Jesus: Light of the World

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shone” (Isa. 9:2, Matt. 4:14-16).             

                The opposite of light is dark.  Darkness is associated with ignorance, folly (or acting the fool), evil, and death (Ps. 82:5, 107:14, Eccl. 2:13-14, John 3:19, Prov. 2:13-15). There’s nothing scarier than trying to find your way around in pitch darkness.  I get a feeling of unease when I’m alone at night in a dark, unlit area. I usually try to make my way as quickly as I can to get into an area of light.  With light there’s protection.  One is more apt to be mugged in a dark alley or unlit parking lot at night than in an open, lit area.  My husband John also recommends that I carry a flashlight with me. He has a collection, or rather a ‘family’, of flashlights. Mind you, these aren’t cute, fun flashlights—they’re bright, high-lumen, powerful flashlights.  I know that I’ll never (physically) be in the dark when John’s around.

                Spiritually we require just one light.

God doesn’t just emanate light, He is light. In Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  His light is pure, absolute, genuine, and true. It’s underived, meaning it doesn’t come from some other power source—it is the source.  It doesn’t rely on batteries or electrical power and it’s the highest lumen of brightness. “Every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). God, Who is light, commanded light to shine out of darkness to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus is the express image of God and the brightness of His glory (Heb. 1:3, Col. 1:15).  As the spoken word reveals the invisible thought, the living Word reveals the invisible God. Because of the Father’s great love for the world, He sent His only begotten son into it so that through His Son, the world might be saved (John 3:16). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12, 12:46).

                “And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). It’s sinful man’s natural response to hide from God rather than come to Him (Gen. 3:8, Ps. 14:1-3, Rom. 3:10-18, 23).  Things hide in the dark—light exposes. Once they’re exposed to the light they can be seen (Eph. 5:13). I never think my house is as dirty as it is until my vacuum light exposes dust (and dog hair) where I didn’t see it hiding. Just like dust that’s exposed and sucked up in a vacuum, darkness and evil will be completely exposed and dealt with (1 Cor. 4:5, 1 John 3:8).

It’s the god of this age (the devil) who has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe so that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (who is the image of God) will not shine on them (2 Cor. 4:4). For believers, the struggle is against rulers of darkness, who masquerade as angels of light (Eph. 6:12, 2 Cor. 11:14). The believer doesn’t need to be fearful  or try to withstand these dark forces on their own because they have two powerful sources on their side: (1) the all-powerful Armor of Light (that darkness cannot overcome), and (2) the Word of God (that guides their feet & illuminates their path (Eph. 6:13, Rom. 13:12-14, John 1:5, Ps. 119:105).

                So come out of the darkness, into the Light.  Give thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:12-14).

Let the Light of Christmas shine in your heart!

Laura

AN EYE ON DESIGN

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand; measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” Isaiah 40:12-

                Design is the purposeful arrangement of parts.  It’s the ordering of individual components to accomplish a purpose or achieve some end. Everything that exists has its origin in God. Its form and order rest upon God’s precise and complex design. From mathematics to music, to the laws of nature, etc.—all reveals God’s divine handiwork, which is the undergirding of every aspect of the created order. One only has to examine and consider (carefully as to learn from) what’s in natural creation to realize that an intelligent designer, a divine deity, a being with eternal power is behind it (Gen. 1-2, Jn. 1:1-3, Rom. 1:20, Col. 1:16-18, Heb. 1:3).

                Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most widely recognized and influential scientists of all time, suggested that the stability of the planetary system depended not only upon the regular action of universal gravitation, but also on the very precise initial positioning of the planets and comets in relation to the sun, concluding “…this most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.”   He also challenged, asking, “How came the bodies of animals to be contrived with so much art, and for what ends were their several parts? Was the eye contrived without skill in optics, and the ear without knowledge of sounds? …And these things being rightly dispatched, does it not appear from phenomena that there is a being incorporeal, living, intelligent, omnipresent? …”               

                Intelligent design is an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins that challenge strictly materialistic views of evolution. It’s not based on the Bible or deducted from religious authority. It’s an empirical way of observing nature and what’s known about the cause and effect structure of the world along with the patterns that generally indicate intelligent causes (In a sense what Romans 1:19-20, & Ps. 19 in the Bible, says). Even many atheistic scientists admit that there’s evidence of intelligent design in the DNA molecule. When digital information encoded along the spine of the DNA molecule was discovered by scientists, they concluded that the information-bearing properties of DNA provided strong evidence of a prior but unspecified designing intelligence.  Microsoft founder, Bill Gates even noted that, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”

 As technological devices have advanced, the molecular foundation of life is getting exponentially more complex. As it does, the case for intelligent design, as well as the God of the Bible and His written word, are only further substantiated.

                A good friend of mine, Ken (who’s no longer gracing this earth) had a wonderful way of seeing things and often wrote down many of his observations. Here is one of my favorites: (I can almost hear him reading it with his expressive voice, pauses and inflections):

“Nerves, muscles, glands, eyes, ears, arms, legs, nose, mouth, hair, nails, skin, bones, brain.

In themselves are nothing.

They have no life, no purpose, no meaning without the blood that feeds them.

And even with blood, without the heart that sends the blood to each, all die and rot away.

But even with the heart, what does it beat for and does it have a brain to tell it when to beat?

Did we tell ourselves when to be born?

Did we have anything to do with our being alive?

Who told us when to cry?

We burst forth with the announcement:

“I’m here. I’m alive. I’m a resident—unique, unlike any other that ever lived.”

It is truly an awesome thing in which I played no part.

Only a fool would think differently.

If you are a fool, explain it all to me”

                The human body is truly unique, and the only living being created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27, 2:7, 18-25, Ps. 139:13-16, Isa. 45:12, Eph. 2:10). Sadly, due to the fall, not all runs as smoothly as God originally intended. Especially when man/woman pervert God’s original design by not ‘using as directed’, resulting in the crazy, chaotic examples we see in our world today. So it’s important to view and observe our world through a spiritual lens, realizing that the God who spoke the world into being and created things in such a way that are beyond our comprehension can be trusted in all things (Isaiah 42:5, 45:12, 51:12-13, Job 38-41).

When we renew our mind with the knowledge of Him who spoke the world into existence and sustains it with the power of His word, we can consider the lilies and know that He cares for us even more than we can grasp (Col. 3:10, Eph. 3:19, Matt. 6:28-30, 10:29-31). “Lift up your eyes on high and see Who has created these things…” -Isaiah 40:26-

“I will praise you, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvelous works.” -Ps. 9:1-     Laura

He Took a Lowly Position


•Even though He had connections He didn’t use them to gain special advantage or privilege to become socially mobile or to impress the ruling class, but chose to make Himself of no reputation (Phil. 2:5-7).

•His first bed was a manger and His earthly family ordinary (Luke 2:12, Matt. 13:54-57).

•His own people did not receive Him (John 1:10-11, 5:43).

•His ministry was heralded in by a scruff, wild man who wore animal skins. (Mark 1:6, John 1:29-34).

•His disciples weren’t gathered from the most prestigious schools or curated from those who had the best resumes, but from the shores of Galilee, where there were fishermen (Matt. 4:18-22). 

•He was basically homeless as He traveled about (Matt. 8:20).

•He didn’t allow polls, ’fake news’, ‘what was trending’, or man’s opinions to affect the mission He was set out to accomplish. He didn’t give in to false praise, worldly temptations and taunting snares meant to entrap Him (John 2:24-25, 9:16, 10:20, Luke 4:1-12, 23, 11:53-54, 16:15).

•He made his triumphant entry, not on a noble steed, but on a donkey—a mark of lowliness (John 12:13-15, Matt. 21:1-22—prophesied in Zech. 9:9). 

•He was likened as a worm and not a man; a reproach of men, and despised of the People (Psalm 22:6).

I guess one could say that Jesus Christ was a PR nightmare.

                The only begotten Son of God humbled Himself, having no set agenda of His own, but obeyed only what His heavenly Father told Him to say and do, even to the point of death on a cross (John 5:30, 6:38-40, 8:28-29, 12:49, 14:10, 24, 17:8, 14, 19:30, Phil. 2:8).  Some have said of Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ” that it was excessive and went ‘over the top’—exaggerating Christ’s humiliation. The Scriptures say otherwise:

•“…His visage was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men…” (Isaiah 52:14)

Prophesied of the Messiah in Isaiah 53:

• (vs 3) Despised and rejected by men…a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief

• (vs 5) Wounded for our transgressions—bruised for our iniquities—chastised for our peace

                Matthew records its fulfillment, showing Christ was: seized (26:57), falsely accused (26:59-60), spit on, cuffed, slapped (vs 26:67), scourged, surrounded by a cohort of 600 men, while He was stripped & redressed in a scarlet robe with a crown of thorns on His head and a reed placed in His right hand while they ’bowed before’ and mocked Him, spit on and then beat Him on the head with the reed. After they were done mocking Him, they took off the robe & put His other clothes back on and led Him away to be crucified (27:26-35). 

                While all this was going on He said nothing (as prophesied in Isaiah 53): 

• (v 7) Oppressed and afflicted (yet He opened not His mouth)——Led as a lamb to the slaughter —Christ the Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 4:7, John 1:29, 1 Pet. 1:18-19, Rev. 5:9). His innocence was affirmed by 6 witnesses: (1) Judas (Matt. 27:4), (2) Pilate (Matt. 27:24), (3) Pilate’s wife (Matt. 27:19), (4) Herod (Luke 23:15), (5) the malefactor (Luke 23:41), (6) the Roman centurion (Luke 23:47).

                The true, pure, unblemished Lamb of God remained silent and submitted to the Father’s will and ultimate purpose (Phil. 2:8).  This all was part of God’s greater plan. It was necessary, not only that the Scriptures be fulfilled (John 19:28, Luke 24:6-7, 44, Matt. 26:53, 56), but of the long standing prophecy that God made in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve disobeyed His Word, which allowed sin and death to enter the world (Gen. 3, Rom. 3:23, 5:12, 6:23). The 1st promise and prophecy of Genesis 3:15 foretold the temporary suffering of the Seed (Christ) and the complete destruction of Satan and his works (Heb. 2:14, 1 John 3:8). Until the promised Seed came and accomplished God’s will on the cross, the only way mankind could have peace with God was through the substitutionary sacrifice of a male, unblemished lamb who took their place to make atonement for their sins—for the life of flesh is in the blood (Lev. 17:11, Heb. 9:22, 26, 1 John 3:5, 1 Peter 2:22-23, 2 Cor. 5:21, Rom. 3:24-25, 5:1, Eph. 2:13).

                 Re: Jesus’ burial, His enemies went to the governor, Pilate to make sure the tomb was sealed tightly and guarded so that Jesus’ disciples wouldn’t come in and steal His body and claim that He’d risen from the dead as Jesus proclaimed earlier in His ministry (John 2:19-22, Matt. 27:62-66, Luke 9:22).

                The stone was rolled away and Christ Jesus had risen, just as He’d foretold His disciples and it wasn’t by any trickery, but by the omnipotent power of God.  Only God’s almighty power could be worked in Christ to raise Him from the dead and then seat Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Matt. 16:21, 17:22-23, John 2:19-22, Eph. 1:20-21).                

                The bedrock of the Christian faith (and what sets it apart from other religions) is tied up with Christ Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. And there were many that were witnesses to it (1 Cor. 15:3-8). As Paul preached to the Corinthians in his first letter to them, ”And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Cor. 15:17-22).

                Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, but now crowned with glory and honor so that He, by the grace of God, would taste death for everyone.  “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:9-10).

                Philippians 2:9-11 says this, “…God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

                                                For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-19).

                                God loves us so much that even when we were dead in trespasses, He made us alive together with Christ Jesus, and raised us up to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in ages to come He might display the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  We are saved by grace through faith. There is nothing that we can do to earn it on our own—it is the gift of God. It’s not related to our works so that no one can boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:4-10).

 “O Death, where is your sting?”

“O Grave, where is your victory?”

…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:55-58).

“For our citizenship is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)

Laura

HOPE–An Anchor for the Soul

img_4415It’s been said that people can live for up to 70 days without food, 10 days without water, and 6 minutes without air. But they can’t live without hope.

In order to stay afloat through the changing ocean tides of life, one needs an anchor for the soul that’s both sure and steadfast (Heb. 6:19). That anchor for the Christian is hope.

The word hope defined by Noah Webster is: a desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.

Where or what one places his or her hope in can make all the difference. Is one’s hope placed in fallible, unpredictable man’s ways or in some realm of this fallen world? Or is one’s hope placed in (what the Scriptures testify to) an immutable (unchanging) God, Who doesn’t have in His nature to lie (Heb. 6:18, Tit. 1:2)?

David’s hope (or expectation) was from God, “My soul, wait silently for God alone; For my expectation is from Him…Trust in Him at all times…Do not trust in oppression, nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them” (Psalm 62:5, 8, 10). David’s confident trust in the Lord is reflected also in Psalm 56:3-4, “Whenever I’m afraid I will trust in You. In God I will praise His word, In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do to me…” Notice his use of “In God I have put my trust”.

Not surprisingly as America has distanced itself away from “in God we trust” as a nation and toward dependence on the ever-changing & unreliable ways of man, there’s been a rise in anxiety, depression, and related disorders resulting in a reliance on an array of prescription drugs (which sadly many times, in the long run only worsen things). Not trying to negate or minimize the truly devastating effects of life in a fallen world, and the legitimate need for some to be dependent on medication/s, but stress, hardships and troubles are a reality for all in this present life (albeit, some more than others). There’s a real need in society today for more encouragement toward its citizens to have a faith in a loving God, and our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, that transcends self. It’s only there that the believer will find an object of hope that’s glorious, eternal & will not disappoint (Titus 2:13, Rom. 5:5, Phil. 3:20).

FAITH IS THE NECESSARY LINK TO HAVING HOPE as it’s the outworking of trust in God and the proof of BELIEVING IN THINGS NOT SEEN. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…” (Hebrews 11:1); “…hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what it sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Rom. 8:24-25).

Faith is the crucial channel that leads to hope as one is saved through it (Eph. 2:8), and without it one cannot please God (Heb. 11:6). Having faith may seem easy at first (especially when times are good and the living is easy). Sadly the moment when challenging circumstances arise, it’s in human nature to dwell on the seen trials rather than on an unseen God. Even the disciple Peter began to (literally) sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and was thus rebuked, “O you of little faith” (Matt. 14:24-33).

Those who have faith (as those in chapter 11 of Hebrews) are prime examples of the Romans 5:25 chain that connects tribulations (afflictions) to perseverance (patience) and perseverance to character (experience) which leads to hope. Their hope made it possible to endure hardships as they focused and relied on the invisible God and His promises (Heb. 11:27). We too, today need to look for our blessed hope, not here on earth, but where it’s laid up for us in heaven, where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1-4, Phil. 3:20-21, Titus 2:13).

Nothing worthwhile is easy, but one must suffer evil as a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:4), especially in a world with its allures of instant fixes and gratification.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

Laura

Good Tidings of Comfort & Joy

IMG_4261One of the earliest and most beloved Christmas carols, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” has appealed to many over the years due to its light, lively style and upbeat tempo. Not only does the music reflect the joy in the ‘good tidings’ (or good news) of the birth of Christ, but the lyrics as well. Christ’s birth, after all, is something to be celebrated and this enduring carol is a reminder of that. Interestingly the old English meaning of the word “rest” in the title of the song meant to “keep” or “make”, encouraging those of the time period it was written to allow God to “keep” or “make” them merry and then went on to tell the reasons why.

Even though the day we celebrate Christmas is not when Christ was actually born, it’s a day we set aside to celebrate God’s goodness & promises fulfilled of the coming Savior. God’s written prophecy is important. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever things were written before was written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

Here are some of the prophecies fulfilled when Christ was born:                                 •He would be born of the offspring of the woman (Gen. 3:15)—fulfilled: Luke 2:7, Gal. 4:4; •He would come from the tribe of Judah (Micah 5:2)—fulfilled: Matt. 1:1-3, Heb. 7:14, Rev. 5:5; •He would be born in the town of Bethlehem of Judea (Micah 5:2-5) —fulfilled: Matt. 2:1-6; •He would be born a king of the line of David (Isaiah 9:6-7) —fulfilled: Matt. 1:1, Luke 1:32, Acts 13:22-23; •He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) —fulfilled: Matt. 1:18-23, Luke 1:26-35; •He would be a rod out of the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-2) —fulfilled: Matt. 1:6, Acts 13:22-23; •He would have an eternal existence, “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2) —confirmed: John 1:1-2, 8:58, Col. 1:15-19.

Christmas is about God’s faithfulness now and the hope (for those that believe in Christ) for what God has promised in His Word. This is what brings one comfort & joy in the midst of loss, trying times, and the hardships of living in this present fallen world.

As we understand and embrace these good tidings of joy, we’re also encouraged to share them with those around us—shining God’s love and hope to our dark world (Rom. 15:5, 2 Cor. 1:3-4, Phil. 2:1-2).

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember, Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day.
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r when we were gone astray,

O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

From God our Heav’nly Father a blessed Angel came,
And unto certain Shepherds brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by Name,

O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

“Fear not then, “said the Angel, “Let nothing you afright,
This day is born a Savior a blessed holy sight,
To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s pow’r and might.”

O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Now to the Lord sing praises, all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace;
This Holy Child of Christmas shall fill our hearts with grace:

O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Have a Merry Christmas with Good Tidings of Comfort and Joy!

Laura

Seeking Treasure?

Treasures of the Deep
Treasures of the Deep by Laura Kestly

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom & knowledge of God! –Romans 11:33—

One would be foolish to stay in the shallows–Deep calls unto deep.

I recently went to opening day at a large flea market in our area with one of my sons. The excitement of finding something unique, fun or valuable is something we both love.  It’s not always easy as the best ‘finds’ usually require some searching and digging.

We live in very superficial times (concerned only with what is obvious or apparent: not thorough or complete)—from believing “fake” and “really, really fake” news to having Facebook ‘friends’ that we often only know on the surface. Much like fool’s gold—at a quick glance it looks like real gold due to its metallic luster & pale brass-yellow hue but on closer examination it’s only pyrite, an iron sulfide.

The artist Georgia O’Keeffe, known for her paintings of enlarged flowers said this, “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time-like to have a friend takes time.”

Today’s society has little patience or desire to really listen, observe & ponder things beyond the exterior. Our Creator, God has made it apparent to those who’ll look & think past the surface regarding His invisible nature, eternal power & deity through the things that He’s made that are visible in His creation (if we’d only notice) (Rom. 1:19-20; Ps. 19).  It’s only the fool that says in his/her heart, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). This same fool wouldn’t say of their ‘smart’ phone (comprised of software, hardware, an ability to work with a cellular network, apps & other ’bells & whistles’) that behind it wasn’t a purposeful engineer, designer, maker or inventor, but rather ‘It just happened’.  So then what should a person be called who is surrounded with much more evidence in the natural world like the sun, moon and stars to the intricacy of a beautiful flower or even the complex systems of cellular, mechanical, physical, bio-electrical & biochemical components that allow their own body to function?—perhaps a really, really fool indeed.

               But this is exactly what has happened, “they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds, animals or reptiles…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie (really, really fake news) and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” The consequences of their choices led them down a dark path that leads to death (Romans 1:21-32; 2 Thess. 2:9-12).  “But the folly of fools is deceit, fools mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9) so it’s no wonder that a fool also mocks at the “sacrifice” for sin, the Savior Jesus Christ, in Whom, ironically are hid all treasures of wisdom & knowledge (Col. 2:3). 

               God’s works are great & His thoughts very deep and yet He has revealed them to us though His Spirit, giving those who believe access to knowing the things that are freely given by God. The natural man doesn’t receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them because they’re spiritually discerned (Ps. 92:5; Isa. 64:4; 1 Cor. 2:9-16).  For whoever draws near to God must believe He exists & that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

For those seeking genuine treasure that can’t be destroyed or stolen (Matt. 6:19-21), Follow this Treasure Map:

  • – – –START @ Proverb coordinate: 2:2-6 & LISTEN: Be attentive to wisdom—INCLINE your heart to discernment—CALL out for insight—RAISE your voice for understanding—If you SEEK it like silver & SEARCH for it as hidden treasures, then you’ll understand the fear of the Lord & FIND the knowledge of God (for the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge & understanding).
  • – – – Always Refer to the KEY as it will be your compass to steer & guide you away from traps & pitfalls and towards the treasure: Memorize 2 Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Peter 2:19-20; Psalm 119:105; Acts 17:11.
  • – – – BEWARE of False Signs, Guides & Distractions (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 1:3-6, 13, 6:20) & Stay on the plotted coordinate of Proverb 3:5-7.
  • – – – X marks the spot when you’ve accepted THE WAY (John 14:6) & found Christ, in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom & knowledge–the key to life eternal (Col. 2:2-3, John 3:16, Eph. 1:3, 11-14)!

May you believe & receive the great treasure that awaits you in God, through Christ–the riches of His glorious inheritance & immeasurable greatness of His power toward those who believe (Eph. 1:17-21).  

Laura

EVICTION TO RECLAMATION

EvictedA Story of Hope

                Theirs was the perfect country residency. It was really quite the set up–fully loaded with everything they could possibly need. All that was required of them was to make sure that it was taken care of and preserved. The only stipulation that the Architect/LandLORD had been adamant about was for them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good & evil. If they did they would forfeit their security (of life) deposit (Genesis 2:15-17).

                They were unaware that a potential, conniving squatter had snuck in and was planning on scamming them into breaking their contract with the LandLORD. In his corrupted, scheming heart it was a ‘no brainer’. All he had to do was make them question what the LandLORD had said & knew they’d forget about the stipulation—and of course that’s exactly what happened (Gen. 3:1-6).

                The LandLORD became aware immediately and the penalties were swift for the tenants (Gen. 3:16-19). They not only were evicted from their home of paradise but forfeited their security (of life) deposit as warned (Gen. 3:22-24) and were sent out–homeless–to live their remaining sentence, with the stain of sin & death on their record, in a very different dark & fallen environment that was filled with toil, sweat and pain. Sadly the fate of their poor choice was even more far reaching–extending to every generation to come (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:22). The usurper would be held accountable as well for his part and suffer total destruction in due time (Gen. 3:15; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8). Until then he would be allowed to continue to tempt and deceive mankind (John 8:44, Heb. 2:14, 2 Cor. 4:4).

                “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

                All was not lost as a Savior from on high entered into the fallen world and took on flesh & blood so that through His sacrificial death, He could destroy the devil (the usurper, who was allowed the power of death) and thus deliver mankind, who’d been subject to bondage all this time and make reconciliation for the sins of the people (Though as sinners they were undeserving of this merciful grace—He still died for them.) (Luke 1:30-32, 35, 78-79, 2:11; Heb. 2:14-17; Phil. 2:5-8; Eph. 2:3-5). This Savior/Mediator, though sinless, gave Himself as ransom for all, through His blood so that those who received this offer would become in good standing (as their debt was forgiven) once again with the LandLORD (Col. 1:12, 14, 20, 2:14; Eph. 2:8; 1 John 3:5).

                A promise of a new residence & citizenship in heaven was given to all who believed & received the offer–and once it was received this security (of life) deposit could not be taken away (John 3:16; Eph. 1:13-14, 2:19; 2 Cor. 5:5; Phil. 3:20-21). They received direction & guidance (including ways to protect themselves in their present environment) from a living handbook (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Eph. 6:10-18). These new citizens of heaven know that when their earthly house (their tent), is destroyed, they’ll have a building from God. A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For this they groan as they earnestly desire to be clothed with their heavenly habitation while still being burdened as they wait for mortality to be swallowed up by life (2 Cor. 5:1-4). Their sights have been readjusted on things above, making it bearable for them to walk with endurance & victory in the present fallen world where they walk by faith (Col. 3:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:7-11, 16-18, 5:8).

                So if you haven’t already joined them, consider it so you too can have the hope of a new change of wardrobe from a corrupt outdated body of humiliation to a timeless & gloriously fashioned one like the body of His glory.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that’s written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory!” (1 Cor. 15:42-49, 54). Hallelujah!

Laura

 

Where’s My Hope?

Things Above Colossians 3 2
“Things Above” by Laura Kestly

HIGH HOPES

Having an Outlook that’s Positively Eternal

 March is the month that includes the last phase of winter & also the official beginning of spring. For us in the northern Midwest especially, it’s the long awaited glimmer of hope of warmer temperatures and the bright & beautiful colors of creation reawakening–replacing the frozen snow-covered, brown & barren ground.

THE HOPE OF SPRING ENABLES US TO ENDURE THE REMAINING DAYS OF WINTER.

I often tell people (especially after discussing current events or other circumstances that may be out of my control), that I’m so thankful that I have ‘a Hope’. I don’t mean the kind of hope that has a trace of doubt in it—like, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow” or “I hope he remembers to bring the mail in”. That’s an “I’m not so sure if it will happen, but I have my fingers crossed” kind of hope—it’s possible but… The “Hope” that keeps me ‘keeping’ on’ and focusing upward is the capital “H” type of Hope defined by “confident expectancy”—as in the fulfillment of a promise. It’s a certain hope (where there’s no trace of doubt) (Heb. 6:19, 10:23; Titus 1:2)!

Martin Luther King Jr. said this, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Finite means having limits or bounds/fixed. Contrarily, infinite means limitless/unable to measure. This type of hope can only come from the Divine. It’s a HIGH Hope placed in a God Who, though He was on High, was brought low so that those (like me) who were low could have a hope on High (Phil. 2:6-9, 3:20; Rom. 3:23, 5:6-11)!

  • IT’S a PRECIOUS & BLESSED HOPE that was BOUGHT with a PRICE. A Hope, through Christ Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, for those who were alienated, to have peace with God & citizenship in heaven upon its reception (Eph. 2:12-13; Phil. 3:20).
  • IT’S a HOPE that came by GRACE & through FAITH is received (2 Thess. 2:16, Eph. 2:8).
  • IT’S a SAVING & ETERNAL HOPE (Rom. 8:24, 1 Thess. 5:8, Titus 1:2, & Eph. 2:8).
  • IT’S A HOPE that focuses on the BIG PICTURE—the FOREST (not just the trees). This Hope comes from God’s perspective & doesn’t focus on earthly circumstances that will pass –but on the eternal unseen things that will last (2 Cor. 4:18).
  • IT’S A GLORIOUS HOPE THAT CAUSES ONE TO REJOICE (not be disappointed) even through hard circumstances the future glory outweighs the present afflictions (Rom. 5:2, 5; Col. 1:27; 2 Cor. 4:8-10, 17).    
  • IT’S SUBSTANCE CONSISTS of FAITH/UNSEEN with the NAKED EYE. Through tribulation, perseverance & character it’s produced & must be eagerly waited for with perseverance (Hebrews 11:1, Rom. 5:3-4, 8:24-25).
  • IT’S ENERGIZING: One can endure & abound in this hope by the power of the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word (Rom 15:4, 13; 2 Cor. 4:16).

THE HOPE OF ETERNITY ENABLES US TO ENDURE OUR REMAINING TIME ON EARTH.

Want the shadows to fall behind you? Keep your mind’s eye toward the Son and the things above where HIGH HOPE can be found (Col. 3:1-4, Heb. 12:1-2, Titus 2:13).

Laura  

God’s Love & Public Relations

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  -A.W. Tozer-

If there was anyone who needed better PR in our world today, it would be God.

There has been an all-out negative campaign to spin (overt deceit to manipulate the public) to destroy God’s image. He has been sadly misrepresented and His holy words have been reduced to sound bites, often taken out of context, even by those who profess to believe in him.

For many God is an uncaring, cold, distant & angry Father who could care less about them.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

As a child one of the first songs I learned was Jesus Loves Me“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” I loved singing this simple song but really didn’t fully grasp how much God truly loved me until I was much older.

Though ultimately God is incomprehensible (beyond what our finite mortal minds can grasp), He, in condescending love, has revealed and declared certain things to be true of Himself.

Only in the Living Word, and in the pages of the Written Word, can we get to know God.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8).

How does “the Bible tell me so” as the song says? (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:16)

The love of God is a grand reality. But only by the direction of the Spirit of the Lord can one come to know it. And then it’s not a question of our understanding what God may mean, but of believing what He’s said. In revealing Himself at all God has to condescend to our capacities, using language which must be understandable by us; but which can never fully reveal Himself because that which is finite can never explain the Infinite—Here’s how the Bible communicates God’s love for us:

  • God’s love for the world came in the form of a gift of His one & only begotten Son. For those who receive & believe in this gift– eternal life with God is theirs (John 3:16; Eph. 2:8).
  • God showed His love among us by sending his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him (1 John 4:9).
  • God’s love isn’t manifested towards us because of anything we have ever felt or done—it’s not based on us loving Him first, because He beat us to it & loved us first (even while we were still sinners Christ died for us) (Titus 3:5; 1 John 4:19; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:4).
  • God does not force His love to be accepted. He desires for us to choose Him and the precious gifts He has freely given to us. He grieves, like any loving parent, when we make bad choices and opt to believe the lies of the destroyer instead of Him ( John 8:44; 1 Pet. 5:8; Gen. 3:13; Deut. 30:19; Josh. 24:15; Prov. 1:29, 3:31, 12:26; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14).
  • Because God IS self-existent, eternal & everlasting–His love has no beginning or end—it’s immeasurable/infinite & everlasting (Rev. 1:8, Deut. 33:24, 1 Tim. 1:17, Ps. 90:2, Gen. 21:33; Eph. 3:18).
  • Because God IS immutable, unchanging & almighty—His love is pure, true, faithful & powerful (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:17, 10:23, 13:8; Gen. 17:1; Ps. 91:1; Rev. 19:11).
  • God IS patient, longsuffering & merciful (2 Pet. 3:9, 15; Num. 14:18; Ps. 86:15).

Don’t take my word for it. Look in the Bible & see for yourself. Faith comes by hearing & hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith so that you may be able to start to grasp the love of God in Christ & when you do it will affect everything else in your life (Eph. 3:17-19).

Love, In Christ, Laura