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Let His love OUST your fears

It is rather amazing how so many Biblical prophecies are coming to pass right before our eyes. Though it used to scare me when I would see some of these things happen, it no longer does. I am convinced that my Savior’s love for me will be sufficient to see me through the coming days. Not just me but all of His kids. I don’t fixate on prophecy but I do believe we are to “be wise as serpents and gentle as doves” with all that is going on. (Matthew 10:16) Throughout history,  God has  warned His people of coming events and that is true today.

So as we see more and more Biblical prophecies fulfilled how are we to respond? I believe the most important thing we can do is stay close to Jesus. As we lean on Him, He will guide us and direct our paths. We do not need to fear anything or anyone. We serve the living God who has promised to not give us more than we can bare and we can take Him at His word! He has promised He will never leave us or forsake us. He has promised that NOTHING can separate us from His love.  If we are not convinced of His love for us, we have reason to fear. There is a lot of very dark things happening right now and this will only increase. However, when we come to understand just how very much He loves us, we can start each day resting in that love. As we rest in His love, we are able to be His hands and feet to others and share the good news with them. If we are not convinced of His love for us how can we possibly reach out to others with the love and peace of Christ?

If you are not yet convinced that God loves you, than it’s time to start familiarizing yourself with some truth from the Bible.  He, who sent His precious Son to suffer and die in order that your relationship with Him may be restored, loves you! Let’s take a look at  just a few examples of His words to YOU….

John 3:16 NIV 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

1John 3:16 NIV 16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Romans 5:18 NIV 18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

1John 4:9 NIV In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

1John 3:1 NIV 3 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Romans 8:38-39 NIV 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And finally Jesus’s words to us in John 15:9 NIV “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.  These words are for each and every one of us, not just a select few!

As worldwide troubles increase, do not fear. Trust in the One who was willing to die for you. Know that He will not allow anything to separate you from His love. Abide in His love and allow that love to flow through you  into a world that desperately needs to learn of Him.

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. 🙂

But can I really trust Him with this?

Last week at Bible study  our group had a great discussion about trusting God with our finances. It was so nice to share and hear from others the varied ways God stretches our faith to trust Him in this area.  For most of us, it is an area that we often struggle with for some time before we finally let go of the fear that He will not meet our needs as He promises and we begin to obey Him with our giving.

I can now say with certainty that when we tithe to our local church and bless others along the way, God will  ensure our needs are always taken care of. I have seen it in others lives, lived it and am convinced of it. I have also found that He will often provide in ways that I have never expected through means I never expected!  On the other side of the coin. There was a time when I resented giving my tithe and decided  to just not give it until things improved in my finances. This backfired. I was never so discouraged or financially pressed as during those years.

Does God need our money? NO, He does not. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He does however know what it can come to mean to us and He looks at our heart. Our we trusting Him to care for us as we care for His church and others?  The bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. If you are struggling with your finances, look to Him to help you through but start with yourself.  Are you helping  to support your local church and bless others? Or are you waiting till you have it all together?  If you are a follower of Christ, you cannot ignore your obligation to support your church. Nor should  you turn a blind eye to others when they are in need. Begin with obedience to Him and you will see His hand move in your life in ways you never expected!

Here are a few  scriptures that I hope will be both a nudge and a blessing to you regarding finances…

2Corinthians 9:7 NIVEach of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Malachi 3:10 NIV10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

1 Timothy 6:10 NIV10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Proverbs 3:9,10 NIV Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops;10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

Phillipians 4:19 NIV19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

And finally one of my favorite verses…

Proverbs 22:9 NIV The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

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!