Archive | May 2015

What’s bubbling to your surface?

Each one of us lives out our story of faith. Every day we are faced to deal with situations and people that cause us to react. Our reaction tells others a great deal about our character. God has called us, through Christ, to be salt and light in an otherwise dark world. Do our words and actions demonstrate the salt and light of the gospel or do they demonstrate a heart of self pity and complaining?

When we are driving down the road and someone cuts us off, our reaction is a direct result of what is inside us. If we have been thinking throughout the day of how difficult life is, how hard we have it or how unhappy we are, our reaction will not be too sweet! What comes to the surface during a crisis or a sudden upset is what we have been telling ourselves right up to that point. What we feed our minds bubbles up out of our mouths!

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.~Proverbs 23:7

 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.~Philippians 2:14-16

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.~James 4:1-3

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him,  rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.~Colossians 2:6,7

As followers of Christ we too often react with criticism, negativity and self pity because that’s what we have been feeding ourselves in our thought life all day! What goes into our thoughts comes out of our mouth. If we want to react and respond as Christ would, we need to feed our mind and heart on His Word. We need to be in an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, even in the difficult times. Taking up our cross often involves difficulties and trying times.

When we find ourselves reacting negatively to people and things we need to readjust our heart! We need to spend time with our Savior and  get back into the Word of God. It is necessary. It is essential if we want to live as Christ has called us to live, loving Him and serving others, there’s no other option.

I am so thankful that when I screw up and get waylaid in selfishness, I can ask the lover of my soul to forgive me and get me back on track!  He longs for our fellowship and is willing to forgive us over and over again.  So if you have been complaining, griping or just responding with an ungrateful attitude to your circumstances perhaps it’s time you get on your knees before Him and ask for forgiveness. Ask Him to get you back on track with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. Ask Him to illuminate the Word of God before you read your Bible and allow it to penetrate into your heart and mind. Allow the Word to conform you into the image of Jesus so that you too can be the salt and light this world of ours so desperately needs!

Life is but a Vapor

This past weekend we lost a dear friend. She had recently been battling cancer and lost her fight. In our minds and hearts we lost her way too soon. She was still young! We didn’t expect to lose her this soon! This morning I was reminded that there are no guarantees when it comes to our life span. We cannot possibly predict what the future may hold for any one of us.  I was hit in the face with this fact almost ten years ago when we lost our twenty year old son Daniel in a car accident. I was reminded of it again this weekend.

There is no certainty, no guarantees and no assurance that we will have another day, another week, another month etc. As much as we like to feel we have control over so much of our life, this is one area none of us can control completely. We can take care of ourselves and try and stay fit but even that does not guarantee longevity.  So what does this mean? Should we live our lives in fear or discouragement knowing just how frail life can be? Should we worry incessantly about what could happen? The answer to all three questions is a resounding NO!

We are to live each day as if it were our last, abiding in Christ and serving as we have been called. NO fear, NO terror, NO worry, just living out our lives with purpose each day as we walk close to the ONE who gives us purpose. Each day is a gift God gives us to walk close to Him and share the gospel with a dying world. As long as we are staying close to Him through our prayer life and increasing our faith through the reading of the Word, we will hear Him speaking to our hearts and leading us. That is how we are to live each day. Not worrying about tomorrow or what it may bring. Simply living each day with His purposes in our heart! When we need wisdom to do so we simply ask for it. He promises to give it to us liberally! When we stumble, we need to repent and get right back on track. Moving forward in the course He has set before us.

We run into the most trouble when we forget that we who follow Christ, have been called for a purpose. We have been bought with a high price, the price of His shed blood. We have not been called to ignore God’s purposes and live out our own plans. When we remember to whom we owe our life and redemption we live with His purpose in mind. We lose the need to control our future. James says it beautifully. James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit;” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

None of us knows what the future holds. We do know that we have been given this day! This day to walk close to the ONE who saved us and called us. Let’s remember to seek His face today and fulfill the purposes He has for us! Not worrying about tomorrow, next week, or any time in the future!

Lord, forgive us for our arrogance in thinking we have all the time in the world to fulfill Your purposes. Remind us each day that we need to live close to You, seeking Your face and purposes for our life. Knowing that life is but a vapor! We may not have tomorrow but we have today!   We ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Really? Peace & Joy during a storm?

There is only one way, we who are followers of Christ, can possibly have peace when we go through a storm in life. It is by believing in the depths of our being the truth that God is faithful to us and will NEVER allow us to go through more than we can bear. It is knowing with absolute certainty that NOTHING or NO ONE is able to cause us to lose our peace and joy if we put our trust in the ONE who is absolutely trustworthy. The reason we too often lose our peace when the storms come is simply because we have stopped believing that everything that happens to us has been allowed by the ONE who knows us best!  He who knew us while we were being formed in our mother’s wombs, knows what can be used in the transformation of our character from selfish, self absorbed individuals to sold out, Spirit lead followers of Christ.

The great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon once wrote, “God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.” There is so much truth in this quote. Why does it often take afflictions, trials, storms to grow us up? Perhaps it is because when things are going smoothly we tend to forget the goodness of our God. We tend to fall back into the pattern of thinking somehow we have control over all our circumstances. We forget just how much we need to rely on and depend on the lover of our soul!  When difficulties enter our lives it usually doesn’t take us too long before we are back to crying out to God for His help.

God wants us to go through life knowing, really knowing and believing that ALL things work together to them who love God and them who are called according to His purpose. When we finally really get it, really believe it, than we are able to trust Him regardless of the battle, regardless of the size of our opponent and regardless of the severity of the difficulty. This is how we are called to live as followers of Christ. Not on a daily emotional roller coaster that is fueled by our emotions and insecurities. We are to live by the truth of His Word which tells us nothing can separate us from Christ or His love for us. NOTHING!  If we allow them, afflictions will teach us just how reliable HE really is. If we speak the truth of His word to our situation and believe it in the depths of our being, than we are able to maintain our joy and peace no matter how difficult or severe the trial is. The truth of this has been demonstrated through centuries by all those martyrs who have willingly given their lives rather than deny Christ. They believed the truth of His Word and they lived it! Their lives and even their deaths became a witness for all those around them, that God will give the grace and willingness to endure whatever may come to those who love Him.

If our love is conditional based solely on His gifts and blessings to us it is not really love at all. If we truly love Him and believe He is who He says He is and that He loves us enough to not allow us to endure more than we can bear, we will be able to go through ANY circumstance with joy and peace. 

 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”~Deuteronomy 31:6

I’m not for one second suggesting this may be easy. Yet it is possible. Not by mind over matter or wishful thinking but soley by knowing the truth of who HE is and how very much HE loves us. By knowing Christ’s promises are as good today as they were when He walked the earth.  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.~Romans 8:28  

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;  and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.~Romans 5:1-5 

Our confidence in these truths  grow as we spend time with Him daily in prayer and as we spend time reading our Bibles, the Word of God.

 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.~Psalm 145:18  

 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.~Colossians 4:2

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.~2 Timothy 3:16,17

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”~Romans 10:17

None of us know when trials will come. If we stay close to our Savior and grow in our faith, knowing and trusting Him completely, when they come we will not be swept away. We will be able to stand and endure with peace and with true joy (not surface happiness) but true joy, knowing whatever He allows to touch us is going to work out for long term good!  He will continue to grow Christ like character in us as we go through the very things we wish to avoid the most.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.~James 1:2-4

Ultimately, Christ is preparing us to one day meet Him face to face and hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” My prayer is that we will cultivate a deeper, more sincere walk with our Savior and Lord and that we will hide the Word of God in our hearts so that when the storms of life come crashing in, we will NOT be troubled or dismayed. We will confidently rest in knowing even in this, we can joyfully trust Him!  He is still in control!

Put down the remote and take up the CROSS

I am certain that as long as Christ is not the focus of our lives, we will never accomplish what we have been born to do. HE can’t just be Savior without being our Lord! We must keep Him on the throne of our hearts every day. It is a new decision every day..do I put myself on the throne and ignore Him in my decisions or do I allow Him to rule my heart.

Too often we want to live our Christian walk as spectators. Nowhere in the Bible did the disciples and followers have that as an option and still live a life that pleased the Lord. The Word of God is full of just how important it is that we follow, not observe, not sit back and enjoy, but follow our beautiful King…whenever and wherever He leads us! We must be prepared to lay aside anything that is keeping us from following Him. That may be a habit, laziness, idleness, lack in our prayer life, lack in our reading the Word, anything!

Matthew 16:24-27 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Matthew 10:37-3937 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Luke 9:61-6261 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

John 13:12-1712 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

All of these verses require action on our part. Not spectating but active involvement in following our leader, Jesus Christ. It is so critically important that we don’t get too comfy in our pews and watch others serve Christ. Rather, we need to daily ask God for direction in how we can best serve Him!

We are living in a world where there is hurt, suffering, poverty and pain just about everywhere you look. There is no shortage of places to serve. Let each one of us daily ask where we can be used.

As we wait on the return of our Savior and King, let’s be mindful of putting Him first. Above all else, He must be first. When we see Him face to face, let there be no regrets! Let us joyfully look into His face as we hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”

Blessings