Tag Archive | Jesus

Disappointed in man?

disap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Is it time to open those boarded doors?

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

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

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

Let’s read together Hebrews 12 NIV  12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

Keep your eyes fixed as you run!

Hebrews 12:1,2 NIV 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12:1,2 NIV 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

As we follow Jesus we are all participants in a race. It is a race that requires us to  keep our eyes on the finish line. Our finish line is Jesus. He is to be our focus. As long as we look to the right or to the left we will get easily waylaid but if we keep our eyes on the lover of our soul we will grow stronger in grace and be able to complete the race  and hear the wonderful words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”

There are so many distractions along the way. Distractions that cause us to forget about the race and stop moving forward. These can come in many forms; dabbling in sin, busyness, rebellion, anger, bitterness but they all accomplish the same thing. They remove our eyes from the finish line.

As times moves on and the Lord’s return draws even closer we need to encourage one another to stay on course. To not allow anything to come between us and our relationship with Christ.

We need to take to heart Paul’s words in 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, 2 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.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Anything that we allow to come between us and Jesus will slow us down and eventually may even take us out of the race entirely. If you have gone off course, humbly ask the Lord to forgive you. He will extend mercy to the humble!  Get back into reading the Word of God.  It is the map God uses to keep us on track. Get involved in a church where the Bible is preached and the Holy Spirit is moving and you will find yourself enjoying the benefit of others encouraging  you as you run the race alongside them.

News worth sharing!

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

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

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

Keep it simple!

The Gospel message is simple. It is a message of God’s love demonstrated to us through Jesus. Jesus, who willingly laid down His life for us so that men and women everywhere could be saved. By believing in Jesus and asking Him to forgive us for all our sins, confessing Him with our mouth and being baptized we are given a NEW LIFE.

Romans 10:9-10 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

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.


Over the years men and women have complicated the simplicity of the Gospel with all kinds of man made traditions. But it is a simple message of love that requires our hearts turning to and yielding to Jesus Christ, our Savior and King. The message is complete in the Bible. We are not allowed to add to or take away from the Gospel message. It needs neither!

If you find yourself frustrated or confused about your faith, begin by reading the Bible again. Ask God to bring you fresh revelation of His Word.  Perhaps its time you and I spent more alone time in reading His Word and less time asking others for answers we need to be finding ourselves. Fellowship is wonderful, but is no replacement for the time each of us should spend learning of the lover of our soul through His love letter to us, the Word of God.

The time we spend in God’s Word is never wasted time. It is life changing. It is supernatural. It has the answers to life’s challenges and difficulties. Simplify your life, and get back into His Word. It will give you a clearer picture of what is important and what needs to be put aside. Untangle yourself from religious  dogma and embrace God’s love that has been bought and paid for by Christ. That is the gospel that is preached in the Bible. That is the gospel we need to share with those who still don’t know.

Where YOU lead, I will follow?

Ephesians 3:1-6

Ephesians 3:1-6

Our walk, as followers of Christ,  is not always a walk of comfort. In fact, often when we are obedient to the voice of God we are lead into situations that can be challenging or difficult. I couldn’t help but see this truth demonstrated over and over in the book of Acts. When the Holy Spirit would lead Paul or Peter somewhere or to do something for God,  persecution would shortly follow.  They never found it surprising or the result of a bad decision! It was a direct result of obeying the voice of God. Our brothers and sisters in Christ in many countries around the world understand this. It’s what they live and face every day. Somehow many of us in North America have come to believe that if doing something for God involves discomfort or hardship it can’t be of God because God wants us happy and comfortable. We need to reacquaint ourselves with the Word of God and what being a follower of Christ really means.

Though God promises joy and peace, He does not promise we will not go through hardships because of our faith. In fact the Word of God says we should expect it.

Peter tells us in 1Peter 4:12-14 NIV 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

Jesus tells us in the book of 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.” 

Paul taught in the book of Romans the value of suffering for our faith, Romans 5:3-5 NIV 3 5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 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.

Joy and peace are not dependent on comfort and ease, they are gifts from God Himself and are available regardless of our situation! Though Paul faced incredible hardships and persecution for his faith, he did not grumble or question God. He counted it a blessing to be worthy to suffer for Christ. Let’s take a look at some of the persecutions he faced, yet was still able to bless God through!

2 Corinthians 11:23-33 NIV 23 Are they servants of Christ? 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.

All of the difficulties and persecutions Paul endured strengthened His love and reliance on Christ. He did not become bitter and resentful. He knew there was nothing more important than to follow the path Christ had set out for him.  If any question whether God really wanted Paul to have to endured these trials or whether they were the result of his own bad decision making you need to read the book of Acts…

Acts 16:7-40 NIV When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.16 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.

35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”

37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”

38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.

When Paul obeyed the Spirit of God, people came to Christ! They saw the power of God moving through him and saw that his love for Christ far outweighed comfort and ease. He suffered greatly but as a result God used him mightily to further his Kingdom! Not only did Paul not grumble while he endured persecution but both he and Silas were praying and singing! After they were released from prison they met with fellow believers and encouraged them!  No moaning or complaining! There’s was not a ministry of comfort and ease!

We also see Peter and the apostles suffer for their obedience to the Spirit of God in the book of Acts.  We see Peter thrown in prison, the opportunities it presented and the amazing outcome in Acts 4:1-24 NIV 4 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is“‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.

We don’t hear them asking God why He allowed them to be thrown in prison? They knew that by following the leading of the Holy Spirit, Christ would use them in ways they may not understand but that the results would be furthering the Kingdom of God!

Again we see Peter and the apostles following the leading of the Spirit, the amazing results for the Kingdom of God and the persecution they endured because of their obedience in Acts 5:12-41 NIV 12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Once again, we see them thrown in prison, flogged and still they rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ!  Sadly today some believers won’t  attend church if there isn’t air conditioning in the Summer, or the music is too loud, or they can’t find parking close enough to the building!

Today my  prayer is that we followers of Christ will heed the voice of the Spirit and obey God. That we will be so full of the love of Christ that we will follow His leading wherever it may take us despite the cost! Lord change our hearts and help us to  live out Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV 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.3 Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Amen

Acts for today!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lay aside selfishness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where do we look?

Newspapers B&W (4)

Newspapers B&W (4) (Photo credit: NS Newsflash)

On a work related trip to Ireland last week I realized that no matter where you go you will inevitably see mans inhumanity to man. Though the trip itself was wonderful, we stopped to visit one of the replica Famine ships. These ships were also referred to as “coffin ships” due to the large number of people that would die while travelling from the Emerald Isle to Canada or the U.S. all while attempting to escape poverty and starvation in their homeland. Men would ask them to give up their land in order to provide them with a ticket on one of these “ships”, with the promise of a new future. The 2 week trips were treacherous with deplorable conditions and of course many would not make it due to the spread of illness. The poorer passengers were considered steerage and basically nothing more than cattle.
While away, we heard over the news about the Boston Marathon bombings. Watching footage brought home again one doesn’t have to look far to find demonstrations of hatred. As it turns out, two young men with a skewed ideology of hatred towards others, decided to kill and maim as many innocent bystanders as they could.
So what are we to do and think when we see these things around us? Should we just surrender all hope that things will ever get better? Do we begin to toughen our skin and just not expect anything better while we walk the earth?
NO! We are to keep our eyes on the lover of our soul, Jesus. As we look to Him and His Word we will be encouraged, knowing though things can look rough down here, this is just our temporary home. Not only that, but through His Spirit, He will show us things we are able to do while we occupy here, to demonstrate His love and mercy to a dying world. Every day provides new opportunities to do so!  So set aside discouragement and look to Him for direction! He has work for all of us to do!

Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV 1 Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. 2 Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

It’s time to start digging!

John 1:1 NIV 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1 NIV 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I love the word of God. This year as I make my annual trek through Genesis to the Book of Revelation, I am seeing so many beautiful gems that I have overlooked in the past! God’s word is exciting, it’s jarring, life changing and what I love the most about it is how it reveals God’s heart towards His people.

Being a parent that raised  5 children, I can’t help but see the  Father heart of God in the Old Testament as He watches His children using their free will to often ignore  the prophets of old and waddle through stages of  idolatry, spiritual laziness and blatant rejection of Him and His laws. It makes my heart hurt to read how He always provided a way for repentance and return and yet His kids chose and often continue to choose rebellion and suffer the consequences,  just as we have all done at some point in our lives.

 Exodus 34:5-7 NIV 5 Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD , the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

From Genesis to Malachi, God unceasingly calls His children back to Him, offering restoration and peace. Though there has always been and will always be a remnant that remain close to God, the masses would rebel believing life with their idols and philosophies would somehow offer them real peace.

Without reading the Old Testament through we would miss just how the birth of Christ in the New Testament beautifully fulfills the prophecies of  old. How God prepared the perfect plan of redemption for man, not only for the Jew but the Gentile also.  It was a simple plan of redemption where the ultimate perfect “lamb” would be sacrificed once and for all, thereby allowing every man woman and child an opportunity for salvation by believing on Him and following Him. His Son provided and continues to provide the only way to the Father.

  Acts 4:10-12 NIV Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given to mankind by which we must be saved.

As we read through the book of Mark to the book of Revelation we learn even more of the heart of God as we get to know His Son. As we soak ourselves in the treasures of His words and life, we ourselves are changed.

 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

If you are not spending time reading your Bible, your life will reflect it. It is a supernatural book offering life changing results. It’s critical that we spend time every day hearing from the lover of our soul, lining ourselves up with His awesome plan for our life! What you start as an act of discipline will soon become a treasure hunt as you delve into His words of life.

 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker that does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Are you hoarding the gospel?

The Good News is to be shared.

The Good News is to be shared.

I am amazed at how awesome our God is….Amid struggles of any kind, ailments and diagnoses HE offers peace. Peace that is impossible for anyone who doesn’t know Him and spend time with Him to understand. I know many people right now that are being soaked in prayer and our waiting on God. Resting in various circumstances without wringing their hands or complaining. Just resting, knowing that the lover of their soul has it all under control. Knowing that He will not allow anything to touch our lives that we cannot handle with Him.

I would like everyone to have the same peace. To have the same help in times of trouble. To have an ever present friend who will never leave them or forsake them.

When we see a hurting world of people trying to duke it out on their own it makes us long to share the love of Christ with them.  If we have His love shed abroad in our hearts we can’t help but want to when we know how much sweeter life is with Him, despite our circumstances.

Most of us enjoy sharing some  of the beautiful things in our lives with our friends, coworkers and acquaintances. When our child marries, when we become grandparents, a new house etc.. Though none of these things have the ability to make a huge difference in the life of the one we are sharing with, we all have the need to share. We are created to have fellowship with others. What is more beautiful than the love of Christ in our lives?

Maybe it’s time we stop hoarding the gospel and start sharing the gift that keeps on giving? It’s hard to watch people struggling through life and not want to help. We need to do what we can for others in need and then share Christ. The gospel isn’t for a select few but God desires that ALL would come to Him.  Just as the Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for today, teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” We need to tell others of God’s love for them and let them know that they can go right to the source. They have direct access to the Father through Christ.  They don’t need to spend their entire life counting on and being disappointed by others.

We serve a God that loves us so much He sent His precious Son to die for us. A God that will never leave us or forsake us. A God that is our strong tower in times of trouble. Our healer, deliverer and most of all a constant friend. How can we keep Him to ourselves?

2Peter3:9 NIV The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Mark 16:15 NIV He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel, to all creation.”

1 Corinthians 1:17 NIV For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel-not with wisdom and eloquence lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

~~~~~~~~~

“Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry? Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die? Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand? Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you damned?”~Leonard Ravenhill

Peace is NOT dependent on our circumstances

523671_314457205336545_557872178_nI am so thankful today! Once again, God has kindly given us the desire of our hearts and my hubby has received a clean bill of health six weeks post prostate cancer surgery. I am thankful for the clean PSA reading today but for much more than that. I am thankful for the incredible peace God gave us both during this entire challenge.  From the time we received his diagnosis until today we have had an unnatural peace. Not the kind that comes from knowing we WILL get exactly what we have been praying for (which was full recovery) but the kind that comes from knowing the ONE who will provide the answer. God has kindly restored my hubby’s health. We are very thankful and happy that He has.  However, should He have allowed the cancer journey to go on further I believe we would still walk through the journey in peace. We are learning to believe His promises and trust the lover of our souls. There is nothing that touches our lives that we can’t trust Him with. This  journey has allowed us to lean not on our own understanding but to trust Christ with every aspect of the journey. As we turned to Him and sought His guidance He provided us with a wonderful surgeon/oncologist recommended by dear friends.  He has provided financially during the last six weeks so as we have not had to miss paying a single bill.  He has provided Mike with a quick recovery and physical strength. He has given us a new compassion for people diagnosed with a life threatening illness. He has put wonderful people in our lives that have and are continuing to deal with a cancer diagnosis and we are blessed to be able to pray with and pray for.

Though it would have  been nice to have my hubby home for six weeks under different circumstances, we are thankful that during  the last six weeks  we have been able to spend more time together than we have in years! The word of God says the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Difficult circumstances will come our way from time to time but I am so grateful that NOTHING is too big to surrender to Christ. He is available to us 24/7.  He not only meets our needs but provides for us in so many ways far beyond what we could imagine.

If you are going through difficulties give Christ the opportunity to give you a peace that passes all natural understanding as you wait on your answer. Give Him the chance to provide for your needs. As a follower of Christ walking in His will, these are promises for YOU. He is no respecter of persons. What He will do for us, He will do for you! Read the Bible and learn of His promises to His kids.  Lay your fears, worries and anxieties at His feet and ask Him to give you the peace that passes understanding. Ask Him for the wisdom you will need in decision making as you go through your difficulties and finally take Him at His word.

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

Psalm 9:9 NIV The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

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

Knowing the One who holds our future and how very much He adores us, gives us the confidence to trust that He is working out His plan for our life, regardless of what comes our way. Therefore there is NO reason to fear whatever that may be but instead we can bring all our needs to Him in prayer and rest in the peace He give us .

P.S.  If you don’t know Christ, the author of true peace,  perhaps it’s time you meet the one who died for you. He died for your sins and mine and through His death and resurrection He offers us a restored relationship with God the Father.  By calling on His name and confessing our sins, we are able to enter into a wonderful life changing relationship with Him. There is no sin too big that God cannot forgive you of when you come to Christ. He longs to have an intimate relationship with you. He wants to be the ONE you turn to in times of need. Through salvation in Christ, not only are we promised an eternity in Heaven but we are promised fellowship with Him as we walk through this journey here on earth.

John 3:16 NIV For God so loved this world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but  have everlasting life. 

May 2013 bring you into a closer walk with Christ,  the lover of your soul!

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Merry CHRISTmas!

Luke 2:11 NIV 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.

Luke 2:11 NIV 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.

Isaiah 9:6,7 NIV For to us a child is born,to us a son is given,and the government will be on His shoulders.And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Matthew 1:18-25 NIV 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus,because He will save His people from their sins.”22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel” (which means “God with us”).24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave Him the name Jesus.

Hallelujah!!

 

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Praying that each of us will grow closer to the “reason for the season” in the coming year!

Blessings,

Lorraine

The best Christmas gift to give

As followers of Christ, we are so blessed to live under God’s mercy and grace through Christ. We are given access to the throne of God. We are provided for and given the wonderful gifts of the Spirit to move in. We are the King’s kids. What a privilege and blessing. Nothing is too difficult or challenging for God to hear and answer on our behalf.  Do we deserve it? No, but we have been adopted into the King’s family through Jesus, thereby making us His own. We are truly blessed and highly favored!

My hope is that I will not take that for granted as I have at various times in the past. I want to remember daily, just what Christ has done for each and everyone of us willing to invite Him into our lives. He is no respecter of persons. What is available to me is available to everyone else that asks Christ into their lives.  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.

This Christmas season I want to share the “good news” with others. There are so many hurting, broken people that are looking in all the wrong places for help to their problems. I want my life to demonstrate the love of Christ to those around me. I want to be able to help others in a tangible way but most of all I want to let them know that the same God that loves and cares for me is available to them. The only real solution for this hurting, broken world is to lead them to the One that is able to do all things. Though we can help and be a blessing, there are things we are not equipped or able to do. This is where God excels, in miracles!

Remember this Christmas season that the gospel is only good news to those that hear it! Share the love of Christ this year with those who are looking for answers. After all, He is the answer. Though He came as a baby, He now reigns as the King of Kings and  is available to all that seek Him. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 NIV For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. 

During all our gift giving this season, let’s not forget to share the one gift that truly keeps on giving, the gift of Christ to a dying world.

1 Timothy2:5,6 NIV 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

1 Timothy2:5,6 NIV 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

Christmas giving outside your circle

The Christmas season is upon us again. The stores are packed with shoppers trying to find the perfect gift. Christmas trees are decorated with every imaginable color, and Christmas music is heard everywhere you go. It’s an exciting, yet somewhat stressful time for many families. For those with loved ones or friends that they are able to share the holidays with, it is a happy time. It offers an opportunity to get together under joyful circumstances and enjoy each other’s company. Most of us love to be able to have all or near all our loved ones around us for a short time again.

Sadly, there are many others that look at the holidays as a time that emphasizes their loneliness. We usually don’t have to look far to find someone that doesn’t have family or close friends to share the holidays with. This can be due to relocation for a job, a family split, addiction, a falling out or multiple other reasons.  Why not reach out to someone this Christmas season? There are so many great ways to reach out…perhaps invite someone outside the family to Christmas dinner, donate to the Salvation Army, adopt a foster child through World Vision, help your Church with an Outreach dinner for their community, purchase gifts for struggling families, give to your local food bank..  There is no end to ways that you can be a blessing to others during this time of year.

Even though times may be tighter for some of us right now, we still have so much to give. If you can’t afford to give financially, why not offer your time?  Read to the elderly or visually impaired, bake an extra dozen cookies to share with a lonely neighbor. Just take a look around your neighborhood and see where you may be able to meet a need.

For too long many of us have made Christmas a time of meeting our own needs. Though there is nothing wrong with sharing and giving to those we love, the opportunity to give to others outside our inner circle provides us with a blessing greater than anything we will feel or receive from any gift under the tree.

The Bible has many verses on giving…why not take this  Christmas season to live them out?

Proverbs 11:24,25 NIV 24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Luke 6:38 NIV 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Acts 20:35 NIV 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Romans 13:8 NIV Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Truly, some of the happiest people I know are the most giving people. Stinginess does not bring happiness. It may thicken a wallet or bank account but it does not bring real joy. Giving does!

As Christians we can be a blessing to others because we serve a God that has done and continues to do so much for us!  Through Christ we have open access to the Creator of the world. We are continually watched and loved on by Him.  So this Christmas season remember Ephesians 2:10 NIV 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Go out and be a blessing to others and do good works! 🙂

Salvation Army-Giving Hope Today

Salvation Army-Giving Hope Today

Gratitude…take the time to say thanks!

Though 2012 has presented some pretty large challenges, I am learning to recognize the movement of God’s  mighty hand in each and every one of them! His intervention has surpassed my biggest expectations. Though He has allowed some challenges to come my way, He has more than revealed His love and mercy along the way. For those who love Christ and follow Him, we have so much to be thankful for.

We are NEVER alone. We have an advocate that makes our needs and requests known to God the Father, on our behalf. He often brings answers before we have even learned to format the question!

We serve a mighty, loving and incredibly merciful God who loves to meet the needs of His kids. During my husband’s hospital visit for prostate cancer surgery, I saw God’s hand in so many details. From hearing about the wonderful surgeon from dear friends to having our financial needs met and surpassed, He has been with us and before us every step of the way. Mike’s recovery so far has been amazing! Though it will be some time before he is back to his old self, he has already achieved some incredible mile stones of recovery.

Am I surprised, frankly NO. I am learning that God always exceeds my expectations, despite the trial or challenge faced. He has provided us with a circle of great friends and family that have been supportive before, during and since his surgery. Prayer has been felt and we have already begun to see the results!

I am grateful and want to publicly thank God for all the beautiful ways He has demonstrated His love to us during 2012! I want to remember to thank God daily for all the ways He takes care of me and mine. For all the prayers He has answered and continues to answer that have come from my lips. He is so faithful and deserving of our thanks! I want to be like the Samaritan in Luke 17:11-19 NIV 11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”14 When He saw them, He said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him—and he was a Samaritan.17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then He said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

If you are currently in the middle of a trial look to Christ to walk through it with you. Ask for His guidance and wisdom in your decision making and for His hand to lead you through. Give Him your needs and He will be there for you. He is no respecter of persons and offers His love and mercy to all who seek Him. As you lean on Him, remember to give thanks along the way. Don’t be like the nine ungrateful cleansed lepers. Take the time to daily thank Him for all that He has done, is doing and will do in your life. As the word says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV 18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV 18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Spiritual Drought?

We are currently experiencing very dry conditions in our community. Lawns that usually are green and beautiful are currently looking very burnt and barren! Though we have had wonderful hot temperatures, which most of us Canadians are glad to experience in our short Summer season, there has been very little rain. It really doesn’t take long before that lack of rain shows itself in our gardens, lawns and our wells for those of us that live  in the country. It is rather amazing just  how short a time need pass before the lack of rain shows itself in our surroundings.

As believers, we too can experience dry barren times. The source of the trouble is often the same. We lack water. The water being the word of God. Without going to the Bible daily for refreshment and growth we begin to dry up. We too need daily watering to keep ourselves strong in body, mind and spirit. It is through reading our Bibles that we grow up spiritually. We begin to see things as God sees them. We are beautifully transformed by the word.

Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV “Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

If you are finding yourself spiritually parched it’s time you drank from the well of the word. Get yourself into a daily habit of spending time reading your Bible without interruption. It’s vital for us Christians if we want to walk in the way God has called us to walk. We can’t make a difference in our homes, our towns or our world if we are dry and barren and have nothing to give.  In North America where  we still enjoy religious freedom we have NO excuse but laziness for not picking up our Bibles and being refreshed. Make it part of your daily routine and you will reap the awesome benefits and so will those around you!

Isaiah 40:8 NIV The grass withers and the flowers fall,  but the word of our God endures forever. ”

Feeling dry?                                                                                                                                                         It’s time to soak in God’s word.

English: Dry earth in the Sonora desert, Mexic...

English: Dry earth in the Sonora desert, Mexico. Español: Tierra seca en el Desierto de Sonora, México. Français : Terre asséchée du Désert de Sonora, au Mexique. Deutsch: Trockenrisse in der Sonora-Wüste, Mexico. 日本語: 乾いた大地、メキシコのソノラ砂漠にて。 Nederlands: Uitgedroogde bodem in de Mexicaanse Sonorawoestijn Polski: Wysuszona ziemia na pustyni Sonora w Meksyku. Português: Terra seca no deserto de Sonora, México. Русский: Высушенная земля в пустыне Сонора, Мексика. 中文: 墨西哥索诺兰沙漠干枯的土地。 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God is in the details

It is an exciting thing to live in God’s care.  To be a child of God and follower of Christ gives us so many blessings and provisions others that don’t know Him miss out on. I just finished reading the book of Esther again.  I have read it many times over the years but every time I read it I get so much more out of it. During this last year  God has been teaching me how important it is to trust Him when things in life can be so utterly chaotic. It goes without saying that this time when I read Esther I was amazed to see how God could be seen in the smallest of details!  We often look for Him to come to our rescue in a big grandiose manner but often He comes in ways that could easily be overlooked if we we don’t have our senses exercised by reason of use! (Hebrews 5:14)

I encourage everyone to read the book of Esther. It is an awesome book revealing how God is always looking out for His people and how He will always deliver His people when they turn to Him.

Esther is a young Jewish woman who was left orphaned when both of her parents die. After their death she is cared for by her relative-caretaker Mordecai. Mordecai hears of the King’s desire to replace his disrepectful current wife (Queen Vashti) with a new wife and works to get Esther presented as a potential bride to be.  Esther 2:15-17 NIV15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail ) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 

King Xerxes is not aware that Esther or Mordecai are Jewish.   Mordecai has told Esther she is not to mention their nationality to the King and she respects his wishes. Then one day Mordecai hears of a plot to overthrow King Xerxes by two of the men working for the  King. Esther 2:21-23 NIV  21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

 By Mordecai’s intervention, the King is saved.  At that time Haman, a worker for the King, receives a hefty promotion because of the intervention. He does not give Mordecai any of the credit but instead resents Mordecai because of Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to Haman and his status. Esther 3:1-15 NIV  3 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot ) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews —young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.

After hearing of the script, Mordecai informs Esther of it’s seriousness and the risk it brings to all their people. Esther 4:1-17 NIV 4 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes,and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate,because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them.Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law:that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.

During this time, it was forbidden for anyone to approach the King without him having summoned them. Esther knew she would run the risk of being killed if she were to approach the King without his asking but she also knew that death would be imminent for not only her but all the Jews if she didn’t try. Esther 5:1-8 NIV 5 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom,it will be given you.”“If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”“Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.”So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”

Esther lays out a plan in which she will inform the King of the danger Haman has brought to her and her people.  Haman however, is excited that only he and the King have been invited to the banquet. He brags to his wife Zeresh, who than suggests he get the gallows ready for Mordecai to be hanged. He is basking in what he believes to be the unfolding of his plan to have Mordecai destroyed along with his people. Esther 5:9-14 NIV  Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, 11 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 12 “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate. ”14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.

  Haman in all his arrogance and pride has no knowledge of what’s to come. That night King Xerxes could not sleep. He calls for one of his servants to bring him the book of chronicles of his reign to be read to him. A coincidence?  I don’t think so!  Esther 6:1-14 NIV6 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.“What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”“Bring him in,” the king ordered.When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor! ’”10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.

What an awesome detail.  Because the King could not sleep he decided to review events that had happened in his Kingdom. By doing this it is brought to mind how Mordecai had actually saved his life and was never recognized or rewarded for it. That one little detail would not only soften the King’s heart towards Mordecai but would create in him a desire to reward Mordecai. Both of these things became important when the following day the King is made aware of Haman’s intentions towards not only his wife, but Mordecai and all his people.  Esther 7:1-10 NIV 7 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted. ”Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?”Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate,stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”The king said, “Impale him on it!” 10 

With Haman out of the way, Esther set about having the King write a new edict allowing the Jews to protect themselves when they were to be attacked. Esther 8:1-17 NIV 8 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.“If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?”King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up. Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring —for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”At once the royal secretaries were summoned—on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language.10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king’s signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king.11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.15 When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.

The book of Esther is filled with so many examples of God using people and circumstances to bring about his ultimate goal of blessing and protecting His people.  The vilest intentions against us can be turned around when we put our trust in God.

How do I know this?  Because His word says so..

Joshua 1:9 NIV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 91:15,15 NIV 14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

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.

Hebrews 13:5 NIV Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

Esther and Mordecai

In EVERYTHING give thanks

When trials and challenges come into our lives, we believers in Christ are often found complaining as if we are surprised that unpleasant things could be happening to us. I’m not referring to things that have come about as a direct result of sinful behavior or purposeful disregard. I’m referring to things that are often beyond our control. An example would be miscarrying or losing a child.  A cancer diagnosis etc.  Things that we ourselves have not brought about for the most part and have little to no control over.

Our first line of defence should be to go to God and seek His help. We also should get our church body to pray. Sometimes God chooses to perform a miracle and bring about perfect supernatural healing.  Most of us have known someone or of someone who has experienced this. Other times God allows us to go through the trial without supernatural healing or visual intervention. He is working no less on our behalf than if He had performed a physical miracle.

He knows our heart and knows the best way for us to grow. So than, should we have to walk through our trial or wait on our answer and not receive an instantaneous response with what attitude should we walk through it? .We can grumble and complain like others that don’t have the confidence of their Heavenly Father looking out for them, or we can do what the word of God tells us to do.  Put our trust in the one who created us and give thanks! Nowhere in the word does it say to give thanks in the good times and gripe in the difficult times. We are given very specific instructions that we need to be reminded of frequently…

Colossians 3:15 NIV15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be THANKFUL.

Can God’s word be any plainer than this?.. Phillipians 4:6 NIVDo not be anxious about ANYTHING, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.

Colossians 4:2 NIV Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and THANKFUL.

Psalm 106:1 NIV Praise the Lord. Give THANKS to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.

1Chronicles 23:30 NIV 30 They were also to stand every morning to THANK AND PRAISE the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.

Psalm 35:18 NIV 18 I will give you THANKS in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.

And why should we always have an attitude of thankfulness and not grumble?   Because as Psalm 9;9,10 says, NIV The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 Those who know your name TRUST IN YOU, for you, Lord,  HAVE NEVER FORSAKEN THOSE WHO SEEK YOU.

Grumbling and complaining never accomplishes anything helpful, in fact it may hinder our answer from God. It certainly hindered the Israelites when they were walking in the desert! (Exodus 16)  Before you open your mouth to complain, remember we have a Savior that was willing to lay down His life for us and provide a way for our salvation. We have MUCH to be thankful for! Not only did He die for us but He walks with us daily.  If you are walking in God’s will and He has permitted challenges in your life you can be sure He will see you through them.  In EVERYTHING give thanks!

Psalm 113:3 NIV 3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.

Our Great Physician

When we believers get sick, often we do the same thing non believers do.  We try and deal with our sickness with the medical profession alone. Though doctors, nurses and all the other workers in the medical field are very necessary, we have another resource that many of us neglect to consult. That would be the Great Physician. There have been many times in my life that I went and sought out medical attention before I even consulted God. God has been reminding me lately, through His word, that our first place to turn should be to Him. He not only desires us to come to Him in good times but also in times of difficulty or illness. My desire is that I will grow to the point where I will seek Him first before looking elsewhere.

Any time I have sought God for help He has never ignored my request.  Answers have come in many different ways but He has never left me without help when I have asked Him for it. NEVER. He promises to hear the prayers of His children. He may use medical professionals in our journey of healing or He may not. My desire is that I go to Him first and ask for His guidance and healing. How He chooses to bring that about is up to Him but I want to seek Him first not last. There is an awesome promise in James that we need to remember.

James 5:14-16 NIV James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

What a beautiful promise!  My desire is to seek Him first and not as a last resort.

Exodus 23:25 NIV 25 Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you.

Psalm 103:2,3 NIV Praise the Lord, my soul and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.

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.

Rise up and do something!

We live in a dog eat dog world. Many believe that in order to get ahead we have to climb our way to the top. Bashing others is common place if it means making ourselves look superior. The squeaky wheel is often the one that gets the attention therefore being loud and boisterous gets results. Reality tv shows abound with self absorbed, selfish people that brag about their dysfunctional lives and demand others give them the attention they feel they are due. It’s pretty crazy out there!

God did not create us to be legends in our own minds!  He created us to love and serve Him and to love and serve others.  Philip2:4ESV Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  We don’t have to look far to see needs all around us. Though we can’t fill every need or help everyone out there, we certainly can start in our own backyards.

Some of us have family, friends, acquaintances or co workers  that need our prayers. Intercession is something all of us can do and it is at the heart of bringing about change and help to others. It is helping in a way that man cannot help by calling on God and opening  the door for Him to begin to work. Perhaps if we do this first, rather than as a last resort when man’s ways fail we will begin to see positive changes and answers far quicker. Galatians 6:2 ESV Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

There are  many local charities that are already doing a great work helping others. Perhaps we can volunteer our time or our resources to help them out. For example, the Salvation Army has locations in most communities and they sure help others in very tangible ways. They provide food, clothing and other resources that many wouldn’t have without their help. Prov.19:17 ESV Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Perhaps if we have an ailing neighbour we could volunteer to make a meal or meals, cut their grass or help out with any other chore they may need assistance with. Babysitting is another way of helping out. In this tough economy many people have had to relocate from their hometowns to find work and therefore don’t have family around to help out when they really need a sitter.                          Luke 10:27 ESV And Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Sometimes something as simple as opening a door for someone with a disability or with their arms full can make their day a little lighter.  A kind word can go a long way when someone if visibly upset.  There is no limit to ways we can reach out.  The only thing limiting us is often laziness.  James 2:13 ESV For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

I am committed to spending less time on the couch and more time praying and doing.  Time is short and there are many things that need to be done before Jesus returns. It’s time to rise up and do something!

Hebrews 13:16ESV Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Learning to help early in life. 🙂

Standing on God’s Promises

Most of us have been disappointed from time to time with people.  Sometimes  people will say one thing and do another. Perhaps someone has promised to do something for us or keep a confidence and they did not live up to their word.  I think everyone has gone through this experience at one time or another. I know I have. It leaves us feeling disappointed and at times discouraged with people in general. We like to be able to count on others and when they let us down we have to deal the consequences.

Thankfully, we have one who will never act against His promises.  God has promised so many things to His children in His word and we can take Him at His promises and hold Him to them. Unlike man, He doesn’t lie or change.  Heb.13:8 NIV Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

As His kids, we are so fortunate that there is so much available to us as we walk in His ways and in communion with Him. I want to mention just a few of the many promises we can stand on.  There are too many to list them all here but they can be found in our Bibles. Here are three that are life changing as we take Him at His word.

1John2:1,2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

There is guaranteed forgiveness for our sins for anyone who asks through Jesus Christ.  The verse doesn’t say maybe, or only for certain sins, or to those people who are nice!  It says “If ANYBODY does sin, we have an advocate (one who argues for a cause, supporter or defender, one that pleads on another’s behalf; an intercessor) with the Father-JESUS CHRIST, the righteous One.

Luke 11:13 NIV 13 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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Anyone who is a believer and is walking on this planet must realize how much we need the Holy Spirit. Without God’s Spirit we would not even be able to come to the Lord in the first place.  Without God’s Spirit equipping us we would not be able to carry out the work God has for us to accomplish here.  There would be no heart cry for the Saviour, no healing, no deliverance, no transformation in our hearts etc.. and all we need to do is ask!

Deut. 31:8 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.”

 WOW!  Those are powerful words. Who else can we count on to NEVER leave us nor FORSAKE us? He is with us every moment of every day. We can bank on that.  No matter what the circumstance, what the trial or what the experience He is walking through it with us.

By soaking in, applying and standing on the absolute truth of the above three verses alone, our walk with God will grow more intimate and our love and forgiveness towards others will increase.

Malachi 1:11 NIV”For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts.


Time for pulling spiritual weeds

I love to garden.  It is one of those things I do that I find very relaxing.  It is naturally more fun to plant, water and enjoy the fruits of my labour but there are times when the work of maintaining is much more difficult.  God reminded me this weekend how much my life is like that of my garden. If I want to enjoy the blessings of beautiful flowers or vegetables and fruits I have to get rid of all the weeds of sin.

When I came to Christ at a young age I tried to live a life that was in obedience.  I was very regimented and lived too much under the law and missed out on the true message of grace. I still felt I had to earn my salvation way deep down in the depths of my heart. Over time it became a huge struggle because the one thing that was really missing was the joy that God gives when we learn to rest in Him and in what Christ really did for us.  I was constantly trying to stay in God’s good graces, not realizing it is impossible to do so by my own efforts.  Eventually I burnt out somewhat and gave in to compromising as I didn’t feel I could keep up with all the demands I thought God was putting on me.  It was really demands that I put on myself trying to earn a feeling of belonging… Sadly I wasted a lot of years doing this.

This lead to compromised living.  Never turning away from God but also NOT living in obedience.. I began to think, what was the point when I could never really measure up? During those years I allowed a lot of weeds back into my garden.  Bad habits, bad attitudes, bad behaviours and selfishness. Over the last several months God has been showing me the various weeds I need to pull up! There are plenty and I am so grateful that He is a God of mercy and didn’t and won’t give up on me.

Psalm 103:8 NIV The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

 I am so glad He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love!  He longs for us to be in intimate fellowship with Him and though He loves us enough to accept us just as we are when we cry out to Him,  He also loves us enough to not leave us there!!  I can’t get back wasted years but I can be sure from this day on to serve Him out of love and not duty.  To accept His mercy and grace and not walk in condemnation.

2 Peter 3:9 NIVThe Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

So as I tend to my garden I am sure God will continually show me weeds that I need to uproot. It is not my favourite thing to do but it is necessary if I want to walk closer to Him.  Some weeds look like proper plants and it takes discernment from God to see that they actually are weeds. I know I have done or said things that at the time seemed harmless but in my quiet time with God, He has shown me that my heart was not right in doing or saying what I did and that I need to bring it before Him.  Some weeds look innocuous yet they have roots that go deep down into the soil of our hearts and if left, will strangle out the good surrounding plants. These spiritual weeds act like poison in our hearts and cause us to grow cold towards others or God if left unattended. I find that as God reveals these weeds in my life and as I begin to lay them at His feet and ask for change He is faithful and giving me the grace to change.  Not in my own strength but through the Spirit He humbles and strengthens me in His love.

As Christians, we never arrive until we meet face to face with Jesus.  Ours is a journey of growth. We will make mistakes, we will stumble, we will obtain war wounds but thankfully we have a Father that loves us and will help us get back on track as we seek Him. We have a Savior that died on our behalf so that we would have legal rights to come before God.  Not in our own merit but because of the price He paid.

John 3:16,17 NIV 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Hurry Up and Wait..

Most people today live a very hurried and busy lifestyle.  Many of us have full time jobs and multiple responsibilities outside our homes along with the many responsibilities of the home and family itself. Whether we are single, married, with or without children or grandparents wanting to be involved in the lives of our grandchildren we are busy people. On top of this some of us our involved in activities/committees etc. at our churches.  Life is very very busy.  When we need something we can go online, pick up a catalogue or drop into a store and purchase it.  When we need information it can be found quite simply by typing in a request on our keyboards or dropping into a library.

We have become accustomed to living fast and receiving fast. When it comes to our relationship with God it is not always so.  I am learning to hurry up and wait… There are times when I bring a need or a desire of my heart to the Lord and He answers it within a day or so. There are other times when He chooses not to.  He is all knowing and all seeing.  I am NOT.  He always answers our prayers correctly. Sometimes the answer is quite simply NO, other times it may not come for days, weeks or even years. How we spend our time waiting on our answer is critical.  I believe the Lord is pleased when we rest in knowing He has it all under control. Fretting and stressing while we wait does nothing to see our prayer answered any faster. Resting and trusting gives allowance for our faith to grow. Abiding in His word and His love while we wait allows us to grow even closer to the lover of our soul.  It does NOT come natural for me to rest and trust but I am learning that it really is the only way to respond. Recently God has put people in my life to remind me of this very fact. Our vision is so limited and we cannot possibly know one iota of a fraction of a percentage of what God does and therefore are really in no position to try and force God’s hand.

He loves us.  This is something we can bank on! He is faithful. Another absolute. Therefore when we find ourselves growing impatient and annoyed at not seeing our prayers or desires answered when WE WANT them answered it is time to trust, rest and abide in His word.  He will never disappoint!

Isaiah 40:31 ESV  “But they who wait for 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.”

Psalm 37:34 ESV “Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.”

Psalm 62:5,6 Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

The Poison Pill of Bitterness

I don’t think any one of us can go through life without being tempted to hang on to feelings of resentment and anger towards another. When I was younger I resented my Dad for being the ogre that he was during our childhood. He didn’t nurture he demanded.  He was very abusive towards my Mom and towards us kids.  Did it hurt? YES!   At the age of 10, my parents divorced.  For quite a few years I was both hurt and very angry about the whole situation.  Why did this happen to our family?

As a teenager I would often get upset and feel disappointment about the way things would turn out.  People would not always live up to my expectations.  NO surprise there as that would have been an impossible task.  Then when I married young and started to have a family I would often feel disappointed that we were having to struggle financially when others seemed to be doing very well.

There are many reasons or excuses that we can use to hold onto anger and bitterness.  The bottom line is not one of these excuses will help us deal with the poison that builds up in our hearts and minds when we do.  Bitterness is poison!  As long as we hold onto it and embrace it we will never move forward in our lives.  We will continually see everything and everyone through the tainted glasses of bitterness.  We in turn will poison those around us with our mouth and actions.

There is only ONE solution to bitterness and that is forgiveness.  Nothing else works!  As most of us know, seldom can we forgive in our own strength.  We keep resurrecting the memories of what has been done to us.  We must make a tangible effort to come before God and ask for forgiveness for carrying around this poison within us and ask Him to take it away.  It is at first, an act of will.  Feelings don’t have to be involved.  We do it because not only does Jesus say we must but also because He knows when we do it will free us!!!!

I love the quote, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die!”  This is so true.  Bitterness will keep us bound up in anger and hurt and until we release it to Jesus we will never move forward in ways God desires us to move.  Releasing it will bring FREEDOM!!

FREEDOM!

Heb.12:14,15″Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” 

Matt.6:14,15″For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

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Complain less…Pray MORE

I suffered anxiety for a lot of my early life.  It was something that started in my early years and it just always seemed to be there.  When anything stressful would happen I would begin to worry and fret.  The only positive really was it used to send me into a cleaning frenzy!! However, the downside was too great…It would affect my sleep, I would be very short with those around me and it would cause me to overreact to any little thing when my anxiety level was high.

As a result of this I would complain about what those around me either weren’t doing or doing that was making things more difficult. I would get incredibly disappointed with those closest to me about things that were very insignificant.  I would gripe and complain and really it never accomplished anything!  I have learned there is a better way.  When something happens that is uncomfortable or difficult, when someone comes into my life that is particularly challenging I tell God on them.  🙂  Even bringing the issue to Him helps to keep it in perspective.  Most people behave badly because they feel badly inside or they harbor bitterness.  It doesn’t justify it but it does make it more understandable.  I am grateful that we have a high priest that we can turn to that forgives us and accepts us  when we screw up.  That fact alone helps me to be able to forgive others.

Though most of us spend years trying, we will NEVER be able to change anyone.  It is through prayer and the moving of the Spirit that true change comes.  Change that results in deep heart change.  Next time you come across a situation or person that causes you to feel anxious, stop and pray.  Tell Jesus on them!

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

“Those persons who know the deep peace of God, the unfathomable peace that passeth all understanding, are always men and women of much prayer.”~ R. A. Torrey

English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)