Wednesday, December 31, 2008
During the Christmas season we are reminded of the birth of Christ, that a Savior was born. We are reminded to be loving, kind and giving. We reach out to give to others, adopt a family that may need food or children that need presents. During the Christmas season we let our hearts be touched and we reach out to do something for another in need.
Today let’s remember also that a Savior died. He lived a blameless life and went to his death on a cross. The most brutal type of death. He went mocked and ridiculed, bloodied and bruised. These things, he endured to save a people that didn't deserve it. Then on the third day, He rose from the grave and defeated death. So you and I didn't have to be bound by death any longer.
Christmas is now over and the New Year is about to begin. So I ask, what will you do in the New Year? Will you continue in the spirit of Christmas, thinking of others or will you put the focus back on yourself. Will you reach out to those around you and give them the truth they so desperately need?
The world is full of the poor, the needy, the hurt and the abused. They need Jesus just like you did. Some of those people only you can reach. They may be your friend, a neighbor or a stranger. But they are unique to your situation. Everyone needs Jesus, don't keep Him to yourself.
Begin to pray for a heart that loves like Christ does. Begin to ask for a giving heart and who you can give it to. If you ask, He will tell you how and give you the power to do it.
God Bless and Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
When I started this blog, I started a journey. A journey to get up everyday and give each day to glorify God. One of the things that Christ has spoken to me about many times is being excited about telling others about Him. On Sunday morning I was once again reminded.
We had a guest speaker that preached and in his sermon he was speaking about forgiveness. He asked how we would feel if our mortgage was forgiven. Of course that sent everyone's minds reeling. At the end, our Pastor brought that up and said all kinds of things went through his head. He said "If Wells Fargo called me up and told me they had forgiven my mortgage I would be wearing their T-shirt and hat. I would be telling everyone how amazing Wells Fargo is." Then he said "It made me think, why I don't do that for Jesus who forgave me so much more"
So what do we do? First, we get excited! If you have fear, ask God to take it away. Ask Him to make you bold and confident. Here are some things that I will be doing to share my faith with others this coming year.
During the 12 days of Christmas Challenge I bought a card, wrote a note in it about accepting Christ, put a gospel tract in it. I then bought the lunch of the car behind me at Taco Bell and asked the attendant to give them the card. So I thought why not do this on a regular basis. I could buy some cards, write a note, add a gospel tract and keep them in my car and my purse. I could give them to anyone, even if I didn't buy anything for them. It would be nice for them to get something more personal than just a gospel tract.
I always carry gospel tracts with me and leave them on the table when I eat out. But recently God has given me an idea for a gospel tract of my own. One that I can put my blog address on the back of, to send people here to read more. It is in the process of being designed right now. When it is finished I will post more about it. Until it is done, I am making up some cards with my blog address on them.
As I have some time on my hands during the day, I was praying about what I could do for the kingdom with this time. The answer He gave me was, go talk to people about me, tell them I love them." So here's the idea....
At least once a week I will be going out to interview people about who they believe Christ to be, and then I will be writing about it. As I approach people, I will tell them that I write a blog and I am interviewing people to write about. When I leave, I will give them one of my gospel tracts that have my web address so they can go check out what I write about them.
Our blogs are the perfect opportunity to use to talk to people. So I'm going to challenge you.... Go out and talk to people and put them on your blog. Let your blog become a tool to share the gospel with the world around you.
Monday, December 29, 2008
The world around us is so big and the problems seem mountainous. There is poverty and people dieing of hunger around the world. Wars and atrocities that are out of control. There are hate crimes, violence, racism and lack of education available. Not to mention, the many diseases that plague the earth like Aids, malaria and cancer. It all looks so big, so much bigger than we are capable of dealing with. After all I am only one person....
I have often felt overwhelmed by the vast problems of the world and though I wanted to make a difference, felt it was useless. Today, I was reminded in the book of Isaiah that change always starts with one person. It starts with one person changing there life and standing up to tell others to change.
Now, as you read the following scripture I want you to picture in your mind this setting. Put yourself in the shoes of Isaiah and feel the scene unfold.
Isaiah 6: 1-8 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on the throne, high and lifted up and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim's; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" And the post of the door were shaken by he voice of him who cried out and the house filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The lord of hosts." Then one of the seraphim's flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged." Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me"
Isaiah sees the Lord seated on His heavenly throne and is forever changed. His awesome vision showed the Lord in front of him seated on His throne, it was high and grand, and it was lifted up. The train of His robe filled the temple, it was huge and flowing. What a grand picture it must have been to see such a thing appear before your very eyes. The vision of this pierced him to his very core. So much so that he cried out "Woe is me.... I am a man of unclean lips...” Isaiah had seen the glory of God and knew the depth of his unclean state. He knew in that moment the holiness of God and how unworthy he really was. He knew the gravity of his sin because he now understood the holiness of God and approached it with a deep reverence. Then by the touch on his lips, he was made clean, not by his own power but by Gods. He then cries out again, but this time in answer to "whom shall I send...." Send me he says, Here am I!, send me.
We to have been made clean by the touch of Christ's hand. When Christ nailed our sins to the cross and died for us his hand was extend to us for cleansing. We only have to grab hold to be forgiven. He knocks at the door of our heart saying turn to me and we must answer. Is it yes or will it be no, the question must be answered.
Once we answer the question to accept Christ with a yes, we are then asked the same familiar question Isaiah was asked, "Whom shall I send and who will go for Us?" At some point in our Christian walk we must answer this question. Will we be who Christ called us to be, or will we buckle and cave to the ways of the world?
I have heard it said that we are in the land of the living, but I say that statement is wrong. I would say we are living in the land of the dieing, in a world that is fallen and doomed to death. It is not this fallen earth that we should consider living but in the heaven that we gain eternal life. In this world are many that are putting their faith in a dieing world. Will we stand idly by and only watch as many go to there death without the saving grace of Christ?
So I stand here today as that one changed person and answer”Here am I Lord!, send me" and I tell you that you need to be changed also. We must all be changed. We must be moved to answer, "HERE WE ARE LORD, SEND US!"
Sunday, December 28, 2008
In the last 3 years as I spent most of my days in deep study of Gods word, He began to take me on a journey with Him. As my Lord wooed me each day, I fell deeper and deeper in love with Him. As I came to Him each day I only hungered for more. For more of His word and more of His touch. I would pray each day for a deeper knowledge of and wisdom from Him. In turn, He gave me a desire to work for Him and a deeper love for His children.
As my wisdom grew, so also did my dismay. For now I began to see how we served Him not through my eyes but through His. My heart became saddened as I can only assume His was. What I saw was a church that had gotten things all turned around and was doing things backwards. They would take there blessings upfront and build themselves a beautiful temple to house their God. Then move in and begin to play church.
It seems like today what traditionally happens when a group of believers get together to start a church the first order of business is Sunday worship service. Then we begin to build off that; discipleship programs, bible studies, Sunday school, programs for the children, etc. We collect enough money for a down payment and build ourselves a beautiful building to house us all. Then at the end we throw in a few service oriented things to give those that want a place to serve the needy and hurting something small to do. We have a few evangelism events; maybe adopt some families at Christmas and do an annual mission trip. Just enough to make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Enough to satisfy the requirements the bible gives us. Or is it really enough?
I began to think..... What if we were to do things differently..... What if we did church backwards......
What if we began to build the church in the reverse? What if we were to gather a body of believers to get together and start a church and the first order of business was prayer. Then to share the good news of the gospel, feed those who were hungry and to meet the needs of those around us in our communities. What if every step was bathed in prayer and our main encounters were to give not get? What if the church was really a hospital for the hurting world around us? What if bible study, discipleship and worship were just an outcome of the services the church was built on. What if we did church as missionaries right where we are.
We could be the house that God built personally and as a church. We would be changed as we served and the importance of a building and our surroundings would become inconsequential. We would begin to focus our energies on what we can do for those in need, for reaching the lost and leave our physical needs for ourselves and our ministry in the capable hands of God. We would begin to just walk in faith in His provision and not our own.
What would our communities look like if we did church backwards? Who might we reach for Jesus? Can you see the picture in your mind that I see?
I believe this kind of church could be what people need. A place for an unsaved world to find mercy in the arms of a Savior.
It starts with us, living our own lives backwards. It starts with a life of prayer, love and sacrifice. It starts with a change in us, a change of the heart.
Friday, December 26, 2008
As this morning I once again read the passage of scripture known as Psalm 23, there is one word that kept jumping off the page at me. It was the word "HE"
It first starts off by saying who He is, our shepherd. The good shepherd that is always tending to and looking after his flock. Then it reminds us not to want.
Why is it that we shall not want?
Because HE does the rest. HE makes us lie down in green pastures, the place of rest. HE leads us beside the still waters, a place of trusting in Him. HE restores our soul, one touch of His hand and we are made whole. HE leads us in the path of righteousness, for His name's sake.
It is Him not us that gives us any ability to do anything, including loving and trusting Him. It is He that makes our heart right, and gives us the capability to love even Him, let alone others.
The Psalm goes on.... Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Why don't we have to fear, even of death? The last part of the verse tells us, For You are with me. HE is with us and we have nothing to fear. Why? Because we have the rod and staff to comfort us. The rod which symblizes the defence against an enemy and keeps us on the right path through discipline. The staff that gently brings us back to the fold and guides us on our path.
HE prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, HE annoints our head with oil. Once again we are shown it is Him who gives us what we need and we need not fear our enemies. He is the one who will make us holy and annoited.
The Psalm then ends in praise and thankfulness. My cup runs over; surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
How fitting for all He has and still does for us. It is HE that does all things and gives us a hope and peace. It is fitting that we sing praises to his name. Make a joyful noise, for HE gives us all things! Blessed be the name of the Lord!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Matthew 2:1--2 - Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."
Verse 9 and 10 say - They followed the star they had seen in the East till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
These were no ordinary men; they were the wise men of the land. They were prominent figures of the time, upstanding, with influence over others. They probably also held high positions.
Verse 11 says - And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
They knew that the child before them was the King and fell down and worshiped Him. They were indeed wise men. Wisdom only God could give was given to them, to know that a small child was the King that was promised.
They brought gifts for the child. How odd to bring such gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to a child. It would only be fitting to bring a gift to a King of great value, so gold was given. It would only be fitting to give the gift of frankincense to a Priest. Lastly it would only be fitting to give the gift of myrrh to a Savior.
You see myrrh was used for embalming the dead and would only be given to indicate His coming death and resurrection. Jesus had come to pay the penalty for our sins. To die on a cross and be the Savior of the world. The wise men knew even back then who He was. A King, a Priest and our Savior.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I can only wait in excitement as the events unfold. No room in the Inn, the Innkeeper says. So I watch them settle down in a manger in Bethlehem. Even the animals seem curious about the birth. I will make this birth easy for Mary; she has known no man you see.
Ahh, My Son, count His fingers, count His toes, He is perfect! I love Him so! Mary has done well. Swaddled in a blanket the Savior is. Here in Bethlehem lays the King.
I will announce His arrival! Shine bright I tell the star. Show the world My Son is here. Tell the wise men and the shepherds too, today your Messiah has been born. I have fulfilled the promises of My Word. I've given you a Savior, He is My Son.
I can not hear the baby cry.... The angels in heaven are singing. They fill my ears with there music. "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" There beautiful praises cry out. All of heaven is in Praise, not one is seated. All have stood to honor the King. "The King is here!" There voices cry out. There is celebration in heaven today.
Much will come for this child, but I will lead His way. He will be blameless when He meets His destiny. I do not want it but it is the only way. He will grow and teach the world how to come back to me. Then die on a cross at Calvary. I will raise Him up on the third day and death will be defeated forever that day.
I must sacrifice My Son you see or My other children could never come to me. Oh I do love them so. Enough to send Jesus to Calvary. You are all my children and I need you so, please accept My Son so you can come home.
Monday, December 22, 2008
When we neglect prayer, it gives Satan the opportunity to twist things for his purpose and take us off course. It can start out looking like such a great thing for God and in the end it is a just hair off the gospel. In the end, it was not what God intended.
If the people of God were in constant prayer in every aspect of what God wanted from them, things would be very different. I love the body of Christ but I believe we have left God out. It is His body and His church, so why is it that we decide what is best without even consulting Him. It should be through prayer that everything is bathed.
When the outside world is in need, they are looking for something bigger than themselves. They come to a church to find the supernatural power of God, but many times the power is not there. Without prayer we are not connected to the supernatural power of God. It is only through prayer that we are connected to God and given the ability to become vessel of His power. We can not do "great things" for God.... God can only do ""great things" through us.... But it takes prayer to know what He wants to do through us.
If the church is to change and become what God intended, it must first become a house of prayer. Not just a house of prayer but a house of continual prayer. The only way this would happen is for us to first become people of prayer. We must be people who first seek God, then follow His lead. If we do, He will take us to amazing places. We will begin to see the supernatural happen around us. Things that could only be by the power of God.
Why is it that most churches don't even have a prayer room any more? How could we leave out such a significant part of the building? It's like having a beautiful car, you open the hood and the engine is gone. Without the engine the car is useless, it goes nowhere. It is the same with the church, without prayer, the church is rendered useless for the kingdom of God. It's useful for Satan though.
I believe God wants to show us incredible things, if we only will seek. We must go back to what our ancestors did and pray with fervor. We must become people of prayer and our churches must become houses of prayer. It is the only way to reach a dying world.
Friday, December 19, 2008
God has done amazing things as I began to pray about what He would have me do. Here is some of what has happened in just the last 5 days.....
On Monday we had a snow storm and didn't leave the house. So God brought me something to do from home. Back in August I had left a message for someone on the Classmates website thinking they would probably never receive it. This person is the one who told me about Jesus and I had always wanted to thank him but didn't know how to find him. I had not had any contact with him for over 25 years. On Monday morning I got ready to write as I always do and there on my email was a message from him. He had come across my message on Classmates and looked me up. We were able to catch up a little bit and I got the opportunity to tell him that his obedience to speak about Jesus changed my life. I was also able to extend grace and forgiveness for some past hurts that had happened between us. I believe that there were things that needed some closure for both of us and God gave the opportunity for it to happen.
On Tuesday I did some shopping for a family our Sunday school class had adopted. We were to provide Christmas dinner for the family. I was told they only had 4 towels with 5 people in the family. So I went shopping and bought them 8 sets of towels with what was suppose to be my Christmas present money. I gave up my Christmas present my husband was going to give me and used the money to help others. This was one family that God showed me needed help.
On Wednesday my husband and I found out that one of our son’s is in a bible study and needed bibles. A good friend of his recently got saved and is leading a bible study with all his unsaved friends. Our son went forward at an early age but is not living for Christ. It is an answer to prayer that he is involved in this study. Since many of them are unsaved, they needed bibles. We collected bibles and some other materials for them from the church.
Thursday I found out more about the bible study. The bible study has 5 unsaved couples. The young man leading the study is scared to death but relying on God to carry him through. I went to the Christian bookstore and bought him a great study guide to help him plan his study.
I decided to buy a card while I was at the bookstore. I wrote a note in the card sharing the gospel and put a gospel tract with it. Then I drove through Taco Bell and told the lady working the window that I would like to pay for the women's lunch in the car behind me. She wasn't sure she how to combine the orders and left to get help. When she came back she had 3 other workers with her. They were all surprised I was paying for someone’s lunch that I didn't know. I explained why I was doing it which they seemed amazed by. I then asked the lady at the window to give the card to women behind me and tell her I said Merry Christmas. When I went to pay, I had just enough cash to cover both orders. Isn’t God amazing! When I pulled out Taco Bell was buzzing.
On Friday I went to the store and got a copy of the movie Flywheel and some hot chocolate. I put it all in a pretty bag and took it to my son’s teacher for Christmas. In the card I shared a short description of the true meaning of Christmas and the gospel.
We went to dinner with my sister and her husband in the evening. I shared the 12 days of Christmas Challenge with them and all that God had been doing this week. The waitress at the restaurant was my niece and her week had not gone so well. She had worked a 12 hour shift earlier in the week and only made sixteen dollars. I gave her every bit of the cash I had left as a tip which was almost as much as the bill. I was going to use the money for myself but she needed it worse than I did.
Wow, What a week!!! God is so good and my spirit is soaring. I wonder what God has planned for this week.
I can't wait!!!
What Dr. C.I. Scofield said concerning this subject is many fail under testing and suffering.
I would take this to mean the trails we go through and the pain we suffer. Many fail under what I believe is lack of understanding of the purpose of trials. We only see the pain and want out of it. We often fall prey to the thinking, "if God is loving, He would not allow us to suffer". God is loving but it is in the suffering that we are purified and perfected. Like gold, it is through fire that impurities are burned out and you have a pure product. God’s goal is to purify us so we can become holy and be with Him.
Sometimes we even wonder "Is God really there?" The pain seems to blur our eyes so we can't see God. We think that He should keep us from pain, and when He doesn't we blame Him. Blame leads to anger; anger leads us to pull away. We pull away instead of doing what we really need which to draw near.
Our God is a God of deliverance but He gets to choose the method we are delivered. When we do pray for deliverance from a trial there are three ways that God may answer. First, He may deliver us from our trial so it just goes away. In this instance we see miracles that are unexplainable. Second, He may deliver us through our trial where He walks through it with us. These are the ones we get purified from. Third, He may deliver us home into His arms. He takes us home where there is no more pain.
So what do we do so that we persevere instead of fail from our suffering? I think first we pour out our pain in tears. I don't believe we were meant to just suck it up and move on. There is something cleansing in our tears. They pour out our grief. Held in they can become bitter.
Then we pray. We cry out to God for deliverance. If God chooses for us to go through the pain then we begin to pray for strength, courage and His presence to be with us.
James 5:3 says - Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.
We also get to wrestle with God about our pain. We get to ask the questions "why?" and "why me?" He even allows us to be angry and tell Him about it. He's pretty tough, He can take it. His compassion is abounding. Just like we hate to see our children in pain, He hates to see us in pain.
Have you ever taken your child to the doctor to receive their shots and had to hold them down to do it? That child is looking at you with questions in their eyes, "why mommy?" But we know more than they do, we know that it must be done and it is for there own good. This is how I believe God feels as we go through our pain, He wants to change it but can't because it’s for our own good.
Our pain also exposes everything we trust in besides God. Do we trust in ourselves, our money, maybe our parents? Sometimes our pain is what drives us to finally turn our trust to God. In the easy times, we too often turn our trust to other things beside God. Our suffering doesn't necessarily mean we are doing something wrong. Sometimes it’s just a product of living in a fallen world.
John 9:2-3 - And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him."
I Peter 4:12-13 - Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
The end result that God wants to take us to is joy. Through our suffering, His glory is revealed if we allow it and in the end when we are done, joy comes.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
According to Dr. C.I. Scofield, many become corrupted or enfeebled by prosperity and applause.
Many are changed to an unsound condition and made weak. In other words they sell their soul to have riches and fame. They give up there values, compromise there morals and break the commandments because the end justifies the means.
It may not be an outward deliberate act in which one day its decided. Instead it is usually slow erosion that takes place over time. We become prosperity driven and "self" motivated.
But isn't it the American way to pursue the almighty dollar? Reach for the stars.... be a self starter... be self motivated..... Self motivated, who came up with that term any way? What an oxymoron. Only Satan could come up with a term like this and then call it good. We are not to be self motivated; we are to be God motivated. There so many clichés that are thrown at us to show us that the way to success it through fame and fortune. If you can just get there you'll be on easy street. Right?
Wrong. What happens when you get there? You can't take all that with you. Have you meet a rich or famous person that didn't know Christ that was truly joyful? I mean deep down in there heart, filled with joy. I bet not because the stuff inside you when you are poor is still the stuff inside you when you are rich. We are broken internally from birth. Prone to selfishness and greed. The problem with this behavior is it isolates us and we were not made for isolation. We were made to love and be loved in community. Therefore, you get to the top of the heap and guess what.... You find out the hype you bought into was a lie. They didn't tell you the truth. They didn't tell you that you can't get true happiness from money or fame.
Proverbs 13:7 says - There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.
Today we even have preachers telling us that God wants us to be rich. We can have anything we want if we only have enough faith. This is a huge distortion of scripture. God does not tell us that we all get to be rich. Yes, He loves us and wants to give us the best, but sometimes the best thing for us is not riches or fame for it will corrupt us. It is not for us to decide who can handle riches, that is for God to decide.
I Samuel 2:7-8 - The Lord makes poor and makes rich: He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory.
Because of our sin nature, we are easily corrupted by the want of power. Power easily comes from riches and fame. People want to follow you and bow down to you. You then are exalted and raised up high. You begin to think how great you are and fall prey to the notion that you can be your own God. No need to bow down to the almighty, I am too great for that.
Matthew 19:23-24 says - Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Luke 6:24 Jesus pronounces -”But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation."
In Luke 18:18-23 - Jesus is speaking to the rich young ruler who asks how to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells the man in verse 22 to sell all that he has and distribute to the poor and follow Him. In verse 23 when the ruler heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.
Not all fall to the testing of prosperity and applause but many do. Which makes it impossible for them to bow a knee to Christ.
If only they really knew what they were giving up. If only they knew what they were choosing was separation from God. If only they would realize they were trading an eternity in heaven for a short lived round of applause. If only they knew....
I pray they do....
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Dr. CI Scofield in a biography about DL Moody said this:
"There are three supreme testings that await strong men in this life. The testing of poverty and obscurity, of prosperity and applause, and of suffering. Many, who enter life conscious, even though dimly, of great latent capacities turn sour and bitter under neglect, narrow circumstances and lack of appreciation. Others who pass the first trial successfully are corrupted or enfeebled by success and adulation. Many who stand erect alike in obscurity and success fail utterly under the testing of suffering."
The first testing he speaks about is the testing of poverty and obscurity. A person can come into this world with great capacity and because of circumstances never reach what their potential could be. Some fail under the testing of poverty and obscurity and become bitter and hard. Others flourish and overcome their circumstances. This can also be the case when someone falls into poverty or obscurity after success and applause. They can become angry, blame it on God or look to God for answers. Anger does nothing but lead to bitterness which ends up poisoning the heart.
Act 8:23 - "For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."
Poverty does not have to equal unhappiness. Many have found great joy in spite of their poverty. Their joy comes from a saving grace, a hope in a future that is beyond this world. Sometimes in our poverty and obscurity we learn to lean more securely on God for even our most basic needs.
Take the widows two mites in Luke 21; she gave more than anyone by giving her two mites. She put in the entire livelihood that she had. She was not angry and bitter but loving of God and gave sacrificially of what she had. She trusted God and knew he would take care of her. She leaned securely on God for everything and Christ recognized that.
Even if we are in a position of poverty and obscurity we should not be focused on "how do I get out of this" but instead "what would God have me do with what I have". True success comes not from man but from God. Riches will be gone in a short while but the good you do even in your poverty will remain. It will remain in the lives that you touch and the legacy you leave behind.
I suppose you must decide what way you are going to define success. Is success gaining wealth and possessions like the world says or is it taking on the characters of Christ like God says? If success to you is riches and adulation then if you never achieve it you are likely to become angry and bitter. But if your definition of success is when you look in the mirror you see the reflection of Christ, then, when no material wealth comes your way it won't matter. Your joy is no longer dependant on the things that surround you but the things above.
What we must remember, is that our true riches are not here. They are in the next life waiting for us.
Let us not become bitter because of what we do not have, but become joyful for what we do have. Its all in the way we choose to look at it.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
A scar is different than a wound. A wound is still open and unhealed. It can be a large gaping hole that aches with pain, open and susceptible to infection. Or it can be scabbed over in the process of healing. Either way it is still a wound and not a scar. A scar you see is what is left as a reminder after the healing has come. It reminds us of what we went through so others can see Jesus in us.
John 20:20 - When He had said this. He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
You see, after Jesus rose from the grave he came back and showed himself to the disciples. They did not recognize him until they were shown His scars. It was His scars that showed what He had done for them, that made them recognize Him as their Savior.
It is the same for us, when we show others our scars; they can see the Savior and what He has done for us. It is in this sharing that many times others recognize who Jesus is.
What are your wounds today? Are they still open wounds that need the healing of Jesus? If they are, healing can only begin when you give them to Christ.
What scars do you have? Are you hiding them in shame or are they a shining remembrance of what Jesus did?
Romans 8:1 says this -There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and turned from your old life there is no longer any condemnation for you. There is no longer any shame in your past. The shame is gone, you have been redeemed. Christ wants to take the shame from your past and make it a beacon of light for other. He wants to make it a light that shows the way to Him.
Jesus had scars that showed who He was and what He went through. In those scars was proof of who He was.
Let your scars show who you are also...
Monday, December 15, 2008
Matthew 15:22-28 - And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying: My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us." But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
The woman in this story was a gentile from Canaan. At that time, Jesus was concentrating His message to the Jews. Therefore, he ignored her and then told her He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. In her desperation for her child she was willing to beg for even the crumbs from the Savior. Jesus then gave her the thing she requested because of her faith.
Sometimes it is in our deepest moment of desperation that we are finally ready to reach out to someone other than ourselves to save us. Thankfully, it only takes that small crumb of faith for Jesus to hear us and come to the rescue. Although, the rescue may not always look like what we wanted, He does hear and respond.
I too have felt that desperation for a child and cried out for the crumbs off the table. In July 2006 I found myself on my knees for one of our children. Matthew was thrown through the windshield of a car doing 120 miles an hour. The car itself flew the length of a football field and Matthew flew at least fifty feet from the car. The car caught fire and there was nothing left of it. On the way to the hospital his prognosis was not good. They feared He would not even make it to the hospital but He did. The most severe injury to him was the head trauma that occurred from being thrown from the car.
We received the phone call that every parent dreads. One o'clock in the morning a frantic voice on the other end of the line tells you your child is hurt and on the way to the hospital. My husband threw on his clothes, grabbed his keys and was headed to the hospital. I was left behind to do the only thing I could do, to pray.
The following three weeks as we took turns at the hospital and watched our son struggle to live, I began to beg for crumbs. There was not much encouragement from the doctors during this time. As the days ticked by, the news became worse. If he did recover, he would likely have brain damage. He would probably never be the same person again. The recovery would be six months to a year. He would have to relearn everything.
I searched the scriptures and found every verse on healing in the bible. I claimed them all as everyday broke me further. I found myself not just on my knees but on my face pleading for God's touch for our son. As I read the scripture in James 5:14 a small voice inside me said "I will heal him, gather them." I took that as a word from God and we did just that. We called the elders of the church; they gathered at the hospital and prayed over him. There were 25 people in the ICU Trauma care unit that night as prayers went up to heaven. Three days later the breathing tube was taken out and Matthew woke up. One weak later he was released from the hospital, he was evaluated at rehab and passed with flying colors. He is a walking miracle with no trace of injury left from the accident.
I am not saying to you "if you just believe enough you will be healed" or "you will get what you ask if you just have enough faith." What I am saying is that in my hour of need I sought God with everything I knew. He could have done things differently. He could have told me no, I will not heal him and I would have accepted that. I would have accepted it because He does have our best interest at heart. Yes, I prayed for healing, but if the answer would have been no, I then would have prayed for strength and courage as we persevered through.
What we do is ask in faith, from the depths of our hearts and accept the answer what ever it is. Someone once said, "God always answers in the deeps, never in the shallows of our souls." Are we in deep intimacy with God when we pray? Or are we splashing in the shallow end?
What ever it is in your life that need God’s healing today, I urge you, jump in the deep end.
It only takes a crumb from Him to change things.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I did decide to take his challenge and starting last week, I began to pray. As I prayed, I began by asking God to reveal how I could give for the next 12 days. What would He want me to do? He began to flood ideas into my mind and unfold many things I could do that would be from a sacrificial heart.
Yesterday I spent the majority of my day helping a couple from church move and unpack. There is nothing I hate more than moving and usually if I can get out of it I do. Yesterday was different; it was a time that I put my own desires aside and went to help out. The couple had to move because the wife could no longer climb the 3 flights of stairs to there apartment. She has back problems and is having major back surgery in January. The husband had a stroke over 20 years ago and only has use of one arm. It was so amazing to see so many come together to help those in need. They were moved and completely unpacked in five hours. I have never seen anything like it.
Today God laid on my heart to tell my husband that I did not want him to buy me a Christmas present. Instead, I told him I would like to help someone that needs it with the money. In Sunday school this morning an announcement was made that the family our class agreed to provide Christmas dinner for really needs more than just food provided. They really needed towels because they only have 4 towels. All my husband could do was look at me as his eyes welled up.
I have to give you some background on this decision. Last Thursday, we received a check in the mail that was unexpected. It was for a debt that my husband had forgiven. When my father in-law passed away several years ago he was owed some money from a land purchase. We had tried to collect the money but had not been successful. About a month ago my husband at the prompting of God sent a letter to the man that owed us. He shared what God had done in his life and then told him we were considering the debt paid in full. The letter this man sent with the check said he was planning to pay the debt in full and here was a partial payment.
Up until we received this check, we were not going to buy each other a present for Christmas because money was so tight. When the check came, my husband began asking what I would like to have. I told him several things that tickled my fancy. But today I began to think about how I really didn't need any of the things I told him about. I have so much and others have so little. So I will be buying towels and maybe some other items this family needs with my Christmas present this year. I don't feel the least bit deprived by this decision. In fact, it has made my spirit soar.
I will update more of what God has me do later in the week.... Until then check out Peter’s sight and take the challenge yourself. I dare you!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I wanted nothing to do with God, why did I need God? I had everything I needed within myself to live my life. Besides, He's too rigid and full of rules. I would have to give up things in my life and I like my life the way it is. I like to sleep in on Sundays. Why go to church anyway, all the church is filled with is hypocrites. You know, those people that say they love others like God does, but they don't really do it. I've meet those "church" people, all they do is look down on me and my lifestyle.
You know that God didn't really create everything and the bible is just an old book of fables anyway. Right? Come on people we evolved from simple organism's over time.
I really knew nothing about God or religion. I claimed to not believe in God because as a child I had prayed to Him when my parents divorced and felt He didn't answer me. I was mad at God and wanted nothing to do with Him. I had prayed for my parents to stay together and they didn't, therefore, there was no God. There was no real knowledge to back up my decision, just what I felt. I formed my opinions not with an open mind towards God but with a closed mind.
Then when I got older, something happened in my life. Circumstances and life got bigger than I was able to handle. My life was out of control and so was I. I ended up in a place where the circumstances were bigger than me. There wasn't anyone else in my life that could fix it either. Who could help, there was no help and no where to turn. My life was now unbearable and all I wanted was for the emotional pain I was in to be gone. I attempted suicide, I didn't really want to die, I was scared to die, I just wanted the pain to stop. I needed help and I began to hope there was a God. I needed supernatural help and if God couldn't provide that, then there just was no hope at all.
I was told that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, that if I believed, accepted the gift of salvation He offered and turned away from my sins I could go to heaven. There was a God who loved me enough to send His son to die on the cross for me and if I turned to Him, He would help me. In that moment, I opened my heart and said a very small prayer. "Jesus I believe you died for me, Please help me" Suddenly, He was there, I could feel Him all around me. I saw Him in his creation, in the way the clouds moved, in the movement of the wind as it blew the leaves from the trees. He was everywhere around me and I had not seen it. He was there all the time, I just hadn't seen it. I couldn't see the truth because my heart was so hard.
You see, if we tell God to go away, He will. He is a gracious God and will not force himself on us. But there are consequences for remaining separated from God and they are dire. Originally, God created man to be with Him, to be in direct contact with Him face to face. Man changed all that when he chose to sin. God can not be around sin, so from the beginning of time He has constructed a way for man to get back to Him. That way was made through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But those that reject His offer get what they ask for; they get eternal hell, eternal separation from God.
Sure I still had doubts about things even after I accepted Christ. I still needed answers to the questions I spoke about in the beginning of this letter. Through seeking and asking He has answered those questions for me and given me a peace about my choice. There is now a hope I never had before and there is no going back to where I was. I am forever His.
I am joyful and full of hope because of who He is making me to be. Life has changed and it is for the better.
I will write you again my friend. Next time to tell you about the answers He has given me.
Friday, December 12, 2008
I John 2:16 - For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.
Buckle up and hold on tight because we are going for a ride with this one....
The pride of life is a vain craving for honor and applause, or the stubborn mindset that will not allow someone to repent or confess their sin.
Webster’s dictionary defines pride this way: an unduly high opinion of oneself; exaggerated self-esteem, conceit, haughty behavior resulting from this, arrogance.
A vain craving for honor and applause.... stubborn mindset.... unduly high opinion of oneself. Pride, the ugly thing that we fight continually in ourselves. It is pride that keeps us from repenting many times, especially if it is a public sin. It is also the thing that brings many people down and keeps many from the kingdom of God. It is the stubborn mindset that says "I don't need a Savior I can do it on my own, I will save myself" This stubborn mindset that refuses to submit and bow a knee to the creator, is the mindset that damns a man to hell.
Satan loves to get a hold of us with this sin. Personally if he could take us down by any sin, I believe he would choose pride. This is only my opinion but the reason I believe this is because it was pride that brought his fall. Pride is the reason he was thrown out of heaven and what better revenge than to take Gods people in the same way. He used it in the beginning on Adam and Eve and he uses it on us today. In the same way that he fell by wanting to be God he told Eve she could be God also. He tells us this too, we can be our own God. He is wrong; we can not be our own God, its pride talking when we think we can.
We are enticed by this every day.... Be your own God, do it on your own..... Because of the fall we do have a part in us that if we function in our fleshly self, we want the honor and applause of others. We begin to think too highly of ourselves. We become self absorbed and live in the mindset "It's all about me". The society around us has been feeding us this mantra for years. Tap into your inner self and fill yourself with your needs. I...I...I... Me...Me...Me.... IT’S ALL ABOUT ME, MY NEEDS, MY WANTS, WHAT ABOUT ME?
Test yourself. Are you self absorbed? Do you ever feel important when you are surrounded by those you deem important? Or maybe when someone important notices you? We want others to bow down to us and see us as important, so we seek approval of those we think are important. If they think we are important, we then are lifted up. But Jesus says the opposite, if we bow down in humility, we then are lifted up. It is not by others bowing down to us and thinking we are important that we are lifted up but the opposite.
What about self-loathing? It is another form of self absorption and not a sign of humility. Do you make the statements that begin with "I"? I am a loser, I am horrible, I am ugly, I am to fat, I don't worship like I should, I am not worthy..... If you do then it is still about you. There is nothing like priding yourself on hating yourself. It is still a form of pride.
We must purge ourselves of the pride of life by drenching ourselves in the word, the spirit and prayer. The word is our sword against the evil one and we must know it to be able to use it. The spirit gives us the power to fight if we stay prayed up.
Proverbs 11:2 - When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 13: 10 - By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.
Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
We all have a need for significance, it’s a need built into us. But we must find our significance in the arms of the Father not in ourselves. Save yourself from the shame, strife and eventual fall of pride and lay it down in repentance today.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I John 2:16 - For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.
The lust of the eyes is sin formed in the desires that are aroused by our eyes. Sins of riches, fame, importance, beauty, all the outward things of the world. They produce greed, covetousness, envy and the desire of possession.
Joshua 7:21 says this "When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.
After the nation of Israel entered the promise land and defeated Jericho, they went into battle and were defeated at Ai. They were instructed to take no spoils from Jericho, but one person did, which caused the defeat at Ai to occur. In this scripture, Achan is confessing that he has sinned against the Lord. His sin was a lust of the eyes. He saw the beautiful items, began to covet them, his greed took over, he ended up taking them and hiding them in his tent.
Do we not also have these issues today? We see our neighbors new fifty inch flat screen TV and think, I ought to have one. Or we see the beautiful women on the cover of every magazine and think I should look that good. Then off we go to get our hair changed or buy that thing we really can't afford. The reality is, these things often draw us in so that greed, lust, covetousness and envy take over. Instead of doing what God would call us to do; we begin to feed the lust of our eyes.
It is especially hard here in America. We after all, are the land of opportunity. We are the land of excess, we can have anything we want, any way we want it. Don't get me wrong, in America we have some really great freedoms that others around the world would love to enjoy. We also however; have so much excess that feeds into the lust of the eyes. Sometimes, less is more...
I am no stranger to these feelings. For so many years, my husband and I bought into the great American dream. We should have the big house with plenty of nice things. When we accomplished that, we would be successful. We were successful alright, successful at accumulated a large sum of debt. About myself, I thought that as long as I was thin and beautiful, that I doing things right. Although, God wants us to love ourselves enough to take care of our bodies, He is really more concerned with our hearts. Actually, our outward beauty presented in an inappropriate package can cause lust of the eyes and lead someone into sin.
We crave to be important, to feel like others think we are important. There is a natural part of us that has this craving, but instead of driving us to seek attention, importance or fame, it should drive us to God. He is the only one that can fill that craving and give us our importance. It is in finding out about His character and drawing near to him that we get our importance.
After Cain brought his offering to God in Genesis 4, Cain was very angry and his countenance fell. God said this to him in Genesis 4:6-7:
"Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door, And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."
God is trying to tell us, that sin lies at the door, it is all around us, and its desire is for us, for us to enter into it. But we are called to rule over it! We do that by the spirit and only by the spirit.
Everyday we must fill ourselves up with the power of the spirit so that we will rule over the sins of the world, not it over us.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I John 2:16 - For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.
He gave me all this information, enough to post at least three articles then when I went to write, He would lead me to write about something else. Since I started this blog I have followed His lead when writing so I went with it. Evidently He was saving this subject for today and I now know why.
I would like to talk today about the first way that the world corrupts our soul, it’s the lust of the flesh. The desires that spring from our appetites and passions. The lust of the flesh is in the physical senses, things we see, touch, smell, hear and taste.
Numbers 11:4-5 says Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: Who will give us meat to eat? "We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic..."
They had that taste in their mouth, remembering what they were able to eat in Egypt and were willing to go back into bondage for it. They had an intense craving and instead of running to God with it, they yielded to it. It lead them to weep and then want to go back to Egypt. They were willing to give up their freedom to satisfy the cravings inside them. They were willing to defy God and give up everything He had done for them just to satisfy the burning desires inside.
Was there ever a time where your taste buds were watering? Maybe a desire that was burning inside you? It is the kind of burning desire that starts inside and is so strong you can almost taste it, smell it, feel it or see it. These kinds of desires can consume us, overcome us and begin to drive our lives. In those moments we are willing to do anything to satisfy the craving, even give up our freedom. Sometimes even defy God.
I will go back to what I wrote at the beginning of this post. I know why God waited until today for me to write this post. You see, today was a day of surrender for me. Not a day of surrender to the lust of my flesh, but surrender to God. I believe I am not alone in my battle with the flesh. I would say we all battle some sort of intense craving, a lust of the flesh.
Mine is a battle with the body, I have always done things that were abusive to my body. I had no self control and used to always give in to the feelings of want, those cravings that burn inside. Before I accepted Jesus as my Savior and surrendered my life to Christ, I used many things to abuse my body, drugs, alcohol, sex, cigarettes, food.... Only through the power of God have I been able to give up these things. I gave up drugs, alcohol and ungodly sex, not a problem. Cigarettes were a hard one, but I made it through with the power of prayer. There are still several things that I struggle with though.
I am addicted to diet coke and food. I have not taken care of my body like I should and carry extra weight which is not good for my health. I can not, no matter how hard I try, make myself exercise and do the things I know I am suppose to do to take care of my body. I have struggled and prayed, dieted, given up things only to go back. This has been a horrible battle that has raged inside of me. Gluttony in the church is acceptable, which makes it even harder. There just seems to be no spiritual help for this one. We are allowed to give in to our cravings and it’s OK. But in Gods eyes it's not.
God began to do some changing in my heart over a year ago. He has given me new thinking patterns about the issue but I still have the internal cravings that burn inside. Cravings that would drive me back into bondage and take away my freedom.
Today was the day I finally placed it at God feet and truly meant it with all my heart. There is no going back and picking it back up. Today as I read about the prayer Christ prayed, asking for the cup to be taken from Him, here is what broke me into pieces. Christ, before He went to the cross, got on His face, before His Father, crying tears of blood and asked to be release from His burden. He got on His face.... In complete submission.... lying all at His fathers feet.... with everything He had.... crying tears of blood.... Then He made His request.
I have asked for this power over me to be taken away but never like that. Today I did just that. On my face... before my Father... In complete submission... I laid my burden down.... and I made my request. He has answered and I will lean on His power. Today is a day of surrender and deliverance for me.
It is a day of deliverance from the lust of the flesh that has plagued me for a lifetime.
It can be a day of deliverance for you too.
Will you go to Him today and lay down your burden? Will you surrender to Him and make your request?
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I am beginning to believe that living life as a Christian can be boiled down to four very simple principles. Pray, Know, Love and Do. Let me explain this further...
Once we have made a profession of faith and have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. Each of us must at all times be in constant communication with God. We are to be emptying ourselves of ourselves and refilling with the spirit. The way we empty ourselves is through confession and repentance. We confess, repent and refill with the spirit.
Through this constant dialog with God we are taught, molded, changed, rebuked, transformed, blessed, uplifted and shown who we are. We also are shown that we are deeply loved by the many things that we hear from God. Prayer; which is communication, is a two way dialog, we talk and we listen. It is not a time to give God our big list of wants like He was Santa Claus. He does want us to come to him with our requests but we are to ask in the context of "if it is his will, let it be so". He wants us to be in relationship with Him and in a relationship you talk to one another. Same with God, prayer is talking with God.
We must know deep in our hearts just who God is. How can we know how to live the way God would want us to live if we do not know Him? God has given us the Bible; it is His written word to us. It is His love letter to mankind. It was written to show us how to live in communion with Him. We are to study it, know it, and love it. He tells us to hide it in our hearts. He tells us this because as we begin to know His word, we will begin to know Him. The more we get to know the character of God, the more we will love Him. The things we love we hide in our hearts. When we hide His word in our hearts, we are also hiding Him in there as well.
As we begin to understand the character of God, we begin to trust Him. We understand that in all things He has our best interest at heart. He is concerned in the quality of our character and will do what is needed to complete His transforming work in us. Each time that we put our trust in Him, He shows us He is there, which builds our faith.
We are called to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, then love others as ourselves. As we begin to know the character of God, we then love Him more. He builds a stronger love in us that we can then turn around and give to others. It is only through His power, living in the spirit of God, that we can truly love like we are called. We are to love sacrificially, which we can not do in our own power. As He grows in us the love for Him, we are also given the kind of love that is unselfish and other centered. We become less concerned with our own needs and more concerned about others.
We must first ask for help to have the kind of heart that loves God. Then ask for the heart to love ourselves. After that the heart to love others. It comes in this order. We must love God to love ourselves and love ourselves to pass it on to others. It is through this kind of supernatural love that lives begin to change.
Once God begins to change our hearts and build a love in us. We are called out into the world to do. We are usually called just to do the next thing. God does not usually give us the "ten year plan" with all details included. Normally you only get the next detail when you need it. He wants us to learn to know His will and His voice so we can obey when we are given instructions. Sometimes it is just obeying the instructions He gives for that day and sometimes they are bigger things.
I believe the key is availability. We are to keep our eyes looking up, our ears open for the voice of the spirit and our hearts available to go when instructed. When we keep ourselves open and available we hear the next thing He needs from us. It is not our agenda but His and He can give it to us anyway He likes. We just need to stay available to go when we are called.
Pray, Know, Love and Do, these are what we are called too. They seem simple in concept but sometimes they are not always easy in practice. So we Pray, Know, Love, Do and then Repeat.
Monday, December 8, 2008
How about this one? "Bounces off me and sticks to you like glue"
Here's one more. "I know you are but what am I?"
I remember these sayings but more than that, I remember believing them. I believed that words weren't supposed to be considered as damaging. I believed that physical pain was much worse than emotional pain. I believed you could combat someone’s hurtful intent with a smart comment back to them. I bought into it hook, line and sinker. How about you?
If its true that physical hurt is harder to endure than emotional hurt then why is it that the words that someone says can stick to us for a lifetime?
They stick to us for a lifetime because they do hurt us. Words can go deep into our minds when we are young and shape us emotionally. Sticks and stones may break our bones and then bones quickly heal, but emotional scares can take a lifetime to get over. Words can cut us to the bone. We learn from childhood how to use them as weapons and we all have scares that are still tender from them.
With our tongue, we can edify and uplift or we can destroy and tear down. We can be careless with our words or sometimes even use them intentionally to inflict pain. What better way to jab someone where it hurts than a well timed comment targeted at their insecurities. I have even seen others disguise there hurtful intent by calling it “I’m trying to help that other person". How about a judgmental word or calling into question someone’s integrity?
We are not to sin with our tongue.
Psalm 39:1 - I said “I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me."
James calls the tongue a fire, a world of iniquity set on fire by hell in chapter 3 verse 6. Then in Chapter 3 verses 8-9 he says this: "But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God."
Set on fire by hell, what a strong statement. Unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Wow! The same tongue we bless God with is full of deadly poison to curse men with.
So I ask, if words can hurt someone for a lifetime but no man can tame the tongue, what are we to do?
I believe we once again must take this issue back to our Savior, our God and ask for His help. We must place it in His hands and ask Him to transform us, change us and give us self control. All things .... once again come back to God. It is through His power we are given the ability to change and learn self control.
Back to the Father we should go, in prayer. Lord tame our tongue for we can not. Amen.
I believe that we, the people of God, have bought into a pack of lies in regard to what God expects of His "church". We have bought into the lie that once you accept Christ, things should be easy. Being a Christian is not the easy life, we don't convert and then sit back and relax. Yes, salvation is free and there are no works needed to gain it. But the life of Christ was a sacrificial life. That is the kind of life we are called to and it's not easy. Sacrifice isn't supposed to be easy, that’s why it’s called sacrifice. We are called to do the hard things which cause us to give up our "self" attitudes. We are to sacrifice "self" and give to others.
I must tell you as I sit here this morning and this truth rolls around in my head, my flesh seems to scream against it. The truth is, my flesh is selfish and wants only to do what pleases it. I don't want to give up my ways. I don't want to do for others when they don’t appreciate it. I don't want to forgive those that do things to hurt me. I don't want to give up my spare time or hard earned cash. I don’t want to help someone that doesn’t even like me or care that I’m doing it. I am, in my flesh, weak and selfish. I can not do these things. But God in me can. When I surrender and live through the spirit I can die to self and live sacrificially. It is only in God's power that I can.
Sometimes though I seem to hold onto my selfishness. I know that I should go to my prayer closet and surrender the selfish thoughts and feelings that so often invade my mind. Instead, I want to keep them for a while. Especially when my feelings have been hurt. I feel justified in keeping those thoughts alive in me. After all, I have been hurt. When I do this though, they seem to grow and crazy thoughts come. Thoughts that include actions to take. Satan has a field day with feeding our thoughts so they grow. He wants us to act upon them, but once we do, his condemnation begins. "See, look what you did, you’re not worthy enough to be a Christian. You should just give up this Christianity thing". Once again I am at the foot of the cross asking for mercy and forgiveness.
This is the true life of a Christian, each day, battling the thought life. Struggling to live in the spirit. Dieing to self, crucifying the flesh and picking up our cross each day. We all struggle but while we struggle we have a peace and hope to cling to. I don't know about you but my struggles with the internal battle are daily even hourly at times. Some days it easier than others to let go and let God. Other days, well, let’s just say I'm glad God is merciful. Thankfully, His mercy and forgiveness are abundant and always available to us. I don't know about you but I praise Him for that.
It is when I find myself in these times of struggle, that I most need revival in my soul. I know though, from the prophet Joel, that repentance must precede revival and this is the scripture that comes to me. I must rend my heart. It's all about the heart and that is where repentance must take place.
Joel 2:13 - So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I would like to pass this award on to several blogs that have blessed me, encouraged me and lifted me up.
Peter P @ Rediscovering the Church (http://blog.hafchurch.org/peter/)
Judi Lynn Lake @ Life As It Happens (http://judilynnlake.blogspot.com/)
Gi @ Ucanhope2 (http://ucanhope2.blogspot.com/)
Lori Moon @ My Own Road Home (http://lorimoon.com/)
Valerie Lynn @ Simply 4 God (http://simply4god.blogspot.com/)
Tammy @ Not mine but God's Story (http://notminebutgodsstory.blogspot.com/)
Jeff Baker @ Jeff Baker Talks (http://jeffbakertalks.blogspot.com/)
Minister Mamie L Pack @The Life I now Live (http://lifeinowlive.blogspot.com/)
Stop by and check out their blogs they are all great!!!!
This week as I started my week I found my friend Larry on the counter with a coffee cup. When I asked him why he was hanging out there with a coffee cup, his answer was a simple one "Drinking coffee". Duh, What was I thinking? As you can see, I'm not too sharp that early in the morning...
Larry had decided to take up coffee drinking. He had heard such wonderful things about the stuff and how people just raved over it. Since he had no way to get the really good stuff at Starbucks, he decided to indulge himself with some of my husband’s home brew. He said that due to his advancing age, he was starting to be a bit sluggish in the mornings.
Well of course, what was I thinking? We all need a little help in the morning at least once in a while, now don't we. How can a guy with a brand new tattoo go out and spread his message to the world if he is not awake. He had work to do that day, people to talk to and a message to get out there.
So to help my friend out, I did what any loving friend would do in this situation. I poured him a cup. I believe in his message and I'm all for spreading the word, so why not?
Well, I'll tell you why not....
Little smiley guy, great big cup, just how in the world is this guy gonna drink it. Didn't think about that before I poured and the next thing you know, over the top he goes. Instead of drinking out of the cup, he's now swimming in it. He was swimming in scalding hot coffee. However, I did find out that he knows how to float. Good information to know, not a great way to find out. Needless to say, Larry did not make it out to spread his message that day.
For now, I believe he is on the wagon. No coffee for Larry the Smiley Guy. Right now he has to spread his message a little later in the day. I am however on the hunt for a Christmas gift. A Smiley Guy sized coffee cup. I think he's gonna love it!!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
1. Exclaiming "Jesus, where are we?" Is not considered asking for directions.
2. Watching the children is not called babysitting. Babysitters get paid and NO we are not going to pay you.
3. When your wife asks "How do I look?" The right thing to do is exclaim "Wonderful!", exit immediately and go help the children with something.
4. We really would quit repeating ourselves if your eyes didn't glaze over and you nodded occasionally. Then we would believe you heard us the first time.
5. Frantically flicking your car headlights at another driver that you are upset with is still considered road rage.
6. The reply "Fine" is really another word for "if you do I'm going to be very upset".
7. A little help with dinner and the kids at night will do wonders for your love life.
8. If you play wrestling with the kids right before bed, expect to play "put the kids back in bed" for the next hour.
9. If you don't lift the toilet seat up your sons will never learn it either and your daughters will blame you for falling in.
10. When going out and you ask where we want to eat, "I don't know" really means, "Please pick somewhere but make sure its a place that I like"
Do you have any things of your own all husbands ought to know?
Friday, December 5, 2008
Integrity.... I was pondering on what exactly that word meant?
So, I looked it up in Webster’s Dictionary and here's their definition:
Integrity: the quality or state of being; complete, unbroken condition, wholeness, unimpaired, perfect condition, soundness. The quality or state of being of sound moral principal, uprightness, honesty, sincerity.
Very interesting.... What exactly does it mean to live a life of integrity? You hear that statement made by all kinds of people... You should live a life of integrity. How do we do that?
I think it would be safe to say that to live a life of integrity we would need to be the same person where ever we are and in what ever we are doing. We would need to wear the belt of truth and be transparent in who we are. We are not to live our life any way we feel like it. We are not to sin all week, and then put on our "I'm a good and righteous Christian" mask on Sunday. We are to wear the same face all week, no mask, just us, living for Christ the best we can. We are not to come to church, dieing inside, only to shake hands and smile as if nothing is wrong. We are to be true to who we are, unashamed of our imperfection. We are all in the same boat, wretched, without the blood of Christ. We are ALL a dysfunctional mess without Him.
We are to be complete, in unbroken condition, whole and unimpaired. The only way we are going to be this way is through life in the Holy Spirit. It is through acceptance of Christ that we are restored and given the Holy Spirit to live within us. It is through the renewing of our minds that we are repaired. We must live a life that is continually renewing ourselves. By immersing ourselves in the word of God we are changed. Our mind is cleansed of our old ways of thinking and renewed with His way of thinking. The broken parts become unbroken, the impaired parts get fixed and we become whole.
Romans 12:2 says And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
It is through this process, we transform; we metamorphose into the creation we were intended to be. The same kind of metamorphosis that a caterpillar has into a butterfly, we are to have from our worldly self into our Godly self. As our minds are renewed by the word of God we are then changed internally. From those changes we become upright, honest, sincere and of sound moral principals. We begin to live a life of integrity. That kind of life makes us worthy of the kingdom that we are assured to inherit. The inheritance of life in the Kingdom of God.
But here is the catch.... To even begin to live this kind of life, we must renew ourselves through the reading of the word, prayer and time with God everyday. We must empty ourselves of self and fill ourselves with Christ. Yes, we are to live continually in the spirit, but as D. L. Moody would say, "we leak". So we must continually fill ourselves back up.
We are to live a life of Integrity, one worthy of the sacrifice that was made for us. A life worthy of the sacrifice made on the cross of Calvary.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
So let me ask you, have you ever reacted this way with God? Not in fear, but in anger? Have you placed a request before God, said a prayer, only to feel that He didn't give you what you wanted? Have things ever happened in your life that have made you say "How could a loving God let this happen?" Have you ever gotten angry at God because you didn't get what you thought you wanted or maybe even, what you deserved? Then after that, every time something bad happened, your automatic reaction was to blame God?
Even in the strongest person with the most dedicated life to Christ, there are times that the hand we are dealt feels wrong. We all have those times that what we are given to deal with feels unfair. Times where we can not understand Gods purpose and it seems like He is just being mean.
Life at times is so unfair, it deals blows to us that are unexpected and painful. God didn't intend for it to be this way. He intended for the earth to be a sinless place of great beauty. A place where He could spend time with us in person. He only wanted to love us and be loved in return.
For that to be the case, He had to give us "free will", the ability to choose Him or not choose Him. But instead of choosing Him, we chose sin. In that choice things between man and God got broken. A sinless God can not look on a sinful man. He could no longer be with us in person. But He loved us so much that He sent His son Jesus to bridge the gap. He sent Jesus to take the sin and nail it to the cross. He made a way to get back to Him by us believing in His son.
The ugliness that is in this world comes because of our own free will. Because we have the right to choose, some people choose not to love God. They choose to live their life in a sinful way which can lead to ugly hurtful things. In the process, sometimes the people around them get hurt, but not by God, by people. We are living in a broken world right now. There are circumstances that are not ideal in Gods eyes. We can rest in the knowledge though, that in the end He will rectify things. He is a loving and forgiving God, but He could not be a holy God if He was not also a just God. In the end there will be a time of judgment. At that time those who have chosen not to accept the gift of salvation Jesus has to offer and instead choose their sin will be eternally separated from God.
God does not say that He will keep us from ever having any problems or hurts. He only says that through our relationship with Him, He will hold us close and carry us through them.
Psalm 57: 1 says Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of your wings I will make refuge, until these calamities have passed by.
When the people of Israel were discouraged God reminded them that it was Him that had carried them in the desert.
Deuteronomy 1:28-31 -Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, "The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there." Then I said to you "Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place. "
It is in our trials and problems that we are able to see God most clearly. In those times, we are at the end of ourselves, the end of our ability to do things on our own. We begin to call out to Him and see Him show up. It is in those times that we get to see miracles and amazing things. We get to see the supernatural power of God and know that He is real, He is there. It is when nothing else but God can change things that He reveals himself the most and is ultimately glorified. In those times He tucks us under His wing and carries us through as He shows us His wonders.
He is a glorious God and even in our anger, He continues to love us. And I am so very thankful of that.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
At the age of 16 I began to date someone seriously. I was crazy about him. I had always known that his parents were "religious" but didn't really know much else about them. I had only met them once or twice in the two years we dated. I didn't know this then, but he had grown up in a Christian home. Right before we broke up he decided to share something with me. He told me that if I truly believed that Christ died on the cross for me that I could go to heaven. That's it, that's all he told me. But it gave me hope, a hope I had never been given before. I remember that night, talking to God and saying "I do believe, I do believe that Jesus died on the cross for me, please help me"
Something changed in me that night. It really was like I was blind and I could finally see. I remember walking outside the next morning and the sky was so blue and beautiful. It looked totally different, like I was really seeing it for the first time. I began to hunger to know who God was. I found a bible in my sister’s bookshelf and began to read it. I was drinking in every word and the words came alive on the page. It was my only connection to God. I knew no one that was a Christian.
Several months later my roommate came home from work talking about her boss at the gas station she worked at. He was telling her all about Christ and she began to share with me. I knew I had to talk to him. He was the most dynamic man and he LOVED God. He led me to a church and eventually I even became a part of his family. His mother gave me a place to live, his sister became my best friend and he became one of the ministers at my church. I had a loving Christian family for the first time in my life.
I would like to say that this was the end and I happily served God the rest of my life but I didn't. After about two years, God began to ask things of me that I wasn't willing to do. Mainly he wanted me to trust him and obey. There are many reasons that I won't go into but I couldn't allow myself to trust completely and I fell away. I stayed away and lived in sin for eighteen years. It wasn't until life became so unbearable that I finally let Him take over and have my whole life.
In spite of my rebellion, he greeted me with open arms. He began to heal my past and bless my future. I don't deserve the love and acceptance he has given me but I am grateful for it anyway. It has been in my surrender to Him and my trust in Him that I have found what I always needed. I found someone to really love me unconditionally, flaws and all. I found true acceptance. I didn’t have to change to come to Him, He would change me. I found a hope for the future, one that I could count on to be filled with joy.
In the last six years, He has restored me. I am no longer haunted by the things of my past. He has changed me and made me worthy to be called a child of God. I am becoming who He intended me to be. If you allow Him, He will also do that for you.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Don't we all feel like this at times? That in the day to day routine of life we get bogged down. We feel like we are doing nothing really important with our lives. I began to ask myself, do we miss the mini miracles and the hands of God because we just aren't paying attention? Do we just not see Him because He's not there, or is it something else? I would bet it’s the latter, it is the something else. I would suffice it to say that He is there, we just aren't noticing.
Take the life of a young mother. Day in and day out she is tending to the needs of her children. Making sure that they are taken care of physically, mentally and emotionally. But does she think about it this way. God put one of His creations in her hands to mold and shape. She is training something that God ordained and created. Each day, she has the power in her hands to shape her child to be more of what God wants or less of what He wants. This is not an overnight process, it takes years. Then once the time is up, she gives the child back to God. That is power, the power to mold a life.
We all have the power in our hands every day to change someone’s day or even at times change someone’s life. Sometimes it’s a word that we speak or a gesture that we make that can profoundly affect another person. This is a miracle that God has laid in our hands each day.
Each day is a complete miracle. The sun rising and setting is a miracle. The intricate beauty in the birds and how they can fly is a miracle. The DNA that creates a human life, again a miracle. We in ourselves are walking talking miracles in a world created by a miraculous God.
We see all the amazing works done in the bible and think that our lives should read like that. Our life should be chock full of amazing miraculous adventures. Well, maybe it will be when we are nearing the end and looking back on it. Even so, the majority of the stories written about in the bible occurred over many years.
Take Moses life, when you read his story it’s amazing! It took place over his lifetime. I am sure that he had many mundane times as well. They just didn't make for good reading and weren't worth recording.
My favorite example has to be the story of the people of God wandering in the desert. They wandered around for 40 years, visibly saw God in the clouds or fire above the temple. Every day God provided manna, their daily bread. Everyday, a miracle from God occurred to give them what they needed to eat. How soon did they forget? How soon was it that they forgot that it was a miracle and counted it instead as the mundane? Not only did they forget it was a miracle, they began to complain! We want something else they began to whine...
How often do we do this? Are we content with what our Lord gives us? Or do we complain and count it as mundane, ordinary, not exciting enough? I want something else God.
I am guilty of not realizing the everyday miracles in my life. I have counted them as mundane and complained also. When I have stopped to count the everyday miracles, I needed more fingers and toes. There are so many.
I am glad to know that God is there in the mundane everyday things of life. I am also glad to know that if I only change my perspective I will see the miraculous all around me. I want to live life with that perspective. Lord, help me do that.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Do we really know what this means? Do we really know what Jesus did for us when He carried that cross? Do we fully understand the sacrifice the Father made by sending His son?
God the Father knew when He created us that we would fall from grace. He knew that He would have to send His own son to die on a cross to save us. Even though He knew all this He still created us. Having us was that important to Him. Imagine being a parent and having to send your own child to His death.
Jesus was involved from the beginning of creation also. He knew what He would eventually have to pay for our sin. He knew before we were created that He would have to endure unbearable circumstances to save us. We were worth that much to Him.
The Holy Spirit also knew what the price would be before creation. He knew that He would be sent to live in us and we would continually grieve Him. He too deemed us worth it.
God knew how it would be and yet here we are. But do we really understand the sacrifice that was made on the cross. The pain endured by Jesus Christ to pay for our sins. God came to this earth in human form and lived a sinless life only to be crucified on a cross. Death by crucifixion, the most painful, cruel and humiliating form of punishment ever devised by man. Only slaves and criminals were hung on a cross. Romans were exempt from such a death.
But there is more, the people He created chanted and called for His death. They told Pilate to free the criminal Barabbas instead an innocent man. Jesus was tortured and beaten, almost to the point of death. The implement used to scourge Him tore out big hunks of flesh so he was covered in His own blood. He was brutalized over and over, stripe after stripe. Then He was turned over to the soldiers to be crucified.
Wait, that wasn't enough. It wasn't enough that this innocent man, the savior of the world was barely able to walk from the beating. Or that He was covered with blood that dripped in pools on the ground. No, first He must be mocked and humiliated. Mocked for the claim He had made of being King of Kings. So they stripped Him down, put a scarlet robe on Him and twisted a crown of thorns. The crown was placed on His head so the thorns dug deeply into His skin. A reed was put in His right hand to represent the scepter of a King. They knelt before Him sneering and laughing, saying "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat on Him, in His humiliation. Then took the reed and stuck it into His side. In His weakened state, He was then made to carry His own cross that He would die on.
He carried a cross that is said to have weighed between 75 to 125 pounds. No wonder he fell by the weight of it. His cross was not a light one to carry. It was also burdened with the sins of all of us. On that cross were the sins of the entire world; past, future and present. Then in His last moments on this earth as the sins of the world were laid on Him, He was alone. Not even His Father could look on Him. What a heavy weight to bare. One that you or I could never carry.
Because of that cross He carried, our penalty of death was defeated. When He rose again on the third day and defeated death we were freed from the penalty our sin carried with it.
Thankfully we are not called to carry the cross that Jesus was made to bare. We are only called to deny ourselves, pick up OUR cross and FOLLOW Him.
We must deny ourselves; put aside our own desires, abstain from what our flesh would want. Then pick up our cross, which is the message of what Christ did. We are to be steward of the message of Christ as we follow where He leads.
In John 7:38 Jesus says - "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
As we deny ourselves and abide in His spirit, the living water of Christ will flow out of us. It is that living water of Christ that changes the lives of others.