Tag Archive | New International Version

Plug into the Source!

  Do you find yourself getting frustrated when you have to wait for something or someone more than just a few minutes? I know since using a blackberry and working online all day, I have become so accustomed to having answers right away. If I need to check our bank account I can do it anywhere right from my phone and see the results within seconds. When I am curious about a name, person or just about anything I can google it and immediately up pops my answer! I have found myself becoming quite dependent on instant access.

In our walk, as followers of Christ, we too can have instant access to the King of Kings. When Christ died on the cross, He became our Way to the throne room of God. He made a sure way that allows us to come to Him at anytime and anywhere. In fact, He longs for us to stay in fellowship with Him as we move throughout our day and into our nights. Unlike our gadgets, He never breaks down, is always accessible and loves us beyond measure!  It is an awesome thing to know that we are never alone!

Why not spend a little less time with your electronic gadgets this coming week and spend more time with the lover of your soul? When we seek Him for answers they are always right and true! When we trust Him, He will never break down or disappoint! When we need His help, He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and will be there for us. (Proverbs 18:24 NIV)

If you are not enjoying a close walk with Christ, confess your sins before Him and spend time with Him getting reacquainted. There is no replacement for the love and joy that comes from your relationship with Him. It will sustain you through any of life’s curves and bumps! Unplug your gadgets and spend some real time plugged into a conversation with the lover of your soul!

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

Matthew 6:6 NIV But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Phillipians 4:6 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

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.

Prayer, access to the throne!

As followers of Christ we have so many fantastic blessings! Our salvation has been bought with the high price of the shed blood of God’s own Son. When we think on this alone, we begin to realize how much God loves us! How Christ paid the ultimate price for us to be able to be in intimate fellowship with the Father! One of those fantastic blessings is the ability to go to God in prayer. It’s important that when we come to God in prayer that a few things are considered….
If you are seeking God for an answer to prayer, first off ensure that what you are asking lines up with His will by making sure it does not go against His Word. He will never go against His nature or His Word. Isaiah 55:11 NIV 11So is my word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

If your prayer request lines up with His Word then be sure that you have come before Him with a clean heart. If you have unconfessed sin or bitterness against another you need to confess it and make it right. The Word of God tells us that we are not to come before God with unforgiveness in our hearts towards another or He will not hear our prayer. Mark 11:25 NIV And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins.

If we know that are prayer lines up with God’s Word and have come to Him with a clean heart than we are to come expecting and believing. James 1:5-7 NIV 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

It’s important we never forget, that one of the amazing privileges of being a child of God is that through Christ we can come boldy before the throne of God and make our requests known. Through the blood of Christ being shed for us, when God sees us He sees us as covered in the precious shed blood of His Son. It allows us to ask boldy from a Father that loves us and has made a way for us to come into His presence with complete confidence.   Hebrews 4:16 KJV16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

God longs for us to have intimacy with Him and through Christ, we have direct access to the throne of God. Take full advantage of one of our greatest blessings! Don’t waste another day without spending time in prayer!

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.

Are you hiding from the Light?

Jeremiah 23:24 NIV "Who can hide in secret places so that  I cannot see ?" declares the Lord. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:24 NIV “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.

I am thankful to God for His patience with me.  I am so grateful that He is slow to anger and kind. That He longs for fellowship with each and every one of us.  I can remember at one time believing that whenever I screwed up in my walk with Christ, God would be angry with me, so I would find myself avoiding Him for a while. I would steer clear of  the intimacy of prayer as it would require my having to come clean and fess up.

Before too long however,  I would miss our fellowship. I would toss up the odd prayer but with no real expectancy due to the fact I knew there were things between us putting up a barrier from intimacy. Eventually I would cave and come before Him with a heart of repentance and fess up. The peace and freedom that would follow was amazing. I’m not sure why I ever thought things would get better on their own!

I am thankful that I no longer try and hide anything from Him. He sees all, knows all and it is a complete and utter waste of time allowing any sin to remain between us.  When I screw up now, I don’t waste the time  I used to fessing up. It keeps the lines of communication open with the lover of my soul. It allows for instant access and freedom in making my requests known when I come to Him with a need for others or for myself.  If you have drifted from intimacy in your prayer life, perhaps it’s time you tear down the  barriers.

If  you have sin in your life you have been holding onto, hoping neither God nor anyone else will see it,  it’s time to get rid of it!  Don’t waste another day without intimacy with the King of  Kings.

The Word of God says in 1John 1:9 NIV If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and will cleanse us of ALL unrighteousness.

Let His light shine  into all the dark areas of your life. Don’t allow anything to keep you from coming boldly to the throne!

John 3:19-21 NIV 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,  so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Is your Faith dead or alive?

James 2:26 NIV 6 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:26 NIV 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

As a follower of Christ, we are called to be actively working and moving in line with our faith. Though we are not saved by works, less anyone should boast, once saved through the blood of Christ we are not to be idle. God did not save us to sit around and do nothing to further His Kingdom. He also did not save us to keep the gospel and our blessings to ourselves. Each and every one of us that has been redeemed needs to do our part.

James 2:14-26 NIV 1What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Does your life reflect that you are one of His children? Are you actively fulfilling your part in the body of Christ? If not, what is your excuse? Too tired? Not enough time? You may miss a t.v. program or sports event? Self pity? There are so many opportunities to serve and there is really no excuse for any of us to not be actively serving in one capacity or another. Perhaps you can help out a neighbor in need, cook for someone that is recovering, support church events by helping out, serve in the church using your giftings. We are ALL given giftings and they are not given to sit on. If you haven’t found out what your giftings are ask God. He promises to give to liberally to all who ask!

If you have become so comfortable in your idleness than it’s time to check out a few more verses…..

2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The change can start with your reacquainting yourself with God’s word. The Word will not only guide us but transform us as we begin to walk in it and live it out! We need to be into the Word daily. Five minutes a day is better than once a month!

James 1:23-25 NIV 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

This is a case of applying the Word of God in our life. If we are students of the Word, we will begin to operate out of faith and not feelings alone! When we operate on feelings alone we can be tossed to and fro and really accomplish very little. Reading the Word grounds us  in what is truth and helps us to cast aside things that would otherwise trip us up!

Colossians 3:23-24 NIV 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

As we begin to read the Word and then apply it to our lives, it is important to remember that whatever we do, we do for Christ. Whether you are a floor sweeper, stay at home mom or dad, cab driver or travel agent like myself, we need to live out our faith in a life of excellence to Christ.

Is it time you stopped making excuses for yourself and got back to loving and serving God in more than just words? Jump start your heart by daily exposing yourself  to God’s Word and than applying it and as you ask for opportunities to serve, God will surely provide them for you!

1 John 3:18 NIV 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Everyone has a part in the play of life

 The past several weeks we have been working on our church play, “The Sounds of Love.”  Practices have made our Sundays even busier than usual. As with any project, there is always work leading up to the end result.  Sometimes the practices times have been inconvenient, sometimes they have gone on longer than expected and they will continue until the play has been performed. With all this effort our hope is the end result will be as wonderful as it promises to be. This morning I was thinking how similar prepping for our play is to our walk of faith.
First off, we had to hear the story. Without knowing the overall story it would be impossible to know what the play was about and where each of us characters fit into it. As followers of Christ, the Bible is our “story line”. It is God’s inspired word that tells the beginning from the end. It also provides us with our identity as children of the Most High God.
Isaiah 46:10 NIV 10 I make known the end from the beginning,from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
Secondly, we needed a director. Without direction from someone that knows each and everything about the play from beginning to end, we would simply be stumbling about trying to make our own way, depending on our own understanding as to OUR interpretation of the play. Clearly, as believers, the director in our lives is God. Without God’s direction and wisdom, most of us have and would continue to make a mess of our lives.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.
Thirdly, there needs to be a producer.  In the case of our church play, this would be the church itself.  Someone willing to pay for the price of the production. Absorb the costs in order for the goal to be accomplished. Without question, in our walk of faith this is Christ.  Sinless, yet willing to lay down HIS life as the ultimate price for our sins!
1John2:1,2 NIV 2 My dear children I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin we have an advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Fourthly, we need to study our lines or parts. If we don’t know the words or actions required we get lost and so the story gets lost on the audience. Clearly, this is the same in our walk with Christ. We need to be reading the Bible. Without knowing our position in Christ, we can easily be rocked to and fro and not be  the “beacon” to others we are called to be.
2 Timothy 2:15 KJV 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
And finally we need to perform our parts. If even one of us doesn’t carry out our roll the message of the story gets lost. We each have a part to perform and we are to do it to the best of our ability, relying on our director as we do. As we walk out our parts we fulfill the purpose of the overall story. In our walk with Christ, each of us has a roll to play in sharing the gospel. No one is insignificant in God’s eyes and He has created each of us with a purpose. If you haven’t found your purpose yet, ask God. He promises to equip each of us with giftings and they are available for the asking!
Romans 12:4-8 NIV 4For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Don’t spend your time on the sidelines watching others perform their rolls. Find out what God has for you and perform your roll gladly, leaning on Christ for wisdom and direction and you do!