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Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE

Last week our pastor said that he'd be doing a lot of research in preparation for his Mother's Day message and discovered that "everyone has a mother!"  If you are a mother, you know having a child is a tremendous responsibility and an awesome privilege.

William Ross Wallace was a poet who was born in Kentucky in 1819. He is the one who penned these words so long ago and first published in 1865. You can easily find the whole poem on the internet; I'll quote some of my favorite phases...

THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE IS THE HAND THAT RULES THE WORLD

"Blessings on the hand of women! 
   Angels guard its strength and grace.
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
   Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
   Rainbows ever gently curled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
   Is the hand that rules the world.

Women, how divine your mission,
   Here upon our natal sod;
Keep - oh, keep the young heart open
   Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
   Are from mother-love impearled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
   Is the hand that rules the world."

Mother's Day was first celebrated on May 9, 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson had a day set aside to honor all mothers. To be honest, it would be difficult for me to give a 'shout out' to all mothers. I've seen enough in my lifetime to know that not all mothers are "good". But I know this, after the birth of a child the cord that bound the baby to mother and life will be cut, but there is an emotional cord that can never be snipped away.

For a period of ten years I went to my local jail to teach Bible studies for the women who voluntarily came to the class. I soon learned that so many of these women had a very rough childhood which continued to haunt them. Many had children of their own and Mother's Day was a difficult day for them. Some were fortunate enough to have family caring for their child, or children, other's had Social Services take their children and they had no idea where they were.   

Mother's often feel guilt when they see their children unhappy and struggling with life. We wonder, "Is it my fault? Could I have done better?" Most of us think if given another chance, we'd do better, after all, we've grown and learned. The best I could do for these women inmates was to assure them that God will forgive everything "wrong" they had ever done. That He sent His Son Jesus to die for all of our faults...the forgiveness is complete and eternal. God did this out of love, and once given, He never withdraws that love. Raising children becomes easier when you learn that you can't do it alone - you need the One who gives us life to be by your side.

I Chronicles 16:11 "Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." 

I vividly remember many years ago on a Mother's Day morning my seven year old son burst into our bedroom with a big smile on his adorable face shouting. . ."Happy Mother Day's!" He didn't get the words quite right, but I'll never forget the love. When life became difficult for him the Lord used my memory of this morning to open my heart to his needs. The cord that connected me to him was never fully severed, I thought it had been. I needed the Lord to show me that. 

Without actually knowing it, I believe I grew up with the attitude that as a woman, I was special - special to the world, special to my parents and special to God. When we women understand how much the Lord values us we won't feel the desire to march for 'Women's Rights'.  Our rights are God-given, not government given! We can therefore go out into the world boldly, and more important, lovingly, trusting the Lord to guide our lives, protect us, empower us and never forget the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world!

Thank you Lord for giving women such a special place in your heart. Help others to notice! You Lord have been the one to rock my world. 





Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ARE YOU AN APRIL FOOL?

Many Christians were probably chided this past Easter because  Easter Sunday fell on April Fools Day. Some unbelievers found it amusing, and maybe appropriate, that we who believe in the foolishness of Christianity were celebrating our Savior Jesus Christ on a day that is set aside to trick, deceive, and make a fool of others. 

Like a cat, I have an enormous curiosity. Where in the world did the holiday of April Fools Day come from? How long has it be around? Are there other countries that celebrate this too? Thanks to the internet, I quickly found some answers.

We can trace April Fools Day all the way back to France in 1582. This was the year that France changed from the Gregorian calendar to the Julian calendar and the first day of the year became January lst rather than April 1st. They didn't have good means of communication in those days. . .no phones, internet, FaceBook, etc. so some people didn't get word of this change and continued to celebrate the first day of the year in April, thus they were called 'April Fools'. 

It wasn't until 1752 that England accepted the same calendar change as France and some people continued to celebrate the first day of the year on April 1st rather than on January 1st. Eventually most of Europe was caught up in the fun of playing tricks and making fools of each other on April 1st. 

I'm not sure I believe this, but I heard that the Pope cancelled April Fool's Day this year in honor of Easter and there will be two days of celebration in 2019. Really?

My mind immediately went to I Corinthians when I became aware of the jokes about fools and Easter.

"For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

          "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, 
            And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."

Where is the wise man? Where is the scrib? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"
I Corinthians 1:18 - 20  See also Isaiah 62:2  

In I Corinthians 1, we read that God was well pleased with the "foolishness" of the message preached to "save" those who believe. Apparently the Lord knew the message - Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty for the sins of those who believe and they would now have eternal life - would appear foolish to those He had not given the gift of faith. When we understand that faith is a gift, we can come to terms with the fact that others don't believe because they haven't received the gift, see Ephesians 2:8-9. We don't need to judge these people, just love them. 

Never fear - the God who created the universe has always had a plan and no one will disrupt it.

Daniel 4:35 ..."He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: What have you done?" Vs 37..."everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble." 


I think these were the verses that finally opened my eyes to the sovereignty of God.  There may be many who try and convince you they have a free will; Scripture says just the opposite. But, it's easy to confuse the exhortations sprinkled through the Bible as being a choice to be 'good' or 'bad'. We humans are a proud lot, always want to be in charge! Those who say they have a free will are saying in effect that they are free to do what they want and God is not sovereign over their lives. Not true!

I Corinthians 2:14 tells us that, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

I can remember in my early days when people called me foolish for believing the Bible and respecting it as God's Word, I'd say, "Yup, I'm a fool for Jesus!" Never fear, there will come a day, when...

"...at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (hell) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Thank you Lord for the gift of faith. Help us to walk in your light and never become self-righteous because we are who we are because of your grace, love and power.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

REDEMPTION

What exactly does it mean to be 'redeemed'. Simply, redemption means to have paid the price for a wrong committed. A person can rob a bank, go to jail for a period of time and then be set free because the price for the crime (a jail sentence) has been paid.

Biblically, redemption means deliverance from the enslavement of sin and a release to a new freedom by the sacrifice of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

There is one consistent theme throughout the Bible, God redeems His people.  I wrote the following poem a few years ago using words from the Bible.

Redeemed
John 1, Matthew 27, Isaiah 52:14, Psalm 22

In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.

Through Him was life, and that life 
was the light of men.
The light shines in darkness,
but the darkness has not understood it. 

At the appointed time in history
foretold by prophets of old,
a bloodied and beaten body
marred beyond human likeness,
was nailed to a cross.

The mid-day sun was replaced by 
darkness over all the land.
He was heard to cry out,
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Then, He gave up His Spirit.

At that very moment the curtain of the temple
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The law had been fulfilled.
Now we have free access
to God the Father through
the living Word, Jesus Christ.

The earth shook that day, the rocks split,
tombs broke open
and bodies were raised to life.
Those present exclaimed, 
"Surely this is the Son of God!"

It is finished.
I've been redeemed.
To God be the glory!


Thank you Jesus for being our Redeemer, for giving your own life so that we can be forgiven, and experience new life in heaven in the presence of the God.  

Monday, March 26, 2018

I AM WHO I AM


Exodus 3:13-14

"Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me,'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?

God said to Moses, "I Am Who I Am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I Am has sent me to you.'."

These words, I AM, would reverberate throughout the New Testament in the Person of Jesus Christ. 

The apostle John had a very close relationship with the Lord. In fact, Scripture says God gave John a glimpse into heaven. These words are from John 3: 14-18...

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man (Jesus) be lifted up. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

When the Jews heard Jesus use the words 'I AM' they accused Him of blasphemy - they knew He was claiming to be God. Notice how Jesus used this phrase to convince others of who He is.

I AM  "The bread of life" (John 6:35), the source of every believers spiritual life. 

I AM  "The light of the world"  (John 8:12), the source of spiritual insight and direction.

I AM  "The gate for the sheep" (John 10:7), the doorway into the kingdom of God.

I AM  "The good shepherd"  (John 10:14), the One who knows His sheep and lays down His life to save them.

I AM  "The resurrection and the life" (John 11:25), The One who not only gives life after death, but is the source of eternal life.

I AM  "The way, the truth and the life"  (John 14:6), the One who not only shows the way to God and salvation, but is the way. No one can reach God except through Jesus. He is the bridge between heaven and hell.

I AM  "The true vine" (John 15:1) The source of spiritual nourishment for everyone connected to Him in faith just as a vine feeds water and nutrients to the branches. God the Father prunes the branches just as a gardener prunes the branches of a grapevine, rose brush or tree - to make it bear more fruit or beautiful flowers. As most of us have discovered, the the pruning process can be painful, but later it will bare the fruit of righteousness. 

Jesus Christ didn't suddenly appear in Bethlehem as a baby - this is the way we came to know Him - God in the flesh who walked among us - John 1:14. However Scripture tells us that Jesus was
with God from the beginning. Jesus is the Word of God, John 1:1.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."

At Easter we celebrate the person of Jesus who was born, died, buried and rose again. We have a living Savior! This is the gospel, the 'good news'.  God's standard is one of total perfection. None of us can achieve that. We can't be 'perfect' for a day let alone every day. Jesus has made those who believe perfect in God's eyes. Ask the Lord to open your heart to these truths, to give you the gift of faith, and to feel so blessed by having Jesus in your life that you want to share this good news with everyone. 

HAPPY EASTER 



Thank you Jesus for giving your life for us, your sheep. Thank you for the agony you experienced hanging on the cross. Remind us daily that your last words were, "It is finished". You have done it all.










Wednesday, February 28, 2018

ASH WEDNESDAY - LENT, ARE THEY BIBLICAL?

At one time, I took comfort in church formalities and rituals. At the time, I did not have a personal relationship with Christ. I wasn't aware that I had not been re-born spiritually. I wanted to do what felt 'right'. Honoring God felt good.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lent season. You won't find the words Ash Wednesday or Lent in the Bible. These rituals have a long history. Lent has the longest history going back to AD 325. We can see the beginnings of Ash Wednesday in the 10th century becoming official liturgy in the 13th century. 

Both of these celebrations center around one thing; the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The focus should be on what Jesus has done for those who believe in Him, not what we do to please God or gain favor with the 'religious' people of the day. The Catholic Church, as well as some mainline Protestant churches that follow a liturgical calendar put great emphasis on these 'holy days'. Evangelicals, not so much.

What is the significance of ashes on our face? If we look for some Biblical support we can read Ezekiel 9:4.

The Lord called to a man and said. . ."Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over the detestable things that are done in it."

Apparently the mark was made with dust, refer to Genesis 3:19. God is speaking to Adam after he and wife Eve ate the forbidden fruit and became sinful human beings - as we all are.

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

These are Old Testament verses were written for the Jews who were under the law and lived religiously. They don't apply to the New Testament church who is under grace, not the law.

Way back in high school chemistry I learned that our human bodies contain the same 18 elements as a handful of dirt. Knowing that fact can bring us down a notch or two and give us a reason to show humility - we're made of dust! David wrote in Psalm 103:14 that God remembers that we are dust and Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:20 that all come from dust and to dust all return.

We know that Jesus had a resurrected body as we shall someday. God will gather all that dust and give us a new body that will never die and decay. Billy Graham passed into glory recently at age 99. What a humble man he was whose only desire was to share God's love. He has been called the greatest evangelist and teacher since the Apostle Paul who wrote a good deal of the New Testament. 

I remember Mr. Graham saying that one day we will hear that he had died. "Don't believe it" he said, "I'll be more alive than ever and in the presence of God." Amen! A good and faithful servant.

Eventually, the dust became the ashes of the palm branches used the prior Palm Sunday which had been dried, burned and saved for this ritual. Omar Khayyam, the 11th century Iranian thinker whose poetical works have become universally classic, spoke to us in quatrains. I wonder if this Persian man read the Bible. 

"Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend, 
Before we too into the Dust Descend;
     Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie, 
Sans Wine, Sans Song, sans ginger and - sans End!

If Khayyam understood who Jesus is and what He has done for those who know Him, he might have replaced the 'sans' (without) to 'avec' (with). Oh poor Omar, he couldn't picture eternal life with wine, song and ginger; only lying under the dust forever with no life, no joy. Sad.

Lent is described by the Catholic Church as a time of 40 days and nights set aside to reflect on all that Jesus has done for us. We can trace this ritual back to the Council of Nicaea AD 325. Giving up something is often used to remember what Jesus gave up for us - His life, everything! Why the number 40? In Matthew 4:1 we read where Jesus went out into the wilderness for 40 days to fast and pray and was tempted by Satan. Notice He was "led by the Spirit" to do this. We think of not eating food as fasting, but it also has something to do with Spiritual hunger.

This Spiritual hunger is what gives joy and hope to life. To seek a relationship with the God of the Universe, to know His Son Jesus, and to feel the power of the Holy Spirit in our life is what gives us hope, confidence and security. Shedding ritual can be very freeing, perhaps closer to God's heart.

Ash Wednesday and Lent are not occasions for us to display our devotion to God - so He'll like us better - or boost of our own holiness. In October we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation initiated by God who used Martin Luther, a Catholic monk, to show that the church was wrong in many ways for many reasons. Luther pointed out that "The righteous shall live by faith." Romans 1:17. "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because "The righteous will live by faith." Galatians 3:11.

Romans 8:1 - "There is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ."

Romans 8:29 - 30 "For those God foreknew he also predestined ...those he predestined, he also called, those he called, he also justified, and those he justified , he also glorified."

Romans 10:4 - "Christ is the end of the law so there may be righteousness for everyone who believes."

JESUS HAS DONE IT ALL. We can't add to what he's done, but we can be aware of how blessed we are to experience His love and grace. When Jesus was on the cross He said,"It is finished." 

This is the 'Good News' of the Gospel! Don't you want to share it with everyone?

For those who don't feel the need to have a face dirtied with ashes, or giving up something during the lent season, why not add something to your days that will give you peace and joy? Read through the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The first three tell the story of Jesus' life, each one is a little different. John has a a unique way to tell the story of Jesus..."In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." John is saying that Jesus is God.

Thank you Lord for doing it all! Having you in the midst of our lives on a daily basis is the most precious experience on earth.




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

💖💗💓💖💗💝💓💖💗💓💘💖💗💘💓💟💝💖💗💘💝💘💖💗💝💘💖💓💖




In a word, everything! This darling little girl is my three year old great-granddaughter who lives in North Carolina. Her name is Braya Lynn. I love her and think of her everyday.


Today we are celebrating St. Valentines Day. There really was a 'St. Valentine'. He was born in Italy in the third century. He became a Roman Priest and defied a law by the emperor who said that those in the Roman militia could not be with women at all - they couldn't date and couldn't marry as this was a distraction for the men. Yes, women have always distracted men however, St. Valentine believed in love and romance so secretly married many couples. The priest was punished for not obeying the emperor's wishes. He was ordered to be beaten and beheaded for his crime. He died on February 14, 226 AD  😢. I wish he could know that he hasn't been forgotten.

This was a very bloody beginning to a romantic holiday. There are some parallels between Jesus and St. Valentine. They both died for love and paid with their life. We throw around phrases about love without thinking too much about what we're saying - "Love makes the world go around", or "Love is in the air." We often mix love and passion together - we love our new car, chocolate cake. . .our country! Love is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection; that seems similar to passion to me. 

When we love a person, there is a behavior attached to that love. The Bible has the perfect definition of love. 

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." I Corinthians 13:4-8

True love never fails, but we do, all the time in fact. Just as we could never keep the 10 Commandments perfectly, neither can we attain this level of 'loving' on a consistent basis. However if we don't have some standard of perfection to work toward, we're left wondering what 'perfect' is.

St. Augustine described exhortations as commands given by God, which are impossible for us to perform, but given so we know what to ask God for. When I read the I Corinthians 13 passage, I'm immediately aware that my ability to love falls way short and I'm not able to fix that on my own. This epiphany results in me coming to the Lord and trusting Him to work HIS love in me. We often don't have an intense feeling of deep affection for someone but we can always ask the Lord to allow His perfect love to overflow into our relationships. 

Scripture says that God is the source of all love - I John 4:7. Having created us, He knew we'd be incapable of 'agape' - Godly love. We are flawed humans, but the Lord will always come to our rescue; He never fails! 😊 Jesus has come to save us from ourselves. We simply need to surrender to His love, believe and trust in Him. If we can't trust God, we probably won't be able to trust others, and to have good relationships, we need to establish trust. 

Most of us have been told at one time or another that love is a choice. It's God's Holy Spirit that empowers us to make that choice. Over and over again we come to realize that we can trust our sovereign Lord. . .my Father always knows best, and always has my back!  

Thank you Lord for loving us enough to die for us. Thank you that we can call ourselves 'saints' because you've made us perfect in Your eyes. 


Friday, January 26, 2018

LIFE CAN BE FRUSTRATING

Have any of you noticed that as hard as we try to organize our life and get everything right; we can't. And we get frustrated and unhappy. Of course we think that we know what is right and if the Lord loves us, He'd agree! But often He has a different plan. This puts us in the position of trusting Him, or being frustrated and unhappy. 

I go both ways, from frustration to peace and joy. I know what makes the difference but so often ignore what I know to be true.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. . ."
Ephesians 3:20

When we grasp the truth of this verse, we find the peace and joy we're looking for and ignore Satan who just loves to get us all riled up and frustrated. Remember the Scripture says Satan leads the  world astray. 

Do you find these words as incredible as I do - "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine"!? I believe you need to experience this before it becomes true to you. Many times I've asked the Lord for some small thing only to be blessed in ways I had not asked for, or even imagined. It's like when you take a small child to the store with you and he says, "Can I have this coloring book?" And you say "Sure, and you can have a new box of crayons, a picture book and candy bar too." 

You need to have tremendous love in order to die an agonizing death for someone - Jesus did just that for those of us who believe in Him. We are his 'delight', the apple of His eye! 

Remember where your identity comes from and the difference between Satan's lie and God's Truth.

Satan's Lie  
                                    
You are a sinner                               
because you
sometimes sin.

You get your
identity from what
you have done.

Your identity is
based on what
people say about you.

You behavior tells
you what to believe 
about yourself.

God's Truth

You are a saint (one
declared righteous by
God) who sometimes sins.

You get your 
identity from what
God has done for you.

Your identity is based
on you being a much
loved child of God.

Your belief about 
yourself determines
your behavior.

As we begin this new year let's ask the Lord to open our eyes to the truth of His Word. Yes, life is full of frustration and deceit, but we can stand tall no matter what this world brings our way because we have a relationship with the King! We can trust that He "...works all things together for good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28

THANK YOU LORD THAT YOU ARE MINE, AND I AM YOURS. THANK YOU THAT YOUR POWER, YOUR HOLY SPIRIT, IS AT WORK IN US AND WE ARE NEVER ALONE.