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The “Grace” Controversy

July 28, 2014

GOD’S GRACE. Controversial?

Who’d have ever thought that God’s grace could be controversial?  Yet, it seems to be a controversial topic among preachers and teachers today.  What a strange world we live in (oh, the world has always been strange).

In Paul’s day, the religious Jewish folk said he was “blaspheming the Law of Moses and the temple” because he was not telling Gentiles (non-Jews) to become circumcised or that they had to follow the Jewish laws.  Today, there are those who say that persons who preach grace want to throw out the Old Testament….similar? [If you read the Book of Acts in the Bible, you’ll see this everywhere Paul went.]

The Old Testament was the only “Scripture” available to the first Apostles.  Paul, as a teacher and lawyer, used it to prove that Jesus was the Messiah to the Jews.  Paul proved Jesus was Messiah to the Gentiles by signs and wonders.  The Old Testament scriptures would have had no meaning to non-Jews.  Paul used whatever he could to show the non-Jews that God loved them; however, they wouldn’t be able to connect the dots using a scripture that had no relevance for them.

As Christian believers in this time, we have the wealth of the Old Testament to peruse as we see Jesus Christ throughout.  We can see God’s plan of redemption beginning in Genesis and follow it all the way through.  We can see God’s character and how patient he was to the Jewish people and how He loved them.  We see his plan to return mankind to a place where they are one with Him again.  We see how blessed we are that we have a new contract (covenant/testament) and that, as believers, we have been set free from the law of sin and death. {Romans 2:8}

When Jesus walked the planet among us, he was accused of casting out demons by Beelzebub (Satan).  [Luke 11:15]

When Jesus was here, there were no Christians.  He came to the Jews to explain to them who he was and to show them that they were not able to keep the Mosaic Law perfectly enough to ensure salvation.  He showed them how impossible it is to keep the Law so that they would know that they needed a Savior (Him).  Most of them eventually did not believe and many of them called for his crucifixion.

He had a dual message:  1) that no one can keep the Law well enough to be saved and, therefore, God sent His Messiah to save them; and 2) to prophecy about the New Covenant (or agreement, contract or Testament) and what would happen after He died, took our punishment, and rose again to a new life…ushering in that New Covenant.

I knew the grace of God when Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior. John 3:16-18 says

16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Just believe?  Isn’t that grace?  This was God’s plan from the beginning.  No hoops to jump through, no Law to obey, just receiving His gift of mercy and grace.

So…we just believe and go on living however we feel like?  Well, we could, but there is another component…the Holy Spirit who comes and lives in us when we turn ourselves over to Jesus Christ, believing He has done it all.  The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus in us.  Our lives begin to change as the Spirit begins changing our desires to match up with God’s desires. We cannot remain the same as we were…we are alive for the first time, we KNOW love for the first time and we respond to that love. [John 14:17; 16:5-15]

Many of those who are so uptight about grace forget the Holy Spirit’s empowerment and our new ability to respond.

When you fall in love with someone, even on an earthly level, you want to please them, you want to learn all about them, and you change your life for them.  Think about how it would be if that person’s spirit was in you helping you to understand them, showing you how to love them and, more than that, showing you that they love you more than you could even absorb.  That’s what grace is like…that’s what grace is.

             Grace is Jesus.  Grace is Love.

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He loves me, He loves me not!

June 28, 2014

*This post is geared to born again Christians.  If you are not among us, scroll down to the bottom and I’ll tell you all the hoops you have to go through to become one.

To my brothers and sisters in the Lord:

Why did you accept Christ as your Savior?  What called to you, what intrigued you, what moved you?  What were you responding to?

Think back.  We all have our own story, our “testimony” about our first encounter with the Living Lord.  Did we come to Him because we “had to”?  Did we believe out of fear?  What was our first experience with Him, with Jesus?  Was it LOVE?…just absolute love and acceptance as a beloved child? All of a sudden, did we “know” Him? Did we KNOW that He loved us just because He loves us? Did we just KNOW?

At that beautiful moment, did He give you a list of “do’s and don’ts, or rules and regulations?  Did you feel burdened down by His yoke?  Did you think that you had to do anything to keep His love?

I know I didn’t.  All I knew was that He died for me, paid the penalty for my sins, loved me enough to call me to Himself and He set me free to tell others about this GREAT NEWS!  I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I knew what and Who I found and to tell them that they could find Him too!

I found his unqualified, undeserved, absolute, unconditional acceptance and love.  I was filled with Him and His love.  I was on fire for Him.  Nothing would ever be the same because of Him and His mercy and grace.

That was about 45 years ago for me.  During those years, many things happened and life continued.  I wandered off for a while (all the while knowing He was with me and calling me back). I returned to Him again. I always knew He loved me. I always knew He’d take me back. Did I always feel great about me? No. But, I realize that, just as my salvation was not about me, neither is His love.

His love is about Him.  He IS LOVE.  He has placed His seed in me, has sealed me with the Holy Spirit, and has made me eternally His. I did nothing to deserve His love and I can do nothing to un-deserve it because it’s all about Him.

Over the years, I wanted to learn more about Him. I diligently studied the Bible to learn more.  I found that I was loved and secure. I found out that I was one with Him, just like He was one with the Father.  I was moved from glory to glory!  I discovered the power of faith and of declaring His word. I was baptized in the Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Unfortunately, with my desire to know more, I began taking in the teaching of men.  I began taking in “rules and regulations” into my Spirit and my Spirit began to become heavy…I began trying to “work out my salvation” by doing, or not doing, things to improve my walk with God.  I tried pulling the ox cart all by myself, or yoked with other sincere people…but not yoked with the One who asked me to take “His yoke” which was not heavy, but light. I began to rely on me instead of Him.

Recently, I was blessed by a new/old revelation…It’s not my job!  He, just as in my salvation, has done it all. I repented of my pride, let go of my lopsided yoke and gave myself back to Him.  Now, He does the heavy lifting and I walk along side Him.  He leads, I follow. He teaches me of His Love and I am in love with Him again.

No longer do I live in “He loves me, He loves me not” based on my performance, but in HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME!

Again, I ask you, remember the first things…how you felt in the beginning and drink in the joy of your salvation again.  HE LOVES YOU TOO! JUST THE WAY YOU ARE…JUST AS YOU AND I CAME TO HIM. He still loves us more than we can love Him back and He will lead us from GLORY to GLORY!  He can’t help Himself because He loves us so much.

To Him be the glory forever and ever, amen!

***

*The “hoop” is found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 3, verses 16-18.

 “John 3:16-18  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

ONE HOOP: BELIEVE IN HIM!   Oh, and before I forget…I didn’t say this, Jesus did.

           Try it, you’ll like it.  He loves you!

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Do You Hear His Voice?

June 23, 2014

My sheep hear My voice (John 10:27).

Jesus spoke, in Chapter 10 of the Book of John in the Bible, about being the Shepherd of His people.  He explains the role of the shepherd and calls Himself both the “Shepherd” and the “Door” to the sheepfold.  He says that anyone who attempts to get into the sheepfold any way but through the Door (Him) is a thief and a robber.

Sheep only listen to their shepherd. They “hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…he goes before them and they follow him because they know his voice” (and only respond to his voice).  He says that they will “by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”  (John 10:1-5)

In verse 14, He says that He is the good shepherd and “I know my sheep and am known by My own.”  He mentions “other sheep” (Gentiles, etc.) that were not of this fold (Israel) and that He will bring all of them together as one flock with one shepherd.

He explains that, in the same way as a shepherd, He will lay down his life for his sheep, and he will do so (die for them) and then take His life back again (resurrect from the dead).  [Which He did with his death on the cross and in His rising from the dead three days later].

He said that those who don’t believe are not “of My sheep”, because his sheep hear His voice and follow Him.  He said, because of that (belief), He gives them eternal life and “they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand”.  He said the reason for this is that “My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than all (“all” means “all’) and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

There is no doubt that we belong to Him when we can hear His voice.  We have the inward assurance that we are His sheep.  We just know!

So, my question is: Do you hear His voice?

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When Times are Hard

June 14, 2014

So many Christians go through hard times and question God or their faith. This post from Psalm 35 using verses 15 through 20 as it speaks of how He looks over the “righteous”.  (The “righteous” are those who belong to Him:  Phil. 3:9b: that which is [those who are] through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith/ Romans 3:17: For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”)

The eyes of he LORD are on the righteous and His ears are open to their cry…The righteous cry out and the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

            The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

            Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers them out of them all.

            He guards all their bones; not one of them is broken…

            The LORD redeems the soul of His servants and none of those who trust in Him will be condemned.

***

1 Cor. 10:13:    No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

We can rest assured that He will bring us through, that He hears us and is with us at all times.  He guards us and loves us. Though times get hard, we have a protector and deliverer. Trust in Him, it will work out, it always does.

Psalm 91:1,2:  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”…

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CELL PHONE IDOLATRY

March 26, 2014

The email said “Free iphone 5c!”  All I had to do was upgrade an old phone which was no longer under a contract and renew the contract for 2 years.  Wow!  I love gadgets and I love new cell phones.  I was so excited!  I looked on the website and, yup, it was true.  I could get a brand new, top of the line phone…free!

We use cell phones for business and for personal use.  None of our phones are currently under contract, we are on “month to month”.  Our phones are “obsolete”, I’ve been told.  This sounded like such a great deal.

I have learned not to jump when I see a great deal (the hard way).  So, I talked to my husband about it (he wasn’t excited), I talked to the local store about it (they weren’t excited either-no commission).  I told my friends (no excitement there either).

Well, having all this “counsel”, I decided to wait a little.

I found myself thinking about this phone, arguing with myself as to why it was a good idea (or less: why it was a bad idea).  For a few days, I wrestled with whether or not to do it.

One night, I woke from a deep sleep thinking about THE PHONE!  Oh No!

I realized that I had made the phone an idol!  It was consuming my mind!  I knew at that moment, I could not get the phone.  Not because it would be a sin, but because I agreed with God that it was getting in between Him and me.

It’s amazing how subtle our flesh is, how even a free phone offer can move me from focusing on those things that give me peace, in Christ to obsessing and lusting for an inanimate object.

So, I’ll do with my old “dumb” phone and move forward with a better perspective.  Thank you Lord.

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HUMBLE EGO TRIP?

February 24, 2014

            I remember thinking, during a worship service, how grateful I was for the cross.  I was imagining myself standing at the bottom, looking down at his blood, and feeling so very overwhelmed with my own unworthiness.  In the midst of this tremendous emotional drama, I heard in my mind (in my own voice…like a random thought) the words, “You are on the wrong side of the cross.”  It caught me up short!  What?  What does that mean I thought, wrong side?

            At the time, I didn’t realize the importance of that statement.  I understood that it meant that I needed to get into the forgiveness side of things, but didn’t really know what that meant.  But, I knew it was the Lord.

Most of my Christian walk (since 1975), I’ve felt unworthy or less than.  When I was first born again, I didn’t care if I was worthy or not.  I knew that I was saved, loved, forgiven, set free…had a clean slate and a new beginning.  As the years went by, I started putting things on my slate.  I put on a lot of “should’s”, “have to’s”, “must not’s”, etc.  I also always fell short of all those goals.  Some were taught to me, some were found in the Bible, and most came from my own mind.

So, I got involved in church, got counseling, studied the bible, listened to certain TV preachers, etc.  All the while, I still felt like everyone else “had it” but me.

Recently, the scales fell off my eyes (just like the apostle Paul in the Bible (Acts 9)) and I saw Jesus again!  I was reading a book entitled, “God Without Religion”, by Andrew Farley, on New Year’s Eve and by the next morning, I couldn’t’ put it down.  He plainly explained grace in his book and brought me back to the “joy of my salvation” (Psalm 51:12).  When Jesus said “It is finished” it was finished!  I didn’t have to be concerned about “should, have to, mustn’t” words.  Jesus covered everything.  He left us with only two commandments:  “Love God and love others.”  We can’t love God until we know that God loves us.  Once we know, we begin to love him.  As we get to know more about his love for us, we begin to love him more and more and we want to tell others about Jesus.

Does this give us an excuse to keep living a life of sin?  Why would we want to?  Why, after being touched by his love, would we have any desire to do anything that would move our focus from that love?  He said he will complete the work he started in us (Phil. 1:6), He will take us from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).  We are his forever, He tells us that we know his voice and no one can snatch us out of his hands, and because the Father has given us to him, no one can snatch us out of the Father’s hands.  (John 10:26-29).

Humble?  Who cares!  Jesus loves me just as I am and will make me whole, through the Holy Spirit.  I just have to love Him back and share that love with others.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM! (2 Cor. 3:17)

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The Old is New Again!

February 17, 2014

     I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1975. That was a long time ago.  One thing I knew, then, was that I was forgiven, my sins were removed, my slate was clean.  He loved me and died for me to set me free.  I KNEW that!  I didn’t know the Bible, I didn’t belong to a church, I only knew that I was forgiven and new. 

I was so excited I couldn’t wait to tell others.  I was so excited that others hid when they saw me coming, and then…they too accepted the Lord and they became “born again”.

This was during the Charismatic movement in the Catholic Church and, following my mother, I began to attend prayer meetings.  I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, Wait! Don’t stop reading because you don’t believe that is for today, or that is only for the Apostles.  Who told you that anyway?  No one told Stephen, Philip, Barnabas and many others, so they just did what Jesus said. Look for yourselves.

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to start reading the Bible and finding out what is said.  It came alive.

That excitement lasted about three years.  I saw miracles. I saw addicts set free and arthritis and migraine headaches healed by the laying on of hands (by just plain, ordinary believers, just like Jesus said).

Over the years, the excitement wore off and the world crept in.  I was leaving my first love and becoming self-consumed again.  Little by little, like Chinese water torture, self became more important.

When I attempted to get back what I had, I joined a bible teaching church, I diligently listened to the Pastor.  I learned about faith and the power of it.  I learned and learned.  I liked my church and loved my Pastors.  I became involved in service and small groups and training, and the like.

We eventually changed pastors and our new Pastor began really teaching the Bible.  He took more than a year and a half to go through the Old Testament historical books giving us a clear understanding.  He had us do daily readings and we read the Proverbs and Psalms.  His teaching was clear and concise.  I began to take BibleCollege courses to learn more.  He took us through the Gospels, tying the Old and the New Testaments, showing threads and shadows and how it all led to God’s Plan to set us free.

I was filled with knowledge, filled with faith, yet something was missing.

On New Year’s Day, 2014, in a little book, I found what it was.  It was just plain Jesus!

That day in 1975, I met Him. I knew He loved me unconditionally.  But, over the years, I forgot.  I started adding have to and if  to the Gospel…“conditions”.  Then, I tried to meet all the “conditions” I had imposed upon myself, or had imposed upon me by various teachers, books, etc.

Jesus spoke to two types of people: religious and believers.  To the religious, He said, in essence: “You’ll never be good enough. You have to be perfect to enter into My Kingdom.”  To the Believers, He said, “I have covered it all, you only have to believe in Me and tell others about the good news!”

I now know when I read the Bible or listen to teaching, I must rightly divide the word of truth…there are no if’s or have to’s in the Good News, just Jesus, who did it all for us and finished it.

It’s called “Grace”, unmerited, empowering, freeing, loving Grace!  Grace to just love God and others.  Grace to set others free!  He just plain loves us!  We can’t escape His love and we can’t make Him love us more!  All I had to do is believe…and it’s still all I have to do. He did all the rest.

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Free to be Me!

January 21, 2014

Gal 3:3  Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

What happened when I/we responded to the call of Jesus in our lives?

John 3:16-18  [we all know this scripture]  Jesus said that all we have to do is believe, that He was not sent to judge the world, but that the world would be saved through him.

Well, I believed.  I was given eternal life and I didn’t have to do anything to get it except “believe”.  What did I believe?  That Jesus gave me eternal life.

Jesus’ commandment:  Love God with all our hearts and love one another like He loved us.

2 John 1:5,6

 Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one anotherThis is the commandment just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

What happened to us when we accepted Jesus? We were no longer separated from God.  Our sin was covered in His blood and we were completely made new.  I became a new creature, nothing of my old self remained because new things have come.

  [2 Corinthians 5:17 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.]

What are those new things? Here are some:

I no longer live for myself, but for Him. (2 Cor. 5:15)

My sins are no longer counted against me. (2 Cor. 5:19)

I have good news for others that they can be new and free too. (2 Cor. 5:19,20)

I am the righteousness of God because Jesus became sin on my behalf.  (2 Cor. 5:21)  I don’t have to do anything to become “righteous”, I already am and will always be!

Ephesians chapter 1 tells me that

I have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

I was chosen by Him before the foundation of the world.

I am holy and blameless before Him in love!

I’ve been adopted as God’s daughter through Jesus because that’s what He wanted!

God’s grace has freely been bestowed on me in Christ.

I’ve been redeemed!

I’ve been forgiven according to the riches of His grace (not by anything I’ve done)

He has lavished His grace on me.

It goes on and on.

I am free to be me.  But what about my walk?

The Holy Spirit resides inside of me. He is the pilot of my new self.  He guides me into all truth.  He teaches me all things, He brings Jesus’ words to my mind. He is the Spirit of Truth who bears witness of Jesus for me.  (John 15:26).   He guides me into all truth and will disclose what is to come and He glorifies Jesus all the time. (John 15:13,14).

I can choose to listen to the Spirit or listen to the flesh.  I have the ability to choose life at all times.

Jesus said that we receive power when the Spirit comes upon us! (Acts 1:8)

The power to witness about Him!

I am free to be excited about what Jesus has done for me and to listen to the Spirit direct me in my and life to tell others about it.  I am free to love others and have the grace to do so.

Jesus only asked that we love God first and love others like He did.  The Holy Spirit in me gives me the ability to do so.

We are to make disciples and teach them to:  Love God first and love others as He loved us.  That’s what Jesus asked of us and for that, He has given us eternal life, total freedom from sin (original, separating sin), ability to live for Him and choose His way.  He gave us His peace that passes understanding.

I need to stop thinking about what God wants from me (like I could give Him anything), and start thinking and remembering what He did for me.

When I first accepted my Jesus, I worshiped Him, I praised Him, I continually thought about how wonderful He is and what He did for me.  I couldn’t stop talking about the freedom I found, the love that entered into me and the wonder of walking with Him.

Little by little, for the best reasons, I started to put in “if”, “have to”, “should”, “must” because I wanted to please Him.  I already please Him, He loves me unconditionally and only asks me to love Him back!

THANK YOU LORD JESUS!

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GOD OR NOT

April 22, 2013

To those who don’t believe in God, should they be right that we live and just die and are gone, I say: Because of my belief that He is, I will have lived a life with joy and peace, convinced that He loves me, cares for me and plans my way.  Even if I am misguided the life I’ve lived will be a  full one—as opposed to those to whom life offers nothing: no hope or meaning.

To you who cannot or will not consider Him, I say to you:  He loves you anyway and calls you to Himself continually.  When you seek Him, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart.  Today, if you hear His voice (and you just have) don’t harden your heart. He is real.

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Quench not the Spirit

November 10, 2012

In the aftermath of  Hurricane Sandy, many of us on the east coast did not lose our homes; some did not even lose electricity.  Some of us did lose power for days, but when we see the magnitude of the losses around us, we are grateful to have lost so little.  Many of us have been helping others wherever we can.   We are “doing” and “coping”.  We think we are OK, because we have been spared the storm’s wrath.

 But we who are Christians and who have the Holy Spirit within us are wondering why we are unable to concentrate, are at the brink of tears, are not “ourselves”.  We feel guilty that we have come through the storm nearly unscathed and still feel a sense of loss.  We don’t understand.

 In speaking to a friend, I realized that the Holy Spirit within us has given us God’s love, His “feelings” so to speak.  God is weeping for his children and we are the holders of His tears.  We are His body…  Let His tears fall through us, let his love pour out, cry out in prayer in groans and uttering’s that we cannot understand.  Pray earnestly for those who need our prayers and help. Quench not the Spirit!

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THE PROBLEM CENTER

September 23, 2012

          There are two doors in front of us when we have a problem or situation.  One states: “PROBLEM CENTER”; the other says  “SOLUTION CENTER”.  If I open the ProblemCenter door, first I have to go through the “hall of mirrors” which only offers warped images of the “problem”.  Then, when I cannot see the situation without distortion, I enter the main operational center.  In there is a desk filled with paperwork, charts, graphs and I am sitting behind the desk, in charge.  If I open the Solution Center, there in only one room, and on the desk there is only one Book and the Holy Spirit is sitting behind the desk with a pointer, pointing out the true problem and the true solution located in THE BOOK.

          The center of our problems is in our minds.  We take our thoughts to the “problem center” instead of the “solution center of the Word”.  If we don’t change the “center” we remain in the problem.  In the problem center, we decide:  1)What the problem is (filtered through all our human filters); 2. how it can or can’t be resolved (using all our human resources, based on our filters); and 3. then attempt to execute our human solution based on our own faulty thinking.

          Just like in the story of the blind men each describing an elephant based solely on the part of the body they can feel, we see only what our filters allow us to see and then we barge ahead or quit based on that unreal realty.

          The Bible teaches us how to enter the “Word Center”, and not the “Problem Center”.  In 1 Cor. 13, we see that our human thinking is like a poor reflection in a mirror, that we know in part.

          The Holy Spirit expects us to bring our problems to Him…He is the teacher and counselor who will lead us into all truth.  (John 16)  and He only speaks the Word.

          Proverbs 14:1 says “The wise woman builds her house; the foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.”Before  we became Christians, we used to be of the world, we used to operate solely in the human “ProblemCenter”; but now, we are no longer of this world, we’ve been bought with a price.  Phil. 2:12b tells us to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling…”  We are responsible to change our thinking so that lines up with the Word of God.

          If you are ever unsure…Love is the always the answer

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God Has No Gray Areas/ Part 2

April 17, 2012

There’s a lot of talk about God today.  It’s all over the place.  There is not a lot of talk about Jesus Christ.  It’s under His Name that every knee shall bow. 

 It wasn’t like that in the early Church. “…we preach Christ crucified…Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (Paul in 1 Cor. 1:23b, 24)   Peter, after being baptized in the Holy Spirit, went out and preached about Jesus, his miracles, his death and resurrection.  He exhorted them to “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  The Lord added to their number day by day (Acts 2).

 The early church preached about Jesus, about the Kingdom of God.  People believed in Him and were baptized with water and then filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, and became bold and evangelized.  God blessed them by adding to their number and multiplying them.  They became such a great power that Rome was afraid of them.

 The power is in Christ.  God has given to Him “all authority in heaven and on earth.”  He, Jesus, commissioned us to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them all that He (Jesus) commanded.  That is what the Apostles and their disciples did, with boldness and empowerment by the Holy Spirit.

 Are we preaching Christ crucified?  Or some other gospel.

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GOD HAS NO GRAY AREAS/ Part 1

April 16, 2012

            “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.”  (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Chapter 3, verse 15)  The rest of the verse says “I could wish you were cold or hot.”  Verse 16 says “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.”  Jesus, as the Risen Lord, the “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last” spoke these words to John and asked him to write it down and send the letter to the churches.           

            Jesus asked if He would find faith on the earth when He returns.  Will He? 

            I’ve been reading the Gospels and the Book of Acts.  There is power, signs, and miracles following believers in the first century church.  Why have we pulled the plug?  These things were written, as Luke says in his Gospel (Luke 1:4) “that you many know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”  The certainty of what things?  Those things about Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, the Lamb of God, God’s one and only Son who came not to condemn the world, but to save it. (John 3:17) 

            We have become complacent, lazy and “lukewarm”.  I speak for myself also.  Where is the fire that burned when Christ first make Himself known to us?  Where is the power?  Where are the signs?  Where are the miracles?  Where are the gifts of the Spirit which so freely flowed in the beginning, the gifts…yes, including speaking in tongues, which were not only flowing, but expected.  Where is the boldness?  

            We may or may not go to church.  We sit in a seat, listen and look at our watches, yawn, and then say like the Pharisee in Luke’s Gospel “Look at me, I am so righteous and obedient” and outside the world perishes for lack of knowledge.  (Hos. 4:6)

            We hold the keys to the Kingdom and will be held accountable.  God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  We have choice.  Who will we serve, God or Mammon?  His kingdom or Satan’s. 

            “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.”  (2 Chron. 7:14).  “Today if you hear my voice, harden not your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:15). 

            I pray for myself and you “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of our understanding being enlightened, that we may know what is the hope of His calling…”  (Ephesians 1:15-18a). 

            I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” when I stand before Him.

 

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Negligence

March 17, 2012

When God created Adam, He gave the entire planet to him and everything that is on it.  God created this world for man, for man to subdue it, to care for it and enjoy it.  When Adam fell, the Lease was turned over to Satan who continues to attempt to destroy everything on it and in it.

 When Jesus died and rose again, He bought back the planet and tore up the Lease.  He returned it to those who believe in Him and gave them all the authority that Adam had.  This time, the authority that was given to those who believe in Jesus is over a damaged and degraded world. 

 The power that is in us, however, is the power of the Holy Spirit…the power of God Himself.  We have authority over the earth, over Satan and his prior dominion, and the power given to us to accomplish the retaking of the land for we are more than conquerors through Christ.  We have been given the tools, the weapons, and the guidance of God to retake everything.  How?  By the authority in His Name, by prayer both in our minds and in the Spirit, by action in faith as we fight the war.  Just like Hezekiah, we dress for battle and enter the field trusting and believing God. 

 “I go to church,” some say.  “I pray,” some say.  “Those gifts were only for the Apostles,” some say.  Well, we can let this world speak for itself as to how powerful and correct those beliefs are.

 Father, I pray that our eyes may be opened, that our ears may hear, that we turn from our sins and earnestly seek your face, that we humble ourselves and pray so that you will hear from heaven and heal our land.  I pray that we be strengthened in our inner beings with power through your spirit and that we have the power to comprehend the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.  Give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know you more and to know the greatness of your power in us, according to the working of your great power and give us the boldness to carry it out in Jesus’ Name.

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THE GREAT FORGETTER!

March 15, 2012

            I was thinking, in the beginning in Jerusalem, after the Resurrection, when Peter and the other Apostles began preaching and teaching, many miraculous signs and wonders followed them. The people brought the sick and impaired to them and everyone was healed. I was thinking how marvelous it would have been had they been allowed to continue with full backing of the Jewish ruling class. What a different world it would now be. By now, there would be no sick, no lame, no blind, and no unbelievers. 

            Before Jesus left this planet, he told us that we would do the same things he did. He even told us we would do greater things. The apostles believed him and did those greater things. Somewhere down the line we forgot what Jesus said. We forgot that he empowered us, that the Holy Spirit has enabled us to heal the sick, raise the dead, and bind the broken hearted and proclaim the gospel. That was all he commanded us to do, except for his commandment to love God and love one another. It seems we’ve forgotten that too.

So much for the Great Commission.

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Ephesians 1:2

October 19, 2011

            What a great way to start a letter, or a conversation, or a prayer for another person:  “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  We have a heavenly father; one who has called us, who wants to fellowship with us, who has adopted us into His family.  We have a Lord, a Savior, an intercessor who sits at the right hand of God the Father and is constantly aware of us and pleading our cause.  He understands us and loves us regardless of our failings.

             The grace brought us to Him, and it has resulted in the peace that passes understanding.  That unmerited favor bestowed upon us at the cost of Jesus’ very life and suffering has produced peace for us.

             Oh, we must remember that great gift, the wonder of it, that the One through whom the universe was created set aside everything, became mortal, so that we could live today in peace if we so choose, and then to live eternally with Him filled with His love.

            Oh yes, grace and peace, the precious gifts that the world cannot know outside of God, are ours.  Don’t take them for granted, but remember the wonder of it and walk in it today.

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Ephesians 1:1 CALLED

October 17, 2011

   Ephesians begins with Paul qualifying himself as an Apostle.  God chose him and he had a personal encounter with Jesus on the road toDamascus.  The other Apostles knew Jesus before he died, but Paul did not.  God had a special purpose for Paul and He has a special purpose for us.  We all have had our road to  Damascus. 

   The Message Bible states “by the divine will—the purpose and the choice of God”.  That goes for us too.  Jesus told us that no one can come to Him unless the Father calls him.  The Father called me and you.  Whether or not we respond to Him is on us. 

    There is a job for each of us to do.  We were called according to His purpose and set on a path to bring others into the kingdom.  We are given specific spiritual gifts to enable us to do the work set before us.  We were not saved to just go to heaven.

    Just as Paul was chosen to serve the risen Christ, so are we.  We are called “saints”, set apart ones.  We are called to be “faithful, loyal and steadfast” in Christ (Message Bible).

Nothing should be more important than our call and no purpose should be higher than God’s purpose for us.   If we keep the Kingdom first, all the rest is gravy.

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Ephesians 1:1,2 CALLED FOR HIS PURPOSE

October 1, 2011

            Today I begin reading Ephesians on my journey with my Lord.  He first took me through 1st and 2nd Timothy, then Romans and now we begin to unwrap the treasures in Ephesians.  I am excited to find out what the Holy Spirit has in store for me.

            The book begins with Paul qualifying himself.  He says that he is an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.  God’s word proves itself.  We can look back through the book of Acts to see Paul’s story.  It is unique, but then so is mine and so is yours.  The emphasis in this book is to the church, to the “saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus”.  We are the saints.  It begins with a blessing of grace and peace to us from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

            The first thing that jumped out to me was “by the will of God”.  We have all been chosen by the will of God   (John 6:44).  We have all been called for His purpose (Romans 8:28).

            Paul was called to be an Apostle.  His calling came after Jesus rose from the dead.  So did mine.  God placed him in is position.  God placed me in my position.  He spent time learning from those who had already been called; however his ministry began immediately. (Acts 9: 19:20).

            Look at your life.  What are you doing?  Looking for purpose?  You already have one.  God chose you, enabled you, and equipped you to do certain things.  What are you good at; what is your passion?  Those things are not a mistake or just a part of your personality.  It is your calling.   Do it unto the Lord, do it well, learn to do it better from those in Christ who have gone before you.  Submit your ways to God and let him lead you down His path, ask him to open your eyes just like He did for Paul.  God bless.

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Romans 15:1 TRUE LEADERSHIP

September 15, 2011

  Yesterday, I had to go and meet someone who had gotten lost on her way to my home in order to show her the way.  As I drove ahead of her, I kept the space between my car and hers measured so that she could stay behind me.  She was driving slowly and I would have to slow down to maintain the distance.  We were on our way when I heard the Lord say to me, “This is how to lead.” 

   In today’s verse, we are told that “We who are strong [in our convictions and of robust faith] ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak. — We ought to help carry the doubts and qualms of others — and not to please ourselves.” (Amplified).

   Yesterday, we were told in the end of Romans 14 that although we are no longer under the law, we must be careful that our freedom does not cause another person to sin and we were reminded that whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

   So, the Lord showed me how I am supposed to lead:  by gauging the needs of the one being taught, and accommodating my guidance to their level.   I cannot teach a six year old the same thing I could share with a 20 year old.  It works the same in the Kingdom.  Jesus spent three years with his disciples, He lived with them, taught them, showed them, loved them and He knew who they were inside and out. 

   I must take the time to discern what the failings, frailties or tender scruples are in the person God has entrusted me to help.  I must take care not to be puffed up or pompous when I share with them.  I must take the time to know them and love them and only then can I be an effective leader.  In all of that, I must rely upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and take care to hear Him instead of me. 

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Romans 14:13-23

September 14, 2011

  Paul teaches in Romans 14:13 something that I think most of us today forget.  We know that Bible says we shall not judge one another, that judgment is for God, not for us.  Paul goes further here.  He says we shall not put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.  He further states in verse 15 that “if your brother is being injured by what you eat (do), you are no longer walking in love.”

  In this society, most of our conversation revolves around judging.  News commentators, radio talk shows, TV talk shows are all based on it.  Everyone has an opinion on everything and about everyone.  We are surrounded and inundated with judging.  It has become the acceptable mode of everyday interaction.  Once again, the enemy has secured his beachhead and we didn’t even see him.

  The point Paul is making; however, is about those who know who they are in Christ.  Those who know the freedom from the law, who are mature and understand that the Law no longer binds us, but that “the kingdom of God is not food and drink (laws), but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  What we forget it that each person is being conformed to Christ’s image on an individual basis.  Everyone is at a different level of faith and understanding.  God moves us from glory to glory. 

   We must be careful not to place a stumbling block in the way of another believer by our actions.  We must teach the truth with grace and watch our behavior.  Even when we know that certain acts are acceptable in our freedom from the law, our freedom must not lead another to sin. 

  Paul explains very clearly in verse 22, “The faith that you have, keep between you and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves.”  He then ends this discourse with “But he who has doubts is condemned…if he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” 

  Be careful of how you live and how you are perceived by those who are younger in the faith than you are.  Remember how long it took you to get where you are today and how much farther you must go.

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Fun With Flowers-acrylic simple art lesson

August 24, 2011

  As a reward to finishing the latest watercolor book cover jacket painting, I decided to paint an acrylic canvas work with large black-eyed susans.  I am not a floral artist and wanted to just have fun.  So, this is what I did.  First, I drew in the flowers with a pencil.   . 

 I then began painting in a base background of dark greens, cobalt blue, some crimson, and just kept adding colors haphazardly.  It was just mindless fun.

 In the next stage, I painting green lines, different colors of green and pseudo leaf shapes on top of the background colors. and then began to paint the flowers.  

 

 

Finally, I filled in the flowers with yellows, oranges and white, added the brown centers and finished it.  Outlined some of the petals with white so they would stand out.  

             And my silly, fun painting was complete.  A great afternoon’s fun.. 

     Anyone can paint!  Art is just expression.  Everything is not a contest.  And…the human eye sees what it thinks the picture is…detail is not required….Just have fun!  Thanks for joining me.

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Romans 13:8-10 LOVE ONE ANOTHER

August 17, 2011

Paul reminds us that all of the commandments are summed up with “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. He states in verse 10 that “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Jesus, in Matthew 22:38-40 tells us the same thing. In Deuteronomy 10:19 the Jews are told to “love the stranger” because they were strangers in the land of Egypt.

I too was a “stranger” before I met Christ and someone loved me enough to tell me about Him, pray with me and bring me into His Kingdom.

We are told by Jesus in John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The question is: does the world see us that way? When someone thinks of me, do they think, “look how she loves others!”

I know that, as I grow in the Lord and in recovery, I have grown to love and continue to move from one level of love to another. I am often surprised when I realize the depth of the love I have for people at this time in my life. Because I am being conformed to His image, I know that I will continue to grow in this manner. What a wondrous gift we have been given!

I, one who isolated, judged, and avoided others, now can see them, love them, and be of use to them and I know my heart isn’t full yet. I would never have believed this was possible before I surrendered my life to Him, the One who is love. Jesus Christ is the answer to everything.

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Owe No One Anything Except to Love One Another

August 11, 2011

Romans 13:8 & 10

             Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves his neighbor fulfills the law…love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

             In looking up what it means to “owe” the cross references refer both to debts and to collateral, to holding a security deposit.  I think here that Paul is not referring to a monetary debt, rather a spiritual or moral debt.  We are not to hold back from doing something good for one another.  When we love someone, we will withhold nothing from them.  We will go out of our way to please them, to help them, even to the setting aside of our own personal needs at times.

             I believe that we are not to let an opportunity to show our love to one another slip by.  God considers that a debt.  The Catholic Church calls it a “sin of omission”.

             I pray that my eyes may be opened to see what my brothers and sisters need and, if it is possible, that I might provide for that need.  Many in the church are hurting or in need of help.  If we would help one another the way we are taught by the Word, this present world situation would be of no consequence to believers.

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Romans 13:1-7 Governing Authorities Instituted by God

August 6, 2011

Romans 13: 1-7 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore, he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, those who resist will incur judgment….etc. 

I saw this yesterday and did not address it because I really, really didn’t want to accept this.  Paul goes on to instruct on paying taxes and giving respect and honor.   We are all “subject” to the governing authorities and must obey the laws or receive the consequences.  That part is understandable. 

I can accept this easily if I “accept” the leadership of our Country.  If we have a leader who is not of my persuasion, I surely don’t want to think of him/her as having been instituted by God.  However, I have learned through the study of the Old Testament that God places and uses ungodly leaders over people to accomplish His goals.  In Judges 3, He even says that he kept some enemies in their territories so that they could learn to do warfare!   

I surely pray more when I see the push from the ungodly.  So, I will respect the position, I will respect the authority that comes with it, and I will accept that everything on this planet has a purpose and will ultimately further God’s perfect plan. 

I think I will just keep my mind on God and the Kingdom and let Him sort all this out.  I will, however, continue to vote for and support leaders whose worldview is based on Judeo/Christian principles. 

Is. 26.3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusts in thee.

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Overwhelm Evil with Good

August 3, 2011

Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” 

  Since this passage in Romans is written to believers, I find it surprising that Paul refers to “evil” in the brethren.  The parallel passage in 1 Peter 3:8-9 expands on the thought:  “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”  1 Th. 5:15 also says, “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all

   One thing also stuck with me in the past few days, which is why I haven’t written.  If the Word tells us we can overcome evil with good…it has to be possible.  To “overcome” means “to conquer, master, suppress, prevail over, to surmount or overwhelm”.  Jesus told us that light dispels darkness.  So, why have we bought the lie of the devil that the darkness is too strong to combat?  Why have we just decided that these times are too far gone?  Why have we let go and given in?

   Christians are afraid of the ACLU and threatened lawsuits.  We are afraid to “offend”.  We have no backbones.  We allow ourselves to be overcome with evil and, for the most part, do not fight back.  Overcoming evil with good is not just to “pray for them”.  It is taking a stand.  What if the Apostles just “prayed about it”…Christianity would never have taken root at all.  And, speaking of darkness, Paul preached during Nero’s reign.

   Once again, I am disappointed in us and in myself.

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“Vengeance is Mine,” says the Lord.

July 29, 2011

Romans 12:19-20.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves but leave it up to the wrath of the Lord; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  “Therefore, if your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him a drink, for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” (2 Thess. 1:6). 

In looking up cross references for these verses, I see they apply to anyone who harms us.  God is our protector and He will take care of it.  We are supposed to be Kingdom dwellers and act in such a way that love is our response, no matter what.  Jesus said to “turn the other cheek”.  That, to me, does not mean…let them slap you again, but that it has no meaning, therefore, it does not matter if you slap me or not-I will love you anyway.  

I am not able to do this yet, but I can imagine the freedom that would come from it.  To be so sure and secure in God’s love that we can look beyond the action and respond with love, knowing that God is in control would be something to strive for.    

I also know that only God knows the other person, understands his or her heart and motivations.  I can trust Him to take care of the issue.  I don’t need to trespass on His territory.  I must remember that my job is to love and bring others into the Kingdom and everything else belongs to God.

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Romans 12:18 continued.

July 26, 2011

   My brother likes to remind me of “context”.  Yesterday, I spoke of Paul’s command to “live peaceably with all, as far as it depends on you”.  I took the concept all the way to include all around us.  My brother reminded me that Paul was speaking to the Church and that the “all” he was referring to only applied to believers. 

  So, this morning, I did a word study and found that in most places, even in the Old Testament, it applied to the Israelites and in the New to the church.  So, he was right. However, Hebrews 12:14 tells us to “pursue peace with all people and holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”  Believers already see the Lord. 

  Jesus was clear that we should be the light and salt to a dying world.  He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.”  We are the sons of God, through Him.    I want everyone to “see the Lord” in me.”

   As our Pastor said the last time context came up, that does not mean the principle does not apply outside the Church as well.

   So, my brother was correct and I love him dearly and appreciate his feedback.  As for me, I will take the command outside to those who don’t understand it so that, maybe, they will see the Lord in me and want what I have. 

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Live Peaceably with all.

July 25, 2011

   Romans 12:18   “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”    Paul begins this thought with the words “If possible”.  That indicates to me that there will be times that it is not possible to live peaceably; however, he then goes on to say:  “as far as it depends on you”.  That tells me that, no matter how difficult the situation is with the other person, it is up to us to live peaceably with them. 

   I have learned to remove myself from the pain, to walk away and regroup within myself.  I then take my anger or hurt feelings to God, talk to a friend if possible, and try and quiet the disturbance within me.   I have been trained to “let it go”, “pray for them”, “act as if”, and only address it with the other person if my Lord gives me the words, the strength and an opportunity to do so only after I am no longer disturbed.  Most of these tools have come from my recovery program; however, they are scriptural and they work.

   Today, I choose to be happy, joyous and free.  The Bible tells me to have the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).  The only time He was harsh was with the Pharisees and then only because they were corrupting the people. 

   So, I will continue to work on myself to live peaceably with all.  We are supposed to be different, we are supposed to be the light to a dark and dying world; we are supposed to love as He did.  So, if possible, as far as it depends on me…

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No More Land for Peace!

July 22, 2011

Yesterday, I touched a spiritual level I had never experienced before, a place where God’s heart lives.  I was overwhelmed with the weight of it.   I tried to explain it, but I could not.  His heart is heavy.  We Christians have ceded His territory just like the modern day Israelis…for peace…for “political correctness”.  Satan knows how to take territory, little by little, ever chipping away at land, at faith, at courage and finally at hope.  We have allowed it, stayed silent, kept out of controversy, safely hidden in our little church fellowship groups where the “world” cannot touch us. 

What is wrong with us!  Who are we?  Who do we belong to?  What do we believe!  People are being led to the slaughter day by day and we do nothing!  We let the Lord, the Holy One, the One and Only God be removed from the public square and we do nothing!

We are called the “silent majority”, yet Jesus called us to Preach the Good News!  Silent! Silent?  Do we belong to the Almighty?  Are we Ambassadors for Christ?  Do they “know us by our love?”   Did Jesus die in vain? 

I am ashamed.  God is watching and we are not doing what He called us to do.  “Well done, good and faithful servants”?  I think not. 

I declare this day, in the Name of my Lord Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, that I will serve my Father in Heaven and establish a beachhead wherever He leads me and, once established, I will hold it!   All the armies of Heaven go before me and surround me as I do the will of my Father…no more land for peace, no more hiding in my comfort zone.  Here Am I, Lord…Send Me!.

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Repay No One Evil for Evil

July 18, 2011

Romans 12:17-Repay no one evil for evil but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.

             ‘Think, Think, Think.”  Paul says to bless those who persecute you; Jesus said forgive 70 times 70, turn the other cheek, judge not, etc..  Scripture tells us that vengeance belongs to God.

             So many times, David’s life was in jeopardy by Saul yet David never repaid him with evil—even when opportunity placed Saul in the perfect place for revenge.

             1 Pet 2:23 says of Jesus:  “When He suffered, He did not threaten to get even”. LNT    

             I put the definition of “revenge” below.  This is not a place where we are to go.  This is God’s.  If we “get even” we are repaying evil with evil.  We are trespassing into God’s territory and that is not a good thing to do.

             We must forgive, turn it over to God to deal with, pray for the offender and quiet the disturbance within ourselves.  I have also been taught through my recovery program to look at myself, to see why I am offended…what is my root, how am I perceiving the offense—through what “truth”,  God’s or some learned childhood misconception. 

             For me to get offended, it takes a lot of work.   It’s easier just not to get offended, or to remove myself from the situation, take it to God, turn it over and leave it with Him.

  Revenge; Revenger  reMD-venj A, reMD-venj AeTr: The same Hebrew and Greek words are used to express the idea of “to avenge” and “to revenge” ( „QÁNF,or derivative; eÁkdikeÂw‰ or derivative). In English these words are synonymous in that they are both used to express the infliction of punishment upon the wrongdoer, but “to take revenge” may also imply a spiteful, wrong or malignant spirit. In the latter case, RV preserves “revenge” (compare Jer 20:10; Ezk 25:15; 25:17 is an anthropomorphism), but, wherever it is synonymous with “avenge,” this word is used (compare Num 31:2,3; Ps 79:10; Nah 1:2; Jth 13:20; Rom 13:4; 2 Cor 7:11; 10:6 RV; AV has “revenge” in all these cases). In Dt 32:42, AV “revenge” is a wrong translation. Read with RV “from the head of the leaders of the enemy” or RV margin “the hairy head of the enemy.”    A. L. Breslich

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Romans 12:16a “Live in Harmony With One Another”

July 16, 2011

When I first thought about living in “harmony”, I thought…getting along with everyone in the Church is what it meant.  But I think that it is much more than that.  So, I looked it up.  The Greek word harmonia means “a fitting together, agreement from harmos, a fitting, joining”.  

  That makes me think of Christ’s body-the Church.  We are joined and fitted together.  God has placed each one of us in a specific position within His body to comprise the perfect bride.  Each of us has a specific duty and purpose.   When we function along those lines, the harmony is evident to all just as an orchestra’s symphonic tones blend and rise to heaven.

  The description goes on to say:  “concord or agreement in feeling, action, interests”.  What Pastor would not be overwhelmed with gratitude if that were the case in his congregation?  

  Each Pastor has a vision for his church.  It is his responsibility to clearly set forth that vision.  It then is our responsibility to take our place within the vision, to agree with it, to help him fulfill it and thereby, join in the symphony of the saints in the Kingdom’s orchestra.

 

 

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Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice, Weep With Those Who Weep

July 15, 2011

Romans 13:15  “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” 

There was a time in my life when I had shut off most of my emotions.  I did not allow myself to feel happy or sad.  When I saw someone really happy, I resented them.  When I saw someone sad, I didn’t want to be around them.

 In thinking about this scripture, I am so very grateful that today this is not the case.  God has truly removed my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh (Ez. 36:26).  This process was not quick and was not easy. The stone had to be chipped away with His chisel and many times was a painful process.  There are still bits of stone hanging on, but I know that God will continue to conform me to the image of my Lord (Ro. 8:29).

 I can truly rejoice with those who rejoice today and I can weep with those who weep.  I am no longer afraid to feel. I am able to become vulnerable and not be threatened.  I can love.  Thank you Jesus Christ for making this possible and giving me Your heart.

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Bless those who Persecute You

July 13, 2011

Romans 13:14     Bless Those Who Persecute You, Bless and Curse Not.

   To be sure, I looked up the word “bless” in the Second Edition of Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.  The root of the word is “blood” and signifies something holy, set apart or consecrated for God.  It goes on in the lesser meanings to declare “to make happy” or “wish happiness to”.  I think, here in Romans 13:14, Paul means the first definition.

   In recovery, we are taught to pray for those against whom we carry resentment and to pray a blessing.  That was a difficult task for me in my early recovery years.  In later years, we joked among ourselves with the phrase “Don’t make me bless you!” because of Romans 13:14.

  To be persecuted in this instance, I am sure, is in reference to our Christianity.  We are to bless, call upon the blood of Jesus to cover that person, those who attack us because we are Christians.  This is another place I would like our Pastor to give us a teaching.  Jesus never cursed anyone, even demons if I recall correctly.  He honestly described the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, but never cursed them.

  When I listen to the atheists denigrate Christianity, it upsets and angers me.  I try and pray for them, but not wholeheartedly.  This is an area where I need clarification and some work on my self.  Are we to plead the blood and pray that they be set apart as holy to God?  If so, I have a lot to “practice” and learn.  But if that is the case, that is really cool…like “pouring burning coals on their heads” (Ro. 12:20), only these “coals” could convict to righteousness.  Hmmm..

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Practice Hospitality

July 12, 2011

In Romans 12:13c, Paul tells us to practice hospitality.  Since he says to “practice”, I would guess it does not come naturally.  I know it did not for me.  It took years for me to develop that trait, and it was my husband’s hospitality that initiated me. 

For most of my life, I did not allow others to get to know me.  I had a very few friends who managed to infiltrate my walled up self, but that was more because of them than because of me.  I was more comfortable by myself-isolating.  I did not invite people to my home because I didn’t know what to do with them, or I was afraid they would judge me as insufficient.  However, my home was open to my son’s friends any time they were in need.  But then, I was in a maternal position and I knew how to do that.

 Today, all of that has changed.  I got into a recovery program, turned my life back to Jesus Christ, and little by little, He changed me into the person I was always supposed to be.  He truly pulled me out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a Rock. (Psalm 40:2)

 In attending recovery meetings, I began to interact with other women and found out that they liked me and didn’t judge me.  I married my wonderful husband and that broadened my world.  He truly has a heart of compassion and hospitality.  We slowly began inviting people that we did not know well over for dinner, a couple at a time.  I started a bi-monthly woman’s group on Saturday mornings so that I could learn to be comfortable around women…it lasted about six years and was a tremendous blessing to all of us.

We now host an open Thursday night dinner followed by Bible Study and a Sunday morning brunch following church.  We’ve opened our home to others in need.  And, guess what?  I love it.  I will continue to “practice”, I hope, for the rest of my life.

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Ro. 12:13a Contribute to the Needs of the Saints…

July 9, 2011

We are commanded to love one another (John 15:12).  When you love someone, you are aware of their needs.  Many of us support missions financially and that is good.   Many of us do not “see” the needs in our own church family.

I know that there is a “church mask” that is worn by most of us.  It masks the needs we may have.  The Holy Spirit can break through that mask by giving us discernment if we are willing to follow His lead.  He can also show us how to meet the need in a way that will not produce an enablement of what might be a bad habit (like giving money to an addict).   That is a place where the gift of mercy sometimes does more harm than good.  But, for the most part, if someone needs financial help and we can help, then do it.  If they need friendship, love, compassion, or just to be welcomed and noticed we must be able to fill that need.   And if we ourselves are in need, let others know. 

I belong to a fellowship where there are no masks for the most part.  If someone asks “How are you?”  An honest reply usually follows: “fine” is not an acceptable answer.  “Hi, how are you?” has become a greeting instead of a question in our society.  That’s too bad.

Jesus said in John 13:35 that all men shall know that we are His disciples by our love for one another.  So…how’s that going?

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Ro. 12:12c-Be Constant in Prayer…

July 8, 2011

 I don’t know about you, but when I am in trouble (or tribulation) it is easy to be constant in prayer.  I am afraid and run to my Father, imploring Him to help me.  But, as we learned yesterday Paul says to be patient in tribulation.

 I once asked my Pastor how to combat the fear that strikes suddenly, without warning.  He told me to pray in the Spirit as soon as I felt fear.  I began doing so.  I began to realize that when that false fear drops into my soul, it comes from what we call “no-where”.  Therefore, it is not mine and it is not real.  I do not have to let it take hold, I can cast down the “vain imagination”, and pray in the Spirit until peace returns and go on with my day.

 I use this example only because Paul exhorts us here to be constant in prayer.  Since I had so many of those false fear attacks, it became a habit to immediately pray in the Spirit.  I find myself today often praying in the Spirit without even thinking about it. 

I surround myself with praise and worship music, am aware of my Lord most of the time and am surprised at how much time I spend praying. Most of my prayers are self-centered, not for stuff, but to keep my mind straight so that I can be of maximum use to others.  I will work on this with God’s help.

 I, by no means, have this down pat.  It seems I pray more than I thought I do.  I still don’t pray enough, but God isn’t finished with me yet.

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Patience…

July 7, 2011

Ro. 12:12 b  Be patient in tribulation… 

It seems to me that, unless you know and trust God, you cannot possibly be patient in tribulation or trouble.  The worldly way is to “grab the bull by the horns” or charge into the problem without any counsel or guidance.  That usually just leads to more trouble and tribulation. 

The Christian way is to take our burdens to the Lord, lay them at the Cross, leave them and go back to seeking His Kingdom.  He promises that if we seek His Kingdom first, He will take care of the rest.

 I prefer to rest in Him, do the next right thing, get advice if necessary and rely upon the Holy Spirit for guidance through the Word of God.

 The worldly way does not work.  It only feeds the problem and gives way for more difficulties.

 I have learned to turn it over and not take it back.  It’s a battle sometimes, but if I keep my mind on Kingdom work, I don’t have time to go garbage picking.

 

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Rejoice in Your Hope (Ro. 12:12a)

July 6, 2011

I often wonder how those without faith can navigate this world.  I also can see the anger and combativeness of those who have chosen not to believe.  Without faith, there is no hope.   There are “wishes”, but no hope.

I often wanted to be able to place into an unbeliever, just for a minute, the experience of faith, hope and love in Christ.  Unfortunately, I cannot.

I listen to those who hate Christianity and am so grateful that I have the Lord, that the Father called me.  I don’t know why, but I am sure because scripture tells me, that He calls all men to Him.

We are being watched (even when vilified).  No matter what happens, we must rejoice in our hope.  God has planned everything out for us (Jer. 29:11) and nothing in His Kingdom happens by chance.  We are placed here to show others the Hope that overcomes all obstacles and by our example to draw others to Christ.   Our hope springs eternal…and is a beacon here in the surrounding darkness.  Let your light shine!

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Be Aglow with The Spirit

July 5, 2011

Romans 12:11 continues… “be aglow (burning) with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” 

Since Paul exhorts us to “be aglow with the Spirit”, this must be something we can do.  I have always prayed that I would be filled with the Spirit, only to find out that Paul said, “Stir up your gift” and “be filled.”  So, again, this is something we must be able to do within ourselves. 

I became born again the in the Charismatic Movement of the 70s.  That was something.  People were being saved and baptized in the Spirit everywhere.  We were all on fire for the Lord.  It was an exciting time.   But, although it was a real movement of God, it was experiential.  I had a thirst for the Word of God, but did not have a strong teacher.  We all just prayed, praised and witnessed.  We gathered together at God’s party. 

I now know that a foundation on the Word of God, good mentors and teachers are necessary to continue in the faith.  When I know the promises of God, when I remember the urgency of the Gospel…when I hear my Lord say “Tell them!” and I know what to say, then I can stir up my gift and “be aglow”. 

 

When I share my Lord with others, my spirit burns within me.   If I want to be aglow, I have to do what He commanded:   “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…”

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Zeal…Ro. 12:11a and Isaiah 6:8

July 4, 2011

 Still in Romans 12:11.  Yesterday, while still thinking about “zeal”, I could not shake the prodding  of the Holy Spirit.  I previously wrote about how I felt when I was first born again and how zealous I was to proclaim what God had done in my life.  There is more to it than that.

 Little by little, our faith is being eroded in this country.  It is being chipped away by those who choose to misinterpret our Constitution.  The threat of someone’s perceived discomfort is enough for the ACLU to attack long standing Judeo/Christian practices and bully establishments to remove God from the public arena.

 The latest is that the VA will no longer allow any reference to God in their funeral services without Government approval!!!  What country do we live in? 

 Yet, as this trend continues, backed by progressive Judges who do not honor the Constitution, we Christians just sit back and shake our heads.   Me too.

 Jesus asked if there would be faith on the earth when He returned.  Will there?

 Who is the one who says to God, “Here am I Lord, send me.”

 Maybe we should look at the way that Russia became communist or what led up to Hitler’s holocaust.  I am sure that God was removed, little by little, chipped away bit by bit, while the Christians did nothing.  It’s happening again and it’s happening here. 

Good v. evil continues…and God still asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”  Is silence the only answer He hears?

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Never Lag in Zeal and Earnestness

July 3, 2011

Romans 12:11 begins, “Not lagging behind in diligence”; some versions say “zeal”.   

I remember when I was first born again in 1975; my passion for the Lord and for sharing the good news was intense.  I could not stop talking about Him, about grace, about freedom.  I drove most people around me crazy; they either ran away from me or accepted the Lord to shut me up.  Thankfully, those who accepted Him are still with Him today. 

I walked away from Him for several years in the 1980s and didn’t fully recommit myself until 1996.  During that time, although my life took a downward spiral, I always had a strong sense that He was just waiting for me to come back.  Even then, if anyone asked me about Him, the fire returned as I witnessed (in word, truly not in action).  The Holy Spirit honored the attempt despite me.  A friend told me during that time that because I had been sealed with the Holy Spirit, I would return to the Lord.

 Well, I did return and He received me back, and blessed me and loved me and forgave me.  What I learned while wandering in my self imposed wilderness has now given me compassion, understanding and a ministry to guide others who need a savior back to Him as well. 

 The zeal and passion has returned, but now in a mature, level-headed, scripture based and guided fashion (by the Holy Spirit, good teaching of the Word and great mentors). 

So, if the zeal has left, do not despair:  “Our misery becomes our ministry” (Mark Shell). Return to Him and He will return to you.

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Continuing Romans 12:10…

July 2, 2011

Well, I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about this “honor” thing.  I talked about it with friends and looked up the meaning in Strong’s Concordance and, guess what?  It means “honor”, to place in high esteem, to respect.  It means what it means.

If we just back up to Romans 12:3, Paul says “I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” and if we go ahead to Romans 12:16, Paul says, “Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly, never be conceited,” and there are many more.

So, once again, scripture interprets scripture.

Jesus taught over and over again against pride, taking the Pharisees to task many times and showed his disciples by His own life, how to be humble.  He only looked down on those who were puffed up, never on those who were “meek and lowly of heart.”

So, Lord, help me to always see others as You do and remember that it is only by Your grace that I have been chosen for Your Kingdom, forgive my pride and open my heart and mind.  Let me have eyes to see, ears to hear and courage to act in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s lead.

 

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Outdo One and Another in Showing Honor

July 1, 2011

Romans 12:10 continues the thought of loving one another with brotherly love;  Paul asks us to outdo one another in showing honor.  To honor means to respect greatly, regard highly or esteem.  Wow.

I don’t think I do that well.  I believe I love everyone in our church with brotherly love, but honor?  Hmmm.  I need to think about and work on this.   Respect, I was taught, is earned.  But here, I am being taught it is to be given with grace.  I have never heard a teaching on this and it looks like a great place for one.

I am at a loss for words.  I really have to think about this and change the way I look at others in my church family.   Not only should I highly regard my brothers and sisters, but I should try and outdo everyone in doing so.  This will take practice. 

Sometimes love is easier than respect for me.  I think I’ll have to continue this tomorrow after I meditate on the Word today.

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Love One Another with Brotherly Love

June 30, 2011

Romans  12:10 begins with this challenge.  I call it a challenge because Paul exhorts us to love one another in the body with brotherly love.  I have a brother and love him dearly.  I am able to allow him to be him and I can overlook what I consider his faults; however, I am not so good at doing that with all others.  Because he is my brother and “love covers a multitude of sins”, I am confident that nothing he does affects his basic love for me, nor mine for him.

We are called not to judge, yet I know I do.  I even judge my natural brother, but I then choose to love instead.  I can do that because I already love him.

I sometimes forget that the family of Christ is also my brother and my sister.  I forget to choose love for those who may not fit my expectations;  even I can’t fit my expectations.  I wish that all would love me as I am, am ok with those who don’t, and I hope to be able to accept and love my brothers and sisters in Christ the same way.   They are a gift to me from my God.  They are my friends, counsellors, network, family, testing ground, teachers, comforters…  I do, in fact, love them all and am grateful that they are in my life…all of them.

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Hold Fast to That Which is Good

June 29, 2011

Romans 1:9 continues with this command.  We looked at “hate what is evil” yesterday.  The evil v. good is an ever continuing theme in our lives.

We live in a world where evil is prevalent, where we are surrounded by  negative impulses via the news, people’s bad attitudes, a lack of love and caring, self-centered and narcissistic desires calling out to us continually.  In the midst of this darkness, we are called by Paul to hold fast to that which is good.

Since we are not part of this world, thank God, just in it, we do not have to get pulled away from God’s peace unless we choose to go.  Jesus left us with the peace that passes understanding.  He left us so that the Holy Spirit could guide us through this maze of trials, tribulations and just plain ugliness.  We have a Spiritual Guide who can show us the “good” amidst the evil.

I need to keep my spiritual antenna up so that I don’t miss an opportunity to see good, to see a need that I can meet, to give a smile to someone with a somber countenance and see their face come alive, to help in little ways.  It brightens my day and pierces the darkness.

I need to guard my thoughts, to cast down vain imaginations, to think on these things: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise.” (Phil.4:8)  It’s a treasure hunt, yet those things are there to find and rejoice over.

There is a slogan that sums it up.  “Let it begin with me…”

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Hate what is evil…

June 28, 2011

 Moving along in Romans 12, continuing in verse 1, we come to good v. evil.  Before I obtained my new eyes in Christ (II Cor. 5:17), except for the most disturbing or vile content, I was comfortable with most TV shows, novels, etc.  Of course, in those days, things were not as graphic as they are today.  In Christ, through the Holy Spirit, I have experienced a gradual putting away of bad language, and a deepenging awareness of the darkness which permeates most of the airwaves today.  I have also realized that most of the dramatic shows on TV today center around death.

As my spiritual heart becomes clean and whole, my discomfort with evil becomes stronger.  It is a tool of the evil one to put his garbage into our souls.  He is the Prince of the Air (and, I think, the airwaves fit into that category also).  It amazes me that on the rare occasions that programing is healthy and uplifting, even though the ratings are high, the shows are taken off.

Not only in the entertainment industry, our advertising, but now even in our schools,  everything appeals to the flesh and the lower part of our nature.

There is enough unscripted evil in this world without  more piling on top at every level.  The enemy has established a strong beachhead into this society and throughout the entire globe.

Unfortunately, including myself, we remain silent and accepting, like sheep led to the slaughter, or a frog boiled in water.

If nothing changes, nothing changes.

 

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God’s return on investments.

June 27, 2011

Recently, our Pastor has been teaching about tithing.  Usually, that topic comes up when a church is in financial need and most, if not all, the congregants groan inwardly and fidget.   Well, in our church, praise God, that is not the issue and our Pastor is an excellent teacher of the Word of God.

Once he completed teaching on tithing, he went on to teach about offerings.  He showed us that an offering is not part of the tithe, but a separate gift given from the heart.  The tithe is God’s.  He leaves us the 90% to do with what we please.  The tithe protects the 90% from the devourer.  The offering, however, comes out of our 90% and is the seed that God can use to bless us.

I don’t know if this short synopsis is clear, but we began giving offerings along with our tithe two weeks ago.  We had been just “making it” financially, week to week, all our needs have always been met, but we haven’t had increase.   What we now understand, is that we haven’t been planting the seed that the Lord provides in the 90%.

We have our own business, a mobile oil change company.  Last week, a competitor dropped out of the business and we have been picking up his customers…a dramatic increase!  I’m excited to see where this will go and I am excited to see how much more we can give. 

So…I challenge you to come along!  This is really cool.  God is Awesome!

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Let Love be Genuine

June 27, 2011

Romans 12:9 begins with “Let love be genuine”.  I’ve been thinking about that.  I first was thinking about “genuine” love.  For the better part of my life, I had no idea what that was.  I knew I loved my son unconditionally; I knew I had had an aunt who loved me unconditionally, but I had conditions on every other relationship.   I also thought all others had put conditions on me.  Having grown up in a family where love was conditional, there was no other way for me to think.

Here, Paul asks us to let our love be geniune.   Even though I was born again in 1975, I didn’t understand genuine love until much later.  It was not until I was able to accept myself as flawed and accept others the same way, to let my guard down and allow others to see me, warts and all, that I was able to begin to see what genuine love is.

As it states in 1 Corinthians 13, love is not a feeling, it is an action,  a verb.  To have genuine love is to truly accept, to be tolerant and kind, to see others as Christ sees them and accept them, flaws and all.  Love is caring enough to stay true to yourself and allow others to be themselves, without conditions.

The key word in this scripture to me is “let”.  In order to “let” my love be genuine, I must be genuine.  My motives must be pure, without manipulation, intimidation, judgment, or prejudice.  It is not my job to “fix” anyone, to change anyone, to please anyone.  God as asked me to let myself have genuine love for them.

 

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Photoday

June 26, 2011

 Needed to find some distant marina pictures for a book cover jacket that I have been commissioned to paint.  Had fun taking pictures from the Berkeley side of the river to the Lanoka Harbor Side.  Got some nice shots.

We also walked through Berkeley Island Park in Bayville where I found this cute little bird just hanging out, so I shot a picture of him too. 

I needed some pictures of stormy skies, so we shot them too.

On the way home, we found an egret searching for his dinner in the marshes, so I got him too.  All in all a fun day shared with my husband…it’s a great place to live and a wonderful place for an artist to get material.

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GOD IS MY COUNTRY

June 24, 2011

I once read  an unusual introduction to the Prophets of the Bible.  In it, the author expressed that, although they lived in Israel, “God was their Country”.  I loved that expression.  I posted it on my refrigerator to remind me that I am not “of this world” although I live in it.  I once was told that “everything isn’t spiritual” by a Pastor I respect and admire.   I beg to differ.  Everything is spiritual .

I became born again in 1975, I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church after attending a Life in the Spirit Seminar.  I turned away from the Lord in a slow process when I let the world become more important to me than God.  After many years of slowly self-destructing, I found recovery, returned to my Lord and resumed my walk with Him.

Another preacher I heard once said, “Your misery is your ministry”.    I found that to be so true.  In the past fifteen years,  the Lord has enabled me  to mentor many women using my own experience, strength and hope, freeing them from the bondage of self,  “to bring good news to the afflicted…to bind up the brokenhearted,  to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” Isa. 61:1.

During my morning meditation with the Lord (which only consists of writing in my journal a little, reading one verse or so from the Bible and thinking about it for a while),  I felt a tugging to begin this blog.  I don’t know what I will write but I hope so do it on a regular basis; both to share my thoughts and to learn more about Him.

I hope you will join me as I “trudge the road to happy destiny” and find new ways to serve my Lord, Jesus Christ.

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Filters

February 26, 2017

CThe Lord has given us many “filters” in His Word.

As we move through our daily lives, we are bombarded with all kinds of distractions. Jesus told us to have peace and, not only that, He gave us peace that surpasses understanding. He gave us His peace! Wow, that is good news! But, wait a minute…then why don’t I “feel” it? What’s missing?

I know, some of you will say, its sin! I am in a state of sin, so I can’t have that supernatural peace. I have to repent, I have to have the Holy Spirit shine the light inside and show me where I have missed the mark! I have to DO SOMETHING! Well, part of that is true…except for the sin part.

Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15-17:

15 Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

So, there is something we need to do. We need to “let” peace rule. So, the question we might ask ourselves is: how are we blocking it? What are we saying “no” to God about? Again, I am not talking about sin.

Paul gives us some filters here:

  • Does the Word of God dwell in me? Am I familiar enough with the Bible to find a scripture that might apply to whatever I am stressed about? Is it part of me? Can the Holy Spirit bring to my remembrance what God has said?
  • Am I teaching or encouraging another person, or am I angry, judgmental or resentful of the other person. Am I using “wisdom” found in the Word of God about that person or situation? Is that my problem?
  • What’s in my heart? Am I singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God? What am I listening to? I cannot concentrate on singing about my Lord and keep peace at bay. What is in my heart and mind?
  • Grace! Am I operating in grace? Grace is both a person, Jesus, and a gift from God. It’s the freedom to both be “free” and to allow others to be “free” also. It’s unconditional love!
  • Who am I serving? Myself, or my Lord? Am I doing all things in His name? Am I His ambassador? Do people see Him when they see me? If I’m serving me, I’m saying “no” to Him.
  • Am I thankful?

 

The Bible has many “filters”. There is always an answer for us. Again, this is not about sin; it’s about living the abundant life that Jesus gave to us.

We are predestined to be conformed to His image (Romans 8:29) and as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) why not use the tools given to us to make our journey peace filled?

Use the Armor of the Lord (Eph. 6:6-18) as another filter:

  • The loin-belt of TRUTH. All the other armor is attached to this belt (except for the helmet). We have to know the truth. His Word is truth. As we use “truth” as a filter: we can check our motives, we can compare our thoughts with His word and find out what is really going on. We can ask the “Spirit or Truth” or the Holy Spirit to show us. (John 16:13).
  • Shoes of PEACE. We already went over peace. This says “shoes of peace”. We need to walk in it.
  • Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS. This protects our heart! We are the righteousness of God! (2 Cor. 5:21) because Jesus became sin for us and we are righteous because of Him. Sin has no power over us. We need to always remember that! We are new creations. (2 Cor. 5:17). Old things are passed away. God isn’t judging us any more. “It is finished!” Guilt, shame and remorse have no place in us. Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 2:10). There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (Ro. 8:1)
  • Shield of FAITH. Our faith in what Jesus has done shields us from every dart the enemy can hurl at us. (Eph. 6:16). We can safely stand behind it.
  • Helmet of SALVATION. This protects our minds. No thought can penetrate our minds unless we let it. We can cast down “vain imaginations” (2 Cor. 10:5). We don’t have to listen to negative thoughts or impulses…we can throw them away.
  • Sword of the Spirit—THE WORD OF GOD. The best weapon ever! Learn it, live it…enjoy the peace and joy that God has given us!

 

Be filled with the Spirit! Choose life today!

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Stop, Look and Listen

August 22, 2015

Exodus 3

  1. Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.  So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 

In Exodus 3:1-2 Moses was doing what he always did. He was doing his own thing, minding his own business, just moving along in his life. He’d been living in Midian, had a wife and family and had been there for about 40 years.

So, here he was on the far side of the desert at Mount Horeb. He led his sheep up the mountain.

There was a flame of fire that caught his notice because the bush that was “burning” wasn’t burning! He noticed the fire, but not the Angel of the Lord. The flame drew him to the Angel of the Lord.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell as tongues of fire.

(Acts 2:3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.)

Most Bible scholars agree that “The angel of the Lord” always refers to a visitation of the pre-incarnate Jesus.  So, the Holy Spirit drew Moses out of his normal, everyday life and introduced him to Jesus.

            When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” Moses answered, “Here I am.”

 When Jesus (The Lord) saw that Moses noticed and came to look, God the Father called to Moses by name. Jesus told us that no one comes to the Father except by Him/Jesus and that no one comes unless the Father draws him. Jesus tells us that He, Jesus, calls us by name.

(John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 6:44  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.)

Moses couldn’t even hear God until he responded to the Spirit and the Son. Once he did, he heard God call his name.

God doesn’t change. Even back in the Old Covenant times, He was preparing mankind for the New Covenant.  The trinity works in the same way.

Moses was not seeking God when the Holy Spirit (or the flame) got his attention. Moses couldn’t yield to the Lord until he saw Him in the flame, the Father couldn’t call him to his ministry until Moses went through Jesus first.

It is still the same today. We all yielded to Christ when the Holy Spirit prepared our hearts to see Him. We responded when we heard our own name, when we knew that He was calling us personally. What a wonderful God we serve!

We’ve been told that we have to decide to accept Christ in order to be saved.  Just like Moses, all we did was notice Him and He did the rest. We entered into His kingdom the moment we saw Him. Also, like Moses, we cannot miss our “burning bush” experience. God Almighty, Elohim, gets our attention Himself in whatever way will best capture us, then He completes it in us.

The next thing that happened was that God told Moses to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.  He was already in the Kingdom. Again, Moses did nothing but listen.  “Holy” means “set apart for God. ” Moses was standing in a piece of heaven on earth. The “dirt” of this world (his sandals) doesn’t belong there. When we acknowledge Jesus’ call, our “shoes” are removed also and we now stand in God’s kingdom on earth. The great thing about the New Covenant is that Jesus removed our shoes for us. Moses, being Old Covenant, had to remove his own.

                        5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses, a murderer, one who ran away from God is now afraid. He is face to face with the Almighty. Even we, in the New Covenant, are aware of our sins and our unworthy condition the first time we hear our name called by God. God, however, goes on speaking to Moses without acknowledging Moses’ fear. God wasn’t interested in his shortcomings or his past, God now focuses on the future.  Just like what He did and does with us.

God laid out the whole plan. He told Moses that he would be the one to set the people free from Egypt, that they would leave there wealthy, that the land promised to Abraham was waiting for them. He tells Moses what His Name is and answers all of Moses’ questions.  The next thing Moses did was try and get out of it, but that’s another story.

The takeaway here is that God never changes.  Moses didn’t deserve grace, neither do we. Moses was a sinner, so were we. Moses was called, so are we.

We receive eternal life not because we gave our life to Christ, but because He gave His life for us.

           God So loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

        God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:19)

        In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

So, like Moses, it’s not about us, it’s about Him and His love. (With Moses, it was His love for the Jewish slaves in Egypt; with us, it’s His love for us who were slaves to the world.)  He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs  according to the hope of eternal life.      

All we need to do is say “Thank you” and spread the good news to others so they can be set free too!

 

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CELL PHONE IDOLATRY

March 29, 2014

Anyone identify?

juliesramblings

The email said “Free iphone 5c!”  All I had to do was upgrade an old phone which was no longer under a contract and renew the contract for 2 years.  Wow!  I love gadgets and I love new cell phones.  I was so excited!  I looked on the website and, yup, it was true.  I could get a brand new, top of the line phone…free!

We use cell phones for business and for personal use.  None of our phones are currently under contract, we are on “month to month”.  Our phones are “obsolete”, I’ve been told.  This sounded like such a great deal.

I have learned not to jump when I see a great deal (the hard way).  So, I talked to my husband about it (he wasn’t excited), I talked to the local store about it (they weren’t excited either-no commission).  I told my friends (no excitement there either).

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