Access

 Access

Access—to the powers that be—very few of us have it–or do we?

When my husband and I were first married, I observed that whenever he would call his dad, (his dad owned his own law firm in Boston, MA), his calls were put right through—-every single time.

However, when we visited the law office, I heard his assistants take message after message, and very few people got right through to my father-in-law.

My mom is a pretty popular gal–and she has many friends, and so much family.  This past year, she has been battling cancer.  I have noticed that whenever one of my siblings or myself wants to spend time with her—she has all the time in the world for us—-we are a part of her inner circle.  However, she tires easily, and so limits her time spent with others.

So what is my point here?   My point is that in the same way that my husband had immediate access to his dad, and I have access to my mom, because we are their children—whoever is a child of God–has access to Him as well.

Scripture tells us—that whoever receives Jesus–to them He gives the right to become children of God.  Scripture also tells us that God adopts us as His children, and He goes further than that–placing His Spirit into our very beings–making us new creatures in Him.  We now are partakers in His very nature!

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16.  

We are God’s kids!!  We have access to Him.  If we call out to Him–we get right through.  He is never too busy for us.  

Aren’t those amazing thoughts to dwell upon?  He will never stop fighting for us, even when we can’t fight for ourselves.   God is our Dad!!!   Think about that!!  The One who created the heavens and the earth, has created new lives within us, and calls us His Own!!

May those thoughts encourage us today!!

Riley Clemmons – Fighting For Me (Piano Version)

Thankful

This week I had to go to the Dentist for a cleaning.  While there, and chatting with some other ladies, I was asked how many children I have.  I responded with, I have five, but one is in heaven.   This opened up the conversation–where I heard another lady tell me she had a child in heaven also, and then others started telling their tragic stories—an eleven year old killed while hunting, a car accident, a disease.   

Why am I recounting this—because tomorrow is Thanksgiving—the day we as individuals, communities, and a nation, give Thanks to God.   It is the time we recognise that God is God—the giver of our blessings, the giver of our lives–but is He also the giver of our trials, and the taker of life?    If so, why would we want to thank Him for that?   

Why would I want to thank Him for taking my son?   Why would others want to thank HIm for their trials, their diseases, the loved ones He has taken?  Why?

Wouldn’t we want to avoid this God, who can take from us our health, our loved ones, our very lives?

That is what many do.  They avoid God—thinking by doing this–that maybe He will forget about them—and they can avoid the pain of life.

Many wonder—how do I get on the good side of this God–so that I will receive good things from HIm?

Others say—it is not God doing these things to us—it is us doing these things to us—-we kill each other, we sinned in the first place–and this brought sin into the world—so now we have diseases, accidents and earthquakes and hurricanes and tornadoes.   God isn’t responsible for those things—we are responsible.

But what does God say?   He tells us quite clearly that He is sovereign over the affairs of men. He tells us that He is on the throne.   He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.   Yet He also tells us that He has given us free will.  We can choose to sin.  He allows us the consequences of our sin.  If we point a gun at someone else and pull the trigger and shoot–the other person will be shot.  The other person will pay the price for our choice.  

If we choose to drive recklessly, others may pay the price of our choice.  

This King of Kings, and this Lord of Lords—chose to reveal Himself to us—by coming down from heaven, being born of a Virgin, becoming a baby, living life as a humble carpenter, having a three year ministry, where he healed people with diseases, healed the lepers, healed the blind, set people walking again—-He touched the suffering and the downtrodden—-and then He died for us, and as He did so—He forgave those who crucified Him, saying they did not know what they were doing.

Jesus showed us a God who loves us, all of us–deeply—a God who suffers with us—a God who heals us—and He heals not just our bodies—He heals our souls.

He deals with our sin condition—-when He was crucified on the cross—He crucified all our sin on the cross.  We can now experience freedom from choosing to sin. When He rose from the dead, He showed us a God who has power over death—and that He will raise us after death as well.

We are not condemned by Him.  We are not judged by Him.  We are forgiven.

We are forgiven.

We have been given life—for all eternity with Him.  The One who loves us.  The One whose scars show us His heart for us. Our great, powerful God—is humble, gentle and loving. He is near to the brokenhearted. He is near to me. He is near to you.

But He will not force Himself upon us. We each need to choose Him. He says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.”… Rev. 3:20 Each person has a choice to make—will they let Him in? Will they open the door of their life and let Him in?

I let God in—and so…..

I am thankful!!  I am thankful!!  I am thankful to our God!!

May you be encouraged—during this season of thankfulness.

Blooming

Blooming!!  My Rose-of-Sharon bush that I pruned last fall, is now blooming!!  When I pruned it, I knew I was doing the right thing for it, but it was still difficult to do.  I pruned it way back—so I was not sure if it would come back well.  And now it is blooming.  

The Rose of Sharon, after pruning it, last fall.
Rose -of Sharon Blooming!!

I pruned my lilac bushes as well, and they are also flourishing—they are full leaved, and abundant, whereas before their pruning their branches were straggly, and not very full.  Now they are exactly how I hoped they could be.

The white lilac tree–after blooming season but flourishing!
The deep purple lilac tree, again flourishing, but after blooming season!!

Just as I pruned my bushes for their health, and benefit, God prunes—or disciplines us—for our health and our benefit.  In Hebrews 12, it says that we discipline our children, doing the best we know how to do for them in our limited wisdom and understanding.  Our Heavenly Father disciplines us—with all knowledge, all wisdom, all gentleness and all power.  He does this for our best, to make us complete—or Holy—as He is Holy.

This past year of Covid—I have experienced God’s pruning in my life.  I did not enjoy the quarantines—(I know some people who did—they liked the slower pace of life)—I did not appreciate the shortages of supplies—I did not love wearing the masks—I did not like not having social times with family and friends—I reacted to all these situations with annoyance and anger.  

Then God started working in my life, and my attitude.  He started taking my focus off me, and onto Him, and others.  I started thanking Him—that He was still the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.  He had not left His throne.  (It sure felt like He had—but the truth was—He had not)—He is in charge over life and death.  He still knew the plans He had for us, to give us a future and a hope.  He still knew us before the foundation of the world and knew the number of days we would each have on this earth.  He is still sovereign over the affairs of men.

This week, I went to our community’s school board meeting.  I have homeschooled my children, but my grandchildren attend public schools, so I wanted to see this meeting.   They were talking about a variety of issues that people have conflicting opinions about, (i.e.  masks, critical race theory, LBGTQ, etc, etc.)

There was a great deal of passion and some anger in that room.  After the meeting, I went to talk to the Superintendent of the school board, and I told her how much I appreciated her calmness in the room.  Beside her was my neighbor, who is an administrator of the schools.  I told them that I would be praying for them in this coming year and thanked them for doing their jobs in the midst of a very difficult season of life.

 My daughter-in-law is a teacher, and this past year, I have taken her lunch and her baby to nurse during her lunch break, and so I have seen and heard first-hand the struggles and trials of the teachers as they seek to teach our children, during the age of Covid.

What is the point of all of this—we have all been tested this year.  We have been pruned.  We have been put in situations where we have gotten angry with each other.  We are annoyed with each other.  We have differences of opinion with each other.  We feel powerless, and out of control.

I am here to say—that is ok.  We never did have power.  We never did have control.  The Bible tells us to be angry, but do not sin.  What does that mean?  Some things should make us angry—to see evil oppressing and winning the day—that should make us angry.  But our battle is not against flesh and blood.  What does that mean?  It means we are fighting a spiritual battle—against Satan and all under his dominion, and God has already won the war.  He won it on the cross, two thousand years ago.   He bought us back from the Kingdom of darkness, and into His Kingdom of light and Holiness. 

We experience the reality of that victory through our faith and trust in God and His Word.  We experience the reality of that victory as we spend time with God and His Word, as we pray in faith, and appropriate His power in faith, in the spiritual realms.

We need to rest in the victory that God has already brought us through the cross, and rest in Him—as soon—every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord!! 

 We can love each other with the love of the Lord!!

 We can be kind to those we disagree with—for it is the kindness of the Lord, that leads to repentance.  It is the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance.  Romans  2:4

And it is the pruning of the Lord—the discipline of the Lord—that leads to our Holiness—that we may experience the reality of the freedom that Jesus sacrificed to give us and bear the image of our Father—to the world. 

So that we can bloom!!

So let’s be encouraged!!

 Heb 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

 Heb 12:2

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

(Pro 3:1112 )

 Heb 12:3

Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

 Heb 12:4

After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

 Heb 12:5

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline,
and don’t give up when He corrects you.

 Heb 12:6

For the LORD disciplines those He loves,
and He punishes each one he accepts as His child.”

 Heb 12:7

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

 Heb 12:8

If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all.

 Heb 12:9

Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

 Heb 12:10

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness.

 Heb 12:11

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

Sexual Sin

 I have been thinking a great deal about sin.   For instance, recently a well-know Christian leader was found to have been participating in sexual sin with several women.   The world is appalled and disgusted, fingers are being wagged and pointed.  “Hypocrite, hypocrite!!” is shouted from the rooftops. 

I remember when I was a young woman, I heard of a Christian leader involved in sexual sin.  I was appalled and disgusted.  “How can this be?”  I thought.  “How can people who claim to know God, and claim to be surrendered to Him, do such things.”

My heart was broken for this situation.  My heart was broken for God.

With time and experience, I saw this repeated over and over again.  Women having affairs, and leaving their husbands—breaking hearts, breaking families, breaking children.  Men having affairs, leaving their wives, breaking hearts, breaking families, breaking children.

That’s the thing about sin.  It hurts others.  It destroys.  It mars the image of God in our lives.

Make no mistake—we are involved in an invisible spiritual battle.   The devil is a prowling lion seeking whom he may devour.    A lion takes down those at the fringe of the herd.  He takes the hurt, the vulnerable, the unprotected.

Satan wants to take us down.  He wants to use us to take down each other.  How does he do this?

He uses our fear– our fear of pain, our fear of consequences, our fear of God, and our fear of each other. He will lie to us and twist the truth.

We need to care more about God and what He thinks of us, than what we think of each other and the consequences our sin may carry. Why is this important?  Because we hide our sin from God, and from each other.

 We need to bring our sin out into the light and receive God’s forgiveness and healing and power.  We usually don’t bring that sin out into the light, and confess it to Him or to each other, because we don’t want to be judged and rejected.

 God is not rejecting us.  He wants to heal us.  Many people who participate in 12 step programs receive healing when they go to the people they have sinned against, and admit their sin, and ask for forgiveness.   Some people may not forgive them, and they face that possibility– but in the process, they learn to receive God’s forgiveness and they learn to forgive themselves.  They overcome the temptation to sin again, as they see the evidence with their own eyes, of how their sin has hurt others—they see the devastation their sin has wrought. 

2 Tim 2:22 tells us what to do when we are faced with temptations:  “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

  1.  FLEE– youthful passions!!  That’s what Joseph did when faced with sexual temptation.  That’s what we need to do.   Run!!  Sometimes we think—I’ve got this, I won’t succumb.  God tells us to flee!!  Look for the escape and take it!! I Corinthians 10:13 
  2. PURSUE righteousness, faith, love and peace.  Pursue God, get to know Him, spend time in His Word.   Pray—talk with Him, every day, every moment!!  We need to care more about what God thinks of us than what others think.  People will never be able to fill the empty, infinite void in my heart, or in your heart.  Only an infinite being can do that—only our Father God can do that.
  3. Do this ALONG WITH others who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  Join a bible study—I’m part of an on-line women’s bible study right now.   Go to a church where God’s Word is honored and preached, and where love and grace are demonstrated.    (It is much harder for Satan to take us down, when we run with the Herd.)    People who have been able to finish their races well– here on earth —had accountability and support from trusted, Godly people.  I think of Billy Graham, who traveled with the same, Godly men for the duration of his ministry and there was never a hint of sexual sin to taint his ministry or his legacy.

I do want to say—that my husband and I have done some simple things to guard ourselves from sexual sin.  We share email addresses, and social media pages.   We do not have correspondence with anyone that the other is not privy to that correspondence.   If I wanted to look at his phone, I could, and he could look at my phone at any time.  

We also, don’t have friends of the opposite sex.  We have couple friends, where we spend time as a couple with those friends.  The purpose of this is not to form emotional attachments with the opposite sex, apart from the attachments we have as a couple with those persons. (We do have friends of the same sex—I have women friends, and my husband has men friends.) 

These are suggestions that may not work with everyone’s situation.  The point of these suggestions is accountability and transparency.

One thing I have become more aware of—is the magnitude of what Jesus did on the cross for us.  Jesus literally took on all the sins of the world, and those sins were crucified.   Ugh!!   Think about this.  I have heard that Jesus died for my sins, since infancy.  I have heard Jesus died for the sins of the world, ever since I can remember.  So, I don’t always think about what that means.

  Jesus died for every imaginable evil act and thought, (our sin begins in our thoughts—Jesus said those who look at someone other than their spouse, and think lustful thoughts have committed adultery).   

Jesus died for the men and women cheating on their spouses and breaking up their families.  Jesus died for the people abusing others sexually.  Jesus died for all the abusers—those beating others, those stealing others and selling them into slavery, those verbally assaulting others, those murdering others.    Jesus died for those addicted to drugs and alcohol, and possibly abusing others in the process.    Jesus died for the thieves, the greedy, the manipulative, the liars, the selfish and the self-centered, the power hungry, the control-freaks, the sexual deviants, the war-mongers, the haters, the rapists, the racists, the (whatever your hot button issue is–the people you don’t think deserve to live)—Jesus died for them. Jesus died for you. Jesus died for me.

 Jesus died for the things that deserve God’s wrath, in fact, God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus on the cross. 

Scripture tells us that maybe someone would die for a friend, or a righteous man, but Jesus died for us when we were sinners, and enemies of God.   He died to free us and redeem us—to pay the price for our souls and take us from Satan’s grasp.

The question is:  do we want to be freed?   And do we want to stay free?  We need to be aware: Satan will try to ruin our lives and make us believe that sin still has power over us when in reality– sin has been crucified with Christ.    So, remember—

FLEE Temptation……PURSUE Righteousness……ALONG WITH Others who are doing the same thing!!

And Be Encouraged!!

I don’t want to leave a legacy….

I have a newborn granddaughter, and she loves music. She calms down when we put music on. Her Aunt Julia, a classical violinist, plays classical music for her. I play christian music for her, and she loves the following song in particular—“Only Jesus” by Casting Crowns.

I love this song as well, and this is what I long for in my life, not that I would be known, but that my life would point others to Jesus. This is my great desire. Hope you enjoy this song, and hope it encourages you as it encourages me!!

“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

This is a line from an old song, that I find myself singing to myself these days.  Why?  Because the things of earth have been so, so prominent in my thinking. 

I just had a phone conversation with my mom, where I found myself venting over all the things I am finding wrong about the “things of earth” these days.

I found myself hoping that my phone was actually being bugged, so that someone in power would hear my rant and fix all the problems I feel so powerless to fix.

My mother reminded me that God is not powerless, and that “the effective prayers of a righteous person can accomplish much.” James 5:16

My mom and I know that our righteousness comes from Jesus—and the power in our prayers comes from Him as well.

So for now, we will—“Turn our eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

May you be Encouraged!!

How Is This Story Going To End?

Drama, suspense, problems —these are elements of a good story.  Right now, it feels like we are living in the middle of a story line in a book or movie.   Everyday we are wondering, what is going to happen, how is this story going to end?

Perhaps, we don’t need to wonder, anymore.  Perhaps, we have already been given the answers.

The Bible is God’s letter to us.  It has the story of redemption in it; it has prophesies fulfilled in it, and prophesies yet to be fulfilled; it is filled with poetry and prose.   It is filled with the message of God’s longing for us, and His willingness to gain our souls by going to the cross and dying for us.

 This is the message of Easter.  Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Easter is the event in history that celebrates the worst and the best thing that ever happened.  The worst—Jesus was crucified on a cross.  Jesus, about whom it is written, that “the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1

Then, the best thing—Jesus rose from the dead.  He conquered death.  He showed us by conquering death, that we would also conquer death.   This is what we celebrate on Easter and we celebrate it every day.  Death no longer has victory over us.  We will live with God forever.  “The witness is this that God has given us eternal life, and that life is in His Son.”  1 John 5: 11

All of human history culminates in experiencing the victory over death that Jesus’ death has brought us.

But until, human history ends, and a new heaven and earth are given, we are in the midst of a war, a war for the souls of man.  We are in the midst of a huge spiritual battle.  “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the forces of darkness in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:12

Perhaps, you have been touched by this battle.  You may have been hurt by humans who listened to the forces of darkness, and now it is difficult to trust God, the lover of your soul, the one who died to demonstrate that love for you.

We are in the midst of a worldwide crisis, that, I believe has been orchestrated by the forces of darkness, to frighten and separate and extinguish us.   It is difficult to see God’s light and love and truth.  It is difficult to trust that light, that love, that truth.

God knew these times would be coming, so He gave us His Word.  These are the verses I am clinging to now, during this time:

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.

And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”   Romans 5:1-8

If you are longing to know God, but have really big questions, like “Is God Real?” “Is Jesus God?” “What about suffering?” I have included a link for you to go to, that may help you with those questions:  https://www.cru.org/us/en/how-to-know-god/lifes-questions.html

If you would like to watch a video on the life of Jesus, you can go to this link:   (there are options for other languages to watch film in at the bottom of the page.)  :https://www.jesusfilm.org/watch/jesus.html/english.html

Our household is praying for your household to have a wonderful Easter in spite of this crisis!

Happy Easter Everyone!!