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.