Monday, April 25, 2016

OFFENSES BUILD FENCES

Above all, love each other deeply, 
Because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(I Peter 4:8)

"Oops, did I offend you? I shouldn't have said that." "That's O.K., Charlie Bear. I know you didn't mean it."

Have you ever been offended by someone? Have you offended anyone? Without realizing it, I have unintentionally offended. I remember one particular time, when a pastor was preaching on forgiveness. He closed the service by saying, "If anyone has offense against their brother or sister in Christ, go to that person, tell them their sin, and forgive them." A lady, whom I had briefly met the previous year, came up to me and abruptly said, "I forgive you." I was stunned and asked, "What did I do?" She answered, "You said you didn't like White Castle hamburgers and that offended me." I appreciated her honesty and apologized.

We all have a favorite food, sport's team, designer label, color, make of car, restaurant, candidate, person, etc. However, when someone makes a negative comment about our choices, the door swings open for offence. We can even become offended if someone suggests that we change something or try something new, which challenges our way of doing things or even our level of expertise. Amazingly, some will interpret a compliment, a gesture of kindness, or generosity as offensive. 

It's astounding how easily we can offend one another and how easily we can feel offended. What we deem as an innocent expression of our opinions, suggestions, likes, dislikes, and generosity, can in turn offend another. Because we are all imperfect individuals with varying tastes and opinions, we would be less offended if we accepted the fact that we can't always agree on everything.

Offenses can come when we misinterpret and misjudge someone's words, actions, or demeanor as being intentionally hurtful, judgmental, neglectful, accusatory, rude, thoughtless, condemning, careless, or dishonest. Unfortunately, the offended party seldom comes forward to tell the offender. 

The Word of God tells us, that if a fellow Christian sins against us, we are to go to them privately and confront them with their fault. If they listen and confess it, we have won back our brother or sister in Christ (Matthew 18:15-17). Of course, if we offend someone and see that it has caused anger and resentment, we need to apologize. As an example, I recently made a careless comment and instantly knew that I had offended a non-Christian. I immediately apologized.

What is an offense? An offense is defined as an annoyance, anger, resentment, indignation, irritation, exasperation, wrath, displeasure, animosity, or ill feelings as a result of another person's words or actions. 

The world is a caldron of violence, indifference, hatred, judgment, and lawlessness that has its roots in offense. The enemy of our soul and author of offense is doing everything he can to create disunity and division within churches, marriages, families, friendships, work places, schools, governments, and nations. We constantly see examples of people being easily offended, especially in deadly road rage incidents.

Most offenses are not intentional. Often it's our own insecurities, perceptions, stresses in life, beliefs, opinions, false information, misunderstandings, and how we process information and respond to others, that cause us to become offended. I was surprised to read that many pastors have discovered over their years of ministry, that Christians are the most sensitive and easily offended group of people. 

Offenses, whether big or small, can fracture relationships, cause pain, and create disunity. The enemy of our soul knows that unity with a godly common goal can accomplish great things for God's Kingdom. Disunity can cause divisiveness within the family of God, thereby aborting God's plans.

God's Word tells us that if we speak the languages of men and angels but we don't love one another, then we are nothing but clanging cymbals making a lot of noise. If we have the gift of prophecy and understand the mysteries of God, and have all knowledge and faith that moves mountains, but we don't have love, then we have nothing. Even if we do good deeds, give money to the needy and poor, but don't love, we have gained nothing for God's kingdom (I Corinthians 13).

The Sadducees and Pharisees got together to test Jesus by asking Him what was the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses. Jesus condensed the entire Law into two commandments: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

How do we love ourselves?  I am not referring to narcissism, which is conceit and egotism. I am referring to those things that we store in our hearts, minds, and souls that can either impede or develop our level of love for ourselves, which then governs how we respond to others.

Genesis 2:7 states that Man was created as a "living soul." The soul consists of the mind (which includes the conscience), the will, and the emotions. The soul and the spirit are tied together and make up what scriptures refer to as the "heart."

Proverbs tells us, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life" (Prov. 4:23 NASB). The heart is the center for emotional, moral, and intellectual processing. It can be deeply troubled (Genesis 6:6). The heart is central to our emotions and will. The heart can be unyielding and hardened as was Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 7:14; 8:15). The heart can be obstinate and proud and led astray (Deuteronomy 2:30; 8:13-14; 17:70). Hate and lust can be held in the heart (Leviticus 19:17; Numbers 15:39). But a pure heart is obedient and faithful to God, compassionate, loving, and forgiving (Matthew 18:35).

Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8). How can we attain a pure heart before God? We revisit what Jesus said regarding the first two commandmants
on which all else rests. We must first love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. That requires surrendering one's will and agendas to God's blueprint for a fulfilled life. 

The carnal nature of man is willful, obstinate, demanding, and is easily offended. It justifies anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, judgment, and grudges. However, love covers over all wrongs (Proverbs 10:12). 

In order for love to cover wrongs, we must love others as we love ourselves. The caveat to loving ourselves is first loving God and understanding how God sees us. The fact that He loves us unconditionally and was willing to come in the form of a man to save us from an eternity separated from Him, shows that God is a God of reconciliation. He reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

What is reconciliation? It is a reuniting and bringing together what was once broken. When we became reconciled to God, He not only accepted us as we were with all of our flaws and brokenness, He didn't hold our sins against us. As He has loved us with agape love, we are called to minister His love and reconciliation to our own soul and to others.

Agape love is selfless love that is patient and kind. It doesn't envy, boast, or dishonor another. It doesn't  hold grudges (offenses). It isn't easily angered and does not keep record of wrongs. It rejoices in truth. It protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

Love is not a feeling; love is a choice and a commitment to God and to others. Emotions can vary, but a commitment to love is based on biblical agape love and is not moved by emotion or circumstances. Jesus was not moved by hatred, accusations, rejection, beatings, humiliation, betrayal, or torture. He had made a commitment to His Father and to us, and because of His great love for us, He willingly went to the cross where He bore our sins in His body so that we might die to sin and live in righteousness (I Peter 2:24).

Sadly, there are churches that confuse love with the emotional "feel good prosperity gospel" that asks, "What am I getting out of this relationship with God?" Unfortunately, that false teaching has distorted the truth about unconditional love that gives, forgives, heals, is merciful, reconciles, and restores.

As Christians, we are not to be transformed by this world or to conform to it. We are to be transformed by renewing our mind through God's Word, so that we are able to discern what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). Although we live in this world, we are called to do the difficult task of not being a part of it.

Christians are to be the link that restores relationships and connects others to the love of our heavenly Father. How can we do that if we are easily offended? If we love ourselves, as Christ loves us, those tall fences of offenses that have been erected through suspicion misunderstanding, fear, hurt, disappointment, jealously, hatred, unforgiveness, and every other divisive human emotion will be brought down, and Christ's banners of truth, love, and reconciliation will be raised high.


  

Monday, April 18, 2016

"GOD, ARE YOU THERE?"


When I was a small child, I used to wonder why I was born. Through my bedroom window, I would gaze into the night sky, aglow with millions of twinkling stars, and ask, "God, are you there?" "Was I born for a reason?" "Do You really care about me?" "Can You hear me when I talk to You?" (Don't ever underestimate a child's thought processes and their ability to question and reason.)

Life ending in a cold, dark grave was frightening to think about. I would even have disturbing dreams about falling into a fiery abyss that I imagined was hell. Did hell really exist or was it a place found only in nightmares?

I had no problem believing that heaven existed, but since the criteria for entrance seemed beyond my capabilities, I was not sure of my final destination. If there was a hell, I didn't want to go to there, but I didn't know how to avoid it.

My mother had erroneously told me that "good" people went to heaven and "bad" people went to hell. That concept was troubling, because I knew there were times when I was very "good," but there were also times when I was "bad." Did God keep a record? If He did and the tally showed that I was good more than I was bad, would that qualify me for a place in heaven? Or did I have to be perfect, and if perfection was the pre-qualifier, how could I possibly achieve that monumental goal?

At age three, I desperately wanted to go to school. I would sit at the living room window and sob, as I watched my older brother board the big yellow bus. I didn't understand why I couldn't go to school. My mother had taught me the alphabet and the sounds that went together to form words. I was starting to read and could print my name. Finally, at age four, my Mother relented and enrolled me into first grade at a progressive Catholic school.

Not being Catholic, I was fascinated with the nuns. I noticed that my teacher wore a gold wedding band on her left hand, and I wondered why, since I had been told that nuns never married. Being the precocious child that I was, I boldly asked why she wore a gold band. She politely told me that she had taken vows and was married to God.

Hmm, married to God? Well, that was really confusing. How could she be married to God, whom she couldn't see? And even more confusing, was that all of the nuns wore gold wedding bands, so how could they all be married to God? I could not wrap my young mind around that very puzzling concept. But in my naivety, I reasoned that if they were married to God, then they were close to Him; therefore, I thought the best way to find answers to my questions was to become a nun when I grew up. I couldn't wait to share that epiphany with my mother.

Somewhat shocked over my announcement, my mother carefully explained that I didn't have to become a nun to find God. Ironically, since my she was not a Christian at that time, she couldn't tell me how I could find Him. Thus began a twenty-one year search to find God and His purpose for my life.

Life seemed to offer mostly ups and downs, questions with few answers, and disappointments and heartaches. During those years, I wondered if God could or would answer me, or if He even cared about me. Then one cold and very snowy winter's night of February 1972, my search for what seemed to be an elusive God, ended. At age 25, I finally met the love of my life...Jesus Christ. Many questions were answered and the fear of spending eternity in a place of never ending torment was forever dispelled and settled.

That evening, His Word confirmed that heaven and hell are real places. Jesus said that we are not to fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear [Satan] who can destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28). Fortunately, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him [will] not [go to hell] but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die" (John 11:25). The Apostle John said, "This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood." (Water represents His baptism to fulfill all righteousness. Blood represents His sacrifice and the new covenant made for the remission of sins.)  "And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one" (I John 5:6-8).

I was flooded with joy upon learning that death and the grave no longer had a hold on me: “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 15:55-57). These truths were astounding revelations that brought me great peace and joy, knowing that there is a wonderful and exciting life awaiting all who invite the Savior into their heart.

My introduction to God through His precious Son, Jesus Christ has culminated in a lifelong relationship that continues to grow each day. These past 45 years have been a journey of self-discovery, learning who I am in Christ, learning about God through His Word, discovering His purpose for me on earth, and most importantly, developing an ongoing relationship with Him. 

God created us to have a relationship with Him and is patiently waiting for us to reciprocate. We need only to entrust all that we are to His Son, Jesus. Then we can rest in that blessed assurance that He not only hears us, He responds to our every heart's cry and need, for He loves us unconditionally with a perfect love that casts out fear (I John 4:18).

"God, are you there?" Unequivocally, I can answer, "Yes!"

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish,
And no one will snatch them out of My hand.
(John 10:27)







Monday, April 11, 2016


PAGAN BABYLONIA

After the Great Flood, all men spoke one common language. Nimrod, a descendant of Noah’s son, Ham, built Babylon. It's ruins lay in modern-day Iraq 59 miles southwest of Baghdad. This once great city, a symbol of power, materialism, wealth, and cruelty, held Jews captive for 70 years.

The Bible tells us that all false systems of religion can be traced back to Babylon, and it has been prophesied that these religions will become unified in the "spirit of Babylon," as the one-world religion in the last days.

Babylonians were idol worshippers who would change the names of their captives to emotionally isolate and separate them from their homeland and their beliefs, because a name held great meaning, significance, and importance. To change that name would change that person's beliefs, identity, and destiny.

Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and Daniel, were young Hebrew boys, forcibly taken from their land and carried into Babylon. Their names were changed to incorporate idols: 

HANANIAH: meaning, "Yahweh has shown favor," was changed to Shadrach: meaning "Command of Aku"(a Babylonian God).

MISHAEL: meaning, "Who is like God," was changed to Meshach (Mishaaku) meaning, "Who is what Aku is."

AZARIAH: meaning, "YAHWEH has helped," was changed to Abednego, meaning, "Servant of Nebo"(another Babylonian God).

DANIEL: meaning, “God is my judge,” was changed to Belteshazzar (Belt a shy zerr), meaning, "Protect the life of the king."

We know the story: The Hebrew boys refused to eat the rich foods offered, because they didn't know if part of those animals had been offered to idols. Neither would they worship King Nebuchadnezzar and the 90 foot golden idol, so Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace that had been heated seven times hotter. The Lord not only delivered them, out of the furnace, unscathed, but the king then elevated all four to positions of authority. There are rewards for separating ourselves from a culture that doesn't recognize God and His sovereign authority.

In today's culture, there are religions that require the person to change their name for the expressed purpose of separating them from their families, their homeland, and their beliefs. Conversely, 
when God changed a person's name, it was to give them a new identity in Him and a prophetic statement of who they would be. The old had passed away and the new had been birthed into His kingdom.

God changed Abram’s name, which meant, "high father," to “Abraham,” meaning "father of a multitude" (Genesis 17:5). His wife, “Sarai,” meaning, “my princess,” was changed to “Sarah,” meaning, “mother of nations” (Genesis 17:15). We know from history that the descendants of Abraham and Sarah formed many nations, including the Jews and the Muslims.

God changed Jacob’s name from "supplanter" to “Israel,” meaning, “having power with God” (Genesis 32:28). He changed Simon’s name, "God has heard," to “Peter,” meaning, "rock" (John 1:42). Why did Jesus occasionally call Peter, “Simon Peter?” Because Peter acted more like the old untransformed Simon and not the rock God had called him to be. However, that would change at Pentecost.

The Babylonians had wanted Daniel and his three friends to conform to their pagan beliefs and culture. However, these young, Hebrew men held deep convictions regarding God's ways and the Jewish law. So when they were taken to Babylon, they understood the importance of remaining pure and undefiled, by not partaking in a pagan culture that practiced idol worship.  Even though their names had been changed to pagan names, they refused to conform to the pagan culture of Babylonian world.

The Word cautions Christians not to be conformed to this world, but must be transformed by renewing the mind with His Word, so that there is discernment in what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10 ESV). If we were of the world, the world would love us as its own, but because we are not of the world, the world hates us (John 15:19 ESV). Therefore, we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires (Romans 13:14 ESV). Neither are we to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial (the devil)? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters

Pagan Babylon represented the antithesis of God. Paganism rejects God’s rule over mankind and lives according to carnal desires. Sadly, doctrines of ancient paganism have become part of the American culture as we see the rejection of God's rule in family, marriage, the sanctity of life, biblical concepts, government, commerce, and worship.

Patrick Henry, a patriot of the United States, said: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have a new identity as Christ followers. Like the great men and women in the scriptures who remained faithful to God, He is calling today's Christians to not only stand true to their Christian convictions but to separate themselves from a pagan world that rejects the truth of God's Word. The Lord says,  "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it (Revelation 2:17).  

I'm looking forward to that day when I receive my new name, only known to me and to God. That new name will be a revelation of God's vision and destiny for me throughout all eternity. Hallelujah!






Monday, April 4, 2016

GOD AND A MAN NAMED JOB
We have all experienced fear in some form. Sometimes fear warns us of impending danger. Other times fear is irrational or self-imposed. Fear is a powerful tool used by Satan to paralyze and inject his clamoring negative thoughts into our minds. If we accept those thoughts as truth, then doubt and erroneous beliefs are birthed, resulting in fear and worry. When fear is given access to our hearts, faith and peace have no room to abide.

On the surface, the Book of Job is a story that causes us to ask, "If God is a loving God, why do bad things happen to good people?" Job, a man of wealth and good standing with God, was subjected to fear, judgment, extreme suffering, and inexplicable loss.

The account of Job begins when Satan approaches God. Then the LORD asks Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replies, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse You to your face!” And the Lord replied to Satan, “You may do anything you like with his wealth, but don’t harm him physically” (Job 1:6-11 LB).

Why would God allow this contest between good and evil? Was God punishing Job? Was He playing a cruel game? The answer is a definitive, "NO."

Later in the text, we learn of God's purposes.  He was far more concerned with Job's heart and his relationship with Him then He was with Job's trials. As we consider Job's testing, we are "... to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds, because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance, which works to mature and complete us that we may lack nothing" (James 1:2-4).

Shortly after the gauntlet was thrown down, Job's cattle, camels, and donkeys were stolen; the sheep and servants were burned up; and a tornado destroyed his home and killed his children. Yet Job did not sin against God with his mouth. This frustrated Satan, so again, he went before God and said,  “Skin for skin!”  “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out Your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse You to Your face” (Job 2:4-5).  The Lord replied, “Do with him as you please, only spare his life.” Then Satan afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head" (Job 2:6-7).

God is omniscient (all knowing). He wasn't threatened by Satan. If anything, Satan would learn once again that he was and is a defeated foe. God would win this challenge.

Job's wife and friends insisted that he curse God, but Job refused and said, "For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me (Job 3:25). Job is telling us that in the back of his mind, there lingered a fear of loss, if he didn't walk circumspectly before God. 

As a child, I had a curiosity about God. At one point, at age five, I told my mother I wanted to be a nun, because they were "married" to God. But as life went on and I experienced pain, hurt, sorrow, and disappointment, I viewed God as a distant, uncaring ogre, sitting on a throne, ready to quash me like a bug the first time I made a mistake. Fear caused me to strive for perfection in everything I did so that I might win God's approval and hopefully earn a place in heaven.

When I was 25, I went through a very painful time in my life. It was then that God's magnanimous love touched me through the gospel message. I learned that heaven couldn't be earned, because Salvation is a gift, bought and paid with the blood of Jesus. All I needed to do was believe that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). God sent into the world His love, forgiveness, mercy, peace, hope, redemption, and new life through His Son Jesus Christ. With that truth embedded in my heart, I began a life-long journey of developing a personal relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

God is never surprised. He knows each one of us intimately, our thoughts, desires, fears, hopes, dreams, insecurities, and the decisions that we will make before we even make them. He knew what Job's reactions would be, what he would say, what he would think, what he would do, and the truths that he would eventually embrace. God had total confidence in Job. So why did God allow Satan to torment him?

The answers to our many questions about Job are found in the last Chapters 38-42 of the Book of Job. God reveals His omnipotence (unlimited power) to Job and asks him,  “Who is this that obscures My plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me" (Job 38:1-3).

God begins to set Job straight by telling him who He is. God then questions Job, causing him to think about things that he had never realized or considered. God's intentions are to educate Job in who He is, settle his fears, alleviate his suffering, bring him to repentance, and establish a relationship. Although, He wants Job to respect Him, He does not want Job to be afraid of Him.

Realization hits Job and he responds, "I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures My plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. "You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’" Job continues, "My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:1-6).

At last, Job realizes that he knew about God only from what he heard.  He didn't have a personal relationship or understand who God really was, until his heart (spiritual eyes) was opened. The ApostIe Paul said, "Pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe" (Ephesians 1:18). For the first time, Job saw God as eternal, loving, full of goodness and grace, holy, unchanging, forgiving, just, merciful, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, wise, righteous, sovereign, faithful, Father, and friend. His fear had been transformed into a loving reverential respect for God.

Despite all that Job had suffered, he never sinned by denying God. 
His friends had been convinced that Job must have sinned to be enduring such tragedy and suffering. Unfortunately, that is the mindset of many Christians, and it is a lie. Yes, there are consequences for our behaviors and choices, but sometimes those consequences and things that happen to us are not a result of sin. 

His friends had spoken wrongly about God and about Job. Therefore, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, (one of Job's three friends) “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has" (Job 42:7-10). Thus, God required that they take seven bulls and seven rams to Job as a burnt offering and Job would pray for them. 

Jesus said, "...I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:44-45). When Job prayed for his friends, "The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters." "After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations.  So Job died, old and full of days "(Job 42: 12-17).

Head knowledge is helpful, but heart knowledge only comes from having a personal relationship with God through prayer and studying His Word. He says, "...call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 'I will be found by you,' declares the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13). We no longer obey out of fear. We boldly affirm that we are loved as we stand on His promises: ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. the LORD" (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

God wants us to enter His presence through His Word, prayer, and worship. In His presence He shows us the path of life; in His presence we find fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures forever (Psalms 16:11 NKJV) In His presence, He hides us from the plots of man (Psalms 31:20 NKJV).

God loved Job so much that He allowed him to suffer for a season so that in his suffering, he would seek to know God and have a relationship with Him. I was like Job, who in distress, sought answers. I had attended church off and on for the first 25 years of my life, but I didn't know God. During these last 45 years, I have developed an intimate relationship with Him, whom I know as Abba Father. He has carried me through every difficulty, and together we have celebrated every triumph. He is my best Friend, Confidant, and the Love of my life. Like Job, He continues to bless my latter days more than my beginning.