Saturday, January 25, 2014

~ "There's a place for us..."

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (Matt 1:35)
Even Jesus needed a quite place to pray.  Sometimes, even in our own isolation, we need to get to a place where we CAN pray.  When I was young, in my late teens and early twenties, I would hop in the car and take a ride to the beach (it was only about 3 miles from my house).  In the dead of winter I would drive down there, park my car, get out and sit on the jetty and just talk to God.  I would tell him what was bothering me, tell him what it was I needed and he would listen.  The silence was interrupted only by the crashing waves along the shoreline.  Sometimes I really miss those nights because it was in those moments that I truly felt the presence of God around me.
I don't always "feel" his presence around me, but I know that the Holy Spirit is there.  My faith tells me so.  Sometimes I get to a place where I cannot stay focused on my prayer time, where the emotional and physical exhaustion takes over and the prayer that comes out is "God, I just can't right now - please help me".  I am never out of his sight.  He understands and knows that eventually, whatever is going on in my life that is keeping me from focusing, will pass.  It always does.  I don't have to be perfect before him.  My words do not have to be eloquent when I pray.  Sometimes they are fragmented thoughts, at best!  It's how I present myself to him when I pray - humbled and unworthy of all he's done for me.  
In those moments when you cannot find the words and you stumble through the prayers you are offering, remember that he knows what it is you want to say.  Don't turn away because you have a few days connected in which you have not been able to offer your prayers and praises in the way you have become accustomed.  Continue to give him what you are able to and, in time, the rest will follow.  As I've said before, he knows your heart - he knows that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak".  
Search out that place that you need to find to be alone with him in prayer.  Let the things that are troubling you fall away.  Put the images of your past to rest and focus on the day ahead of you.  He has a greater plan for you today!  Accept it with the humblest heart you can summon and he will know you have done the very best you can! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

~ "Trinity...not trilogy!!!"

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen. (Matt 28:18-20)
Jesus spoke to his disciples and gave them instructions before his ascension.  These three verses are the key to what it is we are supposed to be doing while we wait!  Please note that it doesn't say we are to spend our time playing video games, or clubbing, or glued to the front of a television set.  Those things should be for our "entertainment on occasion", not our way of life!  It seems that many of us do the reverse.  We spend more time watching television, playing our games, going to clubs and movies, shopping for things we don't need, and other assorted things then we spend with the Lord.  
"Teach all nations"...we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with many different nationalities and faiths right here in the United States.  This country is a melting pot of races and religions.  We condemn the teachings of some because they do not believe that the Bible is the Word of God.  But what are we doing to enlighten them.  What are we afraid of?  
My religion reflects my beliefs, it is not the foundation they are based on.  My beliefs are based on what is written in the Bible (and not just certain parts of it - ALL of it).  There is no one else and there is nothing else - no rule book, no code of conduct, no additional appendices - everything I need to know is there!  Too often my adoration the Holy Trinity was overshadowed by "dos and don'ts" created by mortals.  
"Baptizing them" John did!  It comes when we can fully accept and understand what we are committing to.  No one can accept Jesus as my Savior on my behalf no more than they could take my place in hell (if that's where I was going).  It's a decision of choice and the conviction of our souls that brings us to the waters of baptism.  Being baptized does not guarantee reserved seating in heaven.  It symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and our desire to be "born again".  It is a commitment we make in the knowledge of the salvation it represents!
"Observe all things"...all the teachings of Jesus, all the commands and the life style he's laid before us.  Remember, Satan wants us all.  He can and will use any device necessary to lure us away from what Christ asks of us.  Whether we like them or not, that is what we are commanded to do.
"I am with you always"...Nothing we do or don't do goes unnoticed.  Nothing we face is faced alone.  Every breath, ever step, every tear, every outburst of laughter - Jesus is right there with us!  The word is "always" - not "sometimes", not "when you remember to call on me" - he is ALWAYS with us - "even to the end of the world."
So get up off your seat and open the book!  When you've successfully opened the book, open your heart.  Allow the Holy Spirit to do the work in you that he needs to do to prepare you for what lies ahead!  It's not guaranteed to be easy (if something is worth having, it's worth working for)'s guaranteed to be worth it!  Give him the glory he deserves from you.  Sing him the praises of your heart and soul!  Honor him by honoring his commands!  Respect his word by respecting yourself! Allow the living God to live in you!

Monday, January 20, 2014

~ "The one that got away..."

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27) 

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

~ "no 'buts' about it..."

photo by Celia Darrigo
Therefore I say to you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:24-26)
There are some things we don't want to forgive.  We want to hold on to them and use them to justify our bitterness or our anger.  "But Lord, look what he did to me!  How can you ask me to forgive him?"  Our wanting justice for injustice would be more easily explained if we turned it around and pointed it at ourselves.  There is not a one of us alive who has not, at one time or another, caused these same feelings in someone who are we to demand forgiveness when we choose not to forgive?
People hurt us.  Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.  Either way, we are told to forgive and to leave the "yeah, but" out of it!  I'll be honest, that's not generally what I want the Lord to tell me.  What I want to hear (sometimes) is that I am right and they are wrong and God will take my side.  Guess what?  There's a good chance that the other person is wanting the same thing!  Guess what again??? He takes the side of truth!  When we come to that point, we are being told to put our house in order, for he sees ALL!!!  We need to let these things go.  God's justice and man's justice are not the same.  Our society is governed by the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" -- in God's eyes, we are all guilty.  There is no probation, no plea bargaining, no commutation of our sentence - we have received the death penalty and we will die!  The only thing that saves our ugly selves is the cross and that will only come AFTER our mortal lives are finished. Jesus paid for our sins as well as the sins of those who hurt us.  Each and every low life, reject, snob, or mean-spirited person who has caused us pain has already been forgiven if they are a true follower.  The question is - are you a true follower?  Have you forgiven them without wanting anything for it?  Have you put aside the desire for "them getting theirs"?  Have you stopped  envisioning them standing before God and witnessing them having to answer for what they've done to you?  
Today is the day to let it all go!  Forgive it all - no "but's" about it!  When you start to revisit that act in the screenplay in your mind, re-write it!  Let it play out on a happy note!  Who cares if there's no dramatic climax to it!  Quite frankly, I prefer no drama!  Allow yourself to be secure in the knowledge that you are forgiven, and in being forgiven - pay it forward and forgive those who have hurt you.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

~ "This little light of mine..."

Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1)
Applying the "basic knowledge" of John 14:1 sounds easy enough.  There are days when all we can do is trust in God because there is no other help available to us.  That's not a bad thing.  Our heavenly father wants us to trust in him!
There are many things in life that "trouble" us.  Right now, for me, it's finances.  Will I have enough money to pay the bills, will I have enough money to buy food, will I have enough get the idea.  When you get to a point where you don't expect anyone else to pick up the pieces and "bail you out", that's when the Lord lays grace upon you.  In my heart I know that I will not have to live in my car, there will be enough for me to survive.  My brain has a totally different take on the matter.  That is when I have to rely on my faith!  God did not bring me this far to just leave me here to fend for myself.  He will provide whatever it is I need.  He always does. 
Sometimes we forget how we got to where we are.  Many of us didn't get here easily, but we all got here the same way - by God's design.  Believing in God came easy for me ~ just as he always was and always will be, so is my belief in him!  He has always been a part of my life!  I have not always acknowledge him, nor have I always worshiped him. There are days that I have a hard time following the routine that includes quality time with him.  He remains by my side just the same.  When Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, they were so confused over the thought of his death, they stumbled. He told them to believe in him as they believed in God; to trust him even if they did not understand. He asks the same of us!  
Don't let the disappointments of this world trouble your heart!  Everything will work out according to God's plan for you.  Continue to pray, even if you can't find yourself on the blueprints.  He knows where you are, and chances are you are right where you are supposed to be!  We no longer wander around in the dark - we have a brilliant light guiding us each and every step of our journey ~ so let it shine!!!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

~ "Stand up, stand firm, stand out..."

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58)

I once had the opportunity to hear an evangelist in a manner I'd never seen or heard before.  He brought with him his two little friends who seem to have no aversion to small, confined spaces and they helped him share two very powerful messages about the Word of God!  He is a ventriloquist.

His message came from Daniel - the story of  Nebuchadnezzar, his "god", his "law" and the three men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) who refused to bow down and worship it.  These three men had faith in THEIR God - their faith enabled them to stand up (literally and figuratively), stand firm and stand out!

What is it that we are doing when it comes to standing up?   Are we acknowledging that we serve an all-powerful God?  When confronted with that which is not from God, are we reminding those who confront us that we belong to him and their behavior is not acceptable in our company?  And when we do "stand up", are we standing firm in our belief and not succumbing to peer pressure?  Are we truly living examples of God's Word in us?

If we are willing to accept the gift of salvation, the gift of eternal life from our Creator, then shouldn't we be willing to stand up for what God tells us no matter what?  In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he reminds them that they, too, must "stand firm" and give themselves completely to the work of the Lord.  It may not be the "popular" thing to do and it may get us looks of disgust, mocked and ridiculed for our beliefs and our way of life but it will, none the less, be that which causes us to "stand out"!!!

Don't be afraid to be "unpopular" with your friends, relatives or assorted associates ~ there is one person who is more than willing to stand beside you!  In those times when you are terrified of the response of those around you when you feel compelled to proclaim the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, know that if you stand up, he will stand beside you; if you stand firm, he will be your strength; and through that, he will lift you up and you will stand out!  

Friday, January 10, 2014

~ "The reasons matter..."

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 9, 2014

~ "Held..."

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

~ "On your mark, get set..."

photo by Celia Darrigo
And Jesus answered and said to him, What will you that I should do to you? The blind man said to him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. (Mark 10:51)

Here we have a man wandering around in the dark.  He had never seen the colors of the rainbow, never gazed upon the face of those who cared for him, never saw a sunset.  He had heard of this man, Jesus, and believed that he could be healed.  He had faith!

There was a time when we all "wandered around in the dark".  Our lives were shaped by the job we had, the friends we made and our individual choices.  One day, all of that changed!  Accepting Christ as my Savior was the single most significant decision I have ever or will ever make.  The faith that allows us to continue to serve a loving God, believing in his promises to us, is often the only "good" thing we have going for us.  We can weather any storm through the power of the Holy Spirit.  

When Jesus asked Bartimaeus what it was that he wanted from him, he asked that he "might" receive his sight.  In other words, if the Lord saw fit to grant his petition, he would be grateful.  He didn't demand it, as if it were "owed" to him.  So often we feel we are "owed" something from God.  He owes us nothing.  He gives us everything.  With every prayer we bring before our merciful Father, we should bring it with the attitude of "if it is YOUR will".  

Allow your faith to grow.  The longer you walk with him, the easier the journey becomes.  Sometimes you don't even realize how "far" you've come until you look back to where you started from.  That is the part of his plan for you that you have already experienced.  He has so much more for you if you continue on!  Don't lose sight of the finish line ~ he's waiting to greet you when you reach it!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

~ "Love perfected..."

But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (1 John 2:5)

Some days are easier than others - it's a "given". We take into each new day the experiences and lessons learned from the day before. We grow a little more each time we fall and summon the courage to stand again. God's love for us is our foundation.

There are many days throughout the year that hold significance to us individually and as families. Some of those days hold painful memories, yet in those painful sighs, we can still see the hand of God and the gift of love he offers us. 

A disobedient lifestyle offers no respect for our Creator, who IS worthy of our obedience. "Those who walk in hatred and enmity to believers, remain in a dark state. Christian love teaches us to value our brother's soul, and to dread every thing hurtful to his purity and peace. Where spiritual darkness dwells, in mind, the judgment, and the conscience will be darkened, and will mistake the way to heavenly life. These things demand serious self-examination; and earnest prayer, that God would show us what we are, and where we are going." (Matthew Henry)

Why would you willingly and knowingly walk away from the grace of God? The temptations of the enemy, the "carrot" he dangles in front of us, is sometimes so enticing that we must immediately hit our knees and ask God to intercede! The power he yields in our defense and on our behalf cannot be measured in any terms (human or inhuman). The decisions we make may take us out of the will of God, but they cannot take us out of the reach of God. Like the concept of "infinity", so great is God's love! 

Be true to the Word of God! Keep his commandments. Walk in the light he gives you! Know that wherever it is you are walking, it is never completely dark and you are never alone! He is the light that guides us and he never leaves our side! Allow him to use the experiences of yesterday to lead you today! Fall into his waiting arms!

Monday, January 6, 2014

~ "Do not light a candle for me..."

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:8)

Going to church, lighting a candle, and all the other stuff done in the name of "prayer", tends to make me want to scream and say WAKE UP!!!  

It isn't about putting on your best outfit and getting in the car, driving to church, showing up late and leaving early, buying or lighting a church candle and placing it in front of a statue, saying a litany of prayers in succession on a chain linked with beads, or reciting scripted prayer for nine days straight - it's about devotion to God, heart-felt worship of our Savior and faith in what the Bible teaches us.  

I understand, sincerely I do - I was raised in a religion that advocates these practices...but do not light a candle for me!  Do not use symbolism in place of an honest prayer!  Do not "go through the motions" because NOW you need God to answer your prayer!  Pray daily, to God through Jesus!  Pray with feeling, not repetition!  Pray with humility, not entitlement! 

Let Jesus into your life - let Him be the one who lights your way!  His way is the only way to the Father - never forget that!!! 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

~ "Guarded heart..."

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. (Ps 40:4)

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

When we put our trust in God, we can find strength in his promises. When we ask for only what we "need", he will pour out more blessings than we deserve or even expect. He has met my needs and then some! Just like the steps I took to get to this point in my life (most of them hard), He continues to remind me that all things are under His control. There is nothing He sets before me that I cannot overcome, provided I put my trust in Him! 

The attitude of "humility" before Him is what He asks of us. The joy we experience when He answers a prayer is the same joy we are asked to display when a trial is thrown onto our path! Rejoice in it! Thank Him for it and know that you are blessed! He will move the mountains for you. He will guard you and guide your path - if you listen and watch (and trust) for Him. Even if there is a timeframe in which you fall short of your own expectations (He knows the capacity of your love for Him and He knows the failing human heart and spirit), you can rest knowing that you have not been deserted and that He is by your side, always! Don't turn a deaf ear nor a blind eye towards the wonder that is His! Submit to His plan, guard your heart and He will guard your soul.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

~ "Mission: POSSIBLE..."

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Gen 5:24)

Enoch was a Godly man.  He won favor with God by the way he lived his life.  When we read the genealogy from Adam through to Jared, it tells us the length of time each man lived and that they "died".  Enoch did not die ~ "he was not; for God took him".  In all the commentary I've read (and additionally, a sermon preached by my pastor) we find that Enoch did not die.  He was "translated to heaven-a mighty miracle, designed to effect what ordinary means of instruction had failed to accomplish, gave a palpable proof to an age of almost universal unbelief that the doctrines which he had taught (Jude 14, 15) were true and that his devotedness to the cause of God and righteousness in the midst of opposition was highly pleasing to the mind of God." (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

It is not impossible to find favor in God's eyes!  It is not unreasonable to believe that God can do anything, perform any miracle or grant any request.  He asks us to be sincere in our prayers and praises.  He wants us to lead clean, wholesome lives.  He asks us to be truthful and honest with those we interact with. He has shown us time and time again that he is all-powerful and that failure to walk in his ways will surely bring about an afterlife, an eternity of hell, making the life led on earth seem like a treasure.

The miracles performed by Jesus, the graces and miracles that still find their way to us here on earth, the testimonies of those who have heard the voice of God have not persuaded the multitudes to bow down and worship. We live our lives under the mistaken presumption that because we are saved we can do what we want!  So many believe that earth is hell - that they are entitled to happiness for the rest of their lives, that they've earned it through the abominable sufferings they've endured!  All you need do is read the third chapter of Genesis to see that all the privilege of comfort in this world were given up by Adam and Eve.

Take an inventory of yourself and make every effort to change what you know to be outside of the will of God.  Call on the power of the Holy Spirit to help you to walk with God.  It's not too late to make things "right" with him.  Bow down now, ask forgiveness now - for we know that one day "every knee shall bow" and then it will be too late!

Friday, January 3, 2014

~ "Shoveling snow..."

Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head. (Jeremiah 18:14-16)

As I look out my window, at the snow covered ground and temperature at 11ยบ, I think of what this will mean for those traveling, those who have to shovel it, plow it or work outside in it.  I'm very content to stay in my warm townhouse and watch.  

Many of us are content to "watch" and not be a part of the winter wonderland that has fallen on us. Some of us don't like the cold, can't stand being bundled up, are afraid to take a risk and venture outside of our safe haven or just don't really care either way.  

In these verses, God invites us to repent, just as He invited the nation of Jews to repent.  They had forgotten Him.  They strayed from the path He had laid before them.  Theirs had become a way of misery by their own design.  

Creating our own path in life (choices we make with regard to education, employment, and the like) can bring us joy and wealth (comfortable living).  It's what we all want.  Some arrive at a place much higher than could ever have been expected of them.  Some become envious of their apparent success.  However, remember that the choices that they have made may not have been done through prayer and acceptance of God's will for them, but from their own greediness and their willingness to ignore what is right to achieve what they want as opposed to what God wants for them.

God's path for us may not always be the easiest, the prettiest or the most comfortable path - but it is the right path!  Trust that He does have a plan for you - and it's a great plan!!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

~ "Saving grace..."

Therefore all things whatever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matt 7:12)

There is no question as to who holds our salvation ~ it is Jesus!  It is accomplished through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave.  Acceptance causes an awakening within you that cannot be denied!  There are no questions - there is a definite knowledge.  As I've said before, if you are questioning whether or not you are saved, chances are you are not.
Jesus tells us to do unto others as we would have others do unto us.  What does this mean?  It's a command to live (to the best of our ability) the life that he lived without wanting accolades for doing it.  Doing something because it is the right thing to do, not because of the rewards it will bring to us, is what a Christian life is all about.  It's not how much money you dump into the collection plate, it's not what you give to charity, it's about doing it because Jesus did it.
How many times do you fail to take the opportunity to show Christ's love here?  Do you avoid reaching out your hand to someone because deep inside you really don't want to hear their story?  We are called to love one another - to "do unto others".  We are to be the hands and feet of our Lord even though we are imperfect ~ we are to love because he loved and just like he loved (unconditionally). We are to give because he gave, just like he gave (everything).  We are to reach our hand out to the lost because in reality it is his hand and only his hand can save!  Do it because Jesus did it, because it is what he wants from you!  Thank him for the opportunity to show another his love!  Remove the facade and become a true follower of Jesus Christ!  If you can't feed his sheep, then at least find them and point them in the right direction.  Continue to be all that he calls you to be and do it willingly and with a smile on your face.  God has plans for them as well...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

~ "Remind me who I am..."

And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry. (Gen 8:13) about starting off the new year right!  God kept his promise to Noah.  He spared him and his family.  He brought them through the storm and gave them continued hope that in following his law, he would protect and bless them.  I'm sure that the time spent on the ark was challenging, to say the least.  
So, here we are, at the beginning of another year.  We've talked about resolutions and what changes we can make in our lives that will reflect praise and glory to God.  If we look back on all the hard times we encountered over the past year, we may become disappointed and sad!  They may have been difficult, they may have challenged our faith, they may have been physically demanding, they may have included loss or fear and they may have included the closing of doors ~ but we did not face them alone!  We never face anything alone!
In each of our "sufferings", we've received a blessing.  Sometimes they aren't as obvious as we'd like them to be, but they are there, just the same.  There are so many analogies with regard to transformations that take place to make something beautiful that I can't even pick one.  The beauty that lies deep within us comes from a place of glory!  It's not something that can be stolen from us.  Our gifts from God may be "often imitated, but never duplicated".  We have been chosen to do whatever it is we do for him.  We are original!  Our uniqueness in the way that God sees us sets us apart from all others!  Being a Christian is not something you can fake your way through.  You either are or you are not!  He always lets you know where you stand with him - there are never any doubts!  
God will continue to guide you through this new year.  There will be storms to bring you closer to him, there will be blessings to praise him for.  Your attitude towards them is what will make the difference.  Make it an attitude of prayer no matter what!  Always try to see the silver lining in the storm clouds, look for the flower blooming just beneath the snow and open your heart and soul to the goodness that is God!  Make a conscious effort to feel the loving arms of Jesus wrapped around you and listen for the whisper of the Holy Spirit as he guide you.  Make this year a year of praise for all things, not just the ones that bring you joy.  Look for that rainbow which reminds you of his promise.  Spend time in prayer and spend time in the Word!  Just as he kept his promise to Noah, God will surely keep his promise to you!
Happy New Year!