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Before God blindly?

I am Gabriel!!! I stand in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you this good news!!  (Luke 1:19 exclamations mine)

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This is how I see it. I added the exclamations. This is from the story of Zechariah the priest getting the news of his 80 year old wife's pregnancy; their prayers for a son answered by God in such a dramatic way. Zechariah was standing before God's highest archangel and requesting a sign!?? Really? Haha. Wow. I hope when God speaks to me l can be more properly responsive. I mean he came and appeared before him fresh in the glory of God himself, the archangel Gabriel!

Just before, the text states that Zechariah "nearly peed himself" in fear, when Gabriel appeared in vs 12 (using modern day expressions)! Gabriel had to comfort him to not to be afraid, but that he came bearing good news, and then he told him that he and Elizabeth's prayers were about to be answered with the conception of John.

Just prior to all this the text narrates some about who Zechariah and Elizabeth were. It said they were righteous people before God, living blameless lives following God's commands. Wow. That's quite a statement of how great a man Zechariah really was! He was truly a man of faith, while most only were going through the motions of religion, he followed God out of love and obedient faith.  It had been hundreds of years of mostly silence to the people of Israel. Miracles were mostly stories of long ago history, so when Zachariah gets a visit from heaven's great angel Gabriel, he had trouble with what seems like simple faith. Zechariah sees and trembles and hears the from God his Holy Angel, and then dares ask for a sign to prove what he said was true? LOL. I can't help but laugh.

   We know how the story ends. This statement above is what Gabriel begins with by basically saying (my rendition): "I am Gabriel, " for crying out loud! Are you so blind and dim that you don't take my own appearing before you as enough of a sign?! Well since you apparently are so blind, I'll make you blind until your son is born! That will be your sign!" 

I chuckle at this story, but as I think it over I also freeze with some fear over my own frailties and inability to hear God and obey at first word from him. I too have stood in the presence of not just one of his holy Angels, but the presence of God through his indwelling Spirit! Yet I still get dim-witted and blind and allow myself to fall into sin from time to time. O how this grieves me and causes me to fall on my face in repentance and sadness!    My God who redeemed me and robed me his own glory and righteousness, the goodness of Christ, and who now lives in me through the Holy Spirit; How in my right and sane mind could I ever willfully sin?! How?! Like Paul sometimes, I must humble my heart and say, "O wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of this body of death? (Romans 7:24)

Within us all is a war raging! A war of love for God's law and glory, given by Holy Spirit transforming us from the inside out, the new man born of God, daily fighting the old man and law of sin and death! If you desire God, and truly want to be like Jesus, this battle will never stop raging...the day it does, you have turned around and are walking from God.

Fight my friends! Never give up! From Glory to Glory we shall overcome! We know when we fail our God, we have purification and restoration to keep in the war! All we need to do is repent and come to Jesus. (1Jhn 1:8-9) We too can rejoice like Paul and say as he did in Romans 7:25 ...

"Thanks be then to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Why? Because Jesus himself declared that even if we fall, Satan can never own us ever again and he will complete what he started in us(Phil1:6)! Hallelujah!

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.” -John 10:27-30

Stay in the battle and see with clear eyes the glory of God working in you.

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O God my exceeding joy!

Singing your praises uplifts my heart, for you are a fountain of delight, and do bless the soul that joys in you.image

But because of my hearts rebellion, I cannot always praise you as I should; yet I will at all times rest myself in your excellencies, your goodness, and loving-kindness.

In Jesus, you are the object of inexpressible joy, and I take exceeding pleasure in the thought of you.

But Lord, I am sometimes as though your enemy; my nature revolts and wanders from you.

Help me to extol you with my entire heart-submission, to be diligent in self-examination, to ask myself whether I live as one born-again, whether my spirit is as that of your child, whether my griefs are those that bring repenting hearts, whether my joys are the joys of faith, whether my confidence in Christ works in love and purifies the soul.

Give me the sweet results of faith, in my secret character, and in my public life.

Cast cords of love around my heart, then hold me and never let me go!

May the Saviors wounds sway me more than the scepter of princes.

Let me love you in a love that covers and swallows up all, that I may not violate the pure union with all of your beloved!

There is much unconquered territory in my nature, so scourge out the buyers and sellers of my souls temple, and give me in return pure desires and longings after perfect holiness with you my dear Lord. 

This is my prayer, my Father;  My God, my Savior!

Amen.

My prayer today adapted from "A ministers praises, Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers "

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Chewing gum theology

When you read the Bible, do you read it simply to get through it? Or do you read it with a sense of expectation looking for something God wants to speak to you about ?    I have found if we read for the wrong motive it totally changes things. It may become a drudgery, inconvenience, or something we just must do as some religious exercise.  Even for one born-again of God, this can be a trap that makes your "feeding on the bread of life" like chewing gum.  Something you chew on casually, taste a little and then spit it out once the bold flavors are absent. The end result is meaningless.

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God wants to transform our lives through intimacy with him. Like Moses, we cannot spend time with God and not walk away without his glory shining from our lives. If you are not moved, then you did not swallow the truths of who He is and his call on your life. You chewed and spit him out.  This reminds me of my 2 year old grandson, who often chews a new food we give him, that don't suit his taste or texture preferences, and then he pushes it all out of his mouth with his tongue, never swallowing it. The Bible is God-breathed and as such is living an active and will nourish our souls, if we will learn to enjoy it's flavors and swallow.  It penetrates both the physical and spiritual realms of life. It is not supposed to be like chewing gum, but to be solid meat for the soul. We must desire God in this life so much as to be like a deep hunger to a starving man. Holy Spirit indwelling causes those who are the Lords to want to consume him...to hunger to know him and follow his every word. We should naturally hang our lives in balance to hear the next word from our sovereign Savior !    Why would we even say we want heaven and all the glory of seeing Christ face to face and being forever with God in all his beauty and not really have any passion to know him and obey him today? He is God; Our Creator, and full of endless wisdom and love and has good plans for our welfare and our future with him. He speaks through his Word as the Spirit in us makes it alive and guides us in truths that will direct our steps in daily life applications.

Read your Bible books and learn the context first.... Then Slow down... Stop and think and search paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, about some truths God is wanting to apply to some part of your life today. But you got to slow down and listen for that still small voice that is speaking.

God is speaking. Are you listening?

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The Son more radiant that the Sun!

  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. - Revelation 1:17-18 ESV

John was given a great vision of God and saw this exalted view of Christ our Lord, who when he spoke he described "as the roar of many waters", whose hair was white as snow and whose eyes were like flames of fire and from whose mouth protruded a double edged sword (illustrative of the Word of God) and whose face shinning like the sun in it's full strength! If you can imagine, this was John, the one described as closest to Jesus in his ministry yet when John sees our glorified Lord, just like Isaiah when he sees God glorified in his vision falls on his face in total fear before him... Jesus here is pictured as the "Ancient of Days", the one who stands in judgment over all the cosmos...whose voice was like the roar of a mighty waterfall. (I have stood next to the deafening roar of falling water torrents before.) Can you imagine? If you can, then even now you would fall on your face in total humility before God. He is infinitely awesome and powerful. Let us not forget this. In our diminished view of God in our lives we can at times forget how Great is our God. Yet here is the beautiful thing. When we do humble ourselves before him today by faith, on that great and glorious day when all mankind will be on our faces in his full radiant glory, those who he knows and has called by name, those who today surrender their hearts and lives to Jesus; they like John here and like Isaiah in his vision experience will feel the hand of Almighty God reach down and touch them and through the thundering yet tender voice of Christ hear these loving and tender words...

"Fear Not..I Am..."

My question for you is this... Are you...?

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The Milk of God

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. - 1 Peter 2:2-3 Peter just cited Isaiah 40:6 that speaks of the Word of God remaining forever and so in this context he urges us to put away any evil living and to long for the nourishment of knowing God through his Word just like a baby craves his mommies milk. In craving and actually feeding in God's Word, we mature and grown up in our salvation....this is the natural progression of what the Holy Spirit does in us. Then he qualifies it saying if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good...quoting from Psalm 34:8. image

God is not telling us to remain as spiritual babies, but to desire him like a baby desires its mother's milk. This is a deep basic instinctive desire.  Is this how you desire God and crave his Word? Have you really 'tasted' of the goodness of God in your own life? Often tears come to my eyes as I meditate upon the magnificent grace of God and his loving kindness to me in spite of my own sins.  How can such a holy God love me so much? I deserve none of him, yet he gave me all of him.

For this the 'taste buds' of my soul relish and soak in his goodness. Yes, I want to drink in this God; this Jesus Christ who came to us to redeem us; this Holy Spirit who makes his home inside me.  He did this! God alone made me what I am today. I who was once his enemy, not his own, have been made an object of his affection and loved, and adopted into his forever family! I have been made his!    Come with me and drink in the this milk of God.... This living water of Christ and enjoy the Shalom of God. The Peace of Christ that surpasses all comprehension and explanation. He is the reason for my existence and for yours.

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Temptation to do wrong

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires.  Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. -James 1:13-15 NET This thing of temptation, unfortunately I am an expert in, as is everyone who has lived for any time in this life. Unfortunately most of us are also professional "spcapegoaters". Do you know where the term scapegoats came from? In the law given through Moses, a symbolic thing the Jews had to do ritually each year when it came time for a sin offering during the Day or Atonement. They would kill a goat and take it's blood into the Holy of Holies to symbolically pay for the nation's sin and they also had to set a goat loose into the wilderness whose head was put some of the blood of the slain goat. That second goat symbolically carried the sins of the people away. Their blame was laid on it and it took the blame for what they did wrong.  It was the scapegoat. It was a foreshadowing of what the Messiah was to do in taking away our blame before God. This wasn't hard for people to picture because we naturally don't want to face our consequences for our wrongs even today. We want to divert attention off ourselves when we do wrong and blame someone or something rather than humbly take ownership, repentance, and seek godly change.   Some accuse  God of making them sin even if indirectly, by saying it's just to hard to resist some temptations and God should make it easier for them. God does allow temptations to test us, yes, but it's not him tempting us. He equips us with His Spirit and wants us to learn to notice the signs of temptation and immediately turn to Jesus for power to overcome. It is hard to break old habits, but in Christ we can do all things! Now we know Satan and the demons tempt us also at times, but notice their absence in this scripture. What is it that tempts us according to this passage? Our own human desires.  We don't need to blame anyone other than ourselves for failing to live holy, in our own flesh really is no good thing. Thus the war we must daily fight, by drawing near our source of righteousness and power to overcome.  Jesus. 

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  Christ in me is all that really is good.    Thank you Lord for promising to never leave me, nor forsake me, because daily I need you. Thank you also for your shed blood that washes me whiter than snow, the times I do fail you. Because it is against you alone O God who ultimately I sin and must come to for cleansing. May I always confess my sins before you LORD Jesus, and hold nothing back,  since you have promised me you are faithful and just to forgive me my sins and to purify me from all unrighteousness...Always .   Amen.

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Tell the Nations of his Glory!

Tell the nations of his glory; tell all peoples the miracles he does,

because the LORD is great -Ps 96:3,4

It should only make sense that because of the great things God has done for us...for me, that I should go and bring this great love of Christ to everyone who will listen, no matter where in the earth they may be. Some have asked me why go to Africa when there are so many lost people here in America.  I simply tell them that God has moved me to go to places like Peru, Ecuador and Africa, and.... because they will listen and respond unlike most Americans, where hearts are hard.

Where the hearts are ripe and tender we should go to harvest for the Lord.

Matt 9:37-38 Jesus said, "Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Someone's gotta go, why not me...why not you?  I like pastor John Pipers recent messages on this.  There are 3 types of Christians, the "Senders", the "Go-ers" or the "Disobedient". The mission field begins at home and our city and state and country, but it must not stop there. It must be global according to the command of Christ. I want to be like the prophet Isaiah who said in Isa 6:8 "And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." Lastly, for anyone who truly loves Christ and wants to see God face to face, knowing that they have done well in serving him shouldn't we be working on making his return expedited by reaching the last unreached people of the World?  When will Jesus Christ return in glory?  He told us. Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Nations here in the Greek means people groups. So let's be about our Fathers work, going or sending, and making this our priority!

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The Great Discovery, adapted from Valley of Vision, Puritan prayers

Glorious God, I bless you that I know you!

I once lived in the world, but was ignorant of its Creator,

Was partaker of your good will, but did not know the Provider.

I was blind while enjoying such light,

was deaf to the spiritual, with voices all around me,

I understood many things, but had no knowledge of your ways,

I saw the world, but I did not see Jesus.

O happy day! When in your love's sovereignty you did look on me, and called me by grace!

Then did my dead heart begin to beat,

My darkened eye glimmer with light,

My dull ear catch the echo of your voice,

And I turned to you and I found you...

A God ready to hear and willing to save!

100_0420Before, I did find my heart at war with you, cursing my own spirit,

Then did I fall at your feet and hear the thunder of your law,

'The soul who sins must die',

But when grace made me to know you,

And to admire a God who hated sin,

Your terrible justice held my will submissive.

My thoughts were as knives cutting my mind...

But then you came to me in silken robes of love,

And I saw the Son dying that I might live!

In that death I found my all!

My soul does sing at the remembrance of that peace;

The gospel melody brought a sound unknown to me before...it reached my heart...and I lived...

Now never to lose hold on Christ or his hold on me.

Grant that I may always weep at the glory of mercy found,

and to tell others as long as I live,

That you are a sin pardoning God,

Taking up the irreverent and the ungodly, and washing them from their deepest stain of sin.

O glorious God; Father, Son and Spirit, thank you for in me giving freely your salvation!  I owe all to you. Amen.

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