Thursday, November 19, 2009

Warm and Fuzzies

I have a challenge for you. For the next twenty four hours, think of all the things that you love. All the things that make you warm and fuzzy inside. Then come back tomorrow and tell me how the experience was for you.

I have found when I do this, I have way less time to dwell on things that are negative or unproductive.

Here are some of mine:

* I love the smell of clorine in a swimming pool. It smells fresh and clean. Makes me want to jump in.

* I love the trees look when way icicles form all over them. Something in it takes my breath away.

* I love sound of my children sleeping when they were small babies. I used to just sit in the rocking chair in my sons room and listen to him sometimes.

* I love it when I roll over in bed after my husband leaves for work and I can still smell his scent on the pillow.

* I love the feel of soft sheets on my skin and warm cozy comforters in the winter.

* I love sky when it full of color. It makes me stand in awe of the one who painted it.

* I love the feel of warm carpet on my feet when I step outside on the cold pavement with barefeet in the middle of winter.

* I love the way it feels to drink an ice cold glass of water after you built up a good thirst.

* I love the way my heart still skips a beat when my husband looks at me in that certain way.

* I love hearing the words "I love you" coming out of the mouths of my children and grandchildren.

* I love the smell of fresh brewed coffee even though I don't drink it.

* I love to watch a momma bird care for, feed and protect her babies in the nest.

* I love to watch the animals in nature. I wonder as I watch how anyone could ever believe there is no creator.

* I love to watch clouds roll by as I lay on the trampoline with my youngest son and we guess what shapes they are.

* I love to sing out loud and praise God with all my heart when no one is home to hear and complain.

* I love to sit at the feet of the Father in prayer. Sometimes I can say nothing because I am in such awe of who He is.

* I love it when a passage of scripture is given to me personally by God. When your reading and the words leap off the page and into your heart.

* I love a genuine smile and a warm hug from a friend just when you need it. Amazing how they know that you do.

* I love that I had a grandmother that showed me how to be present with those I love.

* I love that even when I encounter painful circumstances, I can still have the joy of the Lord to comfort me.

* More than anything else, I love that I am given the priviledge to love others as God loves me.

What do you love....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Are You Prepared for the Storm

How many of you feel you are usually prepared for a storm?

What about the weather report? How many are weather watchers? You always check the weather report to see what the weather will be like tomorrow?

So when the weather report is predicting a storm what do you do? Do you grab your umbrella?

Do you feel pretty secure and prepared when you walk out the door with umbrella in hand?

The rain comes you pop up your umbrella and run into the building where ever you are going.

But what if during the storm, the building you need to enter is locked? Then you go back to your car and you have locked yourself out of your car?

You are now standing in the rain for who knows how long with no dry place in sight.

Once you spend a little time standing in the rain with the wind blowing, you find that the umbrella does not block the rain completely. The blowing rain hits your body and begins to soak your clothing. Also, the rising water soon soaks through your shoes making your feet freeze.

You’re not so prepared for the storm after all, are you?

But what if you had really thought it through? What if you had put on the rain suit and rubber boots you keep in the closet? You know, the ones you keep in the closet for just this kind of occasion? The ones you rarely think about or use?

Would you be able to stay out in the storm with these items on?

Yes, I believe you could. You could stay out in the storm as long as was required, couldn’t you?

This is the case with spiritual storms in your life. When you are hit with tragedy or a trial, what ever the cause may be, you must be prepared to weather the storm.

How do you do that?

First, you must take a firm stance in Jesus Christ. You must stand firm in your relationship with Jesus knowing He is your solid foundation. Just like a building doesn’t withstand the storm without a solid foundation you will not stand firm in the storm without being squarely planted in Jesus Christ. So you must be rooted in the saving grace of Jesus if you want to withstand the storm.

Once you are planted, you must prepare yourself daily for bad weather.

Matthew 17:14-22 says this:

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief, for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

There are three things this says about overcoming great obstacles:

1. You must cloth yourself in your rain suit. Your rain suit is the Word of God. In this scripture the disciple’s unbelief was the first problem. Romans 10:17 says, so then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. If you want to overcome you must have faith. And faith comes by hearing Gods Word. In order to have faith you must be in the Word of God to the point it becomes your clothing. You can not have the faith required to stand in the storm without being in the Word of God daily. Cloth yourself in it!

2. You need to have your umbrella of prayer open. Some troubles can not be solved by any other way then by seeking God in prayer. The lines of communication need to be clear. You crying out to God in prayer and then listening for answers. He has an answer. You just need to be listening. So pray, and then pray some more.

3. You need to have your boots on. Jesus said, this kind does not go out expect by prayer AND FASTING. Your fasting boots must be on when the water is getting deep or your feet will freeze.

Some obstacles, some trials, some sins can not be overcome without fasting before God. If you really want to draw close to God, if you really need to seek God, take the food from your mouth and put it on His alter as a sacrifice. It was done all throughout scripture. In the Old Testament and the New Testament it was common practice to deny yourself to draw nearer to God. It was done to seek favor, to seek repentance, to find answers, to show humility and to be closer to God.

Jesus himself found it necessary to fast to overcome the testing of Satan. Why then do we believe that it was necessary for Jesus but not so necessary for us?

I will leave you with these thoughts. If you were prepared, if you really used all the tools you have been given, who do you think you would become? And this last question I ask you. Do you really love God enough to do what is required to become who He has called you to be?

Because it’s the storms that will take you there.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Matter of the Heart

Have you examined your heart today? If you did, what did you find?

Proverbs 27:19 says: As in water face reflects face, so a man's heart reveals the man.

The heart reveals what is going on in us. It's what we act out of. God sees straight into it. That's what He sees when He looks at us, He sees our heart.

Unlike the world around us, we can't fool God. Try as we might, we can't hide our heart from Him. If our heart is not right He knows it.

So, take a few minutes to test your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal where your heart is today. Read through the list below, and then look up the scripture associated with any heart that matches yours.

* Proud heart - overweening opinion of oneself or ones position (Psalm 101:5)
* Stony heart - hardened, unmovable, cold, rigid (Ezekiel 11:19)
* Selfish heart - concerned only for your own interest (Proverbs 23:7)
* Self seeking heart - promoting to further ones own concerns (Proverbs 28:26)
* Perverse heart - deviating from what is considered right or good (Psalm 101:4)
* Lying heart - filled with untruths, giving false impressions (Acts 5:3)
* Haughty heart - disdain, contempt or scorn for others (Psalm 131:1)
* Wicked heart - morally bad or evil intent (Proverbs 26:23)
* Fainting heart - failing, falling back, weak, without strength (Isaiah 1:5)
* Shut up heart - closed off, unfeeling for the needs of others (I John 3:17)

If you have seen yourself in any of these descriptions now is the time to go to God and ask for a change of heart. Ask Him for a heart like the ones below.

* Merry heart - pleasant, lively, cheerful (Proverbs 15:13)
* Praising heart - showing acclaim for God with your whole heart (Psalm 111:1)
* Willing heart - giving readily and cheerfully (Exodus 35:22)
* Believing heart - to take as true the gospel of Jesus Christ (John 7:36)
* Circumcised heart - from worldly life to Kingdom life (Deut 10:16, 30:6)
* Pure heart - free from anything that taints it (Matthew 5:8)
* Humble heart - consciousness of one's own place before God (James 4:6)
* Steadfast heart - firm, fixed, settled (Psalm 57:7)
* Contrite heart - remorseful for having done wrong (Isaiah 57:15)
* Purified heart - free from sin (Acts 15:9)
* Repentant heart - feel remorse for sin and turn from it (Ezekiel 18:31)
* Wise heart - having and showing good judgment (Psalm 90:12)

When we seek the change in our heart God is faithful to give it to us.

Jeremiah 24:7 says: Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

God will give us the heart we need to change and we then will return to Him with our whole heart.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Living The Crucified Life

The life of a follower is a sacrificial one. We don’t get to lead. We don’t get to make up the rules. We don’t even get to decide where we go or what we do.

This might sound extremely scary if you’re a control freak like me. I like to make sure everything goes as planned. I’m a planner by nature. It came with the birthing process. My Mother has always been a woman with a plan. “Make a list!” was her favorite phrase. So I learned it in utero, planning equals success.

To let go and let Jesus lead has been the hardest thing for me. I like making the rules. I like being in charge. I like to see how a plan is going to turn out before I strike out on an adventure. Not know the outcome? Are you kidding?

Not kidding! With Jesus, he may not always think we need to know all the details of His plan. He may not give us the final outcome. We are to trust, have faith. Not in the outcome but in Him.

We are to live a life that is crucified. We must die to self in order to really live. We have to lay aside our own need to control, our selfish desires and our fleshly lusts. In return we get peace. We get joy, even in the midst of trial.

John 12:24-25: "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."

What happens to a grain of wheat if it does not go in the ground and die? If the wheat dies in the ground what does it produce?

Jesus tells the Greeks what has to happen to a grain of wheat for it to produce much grain. We are to learn an important lesson from this explanation. If a grain of wheat does not die, it remains alone, dead. But if it goes into the ground and dies, it will produce more grain.

We are the grain of wheat. We must die to our old self, to our own fleshly desires and live a life abiding in Christ. If we choose to follow and abide in Christ, we will produce more grain for eternal glory. If we remain in our old selves instead, we will die alone, with no fruit for eternity. The gain we receive is eternity in heaven with God.

“He who loves his live will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” What does this mean? If we love our life we will lose it? But if we hate our life in this world we will keep it for eternal life? Confusing?

What Jesus trying to get across here is that when we decide to go our own way and live life not following him, we will get only this life here on earth. This is our reward. The eternal reward is not given to us. Instead we reap the eternal justice we deserve. We are condemned to life without God in hell. But when we choose to die to self and follow Jesus, we gain the eternal reward of life with God in heaven. Is life here, doing our own thing more important or is eternity?

Galatians 2:20 -"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

Galatians 5:24 - And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

I have been crucified with Christ, I don’t live any longer. It is Christ who lives in me. First of all, can you honestly say that Jesus Christ lives in you? If not, that comes first. Asking him to come live in you is the first order of business for you. Once that is done, your life here on this earth is as a follower. It is now a life of faith, one that is to be dead to our own passions and desires. We are to be about our Fathers business like Jesus was.

We are to crucify, or in other words, to kill our own worldly desires and instead be filled with the desires that Jesus was filled with. We are to be about the things that Jesus would have us be about. It is no longer about our own thoughts and desires. It is about His desires for our life.

To be crucified we are no longer:
Arguing with God about His plan for our life
Making excuses for our sin
Trying to get our own way
Telling God what He should do
Rationalizing our behavior
Taking our own path or direction
Running ahead of God

We die to our own will, dreams, goals, wants, plans, rights and desires. When we follow Jesus we walk in His Spirit. Verse twenty five in Galatians five says “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” When we decided to ask Jesus Christ to enter our life he gave us a gift. That gift was the Holy Spirit.

We as disciples of Jesus have the Holy Spirit living within us. The holy presence of God lives inside of us. So if we live in the Spirit and it lives in us we should walk in that Spirit. But we will leave that topic for another day.

Today, let’s finish as we should always do. Let us pray.


Let our life be a crucified one. Let us be pleasing in your sight. Let our desires be your desires. We want a life that glorifies you. A life that is set apart and shines a light in darkness. Change us to the image of Christ and help us to walk in the Spirit you have given us.

In Jesus name I pray,