Archive | May 2013

Keep it simple!

The Gospel message is simple. It is a message of God’s love demonstrated to us through Jesus. Jesus, who willingly laid down His life for us so that men and women everywhere could be saved. By believing in Jesus and asking Him to forgive us for all our sins, confessing Him with our mouth and being baptized we are given a NEW LIFE.

Romans 10:9-10 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Acts 2:38 NIV  38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Over the years men and women have complicated the simplicity of the Gospel with all kinds of man made traditions. But it is a simple message of love that requires our hearts turning to and yielding to Jesus Christ, our Savior and King. The message is complete in the Bible. We are not allowed to add to or take away from the Gospel message. It needs neither!

If you find yourself frustrated or confused about your faith, begin by reading the Bible again. Ask God to bring you fresh revelation of His Word.  Perhaps its time you and I spent more alone time in reading His Word and less time asking others for answers we need to be finding ourselves. Fellowship is wonderful, but is no replacement for the time each of us should spend learning of the lover of our soul through His love letter to us, the Word of God.

The time we spend in God’s Word is never wasted time. It is life changing. It is supernatural. It has the answers to life’s challenges and difficulties. Simplify your life, and get back into His Word. It will give you a clearer picture of what is important and what needs to be put aside. Untangle yourself from religious  dogma and embrace God’s love that has been bought and paid for by Christ. That is the gospel that is preached in the Bible. That is the gospel we need to share with those who still don’t know.

Where YOU lead, I will follow?

Ephesians 3:1-6

Ephesians 3:1-6

Our walk, as followers of Christ,  is not always a walk of comfort. In fact, often when we are obedient to the voice of God we are lead into situations that can be challenging or difficult. I couldn’t help but see this truth demonstrated over and over in the book of Acts. When the Holy Spirit would lead Paul or Peter somewhere or to do something for God,  persecution would shortly follow.  They never found it surprising or the result of a bad decision! It was a direct result of obeying the voice of God. Our brothers and sisters in Christ in many countries around the world understand this. It’s what they live and face every day. Somehow many of us in North America have come to believe that if doing something for God involves discomfort or hardship it can’t be of God because God wants us happy and comfortable. We need to reacquaint ourselves with the Word of God and what being a follower of Christ really means.

Though God promises joy and peace, He does not promise we will not go through hardships because of our faith. In fact the Word of God says we should expect it.

Peter tells us in 1Peter 4:12-14 NIV 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

Jesus tells us in the book of John 16:33 NIV 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Paul taught in the book of Romans the value of suffering for our faith, Romans 5:3-5 NIV 3 5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Joy and peace are not dependent on comfort and ease, they are gifts from God Himself and are available regardless of our situation! Though Paul faced incredible hardships and persecution for his faith, he did not grumble or question God. He counted it a blessing to be worthy to suffer for Christ. Let’s take a look at some of the persecutions he faced, yet was still able to bless God through!

2 Corinthians 11:23-33 NIV 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

All of the difficulties and persecutions Paul endured strengthened His love and reliance on Christ. He did not become bitter and resentful. He knew there was nothing more important than to follow the path Christ had set out for him.  If any question whether God really wanted Paul to have to endured these trials or whether they were the result of his own bad decision making you need to read the book of Acts…

Acts 16:7-40 NIV When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”

37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”

38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.

When Paul obeyed the Spirit of God, people came to Christ! They saw the power of God moving through him and saw that his love for Christ far outweighed comfort and ease. He suffered greatly but as a result God used him mightily to further his Kingdom! Not only did Paul not grumble while he endured persecution but both he and Silas were praying and singing! After they were released from prison they met with fellow believers and encouraged them!  No moaning or complaining! There’s was not a ministry of comfort and ease!

We also see Peter and the apostles suffer for their obedience to the Spirit of God in the book of Acts.  We see Peter thrown in prison, the opportunities it presented and the amazing outcome in Acts 4:1-24 NIV 4 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is“‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.

We don’t hear them asking God why He allowed them to be thrown in prison? They knew that by following the leading of the Holy Spirit, Christ would use them in ways they may not understand but that the results would be furthering the Kingdom of God!

Again we see Peter and the apostles following the leading of the Spirit, the amazing results for the Kingdom of God and the persecution they endured because of their obedience in Acts 5:12-41 NIV 12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Once again, we see them thrown in prison, flogged and still they rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ!  Sadly today some believers won’t  attend church if there isn’t air conditioning in the Summer, or the music is too loud, or they can’t find parking close enough to the building!

Today my  prayer is that we followers of Christ will heed the voice of the Spirit and obey God. That we will be so full of the love of Christ that we will follow His leading wherever it may take us despite the cost! Lord change our hearts and help us to  live out Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Amen

Don’t sit idle!

Some days my heart hurts for this world we live in. I watched the news and heard about the British soldier slaughtered on the street in London. He wasn’t in battle but simply walking down the street when he was approached and slaughtered by a raging terrorist who felt justified in killing him  because he wasn’t of the same faith. Today, I heard of an attempted plane high jacking from Pakistan to England, that thankfully it was thwarted but could have ended in tragedy. Again, an attempt to take the lives of others who don’t share their extreme ideology…

Anyone that doesn’t see the evil in this world we live in has to be wearing blinders. There are wars and rumors of wars all around us. Governments are involved in corruption on so many levels and refuse to admit or take any responsibility for their actions. One country feels the right to annihilate another because of a difference in beliefs. We hear stories of parents killing their children and children killing their parents, abuse in homes, schools, churches and so much more…

So what is the answer to all of this mess? Do we just resolve ourselves to the fact there is nothing we can do? Do we live in our own little bubble and refuse to help and make a difference? Do we harden ourselves by ignoring others and moving forward without a thought for their difficulties?

As Christians, God has called us to a world such as this.  We are men and women with the tool of prayer at our disposal. We are men and women with the answer. Christ didn’t come to save the “found” but the lost! We have the good news and we need to share it with a dying, messed up world.

Luke 19:10 NIV 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Matthew 20:28 NIV 28 Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.                                                              

Luke 5:32 NIV 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

When you see destruction and heartache all around, take the time to ask God what it is you can be doing to make a difference? There is always something we can do! Pray, pray for the lost, pray for the hurting, the broken, the rebellious, the bitter, your enemies and then do something to demonstrate the love of Christ to another!

It’s important that we don’t sit on our hands and moan about the state of things without getting down on our knees and praying! Prayer is the thing that will usher in the most change.  It is a mighty and powerful weapon that is at the hands of every follower of Christ!  Even the most frail, limited body can pray and therefore is capable of bringing about huge change in this world of ours!

When you have done that ask God how you can serve others?  What can you do to be the hands and feet of Christ?  Ask Him to put people in your life that need to hear the GOOD NEWS and when He does, share it!  Ask Him to provide opportunities where you can minister love and compassion to others and when He does, do it!

We are only limited by our indifference!  Determine to make a difference in this world. Determine to help others by sharing the good news. Determine to not sit back and watch but get involved in doing Christ’s work here while you still have time and while you are able.

Psalm 145:18-19 NIV 18 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;  He hears their cry and saves them.

 James 2:14-17 NIV 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Acts for today!

Luke 24:49 NIV 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Luke 24:49 NIV 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

My method of studying the Bible is to read it through front to back over and over again. It takes me months to do it but I find reading it in chronological order helps me to understand it so much better. There is so much of the New Testament we really don’t understand without reading and being familiar with the Old Testament such as the meaning and value of sacrifices, covenant etc..

Recently I finished reading the book of Acts. I love this book. It is a power keg! I decided instead of moving on to Romans I would reread it. Every page demonstrates the Father’s love for His kids. When Christ rose again He did NOT leave us comfortless or powerless to live out a life of blessing and anointing.  Through the Holy Spirit we are enabled!

Acts 2:1-21 NIV 2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days, God says,     I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,     your young men will see visions,     your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women,     I will pour out my Spirit in those days,     and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above     and signs on the earth below,     blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness     and the moon to blood     before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls     on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

The Spirit of God was promised to God’s sons and daughters and that promise was first fulfilled on the day of Pentecost! He has not reneged or removed that promise. The Holy Spirit is necessary and available to every follower of Christ today! It is through God’s Spirit that we are wooed to Christ and it is by that same Spirit we will move and operate in our giftings as we serve Him. The same giftings and blessing that those men and women received on the day of Pentecost are the same giftings and blessing that we can receive today!

So how do we go about being filled with the Spirit?  The Word of God tells us just that….

First we must repent of our sins and confess Christ as our Lord and Savior. Water baptism should follow according to the Word of God and then we are simply to have another Spirit filled believer lay hands on us and pray.

Acts 8:14-17 NIV 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

If you are a follower of Christ and you have not had pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit than maybe it’s time you did. God has called us to a life of service and when we do it in our own strength and power we do it in vain. The Father’s gift is for each of us and will perfectly equip us for the calling on our lives!

Lean In & Trust Him

Proverbs 3:5-6  5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

From time to time most of us find ourselves in situations that we really don’t understand. When things outside our control seem to take off with a life of their own and before we know it we are reeling from the after effects. I have been in that situation more than once and initially want to react out of fear. But as followers of Christ, God has NOT given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind! 2 Timothy 1:7  I don’t quote this to make light of any difficult time you may be encountering but to get you back to the reality of who God is and what His Word ensures us.

Without any trials, testing or difficult times, we never really get to see just how faithful and true God’s Word is. It can be depended upon in every situation. There are no surprises to God. Though we don’t understand why some of the challenges in life come our way, we can trust that He knows the beginning from the end and is not intimidated or stressed by our difficulties. He longs for us to bring our needs before Him and then do something that does not come natural…TRUST HIM.  As we read in Romans 8:28 NIVAnd we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Not in some or the odd one but in ALL things.

Though we most often don’t understand what the purpose is for our difficult times, we still have no reason to fear. His ways are far above our ways. So when we find ourselves in one of these situations the first thing we must do is seek Him and ask for His help. James 5:16 NIV 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Prayer is the most powerful tool God has given us! Use it without hesitation.  If God does not bring instant relief from our circumstances, we need to wait on Him and trust Him while we wait. Often the most growth happens during the waiting and trusting period. It is when we learn to trust our God with abandon!

While you wait on God, there are many scriptures that will strengthen you and sustain you. Here are just a few to start with…

Proverbs 3:5,6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

2 Corinthians 4:8-18 NIVWe are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Isaiah 41:10 NIV 10 So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

and finally one of my favorite verses….

Joshua 1:9 NIV 9 ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

——–

“Anything under God’s control is never out of control.”-Charles R. Swindoll

Before you say I do

I love being married. I am thankful that Mike and I have been able to date to share 34 years together. It hasn’t always been easy. We have had many great days and we have had some incredibly difficult days during our marriage. We don’t always agree on everything and I’m sure never will. We have been tested, tempted, tossed and turned but the one thing that has remained through it all is the commitment we made before God. Though we were young when we married, we knew from the Word of God that it was a very serious commitment. When times have been rough, we honored that commitment. Today, I am so thankful we did. We are able to see the fruits of that now in our life as we are able to enjoy our grown children and grand children as a couple.

I am convinced that the reason we have been able to make it to date, is before we married we were both committed to Christ. When we were first introduced, I had recently come to Christ and was very involved in my church. Though he had been raised in the Catholic faith, he was not attending church. He was however seeking a deeper walk with God. While dating the one thing God impressed upon me was that if he was not willing to make a commitment to Christ, I was not to continue in the relationship. At a Billy Graham Crusade that year, he did make a commitment and the rest is history. In our early years, we attended bible studies together and both grew in our faith as we saw God answer many prayers. It was the teaching we received and prayers of those early days that sustained us when we hit a few rocky paths. And we did hit rocky paths!  With the busyness of raising five children, Mike working long hours and often away and all the rest of what life throws at you, we found ourselves drifting apart and becoming quite resentful of one another. It just seemed that we were both kept so busy doing what we needed to to get by that we neglected our time with God and with one another.

Through it all, God continued to woo us back into intimacy with Him. As we drew closer to Him we were able to put all the rest in perspective. Spending time in prayer and getting back into His Word gives us clarity in our thoughts and hearts enabling us to forgive past hurts and resentments and move on to the future.

Of this I am sure, had we both not been committed Christians, both to God and to each other, when we married, we would never have lasted to enjoy the time we now have together. Both life and marriage can be difficult at times. However, I wouldn’t trade any of the those difficult times. As we have surrendered to God’s will, He has taken those difficult times and used them for our good. He has strengthened our bond together. He has given us an empathy and understanding we would never have had had we not experienced some of the hard times we did. Most of which were the result of our own disobedience or selfish behavior! 🙂

For Christians looking for a future marriage partner, I would suggest two things. Be sure the person you are going to commit your life to shares your commitment to Christ. The Old and New Testament are full of warnings to those who are wanting to link up with non-believers. It doesn’t usually end well.  2 Corinthians 6:14,15  NIV 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

Secondly, stay close to the lover of your soul and He will give you the wisdom you need in choosing your partner. Feelings alone are NOT sufficient to sustain a long term relationship. They change, they rise, fall and sometimes even fade. It takes more than romantic feelings to keep any couple together long term.

James 1:5 NIV If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

To those already married, that have since come to Christ, pray for your spouse. God will honor your prayers! He is faithful and longs to give you the desires of your heart! He loves your spouse more than you do and wants to have a relationship with him or her.

1 Corinthians 7:12-16 NIV 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

2 Peter 3:9 NIVThe Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

There are so many people being wounded as a result of a broken marriage. Sadly, Christian stats are almost as high as non believers. If we walk in obedience and honor God’s Word before we say I do, it will give us much better odds of our marriage lasting. Too often believers compromise on their choice of partner out of fear or impatience. It starts by dating outside our faith. If we honor God’s Word and obey Him in choosing our marriage partners we stand a much greater chance of having His favor and blessing over us when we need it most. Marriage is wonderful and challenging all at the same time. Why not start out on the right foot?

Plug into the Source!

  Do you find yourself getting frustrated when you have to wait for something or someone more than just a few minutes? I know since using a blackberry and working online all day, I have become so accustomed to having answers right away. If I need to check our bank account I can do it anywhere right from my phone and see the results within seconds. When I am curious about a name, person or just about anything I can google it and immediately up pops my answer! I have found myself becoming quite dependent on instant access.

In our walk, as followers of Christ, we too can have instant access to the King of Kings. When Christ died on the cross, He became our Way to the throne room of God. He made a sure way that allows us to come to Him at anytime and anywhere. In fact, He longs for us to stay in fellowship with Him as we move throughout our day and into our nights. Unlike our gadgets, He never breaks down, is always accessible and loves us beyond measure!  It is an awesome thing to know that we are never alone!

Why not spend a little less time with your electronic gadgets this coming week and spend more time with the lover of your soul? When we seek Him for answers they are always right and true! When we trust Him, He will never break down or disappoint! When we need His help, He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and will be there for us. (Proverbs 18:24 NIV)

If you are not enjoying a close walk with Christ, confess your sins before Him and spend time with Him getting reacquainted. There is no replacement for the love and joy that comes from your relationship with Him. It will sustain you through any of life’s curves and bumps! Unplug your gadgets and spend some real time plugged into a conversation with the lover of your soul!

John 15:4-5 NIVRemain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Matthew 6:6 NIV But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Phillipians 4:6 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Lay aside selfishness

If we were to believe many of the “self help gurus” today, we would be convinced that it  is not only emotionally healthy but  in our best interest  to put ourselves and our desires first. After all doesn’t everyone deserve to be happy, regardless of what pain and suffering our actions may cause others?  Sadly, doing just that has produced so many of the problems we are currently dealing with in society. Selfish ambitions and desires have often replaced care and concern for others,  including our own family members. How many marriages and families have split because one or both partners decided they no longer liked the restrictions of monogamy or grew tired of pouring themselves into the raising of and nurturing their children. There are so many lonely kids growing up in homes where they are considered an after thought. Just check out the Children’s Aid Society  or Child Services stats. In most cases, the family problems started with one or both parents choosing a selfish desire over their loved ones.

I’m not advocating that anyone should stay in a dangerous or unfaithful marriage. That’s a decision each person has to make for themselves but I am suggesting that most of the problems come about as a result of our selfish desires and ambitions.  We begin to look for greener grass elsewhere instead of investing and improving our own relationships or situations. Decisions are made on feelings alone, which at best are fickle and at worst can be downright dangerous.

As followers of Christ, the Word of God has lots to say on the matter of selfishness. If we are to love as Christ loves, we have to learn to surrender our selfish ambitions and be willing to line ourselves up with the Word of God. We shouldn’t be tossed to and fro by our emotions. We need to regularly be reading the Bible and staying close to the lover of our soul. When we neglect to do either we begin to surrender much too easily to the whims of our emotions.  Acting on emotions alone will have us riding an emotional and spiritual  roller coaster.  Too often, we see  Christians compromising their walk with Christ  as they act on their feelings. It not only impedes their walk  but the fall out wounds the entire body!

Here are just a few words from the Bible on selfishness….

 James 3:13-17 NIV  13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.                                                                                                                                                                                        Psalm 119:36 NIV, David knew the importance of what he was asking of God when he said, 36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

We serve a mighty God, who loved us enough to send His precious Son to redeem us. Let’s put aside selfish ambition and walk worthy of the calling God has put on our lives or as Paul penned in Hebrews 12:1 NIV  Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”~Martin Luther King, Jr.