Destruction Will Come to an End!

Destruction has been around a long time.

Three thousand years ago an ancient chronicler recorded these words about his world:  “In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil.  One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another,” 2 Chronicles 15:5-6.

About 2,000 years ago Jesus predicted, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven,” Luke 21:10-11.  Is there no end to destruction?  Is the world doomed to suffer forever?

Good news!  Approximately 2,800 years ago a Hebrew prophet named Isaiah promised, “Destruction will come to an end,” Isaiah 16:4.

Why Destruction Exists

Many people blame God for the cataclysms that devastate the earth and annihilate life.  They reason that if there is a Creator why did he make destruction?  Why doesn’t he stop it?  They fail to recognize that perhaps God didn’t create everything.

Destruction didn’t originate in divine creativity.  It sprang out of the rebellion of angels and humans in whom he placed free will.

The original earth knew nothing of decay, death, natural disasters or of hatred between humans.  These devastating forces came about when Adam and Eve rejected the divine laws that bring peace.

As long as angels and humans loved the Lord and respected his commands, his presence shielded them from the possibility of ruin.  On the other hand, rebellion against God removed Adam and Eve from God’s protective presence and made them liable to calamities.  It’s not far-fetched to call simple humanity creators of desolation.

Jesus’ prediction of famines, earthquakes, pestilences, wars and revolutions doesn’t bring these horrible events to pass.   He understood the inevitable consequences of  mankind’s ever-increasing sinfulness.  “There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again,” Matthew 24:21.       Had humanity never sinned against the Lord, destruction simply wouldn’t exist.

God Uses What He Doesn’t Create

            Although God didn’t create destruction, he uses it for mankind’s welfare.

First, God uses the havoc caused by mankind’s sinfulness in his people’s favor.   Love for God doesn’t remove us from the effect of destruction.  Natural disasters and warfare ruin church buildings as well as grocery stores and government offices.  Crime and violence injure and kill people who love Jesus and those who don’t.  What then is the advantage of serving God?

Consider Jesus.  All his enemies gleefully rejoiced over his torture, persecution and death.  Notice how Heavenly Father used Jesus’ crushing in his favor:

  • Provided an eternally glorified body for him.
  • Raised him from the dead.
  • Enthroned him at Heavenly Father’s right hand.
  • Appointed him eternal Ruler of the universe

Jesus’ experience serves as an example of Heavenly Father’s infinite desire to use everything in our favor.  “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” Romans 8:28.

Secondly, God uses tragedies caused by mankind’s sinfulness in favor of people who have not yet accepted him as Savior.  Rest assured, dear friends, God longs to draw every human into salvation.   “God our Savior…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth,” 1 Timothy 2:3-4.  However, humanity’s calloused hearts persistently reject the God who provides every breath for them.  This stubborn refusal brings about misfortune which tenderizes people’s hearts toward the Lord.  Motivated by adversity, they call on him for salvation.  “God’s kindness leads you to salvation,” Romans 2:4 declares.  “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9. “Our Lord’s patience means repentance,” 2 Peter 3:15. So our patient God uses the destruction he does not cause to amplify his voice that pleads for mankind’s repentance and love!

The End of Destruction

Good news—we are approaching the end of destruction!  However, we must remember Jesus’ words, “When you hear of wars and revolutions…these things must happen first, but the end will not come right away,” Luke 21:9.        God’s people will see rough times just like his people of the past endured many tragedies.  The end of destruction is on the way but has not arrived.

But listen to this.  “In keeping with his promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness,” 2 Peter 3:13.  Until that day arrives God’s Spirit will personally escort us through all the fearful times that precede Jesus’ return.

Jesus told us how to respond to the storms and stresses that afflict the world at the end of this age:  “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near,” Luke 21:28.  “Stand up”— don’t cringe in fear.  “Lift up your heads”—don’t hang your head in despair.

“In keeping with his promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness,” 2 Peter 3:13.  Creation’s deliverance from destruction approaches fast! “Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me,” John 13:1.

From the archives of Rev. James Fields

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Profiting From the Path of Most Resistance

Profiting From the Path of Most Resistance

 Excerpt from Profiting From the Path of Most Resistance

When You Don’t Like Paths of Most Resistance God, what’s wrong with you?  Why don’t you heal me? Those angry questions in 1968 revealed my total distaste for the path of most resistance.  I can’t lose my driver’s license and still pastor a church.  What’s going to happen to me? …

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Discovering the Language of Intimacy with God

“Jesus, I love you, praise you, adore you, and appreciate you!  I can’t thank you enough for forgiving my sins and sending your spirit into my life.”  These words of love for Jesus often flowed from my lips during my late teenage years.  Tears trickled down my cheeks as I attempted to express gratitude for the love God lavished upon me.

But I faced an unexplainable, invisible barrier when trying to tell God what I thought of him.  To break through this barrier, I imagined myself standing in heaven with innumerable angels praising God.  “I…heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.  In a loud voice they sang, ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.’”  I memorized verses from Psalms and Revelation which increased my praise vocabulary tremendously, but something was missing.

The dictionary and thesaurus provided me with more synonyms to words like “magnificent,” “wonderful,” and “astonishing.”  I made a list of praise words and read them aloud during my private times with God.  Still, satisfactory praise for God eluded me.  Equipped with praise verses from the Bible and praise words from the dictionary, I did my best to tell God how highly I thought of Him.  But I could only tell Him what I thought.  I found it extremely difficult to tell him how I felt.

I needed a language to move me beyond the limits of my intellect.

A Very Important Discovery

In the second chapter of Acts, the apostles and other believers met together on the day of Pentecost.  “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”  “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

I observed that these people spoke languages they had never learned.  They stepped out of their limited vocabulary as “the Holy Spirit enabled them.”  I wondered, “What were they speaking?”  Then I noticed verse 11, “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  They were praising God!  The speaking in tongues unshackled these believers from languages they had learned.  The Holy Spirit swept them along in the vocabulary He provided.

I was on the brink of discovering something that was new to me, but the tenth chapter of Acts completed the breakthrough.

The Apostle Peter introduced a house full of Gentiles to the salvation that comes through Jesus.  These folks unhesitatingly surrendered themselves to Jesus.  During Peter’s sermon, these baby Christians spontaneously erupted into tongues like the believers in Acts 2.  But the words recorded in Acts 10:46 sprang off the page, took hold of my thoughts, and introduced me to the language of intimacy with God.

“For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”  I realized that these folks had never memorized praise verses.  Dictionaries and thesauruses hadn’t been invented.  But the Holy Spirit spoke words of praise for God through their human spirits. They spoke in tongues and praised.

 I’ll add this language of love to the praise verses and praise words I memorize,” I decided.  From out of my spirit welled up expressions of thankfulness that I felt but could not utter.  I switched from English to the praise language the Holy Spirit gave me; then I changed back to English and quoted praise verses.  My mind could not understand the praise words the Holy Spirit enabled me to speak, but my spirit felt fully satisfied.

Using the Holy Spirit’s unlimited vocabulary, my human spirit expressed my love for Jesus in ways that felt good to both him and me.

Intimacy with Jesus accelerated and my dedication to him deepened.

Experiencing the Language of Intimacy with God

All Christians can enjoy the language of intimacy with God.  The Holy Spirit yearns to speak praises for Heavenly Father and Jesus through every believer on earth.  We can’t imagine the joy that floods God as his earthly children give themselves to the Holy Spirit’s measurelessness.

Let’s add the language of intimacy with God to our praise verses, our praise songs, and our praise words.

Scriptures referred to: Revelation 5:11-12; Acts 2: 4, 11 & 10:34-46

Be greatly encouraged!

From the archives of Rev. James Fields





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Psalm 138

We have made it a daily habit to read a chapter of Proverbs each day and several chapters of Psalms because they are so full of wisdom and encouragement.  Psalm 138 is especially encouraging and so we thought we would just post it here for your encouragement for today!  “The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him,” Psalm 32:10.

1 I will praise You with my whole heart;
  Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
I will worship toward Your holy temple,
  And praise Your name
  For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
  For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
  And made me bold with strength in my soul.

4 All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord,
  When they hear the words of Your mouth.
Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
  For great is the glory of the Lord.
Though the Lord is on high,
  Yet He regards the lowly;
  But the proud He knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
  You will stretch out Your hand
  Against the wrath of my enemies,
  And Your right hand will save me.
The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
  Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
  Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

We pray as you read this chapter that you will gain strength for your day and the days we are facing.  We encourage you to keep focused on God’s Holy Word and not the chaos of the world because Jesus has overcome the world and won so will we!


Comfort and Encouragement Ministries

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Still Learning

The past few years have been very different years for all of us but one of the good things that has come from it is a relationship that has grown deeper with a Christian colleague of mine.  She is twenty-two years younger than I am, but her walk with God is deep and consistent.  One of my prayers this year has been that God will make “old things new”.  As I have aged, I began to think there was nothing new that I could learn from my Bible reading.  I was wrong!  I learned something new from my friend about Isaiah 40:31: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” 

Look at the sequence of that scripture: Wait on the Lord and strength will be renewed. Not maybe, not if the weather is good, not if everything is going my way.  Our strength is renewed as we wait on the Lord, as we listen to him, as we learn of him.  That first part of the scripture has been providing hope for me for the past 50 years, but I did not always appreciate the promise.  As you all know, I am an impatient persona and stay too busy for my own good.  The sequence of the next part of the verse has a new meaning to me.  As a new, young Christian, I was soaring like an Eagle.  Everything was new, fresh and wonderful.  I was learning spiritual things.  The next part of my life I was running and not growing weary.  School and church were keeping me busy.  I sometime wonder how I survived.  God was faithful with everything that was going on in my life.  As I have matured physically and spiritually, is it now time to walk?  My challenge for now is making decisions about my retirement. What to do?  How can I be useful if I am not working at school?  Am I still in a running phase or is it time to walk?  I don’t know, but I am waiting on the Lord for direction.  I have promises that I will be okay.  I know he is holding my hand.

And speaking of hand holding.  That is another new inspiration to me.  I am reading “Low and Gentle” and one of the stories the author tells is of a dad walking into the shallow end of a pool with his three-year old son.  The son thinks he is holding on tot he dad’s hand ever so tightly in anticipation of the uncertainty of the deeper water.  Actually, it is the father that is holding on to the son.  He is not going to let go.  I often thought that through my life I was holding on to God, but he, our heavenly Father, is holding on to me and he will NEVER let go!

Guest writer JoElla Skaggs


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Lord, I Believe; Help My Unbelief

For most of my life I took my health for granted. As a child and on into my young adult life I was mostly healthy, skinny, due to a high metabolism and a somewhat active life. I ate what I wanted, exercised if or when and how I wanted, but really never very disciplined. The same went for my spiritual life. I was saved as a child and then baptized with the Holy Spirit as a teenager when I truly understood Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Yet, I wasn’t very self-disciplined in my walk with Jesus Christ.

My health fell apart in my late twenties, because of a poor self-image due to childhood trauma, lack of personal responsibility for my eating habits, exercise and spiritual well-being.

I believed more about what I said about myself than what my Heavenly Father said about me. I lived a very self-centered and sinful life for several years. I’m not talking about the sin I acknowledged as a teenager and became saved from because my Heavenly Father worked in my heart and showed me the truth of Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (NKJV) I’m talking about the kind of willful sinning a non-mature or weak Christian will fall into because their everyday life is not centered in/on Christ Jesus.

I do believe I was saved from an eternal life separated from God, however, the Holy Spirit at work in me tried to save me from myself and gently steer me away from the sin I was committing that would ultimately lead to my eternal separation from my Heavenly Father.

He spoke to my spirit on two occasions and said, “If you continue in this sin, I will have to withdraw my eternal life from you.” The third time he said, “I cannot work in you because you have not heeded my warnings. I will be here when you decide to return to and follow closely your Savior, Christ Jesus.”

Please understand that my Heavenly Father treated me with so much love during this time of my life despite the repercussions I faced due to my decision to walk away from my faith. I wouldn’t even come to understand just how much he deeply loved me and watched over me and my family for many years to come.

Open BibleI say this to encourage you to believe the Bible, God’s Holy Word, our heavenly Father’s love letter to us when it says, “The Lord your God is a merciful and compassionate God; He will not fail you, nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them,” Deuteronomy 4:31 AMP.

In fact, earlier in Deuteronomy 4:23 (AMP) he says, “So be on your guard and watch yourselves, so that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He has made with you.”

However, even if you do forget or walk away from your covenant with the Lord if “you will seek the Lord your God, …you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and tribulation and all these things come on you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice,” Deuteronomy 4:29-30. He never stops waiting for us to return to him and will welcome those who do seek him diligently with open arms like the prodigal child (Luke 15:11-24).

I believed I deserved nothing good in my life because I had not earned it or because I had not followed the Bible to the letter. I thought of God as a Judge not my Heavenly Father.

I am so thankful that is not how grace and mercy from my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ works! I did ask for God’s forgiveness, and he graciously and compassionately gave it and gives it each time I repent. As my daily walk with my Heavenly Father has ebbed and flowed, my trust and faith in him has grown. I believe he uses our unbelief, our misgivings, our trials in this life to mature us or grow our faith and trust in him if we allow him.

My Heavenly Father, because I do think of him as my Father not my Judge, brought me and my family to a place where I could understand just how much he truly loves me. Coming to understand just how much he loves me despite everything was so transforming.

Have I been perfect? By no means!! Yet, he has never left me. He has been there to pick me up and place me back on the pathway with him when I have stumbled or just plain wandered off the trail. He has stayed right beside me when I struggled with my doubts in him and my insecurities.

I love the list that went around at one point and is probably still out there, of all the imperfect people in the Bible that God used to further his kingdom. It helped me see that despite all my imperfections he can and will use me for the goodness of his eternal kingdom. “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you [and me] will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return],” Philippians 1:6 AMP.

This is my prayer for you: “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God,” Philippians 1:9-11 NIV.

May my Heavenly Father pour out all his love and forgiveness and blessings upon you as you come to understand just how much he loves you!!

Bonita Burleson

Comfort and Encouragement Ministries, secretary

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The Car Wash Kind of Faith

Car Wash

My Heavenly Father teaches me in so many different ways and uses every day things to help me understand his ways. The automatic propelled car wash has been one of those things.

For years now, when I go through an automatic propelled car wash I think of “blind faith.”  Think about it! You take your dirty vehicle and drive up to an attendant who then tells you this is what we will do for you, trust us!

You follow the attendant’s directions to drive onto a track that you lose sight of before you actually get onto it. You blindly trust that this person will guide you to correctly line your tires up to the track. Once you’ve successfully done this they ask you to place your vehicle in neutral and take your foot off the brake!?! The first time you do this you truly feel unsettled. I mean you are no longer in control of where your vehicle is going.

Soapy Car WashJust when you start to trust that process, you lose complete sight of the pathway because of all the soap suds blanketing your vehicle. At this point you are truly blind. Yet, weirdly in this moment, it feels quiet, like a pocket of calmness.

Now the storm comes and washes away the dirt and grime. Just when you think you are all finished, the last whirlwind comes along to dry you off and pushes you out into the world again.

Yes, I do overthink things, lol. Yet, come on, don’t you see the similarity between the car wash and your Faith walk?

You come to your heavenly Creator, the One true God, all dirty and sin-filled. You hear the Holy Spirit say, “Follow God’s directions and he will guide you down the unfamiliar path even the ones you can’t see. Spend time with him cocooned in quiet meditation of the Holy Word and prayer and He will envelop you with calm and peace. Cry out to Jesus and he will wash you clean.”

Next comes the rushing wind of the Holy Spirit fire to spur you on your way!! Then, your Heavenly Father lets you put your foot on the gas and go so you may do His Will in the world around you both big and small.

Have you ever seen when one of those car washes have a car that gets off track?  Maybe someone didn’t go into drive at the end of the process? Or got scared and hit the brake when they couldn’t see. I have to admit there have been countless times that I have stepped on the brakes and jammed up the process of my faith. But just like that conveyor system once I let my Heavenly Father get me back on track, he is faithful to guide me along the way to the end. “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in [me and] you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return],” Philippians 1:6 AMP.

So next time you go through that car wash remind yourself, “If I can have this much faith in this man made operation, I can have faith in God, too!”

May God wonderfully bless you and yours,

Bonita Burleson

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Guide to Successful LIving

Huge Benefit From a Small Book

Thirty-one short chapters comprise Proverbs.  However, we must not judge the book’s value by its size.  Its benefit for our everyday lives infinitely surpasses its smallness.

Delores and I began reading Proverbs through once a month by reading one chapter a day according to the calendar date.  On the first of the month we read chapter one; on the sixth, chapter six; on the thirty-first, chapter thirty-one.  In this way we go through Proverbs twelve times a year.  If we miss a day we read two chapters the following day or we just wait until the next month.

Of course, portions of Proverbs don’t apply to everyone.  Overall, however, everyone profits from the wise sayings and instructions of this wonderful guide to successful living.

What is a proverb?

A proverb is a short saying that expresses a truth.  Example: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” means that a proper diet will keep you healthy.  Proverbs teach lessons for life.  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger” Proverbs 15:1.

Who benefits from Proverbs?

Proverbs show us God’s truth so we can cooperate with his efforts to make us happy.  Solomon introduces this book with an invitation for all to learn (2:2-6).  His invitation is all inclusive; he invites:

  • All People, verses 2-3
  • The Simple, verse 4
  • Young People, verse 4
  • The Wise, verse 5
  • The Understanding, verse 5

The Purposes for this Book
(Proverbs 2:2-6)

  1. So people may know God’s wisdom and teachings.
  2. So people can understand words of insight. Seeing “beneath the surface” appearance of life situations.
  3. So people can know wise dealings, righteousness, justice and integrity.
  4. To give prudence to the simple. Prudence is sound judgment in practical matters; being sensible, not rash.
  5. To give knowledge and discretion to young people. Discretion separates error from truth.
  6. To help a wise person increase in learning.
  7. To help a person of understanding acquire skill in applying that understanding.
  8. To help a person understand a proverb and its interpretation or application.

To help people understand the words of the wise and the hidden truths behind their sayings.

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields

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Giving God Time to Enjoy You

            God enjoys being with you!

            “The Lord your God…will take great delight in you…he will rejoice over you with singing,” Zephaniah 3:17.

            “The Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession,” Deuteronomy 26:18.

            “You are precious and honored in my sight and…I love you,” Isaiah 43:4.

            “I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,” Isaiah 49:5.

            “I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine,”  Ezekiel 16:8.

            Obviously, God created you to enjoy you.

            Look at the beginning of human existence recorded in Genesis.  First, God goes through the trouble of creating a universe which sustains humans.  Second, he created male and female so he could be with them.  “The Lord God…was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you,’” Genesis 3:8-9?  God yearned for human companionship!  The entire Bible describes God’s effort to bring rebellious humans into loving fellowship because he wants us near himself.

            The Bible ends by describing the new heaven and new earth where God eternally enjoys being with us. “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God,” Revelation 21:3.

God Sets Time Aside for Being with Us

            Private time with us is God’s highest priority.  Consequently, in the very beginning of human history, He set aside the seventh day of the week and called it “holy” Genesis 2:2-3. “Holy” designates this day as special to the Lord.  Why special?  Because this day provided time for God to enjoy fellowshipping with the humans his hands made.  Under Moses’ leadership, the Lord designated lots of other days and weeks as time for his people to set aside to be with him.  He called these days “Passover,” “feast of unleavened bread,” “feast of Pentecost,” and “feast of tabernacles.” (Other feasts are listed in Leviticus 23.)

            Is there any doubt that God wants special time with you, when he can enfold you in his arms and love you?  Truly he wants to speak to you, to soothe you, to appreciate you and be appreciated by you!  Now let’s look at our part in giving God time to enjoy us.

Quit Belittling Yourself!

            It’s so easy for humans to diminish their own importance to God by ignoring what he says about them in his Word.  Even Jesus during his absolutely horrible suffering, called himself “a worm and not a man,” Psalm 22:6. We quickly forget how God feels about us during difficult times.  We effortlessly disparage ourselves when we’ve failed to obey our heavenly Savior.  Nevertheless, we can only give ourselves to God’s enjoyment by conquering the tendency to belittle ourselves.

            By accepting God’s assessment of our value we become empowered to believe what God’s Word says about us.

             “The Lord was pleased to make you his own,” 1 Samuel 12:22.

            “Your hands shaped me and made me,” Job 10:8.

            “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb,” Psalm 139:1.

            “This is what the Lord says—he who created you…he who formed you…. ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine,’” Isaiah 43:1.

            Then there’s Jesus, heavenly Father’s ultimate expression of his longing for our company, our fellowship!  2 Corinthians 9:15 designates Jesus as heavenly Father’s “indescribable gift.” Through Jesus, heavenly Father freed us from our sinful insignificance and elevated us to share Jesus’ throne in God’s eternal kingdom (1 Samuel 12:22).

Giving God What Belongs to God

            Time is a gift from God because time came from God.  Concurrently, our lifetime is a gift from our heavenly Maker.  We exist because he wants us to.  He both brought us into being and sustains our years in these bodies. They are his property on loan to us!

God gives us time so we can give it back to him!

            Shouldn’t love for God motivate us to give our time back to him?  Shouldn’t love for God seek to rejoice his heart by spending time in private fellowship with him?  Church attendance and other forms of fellowship with believers express our desire to rejoice the Lord.  However, I’m specifically emphasizing your private communion with the God who loves you and wants you near himself.

            Since God created us to rejoice in our love, we set time aside for loving him.   Praise, thanksgiving, adoration and serve as instruments for loving him, but these instruments are only useful as we pull away from life’s busyness and enter His presence.

            “You’re not praying,” the Lord’s Spirit spoke to me when I was about 28 or 29 years old.  I didn’t care to hear this, but I understood what the Lord meant.  I was busy with lots of things, but I set no special time aside for being with the Lord.  So I chose a specific time of my day and set it aside for spending time in God’s presence.  I remained faithful to this appointment with God even when I couldn’t sense his nearness.  But persistence paid off!

            After several days of disciplined private time with Jesus without feeling him near, I blurted out, “God, you have me whether or not you want me.”  Immediately the Lord honored my determination to rejoice his heart with my presence by pouring his presence into me.  His Spirit energized me with praise feelings and praise words that flowed from my innermost being.  That day began an ever-deepening fellowship between the God who rejoiced in me and the God in whom I rejoiced.  The same experience awaits every one of God’s children who give him time to rejoice in them!

            Start now.  Choose a small segment of your day for being alone with the God who enjoys your presence.  Persist in keeping this appointment with the Lord and he will reward you with an ever-greater awareness of his nearness.  “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised,” Hebrews 10:36.  God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit can hardly wait the thrill of your presence!

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields

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Enjoying the Bible Jesus Loved

Jesus With Holy Scroll             Jesus loved the Holy Scriptures written by his Jewish forefathers.  Jesus didn’t merely read the Bible with his mind—his innermost being cherished it.  The Word of God filled him with inexpressible joy that saturated him with an affection for it.  He delighted in God’s commands because he loved them.

Our record of Jesus’ life shows him constantly quoting Scripture or referring to it.  He once pointed out that, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,’” Deuteronomy 8:3.  Jesus’ quotations of the Hebrew Bible and constant references to it fill the pages of the Gospels.

When Peter attacked the mob that arrested Jesus, our Lord commanded him to put away his sword.  Then, he explained why he refused to allow his followers to resist his arrest.  “This (arrest) has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled,” Matthew 26:56.  Jesus devoted himself to the fulfillment of all prophesies about His life.  What tremendous dedication to the Scriptures!

How can we enjoy the Bible that Jesus loved?

Appreciate the Bible Jesus Loved

Jesus only had access to what Christians called the Old Testament.  His reading of the Bible was confined to something between Genesis and Malachi.  The New Testament did not exist in Jesus’ day.

Many Christians fail to appreciate what Jesus loved.  They seldom read the Old Testament because they find it exceedingly boring and see no application to their lives.  How different from our Lord Jesus!

In reality there is not a Hebrew Bible and a Christian Bible.  The division into Old Testament and New Testament is artificial.  “All Scripture is God breathed,” 2 Timothy 3:16 refers to both testaments.  What we call the New Testament did not replace the Old Testament, the Bible Jesus loved.

The Old Testament is the foundation of the New Testament.  The New Testament depends entirely on the Hebrew Scriptures, written by Jewish people.  The Jewish Jesus declared “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished,” Matthew 5:17-18.

Refuse to discount the Bible Jesus loved.  There will be lots in the Old Testament you will find boring, but that is also true of the New Testament.  You will not always understand what you are reading, but isn’t that the same with the New Testament?  Ask the Lord to open your heart to a new appreciation of the Bible Jesus respected and loved.

Look for Phrases, Not at Verses

The New Testament quotes the Old Testament hundreds of times but never mentions a chapter or verse number.  That’s because chapter numbers and verse numbers were not included in either the Old or New Testament writings.  These numbers were added hundreds of years after the last book of the Bible was written.  Chapters and verses help us locate sections of the Bible that interest us.  However, they also focus our attention on huge chunks of text.  In this mass of words are buried wonderful phrases that apply to our 21st century lives.

For example, I read Isaiah 49:23 many, many times.  Regrettably, I regarded the fifty words of this verse as a unit.  Therefore, I failed to pick out the phrase that applies to all of us.  Please notice the last part of Isaiah 49:23: “I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”  Can’t we in the 21st century make the same declaration?  We accept God as our Lord, and because we hope in him we will not be disappointed!

Apply the Promises not the Curses

            Multitudes of wonderful promises fill the pages of the Bible Jesus loved.  The Old Testament also records lots of consequences for disobeying God.  We usually refer to these consequences as curses.

I continually share with people promises recorded in the Old Testament.  Some of these folks question why the promises apply to them but not the curses.  Here’s my explanation.

First, Jesus bore all the consequences of our disobedience to God.  Galatians 3:13 declares that, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”  Then, the apostle explained that, “It is written: cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  The curses pronounced on the disobedient no longer apply to us after Jesus’ blood washes away our sin.

Jesus “redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles,” Galatians 3:14.  You see God’s promises to his Old Testament saints can be applied to us in this age.  We should feel completely comfortable trusting in Old Testament promises while not fearing Old Testament curses.

Be Filled with the Spirit of the Author

          Jesus At The Temple  God used about 45 people as his partners in writing the Scriptures.  Here’s how Peter described the partnership between God and humans that resulted in the writing of the Bible.  “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” 2 Peter 1:21.  No, they weren’t puppets or dictation machines.  God incorporated their personalities, education, vocabulary and experiences in writing Scripture.  Nevertheless, God’s Spirit superintended the work of compiling the Bible.  His infallibility enabled fallible men to record words we can confidently call the Word of God.

Now, we can be filled with the Spirit of the Author.  The One who superintended the recording of Scripture dwells in everyone who trusts Jesus as Savior.  As we persistently read the Bible the author who lives in us explains it to us, little by little.  He makes the Bible come alive.  He opens our hearts to understand Scripture and shows us personal applications that help us in everyday life.

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields



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