My first 'published' book, 'Breaking Of The Bread Through Faith' is now for sale on Amazon in paperback ($12.00) and kindle ($2.99) formats. All proceeds will be donated to my church, House On The Rock Fellowship in, Piqua, Ohio for the continuation of spreading the Gospel of Jesus, the Gospel of hope.
I hope you will take a look at it. Thank you!
To be a dropout is, 'to withdraw from participation or membership; quit; to withdraw from conventional society; one who abandons an attempt, activity, or chosen path.' Have you ever dropped out of something? A group, club, or maybe school? Most of us, at some time in our lives, have probably dropped out of something. Usually it's because we don't like it, or it makes us uncomfortable like we don't fit in, or maybe we think by dropping out of one thing, we will be able to enter into something more satisfying or comfortable. How about your Christian walk? Have you ever dropped out, or thought about dropping out, of this?
In the Word, the Israelites dropped out of following God on many different occasions. In fact, this is pretty much the entire topic in the Old Testament. In the Message Bible, Isaiah 1:4 says, "Shame! Misguided God-dropouts, staggering under their guilt-baggage. Gang of miscreants, band of vandals - My people have walked out on me, their God, turned their backs on The Holy of Israel, walked off and never looked back." Proverbs 15:5 says, "Moral dropouts won't listen to their elders; welcoming correction is a mark of good sense." They had a hard time learning where their secure place was. They were constantly trying to drop out.
In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve allowed sin to enter, God expelled them from their secure place and even barred the entrance so they couldn't return. They became wanderers. They became lost. This is how each of us comes into the world, and this is the life of which we need to be a dropout. Only through Jesus have we been given the way back.
We all need a place where we belong and feel secure. Psalm 84:1 says, "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God" (NIV). This is our place. This is our security. "He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts." - Isaiah 40:29 (Message).
No one can be a dropout from the courts of the Lord. Why?
Because there's no place to drop out to.
Do you have a dog? I have a dog. She is a blue heeler and her name is Lacy Joe. She is my little girl in a dog suit. I lost my first heeler, Mille, when she was 12. Don't ever let anyone tell you dogs don't go to heaven, as I have it on divine authority that they do. I can honestly say that Lacy is MY dog. She does show affection for my husband, but she is definitely mine. While spending my usual morning time with Lacy and thinking about how my heart swells with love for her, I suddenly realized that my relationship with her is very much like my relationship with God....
Lacy (God) is with me all the time. She (God) literally follows me from room to room in our house. If I leave her (God's) presence, she (God) does not like it and lets me know this. However, I know she (God) will be there when I come back. She will lay staring at the door, waiting for my return. She (God) is always glad to see me return. She (God) loves me unconditionally. If I get upset with her (God), it doesn't matter. Her (His) love for me is just as strong as ever. I have a great responsibility to care for her (God). I feed and water her (Serve). I spend quality time with her (God). And if for some reason these things don't get done, well, my day is just not complete....and neither is hers (God's). I will sometimes hide from her (God) at which time she (God) runs through the house hunting for me, not satisfied until I am foun
So, it goes without saying, that when I go to my 'room' to pray, she (God) is always there, laying beside me. When my emotions show during prayer, she (God) will get up and nudge me, as if asking me if all is ok. Then she'll lay back down. But this morning, as my emotions were very visible, she got up, came to me and nudged me. Then she did something very different from all other mornings....she walked outside the door, turned and stared at me, as if to say, "You have finally figured it out." Then she turned and walked out to the kitchen and laid down, leaving me in there by myself. It was as if she was telling me, "Yes, someday I will be gone, but you will never be alone."
Losing Lacy is always in the back of my mind. But I know that I know that I know that I know in whose arms she will go....and this gives my heart great peace.
So...do you have a dog (God)?
Direction, as in 'the line or course in which something is pointing or facing.' We all know directions are north, south, east, and west. Although many of us, myself included, would rather be directed to left, right, forward, and back. But, what about when you pray? What direction are you headed or facing? In the Book of Daniel, Chapter 6, the people were told by King Darius that they could not pray to any god or human, but only to him. When the decree was published, Daniel went to his upstairs room, opened the windows and prayed toward Jerusalem. Call me silly, but when I pray, I face the East.
However, with all that is happening around us, in the time that we are in, the prayer requests are increasing. More and more of those in our circles are needing prayer for reasons that have never surfaced before. Intense prayer. Fierce prayer. In battle type of prayer. So, for the last couple days I have decided to face the West when I pray. Why? Why would I face West when Jerusalem is East of here? Because the battles into which Christians are heading need divine backup. We need the army of God behind us, pushing us forward, and giving us power. Yes, God's army is all around us, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them" - Psalm 34:7, but as Christians, we should be wearing our armor as we move forward (Ephesians 6), knowing that God is protecting us from behind.
In 2 Kings, Chapter 6, God opened the eyes of Elisha's servant so he could see the army of God that stood with them. In addition to Psalm 34:7 above, Deuteronomy 20 says when you go to battle, seeing an army greater than yours, not to be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified of them because the Lord is with you. That He will fight for you to give you victory. Deuteronomy 31 says to be strong and courageous, for the Lord is with you, He will never leave or forsake you. Psalm 68 says the chariots of God are tens of thousand and thousands of thousands.
This is the army I want backing me up when I go to prayer against the enemies who are attacking those I love and care for. Enemies who are increasing with each passing day.
In what direction are you facing?
Does anyone have your back?
The definition of 'Desire' is: 'to long or hope for; to express a wish for; need; request; ask; invite; craving; a longing in our heart for something we do not have.' There is another word for desire, which is my favorite, and that is 'hunger.' When you think of hunger you probably think of your favorite food, or maybe your favorite restaurant. Physical hunger always creates in us a desire to eat. But this is another form of desire and hunger...Spiritual. Spiritual, as concerning your walk with, and your relationship to, Jesus.
If you have become a child of God, then you should be experiencing a spiritual desire, a spiritual need, a spiritual hunger. If you are not feeling this, you might want to take another look at this area of your life. Spiritual desire is proof that you are a new creature in Christ. Your soul has been renewed and you are very hungry for more. More knowledge and more wisdom that will bring you closer, always closer, to Jesus and to God, the Father. Hebrews 10:22-23 - "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings." To draw ever nearer to God, we follow, and learn from, Jesus.
This is a continual, daily, desire. It should never waver. It should be longed for and hoped for. It is something that should be requested in prayer. It is something we did not have and now our desire. our need, our hunger to obtain it should be, and this is no lie, greater than any other in our entire life.
Our Pastor stated in a previous sermon that Jesus is our Source. Our Source for what? He is our Source for nourishment, knowledge, wisdom, peace, unity, and truth. He is our Cure for disease, sickness, loneliness, sadness, emotional upheaval, confusion, and fear. He is everything we will ever need in this life. So, I pray that each of you are experiencing this 'desire' and that it is renewed in you each and every day. Take this desire straight to the Source where your cup of 'want' will run over with more than enough for all your needs.
So, what are you desiring?
I have been reading the Word of God from the Message translation. I find it very interesting as at times it uses different words to make a certain point. One of my devotions directed me to read Psalm 2 where I found the word 'demagogue.' I couldn't remember seeing this in any other translation, so I checked a few. Sure enough, this word was not there. The definition is 'a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power; agitator; exciter; inciter; instigator; rabble-rouser.' Oh yes! That surely explains it!
Here is Psalm 2 from the Message Bible:
Why the big noise, nations? Why the mean plots peoples? Earth-leaders push for position, Demagogues and delegates meet for summit talks, the God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers; 'Let's get free of God! Cast loose from Messiah!' Heaven-throned God breaks out laughing. At first, he's amused at their presumption; then he gets good and angry. Furiously, he shuts them up; 'Don't you know there's a King in Zion? A coronation banquet is spread for him on the holy summit.' Let me tell you what God said next. He said, 'You're my son, and today is your birthday. What do you want? Name it: Nations as a present? Continents as a prize? You can command them all to dance for you, or throw them out with tomorrow's trash.' So, rebel-kings, use your heads; upstart-judges, learn your lesson: Worship God in adoring embrace, celebrate in trembling awe. Kiss Messiah! Your very lives are in danger, you know; His anger is about to explode, but if you make a run for God - you won't regret it!
Well, I think there is nothing else that needs to be said on this subject.
A crescendo is a gradual increase; crown; peak; summit. An opposite of this is a diminuendo which is to become gradually less; decline; decrease; taper; diminish; dwindle. You might recognize these in songs, as they will start out soft, forming a crescendo as the song progresses, then a diminuendo as the song comes to an end.
If you are a Christian, your life should be experiencing a crescendo.....a divine crescendo. When we first become a Christian, we start out softly as we really don't know that much about spirituality. But as we progress through life, our spirituality should increase. This increase should happen in spite of all the adversities that come against us. IF this increase continues, 'day by day,' throughout our life, by the time we get to the point of really feeling 'our outer self is wasting away,' then our 'inner self should be totally renewed.' This Scripture is 2 Corinthians 4:16. Our divine crescendo should be striving to achieve a peak, summit, or crown. Oh, yes! A Crown! A Crown of life!
So, what about a diminuendo? Those who have neglected their walk with Jesus or have never walked with Him at all.....well, their lives are a diminuendo. They may think they are doing ok and that they don't need Jesus, or maybe have never made their walk with Him a priority in their lives. But as their lives progress to the point of their 'outer self (their physical body) wasting away,' their inner self (their spirituality) is actually declining, decreasing, diminishing, and dwindling away. What will they be left with?
The Word tells us we must seek the Lord always, that hunger and thirst for Jesus brings blessings. Now we know in part, but upon completeness, we shall know fully. We are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory. That we should be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. We are no longer infants, as we are growing to become the mature body of Christ. We are to put off our old self and be made new. We are to be filled with wisdom and understanding. We are to be thoroughly equipped through Scripture. Our faith produces perseverance, making us mature and complete. Rid ourselves of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander, growing in our salvation. We must possess faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love in increasing measure. We must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This is a life-time process. It cannot be forgotten about or put aside for other things.
A divine crescendo or a diminuendo.
Which one are you?
What is 'Conscience?' The definition is 'the sense or awareness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good; conformity to what one considers to be correct, right, or morally good; sensitive regard for fairness or justice.' Now let's put 'guilty' in front of that - 'justly chargeable with or responsible for a usually grave breach of conduct or a crime; justly liable to or deserving of a penalty.'
When the Lord really started working on me, it was like I had a little man on each one of my shoulders. One was talking to me about all the things I could be spending my time on, while the other was telling me I wasn't where I was supposed to be. Now, years later, I know which voice was right. This was my conscience, and my conscience was the Lord.
The Gospel has a way of shattering our conscience. It speaks to us with the still, small voice of God and reveals to us the things that are wrong. "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it." - Isaiah 30:21.
When God's law enters our hearts and begins its work, it will blatantly let us know when something is not right with our spirituality. "They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them." - Romans 2:15.
You might think you can't hear when God speaks, but He doesn't always speak with a loud voice. In 1 Kings, God revealed Himself to Elijah, not in the great and powerful wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire, but in the gentle whisper. In a still, small voice. Does your conscience let you know things about yourself? Does it eat away at you until you make it right? I hope so. Martin Luther said his conscience was taken captive by the Word of God. This is what I want for myself.
One of my recent devotions stated: "A conscience should be; so awake that it cannot be surprised, so just that it cannot be bribed, so pleased with that which is right as to be a cause of constant joy, so pained with what is wrong that it's impossible to sin. A conscience that will not give its consent, however enticed or persuaded, to anything that is evil."
1 Timothy 1:19 says, "If we reject a good conscience, our faith will be shipwrecked." Acts 24:16 says, "To strive always to keep your conscience clear before God and man."
How's your conscience? Does it speak to you? Does it tell you what's wrong?
Are you listening?
I hope so.
A soldier is 'one engaged in military service; an enlisted man or woman; a skilled warrior.' A conflict is 'competitive or opposing action of incompatibles.' Warfare is 'military operations between enemies; struggle between competing entities.' Soldiers participate in conflict and warfare. What they wear and the gear they carry for protection is of the utmost importance. They are always alert and prepared. And they have comrades who accompany them in battle. Dependable comrades.
If we are Christians, then we are soldiers who are constantly in conflict and at war with the enemies of God. Christian soldiers are always alert and are never complacent. This is made possible by a life of prayer. Have you seen the movie War Room? This is not just the name of a movie, it's a Christians' life. Our mission is to defeat Satan. The one who has come only to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).
Our prayer time should be a fervent time of warfare. A time that is blazing hot with intense emotion, as if it is our sole responsibility to fight Satan and his power....because it is. We must take this fight very seriously. We are fighting an enemy that never sleeps. An enemy that is always busy and very sneaky. An enemy that can only be seen in people. In their choices, their actions, and their words. Therefore, our prayers need to be, not only against Satan, but very much for these people. And our prayers need to be for the army that is marching with us, the church. We cannot afford to be complacent. We cannot afford to fall asleep. We are soldiers. Soldiers who are fighting a very dangerous enemy. We are in conflict, we are at war, and we have the greatest and most powerful armor in which to dress ourselves....the armor of God (Ephesians 6).
Are you a soldier? Are you in conflict? Are you at war? But, the most important question is....
are you dressed for it?
Have you or anyone you know ever had to deal with cataracts? When they happen, they cause a clouding of the lens of the eye or its surrounding transparent membrane that obstructs the passage of light. A lot of people suffer from these, but the process to remove them has become rather simple, with few problems afterward. Cataracts keep us from seeing things as they really look. They keep us from seeing clearly.
There are also many things that keep us from seeing clearly when it comes to Jesus and who He is. So, let's look at this without cataracts, without any clouding of our eyes. In John 14:6, Jesus states, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." According to this Scripture, no one can have access to God except through Jesus. This would definitely make Him the Way. John 17:17 says, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." This shows us that God's Word is Truth. John 1:14 says, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." So, if God's Word is Truth and Jesus is the Word, then Jesus is the Truth. John 11:25 says, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die." Per this Scripture, Jesus is also Life. Now, can you see this a little more clearly? Does this remove some of the clouding over your eyes that you may have been experiencing?
I think we all have cataracts of some sort or another. Maybe our current fight with sickness, a job loss, or losing a loved one has clouded our ability to see the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There are a great many 'cataracts' we could be contending with. But the process to remove them is rather simple. Focus our eyes on Jesus and exactly who He is. All the clouding will be removed, allowing Him access to all the adverse circumstances going on in our lives. And believe me when I tell you, they will all be seen in an entirely different Light.
So, how about it? Are you suffering from 'cataracts?' Are you still able to see the Light of Jesus?
I hope so.
When you think of boot camp, you think about the military. Recruits must go through, and pass, boot camp. This is rigorous, hard training that prepares them for what may lie ahead. Upon signing, recruits are legally bound to the military. Some have trouble with the mental and/or physical aspects of boot camp and request an ELS, which is an Entry Level Separation. Some may just go AWOL, which is Absent Without Leave. This carries with it a criminal penalty. If you are a Christian, then you are in boot camp. You are bound to the person of Jesus Christ. This should be preparing you for what may lie ahead. Let's take a look.
Abraham was in boot camp. He went AWOL, taking matters into his own hands while waiting on God's promise. This caused him a great penalty. Moses was in boot camp. He tried to get an ELS; an entry level separation. He told God he was not an eloquent speaker, to please send someone else. His ELS was refused. Job was in book camp. He passed by keeping a tight hold onto God. These people, and others, passed their boot camp, because they all KNEW God. They knew of His great love and protection. They trusted Him. Saul was in boot camp. Jesus blinded him so that he would be able to see. All the disciples were in boot camp. Peter went AWOL, but instantly felt the penalty of it down in his soul. Jesus is our boot camp hero. At His weakest, He passed Satan's tests in the wilderness. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He tried for an ELS, but like Moses, He was also refused.
2 Chronicles 20:15, 17 says, "Do not be afraid of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. You will not have to fight this battle. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take up your position, stand firm, and see the deliverance the Lord will give you." In boot camp, a Christian learns how to take up their position and stand firm. How's your boot camp? How's your church's (the body of Christ) boot camp? Will you and your church be prepared for what may lie ahead? Will you request an ELS or go AWOL? Have you studied the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before you? Are your boots planted firmly on the ground of God's great love and protection?
Are you passing your boot camp?
My Pastor gave all of us a mnemonic to use for praying for others, BLESS: B=Their bodies, good health, protection and strength. L=Labor, their jobs and financial security. E=Emotional health, that they have a good quality of life, joy, peace, and hope. S=Social, their relationships with family and friends. S=Spiritual, their salvation, that they will come to faith in Jesus Christ.
I use this mnemonic, especially while praying for my neighbors. I signed up for BlessEveryHome and receive an email from them every week listing 5 of my neighbors for which to pray. There are approximately 40 neighbors on my list. I don't know all of them, but God does.
As I was praying for them with this mnemonic. I realized these are the exact things that Satan has been trying to take from us through this 'virus' thing. Our good health, protection, and strength. Our jobs and our financial security. Our emotional health, taking away our joy, peace, and hope. Our social life, forcing us to 'social distance' from others. Our spiritual life, trying to make us think that God is not working and is no longer in control.
We cannot allow Satan to take all these things from us. We cannot allow Satan to dictate our emotions and feelings, as all this negativity will consume us. It is toxic and very poisonous to our body and soul. We must adjust our feelings to fit the facts. What are the facts? In Jesus we are saved, made holy, and sanctified by faith. We are overcomers. We have power over Satan and all that he tries to do to us; not just in this present circumstance, but in all circumstances. We must grab onto these truths and ground ourselves in them NOW so we are ready for whatever else Satan decides to bring our way. As John Hagee says: "With God on your team, you can charge the gates of hell with a water pistol and come out victorious!" Oh, Yes!
So, are you B.L.E.S.S.ing anyone?
(Please go to blesseveryhome.com and sign up to be able to pray for your neighbors.)
An aroma is 'a distinctive, pervasive, and usually pleasant or savory smell; odor; a distinctive quality or atmosphere.' My daughter-in-law sells Scentsy products. These are things that make your house smell good. She has all kinds of different scents; fruity, spicy, nutty, fresh, flowery, pretty much any kind of scent for which you want your house to smell. Then there is the aroma of food cooking, like bacon and eggs. YUM! Some aromas are very bad, like a skunk that has been hit on the road. Sometimes we connect aromas to memories. I've always marveled at our ability to 'remember' certain aromas without the actual aroma even being present. To me, this is pretty amazing.
It's also pretty amazing what the Word of God has to say about 'aroma.' The Old Testament is chock full of the word 'aroma.' This is because the people presented offerings of perfect animals to God as sacrifices for their sins. "It is a burnt offering to the Lord, a pleasing aroma." These offerings are in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Each one of them was a pleasing aroma to God. However, when you get into the New Testament, the word 'aroma' only comes up in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 - "Thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?"
Oh man!! the word 'aroma' is pretty powerful! In the Old Testament it describes sacrifices for sin. In the New Testament it describes the One sacrifice for all sin, Jesus. And since Jesus is in us as Christians, we are now that same aroma!
So, what do you smell like?
Have you ever found yourself on a backroad? Roads that are grown over and covered with gravel? Roads that are not smooth and well-traveled, but rough and uneven? Isn't this what most of us find ourselves on almost every day? Things in our lives have so changed that they are no longer smooth and well-traveled, but very rough, uneven, and downright difficult to maneuver?
What to do?
Let's take a look at a great Scripture from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. "We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
"We do not lose heart." Through Jesus, we are never defeated. We live by faith and not by sight. Our human eyes may be seeing our circumstances as being one way, but our Spiritual eyes see those same circumstances a totally different way, a better way, a more trusting and secure way.
"Though outwardly we are wasting away." In our humanity, our physicality, we grow older with each passing day. Earthly ailments will continue to bombard us.
"Yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." We feed daily on God's Word, His promises, and His protection, which renews our soul and spirit. We gain strength, courage, perseverance, and power as we look, really look, at Christ.
"Our light and momentary troubles." These are the gravel covered and bumpy roads we find ourselves traveling. Sickness, disease, and anger, pain, and hate from others. In fact, our entire life. Through Jesus, these are viewed as momentary afflictions.
"Are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." Just like Jesus, as He was beaten and then hung on the cross, was not looking to His present circumstance, but beyond it to the glory that awaited Him. As a Christian, we learn to look past all the temporary pains that make up our life on this earth, knowing what lies ahead.
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." Everything you can see and everything you can touch are temporary. These things, all of them, will go away. End. God and His promises will not end. Ever. We must keep our eyes on Jesus. Jesus, who is the Word made flesh.
This is the only thing that will get you down rough, uneven, and gravel covered roads.
What road are you traveling?
I hate being cold. As I age, I totally understand why people move to Florida. Cold makes me shake, shiver, and tremble, which to me is very painful. One of the definitions of 'cold' is 'served chilled or with ice.' Oh, yes! Ice, frozen water, is about as cold as you can get. Did you know that water is the only liquid that when frozen will actually expand, get bigger?
Isn't this how our adversities work? It doesn't matter if we cause them ourselves or they come at us from an outside source, they still make us shake, shiver, and tremble, and so many times they tend to expand, get bigger. Yep, I really do hate the cold. So, no matter where we live, north or south, our adversities will always cause us to shake, shiver, and tremble.
But, take heart, there is still warmth to be had. Warmth that will remove the shaking, shivering, and trembling that is caused, not by the weather, but by our circumstances. Warmth that has a name. Warmth that holds great promises. Warmth that is Jesus. Jesus, who has given us His peace, promising to hold our hand, and to always help us. He is the Son who provides us with the sun that wraps its warmth around us, giving us the power to still our shaking, shivering, and trembling. "God's Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset, melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith." - Psalm 19:6 (Message). If we keep our eyes on the Lord, we will not be shaken.
"This is what God does. He gives his best - the sun to warm and the rain to nourish." - Matthew 5:45 (Message). "Warm me, your servant, with a smile, save me because you love me." - Psalm 31:16 (Message).
Are you experiencing the cold?
Have you found the Source of True Warmth?