Tuesday, January 31, 2012

~ "Waiting..."

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)

When I have a nightmare, I try to look at it as 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 answer a prayer 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!

Monday, January 30, 2012

~ "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, 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 bothered 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 do...it 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 29, 2012

~ "Only Grace..."

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Eph 4:29)
Back in the day (my day, of course), it was considered the "cool" thing to infiltrate your sentence structure with words that contained four letters.  If you were very good at this, you could use one word over and over and make a sentence twice as long as it really was.  Your ability to use this word descriptively was challenging and designed to show a greater command of the English language than your parents did.  Even George Carlin (comedian extraordinaire) wrote a piece to describe seven of these words (the majority of them contained only four letters) ascertaining that there were no bad words, only bad thoughts.  
Now, it's not so much what we say, but how we say it, that brings us to today's verse - no, I do not abdicate the use of profanity (and yes, in my day, I could swear like a trooper and tell you, without hesitation or miscommunication, to visit Satan's domain and make you look forward to taking the trip).  It's not just the words, but often the sentiment we project in some of our spoken "comments" to others.  
So what are we supposed to say and how are we supposed to say it?  Yes, there is a need for honesty (there's not quite enough of it, especially when it comes to our politicians), but there is also a need for compassion.  My mother always told me that "it's not so much what you say, but how you say it".  Telling someone that their choice of clothing is hideously ugly as opposed to telling someone they might want to "rethink their wardrobe"; giving someone the opinion that what they've cooked for you tastes like ground glass as opposed to "it's just not something that my taste buds enjoy"; or even telling someone their artistic talent belongs in the room with all the porcelain furniture as opposed to "it's really not what appeals to me"...choice of wording.
There are gracious ways of handling certain situations and there are rude ways.  In all things, the Lord asks that we be gracious - to give grace - as He has given us.  Let your words reflect honesty without malice.  Don't show asperity, offer kindness.  Don't humiliate, respect.  When all is said and done, the words you utter will show only grace... 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

~ "No more room in the skeleton 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-six years ago today, seven young, intelligent and vibrant people "slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God".  Twenty 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!

Friday, January 27, 2012

~ "There's 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 am 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!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

~ "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 the 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!

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

~ "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.  Their 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 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!!!  Many do not - again, even Satan believes in Jesus - you won’t find him in heaven.

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!  I pray to God through Jesus!  I ask Him to guide and bless me.  I do not subscribe to a “religion” - I answer to the Lord God Almighty and my “rules and regulations”, the truths I live by, are written in His word - the Bible!  

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?

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

~ "Be careful who you pray to..."

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 are newly "born again".  It is far too 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!

Monday, January 23, 2012

~ "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!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

~ "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)

"I won't deny the worst you could say about me...but I'm not defined by mistakes that I've made because God says I'm me"... 

We will ALL see a day where we will stand before the Lord and account for our lives.  Some reach that day long before WE believe they should.  Some die young.  Some die old.  Some die surrounded by people who love them.  Some die alone.  In reality - we all die alone.  Those left behind are, just that - left behind.  It is not their time to die.  We will stand before God, humbled. We are all given the same opportunity while on this earth - for whatever time He gives us.  Wouldn't it make sense to come to Him before you stand before Him???

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 you 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 Creator...be remade, become new!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

~ "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!

Friday, January 20, 2012

~ "The one that got away...

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27) We all have moments where we wish the Lord would just "fix" everything - perhaps take us back to a specific point in time and allow us the opportunity to make things right. Realizing that is not going to happen, we are forced to live with the consequences of our actions. Not because it is impossible, but simply because it is the hand we have been dealt (or rather the hand we drew ourselves). Listening for the voice of God is often more challenging than many would care to admit. We wander around doing what we think He'd have us do, yet we've stopped waiting on Him and become impatient; acting on our thoughts and desires and not ascertaining what it is, exactly, that we are being called to do. We watch as others prayers are answered and their lives appear to be filling with joy and happiness while we sit, bruised and broken by the actions we can not blame on anyone but ourselves. We've torn out our own hearts, so to speak. How do we get back? How do we find our way on the right road at the right time? Simple. We begin where we began when we first started to walk this journey...with Jesus. All the trials and mistakes we've encountered are not going to fall away, but they will subside. We can make a new life in Christ. Remember, once we've accepted Him and been commissioned, there is no going back. Satan may try, but the Holy Spirit that fills our souls will not allow that to happen. We are a part of Christ and He is a part of us. There is no room for the enemy... Set a goal for yourself, even if it's just reading a verse or two of scripture. Find one that has a special meaning to you. Allow yourself the time to meditate on it without interruption from phone, work, computer or anyone (or anything). Tell the Lord your dilemma - remind Him that you are His (not that He needs to be reminded, but it may help you convince yourself). God called you for a reason - He has plans for you that you may not be aware of - let Him lead the way (stop filling your life with things you THINK He wants for you and start filling it with what you KNOW He wants for you). Remember that all things are possible with God - even the impossible! If it's what He wants for you, it will come to pass, if it's not...well, He'll have something much better for you - guaranteed! Don't let His love escape your heart - share it, but don't forget to restore it. How do we do that??? Through constantly being in His mighty presence (and no, that does not mean you have to be in a church 24/7). Keep Him with you at all times and your load will lighten and your life will be better because of Him. Thank Him for the opportunity to see that you cannot do it alone and that His plans are much better than yours! Rejoice in all that is His and the light will once again shine on your path...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

~ "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!  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

~ "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! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

~ "Regret..."

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!

Monday, January 16, 2012

~ In 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!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

~ "Does Anybody Hear Her..."

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

Some are damaged...some are broken. When we refuse to love others, care for other's spiritual well-being simply because they do not fit into our cookie-cutter idea of Christian, we may be turning away some of the most profound and courageous followers, leaders and teachers of the message that Christ brought us - to love one another! Do you fall into that category??? Has that one person who shows up to church on Sunday who seems to be a bit needier than the rest of the "new comers" just rubbed you the wrong way? Is there one person you just can't seem to bring yourself to talk to because once you begin the conversation, they continue to ramble on making no sense at all - they just talk? How about the one who isn't quite appropriately dressed or voices the boisterous laughter that does not fit with the conversation? Guess what? They are all children of God - sons and daughters of the King - they are entitled to the same crown that you are - are you willing to help them achieve it? If not, perhaps you need to reexamine your commitment to our Heavenly Father.

Those who come to us "looking for something better" generally do so because life has inflicted so much pain and torture on the that they are incapable of trusting anyone. They are terrified of the possibility that they will once again be tossed back into the sea of the forgotten. They are lonely and they are hurting. The old saying "never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes" applies here. You do not know what sequence of events has led a person to where they are. You may have never been down their road and, in some cases, I'd suggest you pray to God that you never are.

We stand on our soap boxes demanding a stop to bullying in schools. We also stand there proclaiming an end to racial injustice and prejudice. We protest the removal of God's word in public places. Yet, when we are faced with that one individual - the one who truly wants to know God, serve God and has so much to offer, we size them up, make our own determination as to their appropriateness and turn them away or ignore them simply because they do not meet OUR standards. They meet God's standards - isn't that enough? Take a second look - remember that you will one day stand before the Father and He will remind you. Open your eyes and your heart - give a little more, go the extra mile - offer it up as a sacrifice to the living God who made you if you must - put "Christ" back in "Christian" (not just "Christmas").

If you have not had the opportunity to do so, take it now and watch Casting Crown's music video "Does Anybody Hear Her". There's a powerful message in it - one that goes hand in hand with today's verse. Put your own self-centered attitude on the back burner for one day - reach out to that person that hides in the back of the church or the one who just can't seem to muster the courage to walk through the door. Give of yourself as Christ did - hear what that person is not saying...open your heart!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

~ "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!

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Friday, January 13, 2012

~ "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"...as 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)...it'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!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

~ "...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 else...so 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.  

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

~ "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 money...you 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!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

~ "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 once had the opportunity 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 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!  

Monday, January 9, 2012

~ "The reasons matter..."

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:14)

Matthew Henry tells us that "Omissions are sins which will be brought into judgment, as well as commissions. He that does not the good he knows should be done, as well as he who does the evil he knows should not be done, will be condemned. Oh that we were as careful not to omit prayer, and not to neglect to meditate and examine our consciences, as we are not to commit gross outward vices against light!"

When we neglect to do certain things, refuse to listen to the voice within, out of laziness or just plain indifference, yes, we are guilty of sin. All the outward appearances, the facade we wear for other, is brought down by the power of God. He sees, He knows. The excuses we make for not doing something are just as lethal as the one we make when we do what we know to be against His law. So concerned about the "shalt not's" is this generation of Christians...what about the things we are supposed to be doing?

Everything that we do (and don't do) is taken into consideration when we go before the Lord. Take the time to do the little things that we are commanded to do - spreading His word does not just mean spewing the Gospel out to others, it mean to live it - daily! Give generously of yourself to others, LISTEN to what they have to say, ACT on what can be acted upon, GIVE what you can (be it your time, your comfort or your money), RESPECT the lives of those who touch your life, and PRAY for those who cannot pray for themselves.

To be "Christ-like" means to be like Christ! All that you do should come from the heart! It should be done with love and concern, with cheerfulness and with joy! Do the "right thing" for the right reasons!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

~ "Held..."

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. (1 Peter 5:10)

"When we are suffering, we feel as though our pain will never end. Peter shows these faithful Christians the wider perspective. In comparison with eternity, their suffering would last only "a while". Some of Peter's readers would be strengthened and delivered in their own lifetimes. Others would be released from their suffering through death. All of God's faithful followers are assured of an eternal life with Christ where there will be no suffering. (LASB)"

If you take the time to listen to the promises of God, you know that we were never promised an easy road, we were only promised it would be worth it. A few years back, I was confronted with the statement "Where was God on 9/11 - why did He let that happen?" We could say the same for every tragedy that crosses our path. Why does God allow bad things to happen...there are far too many books on the market that attempt to answer that question and there are an equal number of opinions. We need only go back to Genesis and read 1:31 - "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

In Peter's verse today, we are reminded that we will encounter hardships, there will be suffering, there will be pain. We are also reminded that faith in God, belief in the empty grave, produces in us the strength to endure! When all is said and done, when the last war on earth has been fought, when Jesus returns - we will be held...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

~ "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!

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Friday, January 6, 2012

~ "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!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

~ "Guarded heart..."

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)

It was just a year ago that I woke up to a busted heat pump on the furnace in my house in Tennessee. I was in bad shape financially and the thought of spending more money on a house I was losing did not appeal to me in the least. Even after fixing it, I still continued to need to use the kerosene heater and the space heater to keep warm through the end of my stay. My firewood had been depleted and my finances taxed severely by "doing the right thing". Although I have plenty of heat this winter, not to mention a good job that provides for my rent and basic necessities, I find I am once again in that same financial boat. "Doing the right thing" is only the right thing when it is blessed by God. There are times when He says "no" and we either refuse to listen or can't seem to muster the courage to tell others "no". God has a plan for each of us, however, those plans do not necessarily overlap with the plans He has for others. The enemy is always lurking and looking to find a way to sabotage the lives of those closest to the Lord.

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! He will move the mountains for you. He will guard you and guide your path - if you listen and watch (and trust) for Him. Even if there is a timeframe in which you fall short of your own expectations (He knows the capacity of your love for Him and He knows the failing human heart and spirit), you can rest knowing that you have not been deserted and that He is by your side, always! Don't turn a deaf ear nor a blind eye towards the wonder that is His! Submit to His plan, guard your heart and He will guard your soul.