Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Right Kind of Worship

Daily Selah is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. -1 Chronicles 16:29 

When we gather to worship the Lord together, God isn't looking for the nicest suit or the best dress to come before Him in the sanctuary.  He is much more concerned with our inward apparel.

"Purity is the white linen of the Lord's choristers, righteousness is the comely garment of his priests, holiness is the royal apparel of his servants." - Charles Spurgeon

Holiness is the adornment God seeks in the heart of those who worship Him.

Do you want to know how to get closer to God and be blessed?

Take a look at God's answer, given in Psalm 24:

Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (v3-5)

Clean hands. Pure heart. Holiness. God says this is the right kind of worship.

Father, we want to to bring You the right kind of worship. Cleanse us and continue to mold our hearts, I pray, so we will always come before you with clean hands, a pure heart and the adornment of the beauty of holiness. Thank You for giving us Your Word to teach us how to come before You and to live for You. Be glorified in our lives, I pray.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

The War On God and His People

The War on God and His People

Before we get into the introduction, I just want to let you know that this post is rather lengthy. The subject, however, is of utmost importance. I had thought of breaking it into a series of smaller posts but realized part of the message may be lost in the shuffle, so to speak.

If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is vital that you understand what God has to say about this war on God and His people, so please read on.


If you have watched the news at all in the past few months, you know that the land of Israel has been under constant attack and that Christians are being brutally murdered in several parts of the world.

Many Christians seem to be trying to ignore this issue for fear of being labelled insensitive or politically incorrect. Believe me, a lot of prayer and wrestling with the Lord happened before I ever sat at the keyboard to write this.

The real enemy isn't the zealots of some extremist religion, who demand worship of their god or death.  The murderous followers of such a philosophy are merely being used as weapons in the arsenal of the real enemy of God and His people.

Those are bold statements, I know. You may or may not agree. All I ask is that you take a few moments to look at God's Word with me.

In Ephesians 4, we are told that when Jesus ascended into heaven He gave gifts for the edification of the church.
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceiveBut speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (v14-15).
God wants His people to know the truth so that we are not deceived. The war on God's people is very real. We need to be aware of (1) how this war began, (2) how this war has continued, (3) the basis of the hate, (4) how it will end and (5) our position in the battle.

1.) How the War Began

The war began even before Adam and Eve were created.  Isaiah 14:12-14 describes a rebellion against God in heaven and the resulting judgement. One of the angels God created declared that he would exalt himself to the place of God. Take a look at what God declared in response to this upstart...

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (v2-15)

Lucifer, now more commonly known as Satan or the devil, was thrown out of heaven. Where else could he go but earth, where he knew God would soon plant a garden and put a man and a woman in it? As the enemy of God, his aim was and is to destroy anything and anyone who exalts the Name of the Lord.

2.) How the war has continued

Let's take a look at how the war against God and His people has continued in the garden, in the days of Noah, in the promised land, and in our time. 

 a) In the Garden

The enemy came to earth to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). When he entered the serpent in the garden, his aim was to steal Eve's joy and trust in her Creator, take her life, and destroy her Eden. Satan did get a small victory then but I don't think he was prepared for what God would do for these people He loved. 

Blood, the requirement to atone for sin and satisfy God's holy standards, was shed for the first time there in the garden. God made a covering for Adam and Eve's bodies and a temporary covering for their sin. Their relationship with God was not lost forever, as the enemy had hoped. 

God won the victory that day and declared an even greater future victory against this enemy saying, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." This was the first mention of the One who was to come (Galatians 4:4) to provide a forever covering for sin when He died "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10)

b) In the days of Noah

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually ...The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth-Genesis 6:5,11-12

Can you imagine the enemy's delight at the state of the earth at that time? He had managed to steal, kill and destroy so many people's lives and was enjoying every minute of it.

Again, I think God took him by surprise. God looked upon Noah and his family with love and, just as He had done in the garden, provided a way to save His people.
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth... And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood... -Genesis 6:8-10,13-14

c) In Egypt

After Joseph died, "the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them" -Exodus 1:7

Think for a moment how God had blessed his people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He had delivered them from a terrible famine, and brought them to Egypt where His servant Joseph had made preparations for this time. God fed and blessed His people and they prospered. 

Guess who didn't like that? The enemy wasn't happy that the people of God were doing so well because that brought God glory. And, remember, he hated both (and still does). Take a look at what he did next. 

Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. -Exodus 1:8
This king and the rest of the Egyptians got worried because of the numbers of God's people, so "they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens." - Exodus 1:11

God didn't forget His people. The more they were afflicted, the stronger they became (Exodus 1:12). This didn't make the enemy or the Egyptians very happy so they made the Israelites' lives miserable.

For a while the enemy got to enjoy a small victory here and there as he saw God's people more and more oppressed.

Once again, he wasn't ready for God's counter move in this battle. Remember Moses and the plagues God put on Egypt? Not only did God teach the Egyptians a lesson, he defeated the enemy again and again.

After God parted the Red Sea to allow His people to escape the clutches of the Egyptians, Moses and the people sang a song of praise to the One who had redeemed them.
Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. -Exodus 15:1

God didn't just have victory over Egypt that day; He defeated the schemes of the enemy. The enemy had once again tried to steal God's glory but God won and glorified His own Name through it all. The enemy had tried to kill God's people but God saved them. The enemy tried to destroy the nation of Israel before it was formed but God built them up and made them strong.

c) In the Promised Land

There are many, many examples of the enemy's war on God and His people throughout the Old Testament, enough to fill several volumes (which God did through the pen of Moses and the prophets). Let's just highlight a few of the battles in which the enemy's intent to steal, kill and destroy was manifested.

During King Ahab's reign wickedness ran unchecked through the land of Israel. The prophets of the LORD were slain and the people had turned to idol worship. Elijah, a spokesman for God, did not shy away from telling the truth about the wickedness of the king and the people.

One day, he called the enemy out and presented him with a challenge. He told the prophets of Baal to build an altar to make an offering to their gods and he would build one for a sacrifice to the LORD.

And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. -1 Kings 18:24

All day the prophets of Baal (tools in the enemy's arsenal) cried out, jumped on the altar and even cut themselves thinking this would get the attention of their gods of wood and stone. You know what happened? Absolutely nothing. Their false gods never answered. 

Remember: the enemy does have some power, but his power is nothing in comparison to God who "disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.-Job 5:12

Then, it was Elijah's turn. He built a new altar from 12 stones, each representing a tribe of Israel. He placed wood and the sacrifice on the altar, then dug a huge trench around it. Elijah called for the wood, the altar and the sacrifice to be completely drenched with a total of 12 barrels of water and the trench around it was also completely filled with water.  At the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah called upon the Name of the LORD.

LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. -1 Kings 18:36-37

Christians sometimes talk about warfare prayer. It's not as complicated as you might think. Elijah's enemy-defeating prayer was simple and to the point: "let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel...that this people may know that thou are the LORD God, and thou hast turned their heart back again."

The LORD God of Israel heard and answered by fire!
Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. -1 Kings 18:38-39

Just as he has always done, enemy again tried to steal God's glory but God won and glorified His own Name through it all.

There was a day when the enemy gathered the armies of 5 kings to attack the people of God. God went out and fought for His people and made the sun stand still so they could complete victory that day over the enemy (Joshua 10).

The 5 kings were captured, slain before the people and hung on trees as a sign that God had won the battle that day.
And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. (v25)
After many more battles with kings and peoples used as a tool of the enemy, "Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war." -Joshua 11:23

Time after time the enemy goes to war with God and His people. And, time after time, God goes out to fight on behalf of His people, keep His promises to us and glorifies His own Name.

d) In our time

If you are paying attention to the world around you at all, you are aware of the recent, rapid and rabid increase in persecution against Israel, against the Jewish people worldwide and against Christians.

This persecution is happening at the hands of terrorists, governments, the United Nations and the hate-mongering average citizen is so-called civilized nations.

In the United States, Christians are pressured in the courts, schools and even in the military simply for standing for what is right.

Christian business owners have been sued for refusing to provide services for gay marriages. Students have been suspended from school for bringing Bibles into class and for participating in student-led prayer. In our armed forces, chaplains have been forbidden to pray in Jesus' Name because such prayer is not "inclusive" enough for our politically correct society.

The Bible has been thrown out and Judeo-Christian values mocked. Those who stand on the truth of the Bible are now called "bigots", "homophobes" and labelled "militant" and "dangerous" in military training manuals. Men have been emasculated, women masculinized and roles have been reversed in the family and elsewhere.

God has something to say about this trend in America and many western countries.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! -Isaiah 5:20:21

While American Christians may feel "persecuted" at times, we really have it easy. We can purchase and own as many copies of the Bible as we choose (there are at least a dozen in my home). We don't have to worry about being attacked as we go into our churches and can pray openly and freely (for now, anyway).

Our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe are being raped, tortured, beaten and martyred for the cause of Christ. As we noted in the introduction, the real enemy isn't the zealots of some extremist religion, who demand worship of their god or death.  The murderous followers of such a philosophy are merely being used as weapons in the arsenal of the real enemy of God and His people.

 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. -John 3:19-20

"For every one that doeth evil hateth the light," Jesus said. Christians have been given one major purpose in this world and it is similar to that given to the Jewish people. That is, to glorify God by proclaiming the light of His truth to a darkened world ("Go ye into all the world...").

Remember, the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. He will extinguish the light of truth by any means possible so that he can try to steal God's glory. This enemy who was once called Lucifer ("lightbearer")  now also loves darkness rather than light because his deeds are evil.

On the basis of different covenants, Jews and Christians are both the chosen people of God.

To the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, God says, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" -1 Peter 2:9

To the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God says, "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth". -Deuteronomy 14:2

The nation of Israel is daily under threat from rocket fire, murdering bombers (AKA suicide bombers), and armed terrorists attempting to tunnel under their borders into their towns to kidnap and kill.

From the United Nations to the president of the United States and others, Israel is under daily pressure to basically stop defending her citizens.  Those who speak of "proportionality" in reference to Israel's response to terrorism are really saying, "Israel, just let them wipe you off the map."

Until the rise of Barack Hussein Obama, the policy of the United States was always, "We don't negotiate with terrorists," but the U.S. government is pressuring Israel to do just that.

Those who accuse Israel of "genocide" have either believed a lie or have deliberately set out to deceive. Do you know of any other nation on earth that has a telephone call center set up specifically to warn civilians they are going to bomb an area? Is there any other country who would drop leaflets to tell civilians in the enemy territory how to stay safe? Has any other ever sent humanitarian aid into the area hiding their enemies?

The source of anti-Israel propaganda is the enemy himself. Jesus said the enemy "was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." -John 8:44

Remember, the number one goal of the enemy is to attempt to steal God's glory. That is why he wants to eliminate Christians and Jews. Both are chosen by God to spread the light of His glory.

3.) The Basis of the Hate

We've already mentioned that the enemy's main goal is to steal God's glory. He does that by trying to steal, kill and destroy the lives of human beings.

* Do you know why the enemy has always hated Israel and the Jewish people?

The enemy knows that God declared to Israel, "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." -Deuteronomy 6:7

God also declared to His chosen people, "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." -Isaiah 49:6

Through His dealings with Israel, God has revealed Himself and His character to the world. And, through His chosen people, God also gave us His Word and the Messiah.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high - Hebrews 1:1-3

The Jewish people were and are God's chosen vehicle to introduce Himself to the world. As a result, His Name is lifted high above the earth.

The enemy's greatest desire was and is to try to steal God's glory. He was behind all the persecution of the Jews through the middle ages in Europe, most of which was done, sadly, under the banner of a cross.

The Crusades are a big part of why Jewish people are so untrusting of Christians and their motives. The Crusaders gave them a choice: convert or die. Under another cross-like banner, the Nazis (many of whom attended the Catholic church) committed terrible atrocities against God's chosen. Conversion was not even an option. Hitler's "final solution" was to rid the earth of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

It is the memories of such persecution that make true faith in Christ anathema to the Jewish people. In their minds, Jesus cannot be their Messiah if He allowed His followers to commit such atrocity.

You and I know it was the enemy, not the Messiah or His true followers, who by evil means tried once again to steal God's glory and prevent God's chosen people from seeing the truth.
"..the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." -2 Corinthians 4:4

The enemy won a small victory during World War II, but God ultimately had the victory. He brought the enemy's schemes to nothing and, in fact, turned them around and used them to accomplish His purpose. What was that purpose? To keep His promise to His chosen people to bring them back to their own land.

* Do you know why the enemy has always hated the followers of Christ?

The answered is found in Romans 11, where Paul shatters the modern day myth that God has finished with Israel.

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. (v1-2)

What does that have to do with the hatred the enemy has for Christians?

We're getting there.

Paul went on in that same chapter to give the reason why the gospel was preached first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Very few Jewish people in Paul's day or in our day accept that Jesus was and is the Promised Redeemer. Take a look at what Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said of the Jews who have not accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah of Israel and the world:
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (Romans 11:11)

Do you see what God said His purpose in bringing salvation to the Gentiles is?  To provoke Israel to jealousy.

Don't argue with me. Read it again. God said it, not me.

How do Gentile believers provoke Israel to jealousy?

By our lives and our testimony. If you know Christ as your Savior and Lord, there should be something different about you. The peace, hope, love and joy of Christ should emanate from our hearts in all we do. Are we perfect? Not this side of heaven, but, our lives should reflect that we have been with Jesus.

One day,  Peter and John were arrested by the temple guard and brought before the Sanhedrin Council after a lame man had been healed. (The Sanhedrin Council was a  71-member court led by the high priest and the final authority on all religious matters.)

The Sanhedrin, who had condemned Jesus and called for His crucifixion, demanded to know by whose authority they were doing these things.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. -Acts 4:10-12

I'm sure the members of the Sanhedrin had never met Peter and John. They would never have dirtied their pristine robes and sensibilities in the presence these humble fisherman (their bias, not mine).  The religious leaders may not have known these 2 disciples but certainly they saw something in them.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. -Acts 4:13 

Peter, the apostle who would later be the first to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles (Acts 10), provoked these Jews to jealousy.

4.) How the War on God and His People will End

The war began and has continued down through the ages because Lucifer tried to steal God's glory. God pronounced this judgement him:

Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. -Isaiah 14:15-18

Lucifer (the enemy) thought he could rise above the Almighty God, the Maker of heaven and earth, but God cast him out of heaven and condemned him to the pit of hell. God went on to say that the enemy will be mocked when he suffers his final fate (chained for 1,000 years, loosed for a short season, then cast into the lake of fire for eternity, to be tormented day and night - see Revelation 20).

To paraphrase Isaiah 14:15-18 in today's language, people will look upon him and say, "You're kidding me! This is the guy that shook kingdoms and made the world a wilderness? Really?"

The enemy, the liar from the beginning, the accuser of the brethren, will be silenced for all eternity, no more to point out our shortcomings to the Almighty.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. -Revelation 12:10

5.) Our Position in the Battle

You may be thinking that, chronologically, this last section is out of order. It is, but for good reason - to end with a word of encouragement. 

The apostle Paul told young Timothy:
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. -1 Timothy 6:12

"Fight the good fight of faith." How? First, we need the right weaponry.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ -2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Our enemy has power, as we have seen. But, although we are mere human beings, Christians don't fight like mere mortals. Our weapons are not of this world, but are "mighty through God." The enemy will attack, that's certain. But more certain is God's promise to walk through it with us, be our rear guard and to fight for us. And, remember, the enemy is a defeated foe. Jesus already conquered sin and death and hell. All things are under His feet! 

Next we need the proper clothing. 
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. -Ephesians 6:13

Remember, the enemy of God and His people has 1 main goal in mind - to try to steal God's glory. He will use any means possible to accomplish that goal, and will even try to get God's people to stumble so they will no longer carry the light of truth to the ends of the earth.

No matter how many times we have read it before, every one of God's people needs to study the armor of God as outlined in Ephesians 6:10-17 and we need to learn to put it on daily so we are well prepared for any any all attacks from the enemy.

The enemy, Jesus said, was a liar from the beginning. He will try to get you to doubt the reality of his existence and try to get you to doubt who you are in Christ. No matter what comes, no matter how the enemy tries to steal away God's glory from your life, always remember this:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:35:39

There is a war on God and His people, therefore...
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. -1 Peter 5:8-11

Saturday, August 30, 2014

New Every Morning

Daily Selah is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
-Lamentations 3:22-23

These verses are a huge source of encouragement. No matter what life is throwing at you, you can be sure of this truth. God's love for you doesn't change and His mercies will not end but are new every morning.

No matter is going on, you can be assured of His great faithfulness. That means He will always be there for you and will never, ever break a promise to you. 

New every morning. 

Remember that as you go through the day today and rest and rejoice in God's faithfulness.

Father, thank You so much for loving me even though I have done nothing to deserve Your love. Thank You for for Your mercies, new every morning. I'm so grateful we can rely on You to keep Your Word and Your promises to me. You are a wonderful God, worthy of all glory and honor and praise. I praise You for who You are and for Your goodness to me.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Message for You

From hand carried letters to horseback, to mail trucks to email, to texting to video chat and instagram, the art of messaging has changed a lot over the years. 

God has used many ways to share His message with us too.

He came into the garden to chat with Adam and Eve. Later, He spoke with Moses from a burning bush and in thunderings and lightnings on the mountain, giving His instructions for right living. Then, He gave His prophetic words through the mouths and pens of the prophets. 

From Moses to Malachi, God's messages pointed to the same promise. The gospels revealed the promise and continued the message in the form of a baby born in a stable. The message became more clear as the Promised One grew and preached the message of the kingdom with signs and wonders to proclaim who He is, then gave His life so we could partake of that kingdom with Him. 

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds -Hebrews 1:1-2

All of the different forms of messaging God used from the beginning carried the same theme. The Messiah was coming to redeem His people. When the Messiah came, God spoke to us through Him.  God still speaks today to those who will listen.

His message today is still the same as He proclaimed through His Son:
 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. -John 3:16

All of the messages before, and all of the Bible point to this one great truth that God loves us so much He sent His only Son to die for us so that we could be forgiven of sin and have eternal life.

God has a message for you. How will you reply?

Want to know more about God's message to you?

Watch the video below.

The Awe and Wonder of a Child

Daily Selah is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Young children tend to be filled with awe and wonder as they see the world around them through innocent eyes. 

These days, my boys would roll their eyes if I suggested a trip to a park or a petting zoo but when they were toddlers and preschoolers, they loved such outings.

From about the time of his first birthday until he was 3, my oldest always insisted on carrying 2 "ticks" (sticks) in one hand and 2 "wocks" (rocks) in the other. 

My youngest was a collector of "weefs" (leaves) and learned very quickly to identify a tree just by looking at its leaves. 

One year at the county fair, my middle son, who was 2 at the time, saw the varieties of poultry the 4-H clubs had on display and, as he pointed at each of the "funny chickies," he would let out such a long belly laugh that everyone in the barn was laughing with him. 

Its a little sad that as we grow, we tend to lose much of the awe and wonder we once had for God's creation. 

Over time, Christians have a tendency to lose much of the awe and wonder we had when God made us a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. -2 Corinthians 5:17

Romans 8:15-17 reminds us that the Holy Spirit brings assurance that we are God's children, we have an "Abba Father," and a glorious inheritance.

You and I are unworthy undeserving sinners. Yet God, in His great love and mercy, reached down to us through His Son. Jesus gave His life and rose again so that we could be forgiven, set free and made new. 

What Jesus did to make it possible for us to become the children of God and new creations should fill us with awe and wonder every day.

Father, Your creation shows Your great power and majesty. Making us new creations in Christ showed us Your great love and mercy. Abba, fill our hearts every day with awe and wonder as we see who You are and all You have done in Your mighty acts of creation. And, help us to live like your children and the new creations you have made us, for Your glory. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

* If you don't know if you are God's child, find out more at 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's Happening Now

In the last few weeks, I have posted twice about the signs of the times. The first was titled, Very Soon and the second was Don't Be Deceived.

False teachers seem to be everywhere, which is one of the signs Jesus told us to look for to herald His coming.

A female preacher in Virginia recently made the following remarks from the pulpit in reference to the events in Ferguson. Pay close attention to the underlined words below.

Very often, when deception comes into a church, there's just enough truth thrown in to confuse and divide.

Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is. Peter gets the answer right – the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” 

The part above - that's truth. Next, we have a bit more truth.

He is a living God, who loved us so much and was so grieved by our inability to love him and one another, that he was willing to become human."

Sounds okay so far but are you ready for a shock?  Here it comes...

He became Michael Brown. He became the victim of our sin, so we wouldn't have to sacrifice each other any more. His sacrifice should have been the last. His sacrifice was enough for us.” Read more at WND

God became Michael Brown???

This isn't merely false teaching. It's bare faced blasphemy!

And, it is another sign of the times in which we live.

It's happening now. So, what should we do?

  • It's time to wake up to what is happening in the world.
  • It's time to sit up and listen to what God is saying.
  • It's time to stand up for righteousness.
  • And, it's time to rise up to declare truth in our neighborhoods, cities and countries. 

Don't Be DeceivedJesus is coming VERY SOON!

Wow! That's Crazy!

Daily Selah is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Wednesday evenings are usually a bit hectic for my family as we hurry to get to church. Because of my work schedule, there's no time to cook dinner. Thankfully, my children are old enough to grab something to eat before I get home to rush them out the door and drive to church. 

Sometimes we are just a few minutes late but last night we arrived right on time. The boys headed off to youth group and I went into the sanctuary for the adult Bible study. 

I sat behind some people I'd never seen before. They shared with me after church that they were just travelling through the area. They were 2 sisters and a brother (probably in their late 20s to early 30s) who had driven a few hours to check on their mother who had been very ill. Other than that, I know little about them but got the impression they are fairly new believers. 

It's interesting how the Lord can use different people and different situations to teach us something when we least expect it. 

As Pastor was speaking on the work of the Holy Spirit to convict, I happened to noticed the young man in front of me absorbing every word. Pastor went on to say that without the law, we wouldn't know that we had sinned. It was almost as if a light bulb went off in this young man's mind. You could see from his expression that the Holy Spirit was bringing understanding to his heart.  

Then Pastor said that if Jesus hadn't fulfilled the law He couldn't have become our righteousness (1 Cor 1:30). And, it was because He became our righteousness and went back to the Father that He was able to send the Holy Spirit. (There were more details to explain that connection but I'm paraphrasing here.)

People who have been around church for a while might say something like, "Amen!" or, "That's right!" or, "Preach it!" when they want to agree with the preacher. 

Not the guy in front of me. He yells, "Wow! That's crazy!

It was obvious his intent was not disrespect but more like awe and amazement and praise all rolled into one outburst.

His response reminded me of Jesus' promise about another aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. - John 14:26

"He shall teach you all things..."  Think for a moment about what you know of the Lord and His Word. Whatever understanding you and I have of grace, mercy and salvation and of the love and character of God and of who we are in Christ, that understanding was brought to our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit. 

The Bible is very clear that it weren't for the Holy Spirit's work, we would never know God, never be forgiven, never be saved and never inherit eternal life. Yet, surprisingly, some Christians shy away from the Holy Spirit and from teaching about Him.

Our response should be more like awe and amazement and praise all rolled into one outburst:

              "Wow! That's crazy!"

Father, then You for giving us the law so we would know we are sinners in need of a Savior. Thank You for sending Your Son to fulfill the law and to atone for our sins. Thank You for the Holy spirit who opens our eyes to see You at work, opens our ears to hear Your truth and opens our hearts to receive Your love and enable us to love You in return. You are an awesome God and we stand in awe of You. We are amazed by You and praise You for who You are and what You have done for us. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Do you need to move?

Daily Selah is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

A few nights ago, my son and I were out on the deck talking about his varsity football game and enjoying a cool breeze.

He was happily describing some of the plays the team made, which resulted in a win of 14-0.

Then, suddenly, he pointed up and said, "Mom, look!"

All I saw was a few wispy clouds and the first stars beginning to twinkle.

"There, Mom," he pointed again.

I still couldn't see what he was seeing. He gently grabbed my arm and steered me over to where he was standing and pointed upward again.

Now, I saw what he saw. A flashing light making its way across the sky. I thought it might be a plane but he was quite sure it was a satellite.

The neighbor's garage had been blocking my view. I had to move from where I was in order to see.

Sometimes, in our relationship with God, things block our view and we need to move to be able to see what He sees.

Sin gets in they way of our relationship. We need to move from that place to where He is and agree with God about how He see us.

I am very thankful that when we sin, we can be forgiven. Its a matter of moving to where God is and confessing it to Him.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9

He is faithful and just. We just need to move so we can see how He sees.

What's in the way of your relationship with God?  Do you need to move?

Father, thank you for our salvation through Your Son who paid the price for our redemption. We know that we're not perfect yet. Thank You for the promise of Your forgiveness when we confess sin to You and thank You for the promise of Your faithfulness to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Help us to move from where we are to where You are so we will see as You see. In Jesus' wonderful Name, Amen. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Good News!

Good News! Check it out! 

Need Wisdom?

Daily Selah is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

We all have to admit we don't have all the answers. 

Sometimes we don't know which way to go or how to get there. 

Sometimes we don't know what to do or how to go about doing it. 

Other times, we don't know if we should speak or keep quiet. 

Human nature wants to run to other people asking, "Hey, what about this? How would you approach it?"

Human wisdom and knowledge is extremely limited compared to what God knows. His widom is very deep and we don't know even a fraction of the riches of His knowledge. He knows "the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10). He sees the whole picture. We see only in part. He is the Source of all wisdom and knowledge. He knows all, and sees all. 

James 1:5 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

God gives His wisdom freely and generously without holding back, if we will just ask. Before we go asking others for advice, we should be on our knees asking the One who never makes a mistake in judgement and is perfect in all His ways.

Father, I admit I often don't have the right answers, but You do. You are just and right and true in all Your ways. Thank you for freely giving Your wisdom if we just ask. Give me wisdom, Father in all do - with my family, on my job and whatever I do and wherever I go. Thank You for Your goodness and grace and thank You for not leaving us without answers. You always have the right answer and will never lead us in the wrong path. I praise Your for Your goodness, Your Word to guide us and Your Spirit who leads us in Your ways. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Every Reason for Joy

Daily Selah is a mini-devotional, a pause to ponder about the Lord and how He wants us to live.

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. -Psalm 32:11

Joy is not a word used very often in the English language any more. Perhaps, as a culture, we have lost much of our joy. Christians, however, should not only rise above the culture, but also have every reason for joy.

Right now, you might be thinking, "That's easy for you to say, Ann-Louise. You don't know what I'm facing. Joy is kinda hard right now."

You're right. I don't know what you're facing. I'm dealing with stuff too but just think about who you are in Christ and all He has done for you...
Jesus took our sin on Himself, made atonement for us and took our punishment. 
We have been redeemed, chosen, adopted and washed in the blood of the Lamb.   
The veil in the temple was torn in two, granting us access directly to the throne of grace so we can obtain mercy and find grace to help us whenever and however we need it.  
Our God has promised to provide for every need and is a faithful Father and friend.  
The Holy Spirit dwells within us to testify to our spirit that God's Word is true, and to encourage, lead and guide us.  
Jesus has risen from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for you and me.  
Jesus has already won the victory against sin and death and hell and in Him, that victory is ours too. 

Do I hear a "hallelujah"?

No matter what, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have every reason for joy.

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. -Psalm 32:11

Father, thank You for the grace and mercy You have so generously poured into our lives. Help us to remember that no matter what life brings, Your joy is our strength. You, the Source of our joy, are worthy of all glory, honor and praise. We praise You and thank You for giving us so many reasons for joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Pay close attention to the lyrics of this song (sung in both Hebrew and English):

Sunday, August 24, 2014

On Grace and Change

Change. Change is a central element of the human existence. If you are viewing this blog, you have experienced much change since the day of your birth. You learned to walk, talk, feed yourself, and read. Since then, your circumstances have changed too. Most of my readers, I assume, are adults. You've experienced change since living in your parents' home, perhaps have changed jobs a time or two and possibly changed your location more than once. Change comes whether we want it or not.

This afternoon, my 21 year old son moved out of the house to a town about an hour away. My 17 year old plans to enlist in the air force right after graduation next May. The youngest says God has called him to be a pastor. In 2 years, he'll be off to Bible college somewhere. Huge changes are ahead for all 3 of my children and for their mother.

Benjamin Franklin had some wise words in regard to change:
Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning

We all want our children to grow, mature and, yes, change. God wants to see His children  to grow, mature and change too. Change isn't easy, but God gives us grace to change.

When we were saved, we were sanctified which means we were set apart to be holy.

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. -1 Peter 1:16

Holiness doesn't happen instantly, but is a process of change over time.

What kind of change does God desire to see in our lives?

He wants us to have a change of heart, a change of mind and a change of life.

A Change of Heart
God didn't ask us to change our heart attitude; He commanded it.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. -Deuteronomy 6:5
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. -Matthew 6:21

 Our heart needs to be so focused on God that He Himself becomes our treasure, not our position, our possessions or other people; Him alone.

A Change of Mind
The Greek word metanoeo, translated repent in English Bibles literally means a change of mind. When we responded to the gospel, repented of sin and accepted Christ as our Savior, we changed our minds from our thinking to God's. We began to see our sin as He sees it and to see our lives as He does.  Repentance, a change of mind, was never intended to be just a one-time event. We haven't arrived at a state of perfection yet and need to repent more often that we sometimes realize. The epistle to the Romans was written to believers who were admonished to continue this process of a change of mind.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. -Romans 12:2

How do change our minds, aligning our thinking more closely with God's way of thinking? The blessed man of Psalm 1 knew the answer.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (v2)

God's Word is the best and really the only way to know what God thinks. As the Holy
Spirit opens up His Word to us, we will begin to have a change of mind. But that can only happen if we make the choice to be faithful to spend time in the Word.

A Change of Life
Colossians 1:13 says that when we were saved, God "delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."

That was an instantaneous and miraculous change. Just as our hearts and minds need to be in a continual state of change, so does our life.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ... -Philippians 1:27 ESV

Our "manner of life" is every aspect of our lives. From how we treat our family, to the kind of performance we give our employer, to the way we interact with our neighbors and the way in which we do business, everything we do is a representation of Christ and what He has done in our lives. The question is, how well do we represent him? Does our life bring Him glory or do our actions hurt His reputation with those we come into contact with?

Grace to Change
Change is never easy, even if it is a change for the better. But God not only gives us grace for salvation, He also gives us grace to change. No matter how difficult the change, His grace is enough.

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. -2 Cor. 12:9

We don't have the ability to express the fruit of the Spirit and to become more Christ-like on our own. That's why God pours out His grace daily into our lives, giving us the strength to change and to continue the process of sanctification. 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. -2 Corinthians 3:18

What does that mean to be "changed into the same image"? It means we are being changed to become more and more like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Philippians 1:6 is a great promise in regard to change.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
What's that "good work" God began in us? CHANGE!

And, guess what?! He's not done with you yet and He's not done with me yet. Hallelujah! God is, by His grace, still changing our hearts and minds and lives. He is still changing us from one degree of glory to another, making us more like His own dear Son, Jesus Christ and will keep working with us, for us and in us until we get to heaven.

An old children's gospel song reminds us of this promise of God to continue to change us.

Remember, He's still working on you to change you.

He's still working on me...