A Word of Encouragement

Lately I have not been sleeping through the night. I wake up at 4:30 in the morning, sometimes even earlier. I stare at the ceiling for a while, and hope for sleep to overtake me again.

Instead, I decided to get up and give those early morning hours to the Lord in prayer. I read the Word, meditate on my own condition, and ponder on the state of world affairs, particularly in our own country.

I also started reading a book by Michael Medved entitled, “The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic.” I am only on page 67, but the accounts describing the early struggles of our nation are amazing. Truly, the Father had a hand in raising up this nation.

When I look at what is going on, and what our elected officials are trying to do, it causes me great worry and sorrow. Crime, inflation, drugs, corruption at the highest levels of government, the media spewing lies and misinformation; it’s easy to forget what the ultimate goal is.

I say this to myself as well as sharing it with you – the Lord God is in charge. What He desires will be accomplished on the earth. What does He desire? Easy, it’s truth, righteousness, salvation, joy, prosperity, peace! Amen!

Here are a few passages from recent readings in Isiah.

Chapter 45, verse 18:

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), I am the LORD, and there is none else.

Chapter 48, verses 12 and 13:

Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last. Surely My hand founded the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together.

Chapter 49, verses 8 through 11:

Thus says the LORD, In a favorable time I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages;

Saying to those who are bound, “Go forth,” To those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.” Along the roads they will feed, And their pasture will be on all bare heights.

They will not hunger or thirst, Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them And will guide them to springs of water.

I will make all My mountains a road, And My highways will be raised up.

This last passage speaks directly of the Lord, Jesus himself. It gave strength and encouragement to me.

Chapter 50, verses 4 through 10

The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.

The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient nor did I turn back.

I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.

For the Lord GOD helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.

He who vindicates Me is near; Who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; Who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me.

Behold, the Lord GOD helps Me; Who is he who condemns Me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; The moth will eat them.

Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.

Finally, an exhortation to us directly from the Father is found in Chapter 51, verses 1 through 3.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, Who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn And to the quarry  from which you were dug. 

Look to Abraham your father And to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; When he was but one I called him, Then I blessed him and multiplied him.” 

Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.

Hallelujah and amen! We must emulate the Lord every day with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Yes, our nation seems as if it is bent on going to hell in a hand basket, but that’s not what is in store for us. It is the Lord that raises up rulers and nations, and brings them down again. The nations are like grasshoppers in the site of the Lord. Like drifting smoke, blown dust they are.

So, a word of encouragement: don’t lose heart. Don’t let your love “grow cold”. Even if we have to suffer for the sake of righteousness, the rough places will be made smooth. Mountains will be brought down and valleys raised up. There will be a highway where only the redeemed of the Lord will walk. He has planned it from long ago, He will execute it and bring it to pass. All who long for peace and love in this world will be vindicated. The Lord Jesus will make it happen for His own sake. He has sworn by His own name; it will happen.

Truly, that is Good News Only.

The Big Date

Once upon a time, in my younger days, I was on my way to work. I was taking the bus, because my car was in the shop for repairs. After taking my seat I casually looked around to see who I was riding with. I noticed a young Hispanic girl, sitting to my right across the isle. We made eye contact; I smiled at her and politely moved on. She was a bit heavy I noticed, but definitely very cute.

The next day I took the same seat, port side bench facing the door and the isle. As I glanced around I saw the same girl from the day before. We locked eyes again, but this time I did not look away. I felt my eyes widen in surprise. She noticed too, because she gave me a coy smile, squirmed teasingly in her seat, and looked down to her lap before looking back at me. I was staring in amazement. I almost did not recognized her as the same person.

She was absolutely gorgeous. Make-up had been applied. She sported red lips, eye shadow, a nice blouse, hair styled, big beautiful smile. I could not take my eyes off of her. What really cratered me was the sudden realization that she had done it for me. She wanted me to notice her, and indeed I had!

As I exited the bus at my stop, we looked and smiled at each other again. I never saw her again after, as my car returned from the shop and I did not need the bus any more. However, even today some 60+ years later I remember her. She had made preparations especially in the hope of seeing me again. Amazing!

Recently I was reading the scriptures, I John specifically. Chapter 3, verses 3-5 say:

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Just as that young lady had made preparations to see me, I should be making preparations to meet Jesus. I should be spiritually showering and spiritually dressing up in anticipation of being with Him. I should not be “practicing sin”, that is, making bad decisions on purpose, doing what I know is wrong. With a mixture of horror and sadness, I realized I have been doing just that.

I have been practicing sin, taking a break, dabbling where I should not be dabbling. Not reading, not praying. What kind of thinking is that?

Imagine me going to meet my sweet wife, my significant other, the love of my life for a date. Would I appear on the date with muddy shoes, clothing inundated with sour perspiration and wrinkles, teeth unbrushed, no deodorant, no mouth wash, un-showered? Hell no! 

Then what am I doing when it comes to my relationship with Jesus? We all have a big date upcoming with Him. Like it or not, we all have an appointed time. It’s on the divine calendar. What the hell am I doing?

I John, Chapter 1, verses 6 and 7 say:

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 

Further more in Chapter 2, verses 4-6 say:

The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

Good grief! I need to repent and fast. In the 24th chapter of Matthew, verses 42-46 it says:

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you must be ready as well; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household slaves, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 

I do not want to shrink away from Him when He comes, caught with my spiritual pants down, unable to look Him in the eye for embarrassment. Yes, we will see Him, “even as He is”. 

Come on soul of mine; get it together! Love of the world is enmity toward God (James 4:4). I’m making some changes. No more dabbling in the things of the enemy. All in for God! If you’ve read down to this point, then please pray for me, for strength of faith and endurance. The one who perseveres to the end is the one who will be saved (Matthew 24:13).

I am taking these days of mine to get ready for my date with the Lord Jesus. His blood has already cleansed me, so I need to do my part to be ready. 

The times, as you know, are already getting really strange. Lawlessness has increased, and because it has, the scriptures say “the love of many will grow cold.”

No more time doing what I know is not pleasing to Him. No, I am not out murdering and pilfering, but on the other hand I do not want to hear the Lord say, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.”

Man, that would be a very bad day.

I don’t want to be the guy at the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14), who after having been invited, and actually gets through the door and is seated at the table, then is summarily cast into darkness for being totally unprepared.

Brothers and Sisters. Let’s take a pledge together to step it up for Jesus. No more time outs; no more respites. No more taking the blood of the Lord for granted. It will be a glorious day at the wedding feast, the big date with our Lord and Savior. Believe me, that will be Good News Only.