What if . . . you won the lottery and didn’t know it??? Or maybe you didn’t believe it.

Robert was getting older and he had a guilty pleasure that he indulged in whenever he was in town.  He would buy a lottery ticket.  It was always the same numbers at the same convenience store.  He liked to think about what would happen if he won. He was old and he thought he would take it in a lump sum so he could leave it to his children.  He would travel to visit them all and play with his grandchildren.   He would sell the house and get a small but very high-end RV.  He would be like a turtle and take his home with him.  It gave him great joy to think about it.

Then came the day!  He had his tickets and the numbers would be drawn tonight.  he sat down to watch the program and because he had worked hard that day, he fell asleep.  The numbers were announced.  One by one the numbers were announced.  They were his numbers, but he didn’t know.  It was just another day.  He woke up and went to bed and didn’t give it another thought.  The news said that someone had won the largest lottery jackpot ever.  He was happy for the person that won.  The person never came forward.  Everyone was curious.  What had happened?  Who had won the money?

He went to town to pick up some supplies and stopped by his store to buy another ticket.  The man behind the counter said, “Robert, you always play the same numbers, don’t you?”  “Why yes, I do.  Why do you ask?”  The clerk told him that those were the winning numbers from the lottery last week.  Robert smirked.  He didn’t believe it.  He knew he would never win.  He went on his way.

The clerk notified the lottery people.  He said that the old man, Robert, had bought the ticket.  They looked at the security camera footage and checked the time and the history of the numbers.  He had definitely won.  They contacted him.  Still, Robert could not believe he had won.  He rummaged in his drawer looking for the ticket.  He pulled it out and stood there in awe.  HE HAD WON!!  His dream had come true and he almost missed it!

Today’s Lesson:

We are like Robert in so many ways.  God has provided everything for us.  He has given His Son for our salvation, His Holy Spirit to be our Comforter, Guide and Teacher.  He has made us His children, His friends and His lovers.  But like Robert, we don’t know it or maybe we know about it but we don’t believe it or maybe we believe it but it seems too good to be true and so our doubt outweighs our acceptance.

He tells us, “Only believe.  All things are possible to him who believes.”  If we turn away for any reason, He is still waiting to help us.  He wants to bless us.

We stop the blessing by being of two minds.  We believe it – sort of – but we don’t really think it could happen to us.  He has made it possible to be sons and daughters of the Most High God.  He is the King and we are King’s kids with all rights and privileges.  The tragic thing is that so few of us know what is available to us if only we will believe on Jesus Christ and His finished work.  Salvation is available to everyone and with it comes the whole package.  The reason that we don’t see the benefits, is because we choose not to believe in all He has done for us and all He has given us.

We live far below our privilege. Stop doubting and start believing.  Remember:  “Only believe.  ALL things are possible to him that believes.”

In order to get from one room to another in a house, you have to go through a door.  To enter the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ is that door.   He is the Way.  No one comes to the Father except by Him.

When you go through Him, you will encounter His goodness.  You will find that He is good and only does good.  If there is anything good anywhere, it is from Him.  Every good and perfect work is from the Lord.  You can trust Him.

Today I invite you to accept what Jesus did for you through His death, burial and resurrection.  To learn more, go to:

http://www.gothedistanceradioministry.org/messages/lgreen-wednesday-7-4-07.mp3

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Astonishing Love!

The Story

The divorce was over. 

Since then, Anita had done a lot of things she was not proud of but she had been rejected so long that she was looking for affirmation from anyone.  She used her body to get relief from the words that had played over in her head.  Her ex-husband had told her that ‘no one would ever want her’and she had believed him.  Somehow, now there was vindication.  Everyone wanted her body, but maybe he was right; did any of them really want her?

She had two little children and she was always careful to see that they were cared for, but this last time, when she didn’t know where they were frightened her.  She tracked them down and loaded them into the car.  They stopped at McDonald’s and got hamburgers and fries for everyone.   The drinks she had at the bar before she went home were wearing off.

She drove straight home and put the kids to bed telling them that she loved them.  As she did, she wondered how she would get off this crazy path she was on.  Anita loved her children and knew that the way things were now; she was cheating them of her time and training.  She had given that responsibility to others.

Going Home

When the call came that her Grandmother had died, she left work, picked up the children and put some things in a suit case and began the 28 hour trek to get back home.  She didn’t know it then, but she was headed toward love and freedom.

At the funeral, surrounded by the love of her family and friends, Anita took stock of her situation.  She determined in her heart not to go back to the crazy life she had been living.  She was making good money, but that didn’t make up for the longing in her heart.

Following Her Heart

She quit her job and sold her house over the phone.  She made arrangements with her parents to move in with them until she could get established.  She got a job right away.  Her Sister stepped up to watch the children when she was at work.  She would come home, tired and hurting.  Her bunions throbbing from all the time she was on her feet.  Her dear Mother would get a pan of sudsy warm water and kneel down to lovingly wash her feet.

Love

Her folks never asked questions.  They knew she was different; not the sweet innocent girl who had left their home.  She was worldly and sensual.  It drove them to their knees.  Yet to Anita, they never offered criticism or condemnation.  They only gave love and acceptance.  She was their daughter and they loved her and that was unchangeable.

What Anita did not know was that her Mom was not well, and soon she ended up in the hospital.  The doctor removed her gallbladder and with it 300 gall stones.  Anita had been so self-absorbed; she hadn’t noticed her Mom’s pain.  What remarkable love her Mom had sacrificed to her oldest daughter.

Today’s Lesson:

Anita’s parents showed the love of family.  They accepted her even when their hearts were aching at her condition.  This is a picture of the love of God for His family but it is only a small peek at the astonishing love that Father God has for His kids.

We Have An Enemy Who Lies to Us

Satan and his demons have taught us to believe that everything bad that happens is ‘an act of God.’  We have accepted the idea that God is just waiting for us to make a mistake so that he can lower the boom on us.  We fear Him but we don’t understand that we are supposed to reverence Him.  (That is what the word ‘fear’ means in the Bible – reverence and awe.)

When things are bad, we bargain with Him.  God, If only You will . . . and we make our request and  .promise to be good if only . ..  Father God knows that we can’t be good with our own effort.  He only wants us to love Him by accepting His Son Jesus and then He will change our hearts and our spirits; then being good will become second nature.  It is not about what we do.  It is about Who He is. 

The Truth – God Loves US

  • Every good and perfect gift is from above and from the Father . . .
  • He loves us with an everlasting love.
  • He is good and only does good.
  • He is love.
  • He has promised ‘no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’
  • His love endures forever.
  • We are His family.
  • We are children of the King.
  • He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.
  • He has forgiven ALL of our sin – past, present, and future!
  • He has made us ‘new creations.’
  • Our old life has passed away and all things have become new.
  • Even when the old habits in our flesh act out, He gently nudges us to turn to Him so that He can help us to be free.

We Live Far Below Our Privilege

The Scripture in Galatians 5:1 is haunting.  It says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free!”  In church, we don’t see many people who were truly free.  Learning how much Father God loves us brings us to that freedom.

If you are struggling, join me in singing, “yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me,  yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!”  Whenever we mess up, we can know that God’s love is always available.  Go to Him at once and receive His forgiveness.  It is always available.  Then sing that little chorus over and over again, until you begin to understand His astonishing love.

Living Sacrifices

When the firemen rushed into the distressed Twin Towers on 9/11, they gave no thought to their own lives, their own families or to the danger that they advanced toward.  When the Principal and the Counselor at Sandy Hook charged the gunman, they had only a desire to save the children.  When a soldier on the front lines steps in front of a ‘buddy saving his life, he does it without thought of himself.  A mother who has a child with enormous disabilities, spends her life caring for her loved one.  Others may forsake them, but she stays steadfast.  A grandmother who gives up her retirement plans to care for her grandchildren because her daughter is in jail.  An elderly couple who have spent their lives together are now facing the dreaded disease of Alzheimer’s and the husband who loves his dear wife cares for her tenderly and no one sees and no one seems to care.

Everyday, someone becomes a living sacrifice.  Some of them we call them heroes; we may not even be aware of the sacrifice of others.  They are selfless people who have but one thought and it is the welfare of others.

Today’s Lesson: 

Considering what people will sacrifice to save the life of another in this world system, how much more we, who love Jesus,

are privileged to sacrifice our lives for the opportunity of others to spend eternity with Him.  What a glorious privilege we have.  We may share the wonder of eternal life that saves others for eternity.

He isn’t mad at you.  He has made the way for you to come to Him.  It isn’t about laws and failure;  it is about love and faithfulness.  Such a great God is truly trustworthy.  He has given those of us who come to Him everything that He has given His Son.  We are joint heirs with Him.

I pray that He brings people to me with prepared hearts so that I may tell them of His great love for us and how he sent Jesus to pay for all the condemnation and sin that has been plaguing us and trading it for His great love and faithfulness.  Where ever He leads me, I will go.

There is a place in the Bible that says we are “to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.”  I have read it many times.  It had always seemed to be an unreasonable request that asked me to give up my hopes and dreams.  As I have matured in the love of the Lord, I have come to realize that my hopes and dreams have changed.  I only want what He wants.I want His desires to be my desires.  I have placed myself in His hands as a living sacrifice.  I pray that I may be wholly, acceptable to Him.

He knows your heart and He wants to come to you.  He wants to have a love relationship with you individually.  Start seeking Him with all your heart.  Quit looking at what is holding you back.  He will help you develop a strong relationship.  He makes it so simple.  He will give you His Spirit to help you on the path of life to enjoy it to the fullest!

God’s heart hungers for you.  If you want to know Him and have never invited Jesus into your heart and life, here is a short prayer to help you reach out to His great Love:

Father,  Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross and through His resurrection, I ask Jesus to come into my heart.  Sin isn’t big enough to hold me as I reach out to You.  This life that I have now received will allow me to live with You  throughout eternity.   Jesus blood purchased me out and made me righteous.  Nothing can ever take me out of your love again.  Father, I believe You exist and that You sent Jesus here for me.  I receive you into my heart and I give you my life.   I receive Your life into me and now I join others who have a part in the abundant life.  I am a joint-heir with You on the other side!  Teach me what I am an heir to.  Show me how to walk with You and show me how to tell others of Your great love.  Amen 

This is what newness of life is all about.  Go to:  http://www.gothedistanceradioministry.org/our-pastors/larry-green/ and listen to the short teachings from April 15th to April 20th for more light on your new life.

One Way – Only One Way

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Patrick was suddenly aware of the beautiful woman with crystal blue eyes and chestnut-brown hair.  She was stunning.  She was gracious and approachable.  People seemed to enjoy her presence.  He wanted to win her but had no idea how to do it.  He decided to go out and win the hearts of other women.  He felt that somehow, in this manner, he would learn to win the heart of his loved one.  He became a man of some reputation leaving a trail of broken hearts across the city.  Finally, he felt he was ready.

He had studied about her and knew where she would be.  He arranged to be there and to meet her.  He used all of the methods he had used in winning the affections of the other women.  She looked at him with tears brimming in those crystal-clear blue eyes and said, “Patrick, I saw you long ago and loved you.  I have watched as you have pursued other women and it broke my heart.  Now you come to me with all your experience and it means nothing to me.  All I ever wanted was you.  The way to my heart was clear.  You had only to come to me and I would have received you and loved you.”

Patrick’s face showed his dismay.  “Do you mean that you have wanted me all this time?”  “Yes, I have longed for you.”  Patrick asked, “Is it too late?”  “Dear Patrick, since you have found that there is only one way to my heart and that is to come to me and accept my love, I freely give it and forgive you all your previous efforts. ”

Today’s Lesson:

This is the way of our great God. He has provided one way – only one way – into His Presence.  He sees us pursuing false gods and his heart breaks. He knows that the enemy of our souls wants us to believe that there is more than one way to Him.

There is only one way and it is through the shed blood of Jesus.  He is the Doorway to Father God.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to God, except through Jesus.

All we have to do is stop our self-effort and our self-focus and turn to Him.  He sent His only Son, Jesus, to pay the price for all of our sin.  He made it possible for any one of us, regardless of our past choices or beliefs, to come to Him.  The only qualification is that we accept what Jesus has done for us.  As we turn to Jesus, He provides us everything we need for life and godliness.  He loves us and wants to spend time with us.  He wants us to fall in love with Him and fulfill our destiny.

He knew that we needed Him and so He didn’t make it complicated.  He didn’t give a different way to one group of people and another way to another group.  He knew it needed to be simple and so He provided only one way.

The enemy likes to bring doubt and confusion.  He wants us to question everything.  Satan’s desire is to keep us off-balance and away from the One Way, Jesus.  He wants you to think Jesus is just an enlightened teacher or a prophet, but He doesn’t want you to know Him and the power of His blood.  But Jesus is not enlightened – He is the Light!  Jesus is not just a prophet – He is King of Kings and the Lord of lords!  Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”  He is God!!!

Today, He is inviting you to come to Him.  He is waiting.  Just tell Him that you want to know Him and ask Him to make Himself real to you.  I assure you that He will.

Are You in the Way or is the Way in You??

Frank walked along the path in the early evening.  “It won’t be long before it is dark,” he mused, “I should be getting back.”  In a few minutes the sun was down and darkness was closing in rapidly.  He knew the path well, but the darkness began to conceal it.  He wished he had left home earlier or at least brought a flash light.

As he rounded the bend about one mile from the main road, a figure stepped out in front of him.  He could sense the size of the man, but couldn’t make out his features.  “Hello?”  The intruder didn’t speak.  “Excuse me,” he said as he tried to go around this silent interruption to his solitude.  The man grabbed him by the arm.  Alarm spread through Frank as he asked, “What do you want?”  Still there was no response.

Gathering his courage, Frank began to speak in soft tones.  “Sir, I don’t know why you have put yourself in my way tonight, but I have good news for you.”  The hold on his arm loosened slightly.  “You may not be aware that there is someone who loves you very much.  He lives in me an wants me to tell you that he understands and that he knows you are frightened and alone and that you don’t know what to do or where to turn.

He calls Himself the Way and I am His follower.  He knows that you thought to harm me by getting in my way tonight, but instead he wants to save you and has sent you to me, so that I could help you.  Won’t you please tell me why you are here and how I can help?”  For the first time, the man spoke, “My name is Stanley and I don’t know what to do.”

Frank thought he heard a sob escape from the man and he reached out and placed his hand over the hand the held him.  “It’s okay.  Let’s go get a cup of coffee and work this out.”

Today’s Lesson:

Frank knew who he had inside him.  He knew Him well.  Fear had tried to win the day when the tall anonymous man grabbed his arm, but he immediately turned to the One who lives in him and recovered his peace.  After whispering a brief prayer, he was able to share the Way out of the problems that Stanley was encountering.

This is what is possible to us when we lay aside religion and get to know Jesus.  He IS the Way, the Truth and the Light.  When the Way truly lives in us, we can be bold in the most threatening situations.  As long as we are alive, the love of Jesus can reach out.

Sometimes we are so busy judging the person who is in trouble that we don’t want to be around them.  There are many stories of people who go to church to find help only to be told they don’t measure up.  It is God’s job to judge the world and for believers there is ‘no condemnation.’  When we judge others, it clouds our thinking and keeps us from the love that sets us all free.

So the question for today is:  Are you in the way or is the Way in you?

Who? Me? Submit to Him??

Lizzie was an independent woman who had no problems managing her life and other people.  She was successful in business and had a large group of friends whose company she enjoyed.  Lizzie loved the Lord and was active in her church.  She met Colton at a church retreat and she found him to be charming and kind.  He captivated her.  They married after a brief courtship and their life together began.

Soon she found that Colton had some flaws that began to bug her.  He would start projects and never finish them.  They had enough money to pay for them but he didn’t think anyone else could do the projects right.  He had a call to the ministry.  They also argued about the Bible and its interpretation.  He said that he could never go into the ministry if he couldn’t sell it at home.

As the years went by, Lizzie quit talking to him about spiritual things and she would hire people to come in and complete some of the projects Colton had begun.   Sometimes, Colton would let it pass.  This time she went too far.  It was a project he had been working on and pondering over.  He came home to find it finished and it was all wrong.  He was furious.  He ripped out the competed work.  They had a huge fight.

Lizzie went to the Pastor for counseling.  He brought up submission and she flashed anger. Pastor asked her if he was abusing her physically or spending hours watching pornography.  She said, “No, of course not.”  But how can I submit to him?  He is ruining out home.  We can’t talk about anything in the Bible or your sermons.  He doesn’t agree with me on anything and if he would just complete something- anything, I would try to submit!  Pastor told her that submission was the key to Colton finding his ministry and to her freedom.  Pastor tried to explain that she must quit focusing on the problems and start focusing on the Lord.  Then God would show her how to submit to the man she married.  She left his office adding Pastor to the list of men she didn’t want to submit to.

Lizzie hated the word submit.  It wasn’t fair.  She had always done her work with excellence.  She completed tasks on time.  She didn’t understand how anyone could let something be half done.  She studied the Bible faithfully and had for years, yet her opinion was not valued.  Pastor was a man and men just loved to tell women they should submit.  She fumed.

Things were tense at home that night and Colton asked her what was wrong.  She didn’t respond but got her pillow and went into the guest room and locked the door.  Colton was hurt and confused.

As Lizzie lay on the bed, her heart pounding, she asked the Lord, “Why?  Why do I have to submit to him?  I love him – love many things about him, but he is ruining our lives.”  She lay there, sobbing.  Colton knocked on the door several times, but finally he quit and went to bed.

About midnight, she awoke with a start.  There was a Presence filling the room.  She saw the Lord Jesus at the end of the bed and he said, “Get up and go to bed with your husband.  Give him to me and it will all work out.”  And then He was gone.  Peace settled on Lizzie.  She got up, took her pillow and went into her husband.  She wrapped her arms around him and whispered, “I love you.”  Colton took her hand and they slept peacefully.

From that time, Lizzie supported her husband in everything.  If he was working on a project, she would help him and amazingly, things began to be completed.  She found herself in awe of how able the Lord was to deal with Colton when she quit pointing out his weaknesses.

They began to be able to share their thoughts and understanding of Bible passages.  She found Colton much wiser than she had ever imagined.  He had begun to listen to her and as a result, she was listening to him.

Submission led Lizzie and Colton to an intimacy they never thought possible. They are inseparable. Colton is now moving into his prophetic role in the church.  Pastor smiles at Lizzie and nods his head knowing the great struggle that she had in trusting the Lord.

Today’s Lesson:

Lizzie not only struggled with submission to her husband, but further she was unable to submit to her pastor.  He submission problem was rooted in bitterness and a deep distrust of men.  A wife can get to the point of thinking she is entitled to do her own thing without thought of her spouse.  If he is not strong in His submission to the Lord, he may just give in to her leadership and go into neutral.  This is not what God has intended for us.  We are to be a picture of Christ and the Church.  It took a visitation from Jesus for Lizzie to change.  What will it take for you and me?

Submission is a gift.  It requires us to humble ourselves and recognize that we don’t know everything and we don’t have all the answers.  It is part of the choice that Father God built into our lives.  He made it possible for us to choose Him or reject Him.  He made it possible to submit to Him or resist Him.  If we can’t submit to God, we can’t really submit to anyone.

When we are willing, on our knees, to say, “Father, I don’t know what to do or what you want.  Teach me,” we are in the right mind-set.  He has said we are free – free to choose to go our own way.  Free to choose to love.  God will not take our hearts by force.  We get to choose to accept Him and His leadership or we can choose to accept the leadership of another that will take us by force.  The Scripture makes it clear.” Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

When a husband and wife finds true intimacy with each other there should be no more secrets between them.  Submission is built on a trust factor into the unknown.  It is abandonment of yourself into the love of the other.   They each still have flaws but as they give up their right to change the other, and give them to God to deal with, life begins to change.

The Lord has wonderful things in store for those who choose intimacy.  It is an amazing picture of the relationship He wants us to have

with Him.  He even says so in the Scripture.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31-32)  He calls the woman to submit to her husband as He desires the church to submit as His Bride.

He also says to ‘love one another, for love is of God.’  His ways are not our ways but His ways will bring blessings into our lives we never dreamed possible.  “Submit ye therefore one to another.”

(As a caveat, I want you to know that there are circumstances that are too dangerous to submit to and that include physical abuse.  There are other areas as well, but you will have to seek the Lord.  I even hate to put this in here as I know there are some who will justify themselves in circumstances that are merely inconvenient and not dangerous.)

What and who are you submitting to?  Is your love affair with the Lord leading you in your relationships with others or are you still trying to control everything and everyone around you.  It really all comes down to trust and resting in the love of God.  Can you take the first step today and begin to believe in what seems impossible?  You can – will you?

There is a Terrorist and it is Not Who You Think . . .

There is a terrorist . . .

Once he upon a time there was a very privileged individual who had everything.  He was next to most powerful person you could imagine.  The problem was that he just was not satisfied.  He wanted to be the most powerful.  He didn’t appreciate all the benefits that he had in his role.  He had incredible talents and was an incredible musician.  Nothing came to the powerful leader without passing through this one.  His own exalted position caused him to be prideful and he hungered to have it all.  He had a plan . . .

He would gather others to join him in taking down the big guy.  In his delusion, he could see himself sitting at the helm and being the greatest!  Somehow he convinced others and they joined him when he started the attack.  He hadn’t counted on the incredible power of the one-in-charge.  He was soundly defeated and exiled faraway.  He raged and raged.  He began to destroy everything in his new location.

The powerful person continued to enjoy life while this creature played havoc in his new environment.  All of his confederates were with him and they found out that there was no way back.  They struggled with this news and soon joined the rebel in his anger.

The one who still had the power brought people into the exiled location where he had planted a beautiful garden himself and moved a couple into it.  He told them that they were his family and loved them tenderly as children.  He charged them to take control over the garden and expand it into the space the enemy had destroyed.  It was ideal.  The one with the power would come down and fellowship with them individually and together.  As their Father, he taught them new things every day.  They became great friends.  He told them  that there was only one rule.

He gave them access to everything except a funny tree that was in the midst of the garden.  It had an odd name – The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They didn’t know what it meant and didn’t care.  They had everything else.  He also tucked another tree in the garden called the Tree of Life.  The couple could eat of it anytime they wanted and they did.  There was no problems and no time to mark off the days.  It was a wonderful existence with meaningful activity, love and joy.

The destroyer disguised himself as one of the creatures in the garden and slithered in to see what was up.  He saw the wonder that these two shared and it infuriated him.  He plotted just as he had done before.  Finally her arrived at a plan.  He would engage them and get them to doubt the one in charge.  It had worked before and he thought it would work again.

He began by using suggestion.  He suggested that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was to be desired and that the one in charge had kept them from it because it would make them just like him.  At first they blew him off.  They didn’t need it.  They had everything.  But he was a genial sort of guy and soon the constant suggestion began to infiltrate their thoughts.  The woman was the most vulnerable to his wiles and soon was studying the tree intently.

The man was one with his mate and when she began to tell him that she thought eating the fruit might be a good idea, he told her that they really should not.  But the enemy had his effect on them both and soon she took him by the hand and went to the tree.  They stood looking at it.  It was pretty and the fruit looked delicious.  The disguised enemy was there to entice them even further and soon the woman had the fruit in her hand.  She put it to her lips and took a bite and gave it to her man and he ate also.

At once, they knew it had been a mistake.  What would the power man think?  Condemnation fell on them and they ran and hid in some bushes.  They looked at each other.  Thoughts came to them that made them feel shame.  At once they knew they were naked and began to put leaves together so they could cover themselves.

About that time, the power man came into the garden.  Well, you probably know the rest of the story.  What you may not have processed is that it wasn’t the sin that separated them from the great one; it was the condemnation.  Condemnation keeps the sin consciousness ever before the one who has sinned.  He came to them and if they had run to him and asked forgiveness, it would have been over and life would have gone on as before.  As it was, everything changed.

Today’s lesson: 

There is a terrorist at loose in the world today and it is not Adam Lanza, Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden or Jeffrey Dahmer.  It is Satan who had once been Lucifer, the anointed one who covered.  He is the one who infiltrates the thoughts of lonely, confused, isolated people.  He gets some of them to spend time watching pornography and luring them into child abuse.  He tells others that they are victims and need to get even.  Other people hear the voices and try to silence them in a sea of drugs and alcohol. Some even adopt the enemy’s evil personality as their own and delight to kill others.   The terrorist is Satan and his minions.  He is out to steal kill and destroy.

The truth is that Adam Lanza and the others are just as much his victims as the children killed in the school shooting, the people who died in 9/11 and those blown up in Oklahoma City.  If it is associated with death, it is the work of Satan.

So why do many people spend time thinking that Father God is the culprit and asking, “Why would He let this happen?”  They call bad things ‘acts of God.’   They think that God is in charge of everything and forget that He has given us choice.  He will not step in and supernaturally change our choices, unless we come to Him and ask Him to intervene.

Even Satan had choice – which is how he got himself into this fix in the first place.  The enemy knows that there is no redemption for him and he is determined to steal as many of us from the family of God as he possibly can.

So, remember, you have been given choices and when we make them, it affects others as well as ourselves.  We choose what we watch and what we put in our minds.  We choose what we do when no one can see us.  We can choose to yield to the deceptive lies of the enemy and try to bury pain in assorted addictive behaviors.

We will all be in one camp or the other.  Who we yield to controls us.  If the terrorist controls us, we become a terrorist or at the very least we will try to be good, yet know we have missed it.  If we yield to the One Who loves us, then we become a lover. We get to choose.

Our choice determines our future and our possibilities.  If we think that it is hopeless and that things are so out-of-control that we can not affect it, then the terrorist will win.  If we ourselves get to know the Creator of the Universe and reach out to Him, He will show us how to reach out to others.  He will show that there are more than enough of us to accomplish His plan for our loved ones and for our nation.  Jesus started with just twelve.

Yes, there is a terrorist but he is defeated.  Jesus defeated him on the cross.  It is up to us to enforce his defeat.

So, now the ‘Once Upon a Time’ story continues.  Remember there is a Savior . . . and He wants each of us to live ‘happily ever after!’  Who will you yield to?  Choose wisely.

We Are Made for Joy!

Mara’s baby had been sick for several months before he died.  Her hope for his recovery had faded slowly and when he died in her arms, it sucked the life out of her.  She had pushed away everyone.  Her husband came home on a hardship leave from his post in Korea, but he had to return a month later.

Dena was Mara’s neighbor who insisted on looking in on her.  When the baby was sick, Mara had given her a key that she never gave it back after the funeral.  If Mara wouldn’t answer the door, Dena would come in any way.  She would take over and open the blinds and air out the house.  She would put a pot of soup on the stove and begin to do the dishes.

When Dena walked in, this time Mara began to scream at her to get out.  Dena talked to her in a soothing tone of voice.  Mara screamed louder and began to jump up and down.  Dena waited until the fury ended and went to the distraught girl and took her in her arms and held her tight.  Mara began to sob.  She cried until she ran through the pent-up emotions.  Dena kept softly telling her that she loved her and that it will be all right.

Finally, Mara rose up and looked at her, “Really?  Will it ever be all right again?  How could God have done this to me?”  Dena knew this was not a time for reason, but she did say this, “Mara, you know God didn’t do this.  God is only good and he didn’t take your baby away from you, but He has your child now in His own strong arms.”

“I believe He has,” she sobbed, “but I miss my baby and my husband.  What am I going to do?” she wailed.

Dena looked at her and sighed.  “Dear girl, the baby has been gone for six months and your husband for five.  Brooding about this loss for such a long time is destroying you.  You were never meant to be sad and that is why it is so hard.  We were made for joy.  When we experience deep grief, it is important to find a way to get back to joy.  Do you know where joy is found? ”

Mara looked hopeless.  “If you want me to turn to God, I can’t pray.  I’ve tried, but I end up blaming God for all that has happened.  He took my baby and sent my husband to Korea at about the same time.  I am all alone!”  Dena said, “I know it is small comfort, but God has sent me to you.  You have never been alone.  He is with you and I am right next door and always as close as a phone call.”

Mara shook her head.  She couldn’t see any way out.  It was hopeless but as she listened to her friend, a glimmer of hope began to shine.  Finally she said, “I’ll try.”

Dena suggested that Mara take a shower and put on some clean clothes while she freshened up the house and then they would go out for lunch.  Mara shook her head indicating that she didn’t want to but slowly lifted her small body off the couch as if it weighed 300 pounds.  She obediently headed for the shower and stepped into the steaming hot water.  It felt good.  She poured shampoo in her hair realizing that she couldn’t remember the last time she had bathed.  She stood in the wonderful flow of warm water for a long time.  She felt she was being revived.

By the time Dena had finished changing the sheets and starting the laundry; Mara had fixed her hair and gotten dressed.  She looked better although her clothes were a loose from weeks of not eating.  She told Dena that she had prayed in the shower.  “I told God that I was sorry that I had been so mad at Him and asked Him to help me find my way back to Him.  I was amazed at the immediate peace that settled over me.  I feel better than I have felt since my baby left me.”  A small tear slipped down her check, but her eyes were brighter as she looked at her faithful friend.

Dena said, “Let’s go someplace really special.  What is your favorite restaurant?  She told her about a wonderful upscale restaurant in midtown and Dena said, “That’s my favorite too!”  Soon they were on their adventure.

Today’s Lesson:

When we go through difficult times, we tend to make them worse by isolating ourselves from our support group.  Mara pushed her friends and family away.  She was angry with God because she was alone; she never connected the fact that she had made it almost impossible for people to comfort her when her husband and baby left.

God never ever intends for us to spend months and months in grieving about loss of any kind.  He is always available to help us through the tragedies.  At one point in the Old Testament, he only allowed Israel to grieve for one month.  It is true that we need some time to deal with the change, but prolonged sadness grows and weakens us.  It becomes a place for the enemy to plant thoughts of hopelessness and victimization.

When we choose to run to Father God, His Presence brings us joy.  The more time we spend in His Presence, the more
joyful we become and he heals our wounds and binds up our broken hearts.  Scripture says, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”

Mara had meditated on her pain and that always brings more pain.  When you feel the sadness over and over, the enemy helps us feel worse and worse and soon anger boils in our hearts.  Sometimes it results in destructive behavior.

Things weren’t all of the sudden wonderful in Mara’s life although she had begun her journey back from despair.  At times, she still had to fight the feelings of loss and loneliness, yet she has gone back to her church family and resumed her life.  She has even begun looking for a job.

Mara’s husband’s voice has sounded so relieved that last few phone calls.  He had worried about his beautiful wife and struggled with not being able to come home again but his tour of duty will be over in four months.  She is marking off the days on the calendar.

Dena still comes by and they have coffee and Mara is talking again about the baby and the pain.  She has learned the value of true friends and the joy of finding her peace in the Lord.

Until then, she is beginning again to spend time with her heavenly Father, Who never leaves her.

Sober, Focused and Complete in 2013

Dr. Scott had stopped by the bar before heading home.  It was the end of the week and he wanted a little down time before he returned.  He had six children and the house was always busy and loud.  He wanted a few quiet minutes to take the edge off.  The first drink slid down easily and he thought, “I will have another.”  He motioned to the bartender to set him up again . . . and yet again.  He relaxed, paid his bill and left.  He felt a bit light-headed but home was only a few blocks away.

He got in the car.  It responded to the turn of the key and he put the car in gear and headed for home.  Pulling into the driveway, he noticed that the door was opened and all the lights were on.  He jumped out of the car and ran to the front door.  Inside he found his wife was sitting on the floor holding their youngest and weeping.  He tried to clear his head.  That last drink had scrambled things.  What was going on?

“Honey?” he said. “What is wrong?”  Vera looked up, with tears streaming down her face, “Mandy was playing with the big kids tiny figure toys and must have swallowed one.  She isn’t breathing and I don’t know what to do.  I called 911 and they are on the way.”

Dr. Scott again shook his head and began to sober up.  He dropped to his knees and took Mandy and laid her on the floor.  He opened her mouth and couldn’t see the obstruction.  He grabbed his ball point pen and told one of the older kids to get him a clean knife.  He made a small incision in her throat and made a tracheotomy.  Gently he pushed on her diaphragm and she had a whooshing sound as the air flowed into her lungs.  Her color began to return and her eyes fluttered open.

Scott was fully sober now and remembered that he had been late because he chose to be intoxicated.  Soberness was so important.  What if he had been in an accident or had another drink.  What if he hadn’t been here in time?

The EMTs arrived and gently took Mandy and her Mom in the ambulance.  Dr. Scott called a neighbor to watch the children and got back in the car and headed to the hospital.

Today’s Lesson:

Intoxication with the things of the world will keep us from the important things.  Those of us who walk with Jesus must consider the hour.  There was a time when we could be frivolous and spend time pleasing ourselves, but the times we live in require us to be sober and focused.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t laugh and enjoy fellowship with others.  It doesn’t mean that we are like Scrooge.  What it does mean is that we are aware of who we are and more importantly Whose we are.  As we spend time in His Presence and He becomes more and more the focus of the gift of life He has given to us; we are ‘God-possessed.’

There are Mandys everywhere that aren’t breathing.  They need us to help them breathe again by introducing them to the One who loves them.  We are His hands and feet.

We don’t need a drink to relax.  We have the great Comforter to give us peace.  Peace in the Bible doesn’t mean a cessation of conflict; it means ‘whole, complete, and fully alive.’

The year 2013 requires us to be sober, focused and complete. There must be a level of preparedness and watchfulness.   This is my prayer for us all.

Joy Full or Joy Less?

Pastor Joy Full walked through her living room thinking about the paradox of her name.  She had married John Full just before he left to go to Iraq.  He was only there for two months when she got the official visit.  He had been killed by a sniper in the line of duty.  The ‘line of duty’ made it sound okay, but it wasn’t okay.  In point of fact, nothing was okay.

She fell on the big leather chair that John had picked out before he deployed.  She shook her head.  Jesus was supposed to be enough, but right now, today, He was as distant as John’s memory. Once again, she spoke her name.  Joy Full.   Her name did not suggest who she had become.  She should have been married John Less or John Empty, then things would have lined up with who she is today.

Her husband had been so full of life; so like his name.  He loved the Lord with all His heart and he loved her passionately.  It was some comfort to know that He was enjoying life with the Heavenly Father.  It should have pulled her toward Father, but she hadn’t wanted to visit Him in the Throne Room lately.  She held him responsible.  How could He let this happen?

Joy knew that Father God didn’t cause John to die, but the Truth was not setting her free tonight.  She was due at the church in an hour for the Tuesday night prayer meeting.  The group spent more time talking about people than praying.  She chided herself for not being a better leader.  She knew the faithful would show up but she just could not face it.  Sue Ellen had a key.  She wouldn’t be missed.

She rubbed the arm of the brown leather chair.  “I miss you, John.”  She burst into tears!  She picked up her jacket, threw a few things in a suitcase, stopped by the bank and took out $1000 leaving a small balance.  After she had filled the car with gas she started driving.  She didn’t know where she was going, but she was fleeing her home, the church, and the pain.  She turned on the CD  player.  An old friend of the family, a pastor from her hometown, was teaching.  She had always found his voice soothing.  His Scripture was Proverbs 3:5, 6.  It was her life verse.

5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

As she drove, tears rolled down her cheeks.  The ache in her heart, that she had ignored for these last two years, spread until she was sobbing uncontrollably.  She pulled off at a rest area and parked a good distance from the other cars.  She put the seat back and gave in.  She screamed at God.  “How could you?  I have lived my life for you!  How could you let this happen?”  Joy gasped for air, “John loved you and he loved me.  We served you!”  The rant went on for some time.  When she stopped, she listened but Father God was silent.

From complete exhaustion laid her head back and slept fitfully for thirty minutes.  She resumed driving.  Once she crossed the state line, she began to look for a place to spend the night and checked into a small roadside inn, paid in cash, and went straight to bed.

In the quiet of the morning, she saw the Gideon Bible on the night stand and she opened it.  It fell to Proverbs 3.  She smiled and breathed a sigh.  Her heavenly Father was letting her know that He hadn’t forgotten her.   “I know you heard me, Father,” she said.

She knelt on the floor by the bed and asked for permission to enter His Presence in the name of her big Brother, Jesus.  She crawled upon her Heavenly Father’s lap and poured out her heart.  She surrendered it all.  She gave Him the pain, the rejection, the loneliness, the emptiness, and her broken heart.  She told Him that she was sorry and that she knew that she would not heal until she gave up her right to this pain and the feeling that she was justified in holding on to it.

As she waited in His Presence, a sense of relief and joy began to fill her heart.  She recognized the grace and mercy of the Father’s love flooding her very being.  How foolish it had been to resist Him.  She knew that she would always miss John but the miracle of God’s love and mercy had pulled the stinger out of the pain.  She could release her hold on John and give him to the One who loves Him even more than she.

Pastor Joy Full felt God’s joy and for the first time in a long time, she was glad that John had blessed her with such a wonderful name.

Today’s Lesson:  In real life, the issues sometimes take longer to resolve, but when we fully release that which holds us to our Abba Father, (Daddy), then He takes the pieces and puts them together and we find ourselves even more complete and whole.  Joy is not the absence of suffering but the Presence of the Lord.

What holds you today?  What is it that you feel justified in nursing and rehearsing over and over again.  What is your private obsession?

Confirming Scriptures:

 

Psalm 77:1 – 6

1I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.

2In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

3I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

4Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

6I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.