Saturday, August 4, 2012

We Are His

In my family, we have a saying: "Remember Who You Are!" It started with my grandfather years ago. He would tell it to his children as they grew. When they left home to begin their own families, his words were passed down through the generations. It is a banner over our house.

What my grandfather meant was that his children should remember that they belong to a family,. They belong to him. He meant that they should behave themselves and live with personal integrity and honor. He meant... You are mine! You carry my name. You are mine! I love you. You are mine! You represent me in the world. You are mine! I am here for you always.

These are the foundational truths of our family. Truths that give us a basis for living lives of integrity.

Integrity defined: The quality of being honest and morally upright. The state of being whole or unified. Soundness of construction. These are some definitions of integrity.

If you read the Bible, then you are familiar with the story of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah from the book of Daniel.

What? You're not familiar with those names? Well, maybe you recognize the names Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Does that ring a bell?

These three young men from Jerusalem were taken captive by an evil king Nebuchadnezzar and forced into his service in Babylon. They were in training and were told what to eat and drink. But they refused to eat the king's rich food and instead lived on a diet of healthy fare.

Nebuchadnezzar, being the all powerful evil king, decided to change their names to suit his fancy. Hananiah which means "Yah has been gracious." was changed to Shadrach - which means "inspired of Aku". Mishael which means "Who is what God is?" was changed to Meshach - "belonging to Aku". Azariah, which means "Yah has helped." was changed to Abednego - "servant of Nego".

Their Godly names... names that spoke not only of their God, but of who they are in God's sight, were changed to names that venerated the pagan gods being worshipped in Babylon. He must have thought that calling them by these pagan names would change the foundation of who they were.

They exhibited excellence in their character and were promoted to high positions in the land with power and authority. They were hated by some and those that hated them sought to bring them down.

When the king declared that all in his land would worship his idol or die, these three men continued to worship their one true God. Their detractors rushed to the king with the news!

They were told to worship the pagan gods, but they refused to bow down. They were given ample opportunity to repent of their stubbornness and foolishness. Just bow down and and everything will be alright. Go along with it. Agree. Blend in. Make us happy. Make us feel better. Your lives will be all cushy and wonderful. Every one will love you. Aw come on. Just bow down. What's it gonna hurt?

Then things took a serious turn. Look! They are stoking the fire in the furnace right now! If you don't bow down to this idol, you are going to die a horrible death.

In the face of a threat to their lives, to their faith and belief, to the very essence of who they were, they made a choice.

These three refused to be intimidated by threats or to capitulate to worldly reasoning. They refused to become what the evil king had named for them. They remembered their God and the Godly names that they had been given at birth. They chose to live up to His expectations and His original names for them. They were upright and unified in their faith. They trusted the soundness of God's design for them.

As a result of their faith and personal integrity, their story has become a legacy of the power and faithfulness of God to save His people in even the worst circumstance.

In the middle of the conflagration, God saved them. The king of Babylon and the people of Babylon witnessed the hand of God move to save His children.

Nebuchadnezzar was so overwhelmed by the display of God's power that he not only promoted and praised Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, he instructed the entire land to respect their God.

What about us? As we are living in what some call a modern day Babylon, do we exhibit any integrity in our lives? Who are we? Who does God say that we are?

He calls us His creation, His children, the Joint Heirs of Jesus, His Bride, His Chosen Ones, His Forgiven Ones, His Disciples. This list goes on and on, but it boils down to one thing. We are His. We are named by Him. We are His. He loves us. We are His. We represent Him in the world. We are His. He is there for us always. He is the banner over us.

The world may call us by other names, but God sees and knows our hearts and our secret places. They world may try to deceive us with promises and subtle threats, but God gives us His truth. The world may choose to hate us and try to destroy us, but God has proven over and over that He will keep us from destruction. We are not perfect. We are forgiven. We are His.

God calls us to remember who we are in Him and to live our lives in that truth. God has not changed. He has not forgotten. He will do for us what He did for these three men. And He will be glorified and praised even by those that deny Him.

Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!

Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this."

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3: 28-30)

Monday, April 9, 2012


Many have made sacrifices.   Parents give up their own personal desires so that their children will have what they need.     A husband or wife give of themselves to support one another  and  make their marriage strong.   Friends set aside differences to maintain their friendships.   A soldier will lay down his life to protect and defend  his country or  the people of a foreign land.   Police officers, firemen, soldiers all put their lives on the line for the sake of others.   

It's a noble act.    It's nothing new.     It has been going on for centuries.     Men and women of courage and integrity and honor give their lives for others.

So what makes it so incredible that Jesus sacrificed His life for us?

For one thing, although Jesus was a man, He was no ordinary man.    He was our Creator God in the flesh.   He is the One that walked in the garden with Adam and Eve.      He is the one that spoke and the whole earth and everything in it came to be.    He is the one that holds it all together.

For another thing, He planned His sacrifice.   He knew it would be necessary from before creation, before time began.  

God created us to be His friends.   He made us to be like Him.   He wanted someone to relate to.   Someone to hang out with.    He wanted us.     But He didn't want us to be slaves to His every command.    He wanted us to choose Him, so He made us with our own volition.    He gave us options.      And He only had one rule.     Don't eat the fruit of that tree.      Everything else in the world is yours.   But don't touch that tree.  In fact, it would be good if you didn't even look at it or think about it.   Hah!

Being human, and having self will,  of course we were curious.   When someone came along and sweet talked us into eating that fruit, how could we be blamed?   After all, God is so good.  Everything else in the garden was made for us.   He won't let us die over eating one little bite.   Will he?     

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.        Before we gave in and gobbled it up, we didn't even know there was such a thing as good and evil.    Everything just 'was'.      Neither good nor bad.   No right or wrong.   Except for that tree.    Even the tree was not good or bad.   It just contained knowledge.  

But now we knew.   Or at least we thought we knew.    It was confusing.   What was right was wrong.   What was wrong was right.   We knew there was good and we knew there was evil.   But we had no understanding of it.  How do we decide?   So we tried to hide that we knew.  Our conscience had been activated and for the first time, we turned away from God.     

Everything was going according to plan.     So naturally He set us outside the garden and sealed it up so we couldn't get back in.      Like the disobedient children we were, we had to suffer the consequences of our decision and live with this terrible knowledge from the tree.  He separated Himself from us.  But Gaaawwwddd!   It's not fair!

However,  if we had never chosen that tree... if we had never been cast out of the garden. and away from Him..  how would we know the difference?   We would be those innocents lolling around in the garden with no understanding of God's goodness.    No appreciation for what He provided for us.    We would be His slaves.  Loving Him because we didn't know any different.

We would be unspoiled by sin, but we wouldn't have to choose Him over the "pleasures" of sin.     And that's what He wants.    He wants us to choose Him.     He didn't want it to be mindless and  effortless on our part.   He wanted us to know the difference it would make to choose Him.  He wanted us to know what it was like to live separated from Him so we could make an intelligent choice.

He knew what we would do.   He created us to do it.    He had already made arrangements.    He spent eternity planning it and setting everything in place for it. He contemplated it beforehand.   

When it was the right time on earth, He left the eternal streets of gold and the glory of Heaven.   He left the light of the Father's righteousness.    He left His glory and magnificence.  He left the worshipping angels.  

He stepped into time.... into His creation.   He became one of us.    He didn't come as God to rule over us.   He came as God in human flesh.   A baby, held and fed and nurtured.   A child under the discipline of his parents.   An adolescent.   A young man.  An adult.

He was subject to every rule and regulation of man.   He was subject to every  human emotion, feeling, pain, heartache, fears, desires, satisfactions, lusts, hunger, weariness.  

He knew His future.   He had planned, anticipated and dreaded this for eternity.   He came to die.   To be tortured.   To be outcast.  He came to sacrifice himself for us.   To cover us with His blood so that we could be made right with God.  

Every breath He took, He knew what was ahead.   Every passing year brought Him closer to the event.   Birthdays came and went.   Every choice He made took Him to torture, humiliation and mutilation.     The closer in time He came to the cross, the more difficult it became for Him.   Every miracle was part of the countdown.   It was almost unbearable that last night in the garden... when he plead with the Father to remove this from Him.    He could have stopped it.   He could have wiped the slate clean; put us all back in the garden and cleared our heads of knowledge.   He could have removed the choice from us.   He could have done anything.

He laid Himself on the whipping post.   He dragged His cross up that hill.    He let us drive the nails into His hands and feet.   He even became the thing that He detested.   He became that thing that cannot exist in the presence of God.  He became every wrong thing we ever did or will do.   He became the stain that is inherent within each of us.   He suffered separation from the Father as God turned His back on His only Son.   He could not look on the sin.     

It was accomplished.   The plan had come to it's climax.    The ultimate sacrifice had been made.    God died for His creation.     Dead.   Finished.

Three days later.    He's Alive! He's Alive!  He's Alive!

Why do something so drastic?    To get our attention.    To make us sit up and take notice.    To pay the price that the Father deemed necessary.      To make a way for us to be what He created us to be:   His friends, His children, like Him.    Now we have the knowledge and the understanding.    We are now capable of making a choice because we know the difference between choosing  Him and rejecting Him.  It is simple, but it is not easy.  

The difference between relationship and separation.    Between right and wrong.    

The words 'thank you' are not enough.    Make your decision.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Splattered Faith (Known)

O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful ...for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” - Psalm 139:1–6
KNOWN.... there is nothing He does not know about me.  No thing.

So I can come to Him completely unveiled and bare faced... bare souled.

Withhold nothing because He sees it anyway.  Even the thoughts that I hide from myself.   My entire being is naked before Him.

 He not only sees it.  He understands.  He feels it.  He has compassion.

We can pour out everything from our deepest hurt and anger to our most inconsequential thought to the most delightful joy.

What I would scream at the world... I SHRIEK at Him.  He can take it.  In fact, He cherishes it.

His shoulders are broad and solid and his terrible arms are open wide to receive us. He WANTS our pain, our tears, our worries to be laid at His feet... THROWN at Him .. SPLATTERED  all over Him.   He does not take it lightly.  He receives what is absolutely killing us inside and holds it gently to His heart.  Our offerings of tragedy and the sharp edges of our pain are precious to Him.  He embraces them with His immeasurable grace and wisdom.

He 'encloses" us, entwining Himself around us and in us.   Cradling us in Intimacy.      He is loving, comforting, giving freedom and new life, new understanding.  He is 'growing' us.  He is telling  about His love and His plan for us.  He shows us who we are to Him.    He is teaching us to love with disregard for how we feel or for what we want.

When we are done.  When we have spilled and emptied our insides and our darkness. When we finally look up to face Him,,, there is no need for words or thoughts other than praise and repentance.. The praise is for Him... to thank Him and acknowledge what He has done.     The repentance  for us... to cleanse our hearts and souls and conscience.

Our needs are known. Our desires are known.

How can I not adore and worship this God for whom there are no explanations.. only unspeakable and unimaginable words.

"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me...too high.   I can not attain it."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Extending Grace"

Last week I took two of my grandsons to Chuck-E-Cheese. After they had eaten their pizza and played lots of games and they redeemed their tickets so that they could get their prizes, they went to the prize counter. My 6 year old grandson saw all the prizes and pointed to the one he wanted, not realizing that it was a lot more tickets than he had redeemed. The girl attendant waiting on him started reaching for that prize and I said he doesn't have enough for that. She gave it to him anyway! That was grace! Getting what we don't deserve! So many times we have the opportunity to extend grace to others, do we let it pass by, or do we graciously show favor towards someone! I am forever grateful to Jesus for His grace! God's Riches at Christ's Expense! Grace.......
1. We are justified by His grace. When a sinner repents and places his faith in Jesus Christ, God declares him just, imputes the righteousness of Christ to him, and gives him eternal life by virtue of the substitutionary death of Christ as the penalty for that sinner's inquity. (Ref. to Titus 3:7)
2. Riches of His grace. Salvation, of course, is very much for the believer's blessing, but it is even more for the purpose of eternally glorifying God for bestowing on believers His endless and limitless grace and kindness. The whole of heaven glorifies Him for what He has done in saving sinners. (Ref. to Eph. 2:8)
3. His grace is sufficient."Is sufficient" reveals the constant availability of divine grace. Trust God and let God's grace shine forth in whatever you endure! (Ref. to 2 Corinthians 12:9)
4. Greater grace. The only ray of hope in man's spiritual darkness is the sovereign grace of God, which alone can rescue man from his propensity to lust for evil things. That God gives "greater grace" shows that His grace is greater than the power of sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan.
(Ref. to James 4:6)
5. Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. Isn't it wonderful to know that we can come boldly before the throne of grace and ask for help in our time of need. (Ref. Hebrews 4:16


Thank God for His Grace!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"How's Your Hospitality?"

The meaning of hospitality is cordial and generous reception of or disposition of guests.
Last week our church had the opportunity to show hospitality to a mission group of 3o who had been to Mexico and were traveling back to Akron, Ohio. One of their vans hit a deer and they needed a place to stay for the night. Many members got things ready for them in the fellowship hall, breakfast items were bought for them, and one of the deacons worked late that night on their van to get it repaired. That is what hospitality is! Working together in unity for the glory of God!
In Romans 10:13 it says, "Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.We should reflect God's love to others and be willing to help others.
It tells us in Hebrews 13:2, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."One never know how far-reaching an act of kindness might be. We are told in God's word to extend love to strangers.
We are to serve for God's glory. In I Peter 4:9 it says, "Be hospitable to one another without complaint. Love is intensely practical, not just emotional. In Peter's day, love included opening one's home and caring for other needy Christians, such as traveling preachers. It also included opening one's home for church services. Scripture also teaches that Christians should be hospitable to strangers.
Step back, and think how you would feel, if you were traveling and broke down, and needed help, and everyone turned their back on you!! Be gracious, Be hospitable, Be kind, Be loving!!! See God's blessings and Praise His name for the opportunity to BE HOSPITABLE!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Seeking God's Direction!"

So many times in our lives we seek direction for one thing or another! We need directions to another town, directions on a recipe, directions on how to put something together, directions to a doctor's or dentist office, and many other things that we seek directions for!
The greatest book, the Bible, our road map, our compass, is the best thing we can go to get our direction! Seek God in Prayer and Meditation for whatever you face in life and read the Word of God! Claim His Promise's!
Scriptures on Seeking and Direction:
1."The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9
(Our Sovereign God overrules the plans of men to fulfill His purposes.-See Gen. 5:20, I Kings 12:15, Ps. 119:133, Jeremiah 10:23, Daniel 5:23-30, and I Cor. 3:19, 20)
2."Listen, my son, and be wise, And direct your heart in the way." Proverbs 23:19
(The way of wisdom is the only right way.) (See Proverbs 4:10, 11)
3. "I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps." Jeremiah 10:23 (Man is incapable of guiding his own life adequately. (Reference to Proverbs 3:5 & 6, and Proverbs 16:9 above)
4. "But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul." Deut. 4:29
5. "And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
6. "I love those who love me' And those who diligently seek me will find me." Proverbs 8:17 (Wisdom's love for the one who receives it is proven by the benefits mentioned in Proverbs 8:18-21)
7. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33
8. :Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7
9. "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." Col. 3:1
Remember in whatever you are seeking and needing direction in to go to God and His Word!! He should be the "Pilot, not the co-pilot " of our lives!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do You Sparkle for Jesus?

Last Saturday night I was sitting at the computer desk in our back bedroom and I looked down at my left hand and the diamond in my wedding ring was gone!!! Needless to say I was hollering and tellling my husband, we were searching thru the house, on the floors, everywhere!!! For 20 minutes we searched and we didn't find it!!! I was almost sick to my stomach!!! It was the sentimental value of the ring. My husband had given me the engagement ring over 38 years ago!!! I was upset!!! My sparkling diamond was gone!!!
So many times in our lives we don't "sparkle" for Jesus! We let our flesh, our attitudes tell us what to do, instead of listening to the Holy Spirit and obeying Him. We are told in God's Word, "And You Shall Love the Lord Your God With All Your Heart, And With All Your Soul, And With All Your Mind, And With All Your Strength." Mark 12:30. We get upset with our husbands or children when things aren't done exactly the way we want them to be. We are so impatient!!! Just think how God's patience should run out on us, but He is ever faithful and longsuffering and wants the best for each and every one of us!!! We fret over material things (me-my ring). God gave his precious Son for us. He died on the cross, He took our sin debt upon Him, We are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus when we admit we are a sinner, believe in Jesus Christ, and confess our sins and then we are saved!! Our Life Now Sparkles With Jesus Christ!!!

My Prayer is that each and every day I "sparkle" and proclaim Jesus in all I say or do!!
Oh, by the way, Saturday night, I was putting on my pantyhose and something "sparkled" on the floor, I reached down and touched the sparkly thing and guess what, IT WAS MY DIAMOND!!! Thank you Lord, for putting the "sparkle-(Light)" in my life when I accepted you as my Savior at age 10 years of age and for letting me find the "sparkle-diamond"for my ring!"

Follow me, I am the Light!
John 8:12-"I am the Light of the World......."

Walk in Light:
Ephesians 5:8b
"But now you are Light in the Lord, walk as children of Light."