December 8, 2008

Search me

O LORD, you have searched me
       and you know me.

 2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
       you perceive my thoughts from afar.

 3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
       you are familiar with all my ways.

 4 Before a word is on my tongue
       you know it completely, O LORD.

 5 You hem me in—behind and before;
       you have laid your hand upon me.

 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
       too lofty for me to attain.

 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
       Where can I flee from your presence?

 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
       if I settle on the far side of the sea,

 10 even there your hand will guide me,
       your right hand will hold me fast.

 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
       and the light become night around me,"

 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
       the night will shine like the day,
       for darkness is as light to you.

 13 For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother's womb.

 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.

 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
       How vast is the sum of them!

 18 Were I to count them,
       they would outnumber the grains of sand.
       When I awake,
       I am still with you.

 19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
       Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

 20 They speak of you with evil intent;
       your adversaries misuse your name.

 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
       and abhor those who rise up against you?

 22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
       I count them my enemies.

 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
       test me and know my anxious thoughts.

 24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
       and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139


 

God's knowledge of us is perfect. He is aware of all of our actions and thoughts and takes notice of every step, right or wrong, that we take. He knows whether we choose to walk in Truth, what we walk toward and whom we are walking with. When we withdraw from the world, though the world may not notice, He knows our hearts and finds us. He knows the intention of every word that we speak. No matter where we are or how much we think we are hidden, we cannot hide from God.

God is everywhere and though we may not see Him, He is always aware of our circumstances. Our sin and deceitful actions cannot be hidden from God and no matter how much we try to disguise ourselves He sees the truth. Even our most secret of sin is very visible to God and though we fail Him, because we are His child, we cannot be removed from His comfort and love or be separated from Him. His insurmountable mercy and grace have been lavished upon us and should be our reason to rejoice. God knows every part of our heart. Our desire should be that of prayer and meditation allowing His Word and Spirit to permeate our hearts. In this, the condition of our heart will be revealed and we may walk righteously in truth.

"Father, search our hearts and reveal to us what is unclean and dishonoring to You. May we always be mindful of Your unfailing mercy and love. Let us never forget that You love us."


 

December 5, 2008

Thank you

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy"

Philippians 1:3-4

This blog has been up and running for almost a year and so for almost a year, I have shared with readers where I am in my walk and what God has been teaching me. This past year for me has been extremely difficult, as God has tested me in so many different ways. There has been tremendous hurt and betrayal but I have also been blessed in amazing, amazing ways. I have experienced love in a way that I have never known and have finally understood what being in God's will looked like and meant. He has taught me so very much and I am more than thankful for the opportunities that He has laid before me to share who He is in my life and what He has done. I want to thank all those who have followed this blog and who have helped to hold me accountable. Your encouragement and faithfulness through friendship has been amazing! I have been tremendously blessed by your love and support as I pressed on to do what I felt led to do.

As the year ends, I just wanted to express my thankfulness to you all and wish each of you a wonderful Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our awesome Savior. May your new year be blessed with His love, mercy and grace.


 

December 3, 2008

Stop the World

"Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you."

Psalm 22:21

"I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints— but let them not return to folly."

Psalm 85:8

Have you become completely overwhelmed by the senseless noise and commotion of this world? So many distractions surround us that break down our every defense against the enemy of this world. We become worn down and desperate to hear some kind of truth, telling us which way to go because our focus has become blurred and we have lost our way.

We just need the world to stop so we can get off and regain our focus and we need to find an escape from that which takes our eyes off the Savior. We need to find ourselves still before Him and before we make another move in our life, we need to seek His face and wait for His truth to speak to our hearts. We must find ourselves humbled before Him, trying not to prove anything but just allowing Him to move within our life. We need the very Truth of His Word, more than anything else, to speak to our hearts and we need to be willing to turn over every moment of our precious time to Him and to nothing else.

When we are ready to listen to what He has to say, ready to spend time with Him and ready fully and completely to submit to His will, the noise will end. When we finally come to a place that we are ready to get off the overwhelming ride that can be our life and turn to Him, we then will find a peace and satisfaction that this world can never offer to us.



December 2, 2008

Abounding Love

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Psalm 86:15

Many walk around finding it necessary to bring down others in order to feel as if their own life makes more sense. We find ourselves wrapped up in sin and the ways of the world and become blind to God's truth and so we begin attacking those around us who focus on truth and try to walk in a way that is pleasing to God. In a sense, you could say that we are spiritual bullies. We tend to rebel and blame others as our reason for not attending church because it is easier than recognizing our own faults and failures. Why focus on our own faults and the mistakes we have made in our lives when we can place the blame on someone else. We are choosing to pull away from God and walk in disobedience rather than walking in truth and it is heartbreaking to God.

God is compassionate and abounding in love and more often times than not we have trouble forgiving others or showing mercy or moving past hurt because we have not discovered the depths of God's mercy in our own lives.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.


Psalm 51:1

What excuses do you throw at the world when you are down? Do you tend to blame others for your lack of commitment to Christ? Do you find yourself finding it necessary to hurt others in order to make yourself feel better? What is the condition of your heart? Whom are you trying to please? We have a Father in Heaven who loves us and wants nothing more than to be the center of our world. He wants us to be wrapped up in His love so that we do not even notice the punches that the world throws our way. When we are wrapped in His arms and in His love, we can overcome any attack that crosses our path as well as forgive those who hurt us, and most importantly love them.

Examine your heart. Are you that rebellious child that needs discipline from your Father? Maybe you are unmerciful and are denying others the mercy that they need so much. Rebellion and disobedience will keep you from feeling love and mercy from God. Stop going through the motions "Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate." (Joel 2:13)

November 30, 2008

Our children and Truth

God gives us the incredible blessing of putting people in our life to love and to love on us but He will also place people in our lives to teach us to love when they seem almost impossible to love. He will also place people in our lives that will give us the opportunity to grow our faith as well as practice patience.

Lately we have been dealing with neighborhood bullies and my two older boys have had to endure the pain, physical as well as verbal, associated with the typical bully. Eventually the time comes, where as a parent, you must intervene in order to protect your children from those who are trying to harm them. As a mom, loving children who are bullying your own children is very difficult and so through this trying time, God is really testing my faith in this area as well as my patience. I have come to recognize the part that we as parents play in the actions of our children. I truly believe that for the most part, children are innocent and end up being a product of their environment. I have seen in my own children, how my actions and words effect how they behave and respond. I have amazing kids. My kids love the Lord, they are compassionate and tenderhearted and have a desire to love on people and serve but they are also kids. This means that they can be selfish and obnoxious, disrespectful and rude but because I recognize these things, I in turn am given the opportunity to discipline and teach them truth. We should be careful not to walk around with blinders on to the world and in turn, we should be careful not to walk around with blinders on when it comes to our children. Either we can choose to see them and their actions for what they truly are or we can simply choose to dismiss it as "child-like" behavior. I know many who will dismiss the deliberate disobedience of their children as being child-like and because of this; the children are the ones to suffer. God has given us the responsibility as parents to train up our children in the way in which they should go. This means that we are to teach them truth, love, obedience and respect for others. God has placed the responsibility upon us that we should want nothing more than to show our children the love of Christ and what He has to offer to them.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

November 29, 2008

His Love

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart from what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I walk from earth into
Eternity

Lyrics from the song Hosanna, Hillsong


I am sure everyone has heard the saying that when you pray for patience God gives you the opportunity to be patient. If you pray for courage, God gives you opportunities to be courageous. Along those lines, I prayed the words to the above song over a year ago asking God to teach me to love others the way that He has loved me. In the past year, God did not just give me this kind of love to use for other people but instead He put people in my life for me to love. He brought a complete stranger into my family and in that taught not only myself but also my children how to love someone who was a stranger and different than we were. God places all kinds of people in our lives. There are family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers and we tend to put people on different levels according to their place in our life. I have learned over the past year that God intended us to love one another equally and in that He blesses us with relationships, that go deeper than ever thought possible. When we open our hearts, our homes and our lives to people and love them with the love that only God can provide, we create a bond with one another that is insurmountable to anything else we have ever known.

For you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.

1 Thessalonians 4:9


November 19, 2008

Individual or Team??

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Hebrews 12:1


I had a friend ask me the other day if I preferred team or individual sports. I thought for a moment and answered with team sports but after this morning, I realize that I need to change my answer. Now not being particularly athletic I have never really played sports other than a year of softball and a year of soccer, which I hated. I LOVE to watch basketball and hockey but the idea of playing any type of sport does nothing for me. Where is this going you may be asking yourself? Well, I have started running again. When I was younger, I ran just about every day for the fun of it. No one made me I just loved doing it. I loved putting on some music and just running. Running until I could run no more. Two and half years ago I took up running again and was quite consistent with it until I had minor foot surgery and then ended up pregnant with my youngest daughter and never got back into the habit but this past Friday I started running yet again. Now because it has been quite some time since I have done any kind of running, it is more like a run/walk kind of deal because if I ran straight I feel that I would physically die.

This morning, before the sun had even made an appearance, I ventured out into the freezing cold with my mp3 player and took to the pavement. As I was running, I thought about why I prefer individual to team sports and here are my thoughts. You see I do NOT like to have to count on people for things. Partly because I have been let down so much that, it is easier just to do something on your own then to bring other people into it and find yourself disappointed with them. More than once, I have gone into something with other individuals and ended up finishing whatever alone. My reasoning became that of "you can't count on anybody". This in some cases is true. This morning though, as I was running, I was able to pray for each family in our neighborhood twice. While I was praying, the thought also popped into my head that we never really know what is going on inside the homes of those around us. Partly because people just do not open up to one another but instead try to hide their issues. Many times people really just do not make the effort to invest in the lives of others. It may not always be that you cannot count on people. Instead it may be that they are dealing with something that keeps them from following through. As I thought about that, I prayed one more time for the neighborhood as a collective and then for my attitude and myself.

Truth be told though, people will always let us down because we will all mess up at times but the amazing thing is that we each are running our own race in life and though we may choose to do things alone, we can never run our race alone. When Christ lives within us, we are never truly alone. No matter how fast we think that we are running, He is always right there running beside us just waiting for us to trip and fall from our mistakes so that He can pick us up and wipe away our tears. He is always there when we lose our way and find ourselves lost to bring us back home and He is always there to encourage us when we get it right. No matter how much we may want to do something on our own He is there. Sometimes we try to do things thinking that we know better but quickly life will throw a curve ball our way and we realize that only with His strength and direction can we actually hit that ball.

Running requires discipline in order to finish what has been started. This is true with our walk as well. The road under our feet will not always be easy but with focus, determination and discipline we can live a life that is honoring to our Heavenly Father. We have to put into practice not focusing on what is behind us but instead press ahead toward the goal before us, a life that God has planned. We must surrender every part of our lives to Him so that He can accomplish through us all that His plan entails. We must offer true forgiveness that can only come from the Holy Spirit and relinquish our worst enemy over to Him. It all comes down to reaching out and grabbing our Father's hand and allowing the Holy Spirit to clean up our wounds so that we can live out the life that God has for us. It is our choice as to whether or not we will try to run that race on our own or give God the control to take over and direct us so that we can move forward because He will never disappoint us.

November 6, 2008

Joy in God my Savior

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature
God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature
of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

As I am writing this, I find myself in the middle of my own storm and am now grasping at straws to find my out. It is amazing to me how easy it is to give advice to other people but how hard it is to heed my own. I hear myself saying things to other people and truly believing it but then find it down right impossible to follow through with it myself. Lately I had found myself disheartened and discontent and nothing brought me any kind of happiness whatsoever. Simply put, I had let go of my joy. It was gone. Lucky for me I recognized that fact and so I began asking myself why? Were there things in my life that did not need to be there or maybe certain people in my life that I needed to distance myself from or maybe rearrange my priorities? This morning I spent hours listening to the playlist that is on this blog and just spent time praising and seeking after God. I spent time acknowledging who He is and what He has done in my life. I spent time confessing and repenting and finally I began to feel true joy in my life, a joy that I have not felt in months.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Colossians 3:1-10

The evaluation of one's life can be a humbling experience. For months now, I have been seeking answers and looking for reasons as to why things in my life are the way that they are and how it is that I seem to find myself in the same places. My discovery came down to one simple fact. Self-centeredness and wanting the things that I want and the things that I think are going to bring me happiness instead of those things that God has for me. It is not that I did not want what He has for me but instead I was blind to them because the things of this world, the things that I wanted, were blocking the view of His presence and blessings in my life. I found myself at a distance from Him. It was like being in a very dark tunnel and all I could see was this pinhole of light at the end but the distance was so great that I truly did not think I would ever reach that light. Today I made it a bit closer to the end of that tunnel and began to feel Him stirring my spirit and rejuvenating my life.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 1:17-19

Now does that mean that all of my worries and cares are gone and suddenly everything is perfect? Absolutely NOT! It does not work that way. Old habits and sin do not just go away over night and at times can lead to places of deep frustration but we have to recognize where our victory lies. We have to recognize that God has given us the strength to overcome all obstacles through His power. It means that my heart has to seek after His and to be in tune with His once again and that only He can be my lifeline and nothing else. He has to be my everything in order for me to find any real joy in this life. He ALONE can only meet my every need and only His love can bring me joy, peace, and true satisfaction in my life.

My desire is to love, honor and bring glory to my Heavenly Father, to make His name known and to be a reflection of Him so that my life may be a light to those around me.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

In the end, I discovered that I have to let go of my past failures, the sin in my life, take hold of His truth and what He has done for me and then move forward focusing on His face. I cannot strive to live like Jesus but instead allow Him by His Spirit to come and live in me and have full control of my life. I must choose always to rejoice in Him and His work in my life and then and only then will I know the fullness of joy in my own life.

Yet I will REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR

Habakkuk 3:18

"Father thank You for Your faithfulness in my life and for not letting go of me when I let go of You. May my eyes stay focused upon You and my heart beat in tune with Yours. I give You control of my life and will choose to rejoice in You always."

November 4, 2008

Joy of the Lord

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

Nehemiah 8:10

Such a simple verse but often times we totally lose sight of our joy and find ourselves weak and vulnerable to the woes of life that surround us. Many deal with financial issues or failed marriages and often times just want to walk away thinking that things would be so much easier. We all at one point or another deal with things like sickness, death, disappointment, a broken heart or betrayal but we choose whether we will use these things as an excuse to remain frustrated and troubled or rejoice and allow God to grow our faith and trust in Him.

According to Paul, we are to rejoice always and not just when things are going our way or we feel like it.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4
Of all the fruit that the Holy Spirit offers to us joy is the easiest to lose for when we face discouragement and trials we quickly find ourselves down and out in the midst of a storm. We must choose to rejoice and when we choose joy, we are given the strength to endure another day of hardship and pain. We cannot live off the joy we experienced yesterday and use it as our joy today. God knows that we are not always going to feel like rejoicing but in order not to lose strength to fight, we must rejoice always.

Scripture says that we are to consider it pure joy when we face trials. (James 1:2) Joy is not happiness. Happiness is the result of things happening around us and it is based on our circumstances but joy comes from an attitude of gratitude and love from wanting to praise our Creator for all He has done. When we find ourselves in the midst of a trial, we choose to find joy in that trial so that we may in fact endure that storm. We should have the mindset that we will have victory over our circumstances to overcome instead of accepting them and surrendering to defeat. When our attitude is that of gratitude for the many blessings in our life it becomes much easier to rejoice in every circumstance. Even when we feel like nothing good is happening in our lives, we always have a reason to rejoice.

"Yet I will REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR"

Habakkuk 3:18

This world will often try to steal our joy and Satan will always be there to attack but he has no power to rob of us our joy. When we have the Holy Spirit living within us, we are given His joy and it is always there to bring us strength when we choose to rejoice in Him instead of succumbing to the attacks of Satan. When you find yourself feeling beaten and abused just turn your eyes upon the One who loves you and gave His life for and there you will find the only reason needed to rejoice.

May we always find our joy in God our Savior and rejoice in who He is in our lives. May we choose to rejoice always in our circumstances and draw our strength from the unending joy offered to us from our Heavenly Father.


 


 

October 20, 2008

The Center of His Will

"All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own."

Isaiah 53:6

Do you ever find yourself wondering if you are in fact in the center of God's will for your life? Every day we make decisions about our life that not only affect our own lives but the lives of others in our life as well. Sometimes our decisions find us wondering if in fact we have made the right choices because the wrong ones can be life shattering when in turn the right ones can bring a flood of blessings.

Many years ago I heard a great illustration about how being at the very center of God's will can be just like being right in the middle of a fast flowing river. The current is strongest in the center but slower toward the edge. When we are at the center of God's will for our lives, His guidance within our lives is strong and certain but when we drift away from His will we find His guidance to be a bit harder to discern and we move further from His protection and direction. It can mean moving from His perfect will to His permissive will and then to being completely out of His will.

The further we move from the center of His will the closer we get to being out of it all together and closer to living in our own pride and independence. Being out of His will only makes our life more difficult as we try and move ahead. We are certain to face more obstacles and troubles along the way as we manage to do it all in our own strength. As those obstacles come along, they cause us to move further and further from God's will and we find ourselves frustrated because His plan for our lives becomes unclear and decisions become harder to make. There just seems to be no clear direction. In the end, you end up feeling as if you are headed down the wrong road or you have definitely hit a dead end.

Sometimes when we recognize the place at which we have found ourselves, it is too late and life as well as God's plan has moved on and we may not be able to reenter where we left off. It is however never too late to enter back into the center of His will and He waits for you there. Do not be afraid to dive right back in and head back to the center of that river. Do not settle for the ankle deep or even a knee-deep place in that river but head right to where the river flows the fastest and find satisfaction and complete abandonment in being back in the center of the strongest and most certain will of God.




October 15, 2008

Lifeline

"This is what the LORD says:
"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

"I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward a man according to his conduct,
according to what his deeds deserve."

Jeremiah 17:5-10

How many times do we blame circumstances or people for our lack of relationship with Christ? So many times it becomes so much easier to blame life or even someone else for our lack of commitment but we must remember that God can look past our outward appearances and can look straight into our minds and hearts to discover the truth of our condition. None of our good deeds will ever be able to cover up the sin filled hearts that we have because God examines our hearts and when deceit and sin block our lifeline to God, He judges and disciplines accordingly.

We can look at this passage and use it to determine our hearts condition. What does your relationship with Christ look like and what or whom are you using as an excuse for the lack there of at this moment? You must determine whether you are a bush or a tree. Imagine that you are walking along in the scorching heat, your mouth is dry and up ahead you see a small bush with dry brown leaves but then you look in the other direction and there you find a tall, green, lush tree close to a stream. In that moment, which direction will you head for refreshment? Clearly, it is not a hard choice to make. What is it that makes that tree so lush and green? It is something that we cannot see and something that is connected to the source of that trees life. That tree has sturdy roots that hold it planted in the ground and that grow toward that stream which brings it life and allows it to produce good fruit. That is so symbolic of what our life should look like as Christians. Our lives should be rooted in the truth of God's word filling us with His "living water" allowing us to bear "much fruit" and giving us "eternal life". Without it, as strife and pain come our way, we will fail because we cannot stand-alone.

In this world, we choose whether we will trust in ourselves and be like that bush or trust in God and be like that tree. We need to spend time examining what our relationship with Christ looks like. You cannot grow and remain in Christ if you are not already in Him or have not given your life to Him. You must confess your need for Him in your life and be honest about your bush-like traits. Christ longs to fill each of us with a joy that can only come from Him.

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy"

1 Peter 1:8

We must remember that we alone cannot produce good fruit because that can only be accomplished through a relationship with Christ. Without Him, we will wither and fade spiritually leaving us unfulfilled and lonely but if we stay close to Him, we will bear much fruit and experience His presence and joy in our life. (John 15:7-8)

October 14, 2008

Trick or Treat?

It is Halloween again and one of those holidays for Christians with a stigma attached. I have received several emails as to my thought of Halloween and as to whether it is celebrated in our home. First because of personal decisions that my husband and I made long before we ever had children based on personal convictions from the study of scripture and the holiday itself, we do not celebrate Halloween. I will not go into our personal reasons but I will share some thoughts that can be used for not only the celebration of Halloween but other activities in our lives as well.

Scripture says that we are to "Be self-controlled and alert" and that our enemy "the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8) Because we know this, as Christians we must be careful as to what we become involved in pertaining to the secular world. We must be careful as to not go along with everything that the world participates in so that we are not opening up ourselves to the influence of Satan and his attacks against us. Halloween can promote the belief that Satan is not real and that he is just simply a superstition or it can be used to create a fear of him within people. Both of these things serve as an encouragement to him and his agenda that in turn serve his purpose of bringing glory to his kingdom. Halloween can persuade people to think lightly of him and to fear his power, both of which he would like the world to do in order to take the focus from Christ.

As Christians we are warned to take his threat seriously but at the same time, we are not to fear him "because the One (Christ) who is in you is greater than the one (Satan) who is in the world". (1 John 4:4) As this holiday approaches, we should only have to ask ourselves if what we are doing is bringing honor and glory to God and if it is reminding us of the victory that Christ has over the forces of evil. Together we as Christians should rejoice together that through the faith that we share, there is victory. Use this holiday as a time to be creative and to reach out to the lost, sharing Christ's victory over death and the forces of evil at work in this world and in that, you will bring glory to the One who deserves all the glory.



October 13, 2008

Broken Pieces

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
All my inmost being, praise His holy name.

Praise the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits-
Who forgives Your sins
And heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit
And crowns you with love and compassion,
Who satisfies your desires with good things
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.


Psalm 103:1-5

Does your life look like a mess scattered all over the floor? Do you ever feel like nothing could be made from the jumbled chaos that is your life? Between the sins, the hurts and the failures it all lays as a million broken pieces that long to be put together.


God created us in His image and we are a beautiful reflection of who He is. He gave His only Son for us so that our lives could be turned into a beautiful masterpiece through His grace. On our own, our lives do not make any sense. When we pick up the pieces and attempt on our own to put them together it only leaves a bigger mess and the pieces just do not fit together.

There is someone who longs to put those pieces back together and He is waiting for us to lift them up to Him. Once we finally surrender and turn them all over to Him, He enters into the picture, picks up the broken pieces and begins to form them. He takes those pieces and ever so carefully turns them into a spectacular masterpiece through His mercy, grace, forgiveness and love. He transforms our lives into an object that makes sense and that is usable. We are touched by the Master, and when His creation (A reborn life) is revealed, it is made complete and new again! There are no flaws to be found because we are made new in Him. His fingerprints are evident and it is clear that He is our source of completion and renewal.

"Lord, I am wonderfully made because You are my Creator. From my beginning until my end, You form me into the creation that You have willed for my life. Thank you Lord! Thank you Lord that in my brokenness You pick up my pieces and make me Your beautiful master piece!"

October 2, 2008

Voice of Truth

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 1:16-19

Would you as a Christian claim to be ready-minded? Most Christians would immediately say yes because most Christians believe that by being ready and open to hear what God has planned for their lives and ready to respond in complete obedience makes them ready-minded. This is not the case because most are only ready and willing to follow Christ if the message that they hear is one that they want to hear or one that will serve their purpose. Most of the time, we try and kill the messenger that God has sent our way to bring us His message because we do not want to hear it or we do not believe it is for us or because it steps on our toes.

What does ready-mindedness really look like? It means that instead of only listening for those things that we want to hear, that we listen out for those things that we need to hear. It means that we are willing to say that we are wrong and that something in our life needs to change. When we have minds that are ready-minded, we are able to distinguish the source of the voice speaking to us. It is so easy to pay attention to those words that are encouraging or that make us feel good but none of us enjoys hearing things that makes us aware of our inadequacies.

Satan is constantly combating within our minds to convince us that a message that we may hear is not relevant to us or that in fact it may not even be correct. He will put thoughts in our mind that lead us to believe that what we are hearing is something that we already know or that may be meant for someone else and by doing so, he prevents us from hearing the Truth of what we need in order to gain our freedom in Christ.

More than once, I have heard our pastor preach a sermon on gossip or complacency in our walk and afterwards have heard people walking away saying, "it sure is a shame so and so was not here this morning to hear that sermon." WOW. This is Satan at work and not even five minutes after a service is over. This is how quickly and how easily he works when our minds are not ready to receive God's message of grace and when our minds are not focused on Truth. It is not that we do not need that message; it is that it may never have occurred to us that we ourselves may have needed that very message because we were not ready-minded.

Having a ready mind is not always easy. The more intensely that the Holy Spirit wants to address issues in our life, the more that Satan will try and convince us that we already know or do not need to hear. We must have minds, hearts and ears that are ready, willing and open to accept the messages that come into our life and we must be willing to discern the voice of truth from the lies of Satan.

"Father, may I always hear your message clearly and may I not fall into the lies that Satan uses to convince me otherwise. May I always seek after truth and embrace the message of those that you send before me to share your truth. May I always be willing to say, "yes Lord", no matter what you have to say to me. I want and desire to have a mind that pleases You in everything."

September 29, 2008

Truth and Integrity

Have mercy on me, O God,
       according to your unfailing love;
       according to your great compassion
       blot out my transgressions.

  Wash away all my iniquity
       and cleanse me from my sin.

  For I know my transgressions,
       and my sin is always before me.

  Against you, you only, have I sinned
       and done what is evil in your sight,
       so that you are proved right when you speak
       and justified when you judge.

  Surely I was sinful at birth,
       sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

  Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
       you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

Psalms 51:1-6


 

In the last posting, we talked about carrying our cross and following Christ by our devotion to Him and by submitting to His authority. In order for us to follow Him, we must walk with integrity. In this Psalm, we hear the crying out for mercy of David to the Lord for the sin in his life. In order to know the joy that comes from walking in truth and living a life of integrity, we must recognize and confess our sin before the Lord because our sin not only brings harm to our own life but it dishonors the name of God.

Whenever we take a wrong step, there will always be those who are standing over us to point a buoyant finger because we have disgraced the name of the Lord. Not only that but Satan will always be there to remind us of how appalling we are and that God could never forgive our sin. Of course, Satan is lying but he will use whatever means (people, situations, etc) to remind us constantly of our sin in order for us to forget God's unconditional love for us and the sacrifice that Christ made upon the cross. We must remember there is not a sin that God will not forgive although there may be consequences and discipline. God will always wipe away our sin if we just confess and seek His forgiveness.

We also have to learn that when we sin, we must face the reality of the bad choices we made and the fact that we sinned and disobeyed God by knowing right yet still choosing wrong. We can either choose to justify our actions or make excuses or we can step up to the plate and walk with integrity and repent before the Lord for the poor choices we have made in our life and this is just what David did.

For I know my transgressions,
       and my sin is always before me.

  Against you, you only, have I sinned
       and done what is evil in your sight,
       so that you are proved right when you speak
       and justified when you judge.

When we choose to follow Christ, we not only declare to ourselves but to our family, friends and the world that our trust is found in Christ alone and that we are choosing to stand for His truth. God has called us to be totally and completely honest in our inner being and not to be deceived by the things that others get away with or the justification in their minds for their own sin. When we fail, we must always be willing to admit our guilt and confess before the Lord in order to walk with integrity. We must strive to live with truth in our inner most being and remind ourselves that only God and God alone knows what is in our heart and because of this, we should live in honesty and truth.

"Father I pray for honesty and truth in my life. Help me to desire truth in my inner most being so that I may walk righteously down the path that You have prepared for me. May I take up my cross and follow you completely, declaring Your truth in my life not just to You or myself but to the world around me."


 

September 25, 2008

Our Cross

Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her motherinlaw—
a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'[a]

"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10:32-39


Lately I have found myself quiet and still before the Lord due to various issues occurring in my own life. Writing has become my time of focus on the Lord and what it is that He has for me and lately that time has not been as significant as it once was due to sin in my own life. I have been struggling in many areas lately trying to figure out what God would actually have me do in order to serve and honor Him with my life. After spending some still time before the Lord, I discovered that my busyness, my ministries and my job as a mom had taken precedence to my time with Him. God is to come before all else and if we put anything else in our life before Him, it becomes our idol and we in turn are serving those things instead of serving God. When our focus is on other things, we find that our fellowship with God is disrupted for that time and we are unable to hear Him and our lives become unsettled.

After these last few weeks of reflection and stillness before Him, He made things clear reminding me of what priorities in life should look like. I began to recognize God as the Creator and Owner of all things. I began to recognize that He is self-sufficient and needs for absolutely nothing. He does not need the sacrifices that we lay at His feet and He does not need our offerings because everything we have already (our time, our money, our jobs, our homes) belong to Him.

God does however want and He needs our consecration to Him. He wants our complete love and devotion and when we serve, if we are doing if for any other reason than to serve and honor Him, than it is worthless.

The cost to follow Christ is very clear when we look at scripture. Not even the love of our family should ever be greater than our love for Him. Our service to our friends and family should never come before our time with Him. He should be our priority at all times.

True followers of Christ will pick up their crosses and follow Him completely, which is symbolic to that of Roman practice in which criminals would carry their own crosses as a public display of their guilt. When we carry our crosses, we are professing the supremacy of Jesus Christ in our lives and our total submission to His very authority. It is then and only then, that when we finally turn over our lives to Him will we truly discover the call He has upon our lives and find ourselves.


September 7, 2008

Shackles

Keep me from deceitful ways;

be gracious to me through your law.
I have chosen the way of truth;

I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD;

do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands,

for you have set my heart free.
Psalm 119:29-32

What if we lived this passage with our whole heart? Can you imagine the kind of joy we would experience? When we allow the shackles of sin to be removed, we are able to release the burden of our hearts that hold us back from giving God everything to Him. We can turn our focus toward the race that He has planned before us and run with a perseverance that makes us even more determined to live a life of obedience and purpose.

His ways are perfect and the path He has laid out for us is perfect. We choose whether we will stay on that path with the finish line ahead or detour down a road that will prolong the race possibly bringing about more struggles. Ultimately, He knows the choices we will make and will use those struggles to grow our faith so that our joy is increased when we realize how He has worked all things out to glorify Him.

Rejoice in how God takes our sin, struggles and pain and uses it all to bring glory to His name.

September 6, 2008

The Fellowship of Love

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

(John 13:34 NIV)

Love is an act of our will and God says that we must choose to love one another no matter how we may feel towards someone or how unlovable we may think that they seem. No matter how difficult it is at times to love, we are constantly and deeply to love those believers that God brings into our lives at church, at bible studies, our neighborhoods and our families.

Love is a command that was given to us by God and it is our decision as to whether or not we will love as an act of obedience to the One who told us that we MUST love.

"And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."

1 John 4:21

Scriptures says that love and obedience are synonymous with one another and Jesus tells us that if we love Him we will obey His commandments. (John14:15) Obeying is connected with love because it is a reflection of our unity as believers in Christ and that our foundation is in God. Jesus destroyed the illusion that love is based on feelings and He has pressed that definition to a higher level. Real love is the sacrifice of one life for another. Real love is Jesus on the cross and dying for us even while we are still lost in our sins. (Romans 5:8) We are to view one another as valued children in the eyes of our Heavenly Father realizing that everyone is well worth our time and energy because we are all a part of God's family. We must choose to love and not selectively choose whom we will love.

Love requires us to be in fellowship with one another because we cannot be obedient to the command of Christ if we are living in isolation. We must be connected in some way in order to show love to one another. Because God created each of us differently with different personalities and perspectives, it allows us each to bring something different to the table. It also means there will be hurt feelings or hang-ups because we will not always get along. Pride results in a lot of our issue but another reason is that it can just be too hard. We fail at being authentic with one another in our relationships and genuine relationships require a lot of work. We must be willing to be transparent and honest and able to confront one another in order to have relationships that are real and meaningful. It is always a lot easier to have those superficial relationships that allow us to condemn one another when we disagree about something and run the other way instead of committing to uphold what God has given each of us. God placed within us the need for real commitment and because His commitment to each of us is unbreakable, He wants us to extend that same commitment to each other. What I have learned is that this kind of commitment takes time and that is something that has become incredibly scarce in our lives today because of the self-centered way of thinking that has been taught to us by this world. It all comes down to choices and our commitment to Christ. Relationships allow us the opportunity to grow in Christ and love for one another as we learn to deal with conflict, forgiveness, reconciliation and commitment.

God planned for us to have healthy Christian relationships and this is how He designed it IF we are willing to make each other a priority and make the time to spend with one another. Proverbs 18:24 says that there is a
"friend who sticks closer than a brother"
and the only way to become this to one another is by focusing on having quality relationships in our lives and reflect Christ.

"A friend is always loyal,
      and a brother is born to help in time of need."

Proverbs 17:17

The love and commitment of Christ is a high standard to follow and it means that we should always be striving to reach towards that standard through His grace because on our own, it IS impossible. We must fully rely on His Spirit living within us to love as He loves and we must practice the most basic behavior of commitment and that is simply showing up; being there for those God has placed in your life.

"Father, may I not run from relationships because they become too hard. Teach me a love and commitment that can come only from Your Spirit living within me. Help me to always be available to those who need me and not focused on myself and my I always be reminded of my unbreakable commitment with You."

September 3, 2008

My Hope

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard presses on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also me revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that this life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.


 

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


 

2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18

Do you often find yourself feeling beaten and broken? Is your heart weary and crushed? Do things in this world leave you feeling perplexed? At this moment, do you feel as if you have been struck down and the world is crumbling down around you?

So often times in this life, things do not make sense and we find ourselves wondering how we got to this point in our life. We feel broken and bruised and abandoned and the only out we see is to just give up. Moreover, we often times find ourselves losing hope.

At one time or another, we have all probably found ourselves at this very place in our lives searching for some kind of truth that will bring us comfort, hope and direction. We often submerge ourselves in things like internet, TV, video games, music or books hoping for an escape or maybe even looking for answers. We become so full of the world that we lose the clear picture of what truth really looks like and only find ourselves more lost and alone than before we started. Our lives become full of the world and there is no room left within us for the truth of God's word. We are such broken vessels, just crooked jars of clay, looking for purpose, meaning and love. We go to all the wrong places and rely on all the wrong things only to find ourselves disappointed and still searching.

God has given us the most beautiful love letter in the world. This letter is God-breathed and speaks to our very hearts if we are open and receptive to what it has to say. That love letter is His word, the Bible and it offers hope, love, comfort, encouragement, direction and is full of promise.

God does not ever intend for us to walk the path of life alone and wants to always be by our side above all else but it is up to us as to whether or not we will allow Him to take that place and to pick us up and carry us when we have fallen.

When we find ourselves discouraged and broken, we should turn to the One who holds our joy and contentment. We should willingly lay down every care that we have at His feet and allow the joy of Lord to consume us and set us free. When we focus on His face and His word, allowing it to flow through us and choose not to allow the woes of life to bring us down, then we will experience an abundance of joy that can only come from looking into the face of our Heavenly Father and knowing and resting in His truth.

August 27, 2008

A Higher Calling

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel

Philippians 1:9-11, 27

I often refer as a reminder of what my life should look like as a child of God to this passage. We are supposed to live in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. What a high calling we have upon our life!

So what exactly does a follower of Christ look like? Paul gives us an idea in his prayer as to what that should reflect:

We should have a heart full of love.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

We should have a mind filled with God's knowledge.

Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:22-25

We should have a spirit that is so discerning that it leads towards purity and blameless living.

May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

1 Thessalonians 3:13

We should have a life that overflows with the fruit of righteousness.

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18


When we choose to follow Christ, we are accepting a completely new set of standards that are far from anything we could ever accomplish in our own strength. We could never hope to reach the pinnacle of what God calls us to without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

None of these things will we ever be able to gain on our own but are all available when we pray and seek after Him. Then and only then will we inherit these incredible attributes through Jesus Christ bringing honor and glory to God by living a life worthy of His gospel.




August 22, 2008

The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God stands forever."

Isaiah 40:8


 

"Heaven and earth will pass away but My words shall not pass away."

Matthew 24:3


 

This morning as I was writing, I opened an email to learn that an amazing woman in our church passed away last night. The news has been very hard and I have had a difficult time trying to comprehend it all. God led me to Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalms 91:4.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (Psalms 91:4)

I began to focus on His promises. No matter how bleak our circumstances can be, God promises us His comfort through the confidence that His word offers to us. He not only offered hope to the captives but He offers hope to every one of us because
His word stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8) He is the God of Abraham just as He is the God of every one of us as well.

We all live in the real word and know that being a child of God is not an insurance policy against trials, storms or even death. God does not always rescue us from the perils of this world but when we place our trust in Him and we trust that He has secured our soul, we will not be disappointed. Nothing in this world can infiltrate the protection of God in our life and because of our trust in Him; we are eternally secure because of His great love and His victory over evil. Because of this, we can experience an unwavering stillness that surpasses all of our circumstances.

I am so thankful that His word shall never pass away and it will always be relevant in our lives as it was in the lives of Abraham, David and Paul.

His word is His love letter to us. It is a description of who He is and what His desires and plans are for our everyday life. It is His revelation of our separation from Him because of our sin and tells of His provisions for restoring our fellowship with Him through the sacrificing of His Son, Jesus Christ. We have a need for not only His redemptive love that never changes but we have a need to write His word upon our heart. His word brings us strength and comfort during those times when we feel the weakest and loneliest and it serves as a guide to follow as we continue down His path of righteousness for our life.

God's word is amazing and will always be relevant in our lives as we seek after Him in obedience to live a life that brings Him honor and glory.

Hide me now
Under your wings
Cover me
within your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know his power
In quietness and trust

Hillsong United


 


 


 

August 13, 2008

“Magnify the Lord- Psalm 34

1 I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.

2 My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

3 Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.

6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

9 Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,

13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.

14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;

16 the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;

20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.

22 The LORD redeems his servants;
no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.


What an incredible passage of scripture. These words have brought me so much comfort as I prepare to speak this weekend. God has been stretching me for months in preparation for where He is leading me and as the nerves set in, He used my mentor to show me this passage. It is amazing how I have read this passage many times before but now because I am entering into a situation where I need calming and comfort, the words jumped off the page at me.

Here are some of the things that He showed me as I really studied these twenty-two verses.

First, we should magnify the Lord in all we do. We should be excited to share not only His greatness but also His place in our lives and the blessings and provisions that He has brought about in our life.

Second, we have to recognize that when we are walking with the Lord, He hears when we cry out to Him. He hears our prayers and provides us the comfort we need to calm our every fear. When we keep our focus upon Him, He works through us and provides for whatever our situation. When we look to ourselves to meet our needs or to accomplish something, we will find ourselves lacking and wanting because in ourselves there is no satisfaction.

Third, it is so important that we learn to fear the Lord and seek to serve Him because that is where we will find our truest happiness. Doing good is not enough to get us through this life but instead seeking truth and allowing it to take root in our hearts as well as living out His purpose for our life is what we should desire. We should yearn for peace and pursue it as we deny ourselves the things of this world that take our focus from God.

Fourth, as we seek to serve Him, we have to recognize that we each will have our own crosses to bear and attacks to thwart but the Lord is always there protecting us along the way. We are never alone when we are truly walking with the Lord.

Overall it comes down to our obedience to Him and His truth and loving and fearing Him above all else. Obedience should be our desire and consume our lives as we strive to live every day bringing honor and glory to Him.






August 11, 2008

Removing the Plank


"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Matthew 7:1-5

We often misuse this passage of scripture. We love to quote "judge or you will be judged" not really understanding its meaning.
We are not to tolerate sin and we should approach someone when they are caught in sin with a spirit of love and humbleness recognizing that we are all found equal before a Holy God.
It should be done out of love and not judgment.
It should not be for self-righteous reasons but out of a desire to restore one's walk with the Lord as well as our own love for God.
These verses are talking about an unforgiving condemnation of someone done with a vindictive spirit that is self-righteous and always looking to uncover the sins or mistakes of others while overlooking our very own sin.
It is hypocritical and Jesus states that fact in the passage.

Jesus makes it clear that judgmental and unforgiving people cannot be forgiven by God.
(Matthew 6:14-15 and 6:23-35) When we judge others and do not find forgiveness then that is how God too judges us. (Luke 6:38)
It is also how other people in turn will treat us when we have done wrong.
We cannot expect grace and mercy if we ourselves cannot offer it to others. As we look at the effects of an unforgiving and judgmental spirit we see that when we are caught up in its destructive ways we usually assume that other people are just as vindictive and self-righteous and this puts us under quite a lot of pressure to live up to these unforgiving expectations.

We must remember that we all are sinners saved by grace through the blood of Jesus Christ. We can no longer stand in judgment of those around us because we each played a part in putting Christ upon that cross. He died for every one of us because of every sin we commit and have committed whether it be murder, gossip, adultery, lying, stealing, cheating, insecurities, fear and the list goes on. We must love and forgive those that have wronged us or live differently than us so that this world will not be able to label Him and Christians as the hypocrite they so want us all to be seen as. We owe Christ more than we will ever be able to repay Him and it is our job while here to glorify Him and bring honor to His name.

"Father, I love you and thank you for the sacrifice you made for every one of my sins. I pray that my spirit not be one of judgment but one of mercy and grace. I pray that you fill me full with your presence so that I may radiate your love and compassion to a world that needs you. I pray that everyday my speech will mimic the life I live so that those who meet me will see the reflection of You in my life. May I wake every morning with a hunger to know you more and to glorify you in all I do. Amen"

August 3, 2008

The Hand of Providence

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD"

Jeremiah 29:11-14


 

There are so many people including myself that are struggling and hurting. People waking up every morning wondering what in the world is happening in their life and why God is allowing the pain that they are experiencing to take place.

So many times, we truly believe that we have given God every part of ourselves. We believe that there is really nothing more we can do but truthfully, we are walking in deception. Many are pleased with the twenty minutes that may give God each day if that and think that showing up on Sunday morning is all they need to live righteously. What a wicked web we weave when we fall into those lies that Satan uses to deceive us.

This past week there has been a lot of joking around about the providence of God. How He has a bigger picture for our lives than what we can see in the moment that we are living. Back in high school, I participated in a youth musical by Michael W. Smith that was about this very thing. The story is about a high school student who is accidentally killed and how it affects those in her life as they try to figure out why she is gone. It is the discovery of how God used her life while she was there to lead those to Him. I had not thought about that musical until this past week and it has led me really to reflect on my situation and the situations that those in my life are experiencing.

I have written in the past about the distress that we cause in our own lives. Sometimes we choose to take control of our own lives and think we know exactly what it is God wants us to do. We start making decisions on our own choosing to go our own way and we end up falling flat on our faces.

We cause our own distress out of disobedience to the Lord. We find ourselves in the middle of a storm and the only one, who could end it, is the One we are running from in the first place. How many times do we run away from God instead of into His arms? Clearly, His arms are the safest place to be and there is protection from the elements of the world within His arms.

Sometimes we think that not all may deserve God's mercy and grace and so this attitude will put us in harms way especially when we try to take care of situations ourselves instead of turning it over to the Lord and obeying Him.

Reality:

  1. Sometimes we cause our own distress. We can easily make a situation far worse than what it may be by not acknowledging God and giving Him control of it or our life.
  2. By trying to take control ourselves, we end up in a dark, cold, and lonely place until we become broken and recognize our need for a Savior and His mercy and grace.
  3. Once we call out to Him, He will deliver us no matter what we have done or where we have been because of His love and forgiveness.

Jonah 2:8 says, "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." A point to ponder is this: we think of idols as a wooden statue or money or TV but there is more to it than just these things. It can be people pleasing or lack of faith and trust in the Lord and these types of issues can become our idols. We worry about what others may think or whether or not God will really provide or pull us out of whatever situation and it becomes our focus instead of God. Because of our disobedience and lack of faith, we cause ourselves more distress and may miss God's grace and blessings. Wow, what a revelation!

Clearly, there are two important messages that we should not forget. First, we should never run away from God because it will not bring about positive things. When we run, we can cause some serious storms for ourselves that we can avoid if our focus is on pleasing and obeying Him. He IS the calm in our storms. Second, His grace and mercy are for everyone. We are not to judge who is worthy of His forgiveness because Christ died for everyone and He extends His grace to all. When we forget this, God will quickly remind our narrow hearts by those storms we encounter.

The question becomes, how does this all tie into the providence of God for us? Well, He has our life already planned out for us. It was written before we were born and He has gone before us and prepared the way which means when we choose to follow Him and not our own way, the road ahead will be much easier to travel because He knows just where we are headed. His providence is what we should search and strive for instead of our own agendas and plans. He knows the plans that He has laid out for us. His plans are to bring us hope and they are for our good when we seek after Him. We should find peace in knowing this and turn toward Him and His ways. By doing so, the storms of life may not be as long and as hard to endure.