Monday, February 28, 2011

~ nation under GOD..."

If you will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both you and also the king that reigns over you continue following the LORD your God (1 Sam 12:14)

If we disobeyed our parents, we felt their wrath (and many of us, the back of their hand). We were told to respect their wishes and do as we were told. Many of us had no problem understanding that concept. We knew if we broke curfew or lied to them, the consequences were severe. We "feared" our parents.

Why is it that many do not "fear" God? Is he not more powerful than our parents? Is his wrath not made evident throughout the scriptures?

"God granted the nation's request for a king, but his commandments and requirements remained the same. God was to be their true King, and both Saul ad the people were to be subject to his Law. No person is ever exempt from God's Law. No human action is outside of his jurisdiction. God is the true King of every area of life. We must recognize his kingship and pattern our relationships, work life and home life according to his principles." (Life Application Study Bible).

In this verse, we can find that it still applies to life in our country. We have allowed the enemy more power and control and have slowly pushed God to the back of the bus. We complain and disrespect our leaders through passive atrocities when instead, we should lift them up in prayer. Many of us have seen the power of God first hand, yet we sit back and leave the praying for someone else.

Put the leaders of this country on your prayer list. Pray for God's will, pray for conversion, pray for something - but do not sit idly by and complain. Whether you choose to believe it or not, Jesus went to the cross for them too - all of them, just as he did for you and I. We are commanded to pray for them; we are commanded to pray for ALL people. We may not like their politics, we may not like them - but still they are children of a God they do not believe in and thus we are to pray for them.

You can be part of the solution! Maybe not in a way that affords you the opportunity to "stand out" politically (and I've dabbled in politics - it's not all "that"), but where it really counts! Reach out to God, through Jesus, to bring about great change in our nation. The "American Dream" can once again be awakened ~ it just needs a kiss from the Prince!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

~ "Glorious Day..."

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first (1 Thes 4:16)

Once again, God has another plan. You would think I'd have learned by now that I should not "plan ahead" when it comes to what the Lord lays on my heart to write.

This morning will be my last Sunday morning at my church here in Tennessee. The people I've worshiped with for almost a year now will remain here as I travel to my new home. There are so many thoughts that come to mind as I think of the path that brought me there in the first place. Without each event taking place as it did, I would never have even approached the front door to that sanctuary. I was angry and bitter and was convinced that I did not need "fellowship" because it only served as a vehicle for pain and suffering, sorrow and distrust. I was wrong. Satan tried and tried but God had his hand on me. It had been there for quite some time and he was not letting go! You see, being raised in the belief that I was "guaranteed" heaven and that there was no "action" required on my part other than to do what the hierarchy of the church decreed, I was under the mistaken assumption that I was automatically "saved". Not so. I had all the knowledge, I knew all the right words, and I knew how to put them in perspective. What I didn't have was the humility to kneel before Christ and ask him in. In that moment, my life changed. In that moment, I was lifted up into the mercy and grace afforded the family of God. Had I not experienced the devastating blow that caused me to leave one church and seek another, I would never have realized God's plan for me.

We all think we know. We believe so therefore we are saved. May I remind you that Satan believes! Belief is not enough. Submission to his word, his commands and his laws are the beginning, the acceptance - full acceptance of Jesus Christ, is the ONLY way in. Through him, and only through him are we afforded the opportunity to spend eternity with God. We aren't guaranteed it by birth, or through the church we attend. It is a choice that we make and a promise we fulfill. It is through prayer and worship that we become closer, it is through the reading and study of his word that we come to know him. It is through Christ's death and resurrection that we are offered the gift. There is no other way.

Today I KNOW where I will spend my eternity. I no longer "assume" that because of who I am or where and how I was raised that my name will be in the book of life. I KNOW it's there. Those of you who aren't sure, those of you who "think" you know...think again! I would rather lose all of my friends and family by standing up for God than to stand before God with my friends and family and be told I was not known to him. What I lose here on earth will be made right before God. I just have to stand firm and be patient.

Give yourself over to the will of God! Hit your knees and ask Jesus in! Be one who will rise on that glorious day when the trumpet sounds and spend eternity in heaven with him!

(photo by Angie Campbell)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

~ "An open letter to those who are unsure..."

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:34)

Projection, not anticipation, can be our biggest enemy. Anticipation is looking forward to a pleasurable event or experience. Projection is a prediction made by extrapolating from past observations. We tend to expect the same results as we've already experienced - be they disappointment, sorrow, grief or hurt. Faith in God changes all that. We know that with God, all things are possible. There is nothing impossible for him.

When you believe in the full power and authority that God yields, you realize that there is nothing to fear, nothing to worry about and nothing too hard for him! He holds our dreams and our needs, he hears our prayers and our praises. He wants only for us to come to him and serve him. It's not that difficult. It's a choice and an acceptance made from the depths of one's soul and is clearly heard above the screaming of the heart.

Don't let your past experiences with what you believe to be God punishing you get in the way of your devotion to him. Instead, focus on what it is you can do for him. What can you perform today that will bring you closer to the person you want to be for him. I assure you, no act is insignificant to God - he sees all and remembers all. Anticipate his acceptance of your sacrifice! Do not underestimate yourself. You can experience the same joy and devotion that many Christians do without giving up your "life". We still laugh, we still love, we still cry, we still work, we still give, and we still receive.

Ask Jesus to accept you just as you are. Ask him to change you and mold you into what it is God needs you to be. Call upon the Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide you. Begin you walk of anticipation and put the sins of your past to rest. Start today, start now! "Dear Lord, if you will have me, here I am."

Friday, February 25, 2011

~ "Katharos Kardia..."

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matt 5:8)

I come from a place and time where God was a distant entity that occasionally crossed my mind and going to church was something similar to the Chinese water torture that lasted for an hour and bored me to tears. It was not the "cool" thing to want to go to church - I went because I had no choice in the matter. In all of that kicking and screaming, the seed had been planted. It took many, many years for my heart to be open to receive him.

As I look back on the last four years of my life, the events that caused me to be here had to occur. Every facet of this journey has been preparing me for the next chapter in my life. I did not know that when I started out. The "what ifs" of that time frame are no longer relative questions. The decisions (be they good or bad) were the right decisions. The choices I made have brought me to where I was supposed to be at this place and time. I will leave Tennessee with a heavy heart, but with a changed heart - with a pure heart!

I have met some amazing women here. Some with the strength and courage of David himself. Some with the wisdom of Solomon. Some with the beauty and courage of Esther. All with the love of God finely etched across their hearts. I take a piece of each of them with me as I move forward into whatever it is God has planned for me.

I love my life today. I love the people in it. God has carefully placed each and every one of them in the exact spot they needed to be. He has blessed me with a family that not only needs me, but WANTS me in their lives. He has blessed me with friends who, at different times, are the "load bearing walls" of my life. My foundation is securely and firmly laid in Christ and his love and mercy for me covers me and shields me from destruction.

Reach out to your Creator - find your "Katharos Kardia" and nurture it. Be the person God is calling you to be! Let him lead - give him praise - have a pure heart and you WILL see God!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

~ "Advice from a very wise man..."

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths. (Prov 3:5-6)

I take what I do very seriously. Yes, I do throw in a humorous twist occasionally, but never at the expense of our Creator. My faith is firmly planted in HIM who created me. Everything I do is because of the strength and knowledge HE gives me. ALL praise goes to GOD for whatever I do, whatever the outcome.

Our entire existence is a gift from God. He blesses us and challenges us to be better Christians than we were yesterday. The changes that come about in one who is truly born again in Jesus are evident in the ways the carry themselves, their attitude and their demeanor. Continuing to indulge in the same "bad habits" does not show others a changed person. Those who do not fully acknowledge him, do not walk the path he has laid before them, find fault with his word or dispute it entirely are not Christians. You cannot pick and choose which of his commands you will follow and which ones you will ignore.

Our God has laid it all out for us - from beginning to end - he's held only one thing back. When. We do not know when the trumpet will sound. It could be tomorrow, it could be the next day, it could be before I finish posting this message - but it will sound IN HIS TIME! Get right or stay lost - the choice is yours! Continue to walk in you own ways as opposed to his and that light that you see at the end of your tunnel will not be the light of God's promised reward. Make the commitment, make the change now - while you still have the opportunity to do so. Let go of the things that do not please him, fashion yourself in such a way that others admire you and want to be like you. Give up the ghosts of your past and stand with the light of the world. TRUST in HIM, no one else, and he WILL direct your paths!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

~ "Turn to me..."

Hear me, O LORD; for your loving kindness is good: turn to me according to the multitude of your tender mercies. (Ps 69:16)

Matthew Henry writes: "Whatever deep waters of affliction or temptation we sink into, whatever floods of trouble or ungodly men seem ready to overwhelm us, let us persevere in prayer to our Lord to save us." The power of prayer is greater than can be believed at times.

In our darkest hours, in the dead of night, we know that the Lord our God is watching over us. The temptations that surround us, the images that stimulate need in us, the longings and desires of the heart - they are all known to God. In the simplest of voices, our faith can be triggered to immeasurable proportions and yet those same, small voices can bring on us a discouraged and battered heart. What we carry with us is also know to God. He tells us to come to him and lay our burdens at his feet. In doing so, we relinquish the power of those "burdens" to him. He sets things in motion and he sets them in order. All things in HIS time!
God shows us mercies each and every day of our lives. We have access to many avenues of prayer, worship and praise! He has blessed us with family and friends (and yes, we all have a "family" and we all have at least one "friend" - we only need look to see that there are those around us who love and care about us in the way that "blood kin" cares for one another). He has blessed us with opportunities to witness that the Apostles themselves would be in awe!

God is always here. He's leaning in over your shoulder as you read this (he's whispering in my ear as I write it). He wants to hear you, he wants to bless you - he wants to hold you and remind you that you are loved. He wants to pour out his tender mercies and bless you ten time over! Don't turn away - bow your head now and ask him to stay and guide you the rest of your life. Even if you've done it before and strayed from the path, he wants you back - he wants you and you need him! Recommit your life to him today - right here and now and begin a journey that ends in heaven - guaranteed!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

~ "...time for Him!!!"

Look you on me, and be merciful to me, as you use to do to those that love your name. (Ps 119:132)

In this verse, we see David's request for God to favor him. He comes to our King humbly and graciously petitions him for mercy. David loved God!

In all the things we do each day, do we remember to thank God for the ability to do them? Do we take the time out of our busy schedules and devote even five uninterrupted minutes to praising and thanking him? Is he an afterthought when we crawl into bed at night? Do we praise him and thank him for answered prayers with the same fervency that we petition him?

Most of us will say "yes, I do spend time in prayer - I do spend time praising him and thanking him for all he's given me". I would include myself in that answer. I would also say that there are days when I don't spend as much time in prayer as I should or could. I find other things to ease my "boredom". My mind wanders to a place where "all is well" and the images there do not fade away and become lost in the surroundings. And then the reality of this world pulls me back into it and I remember that it is only by the power of God that I am. How could I ever deny him time?

Our little "escapes" from this world are okay, so long as they are in moderation and don't take away from what should always be in the foreground of our days...GOD!!! Once they consume all of our free time, we have none left for him. He always has time to listen to a prayer or a praise. We need to set aside the time to spend with him.

Make the time to spend in quiet conversation with the Lord. Give him your undivided attention, your uninterrupted praises and the blessings will fall on you like rain. Give him the glory he deserves and he will in turn call your name!

Monday, February 21, 2011

~ "Sonshine on my shoulders..."

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. (Mark 16:2)

I've read two emotionally touching status lines this morning (both posted last night). One I expected to see, the other surprised me. I am going to steal a little from each, and I know neither author will mind. You see, they both know and understand that God has a plan for each of us.

None of us are perfect. We don't only commit sin, by our very nature, we are sin. Many of us have led lives that were not pleasing to the Father, we've committed horrific acts in our past and done things we thought were unforgivable. Then Jesus came into our hearts and wiped away the stain. He made us new! We aren't "holier than thou", we are humans - saved by grace! You may not understand our road, but we do and what's more important - God does! What we once were, what we once did - we will have to account for - we know that. What we have become are children of the Living God! We are not the same despicable people we once were. We are forgiven and we are doing our best to walk in the ways of our Lord. We are not perfect, we still make mistakes - but at least we make the effort each day. Our judge sits on a throne of mercy and grace and we will see the destruction of the enemy!

Our lives are what we put in the "dash" between our date of birth and our date of death on our tombstone. Some of us have a wonderful story to tell, some of us have just existed from one day to the next. When the apostles went to the tomb that first Easter morning, there was no body to be found simply because he had been raised! We know that the resting place for our human remains will not compare the place our soul goes to! Our heavenly home will be free of pain and suffering and always bright! It will be filled with the love of the father and the joy of worshiping him who created each of us.

As we walk our path in life on earth, remember that we all struggle to overcome "demons" and we all have sadness in our hearts. We all deal with them differently but the outcome is still the same. We all live and love the same. We each take a breath and exhale - we experience joy and sorrow - we need nourishment and sleep and we all will die. Don't second-guess the fellow next to you - pray for him - you never know what it is that he or she is going through.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

~ I Will Lift My Eyes..."

To you lift I up my eyes, O you that dwell in the heavens. (Ps 123:1)

We all do it. We look up at the sky and ask "why?" I've looked at the ceiling in my house, in my trailer and cried out for help at one time or another. We lift our eyes toward heaven! We know that beyond that great expanse known as the sky, is something greater!

Generally speaking, when looking for something, people never look up. Christians look up all the time! They look to the heavens - where their Creator is. They look to the sky - which was where their Savior ascended to. They look up - like children at the feet of their parents - they look up to their Father in heaven!

When we cry our for help or for mercy, we are heard. Our pleas do not fall on deaf ears, nor are they ignored. They are responded to, maybe not in the way we'd like them to be, but they are responded to just the same. We most often do not understand the reasoning for what we see as pain and sorrow - the "whys" of our lives sometimes to go unanswered. It is not to say that there is not a reason for them, for there's just not the right time for it to be revealed to us. Some things are never revealed. So we continue to lift our eyes - we continue to cry out - and not without praise and thanksgiving for that which we have while we wait.

As you struggle, know that your fight is not unknown to God. Lift your eyes, continue to cry out and praise him and he will not leave you abandoned by the side of the road. He will lift you up out of the pain and set you into the greatest of joys. Allow your faith to swell inside and carry you safely to his waiting arms. He's waiting to hold you as you pray...are you ready for him to hear you?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

~ "Remember when everything was closed on Sunday???"

Hear me, O LORD; for your loving kindness is good: turn to me according to the multitude of your tender mercies. (Ps 69:16)

When we are in the middle of a painful situation, we can't even comprehend it ending or being past it. The emotional suffering we endure is so great that it is the only thing we can focus on. Our hearts broken to bits, our tears flowing like water from a broken faucet, we cry out to God for mercy. "Make the pain stop, please!"

When we've come through that ordeal and look back, it is almost impossible to replicate the pain in our minds. We can see it, we can know it - but the pain itself has been replaced by the scars of grief. God's greater plan for us has more purpose than we can even begin to imagine. Our wounds are nothing compared to the wounds of the Savior. His suffering, his death, sets - not only him apart from all others - but it in turn sets each of us who accepts Him - apart from others! Out of the most horrific trauma, came the most spectacular saving grace known to man! Redemption of the entire world - past and future - was gained in one profound death!

It's hard to stay focused in our busy world. Perhaps in the days when Jesus walked upon it, it was "easier" - there weren't technological distractions to consume their prayer time. Their focus was still about "family" and their lives were simpler. Maybe we need to go back to the basics of "Sunday" being family day. Maybe we need to insist that one day a week we will not work, we will rest, we will worship. The "blue" laws weren't really that bad, if you take into consideration what they were designed to do. Our nations, which prides itself on being a "family oriented" nation, has left the family in the dust. We have become a greedy nation, consumed with that "time and a half on holidays" and the extra money to be made on Sundays.

God's mercies have always been available to us - Sunday through Saturday, 24/7 - yet we hesitate to ask for them. His kindness towards us never stops. He's always ready to bestow some grace upon us - all we need to do is ask! Find your "family day" and in doing so, spend the time honoring the Father! Give him all the praises and prayers you can and don't be surprised if your world beings to change! He wants you in his "family" - he created you in His likeness. He hears you when you cry out to him - listen for his reply.

Friday, February 18, 2011

~ "Wanting what we can't have..."

It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. (2 Tim 2:11-13)

Confusing? Not really. Whether we believe or not, our Lord is faithful. All of his promises will be kept - even to those who do not believe. Anyone who calls on his name will be heard. "Where's the justice in that? I've spent my life believing and worshiping God, and you're telling me that the murderer on death row headed to the chair can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved?" The answer to that question is YES! The serial killer, the terrorist, the atheist - they can call to him and he will hear them! Every person (not just the "good" ones) has the ability to call on the Lord and have him answer. Remember, God sees sin as sin - there is no greater or lesser sin. We are all sinners. We all must go to him through Jesus to be cleansed.

When we look at the sins of others and try to put them in perspective with our own "sins", we are taking the focus off of ourselves. We are wasting time on something that is not our "job", nor is it our right to do - judging others. It's next to impossible to avoid it completely. It's hard to constantly remain focused on ourselves when we live in a society that teaches us to lay the blame anywhere but on our own actions or inactions. Believing is only the beginning of our journey. Acceptance and submission to his will and his ways is what we do once we believe. Its where we must let go of the anger towards others who have more than we do, the ones who get the "breaks", the ones who have more talent in certain areas, the "lucky" ones who do not fear the Lord. I don't want to show up at the end of my life and have any more to answer for than I already do. So even when I cannot avoid Satan's temptations, when I cannot say "no" and when my heart is filled with anger and contempt for those around me who constantly humiliate and belittle me (some without even realizing it) - I ask for forgiveness, I ask for strength and I ask for his help!

The "things" that are impossible to let go of in this world, are not impossible to God. When we grab back the control, we push away the blessings. Like the pilot who has lost instrumentation and must have faith in the ground controller, we must have faith in our Creator in order to descend through the clouds and land safely. We can become disoriented in the haze and darkness, but he knows the way. He will carefully guide us to where we need to be.

Put aside the things that draw you away from him. Give back the control and accept the blessings. Hold out for the best gift possible. Let the job of judging belong to the King and accept the life on this planet that is given to you. Do not envy those who seem to have more, or appear to have it easier. Know that what you have is exactly what God wants you to have - nothing more, nothing less. Many times you will find that what "they" have has not come from God. Let his mercy and grace sustain you and know that it is more than enough and more than you deserve!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

~ "Just going to church won't get you into heaven..."

If you know these things, happy are you if you do them. (John 13:17)

Matthew Henry writes " From yesterday's pardon, we should be strengthened against this day's temptation." How is it that we have all the answers and yet still fail??? Quite simple, really ~ we are human! In all that we know and do, many still can't see what is right in front of them. That selfish self-centeredness rears its ugly head each and every time. It's not about what we do ~ it's about what was done for us! Now, a few people (actually, quite a few) tend to take that as literal - "we don't have to do anything" - we're going to heaven when we die!" Its a reasonable assumption if one does not read one's Bible.

Just because someone tells you something doesn't mean it's true. All the truth regarding our place in eternity has been written down. If you don't read it, you won't know! If your preacher isn't "preaching" from the Word of God, then maybe you need to find one who does! If you aren't living your life by what is written in the Word of God, then maybe you need to start. The sins of this world and the demons that inhabit it will NOT be in heaven. Satan has many powers and he uses them to take us off the path of righteousness or keep us from ever stepping foot on it. Forgiving sinners is in Jesus' resume ~ talking through the dead is in Satan's. You only need to read your Bible to know this! Anything that will take you away from the will of God is designed by the enemy (who is very real). Our "addictions" and "bad habits" take our focus away from God. How can we possibly hope to gain knowledge about anything if we don't learn about it or study it? And in our learning, we will make mistakes ~ we will not get it 100% right 100% of the time! Identify it, acknowledge it and ask God to either remove it or ask for the strength to overcome it! He loves to hear the sound of your voice in prayer!

Be enthused about God's word! Be enthused about God! Voice your praises, raise your hands and hit your knees! He IS the only one worthy!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

~ "Drafted..."

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Eph 6:13)

"So...what exactly is the full armor of God?" someone asked. It is the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness and peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.

When a country gets ready for battle (usually) they go with the right equipment and the best there is. You would not send a soldier to fight in a jungle wearing swimming trunks and carrying a water pistol. How can expect to "repel" Satan wearing flip flops and toting a missalette?

The FULL armor of God is sparked by prayer. The soldier's belt is equipped with tool (knife, holster, pistol, extra magazines, hand grenades) and is securely fastened at his waist - easily accessible. It is the foundation of all the equipment used in battle. Jesus is our foundation when we stand against Satan. The breastplate is similar to a bulletproof vest (only not nearly as lightweight as today's Kevlar vests). Remembering that our own efforts and good works will not protect us, we must make our focus on the cross - the righteousness we seek is found in Christ. Our preparation for battle must also the Gospel - the life, death and resurrection of Jesus brought us peace with God. This redemption allows us to fight with boldness, perseverance and peace! The shield - which was generally used as protection and when overlapped one with another, could form a "wall" of protection against the enemy. It also would protect them from flaming arrows shot into the air - we cannot rely on our own abilities in this battle against Satan - by Christ alone are we protected. Our helmet is the source of total deliverance - Jesus IS our deliverance! The sword is the Word of God - it is a powerful tool when used against the enemy and under the direction of the Spirit is has great power.

In all of that, we see that Jesus is our armor! He is our truth, our righteousness, our preparation and peace, the focus of our faith, and he IS the Word of God!

My friends, we are already at war, fighting an enemy who is crafty and clever. Without the protection and guidance of Jesus, we are doomed to fail. You may not have been called to fight at this point in your life, but the time will come and you must be prepared. Start shining up that armor so that when your turn to do battle with the enemy arrises, you will already have on the full armor of God!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

~ "You've got a friend in me..."

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. (Rom 8:28)

All the mechanics of life, all the events that must transpire to bring us to one specific place in time - they are all known to God! He has scripted them together in a way that only he can do. All of our trial and tribulations, our joys, our successes, bring us to where it is we need to be when he calls our name. He puts people on our path that are (as the story goes) there for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Our time here is short, so we must make the very best of it ~ but making the best of it is not just having a good time, or doing things we know we shouldn't do, wasting time on useless things - it's rejoicing in his gift to us!

Sometimes it's hard to keep the focus on God. Our human nature and the enemy pull us away from what it is that he wants for us and from us. The temptations that surround us every day, the little things that keep us from his Word and from the work he has for us, can often move in on us in such a subtle way that we don't realize it until it is too late to stop it. That is when we hit our knees and ask for the strength to walk upright. There is no going back to "fix" what we've broken. But then again, we don't have to.

There is someone who can make it right, someone who can and will hold it all together for you until you can do for yourself. That one is Jesus! And he'll continue to be there throughout your journey, walking right beside you. God's purpose for your life is ever unfolding, ever changing but the one thing that remains the same is his love for you. Each day brings a new challenge, a new destination and a new adventure. Be bold and brave enough to take that first step with him and although it may not be a smooth journey, and it may be riddled with temptation and sorrow at first, it will, nevertheless, be a path to glory. The "losses" we can attribute to following Jesus are small in comparison to the rewards we will receive! Let those "so called" friends of yours turn their back on you because you have chosen to follow Jesus! You will be richer for it when all is said and done!

Don't put off getting to know him another day! Open your Bible and read! Read the love letter that has been written specifically for you and know that you are chosen to be one of HIS friends! And unlike those who are only your friends if you have money or a car or can assist them in some way - he is your friend in all things and his promises are kept! Turn your life over to his care now! Let Jesus be the friend you've been looking for!

(photo by Sarah Bledsoe)

Monday, February 14, 2011

~ "Be mine..."

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity. (1 Cor 13:13)

So many verses to choose from that convey love...this is one of my favorites (as I love the letters to the Corinthians). In most of my posts, I uses the text from either the New King James Version or the New International Version of the Bible (checking it against the King James Version for accuracy). I do that because it is easier for those unfamiliar with the Bible to not become discouraged when trying to read and understand the word of God. Today's verse is straight out of the King James Version.

The word "charity" means love! When you perform a "charitable" act, you are doing something out of love. Christ gave us the most unselfish of all gifts. His love for us, the "charity" shown us on that cross that was raised on Calvary, is the single most significant showing of affection ever recorded. It's not about big red heart boxes filled with candy, nor is it about a dozen long-stemmed roses. It's about the blood that was shed for all. For each and every one of us was condemned to die, and in that moment, we were delivered! That, my friends, is love!

I try to find something positive about this holiday of love. I read one status line this morning that made me laugh - "Singles Awarenss Day" - well, I've spent more Valentine's Days being single than married or in a relationship (which is a lot of Valentine's Days) and I really find it rather depressing. Even in grammar school, the ritual of handing out little cards to your friends was not exactly something I looked forward to. I was lucky to get a handful - never any from the "boys" though. I made it a point to make sure that everyone got one, because I knew how it felt to be left out and didn't want to be the one causing that feeling in someone else. I remember one boy actually asking me if I gave him the card (thinking perhaps someone was playing a joke on him).

In the years that have passed since the days of Valentine's Day parties, the years of roses and chocolates, and the joy of sharing this day with someone special, I have come to know one thing. I have someone who loves me each and every day. I have someone who thought so much of me that he went to the cross and died for me. He rose from the dead to make a way for me to free of death and spend eternity with him. His love for me transcends all love. My worth to him is immeasurable. I AM his! Without the hearts and flowers and the gooey cards, he has pledged his love to me! The "arrow through the heart" has been replaced by the piercing of his side. The roses have been replaced with a crown of thorns. He speaks beautiful words to me each and every time I open his book.

Paul tells us throughout his letters that it's "okay" to be single. It's also okay to be married. It is a human desire to have a partner. Those we are bound to here will not be who we are bound to in heaven. We will not be alone, we will not be forgotten, we will not be left out - we will be (as we have always been) loved!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

~ "Joyful, Joyful..."

My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to you; and my soul, which you have redeemed. (Ps 71:23)

I am surrounded by quite a bit of young talent. By young, I mean all under the age of 25! Many still in high school, some even in middle school. But that is not uncommon for me. I love music so therefore I would be strange for me NOT to be around talented singers and musicians. No, I am not a "groupie"; most assuredly I am a "friend".

About a hundred years ago, when I was a Girl Scout leader, the school where my Brownie Troop attended had an annual "Lip Sync" ~ the kids signed up as a group and preformed today's worship video "Joyful, Joyful" taken from "Sister Act 2". They did a fantastic job and brought down the house. Back then, I didn't realize that what I was doing was in direct violation of the laws of the State of New Jersey (not to mention, the entire USA). I brought "God" into that auditorium that evening!

The girls who participated in that event are now in their twenties - some of them are even "friends" on Facebook (which really makes me feel old). They are wives and mothers (some) and college students and productive members of society. I would love to think that the single most important thing that they took away from our time together was that there is always an opportunity to serve God. I'm sure they look back and think "it was fun"!

We are all given the opportunity to sing the praises of he who has freed us and redeemed our souls! Young people need to be who they are, but they can still lift their voices, make each other laugh and do it with praise to our Heavenly Father. I have spent this past weekend witnessing just that. Young people standing with heads bowed at the start of a birthday party celebrating thirteen years of life; single men and women gathered in the fellowship hall of a church, being entertained by teenagers who tested their knowledge of Bible characters (and doing a great job at it), comedy skits and the likes, all done in a wholesome and uplifting manner.

The point here is that you do not have to give up the things that you enjoy to serve God. These young people obviously haven't, so why would you? Worship and service to God only ADDS to the joys of your life! Many of the things that I "thought" were funny, that I "thought" I enjoyed have been replaced with something more fulfilling, more in "tune" with the life I lead today. I still "laugh out loud" and sometimes double over in pain from the laughter! In all that I do, I give the glory to God ~ the laughter, the tears, the good food and fellowship, the moments of quiet and isolation - all to HIM - and in turn, he blesses me! You can still be a part of the family of God and maintain your individuality. He created us individually, so why would you think he would want you to be anything else?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

~ "Whoa...I didn't see that coming!!!"

He will not suffer your foot to be moved: he that keeps you will not slumber. IPs 121:3)

With moving day fast approaching, I begin to wonder what my "new" life will be like. I try not to worry, for I know that the Lord will take care of me, but I can't help but think about the "what if's" surrounding my relocation. What if I can't find a job? What if I can't find a church home? What if I begin to fall back onto "old habits"? What if - what if - what if!!! Then a calm comes over me, that same calm that came when the decision was made three months ago ~ "God will make a way".

When people ask me if I'm excited, I can only reply that this move will be "bitter sweet". Yes, I am excited to be within an hour and a half of my daughters, 40 minutes of my son and daughter-in-law and her wonderful family, thrilled at the thought of becoming a grandmother, but in the same breath, sad to be leaving behind some wonderful people, a nice house, a job that I like and "southern comfort" that doesn't come from a bottle.

I also realize that I have had ample time to become firmly planted in his word and that no matter what happens, so long as I keep my eyes on him, God will continue to guide me. He will not allow me to fall into the hands of the enemy and even though life can change in the blink of an eye - God never blinks! The promises he's made are reliable. They are built on an undying faith with an immovable force. The Holy Spirit will continue to guide and inspire me and I will "know" what it is I am being called to do. It has all been designed by him and it is perfect.

I'm sure that the first few months will be challenging (to say the least) but in those challenges I will find the strength to walk forward and he will secure each of those steps. Everything in his time, not mine (or anyone else's). So I will set my eyes on him, keep my focus on HIS prize and all will be right. When we know that God has our best interests right in front of him, it's hard to be distracted! Through faith, prayer, reading his word and hearing it preached, you can know what it is to trust in the Lord! Call on him now and he will not dessert you! You are his child, he will grab up your hand if you are about to fall and he will not forget about you! He loves you!

Friday, February 11, 2011

~ "I will..."

"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (Rom 1:28)"

Sometimes God is very adamant about what it is he wants us to do. Yesterday, I foolishly told a friend that I do not have scripture memorized like my the rest of my friends - my comment was that I know the verses, I just can't tell you where they are and sometimes I can't remember all of them. That's my way of "hiding them in my heart". Welcome to today's verse - I believe I need to make it one of my priorities. If I can remember lines to classic movies, lyrics to songs and look at a picture and give you series, season and episode (followed up with the dialog that went with the still shot) of a television show - I can commit scripture to memory! I guess I'll be putting a little more effort into that.

The answers we need to everything in life all lie within the binding of a very old book. God has those words written so that we could read them. They weren't put there as a means to avoid a speeding ticket by having it on the floor in the back of your truck. They weren't put there to read occasionally when you forget to take the newspaper with you, and they weren't written to lull you to sleep at night. They were written to be studied and applied to your daily life. Once we've read it, it doesn't go on the shelf with the rest of the odd assortment of self-help books, love stories and history books. This particular book is all of that rolled into one and each time you read it, you find something new!

I love to read the New Testament simply because it talks about Jesus! It tells the story of his life here on earth and the promises that pertain to my eternal life. I can pretty much pronounce all the names of the people and towns. When I read that portion of the Bible, I can imagine being there and these people come to life in my mind. I read the Old Testament, but I tend to get lost in the names of the towns and the Kings and the dozens of offspring with names I can't even begin to pronounce. Even the little pronunciation books don't help me. I stumble through it and trip over it, but I do read it!

So, now that we are almost at the end of the "Forty Day Challenge", I have a new one! For the next six weeks (which will bring us to the end of March), commit one verse each week to memory - the verse itself, book, chapter and verse number. There is one that you must learn (John 3:16) but the rest are up to you! There will not be a test, but again, I will post a discussion page on Facebook for you to comment on. The other blog spots, comments will be posted and on my "official" website, emails sent to me will also be posted.

Take the time to get to know the word of God - hide it in your heart and let it be (as is written in Psalm 119) a lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

~ "Washed white as snow..."

Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)

I am a changed person. My attitude, my choice of words, my daily routine, and even my idleness ~ I have taken on a "new" persona. People who knew me before I was chosen, before Jesus accepted me, before God began to use me and before the Holy Spirit enlightened me knew a different "Beth". Some of them preferred that person because I was humorous, sharp-tongued and willing to discuss and partake in the different worldly pleasures with an enthusiastic approach that would surely shake the gates of heaven. I am still humorous but the sharp, cutting tongue and the loud, boisterous party goer have all but vanished. Yes, I still enjoy a good time and I could probably still tell you to make a trip to visit Satan in such a way, that you would pack your bags and look forward to making the trip. The "Scarlett O'Hara" syndrome in me is gone - I don't put off until tomorrow, and quite frankly, I don't really worry about much. When I do worry, I pray. I ask others to pray with me and for me. My faith allows me to know that in all things God will make a way. He always does!

I do, occasionally, find myself at a loss for words and descriptive adjectives that accurately describe the feelings I'm having or the less knowledgeable individuals I have to deal with on a daily basis and when I talk with my kids, I sometimes find myself time warped back to that "authoritative" mother role, but it doesn't last long. The Holy Spirit continues to work in me and helps me to change the things that need to be changed. Sure, Satan tries to distract me, and yes, sometimes he is successful - but not consistently. My friends look at me as if to say "what's gotten into you - you're different". The answer to that is "yes, I am different - I am HIS!!!" How can anyone hope to know me who does not know the Father, the Son he sent here or the Spirit that remains? Only someone who truly knows God, truly lives by the Word, could ever know or even hope to understand me.

If you are reading this, and you have yet to give yourself over God, make that decision now. If you want to have an eternity that is filled with light, hit your knees right now and tell him so! Tell him you are a sinner, that you are not worthy but if he'll have you, you will submit to his will! I've never known anyone to be turned down who has asked for his saving grace with their whole heart! Wait for it, watch for it and in the meantime, study his word! The changes you desire will come...he promised!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

~ "Thou shalt not kill..."

Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations. (Jer 1:5)

I hope that you have a rather large cup of coffee, because this post will be a little longer than usual. It comes a few weeks after the 38th anniversary of the "Roe v. Wade" decision and a few weeks before the one year anniversary of the death of a hero.

I tell people all the time (and I write it quite frequently) that God has a plan for each of us. Our lives are filled with regret and remorse and sometimes we can't imagine that God could forgive some of the horrible things we've done. As we wander off the path, he makes all things right and sets us back on it, giving us yet another opportunity to be his "prophet". All things are forgivable.

The words "before I formed you" tell us that we are created by God. He has formed us with his hands and blessed us and set us apart from every other living creature on the planet. In both the Old and New Testament, we are reminded over and over that the life carried in a woman's body belongs to GOD! Just as we do! She is the vessel by which it comes to be born. The choices made need to reflect the will of God.

I am not a perfect being. I have children waiting for me to hold them. I am forgiven. In the years following the landmark abortion decision, Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe), stated that she felt her case, "which legalized abortion on demand, was the biggest mistake of [her] life". The same options that allowed me to have a "baby sister" still exist today! Adoption, when handled through legitimate and reputable agencies, is the greatest give you can give your unborn child - because you have given that child a chance to live!

Over 51 thousand lives have been taken through abortion. How many "Einsteins" have we thrown away? How many great leaders have we killed out of convenience?

There is one angel in heaven who chose to ignore the doctor's suggestion to have an abortion and to carry a child. She suffered with Cancer and was told she could die or they both could die. Today she rests with God, but her almost 2 year old little boy thrives! Cancer eventually took her life, but not before she could leave a legacy of love and hope for others. I never had the privilege to meet her, but I have had the opportunity to get to know her - through her friends, through her husband and through her son!

What follows is a letter, read from the pulpit of my church on January 23, 2011. It is re-printed with permission of the author. I know that someone reading today's post has an important decision to make.

"When I was 25, I became pregnant, and I wasn't married. The man was an ex-boyfriend who had been manipulative and controlling. Because of his treatment of me, I had broken up with him and turned down his proposal of marriage. his violent and vengeful spirit turned on me, and when he got the chance, he held me down and forcefully raped me. He told me that since he couldn't have me, he didn't want anyone else to have me and that no man would ever want a woman who had been raped. I stupidly believed him, so I didn't say anything to anyone.

When I found out I was pregnant, I hate to admit that abortion did cross my mind. I am glad to say that I never seriously considered it. My mom was very supportive, but my dad didn't believe I was really raped, and after my mom passed away, he turned his back on me. Since he didn't believe me, I assumed no one else would, so I kept silent about the facts. Those who loved me loved me regardless, and several of my friends rightly guessed what happened without my having to tell them.

Because of his violent nature, I have kept the man out of my son's life and have not received child support. Abortion would have been the easy choice. Many people, even Christians would say that it was justified, given the circumstances. I could have avoided embarrassment, abandonment, and financial difficulties, but I would have missed out on the greatest gift in my life. It hasn't been easy, but God has always provided for us, and now He has given us a whole new family at Charity Baptist Church.

I've learned that when you follow God's Word, He will bless you beyond your wildest imaginations. I don't want to think of how empty my life would be without my son."

Make the right choice...choose LIFE!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

~ "Yes, Dillon, there are a few snakes in my garden, and I'm working on them..."

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13)

In all the commentaries I've read on this verse, and what I believe to be true, there are five key points made with regard to being born again. Salvation comes from the sacrifice offered and the gift given. It is available to anyone, but not everyone has it. God offers it to all people of all races and nationalities. God does not discriminate.

The Bible tells us that we MUST be born again. Salvation is not a result of our natural birth. It is not a lineage passed down from generation to generation. You do not receive it because your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents received it. No one can give it to you and no one can take it from you. No one can speak on your behalf in an attempt to secure it for you. It is a choice, freely and willingly made by you!

We are sin. We are creatures of habit. Over the years I've learned that it takes repetition to both break and make a habit. If you've spent decades doing something one way and want to change that, it takes determination and steadfastness. It takes conscious attention to the pattern of what it is you do that you want to change. When the Holy Spirit enters the picture, the change is almost immediate. You can FEEL his presence, you can TASTE the joy and you KNOW you have been changed! But we are human and Satan will continue to tempt us. He will work very diligently to corrupt what he knows to be "of God". That is why we MUST be on guard. The little lies we tell, the things we say, the words we choose and hurts we cause - all need to be given over to God. The changes we make reflect the lives we lead. If there is no change, then there is no salvation. If you say "I'm a Christian" and continue to live the life of a devoid of God's commands, who are you fooling? Certainly you are not fooling the Creator!

Being a Christian is an action. It's not a "right of passage" nor is it a title designed to use to boast of your belief in Jesus. It is who you are, not what you are. It's not a box that you check on a social networking site. It is not something that makes you any greater than the guy next to you on the subway. It is how you live your life and who you give glory and praise to. It is what you DO and how you do it. Keep that bloody crown visible, visualize those nail-scared hands and feet. Run your hand across your own flesh in the place where he was pierced. When you scrape your leg, imagine his stripes! Then look to him and praise him and thank him that he took it all on for you! Do what you do to honor HIM!!!

(photo by Alyson Schmidt)

Monday, February 7, 2011

~ "Christian Fruit..." (by Suzanne Mumpower)

You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matt 7:16)

Suzanne Mumpower is a friend of mine. She writes two blog-spots, one of which is "sinfully delicious" (365 Individual Desserts in 365 Days). I have enjoyed some of those recipes. I came across this posting on "Suzanne's Blatherings" and after reading it, asked if she'd mind if I reposted it. So here it is..."Christian Fruit..."

I've been doing a Bible study lately on the fruit that gives evidence that someone is a Christian, and I have found some interesting truths. In Matthew 7:16, Jesus says, "Ye shall know them by their fruits..." Again in Matthew 12:33, He says, "...the tree is known by his fruit." We know that we can discern what kind of tree we see by the fruit it bears. An apple tree will always bear apples, and a peach tree will always bear peaches, etc. Thusly, a Christian will always bear Christian fruit.

So, what is Christian fruit? Many people say it is the good works done by a Christian and lost souls brought to Christ by a Christian. These are, indeed, good things which should be present in a Christian's life, but from my study, I have concluded that is not the identifying fruit Jesus was speaking of. In fact, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:22-23, "Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name cast out devils? and in they name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." There are lots of people doing good things and even bringing the lost to Christ, but sadly, some of them are lost themselves.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." This nine-fold fruit will be evident, to varying degrees, in every Christian. Notice that none of the nine elements listed above are actions. The fruit (or proof) that we are Christians are characteristics rather than deeds.

In the Gospels, Jesus often refers to us as branches. We are to bear fruit, even as branches on a tree. Let's consider a branch on an apple tree. What does that branch DO to bear fruit? It doesn't do any works. It abides in the tree. As the branch is connected to the trunk, receiving nourishment from the root, it produces apples. Likewise, as we are connected to Christ and receiving nourishment from His Word, we will produce fruit that others will be able to see in our lives.

As Christians, we should be characterized by the nine parts of the fruit of the Spirit. The first three parts should characterize our relationship with God: love, joy and peace. Our relationships with others should evidence longsuffering, gentleness and goodness. And, inside ourselves, we should be filled with faith meekness and temperance.

Just as good works will never save anyone, and good works cannot keep us saved, good works should not be the only thing identifying us as children of God.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

~ "How Great is our God..."

God thunders marvelously with his voice; great things does he, which we cannot comprehend. (Job 37:5)

Sometimes the sound of his voice resounds in the thunder, sometimes it is in the quiet calm that pours over you in the midst of insanity. In either case, you know who it is that is speaking to you! There are no doubts because his voice, whether loud or silent, is covered in tones of love!

All things happen in his time; when it is the perfect time for us to receive what it is he chooses to bless us with. He knows our limits, he teaches us patience. With each prayer we pray, we become a little bit stronger and a little more patient than we were in the prayer before it. He's very wise! In order for our faith to grow, there must be a challenge to encourage it. Sometimes it is not our faith that requires the growth - it could be for the benefit of those around us, those who do not have the level of faith in our great and wonderful God that we have. They may be the intended recipient of his lesson of patience. When I look at things from that perspective, I can gather the strength I need to be more patient. I remember the length of time it took for me to realize the splendor of my King! It took even longer for me to realize that "time is in his hands".

What ever promises he gives to you, know that they are not merely "carrots" being dangled at the end of a string. They are real! They will be fulfilled ~ IN HIS TIME! The hardest thing we do for God is wait! And in that waiting - again, rejoice! He's creating something wonderful in you; you just don't realize it!

Know that everything granted you is a blessings (whether it appears to be or not, whether the answer is yes or no - it's a blessing!). Rest in him, knowing that he is there with you, guarding you and guiding you to whatever blessing he has in store for you!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

~ "Accountability..."

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts (2 Peter 3:3)

Just because we walk in the ways of the Lord, does not mean everyone else does. And there are those, too, who will claim that they walk in his ways, yet they are so far off the path that leads to the promises that even a GPS would be continuously "recalculating"! They walk, as Peter tells us, after their own lusts. They follow their human desires and do not care what damage or hurt they cause along the way. Their capacity to see only their own pain and "poor me's" does not afford them the opportunity to even imagine the bigger picture.

The human part of me would have me say - "Good, go - be that way", but the Holy Spirit continues to remind me to pray for them. "But God, after what they've done to me, I don't want to see them in heaven, I want to see them punished" would be another natural, human response to those who have hurt us. Guess what? It isn't about us! That shed blood on Calvary was for ALL! We tend to forget sometimes that we, too, have hurt people. Maybe not intentionally - but survival instincts can, at times, cause the most damage to those around us. We do what we must to get by (or at least we did -until we came to know the Lord). Remembering that not everyone has a relationship with the Father and that they do not share the same responsibility to our brothers and sisters that we have come to know (not that they are not accountable, because they are) makes our journey frustrating, to say the least.

God understands the people we will encounter on our walk with him. He has faith in us, so why do we doubt at all that his promise will not be kept. It's a given! He will not abandon us! Rejoice! When all is said and done there will be an accounting made of all the hurts we've been dealt - but remember - we, too, will be answering for ours. And as hard as it will be to explain the "whys" of what we've done, we know that regardless, our debt has been paid and we will hear the words "well done". Not everyone has chosen to live their life in a manner compelling those words!

Pray for those whose lusts are not for God. Pray that they, too, will find the courage to ask for forgiveness and that the Holy Spirit will awaken in them the desire to walk the road that leads to glory! God wants them on that same path just as much as he wants you there!

Friday, February 4, 2011

~ "Another serving of humble pie, please..."

And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. (1 John 3:22)

Doing what the Lord commands us to do is not always easy, nor is it always popular. I used to think that some of his "rules" were a little archaic and deserved a fresher, more evolved approach. Times change, but the Word of God does not.

There are still some things I have a hard time adapting to. They don't come as easily as other to adhere to, but I'm working on them. These past few weeks, my prayer time has been anything but routine. I think it's safe to say that the enemy has been very busy making every attempt to keep me from my time with the Lord. He has not been as successful as I believe he'd like to think he's been. I continue to talk...God continues to listen.

Even in spite of my failings and my shortcomings, God continues to bestow blessings on me. He watches over me and provides for me even when I can't seem to find the words. When my actions reflect those encouraged by my past (old habits die hard), I stop and ask the Lord for forgiveness. I know he realizes that I am not yet finished becoming what ever it is he has set me apart to be. It will come in time. The point is to keep moving in that general direction and he will, in turn, lead me to that path he has chosen for me.

When we do what is commanded, when we continue to hold on when hope seems lost, when we remain steadfast in his word - we are pleasing in his sight. Nothing pleases a parent more than to see one of their children actually succeed at something they have been struggling with for a while. God smile when we succeed! He shares the joy we feel and like the child who rushes in the door with that test paper bearing the grade "A+", he wants us to shout it from one end of the earth to the other! He wants us to tell anyone who will listen: "hey, look what God did for me!"

Look around you and be joyful - yes, joyful in your sorrow, joyful in your pain - because without the pain, we could never appreciate the moments of triumph in our day-to-day lives! The remission may be short lived, but it is there - you just have to know where to look to find it!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

~ "Random acts of prayer..."

And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying to him, If you will, you can make me clean. (Mark 1:40)

Healing the sick was only one of the miracles Jesus showed us. He is our greatest physician. When we pray for the sick, sometimes we ask for what is not in God's will. It's very hard for those outside of his will to understand his will. Sometimes the answer is "no".

When the leper knelt before Jesus, he already believe that he could be healed by him. He had faith that if it was our Lord's desire to, he WOULD heal him. Many times we bring our petitions to him without truly believing that he can do all things. Our prayer should reflect the "would" and not the "could" of any request. There is nothing our God cannot do!

When my children ask me to pray for one of their friends, it is in that request that I see the hand of God at work. With each request, they take one step closer to knowing Jesus. The fact that they have asked for prayers tells me that they do believe. But believing, as we know through the scripture, is not enough. Even Satan believes in God!

God does not put conditions on the healings granted. He doesn't charge for his services; they, too, are gifts of love and mercy from him to us. He also does not deny them because of something we've done or failed to do - they are denied, again, because it is his will. In that, you may ask: "why, then, should I pray - God already knows what the outcome will be and he's already decided the fate of the one I am praying for?" We pray because it is what we are asked to do. We are to petition him with our requests. We are to "pray for one another" (James 5:16), we are to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thes 5:17), we are to "pray with our spirit and our mind" (1 Cor 14:15) and we are to pray to our Heavenly Father, through Christ alone! He is our intercessor! It just may be he's waiting for YOUR prayer!

Present your request to him and know that the "could you" part is a given. He can do anything. Make it a request, by faith in him, and know that what ever the outcome is, it is his will.

(photo by April Carroll)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

~ "Inspiration 101..."

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16)

All Scripture is inspired by God. It was written to teach us what is true. It is to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. How will we know what we're supposed to know if we don't read it?

God can inspire anyone (I am living proof of this - each morning he inspires me to sit here and write these devotionals)! His purpose? To spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his son, the one who paid the price for all of our sins! His reasoning? To afford every human being the opportunity to come before him repentant of their sins and submissive to his word.

Those of us who write or preach today (still inspired by God) have an obligation to HIM! He tasks us with reminding those whom he has called to continue to learn and to teach and share his love with others. He also tasks us with reaching out to those "less familiar" with him and those who do not know of him. Being called to witness to the power of the Almighty is sometimes a tough "gig" - especially when your audience is hard nosed and rebellious. There are no "mistakes" in the Bible, and any question you could possibly raise has an answer. He has seen the entire cast of characters, watched it play out from beginning to end and decided it was good! Each of us has been formed with his loving hands, thought of before our parents were ever conceived and given a destiny of hope through Jesus!

So, who do we turn to and where is it we are to go? We go to our knees, at the cross where Jesus died! In him and only in him lies our salvation! Our way should be his way, and the truth of that is written in the Bible! Let his holy words fill your heart and your soul and carry you to eternity. And when you think to yourself "it's not worth it - it's too hard" - remember that Jesus though you were worth it and nothing is too hard when he is by your side!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

~ "The waiting game..."

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

I had a nightmare last night. God's way of showing me that perhaps things could be a lot worse in my life? Sometimes we require things to become "absent" from our lives before we realize how truly blessed we were. Such is the case with me.

Whenever it is God chooses to return the gift once given (and I pray it's soon) is totally up to him. There is nothing I can do or say to "make" him move any faster than he does. His timing is perfect. Mine is selfish (as are we all). All I can do is sit and wait.

In that time of waiting, the Lord is preparing us, molding us into the fighter we need to be, the lover he wants us to be, and the saint we have to be in order to accept this gift. The shining example (although still a sinner) of his love and grace does not happen over night. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes faith! And still, even when we have reached the place that we need to be, the other half of the equation has not. There too, we must remain patient and faithful to his word and his commands. Sometimes he needs to remind us of these things.

Whatever path we are on - be it by his leading or our insistence, we will ultimately reach our destination. He is God - he could rearrange the stars if he chose to! There is nothing that he cannot or will not do for you when you walk in his ways. And occasionally, we need a shove to get us started again when we've been standing still. Satan so loves it when we get tired of being patient. It's an opportunity for him to step in diminish our hopes. Stand firm on God's promises to you! Stand firm in his Word! His love for you does not change - but your perspective may! Hold on to the faith you had when you first started your journey and his love will shine on you as it always has - it really never left you, you were just too busy to look up and see the light surrounding you!