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The heart of GOD

bowls-001

Studying the book of Revelation has been a trip.  Although not an artist, I find sketching and charting the scenes make them more real to me (even if my characters are comical, and they are).  However, we do have some artists in our group.  I Iove to see their sketches.  We are not just learning what will take place, but we are learning more about GOD our Savior.

Yesterday, as we examined the bowls of wrath.  Some, one being especially vocal, were horrified by the extent of what was happening.  So we stopped for a few moments to considered the question: Why would our loving Heavenly FATHER, GOD of love, do such things?  Scripture clearly indicates it was HIS doing (Revelation 16:9).

GOD loves good and hates evil.  Just as some things are too awful to look at, in the same way GOD cannot stand to look at evil.  That hatred of evil, I think is based on the harm it does.  It must be stopped completely.  An example shown in scripture is of the once most high and beautiful covering angel (Ezekiel 28:13-15), Satan now comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).  He went from good to bad, all because of wanting to be in control.

GOD loves HIS creation, therefore cannot allow sin to continue, for like bitterness (Hebrews 12:14), it defiles everything it touches.  It began in Satan as self will (doing things my way), and one day all the ones dedicated to self will, after many warnings, will no longer be able to see the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

As we studied, we found the reason for these judgments is much more than GOD’s righteous recompense for wrong actions.  Although it is definitely that, and all evil must be judged and rightly punished, it goes much, much deeper, deep into the heart of GOD, and shows us more of HIS nature.  GOD is using these judgments to teach angels (Ephesians 3:10), and by telling us to read about them, it seems like they are for a warning to us.  Then, there is GOD’s word.  HE keeps HIS word and does what HE says HE will do.  GOD must completely eradicate evil, in order to make good on HIS promise that affliction will not arise the second time (Nahum 1:9).

Think for a moment about your children.  When one initially did wrong, you gently tried to change their actions.  But if, after repeated efforts, they continued to defy you, you may have, like I have had to, take stronger measures to show them their wrong actions were not good, and could not be tolerated.  For sin, unpunished, leads to more sin.   Then if that didn’t do the trick, I had to take even stronger measures.  It grieved me greatly, but I did it to help them develop character, for their own good.  I did it also to protect the other children.  I didn’t do it because I wanted to harm them.  There was no desire in my heart to see them punished.  I didn’t hate them for what they did, but I did hate their actions.  I find that true of GOD as well (Ezekiel 18:23,32).

We have seen, throughout the book of Revelation, a term repeated over and over. That term is: “and they repented not”.  That term indicates that more than judgment is in view in the seals, the trumpets and the bowls.  It shows that under the righteous recompense, repentance was what GOD was after.  That means salvation was still being offered to them clear up to the end.  GOD is longsuffering with us because HE does not desire for any to perish but for all to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Peter 3:9).  Every time I read those words, and they repented not, I feel the grief of GOD.  I think of JESUS when HE wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44), “How often I would have gathered you under MY wings, but you would not!”

Acts 17:26-27 states GOD determined the exact times and places things would happen (that includes red lights, as well as the plagues of Revelation 16) for one specific purpose: that men would reach out to HIM.)

JESUS instructs us to be perfect, as our FATHER in heaven is perfect, and to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).
Show me Thy ways,
Teach me Thy paths,
Free me from all of my fears.
Trusting in You is so easy to do
As I see You as You really are.

CHORUS:
As You really are (God and King)
As You really are (Master of everything),  as You really are
Help me to see You, as You really are.
As You really are (Risen and living)
As You really are (Just and Yet forgiving)
As You really are
Help me to see You, as You really are
.

Only as we see JESUS as HE really is, are we changed by the HOLY SPIRIT into that likeness from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).  That is something GOD wants (Romans 8:29).  So, get in the word, ask the HOLY SPIRIT to show you more about JESUS, and HE will.

Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of my faith,

Hugs

Sharon

Guilty As Charged

We’ve all heard the question, “If you were on trial as a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Convicting evidence is plainly put forth in Scripture.

Jesus, in the conversation in the Upper Room with His disciples, laid down the two principles of evidence for the case.

  1. If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15). He that has My Commandments, and keeps them, he it is who loves Me (John 14:21). If a man loves Me, he will keep My words (John 14:23). He that loves Me not, keeps not My sayings (John 14:24).
  2. Love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another (John 13:34&35). Love one another (John 15:17).

The first evidence required to show that we are Christians is obedience to the known will of God – all He has made known to us in regard to Christian conduct for living holy lives. We can examine and judge ourselves by this evidence. The proof is in my keeping of His commandments.

And this is the foundation for being able to know other Christians by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-21) – one’s profession of Christianity is proved by obedience. Matthew is here giving us a means of protection against false teachers, false doctrines, or false professors of Christianity. “There is no true relationship with Christ without obedience to Christ,” Albert Barnes stated.

Love is made complete, matured, perfected, through obedience. When we love Him, we obey Him. By our obedience we reveal our love. Love and obedience manifest each other. We live up to our claim to be Christians and the evidence is evident to all.

These are not new precepts – to obey God or to love the saints. Old Testament law required both. They’re the same laws with new power. New is the grace through the indwelling Spirit to keep the commandments. He gives His power for our powerlessness; His strength for our weakness. The great power of grace is its ability to enable saints to obey God’s commands, to live up to our claim to be Christian by being Christlike. To walk and talk as He did and as He directs with no need of stumbling.

But have we ever struggled to obey the Lord’s command? To overcome temptation? To love a brother or sister in Christ? Of course we have. Temptations come. But they can’t overwhelm us. Grace gives us the strength to withstand temptation. Love for the Lord is a powerful purpose for standing strong. His unmerited love for you and me is a powerful incentive for our showing love to one another. We can obey His commands. He gives the orders, and He has in place the means for our obeying His commands.

Can there be obedience without love? Yes. We obey the speed limits without love for them. We are smart enough to obey the laws of gravity and appreciate them without any real love.

Can there be love without obedience? Yes. Many of us love our country but are willing to disobey its laws in order to stay true to the Lord.

But for the Christian, love and obedience are the evidence of our claim to belong to Christ, of our right standing in the sight of God.

Verifying evidence of whether or not you and I are truly Christian is obedience. Are you guilty? “I have made my choice forever ‘twixt this world and God’s dear Son.” Guilty as charged. And with honor.

Jamie Lucero

1 Timothy 1:17

 

How many chances?

2-grumpy-men

How many?

Talking to my LORD this morning concerning a person we both love, I asked, “How many 2nd chances (new beginnings) are there, LORD?”

JESUS answered immediately with a verse.” seventy times seven” (a Hebrew idiom meaning= times without number).  That verse deals with forgiveness, and that is what second chances are, forgiving of the past and beginning anew.

Wow! I know its nothing new, but what a refreshing reminder!

When Peter asked JESUS that very same question (Matthew 18:22), he put a number by it- seven times.  Actually, Peter was really being really generous, for the Rabbinical rule (taken from Amos 1:6) stated that you were to forgive three times period.

But, JESUS took the question out of the sphere of the law (what must be done under the old covenant), and transferred it into the realm of grace (the new covenant), where there is always mercy and grace to help in times of need (Hebrews 4:16).  Grace is a realm where nothing is impossible.

So, until time is no more, (and that day is fast approaching), if you go to GOD, you will find another chance.

I think the quote from Martin Luther applies. “A Christian is at one and same time a sinner and righteous person.  He is sinner in fact, but righteous person by the sure reckoning and promise of GOD that HE will continue to deliver him from sin until HE has completely cured him.  So he is totally healthy in hope, but sinner in fact.  He has the beginning of righteousness, so always continues more and more to seek it, while realizing he is always unrighteous.”

‘For by one offering, HE (JESUS), has perfected forever, all those HE (JESUS) is making holy” (Hebrews 10:14).  That me and you, if you believe in HIM.

I am so glad for another chance, aren’t you?

Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

Hugs
Sharon

What are you looking at?

control

My husband does not like to ride in a car with another driving.  He prefers having control of the wheel.  Most of us, like him, want control over the things that happen to us.

Two weeks ago we entered 2017, a new year full of potential.  Many unknown events lie ahead of us that we have absolutely no power to control.  But, whatever comes, GOD has promised to be with us, and to help us (Hebrews 12:5-6).  And HE cannot lie Numbers 23:19).

However, even with all the unknowns, we have been given control over two things, our focus (what we look at) and our attitude.  The first, what we choose to look at and think about, will determine the second, our attitude.  Our choice, will define whether we have peace and joy, or struggle with discontent and anger.  Our focus will regulate whether we cope in troubles, or fall apart.

If we renew our minds in the Word of God, HIS thoughts and perspectives influence our own. As we agree with those thoughts, they become a part of our belief system and affect the words we speak and the way we behave. Soon, our lives will begin to resemble the truth we fill our hearts and minds with.

But if neglect GOD’s word and listen to the world around us, it will be a totally different story.

Three weeks ago we celebrated our LORD JESUS CHRIST’s birth, let’s now consider –JESUS attitude when HE came to earth. It is an attitude we are told to emulate every day of the year.

Let this attitude that was in CHRIST JESUS be in you.
who didn’t grasp at HIS rights
but laid aside HIS power and glory, and took the very nature of a servant,
humbled HIMSELF and became obedient unto death even the death of the cross.

(Philippians 2:5-8)

1-The word says Let–allow-it won’t just happen. I must allow the word of GOD to motivate me, and deliberately choose to adopt HIS attitude over any snide innuendoes from the enemy. And believe me the liar will sound pretty convincing!

2-If I take this command of GOD seriously, I will NOT be saying “it isn’t fair!”  What in JESUS’ life on earth was fair?

3- I won’t balk at cleaning up a mess someone else made. JESUS who knew no sin, became sin that we might be made righteous in HIM.  HE has and does clean up our messes.

4- I won’t refuse to carefully consider the suggestions of someone less experienced, less educated, or less trained than me.  JESUS- ONE of the eternal triune GODhead, Creator of heaven and earth- was raised by poor uneducated Joseph and Mary.  The eternal GOD, the LORD of hosts submitted to them and did what they said.

5- I will not hesitate to quickly obey the clear directives GOD gives both in HIS word and through HIS nudges.

For it is GOD who places in me (1) to will (motivation, a knowing I should do this) and (2) the ability to do according to HIS good purpose (Philippians 2:13).
Therefore, I will work out into my daily life- that which GOD places within me (Philippians2:12).

Are you, am I, deliberately turning to look at, and to GOD?  If we do, we will learn to see differently.  Are we choosing to renew our minds daily in the Word of God?  Are we allowing HIS thoughts and perspectives to influence our own? If so, we are step by step, being transformed to resemble our GOD, and actually share in HIS divine nature, just as HE says will happen in HIS word (2 Peter 1:1-4, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 12:1-2).

What ate you looking at?

Looking unto JESUS the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

Hugs
Sharon

Life Group

no-grandma-sebastian

Sometimes programs do work like you want them to.

Did you know you are being programed just like a computer?

This weekend begins the winter small groups at FWC.  I want to invite you to the 13 week DVD series by Del Tackett called “The Truth Project”.  We will meet in the café area of FWC on Tuesday mornings at 11am.

Have  you ever wondered where people come up with some of the crazy ideas that they have?  By going through this DVD series I got some answers as to where their off the wall idea came from.  You see, we all have been programed, just like a computer by what bombards us in the media, schools and through our peers.  We are being indoctrinated day in and day out.  So we need to take a good look at what we believe and how it lines up with the WORD of GOD.  Our beliefs are the basis for making daily decisions, therefore. They are extremely important.

An apple sitting on a table is seen by several people. A botanist looking at the apple classifies it. An artist sees a stilllife and draws it. A grocer sees an asset and inventories it. A child sees lunch and eats it. How we look at any situation is influenced by how we look at the world at large.

As a man thinks (places value, estimates as true, reasons) in his heart, so is he (so he responds in life). Proverbs 23:7

With all diligence, keep your heart (protected), for out of it (it’s reasonings, values) issue (comes forth) actions.  Proverbs 4:23

Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

Hugs

Sharon Manning

Hiding my head in the sand?

bury-head

picture by Martin Surl

Ostriches are amazing flightless birds that have been clocked as running 43 MPH. They have some quirks, one leading to the idiom bury your head in the sand (which means to ignore, or hide from obvious signs of danger). It alludes to an ostrich, which is believed (incorrectly) to hide it’s head in a hole in the ground when it sees danger. Actually, when lying down and hiding from predators, the birds lay their heads and necks flat on the ground, making them appear like a mound of earth from a distance, aided by the heat haze in their hot, dry habitat. This defensive behavior of lying low makes them appear from a distance to have their head buried.
As I soaked in the tub, I was reading a fiction historical novel, by a  Christian author, about the times just before, and during JESUS CHRIST’s life. Graphic details given, triggered thoughts that were not good. So, I gave those thoughts to GOD, shut the book and later took it back to the library.

I opened an email from a dear, dear friend and it contained slurs about people, that although may be true, at least in part, it directed my thoughts where they should not go (to think and act by human standards and not GOD’s). So, I deleted the email.

The book of Revelation, that I am teaching, is jam packed with stuff one might want to ignore.  But, GOD’s word is true and will happen, therefore we need to pay attention to it and act accordingly.

Many will call me closed minded, or burying my head in the sand because I chose to use the Bible as my standard. Actually, I am just following GOD’s instructions.  HE made the world and everything in it and knows all things past, present and even future so HE is the only ONE qualified to give directions..

GOD honored my shutting that book, and deleting that email, by confirming my choices as I read HIS words in Matthew 6:22,23 about how the eye is the lamp that gives light to the body.  “If what I look at, think about (take in and mull over) is pure (undefiled) then I will have all the light I need to see clearly and show me the way I should go. But if what I look at ,and think about is defiled by human standards and values, I am in total darkness. And won’t know what way to go.

The word all in those verses, for both cases, shook me for a moment. Just a little bit of human standard defilement brings in darkness, clouds things so much, it will throw off my perspective to the degree that I don’t know the right way to go. Must be why GOD urges us not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed (metamorphized- you know like to change from a caterpillar to a butterfly) by the renewing of our minds; that we may test and approve the good, acceptable and perfect will of GOD (Romans 12:2).

That verse really shows how important what we focus on is. We need to recognize the bad, but focus on the good.

So where do you, where do I go to get our perspective? Is it the wisdom of this world found in the media, or the wisdom hidden in CHRIST and found in HIS word the Bible?  Whose outlook do we choose to live by? As for me, I choose to live by the wisdom found in GOD’s word.

Looking unto JESUS the Author and Perfecter of my faith

Hugs
Sharon

 

Deer stunned by headlights

deer-in-the-headlights

Wanting to get to California to see my mom, we were driving along the highway at night.  Being very tired we were startled when, seemingly out of nowhere, there was this deer in the middle of the mountain road.  He just stood there like a statue, frozen in place, looking directly at us.  By breaking, swerving, and praying, we were barely able to miss him.

Have you ever been baffled when trying to explain something, that seems simple and crystal clear to you, but the other person looked like a deer staring into headlights (seems confused, and clearly without a clue as to what you are talking about)?

That happened in a class I was teaching last week, when someone visited for the 1st time.  Without the background information we have gathered (laying line on line- Isaiah 28:9-10) from the 1st 12 chapters, the lesson could seem confusing, perhaps even baffling.  I was so glad for the warm coffee, and yummy Christmas treats, so the gal at least could enjoy them.

Why is there confusion?  Why can’t people always understand what is being said?  Well, it all began back when people wanted to do their own thing.  Just like us today, huh?  They thought staying put was a better plan, than venturing out, as GOD told them to do.  They flat refused to obey the Almighty Creator, so in order to get the job done according to HIS specific plan and purposes, GOD confused their languages (Genesis 11:1-9).

It is important to listen and act when GOD tells us something.  For when we turn away from what GOD has shown us, wanting to do or see things our own way, we have literally turned our back on GOD.  We are facing the dark, the light is behind us.  We are walking in the dark, but generally don’t know it.  In this state, we can easily stumble.

Those who turn back, coming to JESUS, are given light (understanding).  As we seek HIM, our understanding grows by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT (2 Corinthians 3:18).  But even then, we know in part (1 Corinthians 13:12).

“Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see and ears to hear, unto this day.” Deuteronomy 29:4  “The secret (or hidden) things belong to our GOD; but the things that are revealed (made clear to us) belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all ( GOD has for us to do)…” Deuteronomy 29:29

Then, there are the times, for whatever reason, GOD hides things from us.

“But their eyes were held that they should not know HIM” (Luke 24:16).  That word held in the Greek text speaks of a superior power hindering them from recognizing something.  That reveals to us, that GOD- (the Giver of all good things), when HE chooses, can refuse to give us the ability to see things as they really are. In other words HE can block our understanding if there is a purpose in it (for GOD does nothing without a just and good reason -see Ezekiel 14:23).  We can rest in those times knowing that HE promises to reveal anything we need to know (Deuteronomy 29:29).

But more often, for us who believe in JESUS, it is the other way around. “…their eyes were opened” Luke 24:31  “Then JESUS opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24:45

Yes, even our ability to see, to hear, to understand things as they really are, is a pure gift from GOD.

Therefore, like Paul, we need to ask for GOD to open the eyes of our understanding (Ephesians 1:18) as we go into this new year.

I often seek understanding with the song: Open the Eyes of My Heart LORD
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vnqb7Vn4AEE
Open the eyes of my heart LORD.  Open the eyes of my heart, I want to see You, I want to see You.
Open the eyes of my heart LORD.  Open the eyes of my heart, I want to see You, I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up, Shining in the light of Your glory. 

Pour out Your Power and Love as we sing Holy, Holy, Holy.
Holy, Holy, Holy.  Holy, Holy, Holy.   Holy, Holy, Holy I want to see You

So, if others are baffled by what seems so clear to you, pray that their eyes be opened too.

Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

Hugs
Sharon