Putting God's Word into Practice…

Are You Lifting Your Soul to What is False or to God?

Subtle lies have been seeping into my mind and slowly altering my emotions and actions over the past several weeks.  “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not thin enough,” I don’t measure up,” “I don’t have anything to offer,” “No one likes me,” “I’m failing as a mom,” “My clothes are outdated and too tight,” “My house is too small and not decorated nicely,” etc…  Instead of taking the time to correct the lies with truth and turn to the Lord for forgiveness, comfort and peace, I’ve been walking in discontentment, condemnation and shame by listening to the accusations of the Enemy.

Before I started my quiet time with the Lord, I finally humbled myself and asked for help to change and overcome these lies.  I started reading Psalm 24 (because it was Dec. 24).  Who shall ascend to the hill of the LORD? Who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, WHO DOES NOT LIFT UP HIS SOUL TO WHAT IS FALSE and does not swear deceitfully. (vs. 3-4)  I thought, “Yes! That’s me!  I’ve been lifting my soul up to what is false.”  When I studied this phrase deeper, the word “idols” replaced “what is false.”  Ouch!  All along I thought I was the victim, when in fact I was making myself no more than a shiny gold statue!  Fixating on my image, my reputation, my happiness is idolatry–life is all about me!  No matter how much I shine myself up, I will never be God and I will never be worthy of worship.

The worst part is that this lie-based idolatry was keeping me from God’s presence.  I couldn’t be near to Him.  If I truly desire to be in God’s presence, I’ll do whatever it takes to seek Him and His face.  I will replace lies with truth.  I will fix my eyes on the Lord and not on me.  I will look for ways to love others instead of trying to love myself more.

Matthew Henry wrote this about those who can be in God’s presence:  “They are such that do not set their affections upon the things of this world…whose hearts are not carried out inordinately towards the wealth of this world, the praise of men, or the delights of sense, who do not choose these things for their portion, nor reach after them, because they believe them to be vanity, uncertain and unsatisfying.”  Chasing after physical beauty, financial stability, material possessions, personal glory is like chasing the wind.  They will all fade; they will never be enough.  The Lord is my chosen portion (Psalm 16:5a).  He is always enough.  He truly satisfies.

Leave a comment »

Revelation 20 ~ Hard Truth

This chapter feels like a mystery/action movie with one too many twists or battle sequences.  Or like a “good” horror movie: when it feels like the movie is over and evil is defeated, the villain reaches out and grabs the leg of its victim one last time.  The comeback is short-lived as “good” delivers a final blow!

Satan is referred to as the dragon, the ancient serpent, and the devil, but his goal is always the same: to deceive!  At the beginning of this chapter, Satan is bound and sealed in a bottomless pit.  Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth and reigns for 1,000 years.  Can you imagine life on earth without the devil prowling around deceiving all of mankind and with Jesus tangibly at the center of all things?!  The problem is that humans have free will!  Our hearts are desperately wicked!  Even in a perfect environment, being ruled by a perfect King–people will choose to rebel against Jesus and try to make their own way.  At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released from captivity and start deceiving again.  Revealing the rebelliousness of hearts, he will raise up an army of unbelievers who would rather follow Him than side with a Savior.  But just like the villain making one last run at his victim in a movie, Satan will be crushed.  He will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur and “be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (vs. 10)

I wish that was the end of the story, but there is one more event–one that gives a lot of company to Satan in the lake of fire–one that sentences many to eternal torment and total separation from God–the great white throne judgment.  This is where all the dead from all time will stand before God’s throne and be judged “according to what they HAD done.”  No more chances–the past will finally catch up with them.  Those who spent their whole lives refusing God’s grace and salvation will have to give an account before the Lord, and it will be too late to change their minds. “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (vs. 15)  

So what does any of this mean for me:

  1. Satan was defeated at the cross, but not bound!  Therefore, he is roaming, prowling, deceiving, destroying, devouring, killing, stealing all day long (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10).  I need to be alert, on guard, sober and watchful!
  2. I know my name is written in the Lord’s Book of Life.  I have received Christ as my Savior and surrendered my life to Him.  My sins are forgiven because of His sacrifice, grace, mercy and forgiveness.  I need to walk out my life in accordance with this miracle!  I must be diligent to love God and others, to disciple and teach people to obey God, to aim for holiness in my thoughts and actions, to “do” God’s Word.  I only have so much time and I need to be faithful!  “Only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
  3. Many, many people will choose to reject the good news of salvation through Jesus–thinking they don’t need saving and that there is nothing to be saved from.  But in order to reject something, it must be heard. And how will they hear if no one proclaims (Romans 10:14-15). I have a responsibility to “each day proclaim the good news that He saves,” (Psalm 96:2b) to “rescue those who are being taken away to death,” (Proverbs 24:11a), and to “save others by snatching them out of the fire.” (Jude 1:23a)
Leave a comment »

Revelation 12 ~ Satan Is…

Recently I was harsh and snarky with my sons.  I wasn’t really mad at them but at some other situation. They were just closest ones on whom to take out my anger.  It is like that with Satan.  He is really angry at God, but he takes it out on us.  He is an enraged enemy! (vs. 13)

Satan is a deceiver.  (vs. 9) There is not one place in the world where his deception is not heard, believed and acted on.  All evil in the world is a result of being deceived.  All pain in the world is a repercussion of people believing his lies.

Satan is an accuser.  (vs. 10) Day and night he is before the Lord throwing mankind under the bus!  He is a diabolical tattle-tale!  “Did you see what she did?”  But Jesus is an awesome absolver!  If our sins are washed away by Jesus, there is nothing that he can accuse us of that holds water.

Satan is a warrior. (vs. 17) Anyone who obeys God and trusts in Jesus, Satan is making war against.  His chief aim is to keep people from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to destroy anyone who already believes.  He can’t destroy the Lord, so he tries to demolish His followers.

SATAN IS DEFEATED!  (vs. 8, 12) He knows his time is short and that Jesus already claimed victory over him when He died on the cross and rose again.

Satan’s power is limited. (vs. 13-16) The Lord still controls everything.  Protection comes from the Lord.  He is our powerful, victorious ally!  Jesus and the armies of Heaven are fighting for us.

Satan is unstable. (vs. 17) When this chapter finishes, Satan is standing on the sand of the sea.  Sand is a false foundation!  There is no real stability or longevity for anything that puts its stakes down in sand!

Leave a comment »

Revelation 2:18-28 ~ Pure Passion

Jesus started this letter to the church in Thyatira (I love the way that word sounds…go ahead, say it a few times…just rolls off the tongue!) by reminding them that His eyes are like fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze.  These were the words and warnings of THE powerful and pure Son of God–the only One who searches heart and mind!

The church in Thyatira was known by Jesus for their love, faith, service and patient endurance.  That sounds like a good list!  If Jesus knew me by those things, I’d think I was doing pretty well!  No one can be perfect, right?  Jesus demands holiness and purity.  Even a little discrepancy must be addressed and eliminated.

Again we see the problem with the church in Thyatira was that they were mixing self-indulgence and sexual immorality with holiness!  These are called the “deep things of Satan.”  Satan is always trying to get God’s people to doubt that His ways are for our good.  He tries to deceive us into thinking we are missing out on something.  He twists everything to make it about “us.” Like my husband says, “Satan shines up the fruit until we see our reflection in it.”  He makes God look bad and sin look good.  Satan’s purpose is to “steal, kill and destroy,” but because he “masquerades as an angel of light,” we get fooled into thinking sin is not that bad and God won’t really mind if we mix it in our lives as long as we’re basically “good.”

Jesus died and rose again to purify us and give us life!  We are to be like Him–holy and pure.  In His grace, He points out our sin and calls us to repentance.  He warns us of the outcome of chasing after sin–sickness, tribulation, and death.

Jesus is fair–He gives to each person according to their works.  Those who hold fast to Him and are faithful are rewarded with honor and HE GIVES HIMSELF TO THEM FOR ETERNITY!  Because the Bible uses the analogy of Jesus as the Groom and the church as His Bride, I picture Jesus waiting at the altar looking for our entrance. However, many times we forget that we will see Him face-to-face, and the things of this world and the desires of our flesh distract and derail our purity.  Jesus deserves a pure bride–not an unfaithful fiance!

Lord, keep Jesus before my eyes. Let the knowledge that I will see Him cause me to desire to live a holy life, so I will not be ashamed when I stand before Him.  Give me one pure and holy passion!

Leave a comment »

Revelation 2:8-11 ~ Better than a Beauty Pageant

When Jesus had John write His message to the church in Smyrna, He reminded them that He is the “First and the Last, who died and came to life.”  Then He goes on to say, “I know your tribulation, etc…”

Jesus doesn’t just know–He KNOWS–because He experienced it before them!  He endured tribulation, poverty, slander from “religious” people, suffering, prison and death!!!  Jesus had already been down the same road so that we can have victory over it!

In verse 10, Jesus gets to the root of their troubles.  The real trouble is Satan–the enemy of Christ and Christians.  He is behind their negative, painful persecution.  But he has no power!  Even if they die; they gain–heaven and eternal life in the presence of God where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

Jesus challenges the church in Smyrna to “Be faithful unto death,” and follows it up with a promise: “I will give you the crown of life!”  Death is not the end. Death is victory for a Christian because it has been conquered and overcome by Jesus–the First and the Last!  Death leads to a heavenly victory celebration where Jesus Himself will give the faithful ones their trophy!  Think of the joy Miss America exudes when the one who went before her places the crown on her head, and then multiply that joy by a billion!

Leave a comment »

1 John 5:16-21 ~ We Know!

The verses I studied for the last blog were about the confidence we have that God hears and answers the Believer’s prayers when the prayers are asked in accordance with His will.  John goes on to tell us that we should also pray on behalf of other believers who are struggling.  These two verses are a little tricky, so I researched several commentaries I trust and prayed for God to show me what they mean.  In light of uncertainty, I’m thankful that these two verses are surrounded by eight “we know” statements that remind me there are many certainties for those who belong to God!  1 John 5:15 says, WE KNOW God hears our requests and WE KNOW God gives us a response…the rest come in verses 18-20.

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, HE SHALL ASK AND GOD WILL GIVE HIM LIFE–to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.  All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. (v. 16-17)

This is a call to pray on behalf of other believers struggling with sin.  They are already saved and have eternal life.  These believers should not want to continue sinning.  God has given us the privilege of coming alongside of them (or them alongside of us), and helping them by way of prayer.  Two things stand out to me in these verses: 1) We should want free and abundant life for each other. 2) We are called to PRAY when we see a believer sinning, not judge, condemn, gossip–but PRAY to God!

There is a sin that leads to death, and it is unbelief.  When someone completely disregards God’s plan for salvation, they are headed for eternal separation from God.  It is impossible to ask God to restore someone who has never believed on Jesus for salvation, repented and received eternal life. (John 3:14-18)

WE KNOW that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but He who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.  WE KNOW that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (v. 18-19)

Christians should have a distaste for sin–we should want it put to death in our lives.  Satan is constantly tempting our sinful nature, but because of Jesus’ protection–he can’t touch us!  It reminds me of going to haunted houses when I was younger.  There were two things that made me feel safe enough to go inside: 1) My dad or my husband standing by my side. 2) The realization that the monsters can scream, reach, moan, and so on, but were not allowed to touch me.  It is the same for believers in this world–we have the protection of Jesus Christ and the promise that Satan has limitations when it comes to God’s people.  We can have victory over sin in this world!  Satan doesn’t have any power over us!

If someone claims to be a Christian and continues willfully to practice sin, they may not be God’s child at all.  We cannot love and follow the world’s system and be in fellowship with God because the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one.  Loving the world, makes us partners with God’s enemy.

And WE KNOW that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that WE MAY KNOW him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life. (vs. 20)

Jesus came!  Knowing God is impossible apart from Jesus revealing Him to us.  Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God! (Colossians 1:15)  Jesus is the only Mediator between man and God! (1 Timothy 2:5) Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life–the only way to the Father! (John 14:6)

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (vs. 21)

I like the way the New Living Translation puts it: “Keep yourselves from anything that MIGHT take God’s place in your heart.”  Since we have so much confidence in our salvation and our God, we must keep Him first in our hearts.  Because we live in a world controlled by Satan and his chief objective is to dethrone God, we need to be on guard!  Anything that MIGHT threaten God’s first-place position, must be guarded against.  One of  my favorite quotes is, “Don’t even taste what you don’t want to be hungry for!”  It is better to starve sin because small bites lead to feasts!

Loving God first, loving others well, and not loving the world are the themes of this letter.  Living by loving achieves the four-fold goals John put forth in this writing:

  1. To teach what maintains fellowship with God.
  2. To lead us on the path to unity with all believers.
  3. To help us avoid sin in our lives.
  4. To make our joy complete.


Leave a comment »

Hebrews 2:5-18 ~ Because of Grace

I have heard people ask before, “Why did Jesus have to be born as a human and die?”  This chapter answers that question and so much more!  My heart has been touched by God this morning, and I hope I can put it into words.

This section of verses starts with a prophecy about the coming Savior from Psalm 8.  “What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?  You made him for a little while lower than the angels (1); you have crowned him with glory and honor (2), putting everything in subjection under his feet (3).”

(1) You made him for a little while lower than the angels.  Since we are made of flesh and blood, Jesus became flesh and blood.  Because we suffer and die, Jesus suffered and died.  The consequence of sin is death.  Death is the trophy of Satan’s victory in the Garden of Eden over the will of mankind.  Death is 100% common to all man–all live, all sin, all die.  Therefore, Jesus became on of us lived a perfect life, took all our sins on himself and died.  Rising again, He defeated death and delivered us from slavery to the fear of death.  Jesus’ life gives us victory over death and eternal condemnation.  

The blessings of His manhood don’t stop there!  Because Jesus was one of us and was tempted and tried, suffered and died, He offers us mercy, faithfulness and help!  He is sitting next to the Father in Heaven mediating and interceding for us!  He is not judging us–judgment is trumped by mercy!  He is not condemning us; He is helping us!  And because of His faithfulness, He will never forsake us!  

All this happened because of the grace of God!  We are the sinners, we did not deserve to be rescued from the snares of sin, but by God’s grace He would not let go of His creation!  His character impelled Him to send a Savior!

(2) Crowned Him with glory and honor.  Remember Hebrews 1:3 says that after Christ “made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;” and Philippians 2:8-10 says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”  Suffering united Christ with man.  We all suffer.  We all die.  Yet because of Christ, death leads to glory–for Him and for everyone united to Him in salvation.

(3) Putting everything in subjection under his feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside His control.  At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him.  Everything is in subjection to Jesus, and everything is under His control.   Yet man continually bucks against His authority and power.  Why do we when He has been so gracious, sacrificial and kind toward us!  

Today, I surrender my heart and my plans to my Savior!  He is good, merciful, gracious, and faithful!

Leave a comment »

I Thessalonians 2:17-3:13 ~ Faithful in Affliction

This past Sunday our message at church was on Romans 8:18-27, and God really convicted my heart that suffering is normal in our world.  God brought that same theme to my attention again with this passage in 1 Thessalonians 3:3: “That no one be moved by these afflictions.  For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.”

We can be gradually deceived into thinking that suffering is abnormal, unfair, isolated, and undeserved.  Satan uses our suffering to weaken our faith, create doubt in regard to God’s love and wisdom, and to take our eyes off our hope in the Lord by putting them on our circumstances.  Suffering without faith results in bitterness, anger, self-pity, self-focus, isolation, discouragement, despair, a grumbly spirit, and a hateful, critical heart.

In these verses, however, the focus is not only on the afflictions, but even more on the faith in the midst of affliction!  Faith is defined in verse 8 as “standing fast in the Lord.”  Affliction with faith brings joy, encourages others, gives value to hope, evokes thanksgiving, unites us with others in love, and allows Jesus to perfect holiness in us.

We have a choice!  We can focus on our affliction or focus on our faith and God’s love.  Love that sent a sinless Savior into a suffering world to experience our human suffering even to death!  He groaned under the afflictions that sin has caused our world and the sinful condition of man’s heart, but He did it with joy in faith that through His death and resurrection, we would be reconciled to God and be given hope!

Because suffering is a normal part of living in a cursed world with sinful people and because we have an enemy that wants to knock us down, we need to have more “standing fast” faith.  There is no such thing as having too much faith, but there is definitely the danger of having too little.  In these verses, we find several ways to build/grow faith.

  1. By seeing the faith of others in affliction (3:7)
  2. By socializing with others who have strong faith (3:10)
  3. By remembering the hope that Jesus is coming again, and we will live for eternity in His presence (3:13)  These present suffering cannot be compared with the glory to come (Romans 8:18)

Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God.”  Faith is a big deal!  I pray that Jesus cannot say of me, like He said to His disciples, “Oh, you of little faith!”  Lord, help me to grow in faith.

Here is a link to the message I referred to at the beginning.  I pray that you will listen and let God’s Word encourage your heart!


Leave a comment »

John 11-Why A Loving God Let’s Bad Things Happen

11:1-4.  Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha…the sisters sent a message to Jesus right away about his illness.  But when Jesus heard the message, He said the illness was for “the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  God always has a purpose for our suffering.  His purposes never change–they are to display His glory and the power of Jesus.

11:5-16.  “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard that Lazarus was ill he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”  Jesus demonstrated His love for them in a unique way.  He kept them waiting for Him.  Now Jesus’ disciples were scared about returning to Judea to help Lazarus because the people there were in an uproar over Jesus and were trying to arrest and kill him.  Before they left, Jesus knew that Lazarus had died.  He told the disciples and said, “for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  Jesus was not glad that Lazarus had died, but He was glad about the plan because in the end it would strengthen His disciples’ faith.  They all left for Judea together at this news. Thinking they would all be martyred along the way, the disciples followed Christ anyway!

11:17-32 Two responses to Jesus’ arrival.  Martha heard that Jesus was close to town and she went to meet Him, while Mary remained.  Mary went to meet Him after being called to come.  She once again fell at His feet.  Both women called Jesus, “Lord.” And both women displayed their love for Christ through faith and obedience.

11:33-40 Jesus wept.  Jesus was deeply moved in His spirit.  Jesus was greatly troubled.  Ever felt like that?  Jesus sympathizes with us in all things.  He is a God of compassion, love and emotion.  Jesus was never glad over their pain.  He was only glad over the plan to show them the power of God.

11:41-44.  Jesus gave two commands, “Lazarus, come out!”  And he did. Jesus had authority over death!  He then said, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  In essence, take off the things that hold him back from living and the things that remind him that he was dead.  Jesus doesn’t just want to give new life; He wants to make us alive and free!

11:45-57 The Jewish leaders thought by putting Jesus to death it would save their nation from the jealousy and wrath of Rome.  But all of this unfolding plan was first and foremost God’s plan!  He was allowing one man–Jesus–to die to rescue and save all people from the true enemy and oppressor–Satan.

Leave a comment »