Troubled Minds or God’s Peace?

In these unprecedented times, we are experiencing our hearts and minds can wander into deep and troubled waters. Anxiety rises and depression and fear seize us. Some are listening to the news constantly and with each newscast, their fears and anxiety rise. They are wondering what is next? What else will close, will I lose my job, how will I feed my family, what if, what if, what if? Even sleep eludes. Even some Christians are listening more to the news than they are the Holy Spirit. This is where we need to take our thoughts captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” It is possible to halt our thought process to choose to think about something else. We need to fill our minds and hearts with God’s word and remember who He is in these troubling times. When we ask him to help us to turn from troubling thoughts he will. And yes, maybe you will have to ask a hundred times a day until your mind settles, but God is faithful and hears your sincere cries for help.

When we do reign in our thoughts, what should we think about? How about these things: (Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think such things.”) Wow, here is our answer. After we take our wild thoughts captive these are the things we need to set before our minds. These are the things we need to focus on. If you go to the word of God and start reading, you will find the truth, things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. God’s word is not just a collection of stories for late-night reading, God’s word is life, It has the power to save souls, change hearts and calm minds. (Hebrews 4:12 “For God’s word is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even tom the division of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”)

I understand why non-Christians listen to the news, it is their truth. But for believers, we need to look to scripture not just in good times, but particularly in hard times. God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and light to our paths. God’s word speaks the truth. It tells us what to watch for as the day of the Lord approaches. It gives us insight and wisdom, it reminds us of God’s promises and faithfulness to his own. God tells us that he will never leave us or forsake us, (Deuteronomy 31:6, Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5-6, Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10) These are just some of the verses that remind us that God is with us, we can trust him with our souls and our lives. He is using this time to strengthen your faith, to draw you into a closer fellowship with him. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We all know that the news outlets report the news in a way that will get them the most listeners. I feel the truth is not their main goal. The enemy of your soul will use the news and whatever means available to him to spread lies, to stretch the truth. Yes, we need to obey the leadership, take precautions and do all the right things, but in it all, we need to search scripture and see what sayeth the Lord!

If we ask he will answer. When we choose to take our thoughts captive and to listen to His word, His promises more than what man says, I believe the “Peace of God” will invade your heart and your mind. We may not know when this will end or how it will end. We do not know will it get worse before it is better, we do not know all the “what if” answers, but our Sovereign Lord does. I say again, “lean in” He can not only hold you up, but he can also lift your spirits until you are soaring on wings of peace even in the midst of the storm. Let Jesus be your guide. Let his word light your path, let the joy of the Lord resound in your soul and look up, your redemption draweth nigh!

Do you want a troubled mind or God’s peace? I know what I choose!

Wisdom, Discipline, Love, and Blessings

Proverbs 3:1-8, 11-14
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. 3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust int he Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil, 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. 13 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.”

We need to have love and faithfulness. Both these characteristics have action and attitude attached to them. We must not only believe the truth of God’s word, but we must act on it daily. We need to do those things that please the Lord, we need to love one another and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, help those in need without desiring a pat on the back or some sort of compensation. We do all we do “as unto the Lord.” We can have an attitude of love and faithfulness, but our actions do not line up with it. Both go hand in hand, when someone is with you, do they see both of these characteristics working together in attitude and action? If not, you need to ask yourself why and ask God how to remedy the situation. In these difficult days, we find ourselves in these to things should be evident in our lives toward our own families and anyone else God sends our way.

When we lean in to something it implies our entire weight has been put on it. We are resting and trusting in whatever it is to hold us up. Often times especially in difficult ones we often feel there is no one to lean on or trust, sometimes we feel that way about God. What is he up to? Does he really care about me? Can he truly help me? Why is he so quiet? God already knows how you feel and he understands our human hearts and how fickle they can be especially when being tried or disciplined. He has a great track record of faithfulness. He who created it all including your heart knows better than we, just what we need. We need to use our brains that God gifted us with to make good decisions and these decisions need to be covered in prayer. A good example: “STAY HOME!” Unless you need to get essentials, do not gather with anyone other than those you are already sheltering with. Our government has given us guidelines to keep us safe and I believe those guidelines are what God impressed upon them to give. God is in charge of it all, not man.
Any decision they make is filtered through our loving Father’s hands. I dare say for our good and his glory.

We need to stop thinking “we know best!” We do not know everything. We get conflicting information constantly. Ask God to give you wisdom. First to fully know and understand his word and then to know how we ought to behave and act in times like these. If you ask, he will answer. He will take that brain that he formed and let it fire in all the right ways to give you the right answer. He can do that you know!

Maybe God has sent this or allowed it for our good. As his children, we need to be disciplined, not because he wants to harm us, but because he loves us. Our behavior and attention have gone to all the wrong things. We have set up idols in our lives, things we put before him. God is teaching us and training us. His love compels him to oftentimes discipline his children, just like we as parents have to discipline ours when we see they are on a wrong path or their behavior dictates it. Unlike some people all of God’s discipline comes from a loving Father, he gives just the right amount. If he did not love us, we would be in big trouble! He delights in his children and preparing you for heaven is His business.

Scriptures tell us of the importance of wisdom and understanding. She is more profitable than silver or gold. We need God’s wisdom to live these days. We need God’s wisdom to understand the scriptures, to know how to pray, how to answer man. We need to let wisdom dictate our actions rather than our emotional hearts and minds. After all, scripture tells us our hearts are deceitful above all else. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it?” Our hearts are an obstacle to overcome. We cannot trust our “hearts” to make the right decision, but we can trust God’s word to guide us into the right decisions and actions. When we read it and ask for understanding, wisdom will flood your soul.

There is NEVER a time when God is not in control, NEVER! He is SOVEREIGN over it all. Seek his counsel and you may find that obeying man’s laws is not so hard when you know the one telling them what to do! I strive to know him. I read and pray to know he who died for me. I want to live a life worthy, not because my actions get me into heaven, but because God tells me to love, forgive, give, obey and so much more. I want to live my life to please HIM, no one else. I want to see his face one day whether he takes me in death or returns to take his own. I want to see Jesus, I want to be his hands and feet on this earth. I want to be obedient to do and say those things he tells me to. I want my actions and my attitudes to match. I want God’s blessings in my life…I want more of Him and less of me. Do you?

Our Pastor always gives us this advice and it is solid. Read and pray, pray and read, repeat. Since you are stuck at home, today would be a great day to start!

For Such A Time As This

What Time? Never before have we walked this particular way. Never before have we seen the shutting down of business because of a “germ.”
Our world does not know who to believe, and some refuse to believe and continue on their way as if nothing has happened, and nothing needs to change. But I believe God is calling out to us, no only to His children but to the entire world. He is saying “Look up!” To His children, He is saying, “your redemption draweth nigh, and to the unbeliever, He is saying, “your time for repentance is drawing short.” God is longsuffering, otherwise he would have destroyed us a long time ago. (2 Peter 3:9) “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God still has those left in this world who He has named from the foundation of the world, He is calling out, “Come to me.”

We as believers need to pray that those sheep who have yet to come into the pen, will come to Him. That they will hear the call of the Savior and come running to the cross of forgiveness and grace. In times of trouble just as in times of harvest and blessing we have a “Strong Tower” to run to. Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, and King. If you have not searched your own heart to see if there is any sin, any hidden sin that you are holding onto or anything that displeases God now is the time to do it. Each of us needs to search our hearts. Is it possible to have hidden sin? Yes, (Psalm 90:8 “You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.”) (Psalm 19:12 “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.”) We need to let the light of His word shine deep into our secret places and dislodge anything that is not pleasing to the Lord. We need repentance to overtake us. And the only way to know what pleases him is to read his word and seek him in prayer.

I believe there is know better time than during this time of isolation from the things of this world that hold us captive. The shiny bobbles of this life that entrap us and distract us without our even knowing it. We get lured into things, people, places, stuff that keep us feeling “less than.” We know on some level God does not like it, but we reason it away by saying, “at least I don’t do this, or it isn’t as bad as so and so.” God wants you! All of you! He wants you to lay down everything that could hinder you and your prayers. When we do this purging of self and we come before the throne of God humble and open, He hears us. We need God to hear us now! We need to be the light in this madness and darkness. Our lights need to shine brighter than the darkness! And we need to pray for those who do not know the Lord as Savior. We need to stop being political and start praying fervently for our leaders, starting with our President on down.

Maybe you do not like him, and would rather see him fail. But if he does well, we do well. If he listens to the Lord it benefits us. Even if he is not “a born-again believer” and I certainly do not know his heart, God has placed in him in this position of authority, God decided he was the man of the hour, the one to be in power during this crisis in our nation. (Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained by God.”) God directs all that he does or does not do. God never said you had to like it, but he did tell us to pray for those in power.
( 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people, 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”)

This “time” we are in can be one filled with worry, anger, accusations, fear, self-service or it can be used as a time of personal repentance, supplication and prayers for our leaders, for unbelievers to come to repentance and salvation, giving, joy, expectancy, faith, a smile, reading God’s word. And the lists can go on and on. We as a nation have done everything in our power to remove God from the equation, but you see, you cannot! God is, has always been and will always be. He created all that we see and know. He holds it all in place. He is: “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He is the author of it all, is it time for him to enter the room, if it is, you better be ready!

We need to use our time digging into his word, rediscovering those things that please Him. We find what pleases Him by reading his word. Here is an example of what pleases God. (Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”) (Ephesians 5:8-10 “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”) (2 Corinthians 5:9 “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.”) These are just a few. If you read His word it will renew a right spirit in you, it will shine a light in those hidden areas and you will find yourself desiring new things, things pleasing to Him. We “the church” need to look more like the Savior and less like the world.”

So, “Such a time as this” is our time to rise up, repent and then go to the “throne of grace” and plead for our nation, our leaders and those who do not know him. Let joy rise in your soul as you remember “who it is you serve” and “who it is that holds all things.” We can trust our Savior, He has a record of being faithful even in our unfaithfulness. He is our help, “MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD!” This pandemic will either drive you to your knees and personal revival and growth, or it will reveal that you have not known him fully “and now is the time”, or it will drive you further away, fearing that all is lost and life as you know it will never be the same and you will perish in your trespasses and sin. Because here is truth: YOU ARE EITHER A CHILD OF GOD OR YOU ARE NOT. THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND. NOW IS THE TIME TO BE SURE OF YOUR SALVATION. Now is the time to search your heart. Who knows maybe the last “sheep” will come home and we will see Jesus soon! Wouldn’t that be a great end to our Pandemic!

Pray for one another, be the change, let it start with you and spread like a wildfire across the hearts of many. You can make a difference to someone today, ask God how and then act on it. But more than that let “the light of Christ” shine forth from you. Shout Jesus from every avenue you can, He really is the answer to every questioned asked.

Blessings to you!

Nothing Is Too Hard For God…Nothing!

We are all experiencing to some degree a first in how we operate in our daily living. This Pandemic (Covid-19) (Coronavirus) has people sheltering in place the body of Christ no longer able to assemble as one in a church building. We are having to remain apart from family and friends. Some people are alone with no one else in the home where they are isolated. People are anxious and scared about all the unknowns. What if I get sick or someone I love gets sick, what if the food supply gets to low for cities to feed the people, what if I lose my job, what if?

Also, people are thinking that things are out of control, the President and leaders are not making the right decisions, health care workers seem to be giving conflicting information. Every day something has changed. Your fear begins to mount, your anxiety takes deep roots. You are feeling desperate like it is all out of control, stop! I want to remind you of something, pay close attention because this really is what matters the most in your thinking. Are you ready? Here it is: “God is Sovereign” He is in control, there is NOTHING too hard for him, (Jeremiah 32:17.) He is working it all out. He is aware and is allowing everything that is going on in our world. He orders our steps. (Proverbs 16:9.) He is in charge of the President, medical workers and you! (Romans 13:1-2) (Daniel 2:37-38)

There has never been a time when His children have cried out to Him that He has not answered. Oh, sure sometimes He says wait, sometimes no, and sometimes yes. But he hears our cries for help.(Psalm 34:17) (Proverbs 15:29) (1 John 5:14-15) (Matthew 21:22) (1 Peter 3:12) He sees inside of us all the way through to our very soul and spirit. He knows just how much faith we have and just how much fear we have. And, He is in our midst. We are never alone, we will never be forsaken, He is our Father, our Savior, our High Tower, our Rock, and Redeemer. (Deuteronomy 31:6) (Deuteronomy 31:8) (Joshua 1:9) (1 Chronicles 28:20)
(Isaiah 41:10) (Matthew 28:20) (Psalm 18:1-3) (2 Samuel 22:2)
Getting back to “there is NOTHING too hard for God. As I was reading in Joshua about how the Lord went before them and He one the battles for His children. He opened the waters that were before them on more than one occasion. He allowed just a few to conquer thousands. He fed His children in the desert for forty years and supplied them with water. Their clothing did not fall apart, their shoes stayed in good condition. All their needs were met. (Exodus 16:35 )(Deuteronomy 29:5) All these things He did for His children. But when I was reading I saw these verses and I felt I needed to share them with you. Joshua and God’s people were in a battle and Joshua had this request: (Joshua 10:12-14) “Then Joshua spoke to the Lord int he day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashor? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.”

The same God who listened to Joshua, who parted waters, fed thousands, also kept the Sun and Moon from moving. This God who created everything we see is the same God who today is allowing us to walk this path. He is the same God today that He was then. His Sovereignty has not changed. He was with His children then and He is with us now. He is allowing it for purposes beyond what we can know and understand, Nothing is out of control, Nothing can happen without His say so. He is holding all things and He is holding you! There is not anything He cannot do, NOTHING is too hard for him! So, knowing all this what should we be doing? How about this: (Chronicles 7:14 “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

I say let fear and anxiety have its place…(on the back burner) and let faith rise up inside of you! Remember who you belong to, seek Him daily, purge yourself of any sin you know of and cry out to the heavens, and He will hear! His word tells us He will here. Remember God is always in control, He is always working for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)
We can trust that the same God who did all these marvelous things for His people then, can certainly do all we need for us now.

I pray that you stay strong, you keep your eyes on Jesus, you read and pray and then pray and read and you let faith speak louder than fear and you remember who it is we serve. He is our SOON COMING KING!

Blessings from me to you!

What To Do?

We find ourselves living out a scenario that we have not seen before, or at least in my lifetime, and I am in my fifties. Some people are reacting with knee jerk reactions, grabbing stuff off the shelves with no thought for their fellow man. It is every man or woman for themselves! Schools are shut down, grocery shelves are empty, and people are having to stay away from their work environment, social distancing is a thing now. There are different reports as to how long this may last. Some say for a couple of weeks and still, others say it could be months.

 

Many are living in fear of the what if’s, what if I get sick, what if my child gets sick, what if someone I love dies from this illness called Covid-19? How will I know if I have it or have been exposed? The list is endless. People suddenly think it is a good idea to sanitize or wash their hands regularly, um I did not know that was not a common practice among so many.

 

For me I find myself desiring to lean in a little closer, listen more intently for the Holy Spirit’s voice of peace, comfort, and guidance. I want to know what my Bible, God’s holy inspired word has to say to me. His word is still living and active, it still has the power to save, to heal to teach. So, I go to his word to find what he tells me to do and in it, I find these words.

 

2 Chronicles 7:13-14 “When I shut up the heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among  My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

 

What is it this verse tells us to do in times of trouble? Humble ourselves before God. In a generation that is all about me and full of pride and arrogance, this is a hard one. And then we are to pray, to seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. Can you think of some of the wickedness of our generation that is pretty much everywhere? I can…here are just a few, “abortions, homosexuality, gluttony, idols, pornography, sex-trafficking…and the list goes on.  This society thinks it can do as it pleases and still go to heaven, wrong!

 

What else does the word tell me?  In Isaiah 43:1 “Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”  Our Father in heaven tells us over 80 times in scripture to “have no fear.” How can we not fear? We can remember “who” we belong to. We can trust that He is always with us, He will never leave us or forsake us.” Joshua 1:5

 

What should we do when we feel afraid? Psalm 56:3 says: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” It really is that simple. We can trust God. The very same God who hangs the sun in the sky gives us air to breathe, the God who holds all things together is able to keep us as we go through not only this pandemic, but anything that comes to us in this life.

 

If that scripture is not enough how about this one: Philippians 4:6-7 ” Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  I like knowing that God cand and will guard not only my heart but my mind. People we can have peace in our hearts and minds no matter what the news people tell us!!

 

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So, for those of you all up in a tizzy wondering what tomorrow will bring. Relax, God’s got this, as a matter of fact, He is allowing it to happen. God is Sovereign over every single thing that happens on this earth. Nothing is ever a surprise to him or outside of his control. He is God!

 

My personal thoughts for what it is worth that just as our Pastor and others have said, “we are on pause.” We do not know what tomorrow or next week will bring, but for those of us who know Jesus, we know who holds all our tomorrows. And I go back to what God says we should do, and it is this. Humble yourself. Repent from your sins, ask for forgiveness for yourselves for known and unknown sins, but also ask for our nation. Ask for forgiveness for how our country has taken God out of everything.

It is funny how no one wants God all up in their business until they find they are in desperate need of Him, that life has thrown them a curveball and they are not sure what to do next. Pray people, Repent people, humble yourselves, people, seek God, lean in, listen close and rest in Jesus.

 

I will leave you with a few more scriptures. I hope you will look them up, read them for yourselves and let faith, not fear rise up in you!

 

Luke 12:22-26

Psalm 27:1

Psalm 55:22

Mark 4:39-40

Romans 8:38-39

Zephaniah 3:17

Psalm 91:1-16

 

If you do not know him as your Lord and Savior, now would be a great time to ask Him into your heart. He is able to save anyone no matter what they have done, or how many times they have done it. He is waiting at the door of your heart, will you open it and let Him come in?

What Kind of Soil Are You?

Luke 8:5-8 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still, other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 8:11-15 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God, 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing, they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on the good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
These passages should make us stop and look inward. So many people who are going through the motions of belief. There is no fertile soil for the crop to grow. There are a lot of people who simply do not and will not believe the gospel, and these passages tell us exactly what happens. The devil our adversary comes and before anything can take root he snatches the seed (word of God) from their hearts. There was no time for the seed to settle and begin to grow. The devil is always out stalking his prey, looking for those he can trip up, steal from. He is crafty in his approaches. These people are (Path) people of the story.

We next move onto the Rock people. In this case, the seed falls on the rocky ground. These people hung around Jesus, followed him and listened to what he said, like many people today, they come to church, sit on the pews, hear the word, enjoy “church folk ” and move on. It isn’t that they do not believe it is true, they simply choose not to act on it, therefore leaving them in an unsaved condition. It isn’t enough to be joyful in the hearing and know it is true if we do not act on the truth.

We then move to people who are “Thorn Patch” people. These are the ones who hear the word, they know it is true, but life hands them worries and challenges that steal and kill the seed that they had received. The lure of materialism chokes out what they have heard. They have no room for God because of all the other junk that they have and worry about. Their lives are so full that God is left out and never thought about. They cannot see their need for him.

Lastly, we come to the “Good Soil” folks. These are the ones who have heard the word and received it with gladness. They follow Jesus no matter what life hands them. Through trials and testing, joy and sorrow they persevere and continue in the faith. Life cannot do anything to them to make them turn away from the life-giving salvation found in Jesus. Theirs is genuine faith, with roots that run deep into their hearts and souls. These folks hear the word and it stays with them, growing, shaping and growing them as they traverse this life with all it gives them. And as they continue in the faith not only does the seed (word) grow, it becomes this huge crop. Their foundation is sure, their hearts are steady, their faith unwavering.

So, what kind of soil are you? I pray you are the fertile soil, you have heard the word and believed and your roots are deep and watered often. (Read and pray)
Maybe you find yourself in one of the other categories, today could be the day of salvation for you. Look deep into your heart, do you believe, or are you simply going through the motions of a believer, church attendance, or maybe you think that just being around “church folks” will cut it, sadly my friend that is a lie? No one else can save you, it does not rub off on you if you hang with the right crowd. No one can repent of your sins, no one else can ask Jesus into your heart. This is a very personal act that you do alone. The place is not important, your sincerity is! And Jesus knows if you are sincere. Nothing you do can save you, it is not about being good enough or doing a certain act to be saved.

Jesus took our sin on the cross, we could not save ourselves. He was sinless and became sin for you and I.

Romans 10:9-10 “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.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 ” For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

God’s Tools

As I was reading my Bible study, I came across the passage where Joseph was making himself known to his brothers (Genesis 45:4-8) who had sold him to some Ishmaelites as a slave because of their extreme jealousy of him, and his father’s love for him. Sometime later he was taken to Egypt, where he was rapidly promoted and eventually found himself a servant in Potiphar’s house.

 

His brothers had intended to get rid of Joseph, they had put blood all over his robe, and told his father he had been attacked and killed.  They never thought they would see him again.  Can you imagine being so filled with jealousy that you would sell a loved one to strangers with no thought to their well being?   Their actions were not only unloving but right down cruel and evil. Imagine the pain their father felt when he heard the news. His grief was great.

 

It is interesting how God used Joseph, and was with Joseph in every moment of his captivity. He put him into positions of power and prospered him. Yes, he was also put into prison after being falsely accused of trying to sleep with Potiphar’s wife, but even then, scripture tells us that God was with him, and put him into a position of authority as the prison administrator. Joseph was in prison a long time, he could have whined and complained, but instead trusted God and pointed others to God in the things he did. He was asked to interpret some dreams and he quickly said that he alone could not, but God could. Because of this ability, he eventually was released from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dream.

 

Pharaoh had a dream involving fatted cows and very thin ugly cows, he wanted to know what the dream meant. Joseph again told him God would give the interpretation, and God did. It was about seven years of prosperity and seven years of famine and drought. Joseph said the Pharaoh needed someone to prepare for the drought to come. Pharaoh decided that Joseph was the best man for the job, suddenly Joseph went from prison walls to palace living and was made second in the land only to the Pharaoh.

 

The dream of seven years of prosperity and seven years of drought and famine came true as Joseph had interpreted. He saved food and prepared for the seasons of famine. During this time, his father and brothers found themselves in need of food and after hearing there was food in Egypt the boys went to buy grain and other needed items.  (Genesis-Chapters 37-45)

 

 

Now we have come to the verses I was speaking about in the first paragraph, Genesis 45:4-8.  “Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.”  When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping, 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”  Joseph could have stayed angry and refused to see the bigger picture. After all, he had been the one sold and taken away from all he had known. He was the one who had been put into prison, but Joseph saw the hand of God in it all. The bigger picture was greater and far more important than the one right in front of him, the life he was living. Yes, it seemed unfair and hard. I am sure he experienced every emotion under the sun, but he did not complain, he did his best in every situation and waited to see what God would do. He realized that his brothers were tools for God and that he too was a tool God used.

 

His understanding came to full fruition upon seeing his brothers. He knew then that God had done a great thing for not only his father and brothers but for himself.  It was a full-circle moment for Joseph. All the years of longing for his family were suddenly gone.  They came and lived in the land near to Joseph and all their needs were supplied.  God used their wicked intent for Joseph’s good, their good and his glory.  Wow!

 

Maybe you find yourself in a tough situation. It does not seem fair and more things are going wrong than right. Are you whining and complaining or are you doing your best while you wait on God? Often we want instant answers to life’s upsets. We want the valley experience to end so we can climb to the top of the mountain and survey our kingdom so to speak. The waiting can be hard, confusing, tiring and so many other emotions.  Maybe just maybe it isn’t about you only. It is rarely only about us. God’s ways are so much higher than ours and there is always a bigger picture at work. Maybe you will get to see the outcome and have full understanding like Joseph and his brothers and maybe not.  God does not owe us an understanding of his plans, but often he allows us to know or at least see glimpses of it.

 

I am in a season of waiting right now. Things seem to be dragging along at a snail’s pace. I want to make it happen on my timeframe, some days I feel impatient and then God gently reminds me to sit back, wait, watch, listen and trust him. He is God, nothing is too hard for Him and He will work it out in such a way that He alone gets all the glory, honor and praise. I am confident that the season I find myself in is not just about me. I pray daily that God helps me to wait patiently, expectantly and hopeful in all that He is doing. I know at the very moment that  He has determined everything will fall into place and the time I have spent waiting will be just a memory.  But I want to lean in close and learn while I am here. I want to do my best while waiting and I want others to see Jesus in me while I trudge through the muck and mire. I was telling someone just yesterday (Sunday) that although things are not as I want and there have been some new snags to plans, I will smile, sing and praise my heart out knowing that God has it all. After all, there is not a better way to spend my time than with Him, His word and the sweet presence of His spirit each day.

 

He will work it out…I will see the goodness of God and maybe if I am lucky I will get a glimpse of the why, if not, it does not matter, God’s ways are perfect and I can trust all that He does!

 

Blessings to you as you journey on….maybe you too are a tool God is using in the bigger picture!

Use What You Have

In Acts 9:36-41 about a woman named Tabitha (Dorcas). She was always doing good, making clothing for those in need and helping the poor however she could. She became sick and died, her body was washed and placed in a room. All the people who knew her and had been blessed by her help were crying and mourning their loss. When they heard Peter was near they sent for him and asked him to come quickly. When Peter arrived he was taken to the room where Tabitha (Dorcas) was. Everyone was showing him the robes and clothing she had made and given them, overwhelmed with grief. Peter sent everyone out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. He looked at Tabitha (Dorcas) and said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes and everyone rejoiced greatly at her being made alive.

As amazing as this story is in the raising of someone dead, I want to focus on what it was about Tabitha (Dorcas) that made her so special and loved by so many. Tabitha (Dorcas) used the talents she had been given to help in the way she knew she was gifted to make the lives of others better. She did not go look for another gift, something that maybe seemed greater to others, she simply went about using her “God-given” talents to help and show love. Have you ever desired to be more talented in another area rather than the one God gave you? We are all made unique and it takes all of us to make this world function and move forward.

There are many things I wish I could do, but the truth is I am not gifted in those areas. I am happy to help out and learn from others, but where I excel is in serving, cleaning, homemaking, encouragement & prayer. I call it the grunt-work category. It does not bring all the glory my way, I am not held up and marveled at, but I know that the gifts I bring can help in many situations. I can make someone else’s job easier by being a behind the scenes person. I love people, all people. Small, large, happy, cranky, funny, grouchy, red, yellow, black or white. It does not matter. Everyone brings something different to the table and each of us is made better and stronger by the encounter if we take the time to look and listen.

My daughter always says she likes my helping with parties because I follow directions well, I do what I am told quickly and efficiently. I do not try to talk her out of what she has planned, I just do as I am told the way I am told and try to make her job easier, effortless; and when it is all over I am the first to jump in and clean it up. Getting my hands dirty does not hurt my feelings. I always say working up a good sweat is good for you. I volunteer at my church helping in the setting up for dinners and the teardown. If I am asked an opinion I give it, but otherwise, I just do as I am told and I am happy to do it. I am a good multitasker, which is also a great help.

My gifts may not seem like they are very glamorous and in truth, they aren’t, but they matter greatly to God. He is the one who gifted me with these particular gifts and gives me the privilege to do them often. I love doing those things he brings my way and I always remember that the gifts I am are from him and I do them for him. It brings a certain amount of joy to know that my “Father” is watching and making sure my attitude and my heart are in the right place. As long as he gives me health in my body and breathes in my lungs I will do those things with my gifts he gives me to do and I will do them with joy in my heart and a smile on my face.

If you are not sure what gifts you have prayed about it. God will reveal those areas that he has gifted you in and can open up ways for you to do them. One of my greatest joys is serving my husband. I love to fix his meals, lay out his clothes and keep our home nice so that it is a haven of rest for him after a long day’s work. Maybe it seems silly to some, but I feel it honors the Lord when I honor my husband and care for those things he has given us.

I pray that if you currently are enjoying the gifts that
God has given you that you do them with a new understanding of who gave them to you, who is watching you as you do them and you will purpose to please him in all you do! You may not be brought back to life, but you will be most blessed by a God who sees and loves when his children do all he has given us to do.

Blessings!

Why We Must Be Filled

 

So often hear of those who have been among us in church or even people we know and are around. They take great pains to live good lives.  Everyone says, “hey do you know so and so, isn’t she/he a great person?” I never see her/him do anything wrong, and I never hear a bad thing come out of her mouth.  I know in the past she/he had several problems and was always hanging with the wrong crowd, but not anymore, she/he turned her/his life around. Everyone agrees “she/he is doing well.”

 

Time goes by and you start hearing little murmurings that things are not going to well anymore for this person. Not only are they back doing the things they did before, but worse things. They seem to have lost their mind and their way. Why? What happened. They seemed so determined to live a better life. They seemed to be headed in the right direction.

 

Does any of this sound familiar? I have known people like that. One minute, their lives are all apart and then they seem to be doing things write. Everything is falling into place for them and everyone breathes a sigh of relief.  And just as I applauded the good news, someone tells me of a prayer need, this person seems to have gone back into their old lifestyle or worse.

 

Well, I can tell you the why behind it and in saying that I can tell you what goes wrong, do you want to know?  Let me first give you some scriptures to think on, they are found in Luke 11:24-26 “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left. ‘ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

 

Unfortunately, we as humans have a tendency, it is a sin tendency. We are attracted to sin. We want to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Our desires are what makes us get up in the morning. So often we want to reform ourselves. We put into practice those things that we think will help us and for a time they do. But over time we start desiring those things again and other things start looking pretty good to us, so we abandon our efforts and fall back into the same things we left and often worse things. Our efforts on our own do not last long. See, it isn’t enough for us to be emptied of evil. To stop what we are doing. There is something, someone we need to have in our hearts if we truly want a change that will last. If we want power over sin, we must have the Holy Spirit in us to do it. He does the work we cannot do. He comes in and cleans the house for good!

 

When the Holy Spirit comes in we start to see the evidence of it. When we have Jesus in us when the Spirit of God is at work these are the fruits that come from that. Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses, and self-control.  Against such things, there is no law.

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Do you see what comes from knowing Christ and being full of His Spirit? All of these are great, but the two things that speak to the why of it are these: (self-control and crucifying the sinful nature.) On our own, we cannot do this.

 

We all want to think we are pretty good people, but the word of God is clear on who we are outside of Christ. We are sinners. We are bound for hell. We are wretched and blind.  John 15:6 “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

Ephesians 4:22 “that in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.” Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Lastly: Romans 8.8 “and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

 

Check your heart. Make sure you know Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life.  Repent from your sins. He is the only way to heaven and the Father. We cannot be good enough on our own and it is clear that no good is in us outside of Christ. He is the way.  You will one day stand before God and you will be judged, if you do not know him, hell is your future. Think about it! When you come to Christ He forgives your sin and you are instantly a child of God, and fills you with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit begins the work of making you new. He never stops teaching us and molding us into the person God wants us to be.  The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth and will never tell us to do anything contrary to God’s word. My prayer is that you kno