Happy New Year!!! Be Blessed!~ Be S.M.A.R.T!

Image2013 has come and gone or soon will be. Many of us looked back and thought about where we had been and what we had accomplished. Some of our past goals were attained but many were left in the dust because resolutions are just that—resolving without measurable attainable points. Psalm 1 and 2 may well be called the introduction to the Christian Guide Book of where we all hope to be at the end of our life.  Our new year is just beginning and here is a helpful acronym with practical strategies I have come up as a way to start my spiritual journey into 2014. Be Blessed and Be: “S.M.A.R.T.”   

S =  I will set a specific goal of seeking wisdom using Psalm 1’s standards of the godly.  The godly choose not to follow the advice of the wicked having been trained by practice to be as the Bereans. They check scripture with scripture so that they might be able to discern both good and evil. [Acts & Heb 5] Secondly, they choose not to stand in the pathway of sinners because as the parable of the sower teaches–the seed sown there is plucked up by the birds and is unable to take root. [Matt 13] Thirdly, they choose to not sit in the assembly of the scoffers, those who ridicule and mock the ways of God. Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool (mocked). For a person will reap what he sows,”

Strategy: I once again have decided to use the NT/Psalms/Proverbs reading plan. I chose that from the list offered by bible.org which has 5 from which to choose. I will read daily; share a “seed thought” with someone so that God’s Word takes root and grows. I will also seek to but may not achieve …but that is what a goal is right; so I will attempt again to read a chapter from Proverbs each day of the month along with my daily reading plan. I will maintain my worship schedule of attendance at my  local congregation knowing that the world watches what you and I  give up and what you and I  choose. I am back in BSF and that takes volumes of time but I find it is rewarding …when I put my heart into it. I will be faithful.

M= I will set a measurable goal: How blessed is the one that gleans wisdom from meditation upon the ways of God. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.” [Phil 4]

Strategy: Set a time each day to read and ponder truths. After reading,  I will choose one verse that I can think about all day long and better yet I will  share the verse with someone and journal thoughts about a truth you have gleaned. What a great idea for Facebook right?

A = I will set an achievable goal and then apply knowing that the way I view life and obey God is a reflection of what I meditates upon. “He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he museth upon the Word of God.” [Spurgeon]  Joh 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.”

Strategy: I will ponder my daily reading; and seek to  memorize one verse. I will prayerfully ask God to reveal any sin and seek cleansing; ask the Holy Spirit to show me areas that need improvement; then obey and praise the Lord for answers He has already given me.

R= I will set a realistic goal to redeem the time: After my quiet time of meditation I will seek ways to be His witness Eph 5:16 taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Strategy: I will actively continue in BSF, and find some other avenue of service…not sure what that will be. The goal is to see and use each one as a divine opportunity to share the love of Christ.

T= I will set a thankful goal that begins in the heart: 1Th 5:18 in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Strategy: I will write a thank you note to God and one to someone else at least one day a week. I will pray for the note I will send that it will bless another.  

What goals have you set? Share them with me …let’s encourage one another.

Blessings to you this new year. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

p.s. and oh yes I am going to celebrate on Jan 1 as it is my birthday…

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Watch Night Service and Praising God

ImageDoes your church have a “watch night” service planned for the last night of the year? Many churches offer services held on this evening culminating with rejoicing and feasting after a service of singing, praying and testimonials? In growing up that was one of the highlights of Christmas vacation! I always loved going to be a part of the praise and worship and then after midnight someone would hug me and say “Happy Birthday!” That was a marvelous way to begin not only a new year but also to begin my celebration—even though it was always a bit embarrassing at the moment. Watch-night services are not a new idea; Charles Spurgeon held a “watch-night” service on Dec 31, 1855 and “hoped that the Lord would own the service and thus souls might be saved.” What better place to reflect on the end of one year and the beginning of a new year.

Today’s reading in Psalm 148 to 150 guides in what we could include on this “midnight-eve” time of reflection.

For what to praise: Ps 148: Praise God for his revealed attributes see through his creation: “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.” [Rom]

With whom and how to praise:  Ps 149: Praise Jehovah in the assembly of the godly. “With renewed zeal and fresh delight lift up your song unto Jehovah. Sing unto the LORD a new song. Sing, for it is the fittest method for expressing reverent praise. [C.H. Spurgeon]

Where to praise: Ps 150: Praise God in his sanctuary. Praise him when you view the sky; for his mighty acts, his surpassing greatness. Praise him with song and musical instruments. Let us all with one accord praise the Lord.

If your church has not planned such an event, you could invite others to join you in your own “watch-night” time of reflection and praise the Lord using these three psalms. I wish you all blessings from on high as you reflect and pause to praise the Lord for a new year to serve him.

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I AM is coming soon!

ImageThe entire Bible from Genesis to this last chapter points out the earnest desire of God—that we dwell with Him and He with us.  This last chapter brings to the conclusion our devotional thoughts of Revelation. The last vision opens to the marvelous expanse of Heaven which Jesus said He was going away to prepare for us. As in the Garden a river flowed from Eden to water the orchard, and from there it divided into four headstreams. In heaven there is a river of the water of life flowing unimpeded from the throne down the middle of the street. The tree of life once forbidden and guarded after the fall by “angelic sentries who used the flame of a whirling sword to guard the way to the tree of life” is now not only freely producing fruit but is available for all to pick and enjoy. No more curses, no more separation. When God calls “Where are you?”  we will answer here am I, and join in conversation with him just as Adam and Eve did prior to the fall. We will now walk with him freely conversing as He did in the beginning. There will be no more day and night but the Lord God will shine upon us forever and ever and ever and ever. Oh Beloved are you ready to experience this?

And what will we be there? 22:3 says we will be servants, absolutely devoted to Him and worshiping Him, able to see His face unlike what God told his servant Moses: Exo 33:20 But he added, “You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.”

 God closes this marvelous vision and tells John, unlike Daniel who was told to seal up the vision, to leave this vision opened so that we may know and be prepared for what is ahead. It is to be read and read and read again. Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star, speaks and reminds the reader: Look! I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book.

How awesome heaven will be for those who have chosen Jesus as their Savior, their Messiah. May you be blessed because you have “read the words of this prophecy aloud, heard and obeyed the things written in it.” Beloved —the time is near!” Are you ready?

Picture: DailyLifeVerse

 

 

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Satan’s Defeat and Christ’s Promise

ImageIn 1903 a Sikh named Sundar Singh struggled to know the truth. After he grew he became bitter and angered at God but on this day, 19 December 1903, he began to pray that God would reveal himself—if he really existed. If not, Sundar planned to throw himself in front of the morning train. For seven hours he prayed. “O God, if there is a God, reveal yourself to me tonight.”  As he prayed a man appeared before him with nail-pierced hands, saying, “How long will you deny me? I died for you; I have given my life for you.” He knew it was Christ. From that point on until his death he proclaimed the truth of the gospel message even in the midst of hardship and persecution in the Tibetan region.

As we read the words of Revelation we are reminded of this one man and countless others who gave their lives to serve and to reach the lost with the gospel message. Today as we read Revelation chapter 12 we find solace in one thing and that is once again God’s mercy is overflowing to the ones who recognize the Son of God as the Messiah. He will protect them and prepare a special place just as he did for Sundar in his travels about India and Tibet. He remained uncompromising in his faith and his walk for Jesus. And we must do that as well.

In the future miracles will prove that there are true believers through three acts/attitudes (1) the blood of the Lamb which they now know is their cleansing of sin, (2) the word of their testimony, (3) they did not love their lives so much that they would want to preserve it but rather will be willing to suffer and die for His Name’s Sake.

If we are faithful the words of Jesus will be a living reality: permission to eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God, not be harmed by the second death, the hidden manna and a new name written in glory, authority over nations, a new white garment and his name forever etched in the book of life, and to join Christ upon his throne. [Rev 2&3]

We must be about the business of sharing and praying for the many who are even today being martyred for all of these three things. Are you/am I  prepared to be an overcomer this day? Cling to His promise: I will protect  you and I will never leave you nor forsake you.

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The Time is Now!!!

ImageClara Scott authored the hymn “Open my eyes that I May See”. The first stanza reads as : “Open my eyes, that I may see, glimpses of truth thou hast for me…” As we read Revelation 6 more than ever we need to see with spiritual eyes for the truth within is almost more than one can digest. In reading this chapter one verse keeps coming back to mind: John 3:16 “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” It is when we view God’s love in sharp contrast to the hate of Satan, which is sovereignly allowed upon men in this chapter, that we bow the knee and are overwhelmed with gratitude of God’s gift of His Son’s sacrifice on the cross and our salvation.

John 3:16 says that the gift God has for those who will bow the knee is eternal life. However, in this chapter we find that just as the Israel and the religious leaders during the time of Jesus rejected the evidence: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news proclaimed to them, so too men in the last stages of the clock of time, men will not cry out to God for His peace, love and salvation but will continue to reject.  That is a frightening thought which should drive us to share the good news of salvation to everyone who is divinely brought across our path that they may not have to face the judgment of God. 

In Chapter 6, John shows us what God revealed. It will not be His grace but horror upon horror to show men the power of evil and hate in the form of war, famine, death, disease. They respond by calling out  to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?” In reading this another verse came flooding back to this author: Rom  1:32 “Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die..” Isn’t it ironic that these men fully understand God’s judgment and his wrath but choose mountains and rocks to  the path of goodness, love and peace which only God can provide? We stop and ask “why?” Why do men reject God? Again we turn to the words of John: John 3:19 “people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.”

Beloved, if you have not done so I implore you now to open your eyes and allow the Holy Spirit to illumine you and bring God’s love and peace to your heart. It is not too late—but do not delay, we do not know when God will choose to allow the events of chapter 6 to unfold in all of their reality. Keep in mind God’s clock is running down; have you called upon Him?

 

 

 

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“The Lion-like Lamb and the Lamb-like Lion”

ImageJohn, in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day,  continues to share with the reader his vision of heaven and its activities. In Rev 1 John saw : “Jesus Christ – the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood,” and now in chapter 5 John saw the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Lamb of God as John the Baptist had declared. The Apostle John writes “You [the Lamb of God] are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation.”  In both chapters John reminds the reader that it was his precious blood that paid the ransom. Heb 9:22 Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Now notice what John tells us beyond those descriptions. The Lion-like Lamb/Lamb-like Lion is standing. He has finished his work and now is worthy to take the scroll of judgment and to open it. No one else is worthy and thus John is found weeping at this realization. Secondly, he has 7 horns symbolizing strength and power. He has conquered sin, death and Satan not just because he was a Lion but because he was a Lamb-like Lion who was willing to allow man to take his life that he might redeem them from the jaws of death and sin and the power of Satan.

To those who have bowed the knee and accepted this gift of the Lamb’s blood is given a promise which John repeats in ch 5 as he had written in ch 1:  “has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father/You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Our Savior is both Lion and Lamb and he is waiting for us to stop and with the angels, living creatures, elders, whose number was then thousand times then thousand, thousands times thousands sing: “Worthy is the lamb who was killed to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!” 

 Have you bowed the knee and are thus able to join the chorus today?

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“We Say What Happens Happens but God says—What Must Happen”

ImageJoin me for your ringside seat to what “must” (that is what is necessitated) happen after these things. As I was reading I stopped and asked: “after what things?” The scholars say after seeing Christ in all of His glory, after hearing and telling about the 7 churches. Now the clock starts ticking down to the judgment of the earth and the sin that envelops it—he who has ears had better hear what the Spirit says. Before John can share the events ahead he asks us to join him in viewing the contrast to the horror of sin here on earth as he lives on the barren island of Patmos to the awesome, marvelous incredible beauty of the throne room in heaven. John is not the only one to have had a vision of the Godhead but also the prophet Micaiah, Isaiah and Daniel. These too were transported in some way to see and thus to behold what we who are earthlings have yet to view. What must it have been like to see with earthly eyes that have been transformed so that one can see with heavenly eyes? How does one describe a holy God?

Micaiah says he saw the entourage of heaven—all of the assembly of heaven both on God’s right and left. Isaiah said: “I saw the sovereign master seated on a high, elevated throne. The hem of his robe filled the temple.” Ezekiel’s vision included “Above the platform over their heads was something like a sapphire shaped like a throne. High above on the throne was a form that appeared to be a man.” And Daniel said “thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His attire was white like snow; the hair of his head was like lamb’s wool. His throne was ablaze with fire and its wheels were all aflame.” And now John writes: “a throne was standing in heaven with someone seated on it that gleamed as jasper and carnelian with a rainbow encircling it. Around the throne were those who would worship without ceasing with white gleaming clothes and crowns about their heads. Beloved, are you ready to enter the expanse of heaven and see this too?

First John heard the sounds of roaring and crashes of thunder and flashes of lightning. In the midst of this power he heard worshipers. They were never in the mode of rest but over and over they say: “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God, the All-Powerful, Who was and who is, and who is still to come!” You alone are worthy to be praised for you are “THE” Creator of all that was and is to come. Beloved is this our mode, do we worship without ceasing?

As we move from Revelation 4 to Revelation 5 we will now see what “must” happen. Are we prepared? Jesus said in Matt 13 ““You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven…For whoever has will be given more, and will have an abundance.” But, Jesus also said that if we reject what has been given “even what he has will be taken from him.” Again Jesus explained that if our hearts are dull, hard of hearing, and blind, we will never see, never hear, and never understand the spiritual truths that he has for us. May we today have soft heavenly hearts, soft heavenly ears, soft heavenly eyes to see and behold the One who sits enthroned in the heavens.  

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My Prayer Walk Just Got a New Lease on Life….

ImageAs I closed the book of John I was an eyewitness to Jesus as he prayed in the Garden for God to remove the cup before him and yet “not thy will but thine be done” was the answer. Today in Psalm 141 I can visualize the Psalmist is in the mode of prayer and seeking God’s deliverance not only from the enemies around him but also from himself. What do I mean? Observe where he is in his mindset and what has beleaguered him.

First as he prays he notices his weakness with the ever defiant tongue just as James noted as well. “Jam 1:26 If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.” And that is why the Psalmist prayed: Vs 3: O Lord, place a guard on my mouth! Protect the opening of my lips! The psalmist asks God to protect him from speaking inappropriately or sinfully, to protect him from untruths, and from the enemy of our souls who seeks to deceive our hearts. Put a guard, a fence around our mouth so that what is offered is sweet and pleasing as the aroma of the sacrifices offered each day at the temple offerings. May that be my prayer as well.

Secondly, he notices that he can easily become wayward in his feelings that are not in compliance with God’s will and so he prays: “Do not let me have evil desires.” Reminds me of this verse: Col 1:10 so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects – bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, As we saw in Revelation 3, Jesus stands at the door of our heart and as we saw in John he is the Door. It is he alone who can protect us from the wolves, thieves and robbers who seek entrance into our hearts and our minds. The psalmist desires that God bar the entrance and protect him as the Good Shepherd lay in the gate of the sheepfold. He alone is our protector for we are weak and vulnerable. O Lord, protect me from those thoughts that enter my mind seeking to distract me from the purpose of prayer.

Thirdly, he seeks God’s acceptance of his prayers like the incense that is offered by the priests at the temple sacrifices. It is his prayer that these are like that sweet incense that rises with perfume aromas and bring pleasure to the nostrils of God. May my words be sweet to the Father.

Today may I employ these same three strategies in my prayer walk, day by day; hour by hour; moment by moment.

 

 

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God knows…and…more importantly God cares….

ImageThe reading of today, Psalm 139 & 140, ties in so beautifully to the last two days in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. With eyes wide open and walking upon hallowed ground,  let’s explore and see how they are so intertwined as only the Holy Spirit’s inspiration could bring about.

David, anointed by the Holy Spirit, pens these two psalms to reveal three characteristics of God. He is the “I AM” of scripture who is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. He is not only all of those but He is the God, the El Roi who sees and cares. He is as we read in John, the Bread of Life upon which we may feed, He is the Living Water from which our spiritual thirst may be quenched. He came as Immanuel, God with us, in human form that we might understand His love for mankind. He is the Good Shepherd that knows his sheep.

In Revelation 2 and 3 we see that God knows our mindset, He knows our ways, He knows our thoughts. What powerful direction then we find in Ps 139 when King David asks that God examine him and search him. “Examine me, and probe my thoughts! Test me, and know my concerns! See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me, and lead me in the reliable ancient path!” And that is what Jesus was saying was his desire as he inspired John to write to the 7 churches. I have examined you and found areas that need to be corrected. Over and over in Rev 2 and 3 is found the phrase “I know” (full and exact knowledge from absolute clearness of vision.) and in Psalm 139 King David says: “You know” (you discern, you find out).

Not only does God know but God, El Roi, cares. Ps 139 You carefully observe me, You are aware of everything I do, no matter where I go, no matter what I say, You care. You care so much that you ordained my very being from eternity past and you knew me thoroughly even when hidden in the secret womb of my mother. You cared so much for me that you even recorded in a scroll what my days here on earth would be like, where I would go, with whom I would dwell, what I would look like, what I would think. No wonder King David said: 139:17 How difficult it is for me to fathom your thoughts about me, O God! How vast is their sum total! And yet as we read in John “3:16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” His love was so infinite, so deep, so wide that in his eternal knowledge he made a plan for you and for me that we might come into His presence forevermore. This is God’s amazing love and why we sing “My God, How Great Thou Art.”

Beloved do you know the God who knows you?

 

 

 

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