Tuesday, July 31, 2012

~ "...being all that you can be!!!"

... If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Rom 12:6-8)

A catchy little jingle "Be all that you can be" was used some years ago to encourage young men and women to join the Army Reserves. God asks us to "be all that we can be" as well. He asks us to use our gifts and our talents to serve him by helping others less fortunate, less knowledgeable, and less able. Do we do it? Do we do it with a smile? Does it come from our hearts?

Sometimes God allows us to be in certain situations so that others have the opportunity to rise above their own selfishness and self centeredness. Reaching out to someone who was hurting and heal their pain was something that Jesus did on a daily basis. It didn't matter who it was, his touch made people whole. His love continues to do that. He reaches out through each of us to others. We are the vessel through which his love is spread. We need to reach out to our family and friends and let them know we understand their pain, their losses, their situations and their plights. Every situation is an opportunity to see the power of God at work. It doesn't matter if their situations are self-created or the result of a catastrophe not of their control; what matters is that you lift your head up long enough to acknowledge that you care. Sometimes that's enough to keep people on the right path. But know that we are not stupid by nature and that most people can differentiate between a vain attempt to help and a true gift of love and compassion. Do it with the right intentions, do it with a smile in your heart - do it out of love, otherwise, it means nothing! 

Make a difference in the life of someone you know! It will come back to you when you least expect it!

Monday, July 30, 2012

~ "Oh, be careful little fingers what you key..."

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (Ex 20:16)

Lies. They distort the truth and hurt the one they are being spread about. We are commanded not to lie about others. Our recollections, our interpretations of situations, the selective memories we hold on to, and our need to be accepted sometimes cause us to forget the reality of a relationship and replace it with what our minds and our hearts can deal with. We get over the hate, but we never get over the love.

When relationships fail, we lash out in anger and in pain. We say things we might not normally say, we do things that we later regret. The biggest obstacle in our path at that point are the lies of others. The hurts they continue to heap on the pile (some without even knowing it) create an anger and pain that causes us to want to seek revenge. And in a time when we should have been defended, we find that we are punch line to their jokes. 

It is at those times that God lifts us up and reminds us that we are loved! His love comes to us in many ways. Even though the words of some cut us down, in that same moment, the actions of others lift us up! We all have moments when we are "insane" (some of them last longer than others) and we eventually become grounded again. The hurts come when the lies we are tagged with do not go away. Some people feel the need to continue to be the grammar school bully into their adulthood. They aren't happy unless they're tearing someone else down. My friends, know that God has a plan for them, too! 

True friends, like true love, comes from the heart. God's goodness and mercy will always outshine the deeds of the evil one! Accept the hand you are dealt and pray for those who continue to hold on to their hurtful ways, they are known to God and he will deal with them in his time!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

~ "I will NOT be moved..."

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. (Ps 62:5-7) 
“If the gospel isn't good news for everybody, then it isn't good news for anybody. And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display. To do this, thechurch must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever. Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the "un" and "non", they work against Jesus' teachings about how we are to treat each other. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor can be anybody. We are all created in the image of God, and we are all sacred, valuable creations of God. Everybody matters. To treat people differently based on who believes what is to fail to respect the image of God in everyone. As the book of James says, "God shows no favoritism." So we don't either.” Unknown Author.
We all have moments when our faith is tested.  We can recall some instances more clearly than others, but they are usually the big moments in our lives when it is very obvious that the evil one is lurking.  It's in those small, "it won't make a difference" moments that our faith is really tested!

To know when NOT to say something, or to not react is a true testimony to the rock we stand on!  Biting our tongues can speak volumes!  THAT shows the world who we live for, what we are made of!  

Bring Christ everywhere!  Take his love with you no matter where you go and what you do!  Let others see Christ in you - that's the solid rock I stand on!  His grace lifts me up and carries me when I know I can't do it alone. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

~ "Sticks and stones...

Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Tim 4:11-12)

When I was young, whenever someone would make fun of me, or tease me, or ridicule me or any of my friends, we had a phase we would retaliate with: "Sticks and stones may brake my bones, but names will never hurt me." Unfortunately, names and words sometimes hurt more than sticks and stones because they cut deep and leave scars unseen by the eyes of men. 

It is very difficult for the young people of today (or any day, for that matter) to be accepted among their peers as prayer warriors, followers of Christ and believers who walk in the word. It's not the "cool" thing to do (sorry, young people, but I'm not really up to speed on what word you would use here - so I'm going with one from my generation). Some teenagers and young adults need to "fit" into the world - they don't want to be laughed at or made fun of, so they have a tendency to conform to fit into their circle of friends. Its easy for us (as mature adults) to sit back and tell them they need to live their own lives and not worry about what other people will say or think of them. Easier said than done. We all strive for the approval of our peers, no matter how old we are. We continue to associate with the same people who have used us, tormented us, and shunned us at times because we weren't quite at their level (be it higher or lower - in their opinion, that is). Its frustrating to watch someone continue to associate with people you know have no respect for them and try to be a "part of" that group of individuals who truly have nothing nice to say about them and include them only so that they have someone to talk about or laugh about. 

In Paul's letter to Timothy, he reminds him that "godliness has value for all things". The words we speak, the phrases we use, do define the person we are. Our actions do speak louder than words as well. It's not easy to be a teenager or young adult in today's society, but it is possible to be a godly teenager or young adult! Choose your words wisely, choose your friends wisely and your choices will be many, because God will bless you throughout your lives. Be the one who has the opportunity to say "I started it,...before it was all the cool new thing." Be a champion - for Christ!

Friday, July 27, 2012

~ "Why is your head stuck in the sand???"

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:11)

There's a great country song entitled "I Saw God Today" - is has some really nice lyrics and talks about seeing God in the eyes of newborn baby, an old couple holding hands, etc. 

When we deliberately do things and say things that hurt other people, when we refuse to yield to the forgiving of those who have wronged us, when we stand in our righteous beliefs of worldly affairs and do not look at the person and remember that they, too, are one of God's creations - can we say we know God?

We can walk in the ways of Christ and yet still be dead. We can profess our love for the Lord and be empty. So," what do I do", you ask. Be brave in your walk! Forgive those you would rather see suffer for what they've done to you! Remember, that no one can hurt you unless you allow them to. To continue to harbor resentments against people takes up space that could be used to love them! Jesus loved all men, even Judas! 

Find one good thing about the person that keeps you from giving yourself fully to God. Give yourself a reason to forgive. Walk with your head held high and don't let their lies or their blind interpretations of you or a given situation cause you to wallow in anger and resentment! Forgive them and ask God to bless them! Today, make it about someone else and it will come back to you multiplied many times!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

~ "Happy Birthday, Mikhaela..."

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? (John 3:4)

It wasn't until a year ago this morning that i grasped the reality of this verse. We tend to think that being born again is a simple, painless accomplishment that hurls us into our afterlife. We accept Christ, we are born again.

The most beautiful things in this life, do not come to us easily. They are a continued work in progress. As I stood with my son, my daughter-in-law, and her mother at that morning, I witnessed the birth of my granddaughter. Yes, perfect and beautiful! It took over nine months of shaping and growing within her mother, another 12 hours of labor, some of it hard, some of it easy - but painful all the way. It took about 10 minutes of concentrated effort on my daughter-in-law's part for Mikhaela Grace to enter the world! God's perfect miracle!

Our walk of faith is not an easy one. Being born again is not just something you do. It is the very real and very painful realization that we are nothing, sinners destined for the grave. Without the hand of Jesus leading us, we cannot enter. Without the Father's forgiveness we cannot proceed. We are but infants; we know nothing about that which the Father has in store for us. Our rebirth is often as painful as our natural birth was. We, too, must suffer through the trials of life that bring us to the foot of the cross. We, too, must be pushed beyond our own limits in order to rely totally on Him. We, too, must be cleansed and wrapped tightly before being placed in the hands of our capable Father. He then holds us, lovingly whispers to us in gentle tones, and tells us that we are loved. From that point on, we grow. But our growth will not come without pain, it will not come without sorrow and it will not come without loss. 

Our tears of pain will become tears of joy and utter disbelief at the beauty of the life within us, the revealing of the life that awaits us and the struggles we will face from the time we accept Christ until the time He walks us into Paradise! We are chosen, adopted into a very well-to-do family! There is no greater honor! We are accepted as "chosen". We are loved as equally and as generously as the nation of Abraham! There is no birth certificate that bears our name, but there is a witness to our re-birth! He will attest to our heritage! He will validate our adoption! In Mikhaela's case, she has an opportunity that not many have. You see, not only does she have the opportunity to become a "naturalized" child of God through her acceptance of Jesus, she goes before the Father as one of the offspring of Abraham! She is directly descended from one of the twelve tribes (as is her mother, her grandfather and her great-grandparents). 

It does not matter what events bring us to the foot of the cross, it doesn't matter what horrors we face in this life, it doesn't matter how much or how little we suffer in order to reach that cross. Our pain and suffering can never compare to the suffering of our Savior as He took the nails for us! In His blood we are cleansed. Through His resurrection He breathes new life into us! The sorrows of our hearts are known to Him and He will comfort us. He will not abandon us to fend for ourselves! We are His! He feels our pains, shines brightly with us in our joys and will one day, take our hand and lead us safely into the waiting arms of our Father!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

~ "But God, you don't understand..."

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matt 13:23)
Understanding what Christ wants from us is easy. He wants our love, our dedication and our prayers. He wants us to plant seeds in others. He wants us to be obedient to his word. He wants us to have faith and to keep the faith we have! It is human nature to doubt, but then where would we be if we always doubted everyone or everything? The motives of others are not for us to worry about. Their judgement will come in his time as well as our own. We don't always go about things with the "proper motives", we justify what we do under the mistaken belief that it is for the "greater good". 

Stop where you are and look at yourself. Are you everything that God wants you to be? Have you done something thinking you are "helping God" keep someone on the right path, when in reality you were just trying to control a situation that was none of your business? I know that I have. I hang my head in shame sometimes when I think of the things of tried to accomplish in HIS name. 

The bright side is, he is a forgiving God. Let go of what it is that you feel you need to control or keep tabs on. Don't let the enemy convince you that it's your place to stick your nose in where it doesn't belong. The only place your nose belongs, in some situations, is pressed against the palms of your hands while you ask for forgiveness and mercy. God knows all things, he knows your heart and what you were trying to do (even if you weren't going about it the way he wants you to). Ask him to heal, or mend, or enlighten the person you are trying so desperately to keep (or get) on the right path. Ask him to open their heart to what it is they aren't seeing. Be strong, stand firm and lift up your voice to him ~ he hears your pleas and cries! He has promised us eternity - what more could you possibly want?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

~ "Oops, I did it again..."

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9)

When that "still small voice" tells you to do something, and you argue with it, you are reminded very firmly, but lovingly, that he's in charge! 

I've never been a quitter. I usually hang in there until there is nothing left to fight for. Frustrations allow me to take another path, try another solution or solve the problem. I've come to expect miracles from God. When they don't happen when I want them to, and when they aren't exactly what I asked for in prayer, I get mad and become the four-year old who's not going to talk to him. He just smiles and says "yes, you will". 

Our God is very specific. He tells us exactly what he expects from us and what it is we are to do. He has the power to do all things, anything, no matter how "impossible" it may seem! In that knowledge is my faith! People will tell me "that's never going to happen", but my faith tells me it will! 

Jesus told Paul that his grace was sufficient enough and that in his weakness it would be made perfect. Paul tells us to boast of our weaknesses with joy because it is then that God's grace will make us whole again! Our weaknesses, our human wants and desires, our attitudes, our insanity, our illnesses, but mostly our humility, make us the perfect receptacle for God's grace. His love makes us strong! Let him work a miracle in your life today!

Monday, July 23, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 22, 2012

~ "Jesus Calling..."

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts2:2-4)

Do you see a glimmer of hope in your darkest days? I am sure the Apostles had some pretty rough times. They're emotional ups and downs before and after Christ's crucifixion, their reacquaintance with him after the resurrection, then his ascension to his kingdom, then Pentecost - when the Holy Spirit came and anointed them! And we thought we had problems!

As we are reborn into Christ's family, we share a special gift. We may not be aware of it, but it is there! Jesus asked us to spread his word, he sent the Holy Spirit to enlighten us! We are never alone - we always have them! We have the Father who created us, the Son who died for us, and the Spirit who lives in us! From the moment the Spirit touches our heart, we have unlimited resources to preach his word to others. He will put the words in your mouth that you need to speak, he will guide you to where you need to be in order to do that and he will comfort you in times of doubt, pain, and grief. He is that "still small voice" that says it's okay, that you're not alone - he won't let you go! 

Knowing what to do is easy, it's the follow through that is hard. Walk a different path and let the Holy Spirit lead. Reach out to others and give them something to hope for. Give them back a piece of their faith by your actions and your words. Don't let the enemy in! He'll try to keep knock you down and hold you there. But know that you will be lifted up and kept safe because you have been chosen!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

~ "Good ol' country comfort..."

(Shamecca Davis hugs her son, Isaiah Bow, who witnessed the tragedy in Aurora Colorado (Associated Press Photo)

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (1 Thes 5:11)

Tragedy has again struck this great nation.  The question "why" is the one so many families want answered right now, and even with an answer, it will not change the events that took place in the town of Aurora, Colorado.  "Why" will not ease their pain, nor will it make the burden of their sorrow lighter.  The answer will be just as bazaar as the act itself.  Pray for these families.  Pray that their hearts will be comforted.  Despite all else, know that God has a plan.  Having lived through a nightmare tragedy, I know their pain, I understand their outrage and I feel their loss.  Only by the grace of God and by strength in Jesus do we come through these times - and we come through stronger.

The enemy fights for ground each and every day.  Like the child who never learns that defying his parents will bring punishment, he, too, continues to strike out at the heart of man and the reaction is virtually the same - more people turn to God than away from Him as a result of his actions.  From the highest seat in Washington we are urged to pray (a statement that I am sure shocked many).  We sit and listen to the words of the survivors, we watch their tears fall and the images of those left behind to put the pieces of their lives back together will consume us for days, if not weeks.  I could site numerous tragedies that I've witnessed in my 55 years and I do not recall one where those in "command" have not called on the American people to pray.  

Our Heavenly Father asks us to trust in Him.  He calls us to pray for and comfort one another always.  In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, he offers more than just a glimpse of what we should do.  He gives us a plan to follow each and every day because we do not know which day is our last.  We are reminded that the Lord comes like a thief in the night - not just for the end of days, but for each of us.  He reminds us that we no longer walk in darkness, that we are the sons and daughters of the Light!  He reminds us to be joyful and pray and to give thanks in all circumstances. 

Take a moment today and read 1 Thessalonians 5.  Take another moment to offer a prayer of intercession for those who are suffering.  Ask for comfort and strength for each and every person affected by this event.  Let the enemy know that he has failed, yet again, through your prayers.  Let the grace of Jesus be with you. He will comfort those who are in need, not just today, but every day!

Friday, July 20, 2012

~ "I thought you said there was a short cut???"

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
We all want the simpler way, the easier way, the softer way. Being a "Christian" means to put "Christ" in front of everything. He is the easier, softer way! Without him, we'd be doomed to an eternity of emptiness. God's mercy (through Jesus' death and resurrection) was most assuredly not the simpler solution, but rest assured it is the ONLY one. There are no tricks or secrets to attaining eternal life - there are no shortcuts. If you think of the sacrifice made on our behalf (that someone thought enough of you to be delivered to the enemy, suffer a brutal death, be buried and then rise from the dead) you will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that you are special! You are a prince or a princess in your own right because you are a son or daughter of the King! 

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

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

Thursday, July 19, 2012

~ "Don't eat that..."

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

~ "Let go!!! Can't you see I'm trying to get somewhere???"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

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

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. (John 15:7)
What a promise! All we have to do is have faith and ask! Not as simple as it seems.

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

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

Monday, July 16, 2012

~ "Sincerely yours..."

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 15, 2012

~ "One Touch..."

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, July 14, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 13, 2012

~ "Homeward bound..."

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 12, 2012

~ "that light at the end..."

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

~ "How do I love you???"

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 9, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 8, 2012

~ "Alabaster Box..."

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

How precious was Jesus to this woman that she would wash his feet with her tears and try them with her hair? Wanting only forgiveness for her sins and to be made whole, this woman approached Jesus though being told to go away! She tells us to press on - move forward and don't worry about what others think of your sins - they can and will be forgiven if your heart is right!

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

Like the oil in Mary's alabaster box,  we want to pour our sins out at Christ's feet and be forgiven. I know for myself, the changes I've made in my life make me who I am now, still a sinner, but I know now that Christ's love has changed me and made me a better person. Without him, I would have nothing and would have spent my eternity in the fires of hell. I am a child of God (as are you) and I will inherit many wonderful things in heaven (as will you), but I will have to suffer through this human existence first (as do you)! Until that day arrives, we must battle the temptation to sin every day...and Christ will forgive us - EVERY DAY! Make him the center fold of your heart and your soul and you will be washing his feet with you tears! He knows our pain, he fills our need for grace and mercy! Let his life force flow within you! What is in your alabaster box that you have yet to take to him?