Before the day was, I am He!

“Yea, before the day was I am he . . .” Isaiah 43:13

There is a time and a place for all things, that is what they say.  Some will argue their disbelief in God because they have trouble with not being able to pinpoint His beginning.  This life, this walk of faith demands that we believe God for who He says He is: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8), meaning there was never a time God was not.  He was before all and will continue to be, forever and ever.  The psalmist celebrated this by saying, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2), a truth repeatedly recognized throughout Scripture (Job 36:23; Psalm 93:2; Isaiah 41:4).  

The Bible begins with the very words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  God is responsible for all of the Creation events.  He “laid the foundations of the earth” (Psalm 104:5).  When “the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2a), God was already there moving: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2b).  Before light (Genesis 1:3-4), and even before there was a day or a night (Genesis 1:5), there was God.  He has always been and will always be.

“To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.  Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things” (Isaiah 40:25-26a).  God is the Creator of all things.  Knowing who laid the foundations.  Knowing He who was before all things, solidifies our faith in the one and only true living God.

There is no one like our God.  He testified of Himself before Moses and said, ““I AM THAT I AM,” (Exodus 3:14), meaning just that.  He has always existed before anything else, and He has always been before even one day was ever noted in history.  He is God all by Himself: “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6).

God has no equal!  There is nobody that can be measured up to Him!  There is no comparison, no rival, no match, and no substitutes – none that can be even remotely like God!  There is only one God, and from before the foundations of the earth, God has been, and He has been in control.  All we need to do is simply put our trust in Him, believe in Him, wait on Him, and watch Him work: “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14).

The eternal nature of God cannot be understood by pinpointing days, only by believing in faith: “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.  They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27).

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Weeping and Washing

“And one of the Pharisees desired him that he could eat with him.  And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.  And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” Luke 7:36-38

Regardless of how they looked at her or what they thought of her, she came.

They scowled, they scorned, they didn’t like her – but she still came.

They counted her unworthy, undeserving, and disqualified.  Even then, she came.

Her sin met her Savior.  And though they said she shouldn’t be there, Jesus did not deny her access.  So, she came.

The atmosphere hung heavy with her guilt and shame, but His forgiveness erased all that blame.  She couldn’t help it.  She had to come to Him without delay.

With weeping and washing, her gratitude and love, He did not turn away.  She came with a gift so precious, more than what she poured that day.

A heart surrendered.  A heart that had been freed.  A heart delivered and determined to show how much He meant indeed.

A year’s wages was the cost, nothing compared to the weight of sin she gladly lost.  She lovingly poured upon His feet, weeping and washing with her hair.  Of their opinions, she did not care.

This repentant heart that was humbled and healed.  She would not let the judgment of others, her joy to steal.

She came to Jesus, and poured out her best.  With weeping and washing, she blessed, and was blessed.

Weeping and washing, humbled hearts so true.  If you come, Jesus will welcome you too.

“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Luke 15:7

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God, plan perfectly my day.

We all have desires.  We all envision how we want our life to go.  And we are all guilty of thinking we know the best way to achieve it.  Often, we try to come to our own rescue by formulating plans, mentally putting pieces of this puzzle together, thinking, if this happens, then I’ll do this.  And if that happens, then this can be done.  Even though we may have prayed over the matter, maybe quite sincerely, that doesn’t mean we have invited God into the issue.  It doesn’t mean we have actually asked for His input, released it into His hands, or asked for His perfect will.

Leaving God out of the process means we have to have all the answers.  It means we need to know the beginning from the end and all the future consequences and ripples in our lives that those decisions cause.  It means we have to have perfect knowledge of everything about them now, and what’s to come – and, I am sorry, not sorry, to say, none of us are that smart.  No, not one.  That type of omniscient power can only be of God.  So, why do we fight so much to have it our own way?

Getting your way all the time is not all it’s cracked up to be.  With it comes more responsibility than we are equipped to handle.  So, today I urge you to release your plans, days, and life to God and pray for Him to plan it according to His perfect and unfailing will.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

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Let them find life in You!

Father God, Your love for this world is unimaginable.  You go and have gone through the extremes of love to save as many souls as possible.  Today, we are praying for the increase of Your holy kingdom.  We are praying for many souls to enter in.  We are praying for new eyes and new hearts of faith to see You and to love You for the wonderful God that You are.  “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  

You are mighty and strong.  A refuge in the time of trouble.  You are our hope and our solid rock upon which we build our trust.  Let them see You for themselves.  Let them know how much You love them, that You are the good Father who gave the best gift that we may enter Your presence, that we may enter Your glory, the place where You dwell: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Let them find life in You.  Searches have been made to find fulfillment in many things, but in You only there is life.  We pray for hearts, minds, and eyes to be opened to that holy truth, and that many souls will turn to You for their refuge and their soul salvation.

In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, AMEN!

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While We Were Yet Sinners . . .

Forgiveness is something none will make it to heaven without.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what one has done in life, from the highest to the lowest, without accepting the life Christ offers through His salvation and forgiveness, we will not make it in.  The Bible records, “If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?  But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).

Who could stand?  Absolutely no one! (See Romans 3:10). Without His covering and remission of sins, the pathway to heaven will be blocked; access denied!  It doesn’t matter if one’s walk of life is a Pharisee or a prostitute, there is no an individual who is worthy enough to enter the gates of glory without Jesus’ forgiveness.

Question: What would happen if today God sat down and took account of all the wrongs we have done?  What would it be like if we stood before Him unable to pay what we owe?  We were there!  Jesus knew the predicament that humanity was in.  He knew that mankind could never get himself out of the debt of sin, so through Him, we obtain that freedom along with grace, mercy, and compassion as people who don’t deserve it.

The Bible reminds us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8).  I guarantee if we were to look at ourselves, we could not fathom how many times our accounts would have gone unpaid had it not been for the blood of Christ. But thank God, He acted in love to save us!  Not just us – but everyone who comes to Him in faith regardless of the background of sin.

The price has already been paid.  You are free to turn to Jesus today and accept Him for yourself:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” John 14:6.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” Ephesians 1:7.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” Colossians 1:14.

“While we were yet sinners,” Jesus fulfilled the requirements the cross demanded on our behalf.  He paid the price we could never pay.  He didn’t wait for us to “get our act together,” for without Him, without the power of His Holy Spirit, we were never able to do this on our own.

So, with the preciousness of His life, He laid it down, so that we can experience what it is like to unload the heavy burden of sin from us and live joyfully in grace knowing how much we are loved by Him.

Adapted from the previous article: Sunday School Lesson – “Saved by Faith” Luke 7:36-50 

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Devotional Reading – “When the Precious is Poured”

“There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat,” Matthew 26:7

Each of us possesses the precious.  Each of us has within our being an ointment of appreciation to our Lord.  Each of us carries the sense that without Him we are nothing, therefore, what I do have I pour out for Him.

Much of our culture is self-seeking.  But God is asking for flags of surrender to be waved for service.  That we give up and pour out all for Him.  That we show the world a thing or two about true love; true appreciation to a Savior who poured out all for us.

Do I mean empty your bank accounts?  That’s not what I am speaking of here.  I’m talking about service.  Good examples of selfless service are hard to find in our age.  The way for many to see something beautiful in Christian service is blocked by the hoarding of blessings to oneself.  The gain for self has dimmed a light that once so richly shone.  Self has taken place on a pedestal that it was not meant to mount.

Jesus calls us to the service of this woman who gave up her best to bless.  When was the last time we gave up our best to bless others?  When was the last time we put our wants and desires on the back burner and put the thoughts and cares of others in the forefront?

Despite scathing ridicule, the woman unashamedly approached Jesus with her expensive, yet still, inadequate gift.  You see, for all He did for us, no gift can repay.  The costliest of earthly possessions and service can’t scratch the surface of reward for what He accomplished on the cross.  Yet, we are compelled to press forth and give our best.

“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works…” (Titus 2:7, KJV).  It’s time for a new pattern to be laid.  The foundation of self must dissipate, and new groundwork needs to be founded on who He is in our lives and all that He has already done.  It’s time to show the world a different lifestyle.  A life built on pouring out.

When we pour out for Jesus, the preciousness within us becomes evident.  Man can then see the good that was once hidden.  He can see the difference that was once disguised.  When we release the precious that is in us we become vessels that honor the Lord; for it was on the cross when He poured out the precious for us.

The world needs a visual aid.  When they see us break the box and release the preciousness of good works inside, they will “glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16, KJV).

“That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life,” (1 Timothy 6:18-19, KJV)

Look for a way to bless others today and to pour out into their lives.  God bless you.

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A Reason for the Hope

“Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15

If I were to answer that question, the one that asks, “What is the reason for the hope within me?” I would first have to begin my answer by quoting 1 John 4:19 while substituting the “we” and “us” with “I” and “me,” saying, “I love Him because He first loved me.”

Today, I recognize the extremes of His love for me.  Today, with my mind’s eye, I can take a tour of my past, throughout my life, even before I was saved or born-again, and I can see the many places the hand of the Lord was working to pull me near.  I can see places where I was divinely protected.  I can see times when now, I can readily identify that it was nothing but the hand of God who brought me through.

My story is my story.  It is the testimony of what God has uniquely done in my life.  Our stories may all start out differently.  Our stories will be original to us and the experiences we have lived through.  Our testimonies will tell of the paths we have journeyed and the mighty works God has done for each of us.

While the avenues we have traveled with the stories they tell may have all started differently, they all have this one thing in common.  At the conclusion of everything, the only answer we have is Jesus.

For me to sit down and begin to tell you of all the ways that Christ has impacted my life, let’s just say that time and pages could not tell.  But what I can tell you is of the love I feel now.  Never have I been so enveloped by a love story before than the one where I was rescued.  As I look in Scripture and see Jesus’ continual compassion and mercies toward others, I readily see those caring aspects of our Lord’s loving character applied to my own life.  I see where He unashamedly welcomed me into His family.  I can see the many times I have been forgiven.

There was once a time when I wondered, looking for answers that didn’t really have questions.  There were times when I looked, but now the search is over, and I have this beautiful foundation established in the Lord Jesus Christ that wholly supports my life.

Every one of us who is holding on to that blessed hope is holding on for a reason.  We see Him.  We believe in Him.  We have witnessed Him at work in our lives.  We see His story leap from the pages of the Bible into our very lives.  This story is real.  What He has done is real.  His love is real.  And there is no greater I know.

For me, to tell another of this reason, I must begin with that love.  A love I couldn’t find anywhere, but at the same time, now I see it was a love that was chasing me down.  Being caught in His grace, I am glad for this life that now finds me in Him.

Through the course of apologetics, I could fashion sound answers that would be true over and over again.  But the testimony of my heart still tells of the reason for my hope – Jesus, and His love for me.

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A Song in Us!

I sit and I hear the birds calling out to one another.  One sings his melody, and another responds.  The beauty of this conversation puts a smile on my face as I hear the rhythms of nature in their song.

In the heavens, where our eyes cannot yet see, there is a song more glorious being called out: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts . . .” (Isaiah 6:3) as the seraphim cry out to one another.  The adoration and praises of God fill the atmosphere of that heavenly realm.  There, all give Him the glory.  All recognize His splendor and majesty.

What are our hearts crying out for today?  Is it more of what the world offers, or do we have something within us to offer Him?

Do we feel a calling out within us, stretching us to give Him praise?  Are we welcoming Him in our lives and days, laying things down that we might raise a shout of “Hosanna” (Mark 11:10) in our hearts?  Are we making room for Him, lauding Him as Lord over everything?

Or, have we allowed silence to be louder?

Redemption has instilled a song in us.  Our salvation has enlightened us to be quicker with a heavenly melody of our own.  Our own words of adoration come alive, wake up, take a stand, and shout of His unrecoiling love.

A love that has spared no expense to save me.  A love that has looked hurt and pain in the face that one day I can hear those songs of heaven for myself and let my heart be joined with them when my feet stand before Him.

Yes, in that future we will praise in a beautiful way we have never experienced before.  Until that day, I open my mouth and my heart today and praise the God of my salvation.  I will let the glory of who He is roll from my lips, and let my heart sing her song with rejoicing.

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Standing on the Edge

Sometimes you may come to a place that seems impossible to pass.  This is a place that edges the border of what we have been delivered from to where we are being brought to.  It is in situations like these, when God shows up, there is no doubt that His hands have been working something extraordinary through it all.  The waters may crash on the shores before and the enemy’s army may be rolling behind, but God sees you, standing there on the fringe, in a world where these two impossibilities meet, yet in Him, there is nothing impossible.  In Him, there is always a way.  In Him, you are not in a helpless position.  In Him, the victory is already won.  Before you ever came to this place, He already knew what He would do.  So rest, weary one, in His sovereignty.  Rest in His plan.  You may not understand it, but He does.  You may not know how it will work out, but He does.  This will be performed by His strength, His wisdom, and His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6), not by anything we say or do.  In getting past this place, all glory, honor, praise, and credit go to God.  He is the one who will get you to the other side in peace and wholeness, with singing and rejoicing (Exodus 15:1-21).  To you who are standing on the edge, in Him, you are not standing alone.

 “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:

But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.” Exodus 14:13-18

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Don’t Wait, Pray Now!

“When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple.”  Jonah 2:7

There is a glorious truth that is woven through the pages of Scripture.  That truth is that God wants to hear from you now.  Alas, many put off the intimacy of regular time in prayer with the Father until they are in desperate situations and they use Him as a last resort to the problems and conditions they are facing.

God is always present.  God is always listening.  All He needs is that heart surrendered to Him in faith, one who will seek His face, bow the knee before Him, and humbly pray.

Jonah, that famous prophet swallowed whole by a great fish, found himself in desperate need of prayer.  With Jonah, as with many, the situation didn’t have to get this bad.  He didn’t have to end up in this nasty position.  He didn’t have to wait to seek God’s heart on the matter of prophesying to Ninevah.  At any given time before this episode, he could have gone to the Lord in prayer.  Perhaps then, his own heart for the people would have changed.

Yet, we will never know, because the story before us tells us the choice he made.  He chose to run from God and as a result, he found himself in a place nobody would want to be.

It was in this place, where he finally prayed, and said, “I remembered the LORD.”  The very God he tried so desperately to run away from, now in his darkest of times, he is seeking and he remembers.  When he felt overwhelmed by his choices, overwhelmed by the sin those choices led to, and overwhelmed by the experience of his sinking plight, it was as if a spiritual light clicked on deep within him and he remembered the LORD.  He remembered His Word.  He remembered His promises.  He remembered His love for His people.  He remembered His faithfulness.  He remembered His covenant.  He remembered just how great a God he served!  When he ran from God he forgot about all the wonders of God in his selfish pursuit, but now he remembers.

That remembering led to a heart that was ready to seek God in prayer.  He wrote, “My prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple.”  When he cried out to God, his very cry reached the presence of God.  God was listening.  Sincere prayer reaches the ears of God.  Although he had many opportunities to pray prior to being in the fish, the sincerity of his heart is now more real than ever as he reaches out to God in prayer.

The truth of the Bible is, God hears, but don’t wait until your situation is so desperate that you are at the point where you have no other choice than to pray.  God is available with a listening ear at all times.

Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Why is that? Because as breath is with the body, with each inhale and exhale, one’s life is sustained, so is the prayer line that fosters that interpersonal relationship between God and man. It is not only life-sustaining, but it is soul-sustaining, keeping that glorious love connection between the two open and flowing.  And, as Jonah felt the time of his last breath drawing nearer, he then sought to reconnect with God once more through prayer, and he believed his prayer was heard.  When we call out to God we too can believe that our prayers are heard, if we also have a sincere heart.

Prayer should never be our last go-to, get-out-of-whatever situation-free card.  Prayer keeps us in holy connection with our holy Father.  Open the lines of prayer in your life today.  Do not wait for a more opportune time, or for an event that makes you fall to your knees.

Make no mistake, the Bible repeatedly tells us that God hears those desperate, urgent cries (Psalm 34:6; 39:7-8; 50:15), and I for one am so thankful He does.  But our heavenly Father wants to hear from you now, in a consistent, daily walk of fellowship through prayer.

Keep God before your face and your heart in prayer.  Foster that love line in your life and it may keep you out of some nasty situations.

“Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.” 1 Chronicles 16:11

“When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8

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