Sunday, March 31, 2013

~ "He is risen..."

And as they were afraid, and bowed down [their] faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? (Luke 24:5)

Praise God in all his glory for today we remember that we are no long dead!  We have been given new life in eternity!  Jesus lives! Let your faith come alive today!  Let His love shine down on you and lift up your voices and hands in praise and honor!

It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles (Luke 24:10).  Imagine the joy that filled their heart when they remembered that Jesus told them He would rise again!  

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." (Luke 24:36).  I do think that I, myself, would have fainted!  Through the locked door He appeared assuring them that the scriptures, had in fact, been fulfilled!

Our sins were buried with Him and we no longer must suffer eternal damnation.  With a humble heart and a righteous spirit, we come before Him and offer Him our lives.  He has opened the gates of Heaven.  He has opened our eyes so we can see.  He has restored our hearing so we can hear.  He has covered us with His blood so that when the angel of death approaches, he will pass over us and we will be taken home to be in His kingdom.  

Do not hold on to the things of this world, because they will not last.  Do not make work and money your god.  Leave everything and follow Him!  His gift is greater than any fortune you could amass here on earth!  Do not look to be rich and powerful here - remember, this is not our home!  Look to serve the Lord, your God, in anyway he sees fit to offer you.  He will provide for your needs.  He will bless your life!  Remember that He has done all these things for you!  Continue to do for others because it is what He asks of you, not because of what you will gain from it.  Let yourself be led to a place of true happiness - let yourself be led by Jesus!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

~ "Assembly of clones..."

I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. (Amos 5:21-24)

"God dislikes mere outward conformity to His requirements.  He requires inward reality." (Responding to God's Faithful Intervention - Minor Prophets - Part 1).  Once again, we see that God does not just want us to "go through the motions".  He wants us to be sincere in our offerings and our worship.  Just as the Israelites would reap the punishment for their lack of genuine worship and praise, so will we.  He wants us to incorporate him into our lives, not just write a check or show up Sunday morning for service.  He wants to hear our voices lifted in song.  He wants us to praise and worship him everyday - not just on special occasions.  He wants our loyalty and our humility.  He wants us!

Many of God's "followers" are no different than the followers of a blog or a newspaper column.  The read, they digest, they sip their coffee and that's it.  They do nothing to change the course of their lives and offer nothing more than an opinion of what they've read.  There are those who will find fault no matter what is written, and they take ever opportunity to spin their ugly impressions of it, showing others how moronically stupid they really are.  

God calls us to repent, to change and to move forward.  He places people in our lives to help us reach that path of righteousness.  No, he does not expect us to be "perfect" - he expects us to try!  Force yourself to do something for God today - something that is a true sacrifice, not just a token "I gave that up for Lent"  offering.  Make it a sacrifice of the heart.  Make it the "perfect" offering to show how much you love him and how grateful you are for his gifts to you.  Don't make excuses for why you can't; find a reason that you CAN!  If you're having difficulty with that one, I can offer a suggestion...what better reason could you have to sacrifice something that is so dear to your heart, so all-important to your way of life that is greater than the sacrifice of Calvary?  Jesus gave his all for us - every fiber of his being, every drop of blood in his veins, every breath that was within him - he gave it all for us!  

God is calling you.  Offer him more than your favorite beverage; give him more than the tip you leave your waitress, truly praise him, from your heart, with the songs you sing.  Talk to him in prayer (really talk to him, don't just utter memorized words).  Give freely to him what he has freely given to you - make him the center of your life 365 days of the year starting with today!  Don't just conform - integrate him into your life completely and make your sacrifice a worthy offering of love, honor and praise!

Friday, March 29, 2013

~ "It is finished..."

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished": and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30)

One might think that in that moment, all time stood still.  On the contrary; at that moment we know that a centurion standing there acknowledge that He must truly be the Son of God; the curtain in the temple was torn in two; the earth quaked and the sky drew dark.  Then came the task of laying his body to rest before sundown for the Sabbath (which tells us most specifically that Jesus died on a Friday).  

For Jesus, it was finished.  He had become the sacrifice for us all.  His redeeming blood that was poured out for us, lie at the foot of that cross on Calvary.  They took His body away and laid it in a borrowed tomb.  They said their "goodbyes" and left weeping.  There were guards placed around His grave - not out of respect for who He was, but out of fear that His disciples would steal His corpse and proclaim His resurrection.  

The work of His disciples was just beginning.  Your work is just beginning.  If you have chosen to follow Christ, you are His disciple.  You will continue to learn and continue to teach and share with others the power and the beauty of the cross.  What took place on that hill so many centuries ago completed the covenant God had made with all people (not just the Israelites).  The opportunity to walk with the Lord is one of honor and joy.  It is not, by any means, an easy life.  It is full of potholes and detours.  There are temptations that fall in front of you every day.  There is an enemy at work that seeks to destroy you.  He doesn't give up.

If you need strength to get through - look to the cross.  If you feel you don't have what it takes to follow - look to the cross.  If you fear giving up everything you believe to be true because something is tugging at you - look to the cross.  No matter what comes across your path today (and everyday) - look to the cross.  It is there that you will find the answers to the questions.  It is there that the truth is!

Jesus died on that hill for you.  He died there for me.  Let today be a day of fasting and prayer for what was so freely given.  Let today be small "token of appreciation" for the man who was buried with our sins. Let today reflect the love He carries for all of us.  Let the salvation delivered on that day, fill your heart and soul with joy and love.  Let His blood wash over you and let him carry your sins away...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

~ "Made in 'His image'..."

photo by Celia Darrigo

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

In this verse, Jesus tells us, without hesitation and without any doubt, one of the "musts" to enter the kingdom.  But what does it mean???

Scofield writes: "The necessity of the new birth grows out of the incapacity of the natural man to "see" or "enter into" the kingdom of God. However gifted, moral, or refined, the natural man is absolutely blind to spiritual truth, and impotent to enter the kingdom; for he can neither obey, understand, nor please God".  In other words - as we are, we are not worthy - Christ's death and resurrection makes it possible!  The nature of our very existence (sin) prevents us from ever fully obeying God's commandments.  We can try, we can keep some of them, but chances are we fail.  Why?  Because we are human.  We carry with us the sin of Adam and Eve, who faced temptation and failed miserably.  There is a price to be paid for that.  It was paid - by Jesus himself when he died on the cross.  

History teaches us that many generations have failed at keeping the law of God.  History also teaches us (or at least tries to) that God does not bargain.  He keeps his word and applies the same measure of to all.  None of us is worthy.  He is impartial and yet forgiving; his is rigid, yet loving; he asks nothing of us that cannot be accomplished.  He asks us for honor and praise, to worship and glorify him and in return he offers us life!  

Jesus tells us what it is we are to do and he tells us why.  If you can't grasp even the simplest truths, how can you ever hope to understand the magnitude of his mercy?  Growing up, any question that could not be answered was responded to with 3 words:  "It's a mystery!"  I assure you, the answers to all of those mysteries are written down - they are in the Bible - you just need to read it.  

We have all tried, at one time or another,  to put that six million piece entertainment center together without reading the instruction.  We have the "general idea" of how it goes together, we even have a picture to refer to.  We assume that there are about 5 million parts we don't really need, so we assemble the thing the way WE think it should go, only to place that $1200 television on it and watch in disbelief as the entire thing comes crashing to the floor.  Then we have the audacity to blame the cheap or shoddy workmanship for our own stupidity.  If only we had taken the time and had the patience to read the instructions, follow the directions and build it step by step, using all the parts supplied, we would not only have a beautiful piece of furniture, we'd still have that television to put on it.

There are no "extra" or "optional" commands in God's instructions to us.  Everything we need to know, what it is we need to do are in his instruction manual.  And no more than we could use the instructions from a wagon to assemble a truck, can we use "excerpts" of the Bible to show us the steps to the Kingdom.  Don't take for granted that what you "know" will be good enough.  Don't assume that God will "let you slide" because of what you were taught or how you were raised.  If you've read this post, you have no excuse.  You've been told!  If you refuse to follow his instructions, continue to seek answers to questions to justify your own actions, you will stand before him and not be known.  Stop looking at what others are doing and focus on what you aren't doing.  Stop trying to "justify" your actions and "rectify" them.  Repent, resolve and rejoice!  Let go of what it is that is holding you back from realizing a life filled with the love of God!  Open your eyes and see!!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

~ "Jesus, take the wheel..."

And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (Luke 18:27)

When we constantly feel like we cannot do anything right, when those around us make assumptions and offer the unsolicited criticisms of our lives, when we know deep inside that we aren't living the life we should be or the life we've been "called" to live, when we cry out for answers and can't seem to find them - that is when its time to let Jesus into your life, once and for all!!!

We are all searching for something.  Some want financial security (or wealth), some want the perfect job, some want a spouse to "live happily ever after" with, and some just want to be happy.  What ever it is you are searching for, you aren't going to find it unless you give yourself over to the Lord.  Sure, you may have a great house, a fantastic income and even a wonderful mate (that you probably don't appreciate) - you are never going to be completely happy until you submit to the conviction that God has you under!  Yes, I'm talking to you...

I am a "seed planter" - that's my job!  I share with you all the wonderful things that can and will happen to you if you accept Jesus into your heart, into your life and lead a life that pleases him.  You may think that you "know God" - chances are you know who he is.  To you, he has become one of the 500 friends you have on your social networking sites - he's the friend request you accepted simply because you didn't want to hurt his feelings by hitting the "ignore" button.  Or perhaps, you added him so you could say "oh yes, he's my friend".  Occasionally you visit his page, maybe "like" one of his status lines, leave him a small "token" message (so he doesn't delete you for not interacting with him).  You may think you know him simply because he's there on your profile page under the list of "friends".  The fact of the matter is, he has been desperately trying to interact with you for quite some time and you keep scrolling by...

God has a way of bringing us to our knees.  He offers of a glimpse of what we might have if we submit to his authority - he tells us, with graphic detail, what we WILL have if we refuse.  You wonder what it is you are doing wrong; why is your life so miserable, or "why me".  You know you aren't as "bad" as some of the people you know (especially the ones who seem to have all the money, the great cars, the good jobs, the perfect "date") - you try to live your life as a "good person" - well, my friend, good isn't good enough!  Live your life as JESUS would have you to live it and things WILL change.  Accept the gift he is offering you!  His is much better than anything you can buy here on earth.  And chances are, once you've truly accepted him into your life, that this existence you've been calling "living" will take on a whole new meaning.  Your perspective will change.  Why do you care what your friends and family think about you?  Why is it such a big deal if they laugh at you because you've committed the care of your earthly life to Jesus?  I have a news flash for you - you are in great company - they laughed at Jesus too!  

Stop where you are and get off this destructive road you are on.  Take the one that leads to your eternal reward - put Jesus in the driver's seat - commit yourself to his road, no one else’ will never find the happiness you seek - the happiness your friends SEEM to have - because your friends refuse to accept his love - they are on a different road - they are not destined for the Kingdom of God - they are driving themselves straight into hell.  If that's the path you want, really want to take - if Satan is who you want to serve, then continue on.  But if you are looking for the best, the one and only "accept no substitution" keeper of the Kingdom, then let Jesus take the wheel and steer you towards his rewards for you!!! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

~ "Going my way..."

But the Lord said to him, Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel to me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15)

Matthew Henry tells us "The teaching of the Holy Spirit takes away the scales of ignorance and pride from the understanding; then the sinner becomes a new creature, and endeavors to recommend the anointed Saviour, the Son of God, to his former companions."  Amazingly enough (or not), I had this conversation with someone yesterday.  I don't think it gets any clearer than this - this IS what happens when Christ comes into your life!  Just as Saul was thrown to the ground and blinded, we, too, experience that overwhelming desire to WANT to do for God!  We change - in that moment, Saul became Paul and spent the remainder of his life preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  In that instant, our focus changes, our "epiphany" takes place and we become HIS!  He guides us, he leads us and he strengthens us in our journey.  The desire to know more and to tell others about what he has done for you becomes the focus of your earthly existence.  That is not to say that your responsibilities (work, home, family, friends) do not enter the picture.  Even Jesus enjoyed the company of his family and friends, the occasional celebration and I am sure, a laugh or two.  But until you are ready to accept this particular responsibility, it will allude you.  You cannot have it both ways.  It's either a worldly life or a Christ-inspired life!

The closer you get to it, the more Satan will attack.  He does not want you to "give up the ghost" of what has become his playground for many years.  He will fight tooth and nail to keep you in his clutches.  Only through the strength afforded us through Jesus, can we walk, without hesitation, into the waiting arms of our Savior.  The desire (bordering on obsession - but in a good way) to know more about the love of God, the sacrifice of Christ  and the message he has for us becomes your focus!  Nothing else matters simply because nothing else lasts!  When you finally put God first, and follow the path he lays before you, everything falls into place as it is supposed to!  

If you don't have a desire to grow spiritually, if you are still living your life in a manner that takes the focus off yourself and places it on him (in an effort to judge his commands to us), if you are picking and choosing which portions of the Bible apply to you, then think are still lost!  The fact that you are questioning anything that God offers you should tell you your faith in him is not what it should be.

The Bible IS the word of God -it's not someone's interpretation of events that transpired years ago - it's what's been written by the prophets and the apostles.  Even Jews believe the Old Testament to be the Word of God - the Old Testament is a Christian translation of the Jewish "Tanakh".  If you don't read it and don't study it, if you don't attend a service that preaches it, you will never grow in FAITH!  

Stop looking for the answers that YOU want, look for the truth in the WAY!  He is a loving God, a mighty God but he is also a God who demands obedience!  He knows that we are not perfect, but with the strength that comes through the Holy Spirit, sent to us by Christ Jesus, we can and do change!  Ask him, fervently and sincerely, with all that is within you, to come into your heart and take hold of your soul!  Ask him to pour out his healing spirit on you and bring you to your knees - for it is there, and only there, that you will find what it is you seek!  

Friday, March 22, 2013

~ "Morning calisthenics..."

For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (1 Tim 4:8) 
I don't discourage people from working out, because we are told to keep our bodies in good condition.  So many people are "addicted" to working out and looking great.  There's nothing wrong with either - the danger comes when that is ALL you do.  We tend to worry about our outward appearances when it is what's inside that we should be concerned with.  We remind each other that beauty is only skin deep and that we should look to what is on "the inside" of a person (no, not the structure of their DNA).  

Paul tells Timothy in this letter that "godliness" is more important that exercise.  We know that no matter what we do here on earth, we will die and our bodies will revert to the dust from which it came (in theory, anyway - we've managed to delay that occurrence by the process of embalming).  What does not rot, what does not fade away, what lives on forever is our soul!  The part of us that is the essence of God will never die!  It would stand to reason that we should take better care of our spiritual well-being than our physical well being - but most people don't put as much energy into that as they put into their weight lifting and body building routine.  

Spend time with the Lord.  Sit down, open his book and read his word.  Take the scripture verse of your favorite daily devotional and read the verses around it.  Meditate on what is being conveyed in that teaching.  Focus on God and his greatness and his power; focus on the mercy he has shown you.  Exercise your soul - pray!  Exercise your mind - praise!  Exercise your heart - love!  Exercise your hands - give! Let Jesus be your trainer, let the Word be your manual, let Heaven be your finish line!  God wants to welcome you to the winner's circle - prepare to be there and be showered with blessings!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

~ "I had a dream..."

And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. (Luke 1:45)

We are never out of God's sight.  Our thoughts and prayers reach out to him no matter where we are and no matter what time it is.  We can be wide awake or sound asleep. 

God calls us to live better lives and to make that life an example of his love.  What we do for his glory returns to us in the form of blessings.  He communicates with us through his word, through others and sometimes directly.  He WILL tell you what you need to know.  Our faith in him and his promises are the cornerstone of our walk with him.  Without faith in Jesus, without faith in his word, and without faith that he can do ALL things, we cannot realize the plan he has for us!  Nothing is impossible for him!  

We think in human terms - linear, probability, statistically, and dimensionally...we think INSIDE the box.  God works OUTSIDE the box.  The capabilities of our Lord do not fit any standard we can conceive. The accomplishments attained that are outside the box are what we call miracles.  How many times have we said "it would take a miracle"???  Well, God still works miracles ever day!  I've seen them, I've experienced them and I believe in them and all the possibilities that exist because of that belief.  He has reasons for granting and not granting our earnest prayers.  Sometimes he says "yes", sometimes he says "no", and sometimes he says "wait".  

If you open your heart and soul to what HE wants for you, as opposed to what you want for yourself, some wonderful things will begin to take place.  No, not all of your dreams will come true, and sometimes many changes must take place in order for that prayer to be answered.  I pray each day for an "unspoken" request.  There's a handful of people who know the nature of that request.  Occasionally, God will let me know he has not forgotten me and that he will keep his promise.  And every time I begin to put it away and walk away from it, he brings me right back to in without any doubts that it is his intention to grant that request...just not now!

My love for God never waivers, my faith in him grows every day. Allow him to work in you and through you.  Let those around you see the power of God.  Offer your life as a testimony to his power!  Live it as he wants you to live it.   Don't be afraid to praise him out loud.  Don't be too proud to kneel before him and offer your thanks.  Put your pretentious attitude on the back burner and be the submissive child he wants you to be.  Offer all that you have and all that you are to HIM!!!  He will bless you and watch over you.  He will hold you up in your time of need and he will give you the gifts he has set aside for you.  Continue to walk in his will and you, too, will be blessed...believe that there is nothing he cannot do; believe in his promises to you!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

~ "Get the effigies out of here..."

And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. (Gen 35:3)

"When we have vowed a vow to God, it is best not to defer the payment of it; yet better late than never" (Matthew Henry).  Jacob knew he had to do "his" part.  Jacob collected all the idols and "strange gods" in his house in order to be right with God.  I don't think a lot of you realize the amount of idols and strange gods you have in YOUR house!  Take an inventory - you'll be very surprised...

How often do we forget to do "our" part?  I used to do that continuously - pray, offer a "barter" for an answered prayer and forget (or just decide not to) live up to my promises.  Those were the prayers I refer to as the "Getmeouts" (God, if you 'get me out' of this one...).  I don't pray those any more.

Today I offer a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God, through Jesus!  I ask for guidance and wisdom to discern his voice from the voice of the enemy.  When I fall short of my own expectations and request that he bring me back into his presence (of which I was never out of in the first place), the comfort and warmth that I feel around me cannot be described.  It's an awesome experience to feel the presence of God.

Although we cannot all do as Jacob did and build an altar to God, we can make a place for him in our hearts and a place for him in our homes.  No, you do not need to build a shrine.  A place to worship...a place to go and offer your prayers - a "prayer closet" - a quiet, undisturbed place without distraction.  A place that becomes your own, personal sanctuary.  Do not fill it with statues and crosses or crucifixes (as they tend to be distracting - and yes, I know what goes through your mind - you will most likely  focus on these things instead of your prayers - I've been there, so leave them out...besides, the idea is to talk to God and worship him - not some tacky replica of someone who can't help you and does not hear your prayers).  

Go to the Lord your God in prayer and thanksgiving EVERY chance you get.  Make time for him and be comforted in knowing HE HEARS YOU!!!  Tear down the walls you have built between yourself and God - get rid of the "false gods" and the "man-made idols" - stop offering sacrifices (prayers) to anyone other than God - ask all things through Jesus' name (no one elses) - he's the only one who can offer you salvation!  He's the only one who can take your prayers to the Father!  Don't let the enemy have any more ground than he already has!  Give your life over to Jesus!  Live for him, after all, he died for you!!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

~ "It's time to put God back in the driver's seat..."

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. (Ps 84:2)

We need God in our lives.  Our forefathers knew this, which is why this country's foundation was firmly planted in God.  They knew the value of faith, belief in our Creator and the reward for serving him, not a mortal King!  Throughout this history of the United States, God played a part, a very important part.  His name and his presence were welcomed into every building and home, into every business and school, without hesitation.  The "sabbath" was respected, the Bible was a guide to a better life and life in America was good!

Every nation that has risen to greatness, has done so with the Lord leading them.  Every great nation that has fallen, has forgotten that they got there by the mercy and grace of God.  We will be one of those nations if we do not turn back to him!    

David (we assume he wrote this Psalm) longed to be in the presence of God.  He longed to be, once again, in the "tabernacle".  Matthew Henry writes: "The psalmist here with great devotion expresses his affection, to the ordinances of God; his value for them, his desire towards them , his conviction of the happiness of those that did enjoy them, and his placing his own happiness so very much in the enjoyment of them, AND to the God of the ordinances; his desire towards him, his faith in him, and his conviction of the happiness of those that put their confidence in him.

We, too, should have the same devout affections working towards God that David had.  Our desires to please and serve him should come before anything else we do.  We should not sit quietly and watch as our God is taken from us by the "kings" of this country.  No, we do not have to drag out the soap box or march in protest of certain "atheistic" practices...prayer is a much more powerful tool in fighting the enemy!  God demands our loyalty.  The wages of sin IS death, but death has been overcome by one for all.  Stand tall, stand firm, stand on the rock of salvation and you will see the face of God and live!!!  Pray for this country's leaders, that they will turn to God and rebuild this nation so that it will have the power and strength our forefathers wanted for it!  Pray for "one nation under God"!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

~ "He reigns..."

But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. (Ps 9:7)

I was once asked a question that I wasn't quite sure how to answer.  The question was "why are you so religious?"  Ironically, I don't see myself as "religious".  

What I do and how I live my life are as natural to me as leaves are to a tree.  It's just the way it is.  Some people tell me I'm "obsessed" with God - not a bad thing in my opinion.  Some people just don't want to be bothered with me (and that's okay too).  Some people are curious as to what exactly it is that I have now that I didn't have 6 years ago.  Some people want what I have but don't want to surrender anything in order to achieve it.  Some people just don't care.

When all is said and done, when the final judgement comes, I will be (without any doubt) standing before my Creator with the Prince of Peace standing beside me telling the Father "I know her, she knows me and her debt has been paid - see the scars in my hand - although she put them there, she is forgiven."  

I don't recall who said it and in what context it was said but the practice of being indebted to the person who saves your life, in this particular instance, is appropriate.  Jesus died on a cross for me, thus "saving" me from the fires of hell.  He has, in fact, saved my life!  There is nothing I would not do for him.  He has given me the same gift he offers to everyone!   All he asks is that I serve him!  

When judgement comes, will you be able to stand tall in the shadow of Jesus?  Will he tell the Father that he knows you?  Will he shield you from the destiny that it rightfully deserved?  My prayer is that each person who reads this post who has not already dropped to their knees and asked Jesus into their heart will do so.  My prayer for those who have been humbled before the King of Kings will continue to look to him for everything.  I am "religious"  simply because he calls me to be!  This man, Jesus, has loved me for a very long time.  I could never love him nearly as much!  So I will continue to pray, lift my hands in praise and share with everyone (be it through words - spoken or written, or through actions) what he has done for me and what he can do for you!  

I hope that this answers the question as to "why".  You can still enjoy the pleasures of this world (to an extent and with definite limitations) if you belong to the body of Christ!  I don't love Jesus out of fear of dying and going to hell.  I love him simply because he is who he is - my KING!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

~ "Blessings..."

Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. (Luke 6:23)

Each morning, I thank God for saving me!  I thank him for the wonderful opportunity he has given me to share his love with the world.  No, my life is not a bowl of cherries.  But again, it is not all pain and misery.  It is, at times, not the "life" I would like it to be (I'm human, I have wants).  There are challenges and obstacles that I'd rather not face.  There are mountains I'd prefer not to move.

One day, and none of us knows for certain what day that will be, all of the suffering and desperation we face each day will melt away into the face of one more beautiful than anyone we have ever seen or ever imagined!  One day we will rise without pain, walk without needing rest and sing in perfect pitch and harmony.  One day we leap for joy and receive our inheritance!  One day we will see peace!  Sometimes the strength we need comes from knowing that this is not our home.  Sometimes its knowing that there is a better place with a loving Father waiting to take us in and celebrate his joy that we have come home.  

I sat yesterday and watched the leafless trees swaying in the breeze.  I was awestruck when I realized that they were singing to their maker!  Each branch, no matter where it's roots are planted, reaches toward the light.  They reach up towards the heavens to where God is!  

All that we do on earth is seen.  Our thoughts and our actions, though unnoticed by many, are not missed even among the flowers that bloom and the birds that sing.  From the simplest to the greatest, our God sees it all.  Every element in nature answers to him.  Every raindrop that falls, does so at his command.  His power is beyond that which we can comprehend, as is his love for us.

Do not allow that which is not from his hand disrupt your life.  Do not let the temptations of the enemy take your eyes off the King.  Keep focused on his blessings, knowing that the pain you suffer here, the rains that pour down, the sleepless nights, and the emptiness you feel just may be his mercies in disguise!!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

~ "Seasons change..."

Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. (Ps 143:7)

When life as you know it suddenly changes, it can be very depressing, especially if you follow a strict routine.  Even if you know the change is a "good" change, re-acclimating yourself and finding a new routine may take time and adjustment.  We tend to look at things from a perspective of what "works".  Once we have a plan, we do many things without thinking.  When we have to change that plan, we can stumble and fall, and we can fall into depression.  Our Lord knows this!  He's waiting for us to ask for his help.

The older we get, the harder it is to accept change in our lives.  We are creatures of habit and comfort.  We don't always recognize the stress that comes with change in others; we are fully aware of the stress we feel.  The ability to reach out to God during those times can be crucial.  It tests the limits of our faith and the belief that things will get better. Be patient with those around you, your change affects them as well.  Their "routines" have also been disrupted. 

Don't allow anyone to bring you to a point where you are so weak and tired that your spirit becomes blackened with emotional pain.  Knowing that everything in God's plan is good and that he understands completely where you are is often the only consoling factor in your existence at any given time.  Lift up your eyes to the heavens and ask for the strength to continue on.  Ask God to help you walk a little further each day until you find the peace that does come in change.  Wishing things could be the way they were is not going to enable you to make a "new" way.  Take the good pieces of that part of your past and bring them into the present.  Once firmly in place, you will, again, be able to walk into your future with your head held high, a smile on your face and a song in your heart! 

God knows you are struggling!  He's there to carry you if need be.  Don't allow the enemy one inch of ground because he will continue to take until there is nothing left.  Stand firm in your convictions and do not show one sign of surrender.  The only one you should ever surrender to is Jesus!  Surrender you heart and soul to his way and you will make a smooth transition.  Take the time that you need to be comfortable in his new plan for you.  Listen to the advice of your family and friends but rely on HIM to lead you. He loves you.  Listen for his voice.  He knows his sheep and his sheep know him.  And above all, remember - he's brought you this far, he won't leave you here to fend for yourself! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

~ "I thank you, Lord, for all that you've given's more than I deserve!"

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (Rom 12:19)

There are countless places throughout the Bible in which are written the word "forgive".  We are not to hold grudges, we are not to withhold forgiveness...we are not to avenge ourselves!  Sometimes, that is the hardest of all passages in the Bible to accept.  Leaving our hurts, our convictions, our injustices at the foot of the throne.  If we go back again to Job, who was relieved of every worldly possession he had, left battered and tormented with ailments we can only imagine and grieving the loss of his children at the hand of the enemy, many of us would not have had the courage he had in that he continued to pray to God and he continued to be a righteous man in spite of all that was happening to him.  Oh, to have conviction like that of Job!

In Romans, we are reminded again that our heavenly Father knows our troubles.  He knows the wrongs done and the hurt that seems impossible to forgive - yet He tells us to forgive still!  Forgiveness does not mean putting ourselves in harm's way again, the forgiveness talked about in this verse is that of release.  Our Father knows what is best for us, whether we can see His blessing through our tears or not.  He does not need our help in determining the "vengeance" that will be repaid either.  His justice and His vengeance are mightier than any other - no court, no judgement on earth can compare to HIS!  His is final!  His is for all eternity.  

I know that it is not an easy task to walk away from what it rightfully yours - but remember...the Lord gives and the Lord takes away - He will give you what you need when you need it.  There are only so many days that you have here on earth - make the very best of them.  Do what is right in GOD'S eyes, not man's!  Offer your earthly losses as a testimony to the greater gift that will come your way in the end!  Eternal life!  Only through Jesus' death and resurrection can we ever achieve it!  Only with prayer and fasting can we maintain our relationship with Him.  Only in doing all things for His glory can we ever hope to please Him.  We are sinners - all of us!  What lies ahead in this world is nothing compared to what lies ahead in the next!  There are two choices: which one do you chose???

Thursday, March 14, 2013

~ "Learn it, know it, LIVE it!!!"

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]. (1 Cor 10:13)

I was asked a question yesterday with regard to being "saved" and still blatantly disregarding God's commands.  The question was (in a nutshell):  How can you say you are saved and still have an affair with a married person?

Part of my answer was very simple.  I cannot and will not judge another person's spiritual relationship with God.  I don't know who is saved and who is not.  And it's not for me to decide if they are or not.  What I can tell you is that the acceptance of God in you life changes you!  Sin is what we are are.  The temptations that we face come from the enemy (who is a very busy creature).  What we do with those temptations, how we react and the feelings they stir come because we are human.  We are fallible.  God is not.

When the Holy Spirit is awakened within you, many changes begin to take place.  As I've said before, things I once found humorous, I now find utterly disgusting.  My priorities changed.  My outlook changed.  My desires changed.  Why?  Because the Holy Spirit of God is living in me - no longer laying dormant buried under a ton of indiscretion!  Through constant prayer and the study of his word, I began to grow spiritually.  What God tells us throughout the Bible is the blueprint to a life that is walked on his path.  Salvation is not a light switch that you can turn on when you need to light up your life and turn off when you need to hide in the shadows.  Far too many people have gotten the idea that it's okay to deliberately disobey God, confess those sins and move on the the next.  

In all of our temptations, especially the little ones thrown at us, God offers us a way out - there is always an "escape pod".  We are all tempted - in one way or another.  What we choose to do when tempted defines the strength of our character and faith we have in our Creator!  We cannot hope to even begin to know anything about God if we don't read his message to us!  We don't get there by prayer alone, nor do we get there by constantly trying to outdo the guy next to us!  

Place your focus on what it good, what is right - what is of God!!!  Read his word daily!  Study it and commit it to memory if you can!  Ask him for the strength to overcome temptation.  Go to him in prayer for everything (even if you think you know the answer).  Be alert to the trappings designed to take you away from his will.  They can come at you in the most beautiful forms!  Don't be too quick to dismiss the knowledge others have gained through the reading and study of his word, when you yourself have not even bothered to open the book!  There are no cliff notes available for this one and the abridged version leaves out details that are significantly important to the reader!  

Put your life totally in his hands!  Let him show you the beautiful life he has waiting for you.  Don't waste your time worrying about someone else's salvation - worry about your own - and if you are questioning whether or not you are saved...well, let's just say that you may want to hit your knees and offer your life to him!  You'll be amazed at what he can do, even with you!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

~ "Those many blessings..."

And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. (Deut 28:2)

Not all blessings come to us in the form of joy or happiness.  Most often, our greatest blessings come from disappointments, heartbreak and pain.  Recently, as more earthquakes rock this world - the cry goes out: “Where is God?  Why did he do this?  Why are these people being punished?”  The same phrases were uttered over ten years ago when several planes slammed into buildings killing thousands of people and again in the last year when the tsunami hit Haiti and the earthquake wiped out Japan.  

Our God is a loving God, but he is a stern and might God as well.  "But what good can come out of these horrific events?"  The blessings received from these "catastrophes" are as individual as the people affected by them.  They also do not come immediately (some do, most don't).  An ugly comment was posted to a link I shared of a Casting Crown's video of "If We Ever Needed You" inferring that "no sinners" were killed in the collapse of the Trade Center and that my faith and continued belief that God has a plan was "equine defecation".  I beg to differ with the author of that comment - ALL those killed on that day were sinners!

Blessings come to us in many ways.  They come for only one reason.  Blessings come because God bestows them upon us.  If it doesn't come from God, it is not a blessing.  There are many people who (myself included) will tell you the most tragic events of their lives brought the greatest blessings.  Over and over again our heavenly Father shows us his mercy.  Some people are just too stubborn to accept it as such and become angry with God and turn away from him.  I did.  I came to a point where I thought "what kind of God would take a good man from his family and totally destroy another."  I hated God, what he had done and what his "disaster" had caused.  Then I walked away and began to indulge in things I should not have (making matters worse).  

In all of that, I realized that God did not create that particular disaster, but he blessed me just the same.  I would not trade the faith I have today for anything - and in order to reach this point in my life, I had to go through those events.  Unlike some, I had to be brought to my knees and have everything I ever cared about taken from me.  I had to rely on God completely!  I had to allow him to change me and my faith in him had to grow.  Without that single event, I would not have come to know him the way that I do today.  And that struggle continues today, with every ounce of strength I have, I hold on to what I know to be righteous - GOD!

Take heart and know that there are blessings to be had through tears!  Know that God was not "punishing" the people of Japan for bombing Pearl Harbor, it's not a "gay" thing and it's certainly not a "hate crime".  He is offering them (and us) a wake-up call.  Someday soon his mighty hand will reach down from the heavens and create hell on earth!  Turning to him now would be a wise decision!  Take that step, make that decision now!  Offer him your devotion and praise - worship him and serve him!  He is calling YOUR name!  Will you answer the call???

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

~ "Never, ever, EVER give up..."

Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. (2 Chronicles 15:7)

Sometimes we expect much more from ourselves than what we are capable of at any given time.  Our wanting to be "perfect" is most often our downfall.  When we cannot do things the way we'd like to, when we cannot devote the time and attention to our praises and prayers, we can become discouraged.  We often think of others who seem to have it all together: the perfect prayer time, the consistency of their acts, the way it just "comes naturally" to some, yet not to us.  If you are like me, you have to struggle to focus on what it is you are reading and not become distracted in the process.  I can remember my feeble attempts at studying in high school.  The project consisted of setting up my desk, having everything I would need at my fingertips (my soda, my cigarettes, etc).  By the time I was ready to study, I'd already lost interest.  Even some mornings still occur that way.  I may go from the breakfast bar, to the table, to outside - and don't forget to refill the coffee at least twice.  All the little things that distracted me from studying still distract me from praising God.  

We will never get it right.  We do not have the capability to be perfect, nor can we ever hope to attain it while on earth.  I no longer strive for perfection.  Each day I attempt to be a little more productive than the day before.  I strive for progress.  I can't afford to beat myself up when I fall short of my own expectations.  God knows my heart.  He knows that Satan will use whatever device he can to distract me.  Even my own body turns against me at time.  Making the effort sometimes is the best that I can do.  

Reach deep into your being and pull out the parts that do not work right.  Fill that void with all that is of God and each day you will find that it's not as difficult as you want to make it.  We do that, for the most part, to excuse the defeat within ourselves.  We make failure an option.  Stop wandering from place to place and focus on what matters - God!  Don't allow the enemy the opportunity to distract you from what it is you want to do and know you should do, but can't seem to do!  Put it in God's hands, ask the Holy Spirit to bind Satan from your time in his presence.  Take the time to walk and talk with the Creator.  Take the time to read and study his word.  Take the time to be a little bit more focused on Him and not the distractions of life that surround you.  Be strong and receive your blessings with both hands lifted to him in praise and thanksgiving!  He knows you are trying ~ he won't give up on you - so don't give up on him!!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

~ "Look out below..."

But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21: 9-11)

It is not rocket science.  Within the last ten years we have witnessed some of these phenomenon and some still doubt that we no longer approach the last days, but are, in fact, living in them.  No, we do not know when that day will be, but suffice it to say it is not far off.  Don't you think it's time to "get right" with God?

Throughout the history recorded in the Bible, God has given generation after generation the opportunity to come to him, be granted forgiveness and share in the gift of eternal life.  More often than not, people turn away until the rain begins to fall and then bang relentlessly on the door begging to come in.  

These events foretold by our Lord in Luke's Gospel are unfolding before our eyes.  How much more subtile does God need to be before man?  This is why it is important to read and study your Bible.  This is where we learn the teachings of our God!  

God will not change his mind, the scientists cannot prolong the time the earth has left to orbit the sun.  Remember, the last time things on earth got this bad, God sent a flood!  In comparison - I think the world today has far surpassed even the sinful natures of those who were destroyed then.  Look around you!  Tell me I'm wrong.  Even God's most impressive visual sign to us is being used to portray a lifestyle that is in total defiance of His Word.  Even the number of their sightings has dramatically increased since I was a child, or even a young adult.  It is not a coincidence!

God has kept his promises throughout the ages.  He has always done what he said he would do.  Now, it's our turn to stand up and be the witnesses for Christ!  It is our job to share the Gospel of truth - that Jesus IS the Messiah, that he died for our sins and still LIVES and he IS coming back to claim what it rightfully his!  When the opportunity presents itself, offer the statement.  Ask that stranger: "Did you know that Christ died for your sins?"  That's all you have to do - it's a real conversation starter!  

Keep you sights set on his kingdom.  Whatever is coming WILL come.  It's only a matter of time before God says "enough"!!!  Be ready, be listening, be aware!  The worst of the end is yet to come.  Don't be left behind!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

~ "I Am..."

"For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.' "(Is 41:13)

The tagline for "Jaws II" was "just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...".  Often life feels that way.  Just when you think you have reached the end of the suffering, you find that once again, after only a brief rest, you are thrust back in the middle of that same struggle.  Yes, the same enemy continues to prey.  

Through all of life's troubles, we have one friend, one confidant, one love who is always standing right beside us, holding our hand, wiping our tears, healing our hurts...Jesus!!!  He loves us so much that He went to the grave and conquered death by rising again!  He is the foundation.  He is whom we place our trust in.  He is love!  He knows our fears, He knows our weaknesses, He patiently waits for us to reach up.  He is waiting for us to follow.

We are chosen...not because we deserve it, but because God wants us!  It is our responsibility to share Him with the world.  

One day, He will bring all of His faithful people together.  We need not fear, because God is with us ("I am with thee"), He has established a relationship with us ("I am thy God"), and His assurance of strength, help and victory of sin and death is certain. When we are tempted to put our trust in something other than the living God - as yourself this question:  Will it deliver?  Will it unfailingly provide what I am looking for? 

God has made a promise to us.  He keeps His promises. He tells us "I AM!!!"