Sunday Doxology & Prayer

Romans 11 v 33

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  “Who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has been his counselor?  Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?”  For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever!  Amen.”

Romans 11:33-36

A doxology is an expression of praise to God.  This fine Sunday morning I just want to give praise to God and say a prayer for this world that is so lost and hurting.  Holy Spirit filled prayer warriors, please join me in this prayer!

“Lord Jesus, I give you glory right now!  Please anoint this prayer in the Holy Spirit!  I lift up your Name and I pray that you pour out your Holy Spirit on all of us in every country in this world.  I pray you spark fires of revival through every single believer on earth!  I pray you pour out your Holy Spirit on the nations Lord and draw people to you!  Heal the broken, cast out the evil, bind up the wounds, and bring peace to all of the fear, anxiety, and depression that people are suffering.  Cast out the spirit of depression that is over the nations and release us from it Lord!  Hunt down evil in our lands and defeat it!  I lift the nations of the world up to you Lord.  Pour out your Holy Spirit on us!  Make us new!  Put a new song in our hearts!  Make your presence known Lord as we draw near to you, refresh our hearts and minds, and may your Holy Will be done, Amen!”

If you need prayer, have any questions, or just need to talk, please feel free to contact me anytime!

Grace and peace to you all in the beautiful and powerful Name of Jesus!

Romans 5 v 8

Romans 6 v 23

Romans 10 v 9

 

You Are Not Disregarded

Soaring Eagle

Throughout the years of my suffering Celiac there have been many times where I felt as though the Lord was done with me.  I felt as though He had set me aside and my life was no more.  You know what though?  Every time I felt like that, God made sure to let me know He was right there with me.

He did this by using a verse to get my attention.  I would be having a day where everything seemed dark and I felt like God was no longer paying attention to me, so I would go to the Word.  He is the vine and we are the branches, remember to remain in Him.

The Lord started using this verse in the deep years of my suffering.  I was in the throws of it and I was in burning pain and anguish every day.  On one of those days about 3 or 4 years into it, I was suffering badly, but I had not talked to the Lord about it.  I felt like the Lord was going to let me die and He was disregarding me.  I was keeping all of these thoughts inside my mind and heart that day and I was in turmoil.   I walked into the kitchen, grabbed my Bible, and opened it.  I wasn’t looking for a particular passage.  I just grabbed it and opened it.  As I was suffering in my anguish and despair feeling like God had abandoned me to die in my pain, I looked at my Bible and this is the verse my eyes landed on:

“Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God?”

Isaiah 40:27

Upon reading that verse I froze!  I had read it before, but never like that!  It was like God had walked right into my house to let me know I am not hidden from Him and He is still with me!  I had not even said a word to Him about how I was feeling, but the Lord knows our thoughts and hearts and He lifted me up!  That is how the Lord speaks to us through His Word!  Be in it every day folks!

He filled my heart with hope and encouragement and I felt like I was soaring above my pain!  It was like the disease had no hold on me!  My body was hurting, but my Spirit was soaring!

I continued to read the remaining verses to the end of the chapter, and it all started to become very clear as the Lord spoke a familiar and famous set of verses into my heart:

“Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31

Tears of joy were streaming down my face and I praised God for His love and comfort!  I soar like an eagle above my troubles because of His power inside of me!  I feel just like that eagle strong and bold as he flies over the valley of the shadow of death.  This disease has no hold on me and I am not disregarded by my God!

You are not disregarded either!  He sees you!  He knows you!  There is real hope in Jesus!  Come to Him today and get your wings!  He will lift you up, and you will soar high above every dark cloud of trouble in this world!

Grace and peace to you all!

Wings as eagles

Soaring Eagle 2
See ya later Celiac Disease!!!

Jeremiah 29 v 13

Something About The Number 7

Jeremiah 29 v 11

The number 7 is God’s special number of perfection.  We see it used throughout the Old and New Testaments hundreds of times.  I am not talking about Bible codes or any of that stuff!  I am talking about God’s order and the fact that He made the number 7 a number of divine completion.  God completed His work of Creation in 6 days and rested on the 7th day, we have the 7 lampstands and 7 stars in Revelation, 7 letters to 7 churches, forgive 70 times 7, debts were cancelled every 7 years, and the list goes on.  This has played out in my life as well, and I would like to share something deeply personal and special to me.

Number 7 in Bible 2

As many of you know, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease on January 6, 2012.  I weighed 128 pounds and I was dying.  I thought I had cancer.  The pain was maddening and my anguish was unbearable like my flesh being torn inside my body day after day with no end in sight!  Despite all the suffering, I can testify that God has been faithful to me!

I am coming up on my 7 year anniversary fighting this disease (1-6-19).  I am only a few months away from God’s perfect number 7!  I can feel it too!  It is not like years 1-6.  I was deep in the midst of the suffering during most of those years.

As the 7th approaches, there is a perfection and completeness that He is bringing to my suffering.  It is happening now even as I write this.  I hope and pray you can all see and feel the passion I have inside my heart for Jesus.  I have suffered greatly and the Lord has refined me over these many consecutive years of trial and testing.  I can feel Him moving and working as He orchestrates His final lesson of my 7 years of suffering, and brings completion to His healing process!  Amen!

Number 7 in Bible

Over these last almost 7 years, God has also used 7 verses that He brought to my attention over and over.  These verses represent struggles I have had and lessons the Lord wanted to teach me.  They represent painful pruning, but also victory that I have now.  They represent the way I had to trust God when my entire life was broken and I was laid bare in the dust of the earth.  They grounded me in times of great pain, anguish, and sorrow.  They helped me see clearly when my vision was blurred by anger and disillusionment.  Above all God let me know that He was always with me no matter how bad the storm, and He used these verses in a variety of ways to help teach me that.  See my post titled “Boomerang Blessing” for an encouraging story about how God works and reminds us He is there.

It got to the point that I just wrote them down and stuck them to the fridge.  God wanted me to see them all the time every day.  I have read and prayed these verses over myself and my family many times, and it has been very effective for living righteously and trusting God through my time of trial.  I would like to share these verses with you now.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 19:14

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

1 Timothy 6:6

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.”

Psalm 37:8

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Ephesians 4:29

“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

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

I could write a whole book about what I have learned from those 7 verses over almost 7 years of suffering!  I have written pieces on many of those verses already on this blog, and I will continue to do so as the Lord leads.  I just want you to know that the Lord has used these verses and years of trial to prune and shape my character and strengthen my faith!  In 1996 when I accepted Christ, part of that prayer was “come into my life and make me the kind of person you want me to be.”  He is still doing that even now!

In a few months on January 6, 2019, I am going to write a blog post regarding the 7th year anniversary of my diagnosis.  I am really looking forward to what the Lord will do on that day!  God is completing and perfecting the work of the pain I have lived through.  I trust Him, I know without a doubt that He has good plans for me, and I am really excited to see what He does on that day!

Never ever lose hope!  Jesus always wins in the end!  Jesus is Lord!

Grace and peace to you all!

Romans 15 v 13 with mountains

 

Die To Yourself

Romans 12 v 2 do not conform

If you are a Christian or have ever been around Christians, then you have probably heard the phrase “die to yourself.”  That is a strange phrase to the world.  What does that mean exactly?

Roman coliseum
Ancient Roman Coliseum (where Christians were killed)

In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul urges the believers in Rome to stay pure and holy as they follow Jesus.  Anybody who has studied history knows that Rome was full of immorality in the first century.  It was not a place of purity and holiness.  It was a place of vile sin, violence, and death.  Paul urges the new believers to offer their bodies to God in a very unique way.

“Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Romans 12:1

Worship is much more than singing.  Paul is telling the believers to die to themselves (let go of the sinful behavior and attitudes of the world) and become “living sacrifices” in order to be holy and pleasing to God.  He is saying leave the ways of the world and worship God with your whole being in everything you do!

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2

Paul does not want the believers to act or live like the Romans anymore.  He wants them to understand that they must be transformed by the Holy Spirit who washes our minds and hearts clean.  That admonishment comes with a promise too–that we will be able to understand God’s will when we live our lives in the renewal of the Spirit!

All of us who follow Jesus are the Body of Christ and He is working through each one of His people!  Paul makes sure the believers understand this.  He would have rebuked the phrase, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  Paul is saying forget that and love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength!

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Romans 12:3-5

Colosse 2
Ancient Colosse

Colosse map

Paul says it this way to the believers in Colosse:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

Colossians 3:1-3

When you accept Jesus, your old life dies, and your new life is safe in Him.  We are to die to ourselves daily, which means we no longer satisfy our old way of life with all its worldly passions and desires.  My old self died back in 1996 when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior!

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

Galatians 5:24

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

Colossians 3:5-8

“I die every day–I mean that, brothers–just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:31

You can only “die to yourself” and live in purity and holiness by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.  It is through His Holy Spirit that the Lord renews our minds, sanctifies our souls, and gives us power to live a righteous life–and that only comes through Jesus!

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all!”

Colossians 3:9-11

May all of us who love Jesus keep our focus on Him, die to ourselves daily, and may all of our lives be a spiritual act of worship holy and pleasing to God, in the Name of Jesus, Amen!

Grace and peace to you all!

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.  These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

Titus 3:3-8

John 3 v 16 big

 

 

 

Early Morning Blessing

Moon at store

“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior..”

Jeremiah 20:11

Good morning everyone!  I was up very early again today as usual around 5 a.m.  I had an unexpected surprise this morning though.  My son woke up and came downstairs around 5:30!  He was up and ready to go, and I had to go to the store, so I brought him with me.

I had the lights in the house low and as we were leaving it was still dark outside.  My son turned to me and said, “Dad, I’m scared of the dark when you are not here, but when you are with me, I’m not scared.”  I love my son and his open honest heart!

I opened the garage door to back out the truck and we stepped into the still morning darkness.  I said, “I felt that way when I was little too son, but you don’t have to be afraid.  Even when I’m not with you, who is always with you son?”  My son’s answer was one of the best things I have ever heard, especially before six in the morning!

My son looked at me and smiled and said, “the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior.”  That’s right, my son was quoting Scripture to me!  I could not have had a bigger smile, and I said, “That’s right son, He is always with you.  You know your Scripture son, I’m proud of you.”

After that, I backed out the truck and my son stepped into the dark garage with joy.  As my son jumped in the truck he said, “This is cool, it’s like we’re army guys!”

When we know Jesus, we do not have to be afraid anymore because He is most definitely our Warrior who goes before us and encamps all around us.  We are His soldiers and the Lord is with His people like a Mighty Warrior.  He already defeated the darkness at the cross and He set us free from that fear a long time ago!

Grace and peace to you all!

Ben looking at moon

 

Armor of God

Psalm 91 v 11

Acts 4 verse 12

White horse verse

What Message Did Jesus Preach?

Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee
Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee

When Jesus started His ministry at the age of 30, what was His message?  What was it that He preached to people as He walked from town to town?  His message was simple and bold, and His message still applies to all people on earth today.

The above picture is of Capernaum, which is on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in current day Israel.  This is where Jesus lived after John the Baptist was put in prison, and this is where He started His ministry.  It was here that He called the first disciples, preached the sermon of The Beatitudes, taught in the synagogues, healed many people, and drove out many demons.  I would really love to go to Israel someday and visit all of the Holy Land historical sites!  This is a top one on the list!

“When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee.  Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali–to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles–the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

Matthew 4:12-16

The “lake” is the Sea of Galilee.  It is referred to as the lake throughout the New Testament.  That “great light” the prophet Isaiah is talking about is Jesus Christ.  That prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus traveled from Nazareth to Capernaum.  Jesus is The Light of the world!

Sea of Galilee map Nazareth to Capernaum

In the very next verse upon reaching Capernaum, we learn what Jesus preached as He traveled about Galilee:

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Matthew 4:17

That’s it folks!  It was a simple message then, and it is a simple message now.  Repent, which means turn around 180 degrees and go the other direction.  Stop going your own way and repent of your sin and go God’s Way.  Why?  Because “the kingdom of heaven is near,” that’s why!  That is good news!

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.  News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.  Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.”

Matthew 4:23-25

That was how Jesus started His ministry and three years later He defeated sin and death at the cross.  He preached a simple message of repentance and forgiveness.  Repentance of sins=forgiveness and reconciliation with God in the Kingdom of Heaven!  That forgiveness comes through receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

As Jesus said:

“The time has come,” he said.  “The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”

Mark 1:15

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

If Jesus had been born in our time and He had started His ministry in your town, He would have preached the same message and healed and blessed people the same way as He did in Galilee.  His power and love are still with us today through the Holy Spirit, which you receive upon accepting Jesus!  Read my posts titled “Who is the Holy Spirit?” and “The Day Jesus Promised The Holy Spirit” to learn more about that.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

His message has not changed even in our time!  Forgiveness and salvation in Jesus is for every single person on this earth, and that promise is for you too!

Grace and peace to you all!

Romans 116

 

 

He Commands The Storm

Jesus calms the storm

Life feels like that for a lot of us, doesn’t it?  We are being battered by raging waves in a violent storm that is swirling all around us.  It can be scary and insurmountably difficult to face the storms we live through.  I have good news for you today!  You do not have to do this alone!

Did you know that Jesus has the power to calm violent storms?  If you have never read the historical account of what happened, today is a good day to hear it!  Here we go:

“One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.”  So they got into a boat and set out.  As they sailed, he fell asleep.  A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this?  He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Luke 8:22-25

The “lake” is the freshwater Sea of Galilee where the fishermen worked for their daily catch.  Due to its location at lower elevation and the surrounding mountainous topography, it is subject to violent wind storms due to changing temperatures off the Mediterranean Sea.  This creates a swirling effect, which in turn causes a squall to come down into the Jordan River Valley, which wreaks havoc on the lake.

Sea of Galilee 4
Created by Stephen M. Miller
Sea of Galilee 8 Mount Tabor
Sea of Galilee from top of Mount Tabor (where the Transfiguration of Jesus happened!)
Mount Tabor where transfiguration happened
Mount Tabor (Matthew 17:1-13, The Transfiguration of Jesus)
Sea of Galilee 5 with Holy Land
The Holy Land, Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee 2
Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee. Simply Beautiful!

It is beautiful, but if that is anything like Lake Michigan in Chicago, then I would not want to be out there on a boat during a violent wind storm!  Boats sink all the time in Lake Michigan!  They can sink out there too!  The disciples were scared to death of the violent storm that surrounded them!

I absolutely love how Jesus gets up so nonchalantly after His nap on the rocking boat, and rebukes the raging storm with ease.  It reminds me of my kids waking me up from a nap when there is a spider in the house.  “Daddy, daddy, wake up!  Help us!  There’s a spider!”  It is like the world has ended as they shake me awake!  It is something that seems so scary to them, but it is so easy for me to just get up and squash that little sucker.

That is what Jesus does for us!  The storms of life can rage and the waves can come crashing over the boat, but Jesus has it all under control.  Cry out to Jesus when you need help.  He will rebuke that storm in your life and restore calm.  I know this is true because He calmed the raging violent crashing waves of Celiac Disease and restored order and peace to my life.  Whatever your storm might be, He can do the same for you!

Trust Him today.  Jesus can handle any storm this world throws at us!

Grace and peace to you all!

“He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”

Matthew 8:26

Sea of Galilee 7 sunset
Sea of Galilee at peace

Boat in calm waters

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus speaking in John 14:27