If you take 10, you can hear (and see) this amazing testimony of Jon Ponder (convicted of bank robbery) and the way Jesus Christ saved him to turn his life around. This was a video from the recent Republican National Convention. I was also blessed by the support of President Trump for this man and the organization that helps prisoners get a second chance at life through Jesus Christ (not ashamed). Don’t want to be a spoiler, but at the end of the video President Trump grants Jon a “Full Pardon.” Reminds me of what Jesus has done for those of us who place their faith in Him.
Ephesians 4:28 “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”
If you’re married and want God’s blessings on your Agape and Romantic love, this is a great book to read. I’m so blessed with my wife Shelly – the greatest gift after salvation.
Here are some highlights and thoughts from today’s reading:
The Song of Solomon can be seen as a love relationship between God the Father and Israel, Jesus and His Bride (the Church), or the love between a husband and wife. I leaned towards the latter this time around (for the most part).
3 times in the book we have that exhortation, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem…do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.” (until the time is right).
• Isn’t that the way it is (should be) for us as Christians? Don’t stir it up. WAIT on the Lord, He will bring that person your way when you’re both ready!
Song of Solomon 2:10, “My beloved spoke, and said to me: ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.’”
• I love that, “Come away…” And together we ride off into life, as husband and wife, the Great Adventure.
Song of Solomon 2:16, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.”
• After marriage we belong to each other, we take care of each other. Paul said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 7:4.
Song of Solomon 3:4, “Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go.”
• So applicable in marriage – til death do us part, don’t let anything separate you. Also applicable in our relationship with the Lord, hold tight Manny, hold tight, ‘cuz the world is trying to rip Jesus out of your heart.
Song of Solomon 4:9, “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes.”
• Look what you’ve done to my heart, my sister, my spouse. I’ll never forget the first day I first set eyes on Shelly. I can still see her beauty, her smile, her dimples, her big brown eyes, her thick bushy beautiful brown hair, her sculptured curves – and after just one look, I somehow knew I would marry her.
Song of Solomon 5:16b, “Yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend.”
• This must be the heart of our marriage relationship – friendship; the deeper the friendship, the greater the trust, we can tell each other secrets, we can be there and help each other for the rest of our lives.
Song of Solomon 6:9a, “My dove, my perfect one, is the only one.”
• The only one. Out of all the billions of women alive, out of all the fish in the sea, Shelly, you’re the only one for me!
Song of Solomon 8:7a, “Many Waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it.”
• The storms and Tsunamis of life will hit hard, but true love will prevail, endure it all, it is absolutely impossible to drown true love, and that true love is rooted in a true and genuine relationship with the living-loving God.
Song of Solomon 8:13, “You who dwell in the gardens, the companions listen for your voice – Let ME hear it!”
• How many husbands would say that to their wives? “Let me hear it. Talk to me babe, don’t just talk to your friends, talk to me, tell me your heart.”
Song of Solomon 8:14, “Make haste, my beloved…”
• As Song of Solomon comes to an end, I can’t help but shift gears to the other Beloved of the book, how it pictures the relationship of the Lord Jesus with His bride (the Church). In closing we pray, “Make haste, my beloved, come Lord Jesus, “O Lord, come.” (1 Corinthians 16:22b)
Here are a few verses that stood out, and some things the Lord showed me. Praying for all of you who truly believe, that you’d have a blessed day walking with God!
Ecclesiastes 8:12, “Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him.” – Some people are tempted to think that it doesn’t really do any good to live Godly. Here we discover that “it will go better with those who fear God…who are reverent before Him.”
Ecclesiastes 9:9, “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your…life that He has given you under the sun, all your days…for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.” – How huge is that my friend? Live joyfully with the wife whom you love! I removed the words “vain” and “vanity” because I know that every person and even every pain has a purpose…nothing is in vain.
Ecclesiastes 9:10a, “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all of your might…” – It was Jim Elliott who said, “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
Ecclesiastes 9:17, “Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.” – When it comes to listening to a preacher, it “should be” all about content, not delivery, and definitely not volume…but not too many people see it that way nowadays.
Ecclesiastes 11:5, “As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything.” – We don’t know how, but we do know that God is moving like the wind, and we should be growing as His children, we don’t know how, but we’re confident God is making everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Ecclesiastes 12:9–11, “9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright—words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.” – He still taught…(even though people are more interested in delivery or eloquence – 9:17). He sought to find acceptable words, acceptable to God, words that are upright, and true. The words of the wise are goads of conviction, and nails of a cross whose end is death to self, and whose origin is the Savior Himself. God help me to take up my cross.
Ecclesiastes 12:13–14, “13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” – Drop the mic Solomon.
Wow – it’s hard to believe we’re in the year 2020! If you know me at all, you know that I’m weird in certain ways and 2020 evokes a couple of quick thoughts. First of all, a little superficial rhyme, I told my son the other day (from a Spiritual perspective of course) “Good and plenty in twenty, twenty.”
He rolled his eyes.
The other little thought was more of a prayer, “Lord, grant me 2020 vision from a Spiritual perspective.” I pray that I’d keep my eyes on Jesus all year long. This is what the author of Hebrews told us to do. We read in Hebrews 12:2, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The Greek word translated “looking” (aphorao) literally means to “turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something else.” In this case, someone else – we are to turn away from all others, and fix our eyes on Jesus…that “2020” vision sure helps when things get tough.
According to this passage, Jesus endured the cross because He never lost sight of the joy that was before Him. What do you think that “joy” was? I believe that joy was reconciliation with the Father, and the salvation of the church. He was able to “see” you and me, free and forgiven, in heaven – with Him, forever. If we look to Jesus, we’ll find that in one one sense, He’s looking to us.
Friend, I pray that 2020 is a Happy New Year for you, but you know as well as I do that it will have its unfair share of challenges and heartaches. May we remember, the only way we’ll make it through with a smile on our face, or better yet, joy in our hearts, is if our Spiritual vision is 2020 – if we keep our eyes on Jesus.
1 Chronicles 22:5b, “So David made abundant preparations before his death.” I know it sounds a bit morbid, but the truth is, we must always be ready to die. Over 151,000 people die every day, and unless we experience the rapture – – one of these days we too will be part of that 151,000! We must always be ready and guard ourselves from the thought that it won’t happen to me, because it can happen to any of us, anytime (James 4:14). I was reading a chart on the odds of a person dying based on age and gender – I found it fascinating. If you’d like to check out the odds, I’ve provided a link below, but keep in mind that odds are not gods, and the one living God has already circled the day of our departure on His calendar ‘cuz we all have an appointment with death (Hebrews 9:27). Question: What will we leave behind and what are we looking forward to? David is a great example for us in the way he made “abundant preparations before his death”(let’s take some time to ponder that concept). You probably know the story, how David had it in his heart to build a temple for God – but he wasn’t allowed to because he’d been a man of war. God chose David’s son Solomon instead – but David didn’t get bitter, he got better and did all that he could to help his son and the nation of Israel to have a place where they could honor the Lord, David invested into their spiritual lives. What about us, what are we leaving behind for both family and flock? And what are we looking forward to – Heaven or Hell? With or without God? (see Revelation 20:11-15). Not everyone goes to heaven, only those who are prepared by placing their faith in Jesus Christ. David was a true believer, he was ready to die, he knew he was going to heaven (Psalm 23:6)…how about us? So…beloved, buy life insurance, settle those differences with loved ones, say what needs to be said, and do what needs to be done. Leave godly things behind and look forward to God ahead – ‘cuz at the end of the day, it’s not until we’re ready to die, that we’re actually ready to live. Your brother in Christ, – Manny Odds of Dying – Link
Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
By the time we reach Genesis 12 in the Old Testament God has covered the first 2,000 years of human history. He’s covered the fundamental topics such as creation, marriage and family, the fall, the flood, the Tower of Babel which was man’s attempt to reach God on His own (Babylon is symbolic of man’s religion), and therefore God used different languages to scatter the human race throughout the face of the earth.
We now come to the lineage of Abraham – the Jews. Abram (his original name) is first mentioned in Genesis 11:26 and interestingly enough the rest of the Old Testament will virtually focus on this man and his descendants. You might wonder why? Is it because He loves them more than He does the rest of the world? No, that’s not the reason. Although they ARE a chosen people to be a sign and sent to the rest of the world, the truth is God loves everyone equally. We read in Galatians 3:28,“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That passage teaches us that although there are distinctions, there are no spiritual advantages, it doesn’t matter if you’re Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female.
So…why is the Bible (especially the Old Testament) all about the rise and fall of Israel? And the simple answer is because it was through the Jews that Jesus would come. Our passage for today is Genesis 12:3,“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God chose and preserved the Jews because it was through them that Jesus would come who would be a blessing to all the families of the earth.
I pray you would enjoy your journey through the OT, that you would have a special place in your heart for the Jews and Israel, and most of all, that you would know, love, and be blessed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Okay, so I just read an article that covered the most googled questions for all 50 states in the USA. Wow, what a wide spectrum of questions we have from sea to shining sea, and like the sea, they’re deep – big time!
Here’s a sample:
Alabama: “What is love?”
Florida: “What is my life purpose?”
Idaho: “What is the relationship between religion and science?”
Illinois: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Indiana: “When will the world end?”
Louisiana: “Is masturbation a sin?”
These are some deep questions, far beyond what we might typically suspect people are asking nowadays. Love, life, purpose, religion, science and sin? Hmmm, maybe people aren’t as superficial as we thought, at least not deep down inside, or in the privacy of their own keyboards and computer screens. Perhaps people really are looking for answers to the big questions of life.
As I was reading, I noticed, many of those winning questions had to do with death. For example in Montana and New Hampshire the top question asked was, “What happens when you die?” Massachusetts was similar, “Is there life after death?” Here in California they asked, “Why do we have to die?” And then my heart just sank when I read the most asked questions in the state of Maine: “Why do I want to die?” and New Mexico, “How to commit suicide.”
Maybe you have some of those same questions. If you do, I just want you to know that there is a God who loves you and has a lot of life for you to live. Please, don’t give up. I know, I know…it’s so hard sometimes, and it’s harder to believe when you’ve gone through those epic tragedies that rock our world. But I know a mom who lost her little boy to cancer, I know a woman who was raped, I know a young mommy whose child was molested, I know a grip of sons who have never met their dads, and all of them are living their lives with purpose, not necessarily understanding everything, but finding a supernatural healing for their hearts from the God of the universe. You need to know that God is able to take even the tragedies and calamities of life, and somehow, someway, turn them into victories. I’m not saying that the event itself was good, not at all, but it can be used for good as we trust over time (Romans 8:28). Remember, we’re not home yet, “we’re fish out of water,” and keep in mind that pure and perpetual good will only be found in our homes in heaven.
Maybe your mind is messing with you; if so, you’re not alone, it could be drugs, demons, or flat out depression; all I can tell you is that there is power in the Name of Jesus. He died for you on a cross, they put Him in a grave, but He rose from the dead 3 days later. If you put your trust in Him you will be saved and set free; you’ll find hope and healing for your heart. Jesus is real, He’s alive, and He’s right here for you.
Its not just you, your keyboard, and your computer screen…God is there, God is here.
Acts 2:21 “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
Whoever you are, I want you to know the reason I write is because I love you, and the God who made you is right here just waiting for you to come to Him, because He loves you with a perfect love.
Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
I love what one dear brother said, “Jesus didn’t come to live His life, He came to give His life.” And although His was the best life ever lived, the perfect life, the sinless life, the model life, exemplary in all ways – at the end of the day it wasn’t His life that ransomed us, it was His death. The Son of God was born to die for every person who’s ever lived, He gave His life “a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6).
What a contrast to the mentality most men have nowadays, even Christians. People throwing themselves pity parties because things aren’t going according to their script; cry-baby-Christians who refuse to follow the Lord – they won’t take up their cross and die to self.
It’s imperative to know that we will be tested as Christians, the question is, will we pass those tests? Will we deny ourselves as disciples of Christ, willing to follow the One who gave His life a ransom? Or will we merely be men who “ran some,” but didn’t give it all? Men who didn’t really finish the race we were called to run.
The Ransom was ultimately delivered when Mount Calvary was stained red with buckets of God’s blood, poured out as payment on our behalf (Acts 20:28; Revelation 1:5). We who had been taken captive by Satan, and were without a sliver of hope (Ephesians 2:2-4) were rescued, redeemed, liberated, and loved. Praise God – as Christians, we now belong to Him!
But now…what will we do?
The context of Mark 10:45 is Jesus calling His men to a mission of service – that we’d conform our will to His and be willing to suffer, and sacrifice, for the sake of the Gospel. Although we aren’t called to die meritoriously, we are called to live sacrificially – the question is, will we answer that call?
In all honesty I’ve been blessed with a good life, but I’ve come to realize that the best way to live it, is to give it – ALL – to my Lord.
“O Father please help me…please help us all, to answer Your call.
Good word on this side of time by Winston Churchill, “Success is never final, failure is never fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Paul the Apostle summed this up in Philippians 3:12-14.
Even though Paul had done so much in the ministry and he loved the Lord passionately, he didn’t allow his success to slow him down – he kept going and growing.
Not only did Paul refuse to look back in order to see how many hurdles he cleared, he also refused to look back to see how many hurdles he knocked down, and I’m sure he did – we all do. We all fail and fall short from time to time – but our failures do not have to define us. There are countless characters in the Bible (like Peter), and throughout church history who exemplify the fact that we serve the God of the second-chance.
It takes courage, but my prayer is that none of us would ever give up.
Get up, keep going, put one foot in front of the other while keeping both eyes on Jesus Christ. Get back to church, to consistent prayer and Bible study, and watch what God does.
Winston Churchill was used mightily to lead the allied forces to victory in WWII. God wants to use your life to win an even greater war – so I pray we’d yield to His awesome love.