Blog: “Discovering His Living Hope”

Leading Lives of Consistency. Nehemiah 11:1-2, 1 John 2:4-6

Nehemiah 11:1-2 Amplified Bible

Time Passes; Heads of Provinces

11 Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem; but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one [person] out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in the other cities. And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

As time passes us by ……

And time will consistently pass us by ……

We can consistently bet our lives on it and time will always consistently win.

As the clock keeps right on ticking even after we remove the inner workings of the watch, even after we slam the snooze button, or we unplug the alarm clock.

Examining pros and cons, benefits, detractions of daylight savings time.

Time keeps right on going whether we like it or not, consistently, every second.

Time is going to do whatever it is time wants to do – consistently, every single moment of every single second of every single day – for quite literally, eternity.

How do we consistently contemplate leading lives of such equal consistency as Christians in this consistently busy, consistently fast paced, changing world?

To begin with, we might try consistently contemplating our living out this consistency exactly where God has placed us.

We are needed where we are planted, in our homes and community as a church.

There are constantly people who consistently live with real needs all around us.

What if we consistently sacrificed our lives on a daily basis, celebrating what God has done in us, by serving others and sharing the good news of Jesus? What if we consistently stepped out into God’s neighborhood to make a difference?

In Nehemiah 11, we see a people, immediately after rededicating their lives to the Lord their God, and renewing their covenant with Him in chapter 10, stayed consistent and began taking consistent and decisive, definitive steps to fulfill their renewed covenant commitment by moving their lives into Jerusalem.

This was not an easy or safe task, but one that showed their consistent devotion to God, which they declared in the previous chapter 10.

What we learn from this is that leading lives of consistency is not a one-time thing; not once a month, not weekly, but hourly and even second by second.

We are called to consistently sacrifice for God’s mission and to be an example (of Jesus) to others consistently.

It is forever easy to say you want to be more constant with your walk with Jesus after a great night of worship, but it is another to live it out in all your daily life.

How consistent are you to consistently live out the faith you consistently profess?

Can you make a change today that will help you live more consistently for Jesus?

1 John 2:4-6Amplified Bible

Whoever says, “I have come to know Him,” but does not habitually keep [focused on His precepts and obey] His commandments (teachings), is a liar, and the truth [of the divine word] is not in him. But whoever habitually keeps His word and obeys His precepts [and treasures His message in its entirety], in him the love of God has truly been perfected [it is completed and has reached maturity]. By this we know [for certain] that we are in Him: whoever says he lives in Christ [that is, whoever says he has accepted Him as God and Savior] ought [as a moral obligation] to walk and conduct himself just as He walked and conducted Himself.

Now, we will discuss other side of consistency being inconsistency. What does it look like when you know that someone’s words are different than their actions?

In 1 John 2 we see a sobering picture of what consistency is, and what it is not.

Paraphrasing the first part of chapter 2, John essentially says that if you say you have “consistently” received the love and grace of Jesus Christ, but do not live by His commandments, then you are a liar, and the truth of God is not in you.

In other words,

if you have put your faith in Jesus and there is no outward change, no want nor desire to know Him more, no want to love the things He loves, no care for His mission with consistency, then you should stop and really examine your heart.

You should contemplate stopping and examine your walk and relationship with Him, because something consistently appears to be consistently out of order.

Our walk and growth in Jesus will never be perfect… so please do not hear me saying when we have the slightest mess up, we should question all of our faith.

What I am saying is what John is: when we do sin, we have an advocate with the father, who has paid the price for our mess-ups and His name is Savior Jesus.

Lord and Savior Jesus set the perfect example, which should consistently serve to consistently inspire us to consistently strive for consistency in all our faith.

Someone who is consistent behaves in the same way, has the same attitudes towards people or things, or achieves the same level of success in something.

In consistency, there is no contradiction.

there is continuity, practice, determination, faithfulness, balance, harmony, stability, orderliness, reliability and quality.

As Christians, we need to accept nothing less than true consistency!

Paul and Barnabas spoke of the need for a congregation to be consistent 

– Acts 13:43 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to {consistently} continue in the grace of God

Consider contemplating Acts 14:22 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to {consistently} continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

From God’s own Words, the declaration is clear that we as Christians should be consistent in godly living, consistently continue in the covenant ways of God.

There is no need for anyone to think that consistency is not needed in our lives!

When we do everything, God requires from us, we must not slack nor be distracted because there is nothing to glory about it.

We still have a whole lot more Kingdom work to do for the transformation process to continue. 

Luke 17:10 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” 

Reality: God has shown the greatest love to mankind by the death of His Son. God has done more for us by allowing us to find an entrance into His church.

Because more is consistently done for us, we have a consistent obligation to do more to ensure the transformation process God intends continues to manifest.

It not only brings consistency, but it also shows reflection that we are grateful to God for the work of redemption.

“To whom much is given — of them much shall be required.”

The blessings we consistently enjoy are not the fruit of our merit — but the fruit of God’s consistent and never changing and always and forever available mercy.

By how much the more grace we have received (Romans 6:1) — by so much the more the maximum magnitude of glory we are obliged to return unto the Giver. 

grateful mind is a great mind.

A consistent life means that we carefully consider the effect our lifestyle on our society.

A consistent life is a looking-glass, wherein Christ sees His own likeness. 

A consistent life means that we recognize that our dependency is on God. 

We must be consistent in our Christian lives because we know our consistency is not derived from our finite strength or finite skill but from the power of God. 

Godly duties performed are regarded before God when we allow Christ fills them.

Any good work we do can never be sustained without the support of Christ or the power of the Holy Spirit.

If we ever do any good work, it is still not the reason for our continued physical existence – Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the very reason why we are alive.

When we have kept all the commandments, there is one commandment above all to be kept; that is, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags!”

In most of our works — we are abominable sinners; and in the best of our works — we are consistently unprofitable servants, consistently unconscionable sinners.

Hebrews 13:8Amplified Bible

Jesus Christ is [eternally changeless, always] the same yesterday and today and forever.

Let us always go in the unchanging, unchangeable strength of our Savior God.

What areas of our “Christian life” are consistently showing inconsistency?

How can we consistently make those continuous changes God presents to us?

And consistently focus on what Jesus is consistently calling each of us to do?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Great God in heaven, unchanging, unchangeable Savior, I believe in you and trust in you. I want to walk as Jesus walked. I want to abide in You. Be with me as I go about my day. Help me to make wise, wiser, decisions as I work to be more like you. Amen.

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Our Crossroads and God’s Roadmap. Jeremiah 6:16 and Matthew 7:13-14

Jeremiah 6:16Amplified Bible

16 
Thus says the Lord,
“Stand by the roads and look; ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is; then walk in it,
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it!’

Matthew 7:13-14Amplified Bible

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Just because a certain path seems right does not mean it’s the right one to take.

But that does not mean it is wrong either.

We must, therefore, ask and trust God to show us which way to go.

He knows the end from the beginning.

God will lead us in the right way.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11.

What a wonderfully assuring thing it is to believe that even when we are faced, confronted by the biggest and most difficult decisions in life, the Word of God for the Children of God makes known to us the sure paths that will bring life.

WHAT ARE CROSSROADS?

Literally, a crossroad is a road that crosses another.

It is the place where two or more roads intersect.

Figuratively, to be “at a crossroad” is to be at a stage in one’s life when it is necessary to choose a path that will affect one’s life in truly profound ways.

A crossroad is a place of decision.

It is a place of doubts and questions.

A crossroad is a place where we wrestle with conflicting voices.

It is a transit point.

A crossroad is a gate or access point.

It is a place of separation and goodbye.

A crossroads is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another one.

A crossroad is a critical moment.

It can be a place of crisis, where the pains of yesterday connects us to the hope of the coming tomorrow.

A crossroad is a place of opportunity, where the road ahead offers promises.

A crossroad is a point in your life where you have several options that you need to weigh.

Each option on each crossroad will lead you to a different destination or goal.

Each path on each crossroad will to a different destination.

Crossroads are unavoidable.

Crossroads are inevitable.

Every day, we make significant decision that will affects our lives positively or negatively.

The choice to continue the same straight path is no longer possible.

A decision has to be made.

The straight road has now split into two or more.

Which decision will you make?

Looking left, right, back from where you came, and looking straight ahead.

Where do you turn?

Do you turn back to where you came, choose a path to follow, or do you stand around in the middle of the road and continuously scratch at your bald spot?

Which road is the right one?

And carefully, prayerfully weigh the consequence of choosing a decisive path?

Today, you may be standing at a crossroad.

Your crossroads could be one to decide your ministry or career path.

It could be the start or end of a relationship.

Your crossroad could be a choice of making a change right now or if you wait too long it might just become “too late” – whatever “too late” means to God.

It could be the choice of what course to study for what career field in college.

Do you make a choice of asking mom and dad – about entering into the military, or do you just go ahead on your own and enlist, ask for mom and dad’s support.

Your crossroad could be whether to start a business or hold on to your job.

It might be starting a relationship with that “special, lifelong someone,” and doing the career thing or to get married and starting a family of your very own.

Perhaps you are in a crossroad where you are faced with the decision to stay where you are or move on to another place – to another job or career field.

Perhaps it might even be a decision to finally put in your retirement papers.

Whatever pathway you decide to take, it will definitely affect the course of your life and destiny for an indeterminate period of time.

Are we ready for that “indeterminate period of time” right this exact moment?

When standing at the crossroads, the one thing we really need is guidance.

God definitely has set aside a path for us which leads to life! (Psalm 16:11)

He promises to guide, instructs, direct us when we are at the crossroads of life.

“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21.

God will always give you and me a direction to take in life.

But you and I still need to sharpen our hearing ability.

Matthew 7:13-14Amplified Bible

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.

The parable of the two gates pictures the people of Earth walking on two roads.

One road is broad, and many walk that way.

The other road is narrow, and few find the gate to it.

These two roads don’t lead to the same place (Matthew 7:13-14).

We are fond of dividing the world into two.

We speak of the rich and the poor, but there are many people who are neither rich nor poor.

We speak of the bosses and the workers, but many people are neither, and some are both.

We speak of the educated and uneducated, but some people have education yet lack wisdom, whilst some uneducated people are very wise.

This just shows that dividing the world in two, or even three, is usually presumptuous, simplistic, inaccurate, and perhaps even alienating.

But does this apply to all cases?

In particular, is the world divided into the saved and the unsaved —those in God’s way and those following Satan?

Many folks would call that a presumptuous, simplistic, inaccurate, and alienating view of the world.

Only Two Ways

Rabbi Jesus, however, here divides humanity in just that manner: people are travelling either the broad road to destruction or the narrow road to life —just two groups and no exceptions (Matthew 7:13-14).

Later in that chapter, he again divides people into two groups: the wise who hear and do his words (Matthew 7:24), and the foolish who do not hear and do his words (Matthew 7:26).

On a later occasion, Jesus spoke of how he will, at the last judgment, separate the people of all nations into two “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32-33).

The “sheep” at his right hand will inherit the kingdom prepared for them (Matthew 25:34). 

The “goats” at his left hand will be sent into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). 

When these two groups have gone their way, nobody else shall remain (Matthew 25:46).

So, when Jesus pictures the two gates, or two builders, or the sheep separated from the goats, he has included all human beings.

Each of us is on one of those pathways.

Or to point the finger, you, I, are in one of those groups. 

Which one?

The Way of the Many

Not only has Jesus divided the world in two, but appallingly, he has numbered those who are on the road to destruction as “many” and those on the road to life as only a “few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Why are there “many” going in at the wrong gate, walking on the wrong road?

Jesus gives no reason for the number.

He does not even indicate that the number cannot be changed.

He leaves it open that the majority could walk the way to life, and only a few walk the way to destruction, or for that matter everyone could walk the way to life leaving deserted the road which leads to inevitable destruction.

When Jesus says, “enter by the narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13), presumably he means anyone who listens to him say that, can make the choice do exactly that.

Why would Rabbi Jesus tell everybody to enter by the narrow gate, and walk the narrow way, if most of them cannot do that?

You might say, “Jesus does give the reason why many go down the broad way.

The word translated narrow means difficult.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/mat/7/13-14/t_conc_936014

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g2346/kjv/tr/0-1/

It’s the nature of human beings to choose what’s easy, not what’s hard.”

Well, I am not so sure.

People do all kinds of things that are difficult because they think those things are right, they enjoy the challenge, they deem the reward well worth the effort.

Surely the Christian life is a worthy challenge, and brings a wonderful reward, such that you would expect many more people to choose it than actually do.

Choosing Destiny

Anyway, there is nothing compelling people to follow the broad way leading to destruction, even though most people do.

Destiny doesn’t force people to follow one of the two roads.

They choose the gate they enter; they choose the road they walk; hence they choose their destiny.

There is nothing preventing people from following the right way leading to life, even though few do.

The Way of the Few

Although Jesus speaks of two roads, only one of them is of his making.

Jesus never desired that there be a road to destruction, and he never caused anyone to follow it.

The broad road represents a way of living designed by Satan.

Jesus provides an alternative way, represented by the narrow road.

When Jesus says, “enter by the narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13), he refers to the gospel way of living.

In early times, Christianity was actually called “the Way” (Acts 19:9,23).

In fact, Jesus called himself the way: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6).

Seeking the Way

When Jesus mentioned the narrow gate and the difficult path beyond it, he said, “And few there be who find it” (Matthew 7:14). 

There are two ways you can find something.

One is to stumble upon it by some fortunate circumstance; the other is to seek it by making an intelligent and systematic search.

Rabbi Jesus tells us which way to find the gate to the true way: 

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 NASB).

Total Commitment

We can gather from this that walking the narrow way means making an absolute and total commitment to Jesus Christ.

It means loving him, obeying him, depending on him, worshipping him, giving all of us to him, being his utterly committed and utterly devoted disciples.

And where do we start?

The Holy Spirit tells us clearly what to do to begin this journey, as follows…

DIVINE GUIDANCE and DIRECTION!

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” Psalm 23:1-2.

When God is your Shepherd, you have access to all things that you need.

Divine guidance is God having the final say in running the affairs of your life.

When He’s leading, you are never alone.

God has a definite blueprint for your life and a road map to get you there.

WHAT TO DO WHEN AT LIFE’S CROSSROADS?

1. Know God.

Do you know Him?

Most people know about God, but they don’t really know Him.

To know God is to spend time with Him.

It is a relationship!

To know God is to obey Him.

To know God is to fear Him.

To know God is to trust Him unconditionally.

You must have a continuous daily fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

2. Be known by God.

Are you a child of God? (John 1:12-13)

Is Jesus your Lord and Savior? (Romans 10:9-13)

You must be born again. (John 3:1-15)

3. Pray the prayer of enquiry.

Prayer of enquiry is prayer for insight, guidance and direction.

It is asking God what to do about a particular situation.

Prayer of enquiry is to know God’s will concerning an issue.

It is a prayer to ask God why? Which? How? and When but NOT Why?

Ask him to give you ears to hear and eyes to see the ways He is speaking to you.

Consider fasting occasionally to help you focus more on God.

4. You must have faith.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight:” 2 Corinthians 5:7.

It is not for those who will walk by sight or logic.

Have unconditional faith in God’s promises to guide you.

5. Cultivate the presence of God through praise and worship.

Praise invites God into your situation immediately.

And where God is, there is liberty and fullness of joy. (2 Corinthians 3:15-18)

He will guide you when you give Him high praise and worship.

6. Dig deeper in the Bible.

The Bible has been rightly defined as, “Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.”

The Bible is our spiritual GPS, always available to tell us which way leads to where we want to go and how to turn around if we get on the wrong path.

7. Be humble. Psalm 25:9.

He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.

God loves humble people

8. Cultivate quietness.

Set aside a consistent time every day to meet with God.

Try starting out with a half-hour quiet time, and after you’ve developed greater intimacy with Him, increase that time to an hour.

It usually takes about five to ten minutes during the start of your quiet time to clear your mind enough to focus fully on God, so do not rush your quiet time.

9. Practice unconditional love.

Live without unforgiveness, malice, bitterness and anger.

10. Listen.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27.

God can speak through the following ways:

His Word. Psalm 107:20.

Audible voice. Genesis 12:1;

Dreams. Judges 7:13.

Visions. Genesis 46:2; and Prophets. Ezra 9:11.

Let your heart be still. Psalm 46:10

Block out the distraction.

Tune in to heaven’s radio.

11. Seek wise counsel

To some people, crossroads are places of confusion.

Don’t be afraid to ask for directions and seek wise counsel from family, trusted friends, a pastor or counsellor.

12. Be patient; Don’t be in a hurry.

No matter how long it takes, be confident that God has heard your prayers and will respond. Let your mind be at rest. Don’t try to rush through the process.

“Show me your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.” Psalm 25:4.

There is comfort in knowing God is guiding, leading and instructing us, especially when we are standing on crossroads.

But not many people are willing to ask for direction.

Come to God today!

Don’t live your life on logic, human reasoning, and trials.

It will only lead you to broken heart, failures and disappointments.

God has a better plan.

Don’t take steps on your own or make important decisions without asking Him.

Always strive to know the will of God concerning everything you are doing.

SO, WHAT’S OUR DECISION?

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.

There is no neutral ground.

The Lord Jesus, who on the Cross at Calvary made the greatest sacrifice for us at the crossroad of Golgotha, said there is a broad road that leads to destruction and a narrow road that leads to eternal life.

What road have you chosen?

If you realized you are on the wrong road, why not repent and get on the right road today?

If you are willing to repent and surrender your life to Jesus Christ, then pray this prayer right now:

LORD Jesus, I come to You right now. I know I am a sinner, please forgive me my sins. With my mouth, I declare that Jesus, from today, I accept You as the LORD of my life. Change my heart from a disobedient heart to a heart that will obey You. With my new heart, I believe that it is because of me that You came into this world; You died for my sins, take away my problems, fill me with Your Holy Spirit, write my name in the Book of Life, and make me brand new in Jesus mighty name.

PRAYER POINTS

1. O Lord, have Mercy for placing my confidence in human reasoning, in Jesus name.

2. By Your Mercy, O Lord, save me from every wrong decision I have made, in Jesus name.

3. O Lord, open up my spiritual understanding, in Jesus name.

4. O God, teach me deep and secret things, in Jesus name.

5. O Lord, thank You for the revelation power of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus name.

6. O God, remove from me every form of distractions that has blocked my spiritual eyes and ears, in Jesus name..

7. My Father, give me the spirit of revelation and wisdom in the knowledge of You, in Jesus’ name.

8. Open my spiritual eyes, O Lord, to see visions concerning my life, in Jesus name.

9. I reject the manipulation of the spirit of confusion, in Jesus name.

10. My Father, guide and direct me in knowing Your mind, in Jesus name.

11. If . . . (mention it) is not Your will for me, O Lord, re-direct my steps, in Jesus name.

12. Thank God for answering your prayers.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit …..

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Sometimes it Takes a Crisis to Know we Belong and are Connected to God.

John 15:4-5Amplified Bible

Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. 5 [a]I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Do we BELONG anywhere or to anyone at any time in any one singular place?

Are we CONNECTED to anything or to any one which transcends ourselves?

Are we IN CONNECTION to anything or to anyone which transcends ourselves?

One of the most striking paradoxes of our current Internet, Broadband, WIFI, social media crazed culture today… is the crisis, believe it or not, of connection.

Never has our world experienced the level of connection that has become possible in just the last 10 years.

It’s become the world of social media globalization … an unlimited potential connection… What has emerged is the quite literal ability to be connected to anyone on the planet at any time …. and Time Zones do not seem to matter.

Yet never have people felt so disconnected….so alienated…so alone.

Sociologists and psychologists are describing the growing and deepening and darkening crisis of social alienation that is plaguing modern life.

Not just an issue of lacking popularity or social success…

Actress Winona Ryder Finds Fame Lonely

“When I was 18, I was driving around at two in the morning, completely crying and alone and scared. I drove by this magazine stand that had this Rolling Stone that I was on the cover of, and it said, ’Winona Ryder: The Luckiest Girl in the World.’ And there I was feeling more alone than I ever had.”

Citation: Winona Ryder, cited from Plugged In, Vol. 6, no. 4 (April 2001); submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky.

There is a very simple premise to this journey…

The search for connection… is a search for the common.

• The very root of the word “community” is “common.”

Here lies the challenge –

The loss of some transcendent connection gives rise to a tendency to find identity through distinctions that prove destructive.

From niche marketing and clothing styles… to social cliques and gangs… to ethnic rivalries and nationalism…

we are so hungry to find ourselves…to belong … that our identify is often simply reduced to that of identifying with some sub-group over and against others.

And those connections prove not only destructive… but dissatisfying…. far too fragile to really provide the deep and long-lasting connection we all long for.

The desperate alternative is to try and simply diminish our differences… forge ahead with “out of thin air,” elusive ideas of common identity… communism, “new” and “untried” tendencies of ‘social tolerance’ and spiritual relativism.

Our Need – to discover the common in the midst of the unique… not a bland conformity… but unity amidst diversity without socio-cultural divisiveness.

The question of equality and inequality, checks and balances. Differences don’t divide when they are centered and secured in the commonalities that connect.

Everything everywhere comes across or is aggressively marketed to us as being “deliberately, catastrophically, maliciously” (politically) unbalanced, unequal.

What part of our daily existence is not being presented as the “ultimate crisis of inequality” requiring some manner of socio-economic, socio-political answer?

Is genuine “equality” even achievable?

Biblically – Absolutely Not! …. when the assessment, evaluation, planning and application and definition of “genuine equality” is left in the hands of mankind.

Everyone has their own personal vision of what “genuine equality” means and how it should be addressed in the grand scheme of things – whatever that word and phrase “grand scheme of things” implies, means to whoever is in charge.

And thus, our greatest crisis is …… which drives everyone it seems into a frenzy,

So, who is in charge?

From our Gospel Narrative, the man, Master Rabbi Jesus simplifies it for us ….

John 15:1-5 Amplified Bible

Jesus Is the Vine—Followers Are Branches

15 “[a]I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you]. Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. 5 [b]I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

God Himself set the Eternal Record straight before mankind was even around.

Genesis 1:1-5Amplified Bible

The Creation

1 In the beginning God ([a]Elohim[b]created [by forming from nothing] the heavens and the earth. The earth was [c]formless and void or a waste and emptiness, and darkness was upon the face of the deep [primeval ocean that covered the unformed earth]. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters. And God said, [d] “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good (pleasing, useful) and [e]He affirmed and sustained it; and God separated the light [distinguishing it] from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was [f]evening and there was [g]morning, one day.

Crisis of any kind is tough.

Crisis of Leadership in a Crisis is …… never for the faint nor the weak at heart.

“Leadership Vacuum” crises are definitely considered tougher than most.

Who does one turn to for answers when there is no one “standing tall?”

In that Upper Room, the man, Master Rabbi Jesus, is preparing his disciples for the crisis which is about to befall them – His coming crucifixion and his Death.

The disciples must learn who will be in charge in the coming chaos – and it will not be them – after Jesus they must become secure in their connection in God.

He tells them clearly; the coming crisis is unavoidable -it must come for them to move on, it must come so the Holy Spirit should be sent to help them out.

The disciples have to be in a whirlwind of all different manners of thought.

Everything was going very well; life was good and abundant – but in a short span of hours, all that would suddenly come crashing down around them.

All things being equal in one moment, suddenly thrust into inequality.

Going back to the ways things were before Jesus and before his resurrection?

The reality of his resurrection they and nobody else had any concept of?

Why would God allow this?

What would become of all the promises of God, given to them by Jesus?

In the fog of a crisis, it can be hard to see anything good that God might be doing.

Whether your finances are at risk through a job loss, or you have a relationship that’s threatening to implode, or you’re experiencing some other devastating event, it’s heart-breaking to see your world turned upside down.

Eventually you wonder whether God might be punishing you for something.

But the fact is, we often seek to connect with God in our crises in ways that we wouldn’t ordinarily consider.

We are only one short moment from our worst crisis: One rumor of lay-offs or one unexplained result on a medical test or car accident can change everything.

Suddenly being thrust into crisis, suddenly life cannot about us anymore, it must become about something or someone infinitely greater than yourself.

A major crisis can persuade us to do anything, negotiate anything with God.

Except in the end, we must realistically ask ourselves: is that really so bad?

Obviously, reality is crisis and suffering are indescribably, undeniably painful.

But Master Rabbi Jesus’ point in John 15 is that the only way we can thrive in life is by surrendering, being naturally connected to him, like branches to a vine.

That means our lives will still be in a crisis, but they will be made far richer, by being connected to his grace in a crisis, than if we are drifting off on our own.

The point is not that crises aren’t bad; it’s that being connected to Jesus Christ is greater. Sometimes God uses the blinding fog of a crisis to help us find him.

Has he ever done that with you?

When the storms of a life in crisis are raging around you right now ……

Is He, perhaps right in this exact and exacting moment, revealing His Presence?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Lord God, Author of my Salvation, I look to You right now. Your Word says that You are the door of the sheep. So, Father, we place our trust in You because You will open doors for us that are closed. I pray for Your divine guidance through these doors and thank You for opening them. With You, there is always a way, but alone we will remain stagnant. Thank You for being the eternal door, Gloria! Alleluia! Amen.

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This is the Burden we each Share: Restoring Yet Respecting. Bearing Without Burdening. Galatians 6:2

Galatians 6:1-3NKJV

Bear and Share Burdens

Brethren, if a man is [a]overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

The English poet John Donne famously wrote, “No man is an island.”

Whether we are Believers or Non-Believers, we each need to realize something which was very important to Jesus: we are all members of a larger community.

No believer in Christ should think or allow themselves to feel he/she is totally independent of others. No Christian should ever try to think he is on his own.

As in a family, connections, Koinonia fellowship, relationships, in the body of Christ— the church—function best when there’s a deep-felt awareness and a genuine concern for others, even while we are maintaining healthy boundaries.

The common good requires our working together to restore relationships that are broken by sin— and doing so with a spirit of gentleness and self-awareness.

Whatever sin a person is guilty of, we must not boast, “That would never happen to me!” Such pride is inevitably the first step toward a mighty fall.

A humble, gentle inquiry such as “How may I help?” or “How may I pray for you?” can be the beginning toward gaining someone’s confidence without coming across as being disrespectful, over-bearing, intrusive, interfering.

People truly need their privacy, even when being helped in a sinful situation.

Gentle restoration demands respecting the person as being one of God’s most beloved, much cherished image bearers and allowing for their personal privacy.

Different people have different, unique needs in terms of their personal space.

Within established boundaries, healthy and functional relationships allow for our needs. After all, each one of us is unique. And we all have burdens to bear.

What we do with other people’s burdens then, has eternal significance.

First question is this: what do we do with bearing our own burden?

Either we come to Jesus, who has lifted the burden of sin from us, and we start helping others with their burdens or we let other people suffer overmuch under their burdens, and thus indicate that we actually do not know truly Christ at all, in spite of what we may confess.

I fear that sometimes we think and act as if true piety and true religion consists in letting others carry their own burdens until they can bear them no more and then “we just subtly or not so subtly” move in and stay until rescue is achieved.

Especially true when, in our opinion, they are carrying a burden of their own making. We might even think that because someone deserves the weighty burden they are carrying, they absolutely should not have our help to carry it.

But when we think, we believe and we act “vengefully” along these lines, are we really any different from all those Pharisees Rabbi Jesus personally held to an account who loaded people down with burdens that were impossible to carry?

He continually calls out to everyone who is loaded down by their burdens:

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus didn’t say “stay in your homes and suffer alone or as you choose to see fit.

He didn’t say “give yourself your own rest when you are too tired of yourself.”

He didn’t say “you deserve the weight of your burden so LEAVE ME ALONE!”

He said, “Come to me …. any time, every time from any and from every place.”

He said, “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am truly there in their midst.” Where two or three gather, come together, be available to each other….

Bearing the burden of His image, let us remember then, Jesus lifted the burden from us, as undeserving as we all are.

He lifted our burden through his death on the cross: “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4).

Days are filled with sorrow
Days are filled with sorrow and care
Hearts are lonely and drear
Burdens are lifted at Calvary
Jesus is very near ……..

Cast your care on Jesus today,
Leave your worry and fear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near……..

Troubled soul, the Savior can see
Every heartache and tear
Burdens are lifted at Calvary
Jesus is very near ……..

Burdens are lifted at Calvary
Calvary, Calvary
Burdens are lifted at Calvary
Jesus is very near
Jesus is very near ………

“Burdens are lifted at Calvary …. Jesus is very Near.” Rev. John M. Moore (1952)

There is truly no better place to learn the law of sacrificial love than bearing His image at the foot of the cross. There is no better person from whom to learn this law than from our Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

There’s no better way to bear His image, display pure religion than to selflessly bear each other’s burdens – gently restoring yet respecting – the undeserving helping the undeserving – for in this way we will truly fulfil the law of Christ.

Yes! Burdens are Lifted at Calvary …..

But where is Calvary?

Just a “two-thousand-year-old place” we cannot see or touch or feel or taste?

Calvary, in these 21st century times and seasons, in the very real sense, is …..

Wherever two or three are Gathered in the name of Jesus Christ – our Savior!

Koinonia! Worshipping and Praising, Confessing, Giving Thanks and Praying!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,    

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father Thank You for always seeing me and my needs and the needs of Your beloved Children. Your Word tells me that When I ask, it will be given to me, and what I seek, I will find. For when I ask of You, I must believe that I will receive it. What I seek shall be found. When I knock, You answer, so Father, I praise You for being the door that is always opened; thank you Father, Gloria! Alleluia! Amen.

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Lord, When I Look Up at Your Skies, at what Your Fingers have Made, Tell Me, what is Your Purpose for Me? Psalm 8:4

Psalm 8:1-4New American Standard Bible

The Lord’s Glory and Mankind’s Dignity.

For the music director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.

Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
You who have [a]displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
From the mouths of infants and nursing babies You have established [b]strength
Because of Your enemies,
To do away with the enemy and the revengeful.

When I [c]consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have set in place;
What is man that You think of him,
And a son of man that You are concerned about him?

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

In this psalm the glory of God and the glory of humanity are folded together like the fingers of two hands.

And yet it seems like a mismatch.

What is our fragile existence compared to the majesty of God?

Yet Psalm 8 links the wonder of human existence with divine splendor.

God is pleased to fold his glories into ours to create a unique and wonderful fellowship.

As a boy, I would look up into the heavens on a clear night, through a telescope my father gave me, and we would see an array of uncountable numbers of stars.

If we know our constellations, we can tell where the “Big” and “Little Dipper” are, and we can find the North Star by its brightness – but from how far away?

Do we still follow the Mars Rover Perseverance Launched in 2020?

https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

Do we still have the child like curiosity of what the surface of Mars looks like?

Do we still look at the images being sent back?

Aside from what we “see” on the surface of Mars, its rocks, its hills, its craters, its far distant mountains, its further distant horizons and sun rise and sunset.

What else do we see which may not be so obvious to the human eye?

We see the ‘tracks’ of humanity left by the Man-Made Perseverance Rover!

Yet, we have yet to actually put human feet to Martian soil.

But we have that curiosity – what does it look like?

But we have that curiosity – what would it feel like to be the first to step on it?

But we have that curiosity – what would it feel like to hold soil in our hands?

But we have that curiosity to keep right on trying, overcome the technological obstacles in our path which keeps us from answering those questions I asked.

We have that insatiable drive to overcome the enormous challenges, to invent the non-existent technology which would be needed to truly set foot on Mars.

Probably not in our generation – maybe not in the next two or three or four, but it is inevitable that one day humanity will launch that Manned Space Craft like it did in July 1969 – the Apollo 11 Moon walk by Late Astronaut, Neil Armstrong.

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/apollo11.html

Psalm 8:1-5Complete Jewish Bible

(0) For the leader. On the gittit. A psalm of David:

(1) Adonai! Our Lord! How glorious
is your name throughout the earth!
The fame of your majesty
spreads even above the heavens!

(2) From the mouths of babies and infants at the breast
you established strength because of your foes,
in order that you might silence
the enemy and the avenger.

4 (3) When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and stars that you set in place —
5 (4) what are mere mortals, that you concern yourself with them;
humans, that you watch over them with such care?

The psalmist tells us that God, the Creator and Author of our humanity, is mindful of our human tracks, as faint as they may seem in the universe.

Between the infinite abyss of outer space and the quanta of subatomic particles are the very unique and singular personal prints of life made in God’s image.

Heaven zooms in on this track, for it holds the undeniable promise of a glorious communion with its Author and its Creator and its Maintainer and its Sustainer.

Put yourself in David’s place on that singular night which he craned his neck up, whether it was from his perspective as a shepherd or viewpoint of a King.

How big was the Moon that night he penned that verse?

Against the backdrop of that Moon,

How many stars did he count before he simply gave up trying to count them all.

Until God finally reached His own point of connection, a time of quiet, intimate, contemplative relationship deep inside David’s soul – and we have Psalms 8?

No matter how plain your life may seem, your Creator wants to weave his own vision of His own handwork deep into yours – as Deep as He reached David’s.

Nowadays, just what keeps us and our children from reaching those “depths?”

An insatiable “Lack of Curiosity?”

An insatiable “Lack of Faith?”

An insatiable “Lack of Hope?”

An insatiable “Lack of Love?”

An insatiable “Lack of Perseverance?”

An insatiable “Lack of God, the Father, God the Son and God, the Holy Spirit?”

Psalm 8:1-4The Message

God, brilliant Lord,
    yours is a household name.

Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you;
    toddlers shout the songs
That drown out enemy talk,
    and silence atheist babble.

3-4 I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
    your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
    Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
    Why take a second look our way?

God the Father, on the other hand, always has us on his mind.

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them . . . ?”

Though we don’t often act like it, we humans are at the top of creation’s glory.

“God created mankind in his own image . . . male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

But then their sin scarred his image in them.

It wasn’t obliterated, but it was definitely blurred in an indescribable manner.

Yet every­ image bearing child reveals more of God’s glory.

Creation bears God’s fingerprints; we bear his very likeness.

The psalmist’s question is profoundly humbling and wondrously uplifting: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them . . .?”

We are each made in the image of God.

And though the rebellion of sin reverberates in our daily lives, God still sees his likeness in us.

His Son came to redeem and restore us.

We are “growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

What a blessing it is that God is mindful of his image bearers!

What a blessing it is to know his image bearers have a fruitful purpose!

Look up into the heavens as David did that night – what is your purpose?

Contemplate and Meditate upon the Future which God has in store for us!

It does not matter at what stage of life you find yourself in this exact moment.

Become insatiably curious for witnessing God handiworks in that future!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

You, O Lord, are more wonderful than our lips can proclaim!
When we look up, consider the awesome works of your hands,
Your .01% consideration, love for us is more than amazing!
You have actually trusted us with the whole of the earth,
And put everything we see under the care of our hands.
Lord, O Sovereign Lord, the earth is filled with your glory!

Lord God,

Mere words are not enough to express Your awesomeness,

Your majesty, Your holiness.

Our highest expressions of theology are but baby talk next to You:

Your creation, Your very self.

Make us insatiably curious and aware, through Your Holy Spirit,

that You are absolutely in heaven’s fullness and here among us.

May this awareness lead us to approach this hour more carefully.

The words we speak, the tunes we sing, the worship we bring,

the thoughts we think, the joy and sadness we feel, the life we live,

may these be an aroma ultimately pleasing to You.

For in spite of the inadequacy of our words,

this humble and incomplete expression of worship is addressed to You.

Make it complete, whole, full to overflowing,

O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.

In Savior Christ’s name we pray. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Divine Ability for Human Necessity.

Proverbs 19:20-21 Common English Bible

20 Listen to advice and accept instruction,
    so you might grow wise in the future.
21 Many plans are in a person’s mind,
    but the Lord’s purpose will succeed.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

A “human’s heart” is a little world, full of Dreaming, scheming, and planning.

We are always in the business of devising – we naturally call it “progress.”

There is always a “Plan A” and a “Plan” for every letter of the human Alphabet.

It does not matter what language you speak, or how many letters in your own alphabet you have which comprises your native languages or cultural dialects.

To every device of all human hearts, God’s “counsel,” His own personal design, exists parallel, whether in coincidence or in opposition to our own.

In other words,

respecting the object of every human device, God has His own divine design.

Amidst all these various human devices, there is one divine which will prevail.

God is the supreme Ruler over this universe He created.

His plan affects every detail of this creation.

This plan is eternal, and there never was, nor ever will be, another plan.

God’s complete control over His creation is based on His omniscience and omnipotence.

Since God has knowledge of all things actual and possible, His eternal plan is not based upon blind choice.

Instead, God has wisely chosen a plan in which all details will finally work together to bring about the greatest good.

Not only has God chosen the best possible plan; He also has the power and authority to bring it about.

When God promises to do something, there is no question that it will be done.

Think about it like this ….

Every manufacturer designs his product with the right components, engineered to fulfill the function that the product is created to perform.

In essence, the purpose of the product dictates the potential required to fulfill the manufacturer’s intent.

This principle holds true for all creation, including human beings.

This means the nature, design, and qualities of human beings were decided by God and created by him according to what he determined was best for the sake of his own divine purpose.

Every command in the Bible is proof of the reality of human responsibility from God’s perspective.

God is the divine Potter who has the “absolute right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use” according to His own purpose (Romans 9:21).

Yet this “clay” has a will and is responsible for the choices it freely makes. (Read Jeremiah. 18:1-12 to see how the prophet subtly intertwines both of these concepts.)

God is a God of purpose.

Everything in life has a purpose.

Every human being entered into the earth realm with a God-given purpose.

Purpose is the reason for the creation.

In essence, it is the reason why a thing exists.

When God created humanity, He had two overarching purpose in mind: relation and vacation.

The first purpose is God’s personal reason for creating us for relationship with Himself.

The second is His executive reason for creating us for the lifework He designed us to carry out for Him on the earth.

Since we were born with a God-given purpose and fulfilling that purpose must be our primary mission in life.

Our fulfillment, satisfaction and peace of mind are all tied to that purpose.

God created us with a “Plan A” purpose in mind for our life and it’s our responsibility to find it.

The secret to accomplishing great things is simple: Find and pursue the kind of work you are meant to do—your “purpose.”

Purpose can add not only years to your life but life to your years.

Prior to your birth, God installed in you all of the necessary gifts, talents and abilities you would need to fulfill his purpose for your life.

Those gifts, talents and abilities help define your purpose. For E.g., a bird was created by God to fly. If it does not fly, then it has not fulfilled its purpose.

Without a purpose, life is an experiment or a chaotic journey that results in frustration, disappointment and failure.

In absence of purpose,

time has no meaning; energy has no reason and when we do not know our reason for existence, we are just wandering, wasting valuable time.

Without purpose, we can only exist.

Thus, to know our purpose is to know our significance, to know our significance is to know our direction, to know our direction is to know our Destiny.

Purpose is the end for which the means exist.

So, we must realize that our fulfillment in this life is dependent on our becoming and doing what we were born to be and do.

If you want to know your God-given purpose, you must know and be in bond with your maker, (Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:7).

When the Lord God created us, He gave each of us an instruction manual.

It is called the Bible – the Written Word of God.

It Says in Proverbs 19:21 “You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.”

Therefore, God’s purpose is more important than our plans and His purpose will precede our plan.

Therefore, we should seek to have our plans in principle compatible with God’s counsel.

The original purpose for mankind, defined and established by God in Genesis 1, was to “rule (have dominion) over all the earth.”

Since the word “dominion” in this case means to reign and rule, the Creator wired all humans with the capacity and natural ability to lead.

God created people to reflect His image, to rule over creation, and to reproduce godly offspring.

We can conclude that human beings are wired for leadership.

There is no finer example for leadership than Lord Jesus Christ.

He declared, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

It is within this verse that we see the perfect description of a great leader. He is one who acts as a shepherd to those “sheep” in his care.

Good leadership is always obvious by honorable character and selfless service to the society.

Jesus had confidence in His God-given purpose.

We read about this in the gospel of Luke 4:18- 21 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And He began to say to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus was never off purpose; He always knew what He was doing because He always knew why He was doing it. So, he said “I am the good shepherd…”

The shepherd is one who has several roles in regard to his sheep.

He cares, leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects and protects.

The shepherd of the Lord’s flock leads by modeling godliness and righteousness in his own life and encouraging others to follow his example.

Hence, our ultimate example—and the One we should follow—is Christ Himself.

This is why Apostle Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

A good leader guides, corrects and disciplines those in his care when they go astray.

Without resentment or an overbearing spirit, but with a “spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:2)

The leaders we remember most, in history or our own past, are the ones, who have inspired or empowered us.

The word inspire comes from the Latin, meaning “to breathe life into.”

Accordingly, when you are working toward things that inspire you, it literally makes you feel more alive.

The reason these leaders are memorable is because they have a sense of their own purpose.

Our purpose is the foundation of our leadership and life.

“Plan A” gives us the stability to stand, because when the tough times come (and they do) and the ground underneath begin to shake (and it will) it is His “Plan A” which becomes our overarching sense of purpose that keeps us firm.

Keep in mind, your existence is evidence that this generation, of which you are a part, needs something that your life contains.

Leadership is a ministry, not mere management.

It is a position of humble, loving, caring service.

Those whom God designates as leaders are called not to be governing monarchs, but humble servants, not professional celebrities, but laboring servants.

Those who would lead God’s people must above all exemplify sacrifice, devotion, submission, and lowliness.

Jesus Himself gave us the pattern when He stooped to wash His disciples’ feet, a task that was customarily done by the lowest of slaves (John 13).

If the Lord of the Creation would give literally everything up, submit Himself to do that, then no leader has a right to think of himself as a VIP.”

At the most basic level, a servant leader is someone who leads others by example.

Good leaders develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience.

Our quality of life depends on the quality of our leaders.

And since no one else seems to be volunteering, it’s up to each one of us.

If you have ever had those “lifelong” dreams of leadership, now is the time.

God needs you. Now you must proceed to unearth the leader hidden within you.

What is leadership?

At the most basic level, a leader is someone who leads others.

It is a process by which one person influences the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors of others.

Leaders set a direction for the rest of us; they help us see what lies ahead; they help us visualize what we might achieve; they encourage us and inspire us.

Without humble direction and leadership of human beings quickly degenerates into argument and conflict, because we will each inevitably see one too many things in one too many different ways and will lean toward different solutions.

Leadership helps to point us in the same direction and harness our efforts jointly.

Leadership is the ability to get other people to do something significant that they might not otherwise do.

It’s energizing people toward a goal.

Leadership is the act of influencing/serving others out of Christ’s interests in their lives, so they accomplish God’s purposes for and through them.

Influence comes from serving by modeling, instructing, exhorting, evaluating, confronting, training, and releasing, Influence does not come by overpowering, belittling, manipulating, threatening, avoiding, competing and controlling

The Bible is the first place we should look to in order to learn how to become leaders today, preparing for the world tomorrow.

The biblical record reveals God’s demand for quality leaders during times of human crisis.

His search for effective leadership is expressed in statements such as:

“The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people…” (I Samuel 13:14).

This scripture reveals that whenever an organization has a lack of quality, legitimate and just leaders, national deterioration occurs.

It also reveals that God’s remedy to this type of situation is the discovery and rising up of new leaders committed to justice and righteousness.

From page 1 of the Bible, we are put on notice that God holds us accountable for the moral choices and actions we make.

This is why the wise teacher wrote, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

“God is absolutely sovereign, but his sovereignty never functions in such a way that human responsibility is minimized or mitigated” (see Ephesians 1:11, Acts 17:26, Matthew 6:26, Proverbs 21:1, Jeremiah 10:23).

God will never do anything contrary His character and purpose.

He will not deceive, being of infinite goodness; He cannot be deceived by any, being of infinite wisdom.

There is no room for second thoughts or after-counsels.

Scripture teaches that “God is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.

A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

God also “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).

God holds all people accountable for their deeds (Rom. 2:4-9; Rev. 20:15-20).

Scripture consistently appeals to humans in a way that recognizes their moral responsibility for the choices they make (Joshua. 24:15; I Kings 18:21; Romans 1:21-28; Jn. 11:26; Acts 7:51; 17:30).

God is able to do anything He desires. “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

“He does whatever he pleases in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the ocean depths” (Psalms 135:6).

The Lord carries out everything exactly as planned.

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a human being, that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not establish it?” (Numbers 23:19).

All that God has preplanned is as good as done.

Nothing can change it, for there is no authority above God.

As He says through Isaiah, “To whom can you compare me? Whom do I resemble?” (40:25).

God directs the history of the universe along the course of His foreordained plan.

This involves His ability to choose individuals and groups for special purposes in the outworking of this plan.

For instance, Jeremiah and Paul were chosen by God to have special missions even before they were formed in their mother’s wombs (Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians. 1:15).

Because of His complete uniqueness and sovereignty, God is able to declare,

“Truly I am God, I have no peer; I am God, and there is none like me, who announces the end from the beginning and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred, who says, ‘My plan will be realized; I will accomplish what I desire ….’’’ (Isaiah. 46:9-10; see also Isaiah. 14:24; 43:13).

Proverbs 19:21 is a good word, isn’t it?

Like many are the plans in the mind of a man.

You think about all the plans you and I have come up with at different points in our lives, we’re like we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that.

Like the plans of our mind come and go. They vary, they shift.

We think about some plans we’ve made that we thought were the greatest thing in the world.

Like if only this could happen and then they actually did happen, and we realized that wasn’t the greatest thing in the world.

That actually wants helpful at all.

So, our plans created by our finite minds are often times, let’s be honest, foolish minds and I don’t mean that to sound overly negative but just to be real.

Like, we often make foolish plans because we don’t have all the knowledge, we do not have all perspective.

We make plans, we don’t realize how it’s going to affect this person or that person.

We make plans for our lives that we don’t realize it’s going to lead to this or that.

And so, in the end we make some foolish plans.

It is good to know that, like Proverbs 19:21 says, it’s the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

That God’s purpose, he doesn’t flounder, he has all the knowledge, he has all perspective, he never has done or will do anything foolish. Never. He’s all wise.

It’s good to know that it’s only the purpose of all wise God that will stand.

So does not that lead us then to pray, in the name of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit today and just submit our plans to his purpose.

To pray oh God, you are all wise, you are all good, everything you do is good, and your purposes will be accomplished.

And we are so thankful for that.

We are so thankful because your purpose is good, it is good because it brings you glory and it is good because by your grace, it’s good for us.

Oh God, we praise you.

We praise Your “Plan A!”

We thank you for Your “Plan A!”

We reach for Your “Plan A!”

We long to hug and embrace Your “Plan A!” exactly as our Savior Jesus did.

That your purpose involves the salvation of sinners for the glory of your name.

That your purpose God, is to save sinners like me, like others who are listening to this by the cross of Christ that we might be reconciled to you, that we might live in steadfast relationship with you that will last forever, for eternal life. We are so thankful that, that it is thy divine purpose alone which will stand always.

Proverbs 19:21 Reminds Us to Submit to The Plans of The God of all Created Things.

So, Creator God we yield our plans to you today, we lay our plans down upon thy Altar, and we pray have your way. Have your way in our lives, have your way in our families, have your way in our churches, have your way with us we pray. 

Lead us, guide us, direct us according to your purposes, not our plans. And as we make plans which we need to do and comes to this or that in our lives, please, please, please help us to yield our plans continually to you. And to make our plans in accordance with our purpose, in alignment with your purpose alone.

Help us to plan for the spread of your glory in the world. Help us to plan for the spread of your gospel in others’ lives. Help us to plan for your love, your mercy, your grace through made known through whatever plans we make. Because we know this is ultimately your purpose. Because we want our plans ultimately to fulfill your purpose that will stand. So, we pray yielding our plans to you for the accomplishment of your purpose in our lives, in our Savior Jesus name. Amen.

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I am a Singing Sinner in the hand of a Singing, Dancing and Victorious God. Zephaniah 3:14-20

The end of the book of Zephaniah is a stunningly beautiful description of God’s redemption project.

The God of heaven and earth is out to redeem, heal, and save his people.

The vision comes to a climax with this remarkable scene in which God takes “great delight” in his people and rejoices over them “with singing.”

There’s a lot of singing in Bible.

The stars sang God’s praise at creation.

The angels sang praise in Bethlehem.

The angels and all the saints sing praise in heaven.

But God is not merely a passive listener.

God is also a singer, delighting in and cherishing us and all creation.

Singing has been practiced in virtually every culture throughout history.

Have you ever wondered why the act of singing has such universal appeal?

One important reason is that words that are sung can have a much greater impact on us than words that are only spoken.

This is why so much of the praise we offer God is done in song—and why Saint Augustine once said that “whoever sings prays twice.”

But when have you or I ever thought of, been encouraged by, God as a singer?

We might think that the reference in today’s Bible reading to God singing is not meant to be taken literally, but I’ve a feeling, in this exact “God-Moment,” it is.

Allowing God’s Word to convert and transform our imaginations so that when we think about God, when we pray, and when we live out each day, we will set aside our sub-Christian ideas about God, Jesus, our salvation, and our worship.

Zephaniah 3:14-20Amplified Bible

14 
Shout for joy, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O Israel!
Rejoice, be in high spirits and glory with all your heart,
O Daughter of Jerusalem [in that day]!
15 
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
He has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, even the Lord [Himself], is in your midst;
You will no longer fear disaster.
16 
In that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
“Do not be afraid, O Zion;
Do not let your hands fall limp.
17 
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
A Warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with joy;
He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins],
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
18 
“I will gather those [Israelites in captivity] who grieve about the appointed feasts—
They came from you, [O Zion];
On whom the reproach [of exile] is a burden.
19 
“Behold, at that time I am going to deal
With all your oppressors;
I will save the lame
And gather the scattered,
And I will turn their shame into praise and renown
In every land [where they have suffered].
20 
“At that time I will bring you in,
Yes, at the time I gather you together;
For I will make you a name and a praise
Among all the peoples of the earth
When I restore your fortunes [and freedom] before your eyes,”
Says {sings} the Lord.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Way back in Deuteronomy 31:19, God told Moses, “Write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it”—and most of the following chapter contains the song God taught Moses so the people could learn it too.

The heavenly choir depicted in the book of Revelation also sings, and it draws from that old song of Moses as it sings “the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb” (Revelation 15:3-4).

God has other songs to teach us as well, and we will spend eternity singing them. The singing of God and the praise of all whom God has redeemed in Christ will combine to form the most beautiful music anyone has ever heard.

When you and I intentionally, seriously, “song-fully,” contemplate God’s own being and you think, sing of God looking at you, think, sing, of God rejoicing over you with singing—all because of the perfect salvation we have in Christ.

The very thought of this generates a contagious image of encouragement, joy.

Zephaniah 3:17-18Easy-to-Read Version

17 The Lord your God is with you.
    He is like a powerful soldier.
    He will save you.
He will show how much he loves you
    and how happy he is with you.
He will laugh and be happy about you,
18     like people at a party.
I will take away your shame.
    I will make them stop hurting you. [a]

Zephaniah 3:17 is an incredibly encouraging verse.

If you’re feeling down, or overwhelmed, or not sure how you’re going to face the week ahead, check out the promises in Zephaniah 3:17.

This verse is filled with God’s truth and promises.

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty…” 

— Not only are we promised that God is in our midst, but we are also reassured in this verse that He is mighty!

We can call on Him whenever, wherever, and for whatever, and He is right there with us.

He’s also mighty, meaning He’s stronger than any challenge we may face.

“…he will save…” 

— Wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done, God is able to save you. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son Jesus to this earth to redeem us.

“…he will rejoice over thee with joy…” 

— I love how Barnes’ Notes on the Bible describes this part of the verse:

“Love, joy, peace in man are shadows of that which is in God, by whom they are created in man. Only in God they exist undivided, uncreated.”

Genuine Joy in us is something that comes from within – joy is not based on circumstances; it is based on our knowledge, experience and love of Christ.

“…he will rest in his love…” 

— And because of that, we can rest in Him. Only in God can we truly find peace and rest.

You may feel overwhelmed, or anxious, however remembering the love God has for you, and that He has His perfect timing, will help you find rest and renewal.

“…he will joy over thee with singing.” 

— For the second time in this verse, we see the word joy.

God delights in us; that should be enough to make us joyful!

Singing can be used as an expression of joy.

Think about that in context of reclamation, restoration and redemption – God WILL joy over thee with singing. What an encouraging and inspiring thought!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

ABBA, my Father, my one and only true God, I know that you love me, and you made me in your image. I thank you for the blessings you’ve given me, even though they’re too many to count. I pray that you help me to reflect on all the love you have given to me and those around me. Quiet my spirit and the noise in my head so I can struggle to hug, embrace and to understand the love and grace you have promised me. Amen.

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I Will Still Choose to Believe. Choose Comfort. Choose Security. I Will Still Choose the Resurrection and the Life.

Today many TV shows offer new life in interesting ways: Tear down a needy family’s old house, and build them a beautiful, well-furnished new one.

Throw away all of a person’s old clothes and give them thousands of dollars to buy new ones for a new look.

Present all kinds of ways to lose weight, achieve “optimal” health and wellness.

Reclaim, fix up old unused cars, publicly repurpose them for another family.

The promise in all these new and reclaimed and re-purposed things, of course, is not just a makeover but the big opportunity at something more: a new life.

But do, can, temporary, superficial fixes really bring the joy that people crave?

Who would not want that big opportunity at something more – like a new life?

John 11:17-27Amplified Bible

17 So when Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb [a]four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away; 19 and many of the Jews had come to see Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning [the loss of] their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, while Mary remained sitting in the house. 21 Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give to You.” 23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise [from the dead].” 24 Martha replied, “I know that he will rise [from the dead] in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “[b]I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies; 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me [as Savior] will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed and continue to believe that You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of God, [c] He who was [destined and promised] to come into the world [and it is for You that the world has waited].”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Everybody needs comfort and security!

And we need it today, as well as tomorrow.

We need it always.

Martha and Mary, however, did not have much comfort and security and peace at this present time, even though they had some measure and degree of peace of mind and heart regarding the resurrection of their brother in the future sense.

But right now, in the moment of grieving, mourning, they had very little peace.

Everyone acquainted with the Bible knows the story so well.

These two sisters and their brother Lazarus were special friends of our Lord.

He stayed at their home many times.

Here He likely could relax after a busy schedule.

A deep relationship of friendship had been established.

But now Lazarus becomes sick.

And though he may have been better one day than another, his over-all condition is worsening.

Soon he is critically ill.

And Jesus is away in Perea, some 20-25 miles east or one day’s journey by foot.

Of course, they couldn’t give the Lord a telephone call urging Him to come immediately, nor drive out there to get Him.

A messenger, likely their fastest “runner,” is sent out, with haste, urging Christ to come at once.

But Jesus has no haste.

He tarries, to the confusion of the disciples.

How Martha and Mary must have been looking and waiting for Him!

But He just did not come in the instant they desperately desired.

And their brother, Lazarus died and was buried and sealed in a tomb.

Martha and Mary have problems.

Big problems – as all people, believers or otherwise, do when they lack faith.

The two sisters have several problems.

First of all, there was that problem of the “if.”

If only Jesus had been there, when Lazarus was so sick.

The If im­plies that they had no peace or comfort at that time, and they don’t have it now.

If has to do with the hypothetical, the conditional, that which is uncer­tain.

But the two sisters have more problems.

Jesus means something to them and would have meant a lot more to them, only when He is physically near to them – available at the exact moment of notice.

A Savior who is absent from them physically really means little or nothing to them.

He would have meant so much to them if He had been there and helped them physically by healing their seriously ill brother.

There are so many people like that.

They look for Jesus, pray to Him when they need Him for some physical help.

Otherwise, they can get along quite well without Him.

They treat God the same way.

Someone once said, “He’s like a handy man around the house.”

We like to have Him near when we need Him.

We like to have Him on our “speed-dials” on our smart phones.

We would love Him as our Face Book friend then we could “face-time” with Him in an instant – the same with any instant “social media” platform.

Such people use the Lord, and that almost ex­clusively for themselves.

And they call that religion! And they consider themselves to be religious.

They believe in God!

But in this moment of greatest “life and death” crisis,

Do they believe in the life Jesus offers as much as they believe in God?

Martha and Mary are like that here.

But aren’t we all like that so often, and altogether too much?

But the two sisters have still another problem.

Their faith in Jesus means something and will take on added meaning in the future.

Martha believes that Lazarus will rise from the grave someday, in that final day.

She does not doubt that at all.

But that will be “someday” in the “far off future day of the Lord”.

She has nothing now, in and for the present.

Jesus, the friend, Jesus the Master Rabbi, means nothing to her now, right now.

It’s obviously way, way, too late. Her dear brother is gone. He’s simply dead.

What does Jesus do?

Immediately go to the grave and raise Lazarus?

By no means.

He will teach them something first, preach to them, and the miracle will confirm the Word. After all, this was always the pur­pose of the miracles.

John 11:25-26New Living Translation

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. [a] Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?

Martha and Mary, the Jews, you and I, must know what Jesus means when He says, I AM the resurrec­tion and the life.

Not I will be, some day in the future, no, no; NOW I am the living One.

Jesus speaks and acts already on the basis of what He is as the Son of God and what He will do and be as the One who will one day be risen One from the grave.

These two women must also know and believe that He is such a Savior, whether He is present with them physically or not.

He is and will be the ever-present spiritual Lord, to help them physically and spiritually.

They must know and believe that He gives comfort and promises it not only for the future, in that last day, but here, now, right now, in the immediate sense.

Now Martha, I AM the resurrection and the life.

He is the resurrection because He is the life, the eternal Son of God Himself.

All the weight of this text should take on much more immediate meaning for us, who live after and know about His cross, resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit, have the complete written Word of God and believe in that Word of God.

Having given this grieving, sorrowing, Martha this assuring word, the Lord now goes on to ap­ply this wonderful truth to her in her present needs and to all of us.

In the contemporary sense, in the modern times we all find ourselves living in,

First of all, He shows that He is aware of the Christian’s sorrows and needs at each moment of life being “lived” and at the time of death.

He is also aware the Christian’s deep concerns and fears about living out the daily grind of “resurrection life,” the grave, and about rising from the grave.

With that in mind the Lord speaks those immortal words, “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” 

These words refer to that future time when the body comes alive, then will die.

But he who be­lieves need not worry.

He will live again.

Christ here reaches out to that great and final day of His return when all the dead will be raised.

Surely the Lord knows how much we are afraid of the grave, re­turning to dust.

But be assured, He means to say, you won’t stay there, your body won’t.

You SHALL live again, be assured of that.

On what basis can He say this and give that kind of assurance?

Because He IS the resurrection and the life.

Today He is the risen, exalted Savior and Lord in heaven.

He is alive, as the risen Son of God.

He won’t leave our bodies in the grave.

Martha and Mary then, whatever our name is now, He means to say, “I won’t forget you. I won’t forget my people, my sheep. Never! They all shall live.”

That will take place someday in the future.

But how about the present?

After all, “Martha and Mary” and us too, needs comfort right now, especially when we are in that time and season of afflictions, sorrows and special needs.

This Jesus knows only too well.

And being aware of it and desirous to comfort these His people there in Bethany He further adds: “And whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

With these words Jesus refers to the present.

He is speaking about those who believe and are alive.

Those who have the new life, with new hearts.

Paul calls them a new creation.

Those people never die, not really.

Not with their new hearts, their new in­ner life.

Through Jesus who is the resurrection and the life those people constantly receive the Spirit and life that is in Him.

They have that whether Jesus is in Perea or not.

They have that whether they live in America, or England or Ukraine, or Russia or wherever else it might be, or whatever circumstances they find them­selves.

They have that when they are healthy, but also when on their deathbeds.

This eternally living Lord is always with them.

Even the death of the body does not affect this relationship.

They simply never die.

They possess that new everlasting life.

C. S. Lewis said once, “Christians never say goodbye.” 

This Martha and Mary and all of us, must believe Jesus, as the Son of God.

Notice how Jesus adds to this powerful brief ser­mon a definite qualification.

It is not for everybody.

No, only for believers.

But even then, it must not be something that is objective.

It must be a soul-searching matter, one that brings us to self-examination.

Therefore, Jesus asks: Do you believe this? 

He wanted these women then, all of us today to believe His words, constantly to believe and to trust in Him.

And those who do so may be assured that He who can say, I am the resurrection and the life, is their Savior and Lord. And His promises are for them.

He will be the resurrection and the life when they die, when their bodies are in the grave, but also for their souls and hearts, for every moment of everyday, for all time, from the very present moment of their existence, even unto eternity.

Never is there or will there be a time when they do not belong to Him.

That’s the answer to all the fear, problems, and anxieties of the two dear friends in Bethany.

And for everyone who believes.

Then Jesus goes to the grave to raise Lazarus.

These people, and we with them, must know that Jesus knows what He’s talking about.

Also, that He can “back up” His words.

Also, when He says, just a few days later,

Let not your hearts be troubled. Peace I give unto you, peace I leave with you.

This is true for all believers, for all time and in all circumstances, bar none.   

The new life Jesus speaks of goes much deeper.

Two main questions help us believe and understand and experience the new life that Christ offers:

First, do I trust in Jesus as my Savior?

If I admit with all of my heart and all of my soul, to God that I am a sinner, deserving only punishment, and if I have faith that by his death on the cross Jesus paid for my sin, then God’s promises are 100% mine, and so is new life.

Second, do I promise to live for Jesus as the Lord and only Love of my life?

Have I genuinely, with all of my heart, all of my soul and all of my strength surrendered my wants and choices to Jesus’ will and what he wants of me?

With all of my heart, all of my soul and strength, do I cultivate a lifestyle in which the character of Christ is demonstrated in my speaking and doing?

With all of my heart, all of my soul, all my strength, do I truly pledge myself to grow in knowing God through Bible reading, prayer, and Christian fellowship?

If I answer yes, Jehovah God is with me, then Jesus empowers me by his Spirit to live and do these things to the best of my “limited” abilities, to the glory of God.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Dear Father in heaven, to you we entrust everything, for you have given us life and will call us to resurrection. You will help your children, your people, to reach what you have called them to. Protect your church on earth. Let her soon see your glory. Let her see Jesus Christ intervening in people’s lives and destinies until, shaken and trembling, they have to recognize that they should love and honor Jesus alone, to your honor, O Father in heaven. We thank you for all you have given us in your Word, which enables us to become your children and to find your way for us on earth. Bless us and give us the Holy Spirit. Protect us in these most precarious of days and seasons. Protect us so that nothing evil can divide and harm us. Alleluia! Amen.

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Hope in the Lord! Be Strong! Let Your Heart take Courage! Let Your Heart be Strengthened! Keep in Step with God. Psalm 27:14

Psalm 27:14Amplified Bible

14 
Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Sitting in our rocking chair on our front porch on a sunny day.

Sitting in our rocking chair under our covered front porch on a rainy day.

Sitting in our recliners, watching television, doing crosswords or Sudoku.

Sitting in our Doctor’s offices or in an Urgent Care setting or Emergency Room.

Sitting in some waiting room waiting for some report on our loved one’s health.

Sitting outside Pastor’s office – the report was not what we were waiting for.

Sitting in our Pastor’s office – the report was not what we were hoping for.

Waiting …. and waiting …… and waiting some more …… for who knows what.

Reasonable …… Unreasonable Expectation we will all be …… for some reason(s)

Patient in our afflictions.

Patient in our sufferings.

Patient in our Patience.

Demonstrating sound Christian Principles …..

Modeling those Sound, Disciplined, Expected, Christ-Like Christian Behaviors,

Patient hope.

Patient perseverance.

Patient endurance.

Patient Patience …..

as we wait for the Lord to work in the difficult circumstances of our fragile life.

Such an “I’ll try to hold myself together for as long as I am strong enough, until God arrives” exhibition encourages someone’s faith in God to be strengthened.

Conversely, as one’s faith is often tested in those long and painful seasons of life, when patient endurance is called upon as we trustingly wait for the Lord to act, submissively waiting on the Lord’s promises to be fulfilled in prayer, and praise, and thanksgiving, we actually wait not with patience – but impatience.

The reality of it all is more like – “the Lord God should have been here an hour before anything, and literally everything, went awry a hundred different ways.”

It is absolutely correct to believe that Patience is a “fruit of the Holy Spirit” –

“I just wish God had given me all of His before things suddenly just flew apart.”

There always seems to be that “I got this thing under control gap” between what is communicated to us in the Word of God for His Children and reality.

When reality hits us square in the face – and it definitely will hit us somewhere, then the lessons of Scripture, somehow seem to end up in that somewhere else.

Yes! We need to confidently wait for the Lord to act on our behalf, knowing that His promises are ‘yes’ and ‘amen’ in Christ Jesus, and we all definitely need to faithfully wait upon the Lord with His psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, making music to the Lord in our praying hearts, with thanksgiving and praise.

But we first need to discipline ourselves to actually: “Wait Upon the Lord!”

Somehow, stop ourselves from taking that one more step into our distresses!

Get a grip on ourselves …..

Look out into the world …… what is the world offering you in this moment?

Look upward unto the hills from whence cometh our help …… (Psalm 121 NIV)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Both now and forevermore …..

Look upwards unto the Heavens …. from where our help actually did come from.

John 14:1-3 NIV

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

When we are in step with the Holy Scriptures, when we are quieting ourselves, when we are sitting on a bench, walking in step with Christ, abiding in Christ, waiting for Christ, our inner heart is empowered, and our courage is enlarged.

When we turn our eyes upward instead of focusing outward, we are waiting for His quiet and quieting presence, resting in His love, our soul is strengthened by the Spirit of the Lord, for His strength is made perfect in our restful weakness.

When we take all of God at His Word and trust Him unquestioningly, despite our inner fleshly nature and outer distressing circumstances which scream at us to do something, we will be enabled, from within, to wait on the LORD and be of good courage. For we have been promised that He shall strengthen our heart.

The Lord has His own way of restoring us unto Him the Joy of our Salvation!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, too often my old sin nature calls upon me to take hold of the reins of my life instead of waiting, abiding in You and resting in Your promises. Help me to learn to wait on You alone and to be of good courage, knowing that You are in perfect control of my life and all I am called upon to do is to quietly wait for You to act on my behalf and to confidently wait on You with prayer and worship and a heart of blest and blessed thanksgiving and praise. In Jesus’ name, Gloria! Alleluia! AMEN.

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A Prayer does not Fix Everything, but It definitely does Change Everything!

Because of God’s greater and more perfect wisdom, I try hard to trust Him to determine what is much better and best, for me, along with His perfect timing.

Sometimes I realize the mere timing of the answer is a miracle in itself to show that it truly came from my God and not something of my own Power or Volition.

I have been ‘living’ these long years of my existence with this living thing called “my place and my station in my life” and when stuff happens, that’s where it all happens, exactly where I am at that very exact and exacting station of my life.

I was on my Shabbat with my wife on that cruise ship when we caught Covid 19.

All the precautions we all took, all of the negative pretest requirements we and everyone else did to even get ourselves board the cruise ship -the handwashing and hand sanitizing required before we sat down to our meals – and the masks.

Still, somewhere and somehow, in those moments – we brought Covid19 home.

Life – is a many splendored and joyous thing, an indescribably mysterious thing but it is also an impossibly fragile thing, changing every single ‘living’ moment.

Why are we not all fervently praying for every single living, changing, moment?

James 5:13-16Common English Bible

13 If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. 14 If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen

In today’s modern techno everything the eye can see, the hand can touch world sometimes it is too hard for us to start to imagine, realize the power of Prayer.

After all, man has accomplished so much that often we look for solutions to life’s problems in the natural world before even seeking God. It is often said that “Prayer Changes Things!” We should also add, “Prayer Changes Us!”

• It is true that our prayers will change things around us but sometimes our prayers are just meant to change us

• To make it more personal, “God always meant My Prayer was to Change Me!”

• At times, after prayer, our living situation even remains the ever same – but, by God’s grace, we come through it thinking and acting and behaving different.

To be brutally honest this moment of this day in an effort to help us all, I must admit there have definitely been times I have often wished that every prayer that I prayed would be directly and definitively and most decisively answered.

And I have wished that my prayers would be answered instantly, instead of the often “Wait” signal that comes from Heaven. But if I truly were to have those wishes answered, I would need to have God’s wisdom to go along with it, for sometimes we pray for things that are less than what God has in store for us.

So, I can definitely say it’s a good thing that God says “No” to some things, and “Wait” for others because He knows what is best for us. As I oftentimes say –

• We want what’s Good for us and God wants what’s Best for us.

• Once too many “Oftentimes” they are at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

“If that’s the case, then why pray at all?”

Though there are times when God says “no/wait,” I do know this – when I don’t pray, I’m left to handle things on my own power without Divine intervention!

Because of His perfect wisdom, I trust Him to determine what is best for me, along with His perfect timing.

Sometimes the mere timing of the answer is a miracle in itself to show that it truly came from God and not something of our own Power or Volition.

God loves to delight His children.

God loves to surprise His children and He loves to do things in such a way that it displays His glory to the absolute utmost and 100% maximizes our dependence.

I have tried to be a praying person for the majority of my Christian life.

Has it worked? – I have no earthly or heavenly way of knowing.

Has it fixed me entirely? Apparently not, because i still have a long way to grow.

We have no doubt prayed about some things, hoping for prayer to fix it, right?

• When we are Sick – we pray for God to Heal us

• When we are Poor – we pray for God to Provide

• When we have been Wronged – we pray for the Justice of God to make it Right.

• When we’re Confused – we pray to God for Clarity

• All of those prayers are good prayers

• God calls on us to trust Him in such moments to Move- to Work – and to Act on our behalf

• But still, prayer doesn’t “fix” all of the situations we encounter in this life.

In the Book of Acts, Chapter Four, we read the event of Peter and John being arrested for preaching about Jesus. Later, they are released after a strong lecture from the temple police about not continuing to spread the gospel. the church, in response, begins to pray. And here’s the spoiler alert —

• The persecution issue actually gets worse after the church prayed

• Prayer did not fix it

• The problem remained

• But prayer did change the situation or to say, it changed the variables.

Acts 4:23-30Common English Bible

The believers pray

23 After their release, Peter and John returned to the brothers and sisters and reported everything the chief priests and elders had said. 24 They listened, then lifted their voices in unison to God, “Master, you are the one who created the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. 25 You are the one who spoke by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:

Why did the Gentiles rage,
    and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand
    and the rulers gathered together as one
    against the Lord and against his Christ.[a]

27 Indeed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with Gentiles and Israelites, did gather in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and plan had already determined would happen. 29 Now, Lord, take note of their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with complete confidence. 30 Stretch out your hand to bring healing and enable signs and wonders to be performed through the name of Jesus, your holy servant.”

The fervent Prayer changed the Variables – the ones who were praying to God:

Acts 4:31Common English Bible

31 After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking God’s word with confidence.

What did the church pray for in the face of persecution?

greater boldness – greater power – a greater witness. And God answered that prayer, not by fixing the persecution problem, but by changing the variables.

• After this prayer, the meeting place shook

• They were all filled with the Holy Spirit

• Then they preached the Word of God with boldness

• All the believers were united in Heart and Mind

• And they felt what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.

We sometimes place a burden on prayer that prayer was never meant to handle.

• We treat prayer like a magic formula

• We treat prayer like there is a genie in a bottle waiting to be rubbed, released.

• We treat prayer like we have just been granted three “blank check” wishes.

What we essentially say to God is, “God, I have this issue, and I’m asking you to fix it for me.” And when the problem doesn’t resolve or go away quickly, we feel –

• Disappointed with God

• Discouraged about our circumstances

• Disgusted with our own lack of faith

What if, instead of expecting prayer to “fix” all of our negative circumstances, we actually trusted instead that God designed prayer to change the variables.

• Could it be that when I’m asking for God to fix my broken finances, His real desire is to for me to change, for me to grow my ability to manage my finances?

• Perhaps, instead of miraculously fixing areas of conflict in my marriage, God’s real aim is to change me and my spouse to be more like Jesus toward each other

God often heals, provides in response to prayer in dramatic, miraculous ways.

• I’ve seen it and, actually, genuinely, so have each of you!

• I believe in it and, actually, genuinely, so do each of you!

But more often my Brothers and Sisters,

God goes to work changing us and the people around us from the inside out – sometimes slowly and progressively – to be able to handle our challenges in different ways which we already had revealed to us but were too scared to try.

Here’s what I believe prayer does –

• Prayer changes all of the variables at work in any given situation, making possible either a miraculous and instantaneous deliverance or the slow, progressive change and growth necessary for overcoming adversity

• Let me try to frame it like this ….

o How many times did you pray not to have that surgery – Had surgery anyway

o How many times did you pray to meet that financial need – but lost money anyway or fell “just a wee bit” short of paying essential monthly bills anyway

o How many times did you pray judge would be lenient – but were sentenced to paying some monetary fine, received “points” on your drivers’ license anyway

o How many times did you pray for that new job – Did not get the job anyway

• PRAYER DOESN’T FIX EVERYTHING BUT IT CHANGES EVERYTHING

• Oftentimes we need to understand that Prayer changes us not necessarily the circumstance always

• God is always challenging us to work on ourselves in an effort to become more like Him

Handling life without prayer is like playing basketball with a flat ball.

• It just doesn’t work

• And we expect prayer to make us pro players who never miss a shot and we expect to happen overnight

• But prayer really gives us an inflated ball

– BETTER EQUIPMENT

– BETTER SKILLS

– BETTER OPPORTUNITIES

– MORE STRENGTH

– MORE SPEED AND STAMINA

– so, the game becomes winnable

• Prayer isn’t a magic formula that instantly and easily fixes everything

• But prayer is definitely powerful enough to change the variables of any situation to which we apply its power

Yes, my brothers and sisters,

– PRAYER DOESN’T FIX EVERYTING BUT IT CHANGES EVERYTHING.

• Our prayers do not ever alter God’s sovereign plan

• It’s not like we pray and God says, “Woah, hey now! Didn’t expect that one. Okay, gotta change things quickly. Time to shift things around. Let’s see, I’ll put this here and this here and…”

• God is not the penultimate Project Manager, trying to juggle the lives of who knows how many millions and billions of people as they each make their own preferred choices apart from His unchangeable, unknowable sovereign plan.

• He has planned and ordained history, and He knows precisely what will happen

• My prayers don’t change the wise, good, sovereign plan of the Almighty God

• Phew. Thank God they don’t because some of my prayers throughout the years….never mind

But in another sense, prayer really does make things happen.

Scripture is clear that God wants us to pray and that He really and truly does respond to our prayers.

Scripture makes it beyond “Crystal Sea” clear that prayer does change things.

James 5:13-15Easy-to-Read Version

The Power of Prayer

13 Are you having troubles? You should pray. Are you happy? You should sing. 14 Are you sick? Ask the elders of the church to come and rub oil on you[a] in the name of the Lord and pray for you. 15 If such a prayer is offered in faith, it will heal anyone who is sick. The Lord will heal them. And if they have sinned, he will forgive them.

The logic here is pretty simple.

• If you’re sick, call the elders to pray for you and God will hear and answer that prayer

• On the flip side, if you don’t pray the prayer will not be answered

Okay, so you are probably asking yourself at this point – well, what does prayer change then?

• Prayer changes Us

• Prayer changes the world around us

• God sovereignly uses our prayers to fulfill His perfect plan

• Yes, prayer does change things – therefore, we should pray

Prayer is, for the most part, an untapped resource, it is an –

• Unexplored continent where untold treasure remains to be unearthed

• It is talked about more than anything else and practiced less than anything else

• And yet, for the believer it remains one of the greatest gifts our Lord has given us outside of salvation through our ONE Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ALONE!

I wonder how we would respond if someone were to ask us in this moment – “why are you praying?” and we say, “I don’t know, I just felt this impulse,” –

• God would not get the glory He would get if we answered, I’m praying because Jesus is my Lord and has the right to overrule human plans in answer to prayer.

• I’m praying because the Spirit of God is a Spirit of love and compassion and forgiveness and will hear my prayer, even my many unspoken ones, for mercy.

Prayer and faith go hand in hand.

Genuine faith is grounded in God’s promises, a true understanding of God’s will.

Because of God’s perfect wisdom, I trust Him to determine what is best for me, along with His perfect timing.

Sometimes the mere timing of the answer is a miracle in itself to show that it truly came from my God and not something of our own Power or our Volition.

I close this devotional offering with a Poem:

Exhortation To Prayer Poem

What various hindrances we meet
In coming to a mercy seat!
Yet who that knows the worth of prayer,
But wishes to be often there?

Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw,
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw,
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above.

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian’s armour bright;
And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.

While Moses stood with arms spread wide,
Success was found on Israel’s side;
But when through weariness they fail’d,
That moment Amalek prevail’d.

Have you no words? Ah, think again,
Words flow apace when you complain,
And fill your fellow-creature’s ear
With the sad tale of all your care.

Were half the breath thus vainly spent
To heaven in supplication sent,
Your cheerful song would oftener be,
“Hear what the Lord has done for me.”

by William Cowper (November 26, 1731-April 25, 1800)

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

God, my Sovereign, Builder of all things, I know that when I acknowledge your authority and your power that you will make my paths straight in front of me. Please empower me to live a greater life in Christ. May your Holy Spirit who lives in me draw me closer to you. Give me a mind of understanding. Let me see as you see, and not as the world sees. I trust your judgment fully and know that my own judgment is limited. I believe you have everything in control, and you will guide me exactly where you want me to go. Gloria! Alleluia! Amen.

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