Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Time for Judgment to Begin

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  1 Peter 4:17

kit: Days Gone By by Kristmess Designs

Monday, May 30, 2016

Book of Remembrance

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name.  Malachi 3:16

The above verse was written about a minority of people from among a group who for the most part had decided that there was no point in obeying God, since they couldn’t see any benefit to it.  The people who disobeyed seemed happy.  God didn’t strike them with lightning or anything like that, and they appeared to be doing just fine. So those who knew better and continued to follow God started to wonder “why bother?” Both Psalms 37 and 73 address the issue as well, but here is the rest of the above passage:

"Your words have been hard against Me, says the LORD. But you say, 'How have we spoken against you?' You have said, 'It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping His charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.'" Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed His name. "They shall be Mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up My treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him." Malachi 3:13-16

So we should still “bother” to care about what God cares about. We aren't saved by keeping the law, but only through Jesus. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36 However, Jesus Himself said that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments  (John 14:21), which He summarized as loving God first and our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:29-31) Loving God first includes taking God at His own word rather than making our own revised version of His word and Him. He is Lord and the ultimate authority and He never changes. Our neighbors include unborn babies, elderly and handicapped individuals who don't "contribute to society" and even our enemies. (If you think about it, how absurd is it to think that God would tell us to love our enemies but it's okay to kill the innocent and helpless? And unlike so many these days, He can count–a body inside of another body is a second body...)

The laws of this country are drifting farther away from God with every passing year. This should make us rend our hearts and cry out to God for forgiveness. To whom has been given much, much will be expected. People these days like to quote warm, fuzzy (including partial, twisted or out of context) sayings of Jesus and reject the rest of what He said. That is a form of idolatry by making Him into a man-made version of Himself.

"And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom much was entrusted, more will be demanded. I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." Luke 12:47-51

Some people say that all God expects is that we believe, and then we have done His will--all He expected and hoped for from us. They say we can do as we please with no fear of retribution whatsoever. I would suggest reading the above passage one more time. We are given a LOT in this country.  God expects more from us. That includes not only financial blessings, but an abundance of opportunity to KNOW God here--the Word is freely available. If we don't study the Bible for ourselves so that we can understand His will, it is because we choose not to. If we don’t attend worship services or even listen to them on the radio or watch them on television (or even a PC or smartphone), it is because we choose not to. We can make time for whatever we really want to make time for--for whatever is most important to us.

Can anyone who claims to love God really say they are hoping for only a "light beating" from God for doing wrong despite knowing better? Don't we realize God knows our very thoughts?  He most certainly knows whether we act out of ignorance or selfishness when we disobey Him. He DOES forgive our sins, but He expects us to turn from them after that!  He equates doing His will with LOVE for Him and He IS paying attention to see who loves and who does not.

For myself, I want God to be pleased with the way I lived my life for His glory. I know what my entrance into heaven cost Him and I am not satisfied with doing the bare minimum--my faith was a gift from Him. I know that I could never have done anything worthy of deserving it and even my works done out of love for and thankfulness to Him are really done by Him through me. If we truly know Him, then we know we can trust Him and He is worthy of anything and everything He could ever ask us to do.

He never said we should compromise His message to make it more palatable to sinners who do not want to change. There are people out there today telling us what the Bible "really" says. God said this about what happens when people listen to prophets sent by Him:

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.” Jeremiah 23:21-22

God defines "the beginning of wisdom" as the fear of Him.  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 Practice what? The fear of the Lord!  (In other words, do what He says.) He said that fools despise wisdom, (i.e. despise fearing God).

What does it say about our country that God is banned from classrooms from the earliest ages through the highest levels?  God is considered offensive in our schools. His name is only allowed to be mentioned in a negative light. Meanwhile, parents who object to this practice continue to be forced to financially support public schools through taxes while they pay additional fees to educate their children at home or in parochial schools. Parents who want to enable their children to earn a good living have to (for the most part) subject them to a godless higher educational system where they are pressured by professors and students alike to forsake the “archaic” beliefs of their parents (the ones who are often footing the bill.)  How ironic.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.  Romans 1:18-22

He warned us that truth would be replaced with foolishness, but He never said that if we love people, then we will go along with whatever they do. He said we should trust Him and not men. The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. Psalm 25:14 Fear of Him is both respect to do as He says and also a healthy knowledge that He is able to do whatever He pleases--that He is God and we are not.  All roads do not lead to the same place. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12  How will people know if no one tells them?  And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:3 If someone will please show me, I would like to know where it says in the Bible that Jesus died for us so that we could remain sinners, and God now loves sin.  I just can't find it.  Instead, I found these:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Romans 6:1-2

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:13-17

I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.  Romans 6:19

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:7-10

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,  treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7

Here is an example of another king (besides David) who pleased God by his genuine distress over the sins of the people:

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. ...And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left... But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.'" And they brought back word to the king. ...Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.2 Kings 22:1-2, 18-20, 25

God minds whether we care about what He cares about or not. If we say we belong to Him, but approve of and participate in evil (as defined by Him) then we don't know Him at all and lie by saying we are His. His Spirit dwells inside of true believers, who are grieved by what grieves Him.

And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says "I know Him" but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.  1 John 2:3-6

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

Let's not kid ourselves and pretend that God doesn't see or have time to "worry about" our behavior and attitudes. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. Psalm 14:2; 53:2 "Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see?" Psalm 94:8-9

"You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, 'How have we wearied Him?' By saying, 'Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them.' Or by asking, 'Where is the God of justice?'" Malachi 2:17

This is an Old Testament (and therefore old covenant) passage, however it foreshadows what will happen again in the future:

And the LORD said to him, "Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it." And to the others he said in my hearing, "Pass through the city after him, and strike [those without marked foreheads]. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity.  Ezekiel 9:4-5

In the last days, there will be 144,000 of the tribes of Israel sealed for protection from God's wrath against the earth.

Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel... Revelation 7:2-4

Satan will be imitating God by also marking people. Whoever takes that mark will suffer the same eternal judgment as he does.

Also [the beast] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. Revelation 13:16-17

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name." Revelation 14:9-11

Let's examine ourselves to see if we believers are behaving in a manner that honors our God (Ephesians 4:1), or just going along with the flow--indistinguishable from unbelievers. Let's read God's word so that we know for ourselves what it says and believe Him, not the false teachers and prophets He warned us about. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will make My dwelling in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."  2 Corinthians 6:16-18

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  Philippians 3:17-19

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:17-19

And all the churches will know that I am He who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.  Revelation 2:23

paper:  This Moment - C23 by Createwings Designs, elements: Pretty Little Poppy by Captivated Visions

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Good Soldier

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 2 Timothy 2:3-4

kit: Wild Wild West collab by Marta van Eck and Rucola Designs

I have written a devotional on this topic called Assets, available as a pdf here.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Laid the Foundation

"Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am He; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together."  Isaiah 48:12-13

kit: The Great Outdoors, cloud: Rippy Bits, ribbon: Cloud Nine by Kristmess Designs

Friday, May 27, 2016

Acceptable Worship

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29

kits: Through the Snow We Go, Under the Dappled Shadows by Lorie Davison

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Creator's Righteousness

Let me go on, and I will show you the truth.
For I have not finished defending God!
I will present profound arguments
for the righteousness of my Creator.
Job 36:2-3

kit: Paintbox by Seatrout Scraps

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Meek Shall inherit

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.
Psalm 37:10-11

kit: Scenes from Summer by Lorie Davison

fonts: Blackjack, Archisto

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Turn From Evil and Do Good

For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."  1 Peter 3:10-11

kit: Happy Memories by PrelestnayaP

Monday, May 23, 2016

Open My Eyes

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

kits: Little Mouse Loves to Read and Through the Snow We Go by Lorie Davison

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Good News

How then can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”  Hebrews 10:14-15

kit: Through the Snow We Go by Lorie Davison

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tender Heart and Humble Mind

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8

kit: Studio Girls Sampler

Friday, May 20, 2016

Walk in a Worthy Manner

For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.  1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

kit: Colour Me Crazy by Kristmess Designs, (one paper blended with Feeling Groovy kit paper)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Gracious Thing

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 1 Peter 2:19

kit: Colour Me Crazy, including Shabbies, by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Set Boundaries

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

kit:  Perilous Sea Voyage by Lori Davison

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sea Creatures and Winged Birds

So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  Genesis 1:21

kit: Perilous Sea Voyage by Lorie Davison

Monday, May 16, 2016

Proud Waves Halt

Who kept the sea inside its boundaries
as it burst from the womb,
and as I clothed it with clouds
and wrapped it in thick darkness?
For I locked it behind barred gates,
limiting its shores. I said,
‘This far and no farther will you come.
Here your proud waves must stop!’
Job 38:8-11

kit:  Perilous Sea Voyage by Lori Davison

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sea Teeming with Creatures

How countless are Your works, LORD! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. Here is the sea, vast and wide, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small. There the ships move about, and Leviathan, which You formed to play there. Psalm 104:24-26

kit: Perilous Sea Voyage by Lorie Davison, page texture by me

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Opens and No One Shuts

In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your sash on him, and will commit your authority to his hand. And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father's house. Isaiah 22:20-23

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.  Revelation 3:7

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest.  Revelation 1:12-13

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

See also:

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:7

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:31-33

And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals." Revelation 5:5

template by LissyKay, kit: Bloom Wildly by Just Because Studio

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hasty Words

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Proverbs 29:20

kit: Dreaming Owlie 2 by Lara's Digital World; ribbon: Shabby Miss Jenn

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Grace of God

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. Hebrews 12:15-16

As I studied this verse, something very alarming jumped out at me. Paul linked sexual immorality with Esau's disdain for his birthright.  Esau cared more about fulfilling his earthly, bodily desires than more important, lasting matters.  (Genesis 25:29-34)  For a second I thought the link might only be in my imagination, but then Paul linked the two again here:

“Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food,” but God will do away with both of them. The body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

And below, he reminded us that all earthly things will pass away, including our appetites.  He encourages us to live in a manner that reflects our true citizenship in heaven.

Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Philippians 3:17-20

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but this sounds like a very serious matter to me!  We know that we don't "work" for salvation, but it seems that God expects us to value our position as His dear children enough to choose to deny our old ways of satisfying our bodies however we used to see fit and instead to remember who we are and how much more valuable our inheritance is in heaven is than this short life here on earth. He said repeatedly that if we love Him, we will obey Him. (Luke 6:46, John 14:21)

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:3-10

I fully intend to take the advice from God's word and not the world's advice, which does not lead to eternal life, but to destruction.  (Galatians 6:7-8)  Jesus paid such a high price for my freedom from sin.  (Romans 6:6-7)  Why would I want to dishonor Him and become enslaved to it again instead of to righteousness as He intended?  (Romans 6:17-18, Ephesians 4:22, Galatians 5:13, 2 Timothy 2:19)  Why would I want to disdain my inheritance in heaven and live as though I don't know I am a child of God or as though I don't know what pleases my Father?  Who or what do I love more?  If the answer is anyone or anything but God, then I have a serious problem!  If I love anyone or anything more than God, that is idolatry. What a horrifying thought.  Idolatry does not have to involve something made with human hands of wood, metal or stone--it can take many forms. I don't think anyone would argue that God hates idolatry and deserves better from His children.

Paul's letters were written to the Church. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12) Unbelievers are enslaved to sin and follow the instincts of their bodies, because they're not born again--they live by the flesh and not the Spirit.  (Colossians 3:5-10, 2 Peter 2:17-19, 1 John 3:1-10)  But the children of God know better and care about pleasing God, not about blending in with the world and pleasing people. (Ephesians 5:1-3)  We have His Spirit inside of us enabling us to WANT to do His will as well as to DO His will.  (Philippians 2:13, Romans 8:9, 2 Corinthians 13:5) Being "enslaved to righteousness" is for believers, so needless to say, it occurs AFTER salvation.  We have been set free from trying to work for our salvation and from being in bondage to the desire to sin and from its penalty of death.  We could never earn, deserve or repay the debt that was satisfied on our behalf by Jesus.  For that very reason, we live in a manner worthy of and pleasing to Him in gratitude and respect for Him as our Lord and Savior.

In the following verse, prophecies do not only refer to “telling the future,” but in speaking out about what God has said (which often includes what He has told us in advance in the Bible). When it says “may God Himself” sanctify (cleanse, purify) us, I certainly hope no one thinks anything to the effect that they hope He can keep up with them? He gave us free will and if we choose to violate our minds and bodies with things He hates, then do we say He should have prevented us from doing it? He speaks to our hearts and He washes us clean (again and again, of anything): If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 There is a difference between deliberately practicing sin (living in it continually, premeditating it with no thought of pleasing God) and slipping or not knowing better. (1 John 5:18)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-23

I can’t tell anyone what to do or make them want to do anything, but I pray that everyone I have had or will have any contact with whatsoever will be ready when the Lord returns. We have been cautioned repeatedly in the Bible to keep watch. (Matthew 24:42-44, Matthew 25:13, Matthew 26:41, Mark 13:33, Luke 12:35-40, Romans 13:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 1 Peter 4:7, Revelation 3:2-3, Revelation 16:15) I pray that we all take God’s advice seriously, for our own sake and for the sake of His holy name. (2 Corinthians 12:21, Hebrews 10:26-31)

If we love God and put Him FIRST, ALL of the time, He will help us in every way we need to live in a way that honors and pleases Him. His Spirit convicts us of our sin and guides us, but only if we allow Him. (John 16:13-15) If we shield ourselves from the truth and immerse ourselves in everything but the Word, then He is grieved and quenched. I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want that. I NEED His help and am looking forward to being with God forever. There’s nothing here that could possibly compare, is there? Let’s not value a “pot of stew” over our birthright as born-again children of God. As always, if you know all of this and already strive to walk as closely with God as you are able (by His power), please shine your light on the darkness around us so we can all be ready! (Colossians 1:28-29, 1 John 5:16-17, Ephesians 5:8-13, 1 John 1:5-6) I hope with all my heart to see you all there!

kit: Lovely Vision and With Grace by Creative Victorian Designs

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

God Our Refuge

O my people, trust in Him at all times.
Pour out your heart to Him,
for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:8

kits: Family Album by Marta van Eck, Lovely Vision by Creative Victorian Designs

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Evil Madness

The words of a wise man's mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness, and the end of his talk is evil madness. Ecclesiastes 10:12-13

paper by Marta van Eck, jester by Mr. Whiskers

Monday, May 9, 2016

Severe or Light Beating

"And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom much was entrusted, more will be demanded." Luke 12:47-48

paper by Saskia Designs, elements Breeze by Valentina Creations

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Children, Obey Your Parents

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.  Ephesians 6:1-3

kits: Heartwarming and Roche by KimB; template by Tanyia Deskins

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Desire His Will

I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.  Psalm 40:8

kit: Part of Me by Aprilisa and Pixelily, leaves and heart by Kristmess Designs

Friday, May 6, 2016

Do Not Grow Weary

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.   2 Thessalonians 3:13

kit and template: Take a Hike by Holley Berry Designs

Thursday, May 5, 2016

He Knows

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.  Nahum 1:7

kit: Knightmares Stacked Papers by Kristmess Designs

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Boast in the Lord

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

kit: Love is in the Air by Createwings Designs

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hearts Far from Me

And so the Lord says,
“These people say they are Mine.
They honor Me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from Me.
And their worship of Me
is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote."
Isaiah 29:13

When God said this, He was not just talking about unbelief. He was talking about "Sabbath day Jews" who couldn't wait for the Sabbath to end so that they could go back to cheating people in the marketplace, oppressing the poor and denying justice to the widow. (Amos 8:4-6, Zech. 7:9-12) They were doing required actions out of routine and ritual, like coming to the temple to offer tithes and sacrifices, but their hearts were not in it. (Isa. 1:11-17, Hos. 6:6, Matt. 9:13, Matt. 12:7) We are on the other side of the cross now, but some things never change. (Mal. 3:6)

When we come to faith, God's expectations of us do not end. (2 Tim. 2:19) He has shown us immeasurable love in sending His Son to save us. (1 Jo. 4:10, John 3:16-19) It does not show that we love God or even that we're grateful to Him because we believed. (John 14:21) Our faith is NOT something WE did, but a gift from HIM, just as our salvation through Jesus' suffering and resurrection was a free gift. (Eph. 2:8-9) How we show that we LOVE Him is by repenting of our sin and obeying from our hearts, not acting like "Sunday Christians" just going through the motions and then resuming our regular lives, blending in with the world the rest of the week. (Rom. 12:2, Gal. 6:14, Eph. 5:12, James 4:4, 1 Jo. 2:15-16)

God set apart Israel to be holy and set apart, the same as He did the Church. (Psalm 4:3, Ex. 19:6, Lev. 19:6, 2 Tim. 2:21, 1 Pet. 1:14-16, 2 Pet. 2:9) Unbelievers can do whatever they want (but they are destined for wrath)(Col. 3:5-10, Eph. 2:2-3), but the children of God are supposed to be different because we know better. (2 Cor. 4:4, Col. 2:8) We know how much our freedom from eternal punishment in hell cost God our Father and Jesus, His Son, our Savior. (Matt 27:46, 2 Cor. 5:21) We are by no means perfect, but we are saddened when we slip. (1 Jo. 1:6-10) We don't stay enslaved to sin because we LOVE God and care what He thinks more than anyone else. (Mark 12:29-30, Rom. 6:6, Gal. 4:8-9, 1 Thess. 4:1)

John explains this to us in just two sentences: No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:9-10 This is pretty scary stuff. We know that unless you are born again, you cannot enter heaven. (John 3:3)

Let's ALL rededicate ourselves to God. Unlike the Israelites God was disappointed with when Isaiah wrote about their lack of love and obedience, we have His Spirit inside of us to give us the victory if we will only yield to His convicting, guidance and wisdom. (John 14:22-26, John 16:7-11, 1 Cor. 6:18-20, Phil. 2:12-13) We can't afford to take anyone else's word on this--we need to read the Bible ourselves to find out what God had recorded specially for us so that we would know. (2 Tim. 3:16-17) If the Church, which is the Body of Christ (Eph. 5:23, Col. 1:18, 24), had been doing what it should have all along, our society wouldn't be in the mess it's in now. (Phil. 2:14-16)

This is written as encouragement for us ALL, not to point a finger at anyone or claim to have achieved perfection myself. (1 Cor. 9:27, Heb. 12:1) (And it goes without saying this is NOT meant to say that we save ourselves in any way, but is about what happens next.) I hope to see everyone I have ever had any sort of contact with whatsoever in heaven. (Not everyone is going--only those who truly believe and are born again). I wrote a much more detailed devotional that can be downloaded, printed and shared here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bx44W_xQvLzodkI0S1pJTXl3NWs

You can look up Bible verses online in any version you like here: http://biblehub.com/

border and paper: Love Grows, including stacked borders by Kristmess Designs; photo from Morgue File

Monday, May 2, 2016

No Other God

For thus says YHVH, who created the heavens (He is God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it in vain, but formed it to be inhabited), "I am YHVH, and there is no other God."  Isaiah 45:18

papers (blended) by Marta van Eck; elements: One Fine Day by CathyK Designs (butterfly colors adjusted); page textures by me

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sanctified in the Truth

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. John 17:17

kit: Home is Where My Heart Is by Aimee Harrison