“Do You Need a Heart Transplant?’

Psalm 50 & 51 People, we are in deep trouble. Instead of peace and quiet, our world is swirling with anxiety, greed, grumbling, and all the “vices” of Galatians 5. There is strife, jealousy, and outbursts of anger. We are swimming in sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, and idolatry—all because we are worshiping the creation more than the Creator.

God says we are in debt, but He also says: My Son has paid your debt.  The world is striving to do the right “things,” but God says come apart with me and listen to what I have to say. You lack the one thing I desire, which is a humble spirit, a repentant heart, or a heart transplant.

Without the sacrifice of our Savior, we remain indebted. We are guilt, but Jesus paid our sin debt; if we accept His gift of salvation. Then our sin debt is canceled. But—we are never debt-free of offerings of thanksgiving to Him for this beautiful and precious gift. God does not desire sacrifices, for if He did, we could never repay our debt. Indeed, God wants is a heart that is receptive and thankful for this unspeakable gift.

Today step aside and evaluate your worship and your lifestyle. Pray that God would create in you a pure heart and a resolute spirit.

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Is it Good Friday? Can beauty come out of the ashes?

Luke 23 “Good Friday & Beauty out Ashes”

Dr. Luke records for us the witnesses at the cross. Only by the Spirit of God could one chapter hold so much that grabs our attention and cause us to fall upon our knees in humble adoration for the Messiah who gave all that we might worship Him alone.

Today of all days, we hear the very pilgrims who shouted Hosanna, but now are shouting Crucify Him, Crucify Him! These were led by the unrepentant religious leaders. They had been given the privilege of treasuring and imparting the sacred scriptures. These leaders had been called, chosen, and anointed and cleansed. Yet it is not the outward cleansing but the cleansing of the heart that God desires. Jesus pinpointed their heart problem:  But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” [Luk 11:39] God desires that we  draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience..” [Heb 10:22] 

Contrast this scene to the one criminal on the cross who recognized and submitted to the Son of God. Listen to his words; Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In that one brief interchange, Dr. Luke transcends earth to heaven so that beauty may come from the ashes of sin, and we learn of the plan of salvation. First, one must revere God; secondly, one must recognize that they are a sinner in need of repentance. Like the criminal, we are justly condemned for our sin. We must seek His face and His forgiveness. We then hear his response: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Note the promise: it happens today, not in the future. We will be with Him! We will be in paradise with Him.

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From Unbelief to Belief

1Kings 8-10 There was no social distancing the day Solomon dedicated the Temple. The dedication lasted for seven more days. Also, three times a year, Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar he built for the Lord.  God was at work there in Jerusalem.

The news of the dedication spread from Jerusalem to many nations—until it reached the ears of the Queen of Sheba. God had turned the world upside down, yet the Queen was skeptical. She could not believe what others had said and decided to see for herself.  She responded as unbelievers respond to our transformation. In fact, in the book of Acts on the day of Pentecost, a crowd gathered and heard the disciples speaking in their own language. Some jeered at the speakers, but many believed, and 3000 people were added to the new church. She came and plied Solomon with many hard questions.  Unbelievers do the same to us and why need to hide God’s word in our hearts so we can witness with boldness. End of story, the Queen was amazed; all that she had heard was true.

When others hear our testimony, are they amazed and see that our life has really been transformed?  Do they walk away like her saying, “The report I had heard was true!” Do they leave praising God? 

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Earthly Stones vs. Living Stones

1Kings 6 Peter uses the word picture of living stones for people building the “living church.” The Temple used manual labor. We, as “living stones,” are building the living church using the ‘manual’ labor of scripture reading, witnessing, and prayer. 

Hiram willingly assisted Solomon all because David had laid the foundation of a lasting friendship. What lasting friendships have we cultivated?

In Exodus, we saw how the people gave willingly to build the Tabernacle. Here in this passage, we read that David had accumulated the necessary materials to build the Temple. Are we giving voluntarily to build the living church?

 The Temple used stones from under the earth. Believers are “living stones” on the earth to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1Pet 2]

God led, but men did the work, all under the leading of the Holy Spirit.  God directs our work and records it in our Book of Life—if our name is there! It is only there if we have accepted Jesus as Savior. One day, the books will reveal what is in those books.

Are you ready to hear what the Book has under your name?

 Time is fleeting. Will your works be wood, hay and stubble or gold, silver, and precious stones?

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What’s in your wallet…”er” your armor?

Deut 20 add prayer to your armor2aDeut 20 There is a catchy commercial that asks that question thinking that money is always the answer but not always. How do you fight battles of both kinds: physical and spiritual? For both, we need special armor.

Moses addresses the first as he prepares the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. They would face enemies with horses, chariots, and numerous men. The fear was real, but Moses took the fighting men aside and told them a powerful truth: Some trust in chariots, some in horses and some in the numerous men. In that time, “do not be fainthearted. Do not fear and tremble or be terrified of them” because the Lord your God goes with you to fight on your behalf to give you victory.

Our battle is spiritual, but the principles are the same: do not be fainthearted. We struggle not against flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of the evil one. We may experience fear of the enemies around us and wish we could have wings of a dove to fly away to safety, yet God has provided us with the spiritual armor; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of the gospel which is the good news. Our shield is that of faith by which we can extinguish the flaming arrows of our adversary. Our helmet is that of salvation, and we have the Word of God! Don’t forget the most important piece of armor: the powerful forces of prayer and petition.

Whether a physical or spiritual battle, know and cling to this truth: Our God goes before us, and He will not allow his righteous ones to fall. Take up your armor and stand firm.

So what’s in your wallet…’er’ your armor?

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God is a Promise Keeper; are You?

Deut 7 chosen

Deut 7-8 Isaiah wrote that God is a promise keeper. He opens the eyes of the blind and frees prisoners. That could mean literally or spiritually and perhaps both. Our arch adversary seeks to keep God’s children both blind and imprisoned. But, when God delivers us, we should remember Jesus’ words: do not return to the adversary lest something worse happen. We must destroy the works of the enemy because if we do not, he and his demons will turn away our children from the faith to serve other gods. That was the warning Moses gave the children of Israel.

Secondly, God wants us to remember that he did not set his love upon us or choose us because of anything within us, but only because He loves us. It is because of his love that he promised to keep his oath and redeemed us from the prison of sin. We also need this reminder that within us lies no good thing yet because of His faithfulness He chose us from eternity past for His purpose. “The promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend” [Is 55]

So why do we not experience full pardon and freedom to see all that God has for us? It is because we simply do not want to destroy that which binds us utterly. We are comfortable in our sins. Until we come to the place that we desire God more than our sin that we will be free.

So where are you?

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

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I just can’t understand it …

2Cor 3 praying2aAre those your words when you are flummoxed by an unbeliever who can’t or won’t believe in Jesus? Keep reading.

2Cor 3 Understanding Unbelievers—

One of the hardest things for a believer to understand and recall is how they were before they met Christ. Once spiritually alive all thoughts turn to share Him with those who are not yet “in the fold.” Yet, time and again we are met with indifference and often misunderstandings. We want them to live and fellowship with us but something is hindering them. What is the problem and is there a solution?

How many times have you read Paul’s words: whenever the words of Moses are read there is a veil over their minds and wondered what he meant? It wasn’t until one day when a neighbor, on her own and out of the blue asked me “Who is God?”  In my mind, I saw an open door but Satan saw his opportunity to shut it, lock it and hide the key. Excitement built only to be shattered that very day. As we sat and I explained to her the answer it was like a “veil” came down and separated us. To this day I can see that glaze in her eyes literally falling down; it was the strangest thing but now I know from Paul that it was that veil. Several attempts later were all for naught yet I prayed and continue to pray for another opening.

The words of Hughes: “A veil of intellectual darkness hides the glory which has been deliberately rejected.” Did you notice what Hughes says? The glory has been deliberately rejected but why? The answer is this: Satan “has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2Cor 4] Satan has had his hand in this veil.

Beloved, keep praying for openings. Don’t give up hope. Pray specifically that Satan would be bound and that God’s love pours through you to that unbeliever. And yes one more thing, pray for my neighbor that God would remove that veil.

Do you have that someone who needs prayer too? Share with me so we can covenant together for their salvation.

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Guilty or Forgiven?

zechariah 3 forgivenes3a

Zechariah 3 “How Do You Stand; Guilty as Charged or Forgiven?”

Picture a courtroom scene with the accuser and the defender and you in the middle. You stand before the righteous judge who listens to both sides of the argument. One says you are guilty and provides the evidence. Heads turn and you as the criminal listen and wonder.  Will I be convicted? Is there hope?  Yet, you also know that your very presence in prison garb hardly is a testimony of any innocence but in fact your guilt. As the accuser cries out your crimes we hear from the bench: May the Lord rebuke you –not once but twice. And at that moment you see the accuser and the courtroom silenced. 

How strategically God has placed this vision before Zechariah as a picture of us in all of our iniquities and prison clothing. We stand guilty but the Lord of Heaven’s Armies cries out: I was in the fire with him, but I snatched him out. Instantly, t the smoke and smell of fire were extinguished and you hear: remove his filthy clothes! What the accuser meant evil; God meant for good that His plan of redemption could be seen by all.

Gently and with love you hear; Follow my ways, keep my requirements and you will come and go with others. You will be a picture of my love, my forgiveness, and my blessing.

You have been forgiven and given a robe of righteousness. Go forth as God’s forgiven child.

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Are You Ready?

Nahum 1 to 3 are you ready2a

Nahum 1-3  In 1845, an archaeologist stumbled upon the site of Nineveh and found an extensive library that is now housed in the British Museum in London. These artifacts prove Nahum’s words are true and accurate.

Nahum the Elkoshite knew God and understood God’s ways. He knew that Assyria was brutal in its conquering of other nations and in particular Judah. In fact, they were so brutal that God sent Jonah there 100 yrs. before this book was written. As the Ninevites heard Jonah’s message the king and the entire city put on sackcloth and ashes in repentance. But, like many that go forward in a tent meeting, repentance is often short-lived. Fast forward to Nahum’s time and the Assyrians were again belligerent and cruel. Although Jeremiah had written that God’s mercies are new every morning, Assyria turned a deaf ear and so He inspired Nahum to reveal God’s character to them.

‘Listen Assyria, God is slow to anger not willing any should perish but all come to repentance yet He is also zealous and will avenge His people.  Whereas your king of old repented and you were spared, your new king is indolent and degenerate. You are ripe for enemy nations.’

Just because you think it won’t happen doesn’t mean it won’t. Assyria was destroyed and their idols burned. Like then, scoffers said: “where is the promise of his coming? It is as it always has been.” God is merciful but He will be patient just so long. If Jesus were to return today, would you be ready?

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Are You Living in Death Valley?

valleyofdrybones-ezek 37a

Ezekiel 37 God’s love is beyond our ability to comprehend but the evidence is before us and is clearly seen in creation. But, often our eyes are focused on the “valley of dry bones,” our Death Valley. We say “I know God can do anything, “but in the next breath we say “I fail to see how God can work in this situation.” Martha stood by the tomb of Lazarus and thought those very words.

Martha wanted Jesus to do something because, like her, we are more comfortable “doing” than “believing.”  Perhaps that is why we keep our idols of busyness, pleasure, and materialism.  Like the pioneers of old, who wandered into Death Valley and had to be rescued, we find ourselves wandering, wondering how we too will be rescued.  Martha stood before a closed tomb;  Ezekiel stood in a valley of dead bones. Both were left speechless when God asked: can these bones live?  But, God in his mercy watched and heard God say: I am about to infuse breath into you and you will live!

Jesus, from eternity past, determined to be our rescuer from our death valley. He saw, He came and reminds us:  I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die.

Do you believe this?

Photo: Millennialpastor.net

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