Month: April 2024

While I’m Waiting

Psalm 3:7- Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 37:7- Be still before the Lord and wait for Him.

When we first moved from our home town (as I have shared previously), it seemed impossible that I would have an opportunity to teach to the extent I had in the past. We had been active in our previous church…I battled with feelings of purposelessness. I was a stranger in a strange place. But, as it had been often with the Lord, in the quietness of my solitude, His Spirit began to share; this time about waiting patiently for God to move.

The Spirit began teaching me about meekness—how to be kind, to practice self-control, and to remain teachable. I learned that meekness was having the power or ability to do something; but, instead of acting prematurely, submitting that ability to God for his timing and purpose. I had experience, but I needed to wait until the Lord had readied me—until He had spiritually prepared me for His service. I could not act or serve effectively in my own strength or will. God alone was to determine the state of my heart as to whether I was equipped to wholeheartedly glorify Him without any desire for personal recognition; and, whether I could continually rely confidently and completely on His grace and guidance.

And so now, as it was then, my prayer continues to be Psalm 5:3:

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Help me Lord to put into practice with meekness and love the lessons you have taught me, that I may glorify and please you in all that I do.

In the precious name of Jesus, Amen!

Become As Little Children

While visiting in the mountains, we passed by a newly planted apple orchard where a fully matured orchard had once occupied. I was struck by the fact that, although the young trees were literally mere sticks, they were full of blooms—a promising sign that they would bear fruit. It occurred to me that the young orchard was a spiritual picture of some biblical truths:

Research demonstrates that learning and personality-shaping mostly takes place in the first 5-7 years of life: Children are fertile soil for the kind of teaching of Deuteronomy 6:6-7; then, according to Proverbs 22:6, the child will likely live by that biblical teaching as an adult. The seedling orchard is a sweet picture of the willing heart of a child…ready and eager to bear good fruit—their humble hearts prepare them to inherit the Kingdom. If children are planted in good soil—a God-serving home—they will successfully begin the lifelong process of maturation (sanctification); they will walk in God’s ways. Likewise, despite the fact that some of us may not have been trained in the loving ways of the Lord; we can nevertheless humble ourselves and become teachable like a child: eager to love the Father and bear good fruit.

The Attitude of the Mind

ATTITUDE: A point of view. A mental state that is revealed in actions or feelings.

I have discovered that dark thoughts can form when my mind strays from the truth of God’s word; the more my focus moves away from His truth and turns toward problems and circumstances, the more negative my attitude can become. There is no life or blessing in these kind of thoughts—it is like a tree that is robbed of light:

But when I meditate in the light of God’s truth, my mind is like the Tree of Life in Eden—full of fruitful thoughts and a healthy attitude:

Here are several practices every follower of Christ—with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit—can count on to help change thoughts, and therefore attitudes, whenever unwholesome musings cloud their minds:

Hebrews 4:12- Recognize that God’s word discerns and exposes the thoughts and intentions of the heart; therefore, it is a powerful weapon to help adjust our attitudes.

Romans 12:2- …therefore, renew the mind by prayerfully reading and meditating on the Scriptures

2 Corinthians 10:5- …and purposely bring every thought under the authority of Christ by countering lies with the truth of the Word, thereby “casting out” unwholesome thoughts.

Philippians 4:8- Then, fill our minds with praiseworthy-worthy things…things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and honorable.

It is important to remember to let go of all the negative thoughts, not merely add positive overtones to them. James 1:8 calls such a person, double-minded; that is, one who holds on to unbelief along with belief…who doubts even while hoping—a person who waivers between the two. Such a person is unstable in all their ways and will not be able to receive of the Lord. The “tree” may appear this way:

Just as this tree will not thrive when half its branches are dead, the mind will not be supernaturally healed and transformed when a person continues to waver between doubtful unbelief and hopeful belief.

My prayer is as King David’s, “Let the words of my mouth,” and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, Oh Lord” (Psalm 19: 14). I pray that the mind of every believer will focus and rely completely on the Lord, so that all will continue to experience the inner peace that only God can bring (Isaiah 26: 3).

Quote For Today

“People who live in fear tend to do plenty of nothing except, perhaps, rob themselves of the possibility of joy.”

Quote from Hallmarks”s “When the Heart Calls”

Planting Is Believing

I love planting my garden and flowers in early spring when the weather is cool and everything is growing greener by the day. Recently, I came upon a sign I had purchased a few years before, which I had forgotten—it read:

As I found a perfect spot for it in my garden, I contemplated what had drawn me to its message—the sentiment behind the words. For me, it was an encouraging reminder that no matter how discouraging worldly concerns can be; because of the grace of God through my faith in Christ, I am indeed continuing to believe in His care and provision—simply by planting my garden.

After all, the Lord himself was the first “gardener”: “Now the Lord had planted a garden in the east, in Eden (Genesis 2:8). Furthermore, the Bible contains many references to planting and sowing which are positive and promising: The Lord instructed his people to build houses and plant gardens so that they could enjoy the fruit of them (Is. 65:21; Jeremiah 29:5 & 28); gardens were a blessing. Planting was used as a metaphor for the work of God, with growth representing bearing good fruit for His Kingdom (Mark 4:8).

When I plant each season, I am reminded that it is the Lord that causes the seed to sprout—He is the one who gives life to the seed and growth to the plant (1 Corinthians 3:7). Similarly, when well-watered by His Spirit, we too will be enabled to grow in our spiritual walk and produce bountifully for the Lord.

The Blessings of the Resurrection

The blessings of the resurrection are numerous and varied. This post is an attempt to recount at least some of them so that we can better recognize and appreciate what our risen Savior accomplished for all believers:

Christ conquered death, and instead, we receive eternal life with Him:1 John 5: 11-12, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.”

The resurrection proved that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for forgiveness of our sins; and so, we are indeed forgiven. We are reconciled to God! “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5: 8-9).

We can endure persecutions and trials because we know that our “labor for the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15: 58).

The Holy One we believe in, Jesus Christ, was and is who He said He was. He said He would be crucified, die, and rise again to life, and He did (Matthew 16:21). He said He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6): Jesus made the way to dwell with Him forever; He spoke only truth—everything He said came to pass; and, He rose to life, thereby enabling us to have eternal life (John 3:16).

Because He lives, Jesus Christ is our mediator—our one and only mediator—between ourselves and God (1 Timothy 2:5), and is continually interceding on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25) and pleading our case (1 John 2:1).

Christ is our living, exalted, and victorious Redeemer, and we will never be separated from His love (Romans 8: 34-35 & 37) !

The Power of the Resurrection

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Luke 24: 5

We cannot consider the cross without embracing the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and is living today at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 10: 12). The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an established historical fact supported by the testimonies of many actual eyewitnesses and grounded in significant corroborating evidence, such as reliable historical accounts. However, this post (and the next post) will focus on the significance and absolute necessity of the resurrection as a foundational truth of our faith, rather than centering on the proof that it truly took place. Here is the clear presentation of the Gospel by which we are saved according to scripture: Jesus Christ died, was buried, and arose to life for our salvation.

The Apostle Paul boldly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:14 that “if Christ had not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” Therefore, in the next post, we will examine some of the most important outcomes of the resurrection.

Words From the Cross- Part 7

Jesus entrusted His spirit into the hands of His Father (Abba)—the term of close endearment that we call “Daddy”—the same Father He had served His entire life.

This last message of Jesus from the cross is found only in the book of Luke: “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.” Let us not overlook the fact that Jesus purposely dismissed His spirit to the Lord—as we have read in an earlier post, no one took His life; He was in full control. It follows that if Jesus had not willingly submitted to God’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane, He would not have had to suffer all the things He did for our sake; but He did, and now was the time to go to His Father, after all had been accomplished.

These words were spoken immediately after the VEIL IN THE TEMPLE was torn in two from top to bottom (Luke 23:44; Mark 15:38). This curtain was a very thick, tall barrier to the Holy of Holies (the place where the Lord dwelled…the Arc of the Covenant). Tearing this curtain would be like tearing a bulky phone book; it was a supernatural act that symbolically opened the way for all believers directly to the Heavenly Father through his Son, Jesus Christ. To put another way, Jesus—“the Way”—made it possible for every repentant and believing sinner to enter into holy and personal communion with our most holy God, without any further offerings for sin. The old form of ceremonial religion was no longer necessary. This means today as it did then, that our “good” works and law-keeping earns us nothing…Jesus Christ’s all-sufficient, redemptive work accomplished everything we cannot do for ourselves (Galatians 2:16).

1 Peter 2:23 states, “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten; but He [kept on] entrust[ing] Himself to him who judges justly.” All of Jesus’ earthly life was devoted to the work of the Father as He continued to entrust Himself (confidently surrender His care) to God—all the way up to and on the cross. My heart is encouraged when I reflect on the fact that my Heavenly Father is absolutely and completely trustworthy, and able to fully care for me! May each of us follow the example of Jesus as we navigate these perilous times, by purposefully and continually turning over our safekeeping to the One who never fails us and who loves us perfectly.

Words From the Cross- Part 6

“It is finished” (John 19: 30) was the triumphant shout of victory Jesus made near the end of His suffering on the cross. The significance of this declaration can hardly be overstated—what Jesus finished was not only the act of sacrificial atonement for our sins, but the total reason for His being among us in the world had been accomplished. The totality of Jesus’ finished work cannot possibly be numerated here, but some of the accomplishments are:

  • He perfectly obeyed His Father to the very end of His life.
  • Prophesy was fulfilled
  • The law was completely fulfilled
  • No more sacrifices were required because Jesus became the perfect and final sacrifice; the sacrifice that fully redeemed us from sin. Jesus lived His entire life without sinning, which enabled Him to be a perfect, “spotless,” and acceptable sacrifice.
  • 1 John 3:8 says that Jesus came to “destroy the works of the devil,” which was accomplished. The authority of the devil over the redeemed had been vanquished!
  • Jesus would no longer have to endure the limits of space, time, and self-limitation
  • Death was defeated and eternal life was possible by grace through faith in Jesus Christ

The fact is, Jesus was in control of how He endured his crucifixion from start to finish. Furthermore, as He declared in John 10:18, Jesus was never subject to the capricious will of His enemies or of Satan himself:

Words From the Cross- Part 5

The Tyndale Bible Dictionary states, “Perhaps in no place in the life of Jesus do we see His full humanity quite so clearly as here.”

Jesus lived as a man and suffered as a man; He could identify with human suffering on every level. At this point during His crucifixion, “Jesus knowing that all was now finished” expressed His thirst; however, it was not until He had done absolutely everything that brought Him to the cross for the purpose of completing God’s plan, that He gave any thought to His physical needs. Earlier He had been offered a wine mixed with myrrh, which would deaden His pain, and which He refused. Now, He accepted a cheap wine vinegar, which would in fact, increase His awareness of pain. Why? It is likely that Jesus wished to summon all of His strength to make His final declaration from the cross, and the vinegar would allow Him to be more alert.

Revelation 22: 17 immediately came to my mind when I read of His undoubtedly deep and intense physical and spiritual thirst: The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let him who hears say, “Come.” And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price.” Indeed, Jesus thirsted so that believers could “come” and drink freely of the life He offers. Many more scriptures testify of our spiritual thirst that only He can quench; here are a few: