The Red Cord of Salvation

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One of my favorite TV shows is called Shark Tank. On Shark Tank, ordinary people come to pitch their innovation ideas to a panel of multi-millionaire investors. In 2013, two young innovators pitched the idea of an internet video doorbell idea. The Ring Video Doorbell equips the owners with the ability to monitor their house front door. This offers security and peace of mind knowing wherever the homeowners are, they can see who visits their house. Often, robbers have walked up to a front door, noticed the Ring Doorbell, and they turnaround. They know they are on camera. They would not be breaking and entering into this home. Soon, robbers know not to mess with this house.

Red cord

In Joshua 2, we read of Rahab who saved the lives of the Israelite spies by letting them down through the window. She asked the spies to promise her they would protect her during the impending Israel attack on Jericho. The spies told Rahab to place a red cord out of her window. When the time of destruction comes, the red cord would be a sign to the Israelite soldiers to know not attack this house. The homeowner, Rahab, had the peace of mind knowing that her house would be spared. Her salvation came through the red cord.

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This reminds me of the 10th plague recorded in Exodus, right before Pharaoh let the Israelites go. After nine plagues, Pharaoh would not let the Israelites free. The 10th and final plague was about the death of all first-born people and animals. However, God promised he would not destroy the Israelites’ first-born children and animals if they had the blood of a lamb painted on the door posts of their houses. Exodus 12:23 says, “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.” The angel of death passed over the houses whose doorposts adorned the red blood of the lamb.

The Ring Doorbell camera sends the would-be robbers away, passing over the house because the owner is watching over the house. The red cord was a promise which reminded the soldiers to pass over Rahab’s house. The red blood of the lamb stood as a protection for the Israelite families, the angel of death had to pass over. We all need protection from physical and spiritual harm. We need protection from the enemy who seeks to destroy us. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

The red blood of Jesus on the doorposts of our hearts serves as a reminder to the devil that we belong to Jesus. We have the red blood of Jesus as a promise of God’s protection. The blood of Jesus protects us from spiritual attacks. Our salvation and safety are through the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Do you have the covering of the blood of Jesus? Pray for protection. Pray for the blood of Jesus to cover you, your family, your work, everything you touch and do.

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You Sing Over Me

One of my favorite songs by Stevie Wonder is called “Isn’t She Lovely?”

As you begin playing the song, your ears are warmly greeted by the sounds of a crying new-born baby. Stevie Wonder recorded this poignant, tender moment of the birth of his baby, Aisha. He rejoiced over the birth of his daughter by singing the song, “Isn’t She lovely?” Listening to this song, you hear the adoring, loving voice of a father smitten by the arrival of a new life. Stevie Wonder could not help but compose a song to express His utter amazement and unconditional love of little baby Aisha.

The Salvation Army Pasadena Tabernacle Songsters have been singing a new song written by Heather Sorenson called “You Sing Over Me.” The words of the chorus of the song go like this:

“Sing over me your songs of joy

Your songs of healing and salvation

Sing over me

Anthems of love crescendo above!

I’m the carol of your heart

I’m the theme of your song as I sing to You

You sing over me!”

In Zephaniah 3:17, we read, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.” Did you catch that? The God of heavens and earth, the Creator of the universe rejoices over you with singing. God composes a personal song which heaven harmoniously sings over you. I imagine a parent holding their baby, singing a lullaby of joy over their baby. I imagine God holding you, singing a song of blessing over you. Imagine God singing words of affirmation and encouragement over you. God loves you deeply (John 3:16). God cares for you, and He thinks of you always (Psalm 139:17-18), He wants to rejoice over you with singing because you matter to Him. You are the apple of His eye, the theme of His song!

When you feel lonely, rejected, unloved, dirty, disappointed, frustrated – God cares for you. Do you hear the melodies of heaven playing over your situation? In reference to you, the song could be, “Isn’t he/she lovely?”

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Got Hope?

In the late 1950’s, the government of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) warned the villagers that the Zambezi Valley would be flooded, as the newly built Kariba Dam wall would create a huge lake which would flood the whole valley. During the time leading up to the flooding of the valley, villagers stopped fixing broken fences; disregarded fixing leaking roofs; or sprucing up their properties. Why would they bother? The houses would be submerged under water soon. Slowly, the village and nearby town began took look like a ghost town. Many sections of the town were in disrepair. The village looked deserted before the inhabitants left. This this quote by leadership author, John Maxwell says it best, ““Where there is no HOPE for the future, there is no power in the present.”

Hope

What is hope? The dictionary defines it this way: “to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true.”

All people are born with a sense of hope. We hope for a better future. We hope for better school results. We hope our sports team wins. We hope for better weather. We hope for many things in life. As Christians, our hope is not just a wish, it is a belief in someone greater than us. Our hope is not anchored in people, places, or possessions. Our hope is anchored in God. Our hope longs for God’s power, presence, and protection. Our hope is a confident anticipation of God’s redemptive grace, and a bright eternity in heaven. Our hope endures the pain of the presence in exchange for a peaceful, painless future. As Christians, we do not only want hope, we must exhibit hope, and we must dispense hope to the hopeless.

Here is an acronym I wrote to help me define hope:

HEAVEN. Hope represents our salvation. Hope represents our eternal future in heaven. Life with Jesus gives hope. Life without Jesus equals hopelessness. Many people think they have hope, but true hope comes from our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

OPTIMISM. Hope means we are full of optimism for the future. We are optimistic in all situations. We believe that the best is yet to come. With Christ, all things are possible.

PROMISE. Hope means we stand on God’s unshakable promises. Hold on to your promise. God will do it. His promises are sure. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:20

ENDURE in expectancy. Hope means we endure pain knowing that we may be down but not out. When we get knocked down we rise in victory! Hang on in there. Don’t give up. Endure today, one more time, your victory is just around the corner. “There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.” – Clare Boothe Luce

Keep your hope anchored in Christ.

Recharging My Batteries

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Psalm 19:1-4, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.”

Ridgway is a picturesque area. Wow! We are surrounded by towering, majestic mountains. Beautiful homes dot the curvaceous plains and hillsides. Ornate white picket fences draw demarcation lines between homesteads. Furry rabbits hop from one wild blue and purple flower plant to another. Birds humming harmoniously, while a cool breeze causes the trees to sway a little. The breeze cause the tree leaves to emit a soothing, subtle whistle. Elegant horses graze graciously in the green pastures. Everything seems so laid back. This is a sharp contrast to my normal daily routine.

So, what am I doing here? My family and I squeezed in a short furlough before the girls return to school. We whisked away for a refreshing time before the beginning of the next program year.

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I am here to be refreshed. I am here to receive an infill of the Holy Spirit. I am here to rest, relax, and listen. Life’s demands make it hard to hear God. The bustling sounds of urban life rob us of intimate moments with God. Thus, I am here in Colorado – to replenish my soul. A tranquil getaway such as this one inspire me to open my eye and my ears to God. Watching God’s creation draws me closer to Him. I can feel His heartbeat. I am listening. I am here to be filled. I am believing God for a miraculous, breakthrough year. Inspire me. Fill me. Equip me for the journey ahead. Are you running on empty?

  • How do you refill your soul?
  • When you feel weary and overwhelmed, where do you go for rest?
  • How do you relieve yourself of stress?
  • Take time away to refill your low spiritual supply.
  • Go to the beach, sit at a bench in the park, relax in your own backyard, or go for a casual hike.
  • You need it.

You Are Not a Failure

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I am sure, I am not alone in saying, “I sometimes feel like a failure.” There are many reasons why you may feel like a failure. You may have recently been let go from work. You may have failed your finals in school. You may have bombed an important interview. Your boyfriend/girlfriend recently broke up with you. You may have been cheated on. You lost money on a business deal gone bad. You keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Life is just not working for you. You feel inadequate, unqualified, a failure. I want to remind you that you are not a failure. You may have gone through difficult times, but the difficulties do not define you. God placed you there for a reason. God does not make mistakes.

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Do not allow the feelings of failure to debilitate you. Do not let the feelings of inadequacy leave functionally incapacitated.

  1. Refuse to believe the lie.

You may have done it, but you are not it. You are not defined by your failures. You are a child of God. “So, if the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36

 2. You are not alone.

The feelings of failure are indiscriminate. We all feel like failures, at some point. When you fall, do not stay down. You may be down, but you are not out. Rise! “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.– Proverbs 24:16.

3. You have been forgiven.

You do not have to live in guilt. You are forgiven. You are a new creature in Christ. “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” – I John 1:9

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

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4. No condemnation

When you feel like a failure, feelings of condemnation abound. Stop playing the blame game. Stop overanalyzing your mistakes and shortcomings. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2

5. His grace is sufficient

God provides enough grace to cover all your sins. When you are forgiven, God does not keep a remnant of your errors to hold above your head. He loves you enough to give all your shortcomings. His grace is enough for you. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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6. And this too, shall pass.

Nothing on earth is permanent. These feelings of failure. The problems and challenges of life are temporary. The sadness is for a brief moment. God will soon turn it all around. You will be walking in victory soon! Cheer up! Hope is at the end of the rope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Hang on in there! “Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.” – Psalm 30:5

Are You Even Listening?

Listen

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” – James 1:19

In any setting, any relationship, we must listen to each other. In leadership, it is stated that good leaders are good listeners. Leaders must listen to the donors, volunteers and staff. Organizations must listen carefully to their customers, employees, investors, communities, and other stakeholders. Churches must listen to God, to the congregation members, and to the community. The trouble is that we do not listen. We hear, but we do not listen. Someone once said, “You have 2 ears, and one mouth for a reason – listen twice as you speak.” In relationships, some of the fighting and arguments would cease if we learned to listen to each other. When you listen, you understand the other’s perspective.

Author Steve Covey stated, “Seek to understand before being understood.” We must strive to listen first, before we seek to be listened to.

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Hearing is the natural process of sound waves hitting the out and internal hearing organ – the EAR. Listening is an art. Most people are born with the ability to hear. We are not necessarily born with the skill of listening. Listening is more than hearing. You must develop your listening skills. “The word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT.” –Alfred Brendel

LISTEN

“When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice

You have not done what I have asked

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I should not feel that way

You are trampling on my feelings

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems

You have failed me strange as that may seem

Listen! All I asked was that you listen, not talk or do anything—just hear me

I can do for myself – I am not helpless

I may be discouraged and faltering- but not helpless

If you do things for me that I can, and need to do for myself, you contribute to my

Fear and weakness

But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational

Then I can quit trying to convince you and get about the business of understanding

What is behind the irrational feeling

When that is clear, the answers are obvious and I do not need advice

Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what is behind them

So, please listen and just hear me and, if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn and I’ll listen to you…” (Unknown)

 

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Many people are looking for someone to listen to them. Ask God to remind you, and to help you be a good listener. Learn to practice the ministry of presence. Be there for someone wants your ear, your time, call or visit.

Have you heard from God, lately? Are you too busy, to distracted to listen to Him?

What has God been saying to you lately? How are you responding to His words?

Scriptures For Tough Times

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Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you losing hope, struggling to make ends meet? Does God seem far? Sometimes life is just plain difficult. I often go to these Scriptures for comfort and encouragement. These Scriptures can cheer you up, reinvigorate your passion, and instill hope. Take time to read and meditate on these verses through the day. Share them on social and with your friends.

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Isaiah 40:31, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”

Psalm 31:24, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.”

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Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Psalm 16:8, “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

A Joyful Noise

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” – Psalm 100:1

Seahawks

I am a Seattle Seahawks fan. The Seattle Seahawks fans are known for their loudness. It is said they are louder than when an airplane is about to takeoff. In 2013, the Seahawks fans screamed and made such a loud noise such that they caused a small earthquake which registered 137.6 decibels! The Seattle Seahawks fans are serious about their support of their beloved team.

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Psalm 100 encourages God’s people to worship God without any restraints. The Psalmist exhorts the people to freely express their love for God. For us today, we are to freely worship God. We are to remove all restraints which inhibit us from articulating our undying love for God.

Joyful noise

Why joyful noise?

SAVED. We are to be joyful because we are no longer slaves to sin. God set us free. “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.” – Romans 6:6

GOD’S PRESENCE. Our present circumstance, though not perfect, is much better than where we were. The past was doom and gloom. God redeemed us from a dark past. Here, in the present, the presence of God sustains us. We are joyful because God is with us, no matter the circumstances. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11

VICTORY. We are joyful because we are over-comers. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.  “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

ANSWERED PRAYERS. Many of us can name a few or many answered prayers. We owe it to God to thank Him for hearing our prayers. We owe it to Him to thank Him for all His blessings and miracles.

THE FUTURE. We are full of hope for the future. God is preparing a bright future for us. Why should we be sad? We will not let the pain of yesterday rob us of the future that awaits us. “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him.” – I Corinthians 2:9.

We might not cause the earth to shake like the Seattle Seahawks fans do, but we must not shy away from a deep expression of our love for God. Our joyful noise for God must shake the gates of Hades. Are you ready to make a joyful noise to the Lord?

Confession is Good for the Soul

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I John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

It’s been said, “Confession is good for the soul.” Is this statement true? Is confession easy to do? To whom should we confess, anyway? I must confess, I find it hard and awkward to confess my sins to other people. I find it difficult to confess to God, as well.

Confession to God is serious business. Confession to God means we accept our sins, and we acknowledge that God can do something about our sins. Here are some reasons why people struggle to confess their sins to God.

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  1. IGNORANCE. You do not know what you do not know.  You don’t know what you did wrong. Sometimes you have to wait for a sermon or for someone to remind you of your transgressions. Some people do not believe their actions are sinful. They think their actions are just misguided mistakes, and errors. No need to confess, so they think.
  2. GUILT. This is the big one here. People struggle to face God when they are aware of the huge wall of sin blocking their view of God. They may feel bad, remorseful, and ashamed. They might wonder if the Holy God would want to hear from them. They envision God saying, “Not again. How many times are you going to keep sinning and coming back to ask for forgiveness?” Acknowledging your own sin is a humbling exercise. Facing God while you are in sin is embarrassing and shameful. Hiding or ignoring your sins does not make the sins disappear. Sooner or later, you are going to deal with those sins. It is better to confess them now, when grace is available, than at a time when it would be too late.
  3. BUSYNESS. A rushed life has no time for deep, thoughtful communication with God. When people are rushed, they tend to make general, drive-by prayers. They gloss over serious problems, and dismiss them as insignificant errors. Quality, unhurried time with God is conducive for serious reflection on the ugliness of sin, and the beauty of God’s abundant grace.

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Every time we confess how we have missed the mark of God’s love and truth, we open ourselves up to the mending work of the cross. Jesus’ wounds hold true life-changing power. This is the shocking reality that confession can open up to us.” (Adele Calhoun)

Yes, confession is good for the soul. It makes the soul right with God. God knows your sins. God is not happy with your sins. Continuing in sin places your relationship with God in jeopardy. You must confess your sins, not only to clear your conscience, but to clear the path to God.

Stop running, stop hiding, confess your sins to God, and God will cleanse you.