Friday, March 15, 2019

From A Pure Stand

Jesus, God’s Son, descended,
like what falls from a pure stand;
with majesty stripped and beauty no more,
insults absorbed and a whipping strand—
punishment He bore.

Jesus, God’s Son, suffered,
like what dies low on the ground;
left to waste and decay as earth takes back,
cast away and disowned, but not making a sound—
obedience, no lack.

Jesus, God’s Son, departed,
like what goes under the floor;
where there is no esteem in darkness laid,
smitten, stricken, in shadows more—
the price for us paid.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:3                                                     


We are still locked in winter here in my neck of the woods. It’ll be a while before the snow melts, here above the snowline and in the depths of snow piled up in the woodland. Our neighbors in the valley have a little bare ground and they will see spring before us, which is how it is every year.

A wooded area that is not mixed or adulterated with any other type of tree (80% or more) is said to be a ‘pure stand’. There are pure stands of oak, pine, beech and maple trees. In these splendid groves of a single species, one can be reminded of the holiness of our Creator, who is 100% pure.

The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved. The LORD is great in Zion; and he is high above all the people. Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.
Psalm 99:1-3

Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.
Leviticus 19:2

The Bible declares that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, pure and holy. We also know this by the presence of the Holy Spirit who helps us to realize who Jesus is and what He did for us. And what He’s doing now. Pray for faith sustenance. Faith is being sure of what you believe.
I recently read about Vibia Perpetua who was martyred for her faith on March 7th in AD 203. This brave twenty-two year old young mother took a stand for her belief in Jesus Christ and faced the wild beasts in an arena in Carthage (modern Tunisia). Her death would be entertainment in front of an assembled mob for a birthday party for the emperor’s son. When asked, she would not denounce her Christian faith.

Martyrs, like Vibia Perpetua, made a stand with their lives for our 100% holy God. I also think of John the Baptist who was beheaded and those on a dreadful beach who were also beheaded because of their expressed belief. God remembers martyrs and every believing person, including you and me. Look at this interesting verse in Revelation:

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Revelation 20:4


Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15

We can be encouraged by martyrs to keep the faith by praying persistently, calling on God to help us. Let us promote our recognition of the holy Creator in the human flesh of Jesus Christ because, like the martyrs, we also believe that:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5 
Another Lent season has begun. We remember Jesus willingly went to the cross and bore our sin on it. He could have called a thousand angels to His side. But He went anyways, even knowing not everyone would believe in Him. He was obedient to His Father, even to death on a cross, and went as a sheep to the slaughter. When Jesus returns, as the Bible declares, He will not come as the sacrificial Lamb but the reigning Lion.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Isaiah 52:7

Pray for strength to endure hardships and even injustice because remember, Jesus loves you very much. And He will return with justice and vengeance, as it is His to avenge.

Stand with beautiful feet in a pure stand grove (or imagine it) to be encouraged to bravely publish salvation and peace.

Friday, March 1, 2019

The Waterfall

Down in the gorge of mist and cold,
pours out a gushing strong and bold,
that makes the hemlocks surge up tall—
the power of the waterfall.

The water dances as it sings,
and off the trees, it’s echo rings,
to fill the woodland concert hall—
the music of the waterfall.

The flow that washes like a sea,
removes the mud and creek debris,
and smooths the jagged, rocky wall—
the cleansing of the waterfall.

The Lord of Heaven gives the might,
with mercies pouring day and night,
to send my wrongs cascading all—
the beauty of God’s waterfall!

If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John1:9                                                        


To have sin or to not have sin, that is the question.

It’s amazing. There are people who think they have no sin. A man once told me he was perfect in his own way and as he goes through life, imperfect layers are peeling off.

How messed up is that?

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and
the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8

The man described above deceived himself. True that he can believe what he wants, but, whether he knows it or not, a consequence will occur because of his choice in this world created by the Creator. People who go through life thinking they're perfect in their own way are destined for a rude awakening. When we rely on our own philosophy, it leads to death. When we acknowledge the Creator’s authority, eternal life is within reach.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man,
but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 14:12

The Bible says everyone has sinned. There isn’t anybody who is perfect in his own way. That’s stupid thinking. There is an authority by which all things are measured. God’s Word is that authority. God knows eternal life because Creator God is the Living God.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

Those who rely on God’s Word realize that confessed sin is forgiven. Sins can be forever washed away, ripped up, forgotten and not held against us if we confess our sins. I think that might be a big ‘if’. But let’s say we have chosen to confess our sins to God. So now, what are some synonyms for the word “confess”? Here are some: acknowledge, admit, allow, avow, concede, disclose, divulge, own and reveal. Can we own up to our wrongs?

And, silly of a question that it might be, what is sin? Sin is something God can't look at. The Bible tells us that sin equals death. Being the clear God that Creator God is, the Bible gives definitions of sin. Here is a list of some that I found:

looking lustfully at someone (Matthew 5:28)
taking God's name in vain (Exodus 20:7)
not honoring the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8)
murder, adultery, stealing (Exodus 20:13-15)
homosexuality (Romans 1:20-32)
sexually immoral (1 Corinthians 6:9)
not honoring your mother or father (Exodus 20:12)
malice, deceit, envy, slander (1 Peter 2)
vengeful (Romans 12:19)
foul talk (Ephesians 4:29)
love of money (1 Timothy 6:10)
drunkenness (Galatians 5:21)
not believing (Hebrews 3:19)
worrying (Matthew 6:25-34)
idolatry, witchcraft, jealousy, discord, fits of rage, selfish ambition, factions (Galatians 5:20)
hatred (Proverbs 10:12)
unfaithful, pride, cheating (Proverbs 11)
being rude (1 Corinthians 13:5)
lying (Proverbs 26:28)

For the wages of sin is death;
but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:23

Do you know the saying 'The seven deadly sins'? This saying is not in the Bible. It’s not true because all sin is deadly, not just 7. Sin equals death. All sin equals death.

Now, here is the good news! There is hope for the sinner. A waterfall is hope. It’s the cleansing away of sin that mars our soul. Sin can be washed away!

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, bore our sin on the cross. Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Salvation is found for the repentant heart. Jesus came to save, not condemn. Pray for God’s forgiveness to clean up, purify and cleanse all unrighteousness from your life. Sin doesn’t have to be permanent. Eternal life is just a prayer away.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.
Colossians 1:21-23

God is so awesome that because of the faith in our heart, He can manage to not only cancel out our sin but even present us as holy before Him! Wow! I’m going for that!

Here’s a prayer challenge for you: Visit a waterfall this spring and spend time in prayer there at the waterfall. We do have sin. But we don’t have to let it define us. Jesus told many, “Go, and sin no more.” I think it is true that a habit can change a habit.

May you sense God’s awesome forgiveness by the waterfall that purges away sin to make room for Heaven’s peace.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Tracks in the Snow

A glistening dell,
white-clad and temple-like,
a line of fresh tracks
beneath a spruce’s spike;
where winds have not come in
to shake the boughs of snows,
and in cold winter’s blue,
the morning sun grows.

Here, we know a pattern,
while breathing crisp air,
the prints of whitetail deer
preserved in snowy care;
the pointed toes had followed
the ones before them made,
and dainty ones, too,
had crossed the open glade.

The wisest and the learned
trust in established ways,
through difficult paths
to kinder, happier days;
so, let us raise a prayer
and speak our human need—
to keep within Christ’s footsteps
and follow His lead.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25

Tracks in the Snow

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 8:12

Remember when we played ‘Follow the Leader’ as kids? Maybe you have children or grandchildren that play this around the house or outside. When I used to teach music to kindergarten students, they liked to mimic my motions to a song. I had them marching around the music room feeling the beat in their step. They could march the steady beat, clap the rhythm of the melody and swing their arms in expressions of phrasing and dynamics.

Jesus promises the light of life to those who follow Him. What a great promise! What does the ‘light of life’ mean? I think it’s an opportunity to feel the beat of the Holy Spirit, responding, sometimes, with a spring in our step due to happiness in our heart. It enables clear vision to be able to wave our arms in expressions of joy or keep them close during times of sadness.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Proverbs 29:18

As you know, since God is the Creator, He has the right to make the rules. Honor God and I think He will honor you. The vision of spiritual eyes is connected to keeping the law of the Creator. Follow Him in faith. Without faith, the way becomes dark and far away from the light of life.

And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.
Matthew 9:9

Jesus calls people to follow Him. I’ve discovered over the years that to be a good follower means to get out of the leader’s way. It’s basic but I still have to learn that a follower doesn’t go in front of the leader! It’s that trust factor. To be a follower of Jesus Christ means to trust where He leads.  

And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
Deuteronomy 31:8

Moses assured Joshua in the sight of all Israel to be strong and of good courage when entering the land of Canaan. God was giving them the land that He had promised and they were to go in and possess it. And following God, they did. God goes before us today. Be strong and of good courage, calling on God to lead the way through the difficulties you face. If God can help Moses and Joshua, He can help us.

Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.
Deuteronomy 5:33

Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

The deer take the path of least resistance. They follow a path already broken from the one who broke trail. Like creation, let us remember to trust God to lead. 

Light of life. In Him, there is no darkness. I was surprised to learn that the phrase ‘God works in mysterious ways’ isn’t in the Bible. That phrase is based on a poem written in 1773 entitled ‘Light Shining Out of Darkness’ by William Cowper. Vagueness is not part of God’s way. Neither is darkness because God is clear. There might be mysteries, but God has revealed many. He doesn’t act secretively because He doesn’t need to.

If things aren’t too clear, then seek Creator God for clarity. If you don’t ask, the odds of God granting your request are much slimmer! When you find others walking on the same faith road, it’s encouraging when trying to walk the faith. And that’s another thing that could be granted if requested: friends to walk with.

Order my steps in thy word; and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
Psalm 119:133

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
Psalm 37:23

Ask God to help you get out of the way. Ask for the light of life. Also, please be praying for the Chinese Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. Pray that churches everywhere would continue to grow in faith, wisdom and ministry.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.
1 Peter 2:21

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
Isaiah 54:10

With tracks set before us by Jesus Christ and the promised ‘light of life’, follow the leader who gives the lasting covenant of peace.