Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Secret of Forgiveness

For years I searhed for the secret of being able to forgive those who do their best to destroy me in one fashion or another. I found, in the last chapter of Genesis a verse that should be the foundation of all your contemplation of forgiveness.

 In Genesis 50:20 Joseph said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery in Egypt, "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as IT IS THIS DAY, to save many people alive."

As I look back on the wrongs done to me in the past, instead of harboring hate and resentment in my heart against those who did them - as I used to- I try to think of them in the light of this verse. I am not saying it is an easy thing to do or that I have been able to make it happen immediately in all situations, but it is necessary if we are to be in right relationship with God. It helps me to catalogue the good that resulted, good that would not have been had the evil not been first, evil that changed the course of my life in a direction charted by God.

It is a given that this will be our lot in life here on earth thanks to Adam and Eve. When they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they sealed mankind's fate. We cannot have knowledge of good without first knowing evil. What God wants for us is that we choose good when we experience the other and the best way to start is with forgiveness.

Without a doubt, the greatest example of this in found in Christ upon the cross. After being nailed to the cross between two theives, the Man who had led a perfect and sinless life, is recorded in Luke 23:34 as saying, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

What they all meant for evil against Jesus, God meant for good in order to bring about the very day, so that many people would live in God's presence for eternity.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Get Out Of The Boat!

Matthew 14:28-30
"And Peter answered Him and said, 'Lord if it is You, command me to come to You on the water' So He said, 'Come.' And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, 'Lord save me!'

I guess this just puzzles me when I read it. Peter wasn't scared because he was doing something totally impossible for man (walking on water), but he was scared of something I am sure he dealt with on a regular basis as a fisherman. We have to remember that if God calls us to get out of the boat and we choose to respond as Peter, Abraham and others did, there will be nothing else to fear and , especially, nothing within the humanly common circumstances  or surroundings experienced in the affirmative response to His calling.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Are there any who seek God?

There were a few verses that stood out to me in my reading in Psalms today...

Psalm 14:2,3  " The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside. They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, no, not one."

Psalm 16:11 " You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Psalm 17:15  "As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness."

I think of the great and catastrophic circle of history.  I thank God for His promise in Genesis, Chapter 8, which reads, "I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done." When I look at the state of our humanity, I wonder how much worse it could have been in Noah's time? Are we, in general, not as wicked as humanity was then?

I have made a decision to be more along the line of Noah and his family. As for me, I am going to continue to seek God and pray that He will "show me the path of life" until I  am "satisfied when I awake" in His likeness.

Sin Lies At The Door

After doing my morning reading  in God's Word, I decided to write again in my old journal. When I opened to the last page that I had written on and looked at the last words I had written, it was concerning the same scripture I am now reading again and the last entry was from November of 2016, a year and a half ago.

The scripture quoted from that date was: Genesis 4:7 "...sin lies at the door. And it's desire is for you, but you should rule over it." This was a discussion God was having with Cain before he killed Abel. God had rejected his grain offering, not because it was grain and not the animial offering of Abel, but because of the sinful life Cain was embracing and holding in his heart. Right before these words, God asks Cain, "Why are you angry? Why has your countenance fallen?"

Cains anger comes from the "sin" in his heart, the knowledge that he was living a sinful life. He was angry because he knew that God knew this also and  that was why He rejected his offering. Once sin is welcomed into the heart, it grows and this is why Cain killed Abel.

The sin in mankind is unavoideble as long as we live on earth,  but we can "rule over it." with God's guidance. God destroyed the earth with a flood, but he kept Noah, his sons and all the wives and with these, sin, although sin  "ruled over" by these people who walked with God, stayed on earth. Genesis 8:21 says: "I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from youth...."

We must allow God's Holy Spirit to give us the desire and power to rule over the sin in this world, including the sin that lies at our door. As the world changes, that door just gets bigger and harder to guard, But God is bigger that all that may come against us.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I was listening....

I was listening to T.D. Jakes Sunday. He was talking about the times that your faith is essential if you are to survive. He talked of Paul and his thorn in the flesh and went on to say that God has to allow balance in your life. He talked about the fact that when we ask things of God and He says yes and we are truly blessed and happy, the need for our faith is less in a sense, but that "When all Hell breaks loose," that is when our faith is of the utmost importance to our walk in life.

It was interesting that I had just watched a movie about a Buddhist Monastery in the midst of  war torn Japan. It seemed that with every tragic event, the response of the monks was always, "Buddha be blessed."
I was thinking to myself, why are us Christians not more like these Buddhist monks? Does God's Holy Word not say, "In everything give thanks."?

My theory became that, in most other religions, salvation is based on works. I think in those religions, followers assume that if things go south, they must of done something wrong in their works towards enlightenment. In our faith, salvation is a gift and not of works, "lest we should boast". Sometimes when "all hell breaks loose", we assume God has deserted us, that we are all alone. We must learn to, immediately, turn to the God that has never left us, the God who stands beside us through the good and the bad.

Personally, I am happy and give thanks that God allows balance in my life, the Yin and Yang. I will say that I do not always like the balancing things that follow my great blessings, but they help me to exercise my faith. I look forward to the day I am no longer in need of the balance that my flesh requires. I continually want to be like Daniel, for people to know I am a Godly man, this His Spirit is in me. It is I that prevents that from happening, but the thorns of the flesh I receive are helping me to move towards my mark.

I thank God that my relationship with Him is a gift, because my works fall far short of the mark. Of course, the God who new the end from the beginning, knew this and provided a plan of adoption into a Kingdom of Victory and of no end.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"The Plans I Have For You..."

Every where we turn, there are those that want us to plan for our future. They all want us to decide where we will be in 2 years, five years, 10 years. How will we plan our finances to take us there- there where WE want to be in the future? It is easy, even as children of God, to get pulled into making decisions and commitments that take us far beyond the good stewardship God has called us to.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but the counsel (plan or purpose in the Hebrew) of the Lord will stand." Proverbs 19:21

It isn't that God doesn't expect us to plan for our lives, that he doesn't want us to look forward in our considerations. He does, however, expect His will and plans for our life to be the center of those considerations. Think of how many times in the New Testament that the disciples planned on going to a certain place, but God prevented them and sent them elsewhere.

That is the way God wants us to operate. We should be in constant contact with Him (1Thess. 5:17), praying without ceasing, constantly communicating with our God, hungry for his direction and eager to do his bidding.

When God called Abram, He didn't give him a playbook, an outline of the plan He had for him. God said Abram, pack up all your possessions, your family and your servants and head in this direction to a land that I will (after you get moving) show you. Now, let's look at this. Abram was 75 years old and I imagine he had amassed a few things. I think, just to get everything and everybody ready to go, it must have taken some planning. There must have been planning for transport of people and possessions, etc.

Before he left, Abram built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. When he arrived at the next place he was to travel to, the Word says (Gen. 12:8) "..he....pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord."

He followed God's directions to the letter and then, after planning for camping and probably food for the evening, etc., he prayed to God for further instructions. This is to be our relationship with God. We have all heard in church of our daily walk and that is what we should have. But it's not just doing what we think God would want us to do, sacrificing what we think God wants; it's praying to God at every fork of our daily lives and asking what His will is for our day.

If we follow the story of Abram just a few verses farther, we find that Abram decided to plan a few things without God. He decided he would protect himself by lying about his wife, by claiming her as his sister. If you don't remember what a mess that caused, read Genesis, Chapter 12. It's a perfect example of why God does not want us planning anything without consulting Him.

In Jeremiah 19:11-13 it spells it out for us.

"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."

The key here is that God says "I know the plans I have for you." He didn't say that we knew or that He would ever give it all to us in one lump. Like Abram (Abraham) we need to take it as He gives it to us, acknowledging that He knows when we are ready. He has promised us peace and welfare and a future that He already has mapped out. And most of all, we are in possession of the Hope, the knowledge that this is not our home and that God has the best route to our eternal home planned out. All we have to do is plug in on a regular basis and update our GPS!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Soul Conditioning

"When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord." Jonah 2:7

I was contemplating Jonah's situation the last few days. He was a called man of God, a prophet commissioned with a word. Why was it that he had to come to the point where his "soul fainted" within his very being before he remembered the Lord?

How many times have I waited until the very same point before I remembered from "whence cometh my strength?" Jesus commanded us in Matthew, the 22nd Chapter, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind...." If we were following this great commandment to the fullest, we would not be in that situation; we would always remember and know the leadings and desires of our God.

Of the three elements of the "love commandment", I think we humans want to concentrate on loving God with our mind. We want to be able to wrap our heads around Him, as we are prone to say. In John, Chapter 20, verse 29, Jesus was talking to Thomas. Thomas had refused to believe that Jesus was resurrected without certain physical evidence. Jesus, as you remember, provided the evidence, but followed with this: "...You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe."

I think we need to concentrate more on loving God with our hearts and, especially, our very soul. So, I started researching exactly how you could explain your soul. Some equate it with spirit, but I tend to believe, with certain scholars, that the spirit and the soul are different. I read that the spirit is from God and is totally spiritual, whereas the soul is not.

The best I could discern is that our soul is best described as the non-material essence of our being. The part that's not flesh and blood, but not necessarily all spirit. It's the part of us that meshes our spiritual and worldly experiences into what drives us as human beings.

I think that soul can be focused, like in the great love commandment. It can be who we are in God or Christ - the loving, caring, compassionate and righteous. It can be prophetic, evangelical and bring God glory as it was designed to be in the beginning. Or, it can be who we are within ourselves, which is where Jonah found himself and I find myself at times; those times when I have tried everything I know, the way I think it should be done, etc. At that point, when our soul is finally "fainted within" ourselves, we can remember the Lord.

I think lastly and most disastrously, our soul can be who we are in sin. Jesus warned us in Matthew with another ponderous question. "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul." Matt. 16:26

We can condemn our soul to hell or we can let Jesus save our souls and begin some conditioning of our soul's disposition. The formula for tenderizing and conditioning is simple. "Love the Lord your God with ALL your HEART, with ALL your SOUL, and with ALL your MIND. This," He says, "is the first and great commandment. The second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."