Disappointing Joy

Disappointing Joy

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2: 1,2 NIV)

Things that bring great joy

Sometimes allow disappointment to seep

Into our beings, clinging, cloying our minds,

Taking away the good, replaced with evil thoughts,

Designed to lead one into temptation’s snares,

Choking back the warnings aired, stifling desire to do right,

Ignited by temptation’s blinders, shackled by flesh

Ignoring Spirit’s, “Warning, Warning, Danger ahead!”

And then when speckled, stained, tainted memory’s dust,

Takes time to see beyond the smeared rainbow bent,

By disobedience, and distrust, joy once known, disappoints

And the nerves once tinkling with anticipation, now dulled

By pain and anguish, frustration and guilt–Not by what’s done,

But the warning ignored and disregarded, like so many

Who came before, refusing to heed the signs of the times,

Determined to do things our own way, without clear vision,

Minds clouded by love and lights that falsely portray.

No matter what we do or have done, John reminds us,

Our lives are not about us, but Him, and our missteps,

Forgiven, forgotten when we repent,

Sincerity ballooning our hearts and mouths, as we seek,

Forgiveness of others and forgiving ourselves,

Remembering great joy can be disappointing.

Although we claim the joy of the Lord is our strength, we sometimes forget that it is because of His sacrifice that we are saved from ourselves and that is the joy we have in Him. However, He takes great joy in our success when we obey and then when we are tempted beyond our own ability to resist, we are disappointed with us. When we don’t know how to forgive “self” for not heeding warnings, we make matters worse by taking our disappointment out on others.

Let’s heed the warning of God’s Word and all who have our best interest in mind. He gives us warnings to keep us safe from harm and when we do not heed them, we step into the snare set by enemy to create chaos and confusion. Let’s give the devil no place in our lives and kick confusion in the outer realms of Satan’s domain, so he is the only one confused.

There is great joy in serving The Lord and derived from our obedience, but we must take care to do all things according to The Word and not attempt to rely upon our own wisdom. Holy Spirit’s job is to remind us of those things we have been taught, and show us things to come and when we see danger, we must be diligent to warn those in harm’s way. If we see danger and say nothing, the end result is on us; but if we see danger and warn others and they don’t pay attention to the warning, the end result is on them. God’s Word has not changed and will not change and we must learn to hear Holy Spirit or those to whom He has spoken.

When we do what God would have us to do, we will not know–disappointing joy, but joy to the full in Jesus Christ!

Defeating Grace!

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that ALL of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:1-4 NIV).

What shall we say–about sin and the grace given to us–when we didn’t deserve it–giving us another chance to get living right for God? What shall we say about God’s mercy–that kept us from receiving what we did deserve–when we knowingly opted to live in sin and yet, He loves us so much He was not willing to let us lay in the muck and mire we created for ourselves? Do we really understand that when we deliberately keep sinning–after all He’s done for us–we defeat the entire purpose of grace?

There are many–who profess to love The Lord–who have no idea of the purpose of grace–they tend to get grace mixed up with forgiveness and that God will forgive us for what we do–so they keep living in sin–attempting to justify it, by saying, “God forgives!”

Oh yes, He does forgive us when we repent–turn away from doing all things that dishonor Him. But if people are simply mouthing a request to Him to forgive their sin when there has been no change of heart or turning away from what brought them into position to seek forgiveness–they waste their time. God is not deceived and He knows when they open their mouths, hearts have not been renewed in Him.

And this is what we see in our society’s celebration of sin–against God–not man and the tragedy is that they refuse to see the sin; they justify it, and celebrate it, and see no need to repent. Without repentance–there is no forgiveness of sin. No court in the land on earth can ever determine what is sin and what is not. They may legalize  what God has called sin, but they can never redefine sin. And what mere mortals have forgotten is that no matter how many times they change what is legal or what is not–God never changes. Since He is the only person who can determine our place of eternity, I’d rather look to His instructions than man’s.

For by grace–God’s favor towards us–unmerited, unearned–have we been saved by the finished work on the cross. There is no more need for God to come down to offer Himself a sacrifice for us–that was completed over a long time ago–on the Old Rugged Cross, where He gave His life–took on sin so we would not have to suffer the consequence for sin–death. For the wages–the payment, final consequence of sin–is death. Accepting the finished work on the cross in the person of Jesus Christ, puts us into a position to develop a right relationship with Him and to know and understand more about how He wants us to live our lives–sin-free–honoring the grace He has given.

To continue to live in sin and celebrate it as a lifestyle defeats the grace given and we make a mockery of the finished work on the cross. Jesus sacrificed Himself in vain for some since they do not recognize the benefit of His sacrifice. For all who will not repent, they have only the lake of fire to expect as their eternal resting place. What a shame!

But for those of us who understand, let’s move forward, maintaining our faith in Him and living to please Him so He will give us the desires of our hearts and stamp our names on our mansions in heaven–the place prepared for those who obey God. We accept the grace given and will not allow its purpose to be defeated in our lives. Hallelujah!

Great Is Your Faithfulness!

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:19-23 NIV)

This sounds like a passage of scripture we all could have written. Remembering those days when—we lived any way we wanted to live and reaped the consequences for our rebellion and opposition. When we caved to peer pressure and engaged in all sorts of illicit or immoral behavior. When we thought we were grown enough to do whatever we wanted to do. When our present was more important than our future because we gave no thought to our future. When people tried to tell us we were heading in the wrong direction and we would not listen and actually scorned those who tried to warn us.

And in spite of ourselves and our lack of wisdom and knowledge, God in His infinite mercy and love–showed us compassion when we were not able to show compassion to others and kept us for Himself and His purposes. Hallelujah for our compassionate and merciful and loving God. How great is He! Faithful to those who did not understand faithfulness. Loving those who did not understand how to love self and certainly no one else. Great is Your faithfulness, Lord to those of us who really didn’t deserve it.

Never would we have found the courage to live a life pleasing to Him unless someone had prayed for us, had us on their minds, and God responded as only He can–with outstretched arms, willing and ready to forgive us, putting us on the right path, introducing us to His Son and His purpose in our lives.

I know there may be some reading this who cannot relate because they have lived perfect lives all of their lives–well this isn’t for them. It’s for the rest of us who had to find our way, through the muck and pits–having reached the end of ourselves so we would understand that without God–we have no existence worth living! We rejoice in His love and saving grace, for He didn’t have to do it, but He did.

What He did for us–then and now–He’ll do for others. It is His faithfulness towards mankind that will save them, just like it saved us. He will wait–until those who choose to live in opposition to Him reach the end of themselves and understand there is no live worth having without God in it and leading it. Though it appears that the world is headed for the lake of fire, God has a plan and His plan will succeed for all who are willing to heed the warnings and know His love.

God’s faithfulness surpasses any human being’s faithfulness because He doesn’t keep a record of our wrongs, but keeps strengthening us to be strong in the Holy Spirit, who is always whispering in our ears and speaking to our hearts, God’s Word, spoken to the faithful men of old, so we have continue to have hope, even when it seems like there is no hope for the lost.

Thank You for the mercies that are new every morning! Thank You for the love You keep shedding abroad in our hearts! Thank for the grace we receive to keep hope alive in every situation. Great is Your faithfulness, Lord unto to us! Keep praying for those on the wrong path!

The First Step To Forgiveness–Acknowledgment or Confession!

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10 NIV)

Truth and deception are in opposition with one another. If we know truth, we have no need to deceive others or ourselves. The biggest issue with some people in acknowledging truth is their limited perception of what truth is. People who have not had opportunity to experience much of life are limited by their experience to understand greater truths experienced by people who have had opportunity to broader ranges of experiences.

Truth about differences is cultural knowledge is limited to one’s experience with different cultures.

Truth about religious observations is limited to one’s experience with various groups of people and how they worship God.

Truth about sin is limited to one’s experience and knowledge of what God says is sin. If a person has no knowledge of what God says is sin, they can deceive themselves into believing they have never sinned and since they have never sinned (in their minds), they do not confess it or admit and therefore cannot never be forgiven–by God.

I have often readily discussed my “BC” time (before knowledge of Christ) and the fact that I lived in ignorance as to how God wanted me to live. Once I learned--by reading the Bible and seeking God’s wisdom to understand what I read, I had to own up to all the stuff I had done, out of ignorance–and seek His forgiveness. Now, that I know, I’m still not perfect, but I recognize my shortcomings and flaws and allow His correction to guide my tongue and my actions. This is the place where God wants all of His children to be–receptive to correction when we admit we are wrong. But if we never acknowledge being wrong, we close the door to correction and cannot receive the benefit of His love–through forgiveness.

Someone recently told me they did not have a “BC” time, but they have always followed God. There were a number of questions that rose in my mind with that statement. Did they truly know God? Did they understand salvation and repentance? Did they understand the purpose of the work on the cross? And of course, I thought, “So, you’ve been perfect all your life!” Of course that thought was sarcasm since I know there are no perfect people walking the earth. But if they think they have no “Before Christ” time, they have deluded themselves into thinking they are perfect.

Here’s the thing for me. We are not born “saved” and until we recognize our sinful state and repent, we cannot be saved. Neither are we born “a denomination,” but rather born into families who observe specific religious practices. We are not born, Baptist  or Catholic, or Lutheran or Pentecostal, or any other religion. We are born into families who expose us to the tenets of specific practices and we choose (at some point in time) to either join those practices or reject them.

Then there are some families who have never acknowledged the need to involve themselves in any religious practice and so people are born into families who have no exposure and sometimes see no need for such exposure. Never having the opportunity to understand God’s Truth is no excuse for living outside of His Will; especially when His Truth is being promoted by every true Believer using every venue they have available to them.

When people claim to not believe God, it is not because they have not been exposed to His Truth, but because they have chosen to reject His Truth and that is usually because of negative experiences with people who were not living God’s Truth.

Now, through this venue and many others like it–we all have access to Truth as God determines Truth. Having a relationship with God means we understand His Truth is truth and we have all sinned and need to confess it in order to be forgiven. If we say we have not sinned, we lie and make God’s Word of no effect and make the work on the Cross, pointless. God is not a man that He should lie and we are not so perfect that we have not sinned. If we think we have not sinned, we are only fooling ourselves because God sees and knows all we have ever done.

Therefore, we must acknowledge the sin, confess it to God, repent and be forgiven by God. We do not have to tell our business to other people, but we must acknowledge our shortcomings and flaws and know God’s love is enough to keep us from falling into the abyss when we confess our sins to Him.

Settling The Matter!

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” (Isaiah 1:18-20 NIV)

When The Lord speaks through His messenger–whoever it is–people should listen. If they did, they would save themselves a great deal of time and heartache. But just like then, people choose not to hear what The Lord says–through any medium (bible, prophet, pastor, evangelist, teacher) and then declare–what God said then, doesn’t matter now.

I know the most popular approach to clarifying or encouraging people to believe is to not discuss sin as sin. If we’re going to be true to God and the role He has given us, we cannot discuss His goodness without discussing sin. It is because of sin (and His great love for us)–that He came down from heaven in the likeness of sinful flesh–to redeem us (save us) from ourselves.

Through the prophet Isaiah, He spoke–“though our sins are like scarlet or red as crimson, they shall be (after He comes) as white as snow or soft as wool” (both symbolic of purity), but there is a caveat–“If we are willing to hear from Him and obey Him” then we’ll have all the good stuff, but if we don’t–we can expect all the bad stuff. I’ve stated this as simply as I can so even a child can understand. If children obey parents, they can expect a reward, if they don’t, they can expect a penalty or punishment of disobedience. Why is this concept–started by God–so difficult for us to understand today?

We have allowed the unbelieving to dictate what we do, by caving to their claims that God is not concerned about sin any more. HERE’S A NEWSFLASH! He is just as concerned about sin today as He was before. If He wasn’t, all of us who proclaim the Gospel, forgiveness of sin and grace–are wasting our time and we should have translated out of here, the moment we believed!

He’s still concerned about sinful behavior and He wants those of us who know and believe that His Word never changes to continue the good fight of faith–sharing His love with all who will hear and obey. For any who say His Word doesn’t mean what it says, we would have to conclude they either do not understand or do not have a relationship with Him, so He can speak to their hearts and they hear. This settles the matter for me. Now, what about you?

Ocean Depths!

“He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19 NKJV)

Because of God’s mercy towards us–He will not stay angry with us forever, and when we repent of our sins, His mercy and compassion are so great that He forgives us and tosses our sins into the depths of the seas.

The key to having our sins tossed into the sea is our repentance–turning away from those things that do not honor God in any way and turning to God, honoring Him in all we do.

Many–who want to live any way they want to live–espouse God’s love and criticize anyone else who mentions sin, saying we should only talk about love. Well, God is love and He loves us all, but He will not tolerate disobedience any more than our natural parents will. The rules don’t change because of His love, but the rules are established because of His love.

Be careful of the tricks of the enemy who would blind to truth and attempt to get one to believe that God’s Love cancels His rules, when in fact, it is just the opposite. When we love–we want to keep our loved ones safe from harm. God’s Love wants to keep us safe from harm and keep us in position to receive His many benefits. If we love Him, we’ll obey Him. When we refuse to obey Him, we are in fact obeying Satan who wants confusion and disorder and chaos to reign so we cannot hear God when He speaks.

I am so grateful for God’s forgiveness and His giving me a another chance to get things right with Him, that I know my sins are at the bottom of the ocean and no one–doing any deep-sea fishing, will be able to snare them and bring them up to Him again. Hallelujah!

Because They Have Forsaken God!

“Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah: Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched.” (2 Chronicles 34:24,25)

What happens when we forsake God and forget about all He has told us to do? Ugly things happen and continue to happen until people repent–usually after they have been reminded of what God has said.

This was the case with the King (Josiah) who got rid of all the high places where people burned living children in sacrifice to a hand-made God, where they worshipped the works of their own hands and falsely believed those who told them to kill children to appease their hand-made God. Josiah repented after hearing The Words of God that had been forgotten and forsaken. He finally understood and obeyed and his obedience kept him from falling into the judgment of those who refused to repent.

The same God–not made by hands–who is self-existing and needs no one else to counsel Him–who allowed judgment to fall upon entire kingdoms because of their disobedience then, will do the same thing today–if we continue to forsake God’s Word!

Perhaps, the problem is that many refuse to attend places of worship that have made the Word of God of no effect because of their traditions. Perhaps, the problem is because no one is reading The Word, seeking understanding of how God wants us to live. Perhaps, the problem is because many people spend far more time worshipping those things that man’s hands have made and they cannot see or understand the importance of knowing what God has said.

People worship their cars, their jobs, their bank accounts, their homes, their children, their spouses and when people and things become more important than God--we go astray. We forget to read The Word; we forget to hear The Word; we forget to study The Word and seek Him for understanding. With all of this forgetting about The Word–we disobey God and create (in our minds and with our own hands) new rules–that contradict God’s Word. We create laws and statutes that are in total opposition to what God has said and we do it–to be politically correct and inclusive–desiring to please men, more than God!

And when we forsake God–all the ugliness of the world–is exposed to the light and we see the end results–chaos, unrest, and violence, not realizing that sin impacts our environment and the just and unjust suffer the same consequences.

The solution to all the aforenamed problems is simply for everyone to get in The Word, understand what God has said and repent–humbly seeking His forgiveness for all we have done that is not of Him.

When we forsake God and His ways, He forsakes us and allows us to do our own thing–obtaining our own results–without His involvement. God does not cause the problems we have in our society–we do–because we have forsaken God!

Help us, O Lord, to get our priorities right and come back to the place where we can receive The Word and forgiveness for all the wrong we have done. Have mercy on us, O Lord, and lead us to the place You would have us to be–always focused upon You and what You would have us to do so we can achieve greatness to Your glory!

Once Upon A Time!

“Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:1-5 NLT)

Once upon a time–before we came into the knowledge of truth–and shed the fables that religion promotes, we  followed the dictates of our flesh without regard to anyone’s needs, but our own. Once upon a time.

If we are truthful with ourselves (for we only fool ourselves, not God) and admit that we all “have sinned” at one time or another, then we could not be so quick to point fingers and condemn those who have yet to come into the knowledge of truth. For God, who sees and knows all–saw what we did and yet had mercy upon us and because He is Love, decided to spare us from spending eternity in the lake of fire–when we acknowledged Him and accepted His Son.

Now, true enough there are some who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior as a matter of “religious ritual” and have been baptized for the same reason. Then, there are some who “acknowledge” God simply because of family tradition and commitment to religion or religious institutions.These go through life still doing whatever they want, seeing no need to change or repent. And worst of all–the entice others to do as they do–living a life of sin and having no remorse.

However, when a person discovers for themselves the nature of God, experiences His mercy and grace (unmerited favor) for themselves, they open the door to Relationship with Him and whenever they fall short–they are quick to admit it and seek forgiveness.  As the relationship develops, the desire to please flesh lessens and the desire to please God increases to the point where even thinking about doing something opposed to God, brings guilt and self-condemnation.

But thank God for His enduring mercy, grace and love towards us. He knows our hearts and when our desire to please Him is real, He keeps us on the straight and narrow path and even when we stray, He is quick to draw us back to the path that leads to eternal life. We are also reminded in His Word that we cannot point fingers at others for those things which we have also done, but we can pull them along the path of righteousness, by showing them love and the redemptive plan of God.

Now, before a finger is ever pointed at another to judge or condemn them, remember that Once Upon a Time, that was you!

Fingerpointing Can Incriminate Self!

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1 NIV).

This admonition from Paul to the church at Galatia is still relevant today. None of us can afford to consistently point out faults in others, when we have our own faults to handle. This is especially true when we can always “see” what others are doing and never see what we are doing.

Several incidents come to mind with this scripture–Jimmy Swaggert condemning the Bakers, Newt Gingrich condemning Bill Clinton, Republicans who are always faultfinding and then being found in their own faults, and on and on. People–human beings–sometimes fall short of being perfect in our eyesight. But then, none of us are perfect so we might as well stop pointing fingers at others. Apparently, we have forgotten when we point one finger at someone else–three other fingers (our own) are pointing at us.

Does this mean that we ignore sin? No, it doesn’t. It means that when a person sins, they are to be forgiven, and restored “when they repent of the sin–turning away from it” and we who are in Christ–should not be so unforgiving that we forget–we too can err.

Why discuss finger-pointing? Throughout social media sites, online pubs, etc. there are multitude of naysayers–who have nothing better to do than to find fault with the President. While I don’t agree with everything he does, I use my time praying for him–not belittling him. After all, my relationship with God won’t allow me to condemn the man, when the condemnation could be directed at me. Instead of being a hate-monger, I’d rather be a prayer-warrior which aligns with The Word. 

Everyone who proclaims to be a Christian and has a right relationship with God should be praying for those with whom we disagree, not condemning them. After all, none of us are perfect and we are all prone to making mistakes–some deliberately, some not. I’d rather love and pray, than hate and condemn. I disagree with many things politicians do–on both sides of the aisles, but it has not stopped me from praying for them. Public humiliation directed at any group actually becomes public humiliation for the one who attempts to undermine others. The world is laughing at us in America because we are so self-righteous in our thinking we are better than all others in the world. It’s time to take a look in the mirror, truly see who we are, and realize–we are not “all that”!

Father, in the name of Jesus, remove the scales from our eyes so we can truly see us for who we are and then create in us a desire to be the people You want us to be.

Wipe-Out!

“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud, And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it!  Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth;  Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains,  O forest, and every tree in it; For the LORD has redeemed Jacob  And in Israel He shows forth His glory.” (Isaiah 44:22-24 NASB)

We have been redeemed–our sins wiped-out–(when we repent)–our broken connection with God restored with the work on the cross by Christ Jesus! God has shown His unfailing, enduring love for us in all that He has done for us. What are we doing to show Him our love for Him?

We must forgive as we have been forgiven. We must love as we have been loved. We are not loved because we are so perfect, but because of our imperfections and need of a Savior.

As the Lord has wiped out those things we have done–we have to wipe-out those things that others have done to us--forgive and move on, understanding that all of us are in need of improvement and restoration so we learn to please God, not man.

All of the heavens and earth understand the move of God in our lives to restore us to a right relationship with Him. Why are we waiting? Our Redeemer lives and has wiped out our transgressions with one swoop of humility on the cross–that’s love and we should receive it and enjoy the everlasting love of God and do all we can to bring others into the knowledge of God so they too–can be restored.

Lord Jesus, help us to see beyond the faults of others just as You saw beyond our faults, loved us any way, and wiped out our sins, bringing us back into right relationship with the Father.