Sunday Praise and Worship: More and More

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Happy Sunday, Beloved!

I have to confess that these Sunday Praise and Worship posts are my favorite ones to put together. Why? Because I get to spend so much time listening to some wonderful praise and worship songs, which lead me to search Scripture for passages that go well with those songs.

I cannot sing along with lyrics like these without feeling the overflowing love of God, the undeniable mercy and grace of my Savior Jesus. and the fire of the Holy Spirit that guides me through my days.

Now as the people were in expectation,
and all reasoned in their hearts about John,
whether he was the Christ or not,
John answered, saying to all,
“I indeed baptize you with water;
but One mightier than I is coming,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in His hand,
and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor,
and gather the wheat into His barn;
but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
—Luke 3:15-16

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The words of “More and More” by Selah should echo our hearts’ desire. May we always yearn for more and more of God in our lives.

 

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

What Must I Do to be Saved?

Reblogged from As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith.

My bloggy friend, Raymond Gary Candy, has a wonderful blog called As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith. He shared this great post there a couple of weeks ago, a good reminder for those of us who already know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. However, this would be a good tool to use if you’re unsure about sharing your faith with unbelieving family and friends.

Thank you so much, Raymond, for the granting me the privilege of sharing this with my readers.

What must I do to be Saved?

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“And brought them out, and said, Sirs,what must I do to be saved?
(Acts 16:30)

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi,we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (John 3:1-2)

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

“Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4)

Read the rest here.

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A Son is Given

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called    
Wonderful Counselor,  

Mighty God, 

Everlasting Father, 

Prince of Peace.  

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. 
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, 
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness 
from that time on and forever. 
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. 
—Isaiah 9:6-7

 

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OUR SELFLESS SAVIOR (Part 2) [REPOST]

~This is the second part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

 

Last Thursday we read how Jesus spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father in teaching and serving others.

God’s plan was in place.

Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.

The focus switches now to Judas.

During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him… —John 13:2

All sin begins in the heart. Only when it is acted upon does it become sin.

We can read about this downward slide in chapter 1 of James:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. —James: 1:13-16

If you look up the verses in the Bible where Judas is mentioned, you learn he was covetous. We know this because it tells us he was a thief. He didn’t need the money, he simply wanted the money. He had been with Jesus for three years. Did he think Jesus didn’t know he was stealing?

Our hearts deceive us too. We think God doesn’t see our secret sins but He does, just as Jesus knew Judas’ heart.

One of the most startling things to consider about Judas is that earlier in time, Jesus had also sent Judas to heal, cast out demons, etc.:

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

—Matthew 10:1-8 (ESV)

Isn’t this astonishing? Judas was able to do all these things and saw these miracles and many more. He saw Lazarus and the others Jesus raised from the dead, and yet he still didn’t believe with his heart.

Sobering thoughts, aren’t they? Doesn’t it give this portion of Matthew 7 a whole new perspective to ponder?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matt. 7:21-23

We all have preconceived ideas of what we expect of Jesus in our lives even if we are not aware of it. It is very likely that Judas had some preconceived ideas toohow he thought Jesus should be or doand it was not working out that way. From my point of view, this is probably part of why he was contemplating betraying Him.

Here is one of my thoughts [and remember, this is my opinion, not the Bible’s]: we know that two of the other disciples thought Jesus was going to set up His kingdom right away and free them from the Romans. We know this because their mother asked Jesus to give them the two highest political offices, on the right and the left of Him.

Maybe Judas expected, as they did, to have an important “cabinet” position such as Department of Treasury where he could have both prestige and siphon off a lot more money to help him grow rich and powerful.

Does that sound like some of today’s politicians?

When it became clear to Judas that Jesus had another plan, he was probably disillusioned and maybe even angry. He seemed to have forgotten all the miracles of the past.

Remember, it is only a few days before Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead! Judas was there!

How this applies to us.

Often when we pray, our preconceived or erroneous ideas expect God to answer in a specific way. Or maybe we wonder why He is sometimes silent. Perhaps there’s even some other way we are disappointed by the answer [or no answer] to our prayers.

We must guard our hearts so as not to let unbelief seep in and cause us to sin or to doubt that God always has our best interests at work in our lives.

When we are angry or fearful, or when things are not going well, we are vulnerable. But sometimes we are equally vulnerable when we are on the “mountaintop.”

Therefore, we must be like Jesus: keep focused on the mission.

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To be continued next Thursday…

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My Balm of Gilead

Here is another great piece from The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord.
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Balm of Gilead

Is there no balm in Gilead? —Jeremiah 8:22

There are experiences of suffering through which the Master wills that we should pass. There are burdens which He does not lift, though He takes us, burden and all, into His everlasting arms. But in every suffering which He permits, He is our “Balm.” He eases every pain. He comforts every sorrow. He strengthens us in every weakness. There is a “Balm” in our Gilead. Shall we take from Him the comfort which He offers us today?

[Taken from Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, by Charles E. Hurlburt and T. C. Horton. Copyright © 2002 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.]

My thoughts

Is there no balm in Gilead,
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no recovery
For the health of the daughter of my people?
—Jeremiah 8:22

 

Waiting is difficult, especially in the midst of pain and suffering. There is no doubt that life here on earth is hard. We often feel as if we’re treading hopelessly through thick mud that is trying to suck us in. 

111805-BleuWe once had a sweet Sheltie. Bleu would get all shook up whenever he heard any kind of motor or engine noise. Out in the backyard, he barked and would dig at the ground when he heard someone in the neighborhood using a lawn mower or leaf blower. When we started the truck to go somewhere, he would bark and run around in circles until we had backed out of the garage. Even sounds like the blender or vacuum cleaner caused him to bark in agitation. As the noise continued, he would run for one of his stuffed toys and carry it around like a toddler with their security blanket. It sure was a funny sight to us.

Isn’t that the way we are when faced with adversity though? We search for something to calm us down and quiet our hearts. Maybe we immerse ourselves in a book or magazine, or park ourselves in front of the TV for hours. Perhaps we use the internet to shop for things we can’t afford and don’t need. And how many of us turn to our own version of  comfort food when we’re feeling low?

A little at a time, God has been showing me that the only way to get through anything tough is to go directly to Him. Beloved, that’s what He is there for!

Through reading my Bible and devotions, and praying for specific needs, God is always faithful to show me in His Word what He wants me to do. I have tons of past experience in trying to do things on my own before I finally remember how much better things are when I look to God first.

How much better would my life be if I always remembered to seek God first before leaping ahead of Him?

It’s important to remember that God doesn’t ever allow us to go through more than we can stand, even though the circumstances seem
overwhelming. When the crucial times are over, we can look back and see that God was with us all along, carrying our load for us just as His Son, Jesus Christ, did for us on that cross at Calvary.

Beloved, right now you can give your pains, frustrations and anxieties over to the only One who really cares about you and your problems.

Jesus carries

Jesus is our Balm of Gilead.
We can always count on Him to carry us through. 

The other day I once again heard John Waller’s wonderful song “While I’m Waiting” from the movie Fireproof and realized how well it speaks to the great peace and comfort we can feel as we wait on God to walk us through those inevitable tough times.

If you cannot view this video for any reason, you can read the lyrics here.

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The Lord Bless You

Beloved, on this Thankful Thursday, I hope this Scripture passage encourages and comforts you as much as it does me.

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I love what J. Vernon McGee had to say about it. Here is an excerpt from his Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee commentaries:

Here we find the Trinity in the Old Testament. God the Father is the source of all blessing. The Lord Jesus is the One who makes His face to shine upon us. The Holy Spirit lifts up His countenance upon us and gives us peace. This is the only way we can come to God and experience the peace of God. He is the One who makes these things real to our hearts.

The triune God gives them this blessing. The census has been taken, and they all know their pedigree. The standards have been raised; so they all know where they belong. They are to follow their standard, and they are to camp in their assigned place in the camp with their own tribe and their own family. The camp has been cleansed. Now the Lord blesses them. It is the only way God  can bless.

What a wonderful blessing there is here. God the Father keeps us; the Son makes His face to shine upon us—He is the light of the world; God the Holy Spirit gives us peace. What a glorious chapter this is! (1)

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The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

“‘The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.'”

“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
—Numbers 6:22-27

AnnaSmile…..

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(1) McGee, J. Vernon. Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1981.

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Hope-Joy-Peace!

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Beloved, this is my prayer for all of us in 2014. May we look to Jesus always as our God of hope, joy and peace!

AnnaSmile…..

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