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Profitable words from Proverbs 4

I am so grateful for the mercy and grace God has given us who believe in and choose to  follow His Son. We are blessed! When Christ died on the cross for each of us, He died willingly. When we turn to Him and confess our sins, acknowledge Him as Lord and follow Him, we inherit all the blessings of the children of God. It took me so many years to finally understand that works will never make me more like Christ. I must believe that the work He did on my behalf on the cross was complete. Trusting in Him and allowing Him to now work through me through the power of the Holy Spirit is the way I choose to live my life. I don’t ever want to forget the wonderful mercy and grace that has been extended to me and to everyone that chooses Christ as Savior and Lord. I know longer have to strive to feel accepted. I am accepted.

Knowing who we are and what we have inherited as children of God should give  us the heart and confidence to extend the good news to others. It should also cause us to want to reach out and demonstrate His love to those in our lives and those He brings into our lives. So how do we do this without stumbling ourselves? How do we keep moving forward in our walk? As I make my way through the book of Proverbs I see so many awesome words of wisdom to help us in our walk with Christ.  Today I want to focus on Proverbs chapter 4 verses 18-27.

Proverbs 4:18-27 NIV

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, (we are able to be the love of Christ in a dark world!)
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day. (until HE returns in all HIS glory!)
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble. (sin blinds)

20 My son (or daughter), pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.  (the scriptures)
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart; (learn them, memorize them)
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.   (Matthew 4:4 NIV Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”)
23 Above all else, guard your heart, (do not let anything come before your relationship with Christ)
    for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (in a day where perversity and corruption abound!)
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you. (keep your eyes on Christ!)
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet (don’t get caught up in the various snares of sin)
    and be steadfast in all your ways. (keep moving forward!)
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;  (as Paul says in Phil. 3:14 “We must press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.)
    keep your foot from evil.

There are so many encouraging words found in this Proverb to help us victoriously live as followers of Christ.

Lord, help us to always remember that we are to bring Your light to a dying world. Help us to demonstrate that light by living in close communion with You today. Help us to keep our hearts and lives free of the snares of sin by keeping our gaze fixed on You Jesus.  We love you Lord and desire to keep moving forward until we see You face to face!

In Your precious name,

Amen.

The weighty nuggets of Proverbs 3!

In my personal bible reading I am now working my way through the book of Proverbs. I love this book. Like the book of Psalms, it is a where the rubber meets the road book. Each chapter is full of beautiful nuggets of truth. If we applied all the nuggets in just one chapter to our lives we would live so much more victoriously in our walk with Christ. I am asking God to help me to apply these nuggets.  I don’t want to just read of them but I want to apply them better to my daily life. Today we are going to read the third chapter of Proverbs. This proverb is so full of important nuggets of truth it should not be read quickly but instead we need to seriously consider each one!

Proverbs 3 NKJV

My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.

Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.

13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.

19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
20 By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew.

21 My son, let them not depart from your eyes—
Keep sound wisdom and discretion;
22 So they will be life to your soul
And grace to your neck.
23 Then you will walk safely in your way,
And your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror,
Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;
26 For the Lord will be your confidence,
And will keep your foot from being caught.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,
When you have it with you.
29 Do not devise evil against your neighbor,
For he dwells by you for safety’s sake.
30 Do not strive with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.

31 Do not envy the oppressor,
And choose none of his ways;
32 For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord,
But His secret counsel is with the upright.
33 The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the home of the just.
34 Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble.
35 The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools.

Lord Jesus, help us to apply the beautiful truths of this chapter in our daily walk with You. Let us not just read your Word but let us hide it in our hearts and not sin against it! I pray that You will give us a heart that desires to know Your Word and obey it even when we don’t feel like it!  Where we are sluggish, make us dutiful. Where we are fearful, help us to lean into You with abandoned trust! Where we are selfish, help us to give and give more! Where we are foolish, let us ask for wisdom for You promise to give it to those who ask!  Where we are envious, give us a heart of compassion and kindness!  Where we resent correction, help us to receive it joyfully knowing it is out of Your love for us that You do it.  Lord, take each of our hearts of stone and make them a heart of flesh so that we may love You more and love others as You have called us to. In Your beautiful name Jesus, Amen.

He meets us in the practical

This morning I was reading Psalm 146.  I love this Psalm! It is so practical. Though written before the time of Christ, like all  of the Old Testament, it is as relevant today as the gospels!

146 Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

We have so much to praise Him for, for His mercies are new every morning. We don’t have to beat ourselves up over past sin, we need to take  it to the foot of the cross in prayer and as we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us! We can start each day clean!  Not only are we cleansed but He provides for us daily. He knows our needs before we even ask! He takes care of His kids! Praise the Lord, O  my soul!

Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.

How many times have we had to learn this lesson the hard way? Other people are imperfect just like we are. When we count on others for our joy, purpose, direction etc. we will from time to time be disappointed. God, however, through Christ, is available to us 24/7.  He is never to busy to respond. He is always looking out for our best interest. He will never pass on and leave us without His help!

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, The sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever.  

We can trust in the God of the Old Testament, who performed multiple miracles for His kids. Who was merciful to them even when they didn’t deserve it!  The same God that created the universe is the God we have! We hope in a Savior that is true, is faithful, is always interceding on our behalf! We have every reason to be happy!

Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow. 

Wow, that is our Jesus! He opened our eyes so we could see Him as Savior, Lord and King!  He has raised us and multiple millions of others up out lives filled with brokeness and despair! Through His death on the cross He has made those who follow Him become the righteousness of God!  He takes care of the defenseless and they rely on Him!

But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.

How many times have we seen God’s hand intervene on behalf of His children and turn the plans of the wicked upside down?  Isaiah 54:17 NKJV  tells us,17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.   He is our defender!

10 The Lord shall reign forever— Your God, O Zion, to all generations.

Yes He shall and eventually, we shall reign with Him. Revelation 22:1-5 NKJV 22 And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

We have every reason to

Praise the Lord!

This Psalm begins and ends with Praise the Lord! This is a great way to begin and end each day! We serve a Savior we can trust, we can depend upon, who meets the needs of His followers, who is true, who frees us from bondage, who intercedes on our behalf and who we will one day reign with forever and ever!  Praise the Lord!

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.

Yes knowledge is power!

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

I am convinced that as followers of Christ, our greatest struggles are in the  areas where we have not learned or decided to apply the Word of God. We often compartmentalize our lives. There are those areas we easily yield to God and there are areas we keep to ourselves. Areas where we still go by sight and areas we allow our faith in Christ to direct us. It is a type of schizophrenic Christian walk. The Word of God tells us that we are to yield every area of our life over to God. We are to trust Him in all things. We are to abide in Christ daily and without reservation.  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.  

So why then do we hold back from doing this? Perhaps for some it is rebellion. They just don’t want to yield to Christ just yet. They feel there is still lots of time to get things right. For others though, I believe it is a lack of knowing just what the Word of God says on matters. When we are ignorant of the scriptures we are open to being lead astray. We also lack confidence in the power and authority of God in many areas of our lives.

As Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” In this instance, I’m not referring to academic knowledge but rather knowledge of God’s Word. As we delve into His Word we become transformed by the renewing of our minds. We begin to see things as God sees them. We begin to see our faith grow. We begin to trust Him, knowing that many before us have trusted Him and He has not disappointed. We begin to apply the authority and power we have received through Christ into our lives and are thereby able to make a difference in this world we live in! His Word is life changing! It is supernatural! It is powerful!

Hebrews 4:12 NIV 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Romans 10:17 NIV 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

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

Isaiah 55:11 NIV 11  So is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Too often we struggle because we do not read the Bible  and therefore don’t apply it to our lives! We live by sight more than by faith.

I personally believe there is a new thing happening in the body of Christ. I am excited with what I am seeing. Many believers are hungry for more of Christ in their lives. They are turning to the Scriptures for guidance, for knowledge and to hear the voice of the One they love. Worldwide, there are discipleship groups rising, new and old followers of Christ wanting to spend more time in the Word and growing into the disciple makers Christ has called us all to become. There is no doubt that as we grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, we will grow in our authority of the Word. We will begin to apply the Word of God to all areas of our lives! This is how we will be able to fulfill each of our own parts in the  great commission.  By knowing the Word, believing the Word and obeying the Word. By doing what Jesus told each and every one of us to do in Matthew 28:16-20 NIV 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

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

David knew it, YOU can too!

 

I am currently making my way through the book of Psalms again. I love this book! It is full of incredible inspiration, wisdom and deep truth. The word of God tells us that  David was  a man after God’s own heart. Acts 13:22 NIV says 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ and 1Samuel 13:14 NIV 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”  I love the Lord’s mercy towards David. Though David sinned, his heart was tender towards God and he repented and God  not only forgave him but  used him mightily! Perhaps knowing that he was a man after God’s own heart is what makes David’s words of such value to me. He wasn’t perfect, just like the rest of us, but he wasn’t long in repenting after his sins. He valued his intimacy with God. He also knew that God was faithful and true and that He could be trusted with everything, including his life.

David had a life of blessings but he also endured great suffering, some the direct result of his disobedience.  The death of his infant son from Bathsheba, the pursuit of Saul for his life, the separation from his son Absalom, the death of Absalom and more.  Despite his sorrows, David knew God could be trusted. God could be counted on. Unlike himself, God never sinned, yet would still show mercy when a truly repentant heart would call on His name. Though because of his great sin he deserved abandonment, God heard his repentant heart and did not abandon him. When David sought him in earnest, God answered!

Psalm 22 beautifully illustrates their relationship. It also foretells of Christ’s death and suffering for us!

Psalm 22 NIV

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “Let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.

15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death

.16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For He has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden His face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever

!27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

Just as David knew His God would hear his cry and answer, we too can be assured that through Christ, God will hear and answer our pleas.  He will never leave us or abandon us! We can trust Him with every area of our lives, despite how dark or bleak things may seem. Despite what we have done, if we cry out to Him, He will answer and deliver us! We are part of the future generations David spoke of. We can proclaim the righteousness of Christ and declare it! We also have become that righteousness through the shed blood of Christ!

If you are struggling with something, feel abandoned, alone or depressed, call on the name of Jesus. He will hear you! He will not turn away from you!  Just as David said , For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”  He hears the cry of a repentant heart and will not turn away.

Father God, I ask today that you forgive me of my sins and transgressions. I am sorry for the things I have done that have caused separation from you. Jesus, please come into my life, my situation and deliver me from any chains that keep me bound. Free me from anything that causes separation between us. Just as David cried out to You for help, I cry out to You today. I need you in my life. I need your favor and guidance. Please help me to grow closer to You and abide in You daily. Give me a hunger for reading the Bible so that I may learn of You more. Give me a love for others so that I may demonstrate Your love more. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may accomplish all that You have for me to do, in the precious and beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.

HE alone is the WAY

After chatting with a new Christian yesterday, I once again realized the  absolute importance of studying the Bible. If we Christians don’t know the Word of God we are vulnerable to falling prey to all types of false doctrine. We not only run the risk of being lead  astray but also run the risk of leading others astray. We are followers of Christ and therefore must know our bibles. Our bibles are the basis of our faith. It is in the Word of God that we learn of who God is, who Christ is and who the Holy Spirit is. We also learn what Christ has done for us. If we call our self a Christian, it is impossible to separate ourselves from the source of our faith, the Word of God. If we do, than we are Christians in name only.  The young woman I spoke with yesterday was stunned when I told her that the bible tells us Jesus is the ONLY way to Heaven.  She said she had no idea that was true.  When I mentioned that as a follower of Christ we believe the Word of God and that I wasn’t making it up, the Word of God is very specific about Jesus being the ONLY way. If you believe there is any other way to salvation than you  cannot call yourself a Christian because the definition of a Christian is a follower of Christ and a believer of His teachings.

It was Jesus Himself who told us in John 14: 6-12 NKJV  6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

The Old Testament foretells of  the coming of the Messiah and the New Testament tells us of His arrival. Both are full of Christ. It is so important that if we have made a decision to follow Christ that we learn of Him and know what He has done and continues to do for us! If you are believing anything other than what the Word of God says about Christ  and His position as Savior, Lord and coming King, than you are either mislead or you are ignorant of His true identity and you need to spend more time in His Word.

Let’s look at just a few verses that tell us just who He is and what He has done..

Acts 4:8-12 NKJV 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

James 10:1-18 NKJV 10 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All whoever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

1 Corinthians 15:1-28 NIV 15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Romans 3:21-26 NIV 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

These are but a few of the many verses in the Bible telling of salvation through Christ alone. There is NO OTHER name by which we can be saved. It is a truth we must know and share with anyone new in the faith or seeking God. Despite the fact it may not be politically correct in the times we are living, it is God’s truth and as a follower of Christ we must share it with those who ask and those who are seeking the truth. It is only through salvation in Christ that they will receive all the promises of God!

Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for salvation and the opportunity to be adopted into your family through faith in Christ! Please draw us closer to You and give us a hunger for your Word, the Bible, so that we may learn of You and the incredible love You have for each one of us. Keep us from falling prey to false doctrine as we search the scriptures to learn of You and of Christ our precious redeemer, Lord and King. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.” ~Francis Chan

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!

Why wait?

 I have noticed a pattern in my life. When I become restless for something or some situation to change and I act out on my own to change it, it seldom works out for good. I know I am not alone in this. Too often we respond to our situations with impatience and irritation. We want to see quick results. We want instant gratification. We want, we want…and when we try and force the issue it does not usually end well. Sadly we followers of Christ sometimes forget that without God’s approval a lot of the things we desire and want to force are not the best things for us. Most of us know believers that got impatient waiting on a godly spouse and decided to accept someone that gave them the attention they were craving. One thing leads to another and they end up marrying outside their faith. Ten years down the road they cry out to God, “Why is my marriage such a mess?” We’ve all been guilty of rushing ahead of God’s best for us in one area or another. Though some situations are much more serious when we do this, such as marriage, all situations are more difficult when we rush ahead of God’s will.  Our emotions can often be the driving force that set us on a path outside of God’s will. Hasty decisions seldom bring about the best results. God has created us to have fellowship with Him. He has made a way through Christ, for us to be able to come before Him morning, noon and night. He longs for our fellowship with Him. When we stay close to Him we are much more inclined to wait on Him for our answer. It’s when we take our eyes off of Him that we begin to stress and get impatient for results. The scriptures are full of verses petitioning us to wait on God. To lean on Him for direction, guidance and for all of our needs! Let’s take a look at just a few of them.. Lamentations 3:25,26 NIV 25The 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. 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, Lord, even as we put our hope in You. Psalm 37:9 KJV 9  For evildoers shall be cut off;  But those who wait on the Lord,  they shall inherit the earth. Psalm 25:5 NKJV 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,  For You are the God of my salvation;  On You I wait all the day. Psalm 40:1-3 NKJV 1 I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. —Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord. I personally love this verse, Psalm 37:34 NKJV 34 Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it. And finally a verse we should all put to memory,  Isaiah 40:31 NKJV But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. The one thing we can be sure of is that we will never regret waiting on God. What He has for us is far better than anything or anyone we could ever gain through impatience. He has our long term benefit at heart. He knows the future. He knows who and what we need in our lives. If you are in the process of making a decision that could affect your future ask God for wisdom. Ask Him for direction. Ask Him to open doors He wants open in your life and to shut doors He wants closed. Seek His will in the matter and then wait on His answer. Rushing ahead without consulting God will not give you the result that is best for you in the long term. It may gratify you for the short term but God’s will in the matter will bring the best long term results! Lord, please remind us to look to You as our source for everything. Teach us to wait on You instead of running ahead with our own plans. Give us a heart that loves You more and more and trusts You in all things. In the name of Jesus, Amen  “Stand still” – keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.” ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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

Give the gift of HOPE

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

The World Health Organization states that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In your beautiful name Jesus,

Amen.

Are you ALWAYS prepared to give an answer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen

Let His love OUST your fears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solomon’s slippery slope of compromise

Every time I read through the Old Testament I discover new things. I believe God draws certain things to our attention at different times in our life. The Holy Spirit beautifully reveals things as we need them in our walk. I have just finished reading about David and the Kingdom God promised him that would be continued through his son Solomon, should Solomon continue to serve God and walk in obedience.  Well Solomon started off well. He rebuilt the temple as he was instructed to. However, even with his God given wisdom, he made choices along the way that would put him in opposition to God’s purposes. He began to collect women as his wives and concubines that served idols and false gods. Sure enough over time he too began to serve the same idols. He, who had heard from God twice in his life and had seen God’s hand move mightily through his father David!  He compromised with the company he kept and it eventually caused him to compromise his obedience to the Most High.

For some reason, this time around as I read through the story it made me very sad. God had done so much for Solomon. He had revealed Himself in so many awesome ways and yet Solomon, through the lusts  of the flesh, turned from serving Him.

1Kings 11:1-13 NIV11 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.

On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.

The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

As I thought about this, it just seemed so ridiculous for Solomon to give up the One true God for idols after all he had seen and experienced and then it occurred to me, how often do we in the body of Christ do the same thing?  We compromise in our relationships to appease our lusts and then find ourselves sliding down that slippery slope of separation from our intimacy with Christ.  How it must grieve God’s heart when He sees us setting aside our fellowship with Christ for people and things that will never amount to anything outside His approval. How many Christians do we know that have “intermarried” their lives with those who do not follow Christ and then are surprised when they find themselves living out the difficult consequences of their decision?  Sadly too many.

The beauty in this story however, can be found in verses 12 and 13, 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”  Though people may turn from serving God, He will never go back on His word. Because of the sake of David, God continued His promise through one tribe! That is the heart of our Father. He loves us and throughout history has always provided a way for His people to continue. The greatest way being through His precious Son!

My prayer is to have a heart like David.  Acts 13:22 NIV 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’  Though I may stumble from time to time, I will continue to come before my beautiful King daily and ask for His mercy and guidance.

Lord let us not “intermarry” with the world and it’s idols but instead be a beacon of light and hope to the world that so desperately needs You! If we have Lord, please forgive us of our disobedience and hard heartedness and set us back on track. Continue the work of sharing the gospel through us Jesus!

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.

Keep Him in your goals

There are many things I hope to accomplish in this coming year. I have goals I hope to achieve in my home, at my place of work, at my church and even personal  goals I want to accomplish. I think these things are important. I find when I have a goal it is much easier to keep moving forward.  A goal keeps me focused. It helps remind me of what I need to do and how I need to do it. Without a goal I tend to stagnate.

As important as our short term goals are they must never become more important than or take the place of God’s long term goal for us. In fact we may have to tweak our short term goals on occasion when the Lord reveals to us that it is in the way of something He has planned for us. We must learn to be flexible with our goals, always being sensitive to the Spirit of God’s leading. After all, His ways are better than our ways! He knows the beginning and the end! We form our goals with short term vision. He doesn’t.

With that in mind, there is one long term goal He has for all of us. This goal must never change! This goal can be found in the book of Hebrews 12:1-3 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. 

Any goals we set, any plans we make must include “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  Even our own personal goals must not impede the ultimate goal of running the race God has marked out for us. A race that will ultimately result in hearing the words, “Well done though good and faithful servant!”   Anything we plan that pulls us away from Christ is not a plan that He will bless or flourish but as we submit ourselves to His will for us and plans for our future, we can be assured that He will guide us as we go. He will also nudge us when we get off track.

Why not join me in 2014 and ask God to direct every goal and plan for the future?

Lord we pray that in this coming year You will guide our steps, You will give us vision for the future and You will keep us close to You. We know that anything done without You is done in vain. We ask for Your hand in all we do, no matter how small the plan or goal. If we begin to wander off the track You have planned for us, help us to be sensitive and obedient to the nudging of Your precious Spirit and get back on track.  We ask this in the name of our beautiful Savior and King, Jesus.

Amen

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

Don’t make an idol of your peeps!

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Trust in Him who can’t be shaken!

Job 12:10 NIV  10 In his hand is the life of every creature     and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:10 NIV
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

With all the craziness going on in the world today, it is a challenge to not worry about the future. We see government corruption, unrest,  wars and rumors of wars everywhere we look. Things that for generations people relied upon, are now being shaken.  Senior pensions, family security, trust in the government, job security and many other things are no longer things you can rely upon. We tend to find ourselves angry at those in charge. Those who we believe are responsible for the changes that we don’t seem to be able to prevent.

I was reminded this morning that none of this is a surprise to our King. We were warned  in Hebrews 12:25-29 NIV 25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken that is, created things-so that what cannot be shaken may remain.28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

We are currently experiencing the birth pangs of what is prophetically to come. If we study the Word as we are called to do,  these pains should not surprise us either. They were foretold and they will happen. Though it is vitally important to pray for our leaders, we cannot count on them to “save” us from all the difficulties we currently face or those to come.  For all of us who follow Christ, our hope and trust must be in the One who truly holds the future in His hand.

God calls His people to trust Him with every area of our lives. He is our King, Redeemer, Provider, Protector and will be with us till He calls us home. When we look to world leaders and political parties alone to keep our future secure, we are trusting in sinking sand. In 1 Peter 2:9 NIV, we read of our position  as followers of Christ, But we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.10 Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God; once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.

Because of our position in Christ, we can trust Him to be ever present with us regardless of the environment we find ourselves living in. Just as God assured Moses that he would deliver His people out of the land of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the Promise Land, we too can trust Him to bring us through any situation or environment until either Christ returns or He calls us home.

When we find ourselves yelling at the tv or ranting over what mess the current politicians have got us into, we need to remember the following verses…

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

Psalm 18:30 NIV 30 As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.

Psalm 27:5 NIV For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

And finally one of my favorites from the NT…

Phillipians 4:6-8 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

Have a wonderful day!

Fall, the season for change!

Hebrews 12:1 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.

Hebrews 12:1 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.

This Fall I hope to put into place some disciplines I have set aside throughout the Summer months. Though I used to carefully watch what I ate, this Summer I have slipped into some bad habits that have changed the shape of my body! Bad habits, physically, spiritually or emotionally always change us. We allow things to slip in on occasion at the beginning, the odd extra piece of cheese, that desert we usually would bypass etc. and before we know it, we are  allowing more and more of the very things we should be avoiding into our life.

It’s the same situation with our emotional life. If we allow things to sap our emotional strength such as a lack of sleep, spending too much  time with complainers and grumblers, beating ourselves up over things we have done, we begin to suffer emotionally. It then becomes much more difficult to fight off the negative thoughts and patterns in our lives. We become the walking wounded and instead of being a blessing and encourager to others we slowly become self centered and pitiful.

Our spiritual life is no different. When we spend our time watching too much tv, listening to music that does not glorify God or doing anything else that draws us away from time with our Heavenly Father, we begin to suffer spiritually. He has given us many wonderful things to enjoy in this life of ours but He must always come first if we are to keep these things in their proper perspective.  If we are not reading the Word of God, or spending enough time in prayer we become weak spiritually. We don’t recall the scripture we need at times of temptation or difficulty. We tend to try and work things out for ourselves, which usually does not end well.

I have a long way to grow but as with any growth, it has to start somewhere.  My prayer is that this Fall will be a season of new growth, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Just as the leaves on the trees die and fall to the ground, I want those bad habits and patterns I have allowed in my life that are no longer life-giving to be put to death.  Lord help me to lean in closer to You, to stand on your Word and with the help of your Spirit,  to lay aside the things that so easily beset me. Let me use my time wisely and run the race the way you have called me to, putting away the things in my life that are drawing me away from your beautiful presence and are keeping me from fulfilling all that you have designed for my life.

Amen

Hebrews 12:1 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.

Phillipians 3:12 NIV12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

1 Peter 2:1-5 NIV 2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.As you come to him, the living Stone rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Are you resisting change?

Sometimes I find myself battling change. Familiarity is often very comfortable. Whether it be on the job, in my home or at church, the familiar is predictable and comfy. However, God never seems to allow me to get too comfy for too long. There are often changes that need to be made in the workplace that I didn’t expect, my home life has moments of victory and moments of sorrow and my church is ever changing.

When we follow Christ, comfy and familiar are not things we should count on. When the Spirit of God moves, there is often change. When it is God inspired, it is always for our good, no matter how uncomfortable we may be at first. Many churches over the years, have been split due to the Holy Spirit bringing about new seasons of growth and some of the congregation rejection the change. Change is not bad. In fact, most of us need it in various areas of our life. When we yield to Christ and allow Him to bring about the changes He desires to in our lives, it is a very good thing!

Phillipians 3:12-14 NIV 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

If you find yourself resisting change, cry out to God and ask Him to prepare your heart for growth. As with most growth, there will be some growing pains but as you work through them your faith will increase and your walk with Christ will produce more fruit. We will never be able to stop change. It will happen whether we like it or not. The important thing is when it is God’s Spirit bringing it about in our lives, we must yield no matter how painful! Instead of resisting, ask God to give you inner peace as He works a new thing in your life. Resisting only draws the growing pains out for a longer period of time. Submit yourself to Him and the changes He wants to bring. Your life will be enriched by it and you will be all the more fit for service!

Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV 18 Forget the former things;  do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;  do you not perceive it? I

am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

A good start makes for a good finish!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen

How are you following?

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The last few weeks I have spent outside the country. My hubby and I spent our first week on vacation and our second week was spent with my sister in the U.S. after the passing of her husband, our brother-in-law and dear friend.  Thankfully, we know he has gone on to be with Jesus. Though it was a sad time, it was also a time of celebration. After losing a  battle with cancer he still wins. He has gone on  before us to see the lover of his soul in person.His journey ended in Heaven!

Throughout the year I read through the Bible. Once I finished I start over again in Genesis and every time I read it I find so many new treasures. I love how the Spirit of God gives us what we need and can take in when we are ready for it. In the early hours this morning I read several chapters in the book of Numbers. I couldn’t help but feel for Moses when time and time again he had to intercede on behalf of his stubborn, rebellious followers. Though God showed them miracle after miracle, they still whined and complained. At times it appeared that Moses alone really understood the holiness and faithfulness of God to his promises.

With all their whining and complaining and rebellion, he still had the burden to intercede for them and prevented their destruction on numerous occasions. He loved God and loved his children. Though some were destroyed because they rebelled and would not yield to God, many were spared and their children were eventually allowed to enter the Promised Land. Through it all, we saw God’s mercy extended to them time and time again.

This time around, I gleaned two gems from this reading. One, a true man or woman of God loves Him and also loves His children. You can’t love God and hate His kids.

Two, God always desires our fellowship. He extends His hand to us over and over and as with the rebellious followers of Moses, many refuse to receive it and follow Him.

Today, through Christ we all have a way back to God. Jesus is our Savior, Healer, Deliverer and lover of our soul.  His death and resurrection allow us a way back to the Father. He is a leader we can follow in complete confidence!

Let’s not waste any more time whining and complaining but save ourselves multiple heartaches by following our leader. A leader that loves God and loves us! A leader that continually extends His hand towards us and offers us not only salvation but the Holy Spirit to direct and guide us on our journey until we finally reach Heaven, our Promised Land.

Numbers 14:1-24 NIV 14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”

13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’

17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.

Personal peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a blessed day!   🙂

Dealing with Disappointment

 I am certainly a work in progress.  My hearts desire is to grow more like Jesus, but I still have a long way to go. 😉  One of the things I find myself dealing with on occasion is disappointment.  This isn’t new.  On occasion, we  all deal with disappointment from the time we are a child till the grave but I am asking God to give me a better attitude towards it.  We need to be careful not to allow it to grow into discouragement.  If you break it down disappointment really boils down to a lack of faith and trust in the Word because  Romans 8:28 NIV says,  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.  

I know for certain that I love Him and I know that I have been called so this Word is as true for me as it is for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ! Therefore, it is imperative that I trust Him to work things for the good, despite how they may look to me. I have seen God move in and through my life many times since I came to Christ and I know that I know He is faithful and true.  So I must guard my heart from allowing any disappointments to lead to discouragement or perhaps even bitterness.

When disappointment comes, our attitude towards it can cause us to grow spiritually or to wither.  I am determined, that despite my not so great attitude at times towards it, I must allow God to use it  to draw me closer to Him and make me more like His Son.

Whether your disappointments come in the form of other people, yourself or circumstances beyond your control, join me in asking God to allow them to mold us more into the image of Jesus.  He dealt with so many disappointments. His disciples let Him down multiple times for example  in the Garden of Gethsemane when He asked them to stay awake and pray for Him, they fell asleep.  Though He demonstrated love and mercy to those He met, He saw the disciples act out of anger and fear on numerous occasions, instead of following His example such as Peter when he cut off the guards ear or when Peter’s lack of faith caused him to doubt when Jesus called him to walk upon the sea.  We have a Savior and Lord that knew disappointment firsthand yet it did not keep Him from fulfilling the purpose God had for Him just as we cannot let disappointment keep us from fulfilling the purpose God has called us to.

Lord, give us such a love for You that we will trust You completely whether we understand a thing or not.  When our heart is full of disappointment, give us the grace to carry on and trust You in everything without whining and complaining.  Increase our faith so that we will keep our eyes on You and not on others  or our circumstances and make us more like You Jesus.

In your precious name,

Amen.

Faith is often strengthened right at the place of disappointment. ~Rodney McBride 

Be like Joseph and bloom where you’re planted!

Genesis 50:20

Genesis 50:20

I have just reread the story of Joseph and his walk with God. It is such an inspiring story in so many ways. First off we see that though God has called us He does allow difficult situations in our lives but that they are always for a purpose.  Secondly, Joseph though clearly anointed by God at a young age, dealt with so many blows in life.  He was despised and rejected by his brothers because he was favored by their father.  Though they considered killing him, they settled on selling him as a slave!  He was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife of trying to have an adulterous affair with her and ended up in prison. None of these things were the result of disobedience. However, God allowed his difficult circumstances to mold him and have him in a place of blessing to others down the road.

Let’s reread the story…Genesis 37 NIV 

37 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.

2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate  robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”

“Very well,” he replied. 14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.

When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”

16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”

17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said.22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.

23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother,our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels  of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”

31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”

33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”

34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.

36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

We pick up the story again in Genesis 39 NIV

39 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

2 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

In Genesis chapter 40 we see a glimpse of hope for Joseph’s release from prison, but still God allows him to remain where he is.

40 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.

After they had been in custody for some time, 5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”

8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”

12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”

20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.  

Two more years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and yet Joseph appears to bloom where he was planted!

The story continues in Genesis 41.

41 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank.4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.

22 “In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.

28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began,just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

It is such an awesome thing to see God bless Joseph in the very situation that was meant for his harm. He not only blesses him but puts him in a position that he may be used by God to be a blessing to others!

Though it is years after his being sold as a slave,  in Chapter 42 we get a glimpse of why God allowed, what would seem to be some of the terrible injustices in Joseph’s life.

42 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” 2 He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”

3 Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. 5 So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.

6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them.“Where do you come from?” he asked.

“From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”

8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”

12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”

14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 And he put them all in custody for three days.

18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do.

21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”

22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.

24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.

25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.

27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.”

Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”

29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’

33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go.34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’”

35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”

37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”

38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”

Chapter 43 NIV 

43 Now the famine was still severe in the land. 2 So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.”

3 But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you.5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’”

6 Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?”

7 They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”

8 Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. 9 I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.”

11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake.13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty[a] grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”

15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal;they are to eat with me at noon.”

17 The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house. 18 Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.”

19 So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 “We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. 21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”

23 “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

24 The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. 25 They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

26 When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. 27 He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?”

28 They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.

29 As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.”30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.

31 After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.”

32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians.33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest;and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

Genesis 44 NIV

44 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. 2 Then put my cup,the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.

3 As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4 They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 5 Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’”

6 When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. 7 But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! 8 We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9 If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die;and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”

10 “Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave;the rest of you will be free from blame.”

11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.

14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15 Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”

16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence?God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”

17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

21 “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’24 When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.

25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ 26 But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

27 “Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the gravein misery.’

30 “So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31 sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32 Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’

33 “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”

Genesis 45 NIV 

45 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him,weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

16 When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’

19 “You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. 20 Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’”

21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”

25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

Genesis 46 NIV 

46 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

5 Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. 6 So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. 7 Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.

8 These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt:

Reuben the firstborn of Jacob.

9 The sons of Reuben:  Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi.

10 The sons of Simeon:  Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman.

11 The sons of Levi:  Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

12 The sons of Judah:  Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan).

The sons of Perez:  Hezron and Hamul.

13 The sons of Issachar:  Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron.

14 The sons of Zebulun:  Sered, Elon and Jahleel.

15 These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all.

16 The sons of Gad:  Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.

17 The sons of Asher:  Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah.

Their sister was Serah.

The sons of Beriah:  Heber and Malkiel.

18 These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah—sixteen in all.

19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel:  Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.

21 The sons of Benjamin:  Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.

22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all.

23 The son of Dan:  Hushim.

24 The sons of Naphtali:  Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem.

25 These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all.

26 All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.

28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel.As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time.

30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan,have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

Genesis 47 NIV 

47 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” 2 He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.

3 Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”

“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” 4 They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”

5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, 6 and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, 8 Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”

9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.

13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace.15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.”

16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.

18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”

25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.

27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.

28 Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven.29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindnessand faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”

“I will do as you say,” he said.

31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

Genesis 48 NIV 

48 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. 2 When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

3 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me 4 and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

5 “Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. 6 Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. 7 As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

8 When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”

9 “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”

10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.

15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,

“May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm -may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly on the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” 20 He blessed them that day and said, “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing:  “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. 22 And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”

Genesis 49 NIV 

49 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.

2 “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
    listen to your father Israel.

3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my might, the first sign of my strength,
    excelling in honor, excelling in power.
4 Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
    for you went up onto your father’s bed,
    onto my couch and defiled it.

5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers—
    their swords are weapons of violence.
6 Let me not enter their council,
    let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
    and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
7 Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
    and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
    and disperse them in Israel.

8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you;
    your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
    you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
    his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
    his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
    his teeth whiter than milk.

13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore
    and become a haven for ships;
    his border will extend toward Sidon.

14 “Issachar is a rawboned donkey
    lying down among the sheep pens.
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
    and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
    and submit to forced labor.

16 “Dan will provide justice for his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
    a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
    so that its rider tumbles backward.

18 “I look for your deliverance, Lord.

19 “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders,
    but he will attack them at their heels.

20 “Asher’s food will be rich;
    he will provide delicacies fit for a king.

21 “Naphtali is a doe set free
    that bears beautiful fawns.

22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
    because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,
    blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
    than the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
    in the morning he devours the prey,
    in the evening he divides the plunder.”

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

29 Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamrein Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite.31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.

33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

Genesis 50 NIV 

50 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, 3 taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, 5 ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”

6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

10 When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly;and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 

20 You intended to harm me,but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

This story is a wonderful reminder to all who follow Christ that there are things in our lives God will allow for His long term purposes. We need to allow Him to move in us in every situation or circumstance we find ourselves in, not just places of comfort. He may use circumstances to develop our character, increase our faith, to encourage others or to bless His people. There are too many reasons to list them all but the one thing we can be sure of  is that Christ is there with us regardless of our circumstance. From a jail cell to a palace suite, He will never leave us or forsake us if we have committed our lives to Him.

Instead of grumbling and complaining, allow God to use you right where you are at. It may look like He has left the building but Christ will never desert us!  He is trustworthy!  Our vision is very limited but His is not. Never forget 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!

Something we can learn from Esau’s life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Him replace your ashes with a crown of beauty

Isaiah 61:3

Isaiah 61:3

Last night I watched a youtube video of Nick Vujicic giving his testimony.  For those who are not familiar with Nick, he was born without arms or legs. His story is awesome. It just drilled into my heart once again, how God can take the most difficult circumstances and make them into something absolutely wonderful for His Kingdom.  Every single person born has a purpose or destiny in His Kingdom. It just blesses me that what man sees as tragedy, God often uses as an opportunity!

There is NO circumstance we may face that is too difficult for God to use in our lives. In fact, often it is the most difficult circumstances that bring about the most fruit, in our own personal spiritual growth and in our ability to share the love of Christ with others. I am just so thankful that I serve a loving, kind God that is always looking out for our best LONG term interest. He knows what we need to grow us up. He knows how best to prune us in order that we will produce more spiritual fruit.

If you happen to be going through a very difficult trial or time in your life and are feeling overwhelmed, run back to Jesus. Ask Him to give you the peace that only He can give. Put your trust in the ONE who is trustworthy. Ask Him to use your circumstance to grow in you a deeper faith and love for Him. Ask Him to use your circumstance to further His Kingdom, to be a blessings to others, to demonstrate the reality of your walk as a Christian.

Too often we want to run from our difficult circumstances when really we need to allow God to use them to fulfill His perfect long term purpose  in our lives.  Whatever it is you are currently going through, surrender it to the lover of your soul. He can give you a crown of beauty for the  ashes in your life and the oil of joy to replace your mourning, as you surrender your circumstance  to Him.

I have had my own share of tragedies and have seen how the Lord has taken those tragedies and eventually used them to encourage and comfort others and to strengthen my trust and faith in Him.  I know that despite the circumstance, He will never fail me and He will never fail you!

Isaiah 61:1-3 NIV The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

 

Related Articles:  http://http://suzietors.blogspot.ca/2013/07/on-his-shoulders.html?spref=fb

Don’t be surprised

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings!

Vengeance is not OURS, despite how we may feel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Who do you turn to for advice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is still our Deliverer!

Psalm 37:40

Psalm 37:40

When reading Psalm 37 today, I couldn’t help but notice how fitting this word is for today. This beautiful Psalm was penned by David, who knew what it was like to be surrounded by enemies and sin. We don’t have to look far to see wickedness abounding . We see crime, evil and persecution of the church increasing. We see countries being ruled by tyrants, wounding and murdering their own people for personal gain. We see God’s Word and His people mocked in the media more than ever before. It would appear evil is having the last laugh. However God’s Word tells us that this is for a season. That God will not allow this to continue indefinitely.

We are not to be afraid or discouraged. God has not been knocked off His throne, and Jesus is still the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who is coming back for His bride, the church! We are only to run to Him and trust Him for all our needs. He is the same yesterday, today and forever!  He is not surprised by what is going on.  It has not caught Him off guard. In fact, He warned us that these things would happen. It is a call to draw near to Him. A call to share the love of Christ with those who don’t know Him as Redeemer and friend. A call to abide in Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit. A call to encourage and edify our brothers and sisters in Christ.

It’s time we put aside things that are distractions and draw near to the lover of our soul. As we spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word, our hearts will be transformed from glory to glory. We will be His hands and feet. We will make a difference in this crazy world of ours. We will share the good news with those who need to hear it before Christ returns!

If you find yourself afraid or discouraged with the things  unfolding around you, look to Him. He will sustain you. He will give you a fresh anointing each day to fulfill the purpose He has for you!  Don’t spend time worrying, spend time praying. Don’t spend time afraid, spend time seeking Him and His wisdom for your circumstances. Remember,  salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.!

Meditate on this beautiful Psalm and the many promises from God in it. It is just as much a message for us today as it was to David in his day!

Psalm 37

1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
    and He will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in Him and He will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for Him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous
    and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    for he knows their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword
    and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
    to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
    and their bows will be broken.

16 Better the little that the righteous have
    than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
    but the Lord upholds the righteous.

18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
    and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
    in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

20 But the wicked will perish:
    Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
    they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
    but the righteous give generously;
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
    but those he curses will be destroyed.

23 The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in Him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with His hand.

25 I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.

27 Turn from evil and do good;
    then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the Lord loves the just
    and will not forsake His faithful ones.

Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
    the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
    and dwell in it forever.

30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
    and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
    their feet do not slip.

32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
    intent on putting them to death;
33 but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked
    or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

34 Hope in the Lord
    and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
    when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
    flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
    though I looked for him, he could not be found.

37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
    a future awaits those who seek peace.
38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
    there will be no future for the wicked.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
    He is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in Him.

Who are you interceding for?

Anyone that has been watching the news lately realizes there is an escalation of persecution for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, India and the list goes on and on…. even to a degree here in North America where it is no longer politically correct to stand for the principles of God’s Word and if you do, you may be mocked or criticized. Though Jesus warned us that this day would come, it is difficult to hear how so many are being martyred worldwide for their faith. Most of the perpetuators are extremists on the outside but it is the same spirit of antichrist that ruled the world in times past. It is just escalating as Jesus warned us it would, as time draws closer to His return. We need to not only pray for those being persecuted but that the persecutors will come to know this Jesus that we love so much!

Everything we see going on today is a petition to prayer! Pray for North Americans to be bold in Christ and not be as the Word of God says, whitewashed tombs. Spiritually dead on the inside and appearing righteous on the outside! We need to wake ourselves out of a spiritual slumber of comfort and begin interceding for our families, Pastors and those in Christian leadership, churches, friends, leaders of nations, and our brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide! We need to stop wasting so much time doing things that have no permanent value and become warriors in prayer for the lost, the persecuted and for each other. Prayer is the wheel that will begin to get change rolling in the lives of others and ourselves. Without it, we cannot expect to see God intercede. It really does change things, people and situations.

The Bible has several verses on praying for others. Too many to list them all here but here is a start….

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

Matthew 5:4  AKJV44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

These next few verses in the book of Luke show just how important it is not to quit praying. God hears our prayers and we are not to quit!

Luke 18:1-8 NIV 1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

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

2 Thessalonians 3:1 NIV 3 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.

and finally…

1 Timothy 2:1 NIV 2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.

We have a valuable tool available to us that can bring about enormous change for the lost, the weak, the broken, the persecuted, the hurting, those in authority, those being used by our enemy etc…  Let”s use this tool and do what the Word of God says to do!  If we spend more time interceding in prayer and less time complaining we will begin to see the changes our hearts long for before Jesus returns!

“Prayerlessness is disobedience, for God’s command is that men ought always to pray and not faint. To be prayer less is to fail God, for He says, ask of me.”~ Leonard Ravenhill

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What are you putting before Him?

Isaiah 42:8

Isaiah 42:8

“Idol” definition taken from Oxforddictionaries.com

noun  -an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.

-a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved or revered:  a soccer idol.

I’ve been rethinking many of the things I have allowed in my life that could certainly fall into this category.  Particularly a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved or revered.  Is it wrong for us to love those around us? NO, Jesus said that people will know we are Christians by our love for others! So when do people or things become an idol? I believe it is when we place their importance, opinions and or influence above our relationship and obedience to the King of Kings. Anything or person that we allow to detract us from our obedience to Jesus is an idol. Anything or anyone that we love more than Him is an idol. When we find ourselves compromising what we know is truth in order to accommodate others or to participate in something we know we shouldn’t we have allowed that person or thing to become an idol in our life.

For the last few months, I have begun to realize I am way too dependent on electronic gadgets! My blackberry is always within reach, facebook is readily accessible, the internet is a click away and tv is all too available. Though none of these things in themselves are wrong, when I allow myself to be caught up in never wanting them out of reach, I have made  them an idol in my life.

I feel a stirring in my heart that we may be facing some incredibly difficult days ahead as believers. Our Christian heritage is being attacked on every front. Things are changing rapidly in society and most of the changes are tearing down our Judeo Christian foundation. Though I do use my gadgets to share my faith in Christ and to keep in touch with others, I am realizing that I really have to discipline myself not to give them too much space in my life.  The only way for me to maintain an intimate walk with Christ is to spend adequate time in prayer and in reading my Bible and in fellowship. There have been occasions when I have been praying in my car on route to work and my cell phone has wrung and I have interrupted prayer to answer it!  Responding as if the world would collapse if I missed that  call!

Gadgets are but one thing that can become an idol. Other idols can be people. Perhaps a friend that demands too much time and keeps you  from spending time with the Lord. A boyfriend or girlfriend that has become an idol and has replaced the need for Christ in your life. A teacher, Pastor, neighbor or musician. A hobby, a sinful habit, food, tv, sports etc..  Anything or anyone that takes the place of putting Christ first is an idol.

Though all of these things and people may have great value in our lives, we have to keep them in perspective and not allow anything or anyone to steal our heart from God. If it keeps us from or causes us to run from intimacy with Him it is an idol.  The Bible tells us that God is a jealous God and wants us to put Him first. He knows how easily distracted we can become and knows it is vital for us to maintain intimacy with Him for the rest of our lives to work out according to His plan.

Let’s take a look at a few verses from God’s Word on idolatry….

Colossians 3:5-6 NIV 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.      This is a sobering verse of warning of God’s wrath for people continuing in this type of idolatry.

1 John 5:21 NIV 21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

1 Corinthians 10:7  NIV 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

1 Corinthians 10:14 NIV 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

The following verse from the book of Samuel  simplifies the value of anything or anyone we put before God in our lives.

1 Samuel 12:21 NIV 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.

Our hope is in the Lord. Other things and people have their place, but NONE are to take the place of Him in our lives. We are to put NO OTHER gods BEFORE HIM.  Though taken from the Old Testament ten commandments, this  word has never changed. He loves us so much and does not want to be second in our lives. Perhaps we need to ask Him  to show us people or things  that we have allowed to become idols in our lives and then ask for His forgiveness. The Word tells us He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When we put anything or anyone before Him we lose out on the things God wants to do in us and through us. We get waylaid from the course He has set for us. Let’s determine to love Him wholeheartedly. Confess and set aside anything that will keep you from your intimacy with the lover of our soul! After all, in order to be used by God and a blessing to those around us, we need to keep our hearts right with Christ!

Allowing God to use our pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Who are you trusting in?

The Lord reminded me this week that our hope is to be in Him and in Him alone. Others will from time to time disappoint us, reject us, abandon us, wound us, despise us etc. but He remains faithful and true. As followers of Christ we need to keep our hearts open and close to Jesus.  He will never disappoint us.  For even in our times of discouragement He provides comfort and rest if we look to Him.

People can be fickle and at times unreliable but He is not. He never changes. He offers mercy and grace to us all when we come humbly before Him, regardless of our sin. He provides us with strength when we go through trials and tribulations, as we abide in Him.

If you have found yourself feeling sad and discouraged as a result of disappointment, run to Him. He will provide the rest and peace you need. Just as we ourselves will stumble from time to time, so will others. When we look to others for our joy, happiness or security we set ourselves up for a great fall. Just as only Jesus can provide salvation, only Jesus can provide true joy, happiness and security.

David had such a grasp on this truth as is evident in so many verses in the Psalms.

Here are but a few…

Psalm 118:8 KJV 8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

Psalm 37:5 KJV 5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.

Psalm 28:7 KJV 7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth;  and with my song will I praise Him.

Psalm 56:3,4 NIV 3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.4  In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

and finally one of my favorites…

Psalm 18:2 NIV 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;  my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,  my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Remember we are all pilgrims on this journey of faith. We are being changed from glory to glory and will continue to be until we go on to be with the Lord. In the meantime, we will stumble and so will others.  You will disappoint others and others will disappoint you from time to time. So let’s put our trust and faith in the One that is worthy of both!