Come to Jesus

Where do you go? Is there someone you turn to when you have a need? Do you have a friend or relative that you rely on? Someone who is there with the answers you seek?  It is good to have a friend.  A special someone who will stick by you through thick & thin. Someone who understands you and knows how to pray for you.  A good friend is a gift from God.   I have a few friends like that.  I don’t know what I’d do without them!

hands of a friend

But…the best kind of friend will always point you to Jesus.  They will not try to be your answer.  They will take you by the hand and head straight for the Throne of Grace, the Mercy Seat.  They will cry out to Jesus on your behalf until you can cry out for yourself.

Jesus said, “Come unto me, …learn of me…”  (Matthew 11: 28-29 KJV)    and, “Come…drink of the water of Life freely.”  (Rev. 22:17)

Jesus is calling His people to come.  This is the day. This is the hour.  He wants to speak to YOU.  Are you near enough to hear the “still, small voice?”  He waits.  He is patient. But He is yearning for you and for me to come aside.

“Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves.”  Song of Solomon 7: 12

These are the yearnings of the Bridegroom for His Bride.  Yes!  To the Vineyard!  For he is the Vine and we are the branches.  Are we fruitful & flourishing?  You can’t find that out from a friend. You can only find that out from the Keeper of the Vineyard. The Lord Jesus, Himself!

If we look for our help or our sustaining from anyone or anything other than Jesus, we are not just making a mistake in judgement, but we are putting someone else or something else in the place He wants to occupy in our lives.

Look at Jeremiah 2:13.  He says that when we do that we are really commiting evil in His sight.

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

Think about it. Have you dug a place,  a well or a cistern, that has replaced Jesus as a place to get your drink?  Is it music? Is it a ministry or fellowship?  Is it work? Is it an author?  Or perhaps it is a food or a drink.  I get that, believe me. I have fallen into thinking that if I listen to worship music, it counts towards my devotional time. Don’t get me wrong, as a former worship leader, I know how powerfully musical worship can usher you into the Presence of God. That is why I use music at the end of each post here.   But, I have been guilty of using the music as a substitute for really meeting with Jesus.

Draw with joy

 

As I seek the Lord concerning the particular word I believe He gave me this year… “Devotion”…I am learning that it means simply…devotion to HIM.  Not just to my Bible reading time, or my journaling, or church attendence.  But spending “face time” with Him, and drinking deeply of the “fountain of living waters.”  I don’t want to substitute these worthwhile activites for time in His Presence, for, as Jesus told Martha, “One thing is needful and Mary has chosen that good part.”  (Luke 10:42 KJV)  She was sitting at His feet!

 

 

Let’s Pray:   Heavenly Father, help us to hear Your voice as you call us to come away with You. May we arise immediately in obedience. May we have ears to hear and hearts of devotion. May our greatest joy be drawing from Your well the living waters that You yearn to pour into us.  In Jesus’ name,

Amen

 

In the Arena

A dear friend requested prayer this week for a group of Christian teachers working in the public school “arena.” The various members of this group were experiencing strange mishaps and misadventures that were wreaking havoc in their lives and classrooms. Perhaps you would think that is was just coincidental that these friends and laborers with Christ were experiencing negative events in their lives all at the same time. Personally, I believe these things were happening as a concerted attack of the enemy.
As I began to pray for them the word and image of “arena” kept coming to my mind! I imagine that being a Christian teacher and working in a public school could very well feel like doing battle in the Colosseum of old. Fighting with one arm tied behind you and a gag in your mouth!

gladiator and lion

 

The Apostle Peter wrote:  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  1Peter 5:8

Yet this scripture leaps to mind..

1 John 4:4 (KJV)

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

It is hard sometimes to think of myself as a warrior or a soldier.  I’d rather curl up with a good book or even with a good movie, than get on my knees and intercede.  Yeah…confession time.  Lord, forgive me for being lax.

We are called to put on our armor and take up our sword,  and enter the “arena” of prayer for the saints.  Sword of the Lord

Read Ephesians 6 again:  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+6%3A10-18&version=KJV

He has equipped us for a reason, friends.  Time is short and the church must wake up and take her place in the end times.  The enemy is very subtle and would have us think that all this spiritual warfare is for the fanatics.  Well, if the Holy Spirit lives in you, He is there to lead you into all truth.  He knows what is needed even if you don’t. He will pray in you and through you, to accomplish His will in any situation.  Your assignment is to listen, believe, obey, and pray!

You are not alone in this quest, for you lean upon the arm of the Triumphant One.  The Christ who gave us the victory.

When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through the cross.  Col.2:15 Amplified bible

Yes!!  You are in the “arena!”  You are surrounded by a great cloud of witness, cheering for your victory from the heavenly balconies.  (Heb.12:1)  Fear not!!  The Lord is on your side! There is much work to be done!   We are learning to do battle in the arena of prayer!  We do warfare in the arena of praise!

Yes! There is a Lion!  The Lion of the Tribe of Judah!  Jesus Christ Himself!  He is the victorious One. We do our fighting from the protection of His refuge.  Not always free from trials and temptations. Not even always free from failures. But, we stand on the Word of the Living God and declare with St. Paul:  But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him.  2 Corinthians 2:14  AMP

Let’s Pray: Mighty Warrior, Lord of Hosts, We look to You, the Author and Finisher of our faith to work in us to will and to do Your good pleasure. To be used of You in prayer for the saints to accomplish your purposes in the earth and in Your Bride, the Church.  Strengthen us to the work of prayer in all wisdom and understanding and in the Spirit.  In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Here’s an old medley to encourage your faith!

Face to Face with God

Bible glasses

I am joining with my church family in a new Bible reading calendar. What a blessing it has been!  Though I have read the Bible through before, it seems very fresh this year. I am seeing new things every day.  I believe that He wants to speak to us like never before! If you haven’t committed to reading the Word every day, today is a good day to begin!  Jesus is waiting to meet you there…NOW!

Part of the reading for this week is in Psalms 42 & 43. Though I have read and even written about these Psalms before, suddenly, I saw something new!!  Look at this!  Here is Psalm 42:5

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. KJV  (note: This is God’s face giving help)

And here is verse 11:

11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.  KJV

And in Psalm 43:5  David repeats 42:11 almost word for word:  “The health of my countenance.”  (note: this is David’s face receiving health)

It is important to notice that the Hebrew word for both “help” and “health” are the same: yeshuwah! Salvation! (Yes! I was pretty much jumping up and down, and shouting, “Glory!”  when I discovered that!)

David was having some big trouble at the time he wrote these words.  He was admitting that he was discouraged and tempted to feel hopeless. I’m sure it showed on his face, just like it does on ours when troubles come. But David knew where to turn.  He turned his face toward his God!  Because he knew that God’s face was towards him!  And how did he know that?  Because he believed what he had heard all of his life!! (remember that the Bible calls David “a man after God’s own heart.” 1Sam.13:14; Acts 13:22)   Looking unto Jesus

Since childhood David had heard what we call today “The Aaronic Blessing” found in Numbers 6:23-27, that the Lord commanded to be spoken over His people regularly.

2And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 23 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,

24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:                                                                                                                  25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:                                                26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.                                                              27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them. KJV

David took God at His Word!  He understood and believed these words that God commanded to be spoken over His people.  He trusted that God meant them! These words are very meaningful in Hebrew.  Let’s look at how David probably understood them.

The word “bless” (“barak” in Hebrew)  means to kneel in deference; to adore.  The Lord (Jehovah) adores His people! He comes down to them in condescension. (Isn’t that exactly what “yeshuwah” Jesus did?)

“Keep”  (shamar)  means  means to hedge about: guard; protect.

“Face” and “Countenance” are the same word (paniym) meaning face.

“Shine”  (ore)  means to “illuminate” …to give understanding; and to be glorious

“Gracious” (chanan) means to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor; be merciful

“Peace” (shalom)  That lovely word refers to a welfare of peace, safety, and rest.

So, having an understanding of these beautiful words, and a faith that God meant every one of them, David knew where to turn His face.  Toward the God who commanded that His people be reminded daily that His own face would be shining upon them. That He would come down to them to guard and protect; to give them understanding; to be merciful; to give them peace and safety.

And more than this, David knew that, as he turned toward the “help” (salvation) of God’s countenance, he would receive the “health” (salvation) of his own.  What a treasured promise we have! The Lord is making His face to shine upon us! For salvation, understanding, protection, safety, mercy, favor, and peace.

The Lord’s face is ever upon you!  If you turn to Him you will receive the blessing He commands. Look to the Him! Trust that He means what He says!  He loves you, keeps you,  illumines you, favors you with mercy, and gives you peace!

The Lord wants to be face to face with you!     Have you had your face time with Jesus today?

Let’s pray: Father in Heaven, We are astonished that You have considered us worth gazing upon with such love.  Such love and grace is almost more than we can understand.  You have commanded that we be told of your desire to bless us, illumine us, guard us, and save us.   Help us, every day, to be “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2) that we might reflect His image back to You and to the world. In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

Here is a link to some good Bible reading plans      https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/?version=NIV

As you turn your face to Him today…

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Lifted Up!

Jesus said, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32 KJV  He was lifted up from the earth on the Cross of Calvary, yes, and He is available to all people.  But, how will they know this truth if we, who are His servants and followers, don’t lift Him up in all that we say and do?

Sunset Cross

I have been listening to Christian radio recently, and I have noticed something about the music.  A lot (not all, but a significant amount) of it has left out the central part of the Gospel…the name and work of Jesus Christ!  I was driving to church the other night, and switched on the radio for some “warm-up” music.  Three songs, and not one mentioned the name of Jesus!  The first song was a slow, lilting tune. Comforting words of peace and rest.  The next was an up-beat, toe-tapper calling us to come to the river and lay down our burdens, find rest for our weariness. That heaven would heal us!   Sounds great!  I want to go where they are and chill from this crazy life…but…I found myself waiting for them to sing the important part. Come on!  Sing it!  Say that it is JESUS!  I could even fill in His name and make it rhyme!  But, it just didn’t happen! No mention of Jesus, or the cross, or what that burden is that wearies us so…sin.

I wanted to shout, well, maybe I did shout a little at the radio!  “Tell them what that burden is they are carrying! Tell them why they are so weary!  Tell them about their sin, and the remedy for it! Tell them Jesus is the River!”  Heaven isn’t the healer!  Jesus is!!  Heaven is our destination and home, but Jesus takes our burdens and makes a way for us to be able to go to heaven.  The Cross of Calvary is where our burdens can be lifted and our hearts cleansed from the burden of sin.  After one is saved and cleansed, one has a better understanding of the “river.” And where to go with our burdens. But a “seeker” doesn’t know that.  They might liken it to a meditative state or use the music itself to soothe them and make them “feel” better, if they aren’t taught the gospel truth.

It is one thing for Christian entertainment (radio & concert music) to be lax in ministering the heart (the bare truth) of the gospel, but soon churches will be using this same music in their worship services because it is popular, and, after all, it is written by and for Christians, right? And, while I have always felt that music in the song service should be directed to God in worship, we can’t deny the fact that “seekers” learn a lot of their theology from the music in church.

I am afraid that we have allowed the religious version of political correctness to infect the church.  We are afraid to offend “seekers” by telling them they are sinners, and that they need a Saviour.  We speak comfortably to them about laying down their guilt…but we don’t tell them that they need to recognize and repent from their sin. We feel embarrassed to speak (or sing) about the purpose of the Cross, His broken body, or the Blood of Jesus in salvation.

You can’t come to heaven to get released…you can’t come to some resting place to lay down your burden and find peace…you must come to Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross to gain entrance to that place!  If we tell them there is rest for their souls, and healing for their bodies, but we don’t tell them exactly how to attain those things through Jesus, we are not adding “such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47)  We are really stealing their salvation! For there is no other door.  We are ministering “another gospel.” (Gal. 1:8)

God help us if we don’t “rightly divide the word of Truth” in all of our music and ministry. (2Tim.2:15)

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, How we need your Holy Spirit to help us to wait on our ministry. To make sure that we see the need to minister the whole truth, and not just the part that feels good to the “seeker.”  Help us not to be ashamed of the Gospel, the Cross, and the Blood of Jesus.  Help us to minister all of these liberally whenever and wherever we can so that all can come to the grace and knowledge of Your great salvation.  In Jesus name,

Amen!