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A good start makes for a good finish!

Every morning we are faced with new opportunities. I am finding that if I want to fulfill what God has for me to do each day, I need to start my day off remembering just who He is and seeking His guidance.  That first few minutes in the morning before I even get out of bed gives me a great opportunity to talk to the One from whom I want direction. If I wait for my feet to hit the floor often I get so busy doing things before I even realize I have missed seeking Him.

How many days in this lifetime have we spent spinning our own wheels and living out our own plans without His guidance? For most of us, probably far too many. We serve a God that offers us new mercies everyday!  Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV 22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness.

What a blessing to know that we can come before Him every day and start fresh.  Through Christ death and resurrection we have been made the righteousness of God and therefore we can boldly come before His throne and ask for His guidance and direction each and every day.  2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV 21 God made Him who had no sin to be sinfor us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.  That truly is awesome! 

Why waste another day spinning your own wheels?  Why not start your day and end your day with the lover of your soul?  Join me and let the words of David be your prayer.

Psalm 63 KJV 63 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek Yo 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV 21 God made Him who had no sin to be sinfor us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. u; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your  is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek my life, to destroy it, Shall go into the lower parts of the earth. 10 They shall fall by the sword; They shall be a portion for jackals.

11 But the king shall rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him shall glory; But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped. 

Amen

Is He your priority?

Our calling, as followers of Christ is not a following of convenience. It is a following of love and passion for the One that first loved us. The One who willingly suffered excruciating pain, shed His blood and laid down His life in order that we would have access to fellowship with the Father. He provided the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of the cross and that was Himself. Enabling us to become the righteousness of God through Him.

It would do us well to remember every time we come before Him in prayer of the high price He paid. Also, the deep love of God our Father that He loved us enough to provide His Son as the ultimate sacrifice!

1Peter 3:18 NIV 18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

We serve an awesome, holy, just and loving God who has provided His Holy Spirit to draw us to Him and enable us to be transformed from glory to glory. He provides His Word that we can feed on. His supernatural Word that teaches, guides, transforms and gives us a firm foundation of promises to stand on.

There is nothing He hasn’t provided for us to live a life in union with Him. However, just as any good Father He will never force us to choose Him. It is ultimately up to us to turn to Him. He wants our love to be given freely. He did not create us to be robots but gave us freedom to choose to love and follow Him or to reject Him.

If we love Him, we need to live as if we do. If a loved one told you they loved you yet never spent time with you,  you would have a very difficult time believing it. When we decide to put other things and people before our relationship with God we demonstrate disregard not love.  No relationship will grow with neglect and abandonment and it is the same with our relationship with Christ. We need to spend time with Him in prayer, reading His Word and following His will for our lives. We need to serve others as He served.

Colossians 3:1-4 NIV 3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is yourlife, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

If you have been neglecting Him, it’s time you put aside the things that are temporal and spend time with the lover of your soul. No other can compare or replace Him. Time spent without intimacy with Christ is time wasted on things that will soon pass. Time spent with Him and in His Word gives us the wisdom and guidance to make the right decisions in all the other areas of our life. When we put Him first the rest of our lives work out for His glory. When we put things and others first it ultimately results in chaos.

Matthew 6:31-34 NIV 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Don’t put your relationship with Christ in a “convenience” category, thinking you will get around to spending time with Him later after you get all the things that are so much more important done.  We are told to watch and be ready for His return at any time. There really is nothing worth sacrificing our intimacy with the One who gave His life as a sacrifice for us. My desire is that when He does return we will be found ready and waiting!

1 John 2:28 NIV 28 And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at his coming.

Personal peace

From time to time I find myself picking up old worries, frustrations and fears. I will temporarily focus on the situation at hand and allow it to disrupt my peace. This used to go on for days at a time. I would fret or get annoyed and allow the issue to consume my thoughts. Though I am still a work in progress, I am learning to yield sooner.  🙂  However, sometimes I have a bit of a flare up before I realize what I am doing!

Anytime we find ourselves worrying, anxious or angered by a situation or circumstance we need to bring ourselves back to the Prince of Peace. He has given us His Word and we can trust in Him. As the Word says, worry never changes anything. It can however be a springboard to bringing things to the One who can. Our emotions have a purpose. If we live by them alone we will live a life of confusion, with too many ups and downs to count. They can be the very thing that draws us back to Jesus. When we are sad we can come to Him and bring our sorrow. He has promised that He will be there for the brokenhearted. When we are angry, instead of venting it in ways we will come to regret, we can bring it to Him. As we tell Him our thoughts and feelings in prayer, He will speak to our hearts if we are willing to listen and He will change those thoughts into ones that are more productive to us and others. When we are happy, we can run to Him with a thankful heart knowing all good things come from Him.

Jesus truly is the Prince of Peace. True peace cannot come from any other source. Not your friends, not your family or even your Pastor.  He alone offers it to us. There is something we must do however to tap into that peace.  One of the scriptures that outlines this can be found in the book of Isaiah. 

Isaiah 26:3  NIVYou will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

We must remain steadfast in our trust in Him, knowing He will see us through every situation, every circumstance. If you find yourself confused, angry, anxious or fearful cry out to Him and lay everything at His feet in prayer. Be sure to confess any sin in your life including unbelief and then ask for His hand to move in your circumstance. He will not ignore a sincere prayer from one of His children.

Staying in a state of fear, anxiety or anger will never fix anything. It will completely rob you of your peace, joy and will render you unable to fulfill the purposes God has for you. Don’t waste another minute fretting. Come to Him today. Confess your sins, and lay all that you are carrying at His feet. Then trust Him. And when old slew foot tries to persuade you to pick up any of the old worries etc.. remember you have brought them to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and He does not ignore the cries of His kids.

John 14:27 NIV 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

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

Something we can learn from Esau’s life

God has called each one of us to have an intimate relationship with Him.  As the saying goes, God doesn’t have grandchildren. Each of us must come to Christ as individuals. We can turn to others for advise from time to time but in order to sustain our abiding in Christ we need to talk to Him regularly and read His Word.  As we do these things, we begin to grow closer and closer to Him.  Without abiding in Christ we leave ourselves vulnerable and tend to make decisions based on our feelings or by seeking answers from others.

This morning I was reading from Genesis and I couldn’t help but notice that Esau was a man that did not walk in intimacy with God.  Without seeking God regularly his  impulsive nature caused him at times to make rash decisions, thereby losing God’s favor and blessing on his life.  The first example being when he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew!

Genesis 25: 29-34 NIV 29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!”  31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” 32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” 33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

Then he went on to marry two Canaanite women, Judith and Bashemath who were Hitites from Canaan.  The Hitites  did not serve God and were an idolatrous people yet even with his amazing heritage of faith,  Esau seemed to make decisions that caused himself and his family grief because he made them without a heart for God’s will.

In Genesis chapter 28, we find Esau listening to a  conversation between his father Isaac and his brother Jacob with regards to choosing a wife for Jacob.

Genesis 28:1-9 NIV 28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,”7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.

Esau did what many of us do. Instead of seeking God’s will in our decision making, we at times make rash, foolish decisions that prevent us from receiving God’s blessing and favor on us.  Could it be that Esau really wasn’t aware of the fact he should not marry outside his people? Abraham and Isaac most certainly would have instructed their descendants not to marry idolaters.   In any case, judging by verse 8, it seems to be the first time Esau really acknowledges how upsetting it was to his parents that he married Canaanite women and so he goes out and marries another woman, this time a  woman who is a descendant of Ishmael. (Ishmael and his descendants were not part of the Covenant God had made with Abraham and thereby were not part of the blessing.) He appeared to make one poor decision after another.

This story reminds me how important it is that I don’t get so busy doing life my way.  Just as Esau made many poor decisions with little thought of the consequences, I am capable of doing the same thing when I don’t seek God’s will along the way.  God doesn’t want to be an afterthought.  He wants to be our all in all. When we abide in Christ and seek His will daily, we won’t live a life of regret. We will fulfill the purpose He has for us, whatever that may be. We may get sidetracked from time to time but as we continue to turn to Him, He will see that we finish well.

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

Don’t be surprised

After reading 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 this morning, I realized how absolutely fitting this chapter is for followers of Christ today.  It is descriptive of our world in 2013. We are living in strained times. When we look at what is going on in the Middle East there is no question these are  the days Jesus warned us about.

For centuries Israel ceased to exist as a country but today it is once again a nation!  Not only is it a nation but it is once again central to world politics, peace etc.  It is fulfilling it’s destiny. Before 1948, it had been centuries since it had been considered a nation. Time is quickly propelling us into the fulfillment of  so many of the prophecies written in the Old and New Testaments. God’s Word is true. It never changes. It will be fulfilled, regardless of what naysayers say or do! So we need to make every day count and use our time wisely!

Today, without any additional words, I would suggest you meditate on 1 Thessalonians chapter 5.  It may be a month, year or several decades before Jesus returns. We don’t know. We do know however, that many will be deceived by not knowing the Word and not abiding in Christ. Deception is increasing and will continue to do so.  It  is so important we hold  on to what is good and reject every kind of evil. As Paul states we should not be surprised by His return. He will come as a thief in the night and we need to be ready. I encourage you to mediate on this beautiful chapter today. It is not only a word of warning but also a word of encouragement for those of us in the body of Christ. It is a reminder that our King of Kings is coming soon and we need to live our lives with that in mind!

1 Thessalonians 5 NIV 5 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, souland body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.

25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Blessings!

Who do you turn to for advice?

When you find yourself needing advice who do you turn to? Do you rely solely on others for their wisdom? Do you pick up the phone and call your Mom, brother, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse?  There are times when we find ourselves in need of some sound advice and yet we need to be so careful who we turn to for advice. There are those people who may be promoting  their own agenda or may try and manipulate us for their own personal gain. Than again, there are those who wish to help us but they really don’t know what or how God wants to move in our life and may offer us advice that goes contrary to that plan.

I am learning that when a thing is important enough to seek advice, before I pick up the phone to call another I need to bring it before God in prayer.  Taking the time to ask God to guide me with my decision making should not be done as a last resort.  I need to seek Him first and then as He leads, go from there.

Too often we look for  quick resolutions or pat answers and in many cases neither will  bring about the long term results God wants for us in our lives.  When we find ourselves having to make a  decision about anything or anyone that requires another’s opinion, it should be our first instinct to bring it before God. He is always looking out for our best long term interests. His advice will never lead us astray or down the wrong path.

Sadly, friends may come and go. Family, though it may believe it, may not always know what is best for us in our walk with Christ. We need to depend on and trust in the lover of our soul, Jesus.  Ultimately we will one day stand before Christ and either hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:21) or “Depart from me for I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23). The choices we make, here on earth, will determine which response we will hear. Regardless of what another tells us, we are ultimately responsible to Christ for working out our own salvation and therefore we have to be very careful who we turn to for advice.

The next time you are unsure about a decision, take the time to ask God to provide the wisdom to make the right choice. There will be times you may have to wait on an answer for a time, but seek Him first. He will never lead us astray!

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

Psalm 146:3-5 NIV 3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;  on that very day their plans come to nothing. 5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.

Proverbs 3:5 NIV 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.