About Avery Goodday

I am a former AF Pilot (Viet Nam era). I then worked 23 years as a Marketing Executive for a major US corporation. For 9-years my wife (of 38-years) and I traveled the United States as full-time RV'ers. We attend a non-denominational Christian Church. Over my lifetime I have made about every mistake "in the book"; many, more than once. (Sometimes I'm a slow learner). My biggest struggles are with "pride" and a "need" to understand ...even that which is beyond human understanding. I know God's grace is boundless -- I have tested it to the extreme. My goal is to do all that God would have me do to enable His Kingdom here on planet Earth.

Satan

If you are not a Christian, it is likely you do not believe in Satani. And there are many of you out there. Because I believe we are nearing Christ’s return, I am going to be as direct as possible.

You were created by a God that loves you very much. So much so, as to want a personal relationship with you. Through no fault of our own, we were born on a broken planet with what is called, original sin. (Sin means not knowing and/or not caring about what is right, …and doing what is wrong). we also have freewill—think of it as double-edged sword. Because we have freewill God will never force us into any decision, …period.

Jesus said however,“…I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.ii” It doesn’t get any clearer than that. We are free to live our life any way we want. But, to become a Christian you must come to the decision that you can’t live a sin free life by yourself. If/When you decide you need help and want to learn more about becoming a Christian, I would recommend finding a non-denominational Christian church that believes Christianity is about you establishing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not about man-made rules and rituals. It is about establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ, and following the new life Jesus has for you. He will provide you a life tailored to the you, you will become. You will never be sorry.

Now, if you are a Christian you definitely believe in Satan, …or, you should. This is not my “opinion”. The Bible makes it very clear that Satan not only exists; but, is dedicated to destroying us.iii His first appearance in the Bible occurs in Genesis 3:1.iv The evidence of his hatred for God and Mankind, can be found in every book of the Bible, save one, …Song of Songs, in the Old Testament.

Satan has many names,v but the one which I think describes him best was used by Jesus when he said, …He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.vi (Emphasis, mine). Yes! “…A liar and the father of lies.” It fits him perfectly.

Now, I need to talk briefly about the word, “bait”; a perfectly good word. Think about fishing. Worms are not dangerous on their own. But, when used as bait, …well, things change. The fish recognizes a worm as desirable and good to eat. It has just found dinner. But, the truth is, the fish was lied to; and it has now become dinner! In this context bait is a lie. Bait is used to attract, capture and/or kill something. It does this by appearing to be non-threatening, desirable, benevolent, or good—when in reality it is quite the opposite. When used in human society, it can lead to such things as buyer’s remorse, depression, loss of integrity, divorce, suicide, even murder. It depends on who is using the bait and what their intentions are. And thus, bait becomes an extremely important tool for Satan’s use.

The very first time we see Satan in the Bible, he shows us His true colors. It was a set-up of Eve. We don’t know if this was the first time Satan had talked to Eve; but, I think not. Satan knew of God’s solitary rule given to Adam, and then passed on to Eve. And, it is amply evident that Satan had this conversation with Eve carefully planned. The story starts at Genesis 3:1.vii

It seems that Adam and Eve were both in the Garden of Eden. Apparently they were separated; but not by too much. Satan, seeing an opening, and knowing exactly what God had told Adam, approached Eve, …and intentionally misquoted God’s rule. God had said, “You may eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

But, Satan asked Eve this question, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” A misquote designed to give Eve some over-confidence, perhaps? Because…

Eve promptly responded, (perhaps a bit smugly), “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. It’s only the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ ” That was a pretty good paraphrase of what God said; but, with a bit of embellishment on Eve’s part.

Then, …Satan came back with the bait! “You won’t die! God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” Wow! What an enticement. No consequences, i.e., It’s not going to kill you; and, you’ll become like God…! Now that’s some bait. And, …Eve was convinced.

She went all in. The tree was beautiful, the fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. She took some of the fruit and ate it. By now Adam has appeared on scene. Eve gave him some of the fruit and he ate it, too! Folks, it was all downhill for Adam, Eve, mankind, the earth, and every living thing on it, from that very moment.

The bible says, at that very moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. Feeling guilty, (certainly a new experience for them,) they hid from God when they heard him coming. How sad is that!

If you read on you will find the full consequences of their actions. Paradise was lost! Oh, they didn’t die on the spot, but they did lose the opportunity to eat the fruit that would have bestowed eternal life on them—and mankind! Make no mistake about it, they learned about evil and the consequences of sin. Can you imagine how terrible that must have been—after what they had known before they defied God. Adam and Eve had to deal with their first son, Cain, murdering his brother, Able.  Tragic!  And, yes, Adam and Eve did live very long lives, but they eventually died just as God had said.  And yes, we will also die, unless we are alive when Christ returns.

So, now you have seen how Satan works. Satan will use every tactic he knows to lead mankind into sinning. And unfortunately, Christians—because we still live on this broken planet—do not have immunity to sin. What we do have, is forgiveness of our sins; and help, when we battle Satan and his demons.

We do not have a get out of jail free card. Don’t forget that as Christians, God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, dwells in us. He knows our mind-set, our thoughts, and our intentions. We cannot hide from him. Just remember that He is a just God; and will never forsake us.viii He will help us. He will teach us. He will bless us. He will protect us from supernatural powers. But he won’t save us from the consequences we earn by using our free-will to deviate from his plan for us. Remember his plans are perfect. Our plans? …Not so much!

Satan may attack us at any time. Be ready. Fight Satan through prayer. Engage the Holy Spirit. Over time, as we learn more about God, our relationship with him will grow and we will find ourselves growing and strengthening in our belief. We will be able to recognize “bait” and turn away from it. We will also learn how to recognize God’s truth. We are being “perfected”. It is a process that will last until Christ either returns or calls us home. We will be perfected the instant we leave this planet, …with Jesus at our side.ix

My prayer:

Abba,

Thank you for helping me with this post. Only you and I know what a struggle we have had. I covet the safety you promise me.

Lord, while on the one hand I pray for the return of Christ, you know I also want to see as many people as possible saved before His return. Either way, you are the driving force; and, I will keep writing as long as it is your will for me.

It distresses me when I hear Christians say something like, “Well yeah, I think Satan is real, but I don’t believe he has any direct interest in me; or any other Christian for that matter. I mean I know what I’m doing; and, even if it isn’t exactly perfect I’m sure God understands. And, I think it’s pretty much that way for everyone”.

Father, forgive their arrogance.

Help me, Father, to show people how Satan uses us as his “pawns”, and sometimes as his “bullets” to attack You. I don’t want to scare anyone. Rather, I want them to recognize an attack on themselves, or others—no matter how benign it may seem. I want them to have confidence in you and to engage you immediately through prayer. I want them to be confident in your guidance which will lead them to victory. I pray they will stay the course, and come out the other end wiser, with greater faith, feeling blessed and praising you.

Thank you, Abba. Through Christ I pray, amen.

Larry

i There are many other religions that believe in Satan. In fact: many people worship Satan. And, like Christianity with it’s many denominations (I’m sorry to say) their are many different ways of Satanic worship. Then too, there are many other belief systems that do not recognize Satan or our God (YHWH). Most of these are Eastern religions.

ii John 14:6. NLT

iii As a Christian you do not have the right to pick and choose what you will believe from the Bible.

iv This begins the story of, “The Fall.” It is the story of how sin and death was introduced into God’s creation.

v Satan has many names. I found 40 in the Old and New Testaments. Some of the most common are: accuser, adversary, Antichrist, Beelzebub, devil, destroyer, dragon, enemy, evil spirit, Lucifer, murderer, murder from the beginning, son of Perdition, son of wickedness and wicked one.

vi John 8:44. NLT

vii All scripture quoted in the telling of this story is taken from the NLT translation of the Holy Bible. Quoted scripture is rendered in italics.

viii Hebrews 13:5 NLT

ix All scripture in this post is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

In The Middle

And, now, Just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. [Colossians 2:6-7. NLT]

God lives in us. Yet, sometimes he seems far, far away. And other times he feels very close.

Have you ever heard God speak to you? Have you ever gotten a love tap from him? And, how about getting some “concrete” guidance; or a clear clue to where he wants you to live? The job he wants you to prepare for; or take? Here’s three biggies—God, is this the person you want me to marry? Questioning your salvation; or, wondering if you’ve finally gone too far and he has forsaken you?

Do not become discouraged. Remember this: God is not in control of everything that happens on earth. God is in control of the heavenly realm. God will be in control of everything on earth when he returns.

The last statement will be very good news for Christians who are living when Christ returns. That same statement will be horribly bad news for everyone who has rejected Christ or put-off making a decision for him.

Let’s go back to the part about God not having control of everything happening on earth. It may not sound right, but it is true. Yes, Jesus does have possession of the key(s) Adam turned over to Satan in the Garden of Eden. But, for a reason known only to Christ, he bides his time. I think he wants to give more people time to find him, and accept his offer of forgiveness for their sins and restoration into God’s family.

In the meantime earth remains a broken planet—moving from bad to worse. Satan knows he has already lost the war; but, he is driven to attack God by using mankind in general, and often, you and me as his pawns. He is evil, and the father of lies. To Satan (and his demons) the fact his time is growing shorter only means he must work harder to create as much disturbance, mayhem, havoc, and death as possible. The tragedy is, he is good at what he does. To see this you have only to look around. Maybe even, at yourself….

You see, being a Christian is not always easy. Far from it. Have you noticed almost everything we do, or participate in, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. So, lets start at, “beginning”. Beginnings are usually pretty upbeat and exciting. You’re excited, glad and confident of your plan/idea. You just know this plan/project is going to succeed. Time passes. Maybe a little, maybe a lot; either way, as you approach the end it’s usually with either excitement, contentment, and joy; or with relief, possibly dismay, or worse.

If it’s the latter, what happened? The “middle” happened. You see, it is in the middle of our dreams and plans that Satan has set up his workshop! It is in the middle that you are likely to run into one or more of what I call the 5-Deadly D’s*: doubt, discouragement, diversion, defeat, delay. For discussion purposes, let’s look at the first three D’s, and then tackle the last two.

Doubt: It’s subtle, and operates insidiously. It starts oh, so simply: “Did I remember to…”? Or, “Did I miss something? This isn’t feeling quite right”. Well, doubt leads to more doubt. Doubt of yourself, others and ultimately, if left unchecked, you will begin to question God. “Why is God letting this happen to me?”

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. [Ephesians 1:4-5. NLT]

Just think what it means to be a part of God’s family—and a co-heir of Jesus. Remembering this, is my number two response when I find myself in doubt.

Discouragement: Usually a result of doubting yourself. It can grow to include others who may have a stake in the plan. Regardless, you will likely concentrate on the problems instead of engaging the one who can fix anything and everything. Re-read the opening Scripture, and remember…

Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. [Philippians 4:6. NLT]

This is my Number one response. Get use to talking to God. You can talk about anything. God is actually listening for your “call”. Talk to him as you would to your best friend. How great is that.

Diversion: Another one that is subtle, and insidious. It is right on the heels of discouragement. Satan diverts attention to all the wrong things. It’s a case of making the wrong things seem to be the right things. You spend your resources on the wrong goals, …usually making things worse. If you ever get the chance, ask Eve (that’s Adam’s Eve—found in Genesis 2) about diversion.

26aAnd the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. 28And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8:26a, 28. NLT]

Whoa! Does that mean even as Satan is trying to destroy me, God can cause Satan’s efforts to somehow end-up helping me or others? Yes! But do not stop reading at, “…those who love God”. That last period is mine. And the last nine words are critical.

The first three Dangerous D’s are pretty straight forward. And, if you have run your thoughts and ideas past Jesus, asking for his insight and help; then listened for, or found help by reading your Bible or in daily devotions, or other ways that God can “speak” to you; then you have already gone a long way to insure you are walking God’s path. Experience is a good teacher. So expect that in the future you will learn to recognize the first three D’s quickly and immediately engage Jesus.

A couple of cautions: First, be open and honest. Tell God if you think you made a mistake. Remember God knows everything. You cannot hide anything from him. But he wants to hear it from you. Second, be careful if you get advice from others. If it is biblical or “right” in God’s eyes that’s one thing. If it is from any worldly source, be skeptical! Anything you’ve read in any secular text, or gotten from social media, or from the television, radio, news paper, or just plain word-of-mouth must be examined critically. Then consider throwing it away.

Now, let’s look at the last two Deadly D’s…

If you are facing either or both of the last two Deadly D’s it is usually an indication of not recognizing the first three Deadly D’s and not engaging Jesus either soon enough, or at all. You are on dangerous ground as I noted above. Satan has a foothold—if not a stronghold. This is not a battle you can fight and win by yourself. Satan does not play fair. He is the father of lies. He is also not human. He is a fallen angel, a supernatural being. He has a large group of other fallen angels in his service. If you want to live, and I mean this literally, you must have God on your side.

Defeat: Feelings of failure. You can get to the point of, “…why try”. It’s a failure of faith. You’ve been beaten so low, you just give it up. Think about that and what it means to Satan, to God, and to you. It’s a dangerous place to be; but far from hopeless. In fact it’s also a place of high potential.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” [Hebrews 13:5. NLT]

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. [1 Peter 4:19. NLT]

Satan is rubbing his hands together and laughing. He figures he’s as good as got you. You, on the other hand realize that what you are seeing and feeling are not ways that God works. It is Satan who lies, cheats, steals and murders. It is Satan who has led you to giving-up. Quitting. And, yes, your relationship with the only person who has loved you from before you were even conceived is in limbo. It is your move!

But first, I want to discuss the last Deadly D.

Delay: Delay makes you put off something to the point that it never gets done. I think delay is the main tactic Satan uses when someone is being called to accept Christ as their savior, redeemer, and restorer. In other words being called to become a Christian and follower of Christ.

Satan whispers little things like: Come on, you know your going to hate all those rules and laws. You’ve already got a pretty good life going. I mean you got a job, a car, lot’s of friends, parties, the sex is great—even with your wife. Hey, you’re not hurting anyone. You’re a sly fox. And, you can’t show me even one so called Christian who hasn’t gone off the wagon in one area or another. The hypocrites! Besides you’ve got lots of time for fun before you might want to do something else. And, there are lots of religions. So don’t be too quick to jump. Let the good times roll. Yes sir, lots of time—for lots of fun.

That’s only one example, and for Christians we have to assume that putting off God’s plans for our lives is absolutely not going to have a good outcome. Think of Jonah! And ultimately for non-Christians, it will be fatal, …for eternity.

Remember those last nine words from Romans 8:28, where we were discussing being diverted. By living the life God has mapped out for us we are not buying blessings. Rather, we are following Christ by loving God in all we do, and loving others as Christ directs us.

Jesus replied,”’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment, A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:37- 39. NLT]

If you are a Christian it is highly unlikely that you will die, because you have been forgiven, renewed and restored. When I said your relationship with the only person who has loved you from before you were even conceived is in limbo, I meant that God is ready to help you, but you must engage his support.

To open the door all you need do is ask. A simple heart-felt, “Father, I need your help.” will open the line and get things moving. Remember confession is the best place to start and while he knows it all, you really need to get it out into the open, as it were. It may take some time and there may be some unavoidable consequences; but with God, you will persevere. And just think, one minute Satan thought he had you ready to renounce your God, and the next thing he knows you’re not joining his team. And, Jesus has used him to give you a stronger testimony. Oh, the irony.

If you are not a Christian, it is likely that God is still waiting for you. Actually, God would rejoice if every single person on earth would come to Jesus for Salvation. Truly. (There is an exception. But more about that in a bit). When you realize the Holy Spirit is talking to you, nudging you, and encouraging you to accept Christ as your Savior, go to Christ by telling him you know you can’t save yourself and you are ready to receive his free offer of salvation and a new life. Confess your sins, and accept that Jesus is the Risen Son of the One True God. Ask Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to live in you as you begin your new life—free of all your previous and future sins. A new life that will become perfected when you reach your departure date from your current life and move into eternity in the presence of God, and all the saints that have previously made the same journey. (That’s everyone who has died in God’s Grace.)

Now, about that exception. God is a just God. Remember that, as I talk about a subject I’ve found a lot of ministers tend to talk around, instead of addressing head on. It’s not easy to talk about. And, God is the only one who knows it’s threshold. But it is, or should be, of extreme importance to all who are not Christians. It’s called “hardening of the heart”.

That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden you hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ So in my anger I took an oath. ‘They will never enter my place of rest’”. Be careful then, my dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning away from the living God. [Hebrews 3:7-12. NLT]

I used to say, when speaking of my temper, “I have a very short fuse—that is very hard to light.” I think that is a bit like what happens with hardening of the heart. Renouncing or rejecting God would seem to be a common factor. God may give you a lot of rope; but, at a point only he can see, your option for salvation is canceled, period.

The take-away is this. While “the middle” can be a very dangerous place, it does not need to be. As a Christian you will still sin. I’m sorry, but it is inevitable while we live on this broken planet. But, as a Christian you are forgiven and not carrying a burden of sin. You have unlimited resources at your side. Talk to God constantly, and keep him at your side. If you do this, God will take care of you. You have his promise. You may have rough water while in “the middle”, or any other time for that matter. By engaging Jesus, you will prevail and come out stronger, as a result.

If you are not a Christian, no amount of self help books or any New Age religion is going to help you—long haul, or short. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to a new life; and, an eternal life. That is the long and short of it. Your time is ticking away.

Abba – Father,

Thank you for your saving Grace.

Father your plan for salvation and restoration is so easy for some and so hard for others. I wish everyone could see the overall completeness of your plan for mankind. And believe.

Lord, thank you for showing me that Satan was destroying me. That I was destroying myself by listening to him instead of the God I had known. Even though I had done nothing to deserve another chance, and plenty to deserve a lightening bolt; you had a plan for my (new) life.

The part that I am still in awe of, is the many blessings you have given me after my return. And the blessings you have made me aware of receiving even during my dark period. That was,… I find no appropriate words. But I know you understand.

Father, I pray for every soul that is still undecided or has fallen away, as I did. Somehow they must be brought to an understanding of the futility of the path they are on, and the glory and blessings they can yet receive by simply asking.

I love you Abba,

Larry

__________

* The Five Deadly D’s are found in the Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Carol Stream. Illinois. In my large print edition they are on page 13, in the third chapter of Genesis. The chart calls them, “Satan’s Plan Against Us”. For use in this blog, I called them the The Five Deadly D’s.

Playing God

My mother was a perfectionist. I remember taking my coloring book to her to show her my latest work. She said, “Oh, honey, that’s very good! I like the colors you used. And, if you had stayed inside line right there,” (pointing) “it would have been just perfect.”.

The funny part was, I was never disappointed. After all, she really liked what I had done. So I’d go color another picture – being very careful to make it, …“perfect”.

I became a Scout. Three years a Cub Scout. Three more as a Boy Scout. And, three more as an Explorer Scout. By the way, the Boy Scout motto is, “Be Prepared”. That was 9-years of “preparation”!

Later in life, I became an Air Force pilot. An occupation that left little room for mistakes and/or failures to plan. (A significant number of military aircraft are very unforgiving of mistakes!)

I became an Emergency War Order Planning Officer. We wrote the plans to implement the missions our Wing was assigned to fly if we went to (nuclear) war. We also wrote plans for deployments and emergency movements. After writing the plans, we would pour over our work doing “what-ifs”. Every sortie had a mission – and, a priority. “What if, sortie 3 doesn’t get started? Which sortie do we divert to take it’s place? What’s the ripple effect from that decision?” On, and on, and, …on.

I tell you this so you can see how I became something of a perfectionist, and a person who is always looking for the “potential point of failure, etc)”. I also want to share with you that this will affect your personal life; and more importantly, your walk with Christ

I can drive my wife to distraction with questions and what-ifs. She sometimes accuses me of negativity. I take umbrage, and tell her I just, “…want to be ready in case things go cross-wise”. She informs me our marriage is going to go cross-wise if I don’t let up. (But, she smiles when she says it.)

So here I am, constantly looking for potential problems or flaws in my plans: and the plans of others – when they involve my family or me . When I find flaws (or even just potential flaws) I start working to assure that I have the answers, solutions, explanations or whatever else may be required, instantly ready to be applied, when/if needed.

And that kind of thinking, folks, is bogus and sinful on many levels. It is also dangerous thinking. It gives Satan a foothold in my life – which I want to avoid like the plague. It’s a source of stress – which I don’t need. Sometimes it builds ego – which I don’t need. It causes friction within my marriage, and in relationships with family and friends – which, I certainly don’t need, or intend. But, most importantly, it is damaging to my relationship with Christ.

Have you ever thought about this? From the beginning of our life here on earth, (this applies to everyone), God knows our entire story. Everything! Nothing is hidden! Why is this important? Because regardless of everything else, God already has, or is going to offer you both adoption and eternal life. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” [Eph 1:5, NLT]

I must tell you that it is not an open ended offer. It is good only until Christ returns to earth – or, we reach our departure date and time. Whichever happens, we will be “sifted”. Christians will join the family in Heaven. Non Christians won’t.*

So God, who is omniscient – meaning: having infinite awareness, understanding and insight; and, omnipotent – meaning: having unlimited power, force and authority, …actually made a considered choice to include me if I would subjugate my freewill, and trust in Jesus. I did!

In all honesty I’m telling you, I have a problem – of sorts. I find myself trying to play god! Not only that, I’m trying to play god while God knows, and, I should know, all that talk about trying to be perfect and having all the correct answers is so much, …fertilizer. Yet I turn my back on him to pursue my own plans. Now, …How. Dumb. Is. That?!

Then why did I say, “a problem – of sorts”? Because, I really do know exactly how to fix this Problem.

My planning for solutions to the unexpected – in an unknown future, is a oxymoron. It is also worry, arrogance, and foolishness! It is also Satan using me to take a jab at God. And, it’s time to repent; and, ask Jesus for forgiveness. It’s not that I’ve lost my salvation. I haven’t. But, I am sinning, and I need to stop. And to stop I need help. Supernatural help. And I need to apologize to my best friend.

Might there be consequences from the plans I’ve already set in motion? Absolutely! I’ll get what I’ve earned. And, both the good (if any) and bad consequences (much more likely) will be “good”. Good, like when even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn. And, the “unfavorable consequences” will be the lessons I need to internalize so that I don’t keep repeating my stupidity. I know God will help me. He chose me; and adopted me. He not only has a plan for my life; but, tells me time and again that He will never forget nor forsake me; that He has my back; and, wants only the best outcomes for me. He is slowly but surely perfecting me. But, because I live on planet earth, total perfection won’t occur during my lifetime. There is nothing perfect on earth, …yet.

Prayer:

Father, (Abba),

I can’t even begin to fathom your love for me. But, I do understand it well enough to know that when I come to you, broken and contrite, you never fail to set with me, brush away my tears, listen to my pleadings, and hug me close. Oh, how I thank you for those times.

Lord, you have blessed me greatly — far beyond my dreams. Yet I some- times get impatient or discouraged when dreams, plans, or prayers, seem to have gone astray. At these times, will you please remind me of all the times you have answered, …and all the times I have not even noticed or acknowledged your provision, …and it’s perfection.

Lord, please continue teaching me to rely on your love and grace. Forgive my egotism and conceit. Please help me to restore the relationships my pride and conceit have damaged. Show me the truth of your words; and make my testimony effective when talking with others in their times of need.

Lord I know you are still on the job and in control. Your provision has never failed me. I will praise your name forever. Amen.

Larry

* The straight truth is: 1. God loves his creation of man (and woman) more than any other. 2. When Adam and Eve sinned (by doing the only thing God told them not to do), they (not only) brought sin, separation from God and eventual death, into their own selves (body and soul), they also introduced it to the entire planet and all future generations. 3. God is Holy and cannot abide sin—in any form or amount. 4. But God is also love, …and grace. And so, from his great love and grace, God came up with a plan that could save mankind from eternal death. 5. For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. [Jn. 3:16, NLT]

All we need do is: accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The only one who can forgive and cleanse our sins when we repent of them and ask for forgiveness. When we do that, we become Christians. The Holy Spirit moves into us; and will reside in us while we live our lives on earth. And then, let’s not forget that we will have a perfected body and soul while living an eternal life in the presence of God.

If you don’t take that simple step; or, you intend to – but just don’t get it done; or, you go through the motions thinking you can “fake it” and continue living your previous “good times” life; …PEASE believe me! You are doomed to eternity in Hell. Period!** A place were there is NO good thing. Not one!

Christ is offering you a new life. A “do over” of immense proportion. Jesus will be your guide. You won’t become magically perfect. But you will change. And God promises you will change far beyond your expectations; if, you give him the reins.

** God is Just. Children, too young to understand God’s plan, will not go to Hell. There will be children in heaven.

The bible tells us that we are born with the ability to know and search for God. As we find new cultures on earth, we have never found even one that did not have a god or gods; and, codes of “right” and “wrong”. The Bible also tells us in the Old Testament – before God sent Jesus to earth (as the only possible sacrifice for our sins) many people “found favor” with God.

So, I believe those who have never had the “Good News” of the New Testament explained to them will still be judged by God. And, those in whom He “finds favor” will go to heaven. But only God knows those “requirements”. I believe the great “I AM” will make “perfectly correct decisions”.

 

Forgiveness and Grace

Or is it the other way around? Does it really make a difference? I’m not totally assured one way or the other. I know they are certainly intertwined in many cases. I guess I’d have to ask: can you have forgiveness without grace? Or, can you have grace without forgiveness?

I think we should take a good look at the meaning of both words from the source of all truth, The Bible.

Forgiveness: To acquit of sins. To give up resentment of or claim to extracting neither punishment or redress. To forgive implies that one gives up all claim to requital and to resentment or vengeful feelings.*

Grace: God’s free and unmerited favor toward sinful humanity. Unmerited favor given to another.*

* In each of the above definitions the first sentence came from the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible. Following sentences were paraphrased from Miriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition.

After looking at the definitions I found that I needed yet another definition. I needed the definition of “unmerited.” Not finding “unmerited” in either Reference book, I looked for “merit” and found it in the dictionary (only).

Merit: (Paraphrasing again): merit is something to be earned. In fact, while it can be considered as reward or punishment, it is usually applied in a positive way, such as: earning reward, honor, opportunity and esteem.

How many times I’ve heard someone say: “If he/she would just apologize (or give me a simple, ‘I’m sorry’, I could/would forgive him/her”. Or, “They’ve crossed the line one too many times! I will never forgive them.” Or, … well, I think you get the idea. And, I hope you now understand that “forgiveness” can only be offered in an unmerited manner. Forgiveness has no “if only they would do this or that…or any other attached strings or, fine print. You either forgive or you don’t—right where they are (right now), and/or whatever condition they are in (right now). Yes: it’s an either/or situation.

Don’t panic. I cannot think of anything greater than our triune God’s grace, except God, himself. Grace and forgiveness are blessings we receive from God. Out of God’s grace, He sent his son Jesus to an undeserved and incredibly painful death on a cross—as a sacrifice for our sin. But, that wasn’t the end of it. Jesus then carried that sin burden to Hell, …where the real price for past (and our continuing) sins was extracted. Make no mistake, God and his son Jesus, paid an unimaginable price for the forgiveness of your sins—and mine, as well. And, when that stone rolled away and Jesus Christ stepped out of that tomb—He handed us our free pass into Heaven.

In light of what Jesus willingly did for us, how can any Christian say, “I cannot forgive that person.” Grudges not only eat at our insides they feed Satan and his demons. We must stop saying, “I won’t!” Saying, “I can’t!” is more truthful, but it is still just an excuse. We will lose this battle if we charge into it alone. Remember, we are fighting supernatural beings.

Think about the size of the sin load Jesus carried to the cross to cancel your sin burden—and, it’s still working for you. Surely you can pass some of that along. And, if you’re still not sure; you NEED to read this…

Jesus is speaking… 14If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. 15But if you refuse to forgive others, your father will not forgive your sins. [Matthew 6: 14-15, NLT]

There are at least four other places in the New Testament (that I know of) that say the same thing. See: Mk 11:25, Luke 6:37, 11:4 and 17:3.

I know this will cause many people serious concernas it should. There is only one place to take that concern. Call: JESUS. He won’t put you on hold; and He is, I firmly believe, the only one that can understand exactly where you are, and why. Pour your heart out to Him. Out of His grace He can fix every break and bruise. And when the two of you are done with the victorious battle against Satan, He will have another priceless blessing for you—His Peace.

Oh, …Get Ready!

In Christian love,

     Larry

Who Am I?

Thanks for asking.

The simplest answer is, “I am a unique creation of Yaweh.” And, I’d like to add, “So are you!

I hope that doesn’t offend you; but if it does, I’m afraid you’re going to have to live with it. You can choose to ignore it, …but you can’t change it. And ignoring it isn’t going to work to your advantage in the long run.

You see, Yaweh is the one true God of all creation—the God of the Jews and Christians. Yaweh is the creator of the universe—and, every thing in it. Most importantly for this discussion, He created every human as a unique individual.

Have you ever really thought about just how unique you are? On the molecular level, consider your DNA. That alone distinguishes you from the vast majority of all humans wandering the planet. Other distinguishing physical traits are your unique finger-prints and retinal-prints.

Then there is personality—a small percentage of which you inherited from your mother and father. If you grew-up with siblings, think about the common experiences you shared. Did they effect everyone in the exact same way? Do you remember the tiniest details the same way, or would you even agree on what was “tiny” and what was “major”? Then what lessons did you carry away from those “common” experiences? And, how have they affected your psyche and outlook on life?

What you inherited, and what you have learned by formal schooling, street smarts, relationships, how it was taught and by who, your personal observations, and even where you learned it—it all works toward assuring your uniqueness.

OK. We’re both unique. So what?

Well, hang onto that thought while I tell you a bit about your creator YHVH.

“YHVH” is the Hebrew word that translates as “LORD”. This name is found more often in the Old Testament than any other name for God (approximately 7,000 times). The title is also referred to as the “Tetragrammaton,” meaning the “The Four Letters”. YHVH comes from the Hebrew verb “to be” and is the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM;’ and He said, ‘thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you… this is My eternal name, and this is how I am to be recalled for all generations’”. [Exodus 3:13-14]. Therefore, YHVH declares God’s absolute being; and the source of everything—without beginning and without end.1

Now, let’s back-up for just a moment; and look at the very first name for God that we find in the Bible: “Elohim”. It is used about 2,300 times in the Old Testament and its first occurrence is in Genesis 1:1—the very first verse of the Bible. Elohim means, “all powerful”; and its form is, plural! Important? Oh, yeah! Originally a mystery, its meaning is slowly revealed throughout the rest of the Bible. While we worship the one true God, we (now) know our God is a triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It’s a bit difficult to wrap your mind around. It helps me to think of God as the spirit He is, with three different personas. Each of which can operate separately yet stay unified with the whole.

OK. I’m sorry if your head is spinning. I know it’s a lot for some of you to take in. Here is a quick summary of the critical points:

Our God has many names and each name tells us more about Him. The two names we have just talked about, tell us a great deal about God; starting with—our God is not a created being. He is an absolute being. He truly exists. And more than that…

He is an eternal being, or Spirit—without beginning or end.

Our One God has three personas—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit).

God is all powerful and the author of creation. The entire universe was set into existence by the spoken words of God. And that includes every living thing on planet Earth—including you and me. Mankind was created on the sixth day2 and created in the image of God.3

So just what is my point?

Well first, I have a question for you. Who are you?

Based on the above, you might reply that like me, you are a child of God.

And, while that would be a correct answer on one level, it may not be totally correct. You see, far… far… back in our lineage we have a set of grand-parents named Adam and Eve. That’s right. The first man and woman created by God. They knew God intimately. In fact, they physically walked and talked with God on their strolls through the Garden of Eden. They lived in a paradise with no rules—but one. They were instructed by God not to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. It was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And God told them that if they did eat of it, they would surely die.

The short version of this story is that Satan, a fallen angel, deceived Eve by telling her if she ate the fruit, she wouldn’t die4. Rather, she would be like God, …knowing good from evil. Eve ate some of the fruit and then convinced Adam to also eat the fruit. And things changed—BIG TIME. Eve and Adam knew they should not go against the only rule God had given them, but they did it anyway, …and that is known as “sin”. Our grandparents, using their freewill intentionally disobeyed God and introduced sin into what had been a perfect environment. And their original sin has infected every man and woman born, or yet to be born, with a sinful nature5. It blocks our communication with God and condemns us to death and eternity in Hell. In fact, sin infected the whole physical planet; and caused God to withdraw to heaven.6

That’s It?

Oh, NO! Time passes. (And God had devised a great—an almost too incredible to believable, plan.) Out of God’s great love for His children, He devised a plan of grace7 that would blot out mankind’s sins for all time; provide for redemption, and restore us to God’s family for eternity. Many prophets (in the old testament) alluded to the plan. Some quite specifically, in retrospect.

Then, in about 5 BC, God implemented His plan. (If you get nothing else out of this post, read and consider the next two paragraphs. GET THIS!)

Out of Gods grace, He sends the Holy spirit to visit His children. The Holy Spirit looks into our hearts, and works to convict us of our sins and our inability to “fix ourselves”. Yes, we are all sinners, and we will be until we die, or are called home. No man or woman is perfect. It is impossible to live on this broken planet without sinning. Big sins, little sins, or both. (As we tend to think of them. Actually, to God there is no distinction. Sin is sin.) And, while God makes no distinction of sins, there is a distinction of sinners: Forgiven and Unforgiven.

None of us know the exact time of our earthly death. And in the meantime, the Holy Spirit is whispering, sometimes shouting.8 Trying to get our attention, fighting our freewill, convicting us to believe that God is God. That He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to be born of a virgin; to live a perfect life performing miracles and healing the wounds and hearts of broken people; and then to be sacrificed on a Roman cross—carrying the sins of every person who has, and ever will, repent of their sins, from a contrite heart, and ask for forgiveness while declaring Jesus as their Lord and savior. And then He arose from his grave three days later, thus fulfilling prophecies from both the old and new testaments; not only proving His Deity, but, also giving us the promise of a new (eternal) life as a Christian, following his plan for our unique gifts. And, it is free!

And, I actually have three points to make…

First: God offers us his plan at no cost. All of this, …for only believing and asking, …bestowed through the grace of God’s great love for His creation, …YOU and ME. But remember, God is not “only” a God of Love and Grace. He is also a “Just” God. He will never force you to do anything against your will. Your eternal destination is 100 percent your choice. And choosing not to make a decision, or saying “not yet” is the same as saying, “No.” God does not want to send anyone to hell.9 In fact He grieves over every lost soul that is sent there. Never-the-less, He will send you where you choose, and you MUST choose before you die.

My second point is: While it is a given that every one on earth is a sinner; there are those of us who have asked for, and received, salvation, redemption and restoration to God’s family. We are living new lives patterned after Christ’s example, and have a personal relationship with Him that assures we will spend eternity in Heaven with our triune God.

My Third point is: If you recognize that you are a sinner, and know that you cannot save yourself, the Holy Spirit is talking to you and leading you to take action and become a Christian by repenting (confessing) your sins to Jesus and asking his forgiveness. Tell Jesus that you want to become a follower (which is what a Christian is—a follower of Christ). Tell Jesus you love Him and are ready to begin the new life He has planned for you.

It is truly that simple. Yet, for many it is too difficult.

When you do establish this relationship something truly incredible will happen. The Holy Spirit will move into your heart to act as your guide and interpreter. Really! And never forget this scripture:

And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8:27-28. NLT]

My Prayer:

Yaweh (I AM),

Scientists tell us the universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago, when a tiny singularity (or vacuum fluctuation) containing (what we now call) the universe, and energy (known as a scalar field) suddenly appeared in space—out of nothing at all. The energy field in this singularity acted as “antigravity” inflating the bubble instantaneously to the size of a grapefruit. By this point the antigravity was converted to heat energy which kept expanding (at a more sedate speed) due to the push of the inflation. This is now referred to as the “Big Bang”.

I prefer the description of creation presented in the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1] And I see no conflict with the science. Now we know where the singularity came from and what triggered it—while providing the design, rules, matter and energy for the creation. Thank you, God!

Scientists tell us the earth is 4.5 billion years old. And mankind may be 50,000 years old. The Bible tells us you created Adam and Eve; but again, doesn’t tell us when. I do believe you created them. And would, if for no other reason than they are the most unique part of all creation. You created them in your image, and you gave them life!

Neither do we know when Satan seduced Eve into doing what she knew to be wrong—and, the same for Adam. Nor, do we know exactly how long it was before you chose Moses to lead your people out of enslavement in Egypt. But we do know the first book of the Torah (also the first book of the Christian Bible) was written about 1450 BC, by Moses.

Your Words, recorded in the 66 books of the Bible over that next millennium and a half, give me all the knowledge and instruction I need to know about you, the One True God. I know you love your entire creation—most especially, mankind.

40 Years ago, you chose me a second time; when I was as undeserving as I could ever be. You picked me up, dusted me off and led me into a new life. The path you set me on led to the perfect wife and life partner. Together, we have been blessed beyond measure. And now, we look forward to what you still have in store for us as we move forward loving God, following Jesus, and striving to love others as we love ourselves.

I know I am not perfect in my walk; never-the-less, your love, grace, and guidance, endure. I thank you, and praise you for your never ending love.

Your loving servant,

Larry


1. Although some pronounce YHVH as “Jehovah” or “Yaweh,” scholars really don’t know the proper pronunciation because the ancient Hebrew alphabet had no vowels. For pronunciation purposes due to the absence of vowels in the Tetragrammaton, Bible scholars have chosen to spell it either Yaweh, or sometimes, Yahweh.

2.There is much debate about the Creation of the universe. Some say in a great explosion of a singularity formed the universe.. Some say God started the process and the universe evolved over billions of years. Still others say; six days. And while almost all religions have a story of the creation, only the Bible postulates that one supreme God created the earth out of his great love; and gave mankind a special place in it. How long it took is unknown. The Bible does not say how long it took. Some take the term “day” to be a literal 24 day period. Others say the word “day” represents an indefinite period of time (even millions or billions of years).

3. What does it mean when the bible says that man was created in God’s image? Obviously, this is another occasion when God was not being totally literal. God is a Spirit. God can assume the form of man. What God did was create men and women as unique beings capable of communicating with him. No other part of creation can claim that incredible capability.

4. Satan was doing what he does best, …lying. And, using God’s children as a tool to attack God.

5. Except for Jesus Christ.

6. God is Holy and cannot abide the presence of sin.

7. Grace: unmerited favor. i.e. We didn’t earn it, nor do we deserve it. It is free for believing and asking from a broken and contrite heart. God also gave mankind freewill and the ability to reflect his (God’s) character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness.

8. You will not lose your freewill. God loves His creation and does not want robots who have no choice but to obey. At the same time it means you will never be perfect while on earth.

9. God created hell for Satan and his followers. While I cannot imagine exactly what hell is like, I can tell you that it is a place you DO Not want to be. I know it is totally devoid of God and any good thing. If you think life on earth can be difficult, try to imagine a place where there is no love, no kindness, no charity, no understanding, no truth, no mercy, no help of any kind, no music, no laughter. There will be constant pain and sorrow. And more filth.

 

 

 

 

 

Unmerited Mercy…

You’ve probably heard the following statement, “God reaches down to man through His great Love; and, man reaches up to God through religion.” I totally agree with the first half. And must sadly say for many people, I think the second half of the statement is also correct—but, dead wrong. (Pun intended). FLASH! No religion can save you from your sins, …or secure your place in Heaven!

Man has taken something that should be pure and simple—our belief in, trust in, and love for, God (who loved us first); and perverted it through ignorance, arrogance, greed, and pride—then called it, …Religion.

Let’s look at the basics.

1. Through God’s Grace,* Christianity is available to the world.

All people are God’s creation. God intended that all mankind would have a perfect relationship with Him—for eternity. But then, Adam and Eve, with encouragement from Satan used their free-will, and introduced sin into the world. This immediately drove a wedge between mankind and God. And mankind would suffer for thousands of years in sin, and rebellion.

Then God, through His Grace, began a plan that would provide mankind a pathway of hope. The cost to God was all but unthinkable. Never-the-less, God began phase one of the plan. He sent His Son Jesus to earth. Where, over approximately 35 years, Jesus lived a sin-free life and became the only possible blood sacrifice that could cover mankind’s sin and restore our relationship with God. Then, after His death, He arose, proving without a doubt that He was indeed the Son of God and was truthful in His offer of forgiveness for sin, and restoration with God; and the promise of eternal life. The pathway is open!

Oh, did I mention that God’s plan has two distinct parts? Well, it does. And God sending His son to Earth as a sacrifice was a critical part. But the next part is equally critical, …and, it is your part! (Which I will explain soon).

But for the moment, imagine yourself at your worst. You are covered in sin and standing at the foot of a cross. Above you, a stripped and dying man is hanging on that cross by nails hammered through His hands and feet, with a crown of thorns pushed deeply into His head. Blood is flowing freely from those wounds—and from where the skin was ripped off of his back; when he was lashed with a whip embedded with bits of metal and glass. Around you the soldiers are mocking this man while others are hurling insults and cursing Him.

And now, this man turns His eyes on you, and speaks directly to you; “I’m doing this for you—that you might enter into my Father’s presence and live with us forever in Heaven.”

That dear friend, if you are not “saved” is you. And you have now stepped onto the stage to assume your part in God’s great plan.

2. Jesus is the only way to the Father and eternal life.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. [Romans 3:23, 24] Notice, everyone has sinned!

For God loved the world so much that he gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:16, NLT] Notice God’s plan is open to, “…everyone who believes in Him.”

“…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6] Jesus was speaking. Redemption comes only through Jesus Christ!

That is exactly how you become saved. I suspect you are now beginning to understand your roll in God’s plan. You have a choice to make. And if you understand that, then the Holy Spirit is calling you to make that choice now. You can say, “No. I’m not interested.” Or, you can say, “Not right now, I’m kind’a interested; but, I’m just not ready to make a decision.” Well you just made that decision. You said, “No.” And hopefully you may have time to decide for Christ. But, there are no guarantees. We do not know our allotted time on Earth.

Or, you can say, “Yes” to Jesus by… praying directly to Him. It’s easy. (Note: Please read this prayer first, and then if you truly want to become a follower of Christ, go back and repeat it.) You can do this silently, or out-loud. Jesus will hear you either way.

Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God; that You died on the cross; and that You arose from the grave three days later. Jesus, I know I cannot live a sinless life through my own efforts. I want to accept Your free gift of salvation, purchased for me by Your blood, shed as You died on the cross. Jesus, I want to repent of my sins; and I desire to follow Your plans for my life. Jesus, I also thank the Holy Spirit for convicting me of my need for God’s Plan of Salvation and Redemption. Thank you for loving me and giving me a new life.

That was a, Yes! And, if you prayed it, there is a celebration going on in Heaven, right now.

Through God’s mercy we will receive forgiveness for our sins (Acts 10:43); the Holy Spirit will come to live within us (see John 16:7-15); and our faith is established. Thus begins our relationship, our walk, with God.

3. First I assure you, If you prayed the above prayer from your heart—in other words, you really meant ityou are a Christian and the Holy Spirit has entered your heart! It would be VERY difficult to lose your Christianity/Salvation because God is always with you; so don’t worry about that.

Jesus tells us that when the Holy Spirit enters our hearts, He will be our advocate, and our counselor. (The Holy Spirit performs other functions, but these two titles are key, at least to me). As my Advocate, the Holy Spirit interprets my prayers and petitions to God. As my Counselor, He interprets scripture and leads me into all truth. Wow! Now those are two things I really need when struggling to live a Christian life in modern American society. And note, all this is just between us, and our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Becoming a Christian doesn’t make you perfect. You will be perfected through Death, when you receive your new body and enter into Heaven. In the meantime you are forgiven and moving towards perfection. But that is not a “get out of jail free card.” You will still sin. Yes, God knows your sin, and He has already forgiven you; never-the-less, ask for forgiveness. And ask God to increase your faith and strength to abolish that particular sin from your life. Why? Because your sins have consequences. Consequences you will have to deal with. God can help you through the stress and strain, but He will not remove those consequences. Learn to think of them as “lessons.”

He returns or calls you home, continue your walk with Christ. Your faith will grow, your love for others will grow; and in general, your walk will get stronger. Some temptations will disappear, others will grow weaker. Some will not. (Satan does not give up easily, and he knows your weaknesses.) But God is ever near, and He will not allow you to fall as long as your faith endures.

And remember, …you’ve just got started in a new life. And, God has only good plans for you. What do you think God could accomplish through your work with Him as your guide?

Abba Father,

…You know I haven’t posted in more than a month. And you know I started this post headed in a very different direction; But somehow it got hi-jacked. And, I know better than to resist, so this is our outcome.

It is now the middle of the Christmas season. And while it should be ALL about You, we tend to get caught up in parties and finding just the right gift for our friends and family members. We have to get cards out. School programs to attend. And we can’t forget visiting relatives, travel, and that all important big feast. We often spend way more than we should—and then worry about the bills. Forgive us, Lord. That is no way to celebrate Your birth.

Draw us back to you Lord. Show us the way to honor You by giving You the glory during this miraculous time. Show us that we can have fun while expressing our love for one another, and You. Having a feast is fine. Visiting those we have not seen for a long time can be wonderful. Just help us to remember that You are truly the reason and the focus of our celebration. Help us to not get carried away with “our” plans; but to constantly include You in this new life You have given us. Actually, our best gift, …EVER!

Lord, how I need you, and love you…

Larry

* I think every language has many individual words that have multiple meanings. And English is certainly one of them. (Check out “fast” for example!) And so, different characteristics and qualities of God often have multiple definitions and nuances. The word “grace” is no exception. For this post I am speaking of God’s Grace as: …”unmerited mercy or favor.” God’s Grace far surpasses His kindness and provision for us. Think of his infinite compassion and mercy; that he sent His Son to Earth, to the Cross, and to Hell, …for sinners, …like us. And in return? He asks only that we believe, and trust in Him. The reward will certainly be worth it.

Who’s Got Your Back?

…Who can you really trust?

When we became Christians we began a new life. A life of freedom; but also, a life that Christ warned us would have difficulties and struggles.

Why should that be? One reason. Accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior, also restored us as sons and daughters of God; thus making us citizens of God’s Kingdom. And while all that is true, the problem is, …we are still living on planet Earth!

We were not instantly perfected (made sin-free and perfect). Our sins were forgiven and we began a relationship—a process, if you will—with Jesus that will prepare us, over time, for our move to Heaven.

In the meantime, we gradually learn more about God’s Kingdom; and as we do we become more of an alien on earth. We grow more aware that earthly lifestyles and cultures are truly broken, corrupt and sinful. Yet, this is the culture in which we “swim”, and will swim, until we are called to our true home.

The unfortunate truth is that it is simply not possible to live a sin free, trouble-free life on earth! But, God did not leave us without resources; and the Bible is our number one resource. I consider the following scriptures to be four of the most crucial scriptures for developing our trust in God.

*Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. [Proverbs 3:5, NLT]

And that scripture can be backed up with three more…

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” [1Peter 5:7]

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” [Jeremiah 29:11]

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” [Romans 8:28]

Now, speaking from my personal experience, I can tell you it is easy to say, “I trust in God.” It is not always so easy to do. I want to trust God. And, I am getting better at it. But, it hasn’t been simple or easy.

More than once, I’ve been told… “Well, you either trust God, or you don’t.” Excuse me; but… where in the bible are you seeing that? It simply is not that black and white. Although I think Satan would like for us to believe it. After all it’s one of those things that does have a kernel of truth. Satan will jump on it in order to lead you into questioning whether or not you are truly a child of God. Let me give you an example of how this works from my own life.

For me, some things aren’t at all hard to turn-over to God. I can look at something, realize it beyond my capacities, ask God to handle it, and go on my way. Then, when I see that God has taken care of something for me, or paved the way for the two of us to move forward together, I give him the glory. (O.K. Being honest, I have to admit I am sometimes a little slow in giving that glory when I don’t immediately see (or recognize) what God has done. But when I do, I,take care of the oversight right there and then.

Then there are other things I pray about, and tell God I’m giving them to him. And I do, …for a while. Then, I start thinking about it. That leads to worry. (In my case it often involves long-term financial issues). Next, I’m waking-up in the middle of the night and I can’t get back to sleep. Satan is working me over. I’ve become a basket case of worry and fear. I’m not solving a single thing. I close-up, lose patience with people; and in general, become something of a jerk. And yes, I’m setting a very poor example of a Christian life.

Now, let me clear up something. Is my worry a sin? Yes! Does the fact that I’m worrying and not trusting God mean I’ve somehow canceled my status as a Christian? NO! I’m, still saved. Is Jesus happy about my situation? No. BUT, He is with me and ready to pick-me up from where I’ve fallen; brush-off the dirt of this world (and Satan); put an arm around me, and take the reins firmly in hand. All I need do after calling on Him is relinquish control and have faith that I will see the optimal outcome to my problem.

So, let’s go back to those scriptures and see if we can’t find some help in them. The first scripture tells us, “do not depend on your own understanding.” In other words our understanding is flawed. For example, God can see into the future, …I can’t. And, my understanding of what’s really happening in the present, isn’t all that great, either. We need to pray for Kingdom eyes to see with, Kingdom ears to hear with, and Kingdom thought processes..

The second verse says, “…for He cares about you.” Folks, that is saying a lot. God, the Creator of the Universe… Cares. For. Us! And, by the way, it’s not just Christians he cares for. He cares for everyone! But for those who believe in, and love Him, …we get relationship. We need to take every advantage of it. What power that gives us!

The third scripture tells us that God has, “…plans for our good and not for our harm.” His plans are, “…to give us a bright future and a hope.” Is there any doubt in your mind about who has the BEST plans; God, or us? While we’re taking advantage of that relationship we have with God, we need to make sure that through our arrogance or simple lack of faith, we’re not leaving anything on the table.

The fourth verse tells us that our screw-ups or even Satan’s plans for our destruction, can be worked, by God, to the advantage of those who love him and are following his plans. This does not mean that God will always do what we want. God can say, “Yes.” God can also say, “Not yet;” or even, “No.” Happily, I have noticed that frequently, “No,” means, “I have a better plan.” And, that makes this a verse of re-assurance, one we should always carry with us.

And finally, if these scriptures aren’t enough for you, just stop. Clear your mind. Now, think about what God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have already done for you. God’s plan, Jesus’ sacrifice, the Holy Spirit intervening for you. If that doesn’t boost your faith and trust—check your pulse. I hope it’s not too late.

Abba, (Father),

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” I suspect that in some ways I still behave like a child (or worse yet, a teenager). This perfecting process takes constant prayer, lessons, and effort. And sometimes, I feel like I’m taking one step forward and two back—yet you are always with me. Thank you!

Lord, I also want to thank you for the lesson you have taught me about worry, and how to stop it in its tracks. That has been an immense help to me. Thank you for reminding me that “worry” and “fear” are Satan’s tools—not yours. Remembering that lesson has helped me more times than I’d care to count. And every time you have been right there, for me.

Lord, I know who has my back, and who I can always trust! Amen.

Avery Goodday

* Scripture quotations marked [NLT] are taken from the New Living Translation—Life Application Study Bible, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.