The reality is that life offers many circumstances for which there is no explanation or which can sometimes become overwhelming for us mere mortals. There are issues with which we cannot help ourselves, hurts we do not know how to deal with, mistakes we need to be forgiven for, and obstacles that we are unable to overcome by ourselves. In an instant, life can change and we are confronted with an experience that leaves us perplexed and confused and hurting. Sometimes we are brought to tears because of heavy burdens or difficult decisions. Some days we have to ask ourselves how did I get so completely engulfed in what seems to be so many difficulties or problems. We cant understand how we got to this point in our life where it seems that we cant handle one more trial. Sometimes we feel like the whole world is about to come down upon us. These realities can rob us of our joy and replace it with fear. Most, if not all, of us who have some years behind us have experienced this condition, perhaps, more than once.

          It is during these times that we need to remember that God is still on His throne and He wants us to continue to have faith in His righteousness. (Psalm 11) David sang a song to the Sovereign LORD — Psalm 18 — in which he expressed praise to The LORD as his rock and his strength and deliverer, Whose way is perfect, Whose word is proven, and by Whom David could stand up against great opposition and perform great feats. God is the author and director of each of our lives — when we place our trust in Him! He knows the reason for our tears and those dark and dismal valleys” in our life. He knows the safest path and where we can find refuge. (Psalms 23&61) He can turn our tears from sorrow to joy! (Psalm 126:5/Isa. 35:10) Remember that He carries most of the weight of our burdens and has given to us far more than we deserve. (John 3:16) The truth is that nothing in this physical life here is insurmountable. (James 1:12 & 1st Peter 4:12-19) We must remember, also, that our ultimate victory is not about our own ability to conquer. We must believe that our ultimate victory is — only and entirely — because of what Jesus Christ, our Savior, has done for us!

(Psalm 40:2; 62:2&6; 89:26; Rom. 5:11 and 1st Corin. 15:55-57)

My continual prayer is that God will continue to bless all of us in our efforts to live our lives in His service!

            

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Are there times in your life when you feel unworthy? I certainly do! There have been times that I thought that either my attitude or behavior was so unacceptable that I didnt understand how anyone could possibly love me or want me in their company. At other times, the mistakes and misdeeds or careless thoughts or words of my past creep into my mind and tell” me that I am not lovable or worthy of the good will bestowed upon me by family and others. Perhaps you have felt similarly at different points in your life. Surveys and research have indicated that most people, even in the secular world, truly desire to be accepted and loved, yet many of them think that they are unlovable or unworthy. Of course, those in the secular world look to other people for that acceptance and love. However, we Christians not only look to our family and friends — inside the church and outside — but, ultimately, we look to God for love and acceptance.                           Conversely, time and again, I have been reminded of how deeply and sincerely I am loved. I have been amazed — and so grateful — for the number of times that my wife and my family and friends have made me feel loved, despite my sometimes unlovable behavior. I also need to remember — as do you — that God loves me so much that He gave up His life for me (John 3:16). All He asks of us is that we show our love for Him by living a life that is patterned after those great people of faith described in His word and that of God, Himself, as He walked, perfectly, in the flesh here on Earth.                During those times when you have doubts emanating from imperfections, despite your best efforts to live the kind of life that you know God desires, remember that He loves you. When each of us became a child of God, He promised to cover us in His grace and mercy –- His love. If you ever doubt whether you are worthy,” remember that Gods nature is love (1st John 4:16) and that He created us so that He could express His unlimited care and love. That is what happens when we take refuge in God and put on Christ in baptism. So, as we walk with our LORD and are doing the best we can to live a life of dedication and trust in Him, instead of wondering whether we are acceptable or lovable, remember — and rejoice — that you are clothed” in Gods mantle of love. That, Brothers and Sisters, is what makes us, and all the other truthfully faithful, truly exceptional! (Psalm 5:11-12 & 8:1&3-4a)

                         May the Good LORD continue to bless us all!    

                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                            

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During this seemingly endless tumultuous period and the raging chaos in our Country, here are a few scriptures that I believe we can meditate upon to help us as we try to endure and persevere through these times of uncertainty:

Psalm 1: Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked (ungodly), nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scoffers (scornful); but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree, planted by the channels (streams/rivers) of water, which brings forth its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and he prospers in all that he does. The ungodly (wicked) are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore, the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation (assembly) of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 2: Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear (break) their bonds (fetters) apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD scoffs at them (holds them in derision). Then He will speak to them in His wrath (anger), and terrify them in His fury, saying…‘I have installed My King on My holy hill of Zion”…Serve (worship) the LORD with reverence (fear), and rejoice with trembling…

Psalm 11: In the LORD I put my trust (take refuge)…The wicked bend their bow; they make ready their arrow on the string that they may shoot secretly (in darkness) at the upright in heart…the LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons (children) of men. The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals (of fire); fire and brimstone and a burning wind will be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will behold His face.

Romans 13:1-3: Let every person (soul) be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God…and whoever resists…will bring (receive) judgment (condemnation) on themselves…for it (authority) is a minister of God for good…for he is God’s servant…an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the one(s) who practice(s) evil…Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath, but for conscience’ sake…

Phil 2:7&8: (He)…emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

1st John 1:7: but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

While it is true that we have a responsibility to God to be good citizens of our Country, we must never forget that FIRST AND FOREMOST we are citizens of the KINGDOM OF GOD! God will take care of us - His children - as long as we continue to put our unwavering trust in Him. We will be all right no matter what happens here!

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You shall have no other gods before (besides) Me;

You shall not make for yourself an idol (or carved or graven image);

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…

Honor your father and your mother;

You shall not murder;

You shall not commit adultery;

You shall not steal;

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor;

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor your neighbor’s house, nor anything that is                             your neighbor’s (belongs to your neighbor).

                                    (Exodus 20:3-17 & Deut. 5:7-21)

Things that the LORD hates; that are an abomination to Him (His soul):

Haughty eyes (a proud look);

A lying tongue;

Hands that shed innocent blood;

A heart that devises wicked (evil) plans;

Feet that run rapidly (are swift in running) to evil;

A false witness who speaks (utters) lies;

One who sows discord (spreads strife) among brethren.

                                                (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Blessed are the poor in spirit (humble or not spiritually arrogant);

Blessed are those who mourn;

Blessed are the gentle (meek);

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness;

Blessed are the merciful;

Blessed are the pure in heart;

Blessed are the peacemakers (for they shall be called Sons of God);

Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness;

Blessed are you when others insult (revile) and persecute you…because of Me.

                                                (Matthew 5:3-11)

It seems to me that these three sets of Holy Scriptures provide all the framework we need to live a rich, moral life. These commandments, or edicts, and principles provide the basis for the world to live a Godly life of righteousness. No other framework is needed to not only please God but also to get along with others and treat others decently, fairly, and with dignity. If only the world would recognize that God set the standard for behavior that would bring about and maintain peace and harmony throughout all of mankind. It’s sad that there are so many groups and individuals that argue, fuss, and fight while trying to develop and set new behavioral standards for everyone when God has already established the best, complete, living standard that is needed — for all times! As God’s people, we need to continually pray that it will be God’s will and His standard of morality that reigns supreme throughout mankind! May the Good LORD continue to bless us as we live for HIM!

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Sometimes the best way to illustrate a point is through the telling of a life situation that the listeners are able to understand. Jesus demonstrated this teaching method by the use of parables. When we speak of forgiveness of sins, an excellent biblical example is the narrative we call The Prodigal Son. In Luke 15, the Lord relates the case of a father and his two sons. The younger son comes to his father demanding his share of the inheritance. The father grants this son’s wish and the son departs “into a distant country” where he “squandered his estate in loose living.” When his wealth is spent, the son finds himself reduced to one of the most repulsive jobs a Jew could have, feeding pigs. Not only is he tending swine, he is so hungry he contemplates eating with the pigs. Luke 15:17 tells us, “When he came to his senses” he decides to return home, repent of his foolish sinfulness, and beg to be employed as a servant. While he is on the road home, the text relates one of the most heartwarming and encouraging scriptures in the Bible. ”And he (the son) got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20. The repentant one is generously welcomed home and treated as a son.

 

Many lessons can be drawn from these passages, but we will address two here. Under Jewish law, the oldest son was to receive a double portion of the father’s inheritance at the father’s death. When this second son comes and asks for his portion, in essence he is wishing the father to be dead so he can get what is coming to him. How this must have grieved the father, but he grants the son’s wish and the son leaves his home. I am sure that for a time, this son enjoyed the pleasures of sin, his new found “friends,” and playing the role of an important man. However, this situation did not last forever. With the loss of his money went the loss of his fair-weather companions and he found himself in the depths of despair, the likes of which he had never known. However, hope for his redemption was not dead, because while he was at his lowest, the Bible tells us he finally “came to his senses.” When the child of God chooses to go away from the safety and security of a loving and faithful God, we are not using good sense. How unwise we are to leave our loving Father to sink into the pits of worldliness, but we do it all the time, because sin can be so alluring! The answer to this problem is to return home, repent, and renew our lives of faithfulness. There is NO other solution to sin. In John 6:68, when the Lord asked Peter if he would “go away” from him, Peter replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Don’t bother looking to other solutions to sin, there are none. A second beautiful truth found in these verses is the father’s response to his son’s homecoming. While the son was on the road home, the father sees and recognizes his wayward child while “he was a long way off…” The father had kept a vigilant watch and a hope in his heart that his son might possibly return home. He runs to meet this previously ungrateful son, embraces him, kisses him, clothes him, and calls for a celebration. This father’s response mirrors the character of our heavenly Father. He is saddened by our disobedience, but overjoyed at our repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” What a wonderful God we serve!

 

If and when we find ourselves lured into sin, we must stop and “come to our senses” and repent. God will gladly and graciously welcome us back. It is the only solution for success in this life and the life to come. The wise king Solomon put it so well in Ecclesiastes 12:13 when he said, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” Are you doing your duty?

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