Lucia's Blog: June 2016
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, June 30, 2016

"LET THE BEAUTY OF JESUS BE SEEN"

"For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps."  
1 Peter 2:21



To cultivate inner beauty, we must walk as Jesus walked, in His footsteps so that others may see His beauty radiating in our lives (Galatians 2:20).  Without Christ's influence in our lives and our walk, it is impossible to radiate His beauty.  Likewise, we must imitate His purity and passion (1 Cor. 11:1). By allowing His divine Spirit to dwell in us through His Word, it will help us to direct our steps so as to please Him, allowing His beauty to be seen in us (Eph. 5:18-19, Col. 3:16). 

The beauty of Jesus will help place our hope securely in Him, even when our loads are heavy and hard to bear (Ps. 42:5, Ps. 55:22, Matt. 16:24); even if others refuse to help us carry them.  When others are unkind to us and speak piercing words, it is then that we must remember how He was beguiled, betrayed, struck on the head, mocked, and reviled and allow His beauty to be seen in us.  Jesus was indeed denied His righteous claim by men who deceived others with their lies, yet He opened not His mouth to lash out in anger (Isa. 53:7-8, Matt. 27:30-44).

The beauty of Jesus must be seen in us every day and every step of our walk with Him.  His beauty will help us bear our cross daily ( Lk. 9:23).  It will help us to submit to Him and His rule.  

Therefore, let us strive to let the beauty of Jesus be seen in us by our good example both in word and deed (1 Tim. 4:12).  We have a beautiful hymn that presents this dramatic Truth.  I love this song!


Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity.
May His Spirit divine all my being refine
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.

When your burden is heavy and hard to bear
When your neighbors refuse all your load to share
When you're feeling so blue, Don't know just what to do
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you.

When somebody has been so unkind to you,
Some word spoken that pierces you through and through.
Think how He was beguiled, spat upon and reviled,
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you

From the dawn of the morning till close of day,
In example in deeds and in all you say,
Lay your gifts at His feet, ever strive to keep sweet
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you.

Luci




Monday, June 27, 2016

LEARNING JESUS

"But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." 
 Ephesians 4:20-24


Knowledge is sweet. The problem is that it brings with it the responsibility to act on what we have learned. When we begin to really know Jesus, we must face the real challenges of change. Let's think about the demands of this sweet knowledge.

We often forget that our God is all RIGHTEOUS, HOLY, and ALMIGHTY.  Our God is not an idol god, nor is He a rose, a candy stick or a pincushion.  We must not lose sight of WHO HE IS, what He demands and expects of us. He is all merciful, loving, longsuffering, kind, and the Author of our redemption and Restorer of our souls, but that does not mean He is going to "accept" us in our sins and indulge us. It is not in God's Holy character.

Sometimes He divides.  He divides righteousness from unrighteousness; truth from error (untruth); evil from good; peace from not peace. Jesus says,

"Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:51-53).  

It means that there will be divisions among family members, among brethren, friends, and other relationships for His sake. Yes, our relationships will be affected for His sake and the sake of His kingdom. When we choose to take up our cross and follow Him, counting the cost, this will divide us from others. The minute we decide to stand for Truth and Righteousness, we are going to appear separated from the world or from those who practice the opposite. We are called to be holy and worthy of our calling. We are to crucify our flesh and its desires and walk as He walked in all righteousness.

As those who have heard, been taught, and have learned Christ, that is, the Truth, we must crucify the old self and put on the new self.  The one renewed in his mind, according to the Spirit of Christ, renewed is in the likeness of God, created to be righteous and holy.  We must be careful about what we choose and the entertainment we take in, careful about the books we read, the movies we watch, what and how much TV we watch, the music we listen to, the sports we like, our social media, the friends we choose, and many things of this kind that are thrown our way to make us stumble.

Unfortunately, in today's culture, the message is often the opposite. We are told to learn "ACCEPTANCE," which is, in fact, to give our permission for someone to indulge in sin. They will say, "Well, it is okay." "It is not that harmful." "A little bit is not going to hurt you or make you lose your soul." When the truth is, that if what we choose or allow is not in accord with the Word of God, then it is a sin.

Therefore, let us follow the absolute standard, and that is God's Truth. The Truth dictates what we should do and how we ought to walk. His Word is pure, perfect, simple, true, and righteous altogether; able to make the simple in heart, wise, and able to restore the soul and equip it for every good deed. The Truth will free us from all blindness and foolishness.
  • We, as children of God, are not called to compromise our calling and pretend it is okay.  We are to bring every thought captive, "We are destroying speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). 
  • We are to question everything we do or say, asking what is written in the Word of God.  

It is sad to see how many Christians partake of the fruits of darkness without rebuking them. It is wrong! This compromise can be as simple as a movie or the music we listen to, our culture idols, or our books, or our friends. We need to be wise and use discernment. Otherwise, we are in danger of losing our souls for eternity. What a tragedy that will be!

God expects and demands of us, His followers, that we ask for wisdom and understanding to do His will in every aspect of our life. We cannot serve two masters! One does not include God, and the other does. We are His handiwork prepared for every good work. We must make God part of every decision, whether great or small. Whether in family, friends, entertainment, health, education, or how we spend our time, God cares for us as His children.  All we have to do is ask for whatever it is that we need to be complete in Him that we may be righteous and holy.

As those who profess to be God's children, we must not participate in the sins of this world. Nothing can justify that! He demands that we OBEY Him and take a stand for His Truth and righteousness. We are not called to be foolish and idle!  Do you think that God is foolish and idle?  Is obedience idle?  Is love idle?  Is righteousness idle?  Is Truth idle?  I am afraid too many of us, His children, get too comfortable in our beds of idleness, acceptance, and compromise. We deceive ourselves when we worry about being accused of  "being judgmental" and refuse to rebuke sin at all.

Please let us not fall into Satan's trap!  Do not offend.  Do not be rude. Do not be unkind.  Do not be unloving... Let us stand for the Truth that has been once given to us by our Lord Jesus, embrace and love it with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let us be like those giants of the faith who were able to stand for their faith, the Truth, boldly and simply in times of hardship and persecution, and refused to compromise and partake with those who practiced lawlessness.

Our Lord Jesus never encouraged us to sin, nor did He ever indulge us in our sins, just because He loved us so much. He never has nor will He ever give us the license to keep sinning. Don't forget, He called us out of our sins, our lawlessness, that we might love the Truth and become free from the slavery of sin. Let's not be idle! Let us speak, fight, and stand firm in our faith and His Truth. Remember, Truth is life and not death. Truth is eternal. Truth endures forever.

With all this on our shoulders, placed there by God’s righteousness, holiness, and Truth, let us purpose in our heart, soul, and mind to refuse to look like the world, walking in lawlessness. Let us refuse to walk in darkness but rather in His Light. Let us refuse to partake in the deeds of darkness but rather rebuke them. Let us refuse to compromise our Faith, the Truth, and God's righteousness and holiness. Instead, let us be rooted in our faith and be holy because HE IS HOLY.  Remember, God must be number one in our life! Let's not provoke God to anger by lawlessness in our lives. Our God is a consuming fire! Let us never forget His glory, which is His righteousness.
"The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet." (Nahum 1:3

So, in which areas of your life do you need to ask God's wisdom and understanding to walk in righteousness and holiness, in His likeness? Have you forgotten to walk the ancient paths? Are you partaking in the works of lawlessness, whether big or small? Have you become seared and blind to sin?  Have you forgotten that God is all righteous and holy and therefore demands that we be holy?
"But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy" (I Peter 1:15-16).

May the Lord help us to walk in all righteousness and holiness without compromise according to His wisdom and understanding.

Luci

Friday, June 10, 2016

THE ROCK THAT IS HIGHER THAN I!

"Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.  Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!" 
Psalm 61:1-4



Every time that we begin to feel strong and self-sufficient, we are brought to our knees by a powerful blow in our earthly life. The Lord allows us to be reminded that there is no more magnificent ROCK than the ROCK of our Lord in Whom we find refuge and strength. Let us lean upon "the ROCK that is higher than I."


O sometimes the shadows are deep,
And rough seems the path to the goal,
And sorrows, sometimes how they sweep
Like tempests down over the soul!

O then to the Rock let me fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I;
O then to the Rock let me fly
To the Rock that is higher than I!

O sometimes how long seems the day,
And sometimes how weary my feet;
But toiling in life's dusty way,
The Rock's blessed shadow, how sweet!

O near to the Rock let me keep,
If blessings or sorrow prevail;
Or climbing the mountain way steep,
Or walking the shadowy vale.


We are, at times, exhausted and overwhelmed by sorrows, valleys of sufferings, doubt, confusion, helplessness, and hopelessness.   An array of circumstances may bring us to this state of despair, and we don't know what to do.  We may feel insecure and exhausted by the loss of a loved one, or a severe illness, loss of health, financial catastrophe, enemies that seem to be stronger than we are.  God appears to wait as we struggle, reaching the limits of our ability.  We wonder if our faith can bear anymore.  Every escape route is blocked, with no way out.  Christ is our Rock during times of shadow and sorrow, for He is our rock of strength (Ps. 62:1-7).

Helpless, hopeless, and with no one to turn to for understanding, comfort, guidance, or help, some spend their lives alone. Others are surrounded by unfeeling family members, perhaps because they are not Christians and resent the believer’s convictions and lifestyle. Others have simply grown old, and all their friends and relatives have died. Whatever the cause, many know what it is like to have no one to whom they can turn for understanding.  David wrote this beautiful Psalm 61 when he was a king over all Israel.  Yet David acknowledged that he desperately needed God, for there were times he felt very alone and distressed. 

The purpose of our struggles is to teach us not to trust in ourselves but in God alone.  The good news is that God provides us a special shelter.  

  • Jesus Christ is that Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). The Rock that Moses smote was a type of Christ.
  • In Deut. 32:4, 18 Jehovah is "our Rock."
  • That  Rock is the "Stone cut not with hands." (Daniel 2:45)
  • That Rock a symbol of God's strength, a place of shelter, and a place of defense.

In James 1:2-4, we are told that we need to appreciate trials so that we might realize how wonderful salvation, eternal life, and our relationship with Jesus is, a beautiful relationship where we are forgiven and can call upon God for help at any time.  When we feel that we are at "the end of the earth," far away from communion with God or man, it is at that point that we realize that we need the Rock that is higher and greater than we are that we might find refuge and protection.


I.   “When my heart is overwhelmed (faint)”:  (61:2)

All Christians, like David, experience times in their lives when they lack courage, motivation, or just the necessary strength.  By no means does this imply that we are failing or have done something wrong; rather, it is often a reminder that we simply need to draw nearer to our God for strength. We must always remember that being a Christian is not a charm against every threat that might discourage and frighten us. 

This Psalm reminds us that when our heart is faint, overwhelmed, or weak, we need to pray fervently to draw strength from our Rock.


II.   “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”:  (61:2)

Our Lord is a mighty Rock for us. This idea often occurs in the book of Psalms, appearing twenty times. It will occur in the 63rd Psalm, three times, and is found in Psalm 18 four times.   It is when we are suffering from despair, finding ourselves down and out, that we come to realize that our God is higher or greater than we are.  We then realize that we need God.  Sadly, when we find ourselves on top, as David was at this time (he was the king of all Israel, after all), we forget about God, believing that we can tackle any need that can arise.  But David never made this mistake. He never forgot that God was extremely higher and above him and that he needed God always.  And though Israel may have looked to David as their rock, David looked to a rock that was higher than he.

  
III.  “Lead me”:

Clearly, the Word of God, will “lead us” to this Rock (Romans 10:17).  David expressed his gratitude for difficult times, times when he felt like he was at the “end of the earth;" times that reminded him of his absolute need for God. The Old Testament overflows with examples of men (Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel), who trusted God when far from home, during times when they found themselves aliens and unsettled.  Often we find ourselves overwhelmed because of so much false religion that appears to be overly resistant to God's Truth.  But it is then that we must realize and remind ourselves that the Rock that is higher than we are is there as well.  Therefore, we must not lose heart!


IV.  For you have been my refuge”:  (61:3)

David had experienced God's safety by walking with Him.  He likewise allowed himself to learn that God can be trusted with our security and shelter. We are safe under God's wings!


V.   “Refuge under the shelter of your wings.”

This psalm addresses a fundamental need, the need to feel “safe.” David did not make the mistake of placing his sense of security in earthly things, an earthly army, a large chariot force, or an earthly fortress. In fact, God even had forbidden the kings that would rule His people from “multiplying horses” (Deuteronomy 17:16); that is, placing their trust in a large chariot force. Sadly many feel safe putting their faith in material riches, possessions, human relationships, and so on. They soon learn that all these things are not as “safe” or “permanent” as they pretend to be. In fact, Jesus noted the extreme insecurity of all earthly things (Matthew 6:19). In another Psalm, David said, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in Thee; And in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge, until destruction passes by” (Psalm 57:1).  What a beautiful picture of our God as our wings of refuge in perilous times!


VI.  The Blessings:

God says that a relationship with Him is our refuge. He is our place of safety. He provides the following benefits:

  • He offers us safety, comfort, shelter, and peace rather than the torment of focusing on our problems.
  • Respect and reverence for Him remove all lesser fears when we listen to His counsel.
  • He helps us to see our problems with the right perspective. They are not insurmountable (hopeless and overwhelming).
  • He offers us a unique relationship that removes distracting worries, energizes us, strengthens our resolve, calms our concerns, and helps us focus on what we can do at the moment (1 Corinthians 15:58).
  • We are often rewarded with the ability to see the blessings of our trials (Philippians 1:12).


CONCLUSION:

Psalm 61:1-4 is a prayer that describes David's days when he was fleeing from Saul.  Verse 5:  "For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name."  This was a time when David was king and realized that God had answered all of his prayers for refuge, shelter, safety, and protection.  As a king, David also ruled over those who fear God; these were the ones he had shepherded.  David prayed that God would preserve his life (61:6) as well as watch over those that ruled in the future, a rule that would eventually result in Jesus' ruling over the faithful (2 Samuel 7:12).

God is our perfect "fort, our stronghold."  He is the only refuge where we can be protected from everything.  There are circumstances in our life because of our difficulties and hardships (Ps. 38:6) that make our days seem so long and leave us very weary (Ps. 69:1-3).  And though we're toiling in life's dusty way  (as Israel did when they were wandering in the wilderness toward Canaan), we can still eat and drink from the spiritual Rock (Christ) that followed them (1 Cor. 10:1-4).   Christ is our Rock on whom we can build our lives (Matt. 7:24-27).  Christ, our Rock, helps us when sorrows prevail (1 Pet. 5:7).  Therefore, we must seek refuge in that Rock, which is Christ.  

"O, then, to the Rock let me fly, To the Rock that is higher than I; O, then, to the Rock let me fly, To the Rock that is higher than I."  


So as we travel our journey in the desert of this life, with all its hardships, toils and sorrows, let us always look for refuge to "The Rock that Is Higher than I."


May we all come to our place of refuge, strength, and defense, in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Luci