First blog post

Hello, I hope that you will enjoy reading my devotions. I do not claim to be an expert in the word, but I am a student of the word and desire to share the insights that the Lord gives to me. I love the Lord, my desire is to please him above all else. I want to hear him say “well done” at the end of each day. I pray you are blessed and challanged!post

HOW BRIGHTLY DOES YOUR FLAME BURN?

1 John 1:5-7 “This then is the message which we have heard from him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Per my notes in my bible: Light represents what is good, pure, true, holy, and reliable. Darkness represents what is sinful and evil.
“God is light”, means that God is perfectly holy and true and that he alone can guide us out of the darkness of sin. Light also exposes whatever exists.

Knowing that God is light, that he is perfect, holy, and true; how then should we be? How bright should the flame of our light be? We are to be salt and light to those around us. We are to burn so brightly that it draws others to Christ. (Matthew 5:13-16) Our flame should be so high, so bright that it makes others take note, wonder, and want what we have.

I love the example above which says that light exposes whatever exists.
When the light of Christ comes into our lives and we are filled with the Holy Spirit we should at that point start seeing our darkness, our sin. As the light of Christ shines into our souls, our minds, and our hearts, we should start looking and sounding different than the people and the world around us. Our flame should draw others to Christ like a moth to light; the brightness almost calling out silently saying, hey moth come over here.

How do we keep our flame high and bright? Glad you asked; through prayer, the reading of the Word, fellowship with like-minded believers, and being a part of the body of Christ in regular worship and fellowship.
Being in a relationship with Jesus. If you do not study His word, you are not going to have it hidden in your heart, and when the enemy of your soul comes your way, you will have nothing to fight him with!

Do you think others can see a difference in you? Has there ever been a time when someone asks you, or just says it as a statement of fact, “you are a Christian aren’t you?” Others ought to see Jesus in your countenance, your words, your actions, your love. We should be “living bibles” for all to read and see.

Maybe if you feel your flame is not very bright, this would be a good time to stop and pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse you and forgive any sin you may or may not be aware of; ask him to fill you new and fresh, to give you and hunger for his Word. Ask him to ignite the flame of your love and relationship with Jesus, so that it burns bright; that others will see.

If each of us who bear the name of Christ would conduct ourselves in a way pleasing to the Lord, and not get caught up in the sin, vanity, lusts, and evil of this world, I think everyone would take note of it. The problem is too many Christians look and sound far too much like the world. Their flames are so low, so dim that it is very hard to see Jesus in them.

I want to be a flamethrower. I want my flame to burn hot and be far-reaching. I want others to not see me, but the Jesus in me. I want my flame to burn bright and destroy any darkness in me and any darkness around me. We have the ultimate, purest form of light in us, we have Jesus and the precious Holy Spirit to help and to guide us. We have God’s Holy Word, to teach, admonish, encourage and grow us. We have not been left abandoned to figure it out. Be the horse that not only is guided to the water but drinks also!

My prayer for you is this: That you will have a hunger and desire for the Word of God, that you will take the time to read it and hide it in your heart; that you will talk to God in prayer and grow the intimacy between you, and that your flame will start burning so bright that people stop and say, “what is it about them, I want it!”

PROPER TIME

Psalm 145:15-16
“The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and you give them their food in dues season. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”

Philippians 4:19
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

1 John 5:14
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.”

James 1:17
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

How do we approach God? If we are students of scripture, we are told over, and over that God is Sovereign and in control of all things at all times. We are reassured that he hears our prayers and he answers them. Yet, still, we go with an almost worried, anxious, will he mentality.

In Psalm 145:15, we see where God has said that “he will them their food at the proper time.” God knows your every need, and He alone knows when the “right time” to answer is. We as his children have access to the Father through Jesus every second of every day. He who is faithful, knows what we need before we even ask, but like spoiled children when we ask, we want it yesterday, am I right? We do not want to wait for that proper time, the time that God sees we will need whatever it is the most. I have said it before, we want a microwave life and microwave prayers. The faster the better. But see God loves us enough to let us wait, to trust, to remember who he is and that he is in control. God’s word tells us He never comes/acts too soon or too late, God is always right on time!

Jeremiah 29:11 says this: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Some translations end it with this: “to give you a future and a hope.” God has you on His mind, Jesus is interceding for us, and with every prayer, we utter whether with just deep sighs or with words or through tears, Jesus, speaks to the Father on our behalf.

So, knowing that God’s timing for all things is perfect, why are we worried, why be anxious? The next verse we read is Psalm 145:16, which tells us: “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Do you remember how God knows even when a sparrow falls to the ground, well, not only is he aware of that sparrow, but every living thing on this earth. Whatever the desire or need, God has it! And at the proper time will bring whatever it is to pass. He is on it, He has got it!

We read in Philippians 4:19 how he supplies (all) our needs, not just some of them. In 1 John 5:14 we are told that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. But, how do we know his will? If you are fully surrendered to the Lord, walking with him in a relationship, seeking him daily in prayer, reading his word, full of the Holy Spirit, you will know his will, the Spirit will speak it into your mind and soul, and help you to discern it. As we pray through things our minds, hearts, and souls are molded into the place God wants us. Often it takes time, as we seek, He reveals, as we wait, our faith becomes stronger, more laser focused.

Lastly, we read in James 1:17, that, “all good and perfect gift from above, from the Father of lights.” I want what God considers good and perfect in my life, not what my deceptive heart thinks is good and perfect. And sometimes when we receive these perfect gifts, they do not feel that way. Often the greatest gift we receive from God is a hard path, a season of pain and hurt because God is growing something deeper and eternal in us that could come no other way. His love acts in ways that are always for our good and glory.

I don’t know what it is you are praying about/for. But I do know God has a time that is perfect to bring whatever it is to pass, in a way that He alone receives the glory, and at the “proper time.” So, in closing, I say this to my friends: “keep praying and seeking, keep telling Him all about it, wait patiently knowing God has heard, and He will answer. Read his word, so that you will be reminded of his faithfulness, and rejoice knowing that Jesus is interceding for you at all times, and submit your will to his.”

Beauty for Ashes

Isaiah 61:3 “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

I want to concentrate on this portion of the scripture, “beauty for ashes.”
What exactly does that mean? When we read these words it is referring to God’s redemptive power in humanity & throughout the ages since the beginning of time.

Many scriptures tell us that we will experience trials and tribulations. We will succeed and fail, we will be strong and fall away. Life is hard. Often we find ourselves in places we never dreamed we would be, circumstances that feel they will end us. We just can’t…continue, get over it, move forward, forgive; we are undone.

I have been there, that place where the hurt runs deep that I can almost taste the bitterness of it all. So overwhelmed that I cannot think and can barely breathe. Looking for a way out, needing desperately for something to change, feeling as though I could not go on, maybe I should end it all.
But God…

Even though at times my faith has been small, God showed up. He was always with me. God never leaves us alone to face anything. Yes, there are times He seems far away, and very quiet, but in reality, He is closer than ever. We just cannot see it or feel it. But God honors our faith no matter how big or small, and when we activate that faith and surrender it all to him; He does what seems impossible, the mountains and trials in life start shifting, and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope starts bubbling to the surface, and what you thought would end you has now made you stronger. Those ashes are now looking less life-ending and more life-beginning, fresh, and new.

When I take a long hard look back at my life, I see the times, often years that I felt nothing would change, how could it, when would it get better; and I see that without my noticing, life did move forward, that hard season did end, my heart found the beat of hope, I moved forward, old baggage fell off, and I was being made new, being filled fresh and new with the Holy Spirit, the tears dried up, the ache had left my heart, I had a bounce in my step…God had changed it all and gave me the grace and mercy I needed. Lifted me and even held me & I had not noticed it all the time.

Fast forward, so many of those things seem so distant and now so unworthy of my time and pain. I see them with new spiritual eyes and I am even grateful for them, Why, because they changed me, they helped me to see my need for Jesus. They allowed me to crawl into his lap and say I cannot, but You can! They also let me see His faithfulness in my life, that when I fully trust that He is, and He can and I lay it all down, things change, mountains fall, and life is breathed back into me.

God longs to hold you, to help you, to fill you, and to give you that beauty for ashes, but He will not force you to surrender your so-called right to be hurt, to stay where you are. He stands at the door of your heart knocking, waiting, will you let him in?

If you do not know Jesus as your Savior let me tell you that He is so good, He is so faithful, and the life He gives is eternal and better than anything this world has to offer, let him give you your beauty for ashes.
And if you are His child and yet you find yourself struggling through a hard season, a deep hurt, whatever it is, He is there already, crawl into his lap, cry it out and let him wipe away your tears and restore your hope. This world with all its hurts and trials is just for a moment, remember that!

Also, take time to look back at the faithfulness of God. Here you are on this day, you made it through yesterday…and God has not left you and is moving you forward, your beauty for ashes is just around the bend…you can’t see it, but He does, hold on!

WAIT

Isaiah 30:18 “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait on him!

1 Corinthians 1:7 “Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.”

Galatians 5:5 ” But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.”

Hosea 12:6 “But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”

What do all these verses have in common? If you answered waiting, you are correct. All through scripture we are told to wait, there are so many verses that speak about waiting and how we are to wait. Never do we find where we are told to throw fits, be loud, make our agenda at the forefront, drag another down, be angry, be resentful, be sinful, to love the world and all it holds.

We want life to operate like a microwave so that we have instanious grativication. But all through scripture the Lord tells us to wait. I wonder why? What happens when we wait?

I recently went on a trip, and on our way back home we had a layover. When it was approaching the time that they would normally start lining you up to seat you by sections, we instead were informed that there was an issue with something electrical in the cockpit. So we waited, about thirty minutes later they came over to the speaker to tell us they knew the issue, it was being addressed, but would take time to download the data. So, again we waited. At this point, you could see people walking up to the desk to talk to the airline workers. I am not sure what they were hoping to find out because we had already been informed what the issue was and they had no real time for it to be resolved.

After about another half hour the man came over the speaker and informed us that they had found another issue that had caused the problem and now they would need to find us another plane, gas it up, and get it prepared. And again people went forward to speak with the airline workers trying somehow to get them to go faster, or get more answers when we had been informed already throughout the process. I found this slightly amusing. Why bother harassing people who could not change a thing? They simply were the messengers. After a while longer we were told to go to another gate and wait there for our flight.

Now I was very thankful that I did not get on a plane that was compromised and possibly would have had an inflight issue. I was grateful for the information given and felt it was enough for me to understand. I was thankful for a plane with no problems that brought me home safely.

This is just a small example of how people get easily irritated and demanding. How they get impatient with the waiting and want all the answers right now!

God has given us everything we need as we await his return. Every word in the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and every word has life in it. When life runs us over we can run to the word and find all that we need to carry on, and instruction as to how we are to do it. And one of the things we see is waiting. So, often what we need is not instantaneous, God makes us wait. During that waiting He is growing us, molding and shaping us, revealing things to us, and so on. And we are to live a life that pleases him while we wait. We are to love our neighbor, do good to those who have wronged us, forgive, give, be humble, be kind, be gracious, and be Jesus in this lost and dying world.

As we wait for him we are never told to get even, pay back wrong for wrong, be selfish, or any such thing. All that we do needs to be Christ-like. God’s word tells us that we have all we need to live in this world as Christian’s maintaining our witness and being salt and light. If you are not of what to do or how to act, open your bible and read it!

Don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in this ball called earth and all of its drama that you lose sight of what you are waiting for. We as Christian are awaiting Christ’s return. Be ready! Make sure your lamp has plenty of oil in it. God tells us that He will return in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, there will be no time to prepare then, there will be no running to find oil and no time for questions. As fast as you can blink you will be with him if you are one of his sheep.

We are always going to have time that we wait. Traffic lights, hospital ER”s, doctors’ offices, the grocery store….why not be light as you wait rather than the one complaining or trying to find another way?

Open God’s word, see what he says about how we should wait, and maybe this time we have will be more fruitful and purposeful.

DOES YOUR LOVE HAVE LEGS?

I know what you are thinking; has she gone bonkers?
No, I have not. We read in 1 John 3:17: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” What does this verse say to you?
For me, it is a call to action; it tells me that my love of & for others should have legs on it.

Suppose you come across someone who desperately needs food; you look this person square in the eye and say to them, I love you and walk away; what was the impact of your words; did they mean anything to this starving person & did they fill their stomach?

The verse above is an example of how we are to; ‘lay down our lives for another.’ Are your actions conveying “I love you?” Love is both an action and sacrificial. Love usually costs something; our time, our talent, our money, etc. Rarely, is it an easy thing, where nothing is required of us?

Luke 10:30-35 “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. Look after him, he said, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

This Good Samaritan did not just say to the man, I hope you feel better soon, know that I love you! The Samaritan’s love and compassion had legs. He saw the need and was moved in his heart to help this stranger. He did not count the cost, did not wonder if the man was worthy, and did not worry about his class or race; he loved the man in the action needed for this man’s circumstance. The priest avoided the problem he saw, the Levite saw something of a curiosity, and neither saw a man in need. Only the Samaritan saw a man in need of love and help.

It is easy in our turbulent crazy world to look at someone with judgment, to decide that they do not merit our help. Our world does not operate on biblical love. The world has twisted loves meaning to meet depraved minds and hearts. Innocent people are being killed by evil people all the time. People are getting targeted and beaten up, and sometimes even killed simply because of their race or beliefs. We who are “the called” who have been born from above should look and act differently than the world. Our hearts should operate from a place of love and compassion for our fellow man. God knows our hearts and our motives, and He gives us all opportunities to be his heart, hands, and feet in this world. God gives us the opportunity for us to put legs on our love. To step out of the comfortable, and just do. It usually costs us something we do not want to give; money, time, emotions & so on, and sometimes all of those things.

Don’t let this world and all the lies, evil, and craziness rob you of your love and compassion. Don’t let it harden your heart and ears to the cries of those in need. Don’t count the cost, simply reach out with a heart of love doing those things that are needed, knowing that your heavenly Father will supply all you need of. Nothing ever done for Him or in His name falls to the ground and is wasted.

So, my prayer for you is this: Don’t be the priest, don’t be the Levite, be the Good Samaritan. Let love be your motive. Put legs on your love, and do what you can. God sees your actions, knows what motivates you, and will help you to be a help and bless you for being the blessings. As Christians, we cannot live selfish lives. We need to remember that Jesus gave the ultimate gift, His life, for ours. He did not count the cost, His love had legs. Think about it!

IT’S A LIGHT THING

Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Light dispels darkness. If you go into a dark room and turn on the light everything becomes visible. Jesus is light. The gospel of Jesus Christ can and does bring light into a dark and evil world. Jesus can shine a light so deep into your soul that nothing else matters. He alone can bring unspeakable joy into our lives. We who bear the name of Christ ought to conduct ourselves in such a way that we are light in the darkness.

Every day our world grows dimmer and dimmer. People think it is progress, freedom to do whatever they please. Murders, especially mass killings are up; people are angry about court rulings either for their cause or against another. The sins of this world are so many and so vast. This world is blind, hell-bent, and hell-bound. The words from Isaiah 5:20 “They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right; that black is white and white is black; bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” We then read these words in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self -control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power, from such people turn away!”

Does this sound a lot like our world today? I’ll be honest, I do not watch the news. I see headlines, and that is usually enough for me, sometimes I will read enough to get the gist of it, but I do not want to fill my mind and especially my heart with all the foolishness of this world which is passing away. And be sure of this “IT IS PASSING AWAY!”

People think they can live however they want, and God will turn a blind eye to it, but not so friends; God sees it all, hates sin, and will punish, must punish it because He is a Holy God. The only way to avoid punishment is with true repentance, which leads to salvation. You must be born-again.

Here is what I want to say: We who are born again, Spirit-filled believers should not be walking around, or talking or looking and sounding like the world. We should not allow our passions for anything to take precedence over being a light to a dying world. How you live and act matters. Whether you like it or not people are watching you, listening to you. What we need to be saying is “you need Jesus, He alone is the answer to all your questions, He alone can heal the broken-hearted, dispel loneliness, He alone can bring beauty from ashes, He alone is peace. I know full well how hard life can be, the hurts that another can inflict. But in the light of eternity and the joy that comes from Jesus, it does not matter. All of these things will all be gone one day.

I want to be a light, just as Jesus was when he walked this earth to those around him. He pointed everyone to the Father. He did those things that pleased his Father. He spoke words of love and peace. He lived sinlessly in a sinful world. I am not sinless, but I am Christ-filled. I have repented of my sin and do my best to live a life pleasing to Jesus. He fully knows me, there is nothing hidden from God, and I want to know him as fully and completely as I can this side of heaven. I will not argue with anyone about scripture, my position on whatever. I choose to love those around me as best I can and live in peace with them. I will tell them about Jesus, live as an example before them, and do my best to be His hands, feet, and heart to a dying and desperate world. Arguing with someone never convinces them to come on your side, most of the time they will do the opposite if for no other reason than to spite you. Jesus did not argue, He did say this: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Whoever or whatever you think will get you to heaven other than Jesus, you are wrong!

Let Jesus be your center, not someone else, not politics or a cause, just Jesus. The world will kick and scream as it becomes more and more corrupt. Our world will demand its way, it will try to convince you that it is right, and its flawed thinking is freeing when in reality it is damning you to judgment and eternal punishment. People turn to celebrities, and politicians to tell them what to think, what to eat, what to wear, how they should look, seriously people! Most of them will spend eternity in hell if they do not repent and turn to Jesus. Their wealth, fame, and influence will not spare them an eternity in hell with all of the horrible pain and torment.

Instead of having your head and face deep into the world and its views and craziness, pray, read the word, think before you speak, but above all be Jesus, and don’t hold hands with the world. We really can agree to disagree. Let us spend our time on this earth looking inward, making sure our hearts and minds are right before God. We need to repent of anything unlike Christ, any sin in us. We need Jesus to be not only the center of our lives, but the top, bottom, and sides. We need to: “Know Him,” “Love Him,” “Serve Him!”

Be light…Shine Jesus into any room you enter, any conversation you have, any work you do. Let the light that is in you shine so bright that it makes people say…I want what they have!

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

WEDDING EXCITEMENT

I love weddings. A wedding is the culmination of the dating period and falling in love of two people who have decided to become “one.” It is always fun to finally see the bride’s dress, the colors she chose, the bridesmaid’s dresses, and the groomsmen all decked out in their attire. Everyone looking to watch this act of love in action. We all sit with anticipation for the service to start. And once they have pledged their love your focus then turns to the reception. What have they chosen as their wedding cake, what decorations will be tantalizing your eyes? Will the bride change into another dress? Some weddings are very Christ-centered in their delivery, while others are funny, and some are serious with lots of tears. Weddings I think are just fun, romantic, and lovely.

When there is a wedding taking place in a family the excitement level goes up the closer it gets to the wedding day, whether for the good or bad. Nerves can sometimes get the best of people and may even bring out the worst in them. But I think overall it is a happy excitement for most people. Lots of work and planning goes into weddings. Watching your child take that next step for parents brings joy.

So, where am I going with all this wedding talk? Let me first give you these scriptures: Revelation 19:6-8 “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like the peals of thunder, shouting: “Halleluiah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

The wedding that is about to take place that all of heaven is rejoicing and praising God for is the wedding of Christ’s return for His church (the Bride.) This is the culmination of history. Our Lord, the Lamb returning for His Bride and taking her to be with Him forever. He has given her time to prepare herself for this wedding. No more time will be given! The church, all those who have believed in Christ Jesus, and all those whose names are in the “Book of Life” will finally be face to face with their Savior for all eternity. Every person who has repented of their sins and been saved by the blood of the Lamb will be with him forever. The bride’s clothing is the righteousness of the saints.

We are not to get so caught up in the wedding, but the Groom, our Lord Jesus Christ. Our focus should be on Him. He is worthy of our worship. Jesus is the central focus of God’s redemptive plan, His coming for His bride is the culmination of all that has come before. This is when Jesus comes back in victory. All evil will be done away with. His bride will live with him for all eternity. As His bride, we are to be making ourselves ready. How do we do that? There will no longer be a second chance. You cannot say I need a few more minutes, no this is it! So, how do we prepare?

The first thing you need to do is search your heart, do you belong to Christ? Are all your sins covered by the blood of Jesus? If so, then how are you living? Does your life reflect the new life inside of you? As Christians, we need to live a life worthy of the calling. Every day we should be letting our light shine for Christ. We should be putting to death things like sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, covetousness, or idolatry. (Colossians 3:5-8) We also need to bridle our tongues. (James 1:26) You are not free to say whatever you want! We need to be quick to hear and slow to speak, slow to anger. (James 1:19-20) We are to be kind to one another, forgiving one another. (Ephesians 4:32) We are to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
We are not to repay evil with evil, and we are to live peaceably with all men. We are to feed our enemy and give him a drink if he is thirsty. We are to overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21) We are to think about those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, things worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8-9)

We need to read our bibles, pray, and seek God always. Love should be the central heartbeat of our lives. Our actions and reactions should be Christ-like. We should live lives obedient to God’s words and instructions. We need to be kind, compassionate, loyal, and full of the Fruits of the Spirit which are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) All this to say, we should not look or act like this sinful world. We have been set apart.

And when Jesus returns for us He needs to find us doing those things He has called us to do. We should be the living example of what the scriptures tell us to be and do. We should look and act a whole lot more like Jesus than anything else.

Before you can be a bride you will have had to say “yes” to the proposal. So, before you can be the Bride of Christ, You must have said yes to His free offer of salvation. Your sins must be covered by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus is the only way, have you said Yes to Him?

You must allow the Holy Spirit to transform you. Ephesians 5:25-27 says:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”

We need to put on the bridal dress, we need to live holy, obedient lives as we prepare ourselves for our groom. We do not earn the status of the bride by the good deeds, it is the response to our yes to Jesus. Good deeds and obedience, and our pure lives are just ways we prepare ourselves for when the bridegroom comes.

Because of the cross, Jesus’ blood that was shed for us; and our acceptance to come to Him for salvation is the only way we can become the bride of Christ. You must first say “yes” to Him, He is the only way. His name is Jesus!

COME LORD JESUS, COME! YOUR BRIDE IS WAITING!

JOY?

How do we find joy in hard seasons? In times of death, or you lost your job? Or in times when nothing is going right for you? You fill in the blanks. What is your reason for struggling to find joy?

Do we have to lose our joy in the difficult times?
I do not think so!

I personally am just now coming out of a very difficult and long season of hard. Life has not played fair with me. At times I have felt like I was walking in quicksand. It took all my effort to decide to press on. I felt physically drained as a result of the pressing in of life. So, where did I go for my comfort and to retain my joy? Remember joy and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness comes from external places, joy is found deep inside, in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Really I was not happy about the unfairness and hardness of life, but my joy in my Savior remained.

I found myself thinking of these and other scriptures along the way.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I can say many prayers went up, for help, guidance, patience, endurance and just everyday things. I even said out loud to myself as an encouragement; I will give thanks even in this hard place.

And while walking through my desert, I also gained a few extra pounds, (truth.) I am an emotional eater, so I find food to be my friend in hard times, not really good thing, but true. I guess you could say this verse below was what I was doing. LOL

Ecclesiastes 2:24 “There is nothihng better for a person than that he shouold eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.”

But mostly, I kept going forward. I prayed, I went to church, and worshipped the One who died for me. I shed a few tears, laughed with friends, and allowed the Lord to refill my empty tanks. I remembered that Jesus was interceding for me always. I was not walking through this hard time alone, my Lord was with me, comforting me when it seemed too much, and encouraging me in tangible ways through his word, and friends and family.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find anythig that will be after him.”

God brings us to the hard places of life. Nothing touches our lives unless God himself allows it. And when it comes we need to keep pressing into Him. We need to surrender all our frustration and hurt and move closer to Him. When we do we will find ourselves being renewed. We will feel the joy rising up inside of us. God has promised us that He is faithful, He will never leave us or forsake us, (Deuteronomy 31:6.)

When you walk through difficult times it does not mean you are being punished, but it does mean it is a chance to grow in your walk with the Lord, and to stretch your faith.

My joy is found in Jesus. My joy starts when I focus my attention on Jesus and all that He has done for me. My joy comes in knowing that I am His and He is mine. My joy comes in remembering that this too shall pass. All the days of my life He has brought me through many dangers, toils, and snares. All the days of my life He has been with me, praying for me, faithful to the end.

So, the better question is; Why not joy in the hard seasons?
We may not feel happy, but when we focus our hearts and minds on Jesus Christ, joy is found. Your joy may not be bubbling over, but it is there. A calm assurance that He will see us through. Think of the hardest day of your life, if you are reading this you are still here, moving forward. Think of how He carried you and cared for you during it. Do you feel the heartbeat of joy rising up?

I also like to think about His return. Will I be alive, and caught up, or will my eyes close in eternal sleep, and I will be instantly transported to the ONE in whom I have placed my trust? I don’t know, but I do know that this life with all the hard is but a vapor, nothing here lasts forever.

My hard for now is ending. And another will come eventually. Although I was not always happy about it, I was, and I am always joyful. Thanking God for all the times He has seen me through, and how he has held me close all this time.

I hope you will let joy rise in your soul…through him we are already victorious.

AbunDANT LIFE…WE ALL WANT IT!

John 10:10 “The Thief cometh not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they may have life and that they might have it more abundantly.”

This abundant life Jesus is talking about is not what the world would call abundant. The world wants riches, fame and has a more, more, more mentality. Our world is self-centered in its desire to “have it all,” “live your best life now.”

What constitutes an abundant life to you? Take a minute to think about it. Do you want a better home, car, more money in the bank, to travel, more time for fun, toys? Those things might make you more comfortable and fulfill some of the desires in your heart, but will they draw you closer to the Lord?

Our abundant life starts the moment we come to Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes in and starts cleaning out all the junk we were born with and have accumulated over our lifetimes. There is no room for pride in this abundant life Jesus offers to us, He is the one who has called, filled us, and leads us. He is the One who will get us all the way home to heaven. We cannot save ourselves or keep ourselves saved. He does!

This abundant life is filled with love, joy, and peace as we surrender our will, our desires to come in line with His will. This world will dry you up, use you and abuse you. It will rob your peace and confuse your mind. But God’s abundant life leads you down paths full of more of him, more contentment. He tells us in his word that He can do abundantly more than we ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)

We take the uncertainties of life and place them at the feet of the One who can change them or change us, whichever He sees is best for us. When we begin our relationship with Christ, He comes in and starts cleaning us up, reshaping our thoughts and desires to come into alignment with His will.

As we let the cares of this world lose their grip on us we learn to walk in His peace, His joy. God already knows what we need and He can supply all our needs. (Mattew 6:8) The world will try and convince you of the things it says you need and will rob you of rest and peace of mind chasing after it all.
Enough never is enough.

There is a vast difference in need and want. And sometimes even those wants come to us because God said yes, but the yes is because somehow our want was His want, which happens when we read his word and pray, and when we seek him first. Our desires start lining up with His will.

Years ago when I had far less money than I do now, God supplied me with a car. I had asked him to help me, and that if He thought I needed a car as badly as I did, then it needed to be very cheap and dependable. I got it for a dollar…which I did not have to pay, but did anyway. God moved in someone’s heart to give me the car. Remembering it still makes me cry because God supplied a huge need, and He was right on time, and He moved in someone’s heart to do this grand thing for me. This man prayed and sought the Lord on what to do, and heard him, then acted on what he knew the Lord wanted him to do. I can tell you I felt like God had picked me up and given me the biggest hug and kiss of my life!

God did not have to do that, but the need was great and I went to him in prayer seeking His answer. It came in such a way that it could only be God who caused it. He cares about you, me! He sees every need and He will meet them. He doesn’t always do it in a way that seems like He should, it will always come in a way that He gets all the glory, and He alone is deserving of all the glory. This is just one example of the abundant life that He has given in my life. There have been far too many to name them all.

There is more to this abundant life and we are not experiencing it yet. 1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us that no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” People, we cannot with our finite minds begin to conceive a glimpse of what is coming when we are either taken in death or caught away one day. Heaven is more than whatever you are imagining. Jesus has been preparing it since he ascended into glory. Think about that…for over 2,000 years.

God is with us, no matter what comes our way, we can rest assured that it has been filtered through his loving hands. We can be sure it was not an accident. We can also be sure we are never alone in it, whether good or bad, God is with us, surrounding us, leading us, and helping us. More of the abundant life.

Here is the center, the all in all of abundant life, it is not stuff or things we need, it is Jesus, He is our abundant life. He should be the reason for everything we do, He should be who we seek above all else. Jesus makes us content in this life. He can give us that peace that stays with us even on our worst day. Sometimes He gives much to people, and at other times he withholds, but whatever He does or gives comes from the depths of His wisdom and is right and perfect for us.

I am living an abundant life, not because I have great wealth, ( I don’t), not because every detail of my life is going smoothly and without problems. ( It isn’t) I have abundant life because I am secure in Jesus. I am His. He knows me, He gives me peace in the hard times, comfort when I need it. He supplies my needs and is always right on time. He keeps me through every day. And I already know that one day I will be with him in glory, oh what a day it will be! On that day I will get to see with my own eyes the fulfillment of this abundant life He gives. For ALL ETERNITY!!! It will never end! I will never need anything, I will never cry again. I will never …. fill in the blanks for yourself.

Get your eyes off of stuff. Turn off the TV if need be. Stop comparing what you have to someone else. Seek the Lord first and He will supply your every need, and sometimes even those wants! He is faithful to complete what He has started in you. And one day, you too will see the fulfillment of the abundant life He has been preparing, and you will be able to look back at the abundance He is supplying even now.

Read and pray my friends, and when you finish, pray and read. Good words my pastor remind us to do. There is abundant life to be found in the scriptures…start reading more about this Abundant Life!