Powerful messages  that encourage, inspire, and convict “People of the Way” to enter into the presence of the Living God and to mirror the image of the precious Lord Jesus, bringing his life to this hurt and broken world. The messages are mainly written by a retired pastor whose prolific writings have spanned six decades.

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Short Messages/Tracts

 

UP FROM THE ASHES

Jeremiah predicted it.

Ezekiel confirmed it.

           And now it has happened.

Jerusalem has fallen under the judgment of God, and has been destroyed.

It was God’s judgment on a people who had traded greed for mercy and lies for truth, who had turned their backs on the God who had blessed them in a thousand ways.

And now, after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, the people of Israel trudged their weary way back to the ruined city—and wept. 

But their humiliation had softened their hearts.

They began once more to cry out to God and yield to his guidance.

Once again the God of Israel forgave their sin and helped them rise from the ashes.

They shall build up the ancient ruins,

they shall raise up the former devastations;

they shall repair the ruined cities,

the devastations of many generations.

                                 Isaiah 61

At last the Temple rose from the ruins.  The city came back to life.  There was joy in Jerusalem after years of despair.

_________________

How many times this pattern has been repeated in the history of Israel, in the history of your life and mine!

God redeems us and fills us with joy. 

We give thanks and walk in his light—for a while.

Then we drift.

Our hearts stagnate and grow cold. 

We start taking shortcuts to satisfaction. 

We add idols of fame, gain and pleasure to our “walk with God”.

God waits for us to wake up. 

Finally the fire of judgment falls. Our “Jerusalem” is destroyed.

But does this pattern have to go on forever?  

Isn’t it possible to leave futility behind and enter God’s kingdom for good? 

 Jesus came to break the curse of rising and falling, climbing and sliding back.

           So he calls us ….

 …to draw near to the mystery of his cross.

….to focus on the blinding glory of his resurrection.

It is possible to rise from our ashes and never fall again.

It is possible to enter God’s World and stay there forever.

To break the curse we need to let go of our past, smash our idols, and keep following the Shepherd.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.      (John 10)

Thousands and thousands have risen from their ashes and walked into the eternal kingdom and never fell again.

It’s time for us to rise up and do the same.

No longer trusting in our favorite doctrine.

No longer clinging to our favorite spiritual advisor.

No longer relying on our money.

No longer looking to the left or to the right.

Keeping our eyes on the Master.

Following Jesus only.

So when the angel points to us and asks the Apostle John, “Who are these?  Where did they come from?” the Apostle will answer,

 “Sir, you know.”

 And the angel will explain,

“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence.

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.

 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  (Revelation 7)

 

 

Prayer: Lord, kind Shepherd, when we fall, when we are humiliated, you have been so faithful… forgiving us, lifting us up, pulling us up from the ashes of our own hardness and putting joy back in our hearts again. Lord help us to stop returning to this hardness, this coldness, we want to rise from the ashes and not look away from you again. You deserve no less, tender Lord. May we hear you, know you, follow you and willingly rest in your hands. May we spend our lives washing our robes in your blood, seeking your presence, and faithfully following your loving call wherever it leads us.
Message: REB  January 2021
Art: Courtesy of Ramone Romero   ramone-romero.blogspot.com/

BAGGAGE

“Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” 

Luke 9

Jesus traveled light

He commanded his disciples to do the same.  

When we are about the business of the Kingdom we do not need gadgets and trinkets and tons of equipment.

We need Truth.

The Living Word ruling our lives.

The Spirit of God lighting our way.

“Take nothing for your journey,” means get rid of the baggage.

Too much stuff

“The more stuff, the more status” has been the theme since the dawn of history.  What a price to pay for status!

When we’re surrounded by stuff we cannot see the road ahead.  Our minds are cluttered and confused.

Too much doctrine

Believers love to embellish their faith in Jesus with elaborate doctrines that “explain everything”.  Pretty soon the doctrines take over, and Jesus is left behind.

Jesus keeps it simple.  We don’t need to add Moses and Elijah and Aristotle and Luther and Calvin to improve on his gospel.  

Jesus is Lord of Scripture and King of Truth.   We don’t need to systemize his teaching; we simply need to walk in it.

“Grace theology”, “Eternal Security”, “Gifts of the Spirit”, “Healing”, “The Sabbath” and all our other doctrines become idols side-by-side with Jesus.  

And how we fight to defend our idols!

Too much politics

If we live in a democracy we do our duty as citizens and vote.  But we see all governments for what they are: something less than the Kingdom of God.  

We do not compromise with evil in order to advance a political agenda. We do not waste time trying to impose a “Christian Culture” on a pagan world.

Our focus is the Kingdom, to live it, proclaim it, and welcome others into it.  

“Take nothing for your journey.”

If we follow Jesus, we travel light.

If we travel light, we are sustained by the power of God.

When we are sustained by the power of God, we are the Light of the World.

Prayer: Lord help us to get rid of our baggage. Help us to leave the stuff, the status, the theology, the opinions, and the politics behind. All we need for this journey is you. Rule our hearts your living words. You alone are our light, our life, our strength on this journey.
REB December 2020
Art: Rudy and Peter Skitterians via Unsplash

JEREMIAH AND THE NEW YORK TIMES

Jeremiah and the New York Times…

They had one thing in common:

They were both despised by many.

They were distrusted.

They were seen as a self-righteous pain. 

The other prophets jeered at Jeremiah.

The princes dropped Jeremiah into a dungeon. 

Yet time and again Jeremiah turned out to be right.

 Still no one trusted him.

Now the New York Times is no prophet of God.  But, like Jeremiah, the Times’ popularity is tanking.

Maybe we should forget about the New York Times for a while, and just read Jeremiah.

You’d be surprised how up-to-date he is.

You would think Jeremiah was talking about Miami or Washington or Chicago.

And when Jeremiah talks about the Temple, just substitute “Church” or “Christianity”, and you’ll get the picture.

If you don’t like the New York Times, you’ll really hate Jeremiah!

But you might just hear the voice of God as you listen to this despised prophet….

   ….who turned out to be right as his nation disintegrated.

 
Prayer: Lord give us the courage to listen to the Jeremiahs’ in this world. To accept the truth about us, even if it’s ugly, even if it hurts. Help us to accept our role in how far the church has wandered from the nature of Jesus. Convict us for reacting in scorn, anger and rage when we hear the truth. Replace our denial, our scorn, our bitterness with mourning. We want to listen, really listen even if it hurts…so we can hear your voice again. 
 
Written: REB November 2020 Art: Photo via Unsplash w/inset of Weeping-of-Jeremiah-March Chagall

HARD-EDGED CHRISTIAN OR FOLLOWER OF JESUS?

Hard-edged Christians know their rights and aren’t afraid to stand up for them.  They fight for Christian principles.  They have a clear agenda.

 But mercy toward those who do not share their views is strangely missing.

Their agenda has a hard edge.

Followers of Jesus, on the other hand, are focused on one thing:

Doing the will of the Master.

Seeking the Kingdom, no matter which way the political winds are blowing.

Followers of Jesus are less concerned with the speck in their brother’s eye than getting the log out of their own eye.

The power of Rome, the power of Herod, even the power of the Temple authorities—never impressed Jesus.

His focus was the Kingdom, doing the Father’s will.

He commands us to do the same.

So which are we?

 Hard-edged Christians?

Or followers of Jesus?

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.

All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Matthew 11

Prayer: Precious Lord Jesus, who was shamed, wounded, tortured and executed by those with cold hearts… forgive us for preferring the anger of this world over your truth, over your holy, tender words… Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the gentle. Take way the hard edges that have become our idols, that oppose your truth, your holiness, your tenderness. Make us like babes again looking to you, trusting in you and following you into gentleness, into humility, into mercy and choosing peace over turmoil.
REB December 2020
Art: Ann Cameron Cutri anne-cutri.pixels.com

FOR SO HE GIVES HIS BELOVED SLEEP

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he gives his beloved sleep.

                                        Psalm 127:2

The storm is raging, waves are crashing over the boat, yet he sleeps, without a care in the world!

He knows how to stay awake all night and pray.

He knows how to focus and concentrate.

But when it’s time to sleep, he just abandons himself to the Father’s care and sleeps.

“Lord, wake up!  We’re going to perish!”

          “Where is your faith?”

We get drowsy when we should focus and stare at the ceiling when we should be sleeping.

What’s wrong with us?

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows…

Distractions.

We’re distracted and drowsy when we should concentrate.

We’re distracted and anxious when we should be sleeping. 

So Jesus teaches us to focus on one thing.

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

If we turn our minds away from the rat race and center them on his kingdom, God helps us to focus during the day and to sleep during the night.

When we’re focused on his kingdom we can take care of the work God gives us to do each day, and abandon ourselves to him in sleep each night.

For so he gives his beloved sleep.

Prayer: Beloved Lord, help us to stop choosing to eat the bread of sorrows. Help us to let go of our weariness and our distractions so we can abandon ourselves to you and find your sweet rest. Help us to concentrate on your kingdom, to center our cares on you, knowing you care for us, your beloved sheep.
Written December 2020 REB
Art: Sinead Kell. Sinead does not have a website, she posts on Facebook’s Prophetic Art Studio occasionally

THE GIFT OF A GRATEFUL MIND

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving

And into his courts with praise!

Be thankful unto him

And bless his name!

None of us was born with a grateful heart.

We’re too preoccupied with ourselves to see the goodness of God.

But there comes a moment…

…when we hear a word of truth.

…we’re struck with a flash of insight.

Our eyes open,

and we give thanks for undeserved mercy.

We are being offered the gift of a grateful mind.

Will we receive it?

Or will we let the moment pass?

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet giving him thanks.  Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed?  Where are the nine?……..Rise, go your way, your faith has made you well.”

                                                                                      Luke 17

A grateful mind is a precious gift.

God help us to nurture it.

For true faith can be found nowhere else.

Prayer: Yes Lord, we turn to you with gratefulness, with amazement at the tender mercies you have bestowed on our lives. In gratefulness is our joy, in gratefulness is our healing. In gratefulness is new life. Thank you for this precious gift of having a grateful mind. Help us to see it as a gift that we want to open, cherish and nourish. 
Message written 2011 REB
Art: Courtesy of Gwen Meharg DrawNeartoGod.com

EXPOSED

Hypocrisy

Sustaining a grudge behind a Christian smile,

nourishing an attitude beneath a veneer of love,

speaking “truth” out of both sides of our mouths,

                      is hypocrisy.

 The thing about hypocrisy—

it is always exposed.

Sooner or later the covers come off and the light comes on.

Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops”.

                                                Luke 12

  So what happens when our favorite leader is exposed?

When we can no longer cling to the hope that he was speaking the truth.

When we have to face the fact that this man was exploiting us.

The Lord God allows us to hide under the blanket of hypocrisy for only so long.

And when our leader invites us to come under his blanket, what happens to us when his blanket comes off?

The thing about hypocrisy is that it’s contagious.

You hang around a hypocrite, you become a hypocrite.

You follow a hypocrite, you become a hypocrite.

The most merciful thing God can do for us when we catch this disease

is to expose us.

“In the meantime, when so many thousands of the multitude had gathered together that they trod upon one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”

                                    Luke 12

It’s like waking up from a bad dream, like rising out of a filthy pit,

when the Lord, in his mercy, exposes our hypocrisy.

It’s a wonderful relief for the soul.

Lord Jesus, give us eyes to see and ears to hear, and set us free from the leaven of the Pharisees!

Prayer: Yes Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear our own hypocrisy. Lord Jesus, in your mercy, clear the fog that has blinded us to our nakedness. Expose us. May we find your healing and cleansing as we allow ourselves to be freed from our grudges, attitudes, and blind spots, our compromises, and our lack of love. Draw us close again, so we may meet you in our vulnerability and have our nakedness lovingly covered by you.
Written: REB January 2021
Art: Rebecca Brogan https://jtbarts.com/

A NEW YEAR…WHAT WILL IT BRING?

They asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority……” 

The Father knows what the New Year will bring.

       We don’t.

All we know is that we are commanded to stay awake, so that we’re ready for whatever comes.

Awake, conscious of God’s presence in the midst of the unfolding of events, near and far.

Awake to Jesus’ call to obedience today.

Awake to the reality of evil—“for we are not contending against flesh and blood…..”

Awake to our neighbor’s cry for help.

There is only one way to enter the New Year with wisdom:

To shake off our spiritual dullness and wake up to the life-giving Word of the Lord.

“….You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses….”

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

It’s not, What will the New Year bring to me?  but — 

What will I bring to it?

“Moses, my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land which I am giving to them……

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”                                                                                 Joshua 1:2&9

Prayer: Lord prepare us for 2021. Protect us from fear of what the future is bringing. Keep us from trying to manage and control what we aren’t meant to manage and control. Instead, keep us awake to your presence, keep us awake to your call, keep us wary of evil, and keep us carrying your mercy. May we face 2021 free from dismay and fear, but with faith, strength and courage because you promise to be with us wherever we go. Dear Lord come with us into 2021.
Message: REB 2002/2003
Art: Anke Wiemer  ankewiemer.de/english

THE GLORY OF THE LORD

A Christmas Prayer

 

Here’s a prayer that Jesus prayed the night he was betrayed, a prayer that is still being answered, even as you read these words:

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

John 17:24

“That they may behold my glory.”

If you look back over your life, you will probably find that there was a moment, somewhere back there, when God spoke to you in some way….when you were sure that God was showing you something new, opening your eyes to see something you never saw before—about yourself, or about someone you love.

You probably found, as I did, that that moment, when God broke through the darkness of our hard hearts with his light, was a turning point in our lives.

That’s what happened with those shepherds.  They weren’t expecting anything.  They were just taking care of business, watching over their sheep when suddenly….

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men.”

Luke 2:9-14

It was a moment that changed their lives, gave them eyes to see glory, even in a dark, smelly stable, where there was no blinding light.

Of course, such moments of vision occur only when God chooses.  We cannot make them happen.  But there’s nothing wrong with our asking God to send us a fresh taste of his glory this Christmas, beginning this moment.  

If you read through scripture, you discover that the people who were visited by the glory of God were always ordinary, lowly, humble people, like those shepherds.  Even when King David or King Solomon saw God’s glory, it only happened when they became broken and humble and child-like.

So let’s humble ourselves before God right now.  Let’s turn this moment into a prayer, rising from our hearts, that this Christmas, for all the uncertainty that surrounds us, and all the troubles which may afflict our own souls….that this Christmas, God will visit us, as he visited those shepherds, with a sign of hope.  A vision of glory.  Light from heaven!

“Ask, and it will be given you,” is the promise.

So we ask that somehow this Christmas will be different.  That this Christmas our lives will be flooded with something clean, something holy, something eternal, that will give us a clearer vision of the path, and fresh power to stay on the path in the days ahead.

May God make this Christmas for us what it was for those shepherds: a time when heaven breaks into our darkness with light, and draws us nearer than ever to the gift of his Incarnate Word.

“Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory.”

May the Father answer that prayer in our lives this Christmas season, beginning now.  May he give us eyes to see and hearts to receive his glory—

—and grace to reflect that glory in the way we treat each other, and all people.

Prayer: Dear Holy and Kind Lord, visit us this Christmas. We want to be with you where you are. We want to behold the glory that you prayed for us. Give us the vision of your glory once again. Break into the darkness that surrounds us. Flood us with your holiness, with clarity, with hope and with your heavenly light. Draw us nearer to you, dear Lord , so our hearts are ready to receive and reflect your glory.
Message: UNKNOWN
Art: Ain Vares

GET US OUT OF THIS MESS

Last year at this time we were riding high.

Now we don’t know how we’re going to survive.

Lord, where are you?

 How long, O LORD? Wilt thou forget me forever?
How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him”;
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in thy steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

                                                Psalm 13

The leaders we trusted have let us down.

The faith that once sustained us has begun to falter.

Lord, where are you?

Out of the depths I cry to thee, O LORD!
Lord, hear my voice!
Let thy ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
If thou, O LORD, shouldst mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee,
that thou mayest be feared.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the LORD
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

                                    Psalm 130

So, like the widow pestering the Unjust Judge, we cry out, and never give up.

We storm the gates of heaven.

We keep knocking on our Father’s door.

We never quit.

“And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?  I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily!”

                                                Luke 18

 
Prayer:  Jesus get us out this mess that entangles our souls, that wrenches our hearts. We cry out in the midst of our need and our anxiety. We wait for you. We trust in you and look forward to lifting up our souls in song to you again.
Message written October 2020  REB
Art: Graham Braddock graham-braddock.pixels.com

THE ONLY ONE LEFT

I guess I’m the only one left.

The “Christianity” I see out there is so superficial, so phony. 

Nobody takes any risks. 

Nobody sticks their neck out.

Everybody’s afraid to speak up!

Evangelists fly around in their private jets.  The preachers live in their safe “clergy cocoons.”  And “Christians” huddle together in plush churches and encourage each other to “praise the Lord.” 

Meanwhile the streets are empty of witness.  Down where the people are it’s politics, rap, sex, money and nature worship.

I know what Elijah was going through. 

I feel like he did.

And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Eli’jah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

                                             I Kings 19:9b-10

 Like Elijah, I don’t know how much longer I can keep going.

“And I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Well, maybe they’re not coming to kill me—yet.  But I’m tired of being out here all alone with the gospel.

And the Lord replies,

“Who says you’re all alone? 

Elijah thought he was all alone.  But there were 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal.  And there are more people than you could ever count who are out there bearing witness to my death and resurrection.  Open your eyes and pay attention, while I connect you with men and women whose hearts are nailed to my cross.”

In ancient Israel they blew the shofar to get the Israelites to pay attention.  When the Lord returns there will be “a loud trumpet call” as the angels gather the elect “from the four winds and from one end of heaven to the other.” 

Today the “trumpets of heaven” are calling sons and daughters of the Kingdom to rise up, come together, and receive direction from the Master as he sends them forth in the power of his resurrection.

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama’ria and to the end of the earth.”

                                             Acts 1:6-8

The same Lord who spoke those words in the “Alpha Days” is now addressing his disciples in these “Omega Days.”

 All the “lonely Elijahs” across the earth are beginning to hear the trumpet call of heaven, commanding them to gather around the cross of the Master.

Even now, in the shadow of that cross they are beginning to pray like their early counterparts. 

They lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, didst say by the Holy Spirit, `Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth set themselves in array, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ — for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. 

Acts 4:24-29

There is a radical difference between “Revival” organized by human ingenuity, and the mysterious moving of the Spirit which is now happening down among the grass roots.  

The “Omega Call” of heaven is beyond the reach of human manipulation.  The judgments of the Spirit’s call “are unsearchable and its ways past finding out.” 

Those who are meant to hear will hear!

Once we hear the call, we have no choice but to lay aside our cherished views of how God does things, repent of our compulsion to control, and offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Master. 

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

                                             John 20:19-23

Written August 2019 REB
Prayer: Lord when we are tempted to feel alone, abandoned, and threatened may we hear your call in the midst of our dejection. May we embrace your offer of peace, may we inhale your breath and be filled with life once again. May we be shaken and filled with your Holy Spirit so we can rise up from our dejection and are emboldened to leave our disappointments and fears behind and carry your message to the earth

JOY-
IN A WORLD LIKE THIS?

If we’re looking for joy in this absurd world, we’re out of luck.

Anyone with eyes can see trouble waiting in the road ahead, tribulation dogging our steps.

Greed, lies, malice, suspicion fill the air with a smoke so think, it’s hard to breathe. 

Even Billionaires are getting depressed.

Joy?  Where is it?

From the beginning of time joy has had only one source: 

God.

Find God—the true God—and you find joy!

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.

 When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world.

So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

                                                John 16:20-22 &24

The source of joy is God.

And the way to find God is to pray.

No matter how shaky our faith.

No matter how skeptical our hearts.

Even if we haven’t a clue how to pray.

Just start to pray.

And keep at it.

Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

No matter how bad things are out there, the road to God’s Kingdom is alive with joy!

In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

                                                John 16:33

Prayer: Lord, help us even in the midst of sorrow, disappointment, and tribulation to find joy. Help us to keep praying until we find your presence beside us, your beautiful, comforting presence. Help us to keep praying until we are lifted up from our sorrow and despair, until we know with everything within us that you have overcome the world. Until we know that we can trust you. Until we are ready to open our hearts to the fullness of joy you offer us
Message written October 2020  REB
Art: Melani Pyke melpyke.com
 

SHELTER IN THE STORM

It’s getting depressing!

The news. 

Every day more tragedy and pain.

Suspicion and anger spilling over the earth.

Danger spreading into our peaceful land.

         Why can’t people just live in peace?

         Why does it have to be this way?

Sooner or later our “pocket of peace” in a world of fury is bound to succumb.  

It’s time for us to learn to function in the real world, where nation rises against nation and kingdom against kingdom; a world of famine and earthquake and strange weather.

 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, Came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

                                                         Psalm 27:1-4

 It is possible to “dwell in the house of the Lord” while walking through a war zone.  

To dwell in “the secret place of the Most High” in the midst of chaos.

To “abide under the shadow of the Almighty” while the earth trembles.

Real peace never comes from our environment.

                     It comes from within.

                     From the Spirit of God.

All who seek it from God, find it.  

All who ask, receive it.  

 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

                                                                     John 14:27

Prayer: Yes Lord, in the day of our troubles, shelter us in the presence of your holiness. In the midst of chaos keep us safe in your secret place, keep us delighting in your beauty, in your glory, in your grace. Help us to find not only peace, but joy as you shelter us from any storm that comes to shake us.
Message (AKA It’s Getting Depressing) written June 2015 REB
Art: Signe Flink   deviantart dot com/signeflinkart

CRUSHING KINGS

The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.

                             Psalm 110:5-6

 The Day of the Messiah.

 Is it near?

 Time will tell.

This much we know:

The rulers of the world, for all their bluster, are beginning to falter. 

We watch the news and pray God’s mercy on us all. 

Then we turn to the light.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks.”

                                             Luke 12:32-36

Our focus is not the chaos out there…

but God’s Kingdom.

 God’s World.

 Where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

 Where lies are burned away and Truth remains.

Wherever Jesus rules, the Kingdom is already here.

Wherever Jesus is obeyed, fear is gone.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

                                 John 14:27

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, our only true King, our only righteous ruler help us to find your peace in the midst of this faltering world. We trust in your mercy. Help us to turn to you, turn to your light and focus on your Kingdom instead of the kingdoms of this world.  May your Kingdom be our greatest treasure. Heal our troubled hearts, replace our fears with that peace like no other.
 
Message written October  2020 REB
Art:  Michael Kesinger OpenHeavenArt.com , Ain Vares  ainvaresart.com 

OUT OF THE DEPTHS

Most of us learn to pray from the bottom of the pit.

         When all our options are gone.

         When we’ve lost the power to help ourselves.

                  Suddenly God seems like a possibility.

                           Why not?

                           What have I got to lose?

“Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!”

Do I feel worthy?

                      No.

Is my faith healthy and strong?

                      No.

Nevertheless, I open my heart and cry out in my need.

If you want to know what God is like— the God who hears that prayer—look at Jesus.

Jesus is the “express image of his person”….and

Jesus never turned anyone away who was earnestly crying out for help.

Jesus is the one who makes you worthy in your unworthiness.

 He clothes you in his worthiness when you pray in his name.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, And in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord More than they that watch for the morning.”

Psalm 130

 
Prayer: Compassionate, listening Lord, we cry to you to pull us out of the depths of our despair.  We cry out in the midst of our need and our anxiety. We feel weak and unworthy. Clothe us in your worthiness as we place our quivering trust in you and your mercy. We remember and are thankful for all the tender loving care you have bestowed on our lives, for your mercy. In the midst of our trials may our hearts be in awe of you, seek you, and know that we can completely trust you Release us from dwelling on and nursing our wounds. Help us to turn to you, where we will find true healing and redemption, and instead of being overwhelmed by despair, we can be overwhelmed by your unfailing love.
 
Written: REB 2003
Art: Melani Pyke melpyke.com
 

ANXIETY

“Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Acts 1:6

What’s next?

Will we survive?

And when I die, what then?

         —Questions generated by anxiety.

Once we place our lives into the hands of the Master,

         trusting him to guide and provide,

                     we can be sure of this:

Jesus is Lord of the future—our future.

We will know what we need to know when the time comes.       

Meanwhile, we keep walking by faith, wrapped in his peace.

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”

    Acts 1:7-8

That’s all we need to know.

         Walk in the light of the Spirit, and doors will open. 

Everything we need, including knowledge, will be provided.

“I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

                                 John 8:12

 
Prayer: Jesus, You are the Lord of our future.  You are our treasure.  We place our hearts, our hopes, our all in you.  Keep our hearts from being troubled and afraid. We ask, despite our anxieties, that you wrap us in your  peace.
 
 
 
 
 
Message written November 2008 REB
Art: Chris Powers Full of Eyes

A NEW START

Okay, I’m loaded with debt, burdened with guilt and abandoned by all but a few dubious friends.

In other words, I’m lost.

You may be thinking, “It’s his own stupidity.  He created that mess.”

I don’t deny it.  

And I don’t expect you to bail me out. 

But has God turned his back on me too?

And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

                                             Matthew 9:10-13

Jesus is always there for those of us who made a mess of our lives. 

He never turns us down.

He never walks away.

All we need to do is come to him, put the mess at his feet, throw ourselves on his mercy, and cry,

“Lord, help me!”

Everyone who comes to him gets help.

No matter how big the mess, or how great the sin, Jesus cuts us free from our past.

He gives us a new start.

So what are we waiting for?

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;  for I am gentle and lowly in heart,  and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”                                             Matthew 11:28-20 

  

Prayer: Lord Jesus thank you that you give us a new start. Thank you that you have mercy on the sick and broken. We admit that we are lost, we are sick and we are broken. Help us merciful Lord, give us a new start. We are asking for relief from our burdens and rest for our souls as we come to you and learn your tender loving ways.
Message written December 2020  REB
Art: Maria Lang Garcia Maria Lang.net 

LEST THOU DASH YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE


For he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

                                     Psalm 91:11-12

If I deny myself, take up my cross daily and follow Jesus,

I am under the protection of heaven.

I am watched over.

I am enveloped by the protection of God, until my work is done.

This does not mean that I will not suffer.

Jesus never promised me a smooth road.

But he did promise that if I am a servant of his kingdom, “not a hair on my head will perish.”

“You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish.”

                                  Luke 21:16-18

I may be put to death, but not a hair on my head will perish?

Whatever happens to me, I will be surrounded by the presence of God.

I will be safe.

But what if I become careless?

What if I begin presuming on God’s protection, while I veer from the path and start doing things my way?

What if I ignore the warnings from heaven and pursue the path of hypocrisy?

“Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name?” “I never knew you.  Depart from me, you evildoers.”

Matthew 7:22-23

If I stay under the yoke with Jesus, I am protected, no matter what happens.

If I leave that yoke and go “solo” I’m on my own.

Lord, have mercy!

Prayer:

Thank you Lord for your tender care, your tender protection.  No matter what we face, may we rest in your safety.  May we never forget it.  Remind us of your love, convict us, when we veer into hypocrisy, when our hearts begin to harden, when we begin to place ourselves on the throne. Bring us back to you, so you know us once again. Help us to embrace your cross, to seek your presence, and to be lovingly yoked to you, so we are recognized by you and welcomed by you as we seek citizenship in your kingdom.

 
 
Message written September 2020  REB
Art: Jessica Eli   jessicaeli.com/

THE PEACE OF GOD            

 “Come see a man who told me all I ever did!” said the Woman at the Well. The villagers were stunned by the change in her. Their disdain for this woman vanished as they followed her out to the well to meet the man who had changed her forever. What was it about this woman that now gave her such authority?

The peace of God.

For the first time in her life she had peace.

You could see it in her face.

You could hear it in her voice.

She drank Living Water from this strange Jewish man who met her at the well…

and found peace.

Saul of Tarsus was on his way to round up the Jewish heretics in Damascus and drag them back to Jerusalem to face the music.…. Until he was struck down by the glory of God and heard the voice of the one he despised…

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

As he stumbled blindly into Damascus, Saul was coming close to the treasure which had eluded him all his life.

Saul had fire, but no peace.

When Ananias prayed for Saul, not only did his eyes open, his heart found what it longed for:

 The peace of God.

The Treasurer of Ethiopia was drawn to God far more than he was drawn to money. So hungry for God was this man that he learned the Hebrew language and came all the way to Jerusalem to study Hebrew Scriptures. On his way home, he was sitting in his chariot, pondering the meaning of Isaiah 53, when a stranger asked him,

“Do you understand what you’re reading?“Can you help me?” says the Ethiopian to Philip. As Philip revealed the meaning of Isaiah 53, the Ethiopian found it at last…

The peace of God.

Baptized by Philip, the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing.

The peace of God comes to us as we drink from that Fountain of Living Water.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.    John 14:27

That peace surrounds us, protects us and guides us from the instant we abandoned the kingdom of this world for the Kingdom of God. When two or three are gathered in his name, Jesus is there. “Peace be with you,” says the Master, and heaven fills the room.

But for all its power, God’s peace is fragile. If I walk around with an attitude, if I cling to a grudge, God’s peace begins to fade. If I refuse to let that peace rule my heart, it says “Have it your way,”

…. leaving me to stumble on in darkness.

No wealth, no dream, no honor is worth the forfeiting of that peace.

 God’s peace is ours forever, if we allow it to rule in our hearts.

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

                                     Philippians 4:6-7

Prayer: Dearest Jesus, how we need the peace you offer us, now more than ever. Lord help us to let go of anything that blocks the peace of God from ruling in our hearts. Cause us once again to come close and drink your Living Water and find your true peace. Keep us in you. Wrap our hearts, minds, fears, and troubles in your peace.  Keep us seeking you, desiring you and the precious peace you offer us.

Message written August 2020  REB
Art: Permission of Jessica Eli jessicaeli.com  and Rik Berry rikberry.com

FEAR, TREMBLING AND HOLY JOY

Mary was terrified when she saw the angel.

She was baffled by his message.

But when it was all over, she was filled with joy.

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

                                               Luke 1:38

When Peter saw that net come up, filled to the breaking point with fish, he was scared to death.

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.!”

“Don’t be afraid.  From now on you will be catching men.”

And when they brought their boats to land,

 they left everything and followed him.

                                    Luke 5:8b, 10b, & 11

With joy they followed Jesus without concern for the past or the future.

These days there is little “fear and trembling” ….

 …..and even less joy.

Joy is not a commodity.

Nor can we generate joy in ourselves.  (Not until we have learned how to “rejoice in the Lord”.)

Joy is a gift straight from heaven. 

It comes to us when we remove our shoes in the presence of the HOLY.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is the doorway to joy.

When Jesus speaks, may God give us the grace to listen with fear and trembling.

                         …..and take off our shoes.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,  just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

                                    John 15:9-11

Prayer:

Holy Lord, help us in these busy lives of ours to stop, lift our eyes and be awed by you. Awed by your divineness, awed by your mercy, awed by your love and awed that you choose to speak to us. Oh loving Lord, we are listening. We take off our shoes. We choose to keep your divine commandments; we choose to abide in your love and we desire to be filled with the fullness of joy that only you can give us.

Message written by REB  October 2020
Art: Permission of Deborah Nell  deborahnellart.net

TELL THAT FOX

At that very hour some Pharisees came, and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.’”

                                                  Luke 13:32

Jesus refused to waste time with Herod, Pilate, or Caesar.

These “men of power” could neither help him nor hinder him.

Jesus was focused on one thing:

Doing his Father’s will.

Getting done what he came here to do.

Laying down his life on the cross.

Jesus’ power was his cross.

By the power of his cross he healed the sick, opened blind eyes, cast out demons.

By this power he set the captives free.

The power of the Holy Spirit is the power of the cross.

Never try to separate the Holy Spirit from the cross.

Never try to walk in the Spirit without carrying your cross.

Herod, Pilate and Caesar are long gone, and so is their power.

Jesus is still here.

His Kingdom alone will survive the coming days.

So why are we so taken up with our present-day Herods and Pilates and Caesars?

Their power always fails.

They will soon be gone and forgotten.

And so will we, if we waste our time chasing after their kind of “power”.

If we’re walking with Jesus, we deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow him.

His cross….our cross…

 ….the power is in that cross!

 Lord, open our eyes to see what that means.

 I am crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

                                                    Galatians 2:20

Prayer: Lord, release us from wallowing in despondency and fear when it comes to today’s foxes. Also release us from  trying to find happiness and hope in worldly powers.  Despite “the foxes” may we, like you, continue to bring your healing into our own spheres in the time we have left on this earth. May we, like you, know that the cross is where power truly is, knowing that the cross is where the Holy Spirit is calling us to, and knowing that the cross is where our hearts need to be.

Message written: October 2020 REB
Art: Herod Antipas, by James Tissot  in the public domain and Crucified with Christ Gwen Meharg drawneartogod.com

I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU DESOLATE

“I will not leave you desolate. I will come to you.”

John 14:18

It’s a promise Jesus never fails to keep.

Never.

“I will not leave you desolate.”

Jesus is speaking to men and women whose hearts are focused on him alone.

Not on some “Christian Agenda”.

Not on some “spiritual experience”.

On him alone.

“I will come to you.”


When the disciples thought they had lost him forever, he appeared to them alive from the dead.

These men and women still did not know Jesus—-really know Jesus—until his Spirit flooded them with “power from on high.”


They no longer saw him with human eyes.
They no longer heard him with human ears.


But now they knew him as never before.

He had come to them.


And because he lives, they live also.


Many of us are feeling a bit desolate just now. Where Oh where is Jesus in all this mess? It’s time to hang on to his promise and believe it with all our hearts.


“I will not leave you desolate. I will come to you.”


Forget your “Christian Agenda”.
Forget your “spiritual experiences”.


Focus on Jesus only, and on this one promise.


He will not leave you desolate.
He will come to you.
He will guide, protect, and empower you through the days ahead.

Prayer: Gracious Lord, in these times as darkness and confusion approach us, we need you more than ever.  Don’t let the darkness  blind us to you. Help us to let go of anything that blurs our vision of you. Please come to us.  Give us the vision to trust you are with us in this, knowing we are never alone, knowing you do not leave us desolate, knowing you will continue to guide us, protect us and empower us in the midst of  darkness.

Written September 2020 REB
Art: I will Come to You and Stopping the Darkness Kevin Carden via Good Salt license

YOU WON’T SINK

            

When they threw Jonah overboard, he sank!

When Noah’s Flood swallowed wedding feasts and family reunions, they sank!

But when Jesus came walking on the water said to Peter, “Come”, Peter did just fine…

….until he panicked.

The world we inhabit is unstable as water. 

It’s a boiling sea. 

Nothing is certain or safe.

Except the One who walks on water.

When he says, “Come,” we can step out of our “boat” and walk toward him.

We can follow him through the turmoil, and never sink.

He empowers us to accomplish whatever he commands.

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves;  so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes.”

                              Matthew 10:16-23

If we follow the Master we can “walk on water”.

No need to panic.

Keep focused, and keep going.

If we falter, he’ll lift us up.

If we’re following in his steps, we will never sink.

Prayer :Lord Jesus as you call us to come, may we keep our eyes on you, so that as we step out of the boat, into the rolling waters you call us into…we see you and don’t sink. When we panic, when we falter, lift us up. Help us to step out filled with your Spirit, knowing we won’t sink, knowing you will give us all we need to keep going, to keep enduring, to keep faithful, to keep proclaiming your Kingdom as we walk to you above the waters.

 
Written July 2020 REB
Art:  Walking on Water Melani Pyke melpyke.com and  The Step of Faith (close up) Ain Vares  ainvaresart.com/

PUT THAT SWORD AWAY

And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

                                                                          Matthew 26:51-52

  The urge to pull out the sword.

 Or the gun.

 Or the venomous tongue.

“I’m fighting the Lord’s battle.  Why shouldn’t I use my sword?”

 That’s what they said during the Crusades.  And what a bloody mess followed.

Whenever Christians listen to their “leaders” instead of Jesus, two realities rise up to negate everything Jesus says:

Money.

Money becomes our power instead of the Spirit of God.

The sword.

 The sword becomes our security instead of the Living Word.

False prophets are always busy promising protection and power through money and the sword.

Jesus calls us to follow a different road.

 “You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

                        Matthew 5:38-45

Written: September 2020 REB
Art: Art: Untitled Berna Lopez bernalopez.org, and Why do You Strike Me by Ann Cameron Cutri saatchiart.com/AnneCameronCutri

Prayer:  Gracious Father, Give us the determination to lay down our need to control things, to lay down our need to strike out in defense. Give us the strength to put our swords away. You alone are our security. Keep us loving and praying for our enemies,  for those who oppose us,  for those who disagree with us. May the desire to honor you and live as your sons and daughters vanquish our need to take matters that belong to you into our own hands. 

THE MOUTH OF THEM THAT SPEAK LIES SHALL BE STOPPED

 

Ever since the serpent told Eve to go ahead and eat the fruit,

                         “You will not die!”….

Lies have been Satan’s “bread and butter”.

Lies are the air Satan breathes.

Lies are the icy blood in his spiritual veins.

Satan rules this world by the power of the LIE.

Why does God allow it?

One day we may know.

One thing we do know:

  No lie lasts forever.

“Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

                                    Luke 12:2-3

In this world repeated lies become “truth”.

False rumors fascinate.

Soft lies are easier to believe than hard truth.

Slanderous lies spread like fire through barren souls.

Preposterous lies are a joy to lazy minds.

But no lie lasts forever.

“Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”

If we are following Jesus, we are given all the wisdom we need to detect the LIE.

And we are expected to use that wisdom.

If we allow ourselves to be deceived by lies, heaven will hold us accountable.

And we will pay a price—in this world and the next.

“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil?  For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the Day of Judgment  men will render account for every careless word they utter;  for by your words you will be justified,  and by your words you will be condemned.”

                                    Matthew 12:33-37

Prayer: Good Lord, Father of Truth… There are so many lies saturating the minds and hearts of believers at this time, destructive, divisive, ugly, slanderous lies. For those of us who love you, help us to yield our minds, our ears, and our eyes to the Holy Spirit. Give us the discernment, to see the source of those lies and the humility to admit when we have been deceived.  For those creating and spreading the lies, expose them and their wicked scheming. Stop the mouths of those who speak them. Stop the mouths of those who spread them. Stop us from spewing this evil from our mouths. Dispel the dark and ugly thoughts that these lies stir up. Help us to truly repent and open our hearts again to your beautiful truth. Pour your light into us again so that our hearts are full of your goodness and that goodness will once again pour from our lips.

Written September 2020 REB
Edited Photo:  Taras Chernus via Unsplash…free photos for all

“BIBLE PROPHECY” OR PROPHECY?

For goodness sake, don’t get them confused.

“Bible Prophecy” is when every current event is connected directly to a passage in Daniel, Zechariah, or Revelation. For instance, the Anti-Christ has been identified by Bible prophets as Hitler, Putin, Bill Gates, and countless others. The “Two Witnesses” of Revelation, Chapter 11, is another favorite topic of speculation in the world of Bible prophecy.

Prophets and “Bible Prophets”

Prophets are people who give us a living word from God that rings true.  Rarely are their words sensational. They simply convict us, and enable us to face reality, when we’ve been walking around in a spiritual daze.

Sometimes they deliver a powerful message of hope.

Sometimes they give us a glimpse of the future. 

These prophets never speculate. 

They cling to the cross with fear and trembling even while they speak with boldness.

Bible Prophecy”, on the other hand, distracts us from the work of the Kingdom and leads us into speculation. And speculation often degenerates into conspiracy theories and worse. Bible prophecy appeals to those who are obsessed with figuring out what lies ahead and who the villains are.

Checking in with Jesus

Jesus tells us all we need to know about the End, in Matthew, Chapters 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21.   

His essential message in these passages is:

  1. “Take heed that you are not led astray.”

Don’t get side-tracked by a false prophet.

  1. “Stay awake.”

“Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning,  and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks.”                         (Luke 12:35-36)

  1. There will be an accounting.

“For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.”      (Matthew 25:14-15)

At the Master’s return, each of us will give an account. If we focus on these three things, we will be ready for whatever God has in store for us. When the Anti-Christ makes his appearance as the Man of Sin, those who are walking in the light will recognize him instantly.  They won’t need a “Bible Prophet” to explain it. When the “sign of the Son of Man” appears in the heavens, the whole world will know what it means, without any help from an “expert”.

Indeed, our Lord expects us to “interpret the present time”.

But this does not mean speculating about what’s going to happen next week.

“Interpreting the present time” means getting our house in order in the face of those gathering clouds.

 We observe those clouds of Judgment and hasten to make things right with our brother.

 

As Jesus makes clear in the passage below….

 He also said to the multitudes, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?  And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”

                                                Luke 12:54-59

Dear Coming Lord, perfect, beautiful Jesus, open our ears, our hearts and our minds to the living words, the teachings, the prophecies that draw us to you, that keep us clinging to your cross. Disclose to our ears, our hearts, and our minds any teachings, beliefs, or conspiracies that distract us from the works of your Kingdom, or even worse, causes divisions that reek of the accuser. Keep us from being sidetracked and misled by any twisted speculations. May we remain awake and accountable. May we act to make things right with our brothers and sisters and with you before it’s too late. Amen

Written July 2020 REB
All art courtesy of Jessica Eli at jessicaeli. com

INTERPRETING THE PRESENT TIME

“You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Luke 12:56

 Interpret the present time?

 Seems like no one has a clue about the present time.

 Pandemics,

 weird weather,

 social unrest,

 economic disaster,

 hunger,

homeless millions.

We hear the voice of a man who is largely ignored, even by those who claim to be his followers.

“You can figure out the weather.

How come you can’t figure out what’s going on in front of your nose?”

When Jesus says to us, “Why can’t you interpret the present time?” he is telling us…

“You can’t stop the Pandemic.

You can’t change the weather.

You can’t quiet the rage of the suffering masses,

The economic melt-down is beyond your control.

But one thing you can do:

You can get your own act together.”

To get our act together, in the face of the growing chaos, there are two things we can do:

We can get right with our neighbor.

We can get right with God.

We can get right with our neighbor.

So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.

   Matthew 5:23-26

Now is the time to take care of it.

To make things right with the one we have wronged.

To change our attitude toward the people we’ve ignored and despised.

To pay attention to the “Lazarus” who keeps calling on the phone.

To send some money to help feed the hungry.

 We can get right with our God.

“The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the good news.”

                                            Mark 1:15

Every time Jesus uses the word “Repent” he is telling us to get right with God.

There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Silo’am fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

                                                       Luke 13:1-5

 “Repent” means turn around and pay attention to what God has to say.

To confess our hardness of heart.

To cry out for forgiveness.

To get under the Master’s yoke and learn humility.

To let God’s Spirit teach us how to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Those gathering clouds out there are clouds of Judgment.

It’s time to wake up and interpret the present time.

And get our act together.

Prayer: Yes Lord help us to get our acts together. Help us to get our minds off of trying to interpret and deal with what’s happening around us …and instead help us to focus on what’s happening within us. Convict us of our attitudes towards our fellow humans. Enable us to make amends, to love, to give generously, to have true compassion. And Lord, most of all we repent. We repent that our hearts have lost focus. We confess our hardness of heart during these times. Forgive us, draw us under your loving yoke, teach us how to love you with all that we have, so we will not be overcome by the approaching clouds.

Message written June 2020 REB
Art: All images via Unsplash… free photos for all.

WALKING IN THE LIGHT

If we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

                                               I John 1:7

But am I actually walking in the light?

If I’m “making an impression”,

 am I walking in the light?

If I’m flattering my neighbor,

am I walking in the light?

If I despise Republicans,

am I walking in the light?

If I sneer at Democrats,

am I walking in the light?

It’s great to believe in the light.

It’s wonderful to trust in the light.

But the light is not mine until I walk in it.

With no pretense.

            No “agenda”.

Wide open, clear as crystal.

To walk in the light is to follow the footsteps of One in whom there is no darkness.

“I am the light of the world. He/she who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

                                         John 8:12

Forget about all the “extras” added to the gospel by centuries of custom and tradition.

Scrape off the crust of “doctrinal issues’ and “theological disputes”, and “philosophical critiques”.

Focus on the simple direction of Jesus to each of us.

His words alone are Spirit and Life.

They show us the way.

They give us the power we need to walk the walk.

When Jesus said to Matthew, “Follow me”, Matthew got up and followed. From that day Matthew simply walked in the Master’s words.

He needed no “spiritual adviser”.

He needed no “commentaries.”

Matthew knew what to do.

And so do we.

“I am the light of the world. He/she who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, true light of the world, we say we seek your light …. yet we continue to stumble in the darkness of our beliefs, critiques, and agendas. In your mercy, dispel this darkness from our minds and souls. Help us to let go of anything we believe in, anything we cling to, that deters us from living your truth. Warn us so we are alarmed when we begin to veer into darkness. Pull us back, give us a loathing for anything that draws us away from your teachings. Instead give us an overwhelming desire to walk in the way of your beautiful, life giving words so we may have the light of life.

Message written June 2020 REB
Art all by Elizabeth Wang RadiantLight.org.uk T-00070-OL, T-01088-OL, T-01385B-OL… free for ministry use

THE PATIENCE OF GOD

Slow to anger And plenteous in mercy

Exodus 34:6

Who of us has not been spared countless times by the mysterious patience of God?

He could have called us to account.

He could have nailed us to the wall.

He could have caused the mud we threw out there to come back to us and cover us with shame.

But life went on as usual.

Did God ignore our sin?

Did he ignore those malicious words?

That cowardly silence?

That willful ignorance of the suffering before our eyes?

The Father saw it all.

Yet he chose to be patient.

To give us a chance to wake up.

He is waiting for us to see our folly and change our ways.

To receive forgiveness and learn to forgive.

This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

                        I Timothy 2:4

If we were half as patient with each other as God is with us….

If we were half as patient with “those sinners out there” as God is with us….

But there comes a moment in each of our lives when the Father calls us to account.

We’re not talking about the Final Judgment.  We’re talking about a foretaste of that Final Judgment.

When God’s unspeakable patience calls in the chips.

We refused to forgive.

We refused to change our attitude.

In his mysterious mercy the Father now allows us to reap what we sowed.

Has the Father “lost patience” with us?

No, the Father’s patience is still there.

Waiting for us to come to the Cleansing Fountain of Calvary. And begin walking in the light.

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right Spirit within me!

                                    Psalm 51:2,3,10

Prayer : Lord how often you have graciously rescued us from our own folly.  Thank you, thank you for relieving us of the consequences of our thoughtlessness, our hurtful words, our indifference.  Oh Lord forgive us for our harshness, our attitudes. They reek of darkness, of such ungratefulness.  Thank you for stopping us, for convicting us, for allowing us to be shocked and disgusted by the ugliness within us. Cleanse us, give us new hearts that are lighted and filled with the mercy and the patience and the deep love you’ve covered us with. May it pour out to others as an offering of worship and gratefulness to you.

Message written September 2020  REB
Art: Elizabeth Wang God’s Grace https://radiantlight.org.uk/  T-00442-OL and Shame-01583B-OL. Free for ministry use

YOUR FATHER HAS MADE ARRANGMENTS

You are not stepping into a vacuum.

You are being sent on a road on which all arrangements were made ahead of time.

 By God.

You will meet people at the exact moment prepared by heaven.

You will miss the plane and stumble into the arms of unexpected destiny.

“Random” is unknown in God’s Kingdom.

 In God’s World chaos is often the doorway to redeeming power.

“Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.  Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road.

Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you.

And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”

                                    Luke 10:3-9

Of course such a life is possible only after we have left our fishing boats behind and are following Jesus without looking back. 

Written August  2020 REB

Art: Anne C Brink  annecbrink.com

 

Prayer: Dear Father, you have been so gracious to us. We are so thankful. May this grace be ignited into deeds of mercy, acts of kindness, in open and tender hearts to our neighbors. Help us to step into your plans for us, plans to carry your grace to all who will have it. Give us the vision and the confidence to see and know that you have arranged for us to do so.  With each step we take, may we bring your kingdom closer to those who we are sent to and to our own souls as well, as your grace is poured out from us.

GRACE IS NOT TO BE HOARDED

You can hoard money.

You can hoard stuff.

But you cannot hoard Grace.

Grace is God’s life poured into you.

Grace is God’s love ignited in your soul.

Grace is a sustaining Word from heaven.

Grace increases in you, only as it flows from you.

Bottle it up inside you, and it breeds worms, like left-over manna.

Let it flow out as deeds of mercy

                   Words of….

Hope

Encouragement

Welcome

And it becomes a mighty River.

Loosen up!

Let God’s kindness to you flow from you as broken bread and poured-out wine for your neighbor.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.         

                                                                I John  3      

        

Written September 2019 REB

Art:  Courtesy of Anne C. Brink   annecbrink.com

THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD IS A LIAR

“When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

John 8:44

Jesus is talking about the one he calls “the Prince of this World”, the unseen power that uses his waning days to deceive and devour all who choose darkness over light.

His power consists of only one thing:

the LIE.

“You will not die,” he says to Eve, as she eyes the fruit of the forbidden tree.

“God doesn’t want you to become as smart as he is. 
Go ahead and eat. It will make you like God.”

And now, at this late hour, lies are spilling from the mouths of kings, presidents, prime ministers, generals, bishops, super-stars, bartenders, plumbers, beauticians and bankers.

The Prince of this World has covered all the bases, using the same approach he used with Eve:

“Stick with me, and I will make your life a dream.”

“Do not trust anyone else! I’m your only hope.”

“See this? This is the key to Paradise. Come! I’ll show you the way.”

The Prince of this World looks you in the eye and insists that he’s telling the truth.

That everyone else is a liar.

The Lord warns,

“Don’t be fooled by his sheepskin coat. Look at the fruits of his life.”

“If you see a trail of ruined souls lying in his wake, you’re looking at his fruit.”

“If his ‘truth’ becomes a lie when exposed to the light, you’re looking at his fruit.”

On the Day of Judgment none of us will be able to plead ignorance.

“But Lord, I had no idea!”

“Not true. You knew better. The fruits of their life were staring you in the face.”

Are we afraid to believe that the Son of Man is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

Are we unable to see that the Prince of this World is a liar?

Are we following a liar?

Or are we pursuing the truth?

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

John 8:31-32

Prayer: Father of Truth, rescue us from pursuing lies, from being deceived by the father of lies who calls our hearts and minds to dark paths.  Lord wake us up, keep us pursuing your life giving truth, seeking you with all that we have, seeking to be truly your obedient and loving disciples .

Written June 2020 REB
Art: Chris Powers www.fullofeyes.com

SIMPLE FAITH OR GULLIBLE FAITH?

Simple faith focuses on Jesus.

It listens to the preacher, but weighs everything the preacher says against the words and the Spirit of Jesus.

Gullible faith focuses on the preacher.

If the preacher says it’s true, it’s true.

If the preacher says there’s a conspiracy, it shouts “Amen!” and spreads the word.

If the preacher tells it how to vote, it obeys without a second thought.

Simple faith is both child-like and wise.

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:2-3

Simple faith can see that the Emperor has no clothes.

Gullible faith has a lazy mind and a childish heart.

Gullible faith hails the naked Emperor with gusto.

“Take heed that no one leads you astray.”

Matthew 24:4

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we long for a child-like faith, a simple faith that draws our heart to you in all things. A faith that loves you, adores you so much… that we cannot be misled by any opinion, teaching or doctrine that blatantly veers from your holy nature…We long for a faith that is simple, yet wise, recognizing and acknowledging vulgarity when we see it, the naked emperors around us. Open our minds to our own gullibility. Heal them, so we lean on you, only you for true guidance.

Written April 2020 REB
Art by Elizabeth Wang at Radiantlight.org.uk T-00154-OL and T-06226B-CW

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE  

CONDITIONAL FRIENDSHIP *

God’s love is unconditional.

That love floods our sin-sick world at this moment.

It’s here for everybody.
Everybody.

“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

A new life, a clean slate for every human soul.

Not because we’re worthy.
Not because we’re worth saving.

Simply because he loves us.
All of us
Unconditionally.

God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
                                                                                      John 3:16

The Father sees every sparrow fall, observes every blade of grass,
and looks into each of our hearts with unconditional love.

“Come to me!
“I will heal every wound, break every chain, wipe away every tear!”

When we open our hearts to that love, we are drawn to the Father through a single door:

The door of forgiveness.

Which is Jesus, crucified and risen.
He is the door to the Father’s unconditional love.

Moreover, Jesus invites us to be his friends.

But here’s the mystery:

Friendship with Jesus is conditional.

“You are my friends, if you do what I command you.”
                                                          John 15:14

And what does Jesus command us to do?

Requite the Father’s love.

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,
and your neighbor as yourself.

Every parable, every teaching, every command of Jesus boils down to this simple command:

Love God and your neighbor.

“You are my friends, if you do what I command you.”

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus describes the life he empowers us to live, when we are his friends:

A life driven by love.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
                                                                    John 15: 9-10

God’s love is unconditional.

It’s as steady as the burning sun.
But to actually know that love, we have to requite it.


We have to walk in love—toward God, toward our neighbor.

Every neighbor.

Jesus makes it possible for each of us to walk in love, if we will get under his yoke and learn from him.

And be his friends.

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
                                                                                  John 15:13-15

Dearest  holy and loving Lamb of God, Help us to sense your unconditional love that surrounds us at all times. Draw us into your arms. Flood us with your love. Heal us. Free us. Wipe away our every fear and tear. Oh Lord, that we would be so filled with your love that we are able to return it with an intensity like we never have before, an intensity that draws us into your very heart. As we are covered with holy love and holy forgiveness, may we enter into a deeper fellowship with you, as friends. As friends may we love you with all we have, as friends may we not let you down, may we do what you ask of us… to live a life driven by the very love you give to us.  Yoke us close to you, our dear, beloved friend,…so we are empowered to abide in your love…empowered to truly love our neighbor, empowered to unleash your forgiveness to this needy world … and as we share your love… may wounds be healed, chains be broken, tears wiped away and billions enter into friendship with you.

Message written August 2020 REB
Art:  By Chris Powers at Fullofeyes.com

THE MERCY PRAYER

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.                                                                                                                               Matthew 5:44

It doesn’t make sense

I finally landed a decent job, good pay, beautiful place.  Except for one thing:  my boss.  From Day One he decided I don’t belong.  He tells me to go back to Africa. He never leaves me alone.  Makes my life miserable. Human Resources won’t help.  So I’m leaving.

And I’m supposed to pray for this guy?  No way!

 ____________

 I thought I found my Prince.  We had a magnificent wedding.  A great honeymoon.  A few pleasant years.

 But now, with three little ones in a beautiful house my Prince has turned into a Monster.  A few drinks and he comes home in a rage.  He beats me.  He’ll beat the kids if I let him get near them. Life is intolerable, actually it’s dangerous.  The children and I are heading for a shelter before he gets home tonight.

 And I’m supposed to pray for him?  Thanks anyway!

  Maybe in Galilee

Maybe back in those days, when life was sane, Jesus could say,

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

 But in this world of lies, greed and violence, who in their right mind would waste time praying for those monsters who make our lives a terror?

________________

It’s the same world

Actually, the world back then was no more “sane” than it is now. And no less violent.

When Jesus showed us the way of God’s World, he was revealing the only way to live in any world.

The only way that works.

The way he lived to his dying breath.

They whipped him, beat him, taunted him, and nailed him to a cross to die.

Did he call down curses from heaven?

Did he threaten them with the fires of hell?

He prayed for them.

 “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

 That prayer had unspeakable power.  Power that hovers over us as I write these words—and as you read them.

God’s forgiveness flows like a healing river.

That forgiveness enters us and transforms us.

But it refuses to stagnate within us.

Either God’s forgiveness flows through us to those who have wronged us or it disappears.

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

 Forgiveness is God’s supreme power on this earth.

God’s amazing grace.

When the risen Lord said, “Peace be with you!” to his trembling disciples, he was flooding their lives with forgiveness

Forgiveness for their cowardice, their unbelief.

The instant we receive God’s forgiveness, we are empowered to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

When it seems impossible to forgive the one who destroyed our life, the Spirit of God comes like a wind at our back and helps us break through our bitterness.

The Mercy Prayer

 Many years ago Rex Andrews, a Bible teacher in Zion, Illinois, lost his way.  Andrews suffered through a long season of devastating guilt and despair, until the Lord found him, forgave him, and restored him to life. From then on, the theme of Rex Andrews’ life was God’s unspeakable mercy.  Whenever Andrews was wronged or slandered, he would pray what he called “The Mercy Prayer”:

 Lord, flood the person I am thinking of with your fulfilling mercies, meeting all their needs!

It’s not always easy to pray this prayer.

Sometimes we have to begin by saying, “Lord, I’m not sure I can mean the words,  as I pray mercy on this person.  Help me to keep praying the words until I can say them from my heart!”

Lord, flood the person I am thinking of with your fulfilling mercies, meeting all their needs!

Why should we stumble through life loaded down with bitterness toward those who have wronged us?

The same Master who paid our debt with his own blood will help us clear away those debts we hold against our tormentors.

And fill us with his peace.

Prayer : Beloved Lord, you cover us with such grace, such forgiveness….. again and again you wrap us in your tender mercy.  But we are stagnating in anger, resentment, criticism and hurt. Jesus, release us from this torment. We need your help to break through this bitterness. We want to be filled to be filled with your love and peace instead. Transform our hearts. Empower us to love those who have hurt us, wronged us, betrayed us, those who annoy us, and those who oppose us. May your forgiveness and healing flow from our broken and twisted hearts. Give us hearts that truly desire for them to be covered in your tender mercy. Flood them with your loving mercy, meet their needs, give them their hearts desire. Bless them, bless them.

Message written August 2020 REB
Art: By permission Rik Berry at rikberry.com and Melani Pyke at melpyke.com

TERRIFIED AND COMFORTED

I am living under an Eye that sees through every pretense.

O LORD, thou hast searched me and known me! Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

Psalm 139

It’s hard to get my head around it. 

But God actually sees through me!

He sees beyond the image I present to the world—knows what I’m really up to.

Scary, but comforting.

 How else can the Lord teach me how to face reality and live the Truth?

I am living under an Eye that never leaves me.

Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day.                            

Psalm 139

 Sometimes I tell myself that God doesn’t notice; that he is busy with other things.

Big mistake!

The same God who watches every sparrow fall, knows every blade of grass, sees into my soul 24/7.

Am I terrified, or am I comforted?

Both.

How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. When I awake, I am still with thee.

 Psalm 139

But why is he watching me?  Why is my every thought, every word, every deed remembered?

Who is this God who knows me inside and out?

 Does he care about me?  Does he care about the millions who are sick and half-starved? 

Don’t look to the religious professionals to tell you.

Don’t expect the doctrines of your church to make it plain.

If you want to know what he is like, this God who looks into your soul, focus your attention on the words of Jesus—-all of them.

You will not only get a glimpse of what God is like,

You will hear his voice.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

                                                                Psalm 139

Prayer

Yes, Precious and Holy Lord, we are awed and frightened by your ever-present presence. We lay all our pretenses, all our faults before you. Search us, know our hearts… Oh lead us, lead us to your very heart. Lord humble us, open our hearts until we can trust you with all that we have, until we can relax into your tender loving care and live aware of your comforting presence with us all our remaining days.

Message written May 2020 REB
Art: Today’s art is by the gracious courtesy of Jessica Eli. Her gallery is at Jessicaeli.com

FINDING THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1

In a world of growing chaos there is only one place of true sanity:

The shadow of the Almighty.

Covered and protected by God.

Guided by his wisdom.

Sustained by his power.

Apart from the shadow of the Almighty, everything is ephemeral, fragile, uncertain, melting away in the mist.

The shadow of the Almighty is not easy to find.  It’s like the narrow gate, the narrow road.

“Few there be that find it.”

Yet it’s available to all and worth the search.

We need something more than a temporary refuge.

 Something beyond reassuring words.

We need a dwelling place blazing with God’s constant presence.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

The door to this dwelling place is wide open.

All are welcome.  No one is excluded.

When we find it and enter it, we begin to lose our preoccupation with self. We become God-conscious 24/7.

We live our days under the eye of our heavenly Father.

We know that he knows our every thought.

We deal with our friends, our neighbors, our enemies, and Lazarus at our gate, aware that the Father’s mercy to us must now flow out to them.

But where is it?

Where is “the secret place of the Most High”?

It has been here since the beginning of time, but now that the Messiah has come, all who seek the Truth are drawn to one place.

 The Master’s yoke.

  At that time Jesus declared, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

                                       Mathew 11:25-30

If the door to “the secret place of the Most High” is open to all, why is it found by so few?

Only God knows.

But that door is open to us and to all.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Prayer: Oh loving Lord, how beautiful that you the Almighty God, the Most High God, call us to live under your shadow. Help us to seek and find this place…where we are covered, protected, guided, and sustained. May we continue to search until we are there. May we let all go and melt into you, let go of all our anxieties, fears, concerns and finally rest in you, so we may dwell in your presence at all times…lovingly carrying your yoke, because it is your yoke that keeps us in your tender shadow.

Message written June 2020 REB
 Art: All by Signe Flink    deviantart.com/signeflinkart Signe is also on Facebook and Instagram

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