GOD'S CHARACTER - Justice with a side note of vengeance

A mere human, I will fall short on presenting God’s character so … please be sure to check out the “verses” tab and read His words.

 

Some ideas when we think of justice?

         Fairness – Equity – Impartiality – Objectivity

         Honesty – Righteousness – Morality

 

And vengeance defined as:

Punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong that is done.

 

But God’s character of justice is a million times bigger and more perfect than ours will ever be and unlike us … He actually pulls it off … always.

 

God’s justice is nourished by wisdom as He stands outside the confines of time. He knows what has been and what is to be …  God holds our hearts and motives in His hand and examines them with care.

 

God doesn’t just talk about justice … He acts in justice … sending His own Son into the world … bringing us a justice wrapped in mercy and love.

 

Perfectly able to incorporate “an eye for an eye” with “turning the other cheek” …

 

We can wind up mired in sin when we take revenge into our own hands … but God knows how and when to bring justice with vengeance – He does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.

God will not turn His back on true repentance … but will bring a justice of forgiveness to those who seek Him.

 

 

A patient, perfect justice

     That cloaks a world of sin

Our God of mercy watches

      To see who will come in

 

To a kingdom with an entrance

         Narrow - but open to all

Designed before the world

         To answer a sinner’s call.

 

A patient, perfect justice

         That can’t be found on earth

Except as He walks among us

         And we receive new birth.

GOD'S CHARACTER - FORGIVING AND MERCIFUL by Lauren Lindsey

With the passing of Easter,

now is a great time to talk about God’s forgiveness.

 

It is first important to know the definition of forgiveness:

A term used to indicate pardon for a fault or offense;

an excuse from payment for a debt owed.

In the Bible, some synonyms for this are Nasa’, salach, or aphiemi.

 

1 John 1:19 and Mark 1:4 are both verses which state

that we are to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness.

But how do we know we will be forgiven?

Why should we be forgiven?

 

This is where the Crucifixion and Resurrection become important.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, check out Luke 23 & 24

Romans 5:8 explains it pretty clearly.

 

When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit,

It cursed them and all their offspring.

 

God’s first attribute, as you may have read last week,

Is that he is Holy.

There is no place for sinfulness near God’s holiness.

So how are we ever supposed to gain eternal life?

 

I like to think about a song I know when addressing this:

 

“You didn’t was Heaven without us,

So Jesus you brought Heaven

My sin was great, your love was greater.

What could separate us now?”

-What A Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship

 

While I realise that this is now combining God’s forgiveness and love,

I don’t think you can talk about one without the other.

John 3:16-17 is a good example of that.

 

Colossians 1:13-14 elaborates on the fact that through Christ,

We can be forgiven.

 

Matthew 26:28 is Jesus speaking to his disciples as they sat together

for his last meal with them on Earth.

Jesus’s blood was poured out to forgive us.

 

God didn’t want Heaven without us.

So he sent his only son down to save us.

Our SIN is great,

But His LOVE is still greater.

 

WE know we can be forgiven because Christ’s blood was shed to do so.

 

Now while saying all of this, it is very important to note the unforgivable sin

in Mark 3:29 and Luke 12:10

 

Psalms 32:5; 65:3; 78:38 are all statements of God forgiveness as well.

 

It is important to know God if we are going to serve him.

His first attribute is that he is Holy.

And he is such a forgiving God.

 

 

God's Character - # Holy

Many years ago, as a new Christian, I was blessed to have several more seasoned Christians around me. One of them, a mentor through many years, listened to me one day as I got on a soap box about: “God’s love should mean …”

 

Well …  fill in the blank. We’ve all had those moments when something in life seemed unfair or awful or cruel or meaningless. The question is how could a loving God allow … yes – again fill in the blank.

 

Pauline (my mentor) was quiet for a moment, then looked me in the eye and said:

“God’s first attribute is that He is holy.”

In taking a look at God’s character, that statement of fact came back to me full force. So I thought we would start here and learn the first thing first. After all holy would sort of cover the idea that He knows best.

 

God is holy.

 

There are scriptures listed under the “verses” tab, which I hope you will read, but of course the entire bible speaks to this characteristic of God. The first distinguishing trait or distinctive quality (the definition of character) about God is … He is holy.

 

The first four commandments are about God and this distinction and the response to this truth.

We have no other gods

We don’t make idols of other things

We don’t misuse God’s name

We set apart His day as a day of rest … He made it holy

 

 Holy means worthy of absolute devotion, sacred, set apart as divine. Nothing on earth and no person has that characteristic. Just God.

 

Holy … a spiritual allegory follows on Thursday. Hope you will join us then and stay with us as we talk about God’s character over the next several weeks.

 

Love,

Bev

RECOGNIZING JESUS

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: MARK 6:30 – 56

 

The disciples watched as Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish … and fed 5,000 men. Initially they had urged Him to send the hungry crowd away but that was never in the character of Jesus.

 

It still isn’t.

 

First He gathered what was at hand … 5 loaves, two fish.

 

Then looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and shared the food at hand.

 

Then everybody ate and all were satisfied.

 

That’s how it is when Jesus is around.

And He is always around.

We don’t lack anything, no matter how meager our resources look, not when Jesus is providing. Of course, it is pretty easy to recognize our Savior when we are well fed and satisfied.

 

But then … the disciples were alone in a boat in the middle of the lake with strong winds against them. Jesus walked to them … yes on the water.

 

For those who may read this and think it is a cute story … breathe deeply … the truth: walking out to us in the midst of a spot we feel alone and afraid in, is not too difficult for Jesus.

 

Ahhh but that is when the disciples and I have the most trouble recognizing Him. How about you?

Just when we think the situation is scary and without escape … that’s a cute story …

In truth – Jesus walks on water - and anything else the world throws our way. He climbs in the boat of our scary situation, our trial, our sinful life, and says:

        

         “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 

 

He said it then and He says it now - because the character of Christ is steady, unchanging, dependable, merciful, forgiving, and anything else we may need in our boats today.

 

Take courage.

 

JAMES chapter 5 with guest blogger Lauren Lindsey and Chris

James 5 is the last chapter in this book.

To follow the rest of the theme of the book, James 5 continues to set many guidelines as to how to live our lives.

(This chapter is pretty self explanatory, as the rest of James is.)

It starts with a warning to rich oppressors.

“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you… The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” (5:1,4)

Basically, be fair with your money.

The next part of the chapter refers to having patience with God,

Something I dont have.

Having patience with God is an important part of keeping our Faith.

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming… be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (5:7,8)

“Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged…”

Wait for it!!

“The Judge is standing at the door!” (5:9)

This part has the same emphasis as James 4:12.

If you haven’t gotten the idea that it is bad to judge your brothers or to do wrong against them, you should probably reread this book.

“Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.”

In this sense, a “swear” would be a promise.

So are we not suppose to promise things?

Bev and I talked about this before. This is what we concluded:

Don’t say “I swear to… (insert noun here)”

Let your yes mean yes and no mean no.

Let all your words be meaningful and honest.

The next topic is prayer.

Prayer is one of the most important parts of having a relationship with God.

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (5:13-14,16)

Bottom line? Prayer is powerful.

“...remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (5:20)

If this doesn't inspire you to share God’s word, I don't know what will.

Over all, we have:

-be fair with money

-patience with God

-judging our neighbors

-bring people back to God

It is important, as Christians, that we are following the Bible and things put in place by God

-LuLu and Chris

Thank you all for letting me do these James blogs! I hope to continue these with Bev

Love,

LuLu

 

 

IN EXILE ...

Complaining – protests - doomsday predictions - swirl throughout our land today. Marginalized, without a voice, in the grasp of powers that are frightening … what is a person to do?

Conversely for those who see “radical” elements refusing to allow the duly elected to govern … what is a person to do?

Both camps of people are exiled from their promised land of a secure and peaceful nation.

Quite frankly many of us have lived in exile for years … this nation has long been far from the justice and mercy God desires. As people struggle to have their own particular experiences given rights, the righteousness of a Holy God has been trampled like discarded trash.

 

This is the time we live in … exile from the Promised Land.

What is a person to do?

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: Jeremiah 29: 5- 7

The Lord God Almighty gives His people guidance on how to live in exile … don’t let it defeat … rather live by building, planting, increasing, praying.

         “… seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile …”

The Lord designs exile for a purpose. Don’t listen to lies about the situation. Live through it by the grace of God … literally. And when the time is right … the Lord God Himself will carry us and deliver us from exile and into the Promised Land.

 

Live well. 

 

 

JAMES Chapter 4 - Guest Blog by Lauren Lindsey

Chapter four is the shortest chapter in James; however, that doesn't make it any less important.

 

Arguably, in today's society, this is one of the most important parts of James.

 

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasure.” (4:3)

 

I have heard this verse interpreted many different ways, but let’s take it as is.

 

We know that God doesn't always give us what we want. According to this, sometimes it’s because we ask for things to fulfill our own pleasures.

 

I feel like that's about as straightforward as it can get.

 

When we are asking for things that will simply benefit us, we will not necessarily receive it.

 

Does this mean that we should not pray to God for help or wisdom?

 

Of course not. God calls for us to come to him in troubling times.

 

“...Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (4:4)

 

So. No friends?

 

No.

 

To be a friend of the world is to follow the sinful ways of man.

 

We cannot choose to pursue the wicked ways of man while trying to please a righteous God.

 

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (4:7-8)

 

I don’t have a comment on this verse. I just felt like I would be doing you a disservice if I did not include this part.

 

“Grieve, mourn, and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” (4:9-10)

 

The first time I read this, I was so incredibly lost. What does this mean?

 

My leader explained it to us as this: Be humble. Do not be obnoxiously prideful in yourself or your things.

 

So basically, be humble.

 

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy…” (4:12)

 

Wait for it! My favorite part!

 

“But you- who are you to judge your neighbor?” (4:12)

 

That is such a powerful statement. And I want you to answer it.

 

But you- who are you to judge your neighbor?

 

Think about this the next time you go to judge someone.

 

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow… you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (4:14-15)

 

Remember, God is in charge. You are not.

 

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (4:17)

 

That was just another good verse to think about.


It is hard to be a Christian in today’s society. Luckily, God has given us the tools needed to still be able to follow Him and His ways- AKA, Bibles. Let’s make sure we use them.

 

THE CONFESSION - The most important words we will ever speak

Scripture: Matthew 16 – see the VERSES tab for selected verses.

 

The religious leaders of the day asked for a sign from Jesus …  He knows they aren’t actually interested in knowing Him, but rather set on having their own place in the world.

 

But privately for His disciples, Jesus asks the question that will eternally change everyone who listens and answers:

         “Who do you say that I am?”

 

Without a miraculous sign, although there have been many, just face-to-face with the Savior; we all step into this place in our lives. Sometimes once, sometimes repeatedly … until we give an answer. That answer contains the most important words we will ever speak.

 

Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

Good answer.

 

And life flows from there with unexpected twists and turns. Circumstances, sufferings and sadness we don’t understand wash over our new lives. Blessings and grace and mercy we can’t imagine walk each day with us.

 

Peter’s first inkling that life in the power of Christ might not be exactly what he imagined came quickly. Now a believer, Peter is addressed with prophecy and wisdom that he doesn’t understand. Jesus tells Peter that He will suffer at the hands of the religious leaders and be killed … then raised to life.

 

Peter can’t accept the first part of the message and misses the second part. Thinking he is now exercising great faith, he speaks:

         “Never Lord. This shall never happen to you!”

 

Jesus, who knows the spirit behind the words, rebukes His disciple as one influenced by the enemy, not having the mind of the things of God but rather the things of men.

 

Guilty.

 

Standing in need of letting go of “my life” and the preconceived ideas of what true faith looks like lest I too be taken in by falseness.  The falseness that says nothing bad can happen to a Christian … sickness means healing … blessing means prosperity …

 

Losing my life so I can find what God has for me in Christ.

 

Because what good will it do if I have riches but no treasure?  What good will it bring if I am healthy on earth, but headed for an eternal death? At the end of my life will it matter if I am popular with people or approved by God?

 

After answering the question that resounds in Matthew 16 and life:

Jesus asking, “Who do you say that I am?”

 

Then what?

 

The most important words we speak need to be followed by the most important commitment we make … Letting go of our “our life” and embracing His.

 

If anyone has not answered that question yet … or perhaps hasn’t listened to it … today is the day.

 

Who do you say that He is?

 

If we have answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

Shall we take a deep breath and let go of our lives?

He’s got this now.

 

Love,

Bev

TAMING THE TONGUE JOURNEY ... SILENCE

Remembering our speech is an overflow of our heart and taking our heart to the One who created it -

         Using our words for healing, helping, encouraging … “apples of gold in settings of silver” -

         Identifying “weeds” and getting rid of them … not speaking with malice, anger, unkindness, gossip –

 

But this week I stumbled on to a tool that I should have employed much earlier …

 

SHUTTING UP

 

Why might we need this tool?

·      Negative emotions are fueling our words …

·      The person in front of us can’t receive anything in this moment …

·      We don’t know what we are talking about …

 

I’m going to use a prime example of this from the Bible, but PLEASE READ THE STORY IN THE BIBLE!!!

 

I’m talking about the book of Job. It is one of my favorites … I know … they are ALL my favorites, but seriously this one ends with one of the most fabulous speeches of the Lord ever (not that He has ever made a bad speech). So with that said DON’T MISS - JOB: 38- 41, but I hope you read the whole book.

 

The background of Job is that he was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. The Lord loved Job and Job loved Him.  The Lord was totally proud of Job. Satan however, just as he does now, prowled around earth and argued with God.

 

The argument went like this (paraphrased – again read the story):

         Satan – “Of course Job looks good and loves You – nothing ever goes wrong for him. You bless him, You protect him, what’s not to worship.”

 

         God – “Game on – I know my guy and he loves Me no matter what.”

 

Some guidelines were put in place and the spiritual war began. Satan has some horrific weapons but absolutely none to defeat the Lord God Almighty … not loss of property, not poor health, not even death thrust in the midst of our life …

 

Spoiler alert! God wins!

 

So how does this relate to our tongue journey?

 

In the midst of the spiritual battle, along come some friends of Job. The whole situation was so awful that for the first 7 days they simply wept with Job and sat by him without speaking. Their friendship was complete.

 

And then they opened their mouths …  Job to curse the day of his birth and his friends to begin telling him how he must have done something wrong to get these results.

 

The bottom line … horrible things were happening because a spiritual war raged all around. Things haven’t changed.

 

Let’s consider when to hold our tongues … someone may be blessed we did.

 

LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT

      I remember as a teenager a custom we girls indulged in to see if our boyfriends “loved” us. Choosing a flower with petals, we pulled them off one at a time while chanting, “he loves me, he loves me not”. Supposedly whatever the last petal landed on was our answer.

 

       It was a silly game, with empty words that meant nothing- discarded promptly with my teen years. But it came to mind the other day as I was thinking about ways we discern true friendship … true love … from the words we hear.

 

         It doesn’t take much to learn that not everyone who calls us friend is really a friend. And who hasn’t discovered that even among people who “should” love us … sometimes we don’t feel loved.

        

        As we journey through this challenge to “tame our tongues” shouldn’t one of the stops be checking out where our words are formed?

 

       What makes some words we receive seem empty?

       What makes some words we speak have no power?

       Why can’t we change into truthful, loving, gentle speakers … just by the decision to do so?

 

LUKE 6:45

         “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

 

        

         And there we have it.

 

         We can’t change the direction of the tongue without changing the direction of the heart. So as we continue on in our challenge, let’s keep bringing our hearts to the Lord, so we can have better tongues.

 

         ** Check out our VERSES tab on Tuesday and Thursday for more verses to help us along with our hearts fueling our tongues. **

         

GUEST BLOGGER - LAUREN LINDSEY - JAMES CHAPTER 3

James chapter 3 covers mainly taming the tongue and wisdom: two very key parts of following Christ.

 

The chapter starts out talking about teachers.

 

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (3:1)

 

When teaching the Bible, it can be easy to slip up and teach the wrong things which can lead to misguidance.

 

Therefore, it is important to make sure when we teach things, that it is accurate.

 

The chapter continues with taming tongues.

 

“Although [ships] are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.” (3:4)

 

We need to watch what we say because it can have large consequences on our lives.

 

“...but no human beings can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (3:8)

 

That seems complex. Why should we try to tame it if it can not be done?

 

Ecclesiastes 7:20 states “Indeed, there is no one on Earth who is righteous, no one who did what is right and never sins.”

 

Romans 3:23 says “...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

 

Well, between those three verses, getting to heaven seems pretty hopeless.

 

But…

 

Romans 5:8

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

Romans 3:24 says

“And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

 

While the other verses pointed out that we are sinners, those two verses point out that God still love us and that we can still be saved.

 

So where does this all connect to taming our own tongues?

 

While it may be impossible for us to actually be able to completely tame our tongues, it is important that we try.

 

God is willing to help you and forgive you, but you have to be willing to try.

 

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (3:9-10)

 

Genisuse 1:27

“So God created mankind in his own image…”

 

If we are all made in the likeness of God, who are we to curse one another?

 

We are called to love one another with the same compassion we have for ourselves.

 

This chapter is a great chapter when dealing with people. Whether it be at work, school, or the store, It teaches us about how to handle ourselves in a Godly manner.


It takes 21 days to form a habit. So as you go about the next 21 days, try to enforce these verses in your daily life.

 

An Oasis and a Sword

In a runaway crazy world, where does a person go for an anchor? Psalms.

 

     About the middle of the Bible exists an oasis of comfort and strength, which is written both from the spiritual mountaintops and the valleys. Broken friendships, scary situations, depression, delight in God, confidence, and peace … all this and more are in Psalms. Best of all, the book of Psalms is awesome in revealing God’s character and who of us has not wondered about what God is really like?

 

The Word of God never goes out of date … it is both living and eternal.

 

         So just for today – why not give it a look?

         Faithful follower?

         Curious seeker?

         Ready for a change in life?

         Afraid you aren’t good enough?

 

God’s compassion is new every morning … (Lamentations 3:22 & 23).

         

         A few of the verses from PSALM 62 are written out under the VERSES tab in case you don’t have your Bible handy. Just give it a click and after absorbing the comfort there, I would love to here how God’s Word impacted your day.

 

         Let’s make 2017 the year we look into God’s heart by reading His Word faithfully every day … even if it is just a verse. I would love to contribute to that path by posting under the VERSES tab here on the Yashmea Journey website.

 

         Our enemy prowls around seeking to devour us, overwhelming even the faithful at times with darkness. So let’s put on the armor and pick up the sword. Being ever mindful of others around us who need encouragement, who need to know God, who need to welcome Jesus.

 

Consider making this the year that we not only read the Word faithfully, but also share it as God gives opportunity. Salt … light … sword … let’s go.

Life Lessons from Solitaire

I’ve gotten into the habit of playing solitaire if I’m between projects or bored or … well - fill in the blank. Worrying I was wasting precious time, I’ve given some thought to these card games and discovered that God was with me the whole time … teaching … guiding …

 

Sound unlikely?

Remember the whole “abiding in the Vine” lesson from John? (Refresh your memory in John 15)

I am a lowly branch but I definitely abide in the Vine (Jesus) and so do you if you have accepted what God provided through Jesus (salvation) and have asked Him into your heart.

Welcome to the Vine.

We are never really apart … not even while playing solitaire.

 

Take a look at these top ten lessons from the game:

 

1.   Every game is different … no matter how many are played.

2.   All one color and kind do not make a good game.

3.   What looks good does not necessarily play well.

4.   Missing one small play affects the whole game.

5.   At the right time a 2 of clubs can be just as valuable as an ace of hearts.

6.   There are different ways to play the game. **I was astonished to learn this recently**

7.   The game turns around fast some times.

8.   What initially looks like a bleak hand, can still be a winner over time so it’s important to play to the end.

9.   I can only play the cards I’m dealt.

10. Man shall not live by solitaire alone.

So there you have it … insert life in there and you get the drift.

 

God is always teaching.

He uses simple things to teach great truths.

 

 Jesus taught with parables of everyday life.

He fed thousands with a little bread and a couple of fish.

He touched ordinary people…

 The blind could see.

 Lepers were cleansed.

 The lame could walk.

 The sick were healed.

 The dead were given new life.

 

Nothing is impossible with Him.

 

Jesus walked with fishermen, adulterous women, people not of His “kind”, tax collectors, legal scholars, religious leaders, the poor, the sick, the uneducated, the unspiritual …

 

         The only ones not healed, taught or saved?

         Those who refused to accept His Word.

 

So here we are in our ordinary lives … with salvation, healing, and the teachings of an extraordinary Savior swirling all around … even in a game of solitaire.

 Let's give the life He gives us our full attention.

Abide and play on...

Amazing grace.

 

Love,

Bev

ARMOR

SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 6:10 – 18

 

So I got up today feeling a little defeated. Some issues in my life have been around for a long time … a really long time. Some days are better than others, some days my endurance is better than others, some days my perspective is better than others … and some days just suck.

 

I read my Bible, I pray, I ask for deliverance … but the Lord has decided that His grace is sufficient. Uh oh.

 

Have any of those kinds of issues in your life? They just don’t seem to go anywhere in spite of your best efforts to follow Jesus. And the maddening thing is … we KNOW He can do anything. So why does this keep going?

 

I have no idea.

 

That’s right … you heard me.  I don’t know.

 

But even when we can’t defeat a situation or fix a relationship or remove ourselves from sorrow … we are to be strong in the Lord. We are to spiritually win.

 

Someday these circumstances that I walk in today will be gone.

The physical world and its ups and downs will no longer be my reality.

 

But the win on spiritual warfare lasts forever.

 

THE ARMOR FOR THE FIGHT

         Standing firm … the spot I occupy on earth is for Jesus.

         Truth … I recently heard this defined as reality from God’s perspective. I love that.

 

         Righteousness … from Jesus …. mine looks like dirty rags.

 

         Readiness … walking in the gospel of peace makes me ready for everything and everyone.

 

         A shield of faith – I can’t see my home in heaven, I can’t hear a physical voice, I can’t see the spiritual realm of heaven with physical eyes… but I’m betting my life that Jesus is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do.

 

         A helmet of salvation … totally depending on what Jesus did - not what I do. Thankfully, because I’m not so reliable … hence my weak start today.

 

         A sword for fighting back … God’s Word … Jesus had terrific swordplay with Satan in Matthew 4:1-11. I love, love, love that this is our only offensive weapon – like seriously what else could we need?!!

 

         Prayer … always … all kinds … for all the saints … because we are all struggling.

                 

         Well this exercise helped me a lot. I see a couple of chinks in my armor today and am off to get repaired. Hope this helped someone else as well. 

 

With love

 

AMONG THE PAGES…

     I have been reading through the book of Isaiah (yes Lulu again) … I love everything about this book especially all the emotions that bubble to the surface as I read.

 

                  Awe – in the character of the Lord – just, righteous, merciful, redemptive … well you read it.

                  Sadness – at the way we just keep rejecting Him

                  Joy – at the way the story ends

                  Fear – in what the world lives through first

                  Comfort – at the Lord’s care for us

                  Shame – for my sin

                  Hope – in the Lord’s salvation and lasting blessing

 

         I am an emotional person so while others may be exhausted at this roller-coaster ride … I am in my element of laughing, crying and being amazed at the descriptions in Isaiah.

 

         But I found an extra nugget this time in my favorite chapter (chapter 55 in case you want to check it out). It was written in my own handwriting … yes I write in my Bible, in fact I write in 3 Bibles, one for each of my children.

 

         I digress … again.  My nugget? I have written at the top of chapter 55 these words: “Raven joins the family Feb 2016”.

 

         Ahhh … you are thinking I have a sweet grandbaby named Raven. Well yes … and … no. Raven is a canine version but greatly beloved in our family.  Just a little note of something that happened in my life that made me happy.

 

         I am a pretty serious person, not particularly fun, and intense about the Bible. But every now and then, my beloved Savior reminds me to leave room in my life … to just enjoy a moment, a memory, or a new puppy.

 

         So - there in the Bible that goes to my son, Ryan, sits a little reminder that in the midst of soaking in the Lord’s invitation to come to Him … a puppy arrived.  She is adorable.  Her brother Kanon sits somewhere recorded also. I will run across him periodically. Lest you think I forget my two-legged grandchildren … they too are scattered amidst the well-worn pages.

 

         God’s word has never failed to teach, inspire, correct, convict … and has always addressed “real” life for me. So I make notes.

On the pages of His Word, the Lord shows Himself and gives promises so enormous I can’t contain them. So I make notes.

A Savior so loving is revealed that takes even the likes of me … amazing. This one makes me cry.

The breath of life resuscitates me as the Holy Spirit teaches my heart things too wonderful to pass by … even in the midst of trials. I write because of this.

 

And in the middle of pages of perfection, wisdom and greatness … I plunk my life … undeserving and imperfect … but by His grace, I feel at home.

 

So that’s how Raven came to be in Isaiah 55.

 

JAMES - CHAPTER 2- Guest Blog by Lauren Lindsey

The book of James is such an amazing book. (Who am I kidding, they are ALL amazing) BUT! The book of James is so clear and clean cut in exactly how things are suppose to be. I think that's why I love it so much.

 

Favoritism:

"my brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism." (James 2:1)

We, as fellow believers must not show favoritism.

To each other over non-believers

To rich over poor

To young over old

We must not show favoritism.

 Pretty clear cut, huh.

 

These are my favorite verses:

"For whoever keeps the whole law and stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, 'You shall not commit adultery,' also said 'You shall not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker." (2:10-11) Don't those verses sound so condemning?

 

But they are very clear. A sin is still a sin. No matter what sin it is.

But, "...Mercy triumphs over judgement." (2:13) While 10-11 sound so harsh, we still have mercy. There's still hope.

"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?" (2:14)

 

To believe is not enough. "You believe there is one God? Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." (2:19)

"...faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by actions, is dead." (2:17)

 

Okay. So maybe you read that last part and are thinking to yourself,

What deeds do I have to do?

What does “deeds” mean?

Deeds could really be almost anything.

Examples from the Bible are Abraham and Rahab.

God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on an altar. And Abraham was prepared to do so. (If you don't know the end, God stops Abraham before he actually sacrifices Isaac. This story is found in Genesis 22).

Rahab was a prostitute who took in spies to hide them from the king of Jericho who was after them. When people came looking for the spies, she sent them in the opposite direction of the spies. (This story is found in Joshua 2).

Both of these examples are listed in James 2:21 & 25.

 

So right now, maybe you're still thinking,

'Okay so I'm suppose to sacrifice my kids and hide criminals from the president?'

No.

Deeds are things done that please God. So maybe today you helped someone in need.

Or you taught someone about the Bible.

Or you prayed with someone who is going through a hard time.

Talk to God. He will guide you to do what His will desires.

Deeds can be all kinds of things.

 

Take these things as a guide as you go through this week. Work on them little by little and don't be afraid to ask God for help making these things happen in your life.

 

 

#WordPower

Reference – Mark 11: 13 -14 and 20-25

 

         At first blush these verses seem to show Jesus a little tough on fig trees. After all it wasn’t really the season for figs so of course the tree wasn’t bearing fruit. But this passage actually highlights the extreme power in words spoken in faith.

 

         While it amazed the disciples that the fig tree had withered from the roots in one day after being cursed by Jesus, He points them to greater faith. Jesus shows a connection prevalent in God’s Word … the heart is connected to the tongue. Together they can change the world.

 

         Have faith in God

                  Don’t doubt in our hearts

                           Believe what we say

                                    And it will be done

 

        I don’t think this was to be used for a “prosperity gospel” or to get what we want for selfish desires, but rather to teach us that our words make a difference in the world.

 

         Jesus makes the incredible statement that we have such power with words and hearts focused on God that we can move mountains. After all we are created in the image of God who spoke the world into existence.

 

         Jesus brings us farther still when He teaches us a fundamental principle of prayer in this passage … and prayer is one of the finest uses of word power.

                  “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you.”

 

         When we stand praying … we are to pray from a gentle heart that harbors nothing against anyone. Prayers where we release our tally marks against others so that our own slate can be wiped clean.

        

         Made in the image of God, we hold so much power in our tongues … the words we pour into the world. We have such potential in positive speech but stand in grave risk misusing our words.

 

         Matthew 12:36 and 37

         “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

 

         Abandoning the careless and embracing the higher forms of word power …

         What might happen if we prayed for our world?

         Forgiving and forgiven … a nation speaking before God.

         What kind of word power might we bring?

         What kind of mountains could we move?

 

         Let’s talk more … about Word Power

 

         Your thoughts would be most welcome …

 

WHAT REALLY MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE?

The voices call from everywhere …

         Taunting with the steady pressure that everyone must be embraced, accepted, loved. If a lifestyle offends faith – the error lies with faith. After all God loves everyone – who are we to judge? Or perhaps God doesn’t really exist the way that pesky Bible says?

 

         Society gathers to assess our values, shouting to push platforms forward, shoving aside opposing views, and raising to a roar the sounds of opinions that clash and fight on streets running red with blood ... a dark shadow strangles the people.

 

         The same routine as always has started the chaos – the lie. The lie has been around since the first Adam and the lie plans to dance in the streets and the quiet places of men’s minds until the end.

 

         In the crystal clear light of God’s presence and will, an enemy slips among us and says, “You will not surely die … for when you have eaten … your eyes will be opened … and you will be like God.”

 

         Rejecting the idea that life has behaviors that are allowed and behaviors that bring death … the people push forward to their own will. And to promote the lie, as always, the enemy brings a truth to drape atop the lie.

 

         “If He is the Son of God … He loves us all …”

 

         True on both counts. Jesus is the Son of God and He loves us all. Separate the truth from the lie. The truth is about people … God has never rejected anyone who comes to Him.

 

Acceptance by God has never been based on the color of skin, the country of origin, the language we speak. Have we not read in Revelation 7:9:

         “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”

 

God through His Son, Jesus the Christ, has made a way for everyone into His heart and into His heaven … no one is rejected who comes through that gate.

         The gate where we meet Christ face to face, the gate where we decide to believe He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. Entering the gate calls for bended knee … acknowledging the greatness of God, confessing our sins, depending on Jesus ….

 

Ahhhh and that is where the lie begins again as in ages past …

Because while it is true that God never rejects a person who comes to Him – He has always made clear there are behaviors that are not acceptable … indeed that He hates.

 

Revelation 21:8 – “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

 

God has told the truth about what is evil and what is good. He has that kind of wisdom.

 

The enemy has lied … again. We don’t become enlightened when we embrace behaviors that God has rejected. We don’t become like God … we just immerse ourselves in sin which separates us from Him.

 

So in the streams of shouting, accusing, declaring our own righteousness by the opinions we hold … here are some suggestions:

 

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind … Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

 

And a couple things to remember about how things turn out:

 

“Love never fails.”

 

God wins.

 

You’ll notice this blog doesn’t take up a cause against a particular sin … we have all sinned and come way short of the holiness of God. He knows we struggle … struggling against doing the wrong thing is awesome– worthwhile – obedient. Do it.

 

Reject the lie … start a wave of obedience … let’s dive into the Word of God and see what He likes and what He doesn’t … let’s believe we don’t have a better idea and we certainly won’t become better people by our own wisdom.

 

Let’s vote for Jesus Christ as King … the rest of it is on Him.

 

With much love,

Bev

James Chapter 1 - Guest Blog by Lauren Lindsey

Being a teenager is not an easy thing in today's society.

There are so many influences, good and bad, that teenagers experience daily.

Social Media... Music... Friends... School...

It is very easy to get off track with our Faith and forget what God has planned for us.

 

Everyone experiences trials in their life.

Even teens.

But how do we know how to handle these trials?

Why do we have to go through them?

Some kid at school keeps making fun of you for carrying your Bible around school.

Why would God allow this?

Could this be a trial?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Isn't that easier said then done.

But it is important that we rejoice during trials. Trials make our faith stronger, even if it sucks to go through them sometimes. But you have an Almighty God who isn't going to let you fall.

“Blessed is the one who preservers under trial... that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

 

“When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God can not be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone...”

Isn't it hard sometimes not to blame God for the situations going on in life?

Why is God continuing to allow this?

God does not tempt us.

Evil does.

Do you remember the story of Satan tempting Jesus trying to get him to do the wrong thing?

Jesus never faltered with his ways and he did not let Satan tempt him into doing anything wrong.

That is what our faith is suppose to be like.

Strong enough to resist the evil temptations of the world.

Will we slip up sometimes? Possibly.

But God will always help us back up again.

 

“My dear brothers, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteous ways that God desires.”

That’s all pretty plain and simple now isn’t it.

Of course, easier said than done, but most things are like that.

 

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceives themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

That can be difficult in society today, trying to keep up with the lingo of all the teens today.

It can be easy to just follow what your friends do or say because you want to fit in.

But here we are warned against that when it comes to the things we say.

We can not just simply claim to be religious, and not let our words prove it.

 

It is easy to get caught up in the world today, but it is important that we continue to follow the plan that God has for us, even if it isn’t what our friends and classmates do.

And remember to share the word.

Spread it and get it out there to those teens who maybe don’t know God yet.

Its always amazing when new people come to God.

DISTINCTION

The condition or fact of being dissimilar or different …

A distinguishing factor, attribute or characteristic …

Excellence or eminence, as of performance, character or reputation …

 

One of the many themes running through the Word of God is the recounting of the history of Israel during the exodus from Egypt.

 

The plagues are examined again and again ending in the dark night where the firstborn of every household in Egypt died … except the Israelite homes.

 

As the people moved through the plagues sent by the Lord, sometimes the magicians of Egypt with their “secret arts” could mimic the plague … but eventually there were acts they could not follow … there is one God … a distinction from a Pharaoh … or a king … or a president.

 

The Lord created a conflict with Pharaoh to mark the distinction of His people and of Himself.

 

For the nation walking through the plagues was a painful process.  Locusts … gnats … darkness … bloody water … everyone experienced the effects … and then the distinctions arose ending with the most dramatic. One people would die … one people would not.

On a dark night the Lord reached down and delivered His people from the hands of the oppressor … it was dramatic, overwhelming, and completely without equal even to this day.

Imagine the trembling fear as the cries went up from household to palace. Imagine the tension of not knowing what would be next as the Israelites stood in their homes eating - coats on and ready to roll.

 

It is a history that even to this day the Jews remember and honor, Christians teach to children, and even unbelievers are aware of …

 

Pharaoh was warned.

The signs were everywhere.

Many times.

Pharaoh chose to think he was bigger than God.

  

The character of the Lord never changes. He loves His people. He is aware of our plight. He responds to our cries. He marks us with distinction … living among the world … yet brought out to a place where evil cannot touch us anymore.

 

He warns … and then He acts.

 

Recently I found myself awake in the night … crying. We have all had those times … just like the rest of mankind. My distinction? I have a Savior who is Jesus Christ and He too was awake in the night ready and willing to walk with me … until the day when He delivers me completely.

 

Nothing in the world can mimic that. No one else will ever understand my situation like Him. No amount of earthly counseling or hobbies or fulfilling work or riches or “purpose” will ever be able to snatch me from darkness into light like those nail-scarred Hands.

 

I hope you also know Jesus … if not I’d love to speak with you about Him.

 

And if you are one of my brothers or sisters in Christ … I hope this day you live in the distinction of that relationship.

 

From death to life … be blessed.