Saturday, July 31, 2010

~ "Choices..."

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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. (Rom 8:38-39)

In this verse, Paul reminds us once again that once we are Christ's, we are always his! No matter what happens in our lives, he will watch over us and guide us no matter what comes our way!

Temptations follow us every day. They come in many forms from the simplest (getting too much change back) to the most serious (I'm not going to give an example for that one - fill in your own blank there). We all have them, temptations, that is. They are those little tiny moments when we say "no one will know" - but we resist because we know that GOD knows. But what happens when the temptation is so strong and our human nature gets in the way of our knowledge of what is right and wrong? If you're like me, you'll spend a day or two rationalizing it, then spend another day justifying it, and then another day wondering if you can change the situation so that it's pleasing to God. By the end of the week, you've spent entirely too much energy on a no win situation! And yet, you still sit there and contemplate doing it anyway!

I've said to myself many times "this was so much easier BEFORE I knew the love of God". It was easier before my conscience would rise up in me and stand firmly planted in my brain. Knowing the right thing to do doesn't always make it the easier thing to do. Our wants and needs are so strong sometimes that it is almost impossible to walk away. Not knowing God's plan for us only complicates the matter. "Is this what he wants for me?"

Waiting patiently on the Lord is not one of my attributes. My friends will tell you I often act before I think things through. Then I scramble and try to "fix" the mess I'm in. I'm learning. Each day is another opportunity for me to do it God's way. Through prayer, fasting and meditation, I find the way that he's chosen for me. When I don't take the time to pray is when I run into the wall. It's the key to everything in my life. Without it, I'd still be living in the world according to Beth, miserable and in pain.

To see God's hand in you life, you need to be able to look back at where you once were. Look to where he's taken you from ~ spiritually, not physically. He's taken this used up human being who had no direction in her life beyond that which was right in front of her. He opened her heart to what is good and pleasing to him, he marked her soul with the imprint of his love. He wants only the best for us ~ his best, not ours. Let your little temptations fall away and focus on his love for you. He'll help you through it no matter what it is. He truly loves you! Give him the opportunity to make you shine!

Friday, July 30, 2010

~ "do NOT run with scissors, please..."

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5:11-12)

It is very difficult to live in the real world. It is hard to surround yourself with just Christians. At some point, you have to interact with those who do not think or feel about God the same way that you do. Some people will smile and nod when you talk about your love for the Father. Others will ridicule or curse at you and your God! Some people will accept your "faith" as fact, some will not.

While sharing with one of my daughters that God has removed all temptation for alcohol, she looked at me like I had three heads and asked me if all I ever talk about is God. I thought about it for a minute - and the answer is that I can always bring God into any situation. Everything I have today is a gift from God. I didn't get it on my own and I'm alive today because of the grace of God. My life is a testimony to his power and mercy. I don't always walk a straight line, but I try very hard. I do what I believe he wants me to do and he blesses me. I don't always get it right, but he's there just the same. I am human. I make mistakes. I wander through this existence sometimes like a blind man. I bump into things and trip over things, I stumble and fall, but I get up and keep going. Some days I think I've been run over by a rather large truck and left in the road for dead, and then He lifts me up and brushes me off and I continue on. I'm learning to walk. Just like a baby learns, so do we.

Early in our "walk" with Christ, our footing is unsteady. As we grow in faith, our steps become more secure. But like a child who runs and falls and scrapes their knee, we also can get so caught up in the race that we too, trip and fall and scrape our knee! And there is the Father, wiping our tears and putting a band aid on it and telling us it's okay - we'll heal.

There is nothing that God can't do; nothing he can't fix. If we follow him, we follow truth! He lights the path on which we walk and keeps his word. If we choose to walk only partly in the light, we risk slipping and falling into the ditch. Be cautious and be safe. Don't take on more than you can handle! If you're unsure, ask for guidance and help from someone who is more knowledgeable than you. But don't give up! Continue to be an example to those around you! Let them see that Christ's love has changed you and made you whole!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

~ "the devil made me do it..."

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (James 1:13-14)

God does not tempt us. He doesn't sit on his throne and think "what can I do to THAT one today to see how much he loves me?" That comes from Satan.

When we are tempted, what ever comes to us in whatever form it comes, has to pass through God first. We are his children. He protects us even in our temptation. He knows exactly what we can bear so the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13, roughly translated, is true: God will not give us what we cannot handle. And when we fall short of ourselves, he again renews us and forgives us - he wipes away our tears and cleanses us of the sin. Sometimes, we create our own problems, and Satan feeds off of them. Still, God watches over us. He knows in our heart that we want so much to please him and accept the gifts he gives us, yet in our temptations he teaches us restraint. Restraint of the material world, restraint of the flesh and restraint of the heart. He created us to be a partner to someone and when we get frustrated and lonely, we reach out to anyone or anything to fill the void. Be patient. He's not finished with you yet. He has plans for you that exceed your wildest dreams. He wants so much for you to be his first, then someone wife or husband. Be faithful to his words and he will bestow more grace and blessings on you than you can imagine.

"Be still and know that I am GOD!" (Psalm 46:10)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

~ "another one bites the dust..."

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thes 5:1-3)

All this talk about 12/12/12 reminds me of the little man with the sign that reads "the end is near" in all the world destruction movies. In my lifetime, I think I can recall about 10 times that the world was supposed to end! Guess what? We're still here!

I don't worry about 12/12/12 or the Mayan calendar, or global warming or running out of natural resources. Yes, I'm all for recycling - God put us here to be caretakers for it and from what I can see, many aren't doing their fair share.

Everything that we need to sustain life on this planet comes from God. He created it, he keeps it spinning on its axis, he sends the sun and the rain when it's needed. I don't worry about that stuff, nor do I worry about tsunamis and earthquakes and volcanos. When my time comes, it comes. I'm ready!

I don't worry about it because I have faith - faith that God will provide as he always has. I'm more concerned with seeing souls saved - in knowing that my interactions with people are of a positive influence. I want people to know that God has a great gift to give them if they just reach back their hand to his!

Someday, all of this will be gone. Someday, many of us will be in heaven with Jesus; some will not. God has a plan for each one of us - each and every one of us! He has a job for us too - and that is to continue to spread his word throughout the world, to all creatures and to praise him from the depths of our soul!

Tell someone about Jesus today - tell them how much he loves them and that he died for their sins. We can't make them believe in him or accept him - but we can tell them about him!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

~ "sorry, that number is not in service..."

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)

To believe in Jesus is to believe in everything he did while on earth, It means to believe that he was conceived through the power of God and the Holy Spirit and was born of a virgin. It means to believe that what he preached while on the earth is, in fact, God's word. It is to believe that he truly is the Son of God and that his death on the cross opened the gates of heaven. It is to believe that he wants all of us to follow him and walk in his ways.

What happens to us when we continue to say "no" to Christ's calling? Does he eventually give up and go away? Apparently not, because here I sit, writing this message.

I've said "no" more times than I care to remember. I've said and done things I wished I had not. I've made mistakes and gone down paths that are not of God. He still called me. He calls me everyday. He tells me to be a witness to his power. He calls me to tell others about him. My life is his. We are not all called to him in the same way. Some of us are called to be the quiet, simple Christians. Some are called to be the dynamic speakers and preachers of his word. And some, like me, are called to give testimony to the grace and mercy that he delivers to us sinners, no matter what the sin.

I believe in Jesus! His blood sets me free from the fires of hell. His resurrection reminds me that my soul will never die and that his love will continue to lift me up and hold me up when I call on him. Believe in the miracles that happen in your life every day and don't write them off as "coincidence" - God deals in absolutes! Speak to the rock and you will receive the water of life! Praise him and he will deliver you from all that binds you!

Monday, July 26, 2010

~ "Going once, going twice - SOLD..."

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:18-19)

The definition of the word redeem is "to recover ownership of by paying a specified sum". The price paid to redeem us was blood - precious blood! Redemption is about the shed blood of Jesus (no one else). Redemption doesn't come from an animal, it doesn't come from good works, it doesn't come by tithing - it doesn't even come from reading the Bible. Our redemption came as the "lamb without blemish and without spot" went to the cross and died.

In a beautiful sermon yesterday, my pastor gave a message that he titled "The Five Aspects of Redemption". As he spoke, he reminded me of certain things I already knew and made clearer a few that I didn't. We are redeemed from Satan, for ourselves and from sin (alcohol, drugs, immoral sex, lying, stealing...). We are an imperfect people created by a perfect God. I found myself listening as he shared questions we have as if I were a child in my mother's kitchen. Many of these were questions I'd asked as young woman: "Why did God have to have someone die? Why are all sins the same? Why can't he just snap his fingers and fix us?" The answer to all questions can be found in Genesis 1:31: "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." The piece that eludes us sometimes is that we think one of two things: that we can do whatever we want and we're still going to heaven because we believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and came to earth and paid for our sins; or that we must continually do all kinds of "good deeds" to get into heaven (even though we believe Christ died for us). Building houses for the homeless is a very laudable task, as is feeding them, clothing them and comforting them. But why do we do it? Do we do it with the intent to have someone eulogize us with wonderful words, or do we do it because it is pleasing to God? Putting a dollar in the Salvation Army pot at Christmas time doesn't mean anything unless it's the only dollar you have. It's a feeble attempt at being a giver. Yes, the dollar helps, but how much more do you keep in your pocket because you need to buy presents for friends and loved ones?

God gave us everything we have, including our salvation, which was paid for by the precious blood of Jesus. All we need to do is ask him into our hearts and have him walk beside us. He loves us more than anyone we know and his love is eternal and everlasting. His blood opened the door to heaven for us. Open the door to your heart and let him in ~ as I've said before, the rewards are out of this world!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

~ "One Touch..."

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:27-28)

"One encounter with Jesus, that moment of salvation, changes everything" are the words spoken in "Christian Beauty Music's" music video for Nicole C Mullin's "One Touch". The power in her words and today's verse are synonymous - it only takes one! Nothing is more compelling than the faith that this woman had that she thought if she only could touch his clothes she would be healed.

Each day, we fight our way through our own madness - be it work, school, or just life in general. We face disappointments and heartbreak and come close to the end of our rope sometimes but we press on. There is nothing greater than God's love for us. There is nothing that he doesn't hear or see. He knows our pain - through Jesus!

When I chose today's verse a few days ago (and the worship video), I had no idea that God would use that in my life to demonstrate to me that I need to hang on to that faith no matter what comes my way. Giving up is the easy way out of any given situation. Pressing through is the tough way, but it's the only way to attain happiness. We all want to be cured instantly of what ails us, and some may look on this healing as "instant" - but was it? She suffered for 12 years, none of the doctors could help her and then she heard of Jesus. Only when she put her faith to work, when she let go of the human stuff, and believed in his power, was she healed.

We all want the blessing of God bestowed upon us instantly, because we believe. We don't want to wait. We think we know what God has in store for us, but we don't. He draws us near to him and wants us to stay there, to have faith that he will keep his promises. We forget sometimes that Satan wants us too. He wants us to give up and turn our backs on God. The Godly influences that we surround ourselves with help us to stay focused on HIM and resist temptation. I'm very grateful that we have a forgiving God - it makes me want to honor him all the more! He enlightens us when we are quiet and wait, he lifts us up out of the pits we throw ourselves into and he blesses us with his mercy and his forgiveness - everything else is the icing on the cake.

Give him all he is deserving of - your prayers, your praises, your love and your faithfulness and he will bless you. Press through and not only will you be able to touch the hem of his garment, but you will be able to see the power unleashed in his blessing!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

~ "I thought you said there was a shortcut???"

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

We all want the simpler way, the easier way, the softer way. Being a "Christian" means to put "Christ" in front of everything. He is the easier, softer way! Without him, we'd be doomed to an eternity of emptiness. God's mercy (through Jesus' death and resurrection) was most assuredly not the simpler solution, but rest assured it is the ONLY one. There are no tricks or secrets to attaining eternal life - there are no shortcuts. If you think of the sacrifice made on our behalf (that someone thought enough of you be delivered to the enemy, suffer a brutal death, be buried and then rise from the dead) you will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that you are special! You are a prince or a princess in your own right because you are a son or daughter of the King!

Life isn't always about what WE want. Many times its about what is best for us (whether we agree or not). God gives us what we need and in return he asks that we make a human attempt to walk in his ways. Disappointments that come are but rungs on the ladder to the father. The part that we cling to on our way up is Jesus. We can't get there without him. The higher up we go on the ladder, the more we need to hold on. We can become so full of ourselves that we forget that we must continue to reach out and hold on. We need to remain humble and teachable.

We may slip on our climb, but we will never fall, as long as we have both hands holding on to Jesus. Bring your cares to him and lay them at his feet...and leave them there. He will take them to the father and plead on your behalf. We trust in his death because it gives us life. Trust your life to him and he won't disappoint you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

~ "Don't eat that..."

Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (Mark 7:18-19)

Imagine the Jews in the time of Christ. For as long as they could remember, they were told what they could not eat! Here comes Jesus and says "go ahead, eat what you want, it's okay". It seems as though a lot of the truths that they clung to were derived from one point of view - that what they did was to purify themselves for the Lord. Jesus' death changed all that!

We are cleansed and purified by his blood. The sacrifices and laws that the Jews abided by would no longer be necessary. The people would be free to eat and worship a living God, who had died and rose from the dead for them!

Jesus defied the law. He healed people on the sabbath, he sat and ate with sinners and tax collectors, he preached the word of God unlike any before him. He opened a door to salvation that cannot be closed by men.

Each of us has the choice to accept what God has offered us or to ignore his word and do as we please. When I listen to the words of my youth as offered for praise and thanksgiving, I am not moved. It's no longer about ritual and laws for me. It's about the grace of God in my life today. It's about praise and honor to the King of Kings! It's not about being "politically correct" (or in this case, religiously correct). The power of the living Christ is in each of us, we just need to tap into it and let it shine! Don't be afraid to lift your hands in worship to our Lord! If the Holy Spirit is moving you to do so, and you are afraid of what others will think of you (or that they'll throw you out of church) - let go of the fear. One of two things will happen: others will begin to lift their hands in praise, or they'll ask you to leave. If they ask you to leave, then apparently it is not where you need to be anyway. We so often let "appearances" determine what we do and don't do. We don't want to be the "odd man out" or the "weirdo" or the "Jesus freak" - we want to have it both ways (like the rich man who wanted to follow Jesus but could not bring himself to sell all his stuff). We worry about what other people think about us when the one we really should be out to impress is Jesus!

Impress him today! Say the words "praise the Lord" and mean it! Refrain from the expression "OMG" (and no, don't try to convince yourself you mean anything other than "Oh, my God" and that you are saying it as a praise to him) and go with something that reflects your emotion..."Good grief" seemed to work for Charlie Brown. Be faithful to his word and to what he asks us to do - spread his word and lead Christian lives. Remember, Christ was humiliated before many for us. Suck it up - dare to be humiliated for his sake!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

~ "let go, can't you see I'm trying to get somewhere..."

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him. (Mark 12:17)

We know exactly what Jesus is talking about in this verse whether we are new to the Bible or an avid reader. He's talking about responsibility. Each of us has a responsibility to pay our debts, to respect the laws and to defend our freedom. There's a saying: "If you aren't willing to stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them". There was a bumper sticker during the Vietnam war which contained a phase along with a picture of a heart and a picture of a donkey - the phrase was similar to the former insomuch as it said that if your heart wasn't in America you could leave. We fly an American flag on holiday and we pay all kinds of taxes - I'd venture a guess that we do the latter with a magnitude of complaining (especially on April 15th of each year). We pay income tax, sales tax, inheritance tax, tax on our interest earned, and property tax (I'm sure I've left a few out - but you get the idea). We do it because we don't want to spend a lengthy vacation at Club Fed and we happen to like the material things we have, so we are willing to pay tax on them.

But what about that which is God's? Do we complain about having to follow his rules? Do we get up each morning and thank him for everything we have? Do we get dressed and go to worship him with excitement or do we mumble the words "I have to go to church"? Do we sit curled up in the corner of our couch with a cup of coffee and grab HIS book off the coffee table and read it and marvel at the biographies written in it? Do we praise him when he answers a prayer?

I hated going to church as a child and teenager. I could think of a hundred places I'd rather have been for that hour. I didn't own a bible until I was in high school. The only time I'd hit my knees was in church. The only time I'd pray was when I wanted something. I'm glad we serve a forgiving God!

Today, the first thing I do is thank God - before my feet hit the floor. I look forward to going to church and I sit and I read his book every day. Everything I have is because God loves me and cares for me. I praise him when he answers a prayer, I pray and leave my requests at his feet. I give to God what it is his and he blesses me. I don't give to him out of fear (although I do fear him - which is another note) - I give to him out of love for him - for what he's given me is something I'll never be able to match. His son paid a debt that I was not worthy of having paid for me and could never have paid myself. I love God with all my heart. I praise and worship him because I want to, not because I have to!

We all have our own agendas and we interpret certain verses of the Bible differently. People will ask me "why do you do that" (referring to my attitudes, behavior, dress, etc) and my answer to them all is quite simple...because it pleases God.

Do something today that pleases God. If you have had something tugging at your heart, something you do, or say, or wear - change it - make it pleasing to God and he'll stop tugging. But don't be surprised if he finds something else to tug at - it's just the way he is!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

~ "sometimes he talks to me...

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess....Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb 4:14; 16)

There is nothing more powerful than an answered prayer. The grace and glory of God in our lives causes us to drop to our knees and rejoice! Sometimes we even hit them as tears of joy roll down our faces. Yesterday, I felt and saw the hand of God so strongly in my life that I sobbed!

I had called a woman from church to ask for prayers for a friend's mother who was having surgery. I am new in this church, so I don't know a lot of people. She heads up what I call "speed dial" - a powerful prayer chain that involves the members of our church. Yesterday, after knowing the results of the surgery, I called her again to update her.

During our conversation, we got to talking about how God works in our lives and gave each other a crash-course in our years upon this earth, our walk to Jesus and a bit of what we deal with on a daily basis. I shared with her my "unspoken request" that I continually ask people to pray for. Not too many people know the actual request, and I felt comfortable enough with this woman to share it with her. When we finished our conversation (about an hour later) she ended her side of it by assuring me that she would pray more specifically for my request and reminded me that "It is done".

I then when into my den for my morning prayers. I sat on the couch and opened my daily devotional (a special birthday gift from a very dear friend) and there on the page for yesterday was today's verse of the day. This is the commentary that followed:

"Our great Helper in prayer is the Lord Jesus Christ, our Advocate with the Father, our Great High Priest, whose chief ministry for us these centuries has been intercession and prayer. He it is who takes our imperfect petitions from our hands, cleanses them from their defects, corrects their faults, and then claims their answer from His Father on His own account and through His all-atoning merits and righteousness.

Brother, are you fainting in prayer? Look up. Your blessed Advocate has already claimed your answer, and you would grieve and disappoint Him if you were to give up the conflict in the very moment when victory is on its way to meet you. He has gone in for you into the inner chamber, and already holds up your name upon the palms of His hands; and the messenger, which is to bring you your blessing, is now on his way, and the Spirit is only waiting your trust to whisper in your heart the echo of the answer from the throne, "It is done." --A. B. Simpson

The Spirit has much to do with acceptable prayer, and His work in prayer is too much neglected. He enlightens the mind to see its wants, softens the heart to feel them, quickens our desires after suitable supplies, gives clear views of God's power, wisdom, and grace to relieve us, and stirs up that confidence in His truth which excludes all wavering. Prayer is, therefore, a wonderful thing. In every acceptable prayer the whole Trinity is concerned. --J. Angell James"

When I write this note every morning, I let God put the words on the page. I try to be only the instrument through which his message is spread, I don't profess to be a Bible scholar or a theologian. The power that came across my quiet little "prayer closet" yesterday morning is still present. Go back and re-read yesterday's note and know that God is present in all of our lives.

Throughout the day, I was reminded very definitively not to doubt that my prayer had been heard and that "it is done". We are a "need to know" people - we need to know that we've been heard, that we are important and that we are loved. God tells us he loves us and hears us when we pray. His word is good enough for me!

(taken in part from "Streams in the Dessert" by L.B. Cowman)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

~ "Testing 1 -2 -3 - can you hear me???"

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. (John 15:7)

What a promise! All we have to do is have faith and ask! Not as simple as it seems.

To remain in his words (or as in the KJV - to abide) means not only to know the word of God, but to have the faith in Christ he desires. This is where we all become like Thomas...we doubt! Again, our human nature gets in the way. So many times I've prayed and had faith that God would deliver to find that during that waiting period (when I get impatient), my faith would sway and I'd think "this isn't gonna happen".

Today, my faith is much stronger. I'm learning to wait on the Lord. I've never been one to wait for anything! In my adult years, I never had to - if I wanted something, I just went out and bought it. But there are some things you cannot buy; some things that are worth waiting for! So today I wait. I continue to pray and ask (and no, I stopped asking for material things long ago) for what I want, applying the need factor (reasons why I want it) and know that if it is in God's will, it will come about. The promise that it will be given to us is guaranteed. Sometimes God gives us things we want only to show us that that wasn't what we wanted and then we say "why did you do that?" We go to him like needy children and think we know what is best for us - we don't see the big picture and we continue to pray for our will, not his! We get on that treadmill and continue to pray over and over again without getting anywhere and say to ourselves "Is he saying 'no' or am I not being patient enough?" When that happens, we have two choices: let the request fall away (give up) or change the request (the intercession of our hearts). If you pray for something long enough, eventually he will enlighten you if you don't get the answer. Continue to pray. He hears you - he's always listening!

Monday, July 19, 2010

~ "Sincerely yours..."

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Phil 4:12-13)

The NIV translation of Philippians 4:12 reads: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Paul wrote this from prison. How in the world could anyone be content in prison?

What Paul had learned (and what we must learn) is that contentment in the Lord comes through a confident faith. He had learned to love others before himself. He wrote with a spirit of rejoicing.

God is fully aware of all of our situations. He knows our needs. He knows our wants. He asks us to follow his law and obey his commandments (the ones he wrote, not the edited version of society). Sometimes the answer to our prayer is "no". At that time, we may become discouraged because that is what we really "want". We may feel we deserve these things - that we are entitled! Like the man who is upset because his co-worker got the promotion he felt he deserved, we become bitter. "Why is God doing this to me?" God sees the whole picture. He knows what's in store for us. He knows our needs before we do.

The Bible tells us to rejoice! Go to him in thanksgiving for what is going to do for you - don't save the accolades for afterwards. When we write a letter requesting the help of a creditor, or a business - sometimes we put at the bottom the words "I am thanking you in advance for your attention to this matter".

Go to the Lord with a spirit of rejoicing for what he is going to do for you! Thank him in advance for hearing your prayer. Humble yourself before him and he will bless you more than you could ever imagine. Give him the praise he deserves and be content to know that one day you will truly be satisfied. Be willing to accept the "no" answer, knowing he has a much better plan for you somewhere down the road and that in all things, he is there.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

~ "He IS alive..."

While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. (Luke 24: 51-52)

Imagine the emotional roller coaster these men were on. First, they see their Lord arrested. Then they see him crucified. Three days after that, he returns to them - ALIVE! He stays with them for a short time and then he ascends to heaven right in front of them! Their emotions went from fear to grief, to shock, to joy and finally to praise!

Aren't we like that at times? We pray out of fear and grief and pain. We praise out of joy! Sometimes the words we utter don't fully express what our hearts are feeling. We wear that facade so well at times that we even fool ourselves. But God knows what is in our hearts, in our minds and meets our needs every day. He teaches us patience and holds us tenderly in his arms in the process.

Jesus Christ is alive! He's a living testament to the glory that is God's! That miracle alone reminds us that he can do all things! We go to him in prayer and he hears our words! Miracles happen everyday. We forget sometimes that the smallest utterance is often the one he hears first - the simplest of prayers (as in my book when I said "God, please help me"). The earnestness of our request at that time, the fear in our hearts - the ones that have a true petition for mercy and grace - are the ones that are set apart from the others. Why? Because in that twinkling of a moment, we have totally humbled ourselves to the power of his hand with no pretense or expectation other than total reliance on him!

Let God work a miracle in your life! Ask him to lead you and he will. Scary as it may be, you won't be alone - he's right there with you, all the time! The words of Nicole Mullin's rendition of "My Redeemer Lives" tells us that "the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken, they conquered death to bring me victory". Reach out for your piece of the victory and take the nail scarred hand of Jesus!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

~ "the alabaster box..."

And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (Luke 7: 27-28)

How precious was Jesus to this woman that she would wash his feet with her tears and try them with her hair? Wanting only forgiveness for her sins and to be made whole, this woman approached Jesus though being told to go away!

The oils in her box were probably used for cleansing (they didn't bathe much back then) - this woman was said to be a prostitute. I think she used them to spruce herself up between appointments. The act of pouring out the oils onto Jesus shows a true desire to be saved and cleansed of her sins. Our sin is what separates us from God. Christ paid the price for that sin on Calvary. We only need to go to him in prayer and ask for forgiveness.

The oil in the alabaster box could represent the sins we carry inside of us. We want to pour them out at Christ's feet and be forgiven. I know for myself, the changes I've made in my life make me who I am now, still a sinner, but not the sinner I once was. Christ's love has changed me and made me a better person. Without him, I would have nothing and would have spent my eternity in the fires of hell. I am a child of God (as are you) and I will inherit many wonderful things in heaven (as will you), but I will have to suffer through this human existence first (as do you)! Until that day arrives, we must battle the temptation to sin every day...and Christ will forgive us - EVERY DAY! Make him the center fold of your heart and your soul and you will be washing his feet with you tears! He knows our pain, he fills our need for grace and mercy! Let his life force flow within you! What is in your alabaster box that you have yet to take to him?

Friday, July 16, 2010

~ "there's that same tree we passed an hour ago..."

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. (1 John 2: 28-29)

Do you sometimes feel like you're going around in circles? I know that I do! I'll get to a good spot, rest and then continue on - but I sometimes end up back where I started.

It's not easy to be a Christian sometimes. Even as Christians we do things we know we shouldn't, and we chalk it up to being the "lesser of two evils". We lie out of fear instead of letting go and being honest. Sometimes our faith is not as strong as we'd like to believe it is, or is it? We have faith in God - that he will provide for us, that he will care for us, that he will protect us. It's mankind that we don't trust! There are situations where our human nature tells us that we need to say or do something to avoid the repercussions of men (be they Christian or not). They come from our experiences.

For me, to be unashamed before Christ is to have followed where he's led me without detour. To have faith in his will and believe that he will continue to lead me is where I put my trust. I don't trust man any farther than I could throw him (and those who know me will tell you I probably couldn't get him off the ground). It is in times like this that we reach out to one another and ask for advice and suggestions. They pray for me, lift me up in prayer and comfort me and yes, put up with my insanity from time to time - but they always love me. The same goes for Jesus. He will always love me - he is always there for me - I want to be the righteous Christian he desires me to be. Every thing that I do that is done for his glory, not mine. Anything I accomplish in this life is because he has seen fit to bless me!

Being born again doesn't mean we're perfect - we're sinners - our job is to spread his word and lead people to his sheltering arms. He has a plan for each and every one of us. In my book I tell readers to "aspire to be the Christian you know is buried deep within your soul". There is no other feeling on earth that compares to the joy of seeing a sinner led to the altar of the Lord. Salvation is for all! Share your joy with the world!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

~ "Homeward bound..."

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. (Ps 73:25)

Recently I've been informed of deaths of friends and acquaintances - some old, some young, some younger still! People touch our lives and we are never the same. The memories their deaths stir in us make us happy and sad at the same time. We are grateful for the time we've spent with them and we are sad for ourselves that they will no longer be a part of our lives. Some deaths are expected and others are not. But as I've said before, each death is in God's time. It is at his command that we die.

When I think in terms of my own death, I do think of my family and friends who have already died and are in heaven with the Father. But the reality to me is that it won't really matter. My eyes will be so fixed on Jesus that my entire being will want or need nothing else. We think of heaven in human terms, but we will no longer be human! We will have that new body promised to us and not only will we be with Jesus - we will be with GOD!

What an awesome thought! To be in HIS presence and look upon him and know that we may not have been all we could have been on earth, but did what he asked us to do and have inherited his eternal grace!

We all long to see loved ones lost, and we will - but again, I don't think it will matter - being in the heavenly expanse with God will be so much greater than we could have ever imagined! We talk about the "angels" we have looking down on us to comfort ourselves and others - but we've always had someone greater watching over us, guiding our footsteps and waiting for us to come to him ~ we have God, who created us; Jesus, who died for us; and the Holy Spirit, who enlightens us! What could be more comforting than that?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

~ "that light at the end..."

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. (Heb 11:27)

Moses left Egypt believing God (who he had not seen) would guide him. All he had was his faith to see him through. Unfortunately, his doubt (and the doubt of the Israelites) prohibited him from reaching the Promised Land.

We all have doubts in our lives. We have faith that God will bring us to the right place at the right time, but often we arrive at our destination with a rapid heartbeat and a loud sigh, which is usually followed by the words "thank you, Lord". We pray for God's will in our lives yet in the deepest reaches of our souls, we still want what we want and hope that God wants that for us too!

In this life, faith is really all we have. We have to hold on with both hands sometimes as our situation goes from bad to worse, knowing that God holds the entire thing in his hands - and his hands never let go.

We want so much for God to bless our lives! We want to be the pleasing children to him that we tried to be for our parents. He knows what's best for us! And when that light at the end of the tunnel begins to shine, we stop praying and begin praising because we realize that once again, he has brought us through the storm. We bask in the light at its fullest and then move on to the next dark tunnel with the same hesitance that we entered the last one - the only difference is - we've seen the hand of God move in our lives, so our faith becomes a little stronger. Each tunnel we enter becomes a little less dark than the one before it because our faith lights the way. Someday I hope to be able to enter that dark tunnel with the same boldness that Christ went to the cross - knowing that in the end all things came together for the glory of God!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

~ "how do I love you..."

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—(1 Tim 2:1)

We've all read (or at least heard) Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43. With all that we have within us, we love. We pray for those we love. We lift them up to the Lord in their grief and pain. But what about those who are not loved ~ the ones despised by society? Who prays for them? Should we pray for them?

In 1 Timothy 2, we are commanded to pray for all of mankind! While reading Isaiah yesterday, it occurred to me that I pray that God will touch the hearts of those I love who have not yet realized the full measure of his love for them. A very evil little man's image came into my mind; one with a swastika carved into his forehead. His vicious and heinous crimes put this country in a panic in the late 60's. I think it is safe to assume that we all will agree (with the exception of my ex-husband) that this man is right where he belongs - in jail, in solitary confinement, until the day he dies! He perpetrated 2 of the most horrific crimes scenes ever. He gave the order for the brutal murders of 8. His conviction was for conspiracy to commit murder (hence, my ex's ongoing sentiment that "he never killed anyone"). Does anyone pray for HIS conversion?

There are many, many murders, rapists, and sociopaths in the world today that we forget are also children of God. No, I'm not inviting them to Christmas dinner, nor would I want them to date one of my daughters. But I will pray for them! Remember that God sees sin as sin - no greater and no less! Hard to swallow sometimes, I know - that these unrepentant humans have the same grace and blessings waiting to be bestowed on them as we have! Is their soul less important to God than yours? Did he not create us all in his image? Does he not want to share the glory with all of us?

Whether they are lost completely, only God knows. We have a responsibility as Christians to pray for ALL PEOPLE (not just the ones we like). Add someone to your prayer list today that you think is a hopeless case, someone you think could NEVER receive the Holy Spirit into their lives! You never know, they just may come to know Christ as their Savior ~ which is what it's all about anyway!

Monday, July 12, 2010

~ "the tolling of the iron bell calls the faithful to their knees.."

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23)

Often, this Psalm is read at a funeral. It is filled with joy and love and peace. It reminds me that God will take care of me and there is nothing I will ever want for (need, actually) that He will not provide. He gives me emotional rest when I am weary. He continually forgives my sins and cleanses my soul. I walk in his ways and and his truth. Although my physical body will die, I will not - I will go on to everlasting glory with him.

We must all die a physical death. "No one gets out alive" - a phrase repeated so many times that I don't even know who to quote it to! But one did! Jesus! He conquered death through his resurrection! He is in full body and soul on his throne in heaven. He will come to us again! He comforts us in our time of loss, in our time of need, in our time of great sorrow and he will share in our joys and our crowns in his kingdom.

As I wrote in my book, we all die when it is God's time - the question "why such a young person" is easily answered. It was in God's time. Sure, you can rationalize it away with logic and "human" reasoning, but it will not change the fact that it was on that day, at that moment, that the Lord chose to call them home. Be it by sickness, accident, suicide, homicide, or act of war - their time here on earth ended at God's calling. That is why I say to you that you have no time to waste! No one knows the exact hour of their death except the father.

Praise God for his works! Thank Jesus for the gift of his life for ours! Reach out and tell those around you that you love them because tomorrow may be too late!

In John Donne's poem "For Whom the Bell Tolls", he tells us that "Each man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee." Be reminded that our time is here and now - not tomorrow, or the next day! The death of a loved one is a gripping reminder of that! Don't let this moment pass you by without thanking God for each and every person (good or bad) he's placed in your life and for all the things he has so freely given you!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

~ "it is NOW the age of Aquarius..."

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:25-28)

Astronomers (scientists who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars, and galaxies) have been around for centuries. The Australian Aboriginal people are recognized as being the first astronomers. Galilei Galileo (1564-1642) is probably the most famous one. Today, at 3:40 pm EDT, there will be a total eclipse over water but more specifically, over Easter Island (that's the island where the Moai statues look to heaven).

Is this a sign of Christ's return? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It just may be a sign for us to wake up and know that God means business. No one but God knows when that day is coming but in his word again he gives us direction. In Luke 21 he tells us what to watch for! He tells us to draw near to him and pray without ceasing. Look around at all the destruction of this planet that is caused by man-we were put here to take care of it, not destroy it!

Everyone thinks they have time to learn about God and his word. When the rapture comes, none of us who reaches out on a daily basis to tell the world about Jesus will be left here! Those left behind will have no choice but to figure it out for themselves. That day IS coming, my friends, be it today, tomorrow, next week, next year - but I assure you, it will happen! Now, for those of you rolling your eyes, saying to yourselves "This woman is nuts" - keep reading! God put me here to accomplish something. I believe it is to tell you about him so that you don't end up in the fire when all is said and done! My focus needs to be on Jesus constantly - I can still do my work (you know, that job that pays the bills, puts food on the table and pays the mortgage) and share his word as I go about it. And so can you! The family that gave my daughter a 75 cent tip and a book of Psalms is doing it, The man who came in a few weeks ago and bought a soda and hot dog and gave me the "God's Simple Plan" tract is doing it! People laugh and make jokes about it, sure. They don't get it - they don't know! Those are usually the ones who call themselves Christians but only do it on Sunday morning at church. Be a 24/7 Christian! Give to God what belongs to him and you will share in his glory! The victory is already won! The time for sitting on the fence is over - it's time to take a side and take a stand!

The song from the musical "Hair" has come to pass (well, at 3:40 pm anyway)! I'll leave you with this: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. "(Romans 15:13).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

~ "Which is the one HE wrote???"

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Col 2:8)

All the great minds in the world, all the cult leaders, all the theologians and elevated but morally bankrupt deity will tell you that the Bible says one thing but means another. How strange. I would have thought that God would say what he means! He doesn't strike me as a being that would mince words and we know that his son was very brief and to the point.

It says in the Bible not to add to or take away from it (God's word). The wording is very simple and to the point. There are only 12,143 different English words in the King James Bible. There are 900,000 words and counting in the English language! To this slightly educated individual, that tells me that the Bible was written for all to read and understand! Sure, we need preachers and evangelists who study the word to impart their knowledge and understanding of it; what we don't need are men and women who think they know it all and then add their own beliefs into the mix and twist God's word to manipulate the masses. In today's society, there are approximately 22 different religions whose numbers of members are over 500 thousand. Christianity is the largest (2.1 billion) - of that 38,000 different Christian religions exist.

Yes, I am affiliated with a particular Christian denomination - I've been affiliated with many over the years - searching for a particular group of individuals who are a bible based, believing, God-fearing and worshiping collection of souls who are not phony. I have bounced from church to church in search of that one "denomination" that follows the bible word for word and does not edit out the hard stuff to meet the changing times.

In my own studies, I use the King James Study Bible. It is a bit difficult to read, however; it is the one with the fewest errors in translation (yes, I said that) - God's word is perfect, it's man's word (or failure to accurately translate it) that is imperfect.

In these posts, I generally use the NIV (New International Version) translation, because it is easier for beginners to understand. I have several different texts that show me the differences in the two translations and what has been added in or taken out so I generally will either post the King James version of that particular verse or use a different one.

In any translation, the verse today is telling us one thing: "Watch your back". There are those alive and well living in the world today that would do anything to convince you that their way is the right way and their philosophy and beliefs are the true way to heaven. The ONLY way to heaven is through Jesus, and his way is the way of the cross. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to get there - just a sinner who believes he's been forgiven and that his debt has been paid! This is one instance where you would want to throw the baby out with the bath water! Pay attention to the word of God, not the translation of man!

Friday, July 9, 2010

~ "Waiting..."

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Heb 3:12)

Matthew Henry's commentary says: "Days of temptation are often days of provocation. But to provoke God, when he is letting us see that we entirely depend and live upon him, is a provocation indeed. The hardening of the heart is the spring of all other sins. The sins of others, especially of our relations, should be warnings to us. All sin, especially sin committed by God's professing, privileged people, not only provokes God, but it grieves him. God is loth to destroy any in, or for their sin; he waits long to be gracious to them. But sin, long persisted in, will make God's wrath discover itself in destroying the impenitent; there is no resting under the wrath of God. Take heed: all who would get safe to heaven must look about them; if once we allow ourselves to distrust God, we may soon desert him. Let those that think they stand, take heed lest they fall. Since to-morrow is not ours, we must make the best improvement of this day. And there are none, even the strongest of the flock, who do not need help of other Christians. Neither are there any so low and despised, but the care of their standing in the faith, and of their safety, belongs to all. Sin has so many ways and colours, that we need more eyes than ours own. Sin appears fair, but is vile; it appears pleasant, but is destructive; it promises much, but performs nothing. The deceitfulness of sin hardens the soul; one sin allowed makes way for another; and every act of sin confirms the habit. Let every one beware of sin."

When we get bored or frustrated, it is easy to let the most important being in our lives fall by the wayside. We get tired of waiting and want only for the peace that comes with sleep. Then when all is said and done we have regret. As I've said before, patience is not one of my virtues. Then when I get tired of waiting, I either want to help God (who doesn't need my help in the situation) or give up! Then when I realize I'm giving up and not waiting on him, I want to put the focus back where it belongs, and sometimes that's more frustrating than the waiting itself.

Dear Lord, I'm waiting on you to answer my prayer. Sometimes I'm not the person you would have me to be, but I am still yours!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

~ "Easier said than done..."

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4:11)

I'm not always content with my circumstances. In fact, I'm always on the look out for them to change. I've bounced from job to job and place to place mainly because I get bored with life as it is. I like challenge in my life. When a attain a goal, its time to make a new one and move on that one. Thus the ever growing resume that will probably continue to grow until I retire (and even then it will probably grow still more)!

The one thing that I must keep working on is my relationship with God. But that, too, changes! It becomes stronger and my footsteps become more secure. It is something I have to work on daily. It's far too easy to get back into the old routine of being a "Sunday" Christian. God puts me in different situations not to "test" my faith, but to strengthen it!

It's not always easy to follow Christ. He asks us to take up the fight for his victory and on some days that's a hard nut to crack. Some days people just don't want to hear that God has a plan for them, or that Jesus died for them. Some days its the opposite. Some days are filled with the frustrations of life on earth and others are not. Its when the frustration is at its greatest and people are at their worst that I find the most strength. I somehow manage to move on throughout the day and wake up the next morning with a smile on my face and a song in my heart - ready to face yet another day of challenges!

I try not to let the depression creep in, but its always right around the corner. If I allow it to defeat me, the enemy has won that battle. As I struggle to keep my head above water, eventually there is a life raft - his name is Jesus.

If you've stumbled onto this page in search of something else, trust me - you've found what you need. The answers to all of life's questions are in one little book, the Bible. If you are a faithful reader - you, too are in the right place. Sometimes we need to go back to the basics and refresh our memories of how far we have come and how the Lord has taken care of our needs. If God could create the world in 6 days, imagine what he can do for you - all you have to do is ask!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

~ "Payment due..."

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.What can man do to me?” (Heb 13:5-6)

For about a week now - Hebrews 13:6 has started out to be the "verse of the day", but always ended up getting replaced. Once again this morning, I started to use it, and decided to read the entire chapter. Needless to say, the verse before it was what was missing! Once again, God has a plan!

I've spent the past week trying to take the focus off the fact that my mortgage payment was going to be late. The man who bought my trailer pays me monthly. Usually I can set my watch by him, but this month (or rather last month) he had not shown up with his payment on the regularly schedule day. If he doesn't make the trailer payment, I can't make the mortgage payment.

During this particular "crisis", I have wandered around the house trying to have faith that God would provide for my needs (as he always does). When I couldn't reach this gentleman, I began to panic. "What, God - what are you trying to tell me?" Are you changing my plans again? What do you want me to learn?" As each day passed, more and more of my day seemed to focus on something I could do nothing about. When he called me on Friday, he told me he would be sending it out "next day delivery" through a very reputable private shipping company. Here it is, Wednesday and the only information this company can give him on "tracking" this rather important envelope, is that it was received. With a message left for me last night, he informed me that he will be sending me a second envelope with a second check in in and he trusts me to only cash one of them. Yes, the mortgage will still be late, but it will be paid.

I'm ashamed to say that I was beginning to doubt the faith I place in God. The first verse for today reminds me that I have nothing to fear - "I will never leave you, nor forsake you!" Being a Christian means that I have made a choice to follow Jesus! God has never let me down. He's said "no" on a few occasions, but he's never left me alone to fend for myself. He's provided a house for me and the dogs to live in, he's provided me with warm, loving friends (who make me laugh and listen to me whine), he'd provided me with a job that I enjoy, he's provided me with this little white laptop that I use daily to communicate with, he's provided me with family, he's provided me with love!

In a letter to my ex-husband a few months back, I told him that "everything I am, I am because you once loved me. Everything I have, I have because you once loved me." EVERYTHING I am and have is because GOD loves me still! Without him, I am nothing! Our relationships with others shape who we are, who we become; our relationship with God defines our relationships with others! Without my faith in God, I would not be who or where I am today! All the glory goes to him!

I'm trying very hard to be faithful to him (not an easy job for me, I assure you). The wants and the needs of this Jersey Girl still creep into the mix somedays. Knowing that I'm not alone and that God is forever in my corner helps me to take the next step! And with each step comes a new discovery - usually about what God can do if I let him! Let him show you a new discovery today! In your quiet time, reflect on the payment made on your behalf some 2000 years ago!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

~ "May I have your attention please?"

And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matt 3:17).

Imagine if you will, John baptizing the crowds. One after another they come to him to be 'born again' - he's told them about the man who will come after him, who will "baptize with the Holy Spirit". I'm sure his followers were taken off guard with that comment!

Then, here comes Jesus. Free of sin and pure in heart and mind! And he approaches John for baptism! A man whose sandals he is not "fit to remove" has come to him!

Jesus comes to us everyday - we are not fit to remove his sandals either! He comes to us asking us to follow him; to spread his word. He tells us not to be afraid, to trust in him. He will guide our steps.

On the days when its hard to get out of bed and drag my weary bones to this table, I ask God for strength. I ask him to help me stay focused on him and to inspire me with the words he wants you to hear. He told the crowd how much he loved his son, so they would know how blessed they were when he died on the cross. He tells us to spread that same message! Every day God puts people in my life to remind me how blessed I am! Some of them are people I know, and some are total strangers in the store (one of them was behind me in line yesterday morning and pretended to know me, then proceeded to tell me he was "blessed" when I asked how he was). There are always acknowledgements from God, we just need to be able to recognize them. He hears and he answers our prayers! Put the focus on him and all things will fall into place, maybe not the way you'd like them to, but their place just the same.

Today I choose to walk in the light - how about you?

Monday, July 5, 2010

~ "Keep on keeping on..."

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. (Acts 18:9)

"Be quiet, or someone will hear you!" That was the phrase my cousin used one night when we were sneaking back into our house! Needless to say, someone DID hear us - and it was Dad! Needless to say, it wasn't exactly a pleasant finale to our night out!

Being bold for the Lord was not as easy for the disciples as it is today! We are have a document called the Constitution and its Amendments - the first amendment guarantees our right of freedom of speech with out censorship or limitation. We have the permission of our government to tell people about God (not that we need it). Our constitution says so! But lately, it seems like our government is trying to silence the voices and ideals that this country was founded on! The reason we wanted our "independence" from England in the first place was to be free to worship God our own way and not be compelled to worship in the ways of the Church of England.

The phrase "separation of church and state" is not written in the constitution, nor is it an amendment. It is a principle derived from the First Amendment which reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

We have the right AND an obligation to tell the world about God, about how he sent his son to pay for our sins and how we can attain everlasting life! He tells us the same thing he told Paul - do not be afraid - keep on speaking - tell the world about me and all that I have done for you! If we as Christian would put half the effort into that as we do in the worldly areas of our lives (such as our devotion to our favorite sports team, our favorite recording artist, even our favorite video games), God's word would be spread to all the world! Tell someone about God today - he'll be glad you did!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

~ "In GOD we trust..."

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. (Pro 29:25)

Each time I see a soldier in uniform, be it at work, on the street, or holding a door open for me to enter a store - I say "thank you" and they know exactly what I mean! In two little words, I've conveyed to him or her that I support what they are doing, that I am grateful for the sacrifice they have made to defend this country by serving in the armed forces, that I have not forgotten that they may lose their life in doing so and that I trust them to protect my rights! And generally, their response is not "your welcome" - they usually say "Yes, Ma'am". That is their acknowledgement to me that they respect my faith in them, my belief in what they are doing and the support I've given them!

Each morning I get up and say "thank you" to the one who holds ALL the cards! In saying that, HE knows exactly what I mean also! No matter what comes across my path today, if I trust in the Lord, I will be safe! No one can take my faith in his word! I reach out to him when I am in pain, when I am afraid, when I hurt and he comforts me, he calms me and he protects me! He is my warrior and my savior - everything I do is for his glory, not mine! By my human nature, there are times when the fear is so strong that I tremble. Yet, in my trembling, I still pray - I still worship and I still give thanks! He alone gives me what I need in THIS world so that I can share his word with others. I know that in the end, I will win because He has given me the greatest gift of all - my salvation! Through his blessings I continue to walk and talk and see and hear - and if he should take one l of those "gifts", I will still continue to use the other talents to the fullest extent! There is always a way, there is always truth and there is always light - Jesus is his name!

On this day that we celebrate our freedom, give thanks and celebrate the freedom from hell as well! It was purchased at a very high price - the price paid by one man on a tree in Calvary!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

~ "Everything I need to know about God, I learned in the Bible..."

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matt 14:29-31)

We all doubt! We all fear! At the time Jesus walked on the water, his disciples had not yet seen the full glory that was Jesus. Not until his resurrection would they go bravely preaching his message of salvation! After his death, scriptures tell us that the disciples "hid", but Jesus came to them just the same - he knew where they were and he went to them!

We try to hide from him as well. We carry our sins (some of them anyway) buried deep within our hearts reminding ourselves that "no one needs to know", but HE knows! We pack them away and pile stuff on top of them - but they are still there! In that respect, we are like an ostrich...head in the sand! For many, the sins committed aren't really sins, or so they think! If it's against what the Lord commands, it is a sin, regardless of our intent or the rationale we use to justify it. Again, everything I need to know is written in the Bible. There are more scholarly individuals out there that can better explain the writings than I ever could. The basic foundation of my walk with Christ began with faith. Faith that he would take my hand and lead me. I had to reach out my hand (as Peter did)! When you reach out your hand to Jesus, he takes it. His footing is secure. He won't let you fall! Sure, there are going to be bumps and bruises along the way, but not death ~ only eternal life!

Jesus does not command us to kill, he commands us to pray! He doesn't give us the authority to condemn or judge, he gives us the authority to pray for such things to pass. All of the "abominations before the Lord" come out of human weakness. Not a soul alive on this plant has the authority to sit on the throne of judgement and decide the punishment for those sins! No one!

Let your voice be heard - but by the one who hears all, knows all, sees all! Do not be an ostrich - confess your sins to God and he will forgive you. Walk on the water for a while - it's very rewarding!

Friday, July 2, 2010

~ "In the pink of time..."

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Tim 4:8)

"Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day..." Yes, I am quoting Pink Floyd! Isn't that how some of our days go? There is nothing we can do but wait? We've done all the footwork and now we wait on the Lord to answer our plea.

I've never been a patient person. I don't like to wait. Sometimes I even get frustrated when I'm waiting on the Lord to give me the words I need to write this! "Come on, Lord - I have to feed the dogs and get dressed and go to work!" But he just sits back and smiles and I take a deep breath and say "okay, I'm waiting!"

I try not to "fritter and waste the hours" today. I fill them with chatter to the Lord. Sometimes its just mindless rambling. The one thing I have no choice in waiting on is his coming. I long to see his face and thank him in person for all he's done for me. Sure, I thank him every day for what he's given me, but to be in his physical presence - well, nothing holds a candle to that! In some instances the human part of me wants to be here for the rapture. That would be the selfish part that says "I'm gone - you're not". I know it's childish, but I'm honest! I probably won't have as many crowns laid up in Heaven as some people, but I know I'll have a few. And it won't matter if I live in a penthouse suite or a cardboard box - I'll be with him! I strive to be a righteous individual but am not always successful. But each success is counted and each failure is forgiven. It's a win-win situation as long as I keep God first! Yesterday I talked about the right reasons - today, its the right heart! If my heart is truly focused on the Lord and all things are for his glory - he'll lift me up!

Jesus calls the faithful to their knees and speaks in words of love and compassion (not magic spells) - He comforts us and cares for us and longs for us to praise him! Be bold and righteous and just in your walk with him! He won't let you down. Don't let ten years get behind you - don't miss the starting gun! Go, now, swiftly to the Lord and he will hear your prayer! You can make a new start today! Watch the sunrise because when the Son rises again, you may be too late!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

~ "Right or wrong..."

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:13-15)

The pastor of my church records his sermons and they are available to the congregants. Since I am a new member there, I got a few. There were some messages he'd preached before I started attending there. When I tell you I have yet to hear a sermon that didn't make me sit up and take notice, I'm not exaggerating! Before going to work yesterday I sat and listened to another one!

His sermon was titled "Right Living". The message he brought held a few key notes - the most profound of them is to "live for the Lord with as little regret as possible".

It's not about who gets what, who has more or even who does more. It's about doing it for the right reasons! Psalm 51:10 reads "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." When we approach the throne with requests, the first request we should have is that it is "right". We can make wrong requests for the wrong reasons, or we can make right requests for the right reasons! Confusing? Not really.

The reason I go to the Lord in prayer is because I can't do it on my own. I try to go to him with thanksgiving and gratitude, but I am not always successful. And many times, as I've stated in my book, it's a very simple "God, please help me".

A lot of our "needs" are really "wants". God always meets my needs. Sometimes he meets my wants. Sometimes it takes someone else to show me that I am more blessed than I can see at times when my heart is heavy. Sometimes it takes a lonely and broken heart for me to see how surrounded by love I am.

I do what I do because it pleases God and because of what he has done for me! He has opened the gate of heaven for me to enter into when my time on this earth is finished. He has poured out his mercy and grace on me, his servant and a sinner. I make the best effort I can to be a lighthouse and bring His message to the people who I interact with. I screw a smile on my face when the pain is so unbearable that all I want to do is cry. I try not to let my fears show through in the midst of impending doom. I'm not always successful but I'm trying because Christ is never more glorified in me then when I am glorified in Him!

(taken in part from "Right Living" - sermon given by Pastor Charles Brooks (3/10)