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Archive for July, 2010

O dear saint, will we obey God….obey His Word?  Will we trust God even if we are misunderstood and perceived as too radical in our allegiance to Him?  Are we willing to be in the world but not of it?  Are we willing to follow Jesus no matter what?  YES, to all of it!  I will!

Put your hand to the plow and don’t turn back…press on in faith in Jesus Christ your LORD!  He lives!  The Lamb of God reigns and the victory is already His!

“14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial (Satan: worthless, treacherous)? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing
;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (English Standard Version)

Word of God speak!  Glory to God!

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1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” John 15:1-2.

And so it is that we get pruned!  Why?  “…so that it (the branch) may bear more fruit.”

For what purpose do we bear fruit?  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works (fruit), and glorify your Father who is in heaven” Matthew 5:15.

Are you embracing pruning today?  Has a tender twig with lush, green leaves been lopped off your branch?  That hurts.  Sometimes it really hurts.  Sometimes the method hurts just as much as the pruning.  Even so, our Father knows exactly what to take away, what to prune and when the branch will bear fruit.

Abide, just keep abiding.

Since we are living for His glory, we can celebrate the pruning and rejoice in every alteration.

I want to encourage you, dear friend, keep placing your trust in God.  We’re all in this together.  He’s doing a lot of pruning these day… That’s really exciting news!

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I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of community developers on the topic of hope and strengths.  It wasn’t a setting where I could take off and talk at length about the hope of glory we find in Christ or that Christ is the only Source of hope for our communities and our nation.  But the truth of the matter is there is no other hope out there!  God is the Source of Hope eternal.  And that amazing fact gives us hope beyond comprehension.

The wonderful truth is that the Hope we find in Jesus Christ is extended to all who will believe in Him.  I guess the challenge is we humans tend to place our hope and trust everywhere else but God.  We place our hope in people, in jobs, in health, in opportunity…  Some will say they can give you hope, but whatever “hope” they give you is not eternal and will never touch you at your core.  Campaign promises of hope certainly don’t last.  Neither can the government give you hope.

As each day brings more news that is bleak and foreboding, my hope increases in Christ Jesus my Lord.  When news reports forecast troubling days ahead, I rejoice in a Sovereign God who holds all things together by the Word of His Power.  I know that the things of this earth, myself included, will fade away.  Remember, this earth didn’t give you life…God did.  Since God is the blessed controller and provider of all things, that truth ought to impact how we face today’s challenges…hopefully!

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” Matthew 6:25-34.

Dear one, keep your focus on Christ, not the stock market.  Take a break from the news networks and meditate on God’s Word.  Remember, these are the best days to be alive, because you have been chosen to live in Christ for such a time as this.  Think about how awesome an adventure we have been given to bring Hope to this generation!  Glory to God!

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Have you ever stopped to consider the timeliness of God’s word?  How you can be in a place where doubt and fear begins to encroach upon your thinking and then suddenly God will speak His word to you?  This is so marvelous! So Him!

Yesterday, a dear friend wrote something in an email that caused me to think about a Bible verse.   I instantly went to look it up and found it in Jude 1:24-25.  And there I found such solace and assurance of God’s hand leading and guiding me.

Later in the day, as I was speaking to this friend, I told her that her writing caused me to think about that passage in Jude.  And do you know what her reply was?  “I was thinking of that verse when I wrote those words.”  Who else but the Spirit of the Living Lord could point us to the same verse, planting as it were a few breadcrumbs in our mind and leading us straightway to His good word?  How He longs to invade our thinking!  Grace, Grace, Wonderful Grace!

24Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]–

25To the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity). Amen (so be it).

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Over the past several months the Lord has been showing me just how little I actually trust Him.  Oh sure enough, I would say I trust Him, and at the time my words appeared quite genuine, but when crises arose and when hardship arrived, I would wilt.  I would wonder if He really was going to come through for me.  However, once I would bury my face in His Word (reminding myself of the truth) and pray, I would eventually find relief.  I prayed earnestly for comfort and answers and release from the situation and especially, the troublesome worry.

But is that the journey of faith the Lord has called me to?  That’s a cycle of fret, not faith.  And dear one, I am not alone in this, am I?  So many are struggling with this same approach to trust in God.  Just look at the titles of Christian books today.  Christianity has become about us, and not so subtly, less about the Holiness of God.

Through a combination of tough situations, the life stories and messages from radical saints who lived long ago and most importantly, God’s good Word, the Lord is changing the way I view Him.  He’s changing my orientation.  I’m definitely still in the clarifying process, but I cannot begin to describe the change in my thinking.  What release from the bondage of seeing God as a utilitarian prescription to fix what ails me!  God does not exist to serve us, we exist to serve and worship Him!  And that simple, yet profound truth radically aligns the focus on God and the focus off of us—thus we are free to worship God in Spirit and in truth!

Utilitarianism is the belief that the value of a thing (in this case, God) or an action is determined by its utility (the quality or condition of being useful; usefulness).  In this order of things, the value of God is determined by how useful He is to us or how adequately He provides for us or meets our needs or answers our prayers.  Is God useful to us?  This is God as a cosmic gumball machine.  Insert prayer, get answer.  And if we don’t like the flavor of His answer, then what is the result?  Disappointment with God and greater distrust in His character.

This orientation began to slip into my thinking—which is not difficult to do in our postmodern culture.  In my mind, I held God in an orbit around me, around my desires and needs.  I prayed “He” would come through “for” me.  Such is the orientation that places God around man.  That’s like saying the sun orbits around earth.  That’s simply not true.  Nor is it true that God is here to serve us.  Banish the thought!  O yes, He deeply loves His children and takes care of them, but not because He is obligated as a servant to do so.  God does so out of His perfect love as our Father—because He is unwaveringly consistent with His glorious nature.  And that’s just skimming the surface of Who He is.

As our Father, we can trust Him in every situation and circumstance that tests our faith, just as it says in 1 Peter…

6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9 (New International Version)

Are you out of work?  Do you only have $3.33 left in your checking account with bills remaining?  Are you in circumstances that test you beyond your capabilities?  Rejoice!  Again I say Rejoice!  “These have come so that your faith…” Do you see?  The real answer is not a job, as wonderful as that might be, but the real answer is your faith is being testing which will “result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  And the real answer is that God is in it for His glory!

So in any trial, or hardship, no matter how intense or painful, we can trust God!  Because He is completely trustworthy, we can trust Him.  We can look life in the face and say, “Yet, I will trust in God!”

I wonder what would happen in America if God’s people would trust Him with all their heart, all their  mind and all their strength?  What would happen in the Church if we would forsake Unitarianism and humanism and turn again to trust God with all the trust He is worthy of?  May it be so in my life, today and as long as I have breath.

O that we might know the great joy our trust gives our Papa, the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!  ALL glory to GOD!

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