The suffering is real…

2 Corinthians 1.9

“8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

As we read the verses above, we quickly understand just how real Paul’s suffering was for the cause of Christ. It came with: 

  • great pressure
  • that was far beyond ability to endure
  • so much pressure that he despaired of life itself
  • felt like he had received the sentence of death

But praise God, he keeps writing and tells us why. Now, remember Paul is just an instrument, this is actually God-breathed Words so God is telling us why this happened in Paul’s life and ministry.

that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. “Shout now -Hallelujah, Selah”…just pause for a bit and ponder…because relying on self yields nothing of eternal value. This is something we all need to understand. Relying on self will not work, but relying on God will bring deliverance and even life out of dead people and things! Truly, this is what God did when He raised Jesus from the dead and is true for every true believer. 

The power to raise the dead did not stop at our salvation. Our God is still on the throne and He is still in control. Be encouraged about the dead things in and around your life. Are we not guilty of sometimes trying to fix things, give life ourselves, of relying on ‘me, myself, and I?’ The Lord wants us to know, it will not work. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).” This includes the gift of deliverance.

Paul keeps writing, He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.” My, my, my, God came to the rescue and Paul has no doubt that He will do so again because Paul worked by God’s calling and for His glory.

Only God can deliver from a deadly peril- not man, not intellect, not reason, not tears, not technology, not machines…not anyone or anything but God. Just because we exalt ourselves and man, it does not mean that either are capable of eternal results on their own.

Life is in the hand of our God. He is the One who is greater than deadly perils no matter what form or fashion they come in. Yes, we should give honor where honor is due and bless those who help us but always know men are instruments of the Holy, Almighty, All-Knowing and Sovereign God and He and He alone is our Deliverer, no matter what type deliverance we need. 

So again, as the Scriptures declare, “That we might not rely on ourselves” [or anyone or anything else] but God, who raises the dead [no matter who or what is dead]. Our loving Father, will bring us to seasons of suffering to help us know Him for Who He is, our Deliverer, Peace, Security, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, Life, Light, and Sufficiency. Praise His Holy Name! On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us…”

Psalm 121.png

To Know Jesus as Lord and Savior

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Eyes lifted to the Lord…

Psalm 123

To You I lift up my eyes,
    O You who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants
    look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
    to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    till He has mercy upon us. Psalm 123:1-2

These verses so put me in mind of John, chapter 6, when many of the people decided that Jesus’ teaching about feeding on His flesh and drinking His blood was a hard teaching and turned back (John 6). Afterward Jesus had a question for the twelve:

67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”  John 6:67-69

Peter got it right…

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.” 1 Timothy 2:5

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John 6.68-69

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Only one King

Romans-6-12

Romans 6:8-14 (ESV)
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

The above verses are such a encouragement to me. It is just so undeserving…this new life in Christ!

Now this I know, I have first-hand experience. Sin is a horrible master, it is never satisfied. You do what it calls for and it is not content. The tempter will show right back up with a new and greater opportunity.

With this in mind, verse 11 is an awesome blessing as I read my Father’s words, “So you also much consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (vs. 11).” I mean, there goes that mind thing again…I am to consider, think carefully about what God has spoken here and regard myself to dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. No man said that, it is God-breathed. My body and my mind do not have to be controlled by sin.

Before Christ, sin had control but Jesus died so my old nature could die and I could become a new creature in Christ. Jesus broke the power of sin and as a child of God I am to walk out this new life by surrendering my all to Christ.

Verse 12-13a gives clear instructions toLet not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness…”

It’s that word, “reign” that really gets my attention and causes me to rejoice…because it takes all the fight out about my allowing the flesh to have its way. It allows me to see how necessary this instruction is for my walk with Christ. 

I know it is a simple definition but when I see the word, reign, I immediately think rule, control, sovereign. When I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, I surrendered every bit of rule, control, sovereignty, authority to Him. It would be impossible to be surrendered to both sin and Christ. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not that I live a perfect life but believers are commanded to “present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”  

This verse tells me to present my entire being to God – body, soul, and spirit and then become His instrument. He is the Source and Power as I walk by His Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26)! This is absolutely my great blessing and honor- for the glory of God and my benefit. It is absolutely nothing we deserve BUT GOD…! And verse 14, gives us reason to know it is possible and rejoice:

“14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” As the song says, “I’m free, I’m free, no more chains holding me. Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! I’m free!”

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Romans 6.14

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Conquered by the blood of Jesus

Revelation 12.11

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Revelation 12:7-11

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

    but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  Hebrews 10:5-10

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The fear of the Lord

Ecclesiastes 12.13

I recently hear a sermon focused around “the fear of the Lord.” The sermon abounded in Scriptures regarding what God has said about fearing Him. The aim of the sermon was to encourage us to “draw near to God and He will draw near to you [us] (James 4:8)” for it is there that we will find peace, security, and hope.

How sad it is when we choose to run from God instead of drawing near for when we truly fear Him, we find that He is our refuge, fortress, sun, shield, present help, and all that we need. In fact, as the minister stated, running from God shows that we do not fear God enough. I am sharing some of the passages from the Book of Psalms that were used in the sermon and asking the Lord to help us all draw near in reverential fear, awe, honor and respect of Himself, the Holy, Righteous, Pure, Perfect, Almighty, Sovereign God and find our delight in Him.

Psalm 25:14
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant.

Psalm 31:19
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear You and worked for those who take refuge in You, in the sight of the children of mankind!

 Psalm 34:7
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.

Psalm 34:9
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack!

Psalm 103:11
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him;

Psalm 103:13
As a father shows compassion to His children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.

Psalm 111:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Psalm 112:1
Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments!

The Word of God is Truth and He is faithful to His Word! We have no reason to run and every reason to draw near.

Proverbs 1.9.jpg

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Psalm 71…so full of praise and encouragement

Psalm 71.14

Psalm 71 is just so sweet, like honey from the honeycomb…so much praise and exaltation to the Almighty, Sovereign, Creator God! Surely, the Holy Word brings light, life, hope and expectation.

In You, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
In Your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
    turn Your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
    to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
    for You are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

For You have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
    my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on You;
    You brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
    I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
    You are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with Your praise,
    declaring Your splendor all day long.

Do not cast me away when I am old;
    do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
10 For my enemies speak against me;
    those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
    pursue him and seize him,
    for no one will rescue him.”
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
    come quickly, God, to help me.
13 May my accusers perish in shame;
    may those who want to harm me
    be covered with scorn and disgrace.

14 As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise You more and more.

15 My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds,
    of Your saving acts all day long—
    though I know not how to relate them all.
16 I will come and proclaim Your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
    I will proclaim Your righteous deeds, Yours alone.
17 Since my youth, God, You have taught me,
    and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare Your power to the next generation,
    Your mighty acts to all who are to come.

19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
    You who have done great things.
    Who is like You, God?
20 Though You have made me see troubles,
    many and bitter,
    You will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
    You will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
    and comfort me once more.

22 I will praise You with the harp
    for Your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to You with the lyre,
    Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
    when I sing praise to You—
    I whom You have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of Your righteous acts
    all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
    have been put to shame and confusion. Psalm 71

Psalm 71.23

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The Turn indicator

James 4.8

“Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:7-8

We just finished Vacation Bible School and we were so blessed in the Lord! Our theme was “Flight School, Aiming High in Jesus”! One song that I particularly liked was “Sin is a Drag.” The children loved it as well for the motion was to lean to the side and go further and further down and come back to level and raise you hands up, up, and up!

Sin is a drag that will pull you down
Sin is a drag that will pull you down
Sin is a drag that will pull you down
But Faith (clap, clap)
Will lift (clap, clap)
You Up-
up, uP, UP!

But Faith (clap, clap)
Will lift (clap, clap)
You Up-
up, uP, UP!

The James passage gives us the same wisdom of God as the song. Draw near to God, resist the devil, humble yourself, repent- God will draw near and exalt us. What a loving, gracious, and merciful God He is!

One lesson was focused on trusting the instrument panel- trusting God and not leaning on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-7).  God has given us many instruments- the Person of the Holy Spirit (who is God), His Holy Word, Prayer- and these instruments give us indicators of our heart health.

To keep this post reasonable, I won’t go through all the indicators on the instrument panel but the one indicator that we as believers may need to pay a little more attention to is the “Turn Coordinator.”  The indicator that God speaks of in the James passage above. God speaks by His Spirit through His Word and prayer to tell us to turn and sometimes we keeping flying head on until we crash. 

Let’s be careful not to get caught on the notion that sin is relative and God’s Word is outdated…lies and deceit from the enemy of man’s soul. The wonderful, beautiful grace of repentance should be embraced by every believer and applied as often as needed in order that our hearts be cleansed. 

On the same night that repentance was part of our discussion, I came home and this article was in my reading. I thought it was a perfect illustration of an indicator saying turn and how obedience to do so resulted in God’s glory and blessed and benefited Derek Carr and others… and will continue to do so. Please do not let the word ‘tithing’ stop you from reading the article, the example speaks to the turn indicator. 🙂

Raiders’ Carr says tithing tops priority list

by Tim Ellsworth, posted Monday, June 26, 2017 (3 days ago)

NASHVILLE (BP) — When Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr signed a contract extension making him the highest paid player in NFL history, he was quick to identify one of his top priorities — tithing.

“The first thing I’ll do is I’ll pay my tithe like I have since I was in college getting $700 on a scholarship check,” Carr said at a June 23 press conference following the signing. “That won’t change.”

Carr and the Raiders agreed to a five-year, $125 million extension that will keep him in silver and black through 2022.

“First and foremost, I’m just blessed and honored to be sitting here today,” Carr said in his opening comments at the press conference. “I dreamed of this day when I was a little kid, and it’s here. I just thank God for this opportunity.”

An outspoken Christian, Carr said he was excited about the contract because he wanted to continue playing for the Raiders, and because of how he and his wife Heather would use the money.

“This money’s going to help a lot of people,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands, because it’s going to help people not only in this country but in a lot of countries around the world. That’s what’s exciting to me.”

The Raiders drafted Carr out of Fresno State in the second round of the 2014 draft. In three seasons with the team, Carr has established himself as one of the league’s elite passers. In 2016, he led Oakland to a 12-4 record with 3,937 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

His older brother David also played quarterback at Fresno State and was the top pick in the 2002 NFL draft by the Houston Texans. David retired from the NFL after the 2012 season.

Though he grew up in a Christian home, it wasn’t until college that Carr began to take his faith seriously, thanks mainly to a letter he received from Heather. They were just friends at the time, but Heather confronted Carr about his profession of faith that didn’t match up with his actions.

“He would say one thing but act the opposite way,” Heather said in a video produced by The Increase, an organization that shares the Christian testimonies of professional athletes. “He was talking about God and how much he loved God, and then I would see him going to the parties, hanging out with the girls.”

That letter from Heather was a wake-up call to Carr. He repented of the way he had been living, told his teammates that he had done a poor job of living the Christian life and pledged to be a better example to them going forward.

Lorne Bell, the area representative for the Fresno County Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was a teammate of Carr’s for two years and was there when Carr made that confession to the team in 2009. Bell said Carr apologized and asked his teammates to help keep him accountable in his relationship with Christ.

“This guy is real,” Bell remembers thinking. “I’ve seen that continue since he graduated. I know that Derek’s faith is genuine. He really loves the Lord. It’s not fake. It’s not for the cameras. God is number one in his life.”

Carr and Heather eventually began dating and then married in 2012.

Carr, whose grandfather was a pastor for more than 40 years, has a tattoo on his left wrist with the Scripture reference Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you’ — this is the LORD’s declaration — ‘plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'”

On his website, Carr says he wants to use football as a means of glorifying God and sharing his faith with others.

“Football is God’s gift to me and I am thankful he chose me to be the steward of this gift,” Carr writes. “Being a quarterback is what I do but it does not define who I am. I am first and foremost a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each time I step out on the field I play my heart out for the Lord.”

Tim Ellsworth writes for Baptist Press and is an associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
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James 4.7-8

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and if not, HE is still good

Daniel 3.18

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. Daniel 3:16-20

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Romans 5.5

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The Tabernacle

The Tabernacle 

26 “Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker. All the curtains are to be the same size—twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide. Join five of the curtains together, and do the same with the other five. Make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and do the same with the end curtain in the other set. Make fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other. Then make fifty gold clasps and use them to fasten the curtains together so that the tabernacle is a unit.

“Make curtains of goat hair for the tent over the tabernacle—eleven altogether. All eleven curtains are to be the same size—thirty cubits long and four cubits wide. Join five of the curtains together into one set and the other six into another set. Fold the sixth curtain double at the front of the tent. 10 Make fifty loops along the edge of the end curtain in one set and also along the edge of the end curtain in the other set. 11 Then make fifty bronze clasps and put them in the loops to fasten the tent together as a unit. 12 As for the additional length of the tent curtains, the half curtain that is left over is to hang down at the rear of the tabernacle. 13 The tent curtains will be a cubit longer on both sides; what is left will hang over the sides of the tabernacle so as to cover it. 14 Make for the tent a covering of ram skins dyed red, and over that a covering of the other durable leather.

15 “Make upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle. 16 Each frame is to be ten cubits long and a cubit and a half wide, 17 with two projections set parallel to each other. Make all the frames of the tabernacle in this way. 18 Make twenty frames for the south side of the tabernacle 19 and make forty silver bases to go under them—two bases for each frame, one under each projection. 20 For the other side, the north side of the tabernacle, make twenty frames 21 and forty silver bases—two under each frame. 22 Make six frames for the far end, that is, the west end of the tabernacle, 23 and make two frames for the corners at the far end. 24 At these two corners they must be double from the bottom all the way to the top and fitted into a single ring; both shall be like that. 25 So there will be eight frames and sixteen silver bases—two under each frame.

26 “Also make crossbars of acacia wood: five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, 27 five for those on the other side, and five for the frames on the west, at the far end of the tabernacle. 28 The center crossbar is to extend from end to end at the middle of the frames. 29 Overlay the frames with gold and make gold rings to hold the crossbars. Also overlay the crossbars with gold.

30 “Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.

31 “Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. 32 Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. 34 Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place. 35 Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lampstand opposite it on the south side.

36 “For the entrance to the tent make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer. 37 Make gold hooks for this curtain and five posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold. And cast five bronze bases for them. Exodus 26

Exodus 26

 

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Hope for today: righteousness, peace, and joy

Hope

17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:17-19

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