"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Matthew 7:7
"I was once lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see." are the words spoken by John Newton, the author of the song, "Amazing Grace". There is no greater power in creation than Grace - it is creating, growning, expanding, encouraging, enabling and enhancing. It means all good for you and the end desire of Grace is that you will be filled with joy (John 15:11).
During my twenty years of ministry I have seen JESUS heal the sick, give sight to the blind and feed the hungry. It has many times brought tears to my eyes and praises of joy for the LORD JESUS CHRIST to my heart. No other power on earth can do what JESUS can do. But as the verse from Matthew says, we mus ask, seek and knock - in other words we must engage with seriousness to have the reward of the fruit of its blessing.
I remember traveling to the inner jungle of Honduras to meet with a devote Christian woman. She lived in dirt poverty. When we arrived and approached her she said, "I knew you were coming, I saw it several days ago." Where she lived in the jungle there was no electricity, no internet, no phones - nothing. Yet, because of the closeness of her relationship to JESUS she had more knowledge than those connected to worldly power.
Trust in the LORD and he will not disappoint you as the world does and will. Love Him with all your heart and He will pour out Him blessings upon you.
There is a corresponding Blog freatured on this topic this week - I encourage you to check it out.
"I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." John 10:10
Most assuredly JESUS is not talking about acquiring more material goods. JESUS is not against one having material possessions - as He is the giver of all blessings. Abraham was very wealthy yet the LORD did not reject him. There are those who have had much and those who have had little that have not found the answer to this promise. So what is JESUS offering us in a more abundant life?
I just got back from a trip where I visited with relatives. I had the opportunity to visit with one of my nephews. He is now twenty-eight years old. Since his early teenage years he has had a troubled life. All of the hope and countless prayers seemed to be of no avail.
After the visit I returned to the motel and received this text from my nephew. "Hey uncle Gordon I've never been baptized and I was wondering if you would want to do it...I've gotten close to the Lord and feel like I need to really hand my life over to him. If it wasn't for God I wouldn't be here doing so good. I just love God and want to do what's right in his eyes.
My nephew found the essence of that verse from JESUS. It took him years and a great deal of loss and pain, but he finally found it - that which each of us needs to be made whole. JESUS is the way, the truth and the life, and without Him there is emptiness, pain and suffering. It is the reality of the formation of human existence. Yet, how many of us give Him the appropriate response? How many of us truly make Him the main thing in our lives? Once He is the center of our lives then the abundance of life will be in the proper order. Abraham, with all of his wealth, kept GOD as the center of his life and he continued to prosper. Blessings to you!
"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 5:20
If we take the truth of that understanding into our hearts and let it reign over our spirit then joy like fresh water will flow over us. John also said in 4:4: "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." This is an attitude changer! Our attitude will change because of what takes place in our inner-being; that place of our soul, where our spirit dwells. When we realize that Jesus is in fact with us in that place of our soul then how can be ever feel defeated or anything less than joy-filled. When we give our hearts to JESUS, He gives us His SPIRIT - the HOLY SPIRIT to dwell within us. The HOLY SPIRIT comes up along side of our spirit and becomes one with us - so you are more than you were - in fact, you are "you plus JESUS!" Never to be the old person but a "New Creation!"
That is worth celebrating. Bask in the joy and remind yourself often. Through out the day proclaim this truth to yourself and see your continence rise to new heights.
Three days ago I stood talking with my neighbor in his front yard following the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. His yard was full of debris, fallen tree branches and hundreds of pine cones. It was nothing too serious and we gave thanks for that. However, my neighbor was in the midst of recovering from a hip replacement and was still using a cane to get around. There was no way that he could personally handle this situation.
Some of the fallen branches were good size and needed to be cut up with a chain saw. As we talked I mentioned several times that I would help him and it was as if he didn't even hear me, he just kept saying, "I don't know how I am going to take care of this?" The conversation went on and I finally looked at him and in a gentle but firm voice I said, "My friend, I just told you that I will cut up that wood for you. All you have to do is allow me to do it and let me run an extension cord from your house for power." He looked at me and said, "I'm use to doing things myself and not having people doing things for me."
My friend was having real trouble accepting Grace. In not accepting Grace for what it is we are in effect saying, "No!" to JESUS. JESUS wanted to reach out to him and help him in his time of need, but he was pushing back, mainly out of pride of self. I am not being overly critical of my neighbor, he is a good man and a believer in JESUS CHRIST, but like him most of us struggle with receiving the free love of GOD. In the Bible the word for this outpouring of GOD's love is "agape." It is CHRIST's love and it comes to us in the effective form of Grace. Grace is the engaged presence of JESUS within and upon our lives.
Maybe men have more trouble with this than woman because by nature we have take charge personalities - but woman can also struggle with this. In my early days of Christian growth I had real trouble with this area. If someone said to me, something as simple as, "That's a nice shirt." I would respond with a qualifier like, "Yes, but it is an old one and I think its run its course." I just couldn't accept their kind words for what they were - an expression of the LORD's love for me. Why couldn't I just say, "Thank you!" I had to move beyond false pride to the reality that JESUS is actively trying to extend love to me and He often uses His children for this purpose. Now it is true that Christians can also say some very inappropriate things, but that is not what I am talking about here.
For my part I still have to check myself in this area - and that is ok, at least I am aware of the dynamics and the reality of JESUS's love for me and His desire to express that love.
Oh, how blessed we are in the Love of JESUS! Will your accept it in all of its forms?
[For more on this topic: see today's blog,]
If CHRIST JESUS is not real, active and life changing then there is little to no reason to follow Him. But if He is, then there is every reason to make Him the center and purpose of one's life. I have found the second to be the solid truth - He is present, a positive power and life changing.
Last evening as it was getting dark I was in our front yard tending to some chores and I heard the sound of a bird. It was dark enough that I could not see the bird but could hear it. My first thought was that it was the mockingbird that has made its home in my yard. The sound was one of frantic chirping. Its movement was just as frantic as it went rapidly from place to place, first on a tree behind me, then to the roof of the house; from place to place it moved. The sound was of a bird that was distraught. I felt concern in my heart and initially spoke out to the bird, thinking it was my friend the mockingbird. I told it to be comforted for the LORD was there to help, but the frantic cry continued as it moved about the yard. Then, for whatever reason, without thought I simply went into prayer and prayed that the LORD would comfort His creature; while hearing its continued cry. My prayer became more intense and as I could feel the peace of JESUS within me the sound of the chirping started to become intermittent. Deeper into that presence of CHRIST within me I went and I could sense the sweetness of His presence. The chirping slowed to single chirps and the spacing of time between chirps increased. In that place of interior prayer I could actually feel the LORD's comforting hand upon this creature and heard one final chirp and then the silence of stillness in comfort. The bird was resting on a bush in front of me, maybe thirty feet away. Peace came upon my spirit as it did the awareness of the bird.
I have often said that "prayer is the participation in the reality of GOD." To my way of thinking, prayer is the medium through which one accesses the reality of GOD. It is not always a state of being on one's knees in a physical posture. Prayer is an awareness of unity - to various degrees; sometimes more and sometimes less.
Apostle Paul says in the verse above that "you are the temple of God." That means that the wholeness of God is within you. Wow!!! Yes, it takes time to grow into this understanding, but it is REAL and PRESENT and LIFE FORMING!
By faith we grow as His children to learn more about our relationship with Him and the wonder of His love for us. He offers to share the blessings of His Grace with us and let's us join in partnership with Him as co-creators.
Does it mean that we know everything and have control of everything - No! I know what happened with the comforting of that bird, but I still have many questions about it that I don't understand and I prayed that the HOLY SPIRIT would give me discernment for my understanding.
Come into the Joy and feel the blessing of His Love, Grace and Power within you.
"Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still."
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma things are getting back to normal. The electricity is back on, the rain and the winds have settled down to a moderate level and we are putting our house back in order. It is a relief to know that the storm has passed. We were very fortunate and realize that there were others who were far less fortunate. The storm, for all of its damage, could have been much worse.
As my wife and I feel comfort in seeing normalcy return, at least in stages, I am reminded of those in life who will not again find the normalcy that they wish for. I think of the one's who lost their loved one's in the horror of 9/11 and those who have not returned from the various battle zones alive, leaving broken hearts and empty dreams. It saddens me.
I have two families that are friends and in the military. I keep them in my thoughts and prayers. I realize for them normalcy is far different than my situation. The wives are separated for months at a time. They live in the threat of danger. For them normalcy must be a life of living sacrifice. I can relate to that somewhat having spent a year in Vietnam. In that situation abnormal became the norm.
In Psalm 46 GOD speaks into our souls and says, "Be still, and know that I am God." What a blessing it is to have Him speak peace into our troubled beings, in the midst of a world of confusion. He says, be still, I have things under control, just trust in Me!
For me that is where I find true normalcy. It is knowing that JESUS is in control, that He loves me infinity and has the power to exercise that love over my situations of life - I have experienced it time after time. Like JESUS reaching out to Peter, when Peter started to sink into the waves of life, willingly intersecting Peter's life with His supernatural presence. So it is for all who trust in JESUS. By our faith (trust) extended to Him, He will respond in His Love and Grace. One's trusting relationship with JESUS is the only normalcy that always brings rest to the heart and soul regardless of what the conditions are in the world or in our particular lives.
This certainty of His presence with us in this place is a foretaste of Heaven, where we will find perfect peace. It is there where our normalcy will be to have the wholeness of His present Love and Grace - never to be disrupted.
Listen to these words from John Owen, a 19th century Puritan: "Abiding in the Father's love, all is peace and quiet...Faith seeks out a place for the soul to rest. This rest is presented to the soul by Christ, the Mediator. By Christ the soul has access into the Father's love."
"There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn." Psalm 46:4-5
The Grace of JESUS CHRIST showers down upon us through the victory of His glorified Cross. He says "take up the cross and follow Me" (Mark 10:21). That is a command but also a plea; He wants us to walk in His glory and have the fullness of His Grace upon our lives. The truly amazing aspect of JESUS is that, not only is He alive, but He is willing and wanting to engage in our lives. His heart is devoted to our betterment.
With the threat of Hurricane Irma hovering over Florida and Southern Georgia I set off to the store last night to buy some batteries. I especially wanted D size batteries. They were no where to be found; the shelves were wiped clean. I knew that it was not likely at all that I would find any. On my drive home I said to the LORD, if I can get only one D size battery I will be happy (I needed four for our lantern and only had three at home). As I approached a Dollar General store I heard the nudging of the HOLY SPIRIT telling me to stop there. I had already tried more than five stores; I'm thinking: "Really?" I gave way to the understanding and drove into the parking lot. As I entered the store my eyes immediately went to the display for batteries and as I expected it was ravaged. Regardless, I walked around the counter and over to the display to get a better look. As I glanced down at the display I saw one lonely D size battery sitting by itself on the bottom shelf, out of its package. I thought: "Wow!", this is great, just what I asked for and just what I need. I took the battery along with some other items up to the counter and set it before the clerk. She picked it up and said: "I can't sell this to you." I had suspected this since it was not in a package and there was no pricing on it. I looked up at the clerk and said in a pleading voice: "But I only need one." She took her hand and pushed the battery towards me and said: You can have this one."
At that moment I knew the LORD was in charge of the situation and His Grace was not only with me but was making the way for me. I sang praises to Him all the way home. What an awesome LORD we serve. One who cares enough about a lowly man looking for one lonely D size battery.
This is the reality of Grace, it flows like a river and believers need to get into the stream of its current and the LORD will carry us along the way and eventually it pours out into paradise.
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:9-10
As I write this, Florida and Southern Georgia are facing the eminent possibility of Hurricane Irma. The nation has just experienced the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the weather experts are telling us that there is another Hurricane coming one week behind Irma. This can seem overwhelming and it is, at least to our human faculties. Yet, for Christians, we have a different perspective. We see things through the realm of our heavenly presence - "on earth as in heaven." We know that we have a connection, through our hearts and souls to a greater reality, in fact the one true reality. So our spirits should be at peace no matter where we are or the circumstances. There is no question that we need to be humanly engaged, but in that we need to know that CHRIST is fully engaged with us wherever we are and in all circumstances. Then, like in heaven, we will have peace within us and by faith there will be no storm that can overcome us - for we dwell in His enlivened and engaging Grace.
The true joy of Christianity comes from its reality. Christ lives! Therefore His Promise is sealed by His victory over the grave and death. How we, as Christians, bring that promise into our being is by faith and faith alone (Romans 1:17). That means that through faith Christians make a shift in reality - from the worldly realm to the living realm of CHRIST JESUS. In that realm of the living reality of JESUS we find that there is a new atmosphere in which we function and that is Grace - the "grace in which we stand". We now, through faith, live "under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1).
King David knew many struggles, inward spiritual battles and worldly forces coming against him, yet in all of that He kept his faith that the LORD would see him through. He said in Psalm 16 and it was referenced in Acts 2:25-26: "I foresaw the LORD always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moveover my flesh also will rest in hope."
Hope is as living as the one that we place our faith in and only faith can create the fullness of hope. Let us bring to focus the realtiy of our faith - the living presence of JESUS CHRIST, with us and within us and our hearts will rejoice and our tongues will sing with gladness.
"for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'" Acts 17:28
If we truly accepted this reality wouldn't it radically change our lives? Do you walk in the reality that JESUS is alive and within you and you are alive in Him. That is the true substance of Grace. It is both present and eternal and in fact makes the eternal a 'now' thing.
Henri Nouwen, a Catholic Priest from the 20th century, said that: "to pray is to live and think in the presence of God". Henri is putting into practice what we are being told from this verse in Acts. Life with JESUS is a reality and we join into that life in fullness. The fullness will be the result of our desire and faithful willingness to engage with JESUS.
As you go through this day give it a try. Bring the attention of your inner mind and thoughts upon JESUS often. Realize that you are one with Him and He is one with you. In this remember, that He is Almighty and all of His goodness is accessible to you and for your benefit. One other thing, don't be afraid to speak to Him realizing the love that He holds for you!
"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:5
Have you ever been disappointed in life by someone you know? My wife and I will be celebrating our 51 anniversary in two months and I know that there have been times in our marriage that I have disappointed her. The truth is simply that humans fail, some more frequently than others. That doesn't necessarily mean that we stop loving them. It does mean that we need to be realistic about our expectations. Recently, a family member whom I love dearly greatly disappointed me. Will I stop loving them, no! Yet, my heart was hurt by their actions and then a reality check set in and I remembered fully that the only one who won't disappoint me is the LORD JESUS CHRIST. He never has and never will. As Christians we must remember that our true hope is in Him and Him alone. That is the core principle of having 'Peace' in our lives; that Peace that JESUS tells us about in John 15: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." When we bring to remembrance this reality it will warm our hearts and help to comfort the human hurt and give forgiveness to the other.