Monday, January 31, 2011

~ "Not included..."

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Rev 20:6)

In scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook this morning, I noticed an event that I am not included in - actually, I don't think I was ever included in it. If, at one time, I was, it was done so as an afterthought. It bothers me. I'm sure it would bother you.

Much of my life was spent as the "tag-along", the one that was not really included in things, but out of pity or compelled by a parent or guilt, others often had me along for the ride. Being outside the circle is not a fun place to be. When your contributions are not acknowledged, when your intelligence and your gifts are not appreciated and passed over, when your ideas are not enthusiastically received and then carried out by someone else - it causes a pain, unlike any other. It's the pain of rejection.

I am a person, a human being created by God with many good and likable qualities. I have talents and skills that others may or may not have, and I have some that are unique to me. I have abilities that cannot be measured in human terms. I also have something many may never have.

In the Book of Revelation, John tells us that we, those who have accepted and humbled ourselves to the power of God and allowed Jesus to work through us by the Holy Spirit, will be included! We will not be left out, be second guessed or be there simply because some one feels sorry for us. We will be there because we are his! We have been claimed and acknowledge as children of the King! The "hurts" of this world will fall away and all we will see will be HIM!!!

Today I am part of that inner circle - the one that includes me even though I am a sinner, even though I am not perfect...I am part of that circle because I am a sinner! I belong to the body of Christ and with that comes a responsibility and a reward. Both are much more desirable than any of the circles of this life. That's not to say that I still do not want to be part of the human inclusion, I just doesn't seem to matter as much anymore.

Hold tight to your faith and believe that you will be cared for, watched over and included! Give to God the praises that belong to him, give your heart and soul to the Lord and thank him for everything. Remember, we could not cherish our inclusion in his kingdom as much as we do, if we had not faced rejection or exclusion that this life has given us.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

~ "I am new..."

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead. (Col 2:12)

Who I am today is not who I always was. The suicidal person, the person who drank, the person who used countless words of profanity as part of her daily language, the selfish and self centered individual who inhabited this body no longer exists, except in the memories of those who have not yet come to the realization that with the acceptance of Jesus into one's heart, comes change! I am new! These changes are not something you can attain without the power of the Holy Spirit. You cannot just "walk away" from your past and become someone you are not. Your true colors will always shine through. The demons of your past will still attempt to influence your behavior, but you can, with the help of God, be changed, transformed, re-made!

When you continue to surround yourself with those who do not fear God's hand, do not see the workings of the enemy, do not choose to worship a living God, how can you possibly expect any changes to occur? How can you even begin to hope for the gift salvation offered to you if you refuse to ask for it?

Our Lord comes to us with a promise and a gift. He offers it to us at no cost - as I've said before, it's been paid for, and we couldn't afford it anyway. We do not deserve it. We are sinners. Once we accept that gift, we become forgiven, redeemed and remade - not before. Going through life alone is hard, but not compared to an eternity of being denied a place in the kingdom of God. We only get one shot at life in this world; we are afforded many opportunities to bow down and worship our King. One day, the opportunity will have passed you by if you continue to "wait until tomorrow". There is no time like right now to ask Jesus into your life. Call out to him and he will hear and answer you. Come with a humble heart and accept him in a way your soul has longed for your to do! Be made new by the power of God! Be made whole, be made righteous and just in his eyes. Become worthy to serve, holy and accepted, beloved. Hide yourself in Christ and take on the image of the remade, become new!

[Selected Scripture reading for January 30, 2011 - Gen 29-30]

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

~ "Remember, we are called to keep each other accountable!!!"

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:19-21)

In all the sins we commit, the ones done in ignorance are our greatest downfall. We do many things without thinking about them. We figure them to be harmless and "in fun". Whether you believe in them or not, is not the sin - and I will tell you that they are real and should be cautiously stepped away from, because they are not gifts of the Holy Spirit, they are tools of Satan. We have been desensitized to many of them through television and movies and we do not realize the dangers inherently present when we dabble in those dark arts.

Reading your daily horoscope is just as dangerous to your inheritance as practicing black magic. You may laugh and say "oh, it's harmless". I'm here to tell you that it is very harmful. We are cautioned many times to not engage in witchcraft, sorcery, divination and the likes many times throughout the Bible. If it is harmless, why is it in there as many times as it is? It is written in both the Old and New Testaments and it is forbidden. It's final destruction of souls is revealed in the Book of Revelation and it has been the forerunner in the great flood and the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. The "power" that comes with this "gift" does not come from God!

If you're stumbling over this post and are seriously considering no longer reading the rantings of a crazy woman, I urge you to stop and examine your motives for wanting to do so. Is your decision being influenced by your own ignorance to the Word of God? Have you thoroughly thought the process through and are you refusing to enter into a covenant of love and devotion to our Lord and Savior? There is no middle ground - there are only two to choose from - God or Satan. You cannot have it both ways, no matter what you tell yourself.

Pack up all that is not holy and head for the trash can outside. Turn your focus to God - let him direct you, not some inspiration devised by Satan and designed to take you from the presence of the one who created you! Allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen you. Submit to the one who can and will give you all things good and plentiful - in his time!

Friday, January 28, 2011

~ "I just can't fit any more skeletons in that closet..."

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecc 12:14)

If you died tomorrow, would you be ready to account for your life? Twenty-five years ago today, seven young, intelligent and vibrant people "slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God". Nineteen years before that, three other astronauts were caught in a tragic fire that claimed their lives as well. There have been other losses of life in our quest to "conquer" space and in each death, the question that come to my mind is not whether we should be continuing our exploration of space, but were they truly prepared to meet with God on that day?

With the acceptance of Jesus as our Savior, God has forgiven our sins. That is not to say that we are not accountable for them. What answers will you give for those "secret" things you've done? Our lies and self-justifications will not satisfy the Creator of all things. Like our earthly parents, our heavenly Father will want to know why!!! What were your motives? What did you hope to accomplish? Was it worth it?

Only God knows the exact moment that our death will come. He gives us more than enough time to give up our sinful ways. There are so many things we are told not to partake in throughout the Bible, yet some focus only on the Ten Commandments, and some ignore them completely and focus on the two that Jesus gave us. In either case, many of us have broken every single one on them, and some, on more than one occasion. And those with the pious attitude of "well, I never did that" should be careful not to look at what they think makes them better than others by not having committed as particular violation of the word of God, but to look at what they have done that has so disgustingly betrayed the one who made them. We are all sinners, we are all guilty of sin and we will all be judged accordingly. We will answer for everything (good and bad). We all have an appointment with God. We are all accountable!

Do not consider yourself to be "above" anyone because of your religion; as a matter of fact, do not consider yourself to be above anyone period. The tiny details of Satan's lures of us are described in God's Word - the only way you will know them is if you read it. They are not generally preached about from pulpits and altars for fear of giving too much information, losing congregants or scaring people away. I can honestly say that the church I attend is not of that mentality. My pastor preaches the Word of God from the Word of God! He holds nothing back and does not care who he offends by doing so - which is how it should be. If you are offended by what is in the Bible, you might want to examine why you are offended!

Remember, although you are forgiven (provided you've accepted Jesus into your heart), you are accountable. As each of your "secrets" come to your mind, ask yourself "why" and be honest enough to account to yourself for them. In doing so, you may just open the door for a greater walk now! God won't desert you! He promised!

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 28, 2011 - Gen 25-26]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

~ "There is no time like the present to accept the present..."

These things said he: and after that he said to them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. (John 11:11)

People we love die. The memories of the time we've spent with them can sometimes become permanently etched in our minds. We can remember certain moments more vividly than others and over time, some of those memories fade. Knowing that they are in a "better place" is sometimes the only comfort we have. Our own selfishness in wanting them here with us, for what ever reason, tends to compound our grief, especially when they have not lived what we consider to be a full life.

We have many little "quotes" that we use to eulogize those wonderful and special souls. We will say that "only the good die young", or that "we have an angel looking down on us". I have many "angels" who have gone on from this world, and some of them never even had the opportunity to finish high school. Their lives on earth were finished and God called them home.

In my book, I wrote of two very special young ladies whose lives crossed my path. I am forever grateful to God for the time spent with them. I have glad that I could call them "friends" then, and a joy does fill my soul when I remember those moments.

God has a plan for each of us, just as he did for Lazarus. Jesus raised him from the dead, he brought him back to life. We, too, will die and we, too, we will be raised again. We will meet our Creator and all the worries and sorrows of this world will be finished. There is no greater joy than knowing that in the end, a promise will be fulfilled! Jesus saw to that! He took on all of our sins and paid the price - all we have to do is have faith and believe. Believing in what Jesus did for us, truly accepting it, changes you. The choices you make are seen through different eyes than the ones you once saw the world through. Everything you involve yourself in, every facet of your existence is changed. You begin to live as Jesus would have you live. Some submit to his will early on in life, others when they are old and gray, and some never get there. Accepting the will of God into your life and all that goes with it can be challenging. It can cost you more than you ever would have imagined - but it is most assuredly worth it! For myself, had I not walked the path laid before me, I would not have a relationship with God. He gave me many opportunities to fall to my knees and accept Christ into my heart - and I refused. I turned away from him and ignored his invitation.

Don't let another day go by without telling him you love him and without completely giving yourself over to his care! Better yet, don't let another moment go by! Hit your knees right here and now and ask him in. Ask him to awaken in you the power of the Holy Spirit and fulfill your destiny in a most powerful way. Share his Word with others. Pray that the remainder of your life here on earth will be the life he wants for you, not the one you want for yourself. Whatever you were will be forgiven, and you will have the opportunity to spend your eternity with him! Knowing that God has something truly spectacular in mind for you, I urge you to humble yourself to his calling. Yes, you!!! Answer his call now ~ a wonderful gift awaits you!

{Selected Scripture for January 27, 2011 - Gen 24)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

~ "Holding out for the real deal..."

Knowing, brothers beloved, your election of God. (1 Thes 1:4)

God loves us. He loves us so much that he sent his son to die on the cross for us. Did we deserve it? Absolutely not! Do we realize it? Some of us do - some don't. Will we answer for our sins? I believe we will. We will go before the God of Heaven and have to account for what we've done, what we've failed to do and why. At the thought of that prospect, the first thing that comes to mind is fear! The good news - we've already been forgiven so there will be no "punishment" (unless, of course, you aren't saved - then you're in over your head) - we couldn't possibly sustain the punishment for our sins. Jesus took care of that for us.

In a discussion yesterday, I told of the thoughts that often cross my mind about reaching heaven. The sorrow that fills my heart sometimes is overwhelming. I am sorry for the hurts I've caused, the lies I've told, the life I led. I realized the mistakes I've made and know that I cannot undo them and can't get that precious time that I spend away from God back. I even went so far as to admit that at times, I want to be there to see the judgement of those whom I have continually begged to "get right" stand before Almighty God and try to explain why they chose not to listen. That, I believe, will be the final validation of my work on this planet. Those thoughts do not last long because that is not why I do this. I don't write to see souls condemned to hell, I write to see souls saved to Christ. In a second look at that situation, I become grief stricken at the thought of those who choose not to acknowledge they are sinners and in need of God's mercy and grace burning in hell for all of eternity.

The ventriloquist who came to our church a few weeks back gave us a likening to eternity...imagine a bird filling up the Grand Canyon. He will fly from San Diego with one grain of sand in his beak, drop it in the ravine, fly back to the beach and repeat the process until the entire canyon is filled. When he has finished that task, my friends, is just the beginning of the time we will spend in Eternity.

God has chosen you to be part of the few. He wants you to come to him on your knees and offer him praise and thanksgiving for all he's done for you. He wants you to rely totally on him for all things in your life (something I, myself, am having a hard time with right now). Having the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and truly believing He will provide and take care of you is one of the greatest examples of a faith to strive for. I want faith like that!

Don't let the words of the mindless influence your walk with God. Don't let those who want to control your thoughts and the way you worship God convince you there is any other way to heaven. There isn't. Do not be an "assembly line" Christian who spouts "canned prayers" and participates in meaningless rituals. Be bold enough to say "no" to those who want you to conform. There are literally hundreds of "cookie cutter" religions, purporting that theirs is the one, true faith. Think for yourself. Question what you've been taught and reach out to the Holy Spirit for the answers! He will enlighten you if your mind is open. Your answers will come. They may even come to you through one of these posts! Be open-minded enough to believe that God uses his people to spread his truth. Read the Bible. If it's not in there - it's not God's word! Be wary of those who change, add to or take away from his Word (Rev 22:18). Above all, have faith and believe! Follow where he leads and you will be led to a beautiful eternity with him!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

~ "The last crusade..."

For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (Heb 10:37)

This verse still holds the same caution it held the moment it was written! He is coming back! He will not delay. It will be in his time and we need to be ready!

I have had discussions with some of my friends about the ability to accept Jesus on their death bed. Some of them actually think they will wait until that moment. In other words, live a life of sin and disobedience and when old and dying in their beds, say - "Here I am, Jesus, I believe!"

There are a few problems with that school of thought - but the one that I use to try and convince them that the time is now is this (and I never take on the argument that he could come back within the next five minutes). I remind them of friends that have been killed in car accidents, who have had massive heart attacks, who have been victims of random and fatal crimes. They didn't get a "death bed" to die on. There fate was sealed with a tragic death and if they were of the same thought process in waiting to accept Jesus - it never came. I am forever grateful that the Lord has chosen to wake the Holy Spirit within me and grant me the opportunity to repent and be saved! As I've said before, the mercy of God is so great! In my suicide attempts (as written in my book), had I died then I would not be spending eternity in heaven for one simple reason. Although I believed in Jesus, believed he died on the cross to open the gates of heaven - I had not accepted him as my Savior, I did not understand the concept of humility and I did not live by the standards he asked me to live by. I didn't have a clue!!!

Today, no matter what crosses my path, I have a belief and a faith! Yes, the sins of selfishness and despair still rear their ugly heads at times, but the "armor" I wear today protects me and shields me from acting upon them. In my prayers and in my reading of the Word, I find the strength to continue on through the torments designed by Satan in an attempt to win me back. I can't and won't afford him the opportunity to gain an inch of ground on my soul!

Prepare yourself for what is to come ~ and it's coming soon! Even if Jesus doesn't come today, you could just as easily meet him today! My soul is prepared ~ is yours?

Monday, January 24, 2011

~ "Endless possibilities..."

Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes. (Mark 9:23)

Satan is unwilling to be driven from those that have been long his slaves, and, when he cannot deceive or destroy the sinner, he will cause him all the terror that he can. That is why we need to be relentless in our prayers for those who newly "born again". It is far to easy for them to slip back into their old ways and sinful devotion to things that are not of God. It frightens me to think sometimes that many of the people I know have been so taken in by the enemy's lies. And those that question their faith and begin to break away are drawn back in to blinded beliefs, making it almost impossible for them to ever truly know the Lord. Key word - almost!

Only one saves! Only one should be prayed to. Only one will intercede on our behalf. Jesus! In Christ alone is our salvation! It's hard to unlearn what's been learned, but it is not impossible if the want and desire are there. It is not impossible to turn from years of idolatry disguised as true worship of the King. It is, however, highly unlikely that if one continues to be part of a herd of cattle, that they will ever become one of the sheep. Only through prayer and perseverance will they break free. When I think of the hold that Satan once had on me, I am even more appreciative of the saving grace afforded me through my belief in Jesus! But again, believing is not enough! Satan believes is Jesus, but he's not going to heaven. He will be cast down, as will those who follow him. Their ignorance will be their undoing. They will not be a part of the great kingdom because although they may believe, they have chosen not to follow. They've found a better way (in their opinion - and it's an express elevator DOWN).

I pray for those I know who do not "get it" - the ones who have been brainwashed into believing that the rules and regulations set forth in the Bible were not written for them! With all of the effort made to convince them otherwise, they still hold tight to their "hokey" beliefs and pagan worship covered over by a thin layer of truth. They will face judgment and it will be the saddest day of their entire existence - they will not hear the words they truly believe they will hear and will spend the remainder of their eternity away from God.

All things are possible! In his own words, Jesus tells us that! He assures us that we are fighting the good fight and our efforts are duly noted! The cares of this world will pass away and we will be in his presence forever. Never let go of the promises made to you by our Father in heaven. In his time all things possible will come! It's been sealed in blood - Christ's blood!

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 23, 2011 - Gen 18-19]

Sunday, January 23, 2011

~ "Better than a Hallelujah..."

But let all those that put their trust in you rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because you defend them: let them also that love your name be joyful in you. (Ps 5:11)

There are days when all we can do is cry. The words of worship do not come. Our hearts become so tortured and battered that we cannot find the a place of comfort anywhere. That is when our faith must take over and lift us up.

Our cry for help, often filled with more despair and remorse than we'd like to admit, is what God expects from us. Sometimes faith we have is ALL we have. Faith that he will not abandon us, faith that his word is true, faith in his promises. When we cry out to him through our tears, we are praying the purest prayer imaginable. Through those tears we bring our most urgent requests to him. Those prayers come straight from our hearts.

What I've learned in my walk with Christ is that it isn't about anything I could possibly do to earn the mercy and grace of God. It's a gift freely given and accepted. He doesn't bless me because of anything I've done, he doesn't punish me for things I've not done. It's not about me. Its about the cross and what happened there so long ago. The way I live my life reflects what happened on Calvary, but it does not open that door to heaven. Jesus did that! Attempting to make all my past mistakes right is not possible, nor is it expected. I am forgiven of it all and encouraged to walk the straight path which leads to him! How much better off this world would be if we could all learn to forgive and accept.

So, when the words do not come, when you are certain that you are all alone and left to fend for yourself, remember that if you put your trust in God, you will rejoice and shout for joy - you will be defended and you are most definitely loved! His love for you is greater than any pain you bear or any suffering you endure!

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 23, 2011 - Gen 15-17]

Saturday, January 22, 2011

~ "It's all there in black and white..."

And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great to the ends of the earth. (Micah 5:4)

In the fifth chapter of Micah, we find a prediction of the troubles of the Jewish nation; the promise and birth of the Messiah; his victory over the enemy and the destruction of the enemies of the church. In verse 4, we see that he will be a glorious prince and that his "subjects" will be happy under his government. He will stand and feed, that is, he will both teach and rule, and continue to do so, as a good shepherd, with wisdom, and care, and love.

And so it was, and is! Throughout the Old Testament we can find the promise of a Savior. Every recorded moment of his life was foretold. They knew he was coming, they knew how he would come and that he would die for their sins. Yet, so many of them chose (and still choose) to not believe. We, too, have the same advantage that our counterparts in the Old Testament had. We, too, have a reference of what is to come. It is written in the Gospels, in the letters written by the Apostles and in the book of Revelation. He is coming back! Our Messiah will return and take with him all those who have accepted him and honored him by keeping his commands. Yet so many fail to see or refuse to bow down and humble themselves to him.

Our world can become so frustrating at times that we just want to "go home". We pray and we plead to our Father in heaven to end our human suffering, to send us a "miracle". Sometimes he does, but in most cases he gives us the strength to persevere. Sometimes it is moment by moment, trial by trial and inch by inch. He will not forsake us, regardless of what the enemy tries to imply.

Let that shed blood of Jesus continue to be the strength you draw on. In every aspect of your life, know that you are loved and cared for, you are valued! Give him the praise and honor he deserves and whether you realize it or not, the blessings will wash over you like the waves on the sand. Your situation may seem desperate and hopeless, but it is in that desperation and hopelessness that you will find him! Reach out to take hold of what is yours! Let your faith in his promises sustain you and walk with your head held high - look back at those footprints in the sand and know that you are being carried and his glory will shine through the darkness and light your way!

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 22, 2011 - Genesis 12-14]

Friday, January 21, 2011

~ "Hope doesn't know defeat..."

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (1 Thes 2:19)

We have been blessed. We have hope! Even when we have been surrounded by the troops of the enemy, we know that with perseverance and faith we will emerge victoriously! Although we wait for that coming and at times it seems that it will never come, we know that it will and Christ will reclaim what is rightfully his!

We have a tough "row to hoe". But the crop we plant will be harvested to heaven and our toils will be no more! We will, someday, walk with the King in all his glory and be forever in his presence. It is in Jesus that we place our hope. It is for his glory that we do all that we do! With the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us strength, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish in his name! He does not abandon us, ever!

We have been chosen to live a life that reflects his love. It is not an easy life. It can be lonely and desolate at times. It can be filled with the anger and rage of those who do not understand why we continue to rejoice in our sorrows and why we do not pursue the recourses of man for justice. Some things are better left to the justice of God. We may entertain the thoughts of earthly righteousness, but we do not act upon those thoughts. We leave it all in the hands of the Almighty, and in that, he is pleased. He will provide for us, he's promised that. He keeps his promises. Nothing is impossible and our cries are heard, our tears will be dried and our prayers will be answered!

God has already given us the greatest of all gifts ~ he's given us Jesus! Through that promise our hope and faith are restored fully to what it is he represents! Eternal life! There is no other power on earth or in heaven that can match that! Although our human wants and needs cry out to be met, our souls are secure in the fact that we are bound for the city of eternal light! Our comfort on earth is not guaranteed. And all of the events of this world cannot break us down if we don't allow them to!

Pray for the strength to continue to place your hope in Jesus! Pray that others will see the "error of their way" and come to him for forgiveness. Pray for the courage to walk the path of his righteousness and spread the gospel to all. Pray for his will in your life.

My hope is in my Savior - my savior is Jesus Christ!

[Suggested Scripture for January 21, 2011 - Job 40-42]

Thursday, January 20, 2011

~ ...

And Jesus looking on them said, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)

Right now, my mind is totally blank. My thoughts on this morning's post were interrupted and I'm sure that Satan is sitting back laughing. He takes every opportunity to discourage us and break us down. We need to remember that he may have success for a moment, but the ultimate victory belongs to God!

Sometimes, just when I think I've managed to pull myself up out of the pain of my past, it comes back very slyly and creates a new wound in my heart. Today's verse is the very essence of what I'm feeling. When I think on God's promise to me, my mind will tell me "impossible ~ so many things have to happen in order for that promise to be fulfilled." I become discouraged and sometimes just want to utter the last two words of total defeat.

Unfortunately, at this moment, I cannot even begin to find words. Knowing that all things are possible with God brings me to the point of asking myself if what I prayed for, what I've been "promised", is really what I want. And maybe that's what the Lord is trying to show me.

I know this is not my "usual" devotional. Today I'm asking that you pray for me. I'm asking that the Lord will show me, without hesitation, if what I've been praying for is truly what he wants for me, because right now, I just don't know anymore.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

~ "Road construction ahead..."

Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2)

Some days its hard to keep the focus on Jesus. When everything in life seems to be falling in on top of us, that's when we need to reach out and hold on a little bit longer. We know there is joy at the end of the trip, but in the midst of the journey, sometimes we encounter road construction. A good friend of mine has a CD out and the title song is "Road Construction". The song talks about how no matter what road this gentleman takes to get home, he encounters some form of delay or detour, but he just finds another route to get there. I think we have all encountered that same dilemma in our walk with Christ.

There are times when we feel like we're never going to reach our destination. The length of the journey seems to be a long and frustrating one as we struggle to deal with the realities of this world and long for the joy of the next. What helps to keep us focused on Jesus is that promise! The enemy laughs at us in our desperation. He offers us solutions that are not really solutions, just white-wash over the immediate needs we are facing. Our faith reminds us that all our needs WILL BE MET! For as individual as we are, so are our needs. God knows them all. And our relief will not come a moment sooner than necessary. Like the spoiled child, we want it NOW! We want the reassurance that we're not being forgotten! We want center-stage with Him!

What we tend to forget is, that a very long time ago, a man waited on God's timing and although the journey he walked was long and hard, the end result was joy! The anticipation of impending "doom" in our lives cannot compare to that one life! He took on the burdens and the sins of this world, not for himself, but for each and every one of us. We are redeemed through his suffering. We are protected by his word. He is the voice of truth that cries out to us in our moments of despair ~ the one, true, living God of all who waits on us to come to him; not the other way around! He will mend our broken hearts, heal our battered lives and sooth our emotional pain, but only when we humble ourselves to him will we see the true joy in the cross!

Take the first step. Don't worry about the detours. Watch the road ahead of you, not the one behind you. It doesn't matter where you've been, only where you are headed! Each step you take brings you closer to home ~ the place where Jesus lives!

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 19, 2011 - Job 36-37]

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

~ "Coloring INSIDE the lines..."

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil (Is 1:16)

Of all the commentaries I've read on this particular verse, Gill's Exposition seems to hit the nail on the head: "Cease to do evil; either from ceremonial works done with a wicked mind, or from outward immoralities".

We can pray on our knees and praise God until the cows come home, but if we are living in sin, refusing to bend towards what is commanded of us, we are not living in his will. You can't say you are faithful to God if you are living a life that contradicts what he asks of you! We will never lead an entirely sinless life, but we are commanded to ~ that means we have to try. It means to abstain from what is "evil" or has the appearance of "evil" -- what is wrong, what is immoral and what is not "holy". And how much more vulgar is it to actually go through the motions and present yourself to be something that you are not? There is a "human" law against impersonating someone in power; how much more dangerous it must be to impersonate a Christian! I don't think I want to be judged in THAT court!

There are some things that just cannot be reckoned with either in our minds or in the reality that is given to us in God's word of truth. When a child first picks up a crayon and begins to color, the scribbling is always outside the lines. As he becomes more proficient with the crayon, the artwork begins to fill the object with more color inside and less outside. Once he has mastered the skill - very rarely does the crayon stray from within the boundaries laid before him - however, it does occasionally cross the line, but not nearly as often as it did when he first began to color. The same is true for our Christian lives! When we first begin our walk with God, at the first acceptance of Jesus as our Savior, we begin to learn what it is that is expected of us. With prayer and strength from the Holy Spirit, we change. Our focus becomes that of "Godly" things - we learn to stay within the boundaries of his Word. Even "seasoned" Christians sin! God knows this, he understands this.

We need to come to a point where everything we do is within the command of our heavenly Father, not the church we attend or the people we surround ourselves with. We won't always get it right, but we need to strive for it just the same. We can't change what God's word means or interpret it to fit the decisions we make. Our choices need to reflect the Word! Remember, one day you will stand before him and he will judge your actions (or inactions). Call upon the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to do what is right, not what is easy! Coloring outside the lines may get you noticed, but it won't get you anything of value! Focus on coloring within the lines and with his mercy and grace, you will see a beautiful picture of love - God's love!

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 18, 2011 - Job 34-35]

Monday, January 17, 2011

~ "Terger (turn it around)..."

Who is a God like to you, that pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retains not his anger for ever, because he delights in mercy. (Micah 7:18)

There is no one who can match the compassion and power that is God! Every sin we commit is wiped away - gone. He doesn't hold it in his pocket and throw it out at us the next time we sin and he doesn't throw it in our face and offer it to us a proof of a failure. It is gone, as though it never happened. Forgiven!

We hold onto our own sins, we relive the nightmare over and over again. We continually cry out "if I'd only done this" or "if I'd not done that". We beat ourselves up with the mistakes of our past. Everything we have been and done makes us who we are - it brings us to our knees in the presence of the one, true God! He's forgiven us, now it's time to forgive ourselves.

The hardest part of accepting the forgiveness of God is to realize that we must also forgive ourselves. The saying "what's done is done" is a grim reminder that our lives have been a so full of irreverent actions and bad decisions that we can't see our way clear of them. We are constantly reminded of our failures (by society, by our family, by our friends) and sometimes we lack the courage (and the faith) to actually believe that God has forgiven us! We are afraid to move forward. We stand trapped in our past as if it could be fixed by revisiting it in our minds.

Nothing can change our past. We can't wish for God to turn back the clock and relive the events and do them differently. We only get one shot at life! The good news is, we don't have to go back and "fix" the wrongs - God has forgiven them through Jesus! The Holy Spirit will guide us as we continue on - and we will look back, we will regret (no matter what we tell others) - it is human nature. Everything we have experienced in our lives brings us to the foot of the cross.

Take the "regrets" and turn them into praises to the Father! Let them be a reminder of where we've been and a warning to where we no longer want to go. Take a deep breath and thank him for bringing you through it, praise him for his forgiveness, honor him by "turning over a new leaf". Keep his love for you where you can feel it at all times. Don't hesitate to cry out to him when you feel alone or frightened that you may be tempted to repeat those same sins. His love for us is forever and always and it always starts right now! Allow the Holy Spirit to take your hand and lead you ~ God's promises are for today!

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 17, 2011 - Job 32-33]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

~ "My Own Little World..."

I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

What if you woke up one morning and had no place to call home any longer? What if the home and the family you had come to know, no longer existed in the way you were used to? What if the job you had for many years was suddenly taken away from you and there were no other jobs you qualified for? What would you do? What would you pray for?

We wander through our earthly existence performing day to day tasks as if they were part of a script. We do not deviate from them, we don't look left or right - only straight ahead at where the goal is. Our focus is on our own path. We tell ourselves that we can't afford to help others because we barely have enough for ourselves. We tell ourselves "someone else" will take care of it. Guess what? We are the "someone else".

Each of us has an obligation to look out for the one next to us. Our excuses are lame, at best! We trust in God to provide for us and he does - through a good job, an unexpected bonus, a sale at the grocery store, and many other blessings that fall on us. Do we thank him that we are not the woman on the corner with the cardboard sign? Do we thank him that we are not the one who just lost his job? Do we thank him that it is not our car broken down on the highway in the pouring rain? And when we've thanked him, do we even bother to do anything to offer a "blessing" to that person who we refuse to make eye contact with?

I realize that some of those individuals are "street hustlers" and make their living feeding off the charity of others. That's excuse we use - "I don't know if they're really homeless or just looking to make a fast buck." It doesn't matter whether or not they truly are in need - it is not our place to judge their circumstances. Our job is to help them if we can! Would it really set you back financially if you threw a five dollar bill out the window of your expensive car? Would it be extremely time consuming to stop and ask the stranded man if there was someone you could call for him?

We have become a society of one - our own little world is all we see because it's all we want to see. We don't want to let people in, we don't want to help those in need - we want to make sure that we have enough for ourselves and that's it. Imagine if Jesus had felt that way. Imagine if our destiny was hell and that there was no salvation for us because he had decided he didn't want to die for our sins - after all - he was sinless! He was not in need of salvation!

Whatever it is that you have, remember it was given to you by the Father. He gave it to you freely, most often without your asking. Be willing to give freely to those around you who are in need. Don't look for it to come back to bless you, do it because it's what the Lord asks of you! Enlarge your world - give!

[Suggested Scripture for January 16, 2011 - Job 30-31]

Saturday, January 15, 2011

~ "Just in case I forgot to mention..."

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2)

When I am asked to pray for others, I do. I add them to my morning prayer list and pray for them everyday until they tell me their prayer has been answered. In many cases, the people I am praying for I don't even know. In all of those prayers that I send up, each prayer is followed by a four word phrase that tells the Lord exactly what it is I am praying for: "Thy will be done!"

There is nothing wrong with praying for what you want or what others want, as long as it's part of the will of God. I don't pray for people to win the lottery or strike it rich. I pray for God's will in their lives, and sometimes that means praying for God to bring them to their knees. In one such prayer, I did not realize that my prayer for a certain individual to be made humble enough to turn to the Lord would drastically affect my life as well! Yet, I still pray! Why? Because it's what God has laid on my heart to do!

Each of us has a responsibility to pray for those who do not know Jesus. When we bring our petitions to the Lord, we bring them not as a demand, but as a request for mercy and grace towards the soul we pray for. We bring them in the hopes that what we pray for is God's will also, but understand that if it is not God's will, we will accept the answer knowing that he knows what is best for all concerned.

We may not always get the words right, or say exactly what we want to say in prayer. The point is that we do pray! It doesn't have to be perfect - just fill it with glory and honor to God and praise and thanksgiving for what he's already done in your life and the lives of those around you! He's listening!!!

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 15, 2011 - Job 28-29]

Friday, January 14, 2011

~ "There's a place for us..."

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (Matt 1:35)

Even Jesus needed a quite place to pray. Sometimes, even in our own isolation, we need to get to a place where we CAN pray. When I was young, in my late teens and early twenties, I would hop in the car and take a ride to the beach (it was only about 3 miles from my house). In the dead of winter I would drive down there, park my car, get out and sit on the jetty and just talk to God. I would tell him what was bothering me, tell him what it was I needed and he would listen. The silence was interrupted only by the crashing waves along the shoreline. Sometimes I really miss those nights because it was in those moments that I truly felt the presence of God around me.

I don't always "feel" his presence around me, but I know that the Holy Spirit is there. My faith tells me so. Sometimes I get to a place where I cannot stay focused on my prayer time, where the emotional and physical exhaustion takes over and the prayer that comes out is "God, I just can't right now - please help me". I am never out of his sight. He understands and knows that eventually, whatever is going on in my life that is keeping me from focusing, will pass. It always does. I don't have to be perfect before him. My words do not have to be eloquent when I pray. Sometimes they are fragmented thoughts, at best! It's how I present myself to him when I pray - humbled and unworthy of all he's done for me.

In those moments when you cannot find the words and you stumble through the prayers you are offering, remember that he knows what it is you want to say. Don't turn away because you have a few days connected in which you have not been able to offer your prayers and praises in the way you have become accustomed. Continue to give him what you are able to and, in time, the rest will follow. As I've said before, he knows your heart - he knows that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak".

Search out that place that you need to find to be alone with him in prayer. Let the things that are troubling you fall away. Put the images of your past to rest and focus on the day ahead of you. He has a greater plan for you today! Accept it with the humblest heart you can summon and he will know you have done the very best you can!

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 14, 2011 - Job 25-27]

(photo by Sandra Wood)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

~ "Trinity...not trilogy!!!"

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen. (Matt 28:18-20)

Jesus spoke to his disciples and gave them instructions before his ascension. These three verses are the key to what it is we are supposed to be doing while we wait! Please note that it doesn't say we are to spend our time playing video games, or clubbing, or glued to the front of a television set. Those things should be for our "entertainment on occasion", not our way of life! It seems that many of us do the reverse. We spend more time watching television, playing our games, going to clubs and movies, shopping for things we don't need, and other assorted things then we spend with the Lord.

"Teach all nations"...we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with many different nationalities and faiths right here in the United States. This country is a melting pot of races and religions. We condemn the teachings of some because they do not believe that the Bible is the Word of God. But what are we doing to enlighten them. What are we afraid of?

My religion reflects my beliefs, it is not the foundation they are based on. My beliefs are based on what is written in the Bible (and not just certain parts of it - ALL of it). There is no one else and there is nothing else - no rule book, no code of conduct, no additional appendices - everything I need to know is there! Too often my adoration the Holy Trinity was overshadowed by "dos and don'ts" created by mortals.

"Baptizing them" John did! It comes when we can fully accept and understand what we are committing to. No one can accept Jesus as my Savior on my behalf no more than they could take my place in hell (if that's where I was going). It's a decision of choice and the conviction of our souls that brings us to the waters of baptism. Being baptized does not guarantee reserved seating in heaven. It symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and our desire to be "born again". It is a commitment we make in the knowledge of the salvation it represents!

"Observe all things"...all the teachings of Jesus, all the commands and the life style he's laid before us. Remember, Satan wants us all. He can and will use any device necessary to lure us away from what Christ asks of us. Whether we like them or not, that is what we are commanded to do.

"I am with you always"...Nothing we do or don't do goes unnoticed. Nothing we face is faced alone. Every breath, ever step, every tear, every outburst of laughter - Jesus is right there with us! The word is "always" - not "sometimes", not "when you remember to call on me" - he is ALWAYS with us - "even to the end of the world."

So get up off your seat and open the book! When you've successfully opened the book, open your heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to do the work in you that he needs to do to prepare you for what lies ahead! It's not guaranteed to be easy (if something is worth having, it's worth working for)'s guaranteed to be worth it! Give him the glory he deserves from you. Sing him the praises of your heart and soul! Honor him by honoring his commands! Respect his word by respecting yourself! Allow the living God to live in you!

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 13, 2011 - Job 22-24]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

~ "No 'but's' about it..."

Therefore I say to you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:24-26)

There are some things we don't want to forgive. We want to hold on to them and use them to justify our bitterness or our anger. "But Lord, look what he did to me! How can you ask me to forgive him?" Our wanting justice for injustice would be more easily explained if we turned it around and pointed it at ourselves. There is not a one of us alive who has not, at one time or another, caused these same feelings in someone who are we to demand forgiveness when we choose not to forgive?

People hurt us. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. Either way, we are told to forgive and to leave the "yeah, but" out of it! I'll be honest, that's not generally what I want the Lord to tell me. What I want to hear (sometimes) is that I am right and they are wrong and God will take my side. Guess what? There's a good chance that the other person is wanting the same thing! Guess what again??? He takes the side of truth! When we come to that point, we are being told to put our house in order, for he sees ALL!!! We need to let these things go. God's justice and man's justice are not the same. Our society is governed by the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" -- in God's eyes, we are all guilty. There is no probation, no plea bargaining, no commutation of our sentence - we have received the death penalty and we will die! The only thing that saves our ugly selves is the cross and that will only come AFTER our mortal lives are finished. Jesus paid for our sins as well as the sins of those who hurt us. Each and every low life, reject, snob, or mean-spirited person who has caused us pain has already been forgiven if they are a true follower. The question is - are you a true follower? Have you forgiven them without wanting anything for it? Have you put aside the desire for "them getting theirs"? Have you stopped envisioning them standing before God and witnessing them having to answer for what they've done to you?

Today is the day to let it all go! Forgive it all - no "but's" about it! When you start to revisit that act in the screenplay in your mind, re-write it! Let it play out on a happy note! Who cares if there's no dramatic climax to it! Quite frankly, I prefer no drama! Allow yourself to be secure in the knowledge that you are forgiven, and in being forgiven - pay it forward and forgive those who have hurt you.

[Suggested Scripture reading for January 12, 2011 - Job 20-21]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

~ "This little light of mine..."

Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1)

Applying the "basic knowledge" of John 14:1 sounds easy enough. There are days when all we can do is trust in God because there is no other help available to us. That's not a bad thing. Our heavenly father wants us to trust in him!

There are many things in life that "trouble" us. Right now, for me, it's finances. Will I have enough money to pay the bills, will I have enough money to buy food, will I have enough get the idea. When you get to a point where you don't expect anyone else to pick up the pieces and "bail you out", that's when the Lord lays grace upon you. In my heart I know that I will not have to live in my car, there will be enough for me to survive. My brain has a totally different take on the matter. That is when I have to rely on my faith! God did not bring me this far to just leave me here to fend for myself. He will provide whatever it is I need. He always does.

Sometimes we forget how we got to where we are. Many of us didn't get here easily, but we all got here the same way - by God's design. Believing in God came easy for me ~ just as he always was and always will be, so is my belief in him! He has always been a part of my life! I have not always acknowledge him, nor have I always worshiped him. There are days that I have a hard time following the routine that includes quality time with him. He remains by my side just the same. When Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, they were so confused over the thought of his death, they stumbled. He told them to believe in him as they believed in God; to trust him even if they did not understand. He asks the same of us!

Don't let the disappointments of this world trouble your heart! Everything will work out according to God's plan for you. Continue to pray, even if you can't find yourself on the blueprints. He knows where you are, and chances are you are right where you are supposed to be! We no longer wander around in the dark - we have a brilliant light guiding us each and every step of our journey ~ so let it shine!!!

[Suggested Scripture Reading for January 11, 2011 ~ Job 18-19]

Monday, January 10, 2011

~ "Stand up, stand firm, stand out..."

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58)

I had the opportunity yesterday to hear an evangelist in a manner I'd never seen or heard before. He brought with him his two little friends who seem to have no aversion to small, confined spaces and they helped him share two very powerful messages about the Word of God! He is a ventriloquist.

His message last night came from Daniel - the story of Nebuchadnezzar, his "god", his "law" and the three men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) who refused to bow down and worship it. These three men had faith in THEIR God - their faith enabled them to stand up (literally and figuratively), stand firm and stand out!

What is it that we are doing when it comes to standing up? Are we acknowledging that we serve an all-powerful God? When confronted with that which is not from God, are we reminding those who confront us that we belong to him and their behavior is not acceptable in our company? And when we do "stand up", are we standing firm in our belief and not succumbing to peer pressure? Are we truly living examples of God's Word in us?

If we are willing to accept the gift of salvation, the gift of eternal life from our Creator, then shouldn't we be willing to stand up for what God tells us no matter what? In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he reminds them that they, too, must "stand firm" and give themselves completely to the work of the Lord. It may not be the "popular" thing to do and it may get us looks of disgust, mocked and ridiculed for our beliefs and our way of life but it will, none the less, be that which causes us to "stand out"!!!

Don't be afraid to be "unpopular" with your friends, relatives or assorted associates ~ there is one person who is more than willing to stand beside you! In those times when you are terrified of the response of those around you when you feel compelled to proclaim the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, know that if you stand up, he will stand beside you; if you stand firm, he will be your strength; and through that, he will lift you up and you will stand out!

[Suggested Scripture for January 10, 2011 ~ Job 15-17]

Sunday, January 9, 2011

~ "It is finished..." by Bro. Mike Storms

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? (2 Cor 3:7-8)

A friend of mine "shared" this message the other day. When I read it, I cried! "That's me!!!" I sent Brother Mike Storms a note and he has graciously allowed me to repost his message! I hope that you find the same "healing" in it that I did...

Hello everyone, I’m so pleased to hear how many people read my letter from Dec. 30th about my back injury. Let me start by telling you that I have been completely healed of this ailment! This is very important to me and I feel I must tell you once again that the injury was severe. I was faced with something that was threatening my whole way of life. The last time this happened I had years of pain that lead to a massive surgery and I will always carry a 13 inch scar down the center of my back as a reminder of what happened. Worse than the surgery was the recovery which took 2.5 years before I felt like I could live a semi normal life again. Needless to say when the pain hit me on Christmas day, I heard those voices telling me that I would have to go through it all over again.

This healing for me is a milestone in my life. It marks a major breakthrough in an area that I have struggled with for many years. I have always had trouble believing God for healing. I have prayed many times in the past for healing and felt so inadequate to receive it. But that’s just it, I felt inadequate. I felt like I’m not a Pastor or an Evangelist. I’m not a Missionary or one of those super Christians who always seem so on fire for God every time you see them. I was believing that I had to achieve some higher level in my faith and in my works to really be able to receive healing. This comes even after I have experienced healing in the past. When I was about 10 years old I had a pretty bad cold or maybe even the flu. I had a fever, sore throat, aches and shivers and all that nasty stuff that comes with a bad cold. I was in church on a Sunday with my Mom at Abundant Life Christian Center on Hwy 441 in Margate Florida. Pastor Rick Thomas was preaching that day and he asked anyone who needed healing to come up to the stage for prayer. I went up and stood among dozens of other people, mostly adults and I just stood there while the Pastor began putting his hand on each person’s head and he quickly moved through the crowd of people as he prayed. I remember my eyes were shut and I could hear his voice getting closer so I knew it was almost my turn. I stood in the middle of a group of people that immediately surrounded me so I guess the Pastor had to reach over other people to touch my head because the touch was very quick. He may have had his hand on my head for about 2 or 3 seconds, that’s it. I had no expectation or butterflies in my stomach as I was waiting for my turn to be prayed for. I had no lightning bolt of revelation or some jolting experience. I simply felt warm. I felt really, really warm, that’s all I can tell you. But in about 5 seconds I felt every symptom of that nasty cold leave my body. I was completely, completely healed. I shared what happened with my Mother and some other people around us but I don’t remember much the days that followed and I imagine I just got back to being a kid, worry free. But God has always allowed me to have this memory as fresh as if it happened 5 minutes ago and I’ve carried it with me almost 30 years since it happened. So why now and for the last 30 years have I not been able to ever receive healing?

My walk with God lately has been a little stale and lethargic. I’ve been a Christian for 32 years now and have been through the ups and downs of ministry and leadership. I have seen the hypocrisy that exists in every circle of Christian communities. I have become dull and have lost some of that fire and passion that was there in the early days. I have overcome addiction and poverty. I have learned and experienced things with God that most people long for so why was I so dried up inside. Why was I so weak to believe for my own needs to be met by calling on Jesus? This answer comes from a fresh revelation as I have been longing inside to know the truth about me and I hope this finds you now ready for your own fresh revelation! Here goes.

I still have sinful actions in my life. I still suffer with things that are sinful actions that I can’t seem to shake off. And because of this I find myself inadequate and not deserving of receiving anything more than my basic needs from God. You see, I believed that I was good enough in my walk with Jesus to at least deserve a roof over my head, a good wife, a good family a good life etc... But something bigger like healing, well only those super Christians I mentioned earlier get stuff like that and quite frankly I was not living righteously enough for that. I had reached my limits in what I could ask God for with a clean heart and I drew a line for what I could believe and it was all about me.

I have been living this way for years, going to Church on Sundays, being involved in ministry but always staying on the 3rd rung of a ladder that had 10 rungs. I had found myself in a mediocre existence as a Christian because I could never seem to go to those higher places. I had finally just accepted it and maybe I’ll get a decent size house in heaven but it certainly won’t be a palatial mansion. Oh man, God forgive me, please forgive me, I did it again, oh God what’s wrong with me? Why do I keep getting pulled down over and over again? When will I ever go up from here? Why don’t you just wave your magic wand over me like you did for all those super Christians and make me like them. I guess you’re happy with me just being good enough by your Grace and I guess I should just be happy there too.

Okay, so I’ve lived for the past 10 years like this. My head knowledge of God is always increasing as I learn more about the scriptures, the history, where Jesus walked in Israel, where the timelines made sense about Noah’s ark, the Roman Empire, the red sea, etc.. My ever increasing head knowledge kept me believing that I was moving up because of a higher level of understanding the word of God in common sense with science and history to prove it right. I could tear down the theory of evolution like shooting fish in a barrel with a bazooka as smart as I was about the word but I could not receive healing.

Okay, let’s get to the meat of it. I have recently discovered a Pastor named Joseph Prince. He teaches on the Grace of God and the finished work of Jesus. I was immediately caught up in his preaching and teaching because it was bringing fresh new revelation. It wasn’t because of his style or that we had anything in common, it was strictly about the revelation he was receiving about God’s word when comparing the Old Testament Law of Moses with the New Testament Gospel of Jesus. Like most Christians I read the whole Bible, the Old and New Testament. The law was a significant part of my belief system. I had never realized how strongly the apostle Paul felt about the fulfillment of the law through Christ Jesus until I saw this verse. He calls the law the “ministry that leads to death” (2nd Cor.3:7). You see I was always basing my belief on what God was able to do for me by how I was behaving that week. I was stacking up days at a time with good behavior and good works and the more days I stacked as a good Christian the more my confidence grew that I could receive more from God. After all, I was doing things right. I was keeping short accounts with God and if I slipped a little bit or missed a day where I didn’t read my Bible, I would quickly ask for forgiveness and get right with God again and get back on the path. The truth is, I couldn’t be further from the truth or more confused about the true Grace of God and the finished work of Jesus.

It was only when I saw the words “ministry that leads to death” come from the Apostle Paul that I started to realize that I was bringing death into my belief system. I was, after all these years, still trying to please God enough that He would Love me. I was still trying to live up to the fact that Jesus died on a cross for me so that I might be saved. I was still trying to work out my salvation and keep selling myself on the fact that I might screw up one day but wake up the next day saying “God’s mercy is new everyday and if I ask Him for forgiveness and have a day of NO SIN, then I’ll be back in the righteousness of God”. I mean, come on, Jesus died for me and I can’t even live a few days in a row without sinning? What a jerk I am! I wouldn’t like me very much either if I was God. I mean I know you love me because I’m one of your kids but I don’t think you like me very much, especially in comparison to some of those super Christians who have so much self control and discipline all because they love you. They probably love you more than I love you because they show it a lot more often than I do. If you would only change me to be more like them, then I could please you more. Then I could hold my head up in front of you and in front of everyone else. Then I would be one of those super Christians who might be able to change the world a little bit and bring all these lost souls to Jesus. But if you don’t do that for me God then I’ll be stuck here for the rest of my life because I JUST CAN’T get it right. Man this is frustrating! Okay, at least I know I’m going to heaven and I’ll just keep swinging away down here until you decide to promote me. But really, truly I love you God and I’m sorry I’m not better at showing you that, tears are flowing.

Can any of you relate to this right now? I have really, really good news for all of us and I believe there are millions of us Christians who need to have this revelation right now. IT IS FINISHED (John 19:30). Pastor Prince showed the original Hebrew text for the word sin and guess what, it’s a noun. Sin is not the action or verb that we think it is. Yes we suffer even to this day with our actions because of our carnal nature and animal like instincts to please our minds and bodies with all kinds of sensual things and addiction runs rampant in the Christian world today. And yes, using self control to stay away from bad behaviors actually feels good and brings temporary relief to a bad day or week but we will never be truly free in our minds to rest, until we understand the finished work of Jesus. Sin in the Hebrew text is a noun (a person, place or thing). Sin is literally a PLACE where man has fallen because of the first Adam who gave his birth right which was communion with God and complete dominion on planet earth over to Satan. At that time man was put in the PLACE of sin. Think of it as a prison. The world changed drastically in its physical form and floods and earthquakes ensued splitting Continents and after thousands of years of man on this planet living in a PLACE of sin you can easily see the results around you every day in our natural world. Man now has been tagged with a sinful nature.

The second piece of information is vital to this understanding as well. In the original Hebrew text, the word righteousness is also a noun. When Jesus came as what the Bible refers to as the second Adam, the Son of God and the son of man, He came to fulfill the Law of Moses which demanded punishment of sin. He came to take the sin of the world away. When Jesus said “it is finished” He was referring to the entirety of mankind now being free from the penalty of sin. If anyone believes in this work of Jesus and calls on Him to be saved then that persons sin is forgiven. God removes you from the place of sin and puts you in the place of righteousness. You now have two worlds that are available to you based on what you believe. The bible says that Christians live by faith and not by sight. Well, there is your choice, faith or sight. Sight still refers to the law which proves that all men fall short of the Glory of God. The law is the ministry that leads to death but it is still holy because it is the foreshadowing of the coming of Jesus. All throughout the entire Old Testament you see the nation of Israel making blood sacrifices and honoring certain holy days of atonement and following the hardest set of rules that have ever been placed on anybody to the point where it was literally impossible to be perfect and the Jewish people proved over and over again that it was impossible to live up to this Godly standard of perfection that required a constant washing and blood covering for atonement of sin. The law was written that all men might see that perfect acceptance and communion with God was unattainable because of this place of sin that mankind had fallen. It was also written to show a perfect picture of the coming of Jesus. The law of death is only death to mankind. Only Jesus (a perfect man) could satisfy the fulfillment of this law. That’s why the bible says that “He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).” So the great exchange is that man who knew no righteousness had now become righteousness because the perfect blood was shed.

If this is true then I live in a place of choice. My carnal nature still remains as I am made of the dust of the earth and have very animalistic cravings and a mind that has no boundaries for what it can think of and still carries the memory and inheritance of sin. And on the other hand my Spirit has been born again and my mind is being renewed by the mind of Christ and God calls me His own. I have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. So I live with this love for God and this desire to one day please him and practice self control and worship him and ask for my prayers to be answered and the next day falling into all kinds of sensuous pleasures of my mind and hating and judging others, wow, what a place to be. But I have finally found the truth that I have been looking for as a Christian who seeks real understanding about our place in this world and in God’s truth. IT IS FINISHED. Not only can I receive healing, I can receive everything that is wonderful and pure and holy and prosperous and every good thing that comes down from the Father of light because I believe in the finished work of Jesus. God does not see my sin because I’m not in that place. God only sees me in the place of righteousness. So all along I was asking God to do something that has already been done. I don’t need God to promote me to some super Christian status to get healing. All I have to do is truly believe in the finished work of Jesus to unlock every good thing that I have ever longed for in my heart. Nothing can reverse my place of righteousness. I cannot go back to that place of sin every again, IT IS FINISHED. Now if my carnal nature falls victim to temptations, I have to remember that I have a body made of flesh that still desires sensual things. But instead of using self control to try and stifle these urges and feeling like my victory or defeat that day over a sinful action determines whether or not God likes me enough to answer my prayers, I now have a new found freedom in my mind that holds no guilty conscience of my loss of that daily battle. Instead of feeling like there is this fine line where I fall in and out of God’s Grace day by day or hour by hour, keeping short accounts with God for forgiveness, I now behold the lamb! I see that it is finished. I can’t make God like me more or less by my behavior. God does what he does for me based on my belief in what Jesus did on the cross. The more I realize this the more freedom I experience. The more freedom I experience the more I rest. The more I rest the better I feel. The better I feel the happier I am. Now I’m not walking around with my head hanging down one day and trying to act like a super Christian the next. But instead, I have this place of rest where I can smile and know that even if I fall God doesn’t have a checklist on me and so I can’t ask for such a big thing like healing with the kind of check list that God is holding against me. Forget that! I know that when I remind God of the finished work of His son Jesus and that I fully believe that it is finished, that I can now come boldly to Him and He likes me! He doesn’t just love me because I’m His kid and he is obligated to. He really, really likes me. He loves when I come in smiling and resting in the finished work of Jesus and say, Hi Dad, I really need you to heal my back today.

See when I was 10 years old I didn’t carry a guilt consciousness and I simply went up believing. I’m back to my place of innocence and nothing can ever take me out of this place of righteousness, nothing! Nothing! Nothing can ever separate me from God’s love (Romans 8; 38:39) and everything I could ever possibly need is there in the nail scarred hands of Jesus and I will never be the same after understanding this truth. 32 years I’ve been a Christian and I finally get it and guess what? The more I used to try and avoid sinful actions and then get riddled with guilt by my failures, the more it lead to further sin. The ministry of death is a vicious cycle and the more you try not to sin the more you actually have sinful actions. But when you realize, really realize and believe in the finished work of Jesus, you will begin to rest. You won’t carry guilt around condemning you. You won’t feel like you keep blowing it over and over again. You will smile and rest and you will not have the sinful actions win over you as much anymore. The more we behold the Lamb and rest in the finished work of Jesus the less and less the Devil can trick you and beat you up and the less you will beat yourself up too. I can only imagine what things we can accomplish if we really grasp this Love of God through the death of His Son Jesus on the cross.

I heard of a man who had dream once that he was in a prison cell. All around him were God’s people, all in their own prison cells. Suddenly, his door flew open and he ran out realizing he was free. He looked back and saw all God’s people, sitting in their cells, weeping and lamenting over their sin but their doors were open. They sat in their cells with the doors open and continued to grieve over their sin. He looked back and heard God say, people come out of there, you are free, but they stayed in their cell even though the door was open. Stop condemning yourself today, God does not condemn you (Romans 8:1) stop letting a guilt consciousness keep you from all God has for you. People you are free!

[Suggested Scripture Reading for Jan 9 - Job 11-14]

Saturday, January 8, 2011

~ "...well, THAT'S nothing to be upset about!!!"

Are God's consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you? (Job 15:11)

When we are hurting, sometimes the "comforting words of others" can be more of a hinderance than a help. People often do not understand the situation, or they believe that "you shouldn't be that upset over it". Not everyone reacts to the same situation in the same way. Our reactions are as individual as we are. And is there nothing more devastating than hearing the words "is that all" with regard to our plight???

We all have the "know-it-all" friend who has all the answers. I have several. I learned a long time ago that if I don't involved them in my problem, they have no input. I also have a few friends that never judge or ridicule me because of what I see as "traumatic". They offer support and remind me that there just may be a divine reason for the place I'm in. Sometimes all we want to hear from someone is "I understand", and sometimes we don't want to hear anything at all - we just need to share it.

God has a reason for the path we are on. He adjusts our journey with every step we take. We ask "why me". It's okay to do so ~ even Jesus asked "why". Maybe God has no desire to teach "them" anything. Maybe they wouldn't listen if he did. If we are still and listen, we WILL hear his comforting words, we WILL feel his arms as they wrap around us. Remember, we are his! Our souls are comforted by his promise to us, but sometimes our human "dust infused" minds can only grasp the realm of the earthly distractions that torment us. It doesn't mean we've been forgotten or left behind - it's just all part of being human!

Even though we are not worthy of the gifts we receive, we are continually blessed and cared for. Our lives may not be the "shining examples" we would like them to be, but we are, none the less, redeemed!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

~ "On your mark, get set..."

And Jesus answered and said to him, What will you that I should do to you? The blind man said to him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. (Mark 10:51)

Here we have a man wandering around in the dark. He had never seen the colors of the rainbow, never gazed upon the face of those who cared for him, never saw a sunset. He had heard of this man, Jesus, and believed that he could be healed. He had faith!

There was a time when we all "wandered around in the dark". Our lives were shaped by the job we had, the friends we made and our individual choices. One day, all of that changed! Accepting Christ as my Savior was the single most significant decision I have ever or will ever make. The faith that allows us to continue to serve a loving God, believing in his promises to us, is often the only "good" thing we have going for us. We can weather any storm through the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus asked Bartimaeus what it was that he wanted from him, he asked that he "might" receive his sight. In other words, if the Lord saw fit to grant his petition, he would be grateful. He didn't demand it, as if it were "owed" to him. So often we feel we are "owed" something from God. He owes us nothing. He gives us everything. With every prayer we bring before our merciful Father, we should bring it with the attitude of "if it is YOUR will".

Allow your faith to grow. The longer you walk with him, the easier the journey becomes. Sometimes you don't even realize how "far" you've come until you look back to where you started from. That is the part of his plan for you that you have already experienced. He has so much more for you if you continue on! Don't lose sight of the finish line ~ he's waiting to greet you when you reach it!

[Suggested Scripture for January 7, 2011 - Job 4-7]

(photo by Nancy Johnson Coffman)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

~ "Love perfected..."

But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (1 John 2:5)

Some days are easier than others - it's a "given". We take into each new day the experiences and lessons learned from the day before. We grow a little more each time we fall and summon the courage to stand again. God's love for us is our foundation.

There are many days throughout the year that hold significance to us individually and as families. Some of those days hold painful memories, yet in those painful sighs, we can still see the hand of God and the gift of love he offers us. A disobedient lifestyle offers no respect for our Creator, who IS worthy of our obedience. "Those who walk in hatred and enmity to believers, remain in a dark state. Christian love teaches us to value our brother's soul, and to dread every thing hurtful to his purity and peace. Where spiritual darkness dwells, in mind, the judgment, and the conscience will be darkened, and will mistake the way to heavenly life. These things demand serious self-examination; and earnest prayer, that God would show us what we are, and where we are going." (Matthew Henry)

Why would you willingly and knowingly walk away from the grace of God? The temptations of the enemy, the "carrot" he dangles in front of us, is sometimes so enticing that we must immediately hit our knees and ask God to intercede! The power he yields in our defense and on our behalf cannot be measured in any terms (human or inhuman). The decisions we make may take us out of the will of God, but they cannot take us out of the reach of God. Like the concept of "infinity", so great is God's love!

Be true to the Word of God! Keep his commandments. Walk in the light he gives you! Know that wherever it is you are walking, it is never completely dark and you are never alone! He is the light that guides us and he never leaves our side! Allow him to use the experiences of yesterday to lead you today! Fall into his waiting arms!

[Suggested Scripture Reading for Jan 6, 2011 - Job 2 & 3]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

~ "The warmth of love..."

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. (Ps 40:4)

Yesterday after I finished the post, the heat pump in my house decided it had done enough work in it's lifetime and quit. It got rather cold in here, rather quickly. I did my morning prayers, reminding God (like he needs reminding) of my financial situation and asking him for help. I've gotten to a point in my walk with him that I know he will provide for my needs, yet I still can become a bit "cranky" over some of the obstacles placed on that path. I went to work not knowing how or when I would be able to get the furnace fixed or what I was going to to do keep warm last night. I asked one of the guys I work with if he perhaps had a space heater I could borrow until I can get it fixed. He offered me firewood.

When I took my break, I texted my son, an old and dear friend, and my friend Sandy (my admin assistant on my Facebook page for I talk...God listens). They all sent back messages, but Sandy sends me back a text "PTL!" I laughed out loud as I remembered the verse in 1 Peter 4:12 "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you"...rejoice in all things!!!

When I finally got home last night, this man met me here. I thought it was strange that he drove his car instead of his truck to deliver firewood. As he stepped out, he reached into his back seat and pulled out a 1500 Watt Infrared Heater (that can heat up to 1500 square feet). He had called his pastor and explained my dilemma and his church purchased a brand new heater for me to use until I can get the heat fixed! When I called this preacher to thank him, he told me no thanks were necessary, and offered me Psalm 40! Here in lies today's message!

When we put our trust in God, we can find strength in his promises. When we ask for only what we "need", he will pour out more blessings than we deserve or even expect. He has met my needs and then some! Just like the steps I took to get to this point in my life (most of them hard), he continues to remind me that all things are under his control. There is nothing he sets before me that I cannot overcome, provided I put my trust in him!

The attitude of "humility" before him is what he asks of us. The joy we experience when he answers a prayer is the same joy we are asked to display when a trial is thrown onto our path! Rejoice in it! Thank him for it and know that you are blessed!

(Suggested Scripture reading for 1/5/11: Gen 11, Job 1)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

~ "Mission: POSSIBLE..."

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Gen 5:24)

Enoch was a Godly man. He won favor with God by the way he lived his life. When we read the genealogy from Adam through to Jared, it tells us the length of time each man lived and that they "died". Enoch did not die ~ "he was not; for God took him". In all the commentary I've read (and additionally, a sermon preached by my pastor) we find that Enoch did not die. He was "translated to heaven-a mighty miracle, designed to effect what ordinary means of instruction had failed to accomplish, gave a palpable proof to an age of almost universal unbelief that the doctrines which he had taught (Jude 14, 15) were true and that his devotedness to the cause of God and righteousness in the midst of opposition was highly pleasing to the mind of God." (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

It is not impossible to find favor in God's eyes! It is not unreasonable to believe that God can do anything, perform any miracle or grant any request. He asks us to be sincere in our prayers and praises. He wants us to lead clean, wholesome lives. He asks us to be truthful and honest with those we interact with. He has shown us time and time again that he is all-powerful and that failure to walk in his ways will surely bring about an afterlife, an eternity of hell, making the life led on earth seem like a treasure.

The miracles performed by Jesus, the graces and miracles that still find their way to us here on earth, the testimonies of those who have heard the voice of God have not persuaded the multitudes to bow down and worship. We live our lives under the mistaken presumption that because we are saved we can do what we want! So many believe that earth is hell - that they are entitled to happiness for the rest of their lives, that they've earned it through the abominable sufferings they've endured! All you need do is read the third chapter of Genesis to see that all the privilege of comfort in this world were given up by Adam and Eve.

Take an inventory of yourself and make every effort to change what you know to be outside of the will of God. Call on the power of the Holy Spirit to help you to walk with God. It's not too late to make things "right" with him. Bow down now, ask forgiveness now - for we know that one day "every knee shall bow" and then it will be too late!

[Suggested Scripture for Jan 1-4: Genesis 1- 10]