Tag Archive | then

Where’s your focus?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Are you battling a storm?

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

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

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

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

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

In the book of Romans, Paul explains it beautifully…

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

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

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

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

Blessings!

Did you receive your wake up call?

I am currently reading through the book of Jeremiah. I can’t help but think of how Jeremiah must have  felt when he was told by God to warn His  people and the nations of the coming judgement and calamities. He was a prophet called to rebuke, warn and encourage the people to turn from their idolatry and sins and humble themselves before God. The same message that must be proclaimed today.

Today many in the church are asleep, living lives of comfort and compromise. Serving themselves with little concern over the lost and broken. It is time that each one of us realize the times we are living in. Just as Jeremiah knew judgement was coming, we too know judgement is coming. It is imperative that we, the body of Christ, be alert to the signs of the times and get busy fulfilling our callings. Revival will come when the church humbles itself and begins to walk in obedience. The world will never be attracted to a sinful church, we must be the light of the world. We must demonstrate the love of Christ to everyone, everywhere. As long as we are dabbling in sin we will not be free to do so.

In my life, God has been showing me areas that I must fully surrender to Him. Areas I have held back. Areas I have been selfish. Areas I have been unwilling to commit to Christ. The time has come for me to be wholly in. I believe the Lord is saying the same to all of His kids that are willing to listen. The time is short before we will see Jesus face to face. We need to get our priorities set and move forward as He leads us.

This is not a message of doom and gloom but of encouragement. We have a beautiful, loving Savior who longs for us to see Him face to face. When we do we want to run to Him with abandon and not walk to Him in shame. He came to save us and set us free from all that would hinder our walk with Him. We need to repent of the things that are keeping us bound and ask Him to break any chains that keep us back from moving forward in living out the walk He has called us to.

Ephesians 5:1-15 NIV 

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness,but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our King is coming back to a church without spot or wrinkle. My prayer is that each of us will humble ourselves before Him and turn from those things that are keeping us from living a life of holiness and obedience. There is much work to be done and we the church, are the laborers.

Lord, forgive us for our apathy and sinfulness. Wake us up to the times we are living in. Give us direction and a heart to share the gospel with the lost. Keep us close to you Jesus, as we wait on your return.  In Your precious name, Amen.

 No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.~A.W. Tozer

HE alone is the WAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Reminder to the weak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

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

YOU and I are His disciples!

John 15:16 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

John 15:16 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

There is so much going on in our world right now that could cause us to be distracted from the calling on our lives. We have sports, entertainment, family responsibilities and gatherings, jobs, electronics etc.. It is easy to become waylaid from the purposes God has called us to accomplish.  Each day it is a choice as to whether we will fulfill His purposes for our lives  or we will fulfill our own goals and purposes.  Do we spend more time in front of the tv than in the Word of God? Do we waste time gossiping instead of interceding for others? Do we choose to stay home and relax instead of getting ourselves to church on Sunday? We are daily faced with these type of decisions and sadly many Christians are choosing the way of their own comfort.

We have been given the gift of salvation through a Savior that lovingly died for us yet often we can’t even bring ourselves to spend any time with Him in prayer or in the Word of God. Too often, we would entertain ourselves with things that have little to no lasting spiritual significance. When we made the decision to follow Christ, we became His disciples. As disciples we have a purpose that involves more than our own comfort.

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the following definition of a disciple..

dis·ci·ple

noun \di-ˈsī-pəl\

: someone who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of a famous person

: one of a group of 12 men who were sent out to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ

A disciple has a very distinct purpose and that purpose is to accept and help spread the teachings of their leader, who as Christians, is Christ.  This is not the purpose of just a select few but is the purpose for each and every one of us who calls Christ our Lord and Savior.  Each of us will have a different group of individuals that we are to impact but we are all His disciples and therefore we are all called to share the gospel.  When we choose our own comfort over sharing the gospel we are not being true followers of Christ.  Let’s take a look at a few verses from the Bible on being disciples…

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 8:31 NIV 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

John 13:35 NIV 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 15:8 NIV 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:16 NIV 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Romans 10:14-15 NIV 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

And finally…

Hebrews 10:25 NIV 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

If we are to be true followers of Christ we cannot be Christians in name alone. We must daily make the decision to obey Him and His leading in our lives. We are to share the good news with those who desperately need to hear it! We need to encourage our brothers and sisters who may be struggling and we need to continue to move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every single one of us has been called with a purpose and we all need to be doing our part in the body until Jesus returns or He calls us home.

If you have become a Sunday seat warmer only, ask God to forgive you of your spiritual idleness and stir up in you a desire to fulfill the purposes He has called you to do. Don’t waste another day!

Lord, I ask that you would forgive me for my spiritual laziness that has allowed me to put my comfort before Your purposes for my life. Please stir up in me the giftings that You have given me and show me what I can do this day to further Your kingdom. Give me a heart that loves what You love and hates what You hate and empower me to demonstrate that love to those who need it.  In the precious name of Jesus,  Amen.

Fear bound? It’s time to fight back!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are your sins becoming to HEAVY to carry?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is He your priority?

Our calling, as followers of Christ is not a following of convenience. It is a following of love and passion for the One that first loved us. The One who willingly suffered excruciating pain, shed His blood and laid down His life in order that we would have access to fellowship with the Father. He provided the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of the cross and that was Himself. Enabling us to become the righteousness of God through Him.

It would do us well to remember every time we come before Him in prayer of the high price He paid. Also, the deep love of God our Father that He loved us enough to provide His Son as the ultimate sacrifice!

1Peter 3:18 NIV 18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

We serve an awesome, holy, just and loving God who has provided His Holy Spirit to draw us to Him and enable us to be transformed from glory to glory. He provides His Word that we can feed on. His supernatural Word that teaches, guides, transforms and gives us a firm foundation of promises to stand on.

There is nothing He hasn’t provided for us to live a life in union with Him. However, just as any good Father He will never force us to choose Him. It is ultimately up to us to turn to Him. He wants our love to be given freely. He did not create us to be robots but gave us freedom to choose to love and follow Him or to reject Him.

If we love Him, we need to live as if we do. If a loved one told you they loved you yet never spent time with you,  you would have a very difficult time believing it. When we decide to put other things and people before our relationship with God we demonstrate disregard not love.  No relationship will grow with neglect and abandonment and it is the same with our relationship with Christ. We need to spend time with Him in prayer, reading His Word and following His will for our lives. We need to serve others as He served.

Colossians 3:1-4 NIV 3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is yourlife, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

If you have been neglecting Him, it’s time you put aside the things that are temporal and spend time with the lover of your soul. No other can compare or replace Him. Time spent without intimacy with Christ is time wasted on things that will soon pass. Time spent with Him and in His Word gives us the wisdom and guidance to make the right decisions in all the other areas of our life. When we put Him first the rest of our lives work out for His glory. When we put things and others first it ultimately results in chaos.

Matthew 6:31-34 NIV 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Don’t put your relationship with Christ in a “convenience” category, thinking you will get around to spending time with Him later after you get all the things that are so much more important done.  We are told to watch and be ready for His return at any time. There really is nothing worth sacrificing our intimacy with the One who gave His life as a sacrifice for us. My desire is that when He does return we will be found ready and waiting!

1 John 2:28 NIV 28 And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at his coming.

Who are you interceding for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and finally…

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

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

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

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