“For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”
“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”
“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart,
and these defile them.” Matthew 15:18
What do those verses have to do with Orange Juice? Let’s take a step back. If you were to take a whole, unpeeled orange and squeeze it with all your strength, what would the result be? Right… the result would be orange juice; it wouldn’t be tomato juice or apple juice. Because an orange, or any fruit for that matter, can only give up what it has on the inside. Oranges make orange juice.
And so it with us humans; we do everything we can to keep our wrapper (the orange peel) tight around us, unblemished and intact, holding in all that there is about us; all that we are made of. Yet, let an unexpected life event come at us, applying a bit of pressure and it’s highly possible we might glimpse just a small tear in our wrapper. But for the most part, our insides are still intact; we’re still holding strong on the outside.
Apply a bit more pressure and you’ll likely see more of us spill out; a bit of juice and perhaps a tiny bit of pulp. But that stops as soon as the pressure stops and while our wrapper is wounded; it’s just a “flesh wound”.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3
I was cleaning my bookshelves a while back and came across a book that I hadn’t given much thought to in many years; it is the Prayer Book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Let me tell you how this little 80-page book blessed my life.
It was just after Thanksgiving time in 1995 while I was working as a pastoral assistant to a Catholic Pastor in Massachusetts. He was a great priest and a great friend. However, he was also great at volunteering me for projects! (I will admit that I really didn’t mind at all)
We traveled to Boston one afternoon to visit with the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy; what an amazing ministry they have. While taking a tour of their lovely chapel, we noticed that their prayer books were a torn and tattered mess that consisted of a folder of mismatched cards and papers. Continue reading
“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the [blast of the] trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up (RAPTURED) together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord!” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 AMP
In theological terms, the word RAPTURE is defined as: “the experience, anticipated by some fundamentalist Christians, of meeting Christ midway in the air upon his return to earth.”
While the exact word “RAPTURE” does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away, or caught up. The concept of the “caught up” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us that at God’s command, with the voice of an Archangel and the trumpet call of God, believers that have already died (the dead in Christ) will rise from their graves. Then the believers still alive on the earth will be “caught up” in the air with the dead in Christ to meet Jesus in the air. Together we will be taken to be with the Lord. These believers – both the dead and alive are called the Church.
“Now I say this, believers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal). Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed], in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at [the sound of] the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [who believed in Christ] will be raised imperishable, and we will be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]. For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us that is capable of dying] must put on immortality [which is freedom from death].” 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 AMP
”Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Sin wearies the flesh; it causes sickness and death in our soul. Bit by bit our sinful behavior destroys all that is, or was, good within us. Sin begins to cause our hearts to harden. Left unchecked, it destroys our peace, causing guilt, sorrow and shame. Sin consumes the mind and thoughts – weakening and darkening the soul.
With it comes fear and dread that our scandalous behaviors will eventually be exposed; knowing full well what will be left in its wake are shattered families and devastated innocent childhoods. Uncovered and exposed, the sins in our lives lead to death – perhaps not physical our death, though that is entirely possible, but certainly spiritual death. Most of all, unrepentant sin in our lives can shut down a relationship with God our Father.
Many years ago, I met a blessed Christian woman, Tanya, whose life mission was to minister to men on death row in some of the toughest prisons in our country. She asked me to take a look at the “mug-shots” of these men taken when they were arrested. She asked me concentrate on their eyes. I was troubled at the lack of light reflecting back from those eyes. It seemed as if death had already taken place, any light that may have been in them had been long ago extinguished, snuffed out by the magnitude of their sin.
Matthew 6:22-23 (Voice) tells us that “The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds. And the darkness that takes over the body of a child of God who has gone astray—that is the deepest, darkest darkness there is.” Continue reading
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44
I was widowed in early 2006. Some months had passed and circumstances had gone from bad to worse in the business and financial area of my life. The business that I had started with my late husband had all but dried up… the money that I was earning from another job had also disappeared when that job ended. I was a thousand miles from any family, alone and down to the last of my dollars.
It was Sunday morning while I was driving to Church that I felt such a burden on my heart because I was not able to give anything in the Church offering that morning. My checkbook had just $12.83 remaining after paying my other bills that month. Yet my car insurance bill had showed up in the mail and they wanted somewhere around $30.00. I had no idea where that money was going to come from. Things didn’t look good. I was without resources, business prospects or family to rely on… I was sad, alone and desperate. Continue reading
“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, life to the fullest” John 10:10
You are the son, the daughter of the Most High King. Do not back down when the enemy comes around; do not cower, for we are called to be as BOLD as the Lion of Judah (Rev 5:5). God Almighty has put His Power in you so that it is there when you need it to ROAR.
Our enemy, satan, will use your past, your weaknesses, and areas of your life where you are not strong to entice, beguile and tempt you; believe that he will and he does. Scripture tells is in John 10:10 that satan has come to kill, steal, and destroy your life, your dreams, your future.
Does God Really Forgive Our Sins? And if He does then why do we keep taking them back?
So a few weeks back, I was having a sweet chat with a dear friend and she said to me, “Do you believe that God really forgives our sins?” Without hesitation, I said yes I do.
She went on to tell me that sometimes she feels like no matter how many times she asks forgiveness, she feels like He doesn’t hear her. She doesn’t feel forgiven; thoughts of that particular sin seem to plague her.
There are dozens of Scriptures that talk about repentance and God’s forgiveness in the Bible, here are just a few that I shared with my dear friend.
“And God spoke these words, “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have NO other God before me.” Exodus 20:1-3
The first of the Ten Commandments, along with the next three, tells of our duty to God. While the remaining 6, speak to our relationship with our neighbor. It is correct that this commandment be first as we had a Maker to love, before we had a neighbor to love.
He is Jehovah God. He is the singular object of our worship. The worship of any other god animate or inanimate is forbidden.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: Do not make any gods to be alongside Me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.” Exodus 20:22-23 Continue reading
“What’s the big deal about not being born again; after all I’m a good person. It’s not like I’ve ever killed anyone. I’m not a bank robber. Sure I might cuss from time to time, but God knows that I don’t mean it. I know that I am going to Heaven.” I have heard this statement from many people over the years. My response is usually… Really? Are you absolutely positive?
In John 3, we read about the interaction of Nicodemus, a religious leader, most likely a member of the Sanhedrin (the ruling council) and Jesus. Nicodemus sought out Jesus in the cover of darkness without other members of the Sanhedrin to learn from the man named Jesus. He needed to determine fact from rumor about Jesus. Though Nicodemus was a learned man, he still had questions. He wanted to know more and he knew that Jesus had the answers.
“The wise man in the storm prays to God not for safety from danger,
but deliverance from fear.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I used to live in the Hill Country of Central Texas. We lived in a modest home right across the street from the amazing Lake LBJ. We were in close proximity to where the Lower Colorado joins the Llano River. It was such a beautiful area; we were blessed to call it home.
Central Texas, at that time, had been in a severe drought for quite a number of years. Many of the lakes on that river had dried up, Lake LBJ, however, was a constant level lake… so we were able to enjoy it immensely – drought or no drought.
It was about 2 years after we moved there, that the drought broke. And oh did it break. The rains started and it didn’t look like it was ever going to stop. Thankfully, our home was up on a little knoll… with all of the flooding, it looked like we lived on our own tiny little island, just big enough for our little house and our cars.