Friday, October 31, 2014

~ "Lighting the way..."

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
"Christ is the light of the world.  God is the light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God.  One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more."  (Matthew Henry's Commentary).
Our world would be dark and cold, and all things would die without the sun.  It is warmth, it is light.  It is stored and used for energy.  It is a powerful star that shines brighter than any of the other stars hung in the heavens.  It is the center of our universe.

So, too, is Christ!  Imagine how empty your life would be without his presence.  If there was ever a time in your life when there was no "Christ", remember how lost and alone you felt without even realizing you were alone.  Think of the beauty that you find in his light.  All the joy and peace you find comes from knowing him.  His power leaves us in awe.  He is the center of our lives!

Jesus is forever faithful to his followers.  He continues to lead the way in a dark and trying world.  His brilliance shines so brightly that we will always be able to find our way to him.   The light of the world, our light of life...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

~ "Looking up..."

"The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." (Ps 18:2)

The protection from our Heavenly Father is limitless.  He can be our rock and cannot be moved.  He can be our fortress, our place of refuge against the enemy.  He can be our buckler (or shield) who comes between us and harm.  The horn of salvation is a symbol of power and might.  The high tower takes us to a place above our enemies.

When we look to God for protection, we have the greatest of all allies in him!  We don't need to look any further.  He protects his people, he comforts his people, he loves his people.

When the doubts and fears cause you to become unsettled, you need only look up to the heavens...the place where God reigns!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

~ "Paybacks..."

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8-9)

Who is the better Christian?  The one who attends church on Sunday, reads his Bible daily, prays often and looks out for his elderly neighbor, or the one who attends church (both Sunday services, and Wednesday night), reads his Bible and participates in a study group, hosts a prayer meeting, volunteers at the homeless shelter 2 days a week, visits the nursing home and brings homebound church members meals?

Saved by grace means we didn't have to do anything to attain it (beyond acceptance).  Our works come from the heart, not out of obligation.  We do because it makes the Lord happy.  We do because it is the right to do so.  We do because there is a part of our heart that wants to make others happy, just as our Lord makes us happy.  There are no "ulterior motives" in good works.  There are no prizes for Christian of the Year.  We lay these "crowns" at the feet of Jesus for it is he who tells us to do for others.

If you are worried about your works - do I do enough, are they worthy, are they true works - you aren't alone.  In a world where material things matter more than the spiritual, it is a natural concern.  It is not a contest to see who can help more homeless, who prays more or who hasn't missed a church service in 30 years - it's a way of life that allows you to live outside of yourself; it allows you to give of yourself to others.

Far too many people I've known had to run every event, chair every committee and decided every outreach leaving no opportunity for newer church members to do anything other than serve.  They gain no more blessings than the member who can only collect the tickets at a pancake breakfast.  If you are the person mentioned first (the one who has to do everything), step back and let someone else take the lead once in a while - it builds character for both and it's very humbling (which is, after all, what our Lord likes - humble Christians).  If you're the person who only gets to collect the tickets, don't worry, the Lord knows your heart and sees your works and is glad!

Not by works, lest any man (or woman) should brag...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

~ "Only by grace..."

"But if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)

In the Old Testament times, sins were symbolically transferred to an animal, which was sacrificed and died in the sinner's place to pay for their sins.  We can see the very first sacrifice in Genesis when God made clothes from animal skins for Adam and Eve (Gen 3:21) to "cover their sin".

God graciously forgave them because of their faith.  They obeyed his commandments concerning sacrifice.  Those sacrifices were the precursor to the greatest of all sacrifices - the cleansing of sin which resulted from the death of Jesus.  He did not die for his sins (as he was sinless) - he died for each of us.

Committing our life to Christ causes his death to become our death.  We will die a mortal death, but we will live on in his Kingdom for all eternity, "for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ." (Rom 6:23).  The sacrificial lamb, his death for our sins and the promise of heaven once again are within our grasp!

Only by the blood of Christ are we able to lay claim to our inheritance!  Only by the acceptance of Jesus' death and resurrection can we enter!  Only by the grace of God will we not be cast down!

Monday, October 27, 2014

~ "Overcoming the world..."

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33)

Jesus summed up all he had told his disciples the night of his arrest.  He tied together the themes (sin, fear, uncertainty, doubt, further persecution and the coming of the Holy Spirit).  He tells them to have courage.  He reminds them they are  not alone, nor will they ever be alone.

We are never alone either.  Jesus does not abandon us to our struggles either.  He's right beside us all the way!  Remembering that the victory has already been won, we can claim the peace of Christ our most troubling times.  He knows how hard it can be to live in an unbelieving world.  He knows the obstacles we face.  He has faced them as well.

Don't allow what goes on in the world to take you from the presence of God.  Keep the focus on prayer, not on bitterness and anger (I know, it's hard).  We cannot expect change without prayer.  We cannot pray if we are busy complaining, and all our complaining does is frustrate us!  The "Serenity Prayer" used in Alcoholics Anonymous fits perfectly in these situations:  "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  We change what we can and pray for what we cannot, remembering that change must first come in our own heart before we can accept the heart of another as it is, without criticism, without judgement and without exception.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

~ "Blessings taken for granted..."

"I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.  Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live."  (Ps 116:1-2)

He certainly hears our prayers, there is no doubt about that!  He hears our prayers, feels our pain and understand our desperation.  He knows just how much we can handle both physically and emotionally.  He never gives us more than we can handle.  We serve a benevolent God!

Our Heavenly Father also gives us the time to see just what it is we are asking for.  He offers us glimpses of a past riddled with sin and pain.  He offers us the opportunity to relive some of what we "thought" we wanted.  He reminds us of the bad decisions we've made (lovingly reminds us) without consulting him.  In all of this, his perfect plan still shines through!

All the experiences we gain throughout our life (all of them, not just some of them), prepare us for the experiences yet to come.  Who knew that a job I had 30 years ago could prepare me for one I was considering taking this past month.  Not only was the skill there that would be needed for the production part of it, but the feelings that came with it returned as well.  The Lord had "delivered" me from that nightmare once...did I really want to return to it?  Patience and prayer serve as the catalyst to the past as well as the future.

There are many, many other areas where we try to repeat history (and not in a good way).  Learning that when God says "no" there is a very good reason takes time to understand, time to accept and constant communication with him to abide by.  There is no greater source of strength and comfort than him!

Take the time to allow him to work in your life, to prepare the blessings he wants so much to give you, to find what is perfect for you and you alone.  Be willing to accept his blessings even if they don't appear to be blessings at all - in the end, everything the Lord gives us is a blessing when we come to the acceptance of his will for us!

Friday, October 24, 2014

~ "The row we hoe..."

"But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning; for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble."  (Ps 59:16)

God's constant love is our place of safety in a wicked world.  He is our strength, our comfort, our refuge throughout our lives.  There is NOTHING that touches us that has not passed through his hands first, so we know that even though these "happenings" do not feel like blessings when they are occurring, they will, at some point, be revealed as such.  We need only wait on the Lord.

The wicked are never satisfied.  They are always looking for more.  They do not have the peace within themselves that comes from knowing God.  Until such time that they have accepted their place in the grand scheme of things, they will forever search for more.  They aren't willing to relinquish their self professed importance, nor are they willing to bow the the power of God and accept what he has deemed righteous and just.

All in all, we, as Christians, need to remember that only by the grace of God are we saved.  We, too, could have remained ignorant when called...but we chose wisely.  We chose Jesus.  Not all who call themselves "Christians" have chosen to follow without a complete and total commitment.  Some have chosen to acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah and that only through him are we saved, but have denounced the very word of God calling it outdated or even extinct.  God's word does not change to fit society; society is tasked with changing to abide by God's word.  It comes down to a very simple question:  who is the Master?

Don't look to re-write what is perfectly written.  Believe and hold the truths contained in the Word with respect and reverence.  This is what the Father has said to us.  This is our constitution for a better way of life.  This is the foundation for blessings.  This is the Word of God!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

~ "Gone from bondage..."

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."  (Gal 5:1)

Christ died to set us free from sin and from a long list of laws.  We are not free to do what we want simply because that would lead us right back into the sin created by our selfish desires.  We are, because of Christ's sacrifice, able to live unselfishly.  This freedom is not permission to have our own way (through sin).

There are so many areas that we must be cautious in: sexual immorality, lust, hostility, jealousy, anger, conceit, envy, murder, idolatry, drunkenness, cheating, adultery, greed stealing, lying, and the list goes on.  We'd be better off to focus on the virtues as opposed to the vices: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

Although we are no longer bound under the law, we are bound by faith.  Faith in what was done for us, faith in what will be given to us and faith in what our Savior taught us through his example.  His parables hold so much knowledge and serve as a mean to teach, causing us to think "outside the box".  We are no longer confined by strict laws, yet we are still bound by them.  We are given the freedom to choose the way we worship, the time we worship and extend of our worship.  We are even free to not worship, although that's probably not in anyone's best interest.  The bottom line is we have a choice.

Choosing to go through life doing what we desire, telling all those who will listen that on our death bed we can accept Jesus fully, is not a wise choice.  I know far too many people who live their lives with that goal in mind.  Live your life as Christ instructed us to live it.  Don't wait for the last minute to get your affairs in order.  Live your whole life as that son or daughter of the King - live it with honor, live it with meaning and set an example that exemplifies Christ!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

~ "A right to be happy..."

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36)

No, I don't think I want to remain under God's angry judgement.  It's not a price I'm willing to pay with eternity for to experience some selfish joy now.

Some very "touchy" subjects come to mind with this verse.  They bring to light individual choices that we make in the quiet, private recesses of our own minds.  Each of us, singularly, has decisions to make as humans and as Christians.  I learned long ago that yes, I have a right to be happy, but not before or above God's right!  It is human nature to want peace and comfort and joy in our lives.  But what is the cost of those things?

Often our minds wander into places that are best left uncharted.  I find that territory a bit frightening so I stop midway through the thoughts.  I don't allow myself that luxury.  It will not, in any way, be beneficial in my NEXT life.  Some would say that by denying that, I am denying myself happiness.  Perhaps; but when laid against the fiber of eternal happiness, there is no comparison.  God's word tells us specifically what we can and cannot do while we await his call home; while we await the second coming of Christ.  Eternal life is a sure thing for me.  I know where I'm going when I leave this mortal existence.  I'm not willing to gamble against it.

Take the time to allow yourself the opportunity to weigh your own choices, not the choices of others.  After all, those are THEIR choices.  Be educated in your life choices!  Understand the consequences of them!  Is temporary joy and happiness worth eternal absence of God's love?  Will the decisions you make today be something to regret for all of eternity?  Will any choice you make for happiness in this life be sufficient to carry you through the next? If the answer is no, or you aren't sure - stay the decision.  It is better to be longing for "love" in this life and know that it will come in the next...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

~ "The cost of not caring..."

"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." (Gal 6:10)

Household of of believers.  We see here that "charity begins at home" whether that home is our individual family unit, our extended family or our church family.  Some people seem to think it should be everyone else first then your individual family unit.

It's commendable to want to give to those who have less than you.  However, giving to others while those in your immediate circle have nothing, go without and are starved is not!  This includes your time and your attention.  You cannot save the world if you can't even spend time with your won't work.  If you are a parent who is never at home, but always out doing volunteer work, what does that say about you?  What does that say about your character?  It does, in fact, speak volumes about what you are NOT doing.

With all things, there must be balance.  There must be time with your spouse, with your children, with your aging parents, with your other family members - in that order.  Those at home should come before those outside of it.  Even the richest members of society who are in the business of serving the people in their community begin at home.

Far too many families are broken today because of selfishness and self-serving behavior.  Our Heavenly Father wants us to care for the world, yes, but not at the expense of those we have a "prior" commitment to.  We don't need to make a showing of our good deeds - which is what many do.  Flashing the cash and generously giving to others while those at home are barely getting by is NOT what God asks of us.  He asks us to give what we can AFTER we have met all of our other obligations.  That doesn't just mean money - it means time, love and comfort as well!

How a person interacts with their family says a lot about the type of Christian he or she truly is.  Don't let it be said that you let the opportunity to share your love with those around you be lost in your efforts to show the world how much you love yourself.

Monday, October 20, 2014

~ "Open sesame..."

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."  (Acts 4:12)

We can only be saved through Jesus.  It's that simple.  Praying to Mary, or dead saints will not get us in the door.  Church leaders who insist otherwise have not read the Word of God, nor do they have the power to decree it to be so.  Jesus, and only Jesus, is our way to heaven.

I was never one for liking the chain of command.  Yes, I bucked the system every chance I got, mainly because I didn't trust anyone but the boss.  There were a few in all my years that I could go to, but they all had selfish reasons for listening and did nothing to alleviate the problem.  I learned early (and outside of what I was taught) to go straight to the top.  I talk to God, and I pray through Jesus.  Yes, they are one in the same.  Yes, they are all-powerful.  When it comes my time, however, there is only one who will stand beside me and vouch for my salvation - Jesus.

Don't look for answered prayers from a body that cannot answer your prayers!  Don't spend your time in a litany of repeated, incompletely constructed "prayers" that do not convey all the needed components of a prayer.  Pray from your heart, pray through Jesus.  Pray for courage and strength, for his will and his blessing.  Remember to thank him for dying and saving your soul.  Remember to be earnest.  Remember that it is he, and he alone you need to go to.

There is only one name given to open the door, or the gate of heaven - that name is Jesus!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

~ "Event planner..."

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matt 6:34)

Simply put - don't worry about tomorrow.

We plan.  Planning is an organized ritual which provides for a well directed day.  Planning relieves the stress about what is to come.  We plan for parties, school, dates, weddings and the like.  Having a solid plan makes the event (or just the next day) run smoothly.  In all of our plans, we include a time for a relationship with God.

We worry.  Worrying is a waste of time and energy.  It accomplishes nothing.  We become consumed with fear and forget to trust in God.  Worrying is an interference in our relationship with God.

If we don't worry about tomorrow, we will have time for God today!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

~ "Friends and enemies..."

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but then kisses of an enemy are deceitful." (Prov 27:6)

I think there is a fine line in that verse.  Often, as humans, we go beyond that "helpful" suggestion to a place that is bitter and mean.  I've experienced it on more than one occasion.  Friends can wound with the best of intentions, they can also wound with the intent to control.  That's when the line has been crossed.

We tend to hear what we want to hear, even if an enemy is the only one who will say it.  A friend's advice, no matter how painful, is much better.  Knowing who is a friend and who is an enemy is the discerning part of any inner conflict.

There are ways in which we learn who to trust and who to avoid.  That knowledge comes from experience, it also comes from prayer.  We can live our entire life in the company of enemies who we believe to be our friends, only to find out that we are only using us to bolster their own warped self image.  There are those, too, who profess to love us, yet silently devise ways to take more and more from us, leaving us isolated and abused emotionally.

Be cautious of who you allow to offer you advice.  Be even more cautious of the advice you follow.  Many of the worst decisions made come at the advice of others without thought to the long term effect those decisions will have.  Pray.  Ask the Lord for guidance.  Never act on one person's advice alone.  Act on what the Lord tells you - and he will tell you, if you listen.

Friday, October 17, 2014

~ "Understanding miracles..."

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." (Matt 1:23)

Being raised Catholic, I was taught that Jesus did not have any brothers or sisters.  The reason being that he is God and since there is only one God, there could be only one Jesus.  Any other child that Mary would give birth to would be "half God".  It made sense to me at the time.  As I grew older and did my "homework", I learned that Jesus did, in fact, have brothers and sisters.  The argument still continued in my household until the day I blatantly put it to rest:  "If God didn't need the sperm from a man, what makes you think he needed the egg from a woman?"  Speechless is an understatement!

Our Heavenly Father created an entire universe from nothing.  He hung stars in the sky, he suspended planets and moons perfectly in his heavens.  He created Adam and Eve and all of the creatures that roamed the earth in the very beginning.  He allowed for the population of the earth to it's numbers today.  He can, at any time, destroy all that he has created in the same vein as an artist wipes his canvas clean with paint.

The child in question, Emmanuel, would be the one who would wipe the slate clean for us.  He would pay for the sins of man and offer us a gift.  His death would be the only one ever recorded in history that gave everyone (past, present and future) a share in his inheritance - the gift of life everlasting.  He came here, to earth, as a man, to partake of our nature - our ways, our fears, our joys.

Jesus came to save people from their sins.  He saves us from the divine consequences of sin.  We need to follow the path laid before us, by him and go with faith.  We take our cue from Joseph: accepting our path without delay, cheerfully and without dispute.  The full measure of our salvation comes to us through the death of Jesus, yet, without his miraculous birth, there could be no death! All things in his time and by his command...all things, not some things!  Take the time to thank him for this amazing gift of life, death and eternal life!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

~ "Looking back..."

"As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him." (Ps 18:30)

Once again, we see that God is always faithful. We, however, are not.  His promises are reliable.  He is our shield and we can take refuge in him.  He, alone, always has our best interest foremost in his gifts and blessings.

I often wonder what the last 8 years of my life might have been like had I not listened to the voice that told me it was time to move on.  I doubt, on occasion, that it was truly the Lord's voice I heard. In the very rarest moments, my thoughts go to punishment for leaving my marriage and children.  Then I remember why.

The further we get from trauma, from disappointment, from pain - the less we remember of it.  We begin to forget the intensity of that pain, the depth of the disappointment.  We remember only the good, the positive, and the joy.  That is our heart trying to heal.   It's not until we experience similar pain that the memories flood our mind.  Like the death of a parent, or grandparent, the pain wains from desperation to acceptance.  It's still there, but it has evolved.  Somethings are best when they evolve, but others should remain ever present in our minds.

Doubting our choices after they are made causes us to relive the pain of making them.  Did we do the right thing?  Whatever we've decided, God remains faithful.  He love remains as strong as it did the day we stepped off the curb and into the street.  He will provide comfort and shelter for us in our most stressful experiences, he will continue to bless us, he will continue to love us.  Once we have made a decision, his plan for us remains intact.  He knew before we were born what decisions we would make in any given situation.  He saw it and it became part of his plan.  Everything we experience has passed through him - we are protected, shielded and loved by our faithful Creator.  It's okay to walk forward and not look back wondering what life might have been like, because life is never behind us, but always ahead of us.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

~ "Opaque blessings..."

"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (John 7:38)

Many blessings flow from our great Savior!  If we desire true happiness, we must approach it through these blessings.  Calling on the Lord, our spiritual lives broaden.  Putting our faith in the Lord allows us to not just exist, but to live a full and blessed life.

Jesus does not promise us material things, although sometimes they are an added bonus.  He promises us everlasting life in his kingdom!  He promises us that we will never be alone and that we are loved beyond our comprehension.  He promises us uncountable blessings.

Let the river flow into each and every fiber of your being!  Let his love and blessings consume all of you and overflow into every facet of your life.  Give all that you have, share all that you know and it will come back to you ten-fold!

Monday, October 13, 2014

~ "Just another day in paradise..."

"For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." (James 3:16)

Sounds like a work environment, doesn't it?  It could very well be.  In all my years of employment, I have come across many people, interested not in doing the job they accepted, but in working very hard not to do the job.  They may be Christian, but they do not bring Jesus to work with them every day...his example stays at home to be touted only to social gatherings and on Sundays at church.  Only one place out of the many that I have worked was Jesus the first thought for the employees - that was the little church I worked at in Tennessee.  He was there in the offices for quite some time; over a year, in fact.  Then he was ushered out and a new regime of bitter and selfish men and women brought what James refers to in this verse.

When we stop doing things for God's glory and start doing them for our own, we open the door for the enemy to come in and bring all his evil attributes with him.  He is the master of confusion (and prefers that we be in the state of confusion).  He lights the fire under us that ignites our jealousy, our desires to have what we want at any cost.  He lives to create conflict in our lives.  He revels in our displaced anger.

Take the time to bring your core Christian values with you into every area of your life.  Be kind and patient at work.  Do the job you accepted, and do it to the very best of your ability (without worrying what others are saying about you).  Let those who would gossip and lie about you have their little party - be everything they say your aren't!  Bring your Christian values to the grocery store and be patient with those who don't - yes, I know the sign says "10 items or less" - is it really worth letting Satan win that little battle?  Bring your Christian values in the car, to the gym and to the Saturday morning sports event with your kids.  Let everyone see that Jesus lives in you and that you are a person of honor who does all things for God's glory!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

~ "Words..."

"Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not be so to be." (James 3:10)

"It ain't fittin', it jes' ain't fittin'!"  (Mammy, "Gone with the Wind").

There are plenty of things that "ain't fittin'" in our day and age.  Unlike "when I was a child", many are acceptable and nothing is thought about it today.  Why?  Maybe it's because parenting has become something requiring a Master's degree, maybe it's because of the rate of unemployment, maybe it's the influx of drugs into the United States, maybe it's global warming...or maybe it's simply because "God" is no longer openly welcomed into schools, businesses, or homes.

When we allow God to be pushed out through the misinterpretation of our Constitution (which reads "freedom OF religion - meaning the right to choose how we worship, not freedom FROM religion - meaning that no mention of "God" is permitted), we take away the blessings that come from being able to openly share, without constraint, what the Lord has done and will do if we just focus on him.  There is no moral compass without God - it is by his words that a Christian sets the bar on what is and is not acceptable.  Without God's influence, everything else becomes a "politically correct" society as opposed to a good, moral community of giving and caring people, motivated only by the love of God and each other.

You cannot have it both ways.  You cannot bless and then condemn.  The term for that is hypocrisy.  All things in balance, love that is firm and praise to God - honesty, sincerity and truthfulness.  Teaching and practicing his Word and his truths, holding yourself to that higher authority, not to what is an "accepted" practice, are all key to overcoming those things that "ain't fittin'".  Be conscious of the blessings.  Let those words flow freely off your tongue.  Be mindful of the cursing.  Let those words remain bridled.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

~ "Allies and advocates..."

"Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." (1 John 4:15)

God sent Jesus, as his son, to offer salvation.  The gospel tells us this.  This confession requires faith.  We acknowledge this faith through our voice.  We profess this faith through our actions, the way we live our lives.  There will be a judgement day and on that day, those who have proclaimed that Jesus is the Son of God will have an ally, an advocate to defend our right to enter the Kingdom.

The choices we make in life are reflected in many ways.  Our choice of education, spouse, employment, residence - they all bear witness to what and who we have become.  Our Christian choices are also reflected outwardly.  Do we acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, do we conduct ourselves in a manner that defines the fear of God (not being afraid of God)?  Do we show love and kindness to others through our works as good and obedient followers of Jesus?  Do we graciously accept his calling?

Each of us has the capacity to be all the things we were designed to be; to bring the full plan into being through faith in our Creator.  Do we have enough courage to ask for the strength?  Do we have exhibit the potential for growth in the Spirit?  Do we walk the path of righteousness? Do we share the love offered in salvation?  Do we minister to others and show them the way?  Can others see that God dwells in us, and us in him?

Friday, October 10, 2014

~ "Who moved???"

"I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." (Ps 16:8)

I keep the Lord with me at all times. He is in my heart and soul.  He guides me and he comforts me.  I stand firmly on the foundation he has designed for me.

Life often challenges us in ways that test our faith, question our competency, and prove our worth.  It is not the reflection of a heavenly confrontation, nor are we being protested against.  Outside influences (other people) often cause dissention and embroilment in our lives.  We are constantly at risk of being "thrown under the bus" by co-workers, acquaintances or even strangers desperate to be acknowledged in a good light.  The Lord has no such desires.  His love is unconditional.  His desires for us never change.  He is always there, even when we aren't.

There's an old saying when it comes to a relationship with God:  Who moved???  God never changes.  His word, his truth, he commandments remain unchanged forever.  He is steadfast and unmovable - so, who moved?  It's safe to say that we are the ones who move in and out of the presence of God.  We are the ones who fail to pray, fail to lean on our faith or just fail to reach out to him for guidance.
Don't allow yourself to be moved by any force.  The enemy has a million and one tricks up his sleeve and he is, without a doubt, a most cunning adversary.  Stand with your feet firmly planted in God's mercy and love and do not be moved!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

~ "A strong foundation..."

"Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength..." (Isaiah 26:4)

Our rock.  Our foundation.  Our shelter in the storm.  Why is it that we seem to trust humans more often than we should?  Why do we not put our complete faith in God?

There are a thousand answers for those questions, but the answer to each one of them is simply lack of faith.  We can say we have faith, we can say we believe, but do we?

What do you do when you have done all the footwork required of you...when you can think of nothing else to do?  Example:  I need a job.  I pray.  I search the internet for anything and everything I could possibly do.  I pray some more.  I receive email after email telling me the company has gone with someone else, "but thanks for applying".  Do I give up and become homeless?  No.  I pray some more.  I talk to neighbors.  I talk to strangers.

The job will come.  That's faith!  Not giving up, not giving in.  It may not be what we want, but it will be exactly what we need.  Gone are the days of "sticking it out" in hopes that you will get more hours.  Being proactive in the workforce today is the only way to succeed.  The same is true for your spiritual well-being.  Hoping that God will hear your prayer is fine, knowing he has heard your prayer and will bless you is faith.  Thinking "well, he's given me this" is also fine, knowing he has a bigger and better plan for you if you ask is faith.

Sometimes we become tired of asking the same thing over and over again.  Sometimes we think the answer is no.  That's could be true for some things, but not for others.  Discerning his voice comes from knowing his word.  The only way to know his word is to read it.  If we don't read, we can't know, and if we don't know there can be no faith.  Trust that he will be that rock, that shelter in the storm.  Have faith that he will provide for your needs.  Don't give up, give praise!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

~ "Wicked or righteous???"

"The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous." (Prov 15:29)

"Far from the wicked..." Not his essence or his powerful presence, but with respect to his favor and good will.  He does not answer their cries in their desperate circumstances.  He does not draw them near nor will he welcome them on the last day, but send them away having not known them.  Who are the wicked?  Those who are evil, morally wrong, corrupt, hateful, or iniquitous.  Those who only know God when it's in their best interest or when the want something from him.  Those who place themselves high above others.  Those who feel his law does not apply to him.  Those who change his laws to meet their "less than" moral values.

Who are the righteous?  Those who conduct themselves in a godly manner.  Those who are basically good, virtuous, upright or decent.  Those are the people he draws near.  He sees their pain and hears the cries.  He answers their prayers (and remember, sometimes the answer is "no").  He bestows his blessings and favor on them when in need.

This verse does not tell us that he withholds love from the wicked, for he loves us all - each and every one of us - the wicked and the righteous.  We are all his children, and he wants us all to come to him, humbled and grateful.  Remove any wickedness from your heart.  Conduct yourself in a godly manner.  Let go of any immoral or corrupt behaviors.  Be active in prayer and praise.  Be righteous!

Monday, October 6, 2014

~ "Direction..."

"And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ." (2 Thess 3:5)

Understanding and expressing God's love sounds easy.  How hard can it be to love?  How hard can it be to persevere?  Not as easy as you would think, but definitely worth it in the end.

A parent has the capacity to understand God's love because generally they possess that ability on a smaller scale.  When you are a parent, you love your child unconditionally (well, most do).  There isn't anything that they could do to stop you from loving them, wanting to protect them and shelter them, or give them what they need and want.  Even in the face of death, many of us would gladly step in front of that bullet to save their lives.  We cry for them when they are hurt, we hurt for them when they fail, but we fail to stop loving them because they've made a mistake or go against everything we've ever taught them (again, most of us).  There are those who cannot forgive or understand, especially if they believe their child has "thrown them under the bus".

In order to love as God loves, and persevere as Christ did - we have to understand the complexity surrounding that love and perseverance.  Every day we struggle against the enemy.  Our main defense is prayer that God will protect us and make us strong (the Armour of God).  We pray for strength and help, we learn scripture and rely on it in times of struggle, we associate with truthful people and we practice what we are taught by our spiritual leaders (hence the need to have godly people and well-versed preachers in our lives).

We all endure some form of persecution (be it bullying, criticism, or ridicule) at different times throughout our lives.  Christ endured the most hideous form of persecution, yet he went to the cross and redeemed each and every one of us!  He not only gave us an example of patience, but an undeniable example of love!

Let the Holy Spirit direct your hearts...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

~ "Righteous judgement..."

"I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgement." (Ps 119:7)

Learning righteous, there's a thought!  What exactly is a righteous judgement?  If you read the entire chapter in Psalms, it is eye opening.

Verse 4:  "Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently."  Verse 8: "I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly."  Continue on and today's message will make a lot more sense. It's time for a change in all the judgements we make (and remembering that those who teach/preach are held to a higher standard - James 3:1).

We know that sin is sin, regardless of what type of sin it is.  A sin of omission is the same in the eyes of God as the sin of commission.  What we do, what we don't do - it's all the same.  Who makes the decision that one sin is greater than another?  Who makes the decision to turn away one sinner and welcome and praise another?  Who determines who has a pure heart and who has a sinful heart?  Who makes the rules?  God makes the rules!

When we, as humans, as Christians, make excuses for our fellow sinners excusing the sin itself and applauding the actions of the sinner by saying they have "made a mistake", we are enabling them to continue making that same mistake over and over.  When the argument that sinner has made is found to be, in fact, a lie, and we continue to excuse it without any repercussion, what does that say about our "church" or our "pastor"?  When our "pastor" condemns one sin and applauds another, what does that say about our choice to be a part of that "church"?

"And if any man obey not our words by this epistle, note that man and have no company with him so that he may be ashamed." (2 Thes 3:14)  Righteous judgement pertains to all Christians and there is no room for "favorites" in God's law.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

~ "Generations..."

"Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."  (Matt 24: 34-35)

A firm foundation; a promise.  Jesus used the parable of the fig tree to remind us of what we "know".  The change in seasons can be determined by the changes in the leaves and fruit on the tree.  This one, particular verse (34) has been surrounded in human controversy for quite some time.

If we are to go with our knowledge of what a "generation" is, that would be 40 years.  The common misconception surrounded the return of Jews to modern Israel which happened in 1948, setting the rapture for 1988.  Once again, literal translation requires the right variable (a discussion I had with my son just the other day).  That "variable" - generation, could also be 70 or 80 years (as in Ps 90:10).

Regardless of exactly what chronological number we assign to generation, the fact remains that the end will come, and it will be witnessed by a generation of Christians as well as Jews and atheists.  "This" generation could simply mean that we, as Christians, belong to just one, continual generation (just a thought).

Now, if you look at the energy spent trying to determine when that time will be, you will realize that a considerable amount of time has been wasted in empty preparation for the second coming.  Better to be prepared for the unannounced guest than to run around as they are coming up the walk trying to straighten up the house.

Our Savior will return, and he will bring with him judgement of all people.  The earth will be destroyed and those of us left will end up one of two places.  His words remain just as true as when he spoke them.  Prepare yourself today for what just may happen tomorrow.  As Jesus into your heart, welcome him into your life and rejoice in what is to come!


Friday, October 3, 2014

~ "Knowledge..."

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

The prophecy written in Isaiah - the glory of God laid out before us, before it even comes to pass.  His name synonymous with glory, his deity lauded so the world will know that he is the one, true King.  Yet, in this world, there are far too many who do not know him, let alone know of him.

Believing is not the same as knowing.  I believe in many things, that doesn't necessarily mean that I am familiar with them or that I have knowledge with regard to their function.  Sometimes, in order to have a conversation with someone about the Bible, it's not just important to know what is written, or even it's meaning - sometimes you have to know what motivates the other person into not believing.

The single most significant theory of creation that is NOT from the Bible, is Darwin's.  If we don't know the theory, understand it's scientific basis, how can we possibly hope to discount it when sharing the Word of God?  There are many other "theories" that an educated, well-read man or woman may bring to the table when discussing the legitimacy of the Bible.  Just quoting scripture is not enough to convince someone that the answers are all in there.  It's a two-fold study.

We complain about our children being taught Darwin's Theory of Evolution.  We almost demand equal time.  If your child's faith is firmly planted in Jesus, what possible effect could his learning something "other" than that have on him or her, other than to have complete knowledge of what we consider ridiculous and the ability to discount it among it's true believers?  Simply stating that something is "hogwash" and not having a reason other than "it's a mystery" isn't going to win any souls for Jesus.  Educate yourself in the finer things of science and it's logic.  You don't need to disproved a theory, only cast a small amount of doubt opening the door to faith...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

~ "Rejoicing..."

"Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer..." (Rom 12:12)

This is twice in one week that the verse speaks directly to me.  Today, my friend will be undergoing surgery to remove both breasts.  Her cancer was diagnosed through a mammogram this past summer and treatment began immediately.

Here in the United States, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  We sport pink ribbons and make donations to cancer research.  We encourage everyone to have their yearly mammogram.  We stand up and take notice!  Far too many people have died from this dreaded disease.

This verse reminds us to be joyful, rejoicing, shouting our longing to be cleansed by the power of the Holy Spirit; to spend eternity with our Lord and King! In our times of trouble, we are encouraged to be patient, for God's plan truly is one that will be revealed to us in his time.  And finally, continuing to pray - for courage, for strength, for peace - without ceasing!

Take a moment and thank God for all the things you have - both your blessings and your blights.  They both come from God and are intended to be positive, not negative.  Take what you are given in joy, be patient and pray!  God has brought you to it - he will bring you through it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

~ "Divided..."

"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."  (1 Cor 1:10)

WOW!!!  I was speaking with a young woman yesterday while at work about how you can read a verse one day, but the next time you read it, it takes on a whole new meaning.  I'm in awe of this verse.  It's not the first time I've read it, and it will not be the last.  When I read the commentary in my Bible, I almost fell off the chair...
"Paul founded the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey. After he left, 18 months later, the people began arguing, divisions arose, and some slipped back into the immoral life-style prevalent in the city. Paul wrote this letter to recommend that immediate corrective action be taken to clear up their confusion about right and wrong and to remove the immortality among them. The Corinthian people had a reputation for jumping from fad to fad; Paul wanted to keep Christianity from degenerating into just another fad." (Life Application Study Bible)
This one verse sheds a bright light on our society.  We can see the divisions in the Church - their different doctrines.  The immoral life-styles practiced in this country, condemned by certain denominations and each of their "right and wrong" beliefs.

Paul's message was to the Christians.  The focus of his letter addresses those who accepted Jesus as the Savior sent by God to redeem their pitiful souls. Their reflection of love and forgiveness should have been the appeal for non-Christians, not their self imposed rules and open judgement of the other sinners.  They tried to complicate Christianity - we complicate Christianity without even realizing we are doing it.  We place conditions on who can attend our church, who can become a member of our church, who can hold a place of importance in our church.  Some have added how to pray and who to pray to revisions.  Some are forbidden from entering the doors of certain churches. Some even have rules that are so warped it causes one's eyes to bulge from their head in total disbelief.

Bottom line:  Christ welcomes ALL people into his Church!  He leads by example, not by a stringent set of ridiculous rules that exclude.  He forgives ALL sin regardless of the sin or how many times that sinner stumbles and falls during their lifetime.  He asks that we treat ALL people as he would treat them.  He does not look down on those who are destitute or on those who have given in to their inner temptations.  He loves the sick, the poor and the lowly.  He loves the beggar and the thief.  He loves the murderer and the rapist.  He loves the homosexual, the transgendered and the politician.  He loves them for who they are, not what they are.  He says "come" - do we?