CAN WE HAVE PEACEFUL SLEEP?
Whenever we go through physical, mental, and spiritually demanding events during the day, if we fail to really calm down before going to bed, it can be very difficult to have a peaceful night. For some of us it is challenging to stop our brain from processing thoughts to be able to fall asleep. Others may fall asleep much easier and sleep deep, but even for them, life in this chaotic world may keep them awake at times. So, what do we do?
We can have the Lord’s true peace if we give Him our thoughts, worries, anxieties, frustrations, and everything that bothered us during the day and can disturb our sleep. We can sleep better if we make it a habit to give these thoughts to the Lord before bed and take time to read the Bible to feed our spirits and minds with God’s truth. During the deep sleep, without dreams, the brain is cleansing itself of toxins produced by nerve cells as a result of their activity during the day. But for this cleansing process to take place effectively, we need about 7 to 8 hours of good sleep. Lack of sleep makes us grumpy, lack energy, and if we don't get enough sleep for long periods of time, the brain cannot eliminate toxins and we may expose ourselves to diseases with serious consequences.
When we wake up in the morning feeling tired, most likely we didn't sleep deeply long enough. Thoughts are formed by connections (synapses) between neurons (nerve cells), which during the night loosen and form other connections becoming dreams. If during the day we think about a lot of negative thoughts, painful and unpleasant memories, the chances of having a restful sleep at night are very slim. Whatever other connections would the nerve cells form between them, they cannot produce beautiful and pleasant dreams, if we do not take the time to cleanse our minds through the Word of God before going to sleep. Jesus tells us to give Him our burdens and even our fatigue and take His rest. When we do everything together with our Lord, following His directions, we are not handling the problems alone, but "yoked" together with Jesus. This means that He will bear the heavy loads for us and teach us how to deal with all of life situations. Also, Jesus is the perfect example of meekness and humility and if we choose to be like Him, we will live better lives and rest better.
Sometimes it may be hard to identify if a directional thought is coming from the Lord or not, but we can ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do in my place?” and then act based on what we know the Bible says about God's character. Meekness helps us not to act harshly based on first reactions, and humility helps us not to have a higher opinion of ourselves than we should. When we make decisions calmly and objectively, following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can have more peace, and no longer lose sleep over bad decisions or suffer from their effects. When we do everything together with Jesus, respecting His values and principles, it is much easier to fulfill His will, because He is “yoked” together with us.
What we think, feel, speak, and decide during the day influences our sleep at night. We were created by God for love, joy and peace. But because we live in a fallen world, more often the natural response to what happens to us is the opposite of love, joy, and peace. In order to change our human way of reacting to negative situations, with the spiritual one, we must be transformed “by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2). A transformed mind will continue to transform a person's emotions, decisions, speech, and even character. The mind is made up of the totality of a person’s thoughts, feelings and choices. We are called to think, feel and choose based on the truth of God’s Word, and by doing so, we can reign in life. A renewed mind changes our character too. Integrity and good behavior increase the quality of our lives and we become a positive influence on those around us as well. The more seriously and deeply we study the Word of God, the more we enter in the presence of the Lord, we hear Him more clearly and as we change, we become more like Jesus.
The sooner we get our peace after being disturbed or hurt, the better we will rest at night. The quicker we give our problems and frustrations to God, the less time we will spend during the night being frustrated and searching for solutions.
By forming the habit before going to bed of giving the Lord what happened during the day to Him in prayer, we can relax our minds and sleep peacefully, trusting that the Lord will work all things out for good. If you do not know how to pray, you can develop and adapt the prayer below to your situation.
Dear Lord, please help me remember what has troubled me during the day and I have not yet given unto You. Please forgive me for... and please show me if there is anything else I have done wrong without realizing it. Please cleanse me of all my sins and help me keep a pure heart and my mind free from bad thoughts. Please help me to recognize the thoughts that come from You and give me the wisdom and strength to follow your guidance step by step. I am giving You my thoughts, emotions, and dreams and please help me rest deep and wake up refreshed. Thank You Lord, for in You alone I can lie down in peace, sleep, and truly rest. Glory and honor to You forever, in the Name of Jesus I pray, amen.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
GOD'S DESIRES THE BEST FOR US
From Genesis to Revelation, we see how wonderful God's heart is and that everything He asks of us is actually for our good, even if sometimes it may not seem like it. In Genesis 1:31b, after completing the act of creation, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Everything the Lord created was for people to enjoy their life on earth and rule over His creation. There was nothing harmful to man in all that God had made, until Adam and Eve chose to obey the devil, and break the only command that God had given, by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Before the fall, there was no evil in the world, no sickness or suffering, and Adam and Eve enjoyed perfect health. They had no fear of getting sick, because they did not even know what it meant to be sick or to suffer. But after the fall, sin damaged the perfect balance of creation and produced sickness, suffering, and all that is evil. Nevertheless, even if man chose to sin, in His love, God prepared the way to save humanity, as from the beginning He wanted His own special people that would be forever with Him (1 Peter 2:9).
In His perfect redemption plan, God gave His Son to pay the penalty for our sins and restore us to what He created us to be in the first place. Everything that Adam lost when he had fallen into sin, Jesus restored for us. We find many examples of healings, miracles and resurrections throughout the Bible, proving God’s heart for us and that He always healed the sick. And towards the end of the book, in Revelation 7:16-17 we read that after we get to heaven we will no longer be hungry or thirsty, “the sun will not strike us nor any heat” and Jesus will lead us “to springs of living water” and “God will wipe away all tears” from our eyes. The Lord has prepared for us a perfect place where we will live the most beautiful and abundant life. We will spend our eternity in perfectly healthy glory bodies, with perfect spirits and souls, free from all that is evil and painful.
Jesus went to prepare a place for us, so that where He is, we will be also (John 14:3). There is no evil or sickness and when Jesus gave us the “Lord's prayer,” He taught us to ask: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The Lord wants us to have the best while we live in this world and to enjoy health, reigning in life through Jesus Christ. The Lord also told us that “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12b). The original Greek word for “violence” is “biastḗs” which means «positive assertiveness; used of the believer living in faith. “God's inworked persuasions” guiding and empowering the believer to act forcefully – i.e. “fired up” by God to act by His revelation.» So this verse says that “believers strive to obtain the privileges of the kingdom of God with the utmost eagerness and effort.” (according to “HELPS Word-studies” and "Thayer's Greek Lexicon").
Sustained effort and ardent zeal are necessary for receiving all that pertains to the kingdom of heaven, including entering into the possession of any healing we need because Jesus already acquired it for us in His sacrifice at the cross. Why? Because it is up to us to resist the devil, not accept sickness, not speak words that bring death upon ourselves or others and overcome doubt by knowing and proclaiming the promises of God.
God healed the sick including during the Old Testament times, through His prophets whom He anointed with the Holy Spirit and continued to perform healings and miracles through Jesus and the believers of the New Testament. The Lord has healed and will continue to heal as long as His children are in this world. After we will leave the earth at the rapture, those living and those who died previously in the Lord, will receive glorified bodies and will never need healing again.
In His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus saved us from sin, as well as from all sickness and suffering. Jesus does not expect us to have perfect faith and to do everything right, to help us. He knows our hearts and meets us where we are at. That's what the Lord did during His ministry on earth and that is what He does today when we cry out to Him.
Whenever we consider and meditate on the Scripture in the four Gospels about the individual healings that Jesus did, we clearly see God's love, mercy and desire to heal the sick. Upon careful analysis, it can be seen that out of the 3 1/2 years of Christ’s ministry, we only have recorded information from a maximum of 27 days, and of those days, none are fully recorded with everything that Jesus did. With Jesus healing all who came to Him including many big crowds and only such a few days recorded, who can know the vast number of healings that Jesus actually did? The truth is that Jesus' life was full of healings and miracles. And since He returned to heaven, the Lord prays and intercedes for us. Can we doubt that Jesus wants us to be healed when we realize what He did daily during in His ministry on earth?
Jesus is the same, He has not changed and will never change just as our heavenly Father will never change. How wonderful it is to know that our Lord sits at the right hand of our heavenly Father and intercedes for us. Through His sacrifice, He has already done everything for the forgiveness of our sins and of all mankind, the healing of all sicknesses and sufferings, and everything we need to live abundant lives. Since Jesus did miracles and healed all who came to Him, and He never changes, we can know and trust that He does the same. We can have faith our Lord that He wants to heal us if we ask Him to. The heart of our Lord is always full of love because He is and will always be love. Also, His mercy, kindness, goodness and long suffering will endure forever! Hallelujah!
“The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation.”
When we understand that our true identity comes from our relationship with Jesus and that it does not change with circumstances, we are successful and prosper in whatever we do. We are who God's Word says we are and not what we feel based upon what we have, where we are at any given time, or what others say about us. The only thing that matters is what God says about us because we are His children and our identity comes from Him.
As we find our delight in the Lord, in knowing and understanding His Word, we can reign in life through Jesus and live as we read in the verses below.
As we get our strength from the Lord, by having our roots deeply planted in His Word and the Holy Spirit constantly supplying us with living water, we are prosperous in everything we do.
The supply of living water our heavenly Father has for us is not limited. He has rivers of living water that never run dry and does not want us to thrive only from time to time. God has given us all we need to be continuously well supplied and hydrated, living in healthy bodies. He wants us to have abundant, fruitful lives and to know that we have a well-defined purpose in this world. When we know what our true identity is, everything will follow that truth, because we are the result of who we think we are. If we know that through Jesus we are prosperous, rooted in the love of the Lord and fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit, meant to bless others, we will praise God more, sin less and be much happier.
In God's economy we first give and then receive. Let's not forget that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7b). Charity helps us not to attach our heart to possessions and not to rely on our wealth. If we trust that our Lord is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides, we can give with joy, because we know that the Lord takes care of our needs.
God does not simply want us to become financially rich so that we will have more worries, spend all our time making more money and thinking that we are self-sufficient. On the contrary, He wants to teach us to do everything from the position of being His children, who love Him, glorify Him for everything and bless others. God did not create us to dedicate all our time to our career and work, but to be "God's fellow workers," communicating and being in permanent contact with Him. He blesses us and prospers us to live according to His will, fulfilling the plan He has prepared for the life of each one of us. Additionally, when we live under the Lord’s direction, we do what He wants us to do and He helps us finish everything we start. When we are led by the Lord and strengthened by the Holy Spirit we do not waste time, resources or energy, and we can enjoy life to the fullest.
The Bible does not say that blessings fall from heaven while we do nothing. On the contrary, the Bible says many times that Father God blesses and prospers the work of our hands. If we do our part, the Lord does His. The Lord is Omniscient and rewards all that we do for His glory, with the right heart.
The righteous have their sins forgiven, are clean before God and can enter into His presence. If our deeds are pleasing to the Lord, we will do well, we will prosper and we will lack nothing, as the Lord promises us in His Word.
With His death, Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins and to save us from poverty. Jesus became a curse for us on the cross, to free us from the curse we inherited from Adam’s fall. Jesus became poor for us, taking our poverty upon Himself that we might become rich in Him. He took our sicknesses so that we could be healed through Him. He took all our sufferings so that we could live an abundant life through Him. Jesus told us that if we know the Father and Him, we have eternal life, His life, the true life.
Being prosperous does not mean that we no longer go through hard times. It means that the source of our strength is the Lord not us. He is a source that never fails and is there to always help us overcome every difficulty and obstacle we face.
God sets no limits to our faith or to the infilling of the Holy Spirit. We impose limits by what we believe. God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.” We must allow His full power to work in us without doubt and limitations. the Holy Spirit The more we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, the more He can do for us. The level of our prosperity is relational to the limits we place on the Holy Spirit as well as the faith we have in what God wants for us.
THE BEST CHRISTIAN MINDSET
As we pass from one year to the next, it seems natural to reflect on the past year’s achievements and make plans for the coming year. But how much attention do we pay to our spiritual state? Do we think more about material or spiritual achievements? If we are happy in our relationship with Jesus, it means that we had a good year and that all the challenges, difficulties and “light affliction, which are for but a moment, are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory," (2 Corinthians 4:17).
The Christian life is not without suffering or failure, but if we choose to put things in the right perspective, we can find something good in every trial or pain. There are many verses that urge us to set our eyes upon Jesus, so that we “do not lose heart,” and become discouraged and fall into the trap of the evil one. There are also several verses that show us that the Lord brings something good for us even out of suffering. One of the most wonderful examples is seen in the way Paul talks about suffering, calling it “our light affliction, which is but for a moment,” in the second epistle to the Corinthians. Then to the Romans he wrote “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18). The list of sufferings and trials that Paul went through, from 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 show that he put everything in the perspective of eternity, which means even decades count only as a moment. It was certainly not easy for him, but his love for Jesus and his desire to help as many as possible become saved, made him consider all the achievements and gains of this world as “loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus His Lord.” Then Paul goes even further by saying, that for the Lord “I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
When we understand that “our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20) we can “set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth. For we died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God.” And by doing so, we can “seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1-3).
How often do we get upset, sad, and frustrated by so many things that will not matter in a few months, or sometimes even in a few days or hours? If we get into the habit of thinking that all our frustrations will mean nothing a thousand years from now, we can get over the little things much easier and have more peace and joy.
Our heavenly Father has called us to His eternal glory, through His Son, and to get there He gives us grace after grace. The Lord does not enjoy seeing us suffering, but if we trust Him, He uses any suffering to help us become more and more like Jesus, He establishes us and gives us the strength to handle trials and helps us able to stand no matter what. God wants us to succeed and if we continue the good fight of faith, He helps us finish the race and be with Him forever. What a wonderful future we have waiting for us in heaven and by keeping it in perspective, we can choose to rejoice in our Lord every moment of our journey on earth, even in the hard times. And as Paul says, we know that if we leave this world, we will receive the heavenly, glorious body that is eternal, and we want to be found worthy to be clothed with our “heavenly habitation.” If we are too comfortable in our physical bodies, we are not close to the Lord, because our hearts are full of the things of this world. But if we walk by faith, we are happy and full of confidence, waiting to leave this world to be truly at home with our Lord. The believer seeks to be pleasing to God while they live in this world, in order to arrive where his eternal home is, with the heavenly Father.
THE MESSAGE OF THE BELLS
There were shepherds nearby at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. And the Lord had an angel bring word to them of the great news.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
There was a gentleman who lived in America in the 1800’s. He was a writer and a poet in Massachusetts. His name was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The 1860’s were very difficult times. He had lost his wife in a fire and was severely burned himself trying to save her. He said the grief from that alone was enough to put him in an asylum. His oldest son Charles was terribly wounded in the Civil War and almost paralyzed. And the division, pain and suffering from the war, was horrendous all throughout America. On Christmas Day, 1863, Longfellow, the widower and father of Charles and 4 younger children, heard the Christmas bells ringing. His heart was full of despair. He wrote a poem that in time, has become a famous song. In it he penned,
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said:
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
While Longfellow’s heart was deeply hurting, his faith was still in the Lord, He rebounded just like King David did in many of his psalms. Henry Longfellow then recorded the next section of verses:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!
The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Longfellow found his comfort in the Lord. He heard in his heart what the Scripture and the bells are all about. The question for each of us, like the song we know today from Longfellow’s poem, “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day,” is, can you hear the bells and their message?
The problems in this current world, could fill anyone’s heart with despair if we let it. The Lord sent His Son Jesus to be our Savior. His peace is available to all who will receive it. In Christ, we all have a hope and a future, even if the world would grow darker still. We must get our eyes off all the toils and troubles of this world, and on the Prince of Peace. The following are the lyrics to the song. Can you hear the message?
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men
And the bells are ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir they're singing (peace on earth)
In my heart I hear them (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men
But the bells are ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir singing (peace on earth)
Does anybody hear them? (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
Then rang the bells, more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men
Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men
And the bells they're ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir they're singing (peace on earth)
And with our hearts we'll hear them (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
Do you hear the bells they're ringing? (peace on earth)
The life the angels singing (peace on earth)
Open up your heart and hear them (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
Peace on earth, peace on earth
Peace on earth, good will to men
Here is a link to a beautiful rendition to the song by a group called Casting Crowns.
BENEFITS OF THE BIBLE
This is a collection of thoughts on the life and power of God’s Word for Christians. When we read and take the Bible into our hearts, it is transformational.
Faith comes from “hearing” the Word of God. The Lord has said that if anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. When we “hear” what the Lord has to say and His Word works in us, we are given more comprehension and as we hear more and apply it, we continue to grow in faith and understanding. This is not just hearing with the outer ear but hearing inside our hearts. (Mark 4:23-24, Romans 10:17)
Finding out the true character of God. Most of us come to be Christians with preconceptions about who God is. Only when we grow in our relationship with Him, and read and study His Word, do we find out who the Lord really is. His character, His heart, His ways, His will, etc. If He is to be our Lord, then we must know whom we serve. (2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 4:8, Matthew 4:4)
We are to be Christ-like. How can we be like Jesus without knowing who He really is? By reading and studying about Jesus in the Gospels and additional Scripture, we can do our best to please the Father, honor Him and be true ambassadors of Jesus Christ to those around us. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
By learning what sin is, we can keep from error. How can we “not sin” if we do not know what “sin” is? Society’s definition of sin is often quite different from the Lord’s. Perhaps we were raised with parents who taught us wrong and unless we realize it, we might continue in something sinful. Learning “what sin is” from God’s Word, is the only definition that can be trusted! (Psalms 119b-11, Hebrews 4:12)
God’s Word not only shows us “what not to do,” but “what to do!” We need guidance on the road of life. The Bible not only shows us stop signs but which way to turn and how to proceed. (Psalms 119:130, Ephesians 5:8b-10)
Without the renewing of our minds, we would never make it. As Christians, we all have an “old man” that has a “sinful nature.” And being spiritually born-again, we all have new hearts that want to please God and live wisely. By the renewing of our minds, we can overcome that “sinful nature.” The old man has evil thought patterns which were developed in the process of time and are not God-centered thoughts. When we read and apply what we learn from God’s Word, we learn and develop new patterns of thinking with Christ as our center. (Romans 12:2, John 17:17-19)
In learning and knowing the truth, we can recognize deception. With the Bible as absolute truth, we can know truth from error. The world teaches tolerance of sin and often wants us to embrace it. By knowing the truth of God’s word, we can recognize the lies. We can love people without condoning or embracing the sin. The truth always exposes what is counterfeit. (2 Timothy 3:13-17, John 8:30-32, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
In knowing the Lord and His Word, we can have the courage to stand up for what is right, even in the face of an enemy. There are many situations in life that can make one fearful. But in knowing the Lord and the Bible, we ascertain the confidence to stand strong, even if the price may be expensive. (Ephesians 6:10-11, Psalms 27:1, Deuteronomy 31:6)
Through God’s Word, we learn that we have authority over Satan and his demonic forces. By knowing who we are in Christ and the power He has given us, we can stand against all darkness. (Ephesians 6:12-13, James 4:7, Mark 16:17-18)
By knowing God’s plan for us, as found in His Word, we can abide in Him and He can abide in us. And in so doing, we can be pleasing to the Lord and even have our prayers answered. (John 15:7, Psalms 91:14-16)
Abundant and eternal life are gifts for those who forsake sin and believe upon the Name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Lord provides an abundant life now and eternal life forever. Father God and the truth of His Word, set us free from the bondage of sin and provide the direction to have a blessed life. By knowing and applying the truth of the Gospel, we find true life, now and forever! (John 11:25-26a, John 10:10b)
Great benefits of reading and studying the Bible have been presented here, but there are many more. Thank the Lord for so masterfully creating the Bible through so many people and over so many years. As it has been said, many books can inform you but only the Bible can transform you. For those who do not learn and apply God’s Word, they fail to mature in the Lord. Without the truth of the Bible working in their lives, they easily fall prey to the tricks and lies of the devil. By not abiding in Christ or allowing Him to be their true Lord, they miss out on the covenant relationship with God. Therefore, He is not obligated to hear or answer their prayers.
Repenting and believing upon the Lord for salvation is just the beginning. Becoming a Christian is not a small thing or to be taken lightly. The word disciple and discipline come from the same base word in Greek. We are to put the Lord first above everyone and everything, including ourselves. It is an honor and a privilege to be a child of God and have His Word to help us. When we realize and learn of the Lord’s love and grace for us, we cannot help but love and seek to honor Him. We find that the Bible is the best instruction manual for life and the standard of measurement for our lives. We are thankful for it and want to grow in it more and more.
In America, Thanksgiving Day is always the fourth Thursday in November. Many want to deny or taint the history that Pilgrims of Christian faith, came to America and that the Indians helped them. In fact, many Pilgrims died arriving in harsh cold weather and the ones that survived, did so by the help of a Native American Indian name Squanto, who had been taken into slavery where he learned English but by the grace of God, made it back home. Squanto was not only able to help the Pilgrims, but he also helped them communicate with other Indians of the area. Estimates vary, but it is believed to be about 10 million of the people in America today, descended from this little colony. On a global scale, they are believed to have about 35 million descendants worldwide. Only 53 of the Mayflower’s 102 passengers and about 30 crew, survived the first winter in America.
In the autumn of 1621, the colonists celebrated their survival and harvest by sharing a feast with some of the local Native American Indians that they had established relations with.This was the first "Thanksgiving," and over time has become one of our biggest national holidays. And while many people all over the world have given thanks at harvest time, the celebration of Thanksgiving in America has been seen more and more by many because of modern travel and communications, and even personally experienced. And in so doing, many others also have started to have their own special days of Thanksgiving and special dinners.
As Christians, we must always maintain hearts of humility and thanksgiving. And what a blessing it is, to have a special day like Thanksgiving when we all take the time to count our blessings and work together for a special meal with traditional favorites. No matter how easy it is to get caught up in all the work or festivities, let’s not forget to take time and count our blessings and give thanks to the One from whom all blessings flow. Without the Lord, we would not even exist and without His blessings upon us, life would be unimaginable. From salvation through Jesus Christ, to our skills, talents, opportunities, health, families and loved ones, food and shelter, to waking up to another day, education, churches, jobs, freedoms, transportation, pets, and all the many blessings that surround each of us, we all have much to thank the Lord for.
Here are some of the things that we are thankful for in our family:
Salvation and being able to pray to a God who cares, hears, and answers in His wisdom
A great Bible in a language we can understand
A great church with a wise pastor and our church family
A cup of coffee in the morning
Sweet tea in the day
Birth family, married family and adopted family
Chocolate and other wonderful sweets
Not only food in the pantry, but food we like and also being able to eat out
Clothes, not only do we have clothes and shoes, but more than enough. There was a time when some of our grandparents had only two sets of clothes. One for every day and one for church or town. And went barefooted much of the year and then had to put newspaper or cardboard in their shoes until they could do better.
A good toothbrush and toothpaste
Good water, hot and cold water as needed
A loving spouse that loves the Lord too
Wonderful children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews
Blessed to be in the body of Christ and the ministries the Lord has me in
Sunrises and sunsets
Seasons including spring and the wildflowers, fall and the leaves turning
Living in a free country
High speed internet
Education, reading, writing, arithmetic and all the extras
Being able to see
Living in the country
Vehicles that not only run and are paid for, but were answers to prayer
Work with income
Instruments and music
Having a Lord so worthy of worship and being able to worship Him alone and with others too
Living in a climatized home
Parents that taught me right from wrong and good work ethics
A sense of humor
Cell phones and computers
And YOU if you are reading this!
FROM THE ABUNDANCE OF THE HEART
Have you ever heard it said that there is a place in all of us that only God can fill? For certain, we all have a void that needs to be filled by the presence of God, via the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives. But it can also be filled with the wrong thing or things. Many of us know from personal experience that when we first become believers, we find pure joy and a peace from the Lord that surpasses any other kind of peace.
It is life-changing when we turn from self-lordship and submit our lives to Father God as true Lord. We go from lost to found, from the bondage of sin to freedom in Christ and no longer wanting to sin. We go from hell-bound to heaven-bound! And those of us with this experience, know that in time, if we are not careful, we can lose that wonderful peace and true joy we acquired. The old selfish nature longs to creep back in. And the devil and his evil forces want us to stumble more than ever. The world and the people of it, would pull us back into it with the blink of an eye. We learn that we cannot serve the Lord and this world too. Our hearts, if not guarded, can have less of the Lord in them and more of things they shouldn't.
Becoming born-again is just the beginning. We must guard our hearts from the old nature by denying it daily (crucifying it). We must keep our distance from being pulled back into the world and follow the Lord closely, keeping our ears open to Him and shut to the enemy. We have to learn God’s Word so that it can be effective in our lives and so it’s truth can guide us and in knowing it, we can recognize the lies of the enemy.
Even though I have been a Christian for many years, I recently fell into a trap of the enemy by allowing myself to become more full of something else than the Lord. As spirit beings, our spirits are invisible. But we are guided by them. If we are in submission to the Lord, then the Holy Spirit guides us from there. If our hearts (which are really the centers of our spirits) can get distracted enough, we can lose that incredible peace and joy we once had and if not corrected, can even go astray. I did not consciously choose to forsake the Lord, but I allowed a distraction in my life that became all consuming. I literally felt like it was trying to take over lordship. This problem is not unique to me. For many, it comes in the form of a cell phone, gaming, Facebook or even something as seemingly innocent as working out. None of these are bad in themselves, no more than my hobby was… until, it became all consuming. I began to work on it in all my spare time or I was thinking about it night and day. Someone else might get carried away by work or ambition. Or perhaps another person, a spouse or love interest. But no person or thing, should ever become more consuming in our hearts than the Lord.
In John 15:1-8, the Lord Jesus explains how we need to abide in Him and He will abide in us. He also explains what happens if we do not. He loves us and wants us to find our life in Him. Then He goes on to say more in the following verses.
We must abide in the Lord. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches that come from Him. I believe the Holy Spirit in us, is the life-giving force we need spiritually, just as a physical vine needs to be alive with its sap and the nutrients within to live. A poor source naturally would produce a poor vine. But a thriving vine, must be thriving internally to be the best.
We must have the Holy Spirit in us and be full of Him, and not ourselves or anything else. I like to think of our hearts as having a throne upon them. And the question is always, who is on that throne? Lordship means total submission to whoever or whatever is lord. It could be self, good works, alcohol or drugs, another person, a career, anything, even a ministry. I found out the hard way that even a hobby could become all consuming.
We must keep the Lord first. It is the greatest mistake and a horrible sin to forsake Him. And as we see in this verse, He is the fountain of living waters. And when we allow anything else to take us over, it is like we choose broken cisterns in place of the Lord, that cannot even hold water. And it is not only bad for us, but it is an insult to the Lord.
As you can imagine, I repented and threw myself upon the mercy of the Lord. But my heart had become so dry, I needed a miracle to even start to refill again. Praise the Lord that He helped me even to do that. As I started singing and worshiping the Lord from my heart, I could feel my heart begin to soften and as I yielded to the Holy Spirit, healing and refilling began. Paul in his letter to the Romans said the following to them.
We cannot overflow with something we do not have. If we are full of anything besides the Lord, that is what we will overflow with. Jesus said that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart. Bless the Lord, He never gives up on us. I hope and pray that your heart is filled with the Lord today and if not, that you too would put out anything that has come between you and Him. The greatest peace and joy, belong to those who choose to heed the Word of God and the voice of the Holy Spirit!
THE SURRENDERED LIFE
God looks at our hearts. What matters to Him is that we are willing to keep our hearts pure and surrender it all to Him. Obedience should be the result of a heart that loves God fully and is not self-serving. Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 13:3, “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Our good actions done with a wrong heart do not really please God and have no eternal value. Our relationship with God must be based on sincere love and all we do should be the result of it. The original Hebrew word translated “life” in the verse from above is “chay” and it means “as consisting of earthly felicity combined (often) with spiritual blessedness” (“Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon”). So, when we love God with all our hearts, minds and strength, we can have a truly happy, abundant and fulfilled life. The promised land, that “good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey”, that God promised to His people in Exodus 3:8, for us today is the life fully surrendered to the Lord, following His guidance and receiving all His blessings.
God loves us so much, that He desires to lead and guide us step by step. He wants to participate in every decision we make and help us fulfill His amazing plan for our lives. He created us in a certain way, so that we fit perfectly in His plan and have whatever it takes to live a happy life while doing His will. The Lord’s plan for each of us is so uniquely designed that we must adhere to the one for us and not fall into the trap of copying others because we will miss out on God’s best for us.
The Lord wants us to depend on Him and be the one we call on in times of trouble. Whenever we think we are self-sufficient and can handle everything in our own strength, we get in trouble and step out of our Lord’s will and plan for our lives. When we start our day asking God what He wants us to do and follow His to-do list, we have more joy and peace. How many times have we planned our day without seeking the Lord, to only end up getting very little accomplished or going right? Life is full of unplanned interruptions and because we are affected by the actions of others, we can end up frustrated, unhappy and losing our peace. Thankfully God knows what we do not and if we call on Him and trust His guidance we can accomplish more, keep our peace and be happier.
When we become born again, we are just babies in Christ and we need to grow and mature spiritually. God loves us enough to not allow us to step into ministry before we are ready to handle the good and the bad of interacting with people and spiritual reality. It takes time for that to happen. We have to be transformed, by renewing our minds with the Word of God, to change the way we think, view life and make decisions God’s way. And that takes time. The more time we spend with our Lord, studying and meditating on His Word, and changing our character to become more like Jesus, the sooner we are ready to do what God called us to do.
Whenever God is everything to us, we are in the best place we can ever be. God is not selfish in asking us to love Him, on the contrary, it is in our best interest. When we love God we want to please Him, we care about what He likes or dislikes and we start to desire the same things as the Lord does. We love people more and we want them to be saved and our whole perspective about life changes. And to be where God wants us to be, we need to do what the following verses say.
And then we need to go deeper than that, by becoming a living sacrifice.
To crucify our flesh and become a holy sacrifice is impossible in our own strength. Our flesh is our natural evil nature and contrary to our born-again spirit. And as we live in human bodies, it is easier to follow its desires than to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who became one with our spirit since we became born-again. It is not easy to change and stop living as we did in the past, but the more we desire to do it and ask God to help, it is do-able, praise God!
Even if the Lord’s words sound harsh, losing our lives for His sake is the best thing that can ever happen to us. To let our God, who knows and can handle everything, lead and guide our steps is wonderful because it takes all the pressure off our shoulders. The only care we should have, is to please Him, listen for His voice and direction and to be obedient. In living a surrendered life, we have so much more joy and peace, and are blessed with the abundant life that Jesus desires for each of us! Hallelujah, thank You Lord!
THE BEAST AND THE WHORE
I don’t know about you, but I was raised to believe that people are basically the same, rich or poor, darker skin pigment or lighter, faith or no faith, etc…. that people are just people. And not to think that being rich is bad but in fact it is something to work toward. And if not for the rich, many of the poor would have no place to work. It is good for the rich to prosper because when they do, so do those financially under them. But in getting older and studying God’s Word, I have come to see that there are certain ones of the rich and influential that belong to a certain group. This group is manipulated by the wicked one. Some of them actually know they are manipulated, and others have no clue. There are still many rich and influential people who refuse to be part of it, but it is this group of manipulated wicked ones that I wish to speak of here.
In the book of Revelation, we see a mystery that involves a beast and a whore that is carried by it. Upon further reading and prayerful investigation, we see that the whore is the human factor and the beast is the demonic factor. Never in my life has the whore been so easy to see. Many have literally gone public. Many of those behind the “world economic forum” have made themselves known or been brought to the public eye.
Many of the super-rich and many politicians, as well as many people of influence, have joined together to formulate plans to over-ride normal countries and their governments. There is no doubt many of them think they came up with their ideas and roles on their own, but the devil and his hierarchy, are at the root of it and directing it.
You can read about this Babylonian system in Revelation 18. You can see who prospers from it. You can also read about its demise. Personally, I think we have to keep standing up for what is good and right, no matter the agenda of the wicked. But we must realize that at some point, we will not be able to stop it. The Antichrist will rise to power and he will use this system to his benefit. Those running the system will joyfully turn it over to him.
How close are we to this evil system coming into power? I do not know but it could happen very fast. Will all the countries of the world willfully join in? I doubt it but I am betting most will. If they want to buy and sell globally, they will join in. Will there be peace and prosperity for the working man and woman under this system? I doubt it. Peace and prosperity will be the lure, but the hook when set in, will be the loss of freedom and total subjection to an evil and very ungodly power.
Why post this here? If I am right or wrong, what difference will it make? There are many who do not appreciate history or prophecy. They live for the moment and simply do not care about the past or future. But some of us choose to know where we came from and where we are going. For many the future will have plenty of rude surprises. But for those who care, the Lord has warned us not to be deceived and told us some of what will happen. The Lord wants us prepared and to make it through.
There was a time when Israel was given over to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. The natural thing to do was fight against it. But it was in God’s plans that they were being given over to evil because of their rejection of the Lord and His correction. Many died fighting and many were taken captive alive. There was also a group that tried to escape even though the Lord directly told them not to take that route. They perished in their disobedience. The Lord specifically told those who would obey Him to yield and go into captivity. And it was from these people, that 70 years later, He re-birthed Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple.
We are never to bow to evil in worship. And we can certainly know to never take the mark of the beast and worship him. We also know that we need the Lord to direct us through the hard times that are ahead. We need to be close to Him now and be strong in His Word. It may happen that Bibles become outlawed. Would you have enough of His Word in you to sustain you in such a case? Are you used to praying through the day and listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit to guide you? This is critical to making it through to the end.
In closing, please know the purpose of this blog is to get one to pray, read and think. Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 2 Thessalonians, Daniel and Revelation all speak of future events. God did not put the information there to be disregarded. The whole book of Revelation is from Jesus Christ personally. John wrote it all under the Lord’s direction. In the first three Gospels, there were times where Jesus poured His heart out about what is to come. We need to listen up, pray up and set our hearts to draw close to the Lord and be faithful to the end.
And as for where we stand historically, we are no doubt, living in the last of the last days.
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
Here are some pertinent verses that all believers living in this day and hour should be aware of.
Matthew 24:6-8 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Mark 13:9-13 “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
Luke 21:16-28 “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls. But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."
Daniel 8:9-12 And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.
Daniel 8:23-26 "And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means. And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future."
Daniel 11:23-24 And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time.
Daniel 11:31-33 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.
Eli Cockrell and Carmen Pușcaș share thoughts about the end times and life as a Christian in the world we live in today.