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

Finite, Holy, Forgiving…Our God

Psalm 19
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens, he has pitched a tent for the sun, 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold; than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.

As we begin this Psalm we see that there is no one who can say there is no Creator. The heavens display his glory on a daily basis, no place on earth is without the sun, the moon and stars. Daily God’s handiwork is in full display. They are speaking without words of the glory of the Lord. God is revealing himself in creation, in the heavens. From one corner of our world to the other, the sun rises and moves across the sky, at night the moon is out to light our way. The stars shine and twinkle telling a story all their own. And he knows each by their name. The heavens give evidence of his power, his love and his great care over us. No one has an excuse. His glory is displayed for all to see every day. Even tribes that live out in the jungle know that someone greater than themselves has fashioned all that they see and enjoy.

Then we move into God’s word. It reveals to us His holiness. It is a guide for us, not to keep us tethered down and unable to enjoy life or have fun, but it gives us clear guidelines to follow to keep us safe and out of danger. God’s word reveals the path of life. It brings joy to our hearts as we read it; it encourages us as we walk through different seasons in our own lives. It gives us hope that there is something greater than what we see. It continues in the lesson that God is over all, He is with us and will help us. It reveals the consequences of a life without Christ. It shows us that we cannot on our own stop sinning. The word reveals who Jesus is. He was not a man who came for a moment and died on a cross. He lived and moved in the same situations as we, yet was without sin. God’s word shows us that there is a great reward for following Christ.

So, we continue on in this Psalm. We read how sin causes us such guilt. We sin, sometimes willfully and other times without even realizing we have sinned. The good news, God knows it. He knew it when he saved us and his grace is great enough to cover the willful sins and the hidden secret sins we are unaware of. When we ask for forgiveness from sin, it covers them all! His mercy toward us is great, his love for us unfailing. As we seek him, he can cleanse us and guide us into right living. He can reveal to us areas we need to change. Our God is greater than our biggest sin and his blood cleanses us and makes us pure. When God the Father looks at us he sees us through the shed blood of Jesus and declares us righteous. Let that sink in…we do not have to live under shame and condemnation if you are then you either think God cannot or will not forgive you or you are believing the lies of the enemy.

Lastly, these words: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” We cannot on our own clean us our words, our conversations. We cannot on our own think on the right things, good things, pleasing to the Lord. We need Jesus; he can change our thoughts, our words, and our actions. When we surrender all of us to him, his Holy Spirit begins a work in us that will not stop until we are home in heaven with our Savior. We can be different. He is our Rock..that place we run to when life is hard, but also the one who covers us as we journey through these dangerous waters of life. He is our Redeemer. When Jesus rose from the dead, he took death captive. He was and is victorious over it. He alone can save us, make us new. He alone is the way to heaven. Jesus is really all you need.

I pray that as you look at the brilliance of the sun, the stillness of the moon and the sparkle of the stars you thoughts turn to the creator. I pray if you find yourself carrying the weight of some sin, you choose to give it to Jesus, trust in his love and forgiveness and walk like a child of God, forgiven and clean. I pray as you read his word that your heart and mind are strengthened for your journey, that you see clearly God’s sovereignty and holiness; his tender and loving care for you. I pray that you desire cleanness​ in your mind and heart and you seek it out from reading his word and time with him. He is…He always will be…Praise His Holy Name, JESUS!

Restore To Me

Have you ever found yourself weighted down from something you have done? You know it was wrong, but you made the decision to do it anyway.
You may feel dirty, sad, mad or some other emotion, but mostly you feel guilt, that heavy weight around your neck that steals your joy. In (Psalm 51) we read about King David. He had committed adultery and had someone killed. He knew it was wrong and the weight of his sin was robbing him of his joy.

Psalm 5:1-13

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 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. 5 Surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts, you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then will I teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

David recognized that his sin was not just against people, his sin was against God. David wanted what he wanted and set aside what he knew was right to have what he desired. That was Bathsheba. He went as far as making sure her husband died. He chose to rebel against God’s ways. He lusted in his heart and ultimately carried out that lust in the flesh.

He was ashamed of his behavior, his failure weighed heavy on his heart and mind. He knew that he had been a sinner since he was conceived in the womb. Our natural sinful nature is always wanting what it wants and as believers, the old nature is always rearing his or her head to have what it wants. David sought forgiveness from the very one he had offended. There was no other way to rid himself of the weight of his sin. He fell on the mercy of God asking for forgiveness and knowing that God is faithful to forgive us when we truly repent. The natural consequences of our sin do not go away, we usually have to live that out, but God can change us, cleanse us and help us to have new thoughts and new behaviors when we surrender our will to his.

David wanted his joy restored and the only one who could restore it was the same one he sinned against (God), the same one who forgave him (God). Only God can change our behavior, only God can cleanse us from our sins, only God can give us the joy back that our sin and this world try to steal.
David believed God would forgive him and had forgiven him. It is only when we truly believe that God forgives us that joy can be found. We must accept the forgiveness of God. We cannot fully enjoy Jesus until we understand that Jesus enjoys and loves us. He wants to forgive you. David understood that, do you?

If you are living under the weight of sin, there is forgiveness. Jesus dies for those sins, all that is required is true repentance. Go to him as David did, ask him to forgive you, to restore you and to fill you once again. He can and He will; then let joy start filling you up again from the inside out. There is nothing more beautiful or handsome on someone than a person who is at peace with God, it radiates from deep within and you cannot miss it!

Lust Will Carry Us Away

Lust for anything is bad. If we are not in full pursuit of Christ and knowing him, we can easily be led astray. Lust does not have to imply only sexual sins. Anything that we pursue wholeheartedly can become the thing we desire above all else and cause us to stumble and fall into sin. It can be sexual, or it can be money, things, food; any desire that takes us away whether it is physically or mentally not only is driven by our own selfish lusts but can also become our idle, the thing or things we bow down to.

Samson was a man set apart for the Lord, by the Lord. His parents had been given special instructions by the Lord to not cut his hair and that he would lead the Israelites. Judges 13:5 “Because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” Samson did serve the Lord and he also sinned. Sound familiar right, we are saved yet still struggle with the sin in our lives.

Now Samson fell hard for Delilah. He loved her and his love blinded him to the deception that was going on. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.” Delilah was greedy and Samson was in love with his lust running high.

On three separate occasions Delilah begged for the answer to his strength, which was that his hair could not be cut, his strength came from there. Three times he told her a lie, and when the Philistines came and did what he said needed to be done to subdue him he got free. Now you would think that he would clearly see what was going on. This woman he loved was doing her best to get the secret out and working against him to gain money.

Samson so in love and full of lust apparently could not see it, so finally he told her. She cried and prodded him daily to gain the secret to his strength and finally, he told her. Judges 16:17 “So he told her everything. No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazarite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become weak as any other man.”

So, as the story goes the Philistine’s came, Delilah had cut his hair while he lay his head on her lap sleeping. Judges 16:19 “Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.” This is a sad day for Samson, the lust of the flesh, the deceit of his own heart led him into a situation where he used poor judgment and trust. He was unaware when Delilah yelled and said,” Samson, the Philistines are upon you and he jumped up that the Lord had left him, his strength was gone. (Judges 16:20)

What happened next is awful and hard to read. Judges 16:21 ” Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him, down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison.”
Samson found himself in a bad situation, his lady love nowhere around, he cannot see and he is a prisoner. He has fallen so far.

While in prison his hair began to grow. Samson was being made sport of entertaining the Philistines, entertaining them in an arena. One day they had him performing for them, there were about three thousand people, men and woman and the rulers all watching making fun. Now, Samson prayed and made one more request of the Lord. Judges 16:28-30 “Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “O Sovereign Lord, remember me, O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it.
Thus he killed more when he died than while he lived.”

God’s plans for the Philistines were not thwarted. He still used Samson to accomplish his plan for the Philistines, once again a reminder of God’s Sovereignty.

It is sometimes too easy for us to allow the lust of our flesh to take over and blind us to dangers that are there. We act upon those lusts and can find ourselves in way over our heads. There is a little saying that goes like this: “Sin will take you farther than you ever thought you would go, and keep you longer than you ever thought you would stay, and cost you more than you ever thought you would pay.” What true words those are!

If you find yourself caught up in sin because you have allowed your lust and desires to fun freely, remember this it is never too late to bow your knees, seek forgiveness and ask the Lord for help! He always hears the cries of his children. This does not mean you will suddenly find yourself free of whatever it was, but God will begin the work of helping you sort it out. You may or may not live with the consequences of your sin, but you will be forgiven and set right with God and he will help you as you live out whatever the consequences are.

When we are sincere in our repentance then God hears, answers, forgives and restores. He is faithful when we are not, and his purpose will be fulfilled in us. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our wins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

If we seek him daily, he will help us to live in the Spirit. When we ask for help in any situation he will answer us. His ways are best, always!
So my prayer for you is this: If you find yourself caught up in sin that you will not continue in it, that you will call out to God in repentance and seek forgiveness and allow him to lead you out of the situation. I pray you will seek him first before you make any decisions that could cause you pain or harm. I pray that you will desire Him above anything this world offers and that you will seek him with your whole heart! He is there, waiting to intervene on your behalf, don’t let your lusts overtake you and lead you astray.

No Conditions on God’s Love

There are so many times in life when our faith is small, our desire to do good even smaller. Friends have left us and we find ourselves feeling washed up and alone. This is the time to remember that God puts no conditions of us. His love for us is steadfast and strong. We may be wallowing in self-pity, beating ourselves up and feeling unworthy of love, but there is God loving us anyway. Hosea 14:4 “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.”

God does not stay angry at us. He, better than anyone knows how we are made. Psalm103:14 says “For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” We are dust…think about that for a minute. We like to think a little highly of ourselves, but when we put it into perspective, we have no reason to brag. It was God who formed the first man and it is God who fashions each of us in the secret place of our mother’s wombs.

So, when you have those mess ups in life whether they are large or small, try to remember that God loves you, He is right there, He never leaves us and his love is not contingent upon our always doing right and being good. He already knew when you were born that you were going to have moments of failure. In another verse, we read these comforting words. Lamentations 3:22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” God is always compassionate toward his children. Yes, we may need to be disciplined for something we have done, but it is always administered in love to grow us and show us more of his grace and mercy.

People who judge us and find us wanting probably has never taken the time to shine a light deep inside themselves because if they did they may find their own inner struggles due to decisions or actions they have made.
Just think about your own children, most of us at one time or another has had to discipline our children, sometimes pretty severely, but in doing that is it meant to crush them or teach them the error of their ways. In most cases it is administered in love, after all, they are our children and we want only good for them. Now think of that in relation to God. He created us, He has put His spirit into us and He sent his son to die for us. He most certainly will not abandon us in our hour of need or failure.

Scripture reminds us that Jesus intercedes for us. Yes, that is right, Jesus is praying for you. Wow, heart full. Jesus himself takes my name, my needs, my failures to the throne of God. How humbly and awesome is this? The enemy of our souls would have us question God’s love. He would rather have us self-focused listening to his lies telling us we are unlovable and unworthy, reliving everything wrong we have ever done or said. He cannot have our souls if we belong to Christ, so he tries to speak lies into our ear and get us inward focused. The next time you experience a failure of some kind remember these verses and let them be a soothing balm to your soul.

Romans 8:31-35 “What the, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died- more than that, who was raised to life is​ at the right hand of God and is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

So, do you understand, if you belong to Christ NOTHING, not even SELF can separate you from the love of God! Let that sink in and take heart friends, even if the world around condemns you, Christ does not. Repent and turn, he is still there with his love wide open and pouring all over you.

Yahweh Shammah

God has many names this is just one and it means “God is there,” meaning God is always present. Now, how many of us remember that on a moment by moment basis. God is present in this moment seeing and hearing all I do and say? I know there have been too many times that I have forgotten that the Lord was present with me and as a result, bad decisions were made. It keeps me honest when I remember God is right there with me in all I do. He does not take a vacation, or go to sleep. He is wide awake and watching, listening waiting to answer and help.

As a child, my life was always in turmoil. I did not have one of those fluffy great growing up experiences that most get to have. I did not get to live a carefree, have fun existence. Our home was always in an uproar, people always yelling, crying, getting into fights. Sad, but true. Because of my dad’s actions, our lives were a mess. His running around on my mother would have been enough, but the abuse we all suffered on a regular basis was overkill, or at least it seemed. A quiet night at home almost never happened. Yes, we were at church regularly. My mother played the piano and my dad would lead the choir, however, my dad had grown up in church but did not know the Lord at that time as his Savior. He was just going through the motions he had learned and was expected to. My mother was literally just trying to survive. She had to take shots to keep herself from shaking so bad when she played the piano. Yes, ours was a hard place to be.

Now I am not saying this in a complaining sense, oh no, I want to let you know that even when you are at your lowest, God is there. God was in our home, God was seeing and hearing and God was helping. Although my life was one of many tears, pain and hurt, God showed up daily in many ways. Through the kindness of neighbors, their words and actions. Through my grandparents who were rock solid in their faith and walk with the Lord. They were an extension of God’s hand to all of us and especially to me.
My grandmother put God’s word into my head and heart. She reminded me almost daily that God was with me, loved me and I could talk to him about anything, he cared. So, I did what she said. No matter how hurt I was, or how bad the thing I had to tell him, I trusted her word that he would listen and help.

I look back on that horrible time and I smile, yes, smile. I can see God in places and people that I was too young to recognize back then. I can feel him with me in my field where I would go to pray and pour out my heart and tears to him and I can feel him ministering to me, soothing my hurt and my heart. God does not always stop what is going on around us. As a matter of fact he often times sends it, not to break us into, but to bring us to himself. It is not always about us either, sometimes it is about another person involved. He alone knows his reasons and because he is God it is good. God never promised us an easy passage through life with sweet smelling aromas all around us. He has told us that we will suffer for him.
Philippians 1:29 “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake.”

We are promised we sill suffer. But this is not because God hates us or wants to crush us. People tend to think that if something bad happens to them, God must not be anywhere around. He was on vacation and unaware of their plight. God is always present, always! In all the wonderings, misbehaving and wrong choices the Israelites made in the desert, he never left them. God lead them by a cloud during the day and by fire at night. He met and spoke to them, telling them what he desired they do and not do. Today God is not leading us that way, but if you know him as Lord then his Spirit lives within you, teaching, guiding, helping. We also have his word, the Bible which is living and active and powerful. It can still change lives today. When some bad thing befalls us or happens on this earth it does not mean God was not involved. God sends both the good and the bad upon the land.

Our best defense against our own rebellious hearts is first to pray, read our Bible and do our best to walk daily with him. The second is to remember that God is with us, at every moment of our day and lives he is with us seeing and hearing. We are never, ever alone. He is so close that you should feel is presence to the point that you can almost reach out and touch him. God is Sovereign, He is in control, He is always listening, He is always available any hour of the day or night. He is God, the only true and living God and nothing is too hard for him.

I am going to leave you with some verses to remind you that God is in control and you are never alone.

God is over it all. God is in everything. I pray that you remember as you walk this earth in good and bad times, in the right choices or wrong, God is with you. You are not alone!

Isaiah 14:24 “The Lord of hosts has sworn: As I have purposed, so it will be; as I have planned it, so it will happen.”

Isaiah 46:9 “Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and no one is like Me. 10 I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will. I call a bird of prey from the east, a man for My purpose from a far country. Yes, I have spoken, so I will also bring it about. I have planned it; I will also do it.”

Jeremiah 27:5 ” By My great strength and outstretched arm, I made the earth, and the people, and the animals on the face of the earth. I give it to anyone I please.”

1 Timothy 6:15 “God will bring this about in His own time. He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.”

Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Joshua 1:9 ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:5 “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Take heart friends, he is always with you, He is in control and He will see you all the way home to that beautiful place He is preparing for you!

2 Timothy 1:12 “For this reason, I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

Everything Has The Capacity To Praise

When I was a young girl I would go for walks with my grandmother. We would often walk up the hill behind her house winding our way to an old family cemetery. We would hold hands and talk while we walked, she pointing out flowers and trees to me, bending down to smell them and sometimes picking a few for her table. As we walked, smelled and picked she would say, “do you know why everything grows up?” Now I am sure some of you are thinking about gravity etc…but her point was not a scientific one, it was to point me to Jesus. She would say, “everything grows up giving praise and honor to the Lord in the way he has designed it to do so.” I was fascinated. My mind would run away with thoughts of flowers somehow praising God and what it must look like. Did they have tiny mouths I could not see? Were trees talking with really low voices? It went on and on.

Everything does have the capacity to praise him and yes even the trees, flowers, oceans, rivers, mountains, birds, insects and the list goes on. He, after all,l is the creator of it all. His fingerprints are all over everything in this world, you, me, water, grass, clouds you name it, he made it! I loved how she saw the world, I loved how she saw glimpses of Jesus in everything. He was on her mind all the time. I try to do the same, looking at his creation and remember who made it, who is over it, who keeps it. I too have told my grandchildren that very thing, that it all grows up in praise and adoration to the one who created it.

I was reminded of it this morning as I was looking through my Bible after my
Bible study. I came across Psalm 148. I had to read it and smile. I was instantly transported back to a simple time when a small girl held the hand of a dearly loved one and walked and talked in the sunshine about Jesus. Oh, what precious memories. I am going to type it all out. I want you to absorb it, think about it and maybe be drawn a little closer to your maker today, realizing that his handprint is on everything, He is worthy of all praise and He awaits yours. You have the capacity to do it, do you? Will you?

Psalm 148

1Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. 2Praise him, all his angels, all his heavenly hosts. 3Praise him sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. 4Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. 5Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. 6He set them in place for ever and ever: he gave a decree that will never pass away. 7Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, 8lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, 9you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, 10wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, 11kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, 12young men and children. 13Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. 14He has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his saints, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the Lord.

I say Praise The Lord! Worthy is The Lamb! Honor and Glory and Majesty are His! King above all Kings, Lord of Lords, Mighty in all His ways! I worship you the Creator of everything thing. You Oh Lord, are worthy of all my praise! My Creator, My Healer, My Salvation, My Redeemer, My Soon Coming King!

Let praise and worship become a regular part of your day because when you praise The Lord, everything looks and feels a little different. The worst day can be made better by praise. Suddenly you are recentered and your outlook a little brighter. Join all creation and give up a shout of praise to the only one worthy to receive it!

What Do You Look Like?

When I ask this question I am not talking about what is on the outside, I am asking you to look deeper inside and find out who you are. What are your virtues and characteristics that make you look more like Jesus than the world? Do you have any? The beauty that God wants is not that of a person well put together, fine clothing, perfect make-up, no wrinkles, nice full lips and so on, these are the things the world looks for. My grandmother used to say that “pretty is only skin deep and beauty is found inside.”

In Colossians 3:12-15 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Too many Christians walk around trying desperately to look and act like the world so that they won’t be found out, or they just do not see that our God, a holy God desires and calls us to more and different standards of the heart and mind. When we become a “new creation” in Christ things should look different for us. As the Holy Spirit comes into us and starts to clean us up inside there should be a noticeable difference in us and the attitudes, characteristics, and virtues of the world. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look nice, I want to look nice. I like to wear pretty things, have my make-up on etc. I am talking about the inward self, the one that dictates our actions and reactions to people and the world around us. What makes us tick?

Are you compassionate towards others plights? Are you kind and gentle when dealing with family, friends, strangers? Are you patient or do you get easily frustrated with people who do not conform to your desires or do as you think they should? Are you forgiving? I think the last one is probably a stickler for many. We want to feel justified in our anger and unforgiveness. We want to let that other person know we feel wronged. It is our right after all isn’t it? No, we are never ever given permission to hold a grudge or be unforgiving. We are told to forgive as Jesus forgave us, what, you do not think you have been that bad so you have not needed too much forgiveness? Not so my friend you are in denial!

Are you a thankful person, peaceful? Too often we get caught up in life’s rifts and try to shove our opinions down others throats just like the secular world tries to do every day on the news and radios and just in life. They are right you are wrong. If you do not think like them then there is something wrong with you. Our standards of thought and our actions should be dictated by what God’s word says, not even by how our hearts feel (Jeremiah 17:9) we cannot trust our hearts, and certainly not what the world thinks.

Are you a thankful person, not taking for granted the good things that may come your way and just your daily needs being supplied? Just because someone does not live at the level that you do either the same, higher or lower does not mean you are more special to God than the other person, or smarter or anything else. God gives and God takes away. God chooses who he will bless and who he will curse. Your life has been planned before you were born and maybe for some, this is your heaven. Something to think about!

God desires that we have all of these virtues, but there is one that is prized and more important than all the others and really without it you will not have those other virtues because this binds them all together. Do you “LOVE?” Love binds them into perfect unity. Love covers a multitude of sins, love motivates us to be peaceful, thankful, gentle, patient and on and on. Love is God’s heartbeat for us and love is what he wants us to have and put on display at every opportunity we have. Love for God first, family, friends, strangers, the cranky sales clerk, the hateful person in line, those less fortunate than us, even our enemies. Love, Love, Love.

When you look into yourself what do you see? Is love the extra heartbeat you hear inside that goes right along beside your heartbeat of life. Is love what wakes you up and drives all you do and say? Love acts, Love forgives, Love does not count the cost, Love helps and gives, Love waits and is kind, Love is patient, Love wins over everything! 1 Corinthians 13:8 ” Love never fails.” Love is beauty in action, Love inside a person instantly makes the person more attractive. Love shows itself in our faces and our actions.

Yes, I want to look nice while out roaming the world going about my daily activities, but more than anything I want to look like Jesus the one who has called me from the grave and saved me. I want his radiance to shine forth from my heart so brightly that shows up on my face. I want his beauty over the beauty of the world. When love moves us and motivates us all else will fall into place, we will find ourselves being more patient, forgiving, kind and so on. God’s beauty far outshines and outweighs the worlds. The world’s beauty eventually fades. There are not enough procedures and tricks to cover an aging body, eventually, the evidence that you have grown old shows up and sometimes because of all that we have done to try and prevent growing old, not being attractive can cause us to look even worse.

Well, I will leave you with this question: Who and what do you want to look like?

Don’t Be Cut Off…Assemble Together

Ephesians 3:16-20 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us., 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever Amen.

In these passages, we see that we have access to the power found for believers in Jesus Christ in the Spirit. The Spirit is able to strengthen us. We are told to be rooted and grounded and established in love. The next verse is what I want to focus on mostly, it reads: “may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” We as the body of Christ need to be together. We were not meant to be an island out there somewhere figuring it out as we go. We were are encouraged to assemble ourselves together and when we do there is power there for each. We are strengthened through the common bond of fellowship and prayers for one another.

When we are born-again we do not automatically think all pure thoughts, we don’t always stop doing those things that are un-Christlike. Have there been people so immediately transformed that their lives were a complete 360, yes, but few. Most of us it is a process of repenting, surrendering, learning and growing. The Spirit comes in when we are saved and starts the process of cleaning us up. Revealing and teaching truth to us. When we are with other believers we can see by example how we ought to live. We can listen to how God has strengthened and helped them and it grows and helps establish our faith. We see we are not alone in our struggles, our sin, our hopes, and desires, we are like minded. We also have others whose walks are further along than ours to help us and pray for and with us. WE NEED THE FELLOWSHIP WITH LIKE MINDED PEOPLE. If you continue to hang with the same crowd who are doing the same thing chances are you will not have an influence on them, however, they may keep you in a place of struggle. Do you stop loving them, no? Do you stop showing up to help them in time of need, no? But, you should separate yourself to the degree that you no longer regularly participate in things that are displeasing to the Lord.

In Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are int he habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

What Day is this passage talking about? That Day when the clouds will split, the trumpet will sound and the Lord himself will return to this earth to take His own and establish His Kingdom. We need to be ready, we do not know the day or the hour of his return. The scripture tells us that he will come as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) & (Revelation 16:15.) Are you ready?

What are you devoting yourself to that keeps you from getting with other believers? Where do you go when life gets overwhelming? Is your walk so self-centered that you just cannot bring yourself to church or is it that you feel you can go this life alone, you do not need others prayers, you prefer to hang with folks that you see as more fun? We were never meant to be an island, we need connections with like-minded people in our lives. Together we have power in our worship, in our prayers, in our walk, and in our faith.

Acts 2:42 “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Getting together is God’s idea. If it is God’s idea it is a great idea and there are reasons that he knows as to why we should gather together. I want whatever God wants for me. I tried going it alone once, I can tell you it ended really badly! Worst idea ever! I stopped asking for prayer, I stopped reading my Bible, I stopped worshipping with other believers, I stopped wanting to go to church. Why? My heart had left its first love and I was following it. When you are isolated and alone you are in grave danger of the enemy. Oh, he cannot steal your salvation, but he can torment your mind, whisper lies in your ear and you soon find yourself turning to listen. This warning in 1 Peter 5:8 is something we all need to keep in our minds, not out of fear, but as a reminder that we need to be strengthened and surrounded by God’s people, alert and not focused on self and worldly and activities. “Be alert and of sober mind. your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

If for some reason you have left the church or you have never committed to going, you need to! It is good for your soul, good for your growth, good for your faith and good for your spirit. My happiest times are when I am in church surrounded by like-minded believers worshipping the God who has saved me and called me his own, it really does not get any better than that! They are family and my heart is made better by being with them!

As we used to chant when I was a child… “try it you will like it, take a tip from me, I tried it I liked it…He is the victory.”

Blessings as you walk this earth, may your faith be strengthened, and your spirit made strong together.

Check Your Heart

So often we see people who have been raised in homes where the parents were faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Born again believers. Their steadfast love of God pours out to everyone they come in contact with especially their family members. This is great, but all too often the children grow up thinking that because their parents are Christians and they have been raised in a Christian home that they are Christians. Like somehow it rubbed off on them and nothing else is required. These people go about life with a false sense of being okay with God. Often times their lives certainly do not bear witness to a new man. They live just like the world going an doing all the things the unsaved do, or maybe they appear to be doing all things right. Here is the problem, God looks on our hearts. He knows, even when no one else does, he sees.

I understand how there are times when we ourselves do not have a solid faith of our own in Jesus Christ so we ride on the coattails so to speak of those in our lives who do. I myself did that as a child. I was living in a situation of abuse and I was confused and hurt most of the time. Although my parents went to church, ours was not a Godly home full of love, it was more a place to survive. However, my grandparents were Godly folks. Their walk and their talk matched up. I was particularly close to my grandmother. Her Christlike love for everyone she came in contact with poured into me. Although she was unaware of the abuse, she sensed that I needed extra love on a regular basis and gave it out freely.

When I was troubled I would go to her, ask her questions without really revealing my need to know why and she would always answer from God’s word. She would encourage me to talk to Jesus about anything and everything that worried me, so I did. It was when I talked to him that my riding on her coattails showed up. I would say things like, “God, my Mamaw says that you can do anything, my Mamaw says, that I need to forgive and love.” I did not know how to pray and ask, so I just told God what she had said and I believed she was right. But that did not save me. I needed my own relationship with Jesus. I could say all the right things, but I did not know Jesus for myself. I just had a head knowledge going on.

I can tell you that when I felt God tugging at my heartstrings one Sunday when I was about nine years old, I thought my heart would burst it was pounding so hard. I had been riveted by the message that day, staring at the Pastor even leaning in to hear good. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt God was asking me to step out in faith and trust him with my life. Sweaty palms, fast heartbeat, knees knocking as soon as the invitation was given I went up. My pastor met me and leaned low and he said to me, “I knew this was your day, I could see it in your face.” He did not discourage my young heart, but confirmed what I already knew, Jesus, had called my name!

Has my walk and talk always been perfect, no it has not, but when it has been outside of what God says is good and right he has reigned me in, sometimes gently and at other times more severly, Always teaching and showing me the error of my ways and the sin that needs to be cleaned out. See, being born again is a supernatural work of the Lord, and when it happens you know it, your spirit bears witness to that change and believe me there is one. As we walk this earth our lives should mirror the life of Jesus as much as it can. We should bear fruit, spiritual fruit that is exhibited in our daily lives, no words needed.

Look at these verses and see if there is an Amen in your mouth to them. Ask God to shine a light deep into your heart and soul and reveal whether or not you truly know him as Lord or if you are riding on the coattail of someone in your life. Believing you are saved yet never accepting Jesus for yourself. Someone else’s faith will only get you so far in life, and will not get you anywhere in death! It does not matter how good you have been, how many committees you have sat on, how much money you have made, who you know, what you do, eat, read etc. It only matters that you have been born-again and know that Jesus Christ is your only hope. Do not risk it, if you cannot say with full assurance that Jesus is your Savior, then you need to repent and be saved. Ask him to save you and he will! Your mother’s faith or the faith of anyone else will not rub off on you and get you to heaven. You need your own personal relationship with the Lord.

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”

Romans 10:9-10 says “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus, is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Romans 10:13 “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 6:37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

I would encourage you, parents that you always teach your children that they themselves need to know Jesus, they need to hear the word, they need to know they are sinners, they need a relationship yours will not take them to heaven! My grandmother always said that I needed to know Jesus, she could help me, but He alone could save me. She shared her beliefs, shared scripture, told me all about her relationship and pointed the way. My heart was ready, He called, I answered.