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Let it shine

The word tells us there are many spirits in the world and that we should be wary and test them. Some may even appear as a kind and lowly sheep. Don’t be fooled. Sometimes the sheep isn’t wearing wool but merely a wolf’s coat. There is but only one true spirit, and that is the spirit which resides in the hearts of the believers, God’s own children. The Holy Spirit.

As believers, we are indwelt by his loving spirit and it’s sufficient for everything we need to grow in the fullness and knowledge of the Lord as we sojourn here on earth. How honorable it should be to us to be a temple of the Living God!

While we’re here, the Holy Spirit is our source of all strength to love others as Christ first loved us and gave himself up for us on Calvary. When he departed back to heaven, he made a promise to give the believers a helper to guide them, and he has.

The world may think it strange that Christians are the manifestation of love in a place that doesn’t always love back. Love thine enemy? Bless those who curse you? Yes, these are the commandments for God’s family. We are able to do this through the power of God’s love working through us. It’s not our love, but His that flows through. It’s to be given away just as freely as it was given to us. It’s His love anyway, and to share it with others shows the living God in us. It may be the only glimpse of God they will see. Let it shine.

Our God Reigns

There is no God like Jehovah. His plans can never be thwarted though many have tried. Back in the day when God’s people were scattered to Babylon, he had a moment with the Persian King Cyrus and basically told him that for the sake of Israel, you will conquer many nations. He’ll bring many to their knees as well as set the exiles free and, later, they will rebuild Jerusalem.

Though King Cyrus did not know God or understand his ways, the Lord saw fit to use him to fulfill His plans and purposes for Israel. As it is today, the Lord appoints and uses leaders to continue the plans he has for the world.

It may seem like God is lax in carrying out truth and justice by seemingly allowing sin to reign, but it does not reign supremely. God is overseer and judge as well as jury. He has not let go of the ball.

He is the Author of all that is true, holy, and good. May we not murmur or be distressed or turn away our belief. Remember, we are but clay. Who is the clay that it should order the potter or find fault with him?

It would be better if we acquiesced in faith to the higher power and turn our hearts to believe in his promises as they were given to Israel. May we be reassured today that the great prophet, priest, and king of all is also the judge, jury, and executioner. He knows what he’s doing.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

Jeremiah said it well. God’s faithfulness to us is a great thing. Though we ourselves may lack faith or waver in our unbelief that his word is true, God can never deny his own faithfulness and will never stray from the truth because He is truth!

There are so many examples in the Bible of the Lord’s faithfulness to believers from his forgiveness to our salvation and sanctification, strength through trials, protection from evil, victory over sin, and sealing our future in heaven. Basically, through the Lord’s generous loving kindness, he has saved every believing soul from the power, penalty, and presence of sin. On top of that, God promised to glorify every person he called and justified (Romans 8:29-30), and our souls shall never see eternal death.

We know the Lord is coming back to earth one day and, according to the book of Revelation, the living Word in flesh is the “faithful and true Witness.” At his return, he will actually bear the title, “Faithful and True.” How lovely to know he’s coming back in victory, and we will dwell with him forever.

Sing a new song

By his mighty arm, the Lord brought out his people from the bondage they suffered in Egypt, and all the while upheld them through their 40-year journey in the wilderness. They endured much over the years in the desert, and with everything they went through… the distress, trials, and temptations, the Lord was right there to aid and guide them into the Promised Land of Canaan. He provided food, warmth, shade from the strong sun and more. To think their sandals never wore out!

It was the Lord and only he who could have given them the strength to conquer their enemies and bear their afflictions. It is the reason they made a joyful noise with trumpets, harps, and the psaltery at their special feast days.

Like Israel, we, too, have a covenant with God through our faith and belief in the work of his blessed son, Jesus. We’ve been brought out of bondage as well and now stand humbly in Christ as redeemed citizens of a Heavenly Kingdom that is both here in our hearts as well as its ultimate future fulfillment.

As we endure our own trials through the desert of our time on earth, may it be as it was then…that we make a joyful sound to the Lord by singing psalms, singing aloud, and making a joyful noise. The word, noise, connotes that we don’t even have to be singing in the right key! God is pleased to hear the noise that comes from a worshipful heart.

Who’s the greatest?

There are some who believe they have it all figured out. They suppose by doing good deeds or by simply attending church—by these they’ll be able to carve out their own way to heaven. On their own merits. The question to ask is:  Why did Jesus come to earth in the first place? What was the purpose of him sacrificing his life in such a cruel way?

In Moses’ day, the law was deemed to be the truth. Those that followed it were doing the right thing. But the law was unable to secure salvation. The sacrifices were only a temporary stop gap; they had to be repeated time and time again. That is, until the ultimate sacrifice was paid in the life and blood of the Savior.

The psalmist declares of Jesus, “Your law is the truth” and the word tells us he came to fulfill the Law. He is also the Incarnate Word of God and, therefore, the source of all truth.

Many times in the O.T., Jesus refers to himself as the I am. Exodus 3:6 states, “I am the God of Abraham…” In John 8:58, “Truly, truly…before Abraham was, I am.”

Jesus—prophet, priest, and King of Kings—is the great I am, and the only way to secure a heavenly future is through belief in him. Because he provided the way, and is the truth, and also overcame life, the future is secure for all who believe.

Happy New Year!

Vowing to lose weight in the new year? Or stop bad habits? This time of year leads us to make New Year’s resolutions. Out with the old and in with the new.  Yet how many times have these pledges drifted and waned before coming to standstill by March?  Our spirits are willing though our flesh is mightily weak.

Kudos to those who pledge to becoming a better person in the New Year…committed to turning over a new leaf. Start anew. Change. This is an admirable goal to achieve, yet by true grit and by sheer strength, we will often miss the mark.

Sinners, as we all are, need not turn over a new leaf so much as a new heart. We can’t use the stuff of flesh to make better flesh…we need the Holy Spirit to accomplish the work. People need the Lord.

It’s not about becoming better versions of ourselves…better Joe’s, John’s or Alice’s. Our goals should be higher than that. Our purpose on earth should be to grow into becoming more like the savior of the world.

May this New Year be our year to yield not just some but all of our hopes, dreams, and aspirations to God, so that he may continue to mold us into the image of his son today and throughout the New Year.  In so doing, don’t be surprised in finding the desires of your heart fulfilled along the way as the Lord wills.

Happy Birthday to Jesus

 

At just the right time, God, the father, sent his son to become our Immanuel–God with us. Born in the lowly stable among the animals to live a selfless life until the appointed time of his mission when he went to the cross. In complete faithfulness to his father and out of love and obedience, he fulfilled his father’s will.

Born to die. He came not to judge but to save. Everyone who believes will be saved says Roman 10:13.

Happy Birthday to our Lord, who became prophet, priest, and King of Kings. Thank you for condescending to mankind…for being our example…for enduring the humiliation, and for the hope for mankind that you provided through your ultimate sacrifice.

Maranatha, Jesus!

 

…As white as snow.

How unfathomable to comprehend the path that Jesus took to reconcile us to the Father.

What a marvelous mystery that God would condescend to earth, but to come here in the form of a human and live among us? Is not his glory too superior?  He left paradise for this?

The ways of God are certainly not our ways, and the more we dwell in his word and contemplate his birth, the more we can appreciate the sacrifice of the suffering servant, who came to fulfill his father’s wishes—to save the lost and dying.

In the first winter storm this coming season when the hills and dales glisten in a blanket of whiteness, may we understand that because of Jesus’s blood, a believer’s sins are even whiter than the brilliance of the snowfall.

The hijacking of nationalism

There was once a thing called nationalism.  As defined by Webster’s, the word connotes allegiance, loyalty, and love for one’s country.  Its synonym, patriotism, is in the same category. However, things have shifted in the nomenclature of etymology as we are now to assume that the latter is acceptable and the former, a pejorative.

As the two political parties of Democrat and Republican have been at odds since forever, now the masks and gloves are off. Political business is booming to the point where having love for one’s country and wanting it to succeed economically, socially, and otherwise is up for grabs. It’s no longer cool to want the nation, as it was founded, to remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Constitution. As with other countries and their constitutions, it’s an ever sliding rule to accommodate the whims of the people. With ours, the doctrine itself sets the precedent. And it’s worked so well that other countries; i.e., Ukraine, see the good in it and have made inroads to adopting similar principles.

Now Nationalism, rather than  allegiance to one’s country and  tied to patriotism, is something akin to Hitler’s “national socialism”; i.e., Nazism  and that a nationalist believes non-Americans are inferior, which is a quite foolish belief.  While nationalism is often associated with socialism, not all nationalists are Nazis. And now nationalism is on par with another term, “White Nationalism,” which is nothing more than a ginned up liberal’s talking point. When the president speaks of MAGA, it’s assumed by some that he means to turn the country back to a white-dominated nation, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Our current president has done more for the minority communities in this country than any president in recent memory. And many of the economically challenged are seeing the duplicitous nature of liberal administrations that have let them down year after year, and now they are awakening to the truth.

America is the most welcoming nation on the planet. All ethnicities are welcome here. And the current administration is on point to vet incoming migrants so that they may come into the nation legally—not illegally or by any means possible.  Where they are not welcome is when they wish to supplant the American Constitution with another form of rule, or to come in with the idea that they will not assimilate and just use the country to earn money and take jobs that would otherwise go to American citizens.

Being an American Nationalist is not about tribalism, or a particular sect of people, or supremacy, or where one comes from. What ties us together is not ethnicity; it is the rule of law under the Constitution. It is our paramount allegiance and our secular identity. All men, that is, all people, are created equal.

Rejoice, rejoice… again, I say, rejoice!

The commands declared by Apostle Paul regarding a believer’s conduct seem daunting at first glance. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of Christ Jesus concerning you.”  1Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Yes, it’s a high bar. That is, if we do these things in our own strength, but we are able to rejoice always and remain content in all things by knowing we have God’s grace and His strength to draw upon. It won’t be a “hey, let’s party!” attitude when trials come but, rather, something deeper—a quiet praise that transcends our present circumstances.

We can pray without ceasing in that we present our lives and our focus toward God, repeatedly and consistently bringing our hearts before him. We’re not asked to don robes or spend time on our knees all day. It’s the position of our heart that God embraces.

In everything, we give thanks when we fully trust that God is fully in charge and knows what he’s doing. From our earthly perspective, we may not see the pieces fitting together but from heaven, the picture is all too clear.

Rejoice, pray, and give thanks—always and in everything. It is our spiritual service toward a gracious and loving God.