Tuesday, September 30, 2014

~ "Pray..."

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (1 Tim 2:1-2)

Once again, pray for everyone!  Pray for the leaders of our country.  Pray for a life marked by godliness and dignity.

We don't always think to pray for those who have been elected to office.  Somehow, political careers tend mostly to be on the opposite side of what is righteous and good.  Not all politicians, but many.  We pray for our country to turn back to God, yet we don't pray for those who can point it in that directions.  Oh, we whine and complain about it on our social media sites - "Put prayer back in schools" and the likes, but we don't put the focus on those who have the ability to make the change.  The changes we are looking for will not come through a vote by the people.  They will only come by the grace of God.

We are commanded here in Timothy to pray for everyone.  Every man, woman, child, politician, murderer, thief, sex offender...every single one!  I do get on my soapbox every now and again, but the best way to elicit a change is through prayer!  In the grand scheme of things on this earth, we are small and insignificant - in God's plan we are the main focus!  He will listen to our petitions, he hears our prayers.

Focus on a life of quiet godliness and dignity - a life of prayer.  There is a greater chance of change through prayer than through complaining...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

~ "Encore..."

"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.  (Ps 100:4-5)

How truly wonderful it that!!!  His love is everlasting!  It will endure forever!  

My first thought when I read the first verse of today's post was the energy we use when we enter the concert hall that will showcase our favorite band.  There is constant chatter, usually focused on other concerts we've attended or on the band's latest release.  Then, the lights dim and the crowd begins to whistle and holler in anticipation.  They take the stage and the arena erupts into loud applause and screaming (depending on the band).  They play that first chord and you instinctively know the song they are about to play.  The adrenaline rushes through your body and you spend the next hour or so on your feet singing along.  Then the stage goes dark.  The audience is filled with the flickering lights of a Bic.  Then, without knowing precisely when, the band reappears and plays it's final encore.  You leave the even still singing, still smiling and carry that feeling all the way home in the car.

Now, go back.  Replace that "band" with our Creator.  For centuries, God's people waited.  They prepared themselves for the coming of the Savior.  The Promised One.  He came and gave us a new order - to love one another.  He died on the cross for our sins, and now we wait for the encore.  The Second Coming.

Do we know every word to every "song" written?  Do we gather to give thanks and bless his name? In the darkness, do we wait patiently for him?  Do we have the same faith in his word that he has in us?

No matter how far we stray, or "forget" to sing his praises, he remains our loving, merciful Creator! He continues to bless us, provide for us and watch over us.  The encore, the second coming, will be spectacular.  Every knee will bend, every voice will utter praises!  Get a head start on the crowd - know the words before the music starts!

Friday, September 26, 2014

~ "Needs improvement..."

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil..." (1 Cor 13:4-5)

There are few verses written in the King James Version that I find translate much better in the New International Version - this is one of them..."Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."

These verses are often read at weddings.  I have had the privilege of reading at a family wedding. These verses speak volumes about love and life.  True love of another human being doesn't mean that we keep score on wrongs or rights.  It's not a repayment in kind, it's not retaliation.  It doesn't mean to tell lies or stretch the truth.

Simply put, these verses tell us that we should direct love outward towards others, not inward towards ourselves.  It is the truest form of unselfishness.  It goes against our natural tendencies but with God's help, we can set aside our own desires and instincts, so that we can give love while expecting nothing in return.  The closer we are to Jesus, the more love we have for others.

Show patience and kindness every chance you get.  Not everyone is fortunate enough to be surrounded by loving, caring people.  Offering a smile, not judging outward appearances, be unassuming and you just might find that the love you show others may come back to you in blessings.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

~ "The sum of the whole..."

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."  (1 Cor 15:58)

Standing firm.  Letting nothing move you.  Giving yourself fully to the work of the Lord because you know that any work done in his name is never in vain.  This verse is one of foundation.  A foundation for a Christian life.  If you apply these words to your life every day, you will be an example of courage and faith.

When we begin our "new" path with Jesus, the old is consumed by the new.  Yes, what we were before still remains, but our life with Jesus leading takes us away from the events that brought us to our knees in the first place.  The sins of the past are forgiven.  We are given the opportunity to move forward, doing everything for the glory of God, for the blessings he bestows and for the mercy and grace he provides.  Often, those in our past, cannot grasp the full meaning of our calling to serve and truly feel that anything that does not portray them as "holy and perfect" is cause for rebuttal and retaliation.

Everything that has happened in our life makes us who we are.  It's not just what we did when we were 15, nor is it just what we did when we were 30.  We are whole.  We are the sum of all the parts of our past and present.  Who I was 40 years ago may not be who I am today, but those experiences still remain very much a part of me.  Having accepted Jesus as my Savior, I have given my life to his work.  I don't profess to be perfect. The experiences of my past are what the Lord uses to teach me.  They are what he uses to inspire me when I write.  They are the instrument used to reach out to those who are struggling, regardless of what those who feel that my testimony has "thrown them under the bus" may think.

I stand firm.  I let nothing move me away from God and his grace.  I give myself fully to his work for his glory, not mine.  Live each day as a testimony to the power of God in your life!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

~ "In his image..."

"For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."  (Ps 139: 13-14)

God created our mind, our hearts - he created us from the inside out, in the safety and comfort of our mother's womb.  We are complex and well-made.  His workmanship is miraculously perfect!!! A flawless creation by a master craftsman, made in his image and for his purpose!

Having given birth to four children, I can remember holding each of them and admiring their perfect form.  The shape of their head, their little eyes staring up at me, those tiny little fingers wrapping themselves around one of mine, their soft, uncalloused feet that were kissable...one of God's perfect creations!

As we grow, we become less dependent on our mothers and more independent in our own right.  We go from needing to be nursed to fixing ourselves a meal.  We gain control over our muscles and learn to walk and talk.  But no matter how old we get, our mother still sees the little baby she held in her arms the very first time.  It's a "parent" thing.

Our creator, our Heavenly Father, still sees us in the same way - he sees a child of his, one he's created and he loves us.  He will never walk away from us.  Regardless of what we may do that displeases him, he loves us.  He sent salvation to us in the form of a child.  Like us, that child grew and became a man.  The difference is that this particular child did not displease him, ever!  He never once sinned against his father, yet he paid the price for each and every sin ever committed.  His life was relatively short compared to the average life span, yet in those 33 years, he managed to teach, to love, to live and to give of himself to every soul he encountered.  He has given to those who came before him and those who continue to come after him.  He's set the bar for us.  Can you meet it???

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

~ "Doing it for God..."

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering..." (Col 3:12)

We, as God's chosen people, are dearly loved.  We should be people with compassionate hearts, displaying kindness, humility, meekness and patience.

No all of the people we come across every day display these attributes.  We are required to interact with people who are unpleasant, nasty, ghastly, vile and revolting.  Their attitude reflects that of privilege and power and their is no room in their world for anyone who is not perfect, and the "powers that be" turn a blind eye to their despicable sense of importance.

So, what do you do?  You could complain (that and $1 might get you a cheeseburger at McDonald's), you could avoid them, but better still is to go out of your way to show them the compassion that Jesus would show them.  No, you aren't doing it for them, you aren't doing it for yourself either!  Most often, people who are "ugly" and "nasty" expect others to react to their horrific attitudes.  They thrive on it (it's their drug of choice).  What they don't expect is for people to display a genuine kindness, a compassionate heart.

We don't just carry the love of God, we need to share it as well.  God tells us to love our enemies.  My mother told me to "kill them with kindness".  My brain says they "need to go away", but my heart, which is filled with the love of God, speaks the loudest -- love those who shun, love those who persecute and do it for his glory, not mine!!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

~ "The spared rod child..."

"Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.  There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.  (Prov 19:20-21)

Listening to advice and learning from our mistakes is what helps us as we age.  We become wiser as we get older simply because we have been around longer.  Some, however, do not heed the good advice, nor do they learn from their mistakes.  They wander through this existence churning the water and leaving pollution in their wake.  Some even try to ignore God's plan and continue to do things in spite of the knowledge they've gained.

Listening with our hearts to the Word of God should be a natural occurrence in each day of our lives.  That little voice we call our "conscience" will let us know if we are on the wrong path by gnawing at us and making us feel uncomfortable.  God's purpose will always stand.  We don't get to make the rules, nor do we get to change them.  We can approach God as a spoiled child with the attitude that "it's my life, I make the rules"...the ultimate reality is that he has made the rules and his opinion on the decisions we've made in our lives to either exclude him or include him will be the final word on the subject.

Listening to the advice offered, learning and accepting the Word of God and his will for us and not trying to read between the lines will enable us to do what is expected of us as his children.  He is a God of discipline and a God of love.  Let him spoil you with his blessings!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

~ "A mighty fortress..."

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him I will trust."  (Ps 91:1-2)

We all have those moments in life when it seems like we are under attack by bad things.  Well, in some cases, the enemy is truly looking to tear us away from God.  There are times, too, that what we perceive as attacks, is simply life unfolding according to the will of God.  His timing is perfect for what he wants of us...our commitment to him.

Today, I want you to pray for a young woman who, over the past 5 months, has lost 3 members of her family - her immediate family.  Death comes unexpectedly for some.  "Accidental" deaths are particularly hard because it seems like a roll of the dice.  Death from long illnesses when there seemed to be such promise of remission cuts like a knife, especially when that person is in what we consider the prime of life.  Death of a parent means that our caretaker, our "go to" person is gone.  Not one of these is easy to bear.  The question "why" always comes to our lips.

God is our refuge.  He is a shelter when we are afraid.  God will protect us and carry us through all the dangers and tears of life.  We can trade our tears for faith in him, no matter how intense our pain becomes.  We can rest with him and be kept safe.  He is our fortress - trust and rest in him!

Friday, September 19, 2014

~ "Casting away despair..."

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.  For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." (Heb 10:35-36)

We tend to get impatient when things don't happen in our timeframe - we want to take all the confidence we have in ourselves (or our talents) and throw it away.  We continue to do God's will and we receive no recognition.  We forget, sometimes, that our reward, our promise, is not of this world.  We forget that what we do here is not for our own glory, but for the glory of God.

It is human to look around and see those who live sinful lives prosper and wonder what we are doing wrong.  Our "idols" live comfortable lives, are recognized for what they do and want for nothing.  Our "friends" go from husband to husband taking from each of them to build up their castles and leave them in the shadows.  Our co-workers work very hard at not working hard while we push forward doing our work and theirs.  Where is our reward?

Faith is resting in what Jesus has done for us, not what others could do for us.  It means trusting him for what he will do for us, as promised, today and tomorrow.  The world changes; God does not.  He does not break his promises and he has promised to forgive our sins through Jesus.  He has promised to provide for us and care for us.  His promises are sound.  Relax...he's got this!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

~ "Our own personal mediator..."

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Heb 4:15)

Jesus understands our weaknesses, he can sympathize with us simply because he faced all the same challenges and temptations we do.  He "gets" it.  And all these same tests of courage and faith came to him without having sinned.  He had the opportunity to say "no" and he chose to suffer and die for us.

When we pray to God through Jesus, we have a mediator who has experienced the same feelings, the same anguish and the same pain as you and I.  He experienced the loss of a parent (his father, Joseph).  He experienced the loss of a friend (Lazarus).  He knows what it's like to have a friend stab you in the back and betray you (Judas).  He's had a friend even deny knowing him (Peter).  He's had people make fun of him and assault him (bullied and abused).  He's also known the joys!  But then, we don't usually pray for relief from those, do we?

When we are in the midst of our own pain, we'd like to think no one else has ever had it so bad.  Jesus has.  He spent days in the desert fighting off the enemy.  He spent hours in prison for a crime he wasn't guilty of.  He was mocked and beaten and made fun of because he claimed to be a king.  He was crucified for heresy, and in that moment, he forgave those who executed him!  Can you or I make the same claim?  Have we ever refused to forgive?  Have we ever judged because what was being relayed to us was simply absurd and thought to be impossible?  Have we ever given into temptation simply because it was easier than resisting?

So, when we pray to God through Jesus (and we are to ONLY pray to God through Jesus - and through no one else (John 14:6) we petition a man who knows our pain on a first-hand level.  He's lived it, experienced it and will intercede on our behalf.  He understands and will listen!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

~ "Discipline..."

"My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth." (Prov 3:11-12)

Discipline means "to teach and to train".  It sounds negative because some disciplinarians are not loving.  I raised four children.  When they didn't do what they were supposed to do, when they did something they shouldn't have, when they said things that weren't appropriate for them to say - they heard, and sometimes felt what's been termed as "the wrath of Mom".  Often, after being told they were grounded, I would hear the words "you hate me".  Ah, little did they know that if I didn't love them, they would be allowed to do whatever it was they wanted.  I was not interested in being their friend - I was their parent.

Today that's changed.  Yes, I am still their Mom, but I've now become their friend as well.  Knowing when to stop the "active" parenting and let them go it on their own is not something that's easily accomplished.  Not everyone can let go.  Some parents never do!  I still tell them when I think they are making a mistake, and I offer advice (only when asked, for the most part).  I rejoice with them in their successes and comfort them in their failures.  I listen.  Not all parents do that, either.

Our Heavenly Father reminds us that we are still "children" in his eyes - HIS children.  He is the source of all love.  He doesn't punish us because he enjoys inflicting pain on us, but because he is deeply concerned about our development.  In order to become morally strong and good, we must learn the difference between right and wrong.  His loving discipline enables us to do this.

Let that "moral compass" point you in the direction for faith and love.  Take comfort in God's mercy and grace.  Pray for guidance and wait...he's listening!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

~ "A spirit in need..."

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26)

It's nice to know that there is strength available for us when we cannot seem to find any in ourselves.  The strength of the Holy Spirit guides us, lifts us and intercedes for us!  Sometimes we don't know what we need to pray for (do we ask for strength, patience, forgiveness...).  The Spirit knows before we do!  Sometimes there are no words, hence the "groanings".  We need only know we need God's mercy and grace to pray.

When Jesus told his Apostles he would send the Holy Spirit, he knew there would be times life that.  The Holy Spirit does, indeed, pray with us and for us, and God answers.  With God helping us pray, how could we possibly be afraid to go before him and ask what we need?  The Holy Spirit will plead for us according to God's will.

Don't be afraid to ask God for what you need.  He will answer you one way or another.  There are three answers that come from our Father...yes, no, wait!  Once again, we see that when we talk...God listens!

Monday, September 15, 2014

~ "A bridge to God..."

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit..." (1 Peter 3:18)

Jesus suffered for the sins of the righteous and the unrighteous.  He died for all of us - Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindus, Atheists and everyone in between.  His death paid for our sins.  His resurrection opened the gates of Heaven and gave each one of us the opportunity to accept the gift offered...salvation.

The commentary written on this verse (and the two that follow) seems to differ.  Each Christian denomination teaches something a bit different, but there are no supporting verses for it.  What we do know, through our reading of God's Word, is that the salvation Jesus brought to us was preached in the Old Testament as well as the New.  We know that Christ is the key to our salvation - without him, without acceptance of his sacrifice as the Son of God, we are not saved.  We know we cannot get there by works alone and that just being a good, kind person does nothing but leave a nice epitaph on our tombstone.  There must be belief, there must be faith and there must be acceptance!

Belonging to a religious denomination offers us a community of Christians to worship with, to pray with, to grow with - but it is not a replacement for the personal relationship one develops by reading the Word of God!  Make a place for Jesus in your life, in your heart.  Read your Bible, talk to God - he listens!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

~ "Unashamed..."

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16)

The Apostle Paul was not ashamed.  His message is the Gospel of Christ, the Good News.  It is a message of salvation, it has life changing power and it is a message for everyone!!!

The message went out to the Jews first simply because for 2000 years, they had been God's special people.  He did not choose them because they deserved it, but because he wanted to show his love for them and teach them and prepare them to welcome the Messiah.  His choice was not of favoritism, but so they would tell the world about his plan of salvation.

They stood alike, Jews and Christians, against the idolatry practiced in Roman religions, which in some Christian denominations is still practiced widely today, and are more afraid of being thrown out of their church than they are of the wrath of God and the power of the enemy!  Those practicing Judaism are still living under the law handed down by Abraham and Moses and are waiting for a Messiah that has already come.

Don't be ashamed to live your life according to God's plan for you and according to his word.  Don't be ashamed to speak out in love and kindness!  Be the example of Christ - love others, love sinners, love God.

Friday, September 12, 2014

~ "Sow in the Spirit..."

"For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." (Gal 6:8)

If you live to satisfy your own sinful nature, then in the end, that is what you will reap: decay and death.  If you live to please God, you will gain eternal life with him in heaven.  Kind of simple, isn't it?  Our Lord provides us with yet another verse that reminds us that somethings are wrong.  We have all been created in his image.  We all have the capacity to love.  We all have a desire to be happy.  That does not come before the law.  That does not come before the law of God.

People change.  Our society changes.  Our laws change.  What was once unthought of or illegal is rapidly becoming acceptable and encouraged.  That doesn't make it right in the eyes of God.  His law has never changed.  It is the only law that has remained constant throughout the centuries.  A Christian knows where he stands with regard to society's rules.

I had someone tell me ones that they don't have to follow all of God's laws because they are outdated.  Okay.  If you look closely at many laws on the books in some states, you will find that they, too, are outdated.  That doesn't make negate their validity.  Until such time as the state rescinds that law, all who break it risk arrest or fines.  Some denominations have modified the word of God in order to have some control over it's members.  Some have added to and taken away from the word of God (and we all know what the Lord has to say about that) and brainwash their parishioners into believing they can spend an eternity in hell for failing to abide by their doctrine.

God's law, his word, never changes.  Everything you need to know to live a life sown in the Spirit is written in your Bible.  Take the time to read and study it.  Take the time to know where the line is drawn between loving others and approving of their sin.  We aren't here to judge their sins - we have enough of our own to worry about.  We also don't know what their relationship is with the Father.  We only need make sure we, individually, sow in the Spirit of God.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"...'I still have a long way to go.'"

"But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.  For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." (2 Cor 10:17-18)

Receiving a commendation is always an honor.  It means that something we've done has attracted the attention of others and was so outstanding that it merits recognition.  It wouldn't mean as much (and would probably mean less) if one could nominate themselves for this distinction.  Additionally, boasting about any award that does not recognize the hand God has had in the accomplishment, would tend to make the recipient appear to be somewhat insolent.

There was a man who never sought out recognition for any of the things he'd done for his fellow man.  He lost his life doing for others (as was his way).  In the years since 9/11, Chuck Costello has had a building named in his honor, a street named for his sacrifice and countless other similar honors bestowed on him.  He would have wanted the glory to go to God.

Written in his own hand and now etched in his family's heart are these words:
God is an all knowing and loving God. I don’t profess that I understand all that he does and why. For I see life as a real challenge in many ways. Over the time of forty four years I’ve learned lessons, yet there are many, many, I’ve yet to learn or will never understand. I believe in both God the Father and his son Jesus Christ. I truly believe but for the Grace of God go I. Although I find life hard at times, and a struggle, I’m grateful for all that I have. Although I don’t show it at times or sound like a man of content, for the most part, I am. The meaning of human life to me is just plain learning to love. I feel learning to love is the key to all life, and yet I feel this lesson has been one for me where I still have a long way to go. My faith has taught me to believe in what I believe in. It has seen me through many situations in the past and I believe it will carry me into the future. (Chuck Costello)

Chuck's belief carried him into a burning structure that would take his life on September 11, 2001.  He did what he did because of the love he spoke about.  Looking back, Chuck never "had a long way to go" - he was completely and most definitely showing a love for others that day that compares only to that of the first responders.  He was not one of them, yet he stood with them and worked side by side to free trapped passengers of both the north and south towers of the World Trade Center that beautiful September morning in 2001.

Take a lesson from Chuck's life.  Let your faith be the foundation for love.  Let your heart know no limits when it comes to that love and give glory to God for every single thing you accomplish.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

~ "Joy, peace and hope..."

"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Romans 15:13)

A prayer uttered without fully understanding the words, is meaningless.  Being raised Catholic, there were many written prayers that I did not understand, yet was required to "pray" them.  It is only now, decades later, that these prayers actually make some sense.

I have, in this moment, been filled with a joy and peace that only comes from believing.  Knowing that the Lord "has my back" so to speak, and knowing that he loves me and wants me to continue to share his word and my testimony, fills me with unspeakable joy.  The power of the Holy Spirit come to me each morning and through that power, I am able to pass on a bit of what is revealed to me as I continue my walk.

There are days when the enemy tries to tarnish that joy.  There are days when he wants to disturb my peace.  There are days that he wants to extinguish my hope.  He cannot touch the power of the Holy Spirit!  He cannot take anything that comes from God away from me.

When you are secure in your faith, and living the life you've been chosen to live, there is nothing that can separate you from God's love but you!  Plant your feet firmly in the soil of the Kingdom - plant your feet firmly in Jesus!  God will fill you with joy and peace and the hope that comes to you through his Holy Spirit!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

~ "Freedom to love..."

"Let love be without dissimulation.  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another..." (Romans 12: 9-10)

Wow!  God certainly knows how to speak to you, doesn't he?  Love must be sincere! Hate what is evil and hold tightly to what is good!  Love each other with genuine affection! Excel at showing respect for one another!  If everyone were to read only these two verses, the world would be a better place, but it's not just these two verses we need to focus on, is it?

True love for one another comes first from knowing what love is.  If you were never shown love, you will have a bent interpretation of love.  How we were raised, who we were raised with, what the circumstances were that surrounded our early years all play a role in how and who we love.  Generally, our first love is our mother.  We learned to love her through her constant caring and devotion to us when we were born.  That love is probably the single most profound love we will ever experience.  We love also because of constant companionship with others...our siblings, our extended families, our friends.  Our love for others grows from acquainting ourselves with them.  You can have a love for someone, but a genuine love, a sincere love, takes nurturing.

The same is true of our love for Jesus.  He loves us - he knows us!  Can we honestly love him without knowing him?  Can we honestly love God without knowing his word?  Two things come to light here: Loving someone in spite of their faults and being loved in spite of ours.  A sincere love requires understanding and forgiveness.  If we say we've forgiven someone and love them, we can't dredge up the past and rehash what is there.  That's not forgiveness.  We can't lash out in anger at others and say awful things and expect there to not be repercussions that can be both hurtful and unforgettable.

Jesus tells us that we are forgiven by his sacrifice on the cross.  That doesn't give us the right to continue to violate God's Word as if we had a free pass to the afterlife.  Loving God means to obey his commands, or at least try to obey them.  He knows we aren't perfect.  He doesn't expect perfect. We have rights as citizens of a country, but only one right as children of God.  Our free will is our right as heirs to the kingdom.  We have the right to choose whether to walk with him or walk away from him.  Remember that there are consequences that come with our choices, specifically the ones that violate God's Word.  Choose wisely.

Monday, September 8, 2014

~ "So, there's this person at work..."

"Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked." (Ps 97:10)

Hating evil is easy -- it's knowing what evil is in the first place that is the hard part.  When we sincerely desire to please God, we will be on the same page as God.  Our desire will be God's desires.  We will love what he loves, hate what he hates...in other words: If you love the Lord, you will hate evil.

If you do not despise the actions of people who take advantage of others, if you admire people who only look out for themselves, if you envy those who get ahead using any means to accomplish their ends, then your primary desire in life is not to please God.  Learn to love God's way and hate evil in every form - not only the obvious sins but also the socially acceptable ones.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

~ "Why, God???"

"The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."  (Jer 31:3)

God's love for his people never changes.  Regardless of the way we fail him, his love is never remains as strong as it has always been.  His love is timeless.  It has always been and it will always be.  He places no conditions on his love for us.  Can we say the same about our love for God?

It's easy to love God when things are going our way, when the money is rolling in, when the weather is beautiful, when our bellies are full.  The challenge comes when we must have faith and believe that what we are going through has some divine purpose.  That is generally when we lash out (if we lash out).  It's okay to ask why.  It's okay to be saddened.  It's even okay to be angry, provided the anger is channeled in an appropriate manner.

God did not promise that all our days would be filled with joy and laughter.  He promises only that he will love us and care for us until such time that he calls us home.  We may not understand that which he deems to be "good" in our lives, but he will, nonetheless, continue to hear our prayers and our cries for understanding and peace.  Know that whatever comes your way, it comes through him first and you will receive the blessing if you just have faith in his love for you!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

~ "Saying goodbye..."

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."  (Ps 16:11)

We all have a path in life that is laid before us.  We make the choice as to whether to stay on that path or try a short cut.  Sometimes the short cuts turn out to be longer and more tedious than the route originally laid.  Sometimes we run into detours and the adventure takes on a whole new meaning! The joys we encounter along the way help to make the trip even more gratifying.

We don't always get to the promised land in a manner than we would choose.  Some of us get there at the end of a very long and well-lived life.  Some of us get there before we experience only a small amount of time.  Some of us get there in the middle.  The one thing we all forget is that getting there is always in God's time.  No one goes on to be with him until his time here on earth is finished.  We often say "their life was cut short" - that's just not the case - their life was just as long as it was supposed to be - according to God's plan.

The instrument of death for each of us is different.  Whatever the mode, it has passed through God first.  As hard as it is to understand the "why", we must concede that the reason may not be for us to understand and have faith that it is part of the plan, part of the path - where, in the presence of God, our loved ones experience all the joy and all the pleasures of heaven.

Friday, September 5, 2014

~ "Food for thought..."

"Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord." (Lev 19:18)

Leviticus is not one of my regular reads in the Bible.  It is, however, read and quoted by many, often inaccurately.  Interpreting God's Word requires one to read all of it, not just one chapters, and more specifically, not just one verse.

This particular verse reminds us early on that we are not to judge others, that we are to love one another as we love ourselves.  We are told about love 314 times, so it must be important.  God's Word defines for us the sins that are displeasing to him, and the course of action to be taken (which is to be repentant of our sins).  It is not our place to judge the sins or repentance of others.  We are responsible for sharing God's Word, not enforcing it.

Take a moment and ask yourself if you are truly sharing the love God asks us to share.  Am I a hypocrite or a Christian?  Do I accept that we all sin differently or do I consider my sins less offensive than the sins of others simply because I attend church or read my Bible?  Instead of pointing the finger or condemnation today, try to point the finger of love!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

~ "Burdens..."

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28)

Most of us work (or have worked) for the majority of our lives.  After years and years, we become tired.  Then it's time for retirement.  We get an income from the government based on what we've worked.  It is not where near what we've earned throughout our lifetime, but it is designed to be supplemented by a pension or savings.  Many of us will not be able to fully retire simply because there is not enough money to sustain a decent way of life afterwards.  With the outrageous unemployment figures, many of us have depleted our savings in order to keep our heads above water and not fall into the "homeless" category.  

There is good news!  When it is time for us to leave this world for the next, we do so the same way we came here - naked and with nothing.  Yet, we will gain so much more than we ever dreamed possible here if we profess our faith in God and our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Jesus frees us from the burdens of sin, demands of religious leaders, oppression and persecution and weariness in the search for God.  The rest that Jesus promises us is love, healing and peace with God, not the end of labor.  A relationship with God changes our meaningless toil into spiritual productivity and purpose.  In other words, we have a goal to work toward.  

Let Jesus fill your heart and soul with his love and the burdens of this world will melt into the promises of the next!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

~ "Be still..."

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (Ps 46:10)

One of my favorite verses...BE STILL!  How often are we fidgety when it comes to waiting for what we want, what we need -- waiting, always waiting!  Instant gratification has no place in God's Word.  It is in his time, and only in his time, that blessings come.

The bigger picture in today's world is that of hunger, war and blatant sin (not necessarily in that order).  There have always been wars.  They are inevitable.  There is always a "good" reason for them (at least from those directly involved in them) (I'm not going to discuss the US involvement or non-involvement in any  wars or conflicts because that is not the purpose of this post.)

Insomuch as wars are inevitable, so is God's final victory.  When that day comes, we will all stand STILL before our Creator.  We will honor his power and his majesty.  Will will honor HIM!  It's been said that "practice makes perfect" - so why not be "still" now and take the time each day to exalt God!

Monday, September 1, 2014

~ "Power in the blood..."

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord..." (Heb 12:14)

There are people in our world who are always angry.  They aren't happy if they aren't mad about something.  We are called to make every effort to live in peace with all people.  Sometimes that is not easy, as prejudice and disdain still manage to consume many people in one form or another.

We need to take the time to cleanse ourselves of the bitterness and anger.  Sin blocks our vision, so if we want to see God, we must remove it from our lives.  Holiness is coupled with living in peace.  A right relationship  with God leads to right relationships with others.

We may not always feel love toward all other people, but we must pursue peace as we become more Christlike.  Remembering that Jesus loved all people is often the key.  He spent his time with the prostitutes, the thieves and the poor.  He did not shun the rich.  He taught that all have the ability to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but not through purchase or good deeds.  That's something so many of us forget.  The only way to attain heaven is through Jesus - through our acceptance of his death and resurrection as payment for our sins.  Renew your relationship with him today - allow his blood to cleanse you and become holy...