Tuesday, November 30, 2010

~ "Corrupt family values..."

The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that does good. God looked down from heaven on the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that does good, no, not one. (Ps 53:1-3)

Who am I to argue with God? When he wakes me up at 3am and knows that even though I say to him "don't worry, I'll remember" (which he and I both know I wouldn't have) and gives me a title to search out (and a private verse for myself). I scramble for a pad and pen to write it down so I can return the to slumber he gives me.

The purpose of this Psalm is to convince us of our sins. Why are some so bad? Because they do not fear God! Our bad "practices" come from bad "principles". The fruit of sin; to what it brings men, when their hearts are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Matthew Henry) God is merciful towards sinners who believe! He will save us from our own sins, that we may not be held captive by them. From this, the Redeemer, "and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matt 1:21)"

Is there a such thing as being "too bad to be saved"? Not as far as I can see. God has taken persecutors and turned their hearts! He has turned the hearts of thieves, murderers, prostitutes, liars, and atheists! When we come before him, what saves us from the fires of hell is Jesus! He wraps that clean robe around us and tells the Father that he "knows" us! We are chosen! We are loved! We are entrusted with spreading the Good News. It is for those who do not know the cross that we are to witness to. We can fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but we aren't winning any souls for him there. We can draw our strength from those with whom we attend church. We can impart our own testimony to them when they are in need of strength, but their souls have already been claimed!

I often questioned God as to why I must go to work with those who do not know him nor fear him. The "unsaved" have a tendency to try to "draw you in" to their Godless world by means of tasteless humor, gossip, ridicule and anger. God had two purposes for that. The first was to open my eyes to what it means to have to struggle to put food on my table and pay my bills (allowing me to see my ex-husband's life as it were, not to mention showing me how greedy and selfish I really was) and the second was to afford me the opportunity to witness to the goodness that is God! Only then could I successfully climb down off that pedestal I'd placed myself on. Whatever I am, I am still a sinner! Yes, God's love has changed me but I still have a long way to go in the humility department.

My children hate it when I witness to them, and I've tried to temper that witnessing, holding back what the Lord has laid on me to do! They generally begin a conversation in which they are asking for advice with "Please don't tell me about what God says..." and reluctantly I don't. Why? Because I want my children to come to me. Guess what? God wants my children to come to him as well! He wants everyone to come to him! The unbeliever or unsaved cannot attain salvation through osmosis...yes, the basics of God can be absorbed in their minds, but to be saved requires the acceptance of Christ's death on the cross as the "saving grace" and not just saying the words! A sincere plea for forgiveness and an invitation to the Holy Spirit to begin his work is the beginning of God's fulfillment of his promise!

Take that next step in your walk with Christ! Reach out, even if it's just a little bit, test the waters if you must, but move forward in the work he has set before you! Have a little faith ~ he know's what he's doing, even if you don't!

Monday, November 29, 2010

~ "If you're happy and you know it..."

Let all those that seek you rejoice and be glad in you: let such as love your salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. (Ps 40:16)

God blesses us every day. He allows us to rise in the morning and pour that much needed cup of coffee, sit down and check in with our friends, read a few jokes and perhaps play a few games - all from the privacy of our home, most likely while still in our pajamas. We have a great deal more to be thankful for though...

"No griefs nor poverty can render those miserable who fear the Lord...The promises are sure, the moment of fulfilment hastens forward. He who once came in great humility, shall come again in glorious majesty." (Matthew Henry). No matter what happens in our "day", we have a promise that guarantees it to be better tomorrow. Giving praise to the Father is what our day should consist of. You may say, "how can I do that all day long ~ won't it get in the way of my work?" There are many opportunities throughout the work day to give thanks and to witness to the mercy of God. You'd be surprised at the number of people who will respond back to you with their own testimony of blessings bestowed on them.

Most of us interact with someone during our work day. The smile that you put on your face when you greet a fellow worker can be contagious! There is one woman who works the front end of the grocery store I earn my living in who ALWAYS has a smile on her face. I've yet to see her frown, or be anything but happy. No matter what kind of day I'm having, all I need to do is see her and I immediately smile back. She always has an uplifting word or two for me. She is one my reminders that God is good.

What I've learned about "people" is that there is a way into their heart and soul through two words ~ "Praise God"! Instead of using "that's great" or "I'm happy to hear that", try using a phrase that will open the door to the communication of salvation. If the person is "saved", you'll receive a blessing from a fellow in Christ, if they aren't, you may have opened a door for them to ask God into their heart! And don't be discouraged if you get no response at all, some people just don't know how to respond to that statement.

Reflect the light of God back out to those around you. Be a mirror for his perfect love; let it shine as brilliantly as his stars in heaven! In return you will be warmed by his love for you and he will be magnified!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

~ "Not Guilty...

God forbid: yes, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That you might be justified in your sayings, and might overcome when you are judged. (Rom 3:4)

God will fulfil his promises to his people, and bring his threatened vengeance upon unbelievers. His judging the world, will for ever silence all doubtings and reflections upon his justice! Yet, in spite of all our sins, our "past" and our sometimes selfish acts, there will be a verdict entered on our behalf ~ "not guilty". Not because we are such wonderful human beings, not because we gave to the poor, not because we deserve it, not for ANYTHING we have done ~ but because of what Christ did!

Jesus was born in the lowliest of places. He was laid in a feeding troth for animals. He was exiled from his hometown at an early age and forced to live among strangers. He fulfilled his obligations as a young Jewish boy, he worked at a trade then began to preach to his people the promises of his Father. He was not guilty of any crime, yet he was arrested, beaten, sentenced to die, nailed to a cross, drained of his blood, laid in a tomb and those in power thought they'd seen the last of him! His story had just begun.

Here we are some 2000 years later, with all the communication devices imaginable and yet there are people in the world who do not know who Jesus was! They do not know that this King of Kings died for them. They do not know that they, too, can share in the reward of eternal life.

If you give one gift this Christmas season, give someone the opportunity to know Jesus. Share the story of Christmas with someone who may not know that the reason for the season is not to bulk up the pockets of the retail executives. Tell someone that Christ was born, that he walked on the earth, that he died for them and that he will come to claim his sheep. Offer them a gift that they won't want to exchange, or return or get a refund on. No excuse is acceptable here. Call upon the Holy Spirit to enlighten you and you'll do just fine. Remember, when you stand before the Judge, and the verdict is read, will he say to you "I know you, I love you, I gave my life to save you, love paid the price for mercy, my verdict: NOT GUILTY!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

~ "One Little Lighthouse and the Faith of a Mustard Seed..."

For with God nothing shall be impossible. (Luke 1:37)

How amazing is God? He created an entire universe from nothing, he filled a large rock with vegetation, water and fish, and roaming creatures, he created a man and a woman to share in the joys of life, and when they disobeyed him, he made a way for their heirs to inherit eternal life, he sent a part of himself to the earth to keep a promise, he continues to give us what we need to maintain life on this planet and he will send his son back to get us! And here we sit, afraid to have the faith in him that he wants us to have! He always works out the details. If he's told you he'll take care of it, why then do you worry?

One prayer. One request that has been promised me and in that time of waiting I become frustrated, I "second guess" his intent, sometimes I even "doubt" that which I know to be true. God speaks to us in many ways. He answers our prayers and he does, from time to time, give us "signs" to help secure our faith in him. His love changes us, making us into the person he needs us to be ~ IF we are willing to accept those changes. He also needs us to keep our hands OUT of his work sometimes! He doesn't need us to help him ~ he can do it all by himself, when it's his time! Whatever God has planned for me is not going to be gained by deception. Any interference from me could seriously undermine his plan. It is not my place to "physically" remedy certain situations. My job is to PRAY!!! There are many things at work in order for the "plan" to unfold. I am but one piece of it! Patience is a virtue I do not possess, but I am getting better at it!

Elisabeth was far beyond her years to conceive a child, yet she did! And not only did she give birth to a son called "John", she gave birth to one who would fulfill scripture, prepare the way for the Messiah who would, in turn, open the door to eternal life! That's pretty amazing!

Hold tight to your promises from God. Pray for the strength to continue to walk in his ways, pray for those who he's laid it on your heart to pray for, and let him work the plan he has for you! Be patient and be faithful! Don't give up on him...he never gave up on you!

Friday, November 26, 2010

~ "Tis the season to be greedy and hateful and beat people to death over a pair of socks..."

And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)

When people talk about putting "Christ" back in "Christmas", I wonder if they realize that to do that would require people to to not kill each other on "Black Friday"? We have become so obsessed with "bargains" that a day of insanity ensues immediately following a day of giving thanks! My oldest daughter has already posted that crazy people are standing in the rain all the way around the department store she works at and that there were two fights outside (most likely over a spot in line) and one inside - it's not even 7am yet! I don't think this is what God had in mind when he gave us our Christmas "gift"! And might I add that I do not miss being in retail, especially today!

Imagine, if you can, the fear in Mary when the angel appeared to her and told her she was going to have a child and he would be the Son of God! Imagine Joseph when he was told in his dream that Mary was "with child" and he should take her as his wife anyway, then to be told the child's name would be "Jesus"! I know that when I realized I was pregnant with my son, I "knew" how I got that way, but yet I wandered around saying to myself "it can't be" ~ "I can't be pregnant". Mary had no such encounter to cause her condition!

God chooses us for specific work. He knows exactly what he has for us, just as he knew that he had the "perfect" gift for us! He chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, Joseph to be his guardian and John to be the one to "prepare the way". None of them asked for this gift , nor did they feel they were worthy of it. Instead, they accepted what God gave them and said "thank you" and proceeded to do the best they could with the situation laid out before them. Their "success" came as a result of their attitude; an attitude of love and devotion to God and a willingness to do what he asked of them!

How much better off we would be to take a lesson in acceptance and love from these three people. Sometimes the best gifts are the ones we don't deserve and never expected! We all have a "wish list" for Christmas gifts. If I don't get what's on it, I won't be disappointed. The ultimate Christmas gift was given to me long before I was ever born, it was chosen specifically for me and I would not trade it for anything! He IS the "reason for the season" because it is HIS birth we celebrate! There is nothing anyone could buy for me that could top that! So while you are wrapping all those wonderfully expensive items you've purchased, remember to wrap your heart around the greatest of gifts ~ Jesus!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

~ "There is a fountain..."

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thes 5:18)

A young Bible College Student has been visiting with our church this past week. He gave this verse last night at our Thanksgiving Service. He made mention of the fact that it seems that the only time most of the population of this country gives thanks for anything is on Thanksgiving!

We are commanded not only to "pray without ceasing"; we are commanded to give thanks. Again, the use of 'every thing' as opposed to 'everything' is significant! We all know it's easy to give thanks for the good times and the good things in our lives. We are to give thanks for the things we feel aren't so good as well. ALL that comes to us passes through the Father's hand first, so why should we not be grateful for the trials?

With each "trial" we grow. We become stronger and better "conditioned" to handle God's call on our lives. There are many things we could whine about and be "depressed" over. Our economy and the current job situation is taking its toll on many people. I'm included in those "many people". Yet, I rejoice!!! Had the elevator construction jobs in NYC not come to a screeching halt, had the pastor of my previous church not left, had I not lost my job, many "things" I have to be thankful for today would not exist! As a matter of fact, had all of those "things" not occurred, you would not be reading this post, simply because this site would not have existed. Giving thanks to God in hard times, giving thanks when it hurts, offering our pain and suffering to the King of Kings is what it's all about!

So, give thanks! Give thanks for the "fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins"! The greatest of all gifts, something to always be thankful for ~ the salvation offered to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ~ the guarantee of heaven, not hell! And remember to thank him for every thing else as well! Although you may not see the blessing now, it's there just the same! Mercy is not getting what we deserve; grace is what we get instead of what we deserve. Have a blessed Thanksgiving and rejoice! As you pass the dinner rolls around the table today, give thanks for something besides the food! Give thanks for the "Bread of Life"!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

~ "Did you remember to pack the 'Prayer List'???

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers (1 Thes 1:2)

In all of Paul's letters, he always gave "thanks" after his salutation. Whether he was thanking many or one, he was thankful for all who the Lord placed in his life. He was able to rejoice at the chains that bound him in prison, he was able to be thankful for the smallest of gifts given him, he was a man whom God saw fit to change and once changed, he spent the remainder of his life praising him and giving thanks to him!

We have so much to be thankful for. There is not enough time in the day to thank God for all he's done for us. I know that some days I can spend a long as two hours in prayer, other days I don't get but 20 minutes. But it's all good! I always remember to thank him for sending my Savior! I thank him for my family and friends. I petition him with a "prayer list" on which are many names. Some are in groups of names and I don't fret because God knows who they are. There is a "sheet" with prayer requests written on it from a retreat; there are listed also in my little "white" book a multitude of names of people I have never met, have never spoke with and know only by a thumbnail sized photo. There are family members of people I've worked with, parents of people I grew up with and leaders of this country. You are on that prayer list! There is also a prayer list stuck in the inside flap of that book from my church. Names without faces, but all in need of prayer. There are unspoken requests, there are spiritual requests, there are requests for healing and requests for salvation. I pray for my church and my Pastor and his family. I pray for other churches that I have attended and for that congregation.

When someone asks me to pray for them, I do! I don't leave the praying up to someone else because I am too busy ~ I used to do that - not anymore! I never had time to pray for anyone other than myself! I have found that in praying for others, thus taking my focus off of my own wants and desires, that the Lord blesses me! I don't really need to ask him for anything for me ~ he already knows what I desire. I've learned that to pray for someone else is a privilege!!!

Lift up your voice in prayer and in praise to the giver of so many blessings! Acknowledge that you are a sinner and that undeserving as you are, you are thankful! Pray for the needs of others and yours will be met! Pray with devotion, pray with thanksgiving, pray with humility, pray with joy! God loves to hear the song of our hearts!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

~ "I love it when God takes a sledgehammer to the back of my skull..."

Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request (Esther 7:3)

Most of us know the story of Mordecai. We've read (or hopefully will read) what happens to Haman and how his plan "backfires". At the urging of my Pastor, I've re-read the book of Esther. This particular verse spoke volumes to me!

God speaks to us through his word. Although most of the Old Testament is viewed as a "history lesson", but there's a lot to be learned about prayer and humility. And, once again, enter the Fear of God! Our most powerful, loving Father could show his wrath (nothing we wouldn't deserve), but instead, he shows us mercy and grace. He is able and willing to do anything, regardless of how impossible we may think it is, he wants to give us our hearts desire, even those things we hesitate to ask him for.

Unlike "spoiled" children, we are to keep going to him, we are to keep bringing him our requests. We are to keep talking to him and asking for his guidance and help. The more we walk in his ways, the more we need his guidance and the more we need the Holy Spirit to run interference against Satan. We will never be "worthy" of the the gift given to us, so what makes us think we can "take it from here"???

Know what you know about God's promise to you. Don't let Satan steal your thunder! Don't let him in to dance all over your heart and stomp out God's fire! Believe what you know! Have faith in what you know! God will take care of the small details ~ he always does!

Continue to praise him, continue to serve him. He's looking out for you! His plans for you are many and great and he's calling you out! Bend that knee of yours a little bit and the bucket of blessings just may fall on you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

~ "Unlimited supply available, offer will expire..."

I will be glad and rejoice in your mercy: for you have considered my trouble; you have known my soul in adversities (Ps 31:7)

My salvation, the most precious of all gifts God has given me, carried a high price tag! It was not something I could have afforded to purchase myself. It is a "one of a kind" gift, and only "one to a customer". It comes with "easy to understand" instructions, but "no assembly required". I don't know if it comes with a "return policy", I have never considered returning it. My devotion to Christ, on the other hand, is "battery operated". It needs to be recharged so that my faith can continue to grow. My faith "fits like a glove" and it does come in "all sizes". It was "made to order".

When it comes to advertising, we are all attracted to the items that will give us the best buy for our money. When I was younger, the "gimmicks" would usually pull me in, I'd purchase the product, then find out that it was not worth the price I paid, nor did it do what the commercial said it would. Today I am more skeptical about the things I buy. I make sure that what is being sold is, in fact, everything it is said to be. If not, I'm not wasting my money on it.

When I do find a "great bargain", I boast about it, brag on it and suggest it to others. As a matter of fact, I do that on a daily basis! I have found a bargain so great that nothing could ever replace it, it's "guaranteed for life".

I do rejoice in his mercy! I praise him and he blesses me! He has my whole life in his hands, every moment he gives me is praiseworthy! Sometimes the joy that fills my soul is overflowing! It is in those moments that I know he has called me by name and he hears my prayers. It are those moments that sustain me when I am in pain!

We do not deserve the gifts God gives us, but he offers them to us just the same. Our souls have been "washed clean" and the "colors (of his love for us) never fade"! Jesus is the "best deal in town"!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

~ "Voice of Truth..."

Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid...(Matt 28:10)

The phrase "be not afraid" is used in the Bible some 365 times. Often when we embark on a new chapter in our lives, we become afraid, often terrified! We do have a traveling companion who will ensure that all our needs are met, all our worries will subside and a guarantee that he won't leave us!

God's plan for us is ever unfolding. Just when we think we are at the end of the journey, he has us pack up and head to the next destination, reminding us all the time that the final destination is with him. He asks us to go where he sends us; he'll work out the details ~ as I've come to see again and again.

"The Voice of Truth says 'do not be afraid', and the Voice of Truth says 'this is for my glory', out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth". Whether we are walking on the water or on a crowded city street; be it a giant we overcome or our own private demons, Jesus leads the way and all we do is for HIS glory!

The path he is leading me down now will put me some 600 miles from where I currently am. I will leave my friends and my home, once again, at his design, not mine. When God opens a door, who are we to slam it shut in his face? Although it will put me far away from the mountains of Tennessee, I will, as I've just realized, still be in the same mountains - just a little further north. I will be 600 miles from my friends, but within 80 miles of all of my children. If you've read my book, you know the love I have for them. God has seen fit to answer my prayer and in February, I will be relocating to Pennsylvania. Suffice to say that my son's "post" had to do with prayers being answered and my one daughter's "comment" was that "God has a plan!" Maybe I am beginning to rub off on them after all!

My heart is loaded with mixed emotions but my soul is peaceful! When I walk the walk he lays before me, how can I possibly be "afraid" of anything? Besides, if Paul could write from a prison cell, I can do it from a townhouse in Lansdale, PA.

God never closes a door on the faithful without opening a window. And his timing, as usual, is perfect!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

~ "Chosen..."

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)

"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." Sometimes it gets a little confusing, but God has a way of working things out to benefit everyone.

When we start a journey, we don't know how or where or when it will end. We have a general idea, we have a goal. Sometimes God changes that without consulting us, sometimes he changes it at our request.

Paul knew what it was like to be in chains, yet he still preached the message of hope and salvation. He knew what it was to be sick, and still he preached. He did not start out as a follower of Jesus Christ, he started out persecuting those who did. God changed his heart and Paul accepted the change. Through the strength given to him by his acceptance, he wrote to churches and saw many souls saved in the name of Jesus! He witnessed to all that was the Lord our God and gave thanks in everything. He knew the "secret" ~ it lies in Christ's shed blood!

Just as the Israelites smeared the blood of the a slain lamb over the door at the first "passover", the blood of Jesus has been smeared over our soul. We are his chosen ones. We will be spared from the fires of hell because of it! We are instructed how to live, what kind of life to lead, just as the Israelites were, and it is our responsibility to walk in the way that he has laid before us, without changing it. Remember, HIS way, not ours!

We CAN do all things through Christ, who gives us strength! That same blood that Paul wrote about still has the same power today that it did over 2000 years ago! It causes the blind to see and the lame to walk. It opens the door of hope and closes the door to eternal suffering! It is more powerful than any nuclear device on this earth. And once you have been washed in it, you are never the same!

No matter where I go in life, no matter what road I travel, the Lord goes before me! I follow where HE leads! For he knows better than anyone the desires of my heart and the longings of my soul! Trust in him, do for him, give to him ~ he gave it all for you!

Friday, November 19, 2010

~ "It doesn't seem that long ago..."

And they answered Joshua, saying, All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us, we will go. (Josh 1:16)

When they answered Joshua, they were acknowledging the call the Lord had for them. They did not want to go, but they went anyway. Fear is our biggest enemy. Fear that we will fail, fear that we will fall, fear that we will be alone. If God can move a mountain, what are we so afraid of?

I've had a week that has been filled with answered prayers - almost all of them at the same time. They were not answered the way I was hoping that they would be answered, but they were answered just the same. I'm waiting on one more confirmation to conclude the final prayer, but with everything else the Lord has done for me this past week, I do not doubt that it will come.

We get comfortable in our surroundings, we become complacent in our prayers. Sometimes we need to be 'taken and shaken' to the core of our faith. The little things that happen to cause us discomfort are sometimes the "training" we need, or the "proof" we desire to get us to be willing to accept God's plan for us and the calling of our heart for which he so deeply loves. We are human and need to be convinced that we are doing the things that God wants us to do - so much so that we insist on the perfect sign! Not wanting to make a mistake can sometimes cause us to miss an opportunity. I find my peace in the Lord. Whereever I go, he will go. When I say to him "but what about this, or what about that," he reassures me that all will be alright and I will be just fine. We are all given what we need for as long as we need it and it will then be replaced with something new and it will be just as promising and glorious as we allow it to be. We cannot love the gifts of God if we don't continue to follow where he leads us. "And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, [or] to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people [shall be] my people, and thy God my God (Ruth 1:16)"

Sometimes we want to hold out until the last possible moment, hoping for that "miracle" that saves us from what it is we are seeing ahead of us. The reality is that sometimes that miracle happens and we fail to see it because we insist that God do what we want, when he is clearly showing us what he wants! He always knows best, he always answers your prayers and he always finds a way. He will make a path for you and design the circumstances to be all that you need them to be. He will not leave you in the hands of the enemy and he will provide for you! Trust in him, have faith in him, honor and praise him and he will bless you. When your time of exile is over, be wise enough to see the writing on the wall and prepare for the next assignment he has for you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

~ "Watch for falling rocks..."

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

When I don't know how to pray, or what to pray, I just praise and say "you know my heart". I knew a woman once to who came to me after I had voiced a prayer request and told me she wanted to know specifically what I wanted in my petition to the Lord. After about 10 minutes of trying to tell her, I just said, "just pray for God's will in this situation" and walked away very frustrated.

I have learned to be very specific in my petitions to God. The other thing I've learned is to be careful what I ask for. In both cases I had the prayer answered and it wasn't quite what I wanted, however, it was what I needed. Sometimes we aren't ready for that answered prayer ~ but God is ready to answer it. When that happens, we must dig deep into our resourses and move forward. On two separate occasions within the past year I have asked that God close a door "if it was his intention to not grant my request". Both times he has. In shock and dismay, I cried out to him "why"? Silly woman - you know exactly why! In the midst of the pain and the hurt, I found something so much better, so much more of a blessing than anything I had had previously. I am certain he will again shine through me in this current situation.

Being a follower of Christ is not an easy journey. It's fraught with potholes and road blocks, "do not enters" and "road closeds". The rest stops along that road are sometimes not up to our human expectations, but they are there. Sometimes we have a full tank and sometimes we run on fumes, but either way, we make it to the next stop by his mercy and grace. We have a goal, he has a plan. My goal is to arrive at my final destination without the baggage of this life. His plan is whatever he chooses to place on that road to help me get there in one piece.

Present your requests to him in the quietness of your heart and he will meet your needs. Know that if he doesn't meet what you feel are your needs, he will most definitely meet what he knows them to be! Be patient, be still and know. Take the time and enjoy the scenic view from the rest stop. Be well rested for the next part of your journey because another storm may be just around that mountain in front of you, or there just may be a rainbow when you get there. In either case, you are not alone and you are loved!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

~ "Well, that door's been slammed and nailed shut...thank you, Lord!!!"

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Phil 2:3)

Sometimes I have to read the NIV verson to understand the verse - Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

To say that I had a rough day yesterday would be an understatement. God closed a door on me. It was suggested to me that I dive into Philippians (which, of course, I did). I found some verses take on a whole new meaning last night, this being one of them!

No matter what anyone tells you, no matter how much they try to convince you otherwise - you know your own heart! There are times when we can almost (and I do mean almost) be convinced that we are all the things someone else sees us as. We question every single action and the motive for each action over and over again - convinced that there is something wrong with us. It never really occurs to us that it's the other person there is something wrong with!

God has in mind for us something so special, so perfect that we sometimes don't want to look for it, or risk finding it because it would require us to work. Accepting what is comfortable, what we know, what we become use to is so much easier, even if its the worst thing in the world for us! Sometimes we aren't willing to close a door, so God closes it for us.

I've never had a problem with the second part that verse. I have always placed others above my own needs, my own wants and looked on them as "better". The first part, I had to work on. We always want credit where credit is due. I've learned that all of what I do is noticed, not by anyone on this planet (or any other one, for that matter). What I do is for God's glory - his praises, not for any pats on the back, or accolades of appreciation. I give to God who gives to me. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes its not.

In everything you do today, do it for the glory of God. Give him all of you, not just the parts of you that are hurting. And don't forget to thank him for that hurt as well, it is there that our crowns are made. Hold on to the faith that Paul tells about in Philippians - the chains that bind us will also set us free! It's not your time to go home yet - there's still work to be done here!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

~ Follow the leader..."

In all things showing yourself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing soundness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. (Titus 2:7-8)

In everything we do, someone is always watching. I chuckle at those who complain about security cameras and traffic cameras! Hello??? If you aren't breaking the law, what's the problem??? Could it be that you are one of those consistent speeders, loafers on the job or shoplifters and that now you're crimes will be caught on tape and you may have to pay a fine, lose your driving privileges or even worse - spend a few nights in jail?

We are always under the watchful eye of someone whether we want to believe it or not. Everything we do is observed by someone. You can hide your sins from others, but you cannot hide them from God. He sees them all, from the smallest white lie, to the blasphemous utterings that come from your mouth! Yes, I am guilty! Yes, I am forgiven! But what I was will always follow me in this life. I will never be seen in some eyes as anything other than selfish, angry, crazy and destructive. That's okay, though - I'm not trying to impress them anymore. I walk a line that is sound and sincere, my actions are no longer called into question, simply because I avoid doing anything that will give someone something to talk about. I follow the rules today. I don't always like them, but I follow them just the same.

Every Christian is given general rules to live by. Seasoned adults should be sober (showing no excessive or extreme qualities of fancy, emotion, or prejudice); not thinking that the "decays of nature" will justify any excess... Faith works by, and must be seen in love, of God for himself, and of men for God's sake. Older adults can be easily irritated and constantly worry about some things. They need to be on their guard. Young women must be sober (again, showing no excessive or extreme qualities of fancy, emotion, or prejudice) and discreet; for many expose themselves to fatal temptations by what at first might be only want of discretion. The reason is added, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Failures to follow the path brings a discrediting mark to Christianity. Young men might often be eager and thoughtless, therefore must be serious and firm in their beliefs: there are more young people ruined by pride than by any other sin.

The example we set is the scale by which the world judges us. What we do, what others see us do, how we live our lives: it's all called into question by someone. We have become the models for our children and we in turn try to tell them they should know better. How can they when all they've ever seen are the "secret sins" we hide in the closet? The "do as I say, not as I do" pretense doesn't carry any weight worth vocalizing. The game of life is follow the leader, doing what those before us have done. If you truly want to play that game, and play it well, pick a leader who has led and exemplary life ~ chose to follow someone whose character is above reproach ~ choose to walk with Christ! Follow THAT leader and win!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

~ "We can't have church, till the Holy Ghost shows up..."

For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (! Peter 3:18)

Last Sunday evening, one of our youth suggested that we be on fire for God! I think his prayer was answered last night!

The thought that came across my mind was "I wish I had had the courage to stand before a group of people and tell all the things the Lord had done for me and how blessed I was when I was their age" and immediately following that thought came "... unless you become as little children".

The praise and testimony of our youth often carries more weight than they are given credit for! They have yet to be poisoned with the temptations and trappings of this world (to the extent that adults have been - simply because they have not be around as long) and they still have the capacity to love unconditionally. They have the opportunity to see what we have struggled with and how much better THEIR lives will be by learning from our mistakes. They sing, they lift their hands in praise without hesitation, they love and they honor God in such a way that I hang my head in my own shame. I want to be like them! I want to have a heart that is as open and joyful as theirs is, even when their world is coming down on top of them. I want that simple joy that they possess!

Knowing that God works miracles every day I'm alive may be just what I need to give me the courage to be "like a child". I am a sinner. I have been since the day I was born! And I will continue to be a sinner right up to the time he takes me home! I'm forgiven. I will make every effort to walk in his ways! Knowing that my needs will be met, that my Father in heaven is not going to leave me stranded here on earth, brings me to a place in life where I can be a child again! He will make a way for me to continue on doing what I do and doing it where I do it! I have no doubt! So I will continue to praise and worship my King and hopefully the life I build on his foundation will be of gold, silver and precious stones and not wood, hay and stubble (1 Cor 3:12).

Find the child in you today! Praise him like you did that day you realized you were his child! Don't let the enemy drain you of your joy and love for him! He's worth much more than the best of the best! He set the bar so high that no one could measure up - but all can pass through!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

~ "I refuse..."

Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man [that] cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, [art] in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not. (Jer 14:9)

Our Father in heaven has interrupted my morning post to bring you a very special announcement. I don't always "hear" the voice of my Creator, but when he very boldly gives me a message, I humble myself to it!

We all have feelings. We all (hopefully) want to be better today than we were yesterday. We struggle, we crawl, we climb, we cry, we laugh, we regret, we want, we live and we die. The images of our pain come crawling back to us in the dead of night. The mistakes we've made haunt us. The hurt we've caused others paralyzes us. The worldly desires that we struggle to let go of become the very chains that bind us. The "image" we want to portray to the world, the wanting to be in the spotlight, draws us away from our real calling. The one God chose specifically for us.

Some people will never open their eyes and see "the plan". Their jealousy cuts both ways. Not only does it hurt the one who is jealous, but it damages to the point of obsession the one they are jealous of! I don't have to worry about anyone stealing my thunder today, but I never really did ~ I never considered myself someone anyone would be jealous of. Everything I do is done for God's glory - not mine! He gives me the inspiration and let's me share the spotlight for a brief moment or two and then I step out. I sit and I watch others trying to "find themselves" ~ I'm very blessed - I know who I am and in what direction the Lord is leading me because I was open to receive his gift. I accepted it on his terms, not mine! To "be still" requires us to be patient. He will open the right door at the right time. Modest and clean living, devotion, simple as opposed to extravagant, focusing on what you have and being satisfied with it are all attributes of a Christian. Bigger and better comes in the next life!

Stop trying to outdo the guy next to you! Don't "vulturistically" look to take someone else's spotlight ~ find your own, answer YOUR calling, not the one someone thought was theirs and threw by the side of the road! Chances are they left it there for a good reason! Refuse to be anything but what God calls you to be!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

~ "Remember that storm the end of October???"

You shall be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire. (Isa 29:6)

I'm doing something a little different today. I have to be in to work at 7am, so as you are reading this, it was started about 3 weeks ago. Inspired by the storm that almost pre-empted a Monday post, the rolling thunder had begun again, following the bright flashes of lightening! Yes, I was disconnected from the power source, and I also trusted that God would permit me to write this and store it before I lost power again! However, it became increasingly more difficult to type with a small beagle trembling in my lap! My first impulse was to push her off and tell her that I cannot write with her sitting on the keyboard. Then I looked into those adorable brown eyes peering at me as if to say "but I'm scared, won't you hold me?" I relocated to the couch, where she sat under my left arm while I made every effort to type and comfort her.

In the time it took to type that above paragraph, I realized that we, too, sometimes become scared and need to be held. He never pushes us away, or finds something more important than us. He cares for us, provides for us, hears our pleas in the dead of night. He has also entrusted the care of "beasts of the earth" to us. Who am I to push away a frightened pup who loves me unconditionally and depends on me for everything? The difference between our pets and us is very simple. When the storm ends, she will still come to me and still need and want to be in my lap just as much as she did during the storm. When our storms end, do we continue to go to the Lord and tell him how much we love him, or do we become complacent? Do we only make time to read the Bible or pray when we are hurting? Do we sit at his feet and thank him for all we have all the time, or only when he answers a prayer to our liking?

I am working on becoming a more "godly" woman. The characteristics that encompass one such individual can be found in several simple verses scattered throughout the Bible. It's not an easy task, but I feel it's well worth it! The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was my "Jersey Attitude" ~ mission accomplished (for the most part). Once we change our attitude towards prayer and praise, everything else seems to fall into place. I'm not here to be the life of the party, nor am I here to be the door mat. I am here, in this time and place, because the Lord wants me here. I am provided with everything I need because he promised it. Who am I to tell him to wait! I refuse to exhibit attitudes and behaviors that are not pleasing to him. Once upon a time, yes, I will tell you that "party animal" doesn't even come close; and I could most definitely teach some of those Staten Island girls a thing or two about drinking and carousing!

It doesn't matter what road you took to get to where you are now. What matters is that you give yourself completely to the Father! Give him your love and your praises because you want to, not because someone told you if you didn't you'd burn in hell. Find a place for him in your heart and you will never be alone. He loves you; he's forgiven you! Love him back; forgive yourself and walk with him into the future he has in store for you!

Friday, November 12, 2010

~ "All through the night..."

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (Rev 19:11)

"How vain will be the plea of many sinners at the great day! We followed our guides; we did as we saw others do! God has given a rule to walk by, in his word; neither the example of the most, nor of the chief, must influence us contrary thereto: if we do as the most do, we must go where the most go, even into the burning lake. (Matthew Henry)"

Not a place I'd like to see! The visual in my mind is painful enough. We are reminded many times that hell is a real place, far to many to actually count (and I googled and got different numbers - suffice to say, it's a lot). Fortunately we have the opportunity to NOT go there. Being "washed in the blood" sets us free! Being "saved" causes us to change, to want to change and be devoted to all that the Lord has for us. Sometimes we may not like what that is, but we nonetheless accept it, thank him for it, and move forward. This life on earth was not designed for our "pleasures". We cannot have it both ways and we are warned against "candy coating" his message either for our own peace of mind or in the fear of losing a potential soul saved by the blood.

We are commanded to act accordingly. As I have said before, our right to be happy does not go before God's right to be happy! Doing what HE asks of us (praise, prayer, worship, and witnessing) is what makes him happy. Just saying the words "I've been washed in the blood" is not a "get out of hell free" card. If you have truly accepted Christ as the Savior, you will WANT to do all those things for him! You will WANT to offer praise and thanksgiving and tell others about the love he has for them! You won't be worried about your appearance or your "social standing". Being a Christian is not a "sit on the sidelines and watch" gig. It's a full participation one! Sitting in church on Sunday and then cursing the fellow who cut you off in the parking lot as you attempt to leave is probably not the best example to set. If you are one of the "chosen", act accordingly.

Don't let yourself be a cattle in the herd. Be a sheep, know the Shepherd's voice and come as you are called! Live the love that Christ has given you in all that you do ~ no matter how difficult, no matter how "unpopular". The time for keeping up appearances is long gone; better to be unpopular now, than to regret it for all of eternity. Give yourself over to the full measure of the sacrifice given for you! It may not carry much weight here on earth, but it will in the next life!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

~ "God Bless the USA..."

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:9)

The statement "There are no atheists in foxholes" is an aphorism used to argue that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as when participating in warfare, all people will believe in or hope for a higher power. We know that to be the power of God!

"We, the people" are free today because of hundreds of thousands of America Soldiers. They have come from all backgrounds, all 50 states. They are men and women who "write a blank check" to the United States of America. They put themselves in harms way for our security. They live in the deserts, in the snow, in countries that hate them. They leave behind families for our benefit. They love this country so much so, they are willing to die for it!

"We, the chosen" are offered the gift of eternal life because one man also thought we were worth dying for. He, too, came from a humble background and wrote a check ~ in his blood. He is our strength in times of sorrow, in times of war and in times of joy! We lift our voices in prayer for courage and we persevere. He will not leave us!

Whatever situation you are facing, go with the belief that God goes with you! Stumble through the words offering praise as you go, if that's what you have to do! He will give you the strength and courage you need to sustain you ~ he always does!

Remember, there are but two defining forces that have ever died for you, Jesus and the American Soldier - Jesus died for your soul, the soldier for your freedom. Thank God today for all he has so graciously given you. Thank a soldier for fighting for your right to thank God!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

~ "Will you have something come harvest???"

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures ofthis life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)

All of our lives, God puts people in our paths to tell us of his love for us, remind us that there is still time to be planted in the word and to warn us that the end is fast approaching and that we need to decided now which "seed" we are. Satan is desperately scrambling to build an army to further his cause. Again - God wins!

I learned along time ago that I should not tell God what I will and will not do. He has a way of making me eat my words. I find that is true for most Christians. The parable of the sower tells us exactly which "seed" we are if we are honest enough with ourselves. Some of us, at one time or another, were all of the seeds. As an early "born again believer", I was the seed on the rock - I experienced the joy of the word, but I was unable to stand fast in it and fell away. Later on, I became the seed in the thorns (for about 20 years) - the pleasures and money of this life overtook my desire to be what I was being called to be. Finally, the seed on good soil. I still have a problem with patience (I'm generally a go-get-it type of person). Keeping true to ALL of God's word is not as difficult as it seems, when you have accepted that this is what he desires of us! Sure, we make mistakes and we stumble, sometimes without even realizing it, until it is pointed out to us that we aren't.

Wanting to worship comes from knowing who it is you are worshiping. In order for anyone to understand the joy that overtakes you causing you to lift your hands in praise, they have to experience that same joy! On one of my birthdays, my ex-husband bought me tickets to my favorite artist's concert - I took 3 friends with me. They had "heard" this keyboard genius and knew who he was, but when the music started, they sat in their seats. With each and every song, at the first few notes, I instinctively knew which song he was playing, and my joy continued to grow throughout the performance. The reason I was so excited and they just "enjoyed the show" was that I owed every album, audio cassette and CD he ever recorded. I knew every word to every song, I'd played every song (or tried to anyway), I knew his life history, his struggles and his successes. I was a fan!

That is what I feel when I pray, when I worship, when I lift my hands in praise at what God does in my life and the lives of my friends. I get excited when I know I get to go to church on Sunday (and doubly excited when I know I don't have to work on Sunday night and get to go twice). I sometimes spend hours preparing to tell 1 and 2 years olds that "God made the sun" (which is tonight's Awana lesson). I love my prayer time - it puts me in an "I talk...God listens" conversation with him, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit! Become a REAL fan of "I talk...God listens" ~ his "notes" are much more profound and beautiful than anything I could ever come up with...they're in a book that bears the title "The Holy Bible"!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

~ "Seeing is not necessarily believing..."

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal. (2 Cor 4:18) ~ (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (2 Cor 5:7)

Praising God is one the most joyful things my soul can do! Most of my friends and all of my children tend to shy away from my "Praise God"'s and my shouts of "Amen", not to mention the strange looks I get when I lift my hand in praise during a worship service. They just don't understand that feeling of seeing God's handiwork in events in my life and in the lives of others, nor do they comprehend the obligation we have to praise him in everything!

I love God! I love that he loves me so much he sent Jesus to pay for my sins! Not something I could have accomplished on my own! But my responsibility to worship and praise does not stop at the acceptance of the gift he has given me, because everything he gives me, everything he takes away from me also is a gift! Being called to witness to the power of God is something every Christian has an obligation to do! How do we do that? By our actions, by our choice of words, by the life we lead ~ by our walk in faith!

Not everyone is "called out" to a specific area (for lack of a better word) of evangelism. Not everyone can preach, not everyone can sing, not everyone can write. We don't all have the same spiritual gifts, but we are all called to worship and tell others about Jesus! We are called to be part of a family of believers whose responsibility it is to offer praise and thanksgiving for that which has been so freely given us. We did not pay the price for our salvation, therefore it is free. Free to anyone who accepts and believes. But don't deceive yourself in thinking that you will not do anything other than believe! My plan was to worship quietly and praise him from the solitude of my room. God had something else in mind for me! I refused to be a "Jesus freak" - they weren't "cool", and I was always about appearances. I think the greatest compliment I ever received came from an old friend when we reconnected recently - her message to me stated "I see you're a 'Jesus freak' like me!"

When God enters your heart, you change. Only God knows the work he has in store for you - and it could be as simple as telling someone "Jesus loves you". As you grow in faith, you begin to realize what is truly important and what is "bling". "I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind." (Ecclesiastes 1:14)

This life, this existence will all fade away. The earthly legacy we leave will only be realized by a hand full of people, because we are the "small dogs". The true destination is heaven, where we will see all that we have not seen with our eyes, but have seen with our hearts! Let God lead you to where HE needs you - not to where you want to be. Walk in faith, walk in love, walk in joy, in praise and in thanksgiving - but walk!

Monday, November 8, 2010

~ "4+5=1..."

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. (Jude 1:17-19)

Last night I had the privilege of hearing four young men preach a five minute sermon. These are men who have been called to preach. One man read Jude's letter, and he did so with such emotion that I heard things I had never read. He commented that as we can all find ourselves in the New Testament, this particular letter seems almost as if it were written for this day's Christians. But all four of these men's mini-sermons tie into one...

Never more so than now have I seen people boldly denouncing the Bible, it's teachings or its author. The "hypocrisy" of today's world, people who do what they please and still call themselves Christians, the backslidden or "hibernating" Christians who are not on fire for the Lord, the infinitely and moderately "rich" who have more money than they need and will not reach out to those who have nothing - these are the ones we are warned about in Jude's letter.

We have an obligation to one another not only to pray, but to care for and tend to one another. Being filled with the Spirit enables us to do the many things Christ asks us to do. Throughout the gospels and the epistles (letters) we are given a very detailed outline of what is expected of us. Sometimes proclaiming his word causes anger, dissension, bitterness and hate among those who read or hear God telling them that they are not walking in his will. Sometimes the price is the loss of friends or family who do not want to hear that they are "following their own ungodly desires" and that there is a price to pay for such actions. Sometimes the harsh words need to be spoken because someone's gift of salvation may depend upon it! Continuing to walk in the ways of the world cannot produce the words "well done". Making a conscious effort and turning our lives over to the Lord to use for his purpose, knowing that we are saved by the shed blood of Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell in us is what we are asked for. It's not an impossible request, for all things are possible through Jesus! Remember, God gave him three nails and two pieces of wood and said "build me a bridge" - and he did!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

~ "What love really means..."

And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

John has a habit of repeating to us over and over again that God is love and that he loves us! We know the full measure of God's love for us. He sent his son to suffer and die. We drove the nails into his hands by our sins. The pain and suffering was caused by all of mankind, not just those who came before him. He has paid for the sin we will commit tomorrow!

We have God's assurance that he will not abandon us. Each day is an opportunity to become closer to him through prayer and meditation on his word. We have a greater purpose than we realize.

In him, there is strength. Our humble beginnings as infants in the world, and as infants in his word, soon change. We grow and become rebellious teens, questioning everything. Our quest for knowledge of him never ends. As we reach our early adult years, we feel we can tackle the world - that we know better than others, we have more energy than those who have been around for half a century. As we reach that half way mark, we begin to balance our lives more completely. We begin to realize that our lives are nothing without him! He has guided our every step by his design of life for us. As we reach our "senior" years, we know our time is short and that soon we will be with him for all eternity.

God's plan for us is loaded with love! He's packed us full of compassion, understanding and wisdom - we just need to tap into it! He has a story that needs to be told. He asks that we tell the world about what he has done for us. Each of us has a few "miracles" stored up inside that no one knows about! Those instances where there is no logical explanation; the ones we feel no one would believe are the very ones he wants us to share! There is great power in testimony! There is great love that brings about the miracles in your life.

We are loved - not by what we have done or what we may become - God has shown us that love - in Jesus!

(photo by Susan Beaver)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

~ "Do not stand by my grave and weep..."

Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

Although it is the shortest verse in the Bible, it carries a powerful message. It puts Christ, our Savior, into human terms that we can understand. Not a person alive has never cried.

In Barnes' Notes on the Bible, we are offered 4 distinct attributes for Jesus' tears. Devotion to the ties of friendship "makes more tender the emotions of love, and seals and sanctifies the affections of friends"; it is natural to "to sympathize with others in their afflictions"; that it is human nature to weep; and it shows us the true tenderness that is Jesus.

Our lives are constantly filled with struggles and uphill battles. We cry; we've caused others to cry. The saying "don't judge a man until you've walked in his shoes" tells us that we all carry inner burdens that others are not aware of. This man who came to die for us was no exception. Jesus knew what was going to happen, he faced it alone. His disciples could not begin to understand, nor was there anything they could do. Unless you've faced the same sorrow, you cannot tell another "I know how you feel". There was no one that Jesus could go, so he went to the Father in prayer. Prayer for the strength to accomplish this task, a plea that if there was any other way besides his own death, and finally submission to the power of God.

We are called into the same submission. The power of God carries with it all the promises of this life and the one to come. The power of God is one not to be reckoned with. It is as limitless as it is endless. It is greater than any force in the universe. It is stronger than any army that has ever marched, wiser than any king who has ever reigned, and it is real as anything tangible on the earth.

There is strength, there is cleansing, there is love, there is pain and there is joy in tears! They wash away the debris from our eyes, and sometimes from our hearts. They point us to the direct understanding of Christ's love for us. They are a reminder that he, too, wept ~ and with greater reason than any of us could ever imagine! What John would later write in Chapter 15, takes on a whole new meaning, because of this one, simple, human response: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13).

Friday, November 5, 2010

~ "No, absolutely not, God, not this time..."

Then the LORD said to me, "Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the LORD still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them." (Hosea 3:1)

There are several verses in the Bible that deal with adultery, several more that deal with divorce and a few more that deal with the duties of husbands and wives. Although the parallel here is directed towards the Israelites, a lesson of true love and forgiveness is evidenced!

Regardless of how Hosea felt about his cheating wife, he loved the Lord with all his heart. God commanded him to "buy back" his adulterous wife and recommit to her. In doing so, his obedience to God was recognized in a greater magnitude than ever before.

Obedience to God is what we are told we must have, even from the early pages in Genesis. Our unholy state of sin and our unwillingness to trust in him sometimes create more problems than we realize. Sometimes the decisions we make are a learning experience and the realization that it's not God's plan is often not seen until the ink has dried. Then what?

In God there is love, in Jesus there is forgiveness, in the Holy Spirit there is strength! Proverbs 16:18 tells us that "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall," but the true test of faith comes from Proverbs 17:19 since it is "better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud." Our pride keeps us from forgiving, from admitting we were wrong, from realizing the life that God has in store for us. If we trust in him and follow his path, obeying the teachings and following the road map he's laid out for us, then all will be well! But how can you hope to read the map if you don't have the "key"?

The key to the map of his plan for us can be found in his words to us. There is an answer for everything in the Bible, you just have to know where to look. Unfortunately, the answers are not in the back (like the algebra book I had in high school), you have to read it and study it to find your way. Swallowing our pride is hard, admitting we were wrong is harder still and forgiving those who have hurt us and cost us is the hardest of all, yet we are commanded to do so. Again - it's about what God wants, not what we want!

When he brings you to your knees, will you know what it is he is looking for? Will you recognize the "signs", humble yourself before him and accept what it is he is telling you or will you continue to argue with him, set fire to his map, and use it as your light as you wander around in the dark? My suggestion: use the light of the world instead - it's much brighter, it won't burn you and it never goes out!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

~ "Promises, promises..."

And every living substance was destroyed which was on the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth an hundred and fifty days. (Gen 7:23-24)

When God "fixed his bow in the sky" after the great flood, he did so to remind us that he would never destroy the inhabitants of earth again by water. That rainbow is the "sign" attached to the promise. That sign is also a reminder - a reminder that although it will not be destroyed by water, Christ is coming to back to claim it. Like anything else miraculous that God does, some people don't see the beauty in the promise, just the beauty in the sign.

Rainbows are beautiful! They are one of God's promises to us. I've noticed a greater number of rainbows in recent years. When I was a kid, if I saw 3, that was a lot. Now it seems I see them with greater frequency than ever before. I'm not going to presume that it means anything, although I know for myself, when I would constantly warn my children and they failed to listen to what I was telling them, they experienced the "wrath of mom".

Just as the rainbow reminds me of the destruction and a promise, so too, does the cross. In that one act of unselfishness, Jesus destroyed the barrier that keeps us from God. His blood washes us clean of our sins and makes us presentable to the Father. The promise of eternal life comes to light in that one, true sacrifice.

God's word is true. His authority is mighty. His love for us is immeasurable. He calls out to you now, as he does every day, to turn your hearts and your lives towards him, to do what it is he would have you do. In the end, he is all that matters. Just because you don't always see a rainbow, doesn't mean that the promise has been broken.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

~ "How to lose friends and disinterest people..."

Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Rom 1:32)

We can no longer sit on the fence or refuse to see God's hand in EVERYTHING. Some people see only what they want to see, praise only what they want to praise and do whatever it is that "feels good" at the time. If it comes down to choosing sides, I must go with the side of truth! It's about finding the right path to heaven - the one without continuing to do as we please and blame it on the Creator for "making us that way", it's about the ultimate sacrifice of letting go of the human trappings of wants and desires. We all WANT to be happy, to be accepted, to be loved.

Sin involves choice. God does not look favorably upon the habitual, unrepentant sinner. He has no place for them in his kingdom...and it's HIS kingdom, he gets to make the rules and whether we like them or not, they are HIS rules and we can either follow them willingly, or find some other "god" to meet our daily needs. But be reminded, there is only one, true God and his WORD IS LAW! I'm not about to impose my creative license of what he MIGHT mean! He's very specific and to the point; he doesn't leave room for doubt.

I've made a lot of wrong choices, bad decisions and have caused hurt and pain to others over the years. I made mistakes, I still do. The difference is that today, I am forgiven, my actions are called into question by one whose authority is greater than any man, woman, or child I have ever met or will ever meet. It is HIS approval that I seek, not that of my family and friends. In the end, he is all that matters! He is the one to whom I must answer. Acceptance sometimes means rejection. If I accept what is of God, then I must reject what is of Satan - for there is no middle ground, there is no "fence" to sit on.

Jesus calls us to be witnesses to his love. God sees sin as sin (be it murder, lying, stealing, blasphemy, or sexual immorality) (and that "mortal" and "venial" sin I was taught about is pure hogwash). Time and time again, he has wiped out entire nations for their flagrant disregard of his word. Failure to follow his law is sure to bring the death of a nation.

It's time to wake up and start to take responsibility for all of our actions in all of our affairs - not just the ones that we feel like tackling or the ones that won't lose us any friends. Just because it "feels good" doesn't mean we have the right to "just do it". Our sinful pride tells us that we have a "right to be happy" - but that does not come before God's right to be happy. Society's acceptance of sin changes; God's does not! We are told to abstain from what is sinful in nature - even if that means to harness what "comes natural" to an individual. God loathes the sin, not the sinner. Be abstinent in what is not pleasing to the Father and your blessings will multiply. Be engulfed in your sin and nothing you do will please him.

Christ is coming back! He will bring with him the judgement of the world and all that are in it. Are you ready to stand and be judged? Can you honestly say to him "I didn't know it was wrong?" Pray for strength now, pray for forgiveness now and get off that path you are on and find the one that leads to the Promised Land. It may not "feel" as good as the other path, but the reward at the end is eternal. That feeling will last a whole lot longer! Pleasure on earth is nothing compared to the pleasure that waits us if we accept and follow.

We each have our own "cross" to carry - but nothing will ever compare to the cross of Calvary. So take a deep breath and put that sin in its rightful place. Ask for strength to lead a life that is pleasing to God from this moment on and you will be protected! You may still be tempted, but you will have the strength to stand and face the enemy and say "my King has saved me and I am his"!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

~ "There are NO coincidences..."

‎...so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love...(Eph 3:17)

No, I did not plan to put this verse here. I never plan anything ~ I leave it all in God's hands. My guess is that he wasn't done telling me what he started yesterday.

The other day, while spending a few quiet moments with a friend, she had asked me how I live alone. I was honest, I told her the truth. Somedays are easy, some days are hard. I try very hard to put all of my trust in God, but the bottom line is, I am lonely. We began to talk about God's love being sufficient - which, of course, it is. My comment to her (as the tears began to roll down my face) was that "if we are created out of love, why, then, would we not want love?" I do pray that the Lord will send me a companion.

We desire the "human" love of others, we desire a companion, a partner to get through this world with. Today, Christ does dwell in my heart - through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit! What I believe, what I know to be true of God's love for me, is that it is something that cannot be touched by anyone or anything! There is no comparison to make when it comes to him sending my Savior to lay his life down. His love is endless. His gifts to me are priceless.

Once we are "established" in his love for us, the possibilities are limitless. But we have to get to that point first! Here comes that nasty word again - waiting - on God's perfect timing in our lives. We may be ready, but perhaps the "partner" he has in mind for us, is not. I know he's not going to send me someone I have to "fix", someone I have to "teach" - he will send me someone who is right for me out of his design, not out of the world's design. He will send someone I can grow with, spiritually; not someone who will drain all the "spirit" from me. He will not send me someone that will leave me "unequally yoked". He will send someone who will lift me up, not put me down. He will send me someone who will love me for me, the person I am today.

God's love does sustain me. In those quiet hours of the night when my mind wanders to him in prayer and I tell him what it is that I would like, I know that he does hear and does know and has in mind for me something so perfect, that I could never have found on my own anything better. He has brought me to this place and time in my life for a reason. I don't question it. He knows why. And in all of that, I will continue to lift up his name in praise, witness to those I can and give him my full attention!

Let Christ dwell in your heart. Let your faith in him and the love he has for you be enough to sustain you. He has plans for your life - he will not fail you!

(Photo by Susan Beaver)

Monday, November 1, 2010

~ "ONE God: Father, Son and Spirit..."

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man...(Eph 3:16)

Roughly translated, this verse is asking that the Lord strengthen us from within by the Spirit! It is something we all need if we are to get through this earthly existence. We need to call on the Holy Spirit to give us strength in our times of doubt, our times of trouble, our times of pain and our times of anger.

That was something I could never quite "get". I understood the "Father" - God, the creator, the ultimate authority. I understood the "Son" - Jesus, the man God sent to be crucified on my behalf. But I never understood where the "Holy Spirit" played into all of this. My image of him is a dove, descending upon the apostles with a ball of fire in a picture I'd seen somewhere.

The Holy Spirt is that part of God that lives in each of us. It is where our strength comes from. "But doesn't our strength come from the Lord?" you ask. The third part of the trinity IS the Holy Spirit - just as Jesus and God are one, the Holy Spirit is also one with them! He is whom God sent to guide us until Christ's return. He didn't leave us alone to cry to the ceiling - he sent us a part of himself that lives in each of us, waiting to be awakened and nurtured. We nurture that Spirit through the Word ~ falling in love with God all over again! His are the arms that lift us up when we are too tired to walk. His are the arms that hold us when we cry. He is God, he is Jesus, he is the Spirit. That spirit dwells in each of us and we have an obligation to release it by loosing the chains we place on it! The chains of "consensual" sin, of greed, lust, immorality, and flagrant disregard God's word. Once awakened, we realize that God IS all we need, all we want, all we desire! The "wants" of the flesh are still there, but the power they have over us seems to take a back seat to the desire to be closer to God! "Oh, Satan, you are in trouble now" is the thought that came to my mind when I realized (truly realized) that God IS a part of me, that Jesus IS a part of me through that power of the Holy Spirit! He gives us the strength to stand up and say NO! It's the ultimate power trip! To know that I have the power of God living within me has to be the best "high" ever! The realization that I was created in God's image is one thing, but to truly understand and know that he lives within me is something that cannot be described - it has to be experienced!

Let yourself find that Spirit of God - let it fill your soul with the power of God - there is nothing you cannot do when led by the Spirit! He will open doors you never knew existed and your walk upon the earth will be changed forever!