Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
I have heard a man's testimony, it was powerful: He sat on his bed with a gun in his hand, ready to end his life. Then he gets a phone call. An old friend who just wants to check on him. His life was saved that day. Why? Because of one simple act of obedience. If his friend had not called him, his life would have ended. The enemy would have won.
One simple act of obedience saved a man's life. When the friend had the desire to call, he may have not known why, but he called anyway.
What I would like to suggest is that our role in Spiritual warfare is the every day choice we make to be obedient to God or to ignore Him. How many times have you had the idea to call a friend, or stop by, or take someone food out of the blue, or minister to someone in any way at all? Now think of all the times you have ignored that feeling.
Not all tragedies end in physical death. If we responded in obediene everytime we felt the Holy Spirit's urgings to reach out to the world around us, how many every day tragedies could be avoided? Tragedies such as divorce, depression, the feeling of lonliness or hoplessness, teen pregnancy, addiction, or any sort of sin.
Maybe if you called your friend when you had the thought to you could save a marriage, or maybe that person just needs to know someone cares. Maybe when you get the idea to post that scripture or inspirational picture on your Facebook page, there is someone out there that will read it that needed to hear that exact message or encouragement. Maybe if you invite a friend over for lunch when you have that split second desire, you could be saving her from going to the mall to spend money she doesn't have in an attempt to fill gaps in her life only God can fill. Maybe you could be saving a friend from going to the liqour store to drown sorrows that only God can take away. Or maybe you would be saving a friend from engaging in an immoral relationship that could end in disaster like divorce, if it is an affair, or unwanted teen pregnancy. Befriend the kid at school, or the coworker that looks lonely even if people may make fun of you. Maybe they need a friend.
Who knows what kind of things could change if we acted in obedience to every single opportunity that God gave us? Maybe someone had the thought to call Adam Lanza the morning of December 14th and ignored it because it was too uncomfortable, or because it was inconvenient at the time, maybe they planned on doing it later.
We may never know the why. We may never know what crisis was averted by our acts of obedience. It doesn't matter. Respond to the Holy Spirit. Call or visit someone when you feel like you need to. Don't ignore it, whatever it is. As Christians we have Weapons of Mass Distrution that are far stronger than any enemy we encounter. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
With God, all things are possible. We should never look at anyone and say to ourselves, "They will never receive Jesus." And if they don't, they don't. But I know I would rather look back at a situation and know that at least I tried than to look back and wish I had done something.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Monday, December 3, 2012
This is one of my favorite verses in scripture. But sadly, I think it has been so misused lately that it has caused it to lose some of its meaning. Exactly what does Christ give us the strength to do?
I love the fact that people use it to give Glory to God for their achievements. But does it keep us from focusing on what Paul was really trying to say here?
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Paul is thanking the church in Philippi for their support of his work. Further, he is explaining to them that when he has been "in need" he really hasn't been in need because Christ gives him the strength to do his will whether he has money or not. Christ has given him the strength to be content whether he has a lot of money, or no money.
Is it only about our finances? I don't think so. It is easy to ask for God's strength when we want to finish a marathon, or win a football game, or to get through college, or to complete some hard task we have to complete. But a lot of the times when I see that verse being used, it is for things that are of no worth to God and the furthering of his Kingdom.
Can we just as easily recite that scripture in our mind when we face difficult tasks that God is calling us to do for HIM? Do we say it to ourselves when we feel the urge to pray with someone, or to talk to someone who desperately needs to hear the good news of Christ, forgive someone who in our own flesh and strength it is impossible to do? Do we remind ourselves to rely on God's strength to love someone who is difficult to love? Do we use that scripture to help us walk away from a life, habit, or addiction that is not pleasing to the Lord? Do we use this scripture when we are financially in a hard place and we must choose to use what money we do have for God, or ourselves? Or when God calls us into a ministry that seems just too big?How about when you see someone struggling in sin, and you know you should talk to them, but you don't know what to say, or how they will take it? Or how about when we need to break down walls of pride, bitterness, anger, hate, unforgiveness, jealousy, etc. in our own hearts? Can we rely on Christ's strength as easily if it is something that takes us out of our comfort zone?
Certainly, when this scripture is used, even if out of context, it is being used to give God Glory. But what kind of changes could we see in this dark world if we used this scripture to fuel our days to live our lives for him?
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Is life meant to be like this? Going from one thing to the next, keeping with the schedule so things don't fall apart, being so exhausted at the end of the day, but yet you can't go to bed yet because there is still so much stuff to be done? "Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." Matthew 11:28-30 This kind of life sounds so wonderful, yet it sounds way too good to be true. I find myself daydreaming of a life like this. Is this really attainable? Can we really have a rich and satisfying life? If we want this kind of life we need to ask ourselves these questions:
- "Does my house really need to look "company ready" in case of the ever so rare event that someone might show up unannounced?"
- "Do each of my children need to be in some sort of extracurricular activity at all times?"
- "Do I really have to be involved in every activity at my children's school?"
- "Do I really need to volunteer for everything that comes up?"
- "Does every dinner I cook have to be 'Pinterest worthy'?"
- "Do I schedule in anytime in my day to spend with God, meditating on his word, praying, listening for his voice?"
- "If I were on my way to tend to one of my regularly scheduled "tasks", would I easily forgo that task to minister to someone in need?"
- "How many of these duties are done to really help, and not just so i can be seen as someone who can 'do it all'?"
- "How often do I want to give up serving my family, or others, because I don't receive the proper recognition, or thank you?"
- "How often do just simply enjoy someone's company on any given day?"
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Lets face it. No matter how much time and effort we put into our appearance, it all fades. We can take good care of ourselves, and that helps. But the older you get, the more effort you have to put into looking younger. The wrinkles come, as do the gray hairs and spider veins. And we can become so consumed with making sure we hold off the aging process. It is exhausting. While we can live a lifestyle that can keep us healthy and young-like, and i encourage that :), we can not avoid getting older.
But there is another beauty that we hold, and it is that of our inner beauty. When you put the time and effort into your inner beauty, it never fades. It only becomes more and more beautiful with time.
I think that our inner and outer beauty are opposites. With our outer beauty, we don't have to put much effort into preserving it when we are young, but the older you get the more you work at it. And with our inner beauty, we have to put a lot of effort into it when we are younger. It is not easy to stay inwardly beautiful when you are young. But if you have set Christ in the center of your life when you are young, and strive to be more and more to be like him every day (yes, it is a daily thing), it just gets easier and easier. And your beauty will NEVER FADE!!!!
When you come to the end of your life, you will not be remembered by appearance. Your appearance will do nothing to change the world. But if you work on your heart, making sure that you are known by your inner beauty, your love for others, your kindness, and gentleness, your desire to serve others, and your love for God, your faith in Him, and your desire to serve him daily, that is how you will be remembered.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT)
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN!"
2. There are some people we can choose to not have in our lives. But there are also people that we can't just remove from our lives. It's not always that simple. It could be a parent, sibling, a spouse, or maybe even a son or daughter. Whoever it is, I think most of us have at least one person in our lives who is a permanent fixture that just keeps hurting us. Maybe they don't even keep hurting you, maybe they just do little things that remind you of what they did to hurt you. Is it always necessary that you call them out on every little thing that reminds you? I don't think so. But every time, you do need to choose forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the greatest gift we can give others, and ourselves. But I think we complicate it sometimes. Forgiving and forgetting, I don't think is possible. I think that what makes all the difference when we remember, is what we do with that memory. Do we choose forgiveness again, and again, and again, or do we allow it to haunt us?
Unforgiveness consumes our minds. It hinders our relationship with others, and it hinders our relationship with God. It keeps us from living the abundant life that Christ came to give us! Christ said, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.". Sometimes we have to forgive people that aren't even aware they need forgiveness.
If Christ DIED for us, to forgive our sins, while we were still sinners, even when we are unaware of our offenses, then we are not asked to do anything that our Father was not willing to do himself. His mercies are new EVERY MORNING! His love endures forever. Love is not always easy. we have to love the unlovable, just like we are loved, even when we are unlovable.
Don't allow unforgiveness to take root in your heart. From that root grows bitterness, and bitterness leads to death.
Some things are easy to forgive, and some things are not. Whatever the case may be, it is necessary. Sometimes we cannot forgive things if we depend on ourselves. We have to allow God to give us the strength to forgive.....over, and over, and over.
Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)
Thursday, July 26, 2012
For me, one of the parts that really stuck with me was a scene where she is talking to her youth minister, and she remembers a discussion they had before the attack. She was teaching the kids how sometimes when we are too close to a situation, we don't have the right perspective to see the whole picture. Then she finally asks the question.... (watch the video)
I loved the answer she gave. She could have guessed a plan that God had in this. She could have tired to come up with any possible absolute answer, but she didn't. She simply says, "I don't know, but i have to believe that something good is going to come out of this." How many of us would have come up with some sort of answer? How about this one: " I guess surfing is not in God's plans for you."? That probably would have been one's first instinct answer. Simply put, she tells her to just have faith. In time you will see why this happened. I was encouraged by this because I always want to have an answer for someone's hurt. I want to be able to say exactly what it is that will give them hope and comfort. And I know i am not the only one who struggles with this. Then, we usually end up saying something dumb just because we felt we needed something to say. If she had told her that maybe surfing was just not in God's plans for her, it would have crushed her, not built her up. Sometimes when we feel we have to give an answer, it cuts off any possibility to see the real answer. We think we are pointing them to God, but in reality, we are pointing them away. The answer is for God to give, not us.
I am not giving away any more of the movie. You will just have to see it for yourselves (if you haven't already)
Friday, July 6, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
You probably wouldn't be very impressed, would you?
Okay, what would you think if I told you this same tree, even though it hasn't grown much (maybe about an inch), has never lost it's leaves. The leaves have always been green, even during freeze.
This plant has withstood every kind of weather. It has remained during drought (it gets watered maybe twice a month) and through freeze. It has stayed constant.
If we were told to compare our faith to a plant, I would want mine to be like this one.
1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
See, we tend to judge people's faith by what we see. I don't just want to appear to have great faith. When the storms come, I want to remain standing. When the drought comes, I don't want to wither. When the winter comes, I want to keep my leaves.
We assumed this tree was not going to make it because it hadn't grown. This will be our 3rd summer with this tree. Last year, I waspleasently surprised by a beautuful flower that had bloomed. This year, we have 2. And these flowers have such a sweet aroma.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
This has become one of my very favorite passages of scripture. The more I understand what it is really saying, the more I love it. When you read that, what do you think? If I love God, he will give me everything I want? That is not what that means. At least not exactly.
If we take a look at our earthly relationships, we may be able to better understand this scripture. When you are single, you have your own wants, your own desires, and ideas. But when you meet someone and fall in love with them, those things change. When I delight in my husband, I want the things he wants, not only the things I want. his desires become my desires. It is only by having a deep, intimate relationship that makes that happen. I am not my own anymore.
To take delight in someone means to give pleasure, or be pleasing to. So when this scripture says "Take delight in the Lord" that means to give God pleasure. And if we have a deep, intimate relationship, and communication with God, our desires become the desires that are pleasing to God. Not the things that I want. This has become my favorite scripture because I have really seen it in action. Over time, and communication with God through prayer, and his word, my desires have changed. I desire things I never would have thought I would desire. And they are not things I desire for my own personal benefit. They are things I desire for HIS kingdom benefit. He had never told me no when I have asked for an opportunity that I knew was a desire he was placing on my heart.
Read what comes after "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your hearts desires.":
Psalm 37:5-6 (NLT)Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
When you commit everything you do to the LORD, he takes delight in you.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Tolerance is something being sought after a lot in this current age. Those of us who believe in God, and desire what is right are being asked to tolerate things that we know are wrong. We are called hypocrites by unbelievers because we are not perfect. I don't know anyone who has ever claimed to be sinless, therefore, just because we sin, doesn't mean we are hypocrites. We are human.
I do find it hypocritical though, that the people who are asking that we tolerate their beliefs, refuse to tolerate ours. That is a little one sided, isn't it?
See, the difference between believers and non believers is that believers accept the fact that God is real and that we do have a higher power. So to ask us to "tolerate" the evil things of this world, is to ask us to actually be hypocrites.
Romans 12:9 (NLT)
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
Tolerating people and tolerating actions are not the same thing. Just because we do not tolerate things we see as evil does not mean we should treat those who don't believe the same as us as though they are evil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). And to tolerate people and to love them are not the same thing. We are not told to tolerate our enemies, but to love them. Jesus was not sent to this world to condemn but to save it (John 3:17). What makes us think we have the right to judge others? We can't force anyone to believe the same as we do. All we can do is plant seeds of faith every opportunity we can get. We can guard our children and teach them well so that when they are faced with these things, they will make wise choices. We can't shelter them, at least not forever. So the best thing to do is equip them with the truth and teach them to love others and to show true compassion for everyone.
Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT)
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Matthew 5:46-49 (NLT)
If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:18-20)
Monday, January 9, 2012
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Taste is a funny thing, isn't it? Say someone eats some lasagna and doesn't like it at all. If you have never tried lasagna, and your friend tells you it is awful, are you likely to try it for yourself? Not really. If your friend likes the lasagna, and tells you it is good, you are likely to try it. But does that mean that you will like it also? Maybe, maybe not. Another scenario is the fact that lasagna can be made so many different ways. You may like it cooked one way, but not another. Everyone has different tastes. But our first experience with lasagna, as is with any food, will determine how we feel about that food. If the first time you have it you hate it, you are not likely to try it again, even though you may like it cooked differently.
Everyone has been introduced to God at some point in their lives. Some from the time they were born, othes later in life. From my experience, the way you are introduced to him can leave either a good or bad taste in your mouth.
I always knew God existed. For me his existence was never an option. The problem was I didn't like him very much. I had so many questions about the God I was introduced to, and sadly no one could give me answers. Then, I realized that I needed to get reaquainted with him. I needed to do my own personal studying and prayer to get to know God. Once I found answers to my questions with God's word, not other's opinions, I fell in love with him!! Some of the things I was taught about God were like putting cranberries in my lasagna. They just don't go there. Plain and simple. Bottom line is that some of the things I was taught about God were simply not truth.
What I am trying to encourage is that if you have a bad taste of God in your mouth, get to know him for yourself. Ask someone to help you. Not by giving you their opinions, but by answering your questions through prayer and through God's word.
Taste and see for yourself that God IS good!