Archive | October 2013

Are your sins becoming to HEAVY to carry?

Has prayer become something you would rather avoid ?  Are you carrying around a suitcase of sin that needs to be carried to and opened before Christ? When we find ourselves carrying sin baggage, it weighs us down. It keeps us from moving forward with God. Instead of eagerly coming to Him, we find ourselves trying to keep busy with other things. Things that distract us from the One who is willing to take that baggage and throw it in His sea of forgetfulness.

You are not alone in your sin. It is something all of us inherited, thanks to Adam and Eve.  I, like yourself and even  Apostle Paul have a battle brewing within us.  Romans 7:15-25 NLT says, 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another powerwithin me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Does this scripture give us an excuse to carry on in deliberate sin?  NO, it does not. It does however explain the battle we have. It also gives us our solution.

It is to bring every sin back to the cross of Christ. We are not to excuse them but confess them and leave them at the foot of the cross, where the One who died for us wants us to leave them. The more we love Him and spend time with Him, the more it grieves us when we do do the things we know He hates.  When Paul says “Oh what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” we get a glimpse of the pain his sin has caused him.  This is the pain we as followers of Christ too should feel when we are grieving the heart of God. Rather than this pain leading us to despair and discouragement it should lead us to Jesus where we can confess it and be forgiven.

As long as we walk this earthly journey we will be in battle. Let’s not become callous to the things that grieve our Lord. Let’s not harden our hearts to sin to the point that we no longer feel the need to bring it before Him. Ask God to keep your heart tender before Him. Spend time with Him in prayer, and in reading His Word. Stay close to the lover of your soul. Don’t allow unconfessed  sin to build  a wall between you and the One who willingly died for every one of your sins. You can’t win the battle without coming before our Mighty Warrior, which is Christ. He is our solution to our sin. He and He alone.

The following scripture beautifully tells us followers of Christ of our inheritance and position in Him.

Romans 3:23-30 NLT 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. 30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.

Don’t let another minute pass before coming before Him. He is waiting to hear from you. He will not turn you away.

Busyness without abiding = wheel spinning

There are times when we feel like our lives are stagnating. Though we may be incredibly busy, we just don’t see ourselves moving forward in any particular direction. This is often a time of personal spiritual reflection. A time for us to seek the face of God for direction. My prayer is that during this time we will not jump into more “spiritual” activity. Instead, use the time to get deeper into the Word of God and spend more time talking to the lover of our soul.  Though busyness can make us appear very spiritual, if we are not doing what God has called us to do in the right spirit, we are just spinning our wheels.  He longs for us to abide in Him, leaning on Him for His strength and guidance as we do His will.

If  you find yourself feeling rather useless right now, begin to seek His face. Talk to Him, read His Word and ask for direction at the beginning of each day. He doesn’t want us doing “His deeds” without Him. He wants relationship. He wants our attention. He wants our love and devotion. It is through abiding in Him and His Word that we are to live out our lives. We are not to do what we deem our spiritual duty, checking in with Him once in a while for approval. We are to seek Him daily and allow Him to use us for His service as He leads, all the while obeying what we know to be His will.

Jesus himself, told us of the importance of remaining close to Him. It is out of that abiding that we will bear spiritual fruit for His Kingdom.

John 15:4-5 NIV 4 Remain 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.

If you find yourself just trying to stay busy (even doing “His deeds”)  in order to cover the emptiness inside, perhaps it’s time to get plugged back into the source. Spend time with Jesus today. Let Him know how you are feeling. Ask for direction. Ask for a renewed love and increase in faith. He longs to give us good gifts!  Spend time in His Word. It is a love letter to each of us from God Himself. When we come to Him with a sincere heart He will not ignore us! He is faithful to answer! He has been waiting to hear from you.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” ~Francis Chan

Trust in Him who can’t be shaken!

Job 12:10 NIV  10 In his hand is the life of every creature     and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:10 NIV
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

With all the craziness going on in the world today, it is a challenge to not worry about the future. We see government corruption, unrest,  wars and rumors of wars everywhere we look. Things that for generations people relied upon, are now being shaken.  Senior pensions, family security, trust in the government, job security and many other things are no longer things you can rely upon. We tend to find ourselves angry at those in charge. Those who we believe are responsible for the changes that we don’t seem to be able to prevent.

I was reminded this morning that none of this is a surprise to our King. We were warned  in Hebrews 12:25-29 NIV 25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken that is, created things-so that what cannot be shaken may remain.28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

We are currently experiencing the birth pangs of what is prophetically to come. If we study the Word as we are called to do,  these pains should not surprise us either. They were foretold and they will happen. Though it is vitally important to pray for our leaders, we cannot count on them to “save” us from all the difficulties we currently face or those to come.  For all of us who follow Christ, our hope and trust must be in the One who truly holds the future in His hand.

God calls His people to trust Him with every area of our lives. He is our King, Redeemer, Provider, Protector and will be with us till He calls us home. When we look to world leaders and political parties alone to keep our future secure, we are trusting in sinking sand. In 1 Peter 2:9 NIV, we read of our position  as followers of Christ, But we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.10 Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God; once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.

Because of our position in Christ, we can trust Him to be ever present with us regardless of the environment we find ourselves living in. Just as God assured Moses that he would deliver His people out of the land of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the Promise Land, we too can trust Him to bring us through any situation or environment until either Christ returns or He calls us home.

When we find ourselves yelling at the tv or ranting over what mess the current politicians have got us into, we need to remember the following verses…

Psalm 118:8 NIV It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.

Psalm 18:30 NIV 30 As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.

Psalm 27:5 NIV For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

And finally one of my favorites from the NT…

Phillipians 4:6-8 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

Have a wonderful day!

Fall, the season for change!

Hebrews 12:1 NIV 12 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.

Hebrews 12:1 NIV 12 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.

This Fall I hope to put into place some disciplines I have set aside throughout the Summer months. Though I used to carefully watch what I ate, this Summer I have slipped into some bad habits that have changed the shape of my body! Bad habits, physically, spiritually or emotionally always change us. We allow things to slip in on occasion at the beginning, the odd extra piece of cheese, that desert we usually would bypass etc. and before we know it, we are  allowing more and more of the very things we should be avoiding into our life.

It’s the same situation with our emotional life. If we allow things to sap our emotional strength such as a lack of sleep, spending too much  time with complainers and grumblers, beating ourselves up over things we have done, we begin to suffer emotionally. It then becomes much more difficult to fight off the negative thoughts and patterns in our lives. We become the walking wounded and instead of being a blessing and encourager to others we slowly become self centered and pitiful.

Our spiritual life is no different. When we spend our time watching too much tv, listening to music that does not glorify God or doing anything else that draws us away from time with our Heavenly Father, we begin to suffer spiritually. He has given us many wonderful things to enjoy in this life of ours but He must always come first if we are to keep these things in their proper perspective.  If we are not reading the Word of God, or spending enough time in prayer we become weak spiritually. We don’t recall the scripture we need at times of temptation or difficulty. We tend to try and work things out for ourselves, which usually does not end well.

I have a long way to grow but as with any growth, it has to start somewhere.  My prayer is that this Fall will be a season of new growth, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Just as the leaves on the trees die and fall to the ground, I want those bad habits and patterns I have allowed in my life that are no longer life-giving to be put to death.  Lord help me to lean in closer to You, to stand on your Word and with the help of your Spirit,  to lay aside the things that so easily beset me. Let me use my time wisely and run the race the way you have called me to, putting away the things in my life that are drawing me away from your beautiful presence and are keeping me from fulfilling all that you have designed for my life.

Amen

Hebrews 12:1 NIV 12 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.

Phillipians 3:12 NIV12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

1 Peter 2:1-5 NIV 2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.As you come to him, the living Stone rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Are you resisting change?

Sometimes I find myself battling change. Familiarity is often very comfortable. Whether it be on the job, in my home or at church, the familiar is predictable and comfy. However, God never seems to allow me to get too comfy for too long. There are often changes that need to be made in the workplace that I didn’t expect, my home life has moments of victory and moments of sorrow and my church is ever changing.

When we follow Christ, comfy and familiar are not things we should count on. When the Spirit of God moves, there is often change. When it is God inspired, it is always for our good, no matter how uncomfortable we may be at first. Many churches over the years, have been split due to the Holy Spirit bringing about new seasons of growth and some of the congregation rejection the change. Change is not bad. In fact, most of us need it in various areas of our life. When we yield to Christ and allow Him to bring about the changes He desires to in our lives, it is a very good thing!

Phillipians 3:12-14 NIV 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

If you find yourself resisting change, cry out to God and ask Him to prepare your heart for growth. As with most growth, there will be some growing pains but as you work through them your faith will increase and your walk with Christ will produce more fruit. We will never be able to stop change. It will happen whether we like it or not. The important thing is when it is God’s Spirit bringing it about in our lives, we must yield no matter how painful! Instead of resisting, ask God to give you inner peace as He works a new thing in your life. Resisting only draws the growing pains out for a longer period of time. Submit yourself to Him and the changes He wants to bring. Your life will be enriched by it and you will be all the more fit for service!

Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV 18 Forget the former things;  do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;  do you not perceive it? I

am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Sharing the gift that keeps on giving

When I was a teenager I remember singing a song with the following words, “Signs of the times are everywhere. There’s a brand new feeling in the air. Just keep your eyes upon the Eastern sky. Lift up your hands, redemption draweth nigh.”  Lately, I can’t help but notice that there really is a brand new feeling in the air. It’s a feeling of urgency. It’s a new surge of evangelism being shot into the veins of God’s people.

There are prophetic signs everywhere we look. Surely the Lord’s return is not too long off. What prophets of old have been foretelling us through the scriptures for years, are now unfolding before our very eyes. Along with that there is a new surge of evangelism rising up.  Young people are being drawn to Jesus. Old people are coming to or being drawn back to Jesus. The people of God are being directed to live lives of commitment that sometimes appear radical in order to follow Christ!  It is a beautiful thing!  However, there are still millions upon millions of people that don’t know Jesus or are dabbling in sin.

Let’s take a minute to remember all that Christ has done for us, and all that He wants to do for others that still don’t know Him as Lord and Savior…  Ephesians 2 NIV  2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Though I have never felt the call of an evangelist, even I have been feeling a stirring deep in my spirit to share the gospel with others as never before. Sharing the gospel is not just for preachers and evangelists. It is for everyone who follows Christ.  Jesus said in John 14:6 NIV “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  If we believe Him, and we do, than how can we not share this with others that we know and love.

I am certain of one thing, Christ did not call us to keep the gospel to ourselves. To live fulfilled lives in Him, with little regard for the tens of millions of others who are being sucked into the pit of Hell. We in North America, have often become comfortable and complacent in our walk with Christ. My prayer is that God will stir up the gift of faith that is in each one of us and that we will seek Him for daily direction in ways we can share the love of Christ daily with others. Not in deeds alone, but in sharing His word for it is by the hearing of His word that many are saved.  Romans 10:17 NIV 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Lord, I pray that throughout this year,we will draw closer to you than ever before and that you will give us a burden for those around us who need to learn of you. Keep us from falling into a state of comfort where we hoard our faith in you as others around us die in their sins. Stir up the gift of faith in us and a deeper love for others so that we may fulfill the purpose that you have called us to. As Jesus said in John 13:34,35 NIV 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  If we love others as Christ loves them, we will not be able to ignore their need for Him.

Is there a flame you need to fan?

2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

I woke up this morning to my radio alarm. It was tuned to our local Christian radio program and the commentator was relaying a story of a close friend of his from the past, that was currently going through some very dark times.  Through an email this friend from the past, reminded him how he had once belonged to a good church and had had a fire down in his belly for God. He didn’t say what had happened in his life to cause him to fall away, only that his friend was now down, depressed and desperate. As the commentator read the letter he had received from this friend his voice kept breaking and it was obvious his heart was breaking too.  What I loved about this story was that this friend’s mother had once been the commentators Sunday School teacher and had taught him a verse that he would now be able to share with her son.

As soon as the commentator  finished reading the letter the Lord brought to remembrance this verse that had many years before been taught to him by this precious Sunday school teacher…. 2 Timothy 1:6,7 NIVFor this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

For those of us who know people that had once walked with Christ and yet for various reasons allowed the cares of this world to draw them away, may we allow God to use us to help fan their flame!  Let’s be a demonstration of the love of Christ to them and remind them how much He longs to have their fellowship. Rather than gossip about them, let’s allow the Spirit of God to move through us as we reach out to them in love and welcome them back into our lives and churches. Allow God to use you to fan the flame of faith in someone else today!