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Friday, December 14, 2012

Praying for the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims.  God please cover their hearts with Your peace.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All That Glitters

I Corinthians 3:13
 "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." 



Decorating for the holidays entails removing and packing away the baubles from the previous season.  This job is usually bittersweet, as I ponder the things I may have missed or wished had been more perfect.  My mother always said that when you finally cleaned up the last piece of Christmas tinsel it was time for Easter grass, and so the cycle revolves.  I love to decorate with brightly colored autumn silk leaves, I scatter them on my porch floor and anywhere else that seems appropriate.  In the fall, they inevitability get swept out onto the sidewalk and yard with the freshly fallen leaves.  They aren't very remarkable until the real leaves begin to fade and become detritus.  At this point it is very obvious that they are artificial.  Sometimes it is not so easy to tell the artificial from the true, until the end of the season when it is painfully obvious.  Penned Shakespeare in "The Merchant of Venice":

   "All that glitters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgement old
Your answer had not been inscroll'd
Fare you well, your suit is cold."

Detecting the superficiality or artificiality in modern Christian culture is as easy as becoming supremely intimate with God through scripture.  Certainly times change and the fads and fashions of the previous seasons change as well; although, the Truth remains the same.  Don't be discouraged by the foibles and sins of other who claim to be "enlightened."  Get to know God yourself through scripture reading and prayer.  The genuine will be obvious.  I Corinthians 3:13 speaks this truth,"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." 

Lord, In Jesus' name, Thank You and praise You that we are able to know You through Your Word.  Scripture says that Christ is the Logos, the living Word.  Please help us to detect the artificial and cleave to Your Truth.  Lord, help us to forgive and pray for people who mistreat us and harm others under the cloak of "religion."  Lord, thank You for this time and this season and the assurance that You will set all things right.  I love You. Amen.

Patti




Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Lifted By Angels" by Joel J. Miller


Psalm 91:11
"For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."



I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze.com in return for this unbiased review.  I received no other remuneration for this review.

"Lifted By Angels, The Presence And Power of Our Heavenly Guides And Guardians" was written by Joel J. Miller and published by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Miller is a writer and editor; he has written several books including "The Revolutionary Paul Revere."  This book promises concise and scriptural accounts of angelic encounters.  While the author delivers this promise at times, some information is taken from Apocryphal writings.  The Apocrypha, meaning hidden, is a collection of fourteen books included in the Douay Bible.  These books are not included in the sixty-six books of the canonized Protestant Bible.  The early Church fathers applied stringent tests to candidate books, and by faith Christians accept these canonized books as holy scripture.  Some Apocryphal books, such as the Maccabees are valuable for historical reference, but are not considered scripture by the Protestant Church.  That being said, it is a slippery slope to begin to accept information that is not scriptural.  The book of Revelation ends with this admonition, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Rev. 22:18,19).

I would not recommend the reading of this book by anyone who is not well-informed of scriptural truth regarding angels, and only then as a critical thinking exercise.  A glaring oversight in this book is also information found in 2 Corinthians 11:14, "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."  The author speaks of angelic fellowship and detecting their presence, this is infinitely dangerous as Satan is a grand deceiver.  We are not to worship or pray to angels.  They are God's ministers.  We may pray to Him and ask Him to send His angels to surround and protect us, but too much focus on angels is unbalanced. Psalm 91:11 sums up this truth, "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."   
Rev. Patti Harrison

  


Thursday, November 8, 2012

"The Searchers" by Joseph Loconte


"So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them."
Luke 24:15




I received Joseph Loconte's book "The Searchers" from Booksneeze.com in return for this unbiased review. I received no other remuneration for this review and the opinions expressed herein are completed my own.

In this well-written treatise, Joseph Loconte, an Asssociate Professor at King's College in New York City, elucidates the dilemma of faith.  Loconte writes with a historian's pen and a poet's heart as he travels the road to Emmaus alongside the two disillusioned followers and the stranger revealed to be Christ.  It seems that it is a quite human reaction to seek to return to the familiar-- to go home, as it were, when our lives seemingly crumble.  This is where faith meets our own realities, and the place that we find that Christ will not let us slip out of His hand.  Every person's faith walk is a journey beginning at varying places, but end in the realization that Christ is Who He says He is and that He came to bring us life.  Each of us will know the truth eventually, it is God's will that this realization will be in relationship with Him.  Loconte quotes C.S. Lewis regarding this human desire, "Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off. . . is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation" (Loconte 2012, 145).  The Searchers speaks to this longing and is a valuable read for believers and non-believers alike.
Rev. Patti Harrison   

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Freedom From Mastery


2 Peter 2:19

“They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them” (NIV).



Addiction is a genuine and deadly problem facing our society. The phenomena cuts across cultural and socio-economic strata and strikes at the heart of our experience as human beings. The face of addiction is as varied as the addicts themselves. The reasons individuals become addicted are also as multifarious as the number of those who suffer from this disease. Addiction can manifest itself in many forms; such as, drug, gambling, sexual, shopping, workaholic behaviors. The word “addict” evokes mental images of marginalized people using illicit drugs and living on the fringes of society in a criminal culture, this is not always the case, as this disease can affect individuals of differing ages and economic situations. The definition of the word addiction is, “The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” Statistics show that, “Illicit drug use in America has been increasing. In 2010, an estimated 22.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—or 8.9 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month. This is up from 8.3 percent in 2002. The increase mostly reflects a recent rise in the use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug”( http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends ). Drug addiction is a disease of the soul, sadly those who succumb are often involved in criminal activity and are dealt with as criminals rather than as those in need of a physician; although conversely, society must be protected from the criminal activity that may accompany addiction. It is a sad statement on the human condition that generations are being lost to addiction. A further repercussion of drug addiction is the contraction of HIV, AIDS and other contagious diseases that result from the sharing of dirty needles and sexual activity. Addiction is scourging our society and killing our children. True compassion and Godly wisdom, as well as medical and counseling knowledge is needed to treat the addict and help free him/her from their addiction. It is true that since The Fall man has been seeking to regain the wholeness that was lost in the Garden. Said St. Augustine of Hippo of this human state, "You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” The Christian band, Plumb's 1994 song, “God Shaped Hole,” speaks of this truth,
And the restless soul is searching
There's a god-shaped hole in all of us
And it's a void only He can fill.”
This world is a harsh place and the only true and eternal respite for our souls is in Christ Jesus. Only He can make us whole in Himself and heal our brokenness. Scripture is definite regarding the subject of addiction. I Corinthians 6:12 the Apostle Paul instructs, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (KJV). It is true that anything that we place before God has become an idol in our lives. Leviticus 19:4 admonishes, “Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God”(NIV). 2 Peter 2:19 states, “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them”(NIV). Paul speaks succinctly of our situation, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Romans 7:18). We can rest in the knowledge that God is working on our behalf as believers, “For it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose” (Phillipians 2:13).   

Father thank You for Your Word and Your promise of freedom to us.  Please show us the areas of our lives that are not submitted to You.  Please cover us with Your healing wings and free us and our loved ones from serious addictions that are destroying lives.  Thank You for Your love, thank You for Your Son, through Whom freedom from addiction is possible.  In Jesus name we ask these things.  Amen.
Patti

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In Spirit and In Truth


John 4:23,24
 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”



 Worship is a lifestyle, not merely an allotted time slot in a church service. We worship God with our lives by our obedience to Him and demonstration of His love toward others. Throughout history the style and types of formal worship have evolved and changed. Worship has morphed over the millenniums from the sacrificial system of the Old Testament to David's heartfelt longing recorded in Psalms, from Jewish worship in the synagogue to the denominational High Church liturgy into the contemporary worship that is so prevalent today. Regardless of the form, God is interested in the heart intent of the worshipper. In worship we are softened and changed, we are equipped to receive the Word that God has prepared for us to hear. Worship encapsulates our entire lives, we are to be living sacrifices to Him, for His Glory. When we worship God fully with our hearts and minds He is able to change us more amply into the the image of His Son. In true worship, there is a posture of bastazo, or a constant attitude of submission (Wilson 15, 1989). 

Worship is defined as, “Reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.” The Jewish roots of Christianity are deep and non-negotiable. The Old Testament is Jewish in origin and any subsequently Christian church that does not embrace its rich history is not completely understanding God's unfolding plan of redemption for mankind. Says Marvin R. Wilson, author of the book, Our Father Abraham, Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith, “Christians can converse intelligently about the latest automobiles, fashions, music and sports, but too few give evidence of a deep understadning of their spiritual heritage. At best, their grounding in Biblical soil is both shallow and shaky. Hence, they usually embrace an uncritical conformity to the prevailing spirit of today's world” (Wilson 5, 1989). To truly worship God, we must understand Who He is. We gain our understanding of Him through scripture. Many scriptures speak of worship and fearful awe in the same breath, Psalm 2:11 is one such scripture, “Serve the Lord with reverent awe and worshipful fear; rejoice and be in high spirits with trembling [lest you displease Him]” (AMP). How do we span the gulf between God's awesomeness and fear of Him? This distance is crossed in love, as Psalm 5:7 proclaims, “But as for me, I will enter Your house through the abundance of Your steadfast love and mercy; I will worship toward and at Your holy temple in reverent fear and awe of You” (AMP). Worshipping God is not a burden as Psalm 25:14 speaks, “The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning” (AMP). Worship is duly God's,“Give to the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness or in holy array” ( Psalm 29:2, AMP). As His workmanship we should honor him as Psalm 22:29 echos, “All the mighty ones upon earth shall eat [in thanksgiving] and worship; all they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive” (AMP). Ultimately, every knee will bow and every tongue confess Him, All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall bow down and worship before You” ( Psalm 22:27, AMP ). All creation is His as Psalm 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the Lord [revere and worship Him]; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (AMP). Certainly, humble respect of God's personage is integral to true worship.

Lord, in Jesus name, I pray that You help us to know You better through the reading of Your Word and intimacy in prayer.  I pray that You enrich our worship and open our spirits to Your Spirit.  We need You and love You and humbly ask You to reveal Your heart to us.  Thank You and praise You.  Amen.
Patti

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Run To Win


1 Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." NIV

Pic from freepicturesweb.com
Paul compares the Christian experience to a foot race.  This would have been a very distinct analogy to the people of the First Century, who were well familiar with the Hellenistic Olympic Games.  The Olympians trained intensely so as to be the winner and receive the prize.  They would receive a laurel wreath that would be placed on their head and their name would be inscribed in the Olympic records. This was a great honor.  They would receive great accolades--they were very much the celebrities of the time. 

In middle school a friend and I were fierce at Badminton; well, as fierce as two seventh graders can be.  The annoying thing about us is that we skipped, spun, tip-toed and did victory dances.  While our opponents got angrier and sweatier we just smacked the birdie and perturbed them all the more with silly sound effects.  We were all but unbeaten and there was a price on our heads in the locker room.  Sports Day arrived and I signed up for tennis, which I played relatively well.  Brash from winning so many Badminton games, I began my vexing antics again.  I had a different partner and she wasn't so impressed with my amazing tip-toed backhand.  We began losing and by the time I got serious and really put some elbow into it, it was too late.  I had fooled around too long and we lost, I'll never forget the look on her twelve-year-old face.

Eternity isn't a tennis match or a foot race.  The prize is much more dear than any accolades or a wreath.  In order to run the race so that we may win, we must be trained in the Word of God and love more fervently than any athelete trains.  Becoming too confident of our own abilities is a sure-fire way to lose.  As Christians, it is our responsibility to get as many people across the finish line as possible for the Kingdom.  This is God's will and His heart.

Patti

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Please Forgive Me


Ephesians 4:32
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."



Have you ever forgiven someone only to have the issue come up again?  Forgiveness is the crux of Christianity.  Matthew 18:20,21 records a conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (NIV).  The King James version renders verse 22 as, " Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." The Greek rendering of the words  hebdomekontakis hepta or seventy times seven reveals that the answer that Jesus gave was in accordance with the question Peter asked.  Seventy-seven times is hyperbole for as many times as it takes.  Seven is the number of perfection in scripture.  We must forgive as we have been forgiven. Matthew 6:15 instructs, "But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."  Unforgiveness blocks our relationship with God.  Forgive, if it comes up again, forgive again.  Do it seventy-seven times or as many times as it takes.  The enemy has a vested interest in keeping us in unforgiveness.  If he can keep us bound, we can't move forward in God's plan for our lives.  Forgive, not because you feel like it or you want to, but because you know that is what will set you and others free. 

Lord, in Jesus' name please show us the areas of our lives that we may be harboring unforgiveness.  Please give us the grace to forgive as many times as it takes.  Lord, thank you for the opportunity to be Your child and to live in Your light.  I pray that Your Holy Spirit fills our hearts and lives with Your glorious presence and enables us to shine to this dark world.  Amen.  I love You.

Patti 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sing Praises


Psalm 47:6 "Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises."


Pic from freepicturesweb.com
The word "praise" occurs 259 times in the King James Version of the Bible.  It is defined as, "The offering of grateful homage in words or song, as an act of worship"(dictionaryreference.com).   Praise is an expression of love and gratitude that we return to God at our recognition of His great love and mercy for us.  When we praise God, it pleases Him; but even deeper, it changes us and reflects our heart position toward Him.  It is not possible for a proud or rebellious heart to truly praise.  Praise erupts from a knowing of our bereft and sinful state and that realization that God sacrificed His Son to rescue us from ourselves.  Sometimes it may seem that praise is limited to the musically or vocally gifted person; but truly, God does not listen for perfect pitch or even meter.  He longs to hear the genuine song of your heart.  Praise is about relationship; when we are in right standing with God it naturally flows.  The first place to check in our hearts if we are not flowing, is forgiveness.  Is there someone you have truly not forgiven?  Unforgiveness blocks our relationship with God.  The next place to look is repentance.  Are there sins in your life that you recognize and will not repent of?  They are not worth holding on to!  Examine your obedience.  Has God asked you for something, in His Word, or personally that you are resisting?  He is merciful and kind, but He does expect us to obey Him.  1 Corinthians 11:31 admonishes, "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."  If we remain cognizant of our sin and repent for it, God will not have to judge us for it later.


There are many reasons to praise God, five of which from the Book of Psalms are:
   

His Righteousness:
Psalm 7:17
"I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high."

Our gladness in Him:
Psalm 9:2
"I wil
l be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High."


His Salvation:
Psalm 9:14
"That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation."


His Holiness:
Psalm 22:3
"But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."


His Mercy:
Psalm 106:1
"Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever."



Be diligent to keep your relationship with God free of hindrances so that you will be able to fulfill Psalm 34:1 and declare as David did, "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."

Patti

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hoarded Emotions


Psalm 51:7

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. KJV





Life hurts.  That is a plain and simple fact that we all must someday face.  What we do with that hurt is the defining factor in the quality of life that we eventually live.  Sometimes the battering of life's storm is so intense and prolonged that we no longer deal with situations and just begin to accumulate layers of pain and scars that cripple us from living healthy lives.  These emotional injuries are not so apparent; such as, a missing body part or jagged scar.  Nonetheless, these scars continue to carve into our life experience in ways that are far reaching.  

When we internalize pain from the storms of life and hurts that we receive from others, intentional or otherwise, it is akin to a hoarded home.  Hoarding occurs when more baggage, whether it be material or emotional is brought into a dwelling then is let go, and is not maintained in an orderly manner.  That dwelling may be your home or your heart.  If you have ever watched the television shows that deal with this issue, you understand that it isn't easy for those that hoard to let go of the material things that are cluttering their lives.  The emotional significance of the hoard is tantamount to the life issues that each one of these persons is attempting to deal with.


Several years ago I had my art studio set up and organized.  Due to a family crisis, I needed the space that it was housed in.  All of my art supplies were boxed rather unceremoniously and stored.  Later, I set my studio up again but it was never as organized as it was originally.  Due to another issue, that reincarnation of my creative space was stored again and I ended up with a tangled mess of art supplies.  Upon my first attempt at sorting my things, I had a minor meltdown when some old and irreplaceable pictures were almost discarded by someone helping me.  No one but God understands what precious things are under the strata of our lives.  Recently I reestablished my studio space into a functional order, although it needs some tweaking.  Each item  I sorted brought back memories of the projects I had left unfinished, the tragic emotions I had not dealt with at the time, and the hope that I had for the future.  Please don't allow your heart to become like my art studio.  Please allow God to be your sorting partner.  He understands and is totally invested in purging our lives and hearts to be healthy and walk in His light.    


Father, please lead and guide us to walk in Your perfect light.  Life becomes so burdensome, thank You that Yours is the shoulder that we must lean on to bear it.  I pray that You hearken these words to the eyes of those who need to understand how our hoarded emotions harm our lives.  I thank You for purging us, even when it is painful.  In Jesus name, please continue to do Your perfect work in all of our lives.  Amen.


Patti  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Things I Used To Do. . .



    The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

       
      Standing on the beach watching my sister and brother-in-law play with their two young children in the surf, I began to think about the things in my life that have gone by the wayside. It had been at least ten years since I swam in the ocean. Before that I would swim out past the breakers and float on my back in the briny deep. Now I strive to go to the beach, not get wet and not bring any sand home with me in my shoes, bag, ears etc. In our lives it is very easy to lose sight of what is beneficial to us, the small simple things that nurture our souls and make us feel like a two-year-old again. When we allow ourselves to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, joyfulness will ensue. There is an enemy of our souls, if he is able to steal our joy, the battle is half won. In Christ, we have the freedom to live our lives in His joy, and as John 10:10 tells us we can live that life more abundantly. God is interested in our having joyful life, in Him. The enemy would have us to believe that a joyful life is gained by wealth and prominence. While wealth is not inherently bad, it is not the secret to joy. What price can you put on the delighted face of a child as they splash in the ocean waves? Don't allow the enemy to steal your joy.
         I jumped in the ocean at my brother-in-law's prodding, ok he actually dragged me in, and I swam out past the breakers. As I floated on my back and gazed at the azure blue sky streaked with long white clouds, I promised God and myself that I was going to jump back into life more fully. In the fall I will rake leaves and jump in the pile. This winter I shall be playing in the snow and building a snowman.  I will be chasing fireflies and listening to the song of frogs and crickets next spring. If you see me trouncing in a puddle next summer, know that I haven 't gone mad.
         Lord, thank you for the joy that You have promised to us. I pray that you inspire each of us to live our lives joyfully in You. Father please keep Your hand on our lives and empower us to do the work on this earth that you have ordained for us. In Jesus' name thank You and Amen.

Patti

Friday, June 15, 2012

Markarios


"Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him."
Matthew 5:1 NIV
James Tisset, "The Beatitudes Sermon"

In the fifth chapter of the book of Matthew the Beatitudes are found.  This collection of desirable Christian attributes and the ensuing blessing that they bring is an excellent guidepost for measuring our spiritual maturity.  The Greek word Markarios, Strong's Concordance # 3107 is translated as "blessed."  This word is derived from the root mak which means, "a long duration."  Markarios speaks of a happy, blessed, state of being in which one should be congratulated.

Matthew 5:2 begins, "Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

3  Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven."

 The spiritual poverty that Jesus speaks of is a recognition of one's spiritual lacking.  It is an understanding of our own sinful nature and our inability to reconcile our state without God's grace.  The word "kingdom" speaks of coming under the "kingship" of God's authority.  It is a recognition of His majesty and our depravity.  This is the place where salvation is possible and one should never allow oneself to let this recognition slip out of mind.  Therein lies the danger of becoming proud and judgemental.

4  "Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted."

When we truly see our sin from God's perspective, a spiritual sorrow will ensue.  This mourning is what Jesus speaks of in this verse.  When we truly repent and mourn our sinful acts, the comfort of the Holy Spirit and forgiveness will be ours.  Do we mourn our sin and repent before our Father?

5  "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth."

True meekness is not weakness.  Christ's meekness on the cross was not a testament of His lack of power; but truly, it was a testament of His strength. Isaiah 53:7 prophesies of this event,“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth" (NIV).  Meekeness is strength under control, not a lack of it.  The earth is the inheritance of such.  Are we truly meek, do we bless and not revile?

6  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled."
Spiritual hunger is a state of being in which we desire God's will and presence in our lives more than what the world has to offer.  In this hunger, we are driven to go against convention and pursue God with a passion.  Psalm 22:26 speaks of this state, "The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!"  The promise is spiritual fulfillment.  Are we truly hungry for God and seeking Him with our whole hearts?

7  "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

The Greek word eleemon Strong's # 1655 is translated as merciful.  Its meaning is kind, compassionate, charitable work.  It denotes feeling and action.  The Word tells us to forgive and we shall be forgiven.  In this same stream of thought, when we are merciful to others God will be merciful to us.  Are we truly merciful to the people we encounter?  Allow God to search your heart.  Repent of the sin He shows you, it is hard to accept, but it is far more of a burden to carry with you.

8  "Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God."

We are all born into a sinful state.  Are we honest and ethical people?  Ask God to purify your heart.  It is His heart to do so.  Having our spiritual eyes opened and our hearts pure before Him, we are promised that He will reveal Himself to us.

9  "Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God."

Within our own realm of influence, are we peacemakers or chaos makers?  Do we diffuse situations that may erupt or prompt them to do so?  Allowing peace to lead us will surely bring about peace following us.  To be called a son of God. . . let peace reign.

10  "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Persecution has always followed the true followers of Christ.  When we are persecuted for our beliefs, tempted and tried by the world, and assaulted mentally by the enemy, we are instructed to rejoice that we are found worthy to suffer for Him.  The kingdom is truly ours, and it is God's good pleasure to give it to us.

Lord, in Jesus' name I pray that as we read and compare our lives to the Beatitudes that You show us our sin so that we may repent of it and be closer to You.  Thank You for the grace to do so.  I pray that You touch us and heal us of our wounds and pain and bring us into tomorrow more healthy and Godly people.  Amen.

Patti

The Spirit Filled Life Bible  pages 1410-11.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan


I have been given an advance copy of this book by BookSneeze.com for review purposes.  I have not been paid for this review in any manner and the opinions stated in it are my own.  "Then Sings My Soul"  is the third book in this trilogy written by Robert J. Morgan and published by Thomas Nelson publishers.  This wonderful book is filled to overflowing with information regarding Christianity's most beloved hymns; as well as, background stories about the composers and sheet music for the pieces.  The milling of the book is authentic as the edges of the pages are rough cut and lend to its historical feel.  Morgan begins the introduction of "Then Sings My Soul" with an inspiring account of Blue Whales, "They sing with greater decibels than a jetliner taking off, and the sound of their voice travels up to five hundred miles through the water" (Morgan 2011, xi).  He then relates this fact to Psalm 148 which says, "Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds,stormy winds that do his bidding,  fruit trees and all cedars. . ."  Such inspiring God-breathed words have spurred the writing of many great hymns that are still being sung in our churches today, even hundreds of years, in some cases, later.

Morgan relates the story of the hymn, "Grace That Is Greater than Our Sin" copyrighted by Julia H. Johnston in 1910.  The opening line of the hymn allows a glimpse of a grand truth of God's nature, "Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and guilt. . ."  The scriptural accuracy of the lyrics of our sacred songs is critically important, as we sing and praise God these truths sink deeper into our hearts.  Johnston captures and relates God's love and Grace that is, "Greater than all our sin" (Morgan 2011, 138).  Included with the plethora of specific information regarding individual songs, Morgan writes of the importance of reading, memorizing, praying and singing hymns.  When we allow God's Word to be imbued into our consciousness through these practices it effortlessly will flow into our conversations and interactions with others.

This book, as well as, the first two of the series are a valuable addition to any Christian's bookshelf.  The amount of information included in them is extraordinary.  Giving ourselves the vocabulary to praise and worship God in spirit and in truth will certainly allow our souls to sing, and this book is a wonderful impetus to that becoming a reality.

Rev. Patricia Paige Harrison  
  
  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Who Is On The Lord's Side?






Certainly every Christian wants to hear these words at the end of their lives,“Well done, my good and faithful servant”(Matthew 25:21). God has called His people to do His Kingdom work. It is up to us to heed the call and arrange His churches and ministries in the way that He has proscribed. A valuable question to ask is, “What are we doing here?” If the answer is not evangelism and discipleship, then the church or ministry is off track. There is an appointed time, we don't know when Jesus will return and it is our responsibility to harvest the fields while the sun is still shining. Ministry doesn't just happen, it must be intelligently and strategically organized so that it may be carried out in His will. There is a crisis in our churches today. The invasion of the enemy is possible because her walls and gates are broken down, not unlike the situation that Nehemiah faced. Our walls and gates are spiritual, but no less in need of repair. Church as usual is not fulfilling the emptiness that the Postmodern era has loosed on our culture. In order for the church to be relevant, her people must rise up and truly become the hands and heart of Christ. Pastors with integrity, who will not sell out to greed, ego and other lusts are necessary for this to happen. Our churches can't be run by the highest bidder, or tither, as it were. The status quo driven cliques that tend to sway the tide must not be given in to. A pastor with true integrity must say, “We are going to do this God's way point blank.” It is an obvious fact that the people cannot rule themselves. The golden calf debacle (Exodus 32) is evidence of this fact. Exodus 32:26 is quite profound, “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, 'Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him” (KJV). That is the question that is necessary to ask of ourselves and our churches. Who is on the Lord's side?   

Patti

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Take Off The Grave Clothes


This article was formerly published in "Devotions by The Christian World College of Theology"   Class of 2004.



"And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Loose him, and let him go.'” 
John 11:44 NKJV

"Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself." 
 John 20:6,7 NKJV

It is intriguing that the importance of the grave clothes in these scriptures is accentuated by the mention of the cloth that was wrapped on the face of both Lazarus and Jesus.  In Jesus' time, interment of the deceased was performed quickly, usually the same day as the death.  As the body was prepared with aloes and herbs, they took the time to separately wrap the face in a handkerchief or as some translations read, a napkin.  We are all born into death, by Adam's sin.  At His birth, the one who was sinless, Jesus Christ, lay wrapped in swaddling clothes in that ancient manger, a foreshadowing of His death.  "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7).  

He that is above all creation had no nursery at His birth and was laid in a borrowed tomb at His seeming death.  The swaddling clothes gave way to cruel torture and grave clothes infused with aromatic herbs, as if this heinous deed could be covered by sweet incense.

The intriguing element of both scriptures is that the removal of the handkerchief was intentional and careful.  Jesus ordered the men present at Lazarus' raising to, ". . .loose him and let him go" (John 11:44).  As Christians, we are responsible to assist new converts in putting off the ways of death that coincide with life in the world.  We are to help them to become Christ-like and grow in the Word.  At our conversion, we are all as newborns, not knowing or understanding until we learn and grow.

So many times new Christians are left to die, when they need nourishment and acceptance from their big brothers and sisters.  We are not to accept the ways of death, but to help them remove the cloth from their faces, so that they can see and breathe this new life.

When Jesus arose, He cast aside the burial garment that was enfolding Him.  It lay in a heap upon the stone where He had been placed.  The face napkin, although, was folded together and set apart.  Why would Jesus go to the trouble of carefully removing the napkin, folding it, and setting it aside?  He was speaking directly to us by this act.  We must intentionally and with great care put off the ways of death.

If one can imagine having one's head wrapped in a linen napkin, it would be difficult to hear, see, breathe. and speak.  One would be bound and not able to discern the environment around them.  Jesus is asking us to carefully remove the grave clothes, to lay them aside intentionally, and not to live in the tombs anymore.  Jesus said, ". . . I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."  John 11:25

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank you today for Your Word.  It is Life and it is Life giving.  Thank you for all things, Lord.  Thank You Jesus for dying as ransom for my sins.  Thank You Holy Spirit for abiding in me and empowering me to live for You.  Father, please show me places in my life that I have not removed the grave clothes, so that I may walk in total life.  Please show me others that need my assistance in removing their own grave clothes.  Lord, I love You and praise You and I lay down my life for Your Kingdom.  In Jesus' precious name I pray.  Amen.

Patricia Paige Harrison 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ever Of Old


"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"  Numbers 23:19

Pic from freepicturesweb.com

Many people have difficulty reconciling the God in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  The wrath-filled rule giver compared to the merciful grace giver seems rather bi-polar, and has caused many to question His nature.  Albeit this is a superficial view of God's behavior in the Old Testament; as, His love and grace are illustrated throughout the Word.  Marcion of Sinope in AD 144 went so far as to form a heresy claiming that the God of the Old Testament and of the New were separate beings.  Marcion also dissected the scripture and reorganized a revised version of the Bible that fit his theory.  Interestingly, the existence of heresy historically has caused the Church to be cautious and crystallize it's doctrine all the more.  The imprecatory Psalms are another instance of seeming contradiction in scripture.  The word imprecatory is derived from the Latin word imprecatus, and it means "to curse."  Psalm 55:15 is an example, "Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them" (KJV).  This is the antithesis of Jesus directing his disciples to, ". . . Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44, KJV).  There is a seeming chasm between what The Old Testament and The New Testament teach.  What is the truth that bridges this apparent gap?  The cross!  Jesus' sacrifice spans the gap and brings us to the place in which we are given the opportunity to step into His imputed righteousness and out of the sin nature we inherited from Adam.  God's first intention was a loving fellowship relationship with man which was marred by sin.  There is no confliction between God's nature in The Old and New Testaments, only the saving grace of Christ's sacrifice.

Patti

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Issues of the Heart


"Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life." 
Proverbs 4:23 

Pic from freepicturesweb.com

We may feel that our unexpressed desires and thoughts do not affect our outer lives, but this is a fallacy.  Our physical hearts are vital to the health of our entire body; the same way as, our spiritual hearts are integral to our spiritual health.  We know that ingesting poison is detrimental or fatal to our bodies, if we allow it into our systems it will maim or kill us eventually.  What we allow into our hearts is even more dangerous.  The word "issue" can be used as a noun or a verb.  In the sense that it is a noun it means, "Something that is sent out or put forth in any form."  Likewise as a verb, its meaning is, "To send out; discharge; emit" (dictionaryreference.com).  So what we allow into our hearts, will become an issue and will issue forth from our lives.  It is said that the eyes are the gateway to the soul; more aptly, they are the gateway to what we allow into our souls.  Job had the right idea in verse 31:1 when he said, "I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?"  We must consciously not allow ourselves to indulge in things that we know will lead to sin.  Adding sin to loneliness or problems in our lives will not accomplish anything but digging us deeper in the problem.  The enemy would have us believe that lie in order to drag us away from God and entangle us further.  Be careful of what you allow your heart to dwell on, it certainly will become an issue.

Lord, in Jesus' name please show us the areas of our lives that we have allowed wrong thinking to invade.  Please help us to guard our eyes and hearts.  Thank You for Your mercy and grace, for without it we would be lost. Thank You for loving us in our sin, You are our only hope.  I praise You and love You.  Amen.

Patti  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Things I Used To Do 07/11


    The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

       
      Standing on the beach watching my sister and brother-in-law play with their two young children in the surf, I began to think about the things in my life that have gone by the wayside. It had been at least ten years since I swam in the ocean. Before that I would swim out past the breakers and float on my back in the briny deep. Now I strive to go to the beach, not get wet and not bring any sand home with me in my shoes, bag, ears etc. In our lives it is very easy to lose sight of what is beneficial to us, the small simple things that nurture our souls and make us feel like a two-year-old again. When we allow ourselves to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, joyfulness will ensue. There is an enemy of our souls, if he is able to steal our joy, the battle is half won. In Christ, we have the freedom to live our lives in His joy, and as John 10:10 tells us we can live that life more abundantly. God is interested in our having joyful life, in Him. The enemy would have us to believe that a joyful life is gained by wealth and prominence. While wealth is not inherently bad, it is not the secret to joy. What price can you put on the delighted face of a child as they splash in the ocean waves? Don't allow the enemy to steal your joy.
         I jumped in the ocean at my brother-in-law's prodding, ok he actually dragged me in, and I swam out past the breakers. As I floated on my back and gazed at the azure blue sky streaked with long white clouds, I promised God and myself that I was going to jump back into life more fully. In the fall I will rake leaves and jump in the pile. This winter I shall be playing in the snow and building a snowman.  I will be chasing fireflies and listening to the song of frogs and crickets next spring. If you see me trouncing in a puddle next summer, know that I haven 't gone mad.
         Lord, thank you for the joy that You have promised to us. I pray that you inspire each of us to live our lives joyfully in You. Father please keep Your hand on our lives and empower us to do the work on this earth that you have ordained for us. In Jesus' name thank You and Amen.

Patti

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Like A Child



Luke 18:17  "Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."



Pic from freephoto.com

Child-like faith is spoken of in scripture as a prerequisite for gaining entrance into the kingdom of God.  The word "kingdom" evokes images of castles with moats and perhaps an obligatory dragon.  It denotes property, assets-- a physical reality that is obtainable.  This was part of the difficulty that the Jewish people had with Jesus.  They were awaiting a Messiah who would usher in the literal physical kingdom. They wanted a warrior on a stead, not a prophet on a donkey. The use of the word kingdom here has a deeper meaning.  It speaks of coming under the kingship of God-- this is about submitting to His authority in a child-like manner.  Imagine a father gathering up his child to go and run some errands with a promise of a treat before they return home.  The child's mind is not occupied with the details of the trip.  Does dad have enough gas in the car?  Is he able to do what it is that he is attempting?  Does he know where to go?  Does he have enough money?  I wonder if he knows what he is doing?  Our Father knows every detail of the road ahead and He is more than well-equipped to fulfill what He has spoken.  Trust Him with child-like faith, come under His kingship and know that He has your best interest at heart.  Our obedience is not directly proportionate to the balance in our checkbooks.  Many saints of God have suffered need and martyrdom in their service.  The teaching of prosperity, at any cost, is shallow.  When you stand before God will you say, "God I did what was best for me," or "God I did what was best for Your kingdom?"
Patti 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Zephaniah



Zephaniah 1:1 fixes the authorship and date of this book, “ The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah.” The name Zephaniah means, “The Lord has hidden.” His ancestry is traced back four generations to Judah's King Hezekiah, who witnessed the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by Assyria in 720 BC. This book was written in approximately 630 BC, one hundred years after the siege by Assyria. The Assyrians were a fierce warring people who would decimate captured lands by polluting the fields and destroying everything in their path. They would seek to destroy societies by intermixing with the conquered peoples to dilute their religion and social identity. Judah became polluted with pagan worship, rituals, and magical arts of diviners who practiced the astral religion of Ashurism.

Today Christianity is being invaded by secularism. Like the fields that the Assyrian armies would pollute with salt and seed with weeds, it is growing among us and killing our society. It is not radical to set your mind on living the way that God has asked us to live. As we accept secular society's mores we are being assimilated into it. Romans 12:2 instructs us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” In Exodus 19:5 God says, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine”(KJV). By definition in order to be peculiar, we must be different from the ocean of worldliness around us.

The theme of this book is the wrath of a loving God, this truth is illustrated in Zephaniah 2:1-3, “Gather together, gather yourselves together, you shameful nation,before the decree takes effect and that day passes like windblown chaff, before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’s wrath comes upon you. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger” (NIV).

Lord, in Jesus name, I pray that you show each of the pollution of secularism that has permeated our lives. Lord, please give us the Grace to repent and be cleansed of it. Father, it is so easy to fall into practices that are not pleasing to you without even realizing it. Thank You for Your mercy and compassion. Please make us peculiar to You and an ensign to the world of Your love and desire for its redemption. Thank You that You love each of us regardless of our sin, although You desire for us to lay it down and come to You as a child. Lord please heal us, heal our land, heal our hearts. We need You. Lord, I love you. Amen.

Patti

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

As The Stars


Ephesians 2:8
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."



 

The current popular definition of grace in Christianity is "unmerited favor," while this definition is true, it barely scratches the surface of the implications of grace.  It is very easy to slip into legalism in our Christian walk, the result of this is the feeling that we somehow deserve grace because of our statute keeping.  It is only by God's grace that we are able to consider obedience.  Abram enjoyed a grace relationship with God well before the Ten Commandments were given.  Abram's relationship with God was based on faith, not performance.  This is not to say that we can live any way that we please and rely on grace to cover our intentional sin.  This is about relationship.  If you love and cherish a relationship with another person, you will be faithful to them because of your love, not due to a fear of retribution.  God wants that relationship with you.  The pull of sin on our lives is like a driving current, but we can swim against it.  God knows this, and He has given us His grace in order that we might be able to overcome our sin nature.  Just as Ephesians 2:8 tells us, this grace is not of ourselves; therefore, we have no reason to boast or be proud.  God's grace extended to the sinner, which we all are, is unmerited favor.  It covers the entire spectrum of all of our lives Christian and non-Christian alike.  His grace created us and sustains us and it is calling us to Him.  So much of Christianity is as Colossians 2:21 describes, "Touch not; taste not; handle not." Grace allows us to, ". . .taste and see that the LORD is good. . ." (Psalm 34:8).  By faith, Abram come Abraham received this promise from God, "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies" (Genesis 22:17).  By God's grace and faith we have or can become part of that promise.

Patti

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