Wednesday, June 30, 2010

~ "Weeding through the rough spots..."

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

George Fredric Handel set this verse to music in 1741 and it is part of the "Messiah", his masterfully created collection of music which glorify God! When my oldest daughter was about 3, she would sing this song throughout the house, only the words were "a weed like sheep have gone away". I would laugh to myself thinking how I had misinterpreted songs growing up and when I couldn't understand the lyrics, I would put my own in there and just sing it that way!

The collection of music is very inspiring - the better known selection is, of course, the" Hallelujah Chorus", sung by choirs all over the globe.

We are all His sheep! Right now, this world is dancing to the beat of its own drummer. Many have chosen the easier road, the one "paved with good intentions" and some of us are taking the one less traveled - the one of the Savior! We all get lost from time to time, we are human. But being human is not an excuse to blatantly ignore God's law or his word. If we walk in his ways, even if we try to walk in his ways ~ we'll be on the right path.

Satan's goal is to take as many with him as he can! He tempts us and taunts us every day. He puts unbelievable obstacles in front of us and Christ continues to lift us up over them (if we ask, of course). Some days my prayer over and over is "Lord, get Satan out of my way today!" Focusing on what is right and what is true in the worldly sense is easy - the rules that govern our society are clear. So too are the rules that govern Christians, once you get going! The person I was 3 years ago is not the same person I am today! I am in some ways stronger, yet in other ways I am weaker. The one thing I am not, is further away from God then when I started. I'm right where I am supposed to be ~ still walking and talking and sharing his message. I don't doubt my faith - I doubt myself and sometimes I let Satan tell me I'm not all I'm supposed to be and that what I am doing is pointless! Haha! You lose, Satan - this IS what am I supposed to be doing! Childish? Maybe, but it works for me!

We all go astray at one time or another. Like learning to do anything, we fall short - but in our shortcoming, we find the strength to pick ourselves up and keep going - over and over and over until we get it right. Even the greatest pianist makes a mistake or two from time to time - so do we, but we tend to be a people who learns from our mistakes (or at least, SHOULD learn) and we forge ahead and accomplish what we have set out to do!

Set out to be the Christian who rises above the noise of the enemy! Walk briskly, with your head held high and be amazed at the grace and mercy that will undoubtedly be given to you!

On a more personal note, yesterday while at work - after waiting on a customer, he told me he wanted to give me something - he left me a Christian tract from his church - the title..."God's Plan of Salvation" - there are NO coincidences!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

~ "Is your GPS working properly?..."

..But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Tim 8-10)

GPS - "God's Plan of Salvation" - are you following it? Are you on the right road? Have you updated your map recently? Have you keyed in the right destination? The only thing it won't give you is your estimated time of arrival - but be assured, you WILL be on time!

A decision to live ones life for the Lord can be as easy as programing your GPS! I do realize that for some of us, that particular task may present a few problems - especially if your GPS doesn't recognize all the destinations as you know them. Generally it's me with the misinformation and when I finally get it right, it will take me exactly to where I'm going - little flag at the end and all! The same is true with God! Sure, there are speed bumps and wrong turns and detours - but not because God's Plan of Salvation is wrong, usually because I'm not paying attention and miss a turn or think I know a short cut. All the information I need to have to get to heaven is in the Bible. It's not about how many times I go to church, how much money I throw in the collection plate, its about believing and living my life as Christ would have me live it! Its doing what is pleasing to God and following the commands. God's Plan of Salvation is very you believe that Jesus Christ came from Heaven to Earth, died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead? Are you willing to let him into your heart and let the Holy Spirit work through you? If the answer is yes, you're on the right road! Your GPS is working properly and you will get to your destination.

In my life, I've chosen to do more than just read the Bible and program my GPS for heaven! I've chosen to share the Gospel with others. In this day of "instant" messaging and "texting", God's word can be shared so much more quickly and powerfully than I ever would have imagined! Like Farrah Fawcett's commercial in the 70's for Faberge Organics Shampoo "I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on...." and the Good News can be spread to the four corners of the globe! So be a warrior for Christ - set your GPS for heaven and spread the Gospel - tell two friends that Christ died on the cross for their sins and lets see if we can't spread God's Plan of Salvation so we can ALL go home! God has chosen you, but will you choose Him?

Monday, June 28, 2010

~ "Hearts on fire..."

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me...(John 10:27)

Be so in love with God that you are "ready to charge hell with a squirt gun". That was the message that David Gray gave yesterday!

All week long I agonized over whether or not I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do. Am I giving my all in all that I do? Could I be doing more? What exactly is my job here on Earth? The answer to that last question is "it's a Christian's job to take people to heaven with them".

In order for John 10:27 to be fulfilled (and it is every day), 3 things must happen. First off - "My sheep hear my voice" - in order to hear something, we must be listening. How? Patience! I pray and wait on a answer (he's an on-time God - but it's in his time, not mine). He doesn't always give us the answer right then and there. And sometimes, the answer is "no". We have to be willing to act on his plan for us.

Part 2 - "and I know them" - he knows who we are by the mark our soul! He has tagged us with something set apart from other creatures. Like a rancher brands his cattle, so God has branded us!

Part 3 - "and they follow me" - Did you ever watch ducks on a pond? The mama duck swims out in front and all the little ducklings are in tow right behind her. They follow her pattern on the water meticulously -- they don't deviate from the path she's taking. When one of them does, it swims around in a circle and then finally figures out which directions she went in and then put the outboard motor on to catch up! Don't we as Christians sometimes do that as well? We are secure in our walk and then something catches our eye - and the distraction takes us off the path - when we realize it, we scurry like ducks on a pond to get back on the right track.

Be bold in your faith - be as believing and convincing as you possibly can! Try to take as many people to heaven with you as is possible! Its really not that difficult. Today I realize that I may be the only person in someone's life who can tell them who Jesus is. Their interaction with me may just be the one that is in God's plan for them!

Right now at work, we are soliciting donations for the American Heart Association. The employee who gets the most "hearts" will win tickets to one of the amusement parks here in Tennessee. So far, we have received 48 donations (if you donate, you get a paper heart to write your name on and it gets taped to the wall) ~ 47 of them have my name on the back of them! I'm realizing that it is as easy to ask people if they'd like to know Jesus, as it is to ask them if they'd like to donate to the American Heart Association. And if they say "yes", the reward is a lot greater than a paper heart and my "bonus" for recruitment will be realized in heaven!

Be bold for what you believe in! Be listening for your shepherd's voice and walk on the path he lays before you! Am I truly walking in the footprints of Jesus or am I making my own?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

~ "Why? Because He said so..."

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)

I love all kinds of music. I listen to a Christian radio station in the car. I've heard many songs that I like, quite a few that I love and some that don't really appeal to me. But the one thing they all have in common is that they praise God!

Last night, while I was searching "You-Tube" for a worship song for today, I came across the song "Why" - written and recorded by Nicole Nordeman. I had never heard the song so I listened. When I tell you that I sat at my computer sobbing, I'm not exaggerating! What a precious gift to be able to write and sing about the most precious gift of all!

We all look at Christ's death from an adult point of view. We imagine in our minds the adults gathered around the cross on the day that Jesus died. We read the words of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John when Jesus cried out to the Father and asked why he had been left alone to die.

Many times when they were little, I would tell my kids to do something and they would follow with that phrase that confounds parents daily - "but, why?" The response they usually got when they were too young to understand was "because I said so". As they got older and could reason and understand what it was I was telling them, I would give them a reason beyond that standard answer.

When Jesus died on the cross that day, he finished the Father's work. He defeated the enemy. His pain became our joy! His death became our life! The scriptures were fulfilled in that instant. His shed blood became the mechanism by which all men are freed from an eternity of separation from heaven. He gave so much for so many, yet he'd have gladly given all for just one! I am one of the ones for whom he died. So are you! The sacrificial lamb - the King of Heaven gave his life for mine! What a precious gift!

Why? Because of the love that God has for all of us! Would you die a horrible death for your child? I know that I would! And in that death I would hope that what ever the purpose I died for would give my child the strength and the courage to live on and let me not have died in vain.

Do you have the strength and courage to be all that your Savior wants you to be? Do you have the strength and courage to share his word and his message of salvation? If the answer to those questions is "no", pray for it! It will come! If the answer is "yes" - then do it with the strongest of heart! Share his word, his death and his resurrection with others! Give back to him who has so unselfishly given of himself!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

~ "Whose life is it anyway..."

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansingb her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Eph 5:22-33)

Matthew Henry's Commentary on these verses reads: "The duty of wives is, submission to their husbands in the Lord, which includes honouring and obeying them, from a principle of love to them. The duty of husbands is to love their wives. The love of Christ to the church is an example, which is sincere, pure, and constant, notwithstanding her failures. Christ gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify it in this world, and glorify it in the next, that he might bestow on all his members a principle of holiness, and deliver them from the guilt, the pollution, and the dominion of sin, by those influences of the Holy Spirit, of which baptismal water was the outward sign. The church and believers will not be without spot or wrinkle till they come to glory. But those only who are sanctified now, shall be glorified hereafter. The words of Adam, mentioned by the apostle, are spoken literally of marriage; but they have also a hidden sense in them, relating to the union between Christ and his church. It was a kind of type, as having resemblance. There will be failures and defects on both sides, in the present state of human nature, yet this does not alter the relation. All the duties of marriage are included in unity and love. And while we adore and rejoice in the condescending love of Christ, let husbands and wives learn hence their duties to each other. Thus the worst evils would be prevented, and many painful effects would be avoided."

Ladies, this is not a slam against "Women's Lib", you are not the "king of the castle" ~ it is about reverence to Christ...

Our society has evolved into a "two-income" family society. Both husband and wife work in most cases. But the reason for them working has also evolved. I'm not (nor is Matthew Henry) talking about the financial, statistical or even dynamics of "family" with regard to today's world. What I believe is this: Live your life as Christ would have you live it; love the way Christ loves you; be a team (in unity with one another); work together in ALL that you do; be followers and be leaders; and take responsibility for your actions! The failure of a marriage is most always attributable to both parties (yes, there are rare instances where only one is at fault). The biggest stumbling block in the failure of any marriage is lack of communication of the couple.

In a recent sermon by my pastor, he touched on these verses and a few others. Men - you should be the spiritual leaders of your family! You are the ones the rest of the family looks to for guidance (and ladies, stop rolling your eyes, because you and I both know that we desire our husband's praise and want to please him in all we do). And sometimes the only leadership that they are capable of is to make the decision to ASK their wives to take the wheel!

When we reach our final destination (I choose Heaven, thank you) - we will be called to account for our lives on earth. Again, God's word has not changed - society has. He will call us into account for following or not following his word! Archaic??? Not if you truly believe! Impossible??? Actually, yes, but he also will take into account that we are not perfect. We tell our children "as long as you tried to do your best, you will make me proud" - so goes for us in our devotion to him! Men - will you be able to stand before God and say "I did the very best I could to keep my family in your graces by prayer and worship" ? Ladies - will you be able to say "I did the very best I could to acknowledge the authority you placed in my husband"?

I know this particular "Note" may strike fear in the hearts of women and give over inflated egos to men, but again, this is the command of our creator - we can't pick and choose which ones we like and don't like (sorry, God's word is NOT a Chinese restaurant menu -- not one from column a and two from column b).

Most of us have no problem following the law of man because we don't want to end up in jail. Why is it that we have so much trouble following the law of God - after all, his wrath is much greater and more severe (and the sentence is eternal)? Are you willing to submit to what God has designed????

Friday, June 25, 2010

~ "Be right back - I have to go harvest..."

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:17).

And I can see Peter now, rolling his eyes when the Lord asked him that third time "do you love me"! Following the rolling of the eyes would be the deep breath and exhalation of the words "you know I do"!

Christ asks us every day if we love him! And every day when we say we do, his response is the same to us as it was to Peter - "Feed my sheep".

Are we doing our part? Are we feeding the sheep of this world? A friend of mine has a quote published on her profile which reads: "GOD is looking NOT for great people BUT for people who will DARE to prove the GREATNESS of their GOD!!!"

We are not being called to be in the news daily for what we are doing in the name of God. We are called to plant seeds and it is as easy to do as it is for us to plant the seeds of the virtual farms we play on Facebook or MySpace (or any other social networking site)! One click and its done! And we don't have to harvest those seeds in 4 hours or 2 day - we just need to let people know God loves them and wants them to come to him! Be faithful to that alone and you've accomplished a great deal! Some of us are called to plant seeds, others are called to water them, even still others are called to pick out the weeds and fertilize the crops...the harvesting will be done by the owner, on the last day!

Be part of the beautiful garden that that is his and you will be part of the most spectacular array of flowers imaginable! No two are the same and yet they are all beautiful and pleasing to the eye of the gardener! God loves us all very much - so much so that he sent his precious son to this once beautiful garden to fight off the weeds and that which destroys so that we may bloom!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

~ "'When I must leave you...' and assorted other joys..."

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

There is a beautiful poem by Helen Steiner Rice that I keep in a frame on an end table in my den. The first time I read it was after the death of a friend's mother. I do calligraphy as a hobby and back in high school (before you could buy the 'kit', I used the bottle of ink and the nibs) my friend asked me to write the poem out and attach a photo of her mom on the phone.

I kept that poem trapped in my brain because it was too beautiful to forget. Many years later, I came across a sympathy card carrying the poem. Over the years it has become the one of the "helps" that gets me through grief.

In my book, I do talk about the many lives I've had the privilege of interacting with over the years that have gone on to be with the Lord. Today I've added yet another.

"The boy's brother" has joined his sister in heaven. Although it has been many years since I've seen him, the memories of that day (and of others) are now flooding into my mind.

We will all get to see the glory of God if we believe. In this verse, Jesus is speaking to Mary and Martha and will show them God's mercy by raising Lazarus from the dead. Our time here on earth is short compared to the time we will spend in eternity! Each day is an opportunity of us to love, to work, to live, to share and to prepare! How ironic that this week's focus has been on not knowing when our time on earth will end! The gift of friendship is a wonderful treasure! Let Jesus be your friend and thank him for bearing your sins and grief!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

~ "Love means always having to say and mean 'I'm sorry'..."

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.... (1 Cor 13:4-8)

One of the "better known" verses in the bible - often read at Weddings! We learn early in our walk with Christ that God is Love. In my church growing up, across the top of the altar where the big cross hung, was an inscription "God is Love".

When I chose this verse as one of the readings at my own wedding, I was not as familiar with the Bible and the scriptures as I am today (and I still have a very long way to go). I thought the words were written so beautifully and told my husband and I how to live our lives together. I also thought that if we had "love" we'd be alright and get through anything that life threw at us. In the end, we were both guilty of not following the standard of "love" we pledged our lives to. We failed.

What I've come to realize in the time since the divorce is that the love didn't fail - the love is still as strong as ever...God is love! If you replace the word "love" with "God" it takes on a whole new meaning...God is patient, God is kind...we are not capable of the unconditional love that is God! We say we are, but deep in our heart of hearts, there is always a bit of doubt, always a bit of jealousy, always a bit of envy. My ex-husband and I failed each other. We chose to walk down separate roads alone (and I do mean alone). What ever reasons either of us chose to present as those responsible for the dissolution of our marriage, the reason was only a symptom of the real problem. Our marriage ended because we did not put God first in everything - because we chose to be envious and prideful and did not protect and trust each other and we did not have hope. The words "I'm sorry" became just words ~ there was no genuine emotion attached to them.

Like the thief who isn't the least bit sorry he's stolen, only sorry he was caught, we often get caught up in "if I say I'm sorry, all is forgiven". Saying the words out loud without the emotion of remorse attached to them is like putting clean clothes on a dirty body - it only covers the dirt for a little while. In order for all to be "right" we must first go back to the basics - cleaning ourselves before we dress. In the same manner, in order to truly be "sorry" we must first know what it is we are apologizing for.

Today I try not to hurt people with my words and my actions, but sometimes I do (more often still than I'd like). That "Jersey Attitude" of not entirely thinking through the thought before I open my mouth and let it come out, tends to hurt others sometimes. It's gotten better but it's not quite under control. It may never be, but I'm trying!

Love the things around you that are gifts from God. None of us knows the exact hour of our death but one - and he's not telling. We all imagine we will have that time on our death bed to make our amends to family, friends and most importantly, to God our Father. Today I don't chose to play Russian Roulette in the hopes that the bullet will be the last to come out of the chamber. Make your peace with God now! Say "I love you" every day to those around you. Let hope be your guide and Christ into your heart and you can't possibly lose! Don't tell the world you're a Christian - show the world! Show yourself! You have been called into service and the benefits are out of this world ~ eternal life with Jesus is worth the narrow road we travel. Walk it proudly!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

~ "To sin or not to sin (and to pick and choose)..."

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)

When Christ walked upon the earth, he sat down with tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers, murderers, and outcasts. He didn't look at the sin itself - he looked to the sinner and offered them eternal life through him!

We are all outcasts in one way or another. Some of us have features that are hard to look at, some of us don't speak as clearly as others, some of us are missing parts of our anatomy, some of us are less intelligent, some of us are more intelligent, some of us are very tall and some of us are very short. But we all have one thing in common - we are children of the King! We are created in his image!

When we are small, we are taught how to act when we become adults. The same is true for Christians. When we are new to Christianity (or not even familiar with it) we need guidance. First we need to be born. We need to be introduced to Christ at some point in our lives. For alot of us, it is from our physical birth. I can honestly say that God was always a part of my upbringing. In my book, I stated that there was never a time when I had not known God. For me, I've always known and always believed that Christ died on the cross for my sins and through his blood I am redeemed. Sometimes people ask me "when did you get saved" and I don't have an answer for them. The only way I can explain it to them is to ask them "when did you realize that your mother was, in fact, your mother".

I have committed my life (what's left of it, anyway) to sharing the Gospel of Jesus with all of creation - from my little laptop at my kitchen table in Piney Flats, Tennessee. Why? Because that is what we are told to do! We are told to preach the good news to all of creation! Men, women, children, murderers, adulterers, prostitutes and all the other assorted "sinners" out there. And guess what? I'm a sinner! God sees sin as sin - no matter what it is - if it's wrong - it's sin. His book is very clear on what is right and what is wrong. There are no lesser or greater sins - it all the same!

Likewise, it is not my place to judge anyone. That is GOD'S job! Do I? Of course I do - I'm human - but I'm working on it! Carol Burnett said it best in a line from the movie "The Four Seasons" - she was being told by her husband that she was "perfect" - her response to him was very simple ~ "when I am perfect I cease to exist". Truer words were never spoken! Only when God calls me home will I be perfect!

The bottom line is this: what ever people choose to do in their lives is between them and God. What I choose to do with my life is also between me and God (no one has the right to tell me I'm right or wrong - that is also God's job). I do what I am supposed to do - reach out and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the word of God! Its not about where or when I should do it - it's not about picking the "right" audience for my message of hope to those who do not know it - it's all about Jesus! Its about what he would want me to do! He died on a cross for my sins and for that person who is a mass murderer and that woman who sleeps with everyone and everything, for that man who embezzled millions of dollars from his company, for that person who threw rubbish on the side of the road, for those men who flew planes into the World Trade Center, the children who took a shotgun to school and blew their classmates away and for you! He paid the price for ALL! What ever your sins are, ask for forgiveness and make a conscious effort to move forward from this point on! Share his word with others (even if it is only to share this link with others)...He loves you - love him back!

Monday, June 21, 2010

~ "Warning! Spoiler revealed..."

But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 1:17-23)

The shortest book in the Bible is Jude - it contains only one chapter and 25 verses. Who was Jude? According to all sources and references, he was the brother of Jesus. Although his letter is brief, it is very much to the point and is written to those called by Jesus. He reminds us that we walk among unbelievers. He tells us what we are to do and how we are to do it, being ever mindful of the fact that we are to stay focused on God in our challenge. He reminds us to show mercy towards those who do not believe, yet in that mercy to be fearful of their ways. He tells us to hate the sin, but not the sinner.

There are many instances in our lives that bring our paths to cross with unbelievers and people who are not washed in the blood of salvation. They, too, are God's children! Some can be saved, others cannot. Jude warns us to be careful when interacting with these people, we should, at best, "put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Eph 6:11)".

Tough job? Not as tough as you might think! Remember ~ we already know how the story ends (the book of Revelation tells us that). There are no spoilers in this story! Jesus WILL come again and Satan WILL be defeated and those who have chosen the side of the worldly and of the flesh will not be invited to the table. For the Lord will meet them (as he will all of us) and his words to them will be "depart from me, I never knew you". What words do you want to hear? Personally, I want to hear "well done, good and faithful servant" so I continue to struggle day in and day out with the temptations of the world.

In the end, Jesus is all we have. To realize that Jesus is all we need is the part that confounds us. We keep the focus on him, he will keep us safe and we will share in the victory that is his!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

~ "Left or right; right or wrong???"

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:16-18)

Pray continually...without interruption. Give thanks in all circumstances (no matter what - good or bad) - why - because God wants us to!

It's easy to pray when things are going smoothly, or when we are happy. The challenge comes when the road is narrow and filled with pot holes.

We joke about the man in the car with his wife who will not ask for directions and is lost and late on the way to his destination. Isn't that all of us when it comes to prayer? We think we can "fix" or "figure out a solution" all by ourselves. How much easier it would be to pray! The answers will come; they do come! Only when we are on our knees, closer to God than we've ever imagined, can we fully experience all that he has for us! I know its hard - there are days that I just don't have it in me. There are days when I just want to exist alone and not reach out to God. Its only natural to want to turn to the logical solutions (and in some cases that is the answer). But we generally feel that when bad things are happening that God is punishing us ~ not so! He's asking us to reach out to him, so he can teach us something! If we draw closer to him in times of joy, how much easier it will be to draw closer to him in times of sorrow ~ praising him for ALL the things in our lives!

The man in the car eventually gets where he is going, and he's usually late and harried. I don't think I want to be "late" when it comes to the Lord! Being late in that instance may turn out to be "too late"! Be on time - now - pray without ceasing and rejoice in all that he gives you!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

~ "Pssssst..."

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. (Rom 2:1)

Well, that's a hard one to swallow! And we are all guilty of it - if we live in the real world and interact with people, we pass judgement on someone else, whether we want to or not!

If we partake in gossip, let drama into our lives or share our opinions on someone with others - we are passing judgement. That makes us sinners. The key to this one is to ask forgiveness and make an honest and conscious effort to avoid it. "But how" you may ask...focus on what is good, what is right. Don't seek out the negative in a situation or a person. Walk away from the negativity and turn your heart towards Jesus. Those cute little keychains and doo-dads a few years back that were imprinted with "WWJD" seems like a logical answer to that question. It never easy to walk away from what has become so comfortable in our lives. Drama and gossip become just as much part of our routine as brushing our teeth and combing our hair.

I try not to be a part of the idle gossip that works its way into my life, but I am not always successful. Innocent conversation between me and a friend is often in judgement of the actions of a third party. I often don't realize that I am gossiping when I do it. Its a mindset I need to work on moment by moment, each and every day. It is not my job to judge the thoughts or the actions of anyone.

There is an upside to drama and gossip ~ let it be GOOD gossip ~ talk about the good aspects of a person, share the positive and not the negative - the results will amaze you! What may start out as an exercise in futility may turn out to be a goal achieving accomplishment in turning your heart around! The old adage "if you can't say something nice about someone" just may prove to be the saving grace you've been praying for!

Friday, June 18, 2010

~ "from the dust or from the swamp..."

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. (1 Tim 6:20-21)

In these two verses, Paul gives a charge to Timothy. He tells him to beware! Science can and will distort your faith if you allow it. In those days, they may not have had "science" the way we understand it today, but they had scholars who studied the stars and the like.

In the King James Bible, "knowledge" is translated from the Greek, meaning "science". In the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary it is stated that: "There was true "knowledge," a special gift of the Spirit, which was abused by some (1Co 8:1; 12:8; 14:6). This gift was soon counterfeited by false teachers arrogating to themselves pre-eminently the gift (Col 2:8, 18, 23). Hence arose the creeds of the Church, called symbols, that is, in Greek, "watchwords," or a test whereby the orthodox might distinguish one another in opposition to the heretical. Perhaps here, 1Ti 6:20, and 2Ti 1:13, 14, imply the existence of some such brief formula of doctrine then existing in the Church; if so, we see a good reason for its not being written in Scripture, which is designed not to give dogmatic formularies, but to be the fountain whence all such formularies are to be drawn according to the exigencies of the several churches and ages."

Intelligent people often need to see proof of the existence of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They need a "logical" explanation for everything. Sometimes there is no logical explanation. Sometimes all you have to rely on is your faith. Faith in a loving and powerful God who sent his son to suffer and die on the cross for our sins. Its not important to know how old the earth is or to predict when the end will come, unless you are searching for answers. My faith tells me that God created the world in 6 days. The Bible chronology shows me that the earth is a certain age. The Bible also tells me that Christ will return and he will come "like a thief in the night". No one but the Father knows when that will be. The time is now! Give yourself to the Lord and count your blessings, "for you know not when the master of the house will return".

Thursday, June 17, 2010

~ "Hardened hearts..."

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Heb 3:12-14)

Powerful words! It doesn't say once a month, once a year - it says DAILY! Every day we are called to account for our actions. The time is now, not tomorrow or later on in the day! We need to be mindful of sin and its consequences and that each of us, though we may be saved, has a responsibility to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone. We are held accountable for our transgressions and cannot be more devoted to worldly than Godly! God doesn't take a break from us, who are we to take a break from Him???

Challenge each other to live good, Christian lives! Remind each other that the penalty for sin is death and that only by Christ's shed blood will we enter into his Kingdom! But be aware that it's not good works that gets you to heaven, but sound, Christian faith and belief! God has shown us through the Bible what happens to those who do not live by his word. Don't be like the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years! They did not enter Canaan, they did not uphold the teachings of Moses (even Moses himself was not granted that blessing - for his sin at the rock).

Don't let your heart become hardened. Ask God to soften it and bring you closer to him! He understands how difficult it is ~ but he'll help you if you ask him! It's all about him, because in the end, he is all you will have!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

~ "Power on my knees..."

So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. (1 Cor 14:15)

How do you pray? Do you pray the written prayers of men or do you search your heart and pray with your words to the Lord?

I used to say those written prayers daily. Today I talk to the Lord in my own words. I tell him my needs (not that he doesn't already know them), I thank him for all he's given me, I thank him for what he's taken from me ~ and as hard as it is sometimes, I try to thank him for my pain. Sometimes I pray out loud sometimes I just let my mind drift into conversation with him.

Just recently, after watching a video by a very blessed evangelist, I decided to sing my prayers and my praises. I sat in my room and sang a song of praise, of needs and of desperation to my God. It will never make the Billboard Charts and it wasn't anything worthy of a Grammy ~ but it was from the heart!

The point is, no matter how simple you think it may be, God isn't looking for scholarly words! He wants our prayers to be from the heart; from our spirit! He doesn't need a TV commercial to be sold on us ~ he already loves us more than we will ever know! Give him the best, not the easiest! He doesn't care if your words don't meet the standard scripted prayers. He cares that you take the time to talk to him and offer him a piece of yourself. Tonight when you get on your knees, give it a try ~ you'll be amazed at what your heart can summon to your mind and what your lips or your heart can "render unto the Lord"...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

~ "GREAT things come in small packages..."

Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

The shortest verse in the Bible carries the most dynamic insight! Imagine yourself at the lowest point of your life (for which, there are many - they always seem to have a trap door at the bottom). I know for myself, there are times when the pain I am in is just too much to bear and I burst into tears and cry to God to help me. I tell him I can't do it anymore and that I want whatever it is to either end, go away or get better. I sob uncontrollably. Sometimes I even scream at God! Then a calm eventually comes over me and I'm able to pick up the pieces and move on a little.

Imagine Jesus, in the garden, praying to his father...sobbing! We've all done it, we've all felt it. And when we are in the midst of our own suffering, we tell ourselves no one understands. But Jesus does ~ that is why he is our intercessor - because he CAN understand that pain! He's experienced it first hand!

For a very long time, my image of Jesus was that of God on earth - in a human body, but not a human being ~ how wrong I was! He feels our pain, he understands our pain and this one, short verse, puts it all into perspective.

Monday, June 14, 2010

~ "ONLY by the blood..."

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev 7:13-14)

Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:15-17)

I couldn't post all the verses as the status line, but this is one of those instances when you need the whole picture! Imagine John's surprise in this part of the Revelation! Those sealed ~ owned ~ washed in the blood of Jesus!

We all label our property. We have titles and bills of sale for our cars, boats, trailers, and the like. We have deeds to our land and our homes. Guess who has the title to planet Earth??? I don't think its Darwin or any of this cronies...

Possession is nine tenths of the law, right - adverse possession in common law? I think that applies here!

In this day an age, we tend to guard our property a little more aggressively than in years past. We have alarm systems on our cars, in our homes, even tracking devices in our pets! They belong to us and we want to be assured that if they are lost or stolen that we will have them safely returned to us. Well, it seems we can't claim to be the first to "tag" our possessions. God "tagged" us before our birth ~ he gave us a soul! Those of us who believe and are "washed in the blood" also have a special mark - setting us apart from others because we are his! Let your mark be a beacon for others ~ let others see God in you!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

~ "and all God's people said..."

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

AMEN! We've been born again! We've been given the inheritance of the King! It's waiting for us when we meet him face to face! And there's that word again ~ faith! Sometimes the road isn't what we want it to be, nor is it easy to travel. But God has a plan - one for each and every one of us! Our journey will end victoriously because Jesus has paved the way!

Sometimes the only thing I have to cling to is hope! Hope that tomorrow will be a better day, hope that God will enlighten me! It is so unclear sometimes where the Lord wants to use me. Finding his plan for me isn't always easy ~ probably because I'm not listening. But when I do, he leads me to a place of peace and grace and love and mercy - because I am his and to him all I have is gladly given. Even when I'm at the lowest and when I'm tired - I lift up my eyes and my voice to him!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

~ Matthew Henry Commentary...

I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:23)

Our Lord especially prayed, that all believers might be as one body under one head, animated by one soul, by their union with Christ and the Father in him, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The more they dispute about lesser things, the more they throw doubts upon Christianity. Let us endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, praying that all believers may be more and more united in one mind and one judgment. Thus shall we convince the world of the truth and excellence of our religion, and find more sweet communion with God and his saints.

Friday, June 11, 2010

~ "Paid in full"...

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. (Mark 15:37)

And in his last breath of mortal life, he opened the door to eternity for all of us! Our debt had been paid! Why? Because he loves us!

His focus never wavered! He knew what the plan was and followed it through! He was human! He asked for it not to happen, just like any of us who are facing impending doom. The difference being, he prayed to the father and said "not my will, but yours" AND he meant it!

How often do we pray and ask God to change the course of our lives and say the words "not my will, but yours", yet in our silent, human hearts, we want only what we want and not really what God wants? Jesus knew only too well what it means to be a human being with human wants and desires. He, too, knows that "easier, softer way". We are blessed because even through his pain and suffering, he continued what was started! We know, intellectually, that our pain will pass and our blessings will follow whatever trial we are experiencing. These, for us, are small sacrifices. We could never have taken the place of that man! No one could! So today, when life seems to be slinging arrows at my heart and rocks at my head, I will remember that moment in Jesus' life when I placed nails in his hands and feet, a crown of thorns on his head and pierced his side with a sword. He knows my pain all too well and he has set me free. Jesus paid it all!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

~ "Here I come to save the day..."

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Rev 3:11)

Those of us who grew up in the 60's know exactly who said the title of today's note! A small, but effective little critter named Mighty Mouse! Champion of the people! He's beat down his arch-enemy, Oil Can Harry, every time! He always won!

Today, people blame the violence that was our television experience, on the problems of the world. We live in a violent society. It's been that way since the beginning when Cain killed Abel (and they didn't have television).

We all needed a superhero when we were kids ~ be it Mighty Mouse, Superman, Batman, the Lone Ranger, the Power Puff Girls, Power Rangers, Transformers or any of the other billions of cartoon characters whose job it was to save the world from evil.

Not so unlike Christ (and no, I am NOT comparing him to a cartoon mouse). He is my hero! He fought the good fight and won! He took the punishment for my sins and freed me from the enemy (Satan). He's given me many things over the years, but the most important thing I've received is my salvation. The speaker I heard last night said two things that stuck in my mind...Am I doing all I could be doing for the Lord (my answer - NOT) and "I AM BLESSED" (which I am)! I have no excuse for not being all I can be to serve God! I choose to be lazy sometimes in my service to him!

"I'll be back" (and not with an Austrian accent) he tells us! I'm holding on to my faith and spreading his word - but it's time to do more than that! It's time to stand up and be counted for! It's time to stop asking for selfish and trivial things and start counting my blessings and being all that HE needs me to be! Are you willing to make the same commitment to him?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

~ "Now is the time..."

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Rev 1:3)

"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party" was the original typing phrase introduced by Charles E. Weller. It was later changed to "...aid of their country". It is considered "filler text". But if you read Revelation 1:3, you'll see that this sentiment is anything but filler text. It's a revelation - a dramatic disclosure!

The last chapter in God's book was written by John (the apostle). He describes in detail what will occur in the end times. The signs are all there and if you look around, you will see that they are, in fact, right in front of us! Our gracious creator has given us everything we need to sustain our lives on this earth. He has also told us everything we need to know to attain eternity. We are guaranteed this only through faith and the death and resurrection of Jesus!

The bottom line is, in the words of 1973 Mets relief pitcher, Tug McGraw ~ "You gotta believe!" Don't wait until tomorrow, or next week, or when you've finished this busy week's schedule! Accept Christ into your heart now! He's definitely in your corner! Are you in his???

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

~ "Matthew! Come on down!"

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. (Matt 9:9)

Jesus called Matthew and he followed. No hesitation, no turning back. Even in spite of all the chatter that he was a tax collector, an enemy of the people (so to speak), a man that was not a friend to the working man.

How many times does Jesus call us to follow him? How often do we use that phrase "hang on, just one minute" when we are called into his service? He needs us now! He needs us to spread his word and do his work now - not in a minute or two, or a day or a week - NOW! The time for taking it slow has long past. He builds an army of soldiers to take up the battle. Lay your burdens at his nail scared feet and take up his cross ~ the victory is already won - we know how it's going to end (talk about spoilers)! The only decision we need to make is to serve, without hesitation, without fear, without conditions. God has a plan! Be a part of the victory ~ be a servant to the Lord and he will reward you!

Monday, June 7, 2010

~ and in this corner...

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12)

We are in a wrestling match with demons ~ although the Bible does not specifically call them "demons", 'forces of evil in the heavenly realms' could be translated into what we call 'demons'. It seems that no matter where we turn, the ungodly are trying very hard to get us off our feet, throw us to the ground, pin us and win the match! In order to be prepared for this battle, we must be in touch with God, with Jesus! We cannot defeat the enemy on our own! Only through prayer and study can we hope to win each battle. Remembering that Christ has already won the war helps! Knowing that they have some boundaries they aren't allowed to cross ensures our physical safety. Put Jesus above the hurt. Study, read and continue on. Know what you have inside!

(taken in part from a sermon given by Pastor Charles Brooks)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

~ and we'll live happily ever after...

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:8-9)

We've all heard the ending of the fairy tale - "and they lived happily ever after". I do believe these two verses is where it got it's origin!

It's not easy to follow Jesus. The trick is to be willing to follow him! Sometimes I feel like I'm all alone in this world. So many times I've wanted to just throw in the towel and run in the opposite direction. Many times I did. If you've read my book, you will know that there were many times throughout my life that I felt that way.

Life is not perfect especially if you follow Christ! But the bottom line is that the grace of God will take you through whatever the world throws at you! And yes, sometimes you feel so alone in your walk. What helps get me through is know that in the end, I, too, will "live happily ever after"...