February 28, 2008

Direct my steps

Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.

The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.

I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.

Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.

Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.

Redeem me from the oppression of men,
that I may obey your precepts.

Make your face shine upon your servant
and teach me your decrees.

Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.
Psalm 119:129-136
"Father may I always hunger after You and Your truths. May my hearts desire always be that of obeying You and Your decrees so that I may never become lost in such a dark world. May Your face always shine over me and You rejoice over Your child with singing. Help the steps I take always be the steps of Your will and not my own. May my life bring You glory"

February 27, 2008

Shining stars

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”
Philippians 4:15

I love to look at the moon and stars. There is nothing more beautiful than a full moon reflecting off the surface of the ocean. I could rest under the moon on the beach for hours and just gaze at its radiance.

As I look upon the moon and stars, they paint a picture to me of God (the moon) surrounded by the saints (the stars). The stars seem to fade in the presence of the moon’s radiance and beauty. Even as beautiful as the stars are on their own, they seem less bright in the presence of the moon. Our witness can be bright in a dark world but will pale in comparison to the light of our Heavenly Father. Even still, scripture tells us that we are to be pure and blameless so that we may shine like stars in the universe. The very thought of that excites me because I look upon the moon and stars in amazement and realize how awesome and big God is. He created that moon and those stars!

As believers we have been made pure by the blood of Christ and should shine like those stars and be a reflection of Him. Just as those stars shine with such radiance, we should do the same. All believers have sinned and have been cleansed by Christ. Does it mean we will never sin again? Of course not. But, it does mean that we should focus everyday on our Father’s face and desire to walk with Him and in Him, so that we are His reflection.

There should be something different in our lives that radiates from our being. It should be noticed by those we encounter daily. We have to remember that the world will put us under a microscope or telescope, in this case just watching and waiting for us to stumble and fall. We can not walk in constant fear of what man thinks because it will cause us to take our eyes off of our Father’s face, and we will indeed fail.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
But whoever trusts in the Lord is
kept safe.”
Proverbs 29:25

We must keep our gaze upon the Lord and live to honor, glorify and please Him everyday. He alone knows our hearts, and only He may judge our intentions. He loves us unconditionally and only wants good for us. In return we should shine like those beautiful stars He created in the heavens and reflect His perfect light.
"Father help me to live my life everyday as a shining light that reflects Your glory and radiance. Help me to live a life that is noticed by others and that draws attention to You and Your greatness. I desire to walk with You and in You, constantly seeking Your face striving to do Your will. May my gaze always be upon You and You alone."
Written by Nicole

February 26, 2008

Praise the Maker

I lift up my eyes to the hills-

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.


He will not let your foot slip-

He who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, He who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.


The Lord watches over you-

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

nor the moon by night.


The Lord will keep you from all harm-

He will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch

over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.


Psalms 121



Thank you Father that you are the Maker of everything. Help us to remember that your eyes are always on us and that You are always there to protect us from harm. Remind us daily that You are aware of where we are and where we are going and that we are never alone because You are always right there with us.

February 25, 2008

I'm not complaining but...

Grumbling and complaining have become a past time in this country. It takes place in our homes, at work and even in the foyers of our churches. It has become so tolerated that sometimes we don’t even recognize it in ourselves or in others but it is a sin. In fact, I think if we had to make a list of sins, it probably wouldn’t even make our top 10 list. Because it is a sin, it breaks the heart of God.

The people of Israel had complaining mastered. As they wandered through the desert, they grumbled and complained and God disciplined them for it. Some were even struck down by a destroying angel. (1 Corinthians 10:10) God takes complaining very seriously because when we complain, it becomes a reflection of our heart. If we’re too busy complaining then how can we find time to rejoice in Him. If we’re complaining about money, relationships, our churches, jobs, whatever else is out there then we are definitely not praising Him for the very breath He gave us this morning or the roof over our head or the food that fills are bellies or the people He’s placed in our lives. Suddenly our reflection becomes blurred and what we see starring back at us is ugly.

Proverbs 27:19 say this…
“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”

Whatever is in our heart is very visible to other people every time we open our mouths because the words that come from our mouth speak loudly to the condition of our hearts.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
Luke 6:45

What do your words say about you? Are they Christ-like? Are they words of love and praise for a God that has blessed you with life, the love of family and friends, shelter and food and most of all salvation?

Life isn’t always what we think it’s supposed to be but we have a God who is in control of it all. He allows our lives to unfold the way He had planned in order for us to draw close to Him and mature and grow in our faith. Instead of complaining about all that is wrong in our lives or the world, praise Him for what He’s doing and how He’s going to use it for His glory!

Lord in all of our living let us be grateful and content in what You have for us. Convict us when we grumble and complain. Thank You for your goodness and your faithfulness to grow us through Your discipline. Thank You for not sparing us the striving and growing it takes to draw nearer to You. Let our words and actions be ones of praise and thanksgiving instead of those of discontent and grumbling.

Written by Nicole

February 21, 2008

On Mission

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

Where is your mission field? Many think of a missionary as someone who travels across the ocean to another country. We have a mission field right here in the United States. In fact, there is even a mission field in Pleasantville, a mission field that we can enter and include our children. Being a stay at home mom means that our mission field is our kids, their schools, their friends and the places we visit during our errand runs or eating out. As our children develop relationships at school or other activities, it opens doors for relationships to be built between parents. It opens up the opportunity to invite them into our homes where we are able to share God's love and minister to them. As we go about our daily activities in the world we have the privilege of meeting new people everyday and investing in their lives. How often do we take the time to interact with the people that God has put in our path? Do we seize those opportunities or are we too involved in our own lives to recognize other hurting people, people who need a friend, who need the Lord? How awesome that God gives us this opportunity, an opportunity to make an impact in the world through our children and our simple errands.

As our children get older our opportunities become greater in being a light in this dark world. It’s vital that we teach our children that they are to be examples and reflectors of Christ. It’s important that they understand their role in planting a seed in another child’s life. They can make an impact in a way that as adults we can not because of their child like faith. We must take the opportunity to make our own children our main mission field and disciple them daily.

As we finally recognize what we are called to do, leaving our “bubble” and entering into “the world”, we are able to make an impact for the Kingdom. The blinders are removed and our eyes are opened and we are able to see the world for what it is and where it is headed. Our focus is aimed on God and His will for our lives and the target is no longer on ourselves and what we want. In order for these things to be realized we have to spend time in God’s word and time with Him. We can not keep Him confined to a box that we pull out when times get hard. This means that decisions must me made through fervent prayer and seeking His will. It means times of fasting and praying as we wait for God to speak and show us what He has planned. We have to be available and willing to go and do what He’s commanding us to do. It’s not always pleasant and comfortable but the reward is great and we please, honor and glorify Him.




Forbes magazine did a study on the 7 cardinal sins and the top 10 sinful cities in each category in the US. It gives us an idea of where our country is headed and what it’s turning to in order to fill the void in lives.

Greed: #1-San Jose, CA This high tech hub area leads the list of Forbes 400 members per capita (2-San Francisco, 3-Seattle, 4-Denver, 5-Boston, 6-New York, 7-Dallas, 8-Los Angeles, 9-Washington D.C., 10-Miami)

Envy: #1-Memphis, TN Highest percentage of theft 8,358.21 per 100,000 people

(2-Charlotte, NC 3-San Antonio, 4-Seattle, 5-Providence, R.I., 6-Phoenix, 7-Salt Lake City, 8-Columbus, OH, 9-Oklahoma City, 10-Chicago)

Gluttony:#1 Memphis, TN again with highest rate of obesity

(2-Birmingham, 3-San Antonio, 4-Riverside, CA, 5-Detroit, 6-Jacksonville, FL, 7-Nashville, 8-Oklahoma City, 9-Kansas City, MO,10-San Diego)

Lust:#1-Denver, CO with highest rate of contraceptives sold

(2-tie between Portland and San Antonio, 4-Seattle, 5- Salt Lake City, 6-Washington D.C., 7 tie between-Cincinnati, OH and Columbus, OH, 9-Baltimore, 10-Buffalo)

Wrath:#1 Detroit, MI Highest percentage of murder 47.3 per 100,000 people

(2-Baltimore, 3-New Orleans, 4-Newark, NJ, 5-St Louis, MO, 6-Oakland, CA, 7-Washington D.C., 8-Cincinnati, OH, 9-Philadelphia, 10-Buffalo)

Pride:#1 Salt Lake City, Utah Highest rate of Plastic Surgeons 6 per 100,000 people

(2-San Francisco, 3-tie between Miami, San Jose, CA, San Diego, 6-tie between Louisville and Nashville, 8-tie between Virginia Beach, New York and Los Angeles)

Sloth:#1 Memphis, TN again with 65% of population being obese and 41 hours on average of TV a week

(2-Portland, 3-Las Vegas, 4-Detroit, 5-Birmingham, 6-Louisville, 7-San Antonio, 8-Jacksonville, 9-Nashville, 10-Miami)

Written by Nicole

February 20, 2008

In it not of it

"you are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on it's stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Matthew 5:14-16


I live in a area where there are churches on every corner, home schooling is huge and every one is at church on Sundays and Wednesdays and sometimes all the other days in between. Some people think it’s wonderful but sometimes it can be a rather difficult place to live. It can be like living in a bubble. Just about everyone you know goes to church and are pretty much protected from the troubles of this world. We don’t know what it’s like to go hungry or be without shelter, to live where there is ongoing war and there are definitely not strip clubs and casinos on every corner. We are pretty much a privileged community and you could say it looks a lot like "Pleasantville". Sounds pretty great right? Well, it's not always. Not if you are looking to reach the lost. They live here but sometimes they can be hard to find because for the most part, all Christians hang out together. If you asked me to name 10 people who don’t know the Lord in this area, I’m not sure I could.

From my postings last week, you know that I’m reached a point of revelation. It's time for us to leave our comfortable lives and step out into the ugliness of this world. It's time for us to be ready and willing to go and love people and share God with them but it’s hard to find people who want to jump on that boat. Last night, God put a song in my head that I haven’t heard in a while. It’s a song that I used to sing all the time to remind me of why we’re here and what we’re called to do.

The song is by Avalon and it is called In Not Of and it speaks of reaching a lost world. (click on the following link to view the lyrics) http://klove.com/lyrics/lyrics.asp?61 It talks about how we try to hide from the world and keep safe but after we spend time in the Word we realize that our calling is to reach a lost and dying world. This song really gives us something to think about in terms of “the world”. People want to hide from the world, shelter themselves from everything going on outside so that they don’t get their hands dirty. This is not how we were intended to live. It is important that we surround ourselves with other believers but we must be careful to not get lost in them. In order to relate to the lost we have to step into their world and know where they’re coming from. We have to be able to meet them where they’re at and sometimes those places are ugly. Sometimes it may simply mean knowing who won the Super bowl or who the latest contestants are on Survivor or what music is popular or what books are being read. It doesn’t mean that we have to fill our minds with all this stuff but we need to know what is out there and what the world is doing. We need to be able to find a common denominator that allows us access to relationships with people.

I truly believe that our ignorance and holier than thou attitudes can be what totally turns unbelievers off to what we have to say. We’re quick to want to point out their sins or flaws but we can’t take the time to just talk to them about what interests them. We can’t take the time to develop an actual relationship with people. In order for them to meet Christ, they have to see Him in us and then their hearts will be opened and their eyes will see.

Jesus would have never walked into a bar and scoffed at the people drinking and watching the game. I believe He would have walked over to them, found a connection and looked for a way to form a relationship in order to show them His Father’s love.

Written by Nicole


February 19, 2008

Fear

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18

We’ve talked about fearing God but what about fear itself? When we know God in an intimate way, we do not have to be afraid. Loneliness, the dark, parenthood, an airplane ride and small spaces are all tiny in comparison to the love of such a big God. He promises all through out scripture that He will provide, be our shelter, love us, be our light and our protector so that we do not have to be afraid of our circumstances.

We learn in 1 John 4:18 that when we know the love of God, we have a new heart. A heart that is bold and confident and fearless. When we walk with the Lord we have no reason to fear because He keeps us under His wings protected like that of a mother hen and her chicks. This to me paints a perfect picture of God and His love and protection for us. A mother hen will stand in the rain with her feathered wings covering her baby chicks, protecting them from the elements of the storm. She will take the beating of the storm to make sure that her little ones are safe and warm, making sure that no harm comes to them. This is the exact picture of God with His children. He keeps us protected from the elements of this world. He provides us with what we need, He loves us unconditionally, He is our light in this dark world and He protects us.

This doesn’t mean that trials and harm will never come upon us, but it does mean that because He is all knowing, He knows what will come our way and is there to walk with us and help us through. He never leaves us alone to handle the trials of this world by ourselves. Knowing this, we can have confidence in our duties as wives, mothers and friends. We are not perfect and we will mess up, but God knows every thought in our head, every word spoken from our mouth and every choice we will make. He knows that we will not always do the right thing and so we can find strength in knowing that our children, spouses and friends are protected from our mistakes. Yes, they will suffer the consequences with us but if they are walking with the Lord, He will provide the grace they all need to get through the mistakes we make. Knowing this, we need not fear the things of this world because our God is bigger than any circumstance and He has the ability to repair hearts, bodies and minds.

February 18, 2008

Are you afraid of God?

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise."
Psalms 111:10
Are you afraid of God or do you fear Him?
How do you think of God? Is it thunder and lightening with a thick cloud of smoke proceeded with a loud trumpet call and then His voice? This is the way that the Israelites experienced God when He descended to the top of Mount Sinai. They were so afraid that they told Moses to speak because they just knew that if God spoke to them that they would all die. (Exodus 19:16-19, 20:18-21) They all cowered in the presence of God expecting death. (Exodus 20:18-19) Is this how you view God? Do you cower in His presence expecting a lightening bolt to strike you dead because of your sin? Although our sin deserves death, God is not scary and we should not be afraid of Him but fear Him.
God is powerful, majestic and holy. Fearing God means that we acknowledge His holiness and power and that we honor Him. Moses first experienced God in a burning bush and was frightened but as their relationship became more intimate, God began to speak to Moses as a man speaks to his friend.
"the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend."
Exodus 33:11
At one point Moses asked God to "Show me your glory" (Ex 33:18) and God does just that by coming down in a cloud and standing there with Moses, proclaiming that he is, "the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness." (Ex34:5-7)
Once Moses came to know God in a more intimate way, he became less afraid and more fearful because he was in awe of God's holiness. God does not want us to be afraid of Him. He desires to have an intimate relationship with each of us. We are to fear Him because we stand amazed at how awesome He is.
As we grow in our relationship with Him, He draws near to us and we are able to see His glory.
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."James 4:8
The more time you spend with God, the closer you will become. It's just like making a new friend. At first we are guarded and afraid. We are not sure if we can trust this person and we are afraid of being hurt but as we invest more time and more of our life in their life, we develop an intimacy in which we become closer and learn to confide and share in one another's lives. It is the same with God except with a few huge exceptions. He will never let you down or hurt you. He knows everything you do and say before it is done and He knows how your life will fall into place. He is the perfect friend to turn to because His advice will never be wrong. He loves us as we are and wants to be our loving and compassionate friend. He desires your fellowship and is waiting for you to meet with Him. If you find yourself being afraid of God, ask the Holy Spirit to help you yield to Him so that you may learn to trust Him and enjoy being in His presence.
Written by Nicole

February 15, 2008

Who do we love most?


I love Toby Mac’s, Made To Love song!! Love it! Love it! It talks about how we are made to love Him, we were made for Him and made to adore Him and to be loved by Him.

Have you ever really just internalized those lyrics? I was made FOR THE LORD. I was made to love and adore Him!!!! I was made to be loved by Him! Wahoo! If that doesn’t make you excited!?

So, do we live by those words? I can’t say that I do all of the time. Sometimes I forget that I was made for Him and not for myself. Sometimes I catch myself coming to Him with a list of requests before my list of praises and adoration. Sometimes I even forget that I was made to be loved by Him!

Often times I sneak up onto the throne of my life where my Lord should be. I forget why I was made. Self can be so big in our lives that it obscures our view of the one true master. “Have self confidence.” “Take care of your self, you deserve it.” “Listen to your heart.” “You’ve got to take care of number one.” “Treat yourself.” Self help books, etc… The world trumpets self, but self absorption is the last thing we need. The only thing we should be absorbed in is the Lord. He’s the only one who can satisfy our needs and desires. He never leaves us lacking.

When we’re on the throne of our lives, we always want more. We live for the next temporary high, the next sensation. We’re never satisfied. Never complete. Never content. We weren’t made to entertain ourselves or to make ourselves feel good. We were made to worship. Made to love and serve. Selfishness can wreck our lives and the lives of those in contact with us. Sometimes its destruction is subtle and sometimes it’s loud. Without the Holy Spirit’s self- control in our lives, we’re serious prey to Satan, and our lives leave a trail of despair and destruction.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
James 3:16

The Lord, who made us so that He could love us, draws us into relation with Him. His instructions equip us in battle, even battles against ourselves/flesh. When we feel our inner man trying to take the throne, the Lord tells us to turn from self and instead love our brothers and sisters, and to seek after goodness, knowledge, self-control, godliness and kindness.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
2 Peter 1:5-7

I really believe we’re fooled when we think that we can make ourselves happy. We can’t. We weren’t made for ourselves, so we can’t fulfill or satisfy ourselves. The devil would like to make us think that we could.

"Lord, I pray that we find delight only in you. I pray that we feel your God made void in our lives and that when we try to fill it with anything other than you that we feel empty and left wanting. I pray for a longing and yearning for you, one that cries out louder than our selfish longings and yearnings. I pray that we would give up anything for you, including our tendencies to try to rule from your throne. Lord, we were made to love you and be loved by you!"

Written by Stephanie

February 13, 2008

The hypocritical spirit

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Matthew 7:1


As I did my quiet time, God led me to Matthew 7:3-5. It goes hand in hand with what He brought to me Monday and so I’m going to take that post even further. I feel like my eyes have been opened and I’m seeing what the world sees when they look at Christians. We are often referred to as hypocrites by the world and though I feel like this word is often abused, there is truth in its description of those with in the church.

What is a hypocrite? According to the dictionary a hypocrite is a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess. We have a tendency to call anyone who sins a hypocrite instead of what we actually are and that is a sinner. Many churches have hypocrites leading, serving and attending but for the most part, a church is made of up sinners who are desiring to walk with the Lord and glorify Him. There are many with in the church who claim to walk and live as followers of Jesus Christ and then as Sunday passes they enter back into the world walking as the world. There are those who claim to have high moral standards and who can quote scripture from the Bible as if they study it every day pretending to be someone they are not in order to impress or mislead those they work with or attend church with. They are the first to point out the mistakes of others and are quick to judge. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew.

“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 as we discussed last week in the posting on Rebuke, 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’s hypocritical and Jesus states that fact in the passage.

Jesus makes it clear that judgmental and unforgiving people can not 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 we too are judged by God. (Luke 6:38) It is also how we in turn will be treated by other people when we have done wrong. We can not expect grace and mercy if we ourselves can not 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 it’s 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 our 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"

Written by Nicole

February 11, 2008

Want to be like my Jesus...

What is a Christian? I have really been contemplating that question over the last few weeks. Event after event that has taken place has led me to wonder if we really understand what it means to be a Christian.

As Christians we are called to be reflectors of Christ.

"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

What I've come to realize is that many Christians have forgotten or may not completely understand what it means to be a Christian. We drive around in our cars with bumper stickers that scoff in the faces of sinners who don't know the Lord. We put personalized plates on our car that label us or single us out making us look superior to those who don't know Him. We picket outside of abortion clinics and at the funerals of celebrities because we don't agree with the lifestyle choices. Just last week I read the hate mail sent by Christians to an atheist that belittled and criticized. It made me feel so ashamed of what we have turned Christ into. Bumper stickers that beat people down, picket signs that cast people to hell and words on paper that destroy. Over and over we abuse the very people that Jesus has commanded us to love. Nothing in any of these acts are a reflection of Christ.

In Matthew 9:9-13 we read about the calling of Matthew to follow Christ. Jesus had dinner at Matthew's house with tax collectors and sinners. When questioned as to why He did this by the Pharisees, He said that "it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." (vs. 12) Jesus didn't look for bible scholars to be His disciples, He looked for the "sick" who needed "healing" because He "did not come to call the righteous, but the sinners." (Matthew 9:13) His ministry was directed to those whose hearts were open and it did not matter what their station in life.

How often do we judge those who don't live like we do? How often do we think we know or see the whole picture but in actuality we misjudge the motives and actions of someone else because of the way they are dressed or look or because of what they are doing? Have we really even taken a step back to examine ourselves as we really are? We all know of someone who came to Jesus with a shameful past. It can be so tempting to see ourselves as better than they are because we freeze their past into the present while at the same time ignore our own sin. We must be so careful because like all sinners, we ALL owe Jesus more than we could ever repay to Him.

So what does all of this ranting mean? We must remember that we are not on this earth for ourselves. We were created to glorify, worship and obey God and everything we do is about Him. We are to reflect Him and His love for everyone including the sinner as we share His love and who He is with everyone. This means that we must step out of our comfort zone and develop relationships with those who for so long we've scoffed at for living in such a sinful way and love on them in a way like they've never known. We are to show them the love of Christ and His forgiveness. We are to be believers, followers and Son-reflectors.
Written by Nicole

February 6, 2008

Forgiveness

“as far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Psalms 103:12

Praise God that He does not treat us the way in which we deserve or the way in which we treat other people who have wronged us. Instead, He shows us compassion, grace and His abundant love. He treats us in a way that is the example of how we should treat others who have wronged us.

Jesus taught that when we are sinned against, forgiveness is limitless. He paid the ultimate price for our forgiveness by giving His life so we have no grounds for withholding forgiveness from someone else. He says that we must forgive those who sin against us if we want God to forgive us. That is powerful.

Forgiveness can be a difficult thing when we hold on to past hurts too tightly. We become obsessed with the feelings of rejection and deception, and they begin to eat away at our soul causing bitterness. It leads us to a place without joy, and the Holy Spirit is grieved.

Once we realize the importance of forgiveness and its significance in our fellowship with God, we are able to break free from those chains of bondage and experience a more abundant life in Christ.

“Father God, I ask that today you teach me the importance of forgiving as You forgive. I pray that I not hold on to the things that others have used to hurt me so as not to grieve You or shadow the sacrifice Your Son paid for my forgiveness. I thank you for the limitless forgiveness that you offer me daily and for loving me enough to wipe it away and not bring it to mind again. Thank for your abundance of love, grace and mercy. Amen”

Written by Nicole

February 5, 2008

Rebuke

“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools.”
Ecclesiastes 7:5

Have you ever been rebuked? Have you ever rebuked? The Lord placed rebuke on my heart the other day. I wanted to know what true biblical rebuke meant, what its biblical purpose was, and how it was to be used. I also wanted to know what biblical rebuke isn’t. Here’s what I found.

What- The Greek word for rebuke, elegcho means to find fault and correct. A rebuke is a means that God gives us to overcome sin. It helps us draw out sin and draw nearer to God. It’s purposeful, but most times it’s hard to receive and hard to give.

Who: In the bible, it’s usually Christ and elders in the church who do the rebuking. Rebuke should also come from someone who has godly wisdom and a mature walk (filled with the Spirit). If someone is new in their walk, he or she should seek counsel before “administering” rebuke on someone else.

Why: We must be confronted with our sins if we are ever to be delivered from them. Even knowing and acknowledging the importance of rebuke and the delivery it eventually affords us, we reject it. We’re prone to rejecting it because we often times love our sin more than our Lord and the things he instructs us to do.



“For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”
Romans 7:15



“Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.” Love conceals sin, and an open rebuke exposes it, cleans it, and heals it through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Because rebuke brings us closer to the Lord, we’re wise to accept it and to accept it with joy.

How: When giving a rebuke, it should always be done gently and with unconditional love.



Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
Ephesians 4:15



Godly rebuke gears more towards exposing the sin and “speaking the truth in love” to the person being corrected. It involves seeking the truth behind the sin to discover the condition of the heart. It requires using God’s word (1 Timothy 3:16-17) so that the Holy Spirit Himself can convict that person and bring to light the sin that is being exposed. There is punishment or discipline involved with the idea of training or education the offender and helping to lead them down the path of repentance and restoration.

Rebuke should be given at the right time with the right words (Prov 15:28) You should be specific regarding the sin and offer a biblical solution(s). A rebuke should never be given with a sinful attitude. As tough as it may be to receive a rebuke, and as natural as it may be to react in pride, we should accept a rebuke with gratefulness. We are called to confess, repent, not justify and not lash out in anger. We have to remember that we’re responsible with how we respond to a rebuke.

Where: It should always be done privately, never in front of others.

When: When the person rebuking and the rebuked have each other’s undivided attention.


Lord, I pray that I learn the power and purpose of biblical rebuke and that when in my giving and getting of it that I honor you. I pray that I never issue rebuke with selfish sinful motives and that in my receiving of rebuke that I be able to decipher between true biblical rebuke and unbiblical rebuke. I pray that the rebuke I receive and that I give result in closer relationships with you, and that the labor of them birth good fruit.


Written by Stephanie

February 4, 2008

Sin

What is sin? According to the original translations of the bible, it means, “to miss the mark”. This means we miss the standard that was set by Jesus and the perfection that is God. We are all sinful and are easily tempted because of our sinful nature. Christians are ruthless for trying to compare sins. We tend to think that murder and adultery are major sins and those of lying, gossiping, cursing, idolatry and envy are of less value. None of us is good and does good all the time. We all are sinners and have fallen into some sort of temptation and sin.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23

Temptation comes from our own sinful desires and draws us away from God. It does not come from God because He cannot be tempted by evil and He does not tempt anyone. (James 1:13) Jesus too was tempted and is able to sympathize with our struggles and weaknesses. He was tempted in many ways and was able to overcome them all. God is faithful and will not let us be tempted more then we can bear and He will always provide us a way out. We decide whether we will walk away or fall deeper into sin.

Until there is repentance and the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us, we are covered in sin. We try to put a price on sin saying that one is worse than the other but to God, they all cost Him the sacrifice of His Son. Because of this, we cannot compare ourselves to others and we must resist the temptation to act as if we are righteous.


“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.”
1 John 1:8-10

In our own strength, we cannot escape our own mistakes nor be righteous. We have to recognize our weaknesses so that we will be able to rely on the sacrifice that Jesus was for each of us. It is then, in His strength that we can walk away from sin. Our sin can only distance us from God and so He wants us to recognize the sin and repent of it so that our relationship with Him can be restored.

Written by Nicole

February 1, 2008

Alphabet Praise

I lead a women's bible study on Thursday nights and last week I asked the ladies to take each letter of the alphabet and write down an attribute or name of God that reflects their view of who God is to them. Over the next few weeks I am going to share these with you. This week we have letters A-G. I hope you will meditate over these names and how they reflect who He is to you. I would love to hear from you and who God is to you. Add a comment or send an email to alignwithhim@gmail.com.

A

Abba-our daddy Romans 8:15
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father'."

Almighty- Psalm 91:1
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."

B

Bread of Life- John 6:35
Then Jesus declared, " I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

Blessing-Malachi 3:10
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."

Beautiful-Psalms 27:4
"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple."

C

Comforter-Psalm 119:76
"May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant."

Christ-1 John 2:22
"Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist-he denies the Father and the Son."


Counselor-Psalm 119:24
"Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors."As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Cross-John 19:17
"Carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgatha). Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others-one on each side and Jesus in the middle."

D

Defender-Jeremiah 50:34
"Yet their Redeemer is strong; the LORD Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon."

Deliverer-Psalm 18:2
"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

Desire-Psalm 145:16
"You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing."

E

Everlasting-Psalm 90:2
"Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God."

Eternal-Isaiah 26:4

"Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal."


Ever-Present- Psalm 46:1

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."


F

Forgiver-psalm 103:3

"who forgives all your sinsand heals all your diseases"

Faithful-Psalm 145:13
"Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made."

Father-Matthew 23:9
"And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven."

G

Gift-2 Corinthians 9:15

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"

Great-Deuteronomy 7:21
"Do not be terrified by them, for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God."

Glorious-Psalm 111:3
"Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever."

Gracious-Psalm 86:15
"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."

Coming next week....

Sin, Rebuke and Forgiveness