or entering college. Why are they turning from God? Part of the problem is outside influences where they are not near the comfort of their home church and decide not to find a church near them. Campus Crusade for Christ does not appear to be as active as it used to be because of other collegiate sanctioned activities which have tried to knock anything Christian and or conservative off college grounds. Church groups are not as welcome as they used to be unless the college is a Christian faith based facility.

 The largest problem that leads to youth searching for “other than God” answers is the lack of follow-up starting at the high school level. An even larger issue that turns more and more away to include those in their 30s and 40s is the lack of relationship and belonging found in larger churches. Those churches where you get chided for not tithing your 10%, not being in the right click, are never approached, or the church attendance is more than 1000 and you are a number not a name, people leave. Those that are consistently depended on somehow get the feeling that there is an obligation to be there. The church is not going to blow up if you miss a Sunday!

Another issue may be the message of the church itself. Some are so concerned with the dollar, the message becomes a constant reminder to give in the offering plate. Money does not heal the broken. Some pastors have fallen into the love trap where all you have to do is believe and the rest is taken care of by Jesus without us speaking a word or lifting a finger.

Folks, listen closely to the pastor’s messages and the delivery. If the pastor is transparent and speaks of love, tough love, fear, grace, and mercy all in the same sermon, that is a place to be. An inviting church is a loving church. A church that does not close the outer doors before, during, and after the service is a relational church.

So how do we regain the interest of those who decide they want other human means to ponder life’s questions? Stop playing the Jesus is cool with your sin game and straighten people (and some pastors) up. Yes, Jesus died for our sins by crucifixion, but He did not die so we could freely sin. Yes we are saved by grace through faith but that must be an active faith. Yes we should be inviting to all people no matter their sin, and if they get offended (convicted) it is a good thing. Let’s work with them so they can reflect and find repentance and get right with God.

 God loves each and every one of us because He created us. His love is gracious, merciful, jealous, kind, fearful, comforting, and forgiving. His love knows no bounds and unfailing but is requiring of us to love Him back as a child loves his parent. That means being obedient to His Word. Does that scare people? Yes. So why do people run to worship things that are not Him? Those man made things and beliefs are temporary fixes to a psychological misnomer when make people happy. The only way to life eternal is through Jesus. I don’t know about you but I’d rather worship the entity that has control of my final destination rather than a man thing that makes me happy till I die.     

God First

In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? Declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.” Haggai 1:1-11 ESV

Reading this passage what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Did you think about the poor Israelites who just can’t catch a break? Did you think that this has nothing to do with me so why are we studying this? Did you think that the Jews were being selfish and are being tormented? Did you think about God and the fact that these people put themselves before the creator? Well, for the most part that is how many different people view this passage. Yes, God is a jealous God but He is also the provider of all things. They were literally biting the hand that had cared for them and put God off as a secondary thought. This is not the right thing to do as they found out. So what does this have to do with us?

When we are in communion with God we are taken care of but the second we try to do things on our own and not give God the time of day or the glory which is rightly His, we are in trouble. Life can be pretty difficult without God in the forefront of our lives. Think about this…when you forget to talk with God about the positive and negative things happening in your life, is there not a sudden hole and matters seem to get worse? When you don’t spend time reading His Word and get a daily dose of His love and devotion towards you, where does your love and devotion go….to things of the world? Do you not realize that God is in everything, He is everywhere and knows your every move? How much do you have to lose before you go back to God?

We need to always remember to put God first. After all, He is our creator and His name is imprinted in our DNA. Like an artist who signs the painting, God signed us. We do not belong to anyone including ourselves so everything we do is for His glory, not ours, His.  When we wake up in the morning our first thing should be thanking God for our life. I know that most will say that God is not always the first thought especially as we get old and have a full bladder, but God is already waiting for us to wake. He speaks to us if we listen but even the most devout sometimes have trouble opening their ears in the morning. Once we have our faculties about us (when we feel more awake) then we can speak to God without mumbling and bumbling through our thoughts and can hear Him clearly. Recognizing God when we wake before getting on the phone, tablet, or computer and plugging into the world supplies us with the right mind to do God’s work He has planned for us. We are, after all, His temple.

The best part of waking up is knowing that God is with us and has us in His hands. Yes I know, but not all people can have coffee in the morning but they can have communion with the creator.

Trust In the Lord Alone

There are many things going on in the world today where people are forgetting whom they need to completely put their trust in. Yes we need to have trust within the circle of family and friends but the trust in them is only temporary and earthly. I am not saying that we need to stop trusting in them, not at all because it is an ingredient in the glue that keeps families and friends together. Putting our trust in God will help keep us focused on Him even in our darkest moments when we feel lost in the temptations of this world. David had fallen into many trappings of the Adversary because He did not want us to succeed. David was now an easy target but as we know today even in his darkest times, David knew where to place his ultimate trust. 

Psalm 52:

Why do you boast of your evil, you tyrant, when God’s mercy is present every day? Your tongue, as sharp as a razor, plots destruction and works deception. You love evil more than good, lies rather than speaking uprightly. You love all words that eat people up, you deceitful tongue! This is why God will strike you down, seize you, pluck you from your tent and uproot you from the land of the living. The righteous will see and be awestruck; they will jeer at him, saying, “This fellow would not make God his refuge, but trusted in his own great wealth, relying on his evil plots.” But I am like a leafy olive tree in the house of God; I put my trust in the grace of God forever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done, and I will put my hope in your name; for this is what is good in the presence of  your faithful.

The evils of today have taken many forms as we have gone through the many church ages as spoken of in Revelation (not Revelations) and we are nearing the end. The evil that men do will surely be punished in the next world as it is running rampant in this one. In Psalm 52, the Psalmist speaks first of the evil and vile words that come from the mouth of those who do not know or trust in God. They use words of hate, jealousy, and other ungodly behaviors until the person is given his due on the earth by the devil when he is done with him. When the devil or false gods forsake you or do nothing at all for you, then you are truly damned. The only way is to humble yourself and plead forgiveness in this life while also placing your faith and trust in the only one that truly matters, God.

Of course, if it is not a true, sincere, fully humbling (think like how Scrooge changed) change of ways, the chances of eternal redemption are not so good. Those that see others who are not with God or don’t have Jesus (or however you want to put it), need to be mindful not to condemn but at least make known their folly. It may lead to the persons saving grace. Isn’t that where God wants us to put our trust, into His Amazing, Saving Grace?

The person mentioned above placed faith in something less than God. Things less than God (yes that is definitely including ourselves) cannot be feared as much as God can, cannot save you from eternal damnation like God can, and cannot love you as much as God does.   

Brothers and Sisters, the time is quickly approaching where we should be on the watch for the thief in the night. God will not tell us exactly when (even those who think to read the signs have been completely off), but He will tell us when the time comes. With that said, make yourself right with God. Humble yourself, grant God the full access into your heart that He not only desires but deserves because He is our creator/redeemer and not that human made product that lies their lifeless. Give God His Glory, Love As He Loves Us.   

God’s Perspective NOT Ours

Proverbs 12:15 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel

How many times are we going to go through this before eyes are opened and it is too late? Numerous times humanity has thought themselves the rulers of their own destinies but oh how they are so wrong. We are not our own and there are many who think they can test the waters. Now, Jesus will still reach out into the waters in which we sink because that is what He does. However, it still remains a matter of full acceptance and embracing the Commandments and the Teachings of Jesus.

Proverbs 21:2–3 2 Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But YHVH weighs the hearts. 3 To do righteousness and justice Is desired by YHVH more than sacrifice.

Jesus had come into this world as a member of His chosen people, the Israelites, and He changed many but there were still more who just couldn’t see God right in front of their eyes as they were blinded by the world. Are we not just as blind today? The Adversary is on every doorstep, in homes, in the media, in the government. He is the prince of this world but not the King. He has control over many souls but not all. Jesus will win them back unless there is a total turn from God. But here is the thing, Jesus needs us to show the lost, the way.

The Holy Spirit is here to help guide us to do what is right in God’s eyes but sometimes temptation is too great and the veil is closed for a time, sometimes permanently. We cannot give in to temptations much less commit the sins extending from the temptations and remain right in God’s eyes. No matter how much we say we love God and Jesus if we do not have it right in our hearts and minds, we are not right with God.

Since the 1960s carnal and drug induced behaviors have rocked society to its core. We had returned to the ways of the early Greeks, Romans, and other Pagan religious practices to include a distinct move towards devil worship. Not saying it was not around before that but this is the time in our country where we began to really separate ourselves from God.

I spoke in an earlier blog about the Ephraim warnings from Habakkuk. Well here we are again but this time taking it deeper. Let’s go back to the time of the Exodus as it was entering its final years. We see in Deuteronomy 12:8-9,     “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which YHVH your Elohim is giving you.

Because of the wandering in the desert, certain rules were in place and the Tabernacle was mobile. What is being stated above is the time when they will be settled and there will be one place of full worship of only God. It was also concerning the aliens (non-Jews) and youth among them who had not been fully integrated into the society because of the move. This will be done upon entering and settling into the Land of Promise. There will be those who refuse and God was already aware as was Moses, which is one reason this statement was made.

After Joshua the time of the Judges began. Now this was a time where people were chosen to judge and be priest over the tribes. We know that since the Israelites had not done specifically as God told them but had mercy on some of the indigenous occupants, there was trouble.

Judges 17:6

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

This happened more than once so we see it again in the exact same verbiage four chapters later:

Judges 21:25

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

So yes they did not learn. So many people died because they forgot God and His right perspective for us.

So many people today are doing the same thing, ignoring God’s Word and His Statutes. The moral behaviors and laws of the land have changed to meet the minds of those whose mental state and depravity are the “new way of thinking”. God’s rules are eternal, man is temporary so this too shall pass but for how long oh Lord how long must we deal with this immoral time. This is a time where Love is a four letter word and God is no longer the center of many lives. This must change. We must be the instruments of this change. Stop allowing these perversions from entering our children’s minds so they become the norm. I am not saying beat the Bible into them but if that is what it takes, give them God’s Love, His Compassion, His Mercy, and His Tough Love to show them what right looks like. Do not fall into the devil’s snare, evade temptation, Love and He loves us.

Live By The Will Of God

A life lived by God’s Will is a happy life. Living right and being encompassed in the Wisdom and Will of God will lead to happiness all your days. Okay that does not mean there will be no days of suffering and sadness. Is it not in the suffering and pain that we find joy in the Lord because He is with us and will guide us through it.
When we look at Proverbs 3:21-26 we see the father telling his son (we can say son and daughter here) to be watchful and not let the Word of God and the lessons learned from his mind and heart. Remain in the laws and statutes while being the one with integrity and he will go far. Is that not what we want for all our children? To remember the teachings of their youth and conduct themselves in a way that they will be successful physically and spiritually. Continuing to live in the way of the Lord and you will not stumble, nor will he/she have fear of the evil things in the world nor the bad things that happen to those who conduct themselves in an evil manner. God is watching and will keep you from harm.
This is all well and good from the perspective of an era where the evil that men did was not a bad as it is today. There are more dangerous fiends and demons who will ravage the thoughts and minds of our children now more than ever in history. So how do we protect the children? How do we keep them in God’s Word and trying to live a Christ-like life today? We must remain in God’s will ourselves and show the children a right way of living. This is the most difficult thing to do when around so much violence around every corner, people are becoming more and more immoral by the day both sexually and mentally. The Adversary is running rampant in the hearts of parents who confuse their children with thoughts that go against every teaching in Scripture.
What can we do, sit back and watch the carnage? NO We must act in the right ways of Jesus teachings, not sugarcoated but the real truth, that is the way to get people back on track. We must fight with God’s Word not our own. Many people live long and happy lives with no knowledge of God but they somehow make it. The people who have rejected God are the ones destroying us.
Turning back to living by the Wisdom (Word) of God and understanding His purpose in our lives is what will bring us back to His good graces. We must walk with Jesus as our constant companion. Now I am no soothsayer nor expert on how to do it I just know it happens when we ask Him into our lives, trusting and obeying His every word.
Brothers and Sisters, stay vigilant in our time of need. Let us work together as One Body in Christ.

God Is Everywhere

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.         Psalm 139:7-10

 

No matter where we are, God is there directing and guiding us in all places throughout our lives. There is a confidence in knowing that God is ever present in our lives. He will pick us up when we fall, He will guide us in our living and direct us to the places He needs us to go. That is what Psalm 139: 7-10 is all about.

The writer exclaims that finding a hiding place from God is not possible. We cannot hide from what we cannot see. Since God is a part of everything, even the stuff that man makes cannot hide us from Him. Our sinful nature tells us that behind closed doors, God cannot see so we are tempted to do things in secret places, hiding from the world.

In Heaven or Sheol, God is there. Now some translations say hell instead of sheol. This was before Jesus defeated the Adversary so Sheol, the place of the dead before judgement for the Hebrews, would be a better stated because God is absent from hell. According to many Jewish scholars, God has ruler ship over Sheol even though individuals there are bound and locked in. Ascending into Heaven, according to the people of this time, was reserved for the truly righteous who never sinned or were chosen by God as prophets and priests (though just being a Levite priest did not guarantee heaven). It is also descriptive of what is beyond the sky.

We can be high up in the air or dwell in the deepest depths of the sea and God is there. These areas are all part of God’s creation. We cannot escape it, we cannot hide. God’s hands reach as far as the earth is round. The hand of God is in everything. We see the beauty of His creation in every thing, every day. Mankind has tried to dismiss this but we cannot play God. Even with the internet and having the world at our fingertips, we will never be as omnipotent, omniscient, nor omnipresent as God is.