"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Posts tagged ‘bible stories’

Is the Presence of God Absent?

We walked into the church hopeful.  We had looked for a long time and we were getting discouraged.  Within a short time we knew we had hit the ‘religion’ jackpot.  There was an active ‘amen’ corner.   The lady that sang the solo had no talent and was chosen for her hair style and lack of make-up.  The reverend was very loud and pointed an accusing finger at the congregation who seemed to be used to the berating.  He talked of the devil and condemned each of us to our own private corner of hell UNLESS we repented from our sin.  I could think of no reason to repent but only had a desire to flee.  If this was ‘church,’ we wanted no part in it!  We quickly delivered ourselves outside to the fresh air and blue sky.  It was not our first disappointment and would not be our last.

It must grieve God’s Father heart that we can be satisfied to sit under this oppression and call it Christian.  Being abused every Sunday morning by a leader who has never even have had an encounter with the Living God.  There is a good chance that s/he is not even a part of God’s family.  This person is what the Bible calls a ‘hireling,’ not a shepherd.  He found a career and used his public speaking skills to try to scare people out of hell, but I think he may just have succeeded in convincing them that if this was what church was about, they wanted no part of it.

Other leaders may not be so overt, but they are all about psychology, or they are a friendly social club that only teaches the easy parts of the Bible  There are so many ways that the church has been infiltrated by the devil and the world.

When we were first brought into the family of God, we were zealous and accepted everything we encountered as coming from Heaven.  After several woundings and our son walking away in disgust, we realized that there must be more to the church thing than what we had first thought.

So, we continued our search to find a place where the Spirit of God actually showed up when we came together.  We love the Lord and spent time with Him on a regular basis.  We really did come into His Presence from time-to-time, but it seemed that the more we hung around certain churches, the less we encountered Him.  Finally we gave up and stayed home.  This was really not a solution either.  At home, we began to drift.  I started reading Christian Fiction instead of the Bible – a voyeur into the lives of people who actually seemed to get it.  My husband just pulled in and his wounds isolated him.  Every so often, I would venture into another ‘church.’  If I could persuade him to come, he would give me a list of why everything was wrong, and he was right!

But I was starved for fellowship – the kind the Bible speaks of – koininea – a coming together in unity and oneness.  Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father were One.  I wanted that and I wanted it with my husband.

I attended a small 7:00 AM fellowship in my small town.  There was a young man there that changed before my eyes.  He went from being a good denominational man to a radiant expression of the Presence of God.  He kept inviting me to come to a small church he attended.  He assurred me it was different.  I was intrigued.

When I went, it was definitely different – totally different from church as usual.  The leader claimed to walk and talk with God on a daily basis and taught the Word of God with authority.  Not completely convinced, I went several times before I asked hubby to come with me.  He came but not with a happy heart.  I could tell he was impressed but sitting for a long time is hard on him and the guy could talk!  After two and a half hours, the meeting broke up.  My dear man told me that I should go to this fellowship, but it wasn’t for him.

So with his blessing, I continued to go.  I changed so much that he knew something was up.  One day, he decided it was time to visit with the leader and he found a man-of-God who not only affirmed him but drew him into a friendship.

We began to attend as a couple.  God has done amazing things in our lives in the last six or seven months.  Now we sit through sermons that can last much longer than two hours and still be hungry for more.  We are learning to enter into and abide in the Presence of God.  He is not just Almighty God to us anymore; He is now our Papa – Abba – Father God.  He loves us and we know it.  We love Him because of it.

This fellowship has become our family.  We are now involved in going to the streets to invite people into His Presence.  It has changed our lives forever.

If your church doesn’t have the Presence of Father God in their services and if it doesn’t show in the lives of those who attend, find a place where God is present.  It makes all the difference.

Is your church abiding in His Presence.  Are you?

Religion or Encounter?? You choose!

My Mama didn’t believe in joining a church because of her Mama’s religion. They taught you would get ‘the Mark of the Beast’ if you did. (I didn’t know what that was.) Grandma’s religion had made atheists of all of her kids because it was, what was then called the “holiness” movement. She wore dark stockings, no make-up and did not believe in having much of anything. There was no radio, television, indoor plumbing and for many years, no refrigerator. She carried wood and coal and used an outhouse until she was 90 years old. Her belief colored all of our lives. Mom and Dad could never agree on what to do about church and so they slept in and sent me to a small church two blocks away.

At that little church, we had a series of pastors, at least two of which I believe loved the Lord. The others were merely religious and not true shepherds.

The one that negatively impacted me the most was a man who had been asked to leave his previous denomination – and pastorate (at least that is what I remember.) Reverend was very unhappy. He had five children who were unique in that they didn’t even fit in and I know that was painful for them.

His wife was the one that still causes me to shake my head. One thing I remembered vividly was that she wore silk stockings with a seam down the back and acres of unshaved hair beneath them. She taught Sunday School. Her favorite song was “Holy, Holy, Holy” and I always felt she was singing about herself as she closed her eyes and warbled in a high stringy soprano.

She didn’t like me much. I was a bit of a leader among our small fellowship. The kids voted for me to give the Youth Sunday sermon. When the news got to Mrs. Reverend, she took me aside and said, “Reverend and I don’t believe that we should have someone in the pul-pit (emphasis on pit) that isn’t a member of the chucha (no ‘r’ and strong last ‘ch’).”

I was very hurt and confused. I left and went to a church across town until they left. It was years before I could hear the song ‘Holy, Holy, Holy and focus on the one it was about.

At no time did anyone in that small church talk to me about the Gospel. There was no power and often little love. It was a place where some folks were thought of as pillars and others as necessary but not honored.

When I went through my rebellious years, I turned from traditional ‘religion’ and started looking at alternatives including the New Age. I found the focus on me and I liked it. I had a new religion and I was the ‘god’ of that religion. It was comfortable but it did not satisfy.  I did what felt right in my own eyes.

Many years later, as I drove down the street listening to R. W. Shambach on the radio, the Holy Spirit spoke directly to my heart and my life changed forever. I had an encounter with the Living God.  I learned that afternoon that God was real, He loved me and had a plan for me  the most amazing thing of all, I found out that I was forgiven. God Himself walked me through receiving His forgiveness and washing me clean. No one can ever convince me that God is not real. He is real! I am His and He is mine.

Religion is an ugly thing.  It is a practice of traditions not instituted by God. It is primarily cultural and doesn’t focus itself on the love and Presence of God.   It talks about God but doesn’t really know Him and can be a mere history lesson.

Religion is found in many different forms and even embraces Christianity that has explained away the power of God.  Because they do not experience it, they deny it.  I includes many different belief systems from all around the world. It incites people to have wars to protect their doctrines and beliefs.  There is form but no supernatural power.

Today’s Lesson:

What religion has is tradition, judgement, culture, doctrine, history, and social clubs as well as conflict with anyone who disagrees with them. What God has is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Righteousness is His gift to us at our acceptance of His Son’s finished work.

Peace is ‘shalom’ in Hebrew which means wholeness – complete in Him.

Joy comes from His Presence and has no opposite and is found only abiding in Him.

A relationship with the Living God is far better than religion.

Are you in religion? Or do you personally know and fellowship with the living God?

If you don’t know Him, I invite you to an encounter with the Living God by accepting the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is easy to do.  Just call on the Name of the Lord Jesus and believe with you heart – NOT your head – and you will be saved and He will send the Holy Spirit to Guide you into all Truth.  Then ask Him to make Himself real to you and He will.

Let me know if you make this decision.

I Am a Child of God

Very intelligent, Troy lived in his head.  He felt that if he couldn’t figure it out, then it wasn’t real.  Faith?  He scoffed at it.  He didn’t need it.  He had it all together.  He loved research and his job.  He worked with concepts and could take an idea from beginning to end.  His mind worked like a computer.  He could win any argument and found few people that could provide a challenge to his conclusions and even fewer who were able to get him to re-work a solution.

Troy’s wife, Vera, was exasperated with him.  Even in questions of raising the children, he knew better than anyone else.  Their boys were entering the teen years and she was seeing them struggling with never being heard.  Their own creativity was stifled by his “father knows best” attitude.

Because of his increasing narcissism, he was no longer tender with her.  She called an attorney.  “He talks and talks and feels he is unimpeachable,” she told the divorce attorney.  “I want to be able to have an opinion and I want the children to develop their own ideas.”

When she announced her intentions to Troy, he exploded.  “I don’t understand.  We have just recently gotten out of debt.  The kids are only going to be here for a few more years.  We have it all.”  But Vera was done and she made it clear.

After leaving, she felt like she was lower than low.  She had no sense of self-worth and began to look for a new love with purpose.  She signed up for several internet sites and had a few ‘dates’ with men who had failed in their own marriages and each had a different set of issues than Troy.  But she was not interested in multiplying her problems.  She became increasingly isolated.

Her close friend, Lizzie, had changed so much recently that at times, Vera was puzzled by her.  She talked about Jesus as her new best friend and big brother.  It puzzled her.  Lizzie kept inviting her to come to a meeting of people that she called her new family.  Vera demurred.  She didn’t need to get involved with a bunch of Jesus ‘freaks” anymore than she needed a man in her life with issues.

Some of Troy’s judgemental, opinionated ways had rubbed off on her especially as it concerned religion.  She didn’t want to be weak and felt that moving in this direction would only add to her problems.

Lizzie didn’t push, but she was so different, in a good way, that Vera was drawn to spend more time with her.  Lizzie talked about something that she called the power of God.  Vera didn’t believe in God but if there was one, it would sure be nice if He had some power.

Eventually, the kids began to get out of control and she had no one to turn to.  Lizzie convinced Vera to meet with her Pastor.  She was really scared but when she met Sam, she liked him.  He had an easy smile and an engaging manner.  He didn’t tell her what to do and listened to her in a way no man had ever done.  He had a way of speaking into her life that felt like healing to her soul.  She could feel the stress fall away.  In the meeting, she found herself calling on the name of Jesus with her whole heart and faith filled her with hope.

But as in all stories, when things get better, something happens that rocks you.  For Vera, the doctor found a lump in her breast and they diagnosed it as cancer.  She fell apart.  One Tuesday night at the Fellowship Meeting, she asked for prayer.  The power of God fell on her in a way that shocked her.  She was laying on the floor.  She didn’t remember going down.  When she got up, she touched her breast and found that the lump was gone.  The doc confirmed the healing at her next appointment.

Vera had never before had an experience of the power of God.  She wasn’t expecting it.  Such peace and joy.  Everything changed.   Even the ways she was speaking to her boys was different and they were responding.

There is so much more to this story and it will go on for years .  There will be many chapters and many changes.  Vera will grow in the Lord and she will make mistakes.  The righteous fall seven times, but they get up.  The progressions are steady and she will learn to move from her soul life to Spirit-life.  She will get to know the great Almighty God and be privileged to call Him, Abba – Papa.

Father isn’t mad at her because she is divorced, or because she thought she didn’t need Him.  His grace embraces her and as she receives it, she changes.  She is discovering that she is from another place.  This world is not her home.  She is an alien.  Her citizenship is now in heaven.  Her new job title is  ambassador of heaven.  Of course, she doesn’t find this out all at once.

Her dear friend, Lizzie, introduced her to a new family and a new home.  Her pastor, Sam, is her mentor and trusted friend.  She has a purpose and a future.

Confirming Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 12:9
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Jeremiah 29:11
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
11 For I know the plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Malachi 2:10
[ Sin in the Family ] “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?

Ephesians 3:16-19 – 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 1:19  19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

1 John 1:3
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Love Story

Once upon a time far away and long ago – this is how many stories start, but this story is right here, now, and today! The setting may seem to be somewhere else, but all of the things that have roots in the Scripture are here and now! So – here we go!

We have heard that God is love and he wants us to love Him, but we have also heard really bad stuff about him. We call them ‘Acts of God’ which include tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and other mega disasters. If there is a car accident and a child is hopelessly hurt or killed, we blame God. Why do we do that? Did we ever honestly attempt to figure out if God is responsible for all these bad things? Is it possible that we as well as other created beings could be responsible?

We have heard the Bible stories so much that they sound all together too familiar. We don’t even get what they are saying. Jesus came as a baby, grew up, did some stuff, got a bunch of people mad and they crucified him, but He showed them and rose from the dead and then went up into heaven. Who buys that? Why does it matter?

We can look at this story in a different way.

Father God wanted a family that would choose to love Him. So he did a really risky thing. He made a special race of people who were capable of living on a level equal with Him but he gave them free choice. They could choose to love Him or not. The ‘or not’ part is where the risk is.

His first son was Adam was a created being and then he created his daughter, Eve. They had it all! He met all their needs by providing a garden that He Himself planted. They could eat anything in the garden with the exception of only one tree. He came to them every day and they walked and talked together. They were learning about this amazing place. Except for the garden, the planet was in a mess, and He wanted Adam and Eve to occupy it and make it all beautiful. They were to make other children in the god-class. They would be like Him but they would not be Him. They would be able to do amazing things. Everything was there for them to enjoy with meaningful work in establishing dominion as co-rulers.

But, the reason the planet was in a mess was that one of God’s heavenly created beings – a beautiful archangel named Lucifer made a choice and led a rebellion in heaven – and God exiled him to earth. He raged around the planet because he had lost his most favored status. He turned earth into a chaotic place with havoc everywhere. The Scripture says, “the world was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light!” He created everything that was made.

There Adam and Eve were on the earth, in a beautiful garden, and they were enjoying themselves, but Lucifer was roaming freely intent on spoiling Father God’s plan. He took on the form of a beautiful serpent and began to dialog with them about the forbidden tree. He did what he is still doing today. He created doubt in the goodness and loving kindness of Father. He convinced Adam and Eve that Father was withholding something. Father had withheld nothing including the knowledge of good and evil. They just were not mature enough to understand it. They lacked ‘No-Thing!’ But doubt had its way and the deceiver won the day. They ate the forbidden fruit and started the cycle of sin that has created storms, accidents and disasters. Now, the longer we live on this earth, the more the sin cycle creates chaos.

Father loves them and knew what they had done, but He came to the Garden anyway. When they heard Father in the Garden, they hid, then they blamed each other and God explained to them what forces they had set in motion. He killed innocent animals, shed their blood and covered their sin. God’s love always covers. The Scriptures say that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Then He put them out of the Garden and set up angelic guards to protect the Tree of Life.

Father God knew from the foundation of the world that we would need to be rescued and He, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit put a wonderful plan into effect. He would send his Son to earth to shed His precious, sinless blood and wipe out the sin that man put into effect by his disobedience and mankind would be restored to him. All they had to do was to choose him. Then God would teach them all the things he had planned for them from the foundation of the world. As they draw near to Him, he draws near to them. In His Presence is fullness of joy!

We can now eat from the Tree of Life and go back to the Garden-life and walk with Father because of the Son. He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside us as our constant companion, guide and friend. We can occupy and bring heaven to earth by walking with Father every day in Jesus name.

So, you have a choice. I had a choice. I chose Him. I KNOW He loves me. I KNOW He loves you. Choose Him and prove His love.

It is easy to do. The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved. Read John 3:16, 17. Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him. Each of us come to the realization of who He is in a different way. For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real. I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus. I just didn’t know. I didn’t know.” So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing. Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Genesis 1, 2, 3

Matthew 26:28

Luke 22:20

John 15:26, 16:13

Acts 20:28

Ephesians 1:7, 2:13

Colossians 1:14, 20

Hebrews 9:12, 14, 10:19, 22

1 John 1:7, 5:8

Revelation 1:5, 5:9, 7:14, 12:11

Aside

The Farm

THE FARM

The screen door on the old farm-house slammed shut.  Shouting for Grandma, I ran in, breathless.  I had been on a tramp in the woods and was reporting in.  My parents were on vacation and I was privileged to come to the country.  I loved the quiet and I thought of it as my special place in the whole world.

Grandma and Grandpa listened to the radio every night which played the Lone Ranger and the Bohemian Band.  We would listen or play cards at night before we would go to bed.  I can still see the small parlor with the dining room table, shining wood cabinets with glass doors, and the african rosewood clock with a pendulum that chimed on the hour.  It was alive with love and activity.

When I would walk down the lane, just beyond the bridge, a choke cherry tree would have fragrant blooms in early spring.  The finger shaped blossoms mesmerized me.  At the base of the tree, the dirt of the lane was a soft sandy texture unlike any that I have ever felt since.  At the flat wooden bridge that connected the lane to the farm buildings, I would sit down, dangle my feet over the side and watch the dark green moss waving in the crystal clear water just above the pebbles and gravel on the bottom.  iridescent shimmery blue and black dragon flies darted around the wispy blossoms shooting up from the moss.  It was a time to reflect on the beauty of God’s creation.

This is where I first knew God’s voice.  It wasn’t strong but he spoke to me in several ways.  There were things that he showed me about who I was and that I couldn’t be anyone else; that the people in the world had lives of their own and that they didn’t just start into motion when I entered the room.  (Talk about being self-centered!)  He showed me things about my future and about the nature around me.  He taught me faithfulness through Stubby, our collie dog.  It was the sweet, innocent times of a child.  It was peace and discovery.

Today, I am learning to feel God’s presence within me.  Yes, I did say feeling.  When the Scriptures speak of the heart, it is the Holy Spirit’s Presence within you because of having accepted Jesus’ finished work.  This feeling is like an inner hug and goosebumps.  Father speaks to my heart.  He comforts, confronts, instructs and encourages me.  I am learning to know Him face-to-face.  I close my eyes and find myself in the heavenly throne room where Father dwells in unapproachable light – except I can approach Him, because I belong to Him.

For a long time, I was afraid to draw near because there were things in my life I wasn’t ready to release, but it was a foolish fear.  When I drew near to Him, He drew near to me and welcomed me.  The sin fell off of me the closer I got to Him and I entered into His love.  I was warm, protected, sheltered and loved.  He wasn’t mad at me.  He knew that I couldn’t do it without Jesus and so He provided a Way to Life and Life more abundantly.

Being at the Farm was the best I could do here on the earth, but there is nothing that compares with what the Father opens to me, when I open my heart.  I just surrender and say, “I blew it!  Help!”  He just gathers me up in His arms and holds me.

Won’t you draw near?  Visualize Him and walk through the door – Jesus Christ – He is the door.  Without Him there is no way, but ask Jesus to come into your heart and the Way is open.

Tell me, can you hear God’s voice?  Are you willing to draw near?  Write to me and know that I will pray for you.

URL:  https://joyousbells.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/the-farm/

Other links:

http://swimlifelessons.wordpress.com and look at the Happily Ever After Post

http://pliableheart.wordpress.com and look at Resurrecting Feelings

http://www.christianblog.com/blog/kiwigirl/to-enter-the-throne-room/

Confirming Scripture

Revelation 1:15
His  feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His  voice was like the sound of many waters.

James 4:8
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and  purify your hearts, you  double-minded.

Hebrews 10:22
let us  draw near with a  sincere heart in  full assurance of faith, having our hearts  sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies  washed with pure water.

Hebrews 7:25
Therefore He is able also to  save  forever those who  draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to  make intercession for them.

Hebrews 4:16
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.

John 14:6
Jesus *said to him, “I am  the way, and  the truth, and  the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Hebrews 4:16
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Aside

Love Story . . .

LOVE STORY . . .

Once upon a time far away and long ago – this is how many stories start, but this story is right here, now, and today!  The setting may seem to be somewhere else, but all of the things that have roots in the Scripture are here and now!  So – here we go!

We have heard that God is love and he wants us to love Him, but we have also heard really bad stuff about him.  We call them  ‘Acts of God’ which include tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and other mega disasters.  If there is a car accident and a child is hopelessly hurt or killed, we blame God.  Why do we do that?  Did we ever honestly attempt to figure out if God is responsible for all these bad things?  Is it possible that we as well as other created beings could be responsible?

We have heard the Bible stories so much that they sound all together too familiar.  We don’t even get what they are saying.  Jesus came as a baby, grew up, did some stuff, got a bunch of people mad and they crucified him, but He showed them and rose from the dead and then went up into heaven.  Who buys that?  Why does it matter?

We can look at this story in a different way.

Father God wanted a family that would choose to love Him.  So he did a really risky thing.  He made a special race of people who were capable of living on a level equal with Him but he gave them free choice.  They could choose to love Him or not.  The ‘or not’ part is where the risk is.

His first son was Adam was a created being and then he created his daughter, Eve.  They had it all!  He met all their needs by providing a garden that He Himself planted.  They could eat anything in the garden with the exception of only one tree.  He came to them every day and they walked and talked together.  They were learning about this amazing place.  Except for the garden, the planet was in a mess, and He wanted Adam and Eve to occupy it and make it all beautiful.  They were to make other children in the god-class.  They would be like Him but they would not be Him.  They would be able to do amazing things.  Everything was there for them to enjoy with meaningful work in establishing dominion as co-rulers.

But, the reason the planet was in a mess was that one of God’s heavenly created beings – a beautiful archangel named Lucifer made a choice and led a rebellion in heaven – and God exiled him to earth.  He raged around the planet because he had lost his most favored status.  He turned earth into a chaotic place with havoc everywhere.  The Scripture says, “the world was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”  The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light!”  He created everything that was made.

There Adam and Eve were on the earth, in a beautiful garden, and they were enjoying themselves, but Lucifer was roaming freely intent on spoiling Father God’s plan.  He took on the form of a beautiful serpent and began to dialog with them about the forbidden tree.  He did what he is still doing today.  He created doubt in the goodness and loving  kindness of Father.  He convinced Adam and Eve that Father was withholding something.  Father had withheld nothing including the knowledge of good and evil.  They just were not mature enough to understand it.  They lacked ‘No-Thing!’  But doubt had its way and the deceiver won the day.  They ate the forbidden fruit and started the cycle of sin that has created storms, accidents and disasters.  Now, the longer we live on this earth, the more the sin cycle creates chaos.

Father loves them and knew what they had done, but He came to the Garden anyway.  When they heard Father in the Garden, they hid, then they blamed each other and God explained to them what forces they had set in motion.  He killed innocent animals, shed their blood and covered their sin.  God’s love always covers.  The Scriptures say that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.  Then He put them out of the Garden and set up angelic guards to protect the Tree of Life.

Father God knew from the foundation of the world that we would need to be rescued and He, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit put a wonderful plan into effect.  He would send his Son to earth to shed His precious, sinless blood and wipe out the sin that man put into effect by his disobedience and mankind would be restored to him.  All they had to do was to choose him.  Then God would teach them all the things he had planned for them from the foundation of the world.  As they draw near to Him, he draws near to them.  In His Presence is fullness of joy!

We can now eat from the Tree of Life and go back to the Garden-life and walk with Father because of the Son.  He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside us as our constant companion, guide and friend.  We can occupy and bring heaven to earth by walking with Father every day in Jesus name.

So, you have a choice.  I had a choice.  I chose Him.  I KNOW He loves me.  I KNOW He loves you.  Choose Him and prove His love.

It is easy to do.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  Read John 3:16, 17.  Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him.  Each of us come to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

url:  https://joyousbells.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/love-story

http://pliableheart.wordpress.com

http://swimlifelessons.wordpress.com/

Genesis 1, 2, 3

Matthew 26:28

Luke 22:20

John 15:26, 16:13

Acts 20:28

Ephesians 1:7, 2:13

Colossians 1:14, 20

Hebrews 9:12, 14, 10:19, 22

1 John 1:7, 5:8

Revelation 1:5, 5:9, 7:14, 12:11

Resolved? 2012

“I resolve this year to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”  (I saw this posted on a church sign and loved it!)  What else have we resolved to do this year?  Have we resolved to de-stress?  Lose weight?  Quit smoking?  Stop procrastinating?  Get a new job?  Clean the garage?  Be kind?  Eat healthy?  Not respond with anger?  Get out of debt?

Is this the first year you have made this resolution?  Do you think you will keep it?  Did you keep it last year?  What would it take to help you keep it?  Can it be done?  All good questions.

Why is it that we can’t do what we want to do?  Why do we try again and again and more importantly why do we fail again and again?  If we do overcome, we have to work  continually not to go back to where we were.  What is the solution?  How can our resolutions actually work?

Paul, the apostle understood how we feel.  He said ” I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.  . . So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”

Yikes!  Sin lives in me?  I don’t want anything living in me that I can’t control.  Do you?  If sin lives in me, then it actually controls a lot of what I do.  I can make resolution after resolution or go through rehab or diet but sin takes over and I do what I don’t want to do!  That stinks!  How can I break this cycle?

Paul continued, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. . .”

So, there it is.  Jesus is the answer.  We have heard that often, but so much that it just seems like another religious idea.  Can He really make a difference?  When you ask Him into your heart, then as hard as it may be to understand, His Spirit comes to live it you and it really is helpful.   Paul goes on, “The power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death!”

So when we have Jesus in our hearts, the only power that sin has in our lives, is what we give it.  When we let the Spirit of God lead us, we can overcome the challenges that we face.

So this year, join me in resolving to open the door of my heart to Jesus and He will help us to be free.

It is easy to do.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  Read John 3:16, 17.  Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him.

Each of us comes to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Is that it?  Jesus comes in and then it is all easy?  For years, my favorite Scripture has been, ” It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”  I could never figure it out.  How is it when I had asked Jesus in that I was still not free.  The problem was that I was still making resolutions.  I was still trying to do them without Him.  So this year, I resolve to get out-of-the-way and rest in Him.  He knows me and when I get closer to Him and know Him better, He takes the issues and clears them up.

Happy 2012!

Whose are you?

Whose are you? You have an ancestry that has both winners and losers. In the historic family tree are clues to who you are and why you have some of your personality and health issues – good and bad!

What kind of background is in your family tree? Perhaps your dad and grandfather were alcoholics or maybe your great granddad had a heart condition. It could be that you are consumed with lust, yet your parents seem to be just fine, but you aren’t aware that your grandfather was a ladies’ man who had different women in every town. You may be obese and when you look at the family album, you see that you great grandmother’s family were all extremely heavy.  You may be a descendant of those who came over on the Mayflower or of Abraham Lincoln.

I have two interesting ancestors that I know about. One of them is from the Studebaker family that developed the now extinct car company. Another was a full cousin to Andrew Johnson, the President of the United States that was almost impeached, he was so bad. I know of several others; some were pastors and some who were rogues. They are all part of my DNA.

Any author knows that it is important to get the attention of the reader by starting with something that compels you to read on. The Holy Spirit directed the writing of the Scripture, so why would He lead Matthew to start out with what seems to be a dry and dusty list of people? It seems pointless.  It begins, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ . . .” Genealogy means family tree. It continues with a long list of people. It seems difficult to wade through the list and is often skipped or laid aside.

Tales of intrigue and desperation are buried behind the names in the list. There are lots of clues as to who Jesus Christ was in his earthly life. Let’s explore a few of the names.

In Matthew 1:3, it quietly says that Judah begat Perez and Zerah by Tamar. What it doesn’t say is that she was the widowed daughter-in-law of Judah and seduced him by prostitution in order to continue the family line. In doing this she got him to leave proof of his identity in lieu of payment. There is a lot to the story including sex, identity theft, and intrigue. You can read it in Genesis 38.

The second story shows up in an unassuming line, “Boaz’ parents were Salmon and Rahab.” What it doesn’t say is that Rahab was a prostitute who lived in the town of Jericho. She helped the Jewish people subdue her hometown. This is a story of victory, danger, escape and protection. It is found in Joshua 2 and 6, Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25.

The third story is the one about King David and Bathsheba. If you follow this blog, you read that story in my previous post. Bathsheba is Uriah’s wife and he is one of David’s mighty men who go to battle to fight for David’s kingdom. In the time where men (and kings) go out to war, David decided not to go.  As he was at his leisure, he saw the beautiful wife of Uriah bathing on her roof top. He sent for her and seduced her and she conceived. It is a very compelling story and includes betrayal, murder, confrontation and pain. 2 Samuel 11 – 12:2.

As you can see, even Jesus had an interesting ancestry. Father God thought enough of the women to include them in Jesus family tree.  What is unique is that only a few women are named.  He changed who they had been by making them part of His family.

God wants us all to be in His family which is why He created us.  When we become part of Father God’s family, we change from one ancestry to another. Jesus is now our big brother, Almighty God is our Father, Wisdom is our Sister and the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, Guide and Teacher. We don’t have to be weighed down by our past. We have a promising future.  Father God tells us in Jeremiah 29: 11 – 14 “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 12“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. 13-14“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. “I’ll turn things around for you.”  The Message Bible

As my children would leave our home when they were going outside, I would call to them, “Don’t forget who you are!”

So, now the question. . .”whose are you?”

So, you have a choice. I had a choice. I chose Him. I know Who’s I am!  I KNOW He loves me.  I KNOW He loves you. Choose Him and prove His love and get a new family.

It is easy to do. The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved. Read John 3:16, 17. Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him. Each of us come to the realization of who He is in a different way. For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real. I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus. I just didn’t know. I didn’t know.” So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing. Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Christmas

The season is festive, full of colored lights and beautiful ornaments.   There is shopping and shopping and shopping.  Our entire economy depends on this season of the year.  How did that happen??  We all want to give the perfect gift.  One that will be just right and memorable.  We want to be rosy-cheeked as we come home with our treasures.  We want to be smiling as we prepare our Christmas feast.  We want this to be a family time without strife and without pain.

But just before the big day, the Visa bill arrives and – yikes! – we didn’t realize it was going to be that much!  We notice a headache and an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach.  Then, we try to reconcile this with the thought, “It only happens once a year!”  And then we think, “It’s a good thing too, or we would be bankrupt.”  Is this the way you want this time to be?

We even have to fight with the government just to say “Merry Christmas” and display a Nativity scene.  In some ways, it has become such a ridiculous event that we just think, “This year, we will just forget it!  We will take a cruise or go to a desert island.  It won’t cost much more than buying gifts that will be re-gifted next year.”

So what is this all about?  Is Christmas just a social gathering of family and friends?  How did it begin?

The event is described in Scripture.  A young girl from Nazareth is minding her own business and she is visited by an angel.  Our minds can’t wrap around that as we have never had an angelic visit us.  We have an angel on the shelf and we even have an angel lapel pin, hoping it will bring us favor.  As we read the story, this angel actually talked to Mary!  He told her that she would have a baby and she said, “I have never known a man.”  This is just unbelievable and I know it doesn’t make sense, but stay with me.

The story continues.  The angel said, “The Spirit of God will come upon you and you will conceive and get pregnant.  The baby will be a boy and you are to name him Jesus – in Hebrew – Yeshua – which means salvation.”  So she was to have a baby and name him Salvation. His Daddy is the Spirit of God!  How do you wrap your head around this?  It was a very strange event but for some reason, this young girl, who was maybe 15 years old, said, “I accept this. I will do it.”  When the angel left, she sang a song of praise.  Really?

Her fiance wasn’t quite as excited about the whole thing as she was.  When Mary told him what had happened, he thought, “This is a fable and I don’t believe any of it!”  He fled her presence.  “Oh,” he cried in anguish, “How could Mary do this?  I care about Mary so much, I will just break it off quietly and not have her stoned.”  (That was how they did it in those days.  Be unfaithful to your husband-to-be and they would take you to the edge of town and put an end to you.)

As he was thinking it over, the angel shows up again.  (How can that be?  I want an angel to visit me.)  He tells Joseph to cool it.  This thing with Mary is not what you think it is.  The Spirit of God is the Father of the baby and Joseph is to marry her but keep his hands off her until after the baby is born.  Wow!  How would you feel?  But, the angelic visit changed his heart.  He believed that the baby Mary was carrying was the Son of God.  He agreed to continue with their plans.  That, too, is amazing!

About this time, the government gets involved and the couple have to make a long trip to Bethlehem to register to be taxed.  So, Joseph takes Mary who is near her due date and they head out.  When they arrive, the hotels are all booked.  (They should have called ahead.)  But, the inn-keeper saw the circumstances of this young couple and he wanted to help them.  He offered his barn.

Image DetailI spent my early years on a farm and I know that barns are really organic.  There are animals, hay, manure, owls, and pigeons.  It has no fireplace but the animals give off a certain heat.  Joseph and Mary gladly accepted the offer and moved into one of the stalls.  They found clean hay and made a place for Mary to lay as she birthed this special child.  When the baby had arrived, she fell asleep and Joseph rigged up a place for the baby in a feeding trough.

There is more to the story, but this is how it all began.  No shopping malls, no colored lights and carols.  Just the sounds of animals breathing and braying.   All alone, in a barn, helping each other bring the baby into the world, when they had never been intimate with each other in the way of men and women.  A young girl and a man following the leading of an angel messenger, and quietly changing the world.

This special baby comes into the world without anything.  He is totally humbled.  God is his Father, but he is fully human without the special privileges that religion has assigned to him.  We can touch him and kiss him.  He cries, poops and sucks on Mary’s breast.  He gets the hiccups and he smiles.  This baby is destined to bring salvation to the world.  He is even named Salvation.  No pressure there!

Rumors get out and soon Mary and Joseph are visited by another angel.  They find themselves fleeing to Egypt as already the government wants to kill him.  How dangerous can a baby born in a barn be, for heaven’s sake?

This is the true Christmas story.  It has little relevance to what we have made of it.  He came to bring us back to Spirit-life like we had in the Garden.  Because this baby was the Son of God, he came to live through all the junk we do, so he could set us free.  He made it possible for us to hang out with Father in the beautiful life that He designed for us.  Jesus – Salvation is our big brother but we have to invite him in.  We’ll look at more of “his-story”as we go on, but for today, enjoy the lights, the holly and the tree, and remember that He is how this all came to be.  Ask Him to make your Christmas special by inviting Him into your heart to spend it with you.  He is waiting . . . . . . . . . .

It is easy to do.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  Read John 3:16, 17.  Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him.  Each of us come to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-23

Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-7

Life and death

Those of us who live on this planet have come to believe that we are in a battle between good and evil.  We know we should want good but we are captivated by evil.  Evil seems naughty and enticing.  There is an allure.  Skulls and death are a banner of the hopelessness that many of us feel.  We wear it and somehow it makes it seem better.  We even make fun of people who seem to be good.  We call them “goodies” and brown-nosers.  So what is the God-story in this premise?

Let’s look at it this way.

Eve took a big bite of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and it was very good.  She immediately offered it to her husband, Adam.  He knew he shouldn’t eat it.  He knew what God had told him.  He could eat of any tree in the Garden, but this tree was off-limits.  He looked in the eyes of his beautiful bride and saw her pleading look and he crumbled.  He reached out and took a big bite.  He knew at once it was a mistake!  The biggest mistake of his life!

It hadn’t been many days since he had been formed in the earth and God had breathed Spirit-life into him. It had been an awesome time.  God meeting them and spending time with them.  Awesome!  But now something was very wrong.  The Spirit-life was dead and unresponsive.  He had known so many things by the Spirit and now – well, now, NOW!  He could only look around and see things that he had looked at many times and they were not as beautiful.  They were lacking.  The Light had gone out.  He looked at Eve and for the first time, he realized that she was uncovered and it gave him odd stirrings. Inside he ached to touch her.  He had never felt this way before and it frightened him!  He grabbed her hand and ran behind a nearby tree and began to make coverings out of leaves.  It was an amateur effort but it would have to do.  If he couldn’t see her beautiful body, he hoped the ache would subside.  This wasn’t the romance that Father God had explained to him when he brought her into him.

God came and told them the consequences of their choice.  The man would labor;  he would fight weeds and struggle to raise food.  The woman would have pain in child-birth.  The serpent would travel on his belly and eat dirt for the rest of his life and the woman would hate him.

There was good news – a promise that God would send His Son to save them out of this great loss and the serpent would bruise His heel, but He would crush the his head.  With those proclamations, Adam and Eve were put outside the Garden and the way back in to it was guarded by angels so they could not return and eat of the Tree of Life and in their fallen condition live forever.

Adam looked back knowing that they had really messed up!  The Garden was closed and the Spirit-life was gone.  He was trying to figure it all out in his head and it gave him a headache.  Thus Adam and Eve began an eternal battle with good pitted against evil.  Good on the moral high ground and evil at the more  alluring level, enticing them to do their own thing;  then the battle really began.  Their sons began to argue.  In the climax of their lives outside the Garden, their son Cain killed their son Able in a jealous rage.  Death got a foothold in our lives.

Adam and Eve grieved and regretted not having trusted Father God.  They longed for the Son to come save them and they looked forward to that day.

Today we are still courting death and allowing the enemy to defeat us.  We think about murder and suicide caught in this death pull.  We delight to do our own thing and at times, this means death is attractive.

Now to be clear – God didn’t do this to us.  We did it to ourselves.  It is in our DNA.  We are under the same proclamations that Adam and Eve were under when the Garden was closed to them.  But God . . .God’s plan. . . He sent Jesus, his own Son to earth.  He lived just as we do but he did it without turning away from Father God.  Ultimately, He traded His life for ours.  Jesus allowed mankind to nail Him to a  the cross of Calvary which we sometimes call a tree.  He died for you and me and now Jesus lives for you and me.  He came out of the grave and rose up so we can live.  What love!  What an event!  It had to have shaken their world.

The media of the day were the rulers from Rome and the religious leaders.  They began the propaganda machine saying His body had been stolen.  They told the soldiers who were guarding His body to say that they were asleep.  It was a cover-up!  If they had fallen asleep, they would have been executed by the Roman guard.

Yet, He walked among them and appeared to many people.  He is alive!  He is Life.  He brought us Spirit-Life then and He is still bringing it to those who want it now!  He brings all the Life that we can handle and more.  He is to us the Tree of Life, so now, we can eat freely and live forever with Him but, we just have to make our own choice.  We can continue to live – caught in the web of deceit and death – or we can choose Life.  It is simple to choose!  Call on the name of the Lord Jesus – and you will be saved back to Spirit-life!

Once again able to live in true reality, relationship and romance with Father and each other.  This is Father’s plan before the world was even conceived and it was because of His love.  He made us so He could love us and He wants us to return that love.

He says, “I have set before you life and death . . . blessing and cursing . . . therefore, choose life!  It is better.”

It is easy to do.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  Read John 3:16, 17.  Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him.  Each of us come to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that Father God was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Genesis 1, 2, 3

Deuteronomy 30:15,16

John 6:33, 35, 47, 48

John 10:10, 28

Romans 6:23

2 Corinthians 4:10

Galatians 2:20

2 Timothy 1:1, 10

1 John 1:2, 2:16, 25, 5:11

Revelation 2:7, 22:2, 14

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