In His Hands

Everything is in God’s hands.  Even the circumstances in the lives of those who choose not to put their faith in God or look to Christ for their salvation.
Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word.  After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

Today is a follow-up CT scan for my husband.  We will get the results next week.  I always pray for him, but these last couple of weeks I have been praying even more for him.       Not just for the report on the scan to be good, but for his peace and comfort as he goes through the procedure, and above all his safety.
And as I prayed last evening, I prayed in similar words that I have prayed so many time, “Lord I ask for his safety through the procedure tomorrow, for his peace and comfort too.   I put all of his care into Your hands.”

And then it hit me square between the eyes. . . .his care has always been in His hands.      I began laughing as I knew that the Lord was saying, “you silly girl, I have his care and his wellness not only in the palm of My hand but there is nothing anyone or anything can do to change that!”
It was at that moment that I realized the level of my own audacity. To presume that I could love and be concerned for Skip more than the Lord was, that was not possible.

So then I began to meditate on that single verse in Hebrews. What do those words mean? “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature. .” Putting that into simple terms, how can one light show the brightness of another except that they are truly One? How can one life express the nature of another except that they are truly One? Christ doesn’t just reflect the glory of God, He is the glory of God. Christ doesn’t just express the nature of God, He is the nature of God. Bound together by the Holy Spirit of God, They sit side by side in heaven. (Mark 16:19)

As I continue to pray this morning for my husband’s health and well being, I will meditate on God’s Word.
Colossians 1:15-20 in my J.B.Phillip’s Bible reads this way, “Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through Him that every thing was made, whether spiritual or material, seen or unseen. Through Him, and for Him, also, were created power and dominion, ownership and authority. In fact, every single thing was created through, and for Him. He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation. And now He is the head of the body which is composed of all Christian people. Life from nothing began through Him, and life from the dead began through Him, and He is, therefore, justly called the Lord of all. It was in Him that the full nature of God chose to live, and through Him God planned to reconcile in His own person, as it were, everything on earth and everything in Heaven by virtue of the sacrifice of the cross.”

My Lord and my God is in control of what happens today and everyday.
I can depend on that!. . . . . You can depend on that!
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Repentance

 Reading in Psalms this morning and thinking again about the word “repentance.” 
In yesterday’s blog, I wrote, “We should wake in the morning with repentance already
in our hearts for the things that we will do or fail to do that day that are not pleasing to God. And at night, before we close our eyes, repentance should be the course of
our final conversation with God our Father.”As you read through David’s psalms, you can see a picture of a man tormented by his own sin, uplifted by his willingness to repent and liberated by his sincere praise and worship of God. David’s entire life ranging from his deepest darkest moments to his most glorious one’s are displayed in his psalms and it is within his own words, his life an open book 

David’s life, as though under a microscope, has been examined like no other person of the Bible.
We know more about him than any other person in the Bible…
And knowing this, it makes me sorely aware of the fact that one day my life will be so examined by my Creator as I stand before Him at the judgement. I too will know the humiliation and the shame that David felt on so many occasions.
 
Of the 150 Psalms, it is the common consensus that David wrote 73 of them, possibly beginning with the 23 rd Psalm which he likely wrote after Samuel had anointed him to be king of Israel yet while he still walked in the fields watching over his father’s flocks, in about 1024 BC. Though he did not understand the role he was yet to play in the history of Israel, he knew of God’s faithfulness and protection. And it is obvious that even as Samuel poured an oil of anointing, given by God, down over his head and it dripped down his chin and onto his tunic, he somehow knew that he would face many enemies.

But the two psalms that I want to draw attention to are Psalm 51 which was likely written
sometime around 991 BC when David was about 60 years old, and Psalm 32 which was
written some time after that. 
 
Psalm 51 is called a prayer of restoration. Because of David’s sin with Bathsheba, God had sent His prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12) to David who had been so overcome by his own lust that he had sent Bathsheba’s husband Uriah into battle knowing that he would be killed.
And now David, having heard from the prophet that God was going to bring calamity to his
house, cried out to God and his first words are, “Be gracious to me, God, according to
Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion.”  In his darkest moments he cries, “Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.
For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me.” “Against You,
You alone I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge.”

David knew that God had taken His Holy Spirit away from Saul because of his disobedience and had put an evil spirit upon him to torment him. In fact, it was David that was sent to play the lyre for Saul to drive the spirit from him.
So when David pleaded in vs. 11 , “Do not banish me from Your presence or take
Your Holy Spirit from me.”  his cry reflected his deepest fear. 
Vs. 14 is evidence that David knew what he had done was evil in God’s sight, for he said,
“Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.”

If you have never read through Psalm 51, please do and then as you read that last line that says, “Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar”, move right into Psalm 32 which is a psalm of music, a joyful song of forgiveness that if you listen very carefully, you can almost hear David, weeping as his sang,

“How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!
How joyful is the man the LORD does not charge with sin and in whose spirit
is no deceit! When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning
all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was
drained as in the summer’s heat.   Selah

Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You took away
the guilt of my sin.  Selah

Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to You at a time that You may
be found. When great floodwaters come, they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble.
You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.   Selah

I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you,
I will give counsel.  Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding,
that must be controlled with bit and bridle or else it will not come near you.

Many pains come to the wicked, but the one who trusts in the LORD
will have faithful love surrounding him. Be glad in the LORD and rejoice,
you righteous ones; shout for joy, all you upright in heart.”

 
Repentance is always followed by joy. The joy of a refreshed and clean heart,
and a renewed and steadfast spirit within. (Psalm 51:10)For those who might be interested, here are some sites that I use frequently in my own Bible study.

 

The Great Commission

Each of us has a commission from God. Not only the great commission, that is,
taking Christ and His Gospel to all the world, but a more personal and individual commission, not lesser in importance, but smaller in scope in that it is something
that each of us can accomplish on a daily basis.
 
And something that none of us likes to hear but something that we must truly
embrace with all of our hearts and minds and that is that word repentance.
The word repent and repentance, repenteth are used in the NT over 60 times.
Even as blood washed Christians, repentance should be our state of mind and
heart all the time.
 
Vance Havner, a wonderful Baptist preacher and Christian pastor, author and
Bible teacher once said, “We are trying to play without the ball when the church
tries to evangelize before she has repented. The church can do many things after
she has repented but nothing until she first repents.”
And that statement is true to the church as a whole and as individual as we allow
it to be. We should wake in the morning with repentance already in our hearts
for the things that we will do or fail to do that day that are not pleasing to God.
And at night, before we close our eyes, repentance should be the course of our
final conversation with God our Father.

Not So Modern Marvels

There is a wonderful show on the History channel called ‘Modern Marvels’. It is a narrated show that celebrates the wonderful ingenuity, invention and imagination and brings all these things and more to life on a grand scale. We try to watch the show as often as we can. So many things that we knew so little about are illuminated to us by so many wonderful people.
 
Actually, the word ‘wonderful’ is used in the Bible 21 times in 21 different verses.
But only once in Deuteronomy.
And since I have been spending so much time lately studying in Deuteronomy,
I thought I’d share some things I have read.
In chapter 28 Moses goes into incredible detail about God’s blessings and His curse.
In general, those who are obedient are pronounced blessed but those who disobey
are to be cursed.
In vs. 3-5, Moses said that those who obey the Lord would be blessed in the city and the country, the crops, the fields, livestock and all the herds would be blessed. Even the baskets and kneading bowls would be blessed.  But it’s vs. 6  that I love the best, for God said that if His people were obedient they would be blessed when they came in and blessed when they went out. That covers just about everything and what a wonderful thing to meditate on.
But no where in all of the verses about all of the wonderful blessings, not once is the word ‘wonderful’ used. It’s as though the idea of blessings is just an ordinary thought, nothing special, just common place among those who love God with all their hearts,
all their souls and all of their understanding. In other words, we need not be in wonder of the great things God does for us.
 
But in vs. 15, Moses begins to list the curses saying that not only will the curses come upon the disobedient but they would overtake them.
And all of these things can certainly cause wonder.  Wonder in the sense that they are inconceivable and even beyond one’s power to understand.
The curses are confusion, rebuke, destruction, affliction, inflammation, burning heat and drought, corpse becoming food for the birds, and all manner of death, great famine, thirst, plague and much more. So many times after some great thing has caused death and destruction, we ask why?
Could the answer simply be disobedience?
 
There are two verses in particular that should be noted carefully.
Vs. 36 that says, “The LORD will bring you and your king that you have appointed to a nation neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone.”
And vs’. 43-44 that tell us, “The foreign resident among you will rise higher and higher above you, while you sink lower and lower. He will lend to you, but you won’t lend to him. He will be the head, and you will be the tail.”
Do any of those things sound familiar?
 
But then here comes that word ‘wonderful’. In vs. 59, Moses says, that God “will bring wonderful (extraordinary) plagues on you and your descendants, severe and lasting plagues, and terrible and chronic sicknesses.”
And that’s the same ‘wonderful’ that is used in reference to love, works, testimonies, knowledge and Wonderful Counsellor in all the other verses. So how on earth can plagues that will not only affect me but my descendants as well, be ‘wonderful’?
The truth is, the works and ways of God should not be inconceivable or beyond our power to understand. We have His Word, We have His Holy Spirit and the rest depends on us. . . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Christ

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  (Ephesians 2:13)
For a moment let’s think about the new covenant of grace.
It is a covenant of relationship.
That simple phrase “in Christ” has more than just a simple meaning, in fact, the expanse and richness of the intimacy that is available to us by His grace it is beyond human comprehension.
 “In Christ” is where we live spiritually. It is also how we live. As surely as a fish is in the ocean and lives on the resources of the ocean, we are “in Christ” and live on the resources of Christ. As surely as an unborn child is in the mother and lives on the life of the mother, we are “in Christ” and live on the life of Christ.
 
We who believe in Jesus are not only “brought near by the blood of Christ”, we are joined to Him in a closeness like a body is to its head. “He is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18) and we can relate to the Lord Jesus closer than our hands or feet can relate to our own brain.
We can look to Jesus for direction and guidance. We can depend upon Him for the timing and the planning of our entire lives. We can be sure that He will watch over us, keep us no matter what the situation, because He Himself said, I give them eternal life, and they will never perish —ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:28)
The closeness we have with Him is like a vine and its branches for He said, I am the vine, you are the branches (John 15:5). We can look to Christ for our very source of life and vitality.
We don’t have to produce a life on our own. But we must stay focused on abiding in and depending on Him.  He makes our lives fruitful and effective.
We can count upon Jesus to love us faithfully and sacrificially. We can rest in His constant companionship, never leaving us for any reason throughout our life here on earth.
 
The blessings that are ours for all time are “in Christ.”  Joined to Him by His blood, nothing can separate us from the love that He has for us. 
“No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved
us. For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things
present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other
created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Romans 8:37-39)
 
Let us all pray for everything that is available to us in Christ.  Let us desire above all things to be dependent on Him, just as the branches are dependent on the vine. And until we see Him face to face, let each of us pray that He will continue to reveal Himself to us through His Word.
 

Martha and Mary

In Luke 10, the story of Martha and her sister Mary is told.                                               Jesus and His disciples had been traveling and Martha welcomed Him into her home.

Mary was a listener, a seeker. While she sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to everything He said, Martha, the proverbial homemaker was busy.  She must have loved to cook and entertain because in vs. 40 the Scripture says that she was “distracted by her many tasks.”                                               

That Martha had the heart of a servant is not a bad thing.

In fact, as Christians we all should have a servant’s heart and mind when it comes to the Master’s service.

But how many of us would have just tossed some bread onto a plate and passed it around to Jesus and His disciples?

To have had an opportunity to entertain the Lord, a chance to quench His thirst and give Him good things to eat is a dream of a lifetime.

In the meantime, Mary is sitting at His feet, absorbing every word that He spoke.           That too is a dream beyond comprehension.

Many times Martha is faulted for her “much serving” but the fact is, it wasn’t that she had too much concern for His comfort, it was that she allowed her service and all of her energy and focus to cause her to miss the opportunity to spend time with the Lord of Lords. She was so caught up in her thoughts on food and drink that she took her eyes off the One Who is the Bread of Life and the Living Water. 

We must not let our thoughts on serving keep us from sitting at the Savior’s feet.

For it is at His feet that our soul’s are renewed, it is at His feet we can give Him glory, it is at His feet we can commune with Him, learn of Him, maintain our faith and even touch the hem of His garment when we need a special touch.

We all can be of service to Him by ministering to His church but never get so busy with service that it takes the place of spending some time at His feet.

From Saul to Paul

Most everyone who knows me, knows that I consider the Apostle Paul, the greatest of the apostles.
If you have read any of Paul’s epistles, you have likely formed a mental picture of him. But in reality, that picture differs greatly from his real life.
Take for instance the periods of time that he was imprisoned. I know that I had formed a mental image of the prisons he was in and even the houses where people lived in those times. 
All of these images were influenced by movies that I had seen and none of them were likely to be as grand and comfortable as imagined or depicted in movies.
During all that time, whether he was free, comfortable, warm and fed or in bonds, in chains, in the dark damp hole that is a more realistic description of his prison, he not only prayed for other Christians but he wrote letters of encouragement and instruction to the scattered churches.
He never laid down his mantle. He pushed on. And in chains and under the watchful eye of a guard 24 hours a day, circumstances that he could not change, he managed to preach the Gospel to the entire imperial guard. And he also recognized the fact that some of his Christian brothers had actually been encouraged and had gained confidence to share the Gospel more freely and without hesitation.

Sometime between  AD 61 and AD 64, while the Apostle Paul was writing his letters to the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, and Philemon, the Apostle John was writing the first of the three short books of John. And in that first book of John, chapter 1, vs. 7, John wrote, “But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Paul knew one thing for sure, that he had been cleansed by the blood of Jesus though he had never met Him, wasn’t there when He was crucified and in fact, didn’t become a believer for nearly 3 years after Jesus had ascended into heaven.
Paul was more concerned than anything else, that in his life and death that he would honor Christ. Earlier in his ministry, in about AD 53 he had written his letter to the church in Galatia and in chapter 2 vs. 19-20 or just vs. 20 depending on which version of the Bible you are reading, he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”.                                                  
He would finish the course and he did keep the faith.

And that should be the goal of each of us as we walk with our Savior and Lord, to be ready and willing to share the Gospel freely with everyone we meet.

“In Christo, In Pace, In Spe”
In Christ, In peace, In Hope