It’s Over

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Do you realize that the Lord is listening to you this very moment?  He heard every word you spoke yesterday.  More important, He saw the attitude of your heart.  Was it joyful, stressed or filled with anger?  Did you allow the Lord access into that innermost spot to show you how it stacked up to His desires for you?  Or, did you close your heart and eyes refusing to look at the big picture of what we look like in His eyes?  Maybe last night you saw some things you didn’t like; did you allow the Lord of your salvation to peel back the layers?

That is a choice each one of us makes every day.  Do we walk in a manner worthy of being called by His name or are we still busy trying to build our own kingdom?  How we react to others is seen by the Lord.  Did we treat them as He would treat them? Or did we allow self to rule once again?  There is always that one person that just really gets under your skin and you just don’t want to be around them.  Oh, you don’t hate them and do not wish harm on them, but you just can’t deal being near them.

But the truth is the Lord died for their salvation just like He did for you and me.  He laid down His life.  They have the same chance of salvation that we do and frankly, let’s face the facts.  NO ONE deserves salvation.  Not me, not you and not the individual down the street.  Jesus willingly made the choice to offer us the choice to accept His way to salvation or walk right straight into hell.  He is a truly gentleman. He never forces or demands anyone come to Him.

You have a choice: yea or nay!  It’s just that simple.  There is no middle ground or fence. You either have made that decision or you have postponed it.  Years ago, I heard about two local deaths.   The first was a woman who was lying on her death bed.   Family had requested a local pastor to come and speak to her once more about her salvation.  She listened with contempt and snarled at them “I don’t want your Jesus!”  Suddenly she began screaming in agony, “My feet, my feet are on fire!”  They begged her to repent and accept the Lord.  Even with more hatred the answer was ‘No, never!  My legs are burning!”  A family touched her feet and legs and all body warmth had left.  Pleading with her, the group listened in horror as this woman grasped her last breathe screaming “I feel the fire of hell!”  I can only imagine the terror of this family knowing that their loved one refused the gift of salvation and the love of the Lord.  They knew the choice was over and she was lost to them for all eternity.

But, within a month, the same two men who attended the first death, encountered a very different experience.  Once more they were called to a deathbed.  The older gentleman was talking with family knowing his time was near.  He looked at his wife and told her he loved her.  Suddenly, he looked into the corner of the room and smile with such joy.  “He’s come for me, honey. He’s come!”  Once more he looked at his wife and declared his love and he would be waiting for her.  Turning his gaze back to the corner he smiled even more.  Everyone in the room looked in the same direction and saw nothing.  He struggled to lift his arm toward the corner.  “He’s coming, Jesus is coming for me!”  As soon as his arm was fully extended, it fell to the bed and he was gone.  Yes, he was in the arms of his Savior.

We have the same choice as these two, heaven or hell.  But, just as important, how many hearts can we touch and offer them the same choice.  Can we put self aside for the good of His Kingdom?  Can we let go of what we want and just let the love of the Lord be revealed even in the midst of our dislike of another?  Because it’s true – He died for them just as much as He died for us.  Our sin – yours, theirs and mine were paid for at the cross.  And yet the choice is still ours.  It’s yea or nay!  The thought of someone spending eternity in hell is agonizing to me.   The Lord was willing to lay aside our offense and pay the price, shouldn’t we follow His example, and lay aside the offense, the un-forgiveness and hurts of yesterday for the lost and dying.   Lay it aside.  Yes, just lay it aside – He has.

Can You Say What?

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One of my favorite praise songs is “Give Thanks!”  It was popular many years ago and to this day the lyrics still speak volumes to my heart.  Part of the chorus talks about the weak being made strong and the poor become rich.  Fortunately for us these changes do not come from within or this earthly realm that we live in but in the spiritual realm.  And the last line of the chorus reveals the very reason for the changes in our life; ‘because of what the Lord has done for me.’  That one phrase should bring such a joy and gladness to any true believer’s heart and an overwhelming sense of thankfulness.

“Because of what the Lord has done for you.”  You are alive and able to lift up your voice in praise and thanksgiving.   Can you even begin to count all the ways He has touched your life?  Do you lift your voice in song?  The Lord doesn’t care what the world thinks about your singing.  You might have the absolute worse vocal chords throughout all time but in the ears of your Lord it can be the sweetest sound He has ever heard.  Why?  Because you are willing to open up and share your true feelings, feelings of love and gratitude.  That sound of worship is much more precious to Him than any vocalist in the world.

Thankfulness is a word we rarely hear in today’s society.  Too many people have the mindset that everyone owes them something.  Yet everything we have or have ever had, came as a blessing from the Lord.  Our ability to breath, think or move is a miracle in the way our bodies have been formed.  Having true friends and loved ones is a gift from His hand.  We have food, clothing, and a place to lay our head is straight from the Lord.  A deep sense of thanks should overflow when we think about how much He has given to us.  However,  a deep thankfulness opens our heart in ways we can’t imagine or understand at times.

A dear friend shared recently a true miracle in his life.  He had started passing a kidney stone.  Anyone who has ever experienced one will tell you it is the worse pain imaginable.   After talking to his doctor, a friend was going to pick up a bottle of pain medicine, but it was going to take a while because of the distance.  He began pacing the floor in agony.  Then he made up his mind that even in the midst of this, he was going to praise the Lord.  Words of thanksgiving began flowing from his heart and his spirit.  He thanked the Lord for Who He was, and what He had done for him.  He thanked the Lord for His many blessings.  He praised the Lord for salvation, redemption, and His boundless love.  He walked though his house, continuing to lift up the name of Jesus and giving thanks.  Nothing else mattered at that point except giving thanks to His Lord and Savior.   Later he realized the agonizing pain had eased and shortly he had absolutely no pain whatsoever.   In a moment of intimacy with the Lord, the Lord had healed him.  He never took a single pain pill.  The Lord saw his heart and touched his body.

Unjustly imprisoned, Paul and Silas had been beaten, shackled and put into the deepest darkest part of the prison.  There is no physical way possible for a jailbreak.  But instead of moaning and groaning about their fate, they did the one thing that most people would consider insane.  These two men were bloody and in pain and yet they began to pray and singing hymns to God.  They lifted up the name of Jesus and let’s face it, they had a captive audience.  No one could escape the sounds coming from that inner cell. Scripture says the other prisoners were listening to the words of praise and gratitude.  That act of worship moved the Father’s heart.  The earth shook, prison doors opened and the chains fell off of every single prisoner.  Prayers and worship brought about a miracle.  Paul and Silas were free but they continued to wait – that decision saved the life of the jailer.   The jailer immediate asked “What must I do to be saved?”  The act of worship and praise touched the heart of the lost.

The same is true for us today.  As we pour out a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving, it will minister to lost and hopeless around us.   Words of appreciation in every situation reveal a trust in the Lord no matter what our situation is.  Scripture says “In everything give thanks!”  He doesn’t say for everything, but IN everything.  That is not always easy to do, but when we yield to this command – we will find a peace that only comes from the throne of God.  We will discover His strength and power moving our hearts.  But most of all, yielding to Him in thankfulness will draw us closer to the Lord than ever before.  So determine right now that you will “give thanks with a grateful heart.”

Time to Lay It All Down

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A split second – that’s all it takes for your life to be turned upside down.  A wreck, the result of a medical test, or a sudden medical emergency can wreak havoc on an individual or a family in a fraction of time.  Or perhaps, your misadventure began with a spouse or loved one walking out of your life.  Sometimes it takes place with the loss of someone dear.  The event often comes unexpectedly and in the blink of an eye your world has changed forever.  I see so many of my friends and family are in that situation at this very moment.  It seems like they turned the corner and walked into an episode of the old tv show The Twilight Zone.  It came without warning and their entire world seems to be shattered.

It is at those times that we hear all the neat little sayings that quite frankly make no sense at all at the time.  You know the ones I mean –“Pray it through!” and “Lay it at the feet of Jesus!”  Now we know exactly what they mean and their well intentions.  But honestly, how do you lay down a breaking heart?  Then when you get back up from laying it all down – the mess is standing right there slapping you in the face again.  Yea, yea, I know we have to lay it down but no one can explain how to leave it there.

After a tragic event in our little family, I can remember all the people who said all the right things and yet as much as they meant it, in all honesty it did little to relieve the pain and suffering we were enduring.  Yet, I knew there had to be a way.  Countless others had overcome these types of heartbreak and tragedies, so what was the answer?  How?  Where? When?  Could we ever see the end of the tunnel?

Even in the beginning of time heartache came.  Adam and Eve faced the pain when Cain killed Abel.  In that instant, Abel was gone from them forever and Cain became a fugitive and a wanderer.  The children of Israel had their male infants ripped from their arms and killed by their enslavers.  David felt the betrayal of his own king.  Repeatedly King Saul attempted to kill David.  David never harmed Saul, and it was out of jealously that Saul lashed out.  Leah lived in a loveless marriage.  Hannah faced barrenness. Sampson lived in darkness after Delilah’s betrayal.  Stephen faced a murderous crowd.  Take a moment and think about how many events in the Scriptures mirror your own life?  Death, betrayal, loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, empty maternal arms and the list just goes on and on.  Yet there is a little glimmer off in the distance.  Our life is not over and today might be the day we take a tiny step toward that glimmer of hope.

But, you know, I saw something in the Word this morning that should reveal the difference between us, as Christians, and those who will not call out to the Lord for help.  In 2 Chronicles 16: 12-13 And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign. Here is the king of God’s people and yet he looked to men for the answers.  The disease is slowly destroying this man and yet he looks to men.  He did NOT seek the Lord.

Too often, we make the same mistake.  We attempt to carry our heavy load our self.  We push and pull trying to move or remove this mountain of suffering from our life and then like Asa we seek help from others.  Maybe so-and-so knows what I need to do and we run here and there attempting to relieve our pain.  Yet the answer is right in front of our face all the time.  Jesus!  We need only to turn to the Lord and He will be with us.  We will discover He has always been right there. He was just waiting for us to seek Him.

He has the power and might to change our circumstances in a second.  Even in a certain situation in my own family, I know that the Lord is more than able to touch and completely heal.  Has He done it – no, but that doesn’t change the fact that He is more than able.  We have walked through this struggle for a many of year but He has been with us every step of the way.  In many cases, we just have to walk through the problems, but we have never been alone.

No matter what your problem is, the Lord is able.  He is able to meet your needs.  He is able to touch your heart and begin the healing process.  He is able to comfort that grieving spirit as no one else can.  He is able to provide His strength when yours is gone.  He is able to give answers when no one else even knows what to say.  He is right there with you this very second.  Cry out to the One who loves you far more than you could ever imagine.  Yes, cry out – cry out all your hurt, pain and frustration.  Cry out your anger and all your questions.  Cry it all out and lay it out before Him.  He knows it’s there.  He has seen the hidden recesses of your heart.  You need to bring it into His Light and let Him shine on the wounds and scars, for as you open up you will see He right there, right now.  He is with you even now.  Lay it all down and rest in the arms of your Savior.

The Ultimate Battle

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Yesterday was a day to remember all the brave men and women who sacrificed so much for our country and in all honesty, for you and me.  As the saying goes; “All gave some, some gave all.”  There have been pictures posted on line of flags in the cemetery, empty boots along the highways and loved ones standing at tombstones.  The ones left behind carry the weight of their lost loved one every single day.   Parents mourn the loss of a child, spouses weep for lost loves, and children grieve for a parent that many never knew.  Yet, for many of us, the sun came up today and we return to our normal life.

Sunday, my Pastor spoke about these brave individuals who sacrificed so much but then he spoke about the sacrifice that was so freely given for you and me.  I have thought a lot about that since then.  Jesus, just like our military, left His heavenly home, preparing for a future battle.  He came to this fallen world with us on His mind.  His feelings were so strong for the people of this world that He was willing to come and fight for us.

After John baptized Jesus, His Father’s voice was heard by everyone in attendance.  “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased.”  Our Heavenly Father is no different than us humans.  How many parents swell with pride as they see their child march in procession after boot camp?  Fathers stand taller, and mothers wipe a tear from their eyes as they see their offspring taking a step toward their future.

Yet as He began His ministry, the opposition was strong.  The enemy attacked while He was still in the wilderness.  Jesus had fasted and prayer for forty days, physically he was probably weak but spiritually He was energized.  He had spent all this time praying, worshipping and in the Presence of His Father.  He knew what was coming and it was not going to be easy.  Three times the enemy came to tempt Him.  Do this, do that, try this – but each time Jesus had the perfect response.  SCRIPTURE!  He knew the battle could not be fought with His human capacity but it must be fought in the spirit realm.

From the very first step out of the wilderness, Jesus encountered more attacks from the foot soldiers of the enemy.  The Pharisees and the Scribes attempted to trip Him up by using His own words against Him.  At first it was with just their words, but as He pushed back with truth, the enemy became more vicious.  But, Jesus knew it was not yet His time to die so He pressed on.  He touched the lives of the hurting, the sick, and the sin-laden.  After ministering to their physical needs, He was able to touch their hearts with words of encouragement, truths about their God and show them the divine love of the Father.

Yet, at the end of it all, death would try to claim Him.  The enemy thought for sure that he could destroy God’s battle plan once and for all.  Satan failed to realize that he never took Jesus’s life.  Jesus gave up the ghost – His last words before that final breath “It is finished!”  No one could claim victory in this – Jesus had the last word.  He had given the ultimate sacrifice.  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

Yet, that is only the beginning of this story.  Death and hell could not keep Jesus down.  They tried!  Satan thought he had won.  Then on the third day – on that glorious morning, the earth shook and an angel came and rolled the stone away.  The soldiers ran in fear and the women who came to anoint His body hear words of hope and freedom.  “He is not here.  He is risen from the dead!”    Nothing and no one could keep Jesus down.  He fought every battle, with every enemy and won.  He was and is the victor.

You, my friend, were the reason, Jesus gave up His life.  You were the reason He left His homeland and came to fight the ultimate battle of good against evil.  You were in His thoughts as the enemy abused and tortured His human body.  You were on His mind as He hung upon the cross.  Love for you was in His heart as He cried out to His Father.  At the same moment of His death came your liberation.  That act of love opened the door to freedom; freedom to become a child of the Father.   It freed you from guilt and shame.  His death paved the way to an eternal home.  No one else would ever, could ever accomplish for you what Jesus did.   He gave His all for you.  Why?  Love: His eternal divine love that no one could ever destroy or stop.  And no one can take that away from you.

Fill’er Up!

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There is a void in the heart of every man, woman and child.  That includes everyone that has been born or will be born.  Each one tries their own way to fill it up but to no avail.  They search high and low, here and there, this method and that way to find the right fit for their life. Maybe, it’s in this direction.  Nope that didn’t work so let me try that direction.  And the cycle repeats, over and over.

Oh, if they can just find soul mate, all their troubles will be over.  Possibly their choice of living on the shirt tails of another will bring relieve.  Or maybe the answer is in meditation.  Perhaps it’s in exercise and working out.  Some try to find it in risk-taking, going from one danger to another.  Then again, many fall prey to negative methods that only enhance the emptiness even greater.  Drugs, alcohol, or maybe both to dull their senses until they no longer feel the emptiness inside.  That is until the madness clears from their brain and the fog lifts, to once more feel the void even more intensely.  Then their madness begins again.

Others try alternate choices of ‘spiritualty’.   Witchcraft, occult, new age, and many others could be the ‘void’ filler of their choice.  Yet, testimony after testimony reveals that no matter what someone tries at some point they have to face the facts that it didn’t bring lasting results.  Maybe, at the beginning they believe the answer has been discovered; but soon reality slaps them in the face.    It is just another failed attempt to discover the answer of all answers.  At that point, they start to dabble in something else and the cycle repeats again.

In all honesty, the world has tried every imaginable method that has ever been invented and there is nothing that has completely filled that void.  In Scripture, the same pattern occurs.  Idolatry filled the hearts of so many in the Scriptures.  As if a ‘god’ made with human hands could possibly have the power to control any issues in someone’s life.  Booze, illicit sex, murder, hate, power plays, betrayals, and the list could continue on and on.  Each one used to fill a void or to obtain something that really doesn’t belong to them.  But the end result is still the same – nothing completely fills that empty spot.    We have all tried one method or another, yet all attempts have failed to have a lasting effect.

However, there is one step that will lead to filling that empty spot and it will have an everlasting influence on your life.  That one step is coming face to face with Jesus.  You must face the reality of your need for a Savior.  In the mirror of His love, you see your shortcomings, your failures and your sin.  But as you cry out in true repentance, His blood cleanses your heart and His love floods in and fills that void to the point of overflowing.  No one and nothing will ever touch you in the same manner.  Yes, the void is real, but the answer is just as real. It’s found in Jesus.

If you are lost, cry out He will come to you.  If you are feeling empty, look to Jesus, He will fill you.  If you are longing for purpose, seek His will for your life.  If you are lonely, He promises to never leave you.  If you are weary, He will give you rest.  If you are weak, He will strengthen you.  Whatever your need is, He will fill it.  But most of all, that eternal void can be filled once and for all.  Cry out to Jesus.  Seek His face.  Even now He is waiting for your cry, “Come Lord Jesus, come fill me up!”

The Perfect Love Story

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The greatest love story of all times is found in a book that has been on the best sellers list for years.  And the great thing about it, it was written with you in mind.  The author had the foresight to right down His intentions toward you.  Even before the first page were written He thought about you and the moment of your birth.  He longed to embrace you with open arms.  He knew that your heart would be tender towards Him.  He patiently waits until the moment He is united with His bride.

Do you realize that every word and every promise in His Book is for you?  Yes, for you!  Within the pages of His Word are His instructions, His revelations, His commandments, and His declarations.  You will find descriptions of His love, His power, His hopes, dreams, and His presence.  You will discover your past, your present and your future.  His Word will reveal His desires for your life, and the path that leads to a deeper relationship with Him.

As you dig into the pages, you will learn what steps He took to make a way to your salvation.  As you study, His willingness to suffer for you is revealed.  As you meditate on His Word, you will find joy unspeakable, your faith renewed and peace flowing like a river.  As you read the events that unfolded long ago they will relate to the events taking place in your life.  As you search for answers, His words will bring comfort and reassurance.  As you explore the pages, the sum of your worth will be discovered.

When you read the pages you will find His strength to press on.  When you study, you will find your place and calling. When you seek to know more about Him, you will find His ways.  His truth will be exposed and His life more real every day.  When you pursue His Presence, He will be found.  When you ask, you shall receive.  When you seek, you will find and when you knock, He will open the door wide.

You are unique; no one else is exactly like you.  You are special to Him.  You are the apple of His eye.  You are His future bride.  He longs to see you clothed in that dazzling white dress that is spotless and without wrinkle.  As you take each step closer towards Him, His heart rejoices.  No one else can take your place in His heart.  He longs for the day that you will become His Bride, knowing that your time together will last through out all eternity.

Yes, the greatest love story throughout history is found with His Book.  And the great thing is the best is yet to come.

All You Need

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Be encouraged! Be blessed!  You are loved.  You are cherished!  You are wanted.  You are His beloved.  You are a royal priest that ministers before Him! You are His child!  You are peculiar! You have been set-apart for Him.  No one can remove you from His hand.  Nothing can change His love for you.  He has known you since the beginning of time and will continue throughout eternity.  He watches over you and sends His angels to guard and protect you.  You are always on His mind and in His heart.

He is everything you need.  He is your Lord and Savior.  He is your Creator.  He is the beginning and the end and the Alpha and the Omega.  He is your high tower.  He is your hiding place.  He is your King and Ruler.  He is your High Priest.  He is your guiding Light.  He is your Shepherd.  He is your Keeper.  He is the shade on your right hand.  He is your rear guard.  He is your Friend.  He is your Healer.  He is your Redeemer.  He is the way.  He is the truth.  He is the life.  He is your Counselor.  He is your Mighty God.  He is your Prince of peace

He showers you with love.  He fills you with His peace.  He covers you with His power.  He sustains you.  He saves you. He comforts your heart and eases your pain.  He leads you and guides you.  He answers your prayers.  He listens when you call out to Him.  He catches your tears.  He holds you in the palm of His hand. He gives you strength.  He fills you with His joy.  He watches over you in love.  He hides you in the shadow of His wing.  He forgives your sins.  He will deliver you.  He will be with you.

You are the only you on the face of the earth.  No one else can take your place in the heart of the Lord.  He made a way through the cross for your sins to be forgiven and your heart cleansed.  Why, because He loves you and wants to spend eternity with you.  YOU ARE LOVED and nothing can ever take you out of His hand.  You are HIS!

Odd One Out

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Let’s face it!  Not everyone is going to like you.  In fact some people will downright out hate you.  Some might have a valid reason.  But often not, they clash for no particular reason.  Maybe you said something that they took out of context or misunderstood your motive (if you even had a motive).  And in all honesty, it is uncomfortable being around them after you realize their feelings toward you.  Human nature tries to do a couple of things and unfortunately most of the time it only makes things more strained.   First, maybe you try harder to become a friend.  You aren’t sure how to do it but you try to take time and speak to them or let them know you are praying for them.  Well, that didn’t work too well.  Or maybe your reaction is to pull your walls up and turn your back to them.  Yep, that’s really going to help the situation.

Jesus endured the same situation as He walked this earth.  The crowds often followed Him from place to place.  However, many followers were there for the hype.  Jesus was the newest show around the town.  Remember they followed John the Baptist in the desert to listen to His words, but now, John’s out of the picture.  Jesus captures many hearts, but He also provided healing touches as the blind could see, the deaf could hear, and the mute were able to speak.  Those who were possessed were set free from the demonic forces that kept them bound up.  Even the dead listened and obeyed.

They listened as He spoke in parables hanging onto every word.  Sometimes they understood His message, other times even His disciples failed to comprehend His meaning.  Of course, then there were the occasions when the food was free also.  No one had ever seen anyone like Jesus.  Their imagination must have run wild with thoughts of who He really was.  Was He the Messiah, or just a good teacher with super powers?

But not everyone liked Jesus.  He was a thorn in the side of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  They were the religious ‘rulers’ of that day and expected everyone to walk the line they laid out.   Their pious actions were merely lip service and mostly made up of ‘men’s’ traditions.  When they discovered where Jesus was speaking, they rushed to the spot to try and trip Him up.  They wanted to find a valid reason to disgrace and ridicule Him and His ways.  Each failed attempt to dis-credit Jesus only stirred up more hate and aversion for the “teacher”.  Day after day, their dislike turned to hate and then to a murderous rage.  They just wanted Jesus dead.

Why?  Why was their hatred so intense? Exposure!  Jesus had peeled back the layers of their religiosity and showed the truth that was in their hearts.  He called them white-washed walls.  This was an insult above most insults.  Why was this so insulting?  Charmin did not exist.  So, the bath room facilities needed the walls white-washed on a regular basis.  It might look good on the outside but underneath it was disgusting.  Jesus saw past their traditions and rituals.  He saw past their words of pretense and saw the truth of their hearts and it was revolting in the eyes of His Father.  The truth hurts!

There are times the Lord uses people to rub us the wrong way. He wants to expose what is hidden from view.  It’s not to embarrass us, but to help us understand what He wants to deal with in our life.  Like the Pharisees of old, we all ‘hide’ those areas that are unpleasant and quite frankly stink in God’s nostril.   Or maybe you are the one God uses to expose a little in the lives around you.  Either side of the coin is uncomfortable but in all honesty – they are absolutely necessary.  We need His light shining in our darken areas, revealing and exposing the very depths of our hearts.

No matter how many times the Pharisees confronted the Lord, He never ran.  There were times He eluded their efforts, because He knew it was not God’s perfect timing time for Him to die.  He faced the truth that His messages would rub some people the wrong way.  He dealt with the certainty that not everyone would love Him.  However, He was more concerned with the reality of the lost and lonely He came to save and bring hope and comfort to.  He longed to touch the hearts that were soft before Him.  The Lord reached out to those the world saw as unfit and worthless.

Thanks to the Lord that saw past our unfitness and unworthiness.  Thanks to the One who was willing to see a future for you and me and forgetting our past.  Thanks to our Lord that is willing to show us our faults, to forgive them and take that old rotting sin and cleanse it, not just cover it up.  Thank you, Jesus for being faithful and truth.  Thank you for Your salvation.

Truth or Consequences

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Truth!  Facing the truth is one of the hardest things to do in the world.  We like to think that we are being honest with our self, but often we play around the edges of it.  Why it is so hard to deal with?  Frankly, it’s because we don’t like to see the reality of what is in our life or heart.  How often have you heard of an alcoholic stating, “Man, I don’t have a problem!  I just like to have fun. I AM NOT A DRUNK!”  Or perhaps, it’s the pill popper, “The doctor prescribed them, I am okay!”  Just wait until the bottle is empty and its days before refill time.  Or maybe it’s the enabler who makes excuses for the actions of their loved one. Then the truth will come out in various ways.

We look in the mirror, but do we really face the truth of who we are.  Does the older person still see the twenty year old without all the wrinkles and extra poundage?  Or does the balding man remember the head-full of thick hair that once covered the now shining dome.  Those are the outside issues!  Do the scars show or are they all on the inside.  But what truth do we hide from that is hidden deep within our heart.

Do we smile to hide the reality of hidden hate and un-forgiveness?  Or maybe, we have a concealed agenda, we feel we are better suited for a certain position and we are determined to achieve it one way or the other.  Is jealousy, anger, rage, or bitterness hidden deep within the recesses of our heart?  Perhaps, someone is a chronic liar.  In fact they have it down to a fine art.  They are able to look someone dead in the eye and never blink.  Or maybe the secret sin it someone with sticky fingers.    Sin is hidden deep within our heart and spirit.

The prodigal son was that way.  He just wanted to be out from under his father’s watchful eye.  No one was going to tell him what to do.  Not dad or his older brother.  “Give me what is mine and I am out of here!”   So down the road he goes carrying all of his belongings.  This guy has no plans to ever return.  Scripture doesn’t tell how far he traveled, but probably far enough that dear old dad couldn’t come drag him back.

Then we see all his ‘new friends’ coming out of the woodwork.  Free drinks!  Let’s have some fun!  Booze, women, and whatever else he could get into. No one is telling him what to do anymore.  He is his own man. And he played on! He wasn’t raised this way, but he is having fun now.  Suddenly, there is a famine in the land.  Hard times are all around, and our young friend has spent everything he has.  He has no backup plan and as quickly as he gained all these new friends, they are long gone.  The only food he can eat is the same as the pigs.  Not a single person will help him out.

But one verse sticks out in this parable.  “Then he came to himself!”  Another version states “He came to his senses!”  Finally he came out of his drunken stupor and realized where he was!  He was standing in the pigpen eating the same disgusting slop that they ate.  He had come face to face with the reality of the condition of his life.  Imagine his cry “What have I done? “

At this point, he honestly has three choices.  The first one is to just sit down, stay where he is and never try to do a thing about it.  He could have allowed self-pity and condemnation to fill all the voids in his life.  The second choice could have been to give totally up and just curl up in a ball and wait to die.  Everyone had already proven the fact they did not care for him and they were not going to help him at all.  Then finally his third choice, he could drag himself out of the muck, humble his heart, and start the long journey home.

He made his choice and placing one foot in front of the other, he began his long walk of shame.  His mind filled with thoughts of fear and hate.  Would his father take him back?  What would he say when he got home and saw his father?  Would Dad accept him or force him to leave?  I would rather be a servant then to keep living like I am.  His imagination ran wild with all the ‘what if’s’.

Then we see a beautiful picture of the love of his father.  As soon as he sees his filthy, smelly, hungry, raggedly son, he ran.  He ran!  How many times did he look down this road for his boy?  And today his prayer was answered.  How he looked and smelled did not matter.  All that mattered was his boy had come home.  Let the feasting begin!

You know, your Heavenly Father is the same.  When you see the reality of your heart and life and turn once more to seek His face, His arms are opened wide.  As you cry out in repentance, all that is behind you is gone.  Your sin is cast into the deepest part of the ocean to never be seen again.  You are willing to become a servant, but He calls you His child.  You have never been forgotten and He has longed for the day that you would return to His family.  Yes, He waits for you to turn and come back into the safety of His arms once more.  As an old song state: “Come home, come home!  It’s supper time!”  He’s holding a feast just for you.

How High Can You Count

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You are blessed!  Yes, YOU!  Have you ever thought about it?  I mean, really taken time to think of all the ways you have been blessed by the Lord.  And the unique thing is, your blessing is different than anyone else.  Oh you might have received a blessing in the same general area, but each one is still different.

If you are reading this, then some blessings have already taken place.  You got up this morning, whether it’s a good day or a hard day – you are up and able to get on the internet.  The fact that you are able to read this devotion is a great accomplishment.  Not everyone has the ability or know-how to read.  Take a deep breath.  Yep, that’s another miracle.  Do you know someone who has COPD or lung cancer?  They would cherish the moment if they could breathe deeply again.   We could go through all the body parts one at time but you get the picture.  Your eyes, ears, nose, arms and legs; if they are working properly or at least part of the way you have been blessed.

Are your physical needs met?  Notice I said needs not wants!  Have you eaten? Are you clothed? Do you have a home, protection from the elements?  You are blessed – not everyone can say that.  How’s your health?  Good?  Believe me, you are blessed!  Within six homes in my neighbor, four of them are dealing with chronic and even life-threatening conditions, and all are at varying ages from four up to one in their 70’s.

Did you lift your voice up in thanksgiving today, thanking Him for loving you?  No one and I mean no one is entitled to His salvation!  Not me and not you.  As Paul said in Timothy 1 – of all sinners, he was the chief.   Paul not alone; we have all fallen short of the glory of God.  We all fail daily.  We like to think “Well it was only a little sin!” But truthfully sin is sin, whether it’s a little white lie or stabbing someone in the back.  It might be in word, attitude or deed, but we fail.  Sin separates us from the Father.  We need a Savior, and the Heavenly Father loved us enough to provide a way to salvation.   Jesus is truly the answer we need.  And until you cry out in repentance, you are still lost in your sin.

Have you taken time today to pick up His word?  You are blessed.  He sends His message of love and commitment to you from “In the beginning,” to the “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen!” at the very end.  You will discover words that bring comfort, restore your strength, and reveal His path for you and even words of conviction.  All you have to do is sit down and open the book and turn the pages.  Not every person on the face of this world has that privilege. Some even face certain death if they are caught His Holy Word.  You are blessed.

Yes, I know many are going through hard time, even disparate times, but you are not alone.  He is with you.  Some I know are ready to give up.  Please, don’t!  Hold on just a little longer – trust Jesus and you will find a blessing coming your way.  For those who are struggling for answers as to why?  Sometimes, He will never reveal the answer – but I pray you realize you can still trust Him.  If you are reading this and you have never accepted Jesus as your Savior.  Cry out to Him now.  Tomorrow is not promised to anyone.

Yes, once more I will say you are blessed.  Even now, lift up your voice and rejoice at the blessings you see around you.  Then pray and ask the Lord to bless those that are less fortunate, the vets struggling with PTSD, the homeless, the drug addict, and especially the lost souls who don’t know the love of the Lord.