Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Let the Bible Speak for Itself: True Worshipers Will Worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth...

"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." - John 4:23-24

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Article: Ask Not What Your God Can Do For You, Ask What You Can Do For Your God

"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:19-34

Hum...? Jesus said it so plainly. Jesus said we are to be concerned about the things in heaven, His Father's kingdom, not about the things on earth. All of us have read this passage, yet we readily forget to apply this truth in our lives. Well, perhaps I shouldn't speak for you, but I know I forget to apply this truth when I need to apply it most - every day!

I hear about God's promises to bless us in mulitple ways, but I don't hear much about seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness first: seeking to love the LORD, seeking His face, seeking to spend time in His presence, seeking to know Him better, seeking to worship Him, seeking to serve Him. If we did nothing but seek Him on a daily basis: meditating on Him at work, at play, with family, with friends, or alone, wouldn't we find that the comforts in our lives would remain intact yet we would be closer to, if not the closest we have ever been to, God? John F. Kennedy's infamous speech comes to my mind, but with a twist: "Ask not what your God can do for you, ask what you can do for your God."

Some are sick among us, physically ill. Some are sad and brokenhearted. Some are persecuted for His name's sake, either at work or school, or by family or governments. Some are rejected and alone. Many are sick because of their sin, as in 1 Corinthians 11:29-31. But some are sick because our "adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." - 1 Peter 5:8

No matter the reason for the sickness or sadness, do we teach that we can chase the healing, money, honor, acceptance, or deliverance by demanding these things from God because He promised? Or do teach what Jesus taught? Do we teach and understand that were are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be given to us? Do we go before Him for His sake alone? Do we cast aside the cares and worries of this life and set our eyes and hearts upon Him? Do we come before Him with a broken (humbled) heart and a contrite spirit that He will not refuse? Do we come humbly into His presence, being bold enough to do so only by the atoning blood of Jesus, to bask in the light of His glory as we worship Him in spirit and in truth and offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving? Do we pour out our thanksgiving as an offering to the LORD? Do we ask what we can do for Him? Sing to Him? Remind His people of the things He has done and that He is a covenant-keeping God who does not lie? Tell the unsaved about His wonderful plan of salvation? Stand under the banner of His love and give glory to His holy name? Do we rejoice in Him? Do we simply seek His face?

"O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon His name: make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wonderous works. Glory ye in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD, and His strength: seek His face evermore." - Psalm 105:1-4.

Let us take our eyes off of ourselves. Let us put the LORD before our eyes today and every day! Let us put others before ourselves. And by so doing, we obey the two greatest commandments by default: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." - Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Mark 12:29-30. "The second is like, namely this, 'Thou shalt thy neighbor as thyself.' There is none other commandment greater than these." - Mark 12:31 and Leviticus 19:18.

"Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them." - Jesus, John 14:21.

Isn't it after humbling ourselves and being in His presence that we can thankfully and assuredly ask in the name of Jesus for the healing provided by the wounds suffered by Jesus (Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24)? Is it after we have been before Him with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving that we humbly and assuredly remind Him of His promises and thank Him for His wonderous works?

James echoes Jesus' teaching found in Matthew 6 and tells us that we do not receive answers to our prayers for two reasons: (1) lack of faith (doubt), or (2) evil desires and lusts within us that cause us to pray 'amiss', meaning we pray for something outside of God's will. When we don't seek His kingdom first and His righteousness, we end up asking for things that don't line up with His will and His Word. If we don't know Him, if we treat Him like a sugar daddy by demanding he give us something because He promised or ask for something we wrongfully desire, we ask amiss. Without knowing Him intimately, we can ask for His intervention, His blessings, His deliverance with the best intentions and not get an answer, because we cannot discern if our desires are running contrary to God's desires, if God is humbling us and applying the heat for our refinement, or if our adversary the devil is trying to apply the heat for our destruction.

"Even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. . . .He gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, 'God opposes the proud but favors the humble.' So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the LORD, and He will lift you up in honor." - James 4:3-10.

"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds." - Jeremiah 17:9-10.

"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever." - 1 Chronicles 28:9-10.

"...Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them." - 2 Chronicles 15:2-4.

"Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD." - Zechariah 1:3-4.

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you He will not fail you or forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6.

"The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." - Deuteronomy 31:8.

"Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." - Psalm 9:10

"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." - Psalm 37:25

"Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?" - Hebrews 13:5-6

"So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you." - James 4:7-8

"...There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:13-16.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:33.

We come to know God's will by spending time with Him through His Word, prayer, and worship. By spending time with God in His Word, we can remove both reasons that hender prayers since we will better understand His will and/or our faith will rise to the level that's necessary to receive answers - "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." - Romans 10:17.

I encourage you to seek God's kingdom first and His righteousness - come to know Him... "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." - 1 Corinthians 2:2 .

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Let the Bible Speak for Itself: Zechariah's Prophecy and the Revelation: Jesus the Messiah

"...And I will open Mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the peoples with blindness. And the chiefs of Judah shall say in their heart: 'The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength through HaShem of hosts their G-d. 'In that day will I make the chiefs of Judah like a pan of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire among sheaves; and they shall devour all the peoples round about, on the right hand and on the left; and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem. HaShem also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem be not magnified above Judah. In that day shall HaShem defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that stumbleth among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as a godlike being, as the angel of HaShem before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. - NEVI'IM, Zechariah 12:4b-11

"...Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus [the Messiah], the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood - and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father - to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." - Revelation 1:4-8

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Let the Bible Speak for Itself: He Sent His Word, and Healed Them, and Delivered Them From Their Destructions

1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.

4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.

6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
7 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. 8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

10 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;
11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: 12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.

13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.
15 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
16 For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.
18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.
19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.
20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
21 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.

28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

33 He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;
34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
35 He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.
36 And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;
37 And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.
38 He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.

39 Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.
40 He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.
41 Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.
42 The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.
43 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD. - Psalm 107

1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. - Ephesians 2:1-10

Monday, August 20, 2007

Let the Bible Speak for Itself: For Zion's Sake I Will Not Keep Silent - NEVI'IM Isaiah 62

1 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. 2 The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will designate. 3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 It will no longer be said to you, "Forsaken," nor to your land will it any longer be said, "Desolate"; but you will be called, "My delight is in her," and your land, "Married"; for the LORD delights in you, and to Him your land will be married. 5 For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you. 6 On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent you who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; 7 And give Him no rest until He etablishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. 8 The LORD has sworn by His right hand and by His strong arm, "I will never again give your grain as food for your enemies; nor will foreigners drink your new wine for which you have labored." 9 But those who garner it will eat it and praise the LORD; and those who gather it will drink it in the courts of My sanctuary. 10 Go through, go through the gates, clear the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples. 11 Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth, say to the daughter of Zion, "Lo, your salvation comes; behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him." 12 And they will call them, "The holy people, the redeemed of the LORD"; and you will be called, "Sought out, a city not forsaken." - Isaiah 62.

"How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. . . .How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah. How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion!" - Psalm 84:1-5.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hurricane Dean

Archive Data

NOAA Satellite IR - Tropical Atlantic (real-time)

Audio Broadcasts - John MacArthur

Friday, July 20, 2007
It's been said that the easiest person to deceive is yourself. And there's no deception with greater consequences than to think you're a Christian when, truth is, you're not. So . . . where do you stand?
Series: The Way to Heaven
Matthew 7:24-29..
Friday, August 03, 2007
Suspension bridges need to rest on bedrock to be stable. But where spiritual stability is concerned - especially when the load of daily life gets heavy - what do you need to stand on?
Series: Seven Steps to Spiritual Stability
Philippians 4:9

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Let the Bible Speak for Itself: A Watchman... Then and Now...

17 “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately. 18 If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 19 If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me. 20 If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 21 But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.” - Ezekiel 3:20-21 (NLT)

18 For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, and has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? 22 But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings. - Jeremiah 23:18, 22

1 I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what [the LORD] will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. - Habakkuk 2:1

20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. 22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. - Jude 20-23 (NLT)

16 If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. 17 All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death. 18 We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. 19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. - 1 John 5:16-21 (NLT)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Article: About Him, About Me, About You

It's been a long, hard, broken road and not one that I ever would want to travel again. I can look back only now and say, "I thank God for all the brokenness in my past, because it's driven me to want to know God and to be known by God, to understand God and His love, and to understand how important it is to love others."

By God's grace, and my desire to turn away from the behavior and beliefs - sin- that caused such brokenness, I have been forgiven through Jesus' redeeming blood. And I have forgiven those who contributed to the brokenness. The Bible (God's Word) tells me that I am a new creation now - old things (my dead spirit, selfish desires, twisted beliefs, and eternal destiny to hell) have passed away and all things (my born-again spirit, godly desires, true beliefs, and eternal destiny to heaven) have become new.

I gave my life to Jesus at 13 and surrendered my life to Him more fully at 16. It was then that I became concerned about correctly discerning doctrines and teachings regarding God's Word, and yet, I would go astray later. So to look back on my journey now makes me look up to heaven in the awesome wonderment of God's grace and mercy and feel absolutely humbled and astonished by His ability to perfect His children in the act of accomplishing His will in our lives - finishing the good work He began in us until the day of Christ Jesus' return. "But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. For God chose to save us through our LORD Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever." - 1 Thessalonians 5:8-1.

I shake my head as I remember how self-righteous and pious I became in my early 20s, feeling little love and grace toward others who professed to be Christians but appeared to deviate from God's truth and obviously lived in sin. And contrary to God's Word, I felt little mercy toward the unsaved because they chose to be rebellious toward God - they loved their sinful lives and were tainted by the curse of death and sin. Yes, if any one could have been accused of having a "holy-than-thou" attitude, it would have been me!

By my mid-20s, I had become like the Pharisee that Jesus spoke of in one of His stories - “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!"

Most of you know the rest of Jesus' story - the truth that Jesus was teaching became my truth. “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” - Luke 18:13-14.

I had exalted myself in self-righteousness and because of God's truth, His principle stated in Luke 18:14, I would be humbled. Those who do not have a relationship with God through Jesus will ultimately be humbled in death by God in His final judgment, and those who have a relationship with God through Jesus will be humbled during life through discipline, as a son or daughter who is dearly loved and must be corrected.

"And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, 'My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.' As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?" - Hebrews 12:5-9.

"Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good. 'So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him...'" - Deuteronomy 8:4-6.

Indeed, God's truth prevailed in my life, as it does in everyone's life. Whether one recognizes the dynamics of God's truth working in their lives or not, God's truth prevails and presides! Now, on which side of God's truth we land is left to us, WE will reap what WE sow! "Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit." - Galatians 6:7-8.

Through my self-righteousness my heart became hard and I became rebellious, which catapulted me into making a series of bad and sinful decisions. I was a rebellious child who was disciplined in a manner that would lead me to repentance - we come to repentance by His goodness (Romans 2:4-11)! My prodigal journey began in my late 20s and continued through my late 30s. At the end of that journey, like the prodigal son in Jesus' story, I was left with nothing! Today, I call that period of time "my years in the wilderness."

The rest of Jesus' story about the self-righteous Pharisee became my story, too, but with one difference: after being humbled, I repented and found forgiveness - I was welcomed back into my Heavenly Father's house with His kiss and embrace! (1 John 1:8-9)

"The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me ' So he divided his wealth between them.
"And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.
"Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.
"So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
"And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
"But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!
'I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men."'
"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him
..." - Luke 15:12-20

I had wandered away from God and found myself in the wilderness, stripped of everything. But God is faithful even when we're not. He ensured, through my experiences, that my heart's desire would become to love, know, and obey Him, and encourage others to love, know, and obey Him. Along with my experiences, there are lots of Scriptures and stories in God's Word that show us the prodigal, the rebellious, the unfaithful, and the unbelieving, and yet God holds out for them to repent and turn back to Him. Over time, I will expound on those stories and truths in future postings, but there's a wonderful common truth in all: God is long-suffering and patient, not desiring that any of us should perish. The desire of God's heart is to redeem, reconcile, and restore! His heart's desire can be seen in reading His Word from Genesis to Revelation. Old or New Testament, Scriptures point to one thing: the good news of the Gospel - Jesus Christ died for our sins and He rose from the dead on the third day.

The concern I had at 16 about correctly discerning doctrines and teachings regarding God's Word remains with me still, and is perhaps more of a concern now than then since I know how easy it is to fall into disobedience and error. I must add that because of my own experience with sin and error, even after knowing Jesus as my LORD and Savior, and then experiencing the forgiveness and restoration of God by His grace, I feel a whole lot of grace and mercy toward others... no doubt! Funny how God works things out like that. Now I stress the importance of striving to know God's truth since I've learned that His truth will prevail - humans, angels, nature, and satan and all his demons cannot escape it! What God says is true, and His governing truth is that He is HOLY! God is love! God is not a liar! God's character remains the same (Hebrews 13:8, Lamentations 5:19, Malachi 3:6, Isaiah 51:10)! God's promises are never broken... but, again, it's our beliefs and actions that determine on which side of God's promises we land.

I desire that we all respectfully fear, understand, love and embrace the Creator of the universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through His Son, Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. God spoke forth His truth and that word proceded from the unseen God's mouth and was veiled in flesh... the only begotten (sired) of the Heavenly Father. Jesus was God's word made flesh - He was the only way God could be like us and live among us. Jesus walked among us to feel what we feel, to understand our human weaknesses, and to ultimately be the perfect sin offering once for all time and for many (Hebrews 9).

There is so much I could say about the truths in last paragraph alone, such as, Jesus being the perfect sin offering, but I'll save it for another posting. I just wanted to give a high-level overview of my story so you will know where I'm coming from as I write today and more later... so you'll know that I speak the truth very plainly and boldly, but I speak God's truth in love and out of concern, not condemnation. It's never my intention to condemn anyone!

I pray you will be blessed by God today! First, I pray you personally know Jesus as as your LORD and Savior and can stand before God's throne to tell Him about all of your concerns, hurts, trials, and thank Him for all your blessings and joyful moments.

If you haven't believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth that Jesus is LORD, that He is God Himself who was clothed in flesh as a Son and came into this world, that Jesus died for you so His blood can wash away your sins, that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of His Father....then you have no access to God. You are still in your sins and He can't let you into His throne room - the heavenly Holy of Holies. He can't let you in through your prayers or when you die; not that He doesn't want to because He loves all of humanity, but He can't because He's HOLY! Sin and an unrepentant person cannot enter His presence. We can't approach God by ourselves, without Jesus and Jesus' blood covering our sin and making us righteous. God sent His Son because He loved us... He loved us long before we knew we were supposed to love Him.

If you believe that Jesus is God's Son, turn away from your sins, and confess "Jesus is LORD" with your mouth, then you will be saved! Then God can and will let you into His presence through Jesus! God will embrace and kiss you and listen to your every word. If you'll stand in God's counsel and learn His truth, then your faith will grow and through your faith He can move your 'mountains' in accordance with His will when you tell them to move. That's just one of God's truths... we must understand that God's truth prevails!