Warnings that give grace

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Hebrews 3:7-19 NIV

We were warned. So many examples of times when humanity has hardened their hearts.  I participated as well. My heart was so hardened, I could not understand love.  I have and continue to work on understanding love.  It is the essence of all things Holy. It is the very thing the enemy uses to try to separate us from God.

This plague across the globe is not God’s wrath and judgment – Our God is LOVE and GOOD. These things are the consequences of being ungodly and compromising – it is the result of the hardening of our hearts.  It’s (as a bigger picture) exactly what the author of the book of Hebrews is warning against. 

The book of Hebrews is all: Hey, guys! You should be super strong Christians, out there healing and casting out demons – but instead you need a refresher in the basics like a fat baby! Pull your acts together because you are heading towards the hardening of your hearts and will fall short of entering His rest. – So here are the basics, again. Sign.

Seriously – this book is no joke! 

While social distancing I look on Facebook to interact with others and I see so many share Bible verses of hope and memes of prayers – followed by other memes that make my spirit cringe! I have so many friends who claim to be christian because they were always told they were Christian – but the bible says we can discern the spirits, testing and seeing that just professing it and having never opened a Bible, themselves, does not a Christ follower make.  Where is the evidence of an actual relationship with Christ?  

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.”

Hebrews 4:1-2 NIV

As for those of us who profess we are Christians, read His Word, and prayerfully have a relationship with Him – are we obeying so that we do not lead others astray?  We all must find the line in the sand in which we will not cross. We all must set examples so they may “share the faith of those who obey”.
Are we out on social media sharing fear, anger, and promoting the works of the devil?  Are we protesting and going out and showing our disobedience (the Bible says to follow the laws of the land and the law says to stay socially distant) – With such protest testing God himself, as you say: God will protect me! (God forbid! He has protected you as the Jews where protected during Passover – INSIDE their houses!)

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

Hebrews 4:11 NIV

Our jobs as Christians is to be examples. 
I post very positive post on social media ones of love, peace and hope – and about what is happening in my life. I have had Christian criticize me for not putting out the gospel and forcing my beliefs on others.  And I wonder, how many lives have been changed by that approach?  My approach is to share the love of Christ through hope – it works, I have been approachable.  I am a sinner saved by grace and by not being in their face, they are able to also forgive my transgressions when I have fallen.  I get messages from others needing hope begging me for the secret of my peace, of my hope and of my love.  They have asked and then I have the opportunity to not only share – but customize it as God would have for that person’s specific needs.  At that point I can share the Word of God without apology as they are the ones who have asked for it.  God is good.

12 For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:12-16 NIV

While we are social distancing – we can either:

  • Sin in private and no one will know – we can harden our hearts and become lazy in our walk with God – we can compromise – we can fill our time with entertainment streaming into our homes – we can easily spout off on social media forgetting that our standards then enter other people’s home and spread a virus more deadly than the pandemic we are social distancing to avoid. – yes, our compromise, sin and disobedience spread death as others follow our lead (the wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23)

Or

  • We can take this time to grow strong in the lord and in the power of his might (Eph 6:10). We can be an example of Christ. We can share the gospel. We can be part of this great revival that is happening. Yes, it is happening! People want and need a REAL God, a Powerful God, and a Life Changing God. We have that God – share Him!

When we get to heaven and have to account for the actions of our life – what will we tell God we did during this time? He says: Dear child, you were created for such a time as this; so what did you do to further my kingdom? Did you permit distractions to keep you from your great project (my post on Saturday)?

Remember I am writing to myself as well as anyone who stumbles upon this. God is still working in me, by grace! Oh how I love that word!

”Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Yes, I wrote that verse 2 times today (and how many times thought these posts?). We need his mercy and grace to get through this time. Learn these lessons and this verse as we will need it all the more as we get further along in these last days. His grace is and will be sufficient.

Grace be with you ~Thank you for reading ~ be healthy and blessed ~ Pray for our nation ~ pray Psalm 91

(Also, I am no longer posting on Sunday – please find a Church online to get the Word of God from and spend it with your family and with God – Love you)

Doing a great project

6 When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”
But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter in which was written:
“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”
I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.”
11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.
14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. 15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.

Nehemiah 6:1-15

As I sit to do my bible study, I received some terrible news. A man I know, who lives in my community, has passed away due to complications from the coronavirus.  I am sad and grieve for (and with) the family.  I think by this point we all know someone who has it or has had it. A large percentage of us know someone who has passed from this. 

I want to keep yelling from my roof top – fear not! Please go back and read the post about overcoming fear if you are still struggling with it.   

It is time to be the great intercessor that Nehemiah was in the early chapters of the book.  We need to pray like it’s our job, pray for God to save and restore us.  In the above passage – we join the story when Nehemiah is appointed governor and is rebuilding the Wall around Jerusalem.  And when I shared about finding our calling in Christ not too long ago, I think it has now become obvious that it’s time to work – Nehemiah was building the Kingdom that God said to build and we are to be building the kingdom of God, Heaven; as in building up his people and saving souls. Verse 3 says “I am carrying on a great project”.  And what greater project is there then building for Christ?!

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20 KJV

The great commission.

In Verse 2 (above comes the first potential distraction) – lets meet about this.  Nehemiah sees it is time to work, not talk to plan and talk about it, and figure it out, or make compromises to please everyone. These distractions were designed to halt the work.  When I started blogging my personal bible studies here – I had a few people who said to wait, to take classes on writing or to go to school first to be a pastor. I may, someday take classes or whatever, but I know God said to start it now.  I do not have many followers – I can see how many people read this daily – But I am not doing this for follower, but because God told me to.

Verse 4 said the invite to stop working and meet about it happened 4 time. Then the 5th time, they threatened them, using lies and fear to discourage them.

“They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9

Nehemiah called them out, speaking the truth – and prayed to God for strength.
Look around us, so many have fallen for this distraction. So many have not been able to overcome the fear of this pandemic or found creative outlets to spread the news of what Jesus is doing and can do.  This is just a distraction tactic designed to pull us away from the work. 
We overcome fear with the Power of Christ’s blood and work of redemption, with Love, like the kind of Love that God has for his creation, and a sound-mind, bathed in the understanding of the Word of the Lord. (2 Timothy 1:7)

We pray Psalm 91and pray for grace to endure – we should also, like Nehemiah, pray for strength to complete the tasks he has given us and overcome evil and the distractions of the enemy.

Verses 10-12:  The next distraction is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, but is a false profit. Nehemiah has the gift of discernment.

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:1-12 KJV

I know I have posted briefly about the gifts – we each have our own and they work together.  And it is important to review as we all work in our gifts to build this wall, during this critical time in world history. We aren’t made for such a time as this to observe – but to work.  And although some have the gift of discerning of spirits we are all instructed to try the spirits to discern if they are from God.

1 John 4:1 KJV – “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

And finally – the wall was completed in record time.   God is moving and in his time he will do it quickly.  We are here at such a time as this:  Either this pandemic will birth a great revival – or – a last hurrah among God’s children to call in the sheep before Jesus shows up in the clouds to take us home.

It’s time to pray – to share what God has done in your life – to make a difference in the world.  We are here for such a time as this. 

Grace be with you ~Thank you for reading ~ be healthy and blessed ~ Pray for our nation ~ pray Psalm 91

God’s Rest

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:2-3 NIV

I started a good reading in Nehemiah – I did not have a chance to write it out.  I spent my evening speaking with others and encouraging them in the Lord. Which is a good thing and appointed by God.

Fear not, my friends. 

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV

My last phone call was a friend encouraging me and rebuilding me.  It’s wonderful how that works.  God uses me then refills me and does the same for others.  So at her wise council, I found a quiet place with God (my bed) and prayed and worshiped myself to sleep. Therefore, this is all you get today.

Feel free to rest. Or go back and reread previous posts.

Grace be with you ~Thank you for reading ~ be healthy and blessed ~ Pray for our nation ~ pray Psalm 91

Grace; yes more grace

the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.

Romans 1:2-5 NIV

Today I am saddened.  So many I know are just getting overwhelmed by stress, the unknown, fear, worry and this pandemic.  You all are breaking my heart.
My friends who have personal relationships with Jesus – have and hold onto that peace. Be the light in this darkness – show others the peace and love of Christ.  God has given you the grace to get through this and lead others.
And to my friend who do not have relationships with Jesus – He has given you the grace to draw close to him and he can save you from your anxieties (as well as eternal damnation).  
Here is a prayer to pray and “give your life” to Christ: “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.” That will begin your relationship with him – but like any relationship, you must talk with him daily (you pray – he talks back through His Word, the Bible).

22 righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:22-26 NIV

Jesus makes us justified, sanctified, redeemed, righteous, and heirs to all the promises of the Father through him! Stop focusing on a virus you may or may not get.  If you do not get it, then you have worried and stressed for nothing, so focus on God, Jesus, and His kingdom.  If you do get it, then focus, not on it, but on God, Jesus, and His kingdom!  He is the healer, protector, and He is still ultimately in control! He has given us the grace to get through this no matter what this is in our lives.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV

By grace we are saved. Saved from the troubles of this world. Psalm 91 says that no disease will come to my house (read it and pray it).  Saved from the need to fear. We, through grace have Hope and Faith!

“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.” Numbers 6:24-26 NIV

As children of God, through the redemption power of Jesus, we not just get saved (although, honestly that is good enough) but then there are the blessings, the changes in your life for good, the miracles, and the peace! Yes, peace.

I have said it in previous posts – the way to overcome fear is with Jesus’s Power, God’s Love and a Sound Mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) 

You say: “Well, it is not all like that – I am disheartened. I grow weary.”  

“…is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace…” Hebrews 13:9 NIV

Grace, the same grace that helps us get through, the same grace that covers us so we can find our way to God, the same grace that got you here – can and will strengthen your heart!!! Seriously.  See why I call this blog “If Not for Grace”?  Because Jesus has been so abundantly gracious with me – It isn’t me, but Him by this powerful grace!

God gives it freely and sufficiently enough.

Be encouraged in the lord – focus on him. Be thankful for all his blessings and promises fulfilled. Thank him for the ones that are still to come.  Set your mind on things eternal and praise him.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” Revelations 22:21 NIV

Grace be with you ~Thank you for reading ~ be healthy and blessed ~ Pray for our nation ~ pray Psalm 91

Watch and Pray

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Mark 14:32-42 NIV

It’s the time of year when we usually plan Easter dinner with the whole family and many people who do not usually go to church, show up. And everyone expects to hear the resurrection message – the gospel of Christ. But this year will be different with all thos social distancing. Eventhough, I am reading the passages.  Just one chapter before this in the book of Mark, Jesus is speaking of knowing the signs of the end times. 

With this world wide pandemic and Easter coming quickly, I can’t help but look at the juxtaposition of these two chapters and ponder it all in my head.  Sunday a friend asked me if I thought it was really the end of the world: with confidence, yes. 
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” Mark 13:32-33 NIV
But yes, the signs increase daily, yes it will be soon.

Mark chapter 13 concludes with verses 36 & 37: “If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
And the next day in the Garden he says to Peter, James and John: “Watch and pray”.

You see that juxtaposition? Quite interesting when in one he speaks of the rapture and the other he is preparing for his death and resurrection.  It’s interesting that here we are in the end times with preachers preaching the second coming and we are preparing to celebrate the work he did through his death and resurrection.

Jesus took his strongest disciples with him deeper into the garden to be his prayer warriors and watchers. And even though those were his best men, they were weak and fell asleep. And back a chapter he said “Do not let him find you sleeping”.

Peter, James and John probably would not have slept a wink had they known that Judas betrayed Jesus or that Jesus was about to be crucified and rise from the dead. I always wanted to know why the eyes of their understanding were not opened.

Have you ever fallen asleep praying, at an important moment or for an important thing?  Yea, um, not good. I know I have and it’s not such a good thing.

But they did stay awake long enough to catch one sentence of Jesus’s hour long prayer:
“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

I know many people have analyzed it for structure on how to pray, for content on what to pray, etc.  I really want to know the rest.  It is so tender that Jesus calls our Father Abba and I am permitted to as well. I believe everything is possible to Him and worship Him with songs and praises reminding Him of just that. I pray my little prayer and say, yet not my will, but your will be done. 
Without even reading this recently – these are my constant prayers, so maybe Jesus did pray it for the entire hour and then again for the second hour. Oh Lord, everything is possible, please make it rain (reference to yesterday’s post), yet not my will, but your will.

Ironically I am tired tonight. I feel a bit like Peter, James and John. Struggling to keep my eyes open to read, and type out my bible study here.  Ironic as I know the time, the days are evil – and today is the day of salvation!  It is time to watch and pray. 

I pray for my unsaved loved ones, the backslidden, and those who are confused. I pray for the souls that need forgiveness and grace and mercy and love – that was extended to me – that they might obtain everlasting life.  And as my eyes grow impossible to keep open and my head nods…  It is only by grace that I can watch and pray! Only by grace.

Grace be with you ~Thank you for reading ~ be healthy and blessed ~ Pray for our nation ~ pray Psalm 91