Saturday, December 31, 2016

LOVE ONE ANOTHER

"When a child loves you, they ADORE spending time with you, NOT just so you can feed them, but as you take time to connect with them, making goofy faces, smiling, laughing with them, they want more of you, they feel TRUE LOVE for you. A child does not know the difference between LIKE and LOVE.  Love is all they know, it is given freely. Childlike faith is to love and trust freely without conditions, without proofs. God is love. Within a pure heart, there are seven million reasons to rejoice, and be glad.  "Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance....Jesus will say to His sheep "For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat....I was a stranger and you invited Me in....I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me." Matthew 25:34-36 NIV ---- The inspired living Word of God says "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God." 1 John 3:1 --- Sinners and saints, God loves us all.  A great example of this truth
is when God blinded the apostle Paul for three days as he traveled the road to kill more believers. This story is told so that we would be encouraged about the desire of God to use those who have sinned, have murdered, who have believed in previous false teachings. Paul's sight was restored and he openly professed that his head knowledge of scripture did not save him, or transform him, but it was God's unmerited love and grace that changed his heart of stone, and gave him spiritual discernment that he would love his brother, not kill, destroy, accuse or condemn.  "Whoever loves his brother lives in the Light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble." 1 John 1:10 --- We who have accepted Jesus know the truth "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.  I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth....As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you."  1 John 2:20-27.  With the indwelt Holy Spirit, we do not lack any spiritual gift, as our internal holy Teacher will not lead us astray. The Holy Spirit will give us discernment as we come to know our brother. We inquire of a brother's needs, and we trust that we are equipped to pray effectively for the purpose of loving him back to grace. AMEN 
"For our LIGHT and momentary troubles are ACHIEVING for us an ETERNAL GLORY that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes NOT on what is seen, but on what is UNSEEN.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." Bless the Lord O my soul, for we are renewed day by day! The Holy Spirit illuminates our minds, educates our souls, and instructs our hearts which way to go!  As frail humans, we fall short regularly, so we wisely place our trust in God's grace and forgiveness! The Word of God is consistent and the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, will never depart from us .  Seasons change, our life circumstances will change, but JESUS never changes.  LORD HELP us to love and forgive all others as YOU LOVE and forgive all those who cry out!  Even when our ears perceive a rejection, even when people act with the intention to harm us, help us Lord to hold on to the truth, that only LOVE will change the hearts of man. Holy Spirit help us to respond with grace, to quickly confess our goof ups, and to accept the unfailing forgiveness of God Almighty. Ruth Graham said "Those who have
affected my life the most deeply for good have seldom, if ever, been aware of the fact.  On the other hand, people who think themselves a blessing seldom have been" Our Lord will separate His sheep from the goats. The proud goats did not befriend strangers, they did not feed the hungry, they did not look after the sick, but they boasted of their good works and so God cursed them into the eternal fire. LORD HUMBLE US so that we may think more of our neighbors than of ourselves. Let us give without expecting an earthly reward of praise. Live out His Word "Do NOT be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.  Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a
murderer, and you know that a murderer has no eternal life in him.  Anyone who has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" 1 John 3:11 --- Help us Lord to NOT criticize the weakness of others, or say that we do not sin or fail in similar ways. TRUTH IS: "Nothing good lives in me apart from the love of God" God loves our pure hearts, not our appearance, not our good works. "All sin and fall short" This must be our confession and also our assurance of His ongoing love and saving grace. When we admit our weakness, when we tell our story, when we share our daily NEED to be renewed and forgiven, we attract others who also miss the mark of perfection, and His finished work is glorified. To never gossip, stretch the truth, speak ill of someone, envy, or covet what others have is IMPOSSIBLE for all humanity, including Christians. Our loving Father issues us mercy, grace, and comforting encouragement through His Word and through others. "Lord Jesus, examine my heart, help me to confess my shortcomings so that I may be a blessing to all those You have placed in my life."   AMEN
We are to PRAISE God in all things because He is there, He is listening, and He takes pleasure in us.  "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; (Jesus was a carpenters son) not many were of noble birth. (Jesus was born in a barn).  BUT God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." "I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power.  We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but NOT the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for IF they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." We are weak, but He who is in us is strong! How easy it is for us to become attached to a spiritual leader. When someone has helped us, our human frailty tends to make us feel loyal and dependent on that
person's opinion.  Paul warns us to AVOID taking pride in our association, in our professions of faith in a man, or in any leader. Stubborn loyalty to a man made idea, religion, opinion or doctrine leads to divisions in God's church. We are His hands and feet, all unique, all called to serve God, to bring God glory, not man.  We are wise to contemplate how we came to believe; and to Whom we believe in. Do we trust the evening news, Wall Street, the weather man, or in God?  If our mind is filtered with what we have experienced, with what we have memorized, then are we NOT listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying ~ but we are perhaps relying on imperfect, incomplete knowledge obtained from man. Any loyalty to a religion, an idea, or on a commentary ...subjects us to be deceived by the Liar who manipulates God's word to cause division and confusion.  The Deceiver rejoices when he effectively closes our minds to the Holy Spirits interpretation of scripture. Man is still inspired by the Holy Spirit and there are hundreds of scholars who interpret the Greek and Hebrew meanings, however, all commentaries are based on a plethera of opposing doctrines. "Finally my children, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might"  WARNING:  "Some of you have become arrogant.  For the kingdom of God is NOT a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?"  Jesus came, He spoke to the woman at the well.......Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would
have given you living water.”  “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  "I tell you the truth, Jesus answered, before Abraham was born I am."   “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.  Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.  I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” John 4:34 ~  "For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man. “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in
their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. "By Myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is just, for I seek not to please Myself but Him who sent Me." JN 5:30 ~7:38 Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow within him. By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive."  "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.  "O Lord my God, many are the wonders You have done. The things You planned for us no one can recount to You."  COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!
Jesus may wince at our ingraditude, but His grace covers the content of our unseen hearts and our unvoiced grumblings. God loves the contrite heart, the one that is unashamed to cry out in need of for mercy, grace and understanding... daily.  Jesus in the Person of the Holy Spirit is our constant companion, regardless of the human company we keep. He knows our intentions, our secrets, and the entire contents of our heart.  He cherishes our total dependence on Him. SCRIPTURES quoted... 1 Cor 1:7-9;  1 Cor 4:16-18; 1 Cor 1:26-27; 1 Cor 2:3-9;  1 Cor 2:10-15; Romans 7:34; 1 Cor 3:16; Psalm 89:15; Ephesians 6:10; 1 Cor 4:18-21; 1 Cor 6:1-5; Psalm 40:1-5 "Consider it pure JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." James 1:2 "And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Corin 12:9 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Hidden Christmas

Timothy Keller says many things about Christmas and the Gospel in his book. The Truth about Christmas as revealed in this book:
• Accept true gift, admit you’re a sinner. Be saved by grace.
• It is not simply about a birth but about a becoming.
• It shows us that Christianity is not good advice. It is good news.
• It means that God is working out His purposes. Promises fulfilled.
• It tells reveals the truth. God is in control of history.
• It means that for those who believe in Christ, hope is in Him.
• It is the incarnation of God as the human boy/man Jesus.
• The Son of God enjoyed being in his Father's house.
• The King has come into the world. Jesus comes as King twice. 
• Race, pedigree, education, wealth, do not ultimately matter.
• It means reconciliation and peace with God by grace happen daily.
• It is the increase of peace, both with God and between people.
• If you live like Jesus, there won’t be room for you in a lot of inns.
• Christmas means that salvation is by grace.
• Christmas means you can have fellowship with God.
• God continues to wait for you to know Him personally. 
• The incarnation, Christmas, means that God is not content to be a concept or just someone you know from a distance. The joy that Christmas brings, is the assurance that God’s love and care will always reinvigorate you no matter the circumstances of your life.