Archive | May 2014

What can YOU do?

The news is filled with stories of people all over the world being persecuted by corrupt governments, dictatorships and extremists of various kinds such as Boko Haram,  desiring to silence anyone who does not accept their ideology. It would seem that much of the mainstream media ignores the stories and fails to engage people in speaking out against the terror. As followers of Christ, we have an obligation to pray for and do what we can to speak out and help others that are suffering. It doesn’t matter if they live in our cities and towns or not. We should not ignore their pleas.

As I was reading Proverbs 31 today, verses 8 and 9 really stood out. Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die.Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.  Is the church fulfilling it’s obligation to do this? Are we spending time on our knees interceding for those who are speechless, for those who are being martyred daily, for those who cannot care for themselves?  I know many of our churches are giving to missions and helping in areas that are near and dear to our hearts but I can’t help but believe there is so much more we could be doing. 

There are actions we can take on a slightly more political angle. We can sign petitions speaking out against some of these horrors. We can write letters to our members of parliament and request they get involved in some of the solutions. Our church families can pool resources and give to those who are combatting some of these issues such as International Christian Concern ( www.persecution.org ) who stand up for  and assist the persecuted, abused and neglected.  It is so important that we don’t just ignore the pleas of those suffering. The word of God tells us we have an obligation to help do what we can!  Not only that but God promises to take care of those who care for the needs of others.

The book of Proverbs is chock full of examples..

Proverbs 11:25 NKJV 25 The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.

Proverbs 28:27 NKJV 27 He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.

Proverbs 22:9 NKJV He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.

Proverbs 3:27-28 NKJV 27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.28 Do not say to your neighbor,“Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” when you have it with you.

Proverbs 14:21 NKJV 31 He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.

Proverbs 17:5 NKJV He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 19:17 NKJV He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lordand He will pay back what he has given.

Proverbs 21:13 NKJV 13 Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.

Proverbs 21:15 NKJV 15 It is a joy for the just to do justice, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.

Proverbs 22:22-23 NKJV 22 Do not rob the poor because he is poor, nor oppress the afflicted at the gate;23 For the Lord will plead their cause, and plunder the soul of those who plunder them.

Proverbs 23:10-11 NKJV 10 Do not remove the ancient landmark, nor enter the fields of the fatherless;11 For their Redeemer is mighty; He will plead their cause against you.

God has called us to serve. His word reminds us over and over again that we are not to neglect others. He will hold us accountable for the things we could have done and didn’t do. Why not ask Him what He would have you do? Where can you be most useful in serving? Why not be a voice for the suffering? Why not speak out for those who are persecuted?  Why not contribute to an organization that is making a difference in helping the suffering? If we all do our part, others will see the body of Christ as the light we have been called to be. Perhaps it’s time we push off the bushel we have been hiding under and let our light and love shine in this dark world of ours.

If we remain silent and refuse to act when we see atrocities being committed, are we any different than the rest of the world? We have a voice that we can use to speak out, educate and intercede for others. Let’s use our voices, first in prayer and second in pleading on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves, the persecuted, the needy and the poor.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (or women) do nothing.”~ Edmund Burke

His timing is perfect, mine not so much!

Do you ever get tired of waiting on answered prayer? Do you wonder why God hasn’t responded immediately or at least soon after you made the request? God’s timing is perfect. It doesn’t always feel like it to us, but it is. He knows the beginning from the end and He will answer us when the time is right.  I used to get so frustrated waiting on an answer to something that seemed so simple for the Creator of the Universe to do. Why did He make me wait?  Thankfully I am a bit better at the waiting now.  😉  I have learned that His timing really is perfect. There have been too many answered prayers in my life that have often happened at what seemed like a minute to midnight, for me not to have learned I can trust Him completely! I have also learned that if I submit to Him during those times of waiting He will use that time to make me more like His Son. It is during those times that I learn patience and often long suffering. These two fruits of the Spirit are seldom,  if ever, developed in times of comfort.

If you are waiting on God for an answer, submit yourself to His timing. Keep seeking your answer but while you seek, know that His timing is perfect. Also know that He is trustworthy.  Here are a just a few verses that you may want to memorize for those times of waiting…

Isaiah 40:31 NIV 31 But those who hope in the Lord will re new their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Lamentations 3:25-26 NIV 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,to the one who seeks Him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Isaiah 64:4 NIV Since ancient times no one has heard,  no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Psalm 27:14 NIV 14 Wait for the Lord be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Habakkuk 2:3 NIV For the revelation awaits an appointed time;  it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;  it will certainly come and will not delay.

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.

Psalm 33:20-22 NIV 20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.21 In him our hearts rejoice,  for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lordeven as we put our hope in you.

And finally one of my favorites…

Psalm 27:13-14 NIV 13 I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Father, we ask that you help us trust You and remain steadfast in our walk with You while we wait on You for our answer. Just like millions before us, You will answer our prayer in Your time and according to Your will. Please use this time of waiting to grow me more like Jesus. Help me allow the Holy Spirit to move in and through me during this time and not grumble or complain.  Thank You Father!  I ask this now in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Profitable words from Proverbs 4

I am so grateful for the mercy and grace God has given us who believe in and choose to  follow His Son. We are blessed! When Christ died on the cross for each of us, He died willingly. When we turn to Him and confess our sins, acknowledge Him as Lord and follow Him, we inherit all the blessings of the children of God. It took me so many years to finally understand that works will never make me more like Christ. I must believe that the work He did on my behalf on the cross was complete. Trusting in Him and allowing Him to now work through me through the power of the Holy Spirit is the way I choose to live my life. I don’t ever want to forget the wonderful mercy and grace that has been extended to me and to everyone that chooses Christ as Savior and Lord. I know longer have to strive to feel accepted. I am accepted.

Knowing who we are and what we have inherited as children of God should give  us the heart and confidence to extend the good news to others. It should also cause us to want to reach out and demonstrate His love to those in our lives and those He brings into our lives. So how do we do this without stumbling ourselves? How do we keep moving forward in our walk? As I make my way through the book of Proverbs I see so many awesome words of wisdom to help us in our walk with Christ.  Today I want to focus on Proverbs chapter 4 verses 18-27.

Proverbs 4:18-27 NIV

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, (we are able to be the love of Christ in a dark world!)
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day. (until HE returns in all HIS glory!)
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble. (sin blinds)

20 My son (or daughter), pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.  (the scriptures)
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart; (learn them, memorize them)
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.   (Matthew 4:4 NIV Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”)
23 Above all else, guard your heart, (do not let anything come before your relationship with Christ)
    for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (in a day where perversity and corruption abound!)
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you. (keep your eyes on Christ!)
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet (don’t get caught up in the various snares of sin)
    and be steadfast in all your ways. (keep moving forward!)
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;  (as Paul says in Phil. 3:14 “We must press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.)
    keep your foot from evil.

There are so many encouraging words found in this Proverb to help us victoriously live as followers of Christ.

Lord, help us to always remember that we are to bring Your light to a dying world. Help us to demonstrate that light by living in close communion with You today. Help us to keep our hearts and lives free of the snares of sin by keeping our gaze fixed on You Jesus.  We love you Lord and desire to keep moving forward until we see You face to face!

In Your precious name,

Amen.

The weighty nuggets of Proverbs 3!

In my personal bible reading I am now working my way through the book of Proverbs. I love this book. Like the book of Psalms, it is a where the rubber meets the road book. Each chapter is full of beautiful nuggets of truth. If we applied all the nuggets in just one chapter to our lives we would live so much more victoriously in our walk with Christ. I am asking God to help me to apply these nuggets.  I don’t want to just read of them but I want to apply them better to my daily life. Today we are going to read the third chapter of Proverbs. This proverb is so full of important nuggets of truth it should not be read quickly but instead we need to seriously consider each one!

Proverbs 3 NKJV

My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.

Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.

13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.

19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
20 By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew.

21 My son, let them not depart from your eyes—
Keep sound wisdom and discretion;
22 So they will be life to your soul
And grace to your neck.
23 Then you will walk safely in your way,
And your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror,
Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;
26 For the Lord will be your confidence,
And will keep your foot from being caught.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,
When you have it with you.
29 Do not devise evil against your neighbor,
For he dwells by you for safety’s sake.
30 Do not strive with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.

31 Do not envy the oppressor,
And choose none of his ways;
32 For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord,
But His secret counsel is with the upright.
33 The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the home of the just.
34 Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble.
35 The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools.

Lord Jesus, help us to apply the beautiful truths of this chapter in our daily walk with You. Let us not just read your Word but let us hide it in our hearts and not sin against it! I pray that You will give us a heart that desires to know Your Word and obey it even when we don’t feel like it!  Where we are sluggish, make us dutiful. Where we are fearful, help us to lean into You with abandoned trust! Where we are selfish, help us to give and give more! Where we are foolish, let us ask for wisdom for You promise to give it to those who ask!  Where we are envious, give us a heart of compassion and kindness!  Where we resent correction, help us to receive it joyfully knowing it is out of Your love for us that You do it.  Lord, take each of our hearts of stone and make them a heart of flesh so that we may love You more and love others as You have called us to. In Your beautiful name Jesus, Amen.

He meets us in the practical

This morning I was reading Psalm 146.  I love this Psalm! It is so practical. Though written before the time of Christ, like all  of the Old Testament, it is as relevant today as the gospels!

146 Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

We have so much to praise Him for, for His mercies are new every morning. We don’t have to beat ourselves up over past sin, we need to take  it to the foot of the cross in prayer and as we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us! We can start each day clean!  Not only are we cleansed but He provides for us daily. He knows our needs before we even ask! He takes care of His kids! Praise the Lord, O  my soul!

Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.

How many times have we had to learn this lesson the hard way? Other people are imperfect just like we are. When we count on others for our joy, purpose, direction etc. we will from time to time be disappointed. God, however, through Christ, is available to us 24/7.  He is never to busy to respond. He is always looking out for our best interest. He will never pass on and leave us without His help!

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, The sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever.  

We can trust in the God of the Old Testament, who performed multiple miracles for His kids. Who was merciful to them even when they didn’t deserve it!  The same God that created the universe is the God we have! We hope in a Savior that is true, is faithful, is always interceding on our behalf! We have every reason to be happy!

Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow. 

Wow, that is our Jesus! He opened our eyes so we could see Him as Savior, Lord and King!  He has raised us and multiple millions of others up out lives filled with brokeness and despair! Through His death on the cross He has made those who follow Him become the righteousness of God!  He takes care of the defenseless and they rely on Him!

But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.

How many times have we seen God’s hand intervene on behalf of His children and turn the plans of the wicked upside down?  Isaiah 54:17 NKJV  tells us,17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.   He is our defender!

10 The Lord shall reign forever— Your God, O Zion, to all generations.

Yes He shall and eventually, we shall reign with Him. Revelation 22:1-5 NKJV 22 And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

We have every reason to

Praise the Lord!

This Psalm begins and ends with Praise the Lord! This is a great way to begin and end each day! We serve a Savior we can trust, we can depend upon, who meets the needs of His followers, who is true, who frees us from bondage, who intercedes on our behalf and who we will one day reign with forever and ever!  Praise the Lord!

What’s driving you…faith or feelings?

Do you get easily discouraged by things people say and do? Do you find yourself withdrawing from activities when you don’t feel appreciated? Do you get upset when you feel God isn’t answering your prayers quick enough? Every follower of Christ will be faced with situations on a daily basis that may cause them to feel something that makes them uncomfortable. What you choose to do or how you choose to respond tells a lot about your walk with Christ. Are you finding yourself combating those negative feelings with the truth of God’s Word or do you cave in and succumb to them? Our spiritual maturity can be measured by what we allow to control us. If our feelings are driving us then we are likely to find ourselves in a constant state of unrest.

Christ promised us peace. If His promise is true than why do so many struggle with fear, anger, bitterness, jealousy, rage etc? It is because we are putting our feelings before our faith. When we do this we allow them to control our behavior. The Word of God says  in Hebrews 10:38 NKJV 38 Now the just shall live by faith;  But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” We cannot please God when we choose to live by “feelings,” only when we live by faith. Faith is trusting in His Word and in Christ to fulfill His word in our lives. When we live by feelings and draw back from our faith, He is not able to reach us through His word.  Instead we are choosing to believe in what we see and feel! 

The best way I have found to counter living my life by my feelings, is to interject scripture verses into my situation. When I find myself in a new situation that would typically cause me a lot of discomfort I remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Phillipians 4:13 NKJV.    If I am struggling with bitterness towards another that I believe to have offended me I can give in to those feelings and act accordingly by allowing it to take root in my heart or I can choose to believe what the word of God says in Hebrews 12:14-17 NKJV14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.  When I realize that the word of God has a powerful warning like this against allowing a bitter root to spring up in me, I am not willing to become enslaved by bitterness.

If I find myself in a situation that causes me to be afraid I can choose to cave into that fear and thereby shut out hearing God’s voice  or I can lean into Christ and remind myself of   2 Timothy 7-12 NKJV where I am told, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Do you realize that if everyone since the time of Christ had lived by their feelings, the gospel would NEVER have been shared?  Men and women would have caved at the first sign of rejection or persecution!  You and I would still be lost.

God has given us feelings and they can be wonderful but if you base decisions on feelings alone you may soon find yourself outside of God’s plan for your life. Several years ago,  I met  a  married mother of two  who had recently become a Christian. Her marriage was going through a difficult patch.  She told me that one day she was down by the  pond where she sat watching a family of ducks swim. She watched as the mother duck left the side of the male duck and began to swim beside another male. Her ducklings soon followed. This woman determined that God was trying to tell her, through the ducks, that she was to leave her husband and find another.  That God wanted her to be happy with a new man… I tried to explain to her that God hates divorce. Unless she was in danger or her husband was unfaithful to her, God would not want her to leave her husband. She said HE wouldn’t have given her the sign and the feelings she was feeling if it weren’t true…. Though it now seems a little ridiculous that someone would base their future on ducks on a pond, some Christians still make important decision based on their feelings and not the truth of God’s word.

Most  areas in our lives that we find ourselves defeated or discouraged are usually areas that we are still living through our feelings. Moving past our feelings is vital as a follower of Christ!  We all must learn to walk out our walk by faith. To do so requires spending time learning the scriptures. When a thought first comes to us we are to take that thought captive. Is it truth? Does it line up with the word of God?  If not dismiss it before it begins to affect your feelings or behavior in a negative way.  We have been given truth and the truth will not only make us free but keep us free when we choose it!

Is it time YOU lightened up the darkness?

Matthew 5:14  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden."

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

As I listened to the news this past week I couldn’t help but think so much of what I was hearing could have come right out of the book of Matthew…

Matthew 24:3-13 NIV 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Today Christians are being persecuted and martyred all over the world.  Evil is increasing. What is wrong according to scripture seems right and what is right according to scripture seems wrong! Believers are being caught up in all kinds of false doctrine  and abandoning their faith. The picture looks a wee bit gloomy! However, there is another side to this picture. Things are happening just as our Savior said they would. He is not taken by surprise and neither should we be. As we see prophecy being fulfilled it should encourage each and every one of us to prepare for our King’s return! We should use our time wisely and share the love of Christ and the gospel freely! We who know Christ as Lord need not sit back and criticize unbelievers. They are unbelievers and therefore do not know Christ  nor have  the Spirit of truth in them. We can’t expect them to act or behave as those of us that do. They need to hear the truth! They need to see it demonstrated in the lives of every born again believer!  They need our prayers!

Instead of getting discouraged and disheartened, why not get busy doing the work we have been called to do. To live our lives as the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Let’s encourage one another as we journey through these dark days! Let’s remember that He is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle. Let’s be that church!  Let’s bring the light of Christ to a dark world that desperately needs Him!

“Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell.” ~David Platt