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Revisions (a Timeless Truths blog post)

ships

Are you the stubborn type? Do you like to have everything go a certain way (your way) and do you easily get upset when your plans get changed? Well, there’s good news … you’re not alone! It’s quite common for people to think their way is the best way (perhaps the only way) to get things done, and get them done efficiently! The up side of that mentality is that you generally have a good work ethic; the down side is that you may not realize there’s a problem until someone else points it out (hopefully gently) … and that’s when humility needs to come into play. You need to be willing to accept there really are other ways of doing things … and some ways just could be better than what you imagined. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So, this timeless truth lets us know that God’s plan for our lives is good (period). Even when it may not look that way on the surface, God’s plan is always good … the problem often comes when we may not see things the way God sees them. We may have a vision of how our lives ought to go … how one thing will lead to another, and another, and another so that eventually our vision comes to pass. However, as we quickly learn (as in all of life) our plans often undergo several “revisions” before the “final draft” is completed … and even then, it’s still not over until it’s over (meaning even more revisions will most likely be needed before all is said and done). The key is being open and willing to allow Jesus to be Lord (not just Savior) of our lives. Think of the word revisions as re-visions … being willing to change and get a new vision … being willing to change course (as the Lord leads). Suppose you had gone through the process of applying for several new jobs and had started to think maybe there was one other job you might be willing to apply for as well and you had started to open yourself up to that possibility but had not yet actually gone and done it. Then suppose you get a phone call out of the blue from a company in the same business as the one you had been thinking about (but had not applied to yet). This company got your resume online when you filled out all the information for the job bank and you had no clue until you got that phone call that you “just so happened” to answer without knowing who it was. What would you do? Would you be open and willing to at least talk to the person on the other end … even though it wasn’t in your plan? Would you be willing to “change course” and see what they had to say/what they had to offer you? Would you realize perhaps this was a blessing from God you hadn’t fully considered receiving yet? Would you revise your own plan and be open to a new plan – a new vision? Hopefully (and prayerfully) you would … otherwise, it’s possible you may miss making the change that could be needed … the change that could lead to a new destiny for you … a new blessing for you to grow in the grace and knowledge of God … into the knowledge of how much of a loving and gracious God we have the privilege of knowing personally. Remember, when God tells us a revision is needed to our original plan, we can trust that His plans are always good and always better than anything we could have dreamed up ourselves!

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Complacency (a Timeless Truths blog post)

bunny  Have you gotten comfortable? Maybe with this whole pandemic you’ve been enjoying having time off from work or school and you’ve fallen into a routine of getting up when you’ve wanted to, going to bed when you’ve wanted to, and wearing whatever you’ve wanted to … after all, without ever having to leave the house, who is going to see you wearing your bunny slippers all day? Problem is, it has been all too easy to get complacent … and when it’s time to actually get back into the habit of going to work or school (or just getting out of the house more frequently in general) it may not be so easy to get back into the swing of things. Taking a break is fine … and needed … from time to time. However, when that break becomes your “new normal” and the break turns into complacency into not just your outward appearance but your inward character as well, then there could be an issue that needs to be dealt with and dealt with decisively. Scripture warns against complacency. Proverbs 1:32,33 (NIV) declares, “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me (wisdom) will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” So, this is a timeless truth we would all do well to remember … complacency isn’t something to be treated lightly. It’s one thing to let your appearance go when no one else can see you; it’s another thing entirely if you’ve let your inward character go … you may think nobody else sees … but God always sees … and He always loves us so much He doesn’t want our hearts to get complacent; He doesn’t want us to have a self-satisfied, smug, unbothered attitude that thinks no changes need to be made even if a situation is dangerous or harmful (the definition of a complacent person). We are always supposed to be growing, learning, and changing throughout all of our lives … no matter how old we are. Philippians 1:6 (NIV) tells us “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” So, we should come into agreement with God’s plan and open ourselves up to change – trusting it’s actually good for us – and will actually help us to have the kind of life Jesus tells us He wants us to have when He says in John 10:10 (NIV), “… I have come that they (you) may have life, and have it to the full.” Therefore, be aware of complacency … it can be even more dangerous than the pandemic!

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Time to get out of the boat! (a Timeless Truths blog post)

man on boat

Cities are beginning to open up … quarantines are beginning to be lifted … restrictions are beginning to ease up … and people are beginning to venture back out into the “real world” … and into what is being considered the “new normal”. You would think everyone would be super excited … you would think everyone would be saying, “it’s about time”! You would think the overall reaction of society as a whole would be a collective sigh of relief … you would think. However, for some people who deal with anxiety … or even just a resistance to change, it may not be so easy. It may be hard for them to adapt … hard for them to leave what had become their comfort zone during a time of upheaval. And, really, even for the people who don’t usually have a problem with just “going with the flow” and “winging it” … these people may still face challenges as well … just because things are different now. It’s almost as if the world went into a collective ark like Noah and his family did in the time of the flood (see Genesis 6-9) and now it’s time to get out of the boat … if we dare. Now it’s time to start exploring the whole “new world” around us … with fresh eyes and fresh insight that we may not have otherwise gained had we not been “stuck” inside. Now we have an opportunity … an opportunity to live our lives in a whole new way … in a way different than before; different, perhaps, than we’ve ever dared to live them … ever. Maybe during this whole pandemic you’ve realized that time is short and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Maybe you have been procrastinating … putting off ’till tomorrow what you’ve known in your heart for a long time needs to be done … now. Maybe the recent turn of events has left you with an urgency in your spirit that you shouldn’t wait any longer … now is the time to get out of your boat … now is the time to get out of your comfort zone … now is the time to go forward into the plans and purposes God has for your life. Maybe you agree with everything I’m saying … but you’re still scared; you’re still nervous … well, that’s okay … Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples was nervous too. Matthew 14 tells the story of how Peter had to choose to exercise faith when he was in a boat a considerable distance from land that was being hit by waves because the wind was against it. At that time, he saw Jesus walking on the water towards him and he and the other disciples were afraid. Matthew 14:27-31 (NIV) says, “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” So, here we see a timeless truth. When the Lord calls us to get out of our boat, we need to obey and we need to keep our eyes on Him. At the same time, since we are human, we can also take comfort in the fact that Jesus is merciful to us and will catch us if we start to waver in our faith. He never condemns us … He simply encourages us to exercise faith rather than listen to doubt. So, today, if you hear the Lord telling you it’s time to get out of your boat, take courage and boldly obey His instruction, trusting, as always, He knows best.

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Freedom (a Timeless Truths blog post)

man jumping

How many of you would like to be free just about now? With all the regulations in place it seems that rebellion against authority is a given (regardless of whether or not that rebellion is actually carried out). We were not meant to live under the tyranny of rules and regulations that cause us to forfeit our freedom. We were not meant to live without a means to express ourselves in an appropriate way … that’s why so many people have fought for so long and for so hard so that we could enjoy the freedom that is meant to be ours. Did you know that Jesus was one of those people? Did you know that Jesus came to set you and me free? For too long religious leaders would have you believe otherwise. For too long people have been led to believe they had to follow a long list of do’s and don’ts in order to receive favor with God … but that’s not true. The truth is found in scripture. The truth says in Galatians 2:15,16 (NIV) “We … know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” This is good news for you and for me. It means we don’t have to be perfect. It means we can choose to trust in Jesus’ perfection that is credited to us on our behalf when we accept his free gift of salvation. It means we can enjoy freedom in a personal relationship with God knowing, by faith, He accepts us, approves us, and loves us unconditionally … all because of what Jesus did for each and every one of us when he died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and to justify us before God as we put our faith and trust in him alone to make us righteousness. Galatians 5:1 (NIV) is also an encouragement to us as it says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Of course this doesn’t mean we should just go out and commit every kind of sin imaginable though because we’re trusting in Jesus. No, on the contrary, because of what Jesus has already done for us we should have an attitude of gratitude … and that gratitude should motivate us to want to live in a way that is honoring to him. So, as you ponder the timeless truth of the freedom Christ has already made available to you, check yourself to see if you’re actually living in that freedom. See if you are trusting in Jesus alone to make you right with God. And don’t be afraid to exercise that freedom as you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you in how you live your life because the Holy Spirit will never lead you in a way that is contrary to scripture and to honoring God. Be thankful, therefore, for the freedom you can enjoy today … no matter where you live … for John 8:31, 32 (NIV) says, “ … Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Also, 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) tells us, “ … where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

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Letting Go (a Timeless Truths blog post)

balloons

Letting go is never easy. Perhaps it’s even harder than keeping things the way they are. We get in our comfort zone … and then, when the time comes for us to leave, we find ourselves procrastinating and finding all kinds of good-sounding excuses why it’s better for us to stay than to leave. Unfortunately, this type of thinking just leaves us stuck … and stagnant. Too afraid to move forward and do something positive with our lives we end up staying where we are … and end up missing the growth and full potential our heavenly father would have us reach … for His glory. Ecclesiastes 3:1,6 (NIV) says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens … a time to keep and a time to throw away.” This timeless truth is easy to apply to certain areas of our lives … when it comes to making relatively easy decisions about what to keep and what to throw away for food in our refrigerators, for example, all we really need to do is look at the expiration date or (if we’re really brave) just smell that gallon of milk to see if it’s gone sour yet, or look at that piece of cheese to see if there’s any mold on it yet. Other decisions may be a little harder … such as what to keep and what to put in the yard sale your spouse insists on having … knowing that the time has come. How about even harder decisions … like making the choice to let go of a grudge and forgive the person who hurt you? Or making the choice to take a step of faith and follow the path God is leading you on … even when that path involves letting go of your own plans, your own dreams, and your own way of accomplishing things … trusting that God’s way is far better. Like I said, letting go is never easy … in Matthew 26:39 (NIV) we can see that even Jesus had to deal with this issue as we read, “he (Jesus) fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup (of having to go to the cross to be crucified) be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” So, today, whatever God may be laying on your heart to let go of … whatever it may be … follow Jesus’ example and come into agreement with the One who knows what’s best for you, personally, and say, “not my will, but yours be done … I let it go!”

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Law of Love (a Timeless Truths blog post)

courthouseThe law of love supersedes the law of man. Jesus himself showed this to be true when a leper came to him for healing in Mark chapter 1 verses 40-41. The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) reads, “Then a man with leprosy came to him and, on his knees, begged him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. “I am willing,” he told him. “Be made clean.” In those days, people with leprosy were considered “unclean” and usually quarantined themselves away from others due to the law of Moses. This man, however, knew that Jesus could heal him and had no qualms about asking to be healed. In turn, Jesus responded to this man’s faith with love … effectively breaking through the barriers of society … miraculously healing the man, and showing us that nothing is greater … or more important … than love. Song of Songs 8:6-7 (NIV) says, “ … love is as strong as death … many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” So, with all the “laws of man” out there, don’t forget an even more important law – the law of love. Even Jesus, when asked what the greatest commandment was replied, “’Love the Lord your God … and the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37, 39 NIV). This timeless truth involves obeying the Holy Spirit as He leads and guides you in your interactions with others … even in a pandemic. It may mean you obey the “laws of man” by keeping social distance and wearing a face mask in public to protect others from potential harm … or it may mean something even more radical. It may mean heeding the Holy Spirit’s whisper to your heart if He’s prompting you to approach someone others may consider “unapproachable” … such as a broken person you may “happen” to see crying off to the side … away from others … crying because they feel discouraged by the many rules and regulations out there that have turned them into a virtual hermit feeling like nobody cares how alone they feel … until you courageously approach them with the healing words of encouragement they so desperately need to hear to keep pressing on for yet one more day. If you’ve truly heard from God and truly obeyed His direction, you may just find yourself in the middle of God performing a miracle through you … perhaps even saving someone’s life … simply because you chose to obey the law of love above all else … believing nothing is more important.

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Sample prayer for salvation

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Dear God,

I am a sinner in need of salvation. I believe Jesus died on the cross in my place. I believe He alone gave His life as the perfect sacrifice for my sin. I believe Jesus not only died for my sins, but was also raised again and is now living in heaven. I believe only Jesus can make me righteous before You. There’s nothing I could ever do to earn Your free gift. I repent of all my sins and ask You to make me new as I accept Your gift of salvation now. I ask Jesus to be both the Lord and Savior of my life. Come into my heart, fill me with Your Spirit, and help me to live for You. Thank You for saving my soul. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Storms (a Timeless Truths blog post)

branches pic 2020

So much destruction after the latest snowstorm. So many branches broken off the trees… having fallen to the ground … only good for firewood now. Even the branches that had started to bud with the promise of spring just around the corner are now lying … useless … on the ground after the storm ripped them away from the tree. And, as such, the branches are no longer able to bear fruit … for their “life” was in the nourishment of the tree … on their own, the branches lying on the ground can do nothing. In the same way, we, as humans have been going through various storms of life … some little and some big … most recently with COVID-19… a storm that is beyond our control … a storm that we all need to wait out … whether we like it or not. In this storm we are all like the branches – each one of us. Some of us are connected to the “tree” and some of us are not. Some of us are firm in our position in our relationship with Jesus Christ, some of us are “hanging” off like a branch ready to snap off the tree if yet another stormy wind blows through, and some of us have already fallen away and are lying on the ground feeling useless without any nourishment feeding our souls. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV) The “timeless truth” of this verse lets us know that we need a relationship with Jesus Christ … for He, alone, gives us the “sap” we need to be nourished so we can live. John 10:10 tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they (you) may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV) So, if you recognize you are feeling like a “lifeless branch” today, know that there is HOPE. No matter what storm you find yourself in, no matter what your current position is in a relationship with Jesus Christ, know that He desires to give you life … in a greater measure than ever before… and that life begins now… even in the middle of the storm… as you call out to Him in prayer and simply ask Him to provide you with whatever it is you need. Whether you’ve drifted away from the close relationship you once had, whether you’re really, really far away or just a little bit “away” – or even if you know, in your heart of hearts you could be closer but the storms of life have distracted you from being as “connected” to the “vine” as you know you could be… today’s your day to come back to Jesus and get reconnected to the only One who can give you LIFE to the full… even in the middle of the storm. So call on Jesus today … be honest and simply tell Him what’s in your heart … simply tell Him of your desire to be connected to Him …tell Him your need for strength to withstand the storms of life … no matter how long they last … tell Him whatever it is you need … whatever it is you know only He can give you … and, as you believe and exercise faith, watch and see God provide whatever it is you need in the way He knows is best.

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