Caught Awares

But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware.

Luke 12: 45-46  (NKJV)

It’s the evil servant who is doing the things he shouldn’t be doing that will have the master come when he’s not looking for him, who will catch him unaware.

The servant the master finds alert and watching for His master is the one who is blessed.

We’re the blessed servants who are doing the things we should be doing when the master comes, and we will be invited to recline at the table.

The thief comes at an unknown hour. The thief doesn’t come for the righteous. The thief doesn’t steal from those whose treasures are in heaven. They can’t. Heaven treasures can’t be stolen from you. The thief comes for those whose treasures are on earth. Paul warns that their end is destruction, those who have their minds on the things of earth. 

Believers, the righteous, don’t have to be afraid of the thief. They fear the Lord and He keeps them. They fix their eyes on Jesus, so they are always watching Him. They aren’t caught unawares. They are caught up in a blessing.

Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 

Luke 12:37

I Shall Not Want

I shall not want. I have no desire for anything.

My desires have been satisfied. I want for nothing.

It’s not just a provision of need, but a restful contentedness in my loving Father’s perfect care of me.

It may be a long, craggy walk to the higher ground, but lush green pastures and still, clear waters wait for me with those same hills providing shelter and safety.

God only takes good care of me. He only loves.

I never need to worry about finding the green grass and still waters.

He leads me there. I never have to worry about how long it will take or losing my way because He is my Shepherd.

He tenderly and expertly cares for His sheep and causes them to know His voice and follow Him.

I have surrendered myself to His care; I have chosen to be one of His flock.

I don’t have to see above the crowd to know which way we are going.

I just have to follow His voice which He makes me to know and follow because I am His.

He has marked me as one of His own. He defends me from one who might try to steal me away because I am marked for Him; He knows me as His own.

I have no need to desire and long after what I do not have because it’s my Shepherd’s good pleasure to give me all I desire.

He taught me what to desire. He put His desire in me, so He’s always pleased to fulfill my desires and always keen to meet my needs without me even making them known.

I don’t have to ask my Shepherd for the green grass and still waters.

He chooses them for me and takes me there without me asking or planning. I just walk with Him.

It’s my joy to walk with Him because He knows my name and calls to me so that I am listening to His voice and keeping close to Him.

I like to stay close so that when He reaches out a hand, I get a warm pat or embrace from Him. The Shepherd loves me.

For what shall I want? Nothing.

Check out my new book, The Loved Lamb. You can listen to the whole thing here. It’s an allegorical storybook about the love of the Father for His children, how we can live with no want. It’s available on Amazon.

Keep Us from the Evil One

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

John 17:15 ESV

Here’s Jesus’ prayer for us in tribulation. It’s not that we would be taken out of the world, but that we would be kept from the evil one. Remember that the word kept means guarded. He is a shield about us. He will guard our hearts and minds.

We want to be miracled out of our trials and troubles, but Jesus wants to guard us through them. God is in control; He is the sovereign God. He allowed this for His good reasons. They are good reasons. He is completing that good work in you that He began, that you asked Him to complete. He’s loving you to the fullest. Jumping over the transformative work of tribulation is cheating yourself out of God’s good purposes for you! God’s preparing you for His work He’s created you for.

What work could He be preparing you for during an end times tribulation? He’s preparing you for eternity. He’s preparing you to reign with Him! There is much still to be done.

Humble yourself under God’s hand and allow Him to do His good work in you.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you.

1 Peter 5:6 BSB

The Pure in Heart Shall See God

Matthew 5:8  The Pure in Heart Shall See God

Psalm 24:3b-4a  Who is about to stand in the holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.

If you want to be in God’s presence, if you want to see Him, if you want to stand before Him, there is a requirement. Only the pure in heart shall see God.

What is a pure heart? What makes something pure? It’s unmixed. Pure olive oil is only olive oil. Pure water is supposed to only be water. Pure fruit juice has only the fruit in it. It’s not mixed. A pure heart is only made up of one thing. What’s that?

The only ones with a pure heart are those who have received God’s gift of His perfect, pure love poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

If our hearts are full of the love of God, then our hearts are pure. They become impure when we mix something else in there and love something else. If we do that, we’re disobeying the greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. Then, we no longer have a pure heart. Then we are in trouble.

We can’t fellowship with someone if we can’t be with them. If we have no fellowship with God and can’t be in His presence, then we are in danger.

When the Lord shows you that you are loving something other than Him, fall on your face before Him and ask for mercy. Ask for forgiveness and ask Him to cleanse you from the sin. Hate whatever it is because you were having an affair. You were loving something other than your one true love. Ask Him to free you from it. He can and will. Jesus died to free us from sin, not just to forgive us our sins. Our salvation lies in our pure hearts. With man, it is impossible to have a pure heart, but with God, all things are possible.

Jude 1:24   [Jesus] is able to keep you from stumbling and [able] to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.

He is able to do the blameless part. You do your part and just choose to love Him!

Prepare the Way of the Lord

Prepare The Way of the Lord

Malachi chapter three starts with a promise that God will send His messenger to prepare the way before Him. We know the messenger as John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus by teaching people repentance. However, this chapter and what follows doesn’t seem to be about Christ’s first coming — not that God can’t fulfill the same Scripture in more than one way. This chapter is about the end. The following chapter, chapter four, speaks of the end judgment, the fearful great day of the Lord. That chapter ends with a promise that God will send His messenger beforehand, saying He will send Elijah to prepare the way so that God won’t utterly destroy them.

That’s the state Israel is in, in danger of utter destruction. And remember, you are Israel. There is a nation Israel, but we are of the people Israel, God’s chosen children. You are grafted in when adopted into God’s family.

Back to chapter three, though. Verse five says, “Then I will draw near to you for judgment.” THEN. What comes first? Verse three: He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. (Malachi 3:3 ESV)

Before judgment, God will refine and purify His children so that their offerings will be righteous. And once our offerings are pleasing to Him, then He will come for judgment. He will prepare the way. He will prepare His people for His coming, for His judgment, by refining us. That’s what trials and troubles are for, what Tribulation is for, to prepare the way of the Lord, to bring down the mountains, lift up the valleys, make straight the crooked paths, and smooth out the rough parts.

It won’t be easy, though. Verse two: But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. (Malachi 3:2 ESV)

Yet, we must endure. It is he who endures to the end that will be saved. But since He is doing the work of preparing us for His determined purposes, we can trust Him to sustain us through and only refine us as we need refining. God does not afflict willingly (Lamentations 3:33). He doesn’t want to harm anyone.  But because He loves us, He will give us what we need.

When God judges the earth, He will give people what they deserve. We want to be safely at His side at that point. We don’t want to get what we deserve. His mercy and grace says that by the blood of Jesus we don’t have to get what we deserve, hell, but we can live in His glorious presence forever. However, that glorious presence is HOLY and we must be holy and set apart to Him to dwell in His presence. That’s where the refiner’s fire comes in. We submit ourselves to God’s altar of Holy Fire to consecrate us, burn away the dross, what’s not of Him, until our hearts are pure before Him. It’s the pure in heart that shall see God.

But there’s another good promise apart from just surviving judgment and the great day of the Lord. When the way is prepared, the Lord whom we seek “will suddenly come to His temple.” It comes with the additional reassurance, “Behold, He is coming.”

We are God’s temple. I pray that He will come in His temple, His people, before He comes for them. We need the fullness of His life and all His promises being fulfilled in us to stand through the tribulation, to go through as overcomers, for our lives to be the righteous pleasing offerings that He desires.

Are You Friend of Foe?

You need to know if you are a friend of God or a foe.

Have you ever read the Psalms? Who is our God?

He forgives sin, yes.

He also delivers, provides abundantly, makes our hearts glad, defeats our enemies.

He rescues. He does it by sending His arrows and lightning and hailstones and coals of fire to vanquish the enemies.

He saves us from our strong enemy. He leads us and shows us the way to go.

He makes the wine to increase. He comforts. He bows the heavens to come down to us.

He blesses and gives us righteousness. He plucks us out of the net that’s trapped us. He lifts our heads and puts our feet on the rock, high above our enemies. He subdues them under our feet.

How far does God go for His children, for His friends?

What about Hezekiah’s story? The Assyrians are attacking. Hezekiah prays. Because he turned to God and prayed, God wipes out 180,000 Assyrian troops while the Israelites sleep.

That’s what He’ll do for His child who asks for help. It’s also what He’ll do to an enemy. He had 180,000 Assyrians killed.

It would be really good to know if you were a friend or foe.

Are you a friend of God? Do you believe you can ask for help and He’ll get angry enough with those coming against you that He’d wipe out an army for your sake?

The Bible says we’re enemies of God if we are sinners, if we are in the world.

What does the Bible say?

For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

Philippians 3:18-19 NASB 1995

That’s a stark description of those who set their minds on the things of the flesh instead of on the things of the Spirit. Is your mind set on earthly things – job, money, entertainment, social media, sports, activities, food or other fleshly lusts, hobbies, books, knowledge, fashion, gossip, politics, dieting, health, exercise? It’s death.

Is your god your appetite? Can your appetite control you? Do you have a craving to do this or that, and then you do it? Your appetite is controlling you. It’s your god. You are submitting to it.

What’s your mind on when you wake up in the morning? What’s the first thing on your mind? If it’s not the Lord, something else has your heart. What do you talk about throughout the day? If it’s not the Lord, something else has your heart. What do you gravitate to when you are tired and worn or stressed? If it’s not the Lord, something else has become your god.

If you can’t get out of bed to pray, but can get up in the cold, dark morning to exercise, something else has your heart.

If you can’t find the time to read your Bible but can stream shows and movies, then something else has your heart.

Your thoughts are on the world.

Their end is destruction because they are enemies of the cross of Christ.

You may say you love God, but so did the Pharisees. God says, “Their lips praise me, but their hearts are far from me.”

You turn your heart to God by forsaking your sin. He will help you get it out of your life. You have to hate it and want it out. You have to choose to love God. Choose to love God.

This cuts off before his wife walks in. There are flowers where the computer was with a note that says, “Love you more.”

That’s what we need to say to God, not just with our Sunday praise songs, but with our daily choices. When that temptation looks you in the eye, you say back, “I love God, not you.” If it’s true, you’ll be able to walk away. It won’t have power over you. And God will smile at His friend.

For Me Not From Me

I asked the Lord what He wanted from me. I immediately knew that was the wrong question with the wrong attitude and said with a smile, “What do you want for me?”

He’s not after our sacrifice. He’s not after our suffering. He’s not after our obedience and worship for Himself. He’s after our hearts. He’s for us.

When He requires our worship, it’s for us.

When He requires obedience, it’s for us.

When He requires suffering, it’s for us.

When He requires sacrifice, it’s for us.

He’s not trying to get from us. He doesn’t need anything. We’re the needy ones. He’s doing everything for us. It’s what we need, so it’s what He wants for us.

Keep your thinking right toward God. He is for us, not against us.

He’s only good and always good.

Like Jesus and Paula Deen

I want to be like Jesus and Paula Dean. I want to live with a calm confidence, never in a hurry.

I have a clear picture of Paula Dean carrying a cake pop on an episode of Iron Chef. I don’t know who her competition was, but she was taking care of business without the frenetic fuss and fretting of everyone else involved. They ran. They rushed. They dashed back and forth. Paula walked. I have held that image in my head ever since. She was unhurried. Everyone else felt the demand of the ticking clock. She accomplished everything she needed to without letting time push her in a way she didn’t choose to go.

One of my markers to know if something is from God or not is that if it’s trying to hurry me along to a decision, then it’s not God. Satan is pushy. God is never in a hurry. Jesus had desperate people pleading with him to save loved ones. He waited days after Lazarus was already dead. He didn’t hurry. He was always where He was supposed to be and everything was done on time.

There is much to be done. There is so much need in ourselves and in the world. We can know that the Lord will accomplish His eternal purposes. He will transform us glory to glory into the image of truth and grace, Jesus Christ. He will flood the nations with grace and mercy. He will bring His light to the nations and bring us safely home to Himself. He will accomplish it all. And I guess that’s the key. He accomplishes the work. If we just surrender ourselves and put all the work in His hands, then we’ll never be in a hurry to accomplish anything.

Can we trust Him with all things from work to home life, from ministry to getting dinner on the table? I don’t want to let the demands of the clock, the schedule, the deadlines, the people who are sure their demand is most urgent draw me out of calm confidence and into panic mode of rushing to get things done. I want to walk not run, unless the Spirit is moving my feet!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.

Isaiah 30:15 NKJV (partial)

The Trial is for Deliverance (cont.)

I wrote a post called The Trial Is the Deliverance. It talks about how God trials and tribulations for our deliverance. Here are some more Scriptures where the trial was for deliverance.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tied up, bound. Their fiery trial didn’t harm them, but it unbound them!

Jeremiah was in prison when Nebuchadnezzar overthrew Israel and drove the Israelites into captivity in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar releases Jeremiah into the care of the governor who will be staying and ruling in Israel. Then Jeremiah is released to go where he wishes (Jer. 40:4). God used the trial of the Babylonian invasion for Jeremiah’s deliverance. And Jeremiah is spared the Babylonian captivity.

Joseph is delivered from slavery through the long trial of prison.

Elisha had to lose his master to receive his double anointing and move into ministry.

Paul is blinded by the light so that he could walk in the light.

God used Paul being arrested and locked in the armory as a means of deliverance from the Jews who wanted to kill him (Acts 23).

John is exiled to Patmos, but God uses that place to reveal Christ and the greatest vision recorded in the Bible.

There is nothing Satan can do to a believer that doesn’t result in God’s good, God’s blessing, God’s victory, God’s glory, and God’s kind intentions and good pleasure being carried out.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good…

Romans 8:28

The Illusion of Safety or The Illusion of Danger

The last lesson I wrote was called The Peace that Surpasses Understanding. It was about God providing peace if there’s a situation but how we tend to worry when there’s nothing to worry about. Now, I don’t want to contradict myself here. That’s not my point. My point is that I don’t want you to fear and worry. But I wanted to point out in relation to that previous post as to how way more people die from household accidents compared to car accidents. I just had a perception that it’s more dangerous for him to drive than to be at home. My thoughts about it made it seem more dangerous to me.

But stats have NOTHING to do with God’s ability to protect us. Psalms 91 declares that thousands may die all around us but it’s not going to touch us. It talks about pestilence, plague, arrows, and destruction, and how we don’t need to fear any of it if we dwell in the secret place, that place of rest of abiding in Christ, knowing you’re in Him and He’s in you and neither of you are going anywhere.

If you are hidden in Christ, how could evil touch you? When troubles do come your way, you know it’s from the Lord and so it’s good. It’s for your good and His glory. We want God’s good will done in our lives. We want Him working out the kind intention of His will in our lives.

We try so hard to protect ourselves from the harm that God says won’t come our way. We end up like the fellow in this verse:

“In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion— only to meet a bear. Escaping from the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house— and he’s bitten by a snake.” (Amos 5:19 NLT)

               No matter how much we think we can control our lives, we can’t. But more, we shouldn’t want to! If God’s good and perfect will is that a trouble come your way for your good and His glory, wouldn’t you want that? Running from it, trying to protect yourself from His will being accomplish, will just have you ending up with a snakebite.

               The safest place to be is in God’s will. Running from it, trying to protect ourselves from perceived dangers, is claiming God can’t protect us or not trusting that He will. It’s not believing that His will is good and perfect, that He knows best.