Friday, August 31, 2012

~ "All I ever wanted for you was that you would find your way..."

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. (Prov 29:15) 

Parents of young children often grow weary of disciplining them. They feel like all they do is nag, scold, and punish. When you are tempted to give up and let your children do what they want, or when you wonder if you've ruined every chance for a loving relationship with them, remember that kind, firm discipline helps them learn, and learning makes them wise. Consistent, loving discipline will ultimately teach them to discipline themselves. (Life Application Study Bible). 

We try to teach our children many things. They do not always understand why we do what we do. Often a wedge is placed between two parents who disagree on parenting issues. A child learns at an early age which parent to ask permission from with regard to less appropriate or more dangerous circumstances. My children were no exception. The problem comes in when decisions are made by one parent without consulting the other. There is often the honest "I didn't think you would mind" rationale, and there is the sneaky "don't let your mother/father know". There are a few others that tend to be a bit more sinister that involve other members of the extended family. 

The attitude you bring to the decisions that are made regarding your children should be that of love, caring and understanding. Having their best interests at heart, knowing what they need (as opposed to what you want for them) should be the rationale you use in making your decision. In this same Proverb, King Solomon also tells us that making the same mistake over and over is an invitation to disaster. (Prov 29:1) Eventually all people (adults and children) have to face the consequences of refusing to learn. If their mistake is refusing the parent's authority or God's commands, in both cases, the consequences can be especially serious. In the end, they may be turned away. The human heart can take only so much pain and abuse before it breaks completely and becomes hardened. 

Take a lesson from the Book of Proverbs and be diligent in your child rearing, not lazy. The diligent become rich, they are prosperous and are fully satisfied. Do not sit idly by as your children throw their lives away. Step up and offer direction, encouragement and support (whether they want it or not; whether they take it or not). They may not thank you now, but somewhere down the road they will understand why these things were important for their future. Don't walk away, don't be discouraged - God placed them in your capable hands and it is up to you to help mold and shape their future.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

~ "I ran 5 miles today...spent 30 seconds with the Lord..."

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. (Ecc 3:11) 

We continually search. Reason: this is not our home! In all the things we do for the Lord (our services to His glory) - we are still longing for satisfaction. You see, God has set a glimpse of eternity within us. Like a homing pigeon, we strive for and continue forward waiting for that day when we finally make it home! 

As we grow older, we look in the mirror (some of us, anyway) and see the toll that time has taken on us. We see the gray hairs, the lines on our faces, the thinning skin and watch as the muscles of our body begin to slowly lose their firmness (unless, of course, you are obsessed with body building and appearances). Some become overly depressed when a birthday approaches, taking on the characteristics of a deranged lunatic - sobbing and ranting about getting old. Some spend their money for face lifts, eye lifts, tummy tucks, liver spot removal and other assorted goodies. I've always found a good eyeliner, some blush and a little mascara is more than enough for me. I don't need to look young anymore. I am young on the inside! I am new on the inside. One day, I will be perfect! 

Each day brings us closer to our death. For some, it will be today, for others, tomorrow - most of us have a bit of travel before that day arrives. On that day, our judgment day, we will stand before the greatest power in the universe and answer for our lives. Fortunately, we have a great defense attorney - with every sin we've ever committed, with every infraction of God's law, He will show the nail scarred hands, the pierced side and the marks where a crown of thorns once was placed. We will receive a verdict of "not guilty" - even though we are not worthy! 

There is nothing wrong with a good cardio walk, we are to keep our bodies in good condition. They are a temple for the Holy Spirit. There is also nothing wrong with a little moisturizer, it keeps the skin healthy and just the mere act of rubbing it in, stimulates the skin cells and circulation. Good hygiene is important! To become so overly concerned - vanity - is where the problem lies. 

Remember that the time you spend in front of that mirror, the hours you spend exercising and "perfecting" your body, is time that you could be spending with God. Get to know Him. That body you work so hard to keep young, will eventually fail you and you will die. That soul that you neglect, the part of you that belongs to the Father in Heaven, is what's important! Nourish that - exercise that!!! That will never fail you! That is what will go on into eternity (be it heaven or hell). 

Make time for Jesus. Make time for the Word of God. Find the beauty within you - deep in your soul. Stop searching and trying to beautify the exterior...worry about the interior! Vanity is a sin in itself. Step away from the mirror long enough to examine what cannot be seen by anyone other than you and God... 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

~ "Heading off to school (aka Learning your A-B-C's)..."

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13) 

There is much to be said for education...especially if you want a good job, a specific career and a rewarding future. There is much to be said for enjoying your work as well. If you've read my book, you know I was not one who was big on school (I hated school - couldn't wait to graduate and get out into the real world). I was never destined to make the "big money". I am not dumb or stupid, nor am I lazy. I've pursued the "higher education" and been successful. The truth be told - I like what I do. I really did not need a college education to it. Peter and John were considered "uneducated", yet Christ chose them and they succeeded at what they did. They were not dumb or stupid either, and they definitely weren't lazy! 

Not everyone can be a scholar. Not everyone is cut out for college, prep school, or other educational institutions. I encourage many to attend and pursue their dreams. Reach for what it is you want to achieve, with Jesus at your side. 

To those young people headed off to college, take with you your values and your morals. There is much to be said for the adventures you will encounter, but there is much more to be said for the strength and courage to withstand the distractions and temptations that go along with it. Do not compromise anything in order to "fit in". Continue to be children of God, reading His word and doing all that you do for His glory. Don't allow yourselves to become stagnant in your devotions. Seek Him in all things - including your education! 

Those of you who are secretly saddened by your failure to go to college, or the inability to maintain the grades required to continue your education, don't be discouraged. Each of us has a purpose in life. Some are not meant to have a degree granted by a college. Someone has to be the checker at the grocery store, someone has to make the pizzas and the hoagies, someone has to collect the garbage, someone has to mop the floors, someone has to drive the buses, and someone has to build the elevators. We all have a purpose in life - find yours and do it to the best of your ability. God's plan for you may be just to be of service to others. Maybe your plan includes being the one who always has a smile on their face for the customers at the coffee shop when they get their morning coffee, maybe your plan is to greet each passenger who steps into your bus with a cheerful "good morning" or "have a nice day". Whatever your plan is - whatever God's plan for you encompases, do it with joy and with a song in your heart. Far too many people are miserable doing what they what you do and do it well and give thanks to God for your ability to do it! 

Spread God's word no matter what your occupation is - you don't have to have a Master's degree to tell people that God loves them, that Jesus died for them and that the Holy Spirit guides them! And when you pack up your books to take to school - make sure that your Bible is one of them. Read it every day - even if it's just for a few minutes - don't put that part of your education on the back burner - that's one thing you can never be over-educated in and there is always something new to learn! Praise Him and thank Him for all He's given you and whatever choices you make, will be the right choices for you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

~ "Washing your mouth out with soap...

Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. (Prov 26:20) 

What we say probably affects more people than any other action we take. It is not surprising, then, to find that Proverbs gives special attention to the words and how they are used. Four common speech patterns are described in Proverbs. 

  • The Controlled Tongue: Those with this speech pattern think before speaking, know when silence is best, and give wise advice. 
  • The Caring Tongue: Those with this speech pattern speak truthfully while seeking to encourage. 
  • The Conniving Tongue: Those with this speech pattern are filled with wrong motives, gossip, slander and a desire to twist truth. 
  • The Careless Tongue: Those with this speech pattern are filled with lies, curses, quick-tempered words - which can lead to rebellion and destruction. 

The first two should be copied, while the last two should be avoided. (Life Application Study Bible) 

We all know people who irritate us. The do and say things that cause a reaction within us equivalent to nails down a blackboard. Talking about every little irritation only keeps the fires of anger going. Refusing to discuss them cuts the fuel line and makes the fires die out. Does someone continually irritate you? Decide not to complain about the person, and see if your irritation dies from lack of fuel. 

We cannot force others to see the sin in their lives. Some just refuse to accept that they are wrong and that their way of life does not honor God. Their obsession with popularity and rubbing elbows with those placed on pedestals is may affect how God sees them, but it doesn't affect how God sees you! He knows that you have walked away from what is not pleasing to Him; He knows you have tried to show others that what they do is not glorifying to Him. The expression "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink" applies here. 

Lift them up in prayer, limit the interaction you have with them but do not give in to the desire to discuss their irritating lifestyle with others. It serves no purpose. I'd like to say that I am above that, but I am not - I, too, am human and often find the need to have my thoughts on the lifestyles of others validated. It's not something I'm proud of, and it's something I'm working on. Only through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit can we ever hope to relinquish the conniving tongue or the careless tongue.

Monday, August 27, 2012

~ "Zzzzzzzzzz..."

And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? (Mark 4:38) 

At this very moment, I can understand the frustration that Jesus must have felt when his disciples woke him with regard to the storm. They were terrified and felt it was of the gravest importance to wake Him up. I can see Him sitting there uttering the words "you woke me up for that???" With a wave of His hand, the sea was calmed and if He's anything like me, He probably couldn't go back to sleep. 

The difference that lies between us is quite simple - He is God - I am not. With a patience that surpasses all, He calmed the storm, quieted the sea and reminded His disciples that they had nothing to fear. He quiets the storms still, in our hearts and in our minds. 

Knowing that the Lord is ever present, carefully watching over us and guiding us is a great comfort. We know that so long as we follow the plan and trust in Him, there is nothing to fear. What we often see as a major problem, turns out to have a very simple solution. The storms that come into our lives are nothing compared to the hurricanes we once experienced before we surrendered to the Lord. The waves that crash around us do not pull us under - in fact, they lift us up. 

We also know that God's blessings come to us in many forms. For what ever reason, I was awakened earlier than I had planned. That gives me another hour or so in the day to honor and praise Him! That is a blessing at any time! Things don't often go as we had planned, but they go as God has planned. To say "rejoice" is probably an understatement. We are told to "rejoice in all things". 

Getting angry at things we have no control over is Satan's way in. Take all unexpected occurrences that might tend to upset you and turn them into something to thank the Lord for!!! It not only puts a positive spin on your day, but it upsets the enemy immensely. Even if you don't feel like offering it as a "praise", do it anyway -- eventually, you will be doing it and meaning it! Praise Him in the storm and it will be so much easier to praise Him in the sunshine!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

~ "Manifesto..."

And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. (Neh 8:6) 

Being raised in a church that does not allow for participation other than what is scripted by the leaders made for a very stunted born again Christian. It took a long time for me to be able to utter the word "Amen" during a worship service. It took even longer for me to be able to raise one hand toward the heavens and sing praises to God...even longer still for me to raise them both! Even the prayer meetings I had attended back in the late 70's did not allow for me to praise God the way I do now! I love going to church and lifting my hands with my fellow Christians in praise and worship!!! 

Ezra was the priest of the people of God. He knew the law and was committed to study, follow and teach God's Word. He is credited with leading the second group of exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem. It is thought that he may be the author of both books of Chronicles. He was concerned about keeping the details of God's commands. He was sent by King Artaxerxes to Jerusalem to evaluate the situation, set up a religious education system and returned with a firsthand report. He worked alongside Nehemiah during the last spiritual awakening recorded in the Old Testament. 

We must, as Ezra teaches us, have a willingness to know and practice God's Word. This will have a direct effect on how God uses one's life. The starting place for serving God is a personal commitment to serve Him even before you know what the service will be. It is not a personal achievement, but rather a personal commitment to live for God - that is what is important. True leaders (in the Bible) don't realize the impact their lives had on others. They were too busy obeying God to keep track of their successes. 

Make the change, make the choice - serve and worship God openly, willingly and lovingly! If you can't do that comfortably in the church you currently attend (or your "religion" has stunted your ability to look beyond that which is written by it's leaders), find a new one! Find one that truly teaches you to be of service. Find one that welcomes your praises of the Creator! Find on that preaches from the Word of God! The Old Testament is not filled with "fire and brimstone" - it is filled with miracles, love and praises. It is a testament to the power and the justice of God's hand. It is filled with songs and wisdom, heroes and heroines whose lives were dedicated to the one, true God! It is filled with examples of dedicated individuals whose faith was great and firmly planted in the coming of the Savior! Spend time in the Word of God - all of it, not just the story of Jesus. Shout your "Amen" loud enough to shake the foundation of Heaven, raise your hands high enough to be seen, let the tears of joy roll down your face as you realize the magnitude of the one who created you! Praise and serve as Ezra did!

Manifesto - The City Harmonic

Saturday, August 25, 2012

~ "High and dry..."

(photo by Celia Darrigo)
Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out. (Prov 24:19-20) 

We have something greater than the homes built on the ocean, the ones that overlook beautiful lakes, larger than the ones that adorn the hillsides - we have a home in Heaven. 

Envying those who seem to have more doesn't really get us anywhere. They aren't going to share any of it with us, nor do they even realize how much their sinful pride has interfered with their everlasting life. They see and do what they want and they reach out for bigger and better things, placing themselves in debt. Not a material debt, mind you, but an eternal debt. They somehow believe that eternal life is like winning the lottery. They have a winning ticket so collecting the prize money is all they have to do. They believe, so therefore, they are guaranteed. They do not (actually some refuse) to worship God! They use His name in vain, they offer nothing in the form of assistance to those who have less - they live only for themselves. 

I do not want to be that kind of person - actually, I never did. I have nothing because I give freely. I always have. Wanting to do the things that are pleasing to God is more important to me than having a new car, a bigger home or designer clothes. The luxuries of life no longer impress me. I am impressed by only one - Jesus! 

"We must not in any case fret ourselves, or make ourselves uneasy, whatever God does in his providence how disagreeable soever it is to our sentiments, interests, and expectations, we must acquiesce in it. Even that which grieves us must not fret us; nor must our eye be evil against any because God is good. Are we more wise or just than he? If wicked people prosper, we must not therefore incline to do as they do." (Matthew Henry) 

Friday, August 24, 2012

~ "Farewell, Jean..."

Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Cor 13:11)

Although today's verse is not a common one to read at funerals, it is, nonetheless, one that conveys a message of hope to those who are left behind.  In the span of time that becomes "their" lives, we are left only with only memories and the opportunity to reflect on the life led by one individual.  As I sat with good friends yesterday, I listened to their reflections and their stories through laughter and tears.  There is probably only one loss in life greater than losing a mother - that is the loss of losing a child.  Yesterday I witnessed both in the same room.

God gives us our loved ones for only a short time (in comparison to eternity, that is).  In that time, He commands us to love one another, guide and strengthen one another, and to have faith in His plan for each of us.  Jean was no exception to that command, and she lived it well.  She fought what is known as "the good fight" - as cancer took her last breath from her.  

Just as our heavenly Father watched over Jean throughout her entire life, he constantly watches over each and every one of us - without blinking an eye.  He offers us peace through His Word and the opportunity to once again be reunited with our loves ones in His Kingdom.  He hears us when we speak to Him - He is always listening.  

Do not be discouraged..."rejoice, be made complete, be comforted".  One day we will all stand before His throne. One day we will be new and we will live forever in His presence.  It is not "good-bye"...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

~ "Sure to soar..."

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:31) 

Sometimes people try to pressure us into things we either don't want to do or aren't comfortable doing just yet. We "wait upon the Lord" because it has been our experience that the Lord will let us know exactly what it is we are supposed to do. He reveals His plan for us in pieces - one at a time. 

In everything we do, we should seek God's will. When we wait and pray for His guidance, we do become stronger. We become the servant He wants us to be and we will being doing the work that He wants us to do. His will, as we already know, is not necessarily our will or our choice. We often ask for what we think we want, only to be shut down and locked out. When we willingly go where He sends us, our journey is often a bit bumpy to start (mostlikely because we are fighting Him). Once we realize that we are where we are supposed to be, the sunlight begins to pour through that crack in the ceiling and light up the room with a light that is brighter than we can imagine. 

To say that we can do all things through Christ is not an exaggeration. We were created by a supreme being who knows the limits of our strength and depths of our souls. There is nothing that we cannot accomplish with Him by our side. We CAN move mountains, we CAN walk on water, we CAN overcome our fears and weaknesses! We are the instruments of God! We will not fail! Our life giver does not give us more than we can endure. When we think we can't, He knows we can and reminds us that we do not do it alone - we do it through His almighty power because it is His plan we are carrying out. It is only when we try to do it our way and alone that we are unsuccessful. 

It may not be the glamourous life we'd like to think we deserve. Remembering that we deserve nothing, everything from then on out becomes a blessing. The instinctive power that is built into the fabric of our being is often the working of the Holy Spirit guiding us. That "bad feeling about this" that flows over us is often the caution tape placed before us to show us where not to go. If we are patient, and wait and pray, God will show us the route without hesitation - patience being the key. There are rarely decisions that need to be made in a split second. There is always time to pray. 

So take the time to "wait upon the Lord". Take the time to pray and ask for guidance. Enlist the power of the Holy Spirit - it is where our inner strength comes from. Be a shining example for all to see. Do not compromise your beliefs or your way of life to fit in or to accommodate someone else. Stand your ground, stand tall. The rock you stand on has already been sacrificed. There is no need to sacrifice anything else because His will stand the test of time and is the greatest of all sacrifices ever offered. When all is said and done and your light begins to shine, you will soar on wings like eagles and you will be greatly blessed!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

~ Fulfilling the scriptures..."

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. (Isa 25:8) 

We are blessed because Jesus conquered death! We are blessed because we no longer have to fear the dust of the earth or the heat of the fires of hell. We are blessed because someone loved us so much that there was nothing that would not be done to free us! We are blessed because we are washing in that precious blood. 

There is one final victory (one that we can already lay claim to) -- the abolishment of Satan! He will join all those he has so cunningly stolen from the arms of the Father. He will spend all of eternity in that fiery lake! He will no longer be the tempter that he is - he holds no power over those who are born again and he MUST leave at the sound of the great name of Jesus! To witness his condemnation to hell will be the day that all men cry out in praise to the King! A final justice cast down from heaven! 

I do not fear the grave. I do not pray for those already gone. I pray for those who wander the earth thinking they have all the answers when they don't even know the questions! I do not fear death - in fact, I welcome it! It is in death that I will forever be in the most beautiful place imagineable. It is in death that I will no longer suffer. It is in death that I will come face to face with my Savior. It is in death that I will reach my be with God! 

Take the time to lift your hands to the Father! Don't hold back! Shout your praises so all can here! Do not hesitate to announce to all the world that you are a soldier of Christ! Spread His love, share God's word! Stand firm in your faith! Accept whatever comes your way as a gift from God who created you - be it pain and suffering, loneliness, isolation, condemnation by those around you, cruel treatment and abuse - praise Him for it all! It is in all these things that we become stronger warriors! 

God's promises are true - His word is clear! There is one joy that is immeasurable - to be in the presence of the King!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

~ Gone for good..."

Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. (1 Sam 15:25) 

There are several problems with Saul's repentance. "He besought Samuel only, and seemed most anxious to stand right in his opinion, and to gain his favour. He excuses his fault, even when confessing it; that is never the way of a true penitent. All his care was to save his credit, and preserve his interest in the people. Men are fickle and alter their minds, feeble and cannot effect their purposes; something happens they could not foresee, by which their measures are broken; but with God it is not so. The Strength of Israel will not lie." (Matthew Henry). 

Saul had become both rebellious and stubborn. God took away his kingdom. Rebellion against God is perhaps the most serious sin of all, because as long a person revels, he or she closes the door to forgiveness and restoration with God. God was not rejecting Saul as a person; the king could still seek forgiveness and restore his relationship with God, but it was too late to get his kingdom back. If you do not responsibly look after what God has entrusted to you, you will eventually run out of excuses. All of us must one day give an account for our actions. 

Sometimes we are more concerned about what others think of us than we are with the status of our relationship with God. We are afraid that we will not be liked or included in worldly affairs. I think I would rather be excluded here than excluded in heaven. It's important to know that what we do or don't do does affect our eternal reward. We also suffer loss of blessings here on earth, as Saul did. We cannot expect to keep all that God has given us if we don't care for it. It is in those times that we see the strength of God's power and unwaivering spirit when it comes to His commands to us. We can ask and be forgiven - but we may not always have returned to us that which we have so recklessly thrown away. Acceptance of that truth is often hard, and tends to put us in the same category as Saul. We don't need the approval of those around us when we walk in the shoes of Jesus. We need the courage to stand in them, and that only comes from the devotion and respect for the God of all creation. 

When God says "no" - accept it. Consider it a blessing. Walk away with your head held high and know that you are accepting the consequences of your actions or inactions. It doesn't mean He loves you less, it just means that this is what He deems "right" in your life. You may not have all that you want or desire, but you will have all that you need. Again, happiness is not a right guaranteed us. No where is it written that we will be happy and will not suffer. Loneliness is one of the hardest "crosses" to bear, yet we all, to some extent, endure a loneliness and longing from time to time. Remembering that this is not our home helps to walk through those moments. It won't last forever. It will last only as long as we can bear...God knows our limits! 

Talk to Him today - tell Him your fears, tell Him your troubles - let Jesus carry your burdens and you will make it through another day. Someday all this will vanish and you will be in the presence of the mighty King - and none of this will matter, except for your accounting of your actions. When it comes to that one weakness that draws you away from God every single time you come in contact with it, lift it up to Him! Let Him know that you need His mercy and grace to overcome the temptation or the desire to walk away. He will not walk away from you! He will lift you up and hurl you over it and you will land safely on both feet. There is nothing He will not forgive, but there is no guarantee that what is lost will be returned to you. Accept that and move forward - don't look back and don't give up. He has a plan for you, just not the one you recklessly through away.

Monday, August 20, 2012

~ "Standing in the way of the light..."

To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Cor 2:10-11) 

Once again we are reminded that the enemy will not shrink from using any device to lure us away from God. His cunning, sly and almost honorable tactics are seen as worship and praise by unsuspecting and misdirected Christians. I cannot emphasize this enough (nor could Paul). Be careful - VERY CAREFUL - that your religion is sound and that its teachings - ALL OF ITS TEACHINGS - are based in the word of God!!! 

Once you leave this life, you do not get a second chance to do it "right". There is no purgatory and there are no excuses acceptable. Too often the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention when I listen to others tell me how they've asked someone other than Jesus to intercede on their behalf or on the behalf of a loved one. Too often I've seen family and friends give their acceptance to sin and all it's trappings in the name of fun, or even worse, someone's "right" to be happy. Take your cue from the Bible. It's not a book we need to evaluate as being accurate or out dated. The lessons we are given is the guide our heavenly Father has decreed we use to fashion our lives. There are no mistakes in it and it is not outdated. Some times those lures used are beautiful, joyful and seem innocuous. In that lies his plan. He is the master of deception. He creates false images and visions and has a whole army of creatures just like him (demons) to help do his work. He's held generations captive without their even knowing that they were not only on the wrong page, but they weren't even in the right book! 

Stop fueling his army, stop bolstering his lies! Take a lesson from Paul with his second letter to the Corinthians - forgive in Jesus' name, pray in Jesus' name, worship God and God alone, offer nothing to anyone other than the Creator of all things through Jesus, whose blood sets you free! Be wary of any "saint" or "blessed" individual that is said to offer you saving grace, peace or salvation - they cannot! Praying to them only stands to strengthen Satan's army. Find your sin and cut it loose - find that false god you worship and get rid of it! The dead cannot hear your prayers, nor can they offer any defense to the Father on your behalf. Pray to the one, true God - through Christ who reconciles us before Him! Anything other than that is feather in the enemy's cap! Have no greater love for anything earthly above that which should be given to God. Let His light be the spotlight that attracts you - no one elses! His light will shine forever! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

~ "The Words I Would Say..."

(photo by Celia Darrigo)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Eph 6:10)

There is nothing greater than the power of God! His love for us outshines the brightest star and the strength we gain by walking in his ways puts us one step closer to our goal. But what happens when we have doubts about our choices in life, or second guess our decisions? How do we know for sure if we are walking on the path God has laid before us or if we are drifting slowly to the left or the right without even realizing it? 

This verse (as well as today's worship video "The Words I Would Say" by Sidewalk Prophets) tells us that "God's got his hand on you, so don't live life in fear"... it's that simple! If we choose to live our lives for God, we can't be on the wrong path! He constantly reminds us that we are his and he will not leave our side. "But what about Satan", you may ask. God knows our weaknesses! He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. 

Each day we are given yet another opportunity to love and be loved. We are given another opportunity to let his light shine in our hearts and in our lives. Don't give up! He has great plans for you! Like the seagulls that walk the beaches and leave little peace signs on the sand, God leaves signs of peace in our hearts! "From one simple life to another ~ come, find peace in the Father!"

Sidewalk Prophets - "The Words I Would Say"

Saturday, August 18, 2012

~ "Praise the Lord..."

Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. (Ps 150) 

The last psalm of the book...could it be any clearer that we are to praise Him??? David introduced music into the Tabernacle and Temple services. I'm sure it was loud (look at the list of instruments played throughout the Psalms). Rejoicing and singing, glory to the Lord!!! 

Regardless of the road we chose early in our walk, we all eventually find our way onto His path, if we are persistant and allow ourselves to be led. Once we are forgiven, once we are born again, we will forever be compelled to praise God and do His work. Once the Holy Spirit fills you, you cannot walk away. There can be instances of deliberate disobedience, but none as great as what they were before we reached out and accepted the hand of Jesus. And in those moments of disobedience, we immediately know, without question, that we need to ask for forgiveness and strength to continue on and not repeat that same "sin" again. 

Our temptations will never end. Satan will taunt and temp us throughout our journey. He looks for any opportunity to drag us away from the light. He whispers in our ear that we are a failure, we are not worthy (which, we aren't, but we've been redeemed), that we can have a better life on this earth if we ignore many of God's commands, that success is all about power and wealth, that we deserve some measure of earthly royalty and that we can be happy! 

We weren't put here to be happy! We were put here to serve. Our lives were not meant for laboring, our "comfortable" lifestyle was ended with the first sin - the sin of disobedience that removed our ancestors from the Garden of Eden. We cannot get that back while on earth. That will come when our bodies die and our soul moves in to receive our eternal gift...but until then we will work, we will struggle, we will serve, we will praise, we will pray and we will sin. We will ask for and receive forgiveness, we will be blessed and we will be loved by Him! 

So sing songs of praise, dance and shout "hallelujah"!!! Lift your voice and your hands, tap your foot, sway to the rhythm. Dance to the beat of His drum, not the enemy's! Look beyond that which Satan sends in an attempt to defeat you. Walk away from it, pray for it and learn from it. You may not deserve the hurt and pain others heap upon you, but you can, nonetheless, grow from it and turn it into a mighty blessing! Sometimes it's very hard, because often those who strike the hardest blow are those closest to you. Yet, in all of that, remember Jesus - He forgave His betrayer, He forgave His crucifiers, He forgave them all. He hung on a tree for our transgressions as well as those who sinned against God centuries before and for centuries to follow. There is no greater love than that! Praise Him - for He has set you free!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

~ "Bless the beasts and the children..."

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Gen 1:28) 

God has tasked us with caring for His children and His creatures. We are to make sound decisions with regard to both. We know that our children are our responsibility. That's a given. We bring them into this world without opinion, teach them through our example and love them like there is no tomorrow. There are those who do not "love" their children in a manner that is acceptable to God (or man for that matter). There are children abused and murdered everyday by the people entrusted with their care. They will be judged accordingly. 

God's creatures, the birds, the fish, the beasts, the dogs and cats, the hampsters and gerbils, the little white mice...the ones we have "tamed" and turned into housepets, are also ours to care for. We live in a society that exploits, mistreats and abuses that which we are also commanded to care for. We (as a people) have caused the extinction of certain animals due to greed, selfishness, and carelessness. We have scientifically re-bred species to produce "uber-pets" and out of laziness have caused hundred of thousands to cats and dogs to be euthanized each year. We have created a "profit" margin for many to exploit in the buying and selling of "pure-bred" animals. 

When you sit and look at both children and pets, they want only to be loved and cared for in a manner that reflects joy and pride. They don't need to be (nor do they want to be) told they are bad or useless. They do not ask to be condenmed for mistakes they make (or the accidents they have). They are completely at the mercy of God (and our fallable human hands). 

Take the time to instill values and morals in your children. Take the time also to love and care for God's creatures. It's not an "either or" situation - we are commanded to do both. Be willing to listen to the voice of God with an open heart and mind. He will guide you in the decisions you make regarding both. Pray for the courage and strength to give them the best that there is (not necessarily material), they deserve the best for they, too, were created by God. We are to be responsible parents and pet owners, not baby factories and critter hoarders. Care for both as God has commanded. Make their world a better place because you are a part of it. Do not take for granted that they are "yours". He will bless them, He will bless you! 

"Bless the beasts and the children, for in this world they have no voice, they have no choice..." (music and lyrics by Jr Botkin and Barry De Vorzon).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

~ Never alone..."

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Matt 1:20)

Deep in thought and utterly confused, Joseph weighs the prospect of marrying a woman who claims to be "with child" and he knows with all certainty that he is not the father! His upbringing, he knowledge of the law and his devotion to God tell him that this woman is not worthy of becoming his wife. His heart tells him otherwise! God sends His angel to assure him that it's okay to take her as such and raise the child as his own. Answering God's calling is not generally an easy task. The initial "yes" that we commit to is simplier than the journey itself. It is often frought with trials and adversities that most people would not only walk away from, but run away from! Yet, here stands Joseph - steadfast and willing. He answered God's calling with a "yes".

We don't always know the reasons for our trials, we generally don't realize them until we are over our heads and sinking fast! God lifts us up out of them at the precise moment we realize the truth surrounding them. To "serve" Him is what the bottom line is. How and where and through what means we accomplish that is generally left for Him to decided. He does not come to us with a basket of goodies and ask us to choose which of those we would prefer. He gives us what we need to get us through to the next leg of our journey. Our journey has but one purpose: to lead others to Christ on our way to the kingdom. 

How wonderful it would be to spend the remainder of our lives captivated by the loving surroundings of only other Christians. There would be no temptations, there would be no inconsistencies, there would be no struggles - for if all are believing and all are knowing - there is nothing to "teach". Our examples are our greatest teaching tool. How we live our lives, how we present ourselves to those who do not walk in the light gives them a hunger for what we have that they do not. Although we may be suffering on the inside, we must always present the attitude that all things of God are good! 

Love of money is one of the greatest tools the enemy uses to lure God's children into his army. The want for "more" can lead us down a path that constantly takes us from the work He has for us. He will provide what we need. Our "comfortable surroundings" will come, but not in this world, not in this life. They will come to us when we have completed our work here on earth. Sometimes the "dreams" we have become more important than the work we do. The focus is placed on achieving that goal as opposed to what takes us there - the road. Those we meet along the way, those who do not know the power of the King, must be introduced to His mercy and grace - sometimes that is a visible introduction. As with Thomas, seeing is believing. When others see that joy in you, it bears witness to a greater providence. Those who have so much more materially than you, may not even look down at you because they feel there is no need to! In order to get their attention, you must be braver, stronger and more devoted than you believe you can be! Every single action is taken into account. Every single word you utter is heard. 

There are some people who will never be reached, some who just will not shoot a look in your direction, some who will continue to insist that their way is the only way and your way is for others - not them. They believe that they are above because of who or what they are - and there is nothing you can do to convince them otherwise. They want to stay with their head buried in their bank account and do their Daffy Duck impersonation (it's mine - all mine)! They do not share, the do not reach out, the do not worship the God of Heaven - they worship only their money and the false teachings of their church.

Jesus tells us that we cannot serve two - only one! Which one do you choose? Will you be Joseph and forego the pride or will you choose the easier, softer road, the one lined with good intentions? I choose Joseph's road! Acceptance of God's plan for me regardless of what it may look like to others and most likely narrow and hard to navigate at times. The blessings are real and the reward is great! Eternity is a lot longer than the time we spend here. Make the best of it, make it count, make it His way and not yours! Make it last!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

~ "I have made a way..."

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isa 43:19)

The Lord answers our prayers in often the simplest ways - as simple as the photo that accompanies today's post.  When we cry out to Him pleading for His mercy and justice, He makes a way in the wilderness.  "Come to Me" He says - "I have made a way".  In my own daily reading, yesterday's was a simple your enemies...  

Todd Outcalt of Indiana wrote "And I know many people who have been greatly harmed in body or spirit by the actions of others."  Our actions and our words can hurt whether we realize it or not.  We are not exempt from being hurt.  You can say something one way and people will interpret it another, and tend to assume (yes, I used that word) that your disposition is abrupt or sarcastic.  People process things in a manner that is consistent with their own personality constraints.  God's words are clear and to the point.  He tells us, without any hesitation or misconception, that we are loved, we are new!  

He has brought us through the wilderness, He has provided us with nourishment and we drink the cup of everlasting life through Jesus!  He knows our heart!  He knows the love we have for one another.  He understands what it is to be misunderstood.  We face nothing in this life that Jesus did not face.  Our Savior endured the same sufferings, criticisms, torments and tortures of this world and says to us "Come to Me - I have made a way".  

Do not be discouraged.  Lift your eyes to the heavens and tell it to the Lord!  He hears your heartache! He will comfort you and make you whole again.  Stand strong on the foundation He has laid - stand firm on your beliefs; stand firm on His promises!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

~ "Faith and promises..."

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God (Rom 4:20)

When I think of the faith of those who have walked with God (yes, we all know I think of Esther), I think of the task that lie ahead of them in relationship to the faith they displayed. Abraham was no exception. God asked him to sacrifice his son! Abraham did not question and did not hesitiate. He followed the directions of our heavenly Father. No, he did not sacrifice Isaac - but he was willing!

The past few days I have been reluctantly accepting what I perceived as God's plan for me. It was not something I was jumping up and down at, as a matter of fact, I began the task while sobbing uncontrollably over a situation I had no control over! I was willing. 

In all the trials that come our way, whether we like them or not, we are called to be willing and humble servants of the Lord. He knows best what we need, where we should be and He knows what He asks may be the last thing in the world we want to do. Yet, in that willingness, He shows His mercy. That is where our faith takes a giant leap. When we completely trust in God, agree to His terms and comply. This is not to say that our faith will keep us from pain and distress. It may be we need that to grow spiritually. What ever God commands us to do is always in our best interest, whether we see it or not.

There's a line in my book that I don't use anymore..."God, if you get me out of this one" has been replaced with "Jesus, where ever the Father sends me, I will go". The willingness to serve is greater than the want for comfort. He has opened my eyes to a small piece of His plan and it is now time to impliment it. It is time to start walking the walk and accepting the life He has laid before me. You, too, have a life that is being laid before you. Don't pray for Him to change it - pray for the courage and strength to accept it! Offer Him what He is due - your praises and your gratitude! He will see you through the storm and guide you safely to land, but do not try to bargain with Him - remember, God doesn't bargain. 

So today, lift up your eyes to the heavens and thank Him for what He has given you and for what He has taken from you - it makes you who you are - a child of the King! He will not leave you to starve, He will not leave you to the enemy and He will not forget to bless you with more than you deserve. Give to Him your best and your reward will come. It may not be "all that and then some" - it may just be "enough" - but you will know that you have seen the love of the Father!!! His love for you is greater than any other! You mean more to Him than any of His other creations! Allow Him to work in you and you will be blessed!

(Image: "Abraham and Isaac" by Sir Anthony Van Dyck)

Monday, August 13, 2012

~ "Can you feel the love???"

Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. (Gal 3:23)

I was raised to be a "religion", I was taught the rites and ceremonies of a church, from before I was old enough to even understand what I was learning. I became, as did many of my friends, a prisoner of that regimented and regulated church.  I had to learn to "think outside the 'box'..." 

Christ's words in the Gospels are very simple. He tells us to love one another! We have allowed "teachers" of God's word to complicate and manipulate his word so much so that it becomes impossible for us to believe we will ever be able to accomplish anything. Love is the key to it all. We know that "by works alone" we will not enter the kingdom. We know that "no one comes to the Father except through Jesus". It is by grace that we are saved and through faith that we receive blessings. 

If we could just love our fellow man as Christ did, we'd have no fears! Reaching out in a time of need is one thing, but to do it every day, all day - well, that's a different story. Our personalities get in the way, our likes and dislikes, our idiosyncrasies and our stubbornness all contribute to how we see, act and react to others. 

Make an effort today to be a little kinder to someone that ruffles your feathers, induces that "nails down the blackboard" reaction in you, or just annoys you to no end! Leave your sarcasm by the side of the road and just allow yourself to love someone you dislike. You don't have to become their best friend, but just take a step back and allow Jesus to lead your heart in those instances where you want to just smack the snot out of someone! His way is the only way - let his love guide you today and every day!