September 21, 2017

We Believe

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

In this time of desperation
When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only One Foundation
We believe, we believe
In this broken generation
When all is dark, You help us see
There is only One Salvation
We believe, we believe

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life
We believe in the Crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the Resurrection
And He’s comin’ back again, we believe

So, let our faith be more than anthems
Greater than the songs we sing
And in our weakness and temptations
We believe, we believe

Let the lost be found and the dead be raised
In the here and now, let love invade
Let the Church live love, our God will see
We believe, we believe
And the gates of hell will not prevail
For the power of God, has torn the veil
Now we know Your love will never fail
We believe, we believe

He’s comin’ back again
He’s comin’ back again
We believe, we believe

~  Sing this song with me as our prayer and worship today.  ~

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *  

I imagine you can say along with me that there have been times of desperation in your life.  At some time we have all experienced doubt and fear.  Those things happen in this broken generation, and in our weakness and temptations.

BUT GOD—

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever
Psalm 73:26

But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious,
longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth
Psalm 86:15

With God, our Triune God, we find our One Foundation, our One Salvation.

I get chills as I sing this song. It is my statement of faith, because I BELIEVE!  I believe in God the Father, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in His Holy Spirit.  I believe in Jesus’ crucifixion, and in His resurrection.  I believe in New Life through Jesus Christ. I have experienced it!  I believe He’s coming back for every believer (you and me.)

But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood,
nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God
John 1:12,13

Because I believe, I agree that The Church (you and I) need to live love that our God will see.  We need to stand against the gates of hell, because our God has torn the veil, and is The Power and The Love we can depend on to conquer sin and death.  We believers need to show and tell that Good News to those who don’t know God’s love yet.

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
Romans 5:7, 8

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord
Romans 6:23

Ladies, Jesus is coming back! Do you believe? If not, today is your day to surrender—and take a stand for the One and Only True Foundation and Salvation by which you can be saved, and live eternally with Him.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord,
and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.
Romans 10:9

CHRISTLife — FORTY: Embracing A Glorious Future

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What an opportunity, privilege, and awakening we have experienced in the last 39 days of this study.  We have been made aware again, or perhaps for the first time, that God created us because He loves us.  He created us on purpose to have a relationship and fellowship with Him.  We didn’t come crawling out of some swampland.  We came out of His heart.

We discovered that the ideal mirror to look into is not our bathroom mirror but the mirror of God’s Word, which is His Truth and His Love.  It is the “reliable, unchangeable grounds for accepting ourselves.” (Ruth Myers)

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

1 John 3:1

~~ * ~~

Yes, we each came into this study with images of ourselves influenced by our past; many of those were negative experiences, failures, and hurts.  But God chose this time, this study, and each of us to destroy those images and replace them with His image of us from His Word, transforming our minds to line up with His mind.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern  of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:2

~~ * ~~

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

~~ * ~~

But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16

~~ * ~~

Through this study we have begun to recognize and accept God’s description of us, His followers.  We “have chosen the way of Truth” (Psalm 119:30, NKJV).  I flipped back through the book, CHRISTLife, and was blessed to read again what God calls us:

created, child of God, daughter, called, chosen, loved, saved, sanctified, desired, beloved’s, bride, quilt-free, blessed, clean, redeemed, forgiven, righteous, purified, justified, alive, alert, new, holy, victorious, obedient, Christ-like, delivered, united, fruitful, transformed, temple, priest(ess), filled, complete, receiver, empowered, strong, enlightened, belong, accepted, approved, friend, citizen, servant, worshiper, worthy, delighted in, favored, honored, royal, nurtured, satisfied, secure, treasured, competent, beautiful, bold, confident, overcomer, anointed, purposeful, witness…and more!

Wow!  After reading those I’m breaking out into a little song and dance—what about you!?  Those affirmations fill me with hope, and confidence for now and for my future. As Ruth Myers said, “In God’s unlimited view, He sees our increasing glory as His Spirit transforms us into finished works of art.”

…Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

~~ * ~~

Ladies, these “works of art” (us!) weren’t created to hang on some museum wall and gather dust.  We weren’t even created to walk this dusty earth forever.  Oh no, God has created us for purpose: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’” declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).  Our hope will be complete when we meet Jesus face to face (Isaiah 33:17).   Our future will be for all eternity, worshiping and serving in the presence of our King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 1:5-6).

Time after time in the Scriptures, God shares His desire and plan for us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.  Here are just a few passages for you to look up as you study today:

John 3:14-17, 17:2-3
Psalm 16:11
Romans 6:22-23
1 Timothy 6:12
Titus 1:2, 3:4-7
1 John 1:2, 2:25
Jude 1:21
Revelation 3:5

Ecclesiastes 3:11 even tells us that He has set eternity in the hearts of men, even though we can’t fathom everything He has done for us.  God loves us, God has chosen us, God planned from before time began for us to spend eternity with Him.  That desire is in His heart, and He placed it in our hearts—and Jesus went to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-4).

If you have given your heart to Jesus, then you have everything you need to spend a glorious future in the very presence of our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It’s time to embrace your true and deepest identity, for “God is the strength of your heart and your portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).   “I AM Who God Says I Am!”

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

~~ * ~~     ~~ * ~~     ~~ * ~~

Dear Lord, we have completed the study of this book, but I pray that we never stop studying from Your Book what You have to say to us and about us.  Thank You for loving us and choosing us to be Your children so that we can spend both here and in Heaven a glorious future with You.  I pray that You, the God of peace, will sanctify each lady in this study through and through.  May their whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.   The One who “…calls each of us is faithful, and He will do it”(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  I pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free:

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

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His word shall not fail you He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

~  Helen H. Lemmel, 1922  ~

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

The inspiration for Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, which Helen entitled ‘The Heavenly Vision’, came from the writings of author and artist Lilias Trotter (1853-1928), a brilliant artist whose talent opened the doors to wealth and influence. Her other love was missions. After struggling in prayer for two years, she laid down her love of art in order to fix her eyes solely on Jesus and on His calling to the mission field. She served for more than 38 years as a missionary to the Muslims of Algeria. She also authored several books and tracts. The following is an excerpt from her tract, “Which Passion Will Prevail?

“Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen harmless worlds at once — art, music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the good hiding the best.” It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.”

Life gets busy, and even crazy! But whenever I sing this song, my eyes focus on Jesus, and I do find refreshing in “life more abundant and free.” This is what Jesus desires for us each and every day.

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Hebrews 12:1,2

There are others who are “weary and troubled” in the darkness of life.   Jesus commands us to share His light with them too.
Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.
Mark 16:15

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Lord, I don’t want the good of life to hide Your best.  Help me focus on “Your wonderful face,” and do what You say, go where You call, and share with those You lead me to.  You promised Your Word would never fail me, so I’m turning my eyes on You, Lord.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

CHRISTLife — Twenty: Alive With His Life

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When you were born again in Christ, did you sense that your innermost being was passing from death into life?  Ephesians 2:1 and 2 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air.  But….”  (read on, dear sister!)

But God—so rich is He in His mercy!
Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful
and intense love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead (slain)
by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses,
He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ;
[He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life
with which He quickened Him, for]
it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve)
that you are saved (delivered from judgment
and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).
Ephesians 2:4 and 5 AMP

To satisfy His intense love for us, God through Christ made us alive in union with Him.  He gave us the same life He gave Jesus Christ so we could be saved!  Oh, what mercy and grace!

Alive” what does that mean to you?  To get a good perspective, I looked up the definition of “alive.”  Some definitions that struck me were—’not just living but alert…active…vital…and energetic’.  Romans 6:11 NLT, “So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive [alert, TLB] to God through Christ Jesus.

Then I found this quote from Adolf Deissman, a professor of theology in two major universities in Germany from 1897 to 1935.

“Just as all men live in the air, and cannot live without air,
so the Christian lives in Christ…To be in Christ is to live a life
in which Christ is the atmosphere which we breathe.”

Christ is the very atmosphere in which I “live and move and have my being” (Acts 17:28 NIV).  As Michael W. Smith’s song, “Breathe” states,

I’m desperate for You, I’m lost without You. You are the very air I breathe!

This union with Christ has given us full access to “the life-giving God” (1 Timothy 6:13 Message). Even Jesus refers over and over to God as His/our source of life:

…I (Jesus) live because of the Father…
John 6:57

For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself.
John 5:26

He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive.
Luke 20:38

John 17:20-26 records Jesus’ prayer for all future people who would become believers (that includes us).

I pray also for those who will believe in Me
through their (the disciples’) message,
that all of them may be one, Father,
just as You are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be in Us
so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
I have given them the glory that You gave Me,
that they may be one as We are one—
I in them and You in Me—
so that they may be brought to complete unity.
Then the world will know that You sent Me
and have loved them even as You have loved Me.

Do you see that, ladies?  Jesus asked His Father to spiritually unite us as He and the Father are united.  The only way that is possible is for each of us to have the same Spirit—“I in them and You in Me.”  Our spiritual aliveness is from the life of Jesus Christ Himself, “The very Source, the Author of life” (Acts 3:15 AMP), and our unity is because of that oneness in Christ.

When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He was determined that we would remain in Him—to be alive, alert, vital, and active—so He gave us the wonderful gift of His Holy Spirit to help us.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you
another Advocate, who will never leave you.
He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth…
you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.
John 14:16-17 NLT

It is the Spirit who gives life…
John 6:63 NASB

How do we continue to grow in this aliveness?  We need to renew our minds (Romans 12:2 KJV).  We do that by daily feeding on “The True Bread of God… anyone who feeds on Me will live because of Me” John 6:33 and 57 NLT.  This is Jesus’ promise to us.  The world would like us to think that if we satisfy our own cravings and lust that we will really live.  Oh, they are so misled (1 John 2:15-17)!  Those things will never satisfy the hunger that was placed in us when we were created.  It can only be satisfied by Christ, Himself.

I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life…”
John 14:6

…the man/woman who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:17

As I learn and grow by spending time in His Word, I know Christ better.  As I know Him better, I fall more in love with Him.  In that love, I am alive, alert, active, and vital for Him.

“You are the God who preserves alive all living things (1 Timothy 6:13 AMP).
I acknowledge that all of my life—physical and spiritual—
is in Your hands and under Your control.”
—Ruth Myers, page 87

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Dear Lord, thank You for desiring us to be alive in You.  We are desperate for more of You.  You ARE the very air we breathe.  Help us to renew our minds and satisfy our hunger by feeding on Your Word daily.  Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who sustains, comforts, and guides us in our aliveness in You.  In the Name of our Living Lord, Jesus Christ, we pray.  Amen.

 

CHRISTLife — Chapter 15: Knowing My Need

CLfridaygraphicBefore Christ, I was “spiritually dead, defiled, disobedient, and deceived.” I was “empty, enslaved, and self-willed.” Then at the age of six, I knelt at an altar of prayer, and those things were washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. Yes, it’s true, I was all those ugly things. Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Romans 3:10, “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one;” No matter at what age you got saved, I know you are saying with me, “Praise God, He saved me from all of that and so much more!”

However, I am still needy. How about you? In our flesh we are still prone toward “doing evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21, ESV). As humans we still have our limitations, and we still sin. So we must continually “acknowledge our deep need for God and cast away our self-centered pride.” God can only work in us when we admit that we are His child, and as a child we are dependent on Him to care for us and help us in our weaknesses. Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Even though we have many wonderful qualities, we can’t take personal credit and think too highly of ourselves. Instead, we must see that it is not by our works but by His mercy that we do anything good.

He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5 NLT

If we never had any needs—emotionally, physically, psychologically, or spiritually—we would never realize just how needy we are for God. He created us for Himself. Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness….’”

Adam and Eve spent time in God’s presence. But as I think about them, I’m not sure they truly understood their need for Him until they had sinned and realized they weren’t “presentable” anymore.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He (Adam) replied, “I heard You walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
Genesis 3:8-10 NLT

After God told Adam and Eve how their sin would affect their lives from then on, He forgave them and, through the sacrifice of animals (Genesis 3:21), He provided for their need. Life wasn’t easy (verses 22-24), but the good news is that it kept them humble and in relationship with Him.

For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise His own people.
Psalm 69:33 ESV

He stands beside the needy, ready to save them.
Psalm 109:31 NLT

The more we study God’s Word and spend time with Him, the more we will recognize our shortcomings and our great need for Him to reign in our lives. We will find our help is in the Lord, as God tells us in Isaiah 41:17-20, “When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.”

As pride is gotten under control, God doesn’t want us to think too lowly of ourselves either. David said (Psalm 40:17 NLT) that even though he was needy—God was thinking about him! Please meditate on this Scripture because it shows us just how significant we actually are to our Father God. He is thinking about you and me!

Yes, we are needy. I know I personally need more love, more patience, more self-control, more—you name it. As I grow in God’s Word, I will see how He is providing for me, protecting me, guiding and guarding me. I will see more clearly how much He loves me. How about you? Have you taken time to see your needs? Have you looked into God’s Word to see how much He wants to help you? Do you know today that God loves you, my friend, and He wants only His best for you? That’s His message to you right now. Our Lord is saying to you, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

May these Scriptures be your heart cry today:

The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.
The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 29:19 NLT

Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth!
Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor You.
With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to Your name forever, for Your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death.
Psalms 86:11-13 NLT

Whom have I in Heaven but You? I desire You more than anything on earth.
Psalm 73:25 NLT

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Dear Lord and Savior of our souls, thank You for loving us beyond our comprehension. Thank You for loving us enough to save us. Thank You for continuing to show us Your love by revealing to us our areas of weakness so we will repent, be forgiven, and become more like You. We acknowledge our need for You. May we always hunger and thirst for You, Lord, for You promise to answer us and never abandon us. We love You, Lord. In Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name, Amen.

CHRISTLife – Ten: A Self-Opinion Too High

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Have you ever said to yourself, either verbally or mentally:

In light of a problem:   “I’ve got this. I can handle it by myself.

Or after an accomplishment:  “I did it myself with no help from anyone!

Those statements may indicate a self-opinion that is too high. The truth is we can’t—don’t—do anything without the help of God. He is our breath and life.

God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!
Daniel 5:23 NLT

And He (God) is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything.
Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else…
For in Him we live and move and have our being.
Acts 17:25 and 28 NIV

The ‘puffed up’ attitude can become a habitual part of our lives. The way to counter a self-opinion that is too high is to compare ourselves with God as His Word describes Him, and us. The benefit to this for me (and hopefully for you) is that it reminds me (us) of how great God is and still how loving He is toward us. It is humbling to realize that:

All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.
I Peter 1:24,25

Let’s look at just a few other Scriptures that will help us balance our self-image with His Truth:

I am — “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
James 4:14 ESV

God is  “from everlasting to everlasting You are God.”
Psalm 90:2

–*–*–*–

I am accountable — “So then each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Romans 14:12

God is — “…the great God, the great King above all gods.”
Psalm 95:3

God is our Creator; we are His creation. Do you see in just these few verses what a vast difference there is? We can’t be God, but that is the lie which an inflated self-opinion would lead us to believe, whether we are aware of it or not. (Remember Satan’s fall as told in Isaiah 14:12-15.) Instead the truth is that we need God. We need His guidance. Without Him, our life and our accomplishments don’t amount “to a hill of beans” (a trifling value).

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.
Galatians 6:7

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

An inflated self-image is a dangerous trap. Look at some of the verses from the end of the chapter that point this out:

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty…they will be humbled.
Isaiah 2:12

‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:6,7 ESV

Hmmm, if I’m correct, that last Scripture (in James chapter 4) is saying that pride, arrogance, too-high a self-image are each sin that we should run from. Ouch! Okay I get it. This is not just some little hiccup in our personality. This is a sin, a wedge that will separate us from God. I want to get rid of that, how about you!? This next Scripture is our guide to help us correct our self-image to line up with God’s image of and plan for us:

Come near to God, and He will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts…
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
James 4:8-10

Praise God, He loves us enough to point out the areas we need to change, and then shows us exactly how to do it.

We are, after all, fallen and flawed. We are like the sheep in Isaiah 53:6, we “…have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way….” But the Good News is that God is the Giver of life! (Psalm 36:9, NCV). Jesus knows His sheep, and as we humble ourselves more and more to Him we hear and know His voice and we follow Him.

The One who enters by the gate is the Shepherd of the sheep…
and the sheep listen to His voice.
He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out…
and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.
John 10:2-4

So instead of being in the dangerous position of a self-opinion that is too high, and will surely cause us to wander “off the cliff of pride,” let’s humble ourselves before our God Almighty. Let’s continue to listen to His voice, to follow Him, and get rid of the high self-opinions He sees as sin. He is Our Good Shepherd who wants only the best for us, His sheep.

*  ~  * ~  * ~ * ~ *  

Dear Lord God Almighty, we humble ourselves before You today. We ask You, Lord, to show us any sin of a “self-opinion too high.” Thank You for Your Word that not only reveals our sins, but also reveals Who You are, who we are in Your sight, and just how much You love us. We want to repent of pride today and receive Your forgiveness. We want to know Your voice and follow You because You are our Good Shepherd Who loves us and wants only the best for us, Your sheep. Thank You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

CHRISTLife—Five: Acknowledging Wrong Images

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Wouldn’t we all like to pretend that there are no negative and unhealthy images of ourselves hidden in our hearts and minds!?  But the fact is that there probably, almost assuredly, are.  I would prefer if the bad self-images would run off like water on a duck’s back, and the good self-images would be like water on a sponge, which soaks into the core of the sponge and still remains visible on the outside.  Former experiences and people from our past all have an effect on us, whether good or bad.

Our emotional reactions to situations are often “clues to negative images of ourselves” due to past experiences, whether we remember those experiences or not. They influence our attitudes and behaviors.  2 Corinthians 13:5 (AMP) tells us to: “Examine and test and evaluate your own selves….”  To better understand ourselves and our “inner identity album,” we need to examine our viewpoints and beliefs.  They have been formed either from previous bad experiences or from good experiences. We need to separate the bad from the good so we can get rid of the wrong images that distort the truth.

An example might be that as a child in school your teacher gave you a hard time because you were left-handed, you wore hand-me-down clothes, and/or you couldn’t see the blackboard from your seat.  That experience might have distorted your view of those in authority.  It might also have caused a negative self-image to grow in you that has led you to believe you aren’t good enough and you can’t do anything right for those in authority over you.  Your emotional reaction might be to withdraw or to be defensive.  Ruth Myers says this, “We need to become more objective in our viewpoints and beliefs. We must learn not to color the facts with our misguided conclusions and opinions” (pg. 23).

Do you ever hear yourself say, “If only…?” Yes, I know I have said that at times and I’m sure you have too. When those negative, unrealistic “If only….” thoughts come into your mind and even on your lips, you (and I) need to begin to replace them with reality and God’s Word.

“If only my situation would change…”
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

“If only I hadn’t committed that sin in my past…”
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

“If only my parents had been better examples…”
…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Romans 12:2

Recently I saw the movie, “The Guardians” for the first time.  Although just a whimsical, fictional story (of which I will probably forget most of it in short order), there was one line that popped out at me.  Jack Frost asks, “How can I know who I am, before I know who I was?

Obviously, I am contemplating this question from the perspective of this study as well as God’s Word.  Check out Psalm 139.  Here are just a few verses in response to that question:

O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me…
You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion…Every day of my life was recorded in Your Book…
How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.

We are His!

In Jeremiah 31:3, God tells us, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love; with unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.”  Because He loves us so, He wants to help us.  Let’s not waste time wishing the past had never happened.  We have today, and we have God’s Word.  Let’s take on the privilege, the responsibility, the hard work, and the joy of rejecting all the unrealistic and false images in our “inner identity albums.”   With God’s help, let’s replace the lies with truth—His Truth.  How freeing and uplifting that will be when we aren’t carrying around the burden of those lies anymore.  Then, too, our negative reactions will be replaced with responses that bless and glorify Him.

I want to encourage you to go back to chapter 5, page 25, and read again the Scripture references and answer the questions in light of God’s love for you.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends You,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalms 139:23-24

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Dear Lord, thank You for this first week of our study. Already, You are revealing to each of us wrong images from our past that still produce negative emotions. We thank You that Your Word is The Truth. As we study together, help us break down the negative past and rebuild our lives based on the truth that is Your Word. ‘I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath’ (Psalms 116:1-2). In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

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He Keeps Me Singing

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I grew up singing hymns and choruses. Today I love and sing the contemporary worship and praise songs of the day. But often as I worship, my mind goes back to those old hymns that tell such wonderful stories, and teach such wonderful Biblical truths.  This is one of those songs:

 ~ He Keeps Me Singing (There’s Within My Heart a Melody) ~

Luther B. Bridges, 1884-1948

There’s within my heart a melody Jesus whispers sweet and low,
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still, In all of life’s ebb and flow.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Sweetest Name I know,
Fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go.
All my life was wrecked by sin and strife, discord filled my heart with pain,
Jesus swept across the broken strings, stirred the slumbering chords again.
Feasting on the riches of His grace, resting ’neath His sheltering wing,
Always looking on His smiling face that is why I shout and sing.
Though sometimes He leads through waters deep, trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep, see His footprints all the way.
Soon He’s coming back to welcome me far beyond the starry sky;
I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown, I shall reign with Him on high.

Luther Bridges wrote this song shortly after the tragic death of his wife and three sons in a house fire. How could he write such a beautiful song after such a tragedy!? He shared that the Lord spoke to him through The Word.

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul.
Lamentations 3:24

They that dwell in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1

As Luther wrote he remembered all that Jesus did for us.

Jesus suffered for us:
He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities…
We all, like sheep, have gone astray…
and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5,6

He remembered God’s promises:
I will never leave you or forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
Isaiah 43:2

He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.
Psalm 91:4

In My Father’s house are many rooms…
I am going there to prepare a place for you…
I will come back and take you to be with Me.
John 14:1-4

My peace I give you.
John 14:27

All these promises and many more are wrapped up in one word…one Name—JESUS. That’s how Luther Bridges could move on from the tragic loss of his family; he said the Name of Jesus. He lived and breathed the Name of Jesus. Sisters, when you and I go through the trials of life, we must remember the sufferings Jesus went through for each of us, and we must remember His promises for us. Then we can say, we can sing, we can breathe the Name of JESUS, and walk through those trials.

 *   *   *   *   *

Oh Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, the sweetest Name I know. It fills my every longing, and keeps me singing as I go!  I pray, Lord, that this will be the song each of my sisters can sing from the depth of their heart.  In the sweetest Name of Jesus, Amen.

  *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Interested in joining us for our next Online Bible Study that starts on January 13, 2014?   Click HERE for more details!

Esther – Chapter 9:17-32

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Please join us for our next Online Bible Study!

“16-Day Love Challenge:

Matching our Words and Actions with

1 Corinthians 13:4-8″

by Cherie Zack and Rebecca LeCompte.

This study begins November 4th.  

Be sure to go to our Registration page for more details, and to sign up today!!

The Registration page can be found by clicking on this LINK.

We hope you will join us!!

As we read this lengthy section of Scripture, we see the final explanation of this time of salvation and rejoicing for the Jews. The Jews in the provinces killed their enemies on the 13th of Adar and rested on the 14th (Esther 9:17).  But the Jews in Shushan were given permission to stand against their enemies two days, 13th and 14th, and then rested on the 15th (verse 18).  On those days of resting from their enemies, there was a great celebration—gladness, feasting, and exchanging of gifts (verses 22-23).  Esther and Mordecai confirmed that this celebration would become a new holiday for the Jews called Purim (verses 29-30), named after the Pur (lot) that was cast for their destruction was turned on their enemies (verses 24-26).  It is still celebrated every year by faithful Jews.

Darlene Schacht includes a commonly accepted fact that Moses was circumcised on the 13th of Adar. “Circumcision represents the cutting away of the flesh and the putting off of a former life.” The Jews “cut down” their enemies on Adar the 13th.  God provides the way for us to have our old life “cut away” to cleanse us from all sin (Haman), and celebrate new life and freedom (Purim) in Christ.  Darlene and I ask, “Have you exchanged your sinful life for a new life? If not, you can make that decision right now by…asking God to forgive you for your sins and inviting Jesus into your life.”  Now is the time to put your faith in Him.

After the Jews cut down their enemies, they rested (Esther 9:22).  God gives us rest from our enemy, sin, when we allow Jesus to cleanse us and give us His gifts. He gives us:

…a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Isaiah 61:3

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

This doesn’t mean that we won’t have trials and temptations.  It’s not a “sunny day at the beach ever-after.”  But, James 1:2-5 and 12, encourages us that we will want to “…persevere under trial because, having stood the test, that person (we) will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Did you notice that it wasn’t Esther’s position as queen that set her people free from the sentence of death?  It was actually because of the king’s love for her and his generosity (grace) to her people that he provided a way to put them in “right-standing/righteousness” with him.  It was upon his word and his name (Esther 9:25) that Mordecai and Esther were given permission to write the new decree that made the way for the Jews to live and have rest.

The joyous truth of our salvation in Christ is that we are forgiven and are now in right-standing/righteousness with God.  It is not based on our own merit, our position, our own standard of right and wrong, or even on keeping every ‘jot or tittle’ of the old law.  There is no rest in those.  Isaiah 64:6 (KJV) tells us, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”  Instead, it is based on His love and His grace.  In His righteousness there is rest.  There is freedom from condemnation, and a blessed assurance that we belong to God.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1, 2

Esther knew that she would find her salvation only in her king, so she came to him in obedience and courageous submission.  When we realize that our salvation can only come from the power, love, and authority of the King of kings, Jesus, we too will want to live in obedience and courageous submission to Him.

This great story of love and salvation of Esther and the Jewish Nation was, and is, to be shared from generation to generation, and in every province (Esther 9:26-32).  The Great Love Story of our salvation given us through Christ Jesus is to be shared in every family from generation to generation and in every “province” until Christ returns for His Bride, the Church.  “…future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn—for He has done it” (Psalms 22:30-31). “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the Water of Life” (Revelation 22:17).

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His Holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits—

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

Psalms 103:1-2, 17-18

* * * * *

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the rest we find in our salvation that comes only from You, not from our own merit.  Thank You for changing our mourning into joy and our despair into a garment of praise!  We praise You that the joyous truth of our salvation is evidenced in our right-standing before God, our Father.  Help us, O Lord, to live in the beauty of courageous submission to You, our King of kings.  Help us find creative ways to share Your Great Love Story with our families from generation to generation, and in every “province” until You return for Your Bride. In Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 8:9-15

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Please join us for our next Online Bible Study!

“16-Day Love Challenge:

Matching our Words and Actions with

1 Corinthians 13:4-8″

by Cherie Zack and Rebecca LeCompte.

This study begins November 4th.  

Be sure to go to our Registration page for more details, and to sign up today!!

The Registration page can be found by clicking on this LINK.

We hope you will join us!!

__________________

Esther 8:9-14 sounds very familiar!  The phraseology parallels the verses of Esther 3:12-14, but this time the decree written by Mordecai gave the Jews life instead of death.  It was written so that “every people after their language” (Esther 8:9, KJV) in the whole kingdom, could understand the good news of the salvation of the Jews from the previous death sentence.

Notice this parallel:  In Acts 2:5-12, on the day of Pentecost there were Jews from every nation staying in Jerusalem.  They heard these simple Galilean disciples declaring in their own languages “the wonders of God,” the good news of salvation (Life) for all through Jesus Christ. Today, God still wants the same Good News to reach everyone, everywhere; and it’s our responsibility as believers to share it (Matthew 28:18-20).

I stated in our study of Esther 3:12-15 that King Xerxes just went “along for the ride” and didn’t really care about the details of the first decree or the end results. This time is very different as the king realizes that he has a vested interest in this whole event and especially the results.  This new decree would save the life of his queen, his “bride,” the woman he loved.   The king’s name was essential for the authenticity of this decree and his seal made it irrevocable.

When Adam and Eve sinned, God had to pronounce a death sentence on all mankind (Genesis 3) because He is Holy and cannot stand sin.  This “decree” was irrevocable by any human standards. However, God doesn’t live by human standards.  He had, and still has, a vested interest in His creation, His children, His Bride.  God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to use His Name to “sign” a new decree for Life, our salvation, and He sealed it with His “signet ring,” the Holy Spirit, making it irrevocable.

It is by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,… Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:10-12

Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…
Ephesians 1:13

The king gave the Jews permission to gather together
and stand against all those who would assault them.
Esther 8:11

Our King instructs us, through Paul and the author of Hebrews, to gather together to strengthen and encourage one another (I Corinthians 14:26 and Hebrews 10:24-25).  Our King also tells us to stand and fight our spiritual enemy, and He even equips us with God’s armor to ensure that we will win!

Stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  And pray in the Spirit….
Ephesians 6:13-18

Are we ready for that day when the enemy comes against us?  Actually, it’s a daily battle.  We must meet together to encourage and strengthen one another.  We must not take off our armor. We must not let down our guard.  We must pray.

As I read Esther 8:15, my first thought was, “Wow!”  Besides Mordecai’s new authority, he was honored by being clothed in royal clothing of blue and white, a robe of linen and purple, and given a great crown of gold and presented publicly!  There was great rejoicing as Mordecai appeared before the citizens of Shushan.  I believe not only was Mordecai well-liked by all, but he also represented justice, honor, life, and freedom (a far cry from what Haman had represented). We will rejoice at our Lord’s appearing because He represents justice, honor, life, and freedom for us!

Darlene Schacht points out that linen, blue, and purple were used in the making of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1a KJV).  The tabernacle was the dwelling place for God (Exodus 40:34).  So Mordecai’s attire signified that he was the temple of the Holy Spirit.  As Christians, we are God’s temple (I Corinthians 3:16).  As King Xerxes’ representative, Mordecai wore purple, which signifies royalty.  We wear the robe of righteousness.  We too are royalty. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…” (1 Peter 2:9).

Mordecai persevered through the trials caused by Haman’s decree.  The final result was that he came out the victor and was given a golden crown—a symbol of power and position.  As Christians we will receive the crown of life when we stand strong, in our God-given authority, through the trials that the enemy throws at us.

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory
that will never fade away.
1 Peter 5:4

Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 2:10b

Everything that Mordecai, Queen Esther, and the Jewish Nation received from the king was given to them because of his favor, his grace.  When we submit our lives to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we receive His grace and everything we need to be victorious in this life and with Him for all eternity. Praise the Lord!

Let’s Pray:

Lord, thank You for reminding us that the “decree” for Life has already been “signed” by Jesus’ Name and “sealed” by Your Holy Spirit.  Help us share this Good News with others.  Please remind us to regularly fellowship together to strengthen one another.  Thank You for equipping each of us to stand against the enemy of our souls.  We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood belonging to You by Your grace, and Your grace alone.  We bow in worship to honor You, our King of kings.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.