Friday, December 12, 2008

Letting Go

I'm sure you've heard the statement, "Let go, and let G-d."

Boy, but isn't letting go hard?! Especially if you've got a bit of "controller" in you! But the ability to "let go" is part of a giving heart----did you ever think of it that way?

In the first place, we are to let go of our very selves to G-d. When we come to Him with a humble heart entreating Him for salvation, we are to give him our hearts, our very lives---for He has bought us with a price. When we belong to G-d, our lives are not our own anymore.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

When we hold onto all we have for dear life, we are the loser. We have to let go in order to gain! Jesus tried to teach His disciples this principle. In verse 25 of Matthew 16, He went on to say, "For whosoever shall save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it."

You know that when we truly love someone we must be willing to let them go. Holding onto them for dear life will only strangle the life out of the relationship. Letting go is liberating. Letting go allows for the other to be able to GIVE of themselves, freely, so in turn, we may receive. And it goes both ways!

The things we treasure the most---our loved ones, earthly possessions, our careers, our positions and entitlements---we must give them to the L-rd---let go of the cords we hold onto so tightly---that we may be able to receive what the L-rd has for us. If we are so filled up with our own selfish desires and misplaced values and priorities, if our love is totally given to other things......where is there any room left for the L-rd to fill us with His blessings, which really are of value?

Paul, by example as well as by his preaching, tried to impart this truth to the early believers, and it is preserved in Scripture for us today: "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my L-rd: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,"

With the economy, indeed the world economy, looking more bleak every day, 21st Century believers probably should re-evaluate our lives. We mortals get so earth-bound that many times we fail to remember that this world is not our permanent home. We're just "visiting". Rather than be fearful and give in to despair, we must be willing to let go, and with the joy of the L-rd as our strength, live each day, trusting the L-rd to complete His perfect plan for our lives.

Psalm 37:4---"Delight thyself also in the L-rd; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Unmet Needs---Part II

Have you ever prayed and prayed for a specific need that you have, wondering if it was ever going to be met? For whatever reason, the L-rd chose to allow you to experience the lack of something---income, health, a car, a good credit rating, or any number of things?

Are you experiencing unmet needs in your life right now?

We're very familiar with and often quote the verse in Philippians that states, "My G-d shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19 Isn't this the verse we stand on to claim G-d's promise to supply our need?!

You probably also know that G-d's promises usually have conditions. Did you know that this promise is no different? Problem is, we usually don't pay attention to these conditions---we get so excited about the promises! How many of us have underlined G-d's promises in our Bibles......but the conditions....well....we kinda just ignore them......after all, they're for other people who aren't living right!! ;-)

So....what's the condition to the L-rd supplying all our need? First, let me give you some background regarding the scene here in Philippians. Paul was writing to this church from his prison in Rome. This church had, on more than one occassion, sent love offerings and needful items to Paul to help meet his needs. They had just done so again, and Paul was acknowledging their offerings to him in verse 18, "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to G-d."

Paul knew that these Philippian Christians had sacrificially given to support him, and thus his statement that G-d would supply all their need.

Therein lies the condition: if we give in support of those serving the L-rd, then the L-rd will supply all our need.

When we sacrifice for the L-rd, He is, in turn, faithful to meet all our needs!

Truly, it is more blessed to give than to receive!

Unmet Needs--Part I

Who among us has not experienced the pendulum of "feast or famine"? Life is like that, isn't it? We can bemoan life's rollercoaster experience, or we can choose to view it as the "spice of life"...a break from the sameness of monotony.

Hey---life can be an adventure or it can be a fearful thing. It's our choice.

What?!! How can we choose what life dishes out to us, you ask! We can't....but we can choose what our outlook is. Like someone famous once said [well....they probably were famous; the saying is. I just don't know who said it first-- ;-) ], "If life gives you lemons, then make lemonade!"

You know, that's good advice. We can choose to be happy within whatever circumstances we find ourselves, or we can choose to sulk and be miserable, and make everyone around us miserable, too. If we consider others---which is what the L-rd would have us to do---we know that there is always someone else who has it worse off than we do, and would gladly trade places!

Paul was so wise. He was horribly beaten numerous times, shipwrecked, imprisoned, destitute, sick unto death, yet he chose to count it all joy, and to be content in whatever state he was in. His circumstances did not dictate his outlook or his attitude. He knew his life was secure in the L-rd. This earthly life, with all its ups and downs, is just temporary; we have something incredible to look forward to---"a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

II Cor. 4:17---"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

Next time we feel downhearted and discouraged because we see the glass half empty instead of half full, we need to adjust our focus. The enemy would have us hone in on what we lack instead of all our blessings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Conditions for Answered Prayer---Part IV

An important condition for answered prayer is that we first have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is our mediator!

I Timothy 2:5,6---"For there is one G-d, and one mediator between G-d and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

If we have repented of our sins, and accepted Jesus Christ as our only Savior, we can then come directly to G-d's throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) because Jesus Christ is our High Priest and Mediator. We don't need to go through Mary, the saints, a priest. Jesus Christ is all we need!

We must come before the L-rd with clean hearts (Psa. 66:18).

We must ask in faith, nothing wavering (James 1:6,7).

A lack of any of the above will prevent our prayers from getting past the ceiling.

Sometimes we don't receive anything of the L-rd due to a lack of prayer! We know that the L-rd knows all, and that He is aware of our needs and situations, but He wants to hear from us! He wants us to come before His throne and tell him what's on our hearts, and what we need Him to provide. James 4:2 says that, "ye have not because ye ask not."

And, too, the L-rd being all-knowing, He knows our hearts in the matters we bring before Him. He knows our desires as well as our motives behind those desires.

The next verse in James 4 cautions us: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."

Sometimes what we ask of the L-rd is just not good for us. Sometimes our requests are just selfish desires that would not edify us. Our Heavenly Father knows what's best, and He loves us enough to say, "No", when we ask for things that would not be for our own good, just as we do our own children.

In this case, we need to remember that He will grant us our requests according to His will. That should be our desire as well....His perfect will in our lives.

Finally, there is another condition for prayer:

John 14:13, 14---"And whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my Name, I will do it."

It really bothers me when believers fail to pray in Jesus' Name. The only reason we can come before G-d's throne is because of Jesus Christ our Mediator and High Priest! Our Heavenly Father hears us because we are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ. We must pray in Jesus' Name, and our motive should be that the Father be glorified in the Son.

John 15:16 further explains how the L-rd views things.

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my Name, He may give it you."

The L-rd will give us our petitions that we ask in Jesus' Name in order for us to bear fruit for Him! This should be our motive behind our prayers, and will help prevent us from asking amiss! If we pray according to His will, and our requests will bring glory to the L-rd, and help us to bring forth fruit in our lives for His sake, we can have confidence that the L-rd will give us our requests!

If we examine our hearts, and ask the Holy Spirit to show us our deficiencies in our prayer life, and how we need to correct our thinking and approach to prayer, I believe that our faith will grow as we receive answers to prayer and a closer relationship with our L-rd!

Conditions for Answered Prayer---Part III

Once we have established a relationship with the L-rd, whereby we can come boldly to His throne of grace, then we need to examine our faith.

Did you know that faith plays a large part when we pray? G-d requires it of us. Faith is necessary for salvation, and it is necessary in our walk with the L-rd. This includes our prayer life. We must be faithful people---full of faith----when it comes to all aspects of our relationship with the L-rd. The thing is, the more we get to know the L-rd, the more our faith grows! If we have little faith, then perhaps it's because we don't have the relationship with the L-rd that we should.

Matthew 21:21a, 22 says, "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith and doubt shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

One reason why our prayers may go unanswered is a lack of faith!

James 1:6,7---"But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the L-rd."

Wow---we shouldn't even think of receiving anything of the L-rd if our faith wavers! often are we of little faith?

"L-rd, I believe; help mine unbelief!", we need to cry!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Conditions for Answered Prayer---Part II

How can we have assurance that the L-rd will hear and answer our prayers, the cries of our hearts? There are some Scriptures that are very specific and clear about this, and they should give us confidence when we bring our petitions before the L-rd.

First thing, though, we must make sure we have the foundation to having a relationship with the L-rd where we can come before His throne in prayer. This foundation is that we know Him....and that He knows us as His blood-bought child. Does G-d know you?

I John 3: 21,22--"Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then we have confidence
G-d. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we
keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the Name of His Son,
Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment."

I John 5:14, 15--"And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask
according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He
hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we
desired of Him."

Once we have established our relationship with the L-rd, and realize that we can have confidence in Him to receive our petitions if we ask according to His will, then we should not be timid in approaching the L-rd to ask of Him:

Luke 11:9, 10---"And I say unto you, Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."

The L-rd was telling his disciples that their Heavenly Father wants them to approach Him with their needs, and that He will provide. We should not be afraid to ask the L-rd to supply our needs. The enemy wants us to think that our Heavenly Father is unapproachable, that He is stern and unyielding. The following 3 verses in this passage illustrate how much our Heavenly Father loves His children---His kindness towards us:

"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?"

But guess what?! Not only do we have a loving Heavenly Father, we also have a Great High Priest who makes intercession for us!! Hebrews 4:14-16 assures us of this:

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of G-d, let us hold fast our profession.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Not only do we, as blood-bought sinners, have a loving Heavenly Father, but we have a merciful High Priest in Jesus Christ. We can have confidence in Him, and bring our petitions boldly before His throne of grace! Does that not reassure your heart that the L-rd will hear and answer?!

Conditions for Answered Prayer--Part I

Do you have regular conversations with G-d? Just you and Him, talking things over, you sharing your heart with Him? What is *praying* to you?

Jesus demonstrated how to pray when one of His disciples asked Him, "L-rd, teach us to pray." If we study the components of that prayer, we may find that we need a refresher course in learning how to approach G-d's throne.

We are to beseech our Heavenly Father with a humble heart, relinquishing our will to Him.
We are to ask Him for our needs.
We are to ask for His forgiveness----as we forgive others!
We are to ask for protection from temptation and deliverance from evil.
We are to praise and glorify G-d.

While we are so familiar with this prayer, we unfortunately stop at the last sentences, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." But have we taken notice of the following verses in Matthew 6:14, 15 where
the L-rd reiterates the importance of forgiving others; do we realize the impact of unforgiveness on our prayer life? Evidently, it is extremely important because the L-rd emphasizes that it is imperative that we forgive others!

David said, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the L-rd will not hear me." Ps. 66:18 He prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O G-d; and renew a right spirit within me." Ps. 51:10.

We cannot have a clean heart and harbor unforgiveness. Who are we to withhold forgiveness from others, in our hearts, when the L-rd has forgiven us so much?

Once we approach the L-rd with a clean heart, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:16

Monday, November 24, 2008

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow!

One day, hopefully soon, we who know the L-rd will be going about our usual routine and find ourselves outa here!

These days many folks are experiencing uncertainties. Yesterday they had a job---today they're filing for unemployment. 401Ks are going down the tubes. Foreclosures are commonplace.

But just think, for those of us who know the L-rd, we know the final chapter and the outcome of all of this. We are to be "
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great G-d and our Saviour Jesus Christ;" as it says in Titus 2:13.

"For the L-rd himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of G-d: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the L-rd in the air: and so shall we ever be with the L-rd. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
I Thess. 4:16-18

Saturday, November 22, 2008

From Captivity to Blessing!

"And the L-rd turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the L-RD gave Job twice as much as he had before." Job 42:10

We're familiar with the story of Job, how the L-rd allowed Satan to plague Job by devouring the things with which the L-rd had blessed him: his ten children, his livestock, his health. We all know how the friends of Job tried to "help" him with their advice, which, except for one, only added to Job's sorrows. And, we know in the end, that the L-rd restored to Job his blessings, even twice what he had before.

But have you ever noticed what turned the tide for Job?

Years ago, our family was ministering in a very difficult place. We were finding it a challenge to find a place to live, as well as a means of support. We had other friends in the area struggling in the same regard. Much like the situation many people are finding themselves in during these days of economic crisis. A friend of mine shared this verse from Job with me. It totally changed my perspective!

Don't we all tend to get myopic when dealing with our problems? We get so focused on our own situation, and all the negative, often seemingly insurmountable factors we find ourselves up against. All our praying centers on "our problem"! What are we going to do, we fret! We find ourselves asking everyone to pray for us and our situation. We pray. We plead with the L-rd. We stress. But you know what----we forget that others may very well be in the same boat, or have other more serious dilemmas. Is their situation no less important a concern than our own?

Consider Job. Here he was in dire straights while his friends still had their health, their possessions, their families. Indeed, that's why they felt they could look down their noses at Job and conclude that surely, he must have sinned in order to find himself in the mess he was in. It was obviously G-d's chastisement!

So, why did Job feel he needed to pray for them?! Welllllll.......perhaps because as Job said earlier in chapter 19, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth: and though, after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see G-d." Job had assurance of his stand before G-d. But he was concerned for his friends. On the surface, it looked like they were in good shape. They certainly seemed very blessed. After all, they weren't in Job's shoes!

In becoming concerned and burdened for his friends, Job set aside his problems. When the L-rd saw Job's unselfishness, and that Job was no longer obsessed with his own plight, enough to bring his friends before the throne of G-d, G-d moved to turn the captivity of Job from the bondage he was in, and blessed him with twice what he had before!

You know the long-used acronym: JOY = JESUS, OTHERS, YOU. The L-rd sees our hearts, and His compassion towards us is moved to work on our behalf when we care about and pray for the needs of others. Can you imagine the blessings we will reap if we follow Job's example?

Next time the enemy, the devourer and destroyer of the L-rd's blessings, tries to defeat and discourage us, and trap us into the bondage and captivity of self-centeredness, remember Job's remedy!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Are you able to stand?

"Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed, neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroythe accursed from among you." Joshua 7:12

Wow! I don't know about you, but that verse got my attention. In my last blog, we talked about overcoming a heavy spirit by thanking and praising the L-rd, and by standing. According to this account in Joshua, the children of Israel tried to stand. As we're commanded in Ephesians, having done all, they stood---or so they thought. In spite of their valiant attempt they met defeat and had to turn their backs in retreat and run for it!

The thing is, the account makes it clear that they went into battle totally expecting to win it! They had previously been victorious whenever they met the enemy; they had no reason to think they would have a different outcome this time. Even Joshua, their leader, was taken by surprise at this defeat!

So, what prevented them from standing, even when having done all, to stand? "Israel hath sinned....", the L-rd revealed to Joshua in verse 11.

One man and his family sinned; that's all it took to cause the defeat of the whole nation of Israel!

On a personal level, if we are having a struggle standing in our battle with the enemy, we would do well to examine ourselves and see if we have sinned or are harboring sin in our hearts.

As a family, if everything is a struggle, and we cannot, as a family, gain victory over the enemy, we need to take inventory and weed out the sin.

As a church, if we find that we cannot gain ground or our prayers are not answered, we need to ask the L-rd to reveal if there is sin, and then deal with it according to the Scriptures.

In order to remove the sin, it has to be exposed. Sin likes to hide in the darkness, and cloak itself in deceptive ways. The Bible calls it, "the deceitfulness of sin". We can have sin in our lives, and be oblivious to it. David prayed, asking the L-rd to keep him "from presumptuous sins" in order that he could be "upright". How fitting---you have to be upright in order to be able to stand! :-)

As a pastor's wife, I have the opportunity to counsel with people who keep getting slapped in the face with defeat. They want to reach the mountain top, but stay in the valley, wandering in the wilderness. They don't understand why they keep having to fight the same battles over and over.

The answer is to first examine ourselves whether we are in the faith, and examine our hearts, asking the L-rd to expose sin in our lives, help us repent of it and renounce it. Then, we will be able to stand; and having done all, to stand, obtain the victory!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"The Garment of Praise for the Spirit of Heaviness"

In chapter 61 of Isaiah, the prophet was encouraging those who wanted to do right and stand with the L-rd. He had prophesied a time of judgment upon Israel, but didn't stop there. He knew the "rest of the story", and wanted those who would live to see it, to know that the L-rd would give them, "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the L-RD, that he might be glorified." vs. 3.

All too often, we find ourselves battle-weary. Sad to say, it doesn't take much for some to give up the fight, retreat and go hide. Do you find yourself growing heavy with discouragement, despair? Do you seem to go from one crisis to another? Do you carry around "the spirit of heaviness"?

I don't think any of us enjoy being in a battle. We enjoy defeat even less.
How can we throw off "the spirit of heaviness" that tries to keep us down and defeated?

Be Thankful----

Phil. 4:6---"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto G-d.

Col. 1:12, 13---"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His Dear Son:"

The enemy wants us to focus on our problems. If all we see are the difficulties we are faced with, then we set ourselves up for defeat from the get-go! Maintaining a thankful heart is KEY to keeping a right perspective. When discouragement comes upon us, we should stop right then, and say a prayer of thankfulness to the L-rd----be specific in what we thank Him for!


I Chron. 23:30---the Levites were, "... to stand every morning to thank and praise the L-RD, and likewise at even;"

II Chron. 20:21, 22---"...he appointed singers unto the L-RD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the L-RD; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the L-RD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten."

Did you notice that? When they began to sing and praise---then the L-rd defeated their enemies! I'm sure there was a lot of fear and discouragement among G-d's people as they faced their enemies. They had to change their outlook and their behaviour from one of fear, discouragement and despair to one of confidence in the L-rd, praising and singing unto Him for His greatness and ability to give them victory!! The L-rd honored that!

Throughout G-d's Word, we are commanded to praise the L-rd. The Psalmist said that "his praise shall continually be in my mouth" (Ps. 34:1). Hebrews 13:15 instructs us to "...offer the sacrifice of praise to G-d continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."


Sometimes we don't think that we have the strength to go forward---but we are not to retreat!!! We are to stand, and having done all, to stand (Eph. 6:13). This means that we are to do all we can to stand firm while the battle rages.

Listen, this is so important. If Christians would just get a hold of this, it would make such a difference:

Retreating does not make the enemy go away!

If you find that instead of going "from strength to strength" (Ps. 84:7), with each victory a stepping stone to the next, perhaps it is because you have allowed your fears and discouragements to get the best of you.

See, the enemy knows he can get some of us to quit if he throws his darts at us. Since it works, why change tactics? He is emboldened to keep up the attacks to keep us down! The enemy will not stop his attempts to keep us discouraged and in constant defeat. If he is successful, he will continue to try to keep us down. It becomes a vicious cycle.

The way to change this scenario is to not stop making the effort to be faithful in doing right----take your stand, and do all to stand. Meanwhile, keep thanking and praising the L-rd in the midst of your circumstances.

So, that means, no matter how we feel, we must determine in our hearts that we will continue to be faithful in doing what we know is right. This is the first step to "withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Eph. 6:13)

Practically speaking, this is just good ol' faithfulness. Faithfulness in prayer. Faithfulness in keeping a thankful heart. Faithfulness in reading the Word of G-d. Faithfulness in worship. Faithfulness in praise to the L-rd. Faithfulness in attending church to hear the Word and be an encouragement to the other believers.

If we purpose in our hearts to be more thankful, to praise our L-rd more, to stand, and having done all, to stand....the L-rd will give us "the garment for praise" in exchange for "the spirit of heaviness".

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Deceived and Being Deceived.....

In the book of Amos you will see the progression of sin in Israel (disobedience to G-d, lies, betraying the righteous and poor for money, misplaced values, immorality, corruption, they knew not to do right, falsified balances by deceit), and the consequences to that land (famine due to crop failure, adversaries to bring down the strength of the nation, famine of hearing the words of the L-rd).

Jeremiah also laments over Israel because of her sins. He takes to task the prophets and priests who have been corrupted. Is it not so in our country----many have left the true Word of G-d, corrupting it with their own twisted interpretations of it, preying on the people, and calling good evil and evil good.
Jeremiah 5:31---"The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? "

Notice, "my people love to have it so". Today, we see much the same attitude among those who claim to be believers:

II Tim. 4:3, 4---"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

II Timothy 3:13 tells us what things will be like in the last days: "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."

At the end of 2008, we are there, are we not? It shouldn't be hard for us to understand, then, that after we are gone up to meet the L-rd in the air, and the antichrist comes on the scene, that people will be totally deceived and under "strong delusion".

II Thess. 2:9-12---"Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause G-d shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

II Thess. 2:3 tells us, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"

We who know the L-rd in these last days are His remnant. We must be in G-d's Word, cloaking ourselves with Truth; and in prayer for one another and our country.

I Thess. 5:8,9,11 admonishes us to keep our armor on, and to comfort one another: "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For G-d hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our L-rd Jesus Christ. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another even as also ye do."

A Divided House.......

According to the statistics from this election, about half of the country is ecstatic with the results; the other half is greatly disappointed. We live in a divided country. You can turn on the news to hear the pundits reiterate again and again that there is a great rift in our land, and that there is hatred breeding within our society, evidenced by the deadlock in Congress, the vitriol spewed between parties.

I'm sure you've noticed, especially throughout this election process, that President Bush is much maligned and hated. Personally, I have not agreed with all of his decisions. I think he has had some bad advice, and has made his share of mistakes. Anyone who holds that office over the years has made their mistakes as well. But why such hatred for the man? Truly, I believe that it stems from the fact that he chose to be unashamed about his faith in Jesus Christ. Once he made his beliefs known, he was fair game for those who hate G-d. They invalidated any position he held. It didn't matter what it was, they would be against it.

The Bible tells us that the world hates those of us who know and love the L-rd Jesus Christ. I really believe that this is the crux of the matter. I John 3:12, 13 make it very clear: "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you."

From the political realm to the entertainment arena, we see this hatred becoming more intense and more blatant. The issues are becoming more divisive as well. Those who know the L-rd and who are for righteousness will find themselves being diametrically opposed by those who have no regard for G-d and His laws. Just think about some of the issues we are facing these days.....issues that are causing our laws to be rewritten, causing our freedoms to errode. It isn't a matter of Democrat vs. Republican; it's a matter of righteousness vs. unrighteousness.

We must remember this in the days ahead. If they hate Jesus Christ, we, too, will be hated.

Here's some good advice from Amos 5:13-15:

"Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time. Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the L-RD, the G-d of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the L-RD G-d of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph."

Supplications and Thanksgiving!

Now that the election is behind us, what do we do? Let us remember this Scripture:

I Timothy 2:1-4---"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men: For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of G-d and our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

Notice the phrase, "and giving of thanks". You may wonder how to give thanks for some of those in authority. But, Philippians 4:6,7 admonishes us to, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto G-d, And the peace of G-d, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Our prayers and supplications, including for those in authority and for our country, should be accompanied by giving of thanks! Much sin comes from an unthankful heart---read Romans 1!

We must pray for those leading our country for these reasons:
1. That we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty
2. This is good and acceptable in the sight of G-d and our Saviour
3. The L-rd wants all men to know the Truth and be saved

Notice that the first reason is so that we may live a quiet and peaceable life. I think that has to do with being able to live with freedoms to serve the L-rd, not having to fear what we say or what we do for the L-rd. It isn't a selfish prayer, for our own gain---to acquire wealth, fame, possessions so we can live on easy street. It's so we can live a godly and honest life. The early believers didn't have that luxury. They were often persecuted severely by the authorities for their faith.

The second reason to pray for those in authority is just as important, maybe more so: because it is good and acceptable to the L-rd. We should do things because it pleases the L-rd. Those of us with children know the importance of teaching our kids to do things they do not like to do. It builds character, and teaches them that they need to do things because it pleases mom and dad, and because it's the right thing to do. Sometimes we need to do things just because it pleases G-d!

And then, thirdly, we need to pray for our authorities because the L-rd wants to see them saved, too. Doesn't matter their party affiliation, what they've done in the past; He died for them, too. II Peter 3:9---"The L-rd is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

In these last days, our country needs much prayer. Those in authority need much prayer. We must remember that our hope is in the L-rd, not in government or political parties that come and go. Let us be faithful to pray and be thankful.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pre-Election Musings....

In less than one week, we will have voted for a new President. Every four years it seems as though much is on the line in regard to issues and concerns for our country. This election cycle is no different. In fact, I think that we have even more serious issues to be concerned about this time.

What we must remember, though, is that G-d is still in control. Whoever wins the election will not catch G-d by surprise. The L-rd knows the future, and the paths that we take. If we consider Bible prophecy, we also know that things are not going to get better as time goes on. Things are lining up at a fast pace. With all the technology we have these days, it only takes a click of the computer keyboard to effect a major change in the global political climate.

Like it or not, our world is rapidly moving toward a global systemization in many areas---economic, religious, political. As Bible-believers, we should not be surprised. We should, however, do all we can do to maintain our liberties. But, we must not despair.

One thing that the L-rd keeps reminding me of is this: that this world is not our home. The L-rd is preparing a place for us----"in my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you", Jesus told His disciples.

Everything in this world is temporal. There is nothing that we have here that we will be taking with us to our home in heaven. And, there is nothing we'll want to take with us.....except for our friends and family.

So many are wringing their hands in despair over lost investments. Many have pored over their stock market portfolios day by day for years, trying to position themselves to get the best return on their invested monies, only to find that thousands upon thousands of dollars have recently disappeared. Doesn't the Bible say that riches take wing and fly away?

It's good to prepare and to be good stewards of what the L-rd has given us. But, we must remember that if we belong to the L-rd, then our possessions do as well. Whatever we have is His. If we would only remember to just give what we have to the L-rd and let Him worry about it. If we would only be so yielded to Him, that we can let go of the reins of our possessions. How freeing is that?!!

No stress---just trust. G-d has a good track record. He is faithful to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. That's all that matters. He is faithful to take care of us down here as well.

Even so, Come, L-rd Jesus!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Too Many Projects, Not Enough Summer!

I don't know about you, but it seems that every summer I have such ambitious intentions of accomplishing many things while the weather is good. Like, re-doing several rooms in the house! For the past few years I've wanted to totally re-do a wall in our living room. A past owner---not really sure which one---had the brilliant idea of putting those square mirrors in vertical rows in-between real wood panels on the entry wall of our living room. I think they wanted to accomplish making the room look larger...which it probably does.....but it's certainly dated....and the mirrors are getting dinghy.....time to take that all down and re-do the wall. I say that every year since we've been here. So, this makes the 12th.....but who's counting? ;-)

We live in a 70's tri-level. Our house is what I refer to as "a work in progress". We do a little updating at a time. However, during the past couple of years, the project we worked on and completed was a rather amazingly huge one! We had a massive brick fireplace and hearth in the middle of our main living area that needed to come out! Thankfully, we had men in our church who knew how to go about this. It required dismantling the whole thing from the chimney to down below the house. That was A LOT of brick and mortar, let me tell you!

Once that feat was accomplished, then the roof had to be patched, as well as the ceiling. Our son-in-law, Travis, framed in the wall that would house our propane fireplace. It took about two years for this all to be accomplished. We had to tile in the hearth area as well as around the fireplace insert. And, I papered above the tile work with Paper Illusions! This is the neatest wallpaper ever! You can go to to see other projects that people have done with this remarkable faux finish! The next project I want to do with this paper is re-do my kitchen countertops---yep---that's right! It can be done---and the finished result is awesome! I'm hoping that I'll have a chance to do that this summer...the past two summers whizzed by before I could tackle it!

So far this summer I've repainted the guest room. Took me all day. Dummy me! I should have painted primer on the walls and ceiling first---I know better--really!! But, no.....I skipped that part...and paid for it, believe me! Three coats of paint and an icepack later, I was finally finished!

This weekend, we will go to my mother's house to pick up some furniture. We'll be putting my folks' old bedroom set in our guest room. And, I'll be rearranging and organizing the furniture in our living room and family room....getting rid of some and adding the pieces from my folks' house. It'll be a nice change!

The other project I want to tackle this summer is to insulate the cinder block bottom half of the wall in our family room. I plan on doing that with foam insulation boards. Then, I'll prime them and paper them with Paper Illusions too! It'll help keep that room's downstairs in the "basement" part of the house-----stays nice and cool in the summer.....and too cool in the winter! The grandsons love to play down there.....they can really spread out the GI Joes!

Here it is the middle of July---I really need to get with it if I'm going to get all this done and go on our Alaskan Cruise in September! That'll be for another blog!

My Testimony

My Testimony of Salvation by Grace through Faith

Ephesians 2:8,9---“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of G-d: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

I suppose I could start my story generations back, during the times of the Inquisition.
However, very little is known of my ancestors from those times, except for a gggg--etc--grandfather who was tried as a Jew in the Portuguese Inquisition (the Vatican kept good records). History is a very stubborn thing, and the L-rd is good in bringing to light the hidden things of darkness, so that truth is exposed. I will write more about that, L-rd-willing, in a subsequent article.

Being a “baby-boomer”, I was born pre-Vatican II, into a Roman Catholic family. I was second and third generation born into the United States. My grandparents and great grandparents came from foreign shores to find liberty and a better life for themselves and their children.

Truly, if it weren’t for them coming to this land of the free, I might not have been really set free!

My mother was a very observant Catholic. She religiously went to confession every week and to Mass on Sunday. My father, though a Catholic in name, was not observant, and rarely attended church. He would, however, consent to go on Easter or Christmas in order to please my mother. But, he did not have much regard for the Roman Church…..and I learned why later in life.

Once I reached the age of five years, I began accompanying my mother to church on Sunday. I guess my mother figured that, 1. I was old enough to sit still and listen, and 2. Maybe I would become good if I went to church! My impression of the church at that young age was that it was all a bit overwhelming. In those days, things were very austere. The inside of the church was dark, the statues of the saints were larger than life; everything was a bit much for a young child to absorb. Certainly, the service, done completely in Latin, was not very illuminating to my heart. It was more funereal than anything.

During this time in my life, my mother was having her own personal struggles. She was not a happy person. My two little sisters and I were well-cared for, but there was not much happiness in our home. My father was a well-educated, hard-working man.
He also worked a side job for extra money for savings; after all, they had three children to send to parochial school and then to college!

We had a neighbor up the hill from our house who my mother became gradually acquainted with. This woman was older than my mother, and provided some very kind and comforting friendship. As I said, my mother had quite an internal struggle waging within her. She had no peace of heart, and desperately was in search of the peace that passeth all understanding. So….she began to ask questions of our neighbor, who was a believing Christian. This neighbor shared some simple Bible verses with my mother, and invited her to visit her church.

Did I say that this period of time was PRE-Vatican II?! My mother was horrified----attending a Protestant church was a MORTAL sin!!! She declined to go to church with our neighbor, but continued to have conversations with her.

My grandmother, upon my mother’s request, bought her a large Catholic Bible for my parents’ wedding anniversary. You know---those large family Bibles that most people kept on the coffee table in those days? Well, my mother was determined to find some answers, and she was going to read the Bible from cover to cover if that’s what it took!

The priest and nuns made regular house calls in those days. They took census of the members of their parish and checked up on them from time to time. My mother took advantage of this, and invited the priest in to answer the questions she had---like, why did she commit the same sins over and over again every week? She’d go to confession, then have to recount the same sins in the confessional the following week. There must be something more to one’s spiritual life! This was tormenting her. The priest had no answers. In fact, he had come while I Love Lucy was on TV, and it was very difficult for my mother to get his undivided attention! He finally told her that he would come by at another time and let her borrow his book on the political kingdoms of the Old Testament. Huh? This was going to address her spiritual concerns?
Well, the priest never did come up with the book.

I remember the priests and nuns very well. They all wore clerical garb in back then--they were hard not to notice, and their attire made quite an impression upon a young child, let me tell you! The nuns wore full habits, with what I called “granny shoes”. I remember as a child, looking into their faces, but not finding any softness or kindness there. I looked for kindness. My mother, with her own inner turmoil, did not know how to relate to her children on a sweet level. She was a good mother in providing for our physical needs, but the sweet nurturing a mother imparts to her children just wasn’t something my mother had in her or knew how to do. In fact, my mother and I were on a collision course. I could not please her, and she found fault with me constantly. Her mood swings and unhappiness and general lack of knowing how to deal with her small children led to a dysfunctional relationship. This, I believe, affected my behavior as well. I had such a feeling of rebellion in side of me…..and I wasn’t near being a teen-ager yet! But, there you have it---I became a difficult child, in response to my mother’s difficult behavior.

During these days of searching, my mother continued to faithfully attend the Roman Catholic Church in our town, with me in tow, I‘m sure hoping that somehow, by osmosis, the Latin Mass would do something magical within me and make me “good“. I was close to 5 ½ years of age. I knew little of G-d. He certainly was not a personal G-d…..but in my mind, was someone waaaaay up in the sky somewhere…..kind of like an old, bearded man. I knew nothing of Jesus Christ. I did, indeed, know about Mary, though! And I did, indeed, know that I was a sinner! Oh, I didn’t know the word “sinner” then, but I received enough spankings and scoldings to know that I was far from perfect! And my own heart knew something was wrong, too!

I remember one Sunday very vividly. This particular Sunday, a group of children were taking their first communion. I’d never seen anything like it before…..though I had seen the white dresses and veils in the store windows when we went shopping in the Boston area in which we lived. I couldn’t wait to wear a beautiful dress and veil like that! I had no idea the significance or what would be required of me.

That one Sunday I was to find out. So, sitting in the pew next to my mother, I dared to whisper to her, asking her what those children were doing. She whispered back that they were taking their first communion…..but, she added, they first had to tell their sins to the priest. (I’m sure my mother wanted that to sink in!) And then she really lowered the boom: “And you’ll be doing that soon, too!”

Gulp! The part of telling my sins to the priest was not lost on me!! In fact, it had a huge affect upon me. I know, I know---what sins could a 5 year old possibly have to hide? Well, believe me, I knew in my heart there were some very bad sins! I knew I had not always told the truth; I had not always obeyed my mother. I had bad thoughts and desires---yes, even at age 5. The Bible says that, “For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of G-d.“ My heart started racing about a hundred miles an hour….and felt like it had dropped to the pit of my stomach. I, who had never really prayed---except to say a “Now I lay me down to sleep….” poem, suddenly was so overcome with such fear and dread, that in my desperation, I prayed! I didn’t know I was praying…but looking back, that is what I did…though I was praying to a G-d I didn’t know, and didn’t know anything about! Amazing, huh?! That, to me, is proof that the L-rd has put it in our hearts to know that He IS!! So… prayer was simply the desperate cry of my heart at that very moment: “Oh please---I hope we won’t go to church then……I hope we won’t be Catholics then!” How could I even entertain that idea?! There was little hope for that!! But, I was so dreading the day that I’d have to tell my sins to anyone! And especially to a man I didn’t know! Fear really took hold of me that day. I didn’t fear disobeying my mother; didn’t seem to fear her wrath up to that point……but that day, I came face to face with cold fear.

You know what? The L-rd heard the cry of my heart. That is a miracle! He heard…..and He answered! He delivered me from the grip of Rome and from the vise of sin in my heart!

Shortly after that Sunday----I think it may have been a month or two----my mother couldn’t stand it any longer. Because she hadn’t any direction in reading her Bible (it would have been best if she had started in John or Romans), she had become bogged down in the begats, and she was too impatient to wait to read any more of the Bible in order to try to discover the truth for herself. By then, she was calling it that…searching for the truth! So, reluctantly, she agreed to attend this Bible-preaching church with our neighbor up the hill. On a Sunday night. Only sitting in the back of the church. Absolutely would not participate in the service…..just there for observation, you know!

Of course, the Holy Spirit dealt with her heart that night. The children’s choir sang One Day…..the words of that song pierced her heart as she heard about the L-rd Jesus Christ Who paid the atonement for our sins because He loved us. The Pastor preached a simple Gospel message of salvation. My mother was sure he must have known she was there, because she felt he was preaching right at her. Of course he didn’t know anything about her. But the L-rd knew she was there and HE was the one speaking to her heart with the message from His Word.

Well, for two weeks my mother wrestled with the truth of the Word of G-d. She was becoming more and more miserable. She was a Catholic---she was already a Christian, wasn’t she? But, she had no peace, and no assurance of salvation or that she was a forgiven child of G-d. Then, one day, she gave up her struggle, and down on her knees, she acknowledged, directly to the L-rd alone, that she was a sinner and wanted Him to be her personal Savior.

There definitely was a change in my mother‘s outlook after that. She did have the joy of the L-rd in her heart, and had found peace with G-d. She had to tell everybody! In her mind, she thought that if she told them what the Bible said, that of course, they’d want to get saved too!! Not everyone was happy to hear of it. My dad thought she had lost her marbles. Here was his wife, who had been on the verge of a nervous breakdown, her doctor having just prescribed her tranquilizers, and now she was on this manic high!! It was going to take a lot of convincing for my dad to believe that this was genuine.

The weeks went by. Now, my mother was taking me to this Bible-preaching church with her. I remember the first Sunday we went there-----what a contrast to the Roman Church! This church was well-lit! No statues of any kind. No Jesus on the cross. People welcomed us at the door with smiles and friendliness. The children had special classes where we were taught Bible stories----all new to me!

Sunday after Sunday, now, I was hearing about Jesus and how he died for my sins. The miracles He did, how He created the world and everything in it. I heard of David and Goliath, of Daniel and the lions. I loved going to church and hearing about this loving G-d. But, it still hadn’t sunk in that Jesus Christ died and rose again for ME!

My dad was not interested in trying out this new church. He thought my mother was going through a phase and this would wear off, too. One day, while working his other job, he lost his wallet somewhere along the busy highway on which we lived. He wasn’t aware that it was lost that day. While he was at work, there was a knock on our door. My mother answered it, and a man stood there holding out my dad’s wallet. My mother recognized this man as being a member of the church we were now attending! She spoke with him and asked him to pray for my dad---that he would come to church and get saved. This man assured her that he would do so.

Well, when my dad came home later that afternoon, much to his amazement, my mother presented him with the wallet he had lost! Then, she told him the story of how the wallet came to be returned. That touched my dad’s heart….that someone would be so honest and take the trouble to come to our house to return the wallet really made an impression on him. Maybe there was something to this “religion” after all. He decided to find out for himself what was so different about this church. So, that Sunday, he came to church with us.

Soon, the Holy Spirit had illuminated my dad’s heart, and he, too, accepted the L-rd Jesus Christ as his only Savior. He began attending church every Sunday, became involved with the men’s fellowship there, and testified of the L-rd’s saving grace to others in our family and to friends.

Even though I was attending Sunday School and church and hearing the Word of
G-d Sunday after Sunday, I still wasn’t saved. My heart was still in rebellion to my mother. Though my mother was saved, and had found the peace she had been searching for, she still, due to her troubled upbringing, had issues she struggled with. Sometimes we hold onto things, not letting go of old hurts and resentments. Bitterness sets in and it colors everything. That’s why the book of Hebrews tells us not to let a root of bitterness spring up…..thereby defiling many (Hebrews 12:15). If my mother had relinquished all her old hurts, and chosen to forgive the unforgivable, she would have had complete victory in her life. But, that wasn’t to happen, and it did continue to affect our family significantly.

Shortly after my dad came to know the L-rd, my mother, who was not a patient person, had evidently waited long enough for me to get saved. So, one evening, at supper, she decided to take matters into her own hands. The old Catholic way of thinking was still ingrained. She announced to my dad that after supper that night, I was to pray with them and ask Jesus into my heart! Oh! Here we go again!!! Fear, dread, panic! What was I going to do?! Even at 5 ½, I had a lot of pride. To humble myself in front of my mother…..oh that was just too much. No way could I pray with my parents and do that! We were not emotionally connected that way……it felt so invasive to me! So…..I had to think fast. In order not to lie------I had been paying attention in SS after all!!------I said a “quickie” prayer in my head, asking Jesus into my heart right then and there. Then, I announced to my mother that I had already done that. She was surprised----”When did you do that?”, she asked me. Sigh…..I couldn’t lie…..”Just now,” I replied. Oh---Mother was overjoyed!! “Did you hear that, George?!” She asked my dad. “Beth got saved!!” Whew----that was a close one!!

Ha---but you know, the Holy Spirit wasn’t going to let me get away with that!! Oh no!! That night, in my bed….alone with my thoughts, and with the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart, I knew in my heart of hearts that I really hadn’t gotten saved at the dinner table……I hadn’t meant what I “prayed”. I just did it to get out of praying with my parents. But you know what…..the Holy Spirit did bring to mind the Scripture verses I had been taught of late….and how I was a sinner on my way to hell without the L-rd. I knew, because of the Bible verses I had been learning, that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for me…..and that He is “THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE, no man cometh unto the Father but by ME.”

So, there, alone in my bed, realizing that even as a child, I was a sinner on my way to hell, I was truly sorry for my sins, and repented and accepted the L-rd Jesus Christ into my heart as my only personal Savior.

For those who think that children cannot be convicted of sin; that they cannot be dealt with by the Holy Spirit; that they cannot be saved, and that their hearts cannot be changed, I have one thing to say------it happened to me!

The L-rd Jesus Christ is a PERSONAL L-RD---He is a PERSONAL Savior!!
He personally dealt with me and drew me to Himself. He continued to work in my heart after that, convicting me of sin in my life, and helping me to choose righteousness.

I’ll never forget one momentous day in my young life, shortly after I was saved. Momentous because it truly was a defining moment…..a turning point, if you will, for me. My mother and I continued to “clash”. We just did not connect well on an emotional level. She was very controlling, and I think this just went against my nature. I really struggled with that, because the Bible told me to love others, and to honor and obey my parents. But, I didn’t like my mother very well…..and I didn’t think she liked me either. I think she struggled with that as well. But…I knew the L-rd would have me obey her, none-the-less.

Something came up, and she told me not to do it. I’m not sure anymore what it was particularly. But, I remember clearly that it rankled me! That old nature of rebellion was rearing its ugly head, and I wanted to disobey her…..behind her back, of course. But, the Holy Spirit dealt with me right then and there. I was overcome with such conviction of this sin in my heart to rebel and disobey my mother. I resigned to the fact that obey her I must---I didn’t like it, but I had to obey the L-rd. And it came to me: I would obey her because the L-rd wanted me to, not because she told me to. And that’s what I told her: “Mommy, I’m not going to obey you because you told me to, I’m going to obey you because Jesus wants me to.” I knew I still had that rebellion in my heart….but at least I had come to terms with obeying my mother and the L-rd. I felt so much better…..I had let her know that I didn’t want to obey her----but was doing it for Jesus. That right there helped me so much in my attitude towards my mother.

Again---I was just a young child. But the Holy Spirit can deal with a young child, convicting that child and conforming that child to His image! He did so with me!

I am so happy, so thankful that the L-rd Jesus Christ had compassion upon me, and heard the cry of my heart before I even knew Who He was…..and reached down and saved me from the clutches of Rome and the bondage of sin.

Thank you, L-rd, for saving my soul Thank you, L-rd, for making me whole. Thank you, L-rd, for giving to me, thy great salvation so rich, so free!!

Beth (Brasells) Barcellos Bell