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FEAR: The Cat that Likes to Roar

We are living in the strangest of times right now. The news is inundated with stories filled with reasons why we should be worried, afraid and distrusting world leaders and heads. There are so many conflicting stories about how best to tackle this virus and most of them are generated by immense fear.

As followers of Christ we NEED NOT BE AFRAID! If we have diligently studied the Word of God we know how this ole world ends and we win! If we allow fear to rule our lives we will be spiritually and emotionally crippled! 1 Timothy 1:7 says For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. If are decisions are being driven by fear than we are NOT following the voice of God but of the deceiver.

So how do we live without being driven by fear? We get back into the Word of God. All through the Old Testament and the New Testament there are so many examples of God leading His people through dark and very dark times. Today, we have the Helper (the Holy Spirit) to guide us and direct us as we seek His Word daily through prayer and reading the Bible. Ask God for boldness. Ask Him to drive out fear and replace it with trust in His power, His love and self discipline. He already knows if you are being driven by fear so He won’t be shocked and yet He will hear your plea and answer. That’s who He is!

I’m always a little taken back when I read Revelation 21:8 “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Cowards are listed right there with the adulterers, murderers etc. That’s eye opening to say the least. Therefore, it is very important that we not be lead by fear or driven by fear. It will lead us into the wrong decision and response every time.

When fear appears in your life like a mighty lion and roars it’s lies at you you must respond with the Word of God. Take the Word and wield it like the mighty sword it is. Counter each lie and fearful thought with the truth of God’s Word. If you don’t know where to start do a search of how many times we, as people of God, are told, “fear not or do not be afraid.” It is imperative we receive that in our hearts! With the 365 times we are told not to fear we should begin to realize how serious it is to obey.

So today, when the cat (deceiver) comes up and begins to ROAR fear in your ear, respond in a way the LION of the tribe of Judah would have you respond. Wield the truth from the Word of God back at him. His roar is nothing but a small meow compared to the ROAR of the Word of God! It is the only way to counter his roar. Ignoring it or giving in to it will only bring defeat. Use the mighty weapon of the Word God has given us as many times as needed. Resist him and he will flee.

Have a blessed day!

Watch out for PRIDE

What is the Biblical definition of pride? - Quora

One of the greatest stumbling blocks for the child of God is pride.

The Merriam Webster defines pride as follows:

PRIDE noun Definition of pride 1: the quality or state of being proud: such as a: inordinate self-esteem CONCEIT b: a reasonable or justifiable self-respect c: delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship parental pride

2:  proud or disdainful behavior or treatment DISDAIN 3a: ostentatious display b: highest pitch PRIME 4:  a source of pride the best in a group or class 5: a company of lions 6: a showy or impressive group a pride of dancers

With the words, “inordinate self esteem”, “conceit,” and “ostentatious display” in mind, we can see a perfect example of all of this in Lucifer’s fall.

Isaiah 14:12-15 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’

 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

We currently live in a culture that encourages us to be prideful. To stand up and be heard, to toot our own horn, to make sure people are paying attention to us! The danger comes when we insist on doing any of these things solely to have our egos stroked. This attitude has deeply penetrated the church. You don’t have to look too hard to see online, televised ministries promising more for you if you give and support them! Some share a gospel that is more about being blessed than about blessing others or taking up your cross and following Jesus wherever He may lead. Pride in “their” ministries and accomplishments overrides the tender, humble heart of a true follower of Christ. I doubt many of them started out with that attitude but over time old slew foot began to creep into their hearts.

All of us are susceptible to becoming prideful. No one is immune. We must diligently guard our hearts from becoming that way. One of the best ways to do this is to daily remember that you did not nor can you ever earn your salvation. It was blood bought by a Savior that willingly suffered immeasurable pain on a wooden cross for YOU. That’s what should center us every day. He paid the price for us! Though we didn’t and don’t deserve it, He did it out of love for every one of us!

Our lives and ministry will never be on track when we forget that for one minute. How we live and what we do to minister to others must always be from a place of humility and love. Knowing He has given us this life. He has redeemed us from the pit of Hell, He has provided us with a Comforter to help guide us and lead us.

If you find yourself getting a little puffed up and proud about “your” ministry or accomplishments bring your heart back to the cross. Keep it real. Just remember the words of Solomon taken from

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.

Stay safe and be blessed!

Our All Encompassing Savior

I love that we serve a Savior that didn’t just come to save us. Though that in itself is WONDERFUL! Our Jesus came to pull our souls out of the pit of Hell but also to do so much more. He came to make living on this earth less traumatic and painful in so many ways.

Our transformation begins at the time of our rebirth. The time we repent of our sins and ask Jesus Christ to be LORD of our life. It is a starting point for the rest of our life! Jesus doesn’t leave us in the state He finds us. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we begin our transformation from glory to glory. We are to continually become more like our Master! That too is WONDERFUL! What Jesus does is offer the gift of salvation to even the poorest of the poor. He doesn’t leave us in the broken state He finds us. Through the power of the Holy Spirit he will heal those areas of our life that are broken and messed up. Where we are bound by demonic influences and lies, He will set us free! Where we are spiritually blind He will open up the truth to us through His Word! Where we are tormented or oppressed, He will deliver us!

Luke 4:14-21,

Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. 15 He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. 17 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
19     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21 Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

That is the Jesus we serve! Our Savior takes care of all our needs if we let Him. If we yield our will to His, speak to Him daily and read the Word of God regularly, He will reveal truth and shine His light into all the dark areas of our life that need healing! This can take time, but He is faithful to His Word.

Humble yourself before Him and ask Him to go into all those dark areas of your life that you need cleaned up! Allow Him to complete the work in you that needs to be done. As you yield, He will not disappoint!

Have a blessed day!

Whose Voice Are You Listening To?

Have you noticed that when you make a decision to allow God into every area of your life that you find yourself battling negative thoughts and feelings? Suddenly things you thought were long past conquered rear their ugly head again. The more you press into the Word of God and prayer the hotter the battle becomes in your mind.

You are not alone. This is why we are told to fight the good fight. The battle must be won in the mind. Every thought must be taken captive! To start we must realize that many of these thoughts are not even our own. They are provided by the accuser of the brethren, Satan himself. He has a vested interest in you not abiding in Christ. He wants to keep your mind preoccupied with thoughts that draw you away from your intimacy with the King of Kings. Many Christians begin to discontinue their push for intimacy with God when they think the thoughts are their own. How can I love God when I think such negative, bad thoughts? Well my dear friend, many of these thoughts are NOT your own. They are used to make you feel shame and fear and that is to keep you from pressing in with God!

When you find yourself battling negative thoughts you must begin to refuse to give them any credibility. You must replace the thought with scriptural truth. For example when you are trying to pray and the thought, “God doesn’t really care about my needs. This is a waste of time..” you must counter that thought/feeling with TRUTH. This is where it is vital that you compose a list of Scripture verses that speak truth over the lies you have been believing and listening to. So in this case you would speak out, Ephesians 1:4-8 “ Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son  He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. Does that sound like God doesn’t care about you? NO it is a declaration of just how much He does care about you. Before he made the world He already knew YOU would be part of His family! That is amazing and truth!

I believe much of the church is walking in defeat because we are spending too much time allowing the enemy of our souls to whisper, speak and shout lies and we accept many of them as truth instead of replacing the lies with the truth of God’s word. ANY area of your life that you are believing lies in will cause you to walk defeated. This is not God’s plan for you. To begin to walk in victory is is absolutely vital that you take the time to write out the thoughts that plague you the most. Those negative thoughts of defeat and discouragement. Then search your Bible for the verses that counter those lies. Write down the negative thought/belief and beside it write down the TRUTH of God’s Word that addresses that very lie. Next time the thought comes counter it with the Word of God. Use the mightiest weapon we have, the Word of God.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ

Any thought, belief or idea you have that causes you to distance yourself or feel unworthy of God’s love is never from God. The exception to this is if you are walking in rebellious sin and haven’t repented of it and are still giving it place in your life. In this case you MUST confess your sin, renounce your sin and turn from your sin. God will not ignore your sin but He will forgive it once confessed! Praise God for His mercy!

So during these days of self isolating why not sit down and ask God to help you compose a list of the lies you have been believing over yourself and to show you the TRUTH in His Word that will counter those lies. Use this time to lean in to Christ and to begin to walk in victory in the areas you have up till now, walked in defeat!

Image result for person with satan speaking in his ear

The Overlooked and Underused Gift

 

asaman

One of the most beautiful gifts God gives us is our imagination. It is such a blessing when used right. Most of us have got into trouble when we have used it wrong. Our imagination is such a valuable gift when we are being transformed from our old man/lady to the new creation we are to be in Christ. If we use it correctly it will help us move from who we were to who we now are in Christ.

The Word of God along side the Holy Spirit, is always revealing  truth to us as we spend time in studying the Word and in prayer. It is with revelation of truth that we are able to move forward in our imagination to the new man/woman. Without the Word of truth keeping us on track  and the Holy Spirit guiding us, our imagination is simply used for a selfish, self-serving life.  However with both, our imagination is the thing that will allow our thoughts to be transformed into new thoughts along with new vision! The vision we get of our true identity is than able to be lived out with the power of God.

The Word of God is very clear on the importance of what we allow into our minds. Our thoughts determine how we behave. It is so crucial that our thoughts be on things that are pleasing to God and not distractions and sinful ideas and patterns. With those thoughts we are able to activate our imagination to see things as God sees them and act accordingly. Our imagination is where our vision is seen before it is lived out. Therefore it is so vital to have it surrendered to Christ.

If you struggle with a terrible self image, self defeating talk and a life that is held back by fear and insecurity, ask God to help you take your thoughts captive and to help you replace the lies of defeat and destruction with truth from His Word. Ask for the true vision of who you are in Christ Jesus. Begin to read your Bible daily and allow your imagination to see your TRUE identity and than begin to live that identity through the power of the Holy Spirit. Without seeing who you are in Christ you will not be able to move forward in all God has planned for you. You will be constantly hindered by negative self talk and the voice of the enemy of your soul.  Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.

There is no reason to continue living a life full of Spiritual self sabotage. God has provided, through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit a better way to live.  Ask Him to reveal the truth of His Word to you and let the Holy Spirit guide you into your true identity. Your imagination can be filled with the way God has for you to go instead of the self defeating images of your past!

Ephesians 4:20-32 But you have not so learned Christ,  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.  Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.  “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,  nor give place to the devil.  Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

 

Time to refocus!

anxiousladyI am sometimes a very slow learner when it comes to spiritual lessons. Fortunately, God is so patient with me/us! He allows us to try our own methods until we realize they don’t work so great and than allows us to refocus on what is important. In fact, through the nudging of the Holy Spirit, He will show us along the way if we listen.

When I find myself getting physically and or emotionally anxious I know that something is off in my relationship with Christ. I have come to realize that that usually follows taking my eyes off the things God has shown me through His Word, His Spirit or other brothers or sisters in Christ and putting them on the natural. The natural is NOT what we are to focus on.  It will limit God working in us and through us!

Our focus is to be on the revelation of the Word of God, who He is and what He has called us to do. Things that are to be accomplished for the Kingdom of God will never be achieved by focusing on the natural. It is through His supernatural revelation and the working of the Spirit that these things will be done by.

If you are finding yourself stressed, strained, upset, fearful or angry, it’s time you get quiet before the Lord and confess whatever it is that has captured your attention away from Him and His promises. Get into prayer and lay it out before Him and than rest in knowing He HAS heard you and will make a way. Rest in knowing He knows everything about you, about your past and your future. He has promised you REST as you walk out this life and He is waiting to provide it to you.  “And He said, my presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Get alone with Him today, confess your sins, lay your messed up emotions at His feet and wait on the REST He promises, no matter what your circumstances are.  REST is not dependent upon good times only. He promises peace and rest DESPITE our circumstances!

“COME TO ME, ALL  YOU WHO LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.” ~ Matthew 11:28

 

Disappointed in man?

disap

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;  His mercies never come to an end; they are new  every morning; great is Your faithfulness.~Lamentations 3:22-23

For most of us, we don’t have to go too long in our week before we have a situation that finds us disappointed in man.  Either a politician who has gone back on his/her word, a friend who has let us down, a family member that didn’t come through…it could be any of these things and more.

Our world is a place where disappointments abound! We see sin growing, evil men ruling in areas of the world, taxes increasing, services lessening. There are far too many things and situations to mention that can cause us to feel disappointed.

However, we have no excuse to let these things hold us back from trusting in a Savior that is anything BUT disappointing. He is a Savior that, when allowed, will lead us through the paths of disappointment. Not only that but He will provide joy as we go through these paths!  He is a faithful, loving Savior that will NEVER leave us or forsake us. He will be with us through any ups and downs and if we allow Him, He will keep us grounded when life would otherwise tip us on our heads!

When you find yourself being tossed about emotionally, physically or spiritually, get yourself back to a quiet place of prayer. Confess any sin to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us! Ask Him to give you the peace that only He can give. The beautiful, irreplaceable peace that comes when we rest in Him.

We need not fear the things that are happening around us. They are but opportunities to seek God about. As you spend time with Him, give Him your disappointments and ask Him to give you the peace and joy that He gives as you move forward in faith.

Truly His love never ceases, despite our failures from time to time and His mercies never come to an end for His own!

 

 

What’s bubbling to your surface?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really? Peace & Joy during a storm?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where’s your focus?

For those of us who call Jesus Lord and King, we have so much to be thankful for. For those who don’t yet know Him as Lord and King they have so much to gain by calling on His name. With Him in our life we are able to walk through any situation that life may throw at us. He doesn’t allow His kids to go through more temptation than they are able to bare if they abide in Him through the journey. He may allow a storm in our lives but He will never  bail on us during the thick of it. Never!

 

Too often we slip into a pattern of worry or fear with regards to the future. We forget that the lover of our soul never turns a blind eye to His church. Instead, He waits to hear from us. He longs for our fellowship. He is as close as the mention of His very name!

When we find ourselves feeling far from Him it is usually the result of setting our eyes on the natural. We forget that our relationship is a relationship of faith, not based on what we see but instead on the truth of the Word of God and the revelation of who Christ is through the Holy Spirit.  It is so important that we get ourselves back to the truth of the Word of God and the knowledge of who Christ is and will always be! He is Emmanuel, GOD with us! Don’t forget it! Instead let the truth of that sink into your heart! God loved us enough that He sent His own Son for our redemption. He wanted to restore a relationship with us so much that He allowed His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you and me!  That’s an awesome love right there!

When you find yourself reducing Christ and enlarging your problems, it’s time to get back to this basic truth. It’s time to heed Apostle Paul’s words taken from Colossians 3:1-3 NIV Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

You will only grow in your intimacy and love for Christ when you set your mind on things above. It is there in the realm of faith that He will begin to move the mountains in your life as your lean into Him and trust Him to do so! Keeping your eyes on your problems will keep you bound by them! Keeping your eyes on Christ will allow Him to move mightily!  James 1:8 KJV tells us A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  We can’t keep our eyes focused on our problems and trust God for the answers at the same time. We must exercise our faith and turn them over to Him and trust Him to work everything  out for our good! He promised to do just that!  Romans 8:28 NIV 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

If you are struggling through a situation right now, take your eyes of your current situation and remember you have been raised with Christ through your redemption. Set your heart and mind  on things above. Remember that Christ is seated at the right hand of God and is ever making intercession for you, His church! There is nothing too big or difficult for Him to handle. Release the fear and stress of your situation into the hands of the ONE who loved and loves you more than His life itself!  Trust Him, He is worthy!

 

 

DON’T lose heart

When you find yourself in a hard place caused by someone else do you find yourself asking, “God when are you going to answer? When are you going to put a stop to all of this?” Well I have it on good authority that God hears your petition! He is not a god of stone or wood, He is the ONE true living God! Jesus gave us some pretty wonderful encouragement with just this matter in the book of Luke.

Luke 18:1-8 NKJV  Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

Then the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

This is such a powerful nugget that we too often read through quickly and neglect to allow the significance of this word sink in. We are not a people that should lose heart but instead to always pray!  We are not to pray once and give up grumbling  when we don’t receive an answer immediately. We don’t really like to hear it but  God will allow our adversaries to be used in the sanctification process of our walk with Him.  As we go through such a process Jesus tells us  that we are to continue to pray through. God will answer our prayer. He points out in this parable how even the unjust judge will answer a petitioner if they fail to give up asking. How much more can we count on God, who loves us, to answer us! Not only will He answer but He will avenge His elect (that’s us!) So what does that mean? He will hear us. He will also avenge on our behalf. The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of avenge is;

avenge     verb \ə-ˈvenj\    : to harm or punish someone who has harmed you or someone or something that you care about

So not only will God hear us and answer but He will also handle our adversaries. We don’t need to. He will do so in His way, in His wisdom on our behalf. We have no excuse to allow hatred or bitterness against our adversary in. We can count on the fact that if we, His elect,  cry out to God and do not lose heart, He will answer and take care of our adversaries too.

Jesus isn’t talking about an adversary here of our own making. For example, if we have mistreated or sinned against someone and we are receiving the fall out of that, we shouldn’t be surprised. God will allow us to reap what we sow from time to time. 1 Peter 3:15,16 NKJV 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  He is referring to unjust treatment through no fault of our own. This may be as a result of our Christian  stand on issues, our faith itself or for any number of other reasons. Just to be clear we are not to willingly hurt others and call on God to avenge them on our behalf!   😉 However if we find ourselves being unjustly targeted or persecuted we are to cry out to God for help and know that He will answer! He may choose to allow us to endure for a season but we can be sure He will be with us as we do. As we cry out to Him, He will equip us to endure whatever He allows and He will take care of our adversary.

Throughout the world we have brothers and sisters in Christ suffering for their faith. They are not forgotten by God. Their prayers are being heard. Though they may be called to endure persecution for a season or even give their life for Christ, He will be with them every step of the way. He will equip them for the task.  God will not allow them to endure more than they are able to endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV assures us of this.13 No temptation (including the temptation to recant our faith) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

 Perhaps one day, we too will be called to do the same.  Jesus is telling us in Luke 18 that regardless of the unfairness of a situation God permits us to go through, regardless of who our adversary is,  we are not to lose heart! We are to continue in prayer! Just because our situation may not be pleasant, it does not mean God does not hear our cries! In fact, we can be certain He does!  He is JUST and we can be assured He hears our cries!

So whatever situation you may find yourself facing right now, DO NOT lose heart! DO NOT give up crying out to Him. He hears and will answer! He will not allow you to go through one iota more than you can bear. Of that you can be sure!  Jesus said so.

Don’t neglect to replenish!

Our bodies and our spirits are both created with a need for replenishing. In order to function properly physically we must find time to feed ourselves and also find time to rest from activity. In order to function properly spiritually we must find time to feed our spirits and also find time to rest from activity. Both are essential. As the body needs food so the spirit needs spiritual food, the Word of God. Jeremiah 15:16 NIV   16 When your words came, I ate them;  they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.

Matthew 4:4 NIVJesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

 It is an essential ingredient in our walk with Christ if we want to remain sound. It is through the Word that we are able to receive God’s message of love, mercy, grace reproof  and encouragement. It must be a mainstay in our spiritual diet if we want to walk in peace and joy. It doesn’t do us good to gorge on the Word one day and then neglect it for weeks. It must be a daily meal.  When we neglect to feed our spirits with the Word of God, it doesn’t take long before we are basing our joy and peace on the temporal. This leaves us vulnerable to living on an emotional roller coaster and virtually makes us unfit for service.

If we are living based on our emotions we will not be able to carry out the things God has called us to do. Instead we will always be waiting for a better time to do things. A time when we feel happier, more generous, kinder, more giving etc. As followers of Christ we are not called to live by our emotions but to live by the truth of the Word of God. A truth that never changes, unlike our emotions. Can you imagine Apostle Paul dealing with shipwrecks, beatings and all the persecutions he suffered for Christ if he lived by his emotions? I think we can safely say he would never have reached the world with the gospel the way he did!

Just as we need to replenish our spirits with a daily meal of the Word of God, we also need to know when to rest. By rest, I don’t mean avoid doing anything but instead rest in the presence of Christ. Rest in His arms as we lean into Him with our prayer requests. We can turn to Him and lay before Him all our needs, the needs of others and whatever burdens we may be carrying. We can lay them at His feet and rest knowing He is more than capable of taking care of them all!

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

1Peter 5:6,7 NIV Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Phillipians 4:6,7 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, defeated, discouraged or far from God, we need to replenish our spirit with both the Word of God and time resting in His presence. Neglecting both will cause us to stumble very quickly. Both must be part of our daily routine. If you are not in the habit of reading the Word, start today. Pick a time to spend at least 10 minutes reading your Bible. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to receive the Word into your spirit. Ask Him to help you hide His Word in your heart! The same with spending time in prayer. I have found Monday to Friday, I can spend wonderful time in prayer in my car as I drive into work in the morning. It’s quiet and I don’t have any interruptions. I don’t recommend closing your eyes however! 🙂  Just make sure that you do  find some time every day  in the presence of God. Once you get into the habit of doing both daily, you will begin to find yourself growing spiritually and will not become easily depleted! You will have the energy to carry out whatever service Christ has called you to do!

Father God, I pray that You will give me the discipline and desire to both spend time in Your Word and in Your presence daily. Forgive my neglecting both Lord. Keep me close to You and keep my spirit sensitive to Your Holy Spirit so that I may accomplish great things for Your Kingdom in my daily walk.

I ask it all in the precious name of Jesus Christ,

Amen

 

Say NO to fear and dread!

When we follow Christ we can be assured that NOTHING that happens in our life happens in vain but instead we can be certain that God will use it for our good and His glory! That is an amazing and freeing bit of knowledge to be armed with. We are called for a purpose and the things He allows to touch our lives have purpose! Often these experiences are the  training ground for Christ working out His character in our lives. We need NOT fear anything. We have been bought with the blood of Christ into His family and He will never leave us or forsake us, regardless of how we may feel or think at times. It is a promise from the Word of God and it doesn’t lie! Hebrews 13:5 NIV Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

We can look around at this world we live in and see miles and miles of hot mess! Evil abounds! Men murdering men, women and children in the name of their god. Selfishness, corruption, hatred, every type of sin imaginable just about everywhere you look. Though this saddens us and should motivate us to pray and  do what we can to help, it should not and must not discourage us! God warned us. The Old and New Testament are full of prophetic words about the very days we are living in. He isn’t surprised and neither should we be.  We must use these days as opportunities to draw nearer to the lover of our soul, Jesus! We must use these days to let our lights shine by living a life pleasing to God, a life of service, a life of reaching out and helping others, a life of being bold in who Christ is and what He offers each and every person alive if they are willing to choose Him!

We can trust Him in these days! We can trust Him regardless of what circumstance we may be walking through or facing. He loves us with an everlasting love! He will never leave us or forsake us! He extends His arms to us and at times will carry us through dark days. Trust Him and allow Him to minister life to you as you lean into Him. Do not be afraid of tomorrow, but instead know that when you awake, His love is no less for you than it is today!  Proverbs 3:25-26 NIV 25 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,26 for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.  If there ever was a word for today this is it!  Have NO fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked! Why not, because the LORD will be at your side and keep your foot from being snared! That’s a promise!

It’s time to set aside fear, dread and any other emotion that may be holding you bound! Begin to trust in the God of the universe, the God that formed you in your mother’s womb, the God that called you and has a purpose for your life! You can put BIG trust in our BIG GOD!

Father, help us to put aside all fear and dread, knowing these are not from you for You have said in Your Word that You have not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind! Increase our faith and trust in You so that we may trust You in all things, knowing You loved us enough to send Jesus to save us. That’s incredible love! Increase our love for the lost and give us a boldness to share the good news of Jesus with all those that need to hear! Give us a heart to help the broken and needy. Let us use every opportunity in these dark days to bring His light to our world.  We ask it all in the precious and beautiful name of Jesus, our Lord and King.  Amen

Are you battling a storm?

It is relatively easy for a follower of Christ to be thankful and have joy when  life is going as we think it should. When we are able to understand our circumstances and things are going well it doesn’t take a lot of will or effort to be thankful or to retain our joy. But did you know that Christ requires more from His followers than “good times joy“? He wants us, His followers, to have joy in spite of our circumstances. To be vessels of His love, mercy and grace even in the midst of our storms. He offers us a peace that truly does “pass all understanding.” His peace is possible during the worst storms. His peace is possible in the midst of any trial. His peace is possible when we find ourselves in the midst of any sorrow.

So why do we often lose the peace that passes understanding when we find ourselves engulfed in trouble, pain or sorrow? Where does it go? I believe it is a result of taking our eye off of the ONE who gives it to us and placing our eye on the circumstance itself. When we forget that nothing that touches our lives has slipped through God’s fingers first, we forget that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear!  The Book of Job tells us that before Satan is able to bring any trial to a child of God, he must first have the Father’s approval.

Job 1:1-12 NIV In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Satan was not allowed to do one thing more than God gave him permission to do! Was God allowing Satan’s abuse for some kind of sick pleasure? No! God knew what Job was able to endure and knew that He would turn it all for good in the end. He knows what each of us are able to handle. He knows what each of us are able to endure. He also knows how to turn what we in our own understanding think to be the most terrible of circumstances into something for good! He is not blindsided by our sorrows. He is not blinded by our circumstances and He at times allows them to accomplish His good.

When we truly understand that EVERYTHING that happens in our lives can be used for good if we keep our eyes on Jesus and allow Him to guide us through the circumstances we will be able to retain our joy! Our confidence is not to be in our circumstances and in what we see, our confidence is to be in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Our confidence is not to be in receiving the answer we think we need,  it is in knowing that God is not playing with our lives but is working out things according to His plan. He knows the beginning and the end and His love for us would not allow Him to shortcut our spiritual growth or curtail His plans for the future.

In the book of Romans, Paul explains it beautifully…

Romans 8:5-38 NIV  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed  18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long;  we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.

If our life’s focus as Christians is to be blessed and live in comfort than we have not grasped the full truth of the gospel. God has called us to become disciples of Christ. To be led by the Holy Spirit and fulfill the purposes He has called us to. It is not to live according to the gospel of comfort. If we are true followers of Christ we will endure trials, temptations, sorrows and we are not to be surprised when we do. And when we do, we can know that He is working out something good in our lives and has a purpose for allowing it!

If you are going through a time of trial, sorrow or temptation right now, lean into Christ. Don’t try and understand it. Just continue to pray, seek God and trust Him. He has a plan. You may not understand it now and you may never understand it, but it is a good plan. He is always working things out for good to those that love Him and follow Him. Allow the Spirit of God to guide you through your journey with joy, true joy, the joy that comes from knowing and understanding that God will only allow what you are able to bear  and He WILL work it out for good!

I have personally walked through many trials and sorrows in my life. My dad’s suicide, a miscarriage, the sudden loss of my son and the loss of other loved ones and most recently my husband’s diagnosis and treatment of cancer.  I am not speaking glibly when I say that there is a true joy that can only be found in Christ. A joy that comes from knowing and trusting the lover of our souls. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is working your circumstances for good. Rest in that and look excitedly to each day knowing every day counts. As  you lean into Him and allow Him to love on you and use you right where you are in  your circumstances, great things will be accomplished for His Kingdom!

Blessings!

The Hope of Hosea!

As I read through many of the early chapters in the book of Hosea, I couldn’t help but feel sad and even a bit angry. Hosea was an Old Testament prophet called by God. At a time of relative ease and prosperity in Israel, Hosea was called to bring a message to the people of Ephraim (northern Israel) that God was displeased with their sin and adulterous ways and that judgment would come.  They had rejected God and  instead worshipped idols. They were living a life of apart from the God who had called them, delivered them and provided for them.  Hosea’s personal life was used to illustrate this exact scenario. He was instructed to marry Gomer (a harlot) and as a result his personal  life accurately illustrated what God was feeling and dealing with. His people had become rebellious and turned to others over Him.

Through much of the book we see Hosea telling the people of Ephraim that God hates their sin. He will not continue to tolerate their sin. He will bring judgment on them as a result. This message is hammered over and over.  Judgment is coming.

Hosea 4 NIV

Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
    because the Lord has a charge to bring
    against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
    no acknowledgment of God in the land.
There is only cursing, lying and murder,
    stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
    and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Because of this the land dries up,
    and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
    and the fish in the sea are swept away.

“But let no one bring a charge,
    let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
    who bring charges against a priest.
You stumble day and night,
    and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother—
    my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

“Because you have rejected knowledge,
    I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
    I also will ignore your children.
The more priests there were,
    the more they sinned against me;
    they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.
They feed on the sins of my people
    and relish their wickedness.
And it will be: Like people, like priests.
    I will punish both of them for their ways
    and repay them for their deeds.

10 “They will eat but not have enough;
    they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,
because they have deserted the Lord
    to give themselves 11 to prostitution;
old wine and new wine
    take away their understanding.
12 My people consult a wooden idol,
    and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
    they are unfaithful to their God.
13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops
    and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar and terebinth,
    where the shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution
    and your daughters-in-law to adultery.

14 “I will not punish your daughters
    when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
    when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
    and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
    a people without understanding will come to ruin!

15 “Though you, Israel, commit adultery,
    do not let Judah become guilty.

“Do not go to Gilgal;
    do not go up to Beth Aven.
    And do not swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’
16 The Israelites are stubborn,
    like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the Lord pasture them
    like lambs in a meadow?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
    leave him alone!
18 Even when their drinks are gone,
    they continue their prostitution;
    their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
19 A whirlwind will sweep them away,
    and their sacrifices will bring them shame.

How God’s heart must have ached to see those whom He had called and favored choosing to “desert the Lord”.  Sound familiar?  We see the same thing happening today. Multiple people are still choosing to reject knowledge and serve idols and though they may live in relative ease right now, God’s judgment is coming.  With the way prophecy is being fulfilled today, it may be sooner than any of us think!  I thank God that the message of Hosea was not without hope! Chapter fourteen brings a beautiful message of hope! God doesn’t leave us without a way back to Him!

Hosea 14

14 Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
    Your sins have been your downfall!
Take words with you
    and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
    “Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
    that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Assyria cannot save us;
    we will not mount warhorses.
We will never again say ‘Our gods’
    to what our own hands have made,
    for in you the fatherless find compassion.”

“I will heal their waywardness
    and love them freely,
    for my anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
    he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
    he will send down his roots;
    his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
    his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
People will dwell again in his shade;
    they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like the vine—
    Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.
Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
    I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a flourishing juniper;
    your fruitfulness comes from me.”

Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
    Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
    the righteous walk in them,
    but the rebellious stumble in them.

Despite their rebellious hearts, God didn’t give up on His people in the time of Hosea and He is not giving up on us now!  We serve a God that loves us so much! He longs for us to fellowship with Him. He gives us every opportunity to turn our messed up, sin ridden lives over to Him. He has provided the most precious and beautiful way to do this and that is through His Son Jesus Christ! By calling on the name of Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior we are given the opportunity to be forgiven and be clean before God. Just as Hosea spoke, ” Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips,” God offers us the same opportunity to us. If we have rebelled, we can turn to Him and ask forgiveness, He is faithful and just and will forgive! If we have never known Him as Savior and Lord, all we need to do is ask Him to come into our life and be our Savior and Lord, to forgive us of our sins and to fill us with the Holy Spirit! The same God of Hosea is longing to have fellowship with each one of us today! He has provided a way and that way is Jesus!

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!

Are you due for a maintenance check?

For the past several weeks our home computer had not been running very smoothly. There were many delays when trying to pull up pages, pages freezing and programs refusing to open.   Though I knew it needed to be done I just  kept putting off running a maintenance check. Today I did it. It was very necessary. It has cleaned up a number of issues. I couldn’t help but think it is similar to our need for a spiritual maintenance check every now and then.  When life gets hard or too busy and we find our intimacy with Christ lagging, our thoughts become negative and confusing and  too often we turn to other things to fill the emptiness we are sensing. We may turn to facebook, online games, tv or other sources of quick fix comfort when what we really need to do is spend time in our Bibles and talking to the lover of our soul!

There is no substitute for time spent with Him. Other time fillers cannot bring about the change we need in our hearts. They cannot restore our joy or peace. They cannot prepare us for what He has in store for us today or tomorrow. Only spending time in His Word and in His presence in prayer can do that.

If you find yourself spiritually running on empty, turn off all your gadgets and get alone with your Bible and Savior.  Nothing will fill that emptiness you are feeling but Christ. He made us that way!.  Ask Him to restore your joy and peace. Read His Word and learn of Him and His beautiful, enduring, patient love for you. Let His words of life change you, recharge you and give you the hope you need to be His ambassador here.

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 9:9-10 NIV The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

John 15:4-5 NIV Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Lord, we come before You and ask that today You turn our hearts back to You. Remind us to seek You when we are spiritually dry and not look to fill our time with worthless things and activities. Restore our joy and peace today as we lean into You and read Your Word. We love You Lord and long to grow into the people You have called us to be. Fill us today with vision for today and the future. We ask it all in the beautiful name of Your Son Jesus, Amen.

 

Is your GPS set to Christ?

In the last month or so I’ve  had many conversations with people concerned about the crazy world events that are unfolding before us.  Those who don’t yet know Christ as Savior and Lord are worried. Many have long since lost faith in politicians and governments and for some very good reasons. They don’t know how things can possibly get better. They don’t yet know that despite the world’s circumstances, there is ONE they can run to with all their worries, fears, anxieties and He will give them peace. They need to meet Jesus. They need to know the ONLY solution to the world’s woes. We who know Him must be willing to share the good news whenever the opportunity presents itself.

For those of us who know Jesus Christ  as Lord and Savior, we don’t have to stumble about looking for answers. We have the Word of God to guide us. The Holy Spirit to lead us and we can run to the lover of our soul with all our cares! He is available to all who seek Him! Instead of wasting our time making wrong turns here and there He longs for us to run to Him!   I want to share just a few scriptures today to remind us of just that!

Proverbs 18:10 NIV 10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Psalm 34:17 NIV 17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.

Psalm 50:15 NIV  15   ” And call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

If you are struggling, run to the ONE who wants to comfort you. The ONE who died for you and promises peace to those who love and follow Him.

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

Jesus said it and we can believe it! Run to Him, saturate yourself in the Word of God (Bible) and rest in His peace. You will not find true peace anywhere else!

 

“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”~A.W. Tozer

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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

Choose to cast your cares on Him!

1 Peter 5:6,76 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6,7 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

This week I heard some disturbing news.  It was something that I have been concerned about in the past and it is now reoccurring. The event itself doesn’t matter. My response however does. When I first heard my heart grew heavy and I felt incredibly frustrated. I want the situation to be resolved immediately and without any upsetting consequences. It has been a reoccurring concern for some time and it would be great to see it finally resolved.  However, it may not happen that way. It may continue to drag on for some time.  I have had to make the decision to trust God in this matter. To lean on Him to take care of the situation and any of my concerns regarding it. This is how we must live.

In the past I have often allowed my emotions to run wild with the onset of disturbing news. I have given in to the discouragement that often accompanies it. It has never helped me or the situation to improve. In fact it has left me with a poor attitude that kept me from being useful in doing the things God would have me do. At times I have sulked thinking somehow that would get God’s attention and He would step in and fix the situation immediately. All of these responses are those of an immature follower of Christ, of which I have been guilty! 🙂

Yesterday when I heard this disturbing news I grumbled for five minutes and then remembered I follow a Savior who understands all things. A Savior who is able to take any situation and work it out for good, no matter how difficult that may seem to me.  I follow a Savior that loves me and loves those whom I love even more than I do! I follow a Savior that has told me to cast my cares on Him for He cares for me!

This Savior does not owe us an explanation of why some things happen and why there is often a waiting period on our answer. His Word is good enough and His Word tells me in 1Peter 5:6,7 NKJV

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

So instead of fretting, whining and allowing any situation to upset my peace and joy I choose to humble myself before Him and cast my cares on Him for I do know He cares for me just as He cares for you!

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!

 

Honoring marriage is still God’s plan

This coming weekend our son is going to marry his long time sweetheart at our home. My husband and I are  looking forward to the wedding and the coming marriage. We have waited for this day for a long time. 🙂

In a day when marriage is not always esteemed, I am glad they have made this decision. Marriage, though not easy, is still God’s designed plan for a man and woman that wish to be together. The Bible is full of verses on marriage. Today I want to take a look at one of my favorite verses on marriage.

Hebrews 13:4 NIV  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  

Though this flies in the face of political correctness today, God’s view on marriage hasn’t changed. It is a state to be honored by all. It is so important that those of us who follow Christ uphold the value of marriage and offer our support to those who have chosen it.  It still remains God’s environment for sexual intimacy and for raising a family.

It is so important that we show our support by praying for those choosing marriage. We live in a society that puts all kinds of temptations and distractions in our way. For marriage to work, couples have to have the resolve that they will commit their lives to one another regardless of the obstacles and difficulties that come their way. They both must make this commitment. One person cannot a marriage make! For those who are followers of Christ, this commitment is vital. The seriousness of this commitment before God is revealed in Malachi 2:16 NIV 1“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

We live in a society where people marry without seriously considering it is a lifetime commitment. Though there are definitely cases of  Biblically  justified divorce (unrepentant infidelity and/or abuse), many marriages are broken because of a casual view of the state of marriage.  People say they no longer feel affection for or love their spouse and leave. Some leave having found someone they love more.  Others decide they don’t want the responsibility of marriage and want their freedom back. Too often kids are dragged into the mess of a broken family and suffer the consequences of their parents decisions.

The church has a responsibility to show support to it’s married couples with  prayer, sound Biblical  advice when needed and on occasion with practical help. When a couple in our church body suffers, we all suffer. When a family is broken, it hurts us all.  We must do all we can to help couples stay together but if and when that is not possible, we need to be there to help with the fallout.

My husband and I have been married over thirty five years. We have had some wonderful years. We have also had some very difficult years marred by selfishness, immaturity and on a few occasions heartache and the loss of loved ones.  Our marriage has forced us to  learn to mature in ways that can only come from sharing your life with another person. Our marriage has challenged us to be more Christ like in our behavior. We have had to learn to listen to each other, respect each other, love each other in word and deed and be kind to one another even when we don’t feel like it!  These things to do not come easy or natural for most of us. When we neglect to do any of these things, it isn’t long before we need to have a talk  and get things back on track  😉

I am so grateful that I have been able to share my life with my husband over the years. It has been a good thing. We have gone through so much together and I believe our love is deeper now and more secure now than it ever was.  I wish the same for our son and new daughter-in-law, maybe with a little less difficulty but even that helped mold us! I am glad they have chosen marriage. Though it has become less popular over the years, it is still a good thing in God’s eyes.  I am excited for them and the journey it will take them on. My prayer is that they will have the support of their families and the church as they walk their journey together.  After all, marriage is to be honored by all!

 

 

Have you missed a few roots?

Yesterday I was able to spend the majority of the day in my gardens. It’s only been a few weeks since I last weeded but in that time the weeds wasted no time coming back. Where there had been beautiful clean spaces, now stood multiple weeds. A few things occurred to me. One, that weeding has to be done a little more frequently to keep the gardens looking clean and secondly, clearly I had missed many of the roots when I pulled up the weeds.

If I don’t pull up the root along with the weed, the weed will  rear it’s ugly head back in no time flat making my garden unattractive and cluttered. Sounds a lot like sin in our lives. When we don’t deal with the root of any sin and just try and cover it over with niceties, it will eventually reappear. We can’t hold it back by hiding it. It must be pulled out of us by confession to the ONE who is able to forgive us, cleanse us and restore. As long as the root is still there it will eventually surface above the ground and affect our walk and our witness to others.

When I confess my sin I am  pulling  up and exposing  the root of my sin to Christ. He has promised to forgive me and cleanse me of all my sin thereby, enabling me to move forward without shame.  If I choose to keep the root of my sin buried and just clean up the surface, the root will enable the sin to continue to sprout growth that will manifest in my life. Freedom from the sin can only come from pulling it up by the roots and exposing it to our Master Gardener, Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter if this sin comes in the form of a lowly dandelion or a gigantic hog weed, He is able to kill the root of all sin when we confess it to Him and ask His forgiveness.

1 John 1:8,9  NKJV  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If you have been trying to keep sin hidden in your life, don’t waste anymore time. Confess it to Jesus Christ. Ask for His forgiveness. His Word assures us that if we confess it HE is faithful and just and will forgive us!  Join me in cleaning out my garden, roots and all!

 

Do I need MORE to be content?

Lately I’ve been enjoying watching some of the home  renovation programs on t.v.  They tend to inspire me to do creative things in and around my house. I’ve also found, however, that they also create a bit of discontent within me. I find myself wishing we had more expendable income so we could do more. At times, I also find myself becoming discontent with what I have. Though we don’t live in the lap of luxury, we have more than most in this world of ours. We have loads to be grateful for! We have been blessed with so much inside and outside our home.

I know there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve things in our lives. Change can be a good thing. Some change can makes our lives easier, more comfortable etc. However, the changes that we want are not always possible. The timing may not be right, the finances may not be there, the person may not be ready etc.

The Lord has reminded me, once again, that I must learn to be content with what I have and with the things I cannot change right now. If I allow my discontent to grow, I will find myself envying others and being resentful to those around me. God hasn’t called me to a life of selfish indulgence but to a life of service. When I focus on what I don’t have and not on what I should be grateful for, I become a grumbler. Grumbler’s never accomplish much for the Kingdom!  Just read Exodus 16 & 17.  If it had not been for Moses, these grumblers would probably still be wandering in the wilderness!

I don’t want to grumble, instead I want to live as Paul learned to live.

Ephesians 4:8-13 NKJV 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I am learning. It is a progress but I do want to learn to be truly content in any circumstance. Not because it makes me more noble or holy. Simply because it is what Jesus calls me to do. When I walk in contentment I am usable for the Kingdom. When I grumble and complain and keep my focus on me me me, I make myself insensitive and unavailable for service.

Lord, for those of us who struggle with discontentment from time to time we ask for forgiveness. Please  open our eyes that we may see all that we have to be grateful for! Give us a heart like Jesus. A heart that desires to do your will. A heart that is content in all things. A heart that is yielded to the Holy Spirit. We ask it in the beautiful name of Your Son Jesus. Amen



Hmm what to choose, acceptance or legalism?

Being a follower of  Christ does not immunize us to the constant pounding of the world’s philosophies or new normals.  If we are not hearing this on the tv then we are surely reading it online, in magazines, in newspapers and hearing it from those around us. We shouldn’t be surprised or shocked. The Bible warns us that as time draws close to Christ’s return we will see sin and destruction abound. We surely are seeing it now.

Though it may from time to time upset us, we can take heart knowing that the Word of God told us these things would happen. We can put confidence in the One who knows the beginning from the end. Through Christ and the prophets, God gave us the heads up of what is to come and therefore we know He wins! Christ is returning for His church, a church of which the gates of Hell shall not prevail! That’s pretty awesome news!

When we  see this world of ours grow darker in sin and vain philosophies and when we see natural disasters increase in frequency, we can rest knowing that He is still in control. He warned us that these things would happen before His return.  So how are we to respond to what we are hearing and seeing? Are we to try and legislate the gospel by becoming more legalistic? Are we to just accept the new normals, philosophies and lifestyles that go against the Word of God?

Apostle Paul gives us the answer in his Epistle to the Colossians in chapter 2.

Colossians 2 NKJV

For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

20 Therefore,  if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion,false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

This chapter shows Paul’s knowledge of the human heart. He knew that our most natural response to spiritual oppression from the world is to either become accepting of it, or to become legalistic against it. Neither are correct!  He makes clear that Jesus Christ is to be the focus of our response! We are to remember that it was through Him we are saved and it is through His defeating sin and death on the cross that we are free!  We are to stand firm in what Christ has done for us! We are not to veer from the gospel of truth.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

We are to stay rooted in the truth of the gospel of Christ, knowing we have been made complete in HIM. Not by the law, not by vain philosophies but by Jesus Christ alone, who is the head of all principality and power.

We will never combat  the sin of the world with legalism. It is only through the power of Christ that anyone will be free. 20 Therefore,  if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion,false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

This is such a practical word for our day. Too often, we the church,  react with either  acceptance or legalism to the ways of the world. Paul tells us neither are the correct response. We are to remember that Christ and Christ alone has saved us and freed us! It will take Christ and Christ alone to save others. Legalism will not change their behavior and acceptance will only encourage sin. Our response is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who need Him. To stand firm in the uncompromising truth of the gospel, not being rocked to and fro. To remember that trying to enforce holiness through works won’t cut it and to rest in the knowledge that in Him dwells all the fullness of the God and we are complete in HIM.

Lord, please forgive us for being accepting of things we know displease you. Forgive us for being caught up in things that draw us away from You. We know You alone can save us and You alone can change us. If we slide into legalism, draw us out. Forgive us for trying to replace You with a set of rules. Help us to live in the truth of the gospel, knowing that You and You alone are Savior, deliverer and the One we can trust in.  Keep us close to You Jesus as we wait for Your return.  In Your precious name, Amen.

Too busy to draw near?

Some may have noticed that I have not been too active here for the past few weeks. Our son and his fiance are getting married at our home next month and I have been spending a lot of time trying to whip our property into shape before the wedding. Between staining decks, painting doors and doing some minor inside renovations I have been quite busy. It’s a good busy, but it has not left me with a lot of free time to write.

Because I work full time, some of this work has been done when I get home in the evenings. After working my job and then working at home I have found myself a little more tired than usual. This has resulted in me spending less time reading my Bible and more time plunked in front of the news, or other programs in the evening when I finally get to relax.  I noticed on Sunday, that I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with everything. It is amazing how in such a short period of time we can become caught up in the cares of the world when we don’t balance those cares with enough time in the Word and talking with the One who knows us best. Though I seldom get stressed about trivial things, I was beginning to let things get to me that normally wouldn’t.  I was spending so much time worrying about getting things done that I was neglecting to do the thing I needed to do most and that was talking to God. I noticed I was missing my prayer time.  I mean deep daily prayer time, time where I get to  talk to God about everything going on in my life, intercede for the needs of others and ask Him to lead me throughout the day.

It’s been great getting jobs accomplished around the house. It’s been good to be busy but shortening my prayer time and time in the Word has left me feeling a little more sapped than usual leaving me less inclined to cast off discouragement and worry and more inclined to respond to events and opportunities with a poor attitude. That poor attitude causes me to lose my peace. Obviously, I still have plenty to learn about balancing my responsibilities with my devotional time!   🙂

I’m so glad that we serve a Savior that is loving and forgiving. That woos us back to Him, despite our distractions. That longs to spend time with us just as we long to spend time with Him.  Today as I read James 4:7-10 NKJV, it spoke volumes.  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.1Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

It’s time to take the time to draw near to the One who loves me.  He will give me the strength to do all I need to do and more and to do it with the right attitude! As I lay aside my striving and humble myself in His sight, He will lift me up!

“We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.” ~Francis Chan

Don’t make discouragement your home

Every so often I find myself battling discouragement in one form or another. Sometimes it comes from disappointment in another person’s response or behavior. Sometimes it comes from feeling I am not achieving as much as I would like to.  Sometimes it is a result of the worldwide atrocities taking place. Sometimes it comes from facing tragedy.  Sometimes it comes when I open another incorrect Hydro bill after multiple calls to have the situation rectified!  😉  It can happen for any number of reasons.

I don’t think it is possible to walk this earth without feeling discouragement  from time to time. I know that there are multiple examples in the word of God of people who went through times of discouragement. Just for a few we have Moses, Elijah, David, Rachel and Nehemiah. Though we all will probably experience it from time to time, how we choose to deal with our discouragement is very important. If we embrace it, it can eventually lead to depression. If we ignore it, it will usually rear it’s ugly head later on. If we lash out at others because of it, we can damage relationships and trust. If we look to others to remove it, we will likely be disappointed yet again.

Though receiving kind words of appreciation do wonders to encourage us, we can’t become addicted to them to get us out of discouragement. Otherwise we can become dependent on others for our joy or happiness.  I am finding that when I get discouraged I need to refocus on the big picture. I need to put my current situation in perspective. In most cases  discouragement comes  as a result of some unfulfilled expectation. Perhaps my expectations of another person’s appreciation of something I did didn’t quite hit the mark or my expectations of a job, situation or circumstances fell  below what I was hoping for.  Regardless of the cause, in order to move past the discouragement and move forward in our walk with Christ, we must first see it for what it is and then make a decision as to whether to change the situation or use it as an opportunity for  spiritual growth. In some cases, we are not able to change the situation. In those cases our attitude becomes critical. It will determine whether we move past the  discouragement or allow it to eventually result in depression.

In order to put the situation in perspective, we need to get into the word of God where we will see that God works ALL things together for our good. Some of those things may be difficult to deal with or cause  temporary discouragement  but they too shall pass. We cannot allow ourselves to slide down the slope of self pity while we wait on the change.  We must guard our hearts from resting in a place of discouragement. The following scriptures have been given to  us for times like this…

Philippians 4:12-13 NKJV 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV 28 Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.  His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the Lord shall walk and not faint.

Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:9-18 NKJV Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 

Joshua 1:9 NKJV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Luke 18:1-8 NKJV 18 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heartsaying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.

Galatians 6:9 NKJV And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Discouragement, like any other negative emotion we experience, will pass as long as we don’t embrace it. If you are battling it now, take heart and know that many soldiers in God’s army have battled it before you. The key to victory is leaning into Christ and allowing the truth of the word of God to comfort you. As you turn your focus from your disappointments to Christ and His plans for you, you will begin to walk out of discouragement and walk into the purposes of your calling.

 “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.” ~Corrie ten Boom

 

His timing is perfect, mine not so much!

Do you ever get tired of waiting on answered prayer? Do you wonder why God hasn’t responded immediately or at least soon after you made the request? God’s timing is perfect. It doesn’t always feel like it to us, but it is. He knows the beginning from the end and He will answer us when the time is right.  I used to get so frustrated waiting on an answer to something that seemed so simple for the Creator of the Universe to do. Why did He make me wait?  Thankfully I am a bit better at the waiting now.  😉  I have learned that His timing really is perfect. There have been too many answered prayers in my life that have often happened at what seemed like a minute to midnight, for me not to have learned I can trust Him completely! I have also learned that if I submit to Him during those times of waiting He will use that time to make me more like His Son. It is during those times that I learn patience and often long suffering. These two fruits of the Spirit are seldom,  if ever, developed in times of comfort.

If you are waiting on God for an answer, submit yourself to His timing. Keep seeking your answer but while you seek, know that His timing is perfect. Also know that He is trustworthy.  Here are a just a few verses that you may want to memorize for those times of waiting…

Isaiah 40:31 NIV 31 But those who hope in the Lord will re new their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Lamentations 3:25-26 NIV 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,to the one who seeks Him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Isaiah 64:4 NIV Since ancient times no one has heard,  no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Psalm 27:14 NIV 14 Wait for the Lord be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

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

Habakkuk 2:3 NIV For the revelation awaits an appointed time;  it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;  it will certainly come and will not delay.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart  and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalm 33:20-22 NIV 20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.21 In him our hearts rejoice,  for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lordeven as we put our hope in you.

And finally one of my favorites…

Psalm 27:13-14 NIV 13 I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Father, we ask that you help us trust You and remain steadfast in our walk with You while we wait on You for our answer. Just like millions before us, You will answer our prayer in Your time and according to Your will. Please use this time of waiting to grow me more like Jesus. Help me allow the Holy Spirit to move in and through me during this time and not grumble or complain.  Thank You Father!  I ask this now in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

What’s driving you…faith or feelings?

Do you get easily discouraged by things people say and do? Do you find yourself withdrawing from activities when you don’t feel appreciated? Do you get upset when you feel God isn’t answering your prayers quick enough? Every follower of Christ will be faced with situations on a daily basis that may cause them to feel something that makes them uncomfortable. What you choose to do or how you choose to respond tells a lot about your walk with Christ. Are you finding yourself combating those negative feelings with the truth of God’s Word or do you cave in and succumb to them? Our spiritual maturity can be measured by what we allow to control us. If our feelings are driving us then we are likely to find ourselves in a constant state of unrest.

Christ promised us peace. If His promise is true than why do so many struggle with fear, anger, bitterness, jealousy, rage etc? It is because we are putting our feelings before our faith. When we do this we allow them to control our behavior. The Word of God says  in Hebrews 10:38 NKJV 38 Now the just shall live by faith;  But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” We cannot please God when we choose to live by “feelings,” only when we live by faith. Faith is trusting in His Word and in Christ to fulfill His word in our lives. When we live by feelings and draw back from our faith, He is not able to reach us through His word.  Instead we are choosing to believe in what we see and feel! 

The best way I have found to counter living my life by my feelings, is to interject scripture verses into my situation. When I find myself in a new situation that would typically cause me a lot of discomfort I remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Phillipians 4:13 NKJV.    If I am struggling with bitterness towards another that I believe to have offended me I can give in to those feelings and act accordingly by allowing it to take root in my heart or I can choose to believe what the word of God says in Hebrews 12:14-17 NKJV14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.  When I realize that the word of God has a powerful warning like this against allowing a bitter root to spring up in me, I am not willing to become enslaved by bitterness.

If I find myself in a situation that causes me to be afraid I can choose to cave into that fear and thereby shut out hearing God’s voice  or I can lean into Christ and remind myself of   2 Timothy 7-12 NKJV where I am told, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.12 For this reason 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 what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Do you realize that if everyone since the time of Christ had lived by their feelings, the gospel would NEVER have been shared?  Men and women would have caved at the first sign of rejection or persecution!  You and I would still be lost.

God has given us feelings and they can be wonderful but if you base decisions on feelings alone you may soon find yourself outside of God’s plan for your life. Several years ago,  I met  a  married mother of two  who had recently become a Christian. Her marriage was going through a difficult patch.  She told me that one day she was down by the  pond where she sat watching a family of ducks swim. She watched as the mother duck left the side of the male duck and began to swim beside another male. Her ducklings soon followed. This woman determined that God was trying to tell her, through the ducks, that she was to leave her husband and find another.  That God wanted her to be happy with a new man… I tried to explain to her that God hates divorce. Unless she was in danger or her husband was unfaithful to her, God would not want her to leave her husband. She said HE wouldn’t have given her the sign and the feelings she was feeling if it weren’t true…. Though it now seems a little ridiculous that someone would base their future on ducks on a pond, some Christians still make important decision based on their feelings and not the truth of God’s word.

Most  areas in our lives that we find ourselves defeated or discouraged are usually areas that we are still living through our feelings. Moving past our feelings is vital as a follower of Christ!  We all must learn to walk out our walk by faith. To do so requires spending time learning the scriptures. When a thought first comes to us we are to take that thought captive. Is it truth? Does it line up with the word of God?  If not dismiss it before it begins to affect your feelings or behavior in a negative way.  We have been given truth and the truth will not only make us free but keep us free when we choose it!

Replacing lies with truth!

 

John 8:32 NIV 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32 NIV 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

One of the things I love about the word of God is that it really does set us free where and when we apply it. It has the ability to replace lies we have believed about ourselves, about others and about our Savior. If we read it, digest it and then apply it to any area of our life where we are struggling it can and will set us free! The secret is not just to read it or hear it spoken somewhere, we MUST apply it. I was sharing this week with another new believer how fear used to control so much of my life. I would fear making a decision in case it was the wrong one. I would fear God’s wrath more than rest in His love. I would fear man and their opinions etc. It controlled a lot of my life and thinking. When I grew tired of being so fearful I decided to take a look at the scriptures about fear in my Bible. I wrote many of them out. It wasn’t enough just to write them out. When a fearful thought would begin to form I would have to combat that thought with the Word of God and not give it place in my thinking. It worked!  I was being transformed by the renewing of my mind through the Word of God.  I will list just a few of those verses on fear here, my favorite being 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. So when fear would come upon me I could reject the fear  knowing it was NOT coming from God!  Another one is Isaiah 41:10 NIV So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Fear is but one area that a person can be bound. There are too many to list here, however every one of those areas can be defeated through the Word of God if you read it, digest it and apply it! Too often people want an instant fix from the things that bind them but the most effective way to be free is to apply the Word of God to whatever it is. John 8:32 NIV says 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Freedom comes from applying the Word anywhere we have believed a lie in our lives. As I mentioned earlier, my battle with fear was only overcome when I searched the Bible for verses on fear, wrote them out and when fear would try and take hold of my heart, I woke quote those verses and stand on them as they are from the word of God and the word of God is truth!

The Bible is powerful. It is supernatural. It is truth. It can be relied upon, when applied, to change our lives for good. It has the power when applied to conform us into the image of our Savior! That’s powerful! If you are struggling in a particular area of your life and don’t seem to be able to have freedom in that area, it’s time you got serious about getting into God’s word and applying it. Freedom seldom comes without determination. You must decide you no longer want to be struggling in this area and search the scriptures for all the verses on this particular thing and then use that scripture as a weapon! Do not accept every thought that comes but challenge those thoughts of defeat and combat them with God’s word. That is how change comes about! Using the word as our weapon to stand on!

Freedom will come to you  as you replace the lies you are believing  with the truth of God’s word! Renew your mind on the truth!

Romans 12:2 NIV 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.

Stand in your confidence in HIM!

In whom can we put our trust and confidence? In whom can we be assured? Psalm 27 tells us. Regardless of our personal situation, regardless of the political environment we find ourselves in, regardless of how hopeless things may seem, we can cry out to Jesus. He will hear us and He will answer! The peace that really knowing that brings is priceless. Though we may feel anxious for a few minutes when trouble arises, we can safely remind ourselves that HE will never leave us. HE will never allow us to go through more than we can bear. We have a hope that cannot be taken away! There is nothing we need to fear! We can be totally confident in HIM!

Psalm 27 NIV

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
    to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

He will arrive on time! If you are struggling right now and don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, it’s time you met Him.  If you are a follower of Christ and are going through a spiritual battle stand strong and take heart, as David says. Wait for the Lord! He will not ignore you. He will meet you in your battle, just stand strong in the confidence of who He is and that He will never leave or forsake you!

Father God, for any who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior we now pray the following prayer:

Lord Jesus, forgive me. I am a sinner. I have done things that have left me feeling sad and ashamed. I ask  You to forgive me right now. I ask that You would come into my life and fill me with the Holy Spirit.  I want a new beginning with You. I want to KNOW that should I die I will go to Heaven. I want to have peace and joy as I live out the rest of my life. Please guide me to a church where I may grow in my new life and help me to understand the Bible as it is Your words to us. I ask it now in the name of Jesus, Amen.

*If you prayed that prayer right now, I suggest you find a local Bible believing church in your neighborhood. I also suggest you get yourself a Bible and begin to read it! It will open up your eyes to just who God is and who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for each and every one of us! Congratulations on your new life in Christ!

If you are a follower of Christ and are struggling in your walk I suggest you pray with me right now….

Father God, I am struggling in my current situation. I need to know, as David did, that I can be strong and take heart as I wait on You to work this out. I ask that You would comfort me with your Word (the Bible) and You would help me to stand on the fact that as David said,  Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.  Because of the blood Christ shed for me on Calvary, I can boldly come before Your throne and know You hear me! I don’t have to doubt or fear that You have left me! I can rest in knowing that ALL things work together for good to them who love God and who are called according to His purpose. As a follower of Christ, I have been called! I put my trust in You right now. I stand on the fact that NOTHING can touch me that You will not see me through. Please remind me as I go through this day, that You are right beside me. I need not fear! I can be confident in You! In the precious name of Jesus my King, Amen

Is it time to open those boarded doors?

Do you find yourself compartmentalizing your walk with Christ? Are there doors that you would prefer He didn’t walk through? Secret places you keep boarded up? I have done this in the past. I have found myself not willing to talk to the Lord about  certain behaviors, attitudes, or habits because I felt disappointment with myself or even shame. I am learning however, that it is those very things that must be talked about with Him. These are the very things  Christ wants to heal or free me of. Instead of trying to fix myself up before I go to Him, He wants me to come to Him just as I am. I can bring every sin battered area of my life to Him and confess it. He is not surprised. He knows anyway. He is just waiting for me to bring it before Him in order that He can forgive me and give me the grace and strength to overcome. We follow a Savior that knew temptation of every kind yet never sinned. He understands the battle we go through here. He also is our provision for our sin. When God looks at us, who have made Him Savior and Lord, He sees us through the blood of His precious Son. So we have no reason to try and hide anything or any area of our lives. We have Jesus as our advocate. We can bring anything before Him and know that He will not only forgive us but if we are willing, He will deliver  us from the things that beset us!

There will be times when through our disobedience we will feel the sting of correction. If we continue in something we know we should not be doing the Lord will allow us to be corrected just as we correct our children or grandchildren when we see them doing wrong. He loves us and therefore will not allow us to continue in deliberate sin without suffering any consequence. It is so much easier to run to Him and confess before it gets to that stage. If we make the choice to continue in deliberate sin knowing it is wrong, we run the risk of suffering the shame of open correction either by God Himself, or another and suffering the consequences of the sin which tends to be a lot more painful. We also run the risk of hardening our hearts to the Spirit of God and thereby allowing sin to become our master.

There was a time in my life that sadly  I  allowed heartache and disappointment and the cares of this world to draw me away from my intimacy with Christ. I have since learned that He never stopped loving me and He never stopped wooing me back into His arms. He loves me and He forgives me.  He loves you and He will forgive you!

Let’s read together Hebrews 12 NIV  12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,  and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves,   and He chastens everyone he accepts as His son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Why waste any more time trying to shelter the sin in your life? Isn’t it time to open up those boarded doors and confess your sins to the One who is able to forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness? Don’t allow anything to keep you from the lover of your soul.  There is no sin worth the separation it causes between us and God. Our God is a consuming fire and yet He has made a way for us to come before Him and that way is Christ.

Father  help me to really understand that You are a holy and consuming fire.  I come before you  and bring all my baggage. I confess my sins before you. I have messed up and am in need of your cleansing. Please forgive each of my sins and cleanse me now of all my unrighteousness. I pray that You will guide and direct my through your Word in how to live a life that is pleasing to You. I ask that You will keep me from temptation.  I thank You that I can  ask this all in the name of the One who died to enable me to be forgiven. I ask it in the precious name of Your Son, Jesus.

Amen.

Wallow or Abide? You choose

This week has been a challenge for me. I have continued to battle a cold/flu bug that has left me with a hoarse voice, a mild headache and a cough. We’ve all experienced the symptoms at one time or another and they are not fun. I noticed something about myself this time around. I noticed I had become  so focused on how crummy I was feeling that I really wasn’t spending much time in prayer. I was wallowing. I hate wallowing. Wallowing is a complete waste of time. Nothing ever get’s accomplished when we wallow. I also thought of my brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide, who suffer daily with a lot worse than a cold or flu. Some to chronic illness, hunger or even persecution. They have learned that they can lean into Him during their deep lows.  In fact, there is no one better to lean into than Christ during our deep lows. They know what I am learning. Discomfort, sickness and pain can be a distraction from our walk with Christ or they can be tools to draw us even closer.

If we allow times of discomfort to pull us away from Christ, it’s not long before we begin to bear some pretty ugly fruit. We allow our discomfort to excuse bad behavior. We snap back at people, we put our needs before others, we become callous to others as we gripe and complain about how bad we feel!  Sound familiar?  It does to me! 🙂 What God may be allowing to produce some sweet fruit in us becomes an excuse to produce lemons! However, if we lean into Christ during these times, He will use the time to produce the beautiful fruits of the Spirit in us such as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Galatians 5:22,23 NIV)

We make the choice. So today, I choose to lean into Him, the lover of my soul. I choose to let Him use me this day, despite how I feel. I choose to no longer wallow. I choose to no longer drop the ball on those counting on my prayers. I choose to abide in Christ today.  I choose to allow Him to produce some sweet fruit in me instead of lemons!

Romans 5:3-5 NIVNot only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

“Each of us is as close to God as we choose to be.”~ Dr. Oswald Sanders

A Reminder to the weak

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

For the last few days I have  been battling a cold/flu.  I am not a very good patient.  I don’t like lying around. I don’t like coughing every time I try to speak.  I don’t like missing work and I don’t like feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck. However, this morning I decided that I would spend the day quietly resting and reading the Word. Though we tend to moan and groan on occasion when things throw us off our game, I am believing that even in this cold/flu God wants to speak to me and teach me something. I am assured that even in the difficult times, the valley times, the times of sickness that He is with me and longs for fellowship with me.

So today, I am going to spend time resting my body and resting in Him. Not being able to talk without coughing, allows me to listen more. Not having the energy to do much allows me to rest more. Not having many distractions allows me to focus more on Him. I am reminded of the verse in Romans 8:28 NIV 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  All of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior and have determined to follow Him can know with certainty that this is truth. Regardless of what is going on in our lives we know He will work it out for our good. Not our convenience, not our temporary happiness, not our comfort but for our good. Though we tend to look to the present, God looks out for our long term good. Every now and then we seem to have to deal with a hitch in our giddy-up. Something that comes up unexpectedly that we are forced to deal with. We can look at these things as irritations and become angry or we can recognize them as opportunities to trust in the lover of our soul! To rest in the promises of His words. To know that though we may not enjoy them, if we allow Him, God will use these opportunities to mature us up. Our faith will increase, our trust in Him will increase and we will grow more dependent on Him.

When we read Romans 8:29-39 NIV we are assured that nothing, no circumstance, no illness,  no person,  NOTHING can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

29 For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;     we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 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.

So whatever you are facing today in your walk with Christ, rest in the fact that you can trust Him to see you through. You can know that He is not willing to let you go! His love for you is eternal. He will not allow anything to separate you from His love!  You, like myself, may not feel like a conqueror today due to illness, sorrow or discouragement but YOU ARE more than a conqueror through HIM who loved us. It is not based on our feelings but truth. Rest in knowing your place in Christ today.

Father, for those of us who are feeling weak or weary today, who may be discouraged or sad, I pray that You will give us the assurance of who we are in Christ. Help us to remember that though our feelings may tell us differently, we are more than conquerors through Your Son Jesus. I pray that you will increase our faith and encourage us through Your Word today as we spend time with You. We ask it in the name of our beautiful King and Savior, Jesus.  Amen

Are you feeling spiritually dry?

Do you ever feel your spiritual walk has become dry?  I know I have at times and I am sure there will be more.  Those times when we don’t feel His presence when we pray. When God seems to be far away. We are not alone in this experience.  David, a man after God’s own heart experienced it.

We see this in Psalm 13.

Psalm 13 NIV

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will You hide your face from me?How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.But I trust in your unfailing love;  my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise  for He has been good to me.

So how do we handle dry seasons? I believe the first thing we need to do is be sure we are not the cause. If there is unconfessed sin in our lives we need to confess it. If we are continuing in sin we need to repent and turn from the sin. Unconfessed sin will build a wall between us and our Savior but there is a fix. Confess it and turn from it! The Bible tells us in 1John 1:9 NIV If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness. Not some, but all!

If we have done this and still find ourselves feeling far from God than we perhaps we need to begin to praise God for all the things He has done for us. Praise is such an important part of our walk. Just as in Psalm 13, after David expresses his feelings of abandonment he ends with something He knows is truth, despite his feelings. He says “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for He has been good to me.”  He speaks truth into the situation regardless of his feelings at the time. He knows that he knows that he knows that God’s love is UNFAILING and that the Lord has been good to him.

We too know that as followers of Christ, His love is UNFAILING and He has been good to us. Begin to praise Him and thank Him daily for every good thing you can remember Him doing in your life and the life of others. Love on Him even when you don’t feel Him loving on you. As you begin to actively do so, it won’t be long before you find yourself enjoying the beauty of His presence again.

I now look at these dry times as times of growth. An opportunity for me to love on my God who is never far from me, despite how I may feel. A time to give Him my praise and thanksgiving despite my feelings! A time to love Him in faith, knowing that despite how I may feel, as the Word says, He will NEVER leave me or forsake me. I can be confident that even without warm and fuzzy feelings my God is ever present!

If you are currently wading through a spiritual dry patch start out by praying and asking God to forgive any sin you have been engaging in. If you are still engaging in it, then it’s time to stop and repent and ask Him for forgiveness. If you daily confess  your sins and don’t believe unconfessed sin to be the cause of the blockage then continue to pray and read the Word and begin to thank and praise God for all He has done in your life and the lives of others you know.  Love on Him as you wait for the dry spell to leave! Put the time to good use!

The WAY back

It is an amazing thing to me that the Son of God came to the earth in such a beautiful, simple manner. There was no pomp and circumstance at the time of His birth in the lowly manger. He came as a baby in order that He would go through and experience the various stages of life we would and yet not sin. The Word of God tells us He was tempted in every way just as we are. Hebrews 12:15 NIV 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.  Our temptations are not foreign to Him. That in itself is sometimes hard for me to wrap my mind around. When He came to the earth He could have come in all His glory and majesty as the exalted Son of God, but rather He came humbly to demonstrate His love and affection for us in a way that we can understand. He was man and He was God. He dealt with the same things many of us deal, with yet did not sin. Through His holiness and obedience He made a way as the sacrificial lamb for us to become holy. When He willingly sacrificed His sinless body for our sin ridden bodies He opened  the door for our redemption by the blood that was shed.   That is love!

Until we really grasp that fact not just in our head but in our hearts, we will continue to strive to make ourselves acceptable to Him. However, striving will never accomplish acceptability. On our own, we will NEVER be clean enough, kind enough, loving enough, or giving enough. We simply cannot make ourselves be acceptable by anything we do. It is only by accepting that when He died on that cross, His shed blood made me acceptable in the eyes of God. It is through Christ alone that we are able to stand clean before God. It is through Christ alone that we are changed. When we come to Him and ask His forgiveness and ask Him to be Lord of our life we receive the Holy Spirit who begins to work in us to conform us into the image of Christ. Through prayer and prayerfully reading our Bibles we will grow closer to Him and deeper in our walk as followers.  There will be times in our walk that we stumble. It is during these times it is most important that we confess our sin quickly, get back up and move forward. If we allow the accuser of the brethren (Satan) to cause us to feel we are no longer good enough to come before God we have missed the most important message of the gospel.  We will NEVER be good enough. That is why we need our redeemer! That’s why God sent Christ! John 14:6 NIV Jesus answered, “I am the WAY and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

If you are a Christian that is struggling with feelings of defeat, discouragement, failure etc. because of a stumble, a fall or outright disobedience than it’s time you confess your sin, and accept His forgiveness. He promises that if we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us from our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (1John 1:9) HE does NOT LIE. Don’t allow pride or fear to keep you from intimacy with the lover of your soul. Pride will tell  you that you need to straighten yourself up first before you come to Christ. You can’t straighten yourself up without Christ! Too often we listen to the wrong voice when we stumble and rather than confessing our sin and turning back to the One who willingly died for us, we try and fix ourselves up first. It is pride cloaked in works.  His love for us is more than sufficient to forgive us and set us back on track!

Don’t waste another minute striving to get back to a place where you feel you will be good enough to come back to Christ. It’s impossible on your own. Instead accept once and for all that the blood He shed on the cross will cover every one of your sins. Not just some but every one. Ask for forgiveness right now and KNOW that  if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Begin to thank Him for His love and mercy and get back into a place of intimacy with Him through spending time with Him and in His Word.

Lord I am sorry for the things that I have done that have grieved You. I am sorry for hurting or disappointing myself and others through my actions. I pray for your forgiveness right now and I believe Lord that when I confess my sin You are true to Your word and that You are faithful to forgive me and to cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness.  Thank You Lord! Keep me close to You and give me a hunger for Your word that I may grow closer and deeper in love with You.

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.

Waiting Room behavior

Have you been waiting on God for some time for an answer? I have. I have cried out to God several times for a situation to be resolved and I am still waiting. I had initially hoped He would resolve the issue quickly and all would be well. He has not done so, despite many prayers and petitions. Do I think He is ignoring me? NO, I know He hears my cry and I also know He will answer it in His time.

If I am completely honest I must admit in my earlier walk with Christ I used to get very annoyed and sometimes very angry when I didn’t see answers come quickly. Sadly I see many believers still behaving in the same way. If God doesn’t answer them how and when they want Him to, they rebel in their hearts. It’s as if we think by being annoyed or angry we are going to strong arm God into giving us our results when we want them. Manipulation may have worked with others we have dealt with but it will NOT work with our Heavenly Father.  You can’t rebel yourself into getting your way!  I am grateful to God that He has taught me that the hard way! He didn’t give in to my immature demands. Instead, He waited for me to get to the end of my arrogant demanding and when I humbled myself often I would see results that  I had longed for. He requires our love and obedience even when we don’t see things going our way. Even when things seem so wrong! We must never forget that He is the creator of the universe. He knows the beginning from the end. His ways are not our ways!

I am learning to praise Him despite immediate unanswered prayers. I am learning to worship Him and love Him despite difficulties I am facing. I am learning to trust Him despite what I see with my eyes. That is what the word of God tells me to do and that is what I want to do. When I find myself starting to grumble and complain, He reminds me that I am to trust Him with everything. Not just what I happen to understand. It’s called growing up in faith. No longer demanding my way and when I don’t get it withholding my love and affection from the One who NEVER withholds His love from me.  My prayer is that as I journey on through the rest of my life I will do as David says in Psalm 130:5 NIV 5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,  and in His word I put my hope.  And as I wait, I hope I will continue to praise Him and worship Him for who He is, not just for what He does or how quickly He does it.

Lord help us all to   Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Fear bound? It’s time to fight back!

I am convinced that one of the biggest obstacles us followers of Christ face on a day to day basis is fear. From the moment our feet hit the floor the enemy of our soul longs to have us bound up with fear and keep us from moving forward in God’s purpose for us for the day. Sometimes it starts before our feet hit the floor. Many toss and turn all night due to worry and fear.  Fear cripples us and as long as we allow it to rule our minds we will never achieve our destiny in Christ.

So how do we go about ridding ourselves of ongoing fears? We need to challenge each and every one of them as they rear their ugly heads.  The word of God tells us He has NOT given us a spirit of fear.  Therefore when we live in fear we are listening to a foreigner’s voice. We are called to listen to and be guided by the Holy Spirit. If we are making decisions based on fear and walking in fear we are not hearing correctly. We have tuned out the word of God.

When we make our decisions based on our fears we tend to go astray. For example, if we fear God will not provide us with a godly spouse we compromise and start dating outside our faith, this seldom ends well. If we fear God will not meet our financial needs, we refuse to tithe and miss out on the blessings He promises to those who obey Him with their tithes.  If we fear failure, we will never venture out and do anything outside our comfort zone and therefore never accomplish the things God has in store for us! If we fear rejection, we will never be able to move past ourselves and reach out and love on others the way Christ has called us to.  Yielding to fear will keep us frozen! Christ has not called us to stand still but to move forward with Him, being lead by the Holy Spirit. As we grow in our understanding  of His deep love for us, we realize we have NOTHING to fear.

1 John 4:18  tells us 18 There is NO fear in love. But perfect love DRIVES OUT FEAR, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  When fear rises within us we need to challenge that fear with God’s word.  For example, if we are afraid to trust God with our finances we need to open up our Bibles and find all the scriptures on how God will provide for His children. Just a few examples are Philipians 4:19 NIV19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Or Matthew 7:11 NIV 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  There are many more verses that will speak truth to us with regards to God meeting our needs. We needn’t fear!  Taking the time to write out all the verses pertaining to a particular fear you may be dealing with is well worth it! Sow those words into your heart so that when the fear tries to ensnare you, you have a weapon of defense! If you continue to listen to the fear you will eventually succumb to it.  This goes for fear of any kind, whether it be fear of failure, fear of being alone, fear of rejection etc. Romans 8:15 NIV says, 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.”

When we allow fear to speak to us throughout each day we are not allowing the Spirit of God to lead us as we should.  Christ’s love for us is a perfect love and when we look to Him as our Savior, provider, healer, deliverer and lover of our soul, there isn’t anything too big for us to face or do.

If you are struggling with fear and have tuned out the voice of God, get back into reading the Bible. Ask God to reveal to you His truth for your life. Ask Him to replace fear based lies with the truth of His word. Ask Him to show you your true identity as a blood bought, child of the Most High God. Ask Him to show you the lies from the truth. Sometimes when we have listened to a fear based lie too long we have accepted it as the truth! You must challenge each and every fearful thought  as it comes!  2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  Christ didn’t save you for you to stay as you were, bound by sin and fear.  He saved you and desires to change you more and more into His image so that you can be a light in this very dark world of ours. So that you can bless others and love on others as He does.  Don’t allow fear to keep you back from fulfilling His beautiful plan for your life!

Remember this:  Isaiah 41:10 NIV 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

What’s the Plan for 2014? De-Clutter!

Now that Christmas day is over, it is time to form my new New Years resolution. I’m not a big fan of them but do think that it is a good idea to give ourselves goals for the coming year. I’ve decided this year, after a realization of just how much stuff we have accumulated, that I am going to simplify life. There are so many extra things in my life and many of them never get used or touched! This year I want to get rid of a lot of junk. Physically and spiritually. When things begin to pile up in my house, they take up much needed space. Our home isn’t very big and pretty much every nook and cranny is filled with stuff. Much of this stuff is never used. It is just wasting good space with clutter. Jesus’s words ring true in Luke 12:15 NIV15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  More is not better  as we read in Matthew 6:19-21 NIV 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The same can be said for the things I allow in my personal life.  Things that are taking up my time and abilities that are not really being used for God’s purposes. For example watching tv. I don’t watch a lot of tv but I find myself in the winter months gravitating to it more. Instead of spending my free time watching tv, I want to replace some of that time clearing clutter from my home. The less clutter I have to work around, the easier it is to find the things I need.  I also want to spend more time reading some of the great books of faith I have been waiting to read. I want to be more available to help others this year. I want to be available for all my church responsibilities.   In order to do these things without causing chaos in my home life, I need to have things in better order. Though it’s impossible to have everything in order, I have much room for improvement!

Though I enjoy my time online, I do plan on reducing it in 2014.  There are times when I use it as a distraction from doing things I know I need to get done.  With smart phones and laptops we are now available to others pretty much 24/7.  This coming year I plan on turning both off  more often.  I want to spend more time alone with the Lord. It’s through this precious time that I am being equipped to be the person He has called me to be and to do the things He has created me to do.  Paul reminded us that our time is valuable and that we are not to waste it in Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

I have found clutter really does impede my ability to function effectively, in my home and in my spiritual life. At times, it leaves me feeling confused.  So in 2014, I am asking the Lord to guide me through the necessary steps to de-clutter both. I want to be ready for whatever He brings my way, inside and outside my home!

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

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!

No more moaning or wait like Paul!

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

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

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about.22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

Thankfully most of us will not endure all the sufferings that Paul did. We will however, have to face our own. No one escapes from life here on earth without enduring some difficulty and suffering. We live in a fallen world and until we see Jesus face to face, there will be things from time to time that we will have to endure.  Instead of complaining and moaning, I believe the Lord has shown us in the book of Acts how we are to wait.  Acts 16:16-34 NIV16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

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

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

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

Are you seeing what God sees?

A few years back the Lord dealt with me about my lack of self acceptance. I had always struggled with my self image. Most mornings when I would be getting ready for the day, I would find myself inwardly criticizing my physical appearance. I was too this, or too that. I wish I didn’t have this or had that etc.  It was not something I did consciously. I had just always done it from as far back as I could remember.  On this one particular morning I was putting on my make up and found myself doing the same thing I had always done. Critiquing my flaws.

This particular morning was different however. I heard God speak to my spirit. He asked me, “Would you say those things about anyone else? Would you look at any other woman and say the things you are saying about yourself?” I was caught off guard by the question..and then I responded, “No, it wouldn’t bother me Lord if someone else had my flaws.”  He responded with, “You are criticizing my daughter. You are tearing down something that I created, something I love.” I was flabbergasted. I had been verbally destroying His handiwork with my self criticism and harsh word. I knew in my heart I would never criticize anyone else the way I had myself. I began to cry. I had been tearing down His creation. I had been hating on his beloved.

Self abasement is not humility nor is it healthy. It is tearing down what God has created. It is saying He messed up on His creation. From that day on, I never looked at myself the same way. I began to change my self talk. I began to thank God for the way He created me.

If you are struggling with your self image, ask Christ to reveal to you the way He sees you. If you’re self talk is destructive and tearing down, know you are listening to the wrong voice! God never tears down His creation. Begin to challenge any thoughts and self talk that are demeaning and discouraging.  You have been “fearfully and wonderfully” made by your Creator. He loves you just as He created you and He wants you to know that! Don’t waste any more time hating on yourself. It is a distraction to keep you from fulfilling the purpose God created you for! You are unique and special and He has formed you to be just the way you are.

Psalm 139:13,14 NIV 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.

Mercy triumphs over judgement!

1 John 1:9

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

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

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

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

Heavenly Father:

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

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

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

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

Heavenly Father:

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

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

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

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

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.

Are your sins becoming to HEAVY to carry?

Has prayer become something you would rather avoid ?  Are you carrying around a suitcase of sin that needs to be carried to and opened before Christ? When we find ourselves carrying sin baggage, it weighs us down. It keeps us from moving forward with God. Instead of eagerly coming to Him, we find ourselves trying to keep busy with other things. Things that distract us from the One who is willing to take that baggage and throw it in His sea of forgetfulness.

You are not alone in your sin. It is something all of us inherited, thanks to Adam and Eve.  I, like yourself and even  Apostle Paul have a battle brewing within us.  Romans 7:15-25 NLT says, 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another powerwithin me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Does this scripture give us an excuse to carry on in deliberate sin?  NO, it does not. It does however explain the battle we have. It also gives us our solution.

It is to bring every sin back to the cross of Christ. We are not to excuse them but confess them and leave them at the foot of the cross, where the One who died for us wants us to leave them. The more we love Him and spend time with Him, the more it grieves us when we do do the things we know He hates.  When Paul says “Oh what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” we get a glimpse of the pain his sin has caused him.  This is the pain we as followers of Christ too should feel when we are grieving the heart of God. Rather than this pain leading us to despair and discouragement it should lead us to Jesus where we can confess it and be forgiven.

As long as we walk this earthly journey we will be in battle. Let’s not become callous to the things that grieve our Lord. Let’s not harden our hearts to sin to the point that we no longer feel the need to bring it before Him. Ask God to keep your heart tender before Him. Spend time with Him in prayer, and in reading His Word. Stay close to the lover of your soul. Don’t allow unconfessed  sin to build  a wall between you and the One who willingly died for every one of your sins. You can’t win the battle without coming before our Mighty Warrior, which is Christ. He is our solution to our sin. He and He alone.

The following scripture beautifully tells us followers of Christ of our inheritance and position in Him.

Romans 3:23-30 NLT 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. 30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.

Don’t let another minute pass before coming before Him. He is waiting to hear from you. He will not turn you away.

Busyness without abiding = wheel spinning

There are times when we feel like our lives are stagnating. Though we may be incredibly busy, we just don’t see ourselves moving forward in any particular direction. This is often a time of personal spiritual reflection. A time for us to seek the face of God for direction. My prayer is that during this time we will not jump into more “spiritual” activity. Instead, use the time to get deeper into the Word of God and spend more time talking to the lover of our soul.  Though busyness can make us appear very spiritual, if we are not doing what God has called us to do in the right spirit, we are just spinning our wheels.  He longs for us to abide in Him, leaning on Him for His strength and guidance as we do His will.

If  you find yourself feeling rather useless right now, begin to seek His face. Talk to Him, read His Word and ask for direction at the beginning of each day. He doesn’t want us doing “His deeds” without Him. He wants relationship. He wants our attention. He wants our love and devotion. It is through abiding in Him and His Word that we are to live out our lives. We are not to do what we deem our spiritual duty, checking in with Him once in a while for approval. We are to seek Him daily and allow Him to use us for His service as He leads, all the while obeying what we know to be His will.

Jesus himself, told us of the importance of remaining close to Him. It is out of that abiding that we will bear spiritual fruit for His Kingdom.

John 15:4-5 NIV 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

If you find yourself just trying to stay busy (even doing “His deeds”)  in order to cover the emptiness inside, perhaps it’s time to get plugged back into the source. Spend time with Jesus today. Let Him know how you are feeling. Ask for direction. Ask for a renewed love and increase in faith. He longs to give us good gifts!  Spend time in His Word. It is a love letter to each of us from God Himself. When we come to Him with a sincere heart He will not ignore us! He is faithful to answer! He has been waiting to hear from you.

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