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Potter’s Hands

IMG_1617Lord, You are the Potter; I the clay. You have shaped me exactly as You see fit, Lord. Pour into me as You desire. That may be cool and refreshing at times, threshold scalding at others. I trust in You, Lord. For You love me and discipline me as a father does the child he cherishes. And You will sustain me at every encounter. You will use me as You see fit for Your Glory. I am blessed to be Your vessel, Lord, and I will never break as I trust in Your Purpose and Provision. I praise and thank You for all things, for You Alone are worthy!

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10 MEV

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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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My Filthy Rags

Some of you already know what I’m about to dive into.  Others of you may be wondering what dirt I’m going to dig up from my past to share with you, and why. Others of you may be thinking of your own “filthy rags” right now… perhaps things you’ve done in the past that you’re not very proud of.

imageYou may be surprised to learn that God uses this term- “filthy rags”- in the Bible not to describe our sinful acts, but our “righteous” ones! Read Isaiah 64:6:

“All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

When held up to God’s Perfect Holy Standard, even our most “righteous” human works look dirty.  NONE OF US is clean and holy before Perfect God.  You may feel you’re cleaner than the next guy, but you’re still filthy by God’s Standard because you still have sin- you may not stumble at the point that guy does, but you stumble.  We ALL do.  And by sinning just ONCE, we are considered lawbreakers!  Consider these verses-

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” – James 2:10-11

We “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” – Ecclesiastes 7:20

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12

imageNo one does good- not even one!   No one is righteous and never sins!  If we can swallow our pride and get our head around this truth, we may come to understand why submitting to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not only the Key to Salvation, but why we were created in the first place.

Contrary to one of the popular notions that it is our own human goodness that gains us entrance to Heaven, God makes it clear that NO ONE IS GOOD in His Perfect eyes- Our BEST works cannot erase our sin nature!- they are like filthy rags to God!  Only God’s Son Jesus Christ is perfect, and since perfection is required for admittance to Heaven, it is Belief in His Son Jesus Christ alone that opens the door to eternal Life with Him!   For Perfect Christ was the Only Sacrifice acceptable to God to pay the price for our sin.  We could not pay our own debt, but HE DID for us!  He is our Perfect High Priest Forever! —

“but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” – Hebrews 7:24-28

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Yes- Heaven is a GIFT from God Almighty!  We ALL deserve Hell because every one of us has sin!  God knows that even the best we can do is like filthy rags to Him- nothing even close to His Glory- so He provided us with the Perfect, Stainless Covering to atone for our sins…. His Son Jesus Christ- the Perfect Lamb- the Only Acceptable Sacrifice! The ONLY WAY to Heaven!  Consider the following verses.–

image“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:14-16

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” – John 3:36

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:27-28

“…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” – 1 John 5:11-12

Whoever does not have the Son of God does NOT HAVE LIFE!  God leaves no room for question on the issue of what happens once we die.  There are only two possibilities for each of us- Heaven (Joyous Eternal Life through Christ) or Hell (eternal punishment/death with Satan).  God gives us the Key to Eternal Life through His Son Jesus Christ!  The alternative is unimaginable, but God gives us a glimpse of what the place of eternal punishment is like.–

“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” – Matt 13:41-43

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“He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matt 24:51 [context: v.45-51]

“And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ” – Matt 25:30 [context: v.13-30]

“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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” – John 15:5-6

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” – Rev 21:8

With these descriptions, should anyone NOT be concerned about where they will spend eternity?

We also see in these verses some clear descriptions for THOSE BEING SENT TO HELL– They are those who “reject the Son,” “do evil,” are “hypocrites,” a “worthless servant,” “cowardly,” “unbelieving,” “vile,” “murderers,” “sexually immoral,” “practicers of magic arts,” “idolaters,” and “liars. — Now you may spot yourself in just this handful of descriptions by God!… I can tell you that I see my “old self” clearly in almost every category!!  Here is the beautiful amazing thing that happens when you accept Christ into your heart and surrender your life to Him– HE MAKES YOU A NEW CREATION!!!  2 Corinthians 5:17 says,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

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No longer a slave to sin, Christ is our Master!!–

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” – Romans 6:6-7

“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” – Romans 6:14

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:22-23

NOW we have a righteousness that is FULLY ACCEPTABLE to God- based on our FAITH in His Son Jesus Christ!!–

“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” -Romans 1:17

[Abraham’s faith] “..was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” – Romans 4:22-25

imageWe no longer have filthy rags to offer God!- for NOW our good works are the result of God’s Own Grace, Preparation and Empowerment!– Perfectly spotless, beautiful and acceptable to Him!! —

“being confident of this, that he [God] who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6 [context: v.1-6]

“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. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:8-10

Beautiful Bottom Line- Our Marvelous God does NOT LEAVE US in our futile state of sin!!!!  He does NOT DESIRE TO CAST US INTO HELL, but to wrap His loving arms around us and rescue us from our tragic condition!!!

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And when we make that most important decision of our lives >>> accepting God’s Incredible Gift of Salvation through His Son Jesus Christ>>>, our sins are washed away by His Blood of Forgiveness!…EVERY LAST ONE of them!!!  Contemplate–

“Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” – Romans 4:7-8

“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.” – Romans 8:1-2 [context: Rom 7:21-8:4]

“…he [the Lord] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9b [context: v.9]

Yes, THE CHOICE IS OURS!  God gives us THE FREE WILL CHOICE to be rescued by His Mighty Hand through Christ Jesus and be made new by His Spirit- which is a deposit GUARANTEEING US HEAVEN (2 Cor 5:5)- or to continue walking in the sin-stained ways of our flesh- offering up our filthy rags to God- which GUARANTEES US HELL .

There are TWO CHOICES.  Which one will YOU choose???

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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!!

Easter Reflections

image Growing up in the Church, Good Friday through Easter were at the top of the list of important days on the Christian calendar. I don’t remember going to church on Good Friday, but I do remember a period of silence in our home between Noon and 3:00 PM- Jesus’s final hours on the Cross. My parents (Ben and Joan Caruso, above) would not answer the phone, we would not speak to each other- we would simply, silently contemplate the incredible Sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. Unbeknownst to my young brother, Ben, and I at the time, this discipline inspired a prayerful countenance in us, which no doubt my parents anticipated. It continues to this day! Our family also did not eat meat on Good Friday- this act of abstinence honored the Body and Blood Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross for our sins. Contemplate these verses: “‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!’” – Matt 20:18-19 “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.” – Rom 3:25a “For the joy set before him he [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Heb 12:2b “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 Peter 2:23-25 ++++++++++ In these early childhood Good Friday protocols, our parents desired to honor God and His Indescribable Gift to us (2 Cor 9:15), and to be an example for my brother and me. They did succeed! Then, two quick days later, our family attended the celebratory Easter church service, all of us dressed up in the nicest clothes in our closets! We praised God for the Resurrection of Christ, which ensures our personal resurrection following mortal death for those of us who believe. Ponder these beautiful verses: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:14-16 ~~~~~~~~~~ “Jesus said to her [Martha following Lazarus’s death], ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’” – John 11:23-27 ~~~~~~~~~~ “We were therefore buried with him [Christ] through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” – Romans 6:4-8 “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable,and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1Cor 15:53-57 Today, as a born-again Christian with my own family, the picture looks a little different than when I was a child, but the acknowledgement of God’s Indescribable Gift of Grace through His Son Jesus Christ is exactly the same! On Good Friday, my husband, two sons and I reflect on Jesus’s Sacrifice for us and His gruesome final hours of handing over His Precious Life, and most of the day is somber and reflective. My husband insists that we watch “The Passion” together every Good Friday, so we do- start to finish. This is always difficult, but we feel important (I always shrink in embarrassment when I compare my “difficulty” VIEWING Christ’s torture to His ACTUAL torture). Our sons are now 16 and 11, but even when our youngest was just 8 (which some might object to), my husband and I agreed he was mature enough to witness and begin to process what Christ endured for him. Sometimes, our family chooses to attend our church’s Good Friday service, which is also appropriately somber and reflective. ~~Then, on Sunday, we attend the most magnificent celebration of the most magnificent event on earth (following God’s coming to earth in the flesh in the first place!)- Christ’s Resurrection from the dead and complete assurance of our personal resurrection from the dead as Believers! Our church holds nothing back in proclaiming the Glorious Gospel Message through spectacular drama, music, lighting, dance, and Biblically-based, Spirit-inspired sermon. Come and join us if you don’t have a place this Easter!!- https://kensingtonchurch.org/default.aspx?page=3920. image May you come to know this Easter the most important Knowledge of all- God’s Boundless Love for you through the Incredible Blood Sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ! When you come to know and accept this Love- this Indescribable Gift- your life will NEVER be the same! For more information on becoming a born-again Christian, see my personal testimony under “The Question That Changed My Life Forever.” If you’d like to share your own personal Easter reflections- childhood or present-day traditions for how you’ve acknowledged this very special part of the Christian calendar-  please comment below! I and I’m sure others would love to read! God bless you!!

 

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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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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!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drawing the Blind

imageFor the past few days, God has been peeking through my mind with thoughts about blindness and sight.  Helen Keller has been a part of those thoughts- in fact, one day I was led to research some of her famous quotes, and the very next day my 5th- grade son brought home instructions for a report he had to do- it was on Helen Keller.  I found myself watching video clips about the infamous deaf-blind woman who defied her prognosis and accomplished the unimaginable– clips of her in adult years demonstrating how she learned to speak by putting fingers on teacher Anne Sullivan’s lips and larynx, “The Miracle Worker” fight scene where young Helen runs and rages, spitting food out, throwing silverware, rebelling against her teacher’s attempts to get her to eat properly, and the famous revelation scene where all the years of Helen’s frustrated uncontrollable fury comes to a dead halt at the well.  Take a few minutes to watch this first scene:

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http://youtu.be/Dvq5aQr1eh0

“If you don’t correct your children, you don’t love them. If you love them, you will be quick to discipline them.” – Prov 13:24 (ERV)
Can you see the relentless love of the teacher in this harrowing scene?  Can you see how desperately she desires to help her young student?  Watching Helen run aimlessly, raging against instruction, fighting to break free from her dark prison, immediately reminded me of my own 29-year self-imposed prison- the difference being I could see.  At least I thought I could- I did have physical sight.  As it turns out,  for almost three decades I walked in darkness.  Aimlessly, I was throwing myself in every direction, following feelings instead of Wisdom, listening to voices I did not recognize, hoping for a light in the darkness, but stumbling over my very own feet.  At that point, according to Helen Keller, I was worse off than her:
“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but has no vision.” – H.Keller 
Watching Ms. Sullivan fighting right along with Helen, insisting that she follow directions and obey, never giving up on her or allowing her to give up on herself, reminded me of God and His Relentless Love for us.  In the Old Testament, the Israelites continually rebelled against God despite His provision for them.  They ran aimlessly after idols, though God was leading them.  They complained, grumbled and fought back while God instructed them.  God, however, never gave up on them- He continued to pursue them in His Infinite Love.
“the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” – Prov 3:12b (NIV) 
Though for years I personally disregarded God and His instruction, running aimlessly after my own worldly desires, God continued to pursue me- He never gave up on me!  Then came my moment at the Well.  Please watch the following scene:

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” – H.Keller

Is it possible that the things we can see with our eyes are actually distractions to the most important things for us to visualize… things like love, hope, peace, joy, even wisdom and truth?  Helen Keller’s enlightenment at the Well could not have been more dramatic if her physical sight had been restored.  In those moments, her eyes were opened to knowledge, understanding, and so much more.  She saw things even people with sight are blind to.  Seeing eyes can deceive, as things rarely are as they appear- there is always much more going on that we cannot see than what we can see.  In those moments, Helen gained sight for the most important things in life- things that perhaps can only be clearly seen with our eyes closed.
As I watched the scene, I was reminded of my own “Well moment” when Christ gave me Living Water from the Well of Life, and my blind eyes were opened to Truth for the very first time.*
[Jesus said to the woman at the well,] “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.”   – John 4:13-14
“The Lord gives sight to the blind…” – Psalm 146:8a
Helen Keller said, “Once I knew only darkness… but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.”……..
I- Nancy- say, “Once I knew only darkness, but one Word from The Lord fell upon my heart that clutched at emptiness, and I leaped to the rapture of life with Christ!”
In the time it takes to speak a word, God’s Light broke through my darkness.  “I was blind, but now I see!” (John 9:25b).  I think this is why when I meet with my Lord each day, I find myself  “darkening” my surroundings- turning out the lights, drawing the blind, closing my eyes.  He came to me in my personal darkness and I yearn to see His Light again and again!
image“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”  – Psalm 119:105
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” – Col 1:15
 
“…know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  – Col 2:2b-3
 
THINGS TO COME FOR THE BELIEVER——
image“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” – 1 Cor 13:12

It is said that when a person loses one of their senses, the others are heightened…. the person with no physical sight then hears more clearly, smells are more vivid, tastes are heightened, textures come alive.  It would almost seem they become a “super” human of sorts.  They would surely seem to have the “advantage” spiritually, since the spiritual realm is unseen by the naked eye.  What I see with my mortal eyes in this short life on earth is but a shadow of things to come.  Everything in Heaven shall be clearer, more vivid, indescribably more wonderful to behold!**  Our senses will be heightened- like the blind person- only infinitely moreso!  Our wisdom and knowledge will soar as we step into God’s Glorious Presence in Heaven- our eyes will see as they have never seen before- and our Joy shall last forever!!!

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“But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”  – Isa 35:9b-10
“…there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, ‘Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.’”  – Jer 33:10b-11a

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*See “The Question That Changed My Life Forever”

**For those desiring to read a heaven experience, I would like to recommend the book, “Within Heaven’s Gates,” by Rebecca Springer.  In it, Ms. Springer describes how her deathly illness led her to the Place where she experienced the unimaginable.

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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!!

Present Eternity

imageI am fearful to write this article.  Fearful because God gave me many thoughts at once this morning, and they all have to do with time and eternity.  The subject is too big for me, for both what I am able to comprehend and write.  My very last post touched on this subject… why am I hearing more now?  I don’t know, but I do know the thought crossed my mind this morning that I need to turn my plans over to God each day, and not keep asking Him to sign off on mine.
 
What do I do with this, Lord?  This is a first… that I have heard clearly from You, yet not known what to do.  I feel you’ve given me the pieces, but I have no idea how to put this together.  I recall immediately, John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.”  I am less, Lord.  Write.
 
The Present is all that we have.  It is immediately connected to Eternity.  The Present is the Only Time of Value.  But Wait!, you say- history holds great value and so will the future, for posterity’s sake!  Listen closely- the Past only has value because it once was the Present- which granted it the right to become the Past.  The Future only has value if it becomes the Present- if it does not, it is only a thought, not a reality (keep that in mind as you make Present decisions!).
Picture a timeline of 3 doors.  The Present is the Door through which we see Eternity.  The Door of the Past is closed and locked on millions upon millions of Present moments gone by.  The Door of the Future might not ever be opened.
Do you see how invaluable the Present is?… How ETERNAL the Present is?  There is no Time in Eternity as we know it here in our finite earthly lives.  Earthly time consists of past+Present+future earthly moments.  Human history had a start point (Adam and Eve) and it will have an end point (End Times).  Eternity, however, consists of Entirely Present Moments!  No beginning (past), no end (future).  That is why our Earthly Present so closely resembles Eternity.  As C.S. Lewis said, “…the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.”
Here is my hand-sketch of how I see our Present in relationship with Eternity (3 doors above).  Sorry, it’s crude.:
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And here is why we humans even think at all about life beyond this finite earthly experience:
“He [God]… has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds, yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”  -Ecc 3:11b AMP
Wow!  I consider Eternity because God planted that desire in me as His special creation!  God reminds me that I existed in His Infinite Mind long before I physically came to be, in the Words of the psalmist~
 
“My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.   
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”    -Psa 139:15-16
…and in Paul speaking to followers of Christ Jesus at Ephesus~
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”  -Eph 1:4-6
Now, as I ponder the state of no beginning and no end, knowing I am created as an Eternal being, I am hit with the realization that I am living Eternity AT PRESENT!!!   Does this make sense to you?  Is your mind blown like mine?!!
Believe me, folks, I am becoming aware of things as I type- I spoke of my fear and apprehension upfront and not knowing where God was taking me… or those brave enough to come along! 🙂
I believe this is a perfect place to segue to my previous article, “Today Salvation is Yours!”  So- Go there!  Read!!  Know that you are walking in Eternity at Present, and NOW is the Time to call on the Name of The Lord and be saved from an unspeakably horrible Eternity without Him!  Christ saved you from Eternal torment for a Reason- to dwell with Him Forever in Eternal Joy!  It is YOUR choice, but don’t wait to make it… Tomorrow is an uncertainty, Eternity is NOW!
 
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [Jesus] will be saved”   -Acts 2:21, Rom 10:13
 
“Salvation is found in no one else [Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”   -Acts 4:12
 
“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”   -2 Cor 6:2b
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   -John 3:16
God bless you!!!
Nancy
(All underline mine)
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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!!

Today Salvation is Yours!

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You are reading this right now because God Almighty has blessed you with these very moments of life.  He knows exactly when you will depart from earth.  He knows exactly what you will choose to do with this day, He knows if you have the rest of it, He knows if you have tomorrow.  It is easy to assume that we have the rest of today, even tomorrow- after all, we woke up this morning and we have every morning for how many years now.  But yesterday does not promise tomorrow, or even the rest of today.

Does this put a new value on the PRESENT for you?

When I consider all of the amazing accomplishments of mankind through history, I remain astounded that there are still people who believe this life on earth is all that there is.  We know that Death comes to every man, regardless of his accomplishments.  So why even try if there is no Hereafter?  To make things better for the next generation who will also perish?  Everything so that we may follow each other into the pit?

The truth is- there is an Eternal Value for everything that happens on earth, for the God of Eternity created everything and by Him all things are held together (Col 1:17) and have their Purpose (Eph 1:11).  Though our mortal bodies stand for a limited time, our spirits move and live forever, praise be to God!  Listen to the Words of Jesus:

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”  -John 6:63

God has made it clear what lasts forever~

“All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.                                   The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever.”  –
Isa 40:6b-8

As Jesus said~

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  -Matthew 24:35

Is there any doubt that TODAY is the Day for you to come to know God?  The Past is gone, and Tomorrow is not guaranteed to you.  Do you see the Value of This Day of life for you?- the Eternal Value of your Present breathing moments?

“I tell you, NOW is the time of God’s favor, NOW is the day of salvation.”  -2 Cor 6:2b

“The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”   -Rom 13:11b

Former atheist, Christian C.S. Lewis in “The Screwtape Letters,” said~

“The Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most temporal part of time–for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.”  

“Lit up with eternal rays”?…

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  -John 8:12

“The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord [Jesus] will be saved.’”  Acts 2:20-21

NOW-

Today, if only you would hear his voice, ‘Do not harden your hearts…'”  -Psalm 95:7b-8

Do you hear God’s Voice?  Do not harden your heart!… TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION!  NOW is the ONLY TIME you are guaranteed!   If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, speak with Him NOW!  Confess your sins and need for His forgiveness, thank Him for shedding His blood on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins, and PRAISE GOD for your guaranteed Eternity with Him!  Open God’s Word- full of the Spirit and Life which lasts forever- and READ IT!   You have come into The Light- God’s Rays of Salvation shine upon you!
I rejoice in our fellowship in Christ!  Allow me to share my personal testimony with you, found under, “The Question That Changed My Life Forever.”  May God bless you as you walk in His Saving Grace!  Love, Nancy

(Note: 2 Cor 6:2b CAPS mine).

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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!!