April 29, 2016
Someone sent me this link yesterday of the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting” and truly, the words and tune are peace-giving as they help us turn our eyes to our Savior:
She also sent me a devotional message about the hymn at this link:
I’ve quoted several times this week Jesus’ words in John 14:27 where He tells us that He gives us His own peace, and that it is not like the peace the world gives, which, we know, is fleeting or even false and deceptive. Jesus then tells us in this verse to allow our hearts to be neither troubled nor afraid. Our Lord is letting us know that to abide in Him is rest for our souls. And as He says elsewhere, fellowship with Him is where we drop our burdens, exchanging them for His good and rest-filled plan for our lives. (See Mt. 11:28-30)
Many people seem to be living with fear and anxiety, and almost everyone probably feels troubled in some way. Jesus tells us not to be so, but to instead receive the peace and rest He gives. As we take Him –He who rules over the wind and waves, and He who is the One who is “called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6), we do truly abide in Rest.
As we read the words of this lovely hymn again, let us allow Christ’s Spirit to fill us up with His rest and peace, and continue there in faith.
April 21, 2016
Jesus tells us, “If you want to enter Life, obey the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) These commandments are God’s Moral Law –those laws that are the rules by which to treat one another. As Rom. 13:9 informs us, whatever commands there are, such as those prohibiting adultery, murder, theft, and covetousness, –they are all summed up in one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is, therefore, the fulfillment of God’s Law (v. 10), and those who live out love, have, themselves, fulfilled the Law. (v. 8 )
Gal. 5:13, as well, reminds us to serve one another in love, and verse 14 confirms, “The entire Law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” In James 2:8 where this command is repeated, it calls it “the Royal Law found in Scripture.”
This Law is the Law which God has written on the hearts and consciences of all mankind. (Rom. 2:15) It is the Truth of God which, if people live by it, will cause them to come to the Light (John 3:21) –who is Jesus (8:12, 12:46)– and put their faith in Him (12:36) so that they “may become sons of light.” (Same verse) By putting “aside the deeds of darkness” (Rom. 13:12) –all those behaviors that contradict Love– and doing so by the Spirit (8:13), we clothe ourselves with Christ (13:14) who is “the armor of Light” (v. 12) and are thus able to fully live out “the righteous requirements of the Law” (8:4) which beforehand was impossible. (v. 3) This is the freedom for which Christ has set us free! (7:23-25 // Gal. 5:1)
Indeed, God’s good and perfect Law, having been weakened in us because of our strengthening sinful nature, actually became powerless in its effect for us. (Rom. 8:3) Nevertheless, because of Christ’s atonement, sin in sinful man was condemned (same verse) so that those who live by the Spirit are freed from its power! (v. 4) Consequently, the sinful nature’s desires need no longer be fed (Gal. 5:16) for “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (v. 24) Yes, by dying to the old self, sin itself is died to, crucified, and rendered powerless (Rom. 6:6,7 // Col. 3:3) because the sinful nature is completely circumcised off in born anew believers, done so by Christ Himself. (Col. 2:11) This is the Great News! Jesus came to earth “to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8) and “take away our sins” (v. 5) if we, by faith, unite ourselves with Him who is void of all sin! (Same verse // 1 Cor. 6:17 // 2 Cor. 5:17)
What happens when people do not understand “the righteousness that comes from God”? (Rom. 10:3) What happens is that they seek “to establish their own.” (Same verse) The Law written on their consciences becomes foggy or even severed (Eph. 4:18,19 // 1 Tim. 4:2), and they thus deviate further and further from submitting to God’s righteousness. (Rom. 10:3) This fate includes those who think they are “zealous for God” and His Truth even while their zeal is actually stemming from error. (v. 2)
But, for those led by the Spirit, we are not under the supervision of the Law or under the righteousness it demands. (Gal. 3:21-25, 5:18) For God’s Law, itself holy and good (Rom. 7:12), produces Death rather than the Life it is intended to bring (v. 10), for Sin uses it against the sinner. (v. 11) Thus, under Law, we are not ever able to actually attain to God’s righteous requirements. However! By being one with Christ and walking in the power of His Spirit, we come to “know the righteousness that comes from God” (10:3) and thereby live by the Truth (John 3:21, 8:31), know the Truth that sets us free (8:32), fulfill the Royal Law of Love, and abide in Life Everlasting.
It all boils down to fulfilling that one rule within which all God’s Law is summed up. And to being able to do so because of the Spirit of Christ within us –who is leading us and empowering us– and this, because we understood the Message concerning the righteousness that comes from God, which is through our Savior, Jesus Christ.
April 12, 2016
The Lord does so many things to let us know He is thinking about us, caring for us, assuring us that He is right there with us. Yes, many things. It may be a kind word from a loved one, an encouragement from someone we encouraged, a warm smile from a stranger, or an extra-special brilliance from something in His incredible creation.
But what about His Word? Does God’s voice and attention not come through to us with special potency when we read His Word? And what about when He confirms the same exact words the same day?
This last Saturday I got up very early so I could head out to the country town where my husband and I had lived for 14 years. A friend’s son, having been sickly for most of his 36 years, had, sadly, died, and I was going to the funeral. However, since I make it a point to spend time with the Lord in His Word before I eat breakfast, do chores, or go anywhere, I opened my Bible and read a few psalms. I came across Ps. 121:7,8 and I was comforted in doing so since these verses are excellent in dispelling fear while traveling. In fact, they are so consoling, that I memorized them several years ago and quote them frequently whenever I feel any uneasiness concerning safety for myself or another.
But, besides these two verses, I felt the Lord prod me to meditate on the whole chapter (the other six verses, as well). They are all about the Lord being our help and care-taker; and being that it’d been almost a year ago to the day that an unlicensed 20 year old girl had rear-ended me (from which I suffered a severe concussion and have had to be on preventative seizure medicine since), I was thankful for the Lord’s special assurance through this chapter.
Well, I had a lovely drive out there, saw a few friends briefly, and then went to the funeral. It was a very nice service, but when someone got up and read Ps. 121, and all its eight verses, I got tears in my eyes and shook my head in wonder at God’s sweetness to me. I certainly had not known anything about the content of the funeral I’d be attending when I’d read the chapter several hours earlier. But God knew; and He wanted me to remember that He always has His mind on me. –Just as He has His mind on everyone, particularly those who seek His help. Yet how often do people miss those assurances He gives? We miss them if we’re not listening, and if we don’t follow His lead. His lead is good. He walks a peace-filled path. Even if there is pain, or sorrow, or uncertainty, with Christ being the Shepherd, deep inner peace is still ours. Because we have His fellowship. Fellowship with the God of the universe, the Almighty, our Rock and our Comforter.
It may seem a small thing to some –hearing God’s voice of assurance through the Ps. 121 confirmation on Saturday. But it wasn’t to me. And it never is. It is always amazing, always special, always a wonderment and joy to me when God speaks, and when He speaks directly to me through His Spirit. –His Spirit who speaks through Creation and circumstances, and definitely when confirming His Word.
The Lord is truly a kind and caring God. And, to those who seek His voice and listen, a very tender God.
April 5, 2016
I had a great day witnessing downtown yesterday –tons of great conversations. One that was annoying, though –the guy (Warren) kept testing me and then saying I didn’t score well because I didn’t answer exactly the way he wanted. Weird. Another guy came along (Rex, who reads the Bible aloud on the street) and said that yeah, that guy is confrontational, and so I said that this was negative and I kept trying to get away from him but not leave him offended.
Finally Rex suggested we cross the street and we said bye to Warren who looked a bit dejected, and then I encouraged Rex for about 15 minutes. During that time a guy named Tim came and hugged me and I was very excited to see him as my husband and I had taken him to McDonalds over ten years ago when he asked for a handout. I hadn’t seen him for about nine years! After he left, Rex said that that guy (Tim) had asked him for a handout recently of money and he’d given it, but Tim didn’t act like he recognized Rex. So Rex, a bit put out that Tim didn’t recognize him and thank him, said Tim must be a moocher. I agreed, but told Rex to next time offer food, not money. (By the way, when I witness down there, I bring no money with me so that I can say I have no money with me.)
While Rex and I were still talking, a man and woman (who said their names were Trevor and Barb) came up to me and said that they’d seen me from the train and gotten off specifically to come and ask me for prayer. So I hugged the woman and the four of us prayed, holding hands. They seemed very grateful, and then left. Please say a prayer for them –for wisdom, guidance, protection, provision, peace, etc. from the Lord. Thank you! Anyway, I’m writing this quickly, but it is to give you an idea of why I use signs. It brings the needful ones TO me. It is truly a wonderful way to proclaim Christ and God’s Word and draw those who DO want to hear or have prayer. They see and come over to me. Excellent!
Well, then I told Rex I better get to my car as my meter was likely about run out and the street clock said 2:00 but hadn’t moved, so I got worried. I’d asked a cop and another person if that was the right time and they said yes. I said that I was sure it’d said 2:00 about ten minutes earlier, and they said without looking at any watch, “The clock is right. It is 2:00.” And they gave me a look like I was nuts. So I said I must’ve looked at it wrong and went on letting Warren talk (this was when I was talking with him, or rather letting him annoyingly quiz me in Scripture). So anyway, when I said goodbye to Rex, I felt I better really hurry to my car. Thankfully, the crosswalks were all “Walk” when I got to them and when I saw my car, a parking patrol was walking toward it! Thank the Lord she was walking slowly!!! I ran and got to the meter before she did and I said, “Whew! Just in time!” It was on zero, but I didn’t know how long it’d been on that and I told her about the street clock and that a cop had even told me that the clock was right when it wasn’t! She said okay and kept walking without giving me a parking ticket. Thank the Lord!
There was one guy I met earlier, at the lunch hour, when I had gone up to the restaurant area, and he (Paul) was so great to talk with. I almost passed him by and am so glad I turned back. He had a slight (very slight) speech impediment and seemed very humble. I said a few things and asked him something like, “What are your spiritual beliefs?” (This is always a great evangelism question because most people like to talk about what they believe more than listen to another’s beliefs.) He told me and it was actually fascinating. He explained how Satan, though already judged and condemned, has been given the time span of human history to try to prove that God is a liar and unloving, etc. Paul talked about how Satan wants the Jews annihilated so that God cannot fulfill his two covenants –to Abraham about land, and to David about the throne– and so keeps inciting evil people to wipe them off the earth. I totally agree with this and so kept listening. Paul articulated his “sermon” to me very well and I told him so. I was very edified as what I believe was explained so well and in such detail. I spent at least 30 minutes listening to Paul. What a huge blessing, and I believe this blessing was one of the main reasons for me to decide, spur of the moment, to go downtown yesterday. God is so good and gracious to be encouraging to us!!! Especially in response to the prayers of His people for each other!!!
Well, thank you again for your prayers for me. I appreciate it so much!!! Thank you, too, for sending my latest post link to that pastor you mentioned. May he be edified by it as it confirms what he preached.
(This got so detailed I may as well use the part about my time witnessing downtown yesterday as a post, though I’ll change the people’s names for privacy.)
April 2, 2016
Jesus says, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34)
Yes, every single person who sins is a slave.
But Jesus came to free us from sin so that we can walk in righteousness instead. (Rom. 6:15-23 // 1 John 3:4-6)
How are we set free?
Jesus says it is by knowing the Truth, for it is the Truth that sets us free. (John 8:32)
Jesus, of course, is the Truth. (John 14:6) So we must know Him. But to know Him, we must hold to His teaching. (8:31)
The Word of God is also the Truth. (John 17:17) We must know it too, and obey it, in order to be in (abide in and progress in) sanctification. (Same verse // 1 Pe. 1:22)
The Holy Spirit, who is the Truth as well, will be the One to convict us and guide us as we walk this Path. (John 16:8,13)
Consequently, we will not be led astray by those who say it is okay for Christians to sin because they have their “guaranteed, non-reversible ticket” of salvation. Rather, we know this: “The person who does what is right is righteous, just as He [Christ] is righteous. The person who does what is sinful is of the devil.” (1 John 3:7,8a)
But, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8c)
Jesus came and destroyed the devil’s work. Everyone who believes can unite with Christ and walk in this deliverance from the devil.
That is, everyone who believes to the point of following Jesus, obeying Jesus, and holding to His teaching consistently. This is what being one with Christ means.
Such a person is set free.
Such a person is the one who is granted a permanent place in God’s family. (John 8:35)
March 25, 2016
At the downtown bus and train stops today my 81 year old mom passed out the Easter treat bags she had worked on so lovingly all month. As usual, most everyone showed happy appreciation and many told her how wonderful they considered it to be that she was doing such a ministry. She exhorted those she conversed with and told me that she had asked many people if they knew what day it was today and why people were celebrating this Sunday. She said that some seemed unsure but that most knew today was Good Friday and that it was the day set aside to remember Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for mankind’s sins, and that this Sunday was the day to celebrate His resurrection from the dead. This is the great thing about living in the Bible Belt –people do know about the Gospel; so our main task has been to exhort them to learn more about it and to obey it.
I wore my signs, as I always do, and handed out homemade tracts (one paragraph messages I write, different ever time), also exhorting and encouraging people, sometimes praying with them. So many have heart-breaking stories to tell me, but others, smiling and giving God the glory, recount ways the Lord has come through for them in times of desperate need. One man I approached today smiled right away and said that he definitely did need to begin reading the Word. He said he had just gotten out of being “locked up for 18 months” but that he was seriously blessed by what I was doing. Certainly it is easy to minister when people are encouraging and grateful.
Another thing that makes my ministry easy is like what happened after I’d crossed the street to go to a further bus stop, and it was something that is actually not a rare occurrence in my experience. As I approached that bench to hand out my tracts, a man sitting there smiled and said something to the effect that he thought it was wonderful what I was doing. (Everyone can see what I’m doing as I’m fully advertising it by wearing signs and holding up my Bible. My mom is plenty conspicuous too, as she has see-through bags full of beautiful treat bags tied in ribbon that she’s handing out to people whose faces brighten as she does so.) So, as this man took my tract he began to speak of the Lord’s goodness and to mention some of his favorite verses. A lady next to him kept saying, “Amen!” and also gave her input about the importance of following the Lord. The man, very excited, then continued so that he was soon preaching a wonderful sermon of Truth to all who were near enough to hear. Now how easy and great is that?! Just make a bold statement about following Jesus and others may join in so that all the evangelist has to do is let others do the preaching and debating and exhorting and edifying of one another! It definitely is an exciting blessing!
But, if ever I feel discouraged, thinking that people aren’t making changes due to my exhortations (from my blog, on the streets, or anywhere else), I remember Jesus’ words in John 4:35 when He says, “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” It’s so true. Many are ripe to listen, to learn, to discuss, to believe, to accept, and to repent. Many indicate that it is so, and we have to believe them and trust God to work in them as He has worked in us. “One sows and another reaps”, Jesus says (v. 37), and with some people we may sow, while with others who are ripe, we may reap. But we all should be doing our part with everyone we encounter. The sowing is harder than the reaping (v. 38), but both sower and reaper should be glad together when the crop is being harvested unto eternal life. (v. 36)
Often it is easier than we think it will be –if we will just step out and do whatever it is God is prodding us to do. And undoubtably it will be much more enjoyable and exciting than we could have imagined.
March 20, 2016
Being that it is the first day of Spring today, it is just another occasion to appreciate and enjoy God’s handiwork. May we be doing so and thanking Him for the wonders.
Below are some photos I took this month of the beauty.
A tree in a nearby park
Irises near my parents’ house
Another kind of iris
The wishing well picture I colored from the calendar coloring book my sister gave me this month. It is by Johanna Basford and called “Secret Garden”.