Knowing…but not Believing

Satan and his team always knew exactly who Jesus was when they saw him.  They recognized Jesus right away and call him the Holy One of God when other people around Jesus were still asking him if he was Elijah or a great prophet.  The people in Nazareth tried to kill Jesus because he told them he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesies about a Messiah.October 24 2014 knowing but not believing

But Satan and his spirits never had any doubts about who Jesus was.

They knew… but they never believed in him.

We can do this, too.  We can know all about God in our heads but never accept his free gift of grace in our hearts.

My experience is that most non-believers I’ve talked with believe there is a God.  And they don’t have a problem with God…..until something bad happens and he becomes an easy target for their hurt and ager.

Just knowing God doesn’t make anyone a believer.  Just like saying a prayer doesn’t make us a believer, either.  There needs to be a change in our minds – a change in our hearts.  It may not be visible on the outside but God can see the condition of our heart.  He knows.

And just believing doesn’t make us a follower.  Following is an action.  To be a follower, our actions and behaviors and priorities need to be changing.  Yes, going to church and tithing are on the list….but not at the top.

Loving God with all of our hearts, minds and souls stands alone as our top priority.  With loving others is a close second.

Loving God and loving others.  These are the indicators of a true, growing follower of Christ.

So…….how are we doing?

The Great News!

It’s all in John 3:16.  We should have this verse ready whenever we’re talking with someone who doesn’t believe because this verse includes all of the important parts of the Good News.

It’s an easy verse to memorize because the words reverberate around in our minds….

bouncing back and forth as we consider this astounding truth…..

God so loved us….October 23 2014 b The good news

so much….

God so love the world!  All of us….

even the unlovable….

and that’s very good because sometimes we are very unlovable.

He gave his Son…

for us……

he gave his Son for the unlovables…..

how much love does that take?

A perfect love……

an unconditional love….

a love we can’t find anywhere else…..

even though we look everywhere….

or hit bottom trying to do it all ourselves….

until we finally we open up our eyes and realize that God is what we’re looking for.

Whoever believes….

that’s me…

I believe….

I’m willing to stake my life on this truth.

My eternal life.

And whoever believes will not perish……

we were on the road to destruction…

we were going to hell for our rebellion…..

we all rebel, some more obvious than others, but it’s there…..

whenever we do something we want instead of what God wants…..

or whenever we don’t do something God wants……

even our thoughts count…..

so we deserved eternal separation from our Holy Father God.

But God intervened and sent Jesus to save the world!

And now believers are reconciled to God for eternity!

Our eternal life with our loving, gracious and perfect God has already started!

And the Best is Yet to Be!

This is the Very Best News anyone could hear!

Thank you for the truth of John 3:16, dear Father!

 

Pointing To Jesus

Oct 23 2014 a pointing to JesusIt’s all about Jesus.

Most of us are involved in Small Group Bible Studies or Discipleship groups or Spiritual Mentoring relationships.  Many of us are leading those groups so we have extra responsibilities and accountabilities for the other people who are involved.

God has made it very clear in his word to us that it’s our responsibility is to point people to Jesus.

It’s not about us, it’s not about how much we like the people in our group, it’s not about who is the best leader of the group.  It’s all about Jesus.

John the Baptist knew this.  In John 1 we read that he and 2 of his disciples saw Jesus passing by and John the Baptist said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” And then John’s disciples decided to go and follow Jesus.

One of these men was Andrew who would become one of Jesus’ inner group of Twelve disciples.  Andrew went to find his brother, Simon Peter, who would become the Rock upon whom Jesus would build his church.  The BIG church – for the whole world.

We can see God’s plan beginning to take shape – because John the Baptist pointed others to Jesus, not to himself.

Later, we will hear that John the Baptist says that Jesus must become more and John himself much become less.

Isn’t that what we’re all called to do?

We love you, dear Jesus!

The Light Shines in the Darkness

Jesus is the Light of the World!

He truly is the answer to all of our questions.October 18 2014 Light of the World

He is the salve for all of our hurts.

He is the peace for all of our worries.

And he is the patience for everything that frustrates us.

He is our strength when we are weary.

Our haven for every storm.

Our Rock whenever a crisis blows through our life.

He is our joy when we have forgotten how to smile.

He loves us when we are most unlovable.

He is truth when the world hurls it’s clouds of lies at us.

He is bread for every hunger we have.

He is water when we are parched and dry.

He is the Way when we are lost and confused.

He is our best friend when we don’t feel like we have any friends at all.

He is our comfort as tears roll down our face and our heart is breaking.

He is our redeemer so we can be changed from the inside out.

He is our Savior – because of him we will not suffer eternal separation from our Perfect and Holy God.

His name is Jesus!

There is no other name!

God Never Changes

We’re doing great on our Journey towards the Truth!

It’s the middle of October and, chronologically, we move 400 years forward into the New Testament.

We have been reading and meditating on the Old Testament for 10 months.  So many new insights!  New thoughts!  New direction!

Now is a good time to look back and evaluate our journey.  Are we closer to God now than we were in January?  Have we opened up our hearts to his transforming power in new areas?  Are we different now?  More Christ-like?  Are we letting God change us as we soak in his truth?

Thank you, dear Father, for the Old Testament.  We have learned so much about you!  We see your relationship with the Jews and we recognize that you are the same God now that you were then.  You never change.  So we know you better every time we read and study the Old Testament.  We would be missing out on all of the things we’ve learned this last 10 months if we didn’t study the Old Testament.  We look forward to reading the New Testament – the account of your son’s time here on earth and what his disciples did after he went to heaven.

Thank you for the free gift of salvation you have given us through the sacrifice made by your son, Jesus.  We ask that you open up our eyes to the new truths you have ready for us in the New Testament.

In the redeeming name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Close Encounters of the Best Kind

I lost my book last week.  And I really wanted to find my book.October 13 2014 Close encounters

It’s Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst and the Holy Spirit has been opening up my eyes to some new-to-me truths about God’s directions to us about food.  I’m beginning to understand how much God cares about what we eat and this book as great lists of specific scriptures.  All of my notes about this journey so far are also in that book.

And I couldn’t find it.

I looked Everywhere!

And then the next day I looked Everywhere again!

I was just reading it last Sunday – it can’t have gone very far, could it?  Did it accidentally get thrown away?  Going through the trash was definitely my extreme last resort.

Very frustrating!

So…..finally…..I asked God to show me where my book was.

He immediately responded by reminding me that I had been reading books to my little granddaughter, Eden, last Sunday on the same couch where I had been reading my Made to Crave book.  When I went to look in my pile of grand darling books, what did I find?

You got it – my Crave book!

Why did I wait so long to ask God?  He’s helped me find things before – several times.  He proves over and over that he cares for the smallest details of my life.  He knew where my book was – I just needed to ask.   I’m continuing to learn more and more about how he really cares about the details of my life – even what I eat and how often I exercise.

He cares about it all.  And he’s there for me, every time.  I just need to remember this – and more quickly next time!

I love you, dear Father!

It’s Real!

The remains of the City of David are in Jerusalem ( Pic 2).  The remains of many of the things we read about in the Bible can still be seen in Israel today.ddddddddddddddddDSC_0315

Archeologists continue to uncover physical proof of the various historical events we read about in the Bible.

Yet, I still sometimes hear that there are people who think that the Bible is just folklore or fables.

To believe that, you have to discount innumerable dddddddddddddDSC_0331eeeeeecDSC_0452archeological findings and half of the historical documentation of that time!

God gave me the awesome privilege of visiting Israel earlier this year.  We walked where Jesus walked.  It’s a total game-changer!

We’re currently reading about Ezra and Nehemiah’s Journeys toward the Truth.  We also walked where they walked!

As we read about the dedication of the newly-completed wall around Jerusalem in Nehemiah 12, I can see it.  The Jerusalem wall I saw was not the same one, but it looked a lot like it did back then.(Pic 3 is a model of what Jerusalem looked like when Jesus was alive).

I can visualize it.  Two choirs processing in opposite directions on the top of the wall – singing praises to God.  What an awesome sight!  Praises of thanksgiving rising to the heavens from the top of the wall.  Rising up to the same God we praise today.

Because God is real.

God’s word is real.

It’s true.  It all happened.  And it all has meaning for us – that’s why God gave his Word to us.  We study it, meditate on it and memorize it so we can know the Truth.

Thank you, dear Father!

Always Ready……

to fight the enemy.Oct 9 2014 Always Ready

Prepared.

Equipped.

Because our enemies are plotting against us every day – watching for the weaknesses in our defense.

When we read about the Israelites in Nehemiah, they were prepared for a battle.  They were also rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.   Half of them did the rebuilding while the other half stood with their spears, shields and armor ready.

They had heavy, bulky, real armor.

We have real armor as well.  It isn’t as heavy as what the Israelites had but it’s much more effective.  Paul gives us the details of our spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:

The Belt of Truth is buckled around our waist.  This is what we’re working on right now as we read God’s word – knowing and living the truth.

The Breastplate of Righteousness is in place – protecting our hearts.

We wear the sandals of peace – always ready to share the Good News of Salvation.

Our Shield of Faith helps us everyday to deflect the flaming arrows coming at us from Satan and his army.

The Helmet of Salvation protects our minds from the lies which surround us.

The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon we need.  Satan has already lost the war.  And when we know and live and use the Word of God, Satan is reminded of his defeat and he retreats.  Every time.

Thank you for your perfect armor, dear Father.

Robbing God

“Test me in this.”  There is only one place in the Bible where God says this.Oct 5 Robbing God 2014

He’s talking about his directions to us to give him back a small piece of everything he has given us.

When we are faithful in tithing, God throws open the floodgates of heaven and pours out his blessings upon us.

God challenges us to test him because he always responds.

He challenges us to give back a portion because our trust in him needs to grow to the point where being faithful is more important to us than the money.  God needs to be a higher priority in our hearts than what this money could buy.

This is important for our happiness.  We won’t have the peace, contentment and joy that God wants for us until we can gladly give back a portion.

I have to admit – it took God and my husband awhile to convince me of this.  I always felt that we didn’t have enough money to tithe.  Other people who had a lot more money could tithe – but not us.  When the topic came up, I always hoped that someday we would make enough money so we could tithe.

Foolish thinking!

I have realized a very crucial truth in this area – if it’s all about having enough money, there will never be enough.

God tells us in Luke – if we’re not faithful with a little, there is no way we’ll be faithful with a lot.

God wants us to find peace and contentment with what he has already given us.  When we are faithful, he pours out the blessings that money can’t buy.

When we follow God’s directions for our lives, we are putting ourselves under the umbrella of his blessing.  If we don’t follow his directions to us in the area of money, we are holding our wallets out from under the umbrella of his blessing.  The result is that God will not bless our finances.  We will have constant money issues until we bring our wallet back under the umbrella by getting in line with God’s direction for this area of our lives.  His direction is to sacrificially tithe and to give offerings above our tithe.

Because we love God.  He’s more important than the money.

And we trust him.  God’s got this.  We can even test him.

Thank you, dear Father.

Sleepless in Susa

Sometimes God wakes us up – both literally and figuratively.

Sometimes God wants a little extra amount of our attention given to him and to his plan so he wakes us up in the middle of the night.Oct 4 2014 Sleepliess in Susa

And we can’t get back to sleep.

Other times, it may be something we ate for dinner that’s keeping us up. :)

But it could be God.

So my go-to solution for these sleepless nights (if the problem isn’t my stomach), is to pray and listen.  I meditate on what God has been saying to me lately…and pray….and listen…and pray….and fall asleep.

The next morning I often wake up with a new understanding about what God is doing or directions for the next step in his plan for my life.

God did this same thing with King Xerxes and we read about it in the book of Esther.  The king couldn’t sleep so he asked for the record of his reign to be read to him.   (This sounds like a real snoozer!)  And God reminded the king that nothing had been done to honor Mordecai who had exposed a conspiracy to assassinate the king.  The king wanted to take care of this situation and so the plot of the story thickens.

Has God woken you up lately?

Try the ‘pray….. listen….meditate…..pray’ thing and let me know how it works.

Thank you, dear Father, for the guidance you give us….in the middle of the night.