Judas’ Kiss

Depressed woman sitting on a chair in dark room at home. Lonly , sad, emotion concept.

“That substance or behavior you’re addicted to is not your friend. It’s your Judas kissing your cheek so it can hand you over to your killing.”  — Beth Moore

The other day I got a text message from my mentor with the above quote. She wanted to share it with me just because she saw it and loved it, and she knows how much I love Beth Moore. When I read it, though, it really got me thinking.

As believers, we all know that when we sin, we may “feel” good in the moment, but that good feeling is followed by guilt, shame, frustration, and an interruption in fellowship with the Father. It’s not until we come to Him in confession and repentance that we can receive and walk in forgiveness.

The problem is, though, that sometimes believers can take a passive approach to sin, or even try to justify it with an “everyone does it” or an “I’ll be forgiven anyway” mentality. What we really need to do, though, is see sin for what it is – deadly. We can’t be blind to the horrifying nature of sin, because the more we partake in it with an unresisting attitude, the friendlier we become with the very thing God despises most. Sin is not our friend. It’s ugly, deadly, evil, foul, vile, corrupt, and infinitely heinous. It’s our Judas kissing our cheek so it can hand us over to our killing. It is encouraged by the thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). Satan tempts us to sin; he may even guarantee pleasure… but it’s only temporary, and will be followed with a feeling of dishonor. Let’s not forget that the devil is the father of lies (John 8:44). That’s the truth, so what should our response be to sinful temptations?

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. – Ephesians 6:10-13

Also, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He responded to Satan’s temptations with Scripture – the Sword of the Spirit.

God knows we have a sinful nature about us, and He loves us in spite of that. He knew every sin we have committed or will commit, and He still loves us. But His desire is that we would be set FREE from sin, not that we would sin freely.

The good news is that we don’t have to remain in guilt when we do sin. We just have to recognize sin for what it is, repent, and receive forgiveness. Thank God that there is No condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:57

Erin Culleny serves as a Marketing Assistant and Staff Writer. She loves encouraging women through her Victory Calls and finds such joy in praying for her sisters in Christ. Her favorite activities include reading her Bible, encouraging others with scripture, buying new makeup, buying dresses, and eating at the Cheesecake Factory… In that order!

 

 

YES!

YES concept, positive changes in the life

Matthew 5:37 [Full Chapter]

Let what you say be simply “Yes” or :No”; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5:37

I’ve been watching a British series. As the characters have had conversations, I’ve noticed their response is often a simple “Yes.” Of course, the accent helps but the simple answer seems to be one of certainty and calmness. In our culture, the common response has become “Whatever.” I think I like the British response better. A simple and sure “Yes” or “No” is a great answer.

How often does Jesus come to us with a situation or question that requires a simple and heartfelt answer? What is your normal reply? I have given my fair share of answers with a “no” or “whatever.” As Matthew 5:37 says, anything more than “yes” or “no” comes from evil. When I answer otherwise it comes from my flesh. God desires that we are always in relationship with Him and that our simple answer would be “yes” in response to His leading.

Today what is Jesus bringing to you that requires a response of a quiet, whole-hearted “Yes, Lord?” May you and I find ourselves more willing to obediently say “YES” to Him!

Blessings,
Kathy

Kathy Withers is on staff at America’s Keswick and serves as Director of Partner Care. Kathy has been married to her husband Dave for 30 years. They have two adult children. Kathy is active in her local Church and teaches a Bible Study for women. Her passion is to encourage women to deepen their walk with Jesus Christ by finding and living out the truths of God’s Word.

Direct Access to God

woman taking a breath in the middle of the nature

I was supposed to talk with my three-year-old grandson today using Skype.  It was a great disappointment to receive a text from my son saying that the internet was not working.  They were having an ice storm and it seems that the lines were down somewhere.

As I was thinking about this, a beautiful thought came to mind, “I’m glad I do not need the internet to talk with God.”  We can talk with Him anytime, anyplace.  Hebrews 10: 19-22 tells us, Since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…and have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith… 

Through Jesus’ blood we can come before God’s throne at any time.  We will never be disappointed.  Even when we sin, we can come before Him in repentance and He will forgive us (1 John 1:9.)  We are told to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17.)  And, these verses in Hebrews tell us that we should draw near to God and can do so with complete confidence.

There is a beautiful hymn that reminds us we should pray in every situation:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?                                                   Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

So, why don’t we take it to the Lord in prayer?

Lyrics-Joseph Scriven

Music-Charles Crozat Converse

Written by Denise Zambrano: Denise loves to teach the Bible and sing. She teaches a women’s Bible study and a high school Sunday School class.  Along with her daughter, Linda, she is an advocate at A Baby’s Breath (a crisis pregnancy center). She loves being a grandmother to Tim, Becky, Alexander and William (who is with Jesus).  She was a missionary with Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador for 35 years.

 

 

To Love or To Be Right

Female with red paper heart shape on white background.

POW! Right in the kisser. (Can I say that in a Christian devo?)

I was sitting there next to my husband, so unsuspecting. He didn’t even see it happen. John and I had gone to an evening seminar on Anger and Peace at the local seminary.

Dr. Ed Welch, the seminar speaker, didn’t see it happen… but it was his fault!

Dr. Welch was telling a personal story when he shared how God intervened in his own thoughts with this simple question – “But did you love?”

In that moment, God began to prick my own spirit with an appalling reality.  After being a believer almost 35 years, it was the first time this thought occurred to me:  I am more motivated by being right than I am to love my neighbor. Often believing I was right about something… anything, I pressed my point even if it may have hurt the other person (no love there). It wasn’t necessarily my purpose to hurt them, but my desire, dare I say – ill-conceived – need, was to be right.

I am not proud to share that; in fact I am greatly humbled (most likely God’s purpose in revealing the ugliness of my heart to me).

Soon God’s Word started to pop into my heart and mind:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

“So now faith, hope, love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

God is love. When being right is my greatest passion – I fail to love God or to love as God loves. I fail to imitate Christ. I fail to live up to my calling – I fail to reflect my Creator, Savior, and Redeemer.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

I’m not sure if anyone else out there can identify with what I’m saying. I’m sure there are many that have no idea what I am talking about and that is okay; maybe one of the other Victory Calls this week will hit home for you.

But to those that do understand, let me say:

  1. None of us is always right.
  2. It’s okay to be right, but it is the heart attitude we bring with it that matters.
  3. It’s okay to be right and to keep silent (this is only possible by Christ living through us).
  4. It is more important to God that we love rather than be right.
  5. I don’t need to be right because JESUS is ALWAYS right!

If you find yourself in a similar place this morning, let’s together start with:

Confession and Repentance (turning away from having to be right and turn towards God by loving Him and loving others).

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9; Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8

Meditate on the Cross – for this sin, too, is under the blood.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24

Embrace forgiveness—

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14

In faith, love first and foremost –

if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12

You have my permission to email me to ask me how I am doing– loving more than having to be right.  Let me know how you are doing too.

Blessings,

Diane

Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.

FATHER’S LOVE LETTER con’t

Man writing letter

An intimate message from God to you.
© 1999 Father Heart Communications – FathersLoveLetter.com – Please feel free to copy & share with others.

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalm 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7

I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is… Will you be my child? John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32

© 1999 Father Heart Communications – FathersLoveLetter.com – Please feel free to copy & share with others.

Submitted by Pat Wenzel

Rev. Patricia Wenzel is the founder and director of a state wide prayer ministry, PRAY New Jersey Inc. since 2002.  The ministry is committed to praying for and blessing those serving in authority positions in our state, particularly in government.  The ministry is also committed to equipping the saints to pray for those serving in government.  The vision and ministry is guided by the Word of God, in particular 1 Tim. 2:1-4 and Is. 61:11.  Pat is thankful for the ministry of America’s Keswick.  She graduated from Women of Character in July 2008.

FATHER’S LOVE LETTER

Love Letter
An intimate message from God to you.
© 1999 Father Heart Communications – FathersLoveLetter.com – Please feel free to copy & share with others.

My Child,

You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17

 

TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW………

Clean slate Whiteboard

Blank Whiteboard

Recently, I participated in a 24-hour prayer vigil at a local church. The sanctuary was set up in about 10 stations: Prayer for the lost, meditate on the cross, pray the names of God, prayer for missionaries, etc. Each station had Scriptures and ideas of how to make the most of that station.  As I moved from station to station, I had the opportunity to focus on a particular need/truth.  I asked God to keep me focused, not being distracted by others in the room.

With dimmed lights and soft music playing, it was a wonderfully serene and meditative environment.

The Heart Examination station was a table with small 8X10 white boards, dry erase markers and erasers.  Pay attention here, because I suggest you do this exercise.  Also at the table was a sheet with each of the 10 commandments and probing questions relative to each of those Scriptures. (There was a note that said, “Christians are no longer ‘under law’, but the 10 Commandments reveal God’s character and can still help us examine our hearts.”)  The instructions read: “As you prayerfully consider these questions, write your answers (sins) on a whiteboard. Be specific (e.g., “idolatry” is less specific than, “I idolize my job.”) When you are finished, pray, confessing those sins and asking for forgiveness with a repentant heart. Then go back to the table and erase your board, symbolizing the clean heart God has created in you.”

My very first thought was –“Go back to the table and erase your board?  Everyone will see what I wrote!!” But I chose to follow the instructions believing humility is part of the process.

I sat with a clean white board and marker in hand. I started praying and as my sins came to mind I wrote them on the whiteboard. In the corners, along the edges, squeezed in here and there. My whiteboard was covered top to bottom, side to side.

After confession and prayer, I took my full whiteboard back to the table – picked up the eraser and started to wipe the slate whiteboard clean. As I did so, I noticed the dry erase marker I used was red – like the blood of Christ that covered my sin.  With each stroke of the eraser, the list of my sins was removed – as if Christ Himself was wiping my whiteboard clean.  When all was said and done, my whiteboard was clean leaving no evidence or remnants of my sins.

I was very moved by this exercise.  I realized that it is the clean whiteboard that God sees when He looks at me because He is seeing me through the blood of Jesus – forgiven.  My sins were transferred to His account while His righteousness was transferred to my account.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

May I challenge you to do this exercise?  Perhaps, you like me, have a difficult time with confession – this is a great tool to help with focus and to visually experience what Christ accomplished on the Cross. Powerful.

Blessings, Diane

Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.

Nothing Passive Here

Closeup child hand opening and reading a book in library

The Christian walk, a blossoming relationship with Jesus Christ, unity of the Body, peace and love. None of these are passive, natural, or simply happen.

Every one of these things require that we put out effort… pursuing… seeking.

SEEK: to go in search of, look for; to try to discover; to ask for; to try to acquire or gain, aim at; to make an attempt.[i] All Active verbs: search, look, discover, ask, acquire, gain, aim, attempt.  In His Word God repeatedly reminds us that there is nothing passive here.

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” … seek peace and pursue it… O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you… Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! … O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge, Whoever covers an offense seeks love … seek justice… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness… seek to show hospitality… seek the things that are above… always seek to do good to one another and to everyone…pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding... Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentlenessflee youthful passions and pursue righteousness[ii]

When we read these Scriptures is our next thought, “Oh, that’s nice” or is it, “How shall I seek that today, Lord?” In what ways will I pursue unity, love, justice, hospitality, peace, and righteousness today?

There is no such thing as a passive follower – that is an oxymoron. To follow Christ requires, by its very nature… activity, following.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Mark 8:34

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 1 John 2:6 (NIV)

Lord, I don’t want to be a passive Christian. Open my eyes to see and then the faith to act upon it.

Blessings, Diane

[i] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/seek  definitions #2-5, accessed 1.30.18 [ii] Psalm 27:8, Psalm 34:14, Psalm 63:1, Psalm 105:4, Psalm 141:8, Proverbs 17:9, Isaiah 1:17, Matthew 6:33, Romans 12:13, Colossians 3:1, 1Thessalonians 5:15; Romans 14:19; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22;

Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.

TRUST

Silhouette of woman praying over beautiful sky background

 

Trust in the Lord with all our heart, and Do not lean on your own understanding    Proverbs 3:5

 I don’t know what a day will bring, but I do know the One I can Trust to bring me through a day.  Some days are uneventful, while others have events that can swallow us up in fear and worry that can develop into attacks of anxiety.  Why is it so hard sometimes to trust the One who created me and gives me the breath that I breathe?  The answer is simple – the minute I take my eyes off the Lord and His Word, His plan, His promises, His mercy, His grace, His steadfast love, His loving-kindness, His goodness, His patience, ___, ___, …. I will rely upon my own resources. Now that can be downright dangerous; “relying upon our own resources” has no wisdom, no strength, and will ultimately leave us empty.

He gives and He takes away – yet I know that TRUSTING the one who gives and takes away, I’m safe in Him. That doesn’t always mean that I embrace some of the things that the Lord is giving or taking, but I know the waste of time and energy it takes to fight against His plan.  His plan gives whatever is needed at that given time to bring us through life’s circumstances.  He never said it would be easy, and I can attest to that.  The Scriptures are full of people who trusted God and those who detested Him. The Israelites are a good example of trusting God and turning back to their own ways.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Isaiah 40:29 ESV

Many years ago while I was on a long flight I was reading “Trusting God” by Jerry Bridges.  As I read one of the chapters on trusting God, Jerry describes God’s sovereignty by relating that God is even in charge of the nuts and bolts on airplanes.  Wow, I wanted to jump up and shout “God’s in charge, don’t fret”…..Yikes, if I did that today they’d probably land the plane and put me off.  Truly, I was so excited.  Why?  I was very anxious flying. I will admit, I’m not a good passenger in a car, plane, bus, etc. I wanted to see my family and crazy thoughts kept creeping into my mind that were causing me to be fearful.  I knew that the Lord was comforting me and teaching me to TRUST Him no matter what a day may bring. God is in control – yes even with nuts and bolts that hold airplanes together.  Man may tighten them, but God keeps them in place, or He may allow them to come loose.  Whatever happens in our lives, God’s hand is in it and we can rest assured that TRUSTING Him is the best decision we can make.  However, remember this, even if we kick the brick at first, He still cares and loves us unconditionally.  And, He will get our attention.  Isaiah 30:19 (God always wants what is best for us.)

He gives and takes away – He gives the air we breathe.  He holds the key for life and death….He is all knowing; all powerful and is everywhere.  He never sleeps!!!! Psalm 139.

 Blessings,

Pat Spies

Pat Spies is a servant of the Lord, and a friend of Keswick

Documents in the Sandbox

This is our time for playing

Today, I got an email from my boss and the subject line was “Pastors in the Sandbox.” Now, let me explain. In Marketing, my boss and I have a shared folder on our computer network where we can put important documents so that they’re accessible to both of us. We’ve named that folder “The Sandbox”. (It’s kind of like Dropbox.) He had put the program for the upcoming Pastors Conference in this folder and he wanted me to print it. I knew exactly what “Pastors in the Sandbox” meant, but if anyone else saw that email, they’d think it was a funny subject line.

In Matthew 7, Jesus shares an analogy about how people should have their foundation on the rock rather than on the sand, meaning the foundation of our life should be on JESUS.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27

Are your “life” documents in the sandbox or on the rock? What I mean by that is, if you were to evaluate yourself – really, truly evaluate yourself – where is your faith? Is it in self, others, circumstances, or Jesus? I think most of us would read that and immediately say JESUS, but what about that one really difficult situation in your life? Your finances? Your health? Your relationships? Is your trust in self, others, circumstances, or FULLY on Jesus? What about your desires – are they self-focused or kingdom-focused?

I remember that when I was a kid, I would only play in the sandbox if it held the “good” type of sand. In my mind, there were only three types of sandboxes – one with dry sand, one with mostly dirt, and one with really good sand that you could actually build sandcastles on. I wanted a good foundation. As an adult, I still crave that good foundation, but now I want it on a spiritual level and in ALL areas of my life. I know my foundation is on Jesus, and I want my desires, thoughts, and attitudes to all point back Him!

Erin Culleny serves as a Marketing Assistant and Staff Writer. She loves encouraging women through her Victory Calls and finds such joy in praying for her sisters in Christ. Her favorite activities include reading her Bible, encouraging others with scripture, buying new makeup, buying dresses, and eating at the Cheesecake Factory… In that order!