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God’s Got This

The past few months have drastically changed our world. Our lives have become much more limited in regards to what we can do outside our own homes and also how we can do things. Many of our taken for granted freedoms have gone.

Church gatherings have had to become much more creative in order to continue to be able to meet. Families have had to postpone so many events due to limited numbers being able to gather. Life as we knew it no longer exists.

All that being said, do we need to wring our hands in worry? No. None of this is taking God by surprise. We are living in exciting days where prophecy is being lived out before our actual eyes. God’s got things under control. The characters are all lining up to play their parts in what is to come.

Christians, we have more reason than ever to not be afraid. If we are watching, we can surely see things lining up for our beautiful Savior and King’s appearance. This is the time to get serious about sharing the gospel with those who haven’t heard. This is the time to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the time to spend time on our knees asking the Lord what it is He wants us to do today, and every day until He appears. This is not the time to get distracted by things that keep us from abiding in Christ. There is no time to waste.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.~ Hebrews 10:24,25

So why not start your day today in prayer? Ask God what it is you can do for Him today? Who should you speak to? What can you do for a brother or sister in Christ? Seek Him and His will for you today.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.  So encourage each other with these words. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Heart & Obedience aka Be like Nehemiah!

Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah | Coram Deo ~

I have been rereading the book of Nehemiah and it is such a wonderful book for so many reasons. One of my biggest take aways from it is that we should all have a heart for the people around us. It should grieve us to know that there are so many people lacking faith in Christ and direction when we have the answer.

Nehemiah 1 In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.

 They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.  Then I said,

“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,  listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned!  We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.

“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations.  But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’

 “The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants.  O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”

In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer.

Nehemiah was obedient to the call on his life. He listened to God and obeyed, despite the fact he had to be brave in asking for permission. His heart ached when he saw how his people were suffering and needed direction and when he heard about the state of the wall.

I suggest you read or reread the book of Nehemiah this week. It is a book that illustrates how one person’s obedience and faithfulness to God can make a huge difference in the lives of many. Your obedience or disobedience will always have an impact on those around you.

My prayer today is that we too will be like Nehemiah. We will obey the calling God has put on our lives and follow through, despite how difficult it may be, despite opposition or grumblings. The spiritual health of others may be dependent on it! Stay the course!

Nehemiah 6 Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates.  So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.

But I realized they were plotting to harm me,  so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”

 Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.  The fifth time, Sanballat’s servant came with an open letter in his hand,  and this is what it said:

“There is a rumor among the surrounding nations, and Geshem tells me it is true, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel and that is why you are building the wall. According to his reports, you plan to be their king.  He also reports that you have appointed prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim about you, ‘Look! There is a king in Judah!’

“You can be very sure that this report will get back to the king, so I suggest that you come and talk it over with me.”

 I replied, “There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing.”

 They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.

 Later I went to visit Shemaiah son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home. He said, “Let us meet together inside the Temple of God and bolt the doors shut. Your enemies are coming to kill you tonight.”

 But I replied, “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!”  I realized that God had not spoken to him, but that he had uttered this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. They were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me.

So on October  the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun.  When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.

 During those fifty-two days, many letters went back and forth between Tobiah and the nobles of Judah.  For many in Judah had sworn allegiance to him because his father-in-law was Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan was married to the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah.  They kept telling me about Tobiah’s good deeds, and then they told him everything I said. And Tobiah kept sending threatening letters to intimidate me.

Blessings!

Can Anything Good Come out of _______________?

Have you ever noticed yourself or others judging people by their background or station in life? Too often, we the body of Christ, fall prey to the same tendency the world does. We too can judge people by their ethnicity, political standing, financial status or where they’re from. In the book of James we are warned to guard ourselves from doing this very thing.

James 2:1-5 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?

God knows our tendency to favor like minded people that appear to be thriving. He knows our weakness towards favoritism . It’s nothing new. In fact one of my favorite stories from the Bible demonstrates that very issue.

John 1:40-51 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. 41 Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).

42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown.

45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.

47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”

48 “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”

49 Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”

50 Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”

Nathanael sincerely questioned, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” The assumption being Nazareth was not a place of importance or significance enough to be the birth place of the long awaited Messiah! The Jews were waiting for their Messiah to come but were not expecting Him to be born into poor circumstances! I love the fact God had his Son born into lowly surroundings with no pomp or circumstance. It shows the heart of God to be tender and compassionate towards all those who would otherwise not feel worthy of being accepted into the body of Christ. Jesus Christ is not a Savior for the privileged alone. He is for everyone, regardless of their status in life! He is available to anyone that will cry out to Him, repent of their sins and follow Him!

So to answer Nathanael’s question YES. YES something good and wonderful did come out of Nazareth. Our beautiful King, Jesus Christ! And you must know that something good can come out of your city or town, regardless of its size or significance in the world! That something is you! A child of God, bought with the blood of Jesus Christ, filled with the Spirit of God and set apart for good works, wherever you live! Never allow any person or any voice to tell you that your status in life is a limitation to God using you right where you are. We are not to judge others and that includes ourselves. If we yield to Christ, He will use us regardless of our family background, financial status, ethnicity or political leanings. Yield yourself to Him today! Make a difference right where you are!

Blessings!

Purpose in Your Heart

3 Reasons Why David Was a Man After God's Own Heart - Guarding the ...

The direction of our day is going to be determined by the “purposing of our heart.” As followers of Christ, we are not to be lead by feelings alone. We our to be lead by the Holy Spirit who will not impose Himself on us. If we want to have a day where we will walk in victory and glorify God we must begin our day by purposing in our heart to do the will of God.

Our flesh does not desire to yield to the ways and things of God. It is always happy to reach out and grab those things that make us feel good for the moment. However, those same things are often the things that draw us away from abiding in Christ and our peace. If we want to walk in peace and true joy it is only achieved through walking in obedience to the will of God, regardless of our circumstances.

So if you want to have a day of true peace start your day by “purposing in your heart,” to walk in holiness being lead by the Spirit of God. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead you throughout the day. Seek the Father’s will in all you do. Talk with Jesus, thank Him for all He has done and ask Him to use you as His hands and feet while you live your day for Him!

Be like Daniel, a man with an excellent spirit! Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Scripture verse for Sunday March 29, 2020

love like Jesus Archives | Page 4 of 8 | Redeeming God

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40

Don’t Get Spooked!

As the prophetic birth pangs increase, how are you going to spend your time?  I asked myself that very question this afternoon. Another hurricane moving across the Caribbean. A 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City. This following Hurricane Harvey, Irma and an earthquake in Mexico last week. The earth itself is telling us to prepare.  So how are we going to do that?

We cannot protect ourselves and our living environment by shielding ourselves in a fortress. We can’t live in fear of the dangers that appear to be increasing around us.  So what can we do?

We can meditate on the words Jesus spoke to us in the book of Luke chapter 12 verses 22 to 34.

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We can focus our hearts and attention on the giver of life, our Redeemer and Friend! By spending time with Him in prayer and by learning of Him more through reading the Word we can increase our faith and trust in Him. As we do this it will allow us to   continue to do the work he has called us to. Feed the poor, tend to the widows and orphans, encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ and minster daily in the ways He has prepared for us.

The world has plenty of reason to fear and worry. They don’t have a relationship with the Prince of Peace. This fact alone makes the importance of us trusting Christ during these days even more important. They are watching to see our reaction. They want peace and we know the answer to that need. It is in having a relationship with Christ! We need to love them enough to tell them!

Instead of getting caught up in the cares of this world, Jesus wants us to stay focused on Him.  He will direct us and give us the wisdom and knowledge we need to live in the days we find ourselves in! With our wonderful Helper, the Holy Spirit, we can maneuver our way through each day in perfect peace regardless of the circumstances, natural disasters or trials we may face.

So  again, 29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Rest in knowing that we can lean into Him, regardless of what we may face.

When less is MORE

 

morejesuslessme

He must become greater; I must become less.~John 3:30 NIV

For us to really be servants of Christ we have to yield our own wills to His. We can’t just do this Sunday morning during church service. We have to do it daily, when or before our feet even hit the floor we must determine that today will be a day that I will surrender my will to His. This means in the home, at work, on the bus, in the store and anywhere else we may find ourselves. This means we may find ourselves being put in some difficult or uncomfortable situations for our flesh. In fact it is very likely that we will from time to time.

We have been called to be FOLLOWERS of Christ. Not LEADERS of Christ. He knows us and loves us more than we are capable of truly loving ourselves. He is a trustworthy leader and earned our dedication on the cross of Calvary.

Let’s use this day for Him! Let’s determine to allow Him to lead us this day to do good works for His Kingdom. Let’s be willing to share our love for Him & others in practical ways today.  Intercede for those who need prayer! Be a support to those who need it! Wherever He puts you and whatever He puts in your path today, do it in submission to Him and do it with excellence!  Less of us and our fleshly wisdom and MORE of Him and His infinite love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every day is our FATHER’S day

I love the fact that regardless of whether we have a living father, a father engaged in our life, a father that cares or a father that doesn’t care for us now and perhaps never will, the one thing that every follower of Christ can be assured of is the love of a Heavenly Father.  His love knows no bounds. His love has been demonstrated to each of us who call Jesus Christ Savior and Lord in the most wonderful and powerful way possible.

He loved us when we were most unlovable. While we were up to our eye balls in sin, He saved us through the sacrificial death of His most precious Son!  That’s powerful love! That’s limitless love! That’s love that we should never take for granted! His love exceeds any possible love that an earthly Father could demonstrate because He was willing to send His perfect, blameless Son to a painful and agonizing death on the cross for you and I in order to restore a relationship with Him.

1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The incredible love and mercy God demonstrated to us and continues to demonstrate to us through Christ is too much for us to really fathom. Just as Peter points out, we have been given a new birth (salvation) and a living hope of Eternal life all because of God’s great love towards us!

We have no excuse to live a defeated life as a follower of Christ due to the less than perfect actions of our earthly fathers. We have been given restored relationship with the Creator of the Universe, the Father to the fatherless, the lover of our souls through Christ and we need to move forward in the freedom that comes with that.

We serve a living, loving and merciful Father who has provided us with salvation and the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk out  the calling He has for our lives in victory! So let us lay aside our self pity and excuses and let us move forward as we abide in Christ and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. Let us be thankful every day that we have a Heavenly Father that loved us and continues to love us more than any earthly father ever could. Let us praise Him and show our devotion to Him by obeying His Word and living  a life of service to Him, through Christ.

Blessings!

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.

Feed and Tend, the Call for All

We serve a Master with the heart of a servant. I love that about Jesus. He, the Son of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords washed the disciples feet. He cared for them as He cares for us.  He fed the multitudes, He healed the sick, He delivered the bound and set the captives free!  Praise God He is still doing this today!

His heart has always been tender toward those who seek Him. He longs for fellowship and intimacy with those who call on His name. When I read John chapter 21 last night I couldn’t help but think of just how much He loves His church. Just as a loving parent, in the latter days of their life, wants to do what they can to ensure their children and grandchildren will be prepared and looked after after they depart, Jesus did the same.

After His resurrection from the dead, He appeared three times to His disciples. Though His throne awaited Him, though His reunion with the Father awaited Him, He wanted to ensure His church would be taken care of!

John 21 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”

They answered Him, “No.”

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”

11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, whatabout this man?”

22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”

24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

 Jesus wanted to ensure that Peter, one of the founding members of the body of Christ, the Church, would continue His work. He wanted to ensure that the lambs (new believers) would be fed (nurtured) with  the message of the gospel so that they could grow into sheep.
He wanted to ensure that His followers (sheep)  would be tended to or taken care of just as Christ took care of them when He walked with them.  And lastly He wanted to ensure that His followers (sheep) would be fed. That they would continue to be fed the Word of God and the sharing of the gospel in order that the good news would be spread throughout all the world. Well fed sheep are less likely to wander off into other pastures!
 Jesus, just like a loving parent, wanted to ensure that His disciples would continue to fulfill the purposes of God by spiritually feeding and tending to His lambs and sheep. He didn’t leave until He had done so.  Until He had fed His disciples and reminded them yet one more time to take care of the lambs and sheep. He knew their natural propensity to forget what was important and wanted to tend to them and remind them one more time!
That is the heart of the One we serve! That blesses me and makes me sad all at the same time! To be loved by One that loves us that much is truly awesome!
 Our Shepherd loves His herd and we like Peter, have a responsibility to feed His lambs, tend His sheep and feed His sheep. We too are His disciples. Every one of us that call Him Savior and Lord share this responsibility.
It is a blessing and a privilege to serve Our Shepherd! Let’s remember His words to Peter as we start each day!
Blessings!

Our beautiful compassionate King!

In our world we see people doing all kinds of evil things in the name of their religion. On a daily basis we hear of people being beheaded, persecuted and murdered by all kinds of vile methods for not converting to radical Islam. People trying to force another by violence to adhere to their twisted ideology. Amid all of this, I am so grateful that we who are followers of Jesus Christ serve a Savior and Lord that does not require that we use violence to draw people to Him. He requires love! How awesome is He! He tells us to let our light shine, He tells us to let the world see His love for them through us! He tells us that when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick and give water to the thirsty we are doing it to Him!  Matthew 25:31-40 NIV 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

In the book of Mark we see our beautiful Lord and King healing the leper after being moved with compassion. Mark 1:39-42 NKJV 39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 4Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

Jesus, the Son of God, the Holy One, the King of Kings was moved with compassion! What a beautiful picture of our Jesus! A King who feels for the cast offs of society and is moved to save, heal and deliver them! A King who does not see class distinction. A King who does not wish any should spiritually perish! A King that is moved with compassion!

Today let the reality of the character of Jesus sink into your heart. Ask Him to give you a heart of compassion for those who are lost, sick and bound. Ask Him to guide you in reaching out and sharing the good news with those who so desperately need to hear it! Let His love and compassion shine through you this Christmas season!

There is a cost!

 

In my personal bible reading, I have once again worked my way through the Old Testament and am currently in the book of Matthew. Instead of reading through each chapter in my usual full speed ahead mode, this time I am savoring  my time reading and sometimes rereading several times, the words and actions of Jesus. There are just so many details I have missed in the past. This time through, I am going to take my time and enjoy learning the details of the ONE who died for me.

This morning I was dwelling on some verses in Matthew 16.  Verses 24 to 27 are powerful, serious words! 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.  I have heard these verses throughout my Christian life so many times yet the weight of the message has never hit me harder than it did today. This is a message  for the double minded. It is a message for the fence sitters. It is a message for the luke warm Sunday Christians. It is a message those who are trying to get their life worked out before they get serious about their commitment to Christ.  This is a message for every person who claims to be a Christian. As a Christian we are to be a  follower of Christ. To follow Him we must walk in His footsteps on the path that He leads us. We must be willing to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. Denying ourselves is not easy but it is required. Taking up our cross is living a life of sacrifice but it is required. Losing our life and self interests for those of the Kingdom of God is not natural in the flesh, but is required.

Some  have the idea that those who willingly give up the comfort and ease of a selfish life to serve God with abandon are the “super spiritual” people. A little too radical. A little too zealous. However, this is what Jesus requires of all His followers.  He requires we live a life of obedience and service to Him, our High Priest! This will require sacrifice of all types. This will require doing things we don’t always like to do. This will require pouring ourselves out to others, even when we don’t feel like it. We serve a radical Savior. Nothing He did or commands comes natural to us. It is by His Spirit we are able to accomplish all that He has for us to do. John 16:12-15 NIV 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that He will receive what He will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what He will make known to you.”

Christ  didn’t just call us to Himself and than leave us with the difficult task of trying to figure out how we are to follow Him, He has equipped us! With the Holy Spirit living within us and the Word of God to guide us we are able to fulfill His purposes if we are willing. But in order to do so we must be willing to deny ourselves our own ambitions and take up our cross and follow Him, walking each day with the Holy Spirit guiding and teaching us how and where to serve. He may lead us into some dark places where He wants us to show the light and love of Himself to others. He may lead us to some very uncomfortable situations where we are to be His hands and feet. North American Christians have been blessed with inordinate amounts of freedom in following Christ.  Denying  ourselves is a difficult task because we are not used to denying ourselves much of anything when we have been blessed with so much. When it comes to taking up our cross, it is a decision that seldom results in our death. There are brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the globe that understand the high cost of both denying themselves and taking up their cross as they are living in countries where they may not only face persecution but death to do so. Many are  martyred on a daily basis because they are willing to deny themselves and take up their cross! They understand the cost of being a disciple. For those of us in North America, things are changing. There is a rising rebellion and bitterness towards the church.  One day we too may be called to give our lives for Christ. If so, we must do so willingly, knowing one day He will reward us for what we have suffered and done for His Kingdom.

If we have made the decision to follow Christ, follow is what we must do. My prayer is that each one of us will lay aside those things that are holding us back and willingly say, “Lord I am ready to follow you completely! I am ready to deny myself, my selfish ambitions and comfort and am willing to take up my cross and follow you wherever You will lead me!” This is the heart cry of a disciple, this is to be the heart cry of every one of us who has made Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessings!

“He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian’ without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.”~Francis Chan

 

 

Idleness and Pity are not your calling!

It is a wonderful thing to be part of a church family. Just as with any family there are many different personalities and giftings among the members. You will not find any perfect people among either family. You will find people that hopefully are growing in love for one another and learning to reach out and touch the lives of others within the four walls of the church and outside the four walls. Just as our biological families should give us a place to grow and develop, hopefully in a safe environment, our church families should do the same.

The church is a place where each member should have a purpose and function. God has gifted each of us uniquely to minister to others in such a vast variety of ways. We are all to use our giftings. Sadly some come to church hoping to have their needs met without ever learning to help meet the needs of others around them. They get discouraged and disappointed when others seemingly let them down, yet seldom reach out and help others in need themselves.

There really is no place for selfish ambition or selfishness in the church. Paul gives us clear instruction on how we are to function as a family in Romans 12. As we can see, no where is there a place for selfish ambition or selfishness. We are all called to serve. If you find yourself disappointed in others or discouraged that your needs are not being met, perhaps it is time to start using your giftings to be a blessing to others. We are to live a poured out life, not a life sitting idly and waiting for others to pour out on us.  Time is too short to be wasted in pity and idleness. We all have been called for a purpose. Seek God for your purpose among the body and get busy fulfilling it!

Romans 12 NIV

 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;

if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,faithful in prayer

.13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;  if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

If we live each day serving as we have been called to serve, we will be too busy to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s time for each of us in the body of Christ to wake up and begin to live as we have been called to live, as a living sacrifice serving our brothers and sisters and reaching out to a world that is dying. Read and reread Romans 12 and perhaps write it out as a daily reminder of what we have been called to do. Let’s not waste another day!

Hold to, spur on, meet and encourage!

Last week my husband and I spent a week vacationing in the Dominican Republic. It was a great rest for both of us. We were fortunate enough to meet some new friends who are currently missionaries there. One is a fellow blogger.  It was such a blessing to meet people who are helping people in the most practical ways, right where the rubber meets the road. People who are not afraid to get their hands dirty when reaching down to help others in some pretty dark places. It encouraged me to do more.

Meeting with fellow believers should do just that. If we are fulfilling the plan God has for our lives it should encourage others to do the same.  We need each other. We all have times of discouragement and difficulty but God has provided us with a very large family! A family we can turn to for support, encouragement and love. A family of likeminded people who can keep us grounded in the Word of God and keep us in check should we begin to wander into the wider path.

Though our relationship with Christ must be personal, He has given us a large family for support, correction, love and to labor alongside of. The Word of God tells us just how important it is that we maintain relationship with our spiritual family.

Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

When we look around us today we can be assured that the Day of Christ’s return is not that far off. It is so important that as the days grow more evil, we spur one another on toward love and good deeds. There will be times we will feel discouraged with what we see happening but that is not the time to stop sharing the gospel, doing good deeds or being the hands and feet of Christ. It will be the time to spur one another on!  We must not give up meeting together. As the Lord’s return draws closer we must stop making excuses of why we cannot get to church, or bible study or any other gathering of the body of Christ. There is nothing more important than growing in our faith and doing His works! We need one another’s support and wisdom.  And lastly, we must encourage one another all the more as time passes. God has created each of us with a need for others. He did not create us to be an island of our own. We need to be available and supportive to our brothers and sisters in Christ for prayer, sharing of the Word and fellowship.

Lord I pray today that You will reveal to us how important it is that we hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, our hope in the return of our beautiful Savior! Open our eyes to see how important it is that we spur on one another in good deeds! Help us to realize the importance of meeting regularly with our church families! Help us to encourage one another as You would encourage us Lord.  Let us not be found sleeping when You return, but let us be found busy doing Your works inside the church and outside the church.

In the precious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

 

Did you receive your wake up call?

I am currently reading through the book of Jeremiah. I can’t help but think of how Jeremiah must have  felt when he was told by God to warn His  people and the nations of the coming judgement and calamities. He was a prophet called to rebuke, warn and encourage the people to turn from their idolatry and sins and humble themselves before God. The same message that must be proclaimed today.

Today many in the church are asleep, living lives of comfort and compromise. Serving themselves with little concern over the lost and broken. It is time that each one of us realize the times we are living in. Just as Jeremiah knew judgement was coming, we too know judgement is coming. It is imperative that we, the body of Christ, be alert to the signs of the times and get busy fulfilling our callings. Revival will come when the church humbles itself and begins to walk in obedience. The world will never be attracted to a sinful church, we must be the light of the world. We must demonstrate the love of Christ to everyone, everywhere. As long as we are dabbling in sin we will not be free to do so.

In my life, God has been showing me areas that I must fully surrender to Him. Areas I have held back. Areas I have been selfish. Areas I have been unwilling to commit to Christ. The time has come for me to be wholly in. I believe the Lord is saying the same to all of His kids that are willing to listen. The time is short before we will see Jesus face to face. We need to get our priorities set and move forward as He leads us.

This is not a message of doom and gloom but of encouragement. We have a beautiful, loving Savior who longs for us to see Him face to face. When we do we want to run to Him with abandon and not walk to Him in shame. He came to save us and set us free from all that would hinder our walk with Him. We need to repent of the things that are keeping us bound and ask Him to break any chains that keep us back from moving forward in living out the walk He has called us to.

Ephesians 5:1-15 NIV 

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness,but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our King is coming back to a church without spot or wrinkle. My prayer is that each of us will humble ourselves before Him and turn from those things that are keeping us from living a life of holiness and obedience. There is much work to be done and we the church, are the laborers.

Lord, forgive us for our apathy and sinfulness. Wake us up to the times we are living in. Give us direction and a heart to share the gospel with the lost. Keep us close to you Jesus, as we wait on your return.  In Your precious name, Amen.

 No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.~A.W. Tozer

Watch, Pray and Be Ready

 

Matthew 24:44 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Matthew 24:44  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Last week my husband and I spent a relaxing, wonderful week visiting my sister in Florida. As always we had a great time. We were ready for some rest and relaxation after a busy summer and we got it. I did notice however that the world didn’t take any rest and relaxation. The Middle East is aflame with the war in Israel and Gaza, ISIS is massacring Christians and fellow Muslims in Iraq, there are daily atrocities being committed in Syria along with massacres in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, there is an ongoing battle between Russia and the people of the Ukraine and still more.

Though it is wonderful to be able to take a holiday from our jobs and our everyday life, there is NO time to take a break from our prayer life. We need to be vigilant in holding up our brothers and sisters at home and around the world in prayer! We need to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem! We need to pray for all those innocent people caught in the various wars and battles around the world! This is not a time to become lazy in our prayer life! There are too many people counting on the people of God to faithfully keep them in prayer, interceding for them in situations that are dire and could become dire at any time. We must pray for those who are being martyred around the world, that their life will speak of Jesus right up until the end. That they may be given boldness and peace during their times of persecution.  And of course, we are to pray for our families, friends, neighbors an our communities.

I am feeling a call to prayer like never before. The world is experiencing some mighty birth pains and scripture indicates the pains will only get greater and longer until the great tribulation. My prayer is that we will be faithful in praying, helping and sharing the gospel in the days we have. All indicators indicate that our beautiful King is coming back sooner rather than later. May He find us faithful and obedient to the calling He has given each of us. May He find us working to further His Kingdom. May He find us ministering with the gifts He has given each of us. May He find us taking care of all those He has entrusted to us.

Jesus told us keep watch and know what is going on so we can be aware of the times we are living in.  

Matthew 24:4-13 NIV 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.

We are seeing now experiencing some of these very birth pains.

He also told us to be ready for His return and not be caught spiritually sleeping. Matthew 24:36-44 NIV  36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

 

Though we all have earthly responsibilities we must take care of, let’s not lose sight of the things that really matter for eternity. Let’s keep watch, pray and be ready for the return of Jesus, our beautiful Lord and King.

 

 

 

Prepping the heart for the future

Years ago I read Corrie Ten Boom’s book, “The Hiding Place”.  I remember thinking it must have been so difficult during those dark days of World War 2. Corrie shared the sorrow of losing her family members to the Nazis. She also shared how God sustained her during those dark days, even in the little things like providing a tissue when she desperately needed one.  With the growing wars and rumors of wars we are experiencing in the world right now, I can’t help but think how important it is that we remain close to Christ. That we don’t allow anything to come between our intimacy with Him. I believe we have some difficult days ahead of us.

The church has been undergoing intense persecution during this last century with numbers increasing drastically within the last ten years. Anti-Semitism is steadily increasing.  We are experiencing the birth pangs the book of Revelation warned us of. It is time for the church to lay aside things that would beset us and share the gospel with unbelievers. It is time we lay aside our denominational differences and follow the Word of God wholeheartedly. It is time we pray for the peace of Jerusalem as we have been instructed. It is time we live out our faith lovingly and in boldness.

I know I need to spend more time in the Word. It is through spending time in the Word that we gain spiritual wisdom and knowledge. It is also through reading the Word that our faith increases. If there was ever a time we needed wisdom, knowledge and an increase in faith, this is it. God wants His people spiritually prepared for what is coming. He wants us free of fear. He wants us equipped to minister to those He puts in our path. It is not a time for lounging or idling. We need to be ready for whatever is coming. We need to have the assurance that nothing is too big for us to go through with Christ!

God does not want His church ignorant of the times we are living in. We are to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves. Matthew 10:16 NKJV 16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves:  be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
He does not want us fearful of what is coming  because fear shows our lack of trust in the only ONE who is truly trustworthy. Instead He wants us to be full of faith, trusting in the ONE who has it all under control, standing firm in our faith and in the ONE  (Jesus Christ) in whom we believe.

2 Timothy 1: 7-13 NKJV For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

12 For the which cause 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 that which I have committed unto him against that day.

13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Revelation 21:8 NKJV But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Jesus has called each of us to follow Him. Some days are easier to do this than others. Regardless of the circumstances we may find ourselves facing, we can be assured that HE is with us through every step of the way. This is His promise to us.  The book of Hebrews has some pertinent words for us today. Words of encouragement and counsel.

Hebrews 13: 1-8 NKJV 13 Let brotherly love continue.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

So let’s encourage each other with these words as we watch prophecy unfold before us. Let us live sold out and fully for Christ and allow Him to use us for His glory and purposes as we wait on His beautiful return!

 

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

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.

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

Believing for MORE!

I’m excited for the things God is teaching me these days. One of the things that I am learning is  to not get discouraged while waiting on the evidence  of things not yet seen!Hebrews 11:1 NIV tells us 11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. I am growing in my confidence in God’s fulfillment of His promises. What we see with the eye currently is not what will be if we hold fast to those promises, not wavering. 

James 1:2-8 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

There have been many times in the past that I have been double-minded. Not sure if it was God’s will to do some of the things I have asked for and therefore doubting even as the words were leaving my mouth. My confidence in the lover of my soul is changing. I believe I am seeing Him more for the beautiful Savior, healer, deliverer, Lord and King that He is and that it is His desire to give good gifts to His followers.  Now I am not referring to lavish homes and cars, not that these things in themselves are bad! I am referring to all blessings that enable us to fulfill His purposes in our lives. Peace, joy, sound mind, health and strength as we need it to do the labor He has called us to. We are the called to be the light of the world and what good can we do when we are moping about in ongoing depression, anxiety, fear and bondage!  If we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior and have made a decision to follow Him, we are entitled to freedom from all these things! 

2Timothy 1:6-8 NKJV says  Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

God wants His church whole. He wants us living a life of obedience and  abiding in Christ daily. When we do, we are in a position to minister to those He puts in our path. To be a light in the darkness.  We are free  to pray for others and see answers.

James 5:16 NIV 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

I am learning that as I commit myself wholly to Him, to confess my sins before Him daily, to lean into Him, to believe Him, I am able to make a difference in the lives of those around me.  I am able to share the gospel and demonstrate the love of Christ to others and that is what He has called each of us in the body of Christ to do. His last words on earth tell us just that.

Mark 16:9-20 NIV When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating;  he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

My prayer is that each one of us will grow in our confidence of His love for us, in our faith and trust in His word and what we are able to accomplish through Him! As we do we will see the fulfillment of the great commission!

Father God, we thank you for Jesus. We thank you that we can fully trust in Him and rely on His love and kindness. Lord create a clean heart in each of us and renew a right spirit within us so that we may walk close to You and fulfill the purposes You have called us to. Let us be a light in this world. Let each of us do our part in the great commission. Increase our faith through Your word. Let each of us preach the gospel  and confirm Your word by signs and wonders as we do so. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Sitting out or serving?

If you were given the choice, which would you prefer to serve or be served? If we are honest, there are times when most of us enjoy being served. Times when we feel the need to relax and have someone else take care of some of our responsibilities or perhaps just pamper us a wee bit.  There is nothing wrong with each of us enjoying some down time to relax and be pampered. It is important however, to remember that as followers of Christ we have accepted the call to serve. If we find ourselves hesitant to get involved in serving than we have somehow misunderstood the calling on our lives. Each and every one of us who has accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior is required to follow in our Master’s footsteps. Those footsteps involve service. Service to our brothers and sisters in Christ, service in our churches and service in a world that is desperate for God.

Serving will look different for each of us. Some may be called to minister through a position in the church such as an elder, server, apostle, teacher, prophet, etc. Some may serve as a Sunday school teacher, nursery caregiver, bible study leader, prayer intercessor, worship leader, church musician or caretaker. There are multiple opportunities in each church to serve the body of Christ.  Inside and outside the church the opportunities are endless, perhaps cooking for the sick, babysitting for a single parent, visiting those in prison, driving others to Dr. appointments, helping out at a shelter, food bank etc.  Regardless of where we may find ourselves in life there are endless opportunities to serve and demonstrate the love of Christ to others. This may  at times require loving some we would naturally find unlovable.

So why bother? Why bother giving up our free time to serve when we could be doing things we enjoy. Because we are to follow in the footsteps of Christ. We  are called to demonstrate the love He has for others by using our own  hands and through the moving of the Holy Spirit. When we grasp what He did for us  at Calvary, how He willingly laid down His life in order that we may be reconciled with our Heavenly Father we should count it joy to serve!  Just as He willingly died for us out of love,as recipients of that love we should all be willing to serve others.

The bible gives us some clear words on doing just that…

Phillipians 2:1-4 NIV 2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

1 John 3:16-17 NIV 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Luke 6:32-36 NIV32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be childrenof the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Romans 15:1-6 NIV 15 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 13:1-3 NIV 13 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

These are but a few verses. The Bible is full of many more that encourage us to be actively doing the will of God by serving. If you are not stirred up to serve than you need to pray and ask God to give you the desire to do His will. Ask for direction in how you may be able to serve. Ask for Him to show you the areas you are best equipped to serve.  If we have committed our life to Christ we have been given giftings through the Holy Spirit  that prevent any of us from saying we are not able to serve!  Instead of sitting on your giftings why not start using them today?

How BIG is your church?

 When we talk about the church do we often limit it to our “own” church? The body of believers that we are joined with by meeting together on a regular basis, sharing with, supporting and praying for? If so, perhaps  we need to widen our scope. We need to remember that every follower of Christ anywhere in the world is our brother and sister.  Though it is vital that we are part of a local church body for spiritual growth, to bless and be a blessing to others, to serve locally, to bring our tithes etc… it is also vital that we not neglect our brothers and sisters elsewhere. We belong to a church family that is sprinkled from one end of the planet to the other and it is so important that we pray for and give to our “worldwide” family when the need arises. Through the internet, tv, newspapers and other forms of media we are able to hear the plight of our brothers and sisters in foreign lands. If we hear and do nothing we are not demonstrating the love of Christ to those who may need us desperately.

If we see a need and we have the financial resources to do so, we should help in the most responsible way possible. If we are not able to financially give, we still have a mighty weapon we can wield on their behalf and that is prayer! We have the ability to intercede for many of our brothers and sisters who are in great need, who may be suffering under the hand of persecution or who may be stumbling. I, like most Christians, am a firm believer in supporting our local church. I think it is scriptural and necessary, however I don’t think that just because we do so we have the right to ignore the plight of our fellow followers of Christ in foreign lands. We may not all be called as missionaries but we are all called to help others in need and it would be negligent to ignore our brothers and sisters plight.

I am glad to be part of a church that regularly supports our fellow brothers and sisters outside our own circle. I believe God is blessing us greatly partially because of that. I also believe that it is the responsibility of each of us individuals to do our part. Why not assign specific prayer time a day to intercede for believers in a specific country? Or perhaps for those worldwide that are being persecuted for their faith? For ministries that are sharing the gospel of Christ on a day in/day out basis. For children in foreign lands that are being torn from their Christian homes and becoming the victim of sex traffickers all because their parents will not reject Christ.

I am not suggesting we stop praying for the unsaved or unloved. That is the call of every believer. However, it is important we do not neglect our own. There are believers worldwide in great need of prayer and in many cases food, shelter and protection from an ever encroaching enemy. I believe it pleases our Lord when we bring the hurting, the downtrodden, the persecuted, the weak and the suffering before Him in prayer and I also believe it can release the change in their lives that they desperately need! Our prayers can move spiritual mountains! We live in exciting times. We are seeing God raise up people all over the world that are sold out for Him. Let’s not take that for granted. Let’s each do our part in supporting our brothers and sisters worldwide in whatever manner we can.  The Word of God encourages us to do this by both  prayer and meeting their tangible needs.

Ephesians 6:18 NIV 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

James 2:14-17 NIV 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Lord, please teach us to pray effectively for our brothers and sisters worldwide. Give us the heart and desire to interceded on their behalf and to help in whatever way possible. Keep our hearts tender to the needs of others as we walk out our love for You.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

YOU and I are His disciples!

John 15:16 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

John 15:16 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

There is so much going on in our world right now that could cause us to be distracted from the calling on our lives. We have sports, entertainment, family responsibilities and gatherings, jobs, electronics etc.. It is easy to become waylaid from the purposes God has called us to accomplish.  Each day it is a choice as to whether we will fulfill His purposes for our lives  or we will fulfill our own goals and purposes.  Do we spend more time in front of the tv than in the Word of God? Do we waste time gossiping instead of interceding for others? Do we choose to stay home and relax instead of getting ourselves to church on Sunday? We are daily faced with these type of decisions and sadly many Christians are choosing the way of their own comfort.

We have been given the gift of salvation through a Savior that lovingly died for us yet often we can’t even bring ourselves to spend any time with Him in prayer or in the Word of God. Too often, we would entertain ourselves with things that have little to no lasting spiritual significance. When we made the decision to follow Christ, we became His disciples. As disciples we have a purpose that involves more than our own comfort.

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the following definition of a disciple..

dis·ci·ple

noun \di-ˈsī-pəl\

: someone who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of a famous person

: one of a group of 12 men who were sent out to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ

A disciple has a very distinct purpose and that purpose is to accept and help spread the teachings of their leader, who as Christians, is Christ.  This is not the purpose of just a select few but is the purpose for each and every one of us who calls Christ our Lord and Savior.  Each of us will have a different group of individuals that we are to impact but we are all His disciples and therefore we are all called to share the gospel.  When we choose our own comfort over sharing the gospel we are not being true followers of Christ.  Let’s take a look at a few verses from the Bible on being disciples…

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 8:31 NIV 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

John 13:35 NIV 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 15:8 NIV 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:16 NIV 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Romans 10:14-15 NIV 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

And finally…

Hebrews 10:25 NIV 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

If we are to be true followers of Christ we cannot be Christians in name alone. We must daily make the decision to obey Him and His leading in our lives. We are to share the good news with those who desperately need to hear it! We need to encourage our brothers and sisters who may be struggling and we need to continue to move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every single one of us has been called with a purpose and we all need to be doing our part in the body until Jesus returns or He calls us home.

If you have become a Sunday seat warmer only, ask God to forgive you of your spiritual idleness and stir up in you a desire to fulfill the purposes He has called you to do. Don’t waste another day!

Lord, I ask that you would forgive me for my spiritual laziness that has allowed me to put my comfort before Your purposes for my life. Please stir up in me the giftings that You have given me and show me what I can do this day to further Your kingdom. Give me a heart that loves what You love and hates what You hate and empower me to demonstrate that love to those who need it.  In the precious name of Jesus,  Amen.

WE are family

John 1:12 NIV 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

John 1:12 NIV 12 Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.

As followers of Christ, we inherit the blessings of having a church family. Our church family is not just within the walls of our own church but is worldwide. We are brothers and sisters with other followers of Christ from Canada to Australia and everywhere in between. It is so important that we don’t lose sight of that in our prayer lives. We need to hold up the body of Christ everywhere. For those who are suffering persecution in foreign lands, for those who are being sifted through trials, for those who are enduring hardships of their own making, we are called to intercede for them all because one day we will all stand together before Christ as one family, though from many tribes and tongues!  Revelation 7:9-10 NIV After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

I have noticed in my own walk and in the walk of others that the enemy loves nothing more than to separate us from our brothers and sisters. He likes to isolate us. When we have  engaged in sin one of the first things we hear inside our heads is condemnation.  If we continue to listen to the accuser instead of simply repenting and moving forward in our walk with Christ, Satan will use that condemnation and shame to isolate us from the ones we need the most. God created us with the need for fellowship. Just as He longs for fellowship with us, He has created a desire for fellowship inside us to have an abiding relationship with Him and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Though each of us has unique giftings and talents, we are not created to stand alone or to operate alone. We are to operate as a family, each fulfilling his or her function.

When we stumble, fall, or just get discouraged along the way, it is important to reach out to our church family. It is humbling to do so but it brings with it great rewards. We have a safe place to come to for prayer, love and encouragement. All things each of us will need from time to time. When we pull back from our church family, we often find ourselves becoming discouraged, lonely and left to feel rather isolated. Bingo, Satan has succeeded in keeping us from moving forward in our walk of faith!

Several years ago, after a series of tragedies  in my life, I became very discouraged. I wondered where God was when I was suffering? I pulled away from the church and thought I would be better off figuring things out on my own. Let me just say that it just prolonged my sorrow. I wasted precious time wallowing when I could have been enjoying the love and support of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am so grateful to God for wooing me back into the arms of a church family. Though, no church is  perfect, it is still the best place to be for spiritual growth, encouragement, love and support. It is also a place where God will train us up in our giftings, if we let Him.

If you find yourself feeling isolated and apart from the body of Christ, ask God to give you direction in finding a church home.  He didn’t create any of us to be islands. We function best and are most fulfilled when we work as a family. We just happen to have a very large family that encompasses every country in the globe and there is certainly a church family out there waiting for you and the giftings God has given you.  Don’t postpone your loneliness and isolation. Ask God for direction in finding the church family He has waiting for you.

Hebrews 10:24,25 NIV 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Give the gift of HOPE

If there is one word to sum up what is lacking in this world of ours my guess is it would be “hope”. For those who have not come into a personal relationship with Christ there is not much to be hopeful for. Politicians reveal corrupt natures on a regular basis, the economy has caused many to lose their homes and savings, evil exists in every city and country, innocent people are being imprisoned for years for their beliefs while pedophiles get off with light sentences.  Is it any wonder that so many struggle with depression and suicide rates have increased?

The World Health Organization states that:

  • Every year, almost one million people die from suicide; this roughly corresponds to one death every 40 seconds.
  • Suicide is among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years in some countries, and the second leading cause of death in the 10-24 years age group; these figures do not include suicide attempts which can be many times more frequent than suicide (10, 20, or more times according to some studies). http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/index.html

It’s a dark world we live in. Without “hope” many just give up. Proverbs 13:12 explains why, 12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,  but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life

If this world, as it is, was all we had to look forward to it would be easy to understand the lack of “hope” we see in most people.  But it isn’t!  We have every reason to hope. God has provided a way for a better life in this present world and in the world to come through Jesus His Son! Through salvation, we have direct access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We receive His Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us. Our longing has been fulfilled through Christ! We can now  operate out of the love Christ has shed in our hearts and thereby are able to make even this world we live in a much better place while we wait on Heaven!

It is so important that we share this “hope” we have received. The same gift we have been given is available to everyone who will call upon the name of Jesus. Without this hope many people will go on to live sad, unfulfilled lives struggling to take them into an  eternity that will be even worse. When we share Christ with others we give them the gift of hope, knowing that He will take whatever mess their life has become, and mold it into something wonderful, just as He did with each of us that know Him as Savior and Lord.  We are to “overflow with hope” as the word of God tells us in Romans 15:13 NIV 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why not let your hope overflow into the life of another today?  Reach out to someone that needs to see the “hope” we have demonstrated by your being the hands and feet of Christ. Let them hear of the “hope” we have through sharing the salvation message of Christ.

As we wait on the blessed hope of Christ’s return, let’s collectively share our present hope with those that need to hear! The book of Titus lays it out so perfectly… Titus 2:11-14 NIV 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Lord, today use me to demonstrate the “hope” you offer to others that don’t know you or those that have been sidelined by sin and the cares of this world. Let my actions and words share the truth of who You are and the hope that You offer each and every person that willingly turns to You.

In your beautiful name Jesus,

Amen.

Are you ALWAYS prepared to give an answer?

As we follow Christ it’s important that we always remember that our lives are to exemplify His character.   I don’t think we really get this until we realize deep down how much He loves us. I spent years knowing in my head He loved me but it really has been only the last few years when I began to believe in the depths of my heart that HE LOVES ME!  Me, who stumbles from time to time. Me, who wasted years living a life without the intimacy I now share with Him. Me, who is so far from perfect it isn’t funny. That’s right, HE LOVES ME and HE LOVES YOU too! The more I think about what He did for me on the cross and what He continues to do for me daily, I can’t help but love HIM!

It’s not enough for us to simply enjoy our relationship with Christ, but out of that relationship He has called us to love and serve others. This is going to look a little different in each of our lives.  Some are called to minister as evangelists, prophets, teachers etc.. others are called to minister in their daily life as parents, neighbors, friends etc. but all are called to minister in one manner or another.  We are to be ready and willing to not only do the labor He has called us to but also to give any man or woman that asks, the reason why. We read in 1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 

Those are powerful words. That means when we are waiting in line for half an hour to pay for our purchases and the cashier is learning as she goes, we need to exemplify the character of Christ and be willing to give the reason why should we be asked. That means when someone cuts us off in traffic we are to exemplify the character of Christ and be willing to give the reason why, should someone ask. That means when someone blames us for something we haven’t done, we need to respond with the character of Christ and be willing to give the reason why should someone ask.  This is something we need to be mindful of regardless of where we are, who we are with or what we are doing.

Often we designate certain areas of our lives that we know we must tow the line so to speak, but the word of God tells us that we should ALWAYS be prepared to give an answer to EVERYONE who asks to give the reason for the hope that you have! The only way this is possible is by staying close to Christ. It is out of His love and Holy Spirit that we are able to see each person we meet as someone He has put in our path. When we abide in Him throughout the day, we see as He sees. When we walk in our own strength we see as we see and will miss many opportunities to share His love to a world that desperately needs Him.

Over the last year I have formed a habit of praying each morning on my way into work that the Lord will bring people into my office that He wants there. I ask Him to help me to demonstrate His love to those He brings in. Yesterday I had a new client come in that was particularly challenging. After listening to her for a few minutes I was ready to respond with some “attitude.”  It was then the Lord reminded me, “Did you not ask me to bring people in? This is one of the people I have sent.”  Instantly, my response changed! I realized it was by His appointment this woman had come into my office and I was to respond to her the way Christ would. It made the rest of our conversation go so much smoother and by the end of the conversation her entire demeanor changed for good!  However, even if it hadn’t improved, I was still to respond as Christ would. It is not dependent on how others treat us but how Christ would treat them.

Too often we become desensitized to the fact that we are His hands and feet everywhere we go and to everyone we meet. If you find yourself struggling with this please join me in the following prayer…

Lord, please stir our hearts to be prepared to answer ANYONE who asks the reason for the hope we have in You. Give us a love for what You love and a hate for what You hate. Let us be Your hands and feet today in all that we do, remembering to do all with gentleness and respect.

In the precious name of Jesus, our beautiful Lord and King,

Amen

Don’t make an idol of your peeps!

It wasn’t too long ago since I realized I had been making an idol out of some of the people in my life. This may sound extreme but believe me it isn’t that unusual. I see it done all the time. When we choose to put others before our relationship with Christ we are really making an idol of them. We have been called to follow Christ in love and in obedience. He longs for our heart. He longs for us to seek Him daily and to be sensitive to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit.  Too often we put the needs and desires of others before His and we in turn tune Him out.

When we put Him first we are allowing Him to work in us and through us in the most effective way possible, enabling us to love better, make wiser decisions and to walk out a life that will be much more fulfilling. We must make a daily choice to do this. It will not just happen. When we do, our family and friends will also benefit. We will be the person God has called us to be and be able to bring His love and wisdom into many of their circumstances. When we put them first, we lack both and we operate  in the flesh. We also become dependent on them for our happiness and satisfaction. No person is capable of giving us true happiness or satisfaction but Christ.

We are called to love our family and friends. We are called to serve them and others outside our circle but we are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. (Matthew 22:37 )  When we keep Him first in our lives, He will guide us in how to love others. Not in a self serving, suffocating love but in a love that has their best interests at heart. When we reverse this and put other people first we lose our abiding love for Jesus and others become our focal point. They become our source of joy and will inevitably let us down from time to time. Jesus never will. He will equip us to love others in the healthiest way possible!

If you are allowing anyone or anything to come between you and your intimacy with Christ, I challenge you today to ask  for His forgiveness. Tell Him you want Him to be first in your life and ask for a renewed love for Him and His Word. He delights in answering such prayers. Don’t waste another day. Put Him first this Christmas season and see Him move through you to reach others in the most effective way possible!

Forgiveness opens the door for change!

 I was  sad to hear of the passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday. Over the years I have admired his decision to forgive and live out that forgiveness in his actions. He was a man that stood out because he didn’t respond to prejudism with hatred and bitterness. He had the wisdom to realize that real change in South Africa, would only come with forgiveness and reconciliation. Hatred would just prolong the fighting and nothing good would ever be accomplished.

The Word of God teaches us this same principle. We are to live a life that demonstrates forgiveness. Our own forgiveness is conditional upon us forgiving others as we read in Luke 6:37 NIV 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Nelson Mandela was able to bring about amazing change in South Africa that eventually spread to other parts of the globe because he implemented this principle.  I can’t help but think about the awesome opportunity for change each and every one of us that follow Christ have. In our families, in our churches, in our neighborhoods and in our world, we can all make a difference when we love like Jesus loves, when we refuse to judge and condemn and when we forgive.

Christ does not want us to spend our time fighting battles of bitterness and unforgiveness. He wants us to use our time to love Him and serve others. My prayer is that we will not waste any more time walking in  unforgiveness but will do as Paul says in Colossians 3:12-14 NIV 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

If we start each day with this scripture in mind, we too will make an amazing difference in our world.

Help yes! Enable NO!

It is a wonderful thing to be part of the family of God. We have the opportunity to share our burdens, difficulties, prayer requests and answers to prayer! God links us through His Spirit and creates such a love for one another when we walk with Him.  It is important that as a family we help one another when we can. We need to pray for one another regularly. We need to help each other out tangibly with things when the need arises. One thing we have to be careful to balance however, is that though we should help others when they really need it, we mustn’t enable them to become lazy or idle. Tolerating either is not helping. It is causing others to become dependent on us for things they should be  working towards themselves and leaning on God for. I’m not talking about legitimate needs. If a brother or sister has no family to help them or through some difficult unforeseen circumstance finds themselves in a bind and needing occasional help that is different than relying on others to take care of things they should be doing for themselves. If they  are able bodied and find themselves relying on others on a regular basis, it’s time to change their circumstances. Perhaps cut out things in their life that they can’t afford. They may need to take on a second job. Cut back on expenses that are not necessary.  Go back to school and get an education. Seek out  free financial counselling offered by community service programs.

Apostle Paul was clear on this when he penned 2 Thessalonians 3:6-14 NIV 6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.14 Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

This was not said to shame people with legitimate needs that needed help! This is to remind each and every one of us that we have an obligation to work in whatever way we can to support ourselves and not be totally dependent on others for our food and shelter. If we are able bodied, we need to be working to support ourselves and to help others who are not able to.  Ultimately, when we look to others for help it is to help us get on our feet so we can support ourselves and be a blessing to others, not so we can stay dependent on other people’s charity.

If you are in a place where you find yourself temporarily  needing help, accept it, but don’t forget to actively seek ways that you can become self sufficient. Give to others in ways you can give and take steps towards supporting yourself and/or your family. Don’t give up and become  idle depending on others to keep you afloat.

In my life, there have been many times my family has had to cut back on things we enjoyed because of financial restraints. We had years without vacations. We didn’t have all the toys many of those around us had.  We drove very old cars. We made sacrifices to be able to get our kids dental work done, clothes for school etc.. Never once did God forsake us or not meet our needs, but He did allow us to forgo greeds for many seasons! I am grateful for all the ways He met our needs over the years! I am grateful for times when others have blessed us with help in one way or another! I am also grateful that He has never made it so easy for us that we didn’t have to work hard for what we now have. Ultimately, God wants each of us to carry our weight, in our families and in our church family. Each bringing what he or she can to be a blessing to others!

Christianity is not a spectator sport!

I’m not sure who the original author of this quote is but I love it nonetheless, “Christianity is not a spectator sport.” These are true words regardless of who first penned them! If our following Christ just involves attending church and not doing anything for Christ then we fail miserably as His followers. Jesus meets us where we are but He doesn’t leave us there. He cleans us up and prepares us for service. It may take a bit of time before we are ready to serve but that day will come, unless we choose to remain a spectator.

Our walk, as followers of Christ, involves abiding in Him and through His love and Holy Spirit, we are lead into ministry. Our ministry will involve our home church and may also  involve our neighborhood, outside our neighborhood or even outside our own country. There are so many wonderful ways God is able to put our giftings to use. If you are sitting on yours it’s time to change!

James 2:14-24 NIV 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

The Word of God has lots to say about being involved in serving Christ. As followers we must follow and that involves continuing the work He has laid out for us to do. Workers are  needed everywhere. It is up to us to seek God and see where we will be the most fruitful but we can’t neglect to begin in our home church. All of us have a roll to play in our home church.

1 Corinthians 12:24-31 NIV 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.

Outside our church home, there are so many ways we can demonstrate our love for Christ. We can be a source of encouragement to others, meet legitimate needs, and love on them as Christ would do. We are not to gloat on the fact that we have been saved but to recognize the high price Christ paid for each and every one of us and to remember that as we extend His love and good news to others.

Phillipians 2:2-8 NIV Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even death on a cross!

If you find yourself comfortably watching the gospel played out in your church, it’s time to get on your knees and ask God to prepare your heart and mind for service. If you see needs in your neighborhood and walk by or ignore them it’s time you ask God to show you what you can do to make a difference. If your heart breaks for people in distant lands then seek God for a way you can become involved in being part of the solution. If you are disabled and unable to be actively involved in outward service you can be a prayer warrior, tearing down strongholds and opening doors for Christ to move!   We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ, and if we are sitting idle and not using either we are not being followers of Christ, we are being spectators.

Lord I pray that each and everyone of us will seek you for wisdom and guidance in how best we may serve You today and in the days ahead! Cause  us to repent for any spiritual laziness that may have  set in. We want to hear Your words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” when we see you face to face!

“It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.” ~Francis Chan

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. 🙂

Sharing the gift that keeps on giving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there a flame you need to fan?

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

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

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

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

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

Are you walking out the gospel?

mark10-44 When a person loses a loved one we often see family and friends reach out to them and love on them. With our family and friends we kind of expect that that would be the case because we know them and love them.  Last week during our visit to the U.S. for my brother in laws funeral, I was quite simply blown away by the love demonstrated by the Pastors and members of Greenbriar Church in Albany,Georgia. (http://www.greenbriarchurch.net/)

I haven’t stopped thinking about the way they loved on my sister, her husbands brother and all of our family. It was New Testament church being demonstrated even though my sister and brother in law were no longer attending there due to a job relocation!

It made such an impact on my husband and I  that I have shared the experience with my own church and friends since returning. The Pastors actually drove drove by car from Georgia to Florida and back to be there for the actual funeral and also held a beautiful memorial service for my brother in law at their home church in Georgia, which we all attended.  From the moment they arrived in Florida till the end of our time in Georgia the members and friends went out of their way to take care of my sister and all of us.  Their church logo is   “For God. For this City” and it really should include and “For Beyond!”

Their love, compassion and efforts by all, so beautifully demonstrated the love God has for each of us. The love that Christ has for us really was shown through our brothers and sisters in Georgia.  I am so inspired to do more for my own community after seeing this. Each of us followers of Christ have the ability to do something for others. Jesus calls us to be people of action and I have been inspired to demonstrate the love of Christ more.

So THANK YOU to all the Pastors and members of Greenbriar Church. THANK YOU to all of my sisters wonderful friends who loved on her and did so much to turn a time of sorrow in to a time of love! You have all inspired me so much.  Not only did you share the gospel but you lived the gospel!

My prayer is that each one of us followers of Christ will ask God to show us ways we can demonstrate the love Jesus has for others. To quote Francis Chan,  “I believe God wants us to love others so much that we go to extremes to help them.”  

New season, new opportunities

I’m always a little sad to see the Summer end. Here in Canada, the Fall is just a short cooler break before what seems to be a long winter. Every year it seems a little longer! 🙂 Living in the country, I love to spend time outside in my garden or sitting on our deck and enjoying the heat and gardens. So knowing my gardens will soon wilt and wither and the heat will disappear is a little depressing.

With all that said, Fall brings with it different opportunities for growth. Not so much outside but inside. Church bible study starts back up and allows us to grow deeper in God’s Word.  Sunday school starts back up and allows us an opportunity to teach and influence precious young lives for Christ. Regular potlucks begin again offering a chance to have relaxed fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Fall offers us a chance to snap out of our Summer comfort zone and once again engage in the activities God has called us to. To move from “holiday mentality” to “work mode”.  As Solomon penned   in the book of Ecclesiastes, to everything there is a season.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-17NIV 3 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,  a time to weep and a time to laugh and a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,     a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,  a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend and a time to be silent and a time to speak,  a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

15 Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.

16 And I saw something else under the sun:

In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

17 I said to myself,

“God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”

Though we often balk at change why not embrace this Fall season with me and look to God for growth, change and opportunities of service. For there is a season for every activity under the heavens!

Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing Him

The cost of following Christ is often steep. When we believe the Word of God is His love letter to us, His direct Word into our lives it causes us to live differently, think differently and act differently than the “norm.” There is nothing ordinary about following Christ. It is a walk with obstacles, heartaches at times, challenges and hard decisions but it is a walk of love, grace, mercy and great blessing!

When we fall in love with Jesus, there is NO other walk for us. His precious Spirit draws us closer to Him and there is no where else we would rather be.  A day may come when following Christ may cost us everything, but even that is a small price to pay for our being enveloped by the lover of our soul not only here but for Eternity.

When I read the news and hear of how many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering and even being killed for their faith it makes me sad, however, their rewards will be great! After all this world is only temporary. They will spend Eternity with the One who loves them more than anyone possibly could here on this Earth.

The Word of God tells us we are a peculiar people, and that we are. We are a called people, blessed with the Holy Spirit living within us and with a living relationship with the lover of our soul! As much as I love my family and have a very good life, there is none like  Jesus!  If you don’t know Him personally you will never be able to understand this but when you have surrendered your life to Christ and walk in fellowship with Him you realize there is NOTHING and NO ONE  that compares.

If you haven’t cried out to Christ, perhaps it is time you did. He longs to have fellowship with you. He died to become a sacrifice for your sins. There is nothing you can do that He cannot forgive or redeem! Cry out to Him with a sincere heart and He will hear you. Ask Him to forgive you and to fill you with His Holy Spirit.  He doesn’t make lame promises, His Word is true.

John 3:16 NIV 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Acts 2:38 NIV 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

If you already know Christ, don’t settle for any less than intimacy with Him. Don’t allow the things of the world to distract you from the calling on your life. He has a purpose for you, a high calling and your true joy will come from walking it out.

Phillipians 3:7-11 NIV 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

And remember the words of Apostle Paul, Romans 8:38-39 NIV 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Have a blessed day!   🙂

This love doesn’t come natural!

John 15:35I am so glad that Jesus loves me. His love has transformed me and will continue to do so till either I go to be with Him or He returns. This is a promise from Him for everyone of us that are followers of Christ.  2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NIV 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  

It is truly awesome to know that He will never give up on us.  He will continue to change us more and more into His image. One of the ways I have found Christ changing my heart is in my attitude towards others. Through the Word of God and His Spirit moving in my life, I am discovering that many of the things I used to feel and believe are no longer applicable. He truly does transform us and sometimes we don’t even realize when it is happening until we find ourselves seeing a situation from a different perspective than we ever did before. There were times in the past where I would take a haughty attitude towards others and their messed up lives. Christ is melting my arrogance and hardness towards others. It is a slow procedure but it is definitely happening.  My prayer these days is that God would break my heart with what breaks His heart!  It is too easy to get settled into an attitude of judgment and arrogance towards others.

I am not suggesting turning a blind eye to sin but I am suggesting that the only one worthy of  judging another’s heart is Christ. People that don’t know Him as Lord and Savior are not lead by His Spirit and until they are they will not behave in ways that bring glory to His name. They need Jesus and we need to tell them. What they don’t need is us pouring condemnation on them in anger or bitterness. God’s Spirit is more than capable of wooing them to Jesus. It is through sharing the good news,  prayer and  demonstrating the love of Christ that people will be won. Treating them like lepers or with bitterness will never draw anyone to the lover of their soul. Our focus should be on doing what comes the least natural to us and that is loving like Jesus does!

I want to share several scriptures today to encourage you to live a life that glorifies Christ. Though these are only a few verses, they are powerful ones and when we take the time to meditate on them and ask Christ to help us to walk them out they will bring about the kind of change in us our fellow believers and the world needs to see.

James 2:12 NIV 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

This is an incredibly powerful verse for us all to remember!

Matthew 18:21-22 NIV 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  

This is certainly not a popular teaching today!

  Luke 10:25-37 NIV 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

“Go and do likewise!”  Jesus used this parable to demonstrate to a man determined to live by the letter of the law that he was to show mercy, just as we are!

Romans 12:17-21 NIV 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:  “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;  if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And finally I will finish with  1John 3:15-16 NIV 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

When we find ourselves looking down on others in judgment, we need to examine ourselves and ask Christ to bring about the change that will result in our living as He lived, loving as He loves and allowing  us to each be a light in this dark world of ours. It is the fact that Christ died for us while we were sinners that demonstrated His amazing love! We didn’t have to clean ourselves up first. He took us just as we were. Thankfully He doesn’t leave us as we were but continues to change us from glory to glory! Just as He longs to do for all those who have yet to know Him as Lord. For those of our brothers and sisters in Christ, be an example and a source of encouragement. Love them as Jesus loves them. Rebuke when necessary but don’t allow any bitterness to spring up in your heart towards them.  We fail in our walk with Christ when our love is limited to those who we deem worthy. We are to love those, who at times appear very unlovable! Ours is a higher calling. Let your life demonstrate the love of Christ to others. By doing so, we are demonstrating our love to Him.

John 13:35 NIV 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“That world outside there is not waiting for  another definition of  Christianity, it’s waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

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Vengeance is not OURS, despite how we may feel.

We live in a world where the media tries to manipulate us every day. They encourage us to think one way or another and are quite happy to put their world slant on their reporting.  It is refreshing when you read or hear from a reporter that reports what they saw, heard etc. without putting an individual or corporate slant on their version of the truth. However, this is getting to be quite rare.

I have been amazed at the medias response to the Trayvon Martin vs George Zimmerman trial. They have made it into a racism case from the get go. NO one was there at the time of the confrontation except George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. I watched and listened to the trial and have my own opinion about it but the fact of the matter is, I have heard Christians calling out for revenge on George Zimmerman. This is wrong on so many levels. The fact is the case went to court, the jury decided and the verdict stands. Vengeance is not ours! I can understand non-believers being vengeful but NOT Christians. We have the Spirit of God in us. If we think the verdict in this case  is wrong, we still have no right to call out for vengeance!

I remember being sickened when I followed the Casey Anthony trial and she was acquitted.  It bothered me for days, but I did not have the right to call for vengeance on her. It’s not my call to make!  Jesus made it very clear, how we are to demonstrate our love for Him when He said in John 13:34,35 NIV 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

And as Paul tells us in the book of  Romans 12:19 NIV 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord.

Instead of complaining and griping about the verdict, why not make a decision to do what you can during your lifetime to reach out and help others outside your own personal circle. God does not see us as different races in Christ.  He sees us all as His children and perhaps it’s time for each of us to do the same. Not just in our words, but in our actions!

Galatians 3:28 NIV 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 NIV11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

As followers of Christ, too often we spend more time complaining about the way things are instead of trying to make a difference in the way things can be. If you have followed the trial and believe the verdict was wrong, use this as a platform to try and make a difference. Reach out and show love and understanding to people outside your personal circle. If you happen to  agree with the verdict, do the same!  Complaining, tweeting and griping won’t do anything. Do something tangible to demonstrate the love of Christ to others! Make a real difference! Don’t be an armchair quarterback. Get involved and bless others.  Ultimately, George Zimmerman is answerable to God for his response in this crime, not us!

Luke 6:37 NIV 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

 

Are you using your freedom for good?

  I love the summer. In Canada, we seem to wait so long for it to arrive and when it does I try and enjoy every minute of it as I know it will only be for three months and then the cooler temps will come. I love watching our vegetable garden grow, our flowers bloom and all the wildlife I see on my way to and from work. Yesterday I saw a deer and a rabbit on my way to work and a few snapping turtles and squirrels on my way home. I am blessed to live in this free country where I can enjoy a job of my choice, my family has freedom to make choices of their own and I am able to worship God freely and openly. Our freedom is an awesome blessing.
I am also aware that with this freedom comes a responsibility to help out those who don’t have this freedom. There are people all over the world that are happy to have a cup of clean water and the tiniest bit of food even once a day. There are brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the world, that have absolutely no freedom to openly read their Bibles, have fellowship or worship God. There are brothers and sisters world wide that are currently suffering enormous persecution for their decision to follow Christ. Some are imprisoned, some have lost their jobs and families for standing up for Christ, some have died because they have refused to recant their faith in Christ.

My prayer is that this year and each and every year ahead, should Christ tarry, I want to become more like Christ and use my hands and feet to help those in need. It may mean sharing produce from my garden. It may mean helping another in need with chores. It may mean interceding for another in prayer. It may mean sending financial help to others in need. It may mean sharing the gospel with those who haven’t heard. There are so many ways, we who are free, can be working for Christ and fulfilling the great commission.

Lord, from this moment on, let me never take for granted all that you have provided for me and mine. Let my heart be sensitive to you and obey you when you impress upon me to do your labor here, regardless of the form it takes.
Let me be your hands and feet in the world I live in!

Matthew 25:35-40 NIV 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

James 2:14-17 NIV 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

1 John 3:17 NIV 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them,how can the love of God be in that person?

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Allowing God to use our pain

Though I never enjoy going through painful experiences, I am convinced even the dark times in our life can be used to help others God puts in our life. Just this past few weeks I have had someone come to me who has lost his son. He is going through all the pain and turmoil my husband and I went through almost eight years ago. Though I am so sad for him that he has to deal with this, I am glad that I am able to encourage him and let him know that he will make it through. I have shared my source of strength, being the Lord, and have also encouraged him to stay in counseling.

I remember during the early days after Daniel’s death, I really didn’t want to talk to most people about how I was feeling. I reserved my conversations for those in my immediate family, my counselor and others who had lost a child. Not others who had lost a parent or friend but a child.  When we hurt we want to talk with someone who knows how we are feeling and all that goes with that. Though I am incapable of healing anyone I can be a source of  encouragement to others walking where I walked.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to help out others that are hurting and in need. And though we ourselves can’t heal their hurt or hearts, we know the One who can. Why not pray and ask God to open opportunities to you where you may be able to encourage or help another going through a dark time that perhaps you yourself have walked through. Ultimately, we want anyone broken, hurting and lost to meet up with Jesus. He is the One who is capable of saving, healing and delivering!

1Peter 2:24 NIV 24 “He himself bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by His wounds you have been healed.”

Psalm 34:18 NIV 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 

LUKE 4:18,19 NIV 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,  because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

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News worth sharing!

I know I am not alone in noticing the exciting changes in the Church. By church, I don’t mean my church only but the body of Christ in general. It appears so many more believers are getting serious about their relationship with Christ. The atmosphere is changing. There is a deeper hunger for more of God and less religion, pomp and pretense!

In our church, sometimes the presence of God is so precious that people don’t want to leave. But leave we must! We are very blessed to be able to corporately meet in prayer, fellowship and worship but God does not want us to hoard Jesus. He wants us to share the gospel so that all men and women everywhere have an opportunity to come to know the lover of their souls! The Bible confirms this in 1Timothy 2: 1-7 NIV 2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

It’s important that we meet regularly and be taught by our Pastors and pray with and be encouraged by our brothers and sisters in Christ but let’s not forget the gospel is the “good news” and news is to be shared! Ask the Lord today how you can be used to share the good news. There are so many hurting, broken people that need Christ and if we don’t share the gospel with them, who will?

Don’t sit idle!

Some days my heart hurts for this world we live in. I watched the news and heard about the British soldier slaughtered on the street in London. He wasn’t in battle but simply walking down the street when he was approached and slaughtered by a raging terrorist who felt justified in killing him  because he wasn’t of the same faith. Today, I heard of an attempted plane high jacking from Pakistan to England, that thankfully it was thwarted but could have ended in tragedy. Again, an attempt to take the lives of others who don’t share their extreme ideology…

Anyone that doesn’t see the evil in this world we live in has to be wearing blinders. There are wars and rumors of wars all around us. Governments are involved in corruption on so many levels and refuse to admit or take any responsibility for their actions. One country feels the right to annihilate another because of a difference in beliefs. We hear stories of parents killing their children and children killing their parents, abuse in homes, schools, churches and so much more…

So what is the answer to all of this mess? Do we just resolve ourselves to the fact there is nothing we can do? Do we live in our own little bubble and refuse to help and make a difference? Do we harden ourselves by ignoring others and moving forward without a thought for their difficulties?

As Christians, God has called us to a world such as this.  We are men and women with the tool of prayer at our disposal. We are men and women with the answer. Christ didn’t come to save the “found” but the lost! We have the good news and we need to share it with a dying, messed up world.

Luke 19:10 NIV 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Matthew 20:28 NIV 28 Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.                                                              

Luke 5:32 NIV 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

When you see destruction and heartache all around, take the time to ask God what it is you can be doing to make a difference? There is always something we can do! Pray, pray for the lost, pray for the hurting, the broken, the rebellious, the bitter, your enemies and then do something to demonstrate the love of Christ to another!

It’s important that we don’t sit on our hands and moan about the state of things without getting down on our knees and praying! Prayer is the thing that will usher in the most change.  It is a mighty and powerful weapon that is at the hands of every follower of Christ!  Even the most frail, limited body can pray and therefore is capable of bringing about huge change in this world of ours!

When you have done that ask God how you can serve others?  What can you do to be the hands and feet of Christ?  Ask Him to put people in your life that need to hear the GOOD NEWS and when He does, share it!  Ask Him to provide opportunities where you can minister love and compassion to others and when He does, do it!

We are only limited by our indifference!  Determine to make a difference in this world. Determine to help others by sharing the good news. Determine to not sit back and watch but get involved in doing Christ’s work here while you still have time and while you are able.

Psalm 145:18-19 NIV 18 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;  He hears their cry and saves them.

 James 2:14-17 NIV 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Acts for today!

Luke 24:49 NIV 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Luke 24:49 NIV 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

My method of studying the Bible is to read it through front to back over and over again. It takes me months to do it but I find reading it in chronological order helps me to understand it so much better. There is so much of the New Testament we really don’t understand without reading and being familiar with the Old Testament such as the meaning and value of sacrifices, covenant etc..

Recently I finished reading the book of Acts. I love this book. It is a power keg! I decided instead of moving on to Romans I would reread it. Every page demonstrates the Father’s love for His kids. When Christ rose again He did NOT leave us comfortless or powerless to live out a life of blessing and anointing.  Through the Holy Spirit we are enabled!

Acts 2:1-21 NIV 2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days, God says,     I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,     your young men will see visions,     your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women,     I will pour out my Spirit in those days,     and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above     and signs on the earth below,     blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness     and the moon to blood     before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls     on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

The Spirit of God was promised to God’s sons and daughters and that promise was first fulfilled on the day of Pentecost! He has not reneged or removed that promise. The Holy Spirit is necessary and available to every follower of Christ today! It is through God’s Spirit that we are wooed to Christ and it is by that same Spirit we will move and operate in our giftings as we serve Him. The same giftings and blessing that those men and women received on the day of Pentecost are the same giftings and blessing that we can receive today!

So how do we go about being filled with the Spirit?  The Word of God tells us just that….

First we must repent of our sins and confess Christ as our Lord and Savior. Water baptism should follow according to the Word of God and then we are simply to have another Spirit filled believer lay hands on us and pray.

Acts 8:14-17 NIV 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

If you are a follower of Christ and you have not had pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit than maybe it’s time you did. God has called us to a life of service and when we do it in our own strength and power we do it in vain. The Father’s gift is for each of us and will perfectly equip us for the calling on our lives!

Lay aside selfishness

If we were to believe many of the “self help gurus” today, we would be convinced that it  is not only emotionally healthy but  in our best interest  to put ourselves and our desires first. After all doesn’t everyone deserve to be happy, regardless of what pain and suffering our actions may cause others?  Sadly, doing just that has produced so many of the problems we are currently dealing with in society. Selfish ambitions and desires have often replaced care and concern for others,  including our own family members. How many marriages and families have split because one or both partners decided they no longer liked the restrictions of monogamy or grew tired of pouring themselves into the raising of and nurturing their children. There are so many lonely kids growing up in homes where they are considered an after thought. Just check out the Children’s Aid Society  or Child Services stats. In most cases, the family problems started with one or both parents choosing a selfish desire over their loved ones.

I’m not advocating that anyone should stay in a dangerous or unfaithful marriage. That’s a decision each person has to make for themselves but I am suggesting that most of the problems come about as a result of our selfish desires and ambitions.  We begin to look for greener grass elsewhere instead of investing and improving our own relationships or situations. Decisions are made on feelings alone, which at best are fickle and at worst can be downright dangerous.

As followers of Christ, the Word of God has lots to say on the matter of selfishness. If we are to love as Christ loves, we have to learn to surrender our selfish ambitions and be willing to line ourselves up with the Word of God. We shouldn’t be tossed to and fro by our emotions. We need to regularly be reading the Bible and staying close to the lover of our soul. When we neglect to do either we begin to surrender much too easily to the whims of our emotions.  Acting on emotions alone will have us riding an emotional and spiritual  roller coaster.  Too often, we see  Christians compromising their walk with Christ  as they act on their feelings. It not only impedes their walk  but the fall out wounds the entire body!

Here are just a few words from the Bible on selfishness….

 James 3:13-17 NIV  13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.                                                                                                                                                                                        Psalm 119:36 NIV, David knew the importance of what he was asking of God when he said, 36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

We serve a mighty God, who loved us enough to send His precious Son to redeem us. Let’s put aside selfish ambition and walk worthy of the calling God has put on our lives or as Paul penned in Hebrews 12:1 NIV  Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Is your Faith dead or alive?

James 2:26 NIV 6 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:26 NIV 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

As a follower of Christ, we are called to be actively working and moving in line with our faith. Though we are not saved by works, less anyone should boast, once saved through the blood of Christ we are not to be idle. God did not save us to sit around and do nothing to further His Kingdom. He also did not save us to keep the gospel and our blessings to ourselves. Each and every one of us that has been redeemed needs to do our part.

James 2:14-26 NIV 1What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Does your life reflect that you are one of His children? Are you actively fulfilling your part in the body of Christ? If not, what is your excuse? Too tired? Not enough time? You may miss a t.v. program or sports event? Self pity? There are so many opportunities to serve and there is really no excuse for any of us to not be actively serving in one capacity or another. Perhaps you can help out a neighbor in need, cook for someone that is recovering, support church events by helping out, serve in the church using your giftings. We are ALL given giftings and they are not given to sit on. If you haven’t found out what your giftings are ask God. He promises to give to liberally to all who ask!

If you have become so comfortable in your idleness than it’s time to check out a few more verses…..

2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The change can start with your reacquainting yourself with God’s word. The Word will not only guide us but transform us as we begin to walk in it and live it out! We need to be into the Word daily. Five minutes a day is better than once a month!

James 1:23-25 NIV 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

This is a case of applying the Word of God in our life. If we are students of the Word, we will begin to operate out of faith and not feelings alone! When we operate on feelings alone we can be tossed to and fro and really accomplish very little. Reading the Word grounds us  in what is truth and helps us to cast aside things that would otherwise trip us up!

Colossians 3:23-24 NIV 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

As we begin to read the Word and then apply it to our lives, it is important to remember that whatever we do, we do for Christ. Whether you are a floor sweeper, stay at home mom or dad, cab driver or travel agent like myself, we need to live out our faith in a life of excellence to Christ.

Is it time you stopped making excuses for yourself and got back to loving and serving God in more than just words? Jump start your heart by daily exposing yourself  to God’s Word and than applying it and as you ask for opportunities to serve, God will surely provide them for you!

1 John 3:18 NIV 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Our Easter goodies

he livesEaster means different things to different people. To some it is nothing more than a day to hunt for candied eggs and goodies, to give soft, fluffy stuffed toys and have a festive dinner. Sadly, Christ is no part of the celebration. As followers of Christ, it is a day we choose to remember and celebrate our Savior’s death and resurrection. Without which, we would still be lost and struggling for that peace that only He can provide.

Luke 24:1-12 NIV The first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the ELEVEN and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Instead of searching for temporal goodies this Easter, why not take the time to search the Bible for the awesome goodies Christ provides for us? Goodies that will never spoil or be taken away. Goodies that were purchased with the high price of our Savior’s blood and suffering. I’m going to look at just three of too many to count…

Romans 6:4  NIV 4 We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

By accepting Christ into our heart,confessing Him with our mouth and being baptized into His Kingdom, we are able to have “newness of life!”  Our old life is passed away and all things are new. A fresh, beautiful start because the lover of our soul was willing to lay down His sinless life for our sins!  Every past sin has been forgiven and no longer do past mistakes, sins or patterns have to control us.

Romans 6:5 NIV 5 For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His.

We are also promised eternal life. As Christ was resurrected, so shall we be! We no longer need fear death.  Eventually all of us will leave our earthly bodies and isn’t it great to know that when we leave this body of ours we will be in the presence of the Lord?

John 14:15-21 NIV 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

After His death, Christ doesn’t leave us “as orphans”  but has provided the Holy Spirit to guide, direct and anoint us for service. As we abide in Christ, the Spirit of God guides us, corrects and anoints us as we walk through our journey of faith, giving us the power to fulfill all that He has called us to do.

This Easter, why not start seeking the word of God for all the goodies He has provided for you? If there are areas of your life you are struggling in, submit to His will and seek His word for direction. You will not find the “goodies” God has provided without seeking. When you do seek Him and His will for your life, He will more than meet you! He has already provided everything you need to live a life of victory! It was all accomplished on the cross!

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter!

Everyone has a part in the play of life

 The past several weeks we have been working on our church play, “The Sounds of Love.”  Practices have made our Sundays even busier than usual. As with any project, there is always work leading up to the end result.  Sometimes the practices times have been inconvenient, sometimes they have gone on longer than expected and they will continue until the play has been performed. With all this effort our hope is the end result will be as wonderful as it promises to be. This morning I was thinking how similar prepping for our play is to our walk of faith.
First off, we had to hear the story. Without knowing the overall story it would be impossible to know what the play was about and where each of us characters fit into it. As followers of Christ, the Bible is our “story line”. It is God’s inspired word that tells the beginning from the end. It also provides us with our identity as children of the Most High God.
Isaiah 46:10 NIV 10 I make known the end from the beginning,from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
Secondly, we needed a director. Without direction from someone that knows each and everything about the play from beginning to end, we would simply be stumbling about trying to make our own way, depending on our own understanding as to OUR interpretation of the play. Clearly, as believers, the director in our lives is God. Without God’s direction and wisdom, most of us have and would continue to make a mess of our lives.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.
Thirdly, there needs to be a producer.  In the case of our church play, this would be the church itself.  Someone willing to pay for the price of the production. Absorb the costs in order for the goal to be accomplished. Without question, in our walk of faith this is Christ.  Sinless, yet willing to lay down HIS life as the ultimate price for our sins!
1John2:1,2 NIV 2 My dear children I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin we have an advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Fourthly, we need to study our lines or parts. If we don’t know the words or actions required we get lost and so the story gets lost on the audience. Clearly, this is the same in our walk with Christ. We need to be reading the Bible. Without knowing our position in Christ, we can easily be rocked to and fro and not be  the “beacon” to others we are called to be.
2 Timothy 2:15 KJV 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
And finally we need to perform our parts. If even one of us doesn’t carry out our roll the message of the story gets lost. We each have a part to perform and we are to do it to the best of our ability, relying on our director as we do. As we walk out our parts we fulfill the purpose of the overall story. In our walk with Christ, each of us has a roll to play in sharing the gospel. No one is insignificant in God’s eyes and He has created each of us with a purpose. If you haven’t found your purpose yet, ask God. He promises to equip each of us with giftings and they are available for the asking!
Romans 12:4-8 NIV 4For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Don’t spend your time on the sidelines watching others perform their rolls. Find out what God has for you and perform your roll gladly, leaning on Christ for wisdom and direction and you do!