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No more moaning or wait like Paul!

In my walk with Christ, there have been many times that I have had to wait on God for direction for the future. Times when things have not gone the way I expected. Times when tragedy has knocked at my door.  I haven’t always waited with the right attitude. I have often moaned and groaned and complained. I am learning however that there is a better way!  Our attitude during the wait says so much about who we believe our God is and how much He loves us!

I believe Apostle Paul gives us a wonderful example of just how we are to wait. Throughout Paul’s life he  went through many things that most of us have never had to endure. He educates us on some of his sufferings in the book 0f 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 NIV16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about.22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) 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.

Thankfully most of us will not endure all the sufferings that Paul did. We will however, have to face our own. No one escapes from life here on earth without enduring some difficulty and suffering. We live in a fallen world and until we see Jesus face to face, there will be things from time to time that we will have to endure.  Instead of complaining and moaning, I believe the Lord has shown us in the book of Acts how we are to wait.  Acts 16:16-34 NIV16 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.

Many in the church today would have spent the first few days in prison complaining to God that they had been imprisoned unjustly! The focus being on how it was affecting their life! Instead, Paul used every opportunity, no matter how difficult or painful, to allow Christ to use him for His glory. He and Silas prayed and sang hymns and God answered supernaturally! They glorified Christ right there in that prison cell and ultimately many others were saved because of their response!

God wants the same from each of us. He wants us to trust Him completely as we wait on Him for our answer. He wants us to glorify Him in our response and our actions, regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. We don’t have to run to everyone else and tell them all of  our woes, we need to run to our Master. He will hear us and answer us and while we wait, we need to pray and sing hymns and glorify Him in our behavior. Just as the jailer watched Paul and Silas, others our watching us and our response during these times  has the ability to make a difference in where they and their families may  spend eternity.

Prayer and praise are the oars by which a man may row his boat into the deep waters of the knowledge of Christ. ~ Charles Spurgeon

Seriously, do I really need to go to church?

When we come to Christ, God fills us with His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit than gives each of us spiritual gifts as He sees fit. All the gifts are necessary for the collective body of Christ to grow. God does not give us our giftings to hoard or to sit on. He wants us to use our giftings to minister to one another. Let’s take a look at what Paul says about the gifts and the purpose of the giftings in 1 Corinthians 12:1-28….

1 Corinthians 12:1-28 NIV 12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[ one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Each and every one of us have a part to play in God’s family. This is the way He created it to be. We need each other to fulfill God’s plan for sharing Christ with the world. We also need each other to grow and mature in Christ. Our Creator did not want us to be alone. He knows what we need to mature and minister to others. The church provides the avenue for this to happen.

I spent several years away from church. There were many reasons I stopped going, none of which were any particular church’s fault. I had begun to doubt God’s love for me after being battered by a few life storms. I think I even wanted to punish God for not keeping the storms away. I am thankful to say God wooed me back with His love. I am now certain that, thanks to Christ, His love for me is limitless. I am also convinced that the church, though not perfect, is the best place for seekers of Christ and followers of Christ to grow in our love for God and one another.

Under solid, loving, Godly church leadership, we are able to learn our individual giftings and begin to use them in building up the church body. We are able to conquer giants through corporate  prayer.  We are able to be loved and love on one another. We able to help one another through difficult days and we are able to reach out to a dying world with the good news of Jesus.

I am so thankful to belong to my church family. My prayer is that if you don’t belong to a church family you will pray and ask God to show you where you should be going. You are missing out on all the blessings a church family brings. You are also missing out on fulfilling your purpose in the body of Christ. God has a church for you somewhere.  Don’t expect it to be perfect after all it’s made up of imperfect people like you and I but it is the place God’s designed for each of us to grow in and He knows what He is doing. 🙂

Mercy triumphs over judgement!

1 John 1:9

Our God is a holy God. I believe many of us have minimized His holiness from time to time in order to make Him seem more approachable. His holiness is not dependent on our needs, wants or desires. His holiness is who He is. He will never be any less holy or more holy. He is holiness.

So the question is, how then can we sinful people, approach God who is so holy with our prayers? We know deep down we don’t deserve to. We know we will never be “good enough” on our own. We know He will see right through our cleaned up appearance to a heart that is deceitful.

I am thankful that although He is holy , He is also merciful. Because of His mercy, He sent His most precious Son to this earth to make a way for us to approach His holiness.  He made a way where there was no way! He provided His Son as the sacrificial lamb for  you and I. He watched His perfect and holy Son suffer a painful death on the cross because of His love for us. Our sins were on His back as He died on that cross.  He indeed made a way where there was no way!

If you do not know Him as your Savior, it’s time you did. Pray this Salvation Prayer today. Don’t wait a minute longer and you too will become a child of God.

Heavenly Father:

I come to you today asking for forgiveness for all my sins. I know I am a sinner and need saving. I am truly sorry for all my sins and the life I have lived without you and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died on the cross and shed His blood for my sins. I believe that He rose again from the dead and is now seated in Heaven. I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior right now and according to Your word from Romans chapter 10 verse 9 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,” I am now saved!  Thank you for this gift of salvation. Please guide me now and fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may live my life for You. In Jesus name, Amen. 

You have now become a child of God! It is so important that you begin to read the Bible, perhaps starting in the book of Matthew (New Testament). It is also important that you look for a Bible based church where you can grow as a believer and have fellowship with other Christians.

If you are a follower of Christ but have gotten off track and have forgotten that He died for ALL your sins, not just the “little” ones, bring the rest to Him. Confess them and be restored. If you are bound by thoughts, feelings, fears etc. bring them before Him. He is able to set you free. Ask for forgiveness for the things you have opened yourself up to that have brought these things about and ask Him to free you.

1 John 1:9NIV If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Heavenly Father:

 I come before you today, asking for forgiveness for all my sins. I have strayed and disobeyed you and your word. Please forgive me of all my sins and transgressions. I confess (name the sins you are carrying around) I am truly sorry. Please forgive me for opening up areas of my life to sin and bondage. I am sorry and ask that you close the door on any areas I have opened that need shutting. Please restore my peace and joy in You. Guide me with your Holy Spirit so that I may live a life that is pleasing to you. Give me a hunger for your Word, my Bible. Give me a love for others. Create a clean heart in me and renew a right spirit within me today. I ask it all in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Don’t waste another day wallowing in the mire. For everyone that has asked Christ to be their Lord and Savior has indeed been made His righteousness!

2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV21 God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.  

You now have every right to come before God as His child with your prayers, praise and thanksgiving at any time in any place.   Jesus paid the price in full for your sin and has opened the door for you to enter into the holy of holies to your Heavenly Father. Don’t delay, enter today!

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!