The Holy Spirit – Hearing The Voice Of God

The Holy Spirit – Hearing The Voice Of God

Jesus puts it in plain terms, if you belong to Him, you can hear Him.  If you believe the Bible then God speaks to you.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…”  John 10:27-28

This is a skill that you need to develop over time with practice.  The fundamental truth is God loves you, He longs to reach out and talk to you.  Even before you received the Holy Spirit, it’s likely that God would have tried talking to you. Most of the time people can’t differentiate or reject it out right, when God speaks.  People often think it’s their own mind or they think thoughts like it’s impossible for someone as great as the God of the universe to be interested in talking to them.

God thinks you are important enough to talk to you, He loves you enough to care about the tiny details of your life.  The problem most of the time is that we are too busy and have no time for God.  Many times even when we hear God, we use logic and reason Him out saying this is not possible.

At times, your sins and your guilt make you feel dirty and unclean, you feel like you are undeserving of this privilege.  Keep in mind, God is willing to forgive you and clean you up.  Jesus came to earth and died on the cross for you just so that your sins can be forgiven and you can have a relationship with God.

Many people  do what they want to do, even when they know it is wrong and only when they run into trouble do they think of God.  They look at God as a troubleshooter and not a guide.  Others ask God for advice but they end up doing what they wanted to anyway.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13

God looks at your heart, if you sincerely long for Him and want to hear Him, he will most certainly answer.  Remember for every one step you take towards God, He takes five steps to get closer to you.  Throughout the Bible, God has spoken to numerous people in different ways and even today God speaks to millions of people and guides them.  God is the same then, now and forever and He is willing to speak to you.  Are you willing to listen?

The focus of you spiritual life should be to answer yes to both these questions:

  • Am I looking forward to hearing God with all my heart?
  • Am I willing to obey Him when He speaks to me and guides me?

Life Application

  • God speaks personally to all His children, it is up to you to put in efforts to discern His voice.
  • Don’t look around you into the world for answers, most of the time God speaks to you from within in a still small voice.

Source: Blue Flame

3 Ways the Holy Spirit Speaks:

  1. GOD’S WORD: I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.”  Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

  2. THROUGH GODLY MEN AND WOMEN: The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”  Proverbs 12:15 (NIV)
  3.  THROUGH THE STILL, SMALL VOICE:  The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

    Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. I Kings 19:11-12 (NIV)

In Christ’s Love & † Grace, Susan Osten

How my heaveny Father comforted me…

I was on my way to work, stopping as usual, in a nearby parking lot to read my Bible and pray. I was desperate and in need of help, so I prayed asked God for a miracle.

That same day, at lunch time, I went to get my nails done. While the lady was doing my nails, I closed my eyes, leaned back in my chair and I had a vision. It was like being in a movie theater. I saw a large ball, it was beautiful!  It consisted of glistening  grains  of m u t o l o r e d sand moving slowly, around inside the ball.

When what I realized what I was seeing, I thought to myself, “I DO NOT HAVE THIS KIND OF IMAGINATION!”  Seconds, after I had that thought, the ball turned into a star, and just like the ball, it consisted of  glistening  m u l t i c o l o d  grains of sand, moving slowly, around inside the star. As I was looking at the star, suddenly, out of the star burst an Angel, wearing light blue and dark blue garments, and she had short blond hair. I was astonished!! The Angel looked right into my eyes and she was smiling at me. Her smile radiated love and compassion, and believe me, that’s an understatement.  I have never seen a smile like that in my entire life. Shaken, I opened my eyes, and shut them, but the Angel was gone.

GOD DID INDEED COMFORT ME! He did not take away my desperate situations; but He gave me an amazing gift, that I will never forget: the FAITH to go on, when I felt like giving up.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for all those who visit this page who are suffering. Please calm their worries and fears and comfort them. Take care of them on their journey through this life. Strengthen their faith  in You, so that they are confident that You are with them, and that You will guide them through their suffering with Your loving hand.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

In Christ Love and †Grace, Susan Osten

I Thought It Was Impossible!

By Susan Osten

Several weeks ago, I was reconciling my checking account, and I said to the Lord, “I need a raise!” I was sort of joking with Him because I knew that because of the type of check I receive, no substantial raises would ever be forthcoming.

But, after I asked the Lord for a raise, He said, “Cancel my YMCA membership.” The next day, I drove to the YMCA and canceled my membership. The receptionist told me that I had arrived just in time to stop next month’s bank draft.

The Lord then told me to create an Income and Expense Form, to help me see the big picture, so I did what He said.

A few days later, I went online to make sure that my was deposited. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had received a substantial raise.

Some of you might be asking yourself, “How did she know it was the Lord’s voice telling her to cancel the gym membership and create the form?” It’s because, when I was a baby Christian, my Pastor taught me how important it was to LEARN to listen for God’s voice.

It is very easy to talk to Jesus. He is our BEST FRIEND! Be yourself when you talk to Him.

God can change impossible situations. He sometimes moves mysteriously, but will provide what you need in miraculous ways. Obey Him and do what you can, and God will successfully execute what you can’t.

Sometimes we forget, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37 (KJV)

Jesus: Our Best Friend

John 15:9-17 (NIV)

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”

As believers, we think of Jesus as our Lord and Savior, King, or Master, but rarely do we think of Him as our close friend. We may have difficulty with the concept, but Jesus does not. Once we can grasp what kind of companion He is, we’ll realize that a truly joyful life is possible only through a friendship with Him.

Jesus accepts us. Unconditional acceptance means we can always approach Him, even with our dirty sin baggage. He doesn’t intend to leave us in our present state, and we’re accepted no matter what’s happening in our lives.

Jesus walks through trials with us. God’s promise never to leave or forsake His people is repeated throughout the Scriptures. (See Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5.) That promise is individualized for each believer through Jesus’ companionship. He is our constant encourager and faithful friend during both the good and dark times in our lives.

Jesus is always available. He has no need to sleep, take a dinner break, or go on vacation. Unlike humans, Jesus is never too busy to meet our needs or respond to our prayers.

Jesus listens to us. We can share doubts, tears, and joys with the Lord because He wants to hear from us. Whatever we say—even angry shouts and tears—will be met with His consistent assurance that He loves us, has a plan for us, and will rescue us if necessary. And He goes beyond mere listening: He speaks through the Scriptures. In the Word, we’ll find His answer to every circumstance we face.

As the old hymn says, “What a friend we have in Jesus!”

Source: InTouch

In Christ’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

A Childlike Faith

A Childlike Faith

By Leslie Snyder

 

“And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:3

 

I overheard some four and five-year-old children following their teacher in a familiar cheer. “Give me a J,” cheered the teacher. “J,” yelled the children. “Give me an “E,” encouraged the teacher. “E,” yelled the children. The teacher continued, “Give me an “S.” “S,” chorused the children. Their voices grew louder as the teacher led them to the final letters of “U” and “S.” Together they said J-E-S-U-S! With excitement rising, the teacher shouted, “What’s that spell?” A strange pause followed and one child finally answered, “I don’t know.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the innocence of the answer.

 

Kids are like that. They believe what you tell them, celebrate the simple joys of discovery and become excited when given new ideas and experiences. That is the joy of a childlike faith. Unfortunately, something happens between childhood and adulthood that changes everything. Expectations, pains, failures and disappointments enter the picture and the once joyous innocence of childhood becomes marred. Faith can slowly gives way to cynicism, and hearts that were once open and filled to overflowing become closed, cold and empty.

 

Jesus calls us, however, to return to a childlike faith. The late author Mike Yaconelli wrote of this “place all children know about.” “This voice of our childhood is the voice of wonder and amazement, the voice of God, which has always been speaking to us, even before we were born.” He then describes what happens when things change. “One sad day, we are aware of an absence. We can no longer hear the God-voice, and we are left with only silence–not a quiet silence, but a roaring silence.”*

 

Yaconelli suggested the reason we stopped hearing God’s voice was not because we wanted to stop hearing it, but that our lives became louder. I am convinced that children have an innate ability to hear the voice of God and it is that clarity which makes it easy to believe. As we go through life, other noise enters the scene and muffles the once-clear voice of God. Now we must spend the rest of our lives “clearing the air” in order to return to the simple clarity of our childhood.

 

Jesus invites us to come to Him as little children, eager to be with Him, to simply enjoy His presence. Today, take some time to remember the simple pleasures of childhood. Laugh out loud, sing too loud, lighten your step a little and remember Who waits to share this time with you.

Sometimes children say it the best. Consider this child’s prayer: “Dear God, I don’t ever feel alone since I found out about you.” Nora**

 

Characteristics of Childlike Faith

By Barnabas Piper

 

Childish and childlike are similar words with vastly different meanings. The former encapsulates all the worst things about children – petulance, immaturity, obnoxiousness, selfishness, and so on. It is antithetical to faith.

 

The latter, though, describes all the beautiful things about children – trust, joy, innocence, curiosity, wonder, forgiveness, and so much more. This word, childlike, is the flavor our faith in God ought to have. What follows are five characteristics of childlike faith that make faith robust, rich, and full of life. Like a child.

 

1) Children ask honest questions.

 

By honest questions I mean questions that do not challenge or subvert or undermine. They simply want to know the truth. Yes, children are sinful and do challenge authority, but think of their curious questions, their eager questions, their innocent question. Each one has a single motive: teach me.

 

We forget this as adults because we encounter (or ask) so many loaded questions – questions with ulterior motives, meant to challenge, designed to undermine or embarrass. We become passive aggressive with our questions or just confrontational.

 

Children are not like this. They are just eager to know truth.

 

Childlike faith asks honest questions.

 

2) Children ask openly.

 

Unlike adults, children do not fear for their reputation or image and do not care who is around when they ask a question. This can create some awkward situations when they wonder “why is that lady wearing that” or get curious in the feminine care aisle at Target.

 

But they simply want to know and think nothing at all of who knows they have a question. There is no shame and no embarrassment until we teach them to be embarrassed.

 

Children also focus only on the one they are asking with complete trust that an answer will be forthcoming. This is part of the reason they ask so openly; they are only thinking of one person, the one who can provide their answer.

 

Imagine if we prayed like this and were so singly focused on God that what others thought or who else might know of our questions, ignorance, worries, or doubts would be of no consequence.

 

Childlike faith asks openly.

 

3) Children ask from a place of vulnerability with the expectation of an answer.

 

When they are little children see parents as omniscient. They expect parents to know everything, but over time are forced to come to grips with all the things parents don’t know.

 

Children instinctively know that their knowledge is limited, even if they can’t articulate it; that’s why they ask so many blasted questions. So to find out Dad and mom can’t answer all their questions takes a position of vulnerability and makes it feel uncertain and tenuous.

 

They start with total trust then grow out of it.

 

We don’t have to grow out of vulnerability and total trust in God, though. We can grow in it. Unlike parents, God does know everything, including so much that is beyond our capacity to ask or understand.

 

We can be utterly dependent, or rather admit our dependence. We can be completely vulnerable, honest, and open with our questions and we can expect that God will answer us with precisely what we need. Childlike faith is that which knows we don’t know, knows He does, and asks with the expectation that the answer He gives will be the right one.

 

We can be confident that even in our weakness, God’s grace is sufficient.

 

4) Children do not know what is best for them most of the time, but they trust their parents.

 

Parents generally know what is best for kids, or at least they know better than kids do. No candy for breakfast, don’t play in the street, don’t eat that glue, don’t poke the cat, eat your veggies, do your homework, don’t hit your sister.

 

Children get frustrated with these commands even though they are for their good just like we get frustrated with how God knows what is best for us and commands us accordingly. 

 

Children don’t always understand why parents say “no” or “do this.” Often the reason is simply beyond their maturity or capacity for understanding. And despite griping and moaning, if parents are loving and generally stable, kids trust them. Kids have an incredible capacity for trust. We understand even less about God’s reasons because of the depth and breadth of His wisdom and in the infinity of His mind. And we certainly gripe and moan and outright rebel against Him and occasionally throw a tantrum too. But because of His Word, His character, His promises, and all the ways He has shown His love we can absolutely trust Him.

 

Childlike faith trusts the parents.

 

5) Children trust and find satisfaction with parents.

 

Even if children are frustrated or confused by parents, so long as the parents show love the children will trust them deeply and take pleasure in their presence. Kids are home with parents.

 

Three years ago my family moved from Illinois to Tennessee. At the time my daughters were seven and four, and the move was pretty smooth for them. They were happy throughout the process with just a couple exceptions. That’s because they were with their parents. They were safe and loved and secure.

 

Imagine if we had handed them each a duffel bag and a bus ticket and sent them to Tennessee. It would have killed them, maybe literally.

 

How much more should we take pleasure in God’s presence even when we cannot understand His reasons and the future seems terribly uncertain.

 

We know His love, shown for us in Jesus that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. We know His promises: I will never leave you or forsake you, I will be with you always, nothing can separate you from the love of Christ, fear not for I am with you.

 

God is the answer to our questions and doubts and the soothing for our anxieties. His presence and love is what we need, always.

 

Children get this. They understand so little yet they are so much more right than we are. We have grown out of faith in so ways.

Childlike faith finds satisfaction with parents.

 

I pray this teaching was a blessing to you.

In Christ’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

My heavenly Father’s Gift To Me

For me, it was a time of disappointed. I felt deserted because I was left out of something important to me.

Several days later, I was working around the my house, and I began to think about buying a talking bird to keep me company. I started talking to my heavenly Father about it. I told Him about all the reasons why I couldn’t afford a talking bird. My mom had several talking birds in our home throughout the years; therefore, I knew what good company they could be. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to  spend several hundred dollars to buy a talking bird, so I asked my heavenly Father to send one to me.

No more than two days later, I was in my front yard, sweeping the curb, and I looked up into a nearby tree and saw a green bird. As soon as I noticed it, the bird flew down and landed on my driveway, in front of me. It let me pick it up, so I took it into my house, put it in the bathroom, closed the door and went to the pet store, to buy food and a cage for the my bird.

I didn’t know what kind of bird it was, so I described it to one of the employees at the pet store, and they told me that I had just adopted a talking Quaker Parakeet, which I named Crackers. He lived with me until he died, 10 years later. I was so very touched, and I was also stunned that my heavenly Father, not only answered my prayer, but He answered it in two days.

God’s word says, If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11 (NIV)

It showed me how much our heavenly Father loves me and cares about everything that concerns me. He will give you the desires of your heart, too!

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Above is a picture of me with my Crackers.

In Christ’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

Trust Issues

“She would never be caught unprepared again, she swore to herself. She would never trust. Never love. Never put faith in other human beings again. She would learn all she could of the shape and substance of the world, and she would find a way to survive in it.”― David Anthony Durham,  Acacia: The War with the Mein   

We try to trust the people we love, giving them our love and support, only to be grieved by broken trust when we least expect it.

“In God alone there is faithfulness, and faith in the trust that we may hold to Him, to His promise and to His guidance. To hold to God is to rely on the fact that God is there for me, and to live in this certainty.”  – Karl Barth

Discovering The Faithfulness of God

The faithfulness of God is true and has been proven many times. In the Holy Scriptures, we can see that God is faithful and His Word is true. Hebrews 6:18 says God cannot lie, nor can He break an unconditional promise that He says He will fulfill. Every covenant He made is kept. Every promise or foretelling has or will come true. Testimony after testimony of God’s faithfulness is certainly found throughout the Bible and is still given in testimonies by people today.

In fact, accounts of covenants between God and His people can be found approximately 277 times in the Bible. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”

Faithfulness of God – Examples

The faithfulness of God is starkly evident in His relationship with the Hebrew/Jewish people. God made a land covenant with Abraham (patriarch of many nations) and has never withdrawn what He has promised. Though the Jewish people have been scattered around the world, God promised they would return to the land He promised Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all their descendants (Zechariah 8:7-8).

Among God’s fulfilled promises was that the people of Israel would again become a nation in the land He says is theirs. This prophecy made in the Old Testament was fulfilled in May of 1948. Since then, the Jewish people have been returning home.

More examples of God’s faithfulness to keep His covenants with others are found in the following verses:

  • To Noah (God will save Noah and his family) – Genesis 6:17-18; 9:9-17
  • To Ishmael (God will bless Ishmael and his descendants) – Genesis 17:18-20
  • To Moses (God will spare the Israelites if they obey) – Exodus 19:5
  • To Jacob (God reaffirms everlasting covenant to Israel) – Psalm 105:10

There are literally dozens more scriptures of God’s faithfulness. None however may be the most life-changing as those that proclaim His forgiveness of our sins. There are many Old Testament prophecies promising a coming Messiah or Savior. God’s faithful promise was fulfilled in the New Testament when He sent Jesus to atone for our sins. No matter what sins we have committed, no matter how “bad” we are, God is faithful to forgive us if we accept Jesus and repent of our sins. • God sent His Son, (Matthew 1:21-22) through Him we have everlasting life – John 3:16

  • Christ died for our atonement of sin – 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
  • God’s promise to remove sins – Romans 11:25-27
  • God ordained Jesus, author of eternal salvation – Hebrews 5:5-10
  • God will toss our sin into the depths of the sea (never to be remembered again) – Micah 7:18-19

Faithfulness of God – The Promises

God is so faithful that anyone who seeks Him can find Him. Faith is a gift, but even a gift must be opened to be enjoyed. As we implement our faith, we begin to realize more and more about God’s faithfulness to us.

  • 1 Corinthians 1:9 – “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:3 – “The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

In 1 John 1:9 we are told, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” With absoluteness we can have the confidence that God will forgive us. Without His ability to do so, He would not be God. He is the only true God (John 17:3) and the gods of no other religion promises this. Since He has made this promise, and we know He cannot break His word, we know that it would be contrary to His nature and that He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). Our God is a faithful God and there is no other that can do all He can and has done.

I pray this teaching touched your hurting heart. We have all placed our trust in a loved one or friend, only to be grieved by broken trust when we least expect it. God moved me from Texas to Florida, leaving everyone behind, so that I wouldn’t ever be hurt in that same way again, which I haven’t talked about yet, because it’s very hard to talk about.

There is peace in my life now, and I am working hard for my Heavenly Father, which is something that would have been impossible, had I not moved. After I was settled down, God began to show me things about my life and the people I left behind. Maybe you can’t leave the state, but I encourage you to take time away from everyone and take a good look at your life, this is a very important thing to do. It enables you to see things about your life and those  involved in your life that otherwise, you would have never known.

Most importantly, TRUST your Heavenly Father, He will never let you down.

In Christ’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

The Purpose Of The Holy Spirit On Earth

The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to strengthen each believer and endow them with power and boldness so that they become witnesses for Christ.  The Holy Spirit lovingly watches over, encourages, nourishes and grows the church.

“I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.  But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  Luke 24:29

This is what Jesus tells his disciples, he first asks them to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, but asks them to wait till they receive the promise (Holy Spirit) which will give them power which they need to spread the Gospel.  It is dangerous and ineffective trying to preach Jesus to people when you yourself do not have the Holy Spirit.

“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:”  John 16:8

Jesus also says that the Holy Spirit will show the world what sin is, how to lead righteous lives and share knowledge about the judgement of God.  This is important as without knowing what sin is, people see the need to repent.  Without sin there is no meaning for what Jesus did on the cross for us.  The next step after repentance is righteousness, once you know you are wrong and sorry, you begin to wonder what is the right way to do things.  The Word of God is the authority when it comes to righteousness.  Finally, the Spirit will also warn men of the final judgement of God.

Biblical Inspiration

The Apostles John and Peter were walking into a synagogue to preach the Gospel to the Jews there.  As they were entering they saw a man who was lame from birth.  This man was carried and put by the gates to the synagogue every day so that he may beg and survive on alms that the people offered him.  He was well known in the temple circles as he was a regular there.  When this man saw Peter and John he immediately asked them for alms.

Peter observed this man and saw that he had faith, he told this man that he does not have silver or gold but what he has he is willing to share.  He then told the man “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”  As Peter spoke these words this man felt strength flow into his limbs, for the first time he was able to stand up.

He went into the temple with Peter and John and was jumping around praising God, along the way.  All the people who were at the temple were shocked and amazed.  They knew who the man was, but could not believe their eyes when they saw him healed.

This gave Peter and John an opportunity to preach the Gospel to the masses.  That day alone, five thousand people started believing in Jesus and were saved.  The next day the two Apostles were given another chance to preach the Gospel before the religious leaders of the time and once again the Holy Spirit gave them the exact words to speak.  The council was surprised with how two illiterate men, could know so much about the scriptures.

This is an example of how the Holy Spirit reached so many people and grew the church through two men who were willing to be led.

Life Application

  • You will not be successful if you try to influence the world without the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit teaches you the importance of a church and the value God places on the souls of other people.
  • He shows people what sin is and why they need the Gospel.

Source: Blue Flame

In Christ’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

The Fear of God – The Beginning of Understanding

Throughout the Jewish scriptures we learn that “the fear of God is the beginning of understanding… wisdom… knowledge.” Indeed, the fear of God is a primary theme throughout the entire Old Testament:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7).

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding (Psalm 111:10).

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10). 


But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store. That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me (Job 23:13-16).

“Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.” (Jeremiah 5:22 (NIV).

Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling (Psalm 2:11).

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever(Psalm 19:9).

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him (Psalm33:8).

Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD  (Psalm 34:11)


Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name (Psalm 86:11).
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13

The Fear of God – The Real Meaning

In these “Fear of God” scriptures, the word “fear” is derived from Hebrew words such as yir’ah(Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; Psalm 2:11; 19:9; 34:11), yare (Psalm 33:8; 86:11; Jeremiah 5:22; Ecclesiastes 12:13) and pachad(Job 23:15), which actually mean “fear,” “terror,” or “dread.” Although many Christian teachers will downplay the “fear of God” and use replacement words such as “respect,” “reverence,” or “honor,” the Hebrew language is pretty clear. In addition, there are other Hebrew words that portray softer meanings, such as kabad (Exodus 20:12) – “Honor your father and your mother…” (Proverbs 3:9) – “Honor the LORD with your wealth…”)

The Fear of God – The Rest of the Story

The good news is that the fear of God is only the beginning of understanding. We’ve got to read the rest of the story! In fact, the great news is that the Love of God reflected through Jesus Christ in the New Testament scriptures has the power to cast out this fear and set us free!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4:7-12). But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (Jesus to His disciples in (John 15:12-13).

The Fear of God – The Love of God
How can we comprehend the utterly Great News of Jesus Christ if we don’t first appreciate the fear of God? Without total awe, wonder, terror, dread, reverence, and respect for a perfectly holy, righteous, and just Creator, can we truly appreciate what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did for us on Calvary’s cross?

It ultimately comes down to perspective and position. Who is God and what is my perspective on His nature, power, and justice? Who am I and what is my human position relative to this Almighty God?

Once we understand and accept the entire story, we can walk out our lives in a special appreciation of co-existing truths — the “Fear of God” and the “Love of God.”

Let those who fear the LORD say: His love endures forever (Psalm 118:4).

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (Psalm 147:11).

He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water (Revelation 14:7).

Source: All About God @ allaboutgod.com

In Christ’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

Finding God’s Will The Right Way

“When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.”  Isaiah 8:19-20 (NIV)

There is a sad story in the Old Testament about such a situation.  King Saul wants to know God’s will.  He is faced with battling the mighty Philistine army and is afraid for the outcome.  He goes to the high priest first to inquire of God, but God, does not answer.  So he seeks out a medium and begs her to call up the prophet Samuel from the dead.  She is reluctant, since all spiritualists have been driven from the land and forbade from practicing divination.  But finally she relents.  Samuel appears and not only gives Saul the will of God, but a heartbreaking reprimand (because of the wrong way he is going about finding God’s will).  Saul’s army will not only lose to the Philistines, but Saul and his sons will lose their lives.

The law and the covenant is the Word of God.  The answers for our lives are in the Bible.  Jesus encourages us “Seek and you will find ” (Matthew 7:7).  Mediums and fortune tellers don’t have God’s voice.  The Bible warns against them.  God’s  will for our lives is in God’s Word and it is good, anywhere, any time. 

Source: Daily Bible Inspirations

In Christ’s Love and †Grace, Susan

Burdened, “But God!”

Are you burdened? You may be in debt due to medical bills, worrying about your illness, or going through a divorce. There are some situations you have no control over. Two words change every situation, “But God!” During your darkest times, He steadies your emotions. He keeps you strong when you have no strength. He places people in your path who offer comfort. People who care and pray. You may hear a sermon spoken specifically for you. God is making a way for you-He never leaves you. Some answers may be different from what you want or the timing isn’t as soon as you’d hoped for, but He is in charge even though it may be difficult to understand. Try to keep your eyes off your circumstances and on God. Press in and remember, “But God!” That makes all the difference in your outcome. Put yourself in His hands. That is where you can find rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV) says, “Come to me, all you who are wary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Grace, mercy, and peace await you. God never intended you to handle things on your own.

Philippians 4:6-9 (NIV) says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Dear Lord, we want to trust You even when we don’t understand our circumstances. Strengthen our faith, and deepen our love, and concern for others in crisis. Amen.

In Christ’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

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God is a just, caring, holy, divine, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and sovereign God. He is light, perfection, abundance, salvation, wisdom, and love. He is our creator, savior, deliverer, redeemer, provider, healer, advocate, and friend.

My Mom’s Battle With Scleroderma

What is Scleroderma?

Scleroderma is a rare, debilitating autoimmune disease for which there is NO CURE. Scleroderma is often progressive and sometimes, fatal.  It affects every age and gender and it’s neither preventable or contagious.  It confuses the best of the medical field by making it difficult to diagnose. Scleroderma attacks the Circulatory System, cutting off blood flow to extremities, resulting in Gangrene and amputation.  It affects the Gastrointestinal Tract, Heart, Kidneys, Lungs, and the Esophagus.  Scleroderma causes hardening, thickening, and tightening of the skin which oftentimes, causes devastating results to one’s facial appearance and one’s mobility. Scleroderma steals people’s freedom, jobs, friends, families, and lives. 

Mom’s Battle With Scleroderma, by Susan Osten

PRELUDE: I have a childhood friend, who has been coding invoices for hospitals for years. The day of my mother’s surgery, she was working in a hospital in Pasadena, which was not too far away from the hospital my mom was in. When I called her and told her my mom was having her legs amputated shortly, she asked me, “What hospital was she in?” I told her the name of the hospital, and she said, “Get her out of that hospital, ASAP!” She seemed frantic! She also said, “Get her tested for MRSA as soon as possible.” After I hung up the phone, I asked the first nurse that came into my mom’s room to test her for MRSA. The test was negative.

(MRSA) stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ( MRSA) is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus — or staph — because it’s resistant to some commonly used antibiotics.)

I found myself between a rock and a hard place. My family was not going to allow me to move her, and if they did allow me to move her, where would she go? The insurance company calls the shots, and they would have to approve the move. After my mom’s surgery, I told the nurse in ICU to start the antibiotics as soon as possible. I also told her that my mom has Scleroderma and she easily contracts infections. The nurse said to me, “The doctor hasn’t put the order in yet.”

My mom tested positive for MRSA, several days after surgery. I was beside myself.  😦 

About four days after her surgery, the doctor told us that, “The infection (MRSA) had colonized and had spread throughout her body and there was nothing else they could do for her.” MRSA contributed to my mom’s early death.

Mom8

My mom’s name was Gillian Rose Heath. She was diagnosed with Scleroderma in 1995.

Before the diagnosis, mom became very ill. She went to see her Primary Care Physician, and he referred her to a Rheumatologist, who diagnosed her with Scleroderma. He prescribed 40 mg of Prednisone, to make her feel better. The Rheumatologist told my mom that, “She could live three years, ten years, or even sixteen years with this disease.”

Some of mom’s early symptoms of Scleroderma were little red dots on the palms of her hands, very stiff joints, weight loss and frailty.

When the Prednisone took effect, she was up and walking around like there was nothing wrong with her. Mom’s condition improved, so the doctor was able to gradually decrease the dose of Prednisone to 5 mg. Mom functioned very well for a few years, taking only 5 mg. of Prednisone, but as the years passed, mom started to developed significant symptoms of Scleroderma.

A major artery in the right side of her neck was 70% blocked, so she had surgery to remove the blockage. The artery on the left side of her neck was only 30% blocked, and it didn’t warrant surgery. Mom also had to have surgery on one of her fingers, to remove a bone that was growing through the tip of her finger. 

Her fingers were stiff and turned white in the cold. She began to develop ulcers on her finger tips, and she began to have severe problems with her Gastrointestinal Tract.

After a month or two, dad noticed mom talking, but making no sense, and after a few minutes, she would be back to normal. She had a few of those episodes. She then began to have seizures, so the doctor prescribed Dilanton to control the seizures. While mom was in the hospital, the doctor could not get the Dilanton to the proper level in her bloodstream. The doctor was constantly taking blood samples, and raising the dosage of the Dilanton.

My dad became very frustrated, so he took a list of mom’s medications to their neighborhood Walgreen’s Pharmacist, to seek help. The Pharmacist was very helpful. He informed my dad that you cannot take supplemental Calcium and Dilanton at the same time because it greatly reduces the absorption of the Dilanton in the bloodstream. Dad provided the doctor with the information, and he made the necessary changes. The Dilanton in mom’s bloodstream reached the proper level. The seizures stopped.

Mom was feeling better, so she went to get her hair done. She fell down walking from the car to the beauty salon. She was in extreme pain, so an ambulance was called to take her to the ER. The technician x-rayed her hip, and the doctor said, “There were no broken bones.” She was released from the hospital. When mom and dad got home, mom couldn’t get out of the car. Every time my dad tried to move her, she would scream. My dad telephoned me and asked me to come over, and help him get her out of the car and into the house.

We used a kitchen chair for her to sit on, and we put a little board with wheels under her feet. We started scooting her towards the house. It took us over an hour to get mom from the car into her bed. The next morning, my sister came to see how mom was doing, and she heard that mom had not moved all night. Dad called an ambulance to take mom back to the ER.

When the ambulance arrived, they put mom on a stretcher. The pain mom experienced while being lifted onto the stretcher, triggered a severe seizure.

In the ER, the technician took another x-ray of her hip, and he found that mom’s hip was indeed, broken, so they scheduled Mom for hip surgery.

All went well. Mom’s hip healed in no time, and she left the hospital to go to a nursing home/rehabilitation center. After she finished rehab she went home.

Several months went by, and she noticed that her big toe on her left foot was turning black. She went to several doctors. When all was said and done, she was referred to a surgeon.

The surgeon ordered a Doppler for her legs. The test indicated that there was no blood circulation in either leg. The surgeon recommended amputation below the knee on her left leg, because of the black toe. The surgery was performed, and once again, mom went into rehab, and then home.

After several weeks at home, her left stump turned Gangrene, and the big toe, on her right foot started to turn black. We consulted her surgeon, who recommended amputating both  legs above the knee.

While I was in ICU with my mom, I asked the attending nurse to start the antibiotics ASAP. I told her my mom had Scleroderma, and easily contracted infections. The nurse told me the surgeon had not yet written the order. The antibiotics were finally, administered about 30 minutes after they took her to her room. While mom was in the hospital, recuperating from the double amputation, she fought one infection after the other. Some of the stitches broke in her left stump, the day after surgery. The surgeon would not stitch up her leg. He said he would have to cut off more of her leg in order to stitch it. He said mom couldn’t take another surgery.

We were left to look, with great concern, at a unbandaged, gaping wound that wouldn’t heal. I believe it was during this time, mom contracted MRSA. After about four days, we were informed by the doctor that the infection (MRSA) had colonized, and had spread throughout mom’s body. The doctor said that there was nothing further they could do for her.

After about a week, she was released to go to rehab. In rehab, mom became very ill and she was sent back to the hospital. We received a poor prognosis. She was released from the hospital into home hospice care. Shortly, thereafter, she passed away.

My mom was a fighter and very courageous throughout the whole ordeal. Scleroderma killed my mom by aggressively, attacking her Circulatory System. It cut off blood flow to her brain, her legs and arms. Mom was seventy-eight years old when she died, on April 12, 2011. She lived with Scleroderma for sixteen years.

NOTE: This is a narrative of my experience and no recommendations are given or implied.

Please help us “Raise Awareness” of Scleroderma, by sharing Help End Scleroderma’s † posts on social media, and with your family members, friends and co-workers.  

The more peaple who are aware and educated about Scleroderma, helps raise our HOPES for a CURE. 

On behalf of all those suffering with Scleroderma, “Thank You!”

In Christ Love and †Grace, Susan Osten

God Doesn’t Make Sense by Bill Sweeney

The fact that God’s nature was difficult for me to understand used to be a real challenge to my faith. This was especially true after being diagnosed with ALS. I don’t remember ever asking God “Why me?” but I naturally wondered why God would allow this or any other horrible disease to strike anyone. I began to rethink everything I knew, or thought I knew, about this being we call God.

One of the first things I studied was the Christian definition of God; the Christian belief that God is made up of three separate beings (Father, Son and Spirit) that are actually one being. This doesn’t make sense! I have heard many different analogies that attempted to explain this concept of this three-in-one God by everyone from children’s church pastors to highly-educated Theologians, but I still don’t get it! I know better than anyone that I’m far from being the sharpest knife in the drawer, but after many years of trying to figure out this concept of what we simply call the Trinity, I’ve concluded that no one is able to explain this Triune God in terms that are understandable to even the razor-sharp knives among us. And, I’m now okay with this because – If we were able to understand God in human terms, He wouldn’t be God; He’d be a man.

C.S. Lewis was one of the best Christian apologists of the twentieth century, but before becoming a follower of Christ, he was an outspoken atheist. He concluded that there was no God because the idea of God didn’t make sense to him. He wondered why a supposedly loving God would allow his mother to die when he was just ten years old. He also wondered why a God that claims to care so much for His creation would permit the horrors he witnessed as a soldier in World War One. I imagine a lot of people asked similar questions after seeing innocent people being killed and maimed in Boston and in West, Texas. But, ironically, it was also this seemingly nonsensical nature of God that brought Lewis back to the God of Christianity.

“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
As a professor at Oxford, Lewis and some other professors, including his fellow professor and friend, the author J.R.R. Tokien (Lord of the Rings) formed a group where they would meet and discuss Philosophy, Theology and other “Big issues.” Tolkien was a Christian and he began challenging Lewis’ conclusions about God. Like me and so many others that have come to a crossroad, Lewis began to rethink his beliefs about this mysterious God.

Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

 

As a professor at Oxford, Lewis and some other professors, including his fellow professor and friend, the author J.R.R. Tokien (Lord of the Rings) formed a group where they would meet and discuss Philosophy, Theology and other “Big issues.” Tolkien was a Christian and he began challenging Lewis’ conclusions about God. Like me and so many others that have come to a crossroad, Lewis began to rethink his beliefs about this mysterious God.

Lewis also came to the conclusion that mere mortals were unable to fully comprehend what we call the Trinity. And, like me and those who understand the implications of this conclusion, this idea of an incomprehensible God intrigued Lewis. He eventually ditched his “simple” atheism and turned to a complex God.

He wrote: “On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings… On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine…If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about…Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn’t have guessed. That’s one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It’s a religion you couldn’t have guessed.”

Why do we expect to understand why God allows tragedy and heartache when we cannot even comprehend the makeup of God? We haven’t yet even figured out why people do the things they do. God sees the Big Picture – the eternal picture, the picture that we’re incapable of seeing. For that reason alone we should give Him the benefit of the doubt when tragedy strikes.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

About Bill Sweeney
In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ – Unshakable Hope!

 

 

 

Faith Without Works is Dead

Why is Faith Without Works Dead?

Answer: James says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). Faith without works is a dead faith because the lack of works reveals an unchanged life or a spiritually dead heart. There are many verses that say that true saving faith will result in a transformed life, that faith is demonstrated by the works we do. How we live reveals what we believe and whether the faith we profess to have is a living faith.

James 2:14–26 is sometimes taken out of context in an attempt to create a works-based system of righteousness, but that is contrary to many other passages of Scripture. James is not saying that our works make us righteous before God but that real saving faith is demonstrated by good works. Works are not the cause of salvation; works are the evidence of salvation. Faith in Christ always results in good works. The person who claims to be a Christian but lives in willful disobedience to Christ has a false or dead faith and is not saved. Paul basically says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. James contrasts two different types of faith—true faith that saves and false faith that is dead.

Many profess to be Christians, but their lives and priorities indicate otherwise. Jesus put it this way: “By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers’” (Matthew 7:16–23).

Notice that the message of Jesus is the same as the message of James. Obedience to God is the mark of true saving faith. James uses the examples of Abraham and Rahab to illustrate the obedience that accompanies salvation. Simply saying we believe in Jesus does not save us, nor does religious service. What saves us is the Holy Spirit’s regeneration of our hearts, and that regeneration will invariably be seen in a life of faith featuring ongoing obedience to God.

Misunderstanding the relationship of faith and works comes from not understanding what the Bible teaches about salvation. There are really two errors in regards to works and faith. The first error is “easy believism,” the teaching that, as long as a person prayed a prayer or said, “I believe in Jesus,” at some point in his life, then he is saved, no matter what. So a person who, as a child, raised his hand in a church service is considered saved, even though he has never shown any desire to walk with God since and is, in fact, living in blatant sin. This teaching, sometimes called “decisional regeneration,” is dangerous and deceptive. The idea that a profession of faith saves a person, even if he lives like the devil afterwards, assumes a new category of believer called the “carnal Christian.” This allows various ungodly lifestyles to be excused: a man may be an unrepentant adulterer, liar, or bank robber, but he’s saved; he’s just “carnal.” Yet, as we can see in James 2, an empty profession of faith—one that does not result in a life of obedience to Christ—is in reality a dead faith that cannot save.

The other error in regards to works and faith is to attempt to make works part of what justifies us before God. The mixture of works and faith to earn salvation is totally contrary to what Scripture teaches. Romans 4:5 says, “To him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” James 2:26 says, “Faith without works is dead.” There is no conflict between these two passages. We are justified by grace through faith, and the natural result of faith in the heart is works that all can see. The works that follow salvation do not make us righteous before God; they simply flow from the regenerated heart as naturally as water flows from a spring.

Salvation is a sovereign act of God whereby an unregenerate sinner has the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” poured out on him (Titus 3:5), thereby causing him to be born again (John 3:3). When this happens, God gives the forgiven sinner a new heart and puts a new spirit within him (Ezekiel 36:26). God removes his sin-hardened heart of stone and fills him with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit then causes the saved person to walk in obedience to God’s Word (Ezekiel 36:26–27).

Faith without works is dead because it reveals a heart that has not been transformed by God. When we have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, our lives will demonstrate that new life. Our works will be characterized by obedience to God. Unseen faith will become seen by the production of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22). Christians belong to Christ, the Good Shepherd. As His sheep we hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:26–30).

Faith without works is dead because faith results in a new creation, not a repetition of the same old patterns of sinful behavior. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

In God’s Love and † Grace, Susan

by “Got Questions”

How Can We Have Hope When Everything Looks Hopeless?

How Can We Have Hope When Everything Looks Hopeless?

In Romans 5:3-5, Paul says that we can rejoice in our sufferings because we are a people of hope: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:3–5, ESV).

So, how can we have hope when everything looks hopeless? In the midst of suffering, we can rejoice because these challenges cause us to:

1. Rely on God’s presence

Rejoicing in suffering does not mean celebrating when bad news comes. But, it does mean that we can believe that God is doing a redemptive work. This word “redemptive” means that God does not waste a hurt or disappointment. He is using them to shape and build us into the image of Jesus, which is his highest passion.

When we go through suffering, we often pray and seek God more intensely than at other times. My greatest times of growth have been when I’ve reached the end of my resources and all I have left is Jesus. God uses suffering to make us rely on His presence.

In Psalm 23:4, David writes that he does not fear because God is with him. He relies on God’s presence, and it brings him strength and comfort. Remember that for there to be a shadow, there has to be a light. I don’t know what your “valley of the shadow of death” is, but I do know who the Light is that is walking with you in that valley.

In another Psalm, David reveals that one of the reasons for his joy is that he is forgiven: “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven whose sins are covered (Ps. 31:1, NIV). We can’t determine God’s love for us based on good or bad circumstances. We determine His love based on the cross and what He did for us on it.

2. Rely on God’s provision

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul reveals that he has suffered from a “thorn in the flesh.” God was so concerned about Paul not becoming proud he allowed this to happen to him to prevent him from becoming conceited.

In our current situations, God is saying to us that His grace is sufficient, and even when we feel weak, He is making us stronger than we have ever been. His grace is not an abstract idea. It is the person of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. The hell you are going through may be the very circumstance God uses to take you to a whole new level.

3. Rely on God’s power

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9b, ESV).

What is your weakness? Maybe it is a son or a daughter that hasn’t quite turned out the way you thought he or she would. A job situation that has gone awry. A medical diagnosis that has scared you. Maybe, like Paul, it is also insults, hardships, or persecutions. Whatever it is, Paul says he will boast in those things because when we are weak, the power of Christ rests on us.

The greater the enemy comes at you, the greater Jesus is in you.
Maybe you hear voices telling you to just quit, give up, and let it go.

DON’T STOP! When you are weak, then He is strong. Remember the greater the attack against you, the greater Christ is in you, but you have to rely on His Presence, His Provision and His Power.

Write down what you are suffering from or struggling with and place it in an envelope. On the outside, write, “God’s got this, and He is transforming me.” Now when that challenge comes to mind remember to rely on Him.

-Derwin L. Gray, Gospel Of Grace

Parable of the Sower

On this earth are billions of people who have never, even once, heard God’s Word from the Bible spoken to them. There are millions like that just in America alone. Probably right in your neighborhood are people with no hope, with seemingly unsolvable troubles, going through terrible trials, yet who have never heard the powerful answers God has for them. I want to encourage you to determine personally to be one of Jesus’ faithful “sowers [who] sow the word.” People’s lives and eternity are in the balance.

Mark 4:3-14, KJV …Behold, there went out a sower to sow… [8] And other [seed] fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred… [14] The sower soweth the word.

“The sower soweth the word,” said Jesus. And that Word of God, He said, produces fruit, “a crop.” The Lord is telling us in these parables to share His Word with people, and it has the potential to bear fruit in their lives and to lead to an abundant harvest.

Matthew 13:1-23 (KJV)

1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

He has commissioned us to be seed-sowers. The field is the world, Jesus said in another parable (Matthew 13:38). Christ’s command that we be sowers of the seed of His Word in all the world, is an early hint at His later Great Commission: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). It’s similar in Luke 24:49, where Jesus directs His disciples into ministry in which “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

In God’s Love and † Grace, Susan

Excerpts from Pastor Jim Feeny’s sermon entitled “The Sower Sows the Word. You Can Too and Harvest a Crop.”

 

How Do We “Live The Abundant Life” Jesus Promised?

Living the abundant life that Jesus promised us includes facing our challenges, overcoming our obstacles, and walking patiently, with hope, through our sufferings and sorrows. Persevering through life’s struggles is vital to our Christian growth. It will not be easy, so we must believe in ourselves, and God’s Word which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13 (KJV)
God’s protection is not like a magic force field that keeps us from all adversity. We must keep in mind that we live in a fallen world, and we have a free will. We are capable of creating our own troubles when our decisions do not include God, and they are not well thought out. When we reap the consequences of those decisions, we expect God to bail us out.

On the other hand, accidents will happen, and difficult situations that we have no control over will arise in our lives. During those times, we need to remember God’s promises of protection, provision, and comfort – He is faithful to His Word! Jesus warned that we would have troubles in this World: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God works in ways that we cannot comprehend. I can give you some scenarios of God’s protection, such as: His protection might come in the form of peace and strength in the middle of despair, or it might come as an ending because He sees something more on the horizon that we cannot see.

All we need to understand is that as a believer in Jesus, we are promised a new life covered under the protection of God in which NOTHING can separate us from His love. We can rest knowing that no matter what hardship we face, God is our protector, provider, and comforter!

Why does God allow us to experience suffering and sorrow?

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:6 (NIV), “Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same.” Unless we know the personal results of God’s comfort in our tribulations we are not able to comfort others in their trials. To have compassion is to enter in alongside of the other person. Suffering enables us to better understand the needs of others.

Prayer for Fear and Anxiety

Lord Jesus, the stresses in my life often reach a dangerous proportion—or so it seems. My body, mind, and spirit struggle to keep up physically, mentally, and spiritually. Some days anxiety stalks me like a deceitful predator, and the temptation to worry draws me in. I know better, but some days the challenges outweigh the truths buried inside. My trust in You fades into the background, giving fear and concerns permission to discourage me.

In those moments of apprehension, help me remember that I belong to You, and that You are not the author of fear or anxiety, but the giver of love and a sound mind. Teach me Your ways to respond to problems by giving thanks in them. Your Word assures me that You are always there with me. You are the Blessed Controller of all things, and nothing escapes Your attention in my life. You have given me every tool and spiritual blessing to fight against those things that try to steal my peace. You’ve promised that when I’m stressed and burdens are trying to weigh me down, I can come to You. You will give me sweet rest! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

In God’s Love and † Grace,
Susan

Truck Crashes Into My Dad’s Bedroom

I am sharing this story with you, because I want to stress the importance of praying for protection for your loved-ones.

My dad and step mom usually go to bed after the 10:00 p.m. news, but this particular night, they stayed up later than usual, to watch something that interested them on TV. When all of a sudden, they heard a loud crashing noise. There is a parking lot right behind my dad’s house. The noise they heard was a big, black, pick-up truck smashing through the fence and into their bedroom. The damage was severe. If they had been in the bedroom at that time, they would have likely, been badly injured or even killed.

Dad called the Police, and when they arrived, they questioned the lady who was driving the truck…she was not intoxicated. She told the Officer that she drove through the fence and into my dad’s bedroom because she was mad at her boyfriend. This is what is baffling to me: the Officer did not give her a ticket or reprimand her. The lady, driving the truck, lived just down the street from my dad. All she had to do was to have the truck towed out of the bedroom, and off dad’s property. She said nothing to dad about helping him financially, with the damage, and after the truck was towed, she just left the scene. Thank God, Dad’s Homeowner’s Insurance covered it all.

Since I was a young girl, I’ve prayed for my family’s protection. God answered my prayer that night. I am so very thankful they were distracted. 

I thank God, my mom had already gone home to be with Jesus. Otherwise, she would have been in that bed. She always went to bed very early.

I’ve included three photos of the scene of the crash, that were taken between 11:00 – 12:00 p.m., so that you can see the deadly incident. 

The Armor of God: Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV) 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Below is a short prayer, asking God to protect our loved ones:

Dear Lord Jesus, Please keep our families safe from evil and misfortune. Thank You for protecting them when they weren’t even aware that evil was stalking them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Scripture References: Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 103:20; Proverbs 1:20; John16:13; Isaiah 30:21; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 54; Psalm 91; Psalm 37:21

In Christ’s Love and † Grace, Susan

Dad's House Wrecked 1

Dad's House Wrecked2

Dad's House Wrecked3

 

 

Was it God’s Vengeance? You Decide.

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.”  Romans 12:19RRoman 12:19 (NIV)

The Bible is very clear about seeking revenge. In Romans 12:19, God tells us to never take revenge and to leave it in the Lord’s hands. God is the ultimate judge and when we seek revenge, we are taking His place. When we become overwhelmed with what others have done wrong, we become filled with anger and find ourselves focused on hate.

I was married when I was seventeen years old, and I became a Christian when I was nineteen years old. Shortly, after I became a Christian, my husband divorced me. I was heartbroken, and the pain from losing him was overwhelming.

There were several circumstances that caused our divorce:

1.) After I became a Christian, my ex-husband told me that he didn’t want anything to do with religion, because his mother made him attend church during his adolescence and he hated it.

2.) After I became a Christian, he started a new job, and met a man named:

Jud, my husband’s friend, started to take him out at night drinking. It escalated to the point that my husband didn’t come home at all at nights when he went drinking with Jud. When I did see my husband, there was nothing I could say or do to stop him from leaving the house to party. Jud was a bad influence in my ex-husband’s life, and it ruined our marriage.

One day, I went to the store and Jud pulled up beside me in his Van. I said nothing to him at all; but, I did tell God, “Jud was hurting me.”

Time passed, and we were divorced. The Bible says, “But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15 (NLT)

By the time the divorce was finalized, I had found a job working for a man in a one girl office, typing letters and doing his bookkeeping. I had also moved into my own apartment.

The emotional pain began to subside, and between my families’ support, my churches’ support, and the support of my friends, I felt that my life was returning to some sort of normalcy.

One day, not to many months after my divorce, I went into work as usual. I will never forget this: it was about 10:30 in the morning when all of a sudden, I felt this persistent urge to call my ex-husband. I knew that it was the Lord, and I told Him that I didn’t want to call my ex-husband because it would open up old wounds.
The persistent urge continued. I was so frustrated by it that I picked up the phone and called my ex-husband. As soon as he answered, I said, “WHAT IS THE MATTER?” He replied, “Jud is dead.” My heart almost stopped – I couldn’t believe that this was what God wanted me to know. I offered my condolences and hung up the phone.

You may be wondering if I have ever had an experience like that again: the answer is “No.” That experience shocked me – never would I have ever ask God to take a life.

“God’s blessings are endless. It comes every day and sometimes in different forms. Sometimes it comes so big that we become speechless. God is always faithful and I love Him. Thank you Lord for completing yet another important stage in my educational pursuit. It was tough, yet I made it, and made it out excellently. Glory to Him, the giver of all Blessings!” 

– Terry Mark

In God’s Love and †Grace, Susan

 

My Visit from a Demon

It was the middle of the night, and I was sleeping, and suddenly, I sat up in bed wide-awake. I looked over at my ex-husband, and I saw a demon standing by his bedside, looking down at him. It was so surreal: I experience no fear, just God’s peace. Whatever evil was going on, it was stopped when I woke up.

This creature was transparent, but the outline of its features were vivid. It was about five feet, six inches tall and hairy. Its face was dark, so I could clearly see its eyes, nose, and mouth. It was shaped like a human being.

When it sensed me looking at it – it looked up at me. The demon showed no emotion whatsoever. It turned around, floated out of our bedroom, down the hallway, and out of sight.

This experience was not like any movie I had ever seen. God is faithful to His Word, Thessalonians 3:3, (NIV) “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”  I still wonder about its intentions. Yet, I also understand some things are better left alone. I am grateful God for woke me.

Ephesians 6:11-18 (KJV) says,“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

I Peter 5:8 (KJV) says, “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring Lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

In God’s Love and † Grace, Susan

How God Provided Me With A Way Out Of Temptation

Satan is constantly, on the prowl for victims but, God’s Word says,

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

I Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

When I was much younger, I worked for a Real Estate Attorney. My co-worker sat right beside me. Almost every day, she would talk to me about how much fun she had going dancing and drinking. At that time in my life, I was divorced and vulnerable. I was a Christian but eventually, her words started wearing me down, spiritually.

I decided to put my Christian beliefs aside and go out with her. A couple of days before we were supposed to go dancing, I prayed and told God, if You don’t want me to go, tell me “I’m going the wrong way.” It was around lunchtime when I said that prayer, so I went to downstairs to the cafeteria and started to read my book. Shortly thereafter, I happened to look up from my book, and I saw a lady standing at the entrance to the cafeteria. When we made eye contact (it was a small cafeteria), she motioned for me to come over to her. I walked over to see what she wanted, and she told to me, “You are going the wrong way” and then she left. I was shocked and trembling. I went back upstairs and cancelled my outing with my co-worker.

In your spiritual battles with the evil one, some of the things that you will experience are: temptation, accusation, deception, and condemnation.

God’s Word warns us to, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1  Peter 5:8 (KJV)

“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11 (KJV)

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)

Be sure to think about real hard before you give into temptation, because it might take you a very long time to get back home to Jesus.

In God’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

 

 

How God Protected Me

“The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou saved me from violence. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”   2 Samuel 22:3-4 

The phone call came at about 10 p.m. My husband, son and I were sleeping. My husband was a Locksmith, and it was a call to go and unlock someone’s car. My son, Jeremy and I got out of bed to wait for his return.

While waiting, I left the room to go to into bathroom, when all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit said, “Go quickly down the hall, there will be a knock at your door, and your son will answer the door.” I ran down that hall, and no sooner than I got to the living room, there came a knock at my door. I went to the door, and said “Who is it?” and there was no answer. I looked through the peep hole in the door, and there was someone standing there wearing a black hoodie with his head down. All of a sudden, the door knob began to turn. I stayed by the door, and told my son to get our gun. After Jeremy gave me the gun, I told him to call the Police. When he had them on the phone, I took the phone, and explained the situation to them. The Police told me to shoot, if that man come through the door, and they were on their way. They arrived about 20 minutes later but, he was gone. Shortly, thereafter, my husband returned.

God protects His children! But when He speaks to you, it is very important to listen and to obey Him. 

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. “   2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV)

May the PEACE of GOD be with you;
May His LOVE overshadow you;
May His HOPE fill your heart;
And may His JOY be full in your soul.

“He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.”  I Samuel 2:9

In God’s Love and † Grace, Susan

 

You can’t make it alone!

The Lord is Our Refuge

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