Cry Out!

There is a story in the Bible where Jesus heals a blind man named Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was sitting along the road side begging.  Upon hearing a commotion of people, he asked what was going on.  When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he began to cry out to Him – “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”  Amidst all the commotion that was going on, Jesus heard Bartimaeus’ cry and stopped.  This story reminds me of a time when I was a little girl.  My dad, my sister and I were releasing a pet turtle that had become too big to keep any longer.  We were on a roadside releasing the turtle into a creek and amidst the noise of the road and the countryside, we could hear this tiny whimper.  We looked around and across the road was this tiny little kitten crying out.  Needless to say, we went there with a turtle and went home with a kitten! Mom was not pleased. But the impression was this tiny, helpless creature was crying out with such intense need that the need overpowered everything else.  There was something to Bartimaeus’ cry.  Desperation?  Maybe.  But there was a knowing in this blind man that his answer was near and he didn’t want that opportunity to pass him by.  So without even being able to see Him, Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus.  And Jesus heard His cry and responded.  Another interesting point is that Jesus could clearly see that Bartimaeus was blind but He asked him what he wanted from Him.  He needed to get Bartimaeus to speak out his need.  Or we could say confess his need (just like we must do with our sins to receive forgiveness).  After all, we know that whoever believes those things he SAYS will be done will have whatever he SAYS!   Whatever your need is, cry out to Jesus!

35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. 36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. 37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, 41 saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” 42 Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.  Luke 18:35-43 (NKJV)

23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Mark 11:23 (NKJV)

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving.  When we hear this word, what comes to mind usually is the holiday.  We generally don’t think about the act of giving thanks.  In examining my own life, I know that I do not give thanks or express my gratitude or appreciation enough.  Not even close.  The one to whom my thanks ultimately goes is God.  And what I am most thankful to God for (besides Jesus that is) are the people He has put in my life.  For it is the people who matter most.  Things or possessions come a very distant second. And in the category of people, family is first on my list. We may not always see eye to eye, we might have our dysfunctions or our skeletons, but you better not speak bad of my family! I’ll stack any one of them up against yours any day!  And hopefully you feel the same way too about yours.  Family is precious and should be fiercely protected by each member.  Families come in all varieties.  Sometimes our family is not one we are born into, but one by whom we are loved and accepted as if we were.  No matter what your family may look like, our prayer is that you have a blessed Thanksgiving and are able to spend it with the ones that you love most.  And don’t forget to thank God for the wonderful people He has placed in your life.

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.  Colossians 3:17 (NLT)

Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:8 (NKJV)

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with Psalms. Psalm 95:2 (NKJV)

Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 106:1 (NLT)

Let Your Helper Help You!

Recently, in reading the Bible, I read a verse that I have read many times before and heard many teachings on.  It is John 14:12 where Jesus told His disciples that they (and anyone who believes in Him) would not only do what He had done, but even greater works.  And usually the teachings stop there to explain what Jesus meant by “greater” which is usually a debate on quantity verses quality. But this time, what impressed me was the last part of the verse which says “because I go to the Father”.  Well if the reason they will do these “greater” works is because Jesus is going to the Father, then why then?  Why not now before Jesus went away? Reading on a little further, I found my answer in John 16:7 – Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”  So the Helper is the key!  And, of course, we know the Helper is God’s Holy Spirit.  Up until then, Jesus was the only one on whom the Holy Spirit had descended.  But after Jesus had gone, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who believed in Jesus and His followers began to minister in the power and anointing that Jesus did because, now, they too had the precious Holy Spirit WHO WAS the power.   And HE STILL IS the power!   In church today, God the Father and Jesus the Son are spoken of often.  But the precious third person of the Godhead is often neglected from our pulpits – and not only neglected, but some teach He is no longer necessary.  Nothing could be farther from the truth! If the Holy Spirit is not taught from your pulpit, find out why not!

12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  John 14:12 (NKJV)

26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26 (NLT)

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8 (NLT)

17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy. Acts 2:17-18 (NLT)

Let Brokenness Be Your Offering

King David was known as one of Israel’s greatest kings.  His greatness was not because he was sinless, but that he was quick to repent when he did sin.  David was successor to Saul, Israel’s first king.  Saul began much like David in humility.  But pride soon took over.  Saul disobeyed the Word of the Lord through the prophet Samuel.  Samuel’s instruction to Saul was to wait in Gilgal seven days for Samuel to arrive to offer up burnt offerings to God.  But after seven days, Samuel had not arrived so Saul went ahead and offered up the offerings himself.  Not only was Samuel displeased but so was God. But we don’t find Saul repentant of this disobedience. Saul went on later to disobey again by sparing King Agag of Amalek and the best of their flocks when he was clearly instructed to destroy everyone and everything. This time Saul did admit he sinned but he tried to explain (justify) his sin. There is no justification for going against God’s word.  Any reason we could think of to explain why we sinned would be to say it was more important to us than what God said.  David, however, knew there is never a justification for disobedience to God.  Psalm 51 clearly conveys David’s agony over his sin with Bathsheba. We find no excuses, no justification – only brokenness, humility and repentance. David knew that, when he sinned, it wasn’t the offerings or sacrifices that God wanted – it was a heart broken before Him.

8 Then go down to Gilgal ahead of me. I will join you there to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. You must wait for seven days until I arrive and give you further instructions.”  1 Samuel 10:8 (NLT) ……… 7 ……Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear.  8 Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away.  9 So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. 1 Samuel 13:7-9 (NLT)

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But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT)

24 Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the LORD’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded. 1 Samuel 15:24 (NLT)

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You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT)

Be It Unto Me Lord

One of my favorite servants of God of the past century was Kathryn Kuhlman.  She was an interesting and unique woman whose modest ministry beginnings transformed into one that thousands upon thousands of people would flock.  People came by the busloads to be in one of her meetings because miracles abounded and healings manifested as people just sat in their seats.  And she would be the first to tell you that she was no healer.  She would not take one ounce of credit for what the Holy Spirit was doing in her meetings.  She was just a yielded vessel.  A humble one at that.  So I find a statement she once made very interesting and also very sad.  She said “I do not believe I was God’s first choice in this ministry, or even His second or third.  This is really a man’s job.  But someplace men failed.  I was just stupid enough to say ‘Take nothing and use it.’  And He has been doing just that.” If she was not God’s first or even His second or third choice to have that ministry, I find myself wondering who was.  I guess it really doesn’t matter as long as God found someone who would say yes.  But it makes me think if it is possible that He ever had to pass me up for someone else because I said no.  Sometimes we think we aren’t capable or worthy enough to be used by God.  But even if we have nothing, He can use it! God can use any average, ordinary person – man, woman, or child, to do something supernatural –  IF they are yielded to Him. Kathryn Kuhlman reminds me of Mary.  Mary told God yes and I am so thankful she did!

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV)

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NKJV)

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:38 (NIV)

Rags to Righteousness

“For many are called, but few are chosen”.  These words were spoken by Jesus after relating a parable that compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a wedding feast thrown by a king for his son. When the feast was ready, the king’s servants went out to gather all those who were invited.  But they all refused to come, not once but twice. Not only did some refuse, but they murdered the servants whom the king had sent.  So the king sent more servants out to invite anyone they could find and the banquet hall was filled.  Upon greeting his guests, the king found one man who was not properly attired for the occasion.  Having no reply when asked why, this guest was bound up and thrown out of the banquet into outer darkness.  This particular part of the scripture has always baffled me.  On the surface, one might think that was pretty severe treatment for an invited guest, especially if we think about how people dress for weddings these days. But the crux here  of the story needs a little more detail than what we find in this parable.  The custom of the day was that, upon arrival, each guest would have been presented with festival garments to wear, a special robe, and to refuse to wear it was an expression of highest contempt and disrespect for the host. The analogy here to the Kingdom of God is that Jesus has provided to us His royal robe of righteousness so that we can enter into God’s Kingdom.  Our own filthy garments of self righteousness are not sufficient to gain us entrance.  And to refuse Jesus’ royal robe is a slap in His face, especially considering the great price He paid to provide it for us.  Thinking we can gain entrance into God’s Kingdom wearing only our own garments is telling God we don’t need Jesus.  The Kingdom is open to anyone.  But to enter, we must be properly dressed (spiritually), not in our own self-righteous rags, but in Jesus’ royal robe of righteousness which is offered free to anyone who will accept!

1 Jesus also told them other parables. He said, 2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. ……….’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”  Matthew 22:1-14 (NLT)

4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.”  Zechariah 3:4 (NIV)

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6 (NIV)

10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness….. Isaiah 61:10 (NIV)

Arrrrrggghh!

I recently spent a frustrating, unsuccessful 2 hours on the phone with a service provider to our church.  This was probably the 5th or 6th call I had made on this same unresolved issue.  On the call, I found myself getting more and more irritated because I had explained this problem so many previous times never being able to talk to the same person twice. Maybe you have experienced a similar situation. As I continued to once again relay the issue we were having, I realized my anger gauge was registering off the meter.  So I took a moment, calmed myself down, then apologized to him as he certainly didn’t deserve the brunt of my frustration. Anger can happen very quickly.  And it can get out of control even quicker.  And the sad thing is that nothing good ever comes out of it. Oh, you may feel some temporary satisfaction of making sure you had your say, but that feeling is usually fleeting. When you’ve cooled off, regret usually sets in. It’s not wrong to feel anger. In fact, righteous anger can be a great motivator to make things right. But anger is wrong if you let it get the best of you or you let it fester.  And most importantly, it opens the door to the devil in your life.  Satan is a master at anger because his anger against God fuels him and he knows it can be fuel for sin. If it were not possible to control our anger, God wouldn’t have instructed us to. When you feel your anger meter rising, ask the Holy Spirit to take control. Don’t let it get the best of you because your best belongs to God!

4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Selah Psalm 4:4 (NIV)

26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.  Ephesians 4:26-27 (NLT)

11 Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. Proverbs 29:11 (NLT)

12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”  Revelation 12:12 (NLT)

Out With The Old!

 

I recently was in a second hand store with my daughter.  The display we were looking at contained an old package of flash cubes.  She asked me what they were so I explained.  Times continue to change and technology continues to advance.  Things we use everyday  are always being improved upon or eventually become obsolete.  Paper maps, cassette and VHS tapes, floppy discs, movie rental stores, encyclopedias, film developing, even landline phones are all examples.  But with all the constant improvement and advancement in the material things of life, the one thing that never changes is the people that use them.  Or in other words, human nature. None of these new or improved inventions will ever change a person on the inside or help them find their purpose in life. Originally, human nature was perfect because man was created in God’s image and likeness.  But that all changed in the garden of Eden.  All of mankind since was born into this world in a fallen state.  Any parent knows that you do not have to teach your child to be selfish.  Everything is “mine!” Selfishness is their nature.  So how do we change the nature of a person?  We cannot.  But God can!  That old selfish nature can be changed in an instant through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The old nature gets a complete overhaul and becomes brand new.  That is the starting place.  By reading God’s Word, you can begin to retrain your brain to think like God thinks and you are on your way to a real improvement in your life!  So, if you are  too young to know what a flash cube is, you’ll have to Google it or, better yet,  do it the old fashion way and use a dictionary.

12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Romans 5:12 (NLT)

21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (NLT)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT)

“Why?”

This past week leaves us all wondering how there can be such evil in the world as we watched the horrendous act of violence in Las Vegas last Sunday.  But yet, it seems to be happening here in American and around the world with much more frequency.  “Why?” is the question that everyone is asking.  As a Christian, we are not to go to the media or the politicians or the talking points for our answer.  We are to go to God’s Word.  And God’s Word has something to say about it.  Before the Lord returns, and He will whether you  believe it or not, the earth will be as it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37 NLT –37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day.”)   So how was it in those days?  Genesis 6:5, 11 & 12 (NLT) says: 5 The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.  11 Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. 12 God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt.”  But God did not destroy the earth without a warning.  2 Peter 2:5 (NLT) tells us:  5….. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment.”  They were warned but did not heed the warning.  This is a description of how it will be when Jesus returns.  It doesn’t sound too far off from what is happening in our world today. Not just the increase of violence but also how people are ignoring God’s Word and living as they please.  Let us hold the innocent victims of this evil act in our prayers and thoughts as once again our nation mourns.  But remain vigilant.  By God’s mercy, He has told us what it will be like in the last days so we will know the season of Christ’s return. God has warned us so we can be ready.

1 You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. 3 They will be hardheaded and never give in to others; they will be constant liars and troublemakers and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough and cruel, and sneer at those who try to be good. 4 They will betray their friends; they will be hotheaded, puffed up with pride, and prefer good times to worshiping God. 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (TLB)

I Couldn’t Help Myself!

“I just couldn’t help myself!”  Have you ever heard that before?  Have you ever said that before?  Most of the time there really isn’t much truth to the statement.  Probably the truth lies somewhere closer to “I didn’t want to help myself!”  The topic of this statement is self-control, or more likely the lack of it.  Self control is used every day, all throughout our day, in our actions, in our words and even in our thoughts.  Most of us may have self control in some areas while other areas seem to get us every time. One person could pass up a bowl of M&Ms without a second thought but with another person it would dominate their thoughts until the bowl was empty.  Self control is a fruit of the Spirit.  Fruit is something that grows.  It begins as a tiny bud, and with the proper nourishment slowly develops until the full fruit is ready.  Self control and the other fruit of the Spirit are developed similarly.  But what nourishes their development is a relationship with God.  If our relationship with God is barely existent, the fruit of the Spirit in our life will be as well.  The more time we give to God (through prayer, reading His Word, worship), the more developed the fruit of the Spirit becomes in our life. So if you ever find yourself saying “I couldn’t help myself”, let that be an indicator that you might need to spend more time with the One who can help!

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)