Tag Archive | brothers and sisters

Are you battling a storm?

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

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

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

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

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

In the book of Romans, Paul explains it beautifully…

Romans 8:5-38 NIV  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed  18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long;  we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

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

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

Blessings!

Idleness and Pity are not your calling!

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

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

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

Romans 12 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you worried? Here’s your answer!

Are you worried about what’s going on in the world today? Worried about your financial situation? Worried about your family? The list of things we worry about is endless but there is a solution. In every situation we are to turn our worries over to the ONE who died for us. The ONE who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond anything we can comprehend.

Worry will never solve a single thing. It will only rob us of our peace and joy. When we apply the Word of God to our situations we are able to rest peacefully knowing there is nothing impossible with Christ. Here are but a few words to take deep into your heart and apply to whatever it is you are worrying about.

1Peter 5:6-7 NIV 1 Peter 5:6-8 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

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. 

Phillipians 4:4-9 NIV Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Psalm 55:22 NIV 22 Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous be shaken.

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

Luke 12:22-26 NIV 22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Hebrews 13:6 NIV So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”

John 6:37 NIV 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 

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.

Deuteronomy 31:5, 6 NIV The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

And finally…

Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Do I need MORE to be content?

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 4:8-13 NKJV 

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

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

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

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



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

Help yes! Enable NO!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously, do I really need to go to church?

When we come to Christ, God fills us with His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit than gives each of us spiritual gifts as He sees fit. All the gifts are necessary for the collective body of Christ to grow. God does not give us our giftings to hoard or to sit on. He wants us to use our giftings to minister to one another. Let’s take a look at what Paul says about the gifts and the purpose of the giftings in 1 Corinthians 12:1-28….

1 Corinthians 12:1-28 NIV 12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[ one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Each and every one of us have a part to play in God’s family. This is the way He created it to be. We need each other to fulfill God’s plan for sharing Christ with the world. We also need each other to grow and mature in Christ. Our Creator did not want us to be alone. He knows what we need to mature and minister to others. The church provides the avenue for this to happen.

I spent several years away from church. There were many reasons I stopped going, none of which were any particular church’s fault. I had begun to doubt God’s love for me after being battered by a few life storms. I think I even wanted to punish God for not keeping the storms away. I am thankful to say God wooed me back with His love. I am now certain that, thanks to Christ, His love for me is limitless. I am also convinced that the church, though not perfect, is the best place for seekers of Christ and followers of Christ to grow in our love for God and one another.

Under solid, loving, Godly church leadership, we are able to learn our individual giftings and begin to use them in building up the church body. We are able to conquer giants through corporate  prayer.  We are able to be loved and love on one another. We able to help one another through difficult days and we are able to reach out to a dying world with the good news of Jesus.

I am so thankful to belong to my church family. My prayer is that if you don’t belong to a church family you will pray and ask God to show you where you should be going. You are missing out on all the blessings a church family brings. You are also missing out on fulfilling your purpose in the body of Christ. God has a church for you somewhere.  Don’t expect it to be perfect after all it’s made up of imperfect people like you and I but it is the place God’s designed for each of us to grow in and He knows what He is doing. 🙂