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Sunday, September 30, 2018

God Answers Prayer because He is Good

"God answers our prayers not because we are good,
but because He is good." - A. W. Tozer

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

This is something a lot of people have more or less trouble with. As humans we tend to think that we need to earn things, that if we just strive hard enough the good things we want in life will come to us. Sometimes we are even mistaken enough to think that they are owed to us if we've put in "enough" effort in our own estimation.

Getting satisfactory answers to prayer is an area where it is sometimes easy to make this mistake. Even when we know we are not saved by works, it's common to think we earn our blessings -- answered prayers, marriage, ministry, children, financial success, etc.

This idea has likely been encouraged by certain teachings that either imply or outright declare that our blessings are earned. Some Christian songs or hymns encourage this type of thinking, and I'll use one for an example of what I'm talking about. The one that comes to mind which has bothered me for years is the song "Is Your All On the Altar?" The chorus tells us this:

"Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blessed,
And have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield him your body and soul."

Once when we were singing this years ago I realized that I knew Christians who were blessed whose all was not "on the altar," so to speak. They had things in their lives that were not yielded to God, and yet God blessed them in spite of themselves. It dawned on me then that our blessings are not earned.

Continue Reading.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Evening Song - Sweet Hour of Prayer

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Thousand Word Project - Morning Refreshment

Deuteronomy 32:2-3 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

FREE Scripture Graphic - My High Tower, Psalm 18:2

Here is another vintage graphic that I edited. I got the original graphic from The Graphics Fairy. I made some changes and added the verse. You can save the image from here, but it will not be very high quality.  To get it in higher quality go and download it here. (Use the download button in the lower right corner.)

If you wish to use this online, please do not link to the graphic from either of my locations. Save it to your own computer and then upload it to the place where you store graphics online for you own use. Thank you.

If you would like a copy of this image without the words so that you can add your own, click here and then follow the same instructions for downloading it.

[Note: It's OK to link the graphic from here only if you are sharing the link to this specific post on my blog - either on your own blog or in social media.] :-)


Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Yucky Flesh

Sometimes taking a shower is really great and I look forward to it. Other times it’s a nuisance or a necessary evil. Maybe I’m very tired or in a hurry, or I just don’t feel like it. But, I still get dirty and need to shower or bathe even when I don’t want to. In fact, you can lie in bed and do nothing but you will still get dirty and need to be cleaned up, even if someone else has to do it for you.

It’s interesting that the physical side of the flesh produces odious and undesirable results without any effort on our part. In fact, we can think all we want about not getting dirty, but if we don’t “wash and be clean” we will still end up stinking.

Paul said that internally he experienced the same thing because of sin.

Romans 7:15-19 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 

(Please note that Paul wrote this in the present tense - not the past tense. Michael Pearl and some others have tried to teach that this was Paul talking about how he used to be but that he later gained more or less complete freedom over sin. Grammar is important. It sometimes saves us from making heretical mistakes.)

Even though Paul wanted to do good, his flesh would not cooperate. The flesh is naturally dirty and unclean - inside and out. Without “effort” on our part it produces evil fruits.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 

This is because our hearts are evil in their natural state. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 

The solution is as with the physical flesh — regular washing.

Jesus Christ provides this for us. Romans 7:24-25 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. 

We can be clean through His word. John 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 

We can be washed through His word. Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 

(Some people seem to become completely preoccupied with the husband and wife relationship in this passage and tend to forget that the main object is to show how Christ relates to His church. Please don't miss the point.)

Also, we are told in 1 John 1:7, But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. Light exposes evil, and the blood of Jesus removes the deepest stains of sin.

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 

We are also told to wash one another’s feet. John 13:8-14 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
Most of Christians believe that this is applied spiritually now in the sense that we wash the feet of our fellow saints who have been walking in this dirty world. We do this through edification, encouragement, and exhortation. Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 

The flesh is vile, but Jesus Christ can and will subdue all things unto Himself eventually. Praise God for that! A day is coming when we won’t have this battle against dirt any more. Philippians 3:20-21 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

In Mark 9:2-3 we read,  And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. When Jesus was transfigured before these three disciples, they saw His raiment as it was in the sight of God - whiter than any cleaning agent on earth could ever make anything. He as promised us that someday we shall be like Him when we see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. The hope of that day is a purifying hope because it should make us strive against sin even now. It should inspire us to walk in the light and and to confess our sins so that we might be cleansed from all unrighteousness daily, 1 John 1:9. It should encourage us to seek the cleansing that we can enjoy now through reading God's word and fellowship with other believers.

Someday we will be completely clean in body and mind and soul! We will no longer have the battle that Paul spoke of in Romans 7. We will be clean in every way as we are spiritually now in God's sight. This is a wonderful hope!

Revelation 19:7-9 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 

And what is the righteousness of the saints?

Titus 3:5-7 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 

As the apostle Paul said in Romans 7:25, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Evening Song - Jesus Is All the World to Me

John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Tennessee Memories - Late Summer Flower Gardens

Memories from my flower gardens in Tennessee. Original photos taken 2006.



Morning glories


California poppy



Swallowtail butterfly on Zinnia

Balloon flower bud


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Evening Song - In the Sweet By and By

Revelation 19:9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Thousand Word Project - Storm

Psalm 77:17-18 The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. 

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

Excerpt from "O Worship the King."
- William Kethe and Robert Grant

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Love of Christ - A Poem by Annie Johnson Flint

The Love of Christ

How broad is [Christ's] love?
Oh, as broad as man's trespass,
As wide as the need of the world can be;
And yet to the need of one soul it can narrow--
He came to the world and He came to me.

How long is His love?
Without end or beginning,
Eternal as God and His life it must be,
For, to everlasting as from everlasting
He loveth the world and He loveth me.

How deep is [Christ's] love?
Oh, as deep as man's sinning.
As low as the uttermost vileness can be;
In the fathomless gulf of the Father's forsaking
He died for the world and He died for me.

How high is His love?
It is high as the heavens,
As high as the throne of His glory must be;
And yet from that height He hath stooped to redeem us--
He so loved the world and He so loved me.

How great is [Christ's] love?
Oh, it passeth all knowledge,
No man's comprehension its measure can be;
It filleth the world, yet each heart may contain it--
He so loves the world and He so loves me.

Annie Johnson Flint

1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Evening Song - His Love Cannot Fail

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

FREE Scripture Graphic - In Everything Give Thanks

Here is another vintage graphic that I edited. I got the original graphic from the Old Design Shop. I made some changes and added the verse. You can save the image from here, but it will not be very high quality.  You can get it in higher quality if you go over and download it here. (Use the download button in the lower right corner.)

If you wish to use this online, please do not link to the graphic from either of my locations. Save it to your own computer and then upload it to the place where you store graphics online for you own use. Thank you.

[Note: It's OK to link the graphic from here only if you are sharing the link to this specific post on my blog - either on your own blog or in social media.] :-)


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Did You Meme That? - A Good Woman?

By Mary Stephens
with assistance from a friend.

First of all, let's consider the issue of looks.

We are told in Proverbs 31:30,  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

We should be more concerned about our relationship with the Lord and our testimony for Him than we are about our outward appearance. Although the point of this meme is to emphasize that there is a more important value for a woman, we should still ask if it is the right one.

Psalm 53:2-3 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Are We Good Women?

We are clearly told in the Bible that none of us are righteous and that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. In other words, none of us are "good" in and of ourselves.

Matthew 19:16-17 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

In this passage Jesus was telling the man who asked this, in essence, "If you don't recognize me as God, then don't call me 'good.'" Why? Because our human perception of goodness is not the same as God's. In His estimation of goodness He is the only One who is good. In our estimation all kinds of things and people are good. The only real goodness worth having, then, is God's goodness.

This meme claims that a woman will lose her pretty face and her body will change with age, but that if she is "a good woman" she will always have her own goodness to fall back on to give her value. The problem is we have no real goodness of our own.

The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10,  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and
shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the
heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

And again, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23.

Some people imagine themselves to be "good" because they do "good" things. But, all of our righteousnesses and good works are as filthy rags. In the sight of God they are worthless.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 

We, by our own sinful nature, want to be lifted up and admired for what we see as our good works. We like to admire ourselves and our accomplishments. This is pride, even in its most benign forms.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. 

Pride in our worthless "goodness" is a sure path to destruction. To be proud of ourselves for being "good" and resting in that is very dangerous. Human "goodness" is more perishable than we are ourselves and we are no better than withering grass and fading flowers (Isaiah 40:7-8). We are told in Galatians 6:3, For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. It is nothing but self-deception to think we are good and that our goodness is enduring.

A Goodness that Endures

The meme says that a "good woman" will always be good. Will we always be good people - with or without good looks? Since we are technically not good to begin with, that is impossible from the very start. Even those who trust Christ as Savior are still sinners. (1 John 1:8-10)

It is important to understand that true goodness is a fruit of the Spirit of God because only God is good. Without His Spirit in us we cannot produce true goodness.

Galatians 5:22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Some people talk about a person being "good at heart" even when some of their actions are obviously not good. But, can we trust in our own hearts or feelings?

God tells us in Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Good or evil proceed from the heart. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 12:34-35: O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. We can only become truly good at heart through salvation and being changed inside so that we bear the fruit of the Spirit.

When a person chooses to trust their own heart or goodness, they will reap the fruit of that. The fruit of the Spirit is eternal life, but fruit of the perishing flesh is death. Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Humanly speaking there are people who appear to be better than others. They may seem "good" on the outside, but it's what is inside that counts. The Pharisees are prime examples of this. Even though they appeared very religious and good on the outside, their hearts were vile. Matthew 23:27-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 

You see, fleshly goodness will eventually produce corruption. You won't "always" be "good" just because you appear to be at one time. Only God's goodness will last forever. This is why we can trust in God and what He says about His own goodness and the goodness of His Son. We can trust Him with our hearts. We can trust Him to give us of His goodness for our eternal good. His goodness is the only goodness worth having because He Himself will keep on being good eternally. Every person who trusts Christ as their Savior can fully rely upon His goodness.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Jesus Christ is good, so we should hold fast to Him and place our trust for all future goodness in Him!

Psalm 31:19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

Relying on the Goodness of God

So, how can we rely on God’s goodness? How can we see God's goodness revealed in our lives?

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

We will see God's goodness in our own lives by walking in the Spirit. We will see it through reading and obeying His word, and by trusting in and cleaving to the living word - Jesus Christ. The fellowship and edification of godly music and teaching can also help bring the goodness of God into our lives, as we read in Colossians 3:16-17: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Someone may be thinking, "I thought Christians are supposed to do good work."

Well, yes. We are. However, as we trust in Christ to lead our lives, reading His Word and talking to him through prayer, He will produce the fruit or good works in us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

It is God's purpose and plan that we should walk in good works. We are created in Christ to do this for the glory of the Father in heaven. When we do our good works as unto Christ, and not as a vain shew for man (see Matthew 6), we can know that they will be rewarded according to His good pleasure and that we are glorifying Him.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

When we obey the word of God, resting in the power of the resurrection and the blood of Christ's covenant, we can have the joy of knowing our good works are well-pleasing in the sight of the Lord, and that they will last, not in our strength or goodness, but in His. Anyone who trusts Christ as Savior should rest in God's goodness and promises. He will guide, keep, and provide for us and never forsake us. He will also make us fruitful in the good works according to His will and purpose as we follow the Lord Jesus.


Dear reader, if you have not trusted in Jesus Christ alone and His finished work on the cross, then all you have to trust in is your own goodness. As we have seen, that is a very dangerous place to put our trust. Relying on anything but Christ for salvation will lead to eternal loss because there are only two places we can go after this life - heaven or hell. If you trust in your own goodness you will end up in hell - a place God never intended for you to be.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The Lord lovingly lets all of us choose what we will trust in and, therefore, our eternal destination. Remember that all our good works are as filthy rags. Your good works will not gain you favor with God or eternal salvation. Only faith in Jesus Christ and the ultimate good work He did through His death, burial, and resurrection can bring salvation.

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 

1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 

When God finished creating the heavens and the earth on the sixth day, we are told in Genesis 1:31 that "...it was very good..." Adam chose to sin and disobey God's direct command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and so he brought sin upon the entire human race and creation. The original goodness of mankind was permanently lost. Only Jesus Christ's sacrifice upon the cross can restore that to us spiritually.

Now your sin will keep you from heaven if you choose to reject the payment Christ made for us. You will then be forced to make that payment yourself, and you cannot. Jesus, the Son of God, paid the ultimate price to make us truly good with the goodness that only God can give. But, the choice is yours. If you haven't done this, I encourage you choose this day to trust Jesus Christ and receive the goodness and salvation that are only found in and through Him.

If you are already a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, then you need to think on a different aspect of this. Trusting in our own goodness as our source of value is ultimately just as wasteful as trusting in our good looks. Our goodness is actually more fragile and fading than our physical appearance is. Let's trust in the goodness of God and seek to bring forth the good fruit that He has willed for us to bear through His Son. Then we will have something of eternal value, something that won't pass away with the worthless "goodness" of this world.

1 John 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 

2 Peter 1:5-8 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

I like this verse from the Old Testament. It reminds me of how we can now live as Christians through the power of Christ in our lives. Ultimately this is how to truly be "good women" that please God.

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?