Friday, 30 October 2015

Does Something About God Offend You?

Who is God?

And the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside. The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples, and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, "Are you the Messiah we've been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?"

John's two disciples found Jesus and said to him, "John the Baptist sent us to ask, 'Are you the Messiah we've been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?'"

 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 
So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”   Luke 7:17-23

John the Baptist and the Jewish nation expected a Messiah who would drive out the Romans and make them into a great nation. But Jesus had been preaching for a long time and had not said anything about the Romans. Even though John had heard a voice from heaven when he baptized Jesus, he wondered if he had made a mistake.

God is sometimes not the God we thought he was. We can have what they call a "crisis of faith."  We wonder if we have made a mistake. God doesn't do the things we think he should do. We can become offended by God. 

A lot of believers go through this. I just finished reading, Faith Unraveled, by Rachel Held Evans. She began to question what she had been taught about God. She wasn't sure she wanted a God like that. 

It is good to question our beliefs. There are so many different doctrines in the churches that we can learn wrong things about God. We have to study for ourselves and ask for God to lead us. We can ask him what this or that verse might mean and he will light up our minds.

The doctrine of the Messiah in John's day was mistaken. The verses in the Old Testament about Jesus' second coming were mixed up with the verses of his first coming. 

What was Jesus' advice to John? Look at Jesus, and then judge. Was he acting righteous? Was he fulfilling some of the prophecies? Yes, he was. Then Jesus said something very important, "Blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

Let us not be offended by God or Jesus. Keep searching; never give up. You will find him,... "when you search for him with all your heart."  Jeremiah 291:13

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

God's Priorities.

Who is God?

Jesus said, "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?"  Matthew 16:26

God's  #1 priority is your soul and its salvation. He wants you to be with him forever in heaven. He wants to be your friend, your father and your God.

Who am I?

I've always wanted to live in heaven. When I was a little girl, I would look at the skies and hope I would see Jesus coming back in the clouds as he said. 

My first mother-in-law was frustrated with me because I became a Christian. She once asked, "Why do you want to be a Christian anyway?  I said, "Eternal life?"  She didn't have an answer for that and I couldn't understand how anyone could not care about it.  Now that I know God better I think I would have said, "Living forever with God," because I'm so excited about meeting him.

Say a person becomes a big success in their career. They buy everything they want, travel anywhere they want and they do anything they want. They are still going to die one day and all that is worth exactly nothing. I think this is what Jesus meant. 

Some people don't want to follow Jesus because they are afraid of what God may want them to do. But they need not fear. After you give your life to God your mind becomes closer and closer to his mind. You will want to do what he wants you to do. It's a daily comittment; God doesn't expect any of us to become perfect right away. Life becomes a school where we constantly learn about God and how to do things for others.

Jesus said, "I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me."  John 17:21

Sunday, 25 October 2015

7 Things I Like About Being 65.

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I joined a bunch of people in a blog fest where you share a list of anything; so, here goes:

 7 Things I Like About Turning 65.

1. At 65, I find it easier to  rejoice in small things, such as waking up in the morning and thinking, "I'm still here?!"

(You have to understand I grew up in the 1950s when 65 was considered OLD. People dropped dead right after they retired, which made the government very happy.)

2. At 65, you never run out of things to talk about, namely: your health. My mom and I have more in common than ever. Just yesterday, Mom walked in the door and said, "I'm feeling a little shaky today." I came back with, "That's a coincidence, my legs are wobbly."

(Score: 1 - 1, although the fact she has to use a cane pretty well trumps anything I have to say.)

3. At 65, my children and grandchildren look on me as a source of wise counsel.
    (Ha! Just joking. They are keeping an eye out for an ice floe with my name on it.)

4. At 65, I've learned I have less to buy. Recently, I looked in a cupboard and saw 4 boxes of staples. I thought, "I'm sure I'll be dead before I run out of these."

5. At 65, I don't have to cook Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners anymore. My daughters and grandchildren do it all while Mom and I sit in the living room being old.

6. At 88, my mother is healthier than I am. I've always told my mother I would take care of her in her old age. Now I'm thinking, maybe we could go to a rest home together! I'd have an instant roomie.

7. At 65, my husband still loves me. Amazing, but true.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Follow Me.

A pilot truck leads vehicles through the fire zone.

Who is God?

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them...   When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”  Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”  John 21:20-22

God's advice to us is to keep our eyes on him; he knows if we don't we can get sidetracked and lose our way.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Matthew 16:24

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."  John 10:27

Who am I?

Peter was always looking around at other people. I have the same problem.

I think about my family, all the in-laws, those in the news, the people I meet online and in books. I  want everyone to be saved so I start worrying. I pray for these people and then look for signs they have heard the voice of God in their hearts. It is hard for me to leave people's salvation in the mighty hands of God.

When I feel sad about someone I love, I find that looking at Jesus lifts me up. I then feel hope and happiness. It is hard to look at Jesus and feel bad! God keeps reminding me to keep my eyes on Jesus and I'm thankful for this.

If we keep our eyes on Jesus we will learn from him how to live and we will learn how to trust in God the Father as he did.

Monday, 19 October 2015

God is Fun.

Who is God?

He is the creator of pleasure.

I heard in a sermon today that Eden means, "pleasure" or "delight." I hadn't known that, and it made me smile.

"For a meaning of the name Eden, The NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Delight, Pleasantness
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names renders Paradise, A Place Of Delight."

I would guess most people don't think of God as a God of pleasure, but he is. Think of how a beautiful sunset, a roaring ocean or a mountain covered in snow makes you feel. Pleasure. Delight. More and more, I think of God as a poet, an artist and a being who just loves life and loves to share it all. He created sexual union, which is one of the greatest pleasures. He could have made sex happen with no physical feeling at all; instead he made it an act of ecstacy.

When he gave us sex, he gave us the ablility to create our own children; he shared his creative power with us. Think of the joy a mother and father have when they first see their child. This is how God must have felt when he made the angels and Adam and Eve. He made the world for them and then he gave them a special garden to live in called, "Pleasure." Amazing. An amazing God.

When Psalm 16:11 says there are, "eternal pleasures at your right hand," I can't wait to find out what they are. I have lots of pleasure here, but I'm sure it is much better in heaven when we see him face to face.

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."  Psalm 16:11

"So don't be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom." Luke 12:32

"The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love." Psalm 147:11

"The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives."  Psalm 37:23

For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4

"For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God."  John 16:27

"For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul."  Proverbs 2:10

Who am I?

Since I thought God wasn't too happy with me for most of my life, I didn't equate him with pleasure. My bad! I had a dream about 6 years ago. Jesus and I were riding on two black horses. We were riding very fast. He was laughing and so was I. I looked over at him, his hair was flying back with the wind and he looked so happy. Then, as I turned and looked ahead, our horses grew great black wings and we flew up and up... I knew we were headed towards heaven. 

I think God gave me this dream to show me he is a God who wants me to enjoy his company; and he wanted to show me that he enjoyed my company too. When I am in heaven, I'm going to ask Jesus to go horseback riding with me. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Cheating People? A Terrible Sin in God's Eyes.

Who is God?

"This is what the LORD of Heaven's Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”  

"Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing."   Zechariah 7:9-11

Jesus said, "Yet they (religious rulers) shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished."
Mark 12:40

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."   James 1:27

Who am I?

My grandmother, who was poor, was cheated out of the bulk of her father's estate by the banker. God saw what that rich man did and I wouldn't want to be him in the judgement.

My mother was cheated by her sister out of an estate. She could have fought it in court, but decided to let it go and trust God. God has taken care of my mother very well.

The man who ran the food bank in my town stole all the money that was donated. He robbed from the poor.

I love the laws, or rules, of God. The result of obeying them brings happiness to everyone. Sometimes people who believe the laws of the 10 commandments still apply are called, "legalistic." That can be true if a person relies on obeying them to be saved. We are not saved by anthing good we do.

But, looking at the law, you can see the love of God clearly. He doesn't want us to hurt anyone and he doesn't want us to love the world. The only way to do that is by obeying the first commandments, which tell us to worship and believe in God. He will keep us from hurting people and loving the world.

Jesus said, "Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you."  1John 2:15

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Look and Live.

Who is God?

Jesus said:
"As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."John 3:14-18

After snakes had entered the camp of Israel, Moses lifted up a pole that had a sculpture of a snake on it. God told the people if they would look at the snake they would live. Some looked and were cured of snake bites, those who did not look died. Why did God do something so strange?  What was the lesson?

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
The people in the wilderness bitten by the fiery serpents, the poison-virus spreading through their veins, and causing burning pain, torpor, and death—this was symbolic of the world lying in the misery, restlessness, and spiritual death, which came from the Serpent’s victory in Paradise. 

The serpent of brass lifted up by Moses, in which the sufferer saw the means of recovery determined by God, and was healed by faith in Him—this was symbolic of the means of salvation determined by God for the world.

MacLaren's Expositions
So here we have Christ accepting, as well as discerning, the Cross. And we have more than that. We have Christ looking at the Cross as being, not humiliation, but exaltation. ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up.’ And what does that mean? It means the same thing that He said when, near the end, He declared, ‘The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified.’ We are accustomed to speak-and we speak rightly-of His death as being the lowest point of the humiliation which was inherent in the very fact of His humanity. He condescended to be born; He stooped yet more to die. But whilst that is true, the other side is also true-that in the Cross Christ is lifted up, and that it is His Throne. For what see we there? The highest exhibition, the tenderest revelation, of His perfect love. And what see we there besides? The supreme manifestation of the highest power.

Paul writes, "God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."  2 Cor. 5:21

There is so much to learn about God in these verses.

1. He loves us so much he gave his Son to us. Forever. He is called the Son of God, but also the Son of Man.

2. All we have to do as a Christian is keep our eyes on Jesus. We are not saved by anything we do. We look at Jesus through the Bible and talk with him thru prayer. This is how faith starts and ends. We are saved by faith in the Son of God.

3. God went through hell for us. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Hell is the second death. Jesus went through that on the cross. That is why he cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." He went through the second death in his mind. He felt hell, which is being separated from God for eternity. It is not endless suffering, as some people teach about hell. If it was, then Jesus could have never left the cross.

4. God does not want to condemn the world. He loves the world. He wants to draw all to him so they can be saved. It is true he will one day judge the world; he must decide who is safe to take to heaven. Those who hurt people will not be allowed in. They would continue to do evil in heaven as they do it here. They would also hate heaven, because nothing inside them would be attracted to what is done there. They would not want to praise God and live in love and peace.

Okay, this is a looong post. But hey, it explains the plan of salvation! You can't do that in a few sentences, although I guess that is just what Jesus did.

Who Am I?

I am someone who thought I had to be a good girl (perfect, actually) to be saved. Of course I lived in fear of God because of that. It took many years for me to understand Jesus did it all and does it all. I have no need to worry about being perfect. If God wants me to be perfect, it is up to him to do it to me. I am happy in his love and acceptance of me. All I have to do is look and live.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

How Does God Speak to People who Disobey Him?

Who is God?

I was reading Genesis and it struck me how God deals with people who have disobeyed him. He always gives them a chance to talk with him about it. He doesn't come rushing in angry and yelling; he gives them a chance to confess and explain and ask for his help and forgiveness. Here are a few examples of how he treated people.

Genesis 3

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  (of course God knew where they were)
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 4
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
The Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 

1 Kings 19:9

Elijah ran away from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. He was frightened for his life. Elijah usually only went where God told him to go. Not this time. 

"There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'"  
Elijah was a Godly man and he talked with God about what he had done.

Matthew 26:

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him." 
Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him. Jesus replied, "Do what you came for, friend." 

 Jesus calls Judas his "friend."  He told Judas at the last supper he knew he was going to betray him; yet even now he now calls him a friend. He is still hoping Judas will confess and ask for forgiveness. But apparently, Judas' heart couldn't be persuaded by Jesus' love.

God gave all these people a chance to explain themselves. I think how God talks with people shows who he is. He isn't some scary guy looking for us to make a mistake and toss us aside. He is continually looking for ways to talk with us. He loves us so much he will keep trying to reach people until their hearts are too hard to even hear him anymore. That's who God is.

Who am I?

I'm like Elijah. I'm afraid of a lot of things. I've tried running, but God always finds me. He is always good to me and infinitely patient. 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

God Cares About the Poor.

Palace in Jerusalem

Who is God?

God is speaking through Jeremiah to Jehoiakim, king of Judah.
“Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness,
his upper rooms by injustice,
making his own people work for nothing,
not paying them for their labor.
He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace
with spacious upper rooms.’
So he makes large windows in it,
panels it with cedar
and decorates it in red.
“Does it make you a king
to have more and more cedar?
Did not your father have food and drink?
He did what was right and just,
so all went well with him.
He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?”
declares the Lord.

“But your eyes and your heart
are set only on dishonest gain,
on shedding innocent blood
and on oppression and extortion.”

Jeremiah 22:13-17

I love verses like this about God. The Bible is full of them from beginning to end. He hates it when people oppress the poor. I think the only thing that makes him angrier is when the people burned their children alive to idols. If you want to know why God told Israel to annihilate some nations, that was only one of the reasons.

Who am I?

I'm one of those pesky poor and needy people. I know what it is like to be on welfare when my first husband and I split up. I know what it is like when your bread winner loses his/her job. I know what it is like not to be able to pay bills. I know what it is like to be evicted because you can't pay the rent. I know what it is like to live in a car. I know how good a dumpster can look when you have no food.

So, I love the fact that all through the Bible God calls on people to help the poor. 
That is the God who made the universe.
That is the God who loves us.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Falling in Love with God."

The first time I read Song of Solomon I thought, "Why is this crazy poem in the Bible? What does it have to do with God?"  I couldn't figure it out so I asked God what it meant.  A thought came into my mind, "This is how I want you to love me."

Whoa, that hadn't crossed my mind. As far as I could see, Solomon was in love with this girl and wooed her by saying stuff like,

"Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin; not one of them is alone." 
( I guess she didn't have any missing teeth, which was a bonus in those days.)

I thought about myself falling in love and what it is like. I remember thinking about my boyfriend for hours during the day. I was constantly wondering what he was doing; I couldn't wait to see him after work and then have the whole weekend together. I was full of happiness when I was with him. That's what I saw in Song of Solomon. But how was I going to feel like that about God?

I  have always prayed, "Help me to love you with all my heart, soul and strength and my neighbor as myself." Love has been my goal for many years. But I had to be honest, I didn't have a "feeling" of love for God very often. 

A few weeks ago, I listened to some talks by Ty Gibson. He talks about how God loves us like no one else I have ever heard. After listening for some days, I finally got it. I finally believed God loved me. He really loved me.

I'd known that in my mind, but never in my heart. I believed the Bible when it told me God is love and God loves you; but I always had a sneaking suspicion that he was only putting up with me because he had to. I thought I was a big disappointment to him.

But here comes the great surprise. The greatest surprise of all. When I believed God did love me, I finally had that amazing feeling of falling in love with Him. I just love talking with him, thinking about him and spending a whole day alone with him. 

I know why that happened. If you don't believe someone likes you, then you hold back. You keep your distance. You don't trust. How could I love someone I didn't trust? 

So, now I'm in love with God.  Amazing.

Here are a few of my favorite verses from Song of Solomon.

The girl Solomon loves is speaking here: 

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.

Strengthen me with raisins,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.
His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me.

Listen! My beloved!
Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.

Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattice.

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.

Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

I now see Jesus, running through the forest to my house; he's looking through my window, knocking on my door, asking me to come away with him to heaven. 

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"  Revelation 22:20

Here is where you can find some of Ty Gibson's talks. "An Endless Falling in Love," is one of the best.