But as for me, my feet had almost slipped, Ps. 73.

Honestly now, have you ever thought in this way: “Look at the national leaders and the rich and the famous, and many are those who don’t care about God – ‘they have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. they are free from burdens common to man.'”

These are the very words of the Psalmist in Psalm 73. And he continues,(73:7-11) “pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity…They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression…They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?”

But then we get all tripped up because we are looking out in the world system and we come up with ideas similar to the Psalmist of Psalm 73:12-14, “This is what the wicked are like – always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept myself pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.” Basically thinking, “I have followed God for nothing.”

Then our thoughts are so crazy we cannot even say them or we will confuse the younger generation whom we have taught, ‘to obey is better than sacrifice,’ etc.So we remain silent and think amiss.
Have you ever been there? Well, I have, and I am very sorry for it.

Listen to this verse, (Psalm 73:16) “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me…” this was my experience totally. I got my eyes off of God and had them on people. But God loved me so much as He did the Psalmist…

until I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood…

Only for me, God also led me into the infusion room to be loaded with conventional poisons to shrink a large tumor that had been growing for years! The NIV version says it well in vs. 21,22, “Before, my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You.”

‘Until I entered the sanctuary of God,’ or for me, until I entered the infusion room and God spoke to me the same truths He gave the Psalmist of Psalm 73:

“Toni,(and you might as well put your name in here also, because it is true for you as well,)
“I am always with you.
I hold you by My right hand.
I guide you with My counsel,
and afterwards you give Me glory.”

God broke my heart as He did the Psalmist, and perhaps yours,and that is OK, because God will not despise a broken and contrite heart(Ps. 51:17), so we respond to Him, (Psalm 73:25,26) “Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You,
My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

So today, my heart is burdened for those who are far from You, God, because ‘those who are far from You will perish…”(Psalm 73:27). I have learned my lesson, I fix my eyes on You God, and as the Psalmist in verse 29, “I will tell of all Your deeds.”

“Surely God is good…But as for me, my feet almost slipped…”Ps. 73:1,2.

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We’ve all been bitten!

“You Shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32.

Jesus said, “…I am the truth… John 14:6.

So we need to KNOW the truth, we need to know Jesus more, and He will set us free. That is what the Bible declares.

Then whatever is our problem? We struggle with sin on a day to day basis – we are angry at times, we are despairing at times, we are lazy at times, we are quick-tempered at times, we are selfish most of the time, we are rude, we are moody, but the Bible declares, we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free.

OK, the truth is, that the first Adam was given everything, paradise to live in, a perfect mate, wonderful food he could eat freely except 1 forbidden fruit, physical strength, great intelligence, and a close relationship with God – but he gave in to temptation because a Serpent lied to him and ever since then, we’ve been ‘fallen’ with him. (So, I guess we should think again if we think, “if only I lived in paradise,” “If only I had a better mate”, “If only I was smarter,” etc.!)

Can this sad truth begin to set me free? Just maybe.

Because now, I am thinking of another serpent story. God had brought His people out of slavery and even parted the Red Sea for them as they were escaping, and provided water out of a rock, however as they journeyed, the soul of the people became very discouraged and they spoke against God and against Moses. And they even complained about the ‘worthless bread’ the were eating. (We can blame it all on the first Adam!)

Anyway, God was not happy, needless to say! Numbers 21:6 records what happened, “So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.

“Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He will take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Now this part of the story is something that you are reminded of every time you see an ambulance and you might not have ever noticed.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”

The serpent on a pole! That came from Numbers 21 in the Bible. So you must be thinking, so simple, just look at the serpent on the pole and whoever is bitten shall live. Don’t you see? We’ve all been bitten. Can you see that Jesus was made a curse by taking my sins and yours and He was lifted up on a pole (so to speak) and all who look to Him are set free. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

He’s the last Adam, Jesus Christ. He was led into a desert, He faced temptation of every kind that we experience, and He came out Victorious! He is able to aid those who are tempted! “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18.

We’ve got to look up, and it shall be ‘everyone who is bitten,'(which we are by sin), when he looks at Jesus shall live. This is truth- He is the way and He is life!

“be as a child” and listen to the stories…

“I believe in God. It’s just all this ‘Jesus’ stuff I’m not sure about. Can’t I believe in God and leave Jesus out of it?”

Well, I suppose you can, but it’s like looking at a machine, like a vacuum cleaner for example – powerful and able to be a great help- only, unplugged! There is no power.

“If I could just hear a voice from heaven to set me straight about all of this,” you might be thinking.

Well, you can. Today, right where you are, right now.

“Yeah right.” you answer.
Well, be as a child and hear the most wonderful story ever!

The story is told in the Book of Matthew. (So you just need your Bible,) but the story is crazy good! It’s a true story, that a strange looking guy with weird clothes and a reputation of eating strange things came with a message that was NOT politically correct! “Repent! For the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Anyway, many came to get right with God and were baptized by this man, John the Baptist, in the Jordan River. Matthew chapter 3 tells the story that Jesus came from Galilee to John to be baptized. (John happened to be his cousin, so they knew each other,) so John must have known Jesus’ sin-less reputation because
he tried to get out of it saying, “I have need to be baptized by You.” But Jesus answered, (my paraphrase) “Let it be.”
(The old Beatles song comes to mind, “Let it be, let it be…speaking words of wisdom, let it be.”
Needless to say, John allowed Him.

So imagine that you are there right now, (remember, be as a child,) and here is the account:
Matthew 3:16,17. ‘Then Jesus, when He had been baptized, came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
And suddenly a voice came from heaven,(here’s the voice you were wanting to hear,) saying,”This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

You just witnessed the Father (God) acknowledging His own Son,(with His voice even! I love that because we all need hear what God has to say,) and the Spirit of God descending and alighting upon…
Jesus.

There is another story that is so good Peter in his letter wrote about it. He said that he and the other disciples didn’t just follow made-up fables, he said that they were eye-witnesses of His (Jesus) majesty and power.
The story is recorded in Matthew 9:7. Peter, James, and John were on a mountaintop retreat with Jesus and,
“Behold a bright cloud overshadowed them, and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying,”

Wait a minute! Can you imagine being on a mountain when all of a sudden a cloud covers and a voice comes out of it!

“suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

O my! the next verse does tell us that they were ‘greatly afraid.’

So maybe it’s good that God doesn’t speak from the clouds today. I think He wants us to hear Him. Hear Jesus that is. And when we are finally ready to let Him in
the Spirit of God gives us the power,

to believe, in Jesus, as a child once again.

Children, please don’t judge a Book by its cover!

OK, on the outside, it might look very boring, but once it is opened and the Spirit has been invited to instruct- it is pure Treasure. Today for me, a tiny little Book, (Hosea) and an unfamiliar hymn speak together- to the lost children.

You see, God is our Father. He knows what it is to love His children. Hosea 11 tells how God loved them, taught them to walk, took them by the arms, and healed them and ‘drew them with bands of love’. But ‘because of their own counsels’, God’s children were ‘bent on backsliding’ from Him.

Oh, but His response:(Hosea 11:8) “How can I give you up…? How can I hand you over…?…My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.” Listen to the words of God through the prophet Hosea in Chapter 14, “O Israel, (O, lost children), return to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity;

“Take words with you, And return to the LORD.”

Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously”…

Well here is a story of a man, who, born in 1712 into a Christian home and given an excellent education later turned away from the Lord. It is said that he became an ‘enemy of the Cross’ and he even wrote a pamphlet called, “The Unreasonableness of Religion” after hearing a sermon by Jon Wesley!

Well, many years later, this young man was brought to a ‘time of trouble’ and he fell into a depression. This man went to church and heard a sermon on Revelation 3:10,”Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

Well, apparently, these words drew a picture to him of the judgement seat of Christ.Perhaps he heard the words, “Every one who is found written in the book…some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt…”(Dan. 12:2)
This man knew that he had not kept God’s commands to persevere, and his hour of trial had come. It is said that he
“flung himself on his knees in broken repentance and that his “horrors were immediately dispelled”, and that “such a light and comfort flowed” into his heart.

Joseph Hart, who once wrote, “The Unreasonableness of Religion” is the author of the Hymn, “I Will Arise and Go To Jesus.”1759.

Here is his passionate cry to you who are lost:

“Come ye sinners, poor and needy, Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity, love and pow’r.”

(Chorus) I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in His arms. In the arms of my dear Savior, O there are ten-thousand charms.

“Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome, God’s free bounty, glorify; True belief and true repentance, Every grace that brings you nigh.” (Chorus)

“Come, ye weary, heavy laden, Lost and ruined by the Fall;
If you tarry till you’re better, You will never come at all.
Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream; All the fitness He requireth Is to feel your need for Him.”

Take THESE words with you,
and return to the LORD, say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously;

and He will say, “It is done.”

Praying always for the lost children.

“America, America, God shed His …” Mayday Mayday, there is an iceburg ahead!

While reading through the book of Hosea in the Bible , I cannot stop thinking of God and America.
In this book,God loves His people,Israel and they turned away from Him, so He asked the Prophet Hosea to take as a wife an immoral woman of harlotry. Her name is Gomer, or’complete’. God commanded Hosea to love her,so he did. And she loved Hosea and seemed ‘complete, however,later she ran off and went back to her old ways. Hosea with his broken heart still loved Gomer and went after her again to bring her back home.

God opened a door for His people to come to these foreign lands and have freedoms- freedoms to worship God the way they believed the Bible taught them.It was like a happy marriage, America and God,(so to speak!)
There was a love for the Bible, God’s word.
Here are some quotes from some of Americas early leaders on their thoughts of the Bible, compiled in ‘The Rebirth of America’ published by The Arthur S. Demos Foundation,

John Quincy Adams, “The first and almost the only Book deserving of universal attention is the Bible.”

Abraham Lincoln,”All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated through this Book; but for the Book we could not know right from wrong. All the things desirable to man are contained in it.”

Woodrow Wilson, “…the Bible…is the one supremem source of revelation of the meaning of life, the nature of God and spiritual nature and need of men. It is the only guide of life which really leads the spirit in the way of peace and salvation.

Calvin Coolidge,”The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”

What happened? Our country, like Gomer, went after other loves. We’ve been deceived.
The deception came and America has believed the lie. It seems to be the very same lie that Eve believed in the garden, “…you shall be as gods, knowing (deciding for yourselves) good and evil. (Gen 3:5). “Why do we need God,(would be the mentality,) when:
Human reason is adequate. Man’s achievements prove mans greatness. Education and Science can now solve our problems. The government can take care of its people.

Hosea 4:7, God’s word regarding His Nation Israel, “The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me. I will change their glory into shame.”

This makes me think of a tragedy exactly 100years ago. It was April, in 1812 that the most beautiful and exotic and enormous vessel set out on its maiden voyage. The British liner, Titanic.

It was considered ‘Unsinkable!’ And the greatness of this vessel caused the crew and passengers to feel confident and safe.Did you know that only 20 miles away from the Titanic was another vessel, the Californian? It could have come to the rescue in time but the radio operator of the Titanic had fallen asleep on duty!
Well our America is much like this amazing, gigantic, powerful, state of the art vessel. We need to heed the warnings and not fall asleep, (wait a minute, too late for that, we need to WAKE UP!)

Here are words of President Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting Humiliation and Prayer on April 30 1863 (!):

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace,

too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

These words, were from 1863.

Hosea 14, a plea from the prophet of God, Vs. 1,2.”O ISrael, return to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity;
Take words with you, (perhaps Lincoln’s speech.)
And return to the LORD.”

Hosea 14:4,”I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely,
For My anger has turned away from him…”

year 2013, so much knowledge, but we are confused about ‘love’

Valentines are already lining the store shelves! We’ve just barely put away Christmas.
The focus, ‘love, love, love’. Makes me think of the old song, “All we need is love”(which is true), and the stores are saying ‘buy! buy! buy!

There is a very short letter tucked in the back of the Bible, 1 John, and it talks a lot about love. It is short and it talks about love, you would think that it is an easy read, but Oh, it is not at all!

The verse that stopped me today is 1 John 4:9, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us…”

I stopped and wondered, “What are the next words? How was the love of God demonstrated or shown to us? “In this…” “In what?” I ask. “What does the Bible say?”

Is it that He shows His love by protecting us from mean and lying people, or by keeping us free from physical harm or sickness, or by providing all that we need? Actually, yes – it’s just in a totally different way from what we might think!

Here’s the verse: In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

These just aren’t easy words. They should be easy, but humans are complicated because God gave us a choice. He didn’t want us to just be ‘wired’ to love Him, God wants us to choose to love Him back.

He already loves us.

Now, because of this verse, all of mankind who say they ‘believe in God’ now have to do something with the Son, Jesus, namely acknowledge Him.
1John 4:10 then reads, “In this is love…”

OK, as if the last verse wasn’t hard enough for the ‘broken-by-sin’ heart of every human being – the Bible is now going to tell us, “In THIS is love…”

“In what?” “In what is love?”, you might be asking. In the year 2013, so many do not know. So what does the rest of 1John 4:10 say?

In this is love,not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (or substitute) for our sins.”

In other words, It’s not that we loved God, (that’s easy enough), it’s that God the Father sent His Son so that He could take our punishment for our sins,(even though He had none.) So that you and me could be forgiven. THIS is what God tells us that love is.

If we are really honest with ourselves, we are often angry at God. We don’t believe He loves us because everything is going wrong and life is very, very hard – we are poor or we are sick or we are injured. Well, the Valentine’s message is that God loves you. And God loves me. God doesn’t just want to give you water, He IS the living water. God doesn’t just want to give you bread, He IS the Bread of Life.God doesn’t just give you a light, He IS the LIGHT! God doesn’t leave you alone because He IS the Good Shepherd!

You see, He is what we need.

Are you afraid? Are you afraid to really ‘believe in Jesus?’ To really follow Him? What would people say? Will you lose all of your friends? Maybe, But God will show you the way. 1John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”

It is true, if we say that we ‘love God’ we’ve got to do something with this Jesus.
This Valentine’s Day, acknowledge Him. He won’t give you a Valentine, No, He IS the Valentine!

Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Does our tree have a lot of fruit?

Have you ever picked fresh apples from a tree at an apple orchard? Don’t you always look for the best, fruitful tree?

In 1John 4:7, I read, “Beloved, let us love one another. Because love is of God;

and then I remember Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love…”

So, if you and I were fruit trees in an orchard, and the fruit is love, would our tree be yielding lots of fruit? What if God was doing the inspecting? (Psalm 139:23,24)”Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”

When God searches my heart for fruit of love, joy, peace, patience…
I become ‘poor in spirit’. I truly miss the mark. I’m irritable at times and often impatient, and the last thing my family sees in me is joy. Oh, but I have reasons! It’s because of great stresses and troubles, and I just don’t feel well!

I am so sorry to say that often I start my day singing, but often times as the ‘grape is getting crushed’ instead of making ‘wine’ in me, it is simply producing a big ‘whine’!

Once again I find myself in Rom. 7, wanting to do what is right, but doing those things that I don’t want to do!

But you and I need to remember- we are in a war! We must remember, we must know that (Eph 6:12) “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

So, that weird argument that came out of nowhere – that’s not against each other,(flesh and blood), that against the enemy, (principalities). It’s not mother and father against daughter or son, it’s not boss against employee, it’s not friend against friend – don’t you see?

Satan is trying to ‘steal, kill, and destroy all that God has for us!

So, we have to STOP! (That’s the ‘search me O God prayer…’)
We need to remember: “If any man,(that includes children and women, don’t squirm out of His ‘searchlight’) come after Me, he must deny himself. (O my goodness, those are NOT easy words! We’ve got to remember we are in a war and we want fruit!)

Is God saying to me and to you: “Lay down your rights, I did.” “Lay down your pride. Let go of your tight grip on stuff and control. Remember, everything ultimately belongs to Me and I am in control, you can let go. Did you not pray to Me, “Try me and know my thoughts, see if there be any wicked way in me…? Let Me lead you in the way…”

“Lord, lead us in the way.”
In James 3: 13-18, God speaks very clearly,
“Do you want to raise a harvest of righteousness? Then be a peacemaker.
Have wisdom and understanding and show it by deeds done in humility. Do you ‘harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts? Do not boast about it or deny the truth’ because this wisdom is not of Me, it is ‘earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find confusion and every evil thing.”
“Do you want a harvest of fruit? Then know, that ‘the wisdom that comes from above is first pure;
then peaceable,
gentle,
willing to yield,

full of mercy…’,
don’t give them what you think they deserve,
and please remember, ‘if you love someone, with My love, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him. My love never fails.'”(1Corinthians 13:7,8)(Living Bible)

So I think what God is showing me and you, as He leads and we choose to follow is, maybe we don’t have to win and end on top or be ‘right’. Maybe to win is simply being willing to yield,
being willing to yield to Him,
because He is love.

“Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:18.

“Help us bear good fruit Lord! Truly, not by might, nor by power, but by Your Spirit!
In Jesus name, AMEN.”

Did you know? Well, we need to know, over and over again!

I cannot stop thinking of a verse I read a few days ago in Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

In this day and age, knowledge is only a fingertip away, with technology the way it is.

But God’s word in Hosea 1:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Well, when people today have questions and look to overcome their problems, there are thousands of ‘self help’ books lining the shelves in the book stores, where they can discover the ‘How to…’. But what if you’ve tried, and tried again to overcome your ‘problem’ and just can’t find victory?

This was me, many, many years ago in 1980, when I had an eating disorder, and me again when in 1984 I needed emotional freedom, and also in … well, needless to say, I think the ‘need to overcome’ is ongoing if you are a human being!

My old Pastor, (no, he is not old, it is just that we moved away!) used to remind us often that, “you can’t keep the bird from flying around in the air, but you most definitely can keep it from building a nest on your head!”

Well, did you know that ‘our adversary, the devil, goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour?’ 1Peter 5:8. You see, God loves you, but Satan hates you and he hates God. It is his desire,(Satan) to ‘steal, kill, and destroy’ you and all that God has for you and me. We are in a battle, everyday.

“This is getting real depressing,and your thoughts are so random,” you might say. “Can you just stop talking,” may be your next thought.

But, God’s people are being destroyed for lack of knowledge! You have to know that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”(Romans 3:23). Not just you. ‘All’ simply means ‘all’, you and me, even the men and women who wear robes in the churches, even men and women who don’t wear robes in the churches-we’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God!

And it is true that this all sounds like bad news, because it is true, “the wages of sin is death”,but you’ve got to know,
That God loved you and me,(yesterday, today, and forever, because God is love) so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to pay the payment of death for you and for me. You have to know, especially after Christmas, that the gift is Jesus Christ our Lord.”(Romans 6:23)
“Yes, I know that story, heard it thousands of times.” you might say.

But wait a minute, is this a picture of you, in regard to your problems?
“I do not understand what I do? For what I want to do I do not do it, but what I hate to do.”(Romans 7:15) “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing.”(Romans 7:18,19)
“Why do I keep doing what is so destructive to me and others?” you might ask.

You don’t hear people shout out “Buddah” when they stub their toe real hard. And you don’t hear people yell, “Confussious” when they hit their thumb with a hammer. No. You KNOW what you hear. Satan knows the power in that name so he is trying to trample it down to mean nothing, just a curse,

but you must know, the Bible doesn’t say that the answer to your problem is in Nature, or the answer to your problem is in Science, or the answer to your problem is Self realization – No, because there is no victory in all of that. We don’t need a ‘How To’,…
Is this how you feel?
“What a wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”(Romans 7:24)

We need HIM!-He is the answer, “Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!”(Romans 7:25).

Now you know.
There is power in the name. So next time we need to overcome, don’t look for ‘how’ just look for Him.

You might ‘know’ all of this. To overcome you must surrender, I must surrender – everyday. Leave it at the cross. The victory is yours, and the victory is mine, in Him.

Look into a child’s eyes…

“Assuredly, I (Jesus) say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”Mark 10:15.
Do you ever walk into the local ‘stuff mart’ and just happen to notice the children walking beside their parent alongside the cart? I do, and I will tell you why.

Well, there is a song that I like to sing with the children, (and they seem to really like it as well, year after year, this song never gets old for children) the chorus sings, “Waves of mercy, waves of grace, everywhere I look, I see Your face – Your love has captured me – O my God this love, how can it be?”
You see, I see the Lord’s face in the eyes of the children. It’s there! I think Jesus wants us to see Him in their eyes and learn from their tender hearts.
Leading the little children on a Sunday morning to the Lord’s throne instructs my heart on ‘purest praise.Young children will worship and sing, ‘Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is Your Name…’ 17 inches from their brains right from their hearts! They receive, they believe. Children can worship!

When you inform children of hurting children around the world, their hearts are deeply touched. The children who are taught to think about God and sing songs that ‘Jesus loves me this I know’, and ‘my God is so great so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do, these children believe! And these were Jesus’ words: “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Today, I must share a story I read out of a most wonderful book. The book, Jesus Freaks, by dc Talk and the Voice of the Martyrs, Stories of those who stood for Jesus: the ultimate Jesus Freaks.
The true story is found on pg. 288 and it is titled, The Courage of a Child.

Siao-Mei, 5 years old
Mainland China
During the Red Guard Era, 1966-69

‘Over and over, a mother spoke soothing words to her five-year-old child as they sat in their dark, damp cell. The woman was in jail because she had protested against the arrest of her bishop; her child was in jail because the little girl had nowhere else to go.

All the prisoners were indignant at seeing the child suffer so. Even the prison director said to the mother,”Don’t you have pity on your daughter? Just declare that you give up being a Christian and will not go to church anymore. Then you and the child will be free.”

In despair the woman agreed, and she was released. After two weeks, she was forced to shout from a stage before 10,000 people, “I am no longer a Christian.” On their return home, the child, who had stood near her when she denied her faith, said, “Mummy, today Jesus is not satisfied with you.”

The mother explained, “You wept in prison. I had to say this out of love for you.”

Siao-Mei replied,”I promise that if we go to jail again for Jesus, I will not weep.”

The mother ran to the prison director and told him, “You convinced me I should say wrong things for my daughter’s sake, but she has more courage than I.”

both went back to prison. But Siao-Mei no longer wept.’

I can only imagine now, but I know the mummy looked her little girl in the eyes in that prison, and she saw Jesus in those eyes. And she was strengthened. Oh, how we need the Lord.

Psalm 34:4,5, I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

My prayer: Today, I pray for families, especially American families. I pray for moms and dads and the children. Please, Lord, protect our relationships. And especially, protect our relationship with You, always. Today, help us have hearts like a child, to not only receive You, but to receive each other, in love and devotion. Can someone look us in the eye, and see Jesus? O Lord, help us!”

* * * *

Is God’s word for me?

What if, for the very first time in years, you are opening your Bible, because you have been broken and need strength?
Maybe you’ve been battling cancer for years and your trust was in the Doctors and all they knew but now it has spread out of control, and you find yourself opening the Bible as well. Can these words speak to you?
Or, what if you have been doing your own thing for years and didn’t really care about God much- but now you find yourself opening His Book. Does God have words for you?

Well, what if you just happened to open the Bible right in the middle. If you were to open your Bible to the very middle chapter it would be Psalm 118. This is amazing because Psalm 118 was the song, (or hymn) that Jesus sung with His disciples after His Last Supper in the Upper Room, (Matthew 26:30-). This was a song that Jesus sung with his friends before facing huge suffering.

So if you were to just open up God’s Book and you happened to land right in the middle chapter, looking for some answers, you would be here in Psalm 118, A song that Jesus sung before He was to suffer huge trial at the hands of men- being spit on and beaten and laughed at, being whipped 39 lashes with a ‘cat of 9 tails’, then having to carry His own cross, which ultimately He was too weak to do, then nailed to it from his wrists and lifted up to suffer suffocation and extreme pain.
(This makes me think of the verse,) John 12:32, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (Jesus’ words.)

“What was the song!?” you ask.
Ps. 118:1-5,

OH,give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! Because His mercy endures forever…
Let those who fear the LORD , now say, “His mercy endures forever.”

I called on the LORD in distress; The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.”

First of all you might ask, “What if I haven’t been one to ‘fear the Lord?’ Do His mercies still endure forever?” “If I call to God in my distress, will He hear me?”
“Is the LORD on my side?”
Yes. He is drawing you to Himself in your brokenness. He knows your name. He has been waiting for you.

Psalm 118:7“The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me. You see, our enemies are fear and hatred and despair,among many others,like pride and slothfulness, etc., but the word says, “The LORD is on my side.The LORD is for me, I will not fear.” That is the truth. He’s not checking His list, and checking it twice like Santa Clause, The LORD is on our side. He knows we are a mess and need Him. He’s not waiting for us to get it right and then come to Him. He’ll take us right now, The LORD is for me.

Call upon the LORD in your distress, the LORD will answer you. You see, Jesus sang these words before great trial. He called upon His Father in His distress and had strength to endure death on the cross to set you and me free, for now and eternity.

“To infinity and beyond!” (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)

So, if you were curious to know the exact middle verse of the whole Bible, These words are for you and these words are for me, Psalm 118:8, “It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.”

Whether we are trusting for the very first time, or continuing to trust- We’ve got to believe what God is telling us. “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”
God’s word is for you and God’s word is for me.

John 3:16, “Whoever believes in Him,” God’s word is for ‘whoever will believe!’
Today… today, He’s speaking to you and He’s speaking to me.