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The Comfortable Neglect Of ISIS

imageWhen I think about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant- the group known as ISIS/ISIL- my blood boils thinking of these cowardly men and their horrifically evil deeds. This offshoot of Al-Qaeda makes continual headlines for their abhorrent crimes against humanity. They publicize themselves in such acts as slow-cutting people’s heads off, stoning women to death and setting men on fire. They gratuitously torture and amputate people in public, enslave, rape and kill women and children, even decapitate babies. They crucify children, bury them alive, make them sex slaves and suicide bombers. The children indoctrinated as future jihadists are herded into groups, forced to watch mass executions and desensitized to unspeakable violence. The goal? To serve the Muslim “god, Allah,” follow the Qur’an which instructs torture and execution of Christians, Jews and the Muslim infidel, and to establish an authoritative Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, for starters. Further, to infiltrate, terrorize and subdue as many imagenon-Islamic regions as possible, erect the flag of Islam in the White House, and finally to successfully claim worldwide domination. Contrary to our own President Barack Obama’s deceptively cavalier reference to ISIS as a “junior varsity” team, the Islamic State is extremely well-financed and highly organized, drawing fighters from many nations, including the United States, effectively using modern communications and media to raise funds and recruit for their malevolent global mission. They make Al-Qaeda look like a pack of misfits.image

I do believe we should be doing all we can militarily as the most powerful nation on earth to stop ISIS from furthering their evil agenda. The Obama Administration is not doing nearly what it could be, sending lip service and ineffective drones without the ground troops required for defeat. Obama’s public response to ISIS’ recent taped burning alive of 26-year-old Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh was to warn US- U.S. Citizens- not to “get on our high horses” and think we haven’t committed horrific crimes as well in the Name of Jesus Christ, citing The Crusades as an example. Anyone who knows U.S. history is immediately shocked by this statement, knowing how inappropriate and erroneous is such a comparison, especially in light of the horrific human atrocity that had just occurred. Our President has also made the U.S. more vulnerable by imageopening our borders to the terrorists, giving them footing among our people. You notice increasing numbers of mosques, Arabic businesses and Muslims populating our communities. No, not all Muslims are terrorists, but effectively all organized terrorist groups are Muslim, and ashamedly 10% of Muslims are said to SUPPORT terrorism. That seemingly small percentage equates to roughly 57 MILLION Muslims- a hearty resource pool for ISIS.

imageAll of this said, and admittedly with anger in my heart, I ask my Lord Jesus how I should really be looking at this. Help me to see with Your eyes, Lord! What is the condition of my own heart? I know the deeds of ISIS are evil and deplorable: When I see and read what they have done, I’d honestly like the very same done to them. I’d like them annihilated! Then I realize, I would have to be perfect to execute such judgement- only God can do that, and He can use governments to do so. As for me personally, I am reminded by God that I am just as much in need of a SAVIOR as the murderous men of ISIS. Was there a glimmer of unwitting truth about the condition of the human heart in Obama’s offensive public reply? Without the Grace of Christ, my destiny is the very same as ISIS’: Eternal Hell where “their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.” [Mark 9:44]  Indeed, they may set Christians on fire, but those Christians are entering the Joy-filled arms of Jesus for ETERNITY!, whereas they without Christ will enter torturous Hellfire ETERNALLY! So what do I do about this issue? Well, barring strapping on a uniform and joining the U.S. Forces, I believe I- as a Christian- am called to do what some may find unthinkable- TO PRAY FOR THE MEN OF ISIS.

imageMaybe some of you have already been doing this- Wow. Wonderful. Others may feel like me- resisting my Father’s tug to follow Him where I don’t feel like going. Most of us have probably had no problem praying for ISIS victims and families, for Christians in Islamic regions, and for coalition soldiers fighting this evil. But how many of us have intentionally prayed for those actively carrying out evil amongst the most innocent of lives? imageHow many have lifted ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who now has a $10 million bounty on his head, in prayer? What might happen if we followed Jesus’ example and pled to the Father on their behalf? Have you ever prayed for a lost soul to come to know the True Jesus? Ever SEEN a lost soul come to know Him? Do you doubt that the Holy Spirit can open eyes to the true condition of their hearts and minds- to the lies of Islam? Or that some might turn from their evil ways by God’s Power and submit their lives to Christ Who makes all things new? [Rev. 21:5]. “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” [Matt 19:26] Perhaps the minds and behaviors of ISIS cannot be changed by mere men, or nations of men, or even by weapons of warfare. But there IS SOMEONE Who can change the heart where evil and madness reside [Eccl 9:3]. Are you aware that many former Muslim Christians give the same testimony: that they left Islam at the risk of their own lives when Jesus appeared to them in their dreams? And let us not forget that the apostle Paul was Saul the Pharisee who captured, tortured and killed Christians until Jesus appeared to him one day and his life was forever changed.

imageSo, help us Lord to PRAY! Help us to remember Your Words as You gasped for Your last breaths upon the cross- “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they are doing.” [Luke 23:34] And Your clear instruction to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” [Matt 5:44] Help us to remember our own spiritual state without YOU! (“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.” -Isa 64:6). Help us Lord to make ISIS part of our daily supplications and a priority in our prayer circles and TO NOT NEGLECT THEM as we trust in YOU to accomplish what is not possible with men. No man has Hope without You!

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“For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” [Matt 15:19]

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” [2 Cor 10:4]

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” [Eph 6:11-13]

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I [Paul, formerly Saul] am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” [1 Tim 1:15-17]

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” [2 Pet 3:9]
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AUTHOR REQUEST: Please LIKE, REBLOG or COMMENT at bottom of post…I would love to hear your personal response and/or questions! If you feel someone else could benefit from a post or from this blog, please SHARE with others in your social media circles- this blog is intended to bless and encourage as many as possible! Thank you and God bless you!!

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Becoming Less

imageMay I propose to you that it is only in understanding and employing this concept- becoming less– that we ever truly meet with God and His Will for our lives? In fact, it is only through the humbling of one’s self that a true surrender to God is possible in the first place. I and God cannot both be seated on the Single Throne of my life. I must surrender my will to His- only then will He take up residence in my heart and mind, and begin directing me in the Way I should go.

Make no mistake- we are glorious creatures, fearfully and wonderfully made by the hand of God (Psalm 139:14). Made in His Magnificent Image (Gen 1:27), we are fully equipped to do the good works He prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10), and we do marvelous things as we strive for excellence (Col 3:23)! – And herein lies the danger. – In beholding our amazing selves, abilities, potential, progress, accomplishments, we are continually presented with the most titillating temptation- to acknowledge Self instead of God. This is especially challenging for those of us trying to “make a name for ourselves,” perhaps most challenging for those who have already succeeded in doing so.  Though I have not personally been conspicuous about this desire, I must confess there have been many times in my life that I was on some level working hard to make a name for myself- desiring that people see me a certain way and think well of me. I still struggle with this. You may say, well what’s wrong with that?…God says to win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man, just as Jesus did–

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” – Prov 3:3-4

But if you read these verses carefully, you will see that favor and a good name have nothing to do with Self-glorification; rather, they are the direct result of a heart of love and faithfulness to the Living God- they are designed for GOD-glorification. Lest we think our good works are meant to glorify anyone but God Himself, Peter makes it clear in his words to the Christians in Asia Minor —

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” – 1 Pet 2:12

Glorify GOD on the day he visits us.  As we mature in our walk with God, in fact our lives will reflect less Self and more Christ, our glorification turning from inward outward.  Imprint this perfect illustration in your mind.–

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Certainly this is the antithesis of what today’s society teaches us with its daily injections of “Becoming More,” and weaning off all dosages of Christ.  Most people find it convenient to fill society’s popular prescription of Me, Myself and I-There is no other.  Yet, God says this–

“I am The Lord [YHWH], and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” – Isa 45:5 

imageYes, we do set ourselves up as gods when we focus on our Selves alone- and as the light begins to turn on to us in all our glory, we glance downward to find that we have managed to position ourselves on the Throne where God Alone belongs. And we may wonder, how on earth did that happen?? Answer: The titillating temptation to glorify Self instead of the God Who made us.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was a perfect example of this. God had given him dominion, power and glory and placed mankind and all beasts and birds under his rule. King Nebuchadnezzar was “king of kings” on earth- he had everything a man could possibly want and more. But even when the he began having troubling dreams and Daniel’s interpretation revealed God’s grave prophetic warning about consequences of his pride, the King continued to glorify him Self, seeking more, even erecting an image of gold that all should bow down to or be thrown into a blazing furnace.  Yet even after witnessing God’s Hand rescue Daniel’s friends from the blazing fire the King threw them into, and then actually praising God as the “only One who could save,” the King continued to refer to Daniel as Belteshazzar (the name of Nebuchadnezzar’s “god”) and spoke of Daniel as having the “spirit of the holy gods” (yes, plural!). Finally, God gave the King a dream about a tree, which Daniel interpreted for him, warning the King that he would be driven from his people and assume the mind and habits of a wild animal unless he acknowledged that God Alone was the Most High Sovereign over all. imageDaniel advised the King to humble himself, yet even 12 months later the King instead stood on the roof of his Royal Palace in the city of incomparable indulgence and uttered these words-

“Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Dan 4:30)

I built! MY power! MY majesty! Wow!! The power and deception of pride! While these words were still on the King’s lips, God humbled him exactly as He described. Yet even after all of this, in His Great Mercy, God restored the King- receiving the praise and glory from him that belonged to God all along. Here are the final words documented from the lips of King Nebuchadnezzar:

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Dan 4:37)

The King had learned that firsthand!

Yes, everything we are and have is from God’s Hand, as apostle James asserted.—

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – Jam 1:16-17

Jesus put it this way–

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:4-5 image

Apart from me you can do nothing. Apart from me there is no God. I AM and there is no other! Jesus’s beloved apostle John understood this. He knew that though he, John, came before Jesus to baptize many with water- the Lamb of God would come after, in all of God’s glory, to baptize with the Holy Spirit. John likened himself to friend of the Bridegroom, not desiring to take the light off the Groom and on to himself, but full of joy at the Bridegroom’s arrival!–

“After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. (This was before John was put in prison.) An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.

To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” – John 3:22-30 image

How this story would have been different if John had  allowed the hoards of people flocking him for baptism to move his eyes off God and on to him Self.  If he began thinking about his own name instead of God’s, accepting praise and honor on to him Self for what he was doing.  What if John had allowed the argument about Jesus being seen baptizing with people flocking to Him to inspire envy or jealousy in himself?  Would Jesus’s baptism even have taken place by John’s hands if- while in the water- John discovered that he had positioned him Self on the Throne of God Almighty?

Thankfully, the beloved apostle John knew- and announced for the generations to come- that Jesus must become greater and we must become less!  If he hadn’t, then just as Satan took full advantage of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride, you can be sure he would have had a field day with John- as he has done every person created from the beginning of time who has allowed Pride to substitute Praise.  Even in the Garden, Satan joyously turned the light from God onto Eve with the titillating temptation of Self-glorification. Moving from a posture of thankful trust and dependence on God Alone, Eve found herself desiring to “become more”- questioning God and His motives, wanting to know as much as God- inching her way onto His Throne. And we today carry on the prideful tradition. Dare I say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

But there is Hope for our prideful sin nature! There is an Antidote for the disease of Self-absorption! There is a Way Out to the temptation to believe “I am, and there is no other” — and that Hope is Jesus Christ!  Hallelujah!, we have a Merciful Father with a Redemptive Remedy!  Read carefully Paul’s words to Christians at Rome:

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Rom 7:21-25

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” – Rom 8:1-4

And Paul’s affirmation to maintain a posture of sober judgement about ones Self–

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” – Rom 12:3

Peter echoes Paul’s summons to Sobriety of Self, with a graphic visual of Satan’s desire-

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Pet 5:8

Yes, Satan desires to make a meal of us- a headstone of our pride, and with it he will take us to the grave if we do not have Jesus Christ- our Sole Hope! Though many of us are unaware, Satan knows there is an ironic twist to this “becoming less” business of God’s. He knows that once we understand the Divine nature of this concept and trust God completely to employ it in our lives- that is when we by God’s Hand truly become more- our will submits to His and we get to experience God’s unfathomable Glory!  For when we are humbled, face down before the Living God, prostrate before Him- the very “least” we could be- that is the moment God lifts us to our feet and exalts us with a Crown we could never gain on our own!—

image “You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.” – 2 Sam 22:28

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” – Matt 5:5

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” – 1 Cor 9:24-25

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Cor 12:7b-10

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” – 2 Tim 4:7-8

“’God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ [Prov 3:34] Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” – 1 Pet 5:5b-6

“I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” – Rev 2:9-10 image

Dear Friends, If you find yourself flirting with thoughts of Self, impressed by what “you’ve” done or have, desiring MORE attention and things- STOP and Pray! You are on dangerous ground.  The same ground that breeds quarrels, judging, even pity parties- this is the acreage of Pride owned and operated by Satan, designed to help you inch your way on to God’s Throne.  The Throne is God’s and His Alone! He has made a Name for Himself, and there is NO OTHER NAME on earth or in heaven to which men must bow!–

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Phil 2:9-11

Jesus Christ Alone is worthy of all praise and adoration! Humble yourself before Almighty God, and He will lift you up in due time! Fight the temptation of Pride and Self- Glorification- God has given you a Way out! Trust in Him- Flee from idolatry of Self!-

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” – 1 Cor 10:12-14

Pursue the Wisdom of BECOMING LESS, that Christ would BECOME MORE in you!!! For the Praise of His Glory, Nancy

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AUTHOR REQUEST: Please LIKE, REBLOG or COMMENT at bottom of post…I would love to hear your personal response and/or questions! If you feel someone else could benefit from a post or from this blog, please SHARE with others in your social media circles- this blog is intended to bless and encourage as many as possible! Thank you and God bless you!!

Platform of Praise

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Six months ago today, a friend’s beautiful young daughter and husband lost their precious newborn son, a micro-preemie baby who captured the attention of so many in his brief appearance on earth. He was “Baby Sawyer.”  The tiny little soldier fought so hard for 30 days, when his energy finally ran out and he said goodbye to his family, friends, and countless strangers who had fallen in prayerful love with him.

I wonder how many of us would be praising God through such a journey.  Sawyer’s mom and dad did, from the day he was born at just under 6 months to the day he said goodbye, one month later, to the present day.  Hannah and Chris’s faithful updates were laced with praise to God throughout the unimaginably long days of turbulent uncertainty.  Amidst the darkest of doctors’ reports, the Light of their faith and praise shined through as they continually gave thanks and honor to God for every moment of their child’s precious life.  Hannah and Chris REFUSED TO MOVE from the Platform of Praise.

Why?  Why in some of the darkest hours of their lives would they choose to praise God?… Why are they still standing tall on the Platform of Praise?  Would anyone blame them for stepping down? After all, don’t we usually reserve our praises for what we see as “good things” that happen in our lives?  Why praise God in a raging storm?

Perhaps the answer to this question can be found in the story of a man from an ancient land called Uz.  His name is Job.

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From Job 1:20-21–
“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’”

For those who don’t know, the “At this” setting these verses in motion refers to the final of the first set of Satan’s blows to Job’s life. Job was a man rich in both faith and possessions. He was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.  His possessions were unmatched, and he was renowned in his time as the greatest man in the East.  — Job had now been given the news that his 500 oxen and 500 donkeys were all plundered.  Arguably just minutes later, he was told that a fire had burned up many of his servants and all 7,000 sheep. He then received word that his 3,000 camels and many more of his servants had been plundered.  Finally, he heard the “At this” news- his 7 sons and 3 daughters had all been killed.

Job’s response?  –He got up, tore his robe, shaved his head, fell to the ground in worship, and stepped up to the Platform of Praise.  He acknowledged the Sovereign God and said- I will praise Him in the raging storm!

Though the Bible tells us little of Job’s life before Satan got his hands on Him, I imagine that Job had developed a HABIT of PRAISE to God for everything in his life. Being known as the greatest man in the East, he easily could have stepped up to his own platform and taken credit for all that he had, which was more than any man.  How tempting it would be to say, “Yes! Glorify me! This is all by my hands!”  Instead, Job gave all credit and praise to God- acknowledging that everything he had came from God’s hand.  Job knew God.  He knew WHO He was, and that He was worthy of ALL PRAISE in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.  Though Job’s circumstances had changed drastically for the worse, he knew that HIS GOD HAD NOT CHANGED- The same God who blessed him with unimaginable prosperity was now allowing him to face unimaginable loss- that he knew not the reason was inconsequential.  This knowledge of his Always-Praiseworthy God would be critical to Job when Satan’s final set of blows came, which took everything but Job’s life.

The following picture is graphic, but may help you envision Job’s condition as Satan pulled out all the stops to force him to curse God. Even Job’s wife urged him to do it and die.

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From Job 2:7-10–
“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.  Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Hear the Wisdom and inherent Praise in Job’s final words to his wife- “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”  Even after having lost everything, and sitting in ashes scraping oozing sores from his body- Job REFUSED TO LEAVE THE PLATFORM OF PRAISE.  His trust in God’s GOOD character did not waver with his deteriorating circumstances.  Not surprisingly, this trust led him to foreshadow the Hope of God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ- here are his words:

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;

I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.

How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

In his dreadful state, Job continued to praise God.  And Job’s agony was not over with his wife’s rejection- his friends then failingly attempted to console him, one after the other.  They even wrongly attacked his upright character, pouring salt into his painful sores.  Yet Job’s trust in God remained steadfast- he replied:

“Though He [God] slay me, yet will I hope in Him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” (Job 13:15)

Unlike his friends, Job had a relationship with the Living God.*  Job KNEW he could trust God.  Therefore, when the worst happened- he was able to stand immovably tall on the Platform of Praise, and speak to his God- Yes, even question his God.  And when God spoke, Job acknowledged his Lord’s Supremacy and Righteousness- he acknowledged how little HE understood in comparison, saying:

“My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)

(Note God’s Words in Isaiah 55:9–

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your

thoughts.” )

Job’s journey is a difficult one to read- I urge you to read and study it!  I believe it is a story of PRAISE above all else.  Job is a man well-known for his patience and long-suffering, but that would not have existed had he stepped off the Platform of Praise in any of the increasing opportunities he had to do so.  And God rewarded Job for praising and trusting Him through the storm.  Because Job refused to move from the Platform in the most tempting of circumstances, the Devil’s plan was defeated.  The Bible tells us God blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first, giving him twice as much as he had before- 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 donkeys.  He also had seven sons and three daughters, and saw his children and their children to the fourth-generation.  Job left the earth an old man full of years.

Though there are so many things to be learned from the story of Job, I believe the most important observation of his life is this-  Arguably some 2,000 years before Jesus Christ came to earth, the man of Uz saw Him.  Job knew God would redeem him and be his Saving Grace. He knew he could place all of his trust and hope in Him.  He knew He was a Just and Holy God, but perhaps most importantly, Job knew God was a relational*  God to Whom he could bring all of his frustration, distress and questions without fear- God wanted a relationship with him and had already established it.  —

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” – Galatians 4:4-5

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” – 2 Tim 1:9-10

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” – 2 Cor 5:17-19

*”Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Heb 4:14-16

Yes, Job approached the Throne of Grace with confidence, where he received mercy and grace to help him in his time of need!  Privileged are WeThe Church– to have seen the manifestation of the Saving, Reconciling Work of God through the suffering, death and resurrection of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  Privileged are We to physically have God’s Word of Truth, which spells out all that Job foreshadowed through his own storm of devastation and loss.  If this ancient man from the land of Uz could refuse to leave the Platform of Praise in his darkest hour, then surely can We!

Let us remember our Brother Job when the storms of life come our way, and the very same unstoppable praise demonstrated by Baby Sawyer’s parents, which comes from having a relationship with the One True God through His Son, Jesus Christ.**  Let us remember the Perfect, Unchanging Character of our Trustworthy Heavenly Father when our circumstances move from better to worse, or we don’t understand the trials that have come our way.  Let us REFUSE TO MOVE FROM THE PLATFORM OF PRAISE in our darkest hour- for God’s Sovereignty and Infinite Love for us has NOT changed.  He sacrificed EVERYTHING for us to be with us forever!  The perfect Eternal Joy of His Kingdom awaits us!  We who have seen God in Christ, accepted His blood sacrifice as payment for our sins, and walk in His Spirit,..we will all be together again One Day on the Grand Platform of Praise in Heaven!  Job KNEW the BEST was yet to come! Hannah and Chris KNEW they would cradle Baby Sawyer in their arms again one Blessed Day– this time in radiant health and joy, and for all eternity!  We- the Body of Christ- KNOW THAT GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY and HE ALONE IS WORTHY OF ALL PRAISE- AT ALL TIMES!!!

God bless you, dear friends!

Love, Nancy

**Click on “The Question That Changed My Life Forever” for my personal testimony and more info on having a relationship with the Living God!

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Be encouraged by these Verses-

“My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
‘Where is your God?’
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.” – Psa 42:10-11

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” – Psa 145:3

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.” – Habakkuk 3:17-18

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Rom 5:1-5

“Now if we are [God’s] children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Rom 8:17-18

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Rom 8:28

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“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 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, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Cor 4:16-18

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” – Phil 4:4

God says,

“‘Never will I leave you;

never will I forsake you.’
So we say with confidence,

‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?’” – Heb 13:5b-6

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Heb 13:8 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – Jam 1:2-4

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – Jam 1:12

“For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

‘He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.  ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” – 1 Pet 2:19-25

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” – 1 Pet 4:12-16

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5

 

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Sex, Work, and High-Speed Cars

imageSounds like a man’s blog, doesn’t it? …missing something about food, though! What do these words bring to mind? ….3-2-1- That’s right!- the PERFORMANCE-DRIVEN mentality.

Of course, being performance-driven isn’t limited to these things, nor is it limited to the male gender.  Today, we nurture top performance from the earliest age in both boys and girls.  New moms barely have bragging rights anymore when their little go-getter walks at 8 months.  Even the youngest baby boomers recognize the advanced technological know-how and creative ascendancy of today’s youth.  The bachelor degree has been replaced by masters and doctorates in socio-economic value, and the Guinness Book of Records’ spine is breaking with Olympic-caliber one-uppers in every imaginable category.  Darkening the performance-driven mentality is the cancerous number of professional athletes whose health and reputations have nose-dived by use of steroids and other drugs.

So what are we to take from all this?  Aside from using harmful substances to increase our performance, should we not try to be the best we can be?  Shouldn’t we put all we’ve got into accomplishing our goals?  Shouldn’t we strive for excellence?  Absolutely!  God Himself tells us that in whatever we do, work at it with all our hearts [Col 3:23a].  God tells us to have a mindset of excellence [Phil 4:8b].  WHY?… so that we will be all that He created us to be!, lest we think it is to impress Him!  We may impress each other, even ourselves with our accomplishments, and advance beyond our dreams.  Others may even see and treat us differently.  GOD DOES NOT.  We cannot impress our Creator- He knows all we are capable of, having shaped us with His own hands.  He does not see us differently, nor treat us differently.  He has seen us at our worst, and in those moments He did the most unimaginable thing- He handed us the Gold Medal!  God has witnessed us weak and lazy, and empowered us by HIS Strength; He has mourned us ill and suffering, and brought life to our bones!

My question is this: Is it possible that our earthly, performance-driven mindset has disengaged the Insurpassable Excellence of God’s Grace in our lives? Do we secretly think we must perform for God to love us?  How good would a mortal have to be to win points with God anyway?  How many good deeds get us into heaven?  How many degrees?  What’s the minimum income or I.Q.?  What scope of fame is required?  How many Facebook friends, or blog followers?

God’s answer:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  [Eph 2:8-9]

We may break records on earth through a lifetime of hard work, perseverance, blood, sweat and human tears, but here is how God says we win the Greatest Medal:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength”  [Isa 30:15a]. 

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”  [1 Cor 9:24-25]

Paul now reveals the Performance-Driven Power of God’s Grace:

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” [2 Cor 12:7b-10]

Far beyond sex, work and high-speed cars, our greatest performances on earth come in our weakest human moments according to Paul’s words above- when and only when we start the ignition of trust in Christ’s Power!

Help me, Lord, to trust in You, that I may run the race with complete confidence in Your Performance through me- not my own!  That Your strength would shine through me in my weakest moments!

In Jesus’s Name, Amen!

AUTHOR REQUEST:  Please LIKE, REBLOG or COMMENT at bottom of post…I would love to hear your personal response and/or questions!  If you feel someone else could benefit from a post or from this blog, please SHARE with others in your social media circles- this blog is intended to bless and encourage as many as possible!  Thank you and God bless you!!

Sorry, I’m Busy. (Buried Under Satan’s Yoke)

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I recall several years back my dear cousin Juli up here visiting from N Carolina- we were sitting at my parents kitchen table together catching up on our lives, and naturally arrived at the subject of busyness. I will never forget Juli taking a pen and writing out the following acronym:
B. – Buried
U. – Under
S. – Satan’s
Y. – Yoke

Wow. It never hit me so hard that busyness is far more than a psychological/mental issue with physical consequences,.. it is most importantly a SPIRITUAL issue. It’s easy to view things from the limited perspective of our visible, somewhat controllable lives, but let us never forget there are spiritual forces at play above every earthly event in our lives. The Devil delights in nothing more than robbing us of time with our Savior! He knows if he can disconnect us for any amount of time from our Energy Source, not only will we suffer the physical (and other) earthly consequences, but better yet we will suffer spiritually- as being “unplugged,” we are stumbling through the dark instead of walking in the Light. Then we become a toy in his play chest for all things bad to happen.

Sleep is well known for its healing, restorative effects on the mind and body of the human. God designed it that way. Eight hours of sleep is critical for most of us to live healthy, productive lives. Without it, we become sluggish, inattentive, forgetful, stressed, ill. No drug is going to make up for lost sleep and good rest. Our bodies need it to be replenished each day. While sleeping, blood flows to our muscles stimulating cell growth. Our minds and bodies are rejuvenated for another day of life!

Imagine what robbing us of SPIRITUAL rest can do…the Devil is well aware! If God designed our physical bodies to require good rest to function well, what does He require for us to function well spiritually? The answer is TIME WITH HIM! There is no other source of strength than spending time with Jesus Christ to restore our spirits and our walk with the Living God! We need to COME to HIM each and every day for restoration of our souls and Divine Strength for a new day. Listen to Jesus’s Words in Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Feeling tired and worn out??? Yes, get your needed sleep! But don’t ever allow yourself to be unplugged from your TRUE Energy Source! Nothing is more important than spending time each day with Your Father who is granting you the day you have in the first place. Come to Him, sit with Him, listen to Him. You will never have a PEACE like this- only the Father can grant it!

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AUTHOR REQUEST:  Please LIKE, REBLOG or COMMENT at bottom of post…I would love to hear your personal response and/or questions!  If you feel someone else could benefit from a post or from this blog, please SHARE with others in your social media circles- this blog is intended to bless and encourage as many as possible!  Thank you and God bless you!!

I Am A Holy Vessel

imageAlright brothers and sisters in Christ, I am going to speak to a touchy subject here, but God has brought it to the surface of my life through our small group study of the book of Daniel,… that is the subject of cherished sin. Have you ever found yourself giggling about a sin of the past, something you did before you knew Christ? Or even found yourself boasting about it? Can we acknowledge that even today, years after being sealed by the Holy Spirit as a holy vessel to be used for God’s purposes, we are justifying a behavior that grieves our Lord? We just don’t want to let it go and call it what it is. And it is hampering our walk with The Lord, interrupting our communication with Him and slandering His Holy Name. You know the expression, “It’s all good,” well, It’s all bad.

Do you understand that having accepted God’s Ultimate Sacrifice of His only Son to cover your sins, you are a HOLY VESSEL? The Devil does not want you to see yourself this way…and there is plenty of past ammunition he can throw up in your face to remind you of your sin nature and tempt you to see yourself as less than holy. Well he is a liar and the Author of all lies (John 8:44), and if you have any doubt that when Christ entered your life you became holy, I urge you to read any/all of the following: Rom 11:16, 1Cr1:2, Eph 1:4, Eph 1:8, 3:18, 5:3, 5:26, 5:27, Col 1:12, Col 1:22, Col 3:12, 1 Th 3:10, 2 Ti 2:21, Heb 2:11, 3:1, Heb 13:12, Jud 1:3.

King Belshazzar made a grievous mistake when he used God’s holy vessels-gold goblets from the Temple in Jerusalem- to drink and carouse with women, toasting to their man made gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. Those vessels were set apart for the specific purpose of honoring the One and Only True God! If you don’t recall God’s chilling response to this, begin reading from Daniel 5:5.
God does not take lightly to His vessels being used for purposes other than those for which He has intentionally designed. Do you see the parallel between King Belshazzar and Satan? Do you see how Satan can use US- God’s holy vessels- for his own unholy purposes? Beth Moore’s Daniel study has asked these questions and caused me to see my own cooperation with the enemy in mocking the work of the Cross. God tells us if we call evil good, evil will never leave our house. If we do not acknowledge our wrongdoing, we remain in darkness and walk not with God Who is Light. In God’s time, all deeds will be brought out of darkness into the Light and the motives of the human heart exposed. But if we confess our sins, they are brought into His wonderful Light and we are forgiven! Praise God Almighty!! Then we are cooperating with God Who empowers us to have victory over temptation and glorify Himself, the only One Who deserves glory! Read these wonderful verses below:

1Jo 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1Jo 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.
1Jo 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1Jo 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

A dear sister in Christ recently confessed a sin to the Body, thus inspiring me to do the same. Boy is this Daniel study waking us up! I love to get together with friends and have a good time, but sometimes allow myself to become lewd in behavior and coarse in humor, giggling about sins of the past. I know God has given me power over this, and I claim it! How beautiful the words of Paul in Ephesians 5:1-5: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Our Father in heaven is NOT a Killjoy! He is the CREATOR of Joy! He does not want to rob us of fun, but wants to protect us from harm! As a father disciplines the child he loves, so does God desire to discipline us for our benefit and His Glory! Jesus came not just to give us life, but LIFE IN ABUNDANCE! (John 10:10). There is no party like that which Jesus throws! So let us cooperate with our Daddy! He created us as His Holy vessels to be used for the intended purpose of bringing Him Glory! Thank You Father for claiming me as Your own and loving me to the fullest extent of Your love! Help me to love You by confessing my sin, trusting You to wash me clean, and walking humbly in Your Holy Word. In Jesus’s Most Powerful Name I pray! Amen. Xoxo

 

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Bright and Morning Star

image“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”- Ps 143:8

Family in Christ Jesus,

Ah…how beautiful are the words from David’s lips to His King! Yes, let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, Lord!

I have always tried to meet with the Lord in the morning, though in some seasons of life it has been more difficult than others (new baby, work, etc.). I just think what a perfect time to meet with God… as soon as He awakens me to another day of my limited earthly life! Before any event of the day begins, while others are sleeping and not even traffic can be heard, just a few birds chirping. God blessed me with another day of life… I thank and praise Him! I draw to Him and seek His Word, His guidance and wisdom for my day, as I know not what lies ahead, but I know Who is with me. Why would I start my day without the One Who has given it to me?  A friend once told me, “Nan, starting your day without the Lord is like going onstage to play a concert and not having tuned your instrument!” Ugh!! Who would want to hear that?! No doubt, there have been days that in my dissonant words/behavior, my family and friends must have wondered, “What on earth is she playing?!” Ha! Well, could you wait just a moment while I go tune myself up?? …oh, no time now,..have to get to the next song! Yep, if we don’t put God first, we sometimes don’t put Him at all, do we? Like when I neglect to give Him the first-fruits of our income, and He ends up with the scraps after all the bills have been paid and shopping trips made. He deserves FIRST place, not anything less! (Can anyone hear me talking to myself here?)

Anyway, I just thought this Psalm was so beautiful, as it reminds me that this Relationship between me and God is powered and sustained by HIS unfailing Love, not mine! That even if I fail to give Him first place in my life, He has put me first place in His heart…. The Blood Christ shed for me proves that! “We love because He first loved us.”-1 John 4:19. And to think that He waits for me every morning, anticipating my first thought towards Him, makes me desire Him even more. Does this sound like a Love Relationship? You bet it is! You, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, know exactly what I am talking about. Is it any wonder Jesus Christ is called our “bright and Morning Star”? Good morning, Lord, Good morning!

 

 

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AUTHOR REQUEST:  Please LIKE, REBLOG or COMMENT at bottom of post…I would love to hear your personal response and/or questions!  If you feel someone else could benefit from a post or from this blog, please SHARE with others in your social media circles- this blog is intended to bless and encourage as many as possible!  Thank you and God bless you!!