Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Are You Building on the Foundation?

I Corinthians 3:11-13 (NASB)
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
We all have jobs to do in the Kingdom of God.  Some plant, some water, as Paul discusses in chapter 3 of I Corinthians.  No one's job is more important than the next person's.  The important thing is that we all do our part, so that God will be glorified.  The problems that Paul is addressing here are similar to what we see today in our churches.
We are squabbling over petty issues while the greater work is being neglected.  The layers that we are adding to the foundation are shoddy, half-hearted, and messy.  We are not getting away with the garbage that we are peddling among God's people.  Our deeds and our motives will be revealed with tests and trials.  The fire will prove the quality of our work, according to the Bible.
We must seek to please God in all that we do.  If our lives are in sync with the Word of God, the fire will only prove it, not destroy it.  Jesus Christ is the one true foundation.  ANYTHING we build on that foundation must be worthy work, or it will burn away.  Worthy work is Kingdom work (and everything necessary to perform Kingdom work).  Whatever part you play, you have a responsibility to be the best God made you to be.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Don't Shortchange Yourself

Psalm 29:2 (KJV) Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
At this time of year, most people are reflecting on the outgoing year and making plans for the new year.  It’s time to analyze what worked and what needs some tweaking to go forward.  This is the perfect time to set new goals and make resolutions for ourselves.  It’s also a great time to recommit our lives to Christ.

The scripture I chose for today’s blog is about praise and worship.  “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name;” – that’s praise, and “worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” – that’s worship.  All you need to praise God (give glory to His name) are facts and rationalization.  We can see, touch, taste, hear, and feel what God has done or is doing.  That’s why in Psalm 150:6, the psalmist commands everything that has breath to praise the Lord; everyone can do it.  Worship, on the other hand, involves so much more.
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.  Holiness is living a life pleasing to God.  So, how can you worship the Lord if you aren’t living for Him?  Worship is impossible without a relationship with God.  A relationship with God is impossible without the blood-covering of Jesus Christ.  Worship is a life dedicated to loving God and loving people.  Worship is NOT slow, beautiful music.  Worship is NOT a church service.  Worship is NOT something you just do when you feel like it.

Worship is who you are, and who you are in Christ.  Worship is how you live every single day for the glory of God.  Worship is abiding in the true vine, Jesus Christ.  Worship is hiding the Word of God in your heart.  Worship is living intentionally with heavenly eternity in view.  Worship involves chasing after God’s own heart.  Now is the time to seek the Lord with all your heart.  Find the truth for yourself.  Stop following religion, tradition, people, clich├ęs, and entertainment.  Find the living God.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Time is Winding Up

There were two commandments that Jesus Christ gave in the New Testament:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (see Matthew 22:37-40).  All of His other teachings fit neatly into those two commandments.  When you look at organized Christianity today, do you see these two commandments being modeled?  (And I don’t mean at Thanksgiving and Christmas with fruit baskets and adopted families.)

We have a lot of stuff, but where is the love?  We’ve created rules to follow, dress codes to enforce, political parties to endorse, and governing boards to determine acceptable doctrine.  What happened to demonstrating Christ’s love in the earth?  I believe that our various programs and services are usually not bad in and of themselves.  There is no doubt in my mind that most of our traditions began with something that was necessary at the time.
However, as I look today at what we are doing and comparing it to those two great commandments, I am confused.  We have no balance.  We’re heavy on the rules and regulations, but tragically light on the love (for God and each other).  We’ve become pleasers of men, rather than servants of Christ.  We must return to our first love and our first works.  Time is short; we are living in the last days.  We are responsible for sharing the love of Christ with this dying world.

Galatians 1:10 (NASB) For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Revelation 2:4-5 (NASB) But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Hope

Advent - the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.

Let us continue to be mindful of why we celebrate the Christmas season.  It is pointless to get hung up on and/or argue about when Jesus was actually born.  Just like other holidays that have actual dates and observed dates, let’s just use the observed date to remember how much God loved the world. 
He sent His only begotten son, so that mankind could be redeemed.  The birth of the Messiah brought a blessed hope into this earth that would end our inevitable eternal separation from God.  This hope would reconcile us back to God through the ultimate sacrifice.
Most people focus on “on earth peace, goodwill toward men” during this season.  I like to focus on hope.  We were hopeless before Jesus Christ came.  Sacrifices, burnt offerings, religious traditions, practices, and rituals couldn’t save us.  No amount of piety could atone for our sins.  We could not make ourselves righteous or justified.

Jesus Christ willingly gave up His heavenly place to be born of the Virgin Mary, to fulfill the prophecy of the Messiah, to be rejected of His own people, to be despised, to be crucified.  Easter is important, but there wouldn’t be an Easter without a Christmas.  He was born to die.  He died to rise again.  He rose so that we might live forever with Him in paradise.

Remember why we celebrate.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I Made a Vow to the Lord

Psalm 119:15 (ESV)
"I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways."
How can we be sure of what God has for us?  By studying His Word, listening to His voice, and meditating on His precepts.  It is very easy to get busy for the Lord, and lose sight of what exactly it is that He has called us to do.
Sometimes we just need to take a step back, meditate on His precepts, and fix our eyes on His ways.  Meditation on God's Word involves emptying our minds of all the clutter that we've collected over the years of what we should be doing, how we should be doing it, and where we should be doing it.  Often times that fresh word we've been asking God for is right under our noses.  The WORD has been there from the beginning, but our understanding of it evolves as our relationship with Him grows.
I made a vow to the Lord to trust Him, to believe in Him, and to have faith in what He is doing in my life.  I can't fulfill that vow without taking His yoke upon me and learning of Him.  Complete surrender involves complete trust.  I cannot give up this, but hold onto that and expect to truly know Him.  I have to give Him everything I have, everything I do, and everything I am - completely.  He will guide me into His perfect will for my life, day by day, and step by step.
I end with the words from a traditional song: I'm yours, Lord; everything I've got; everything I am; everything I'm not; I'm yours, Lord; try me now and see; see if I can be completely yours.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Is You Is or Is You Ain't?

Romans 8:8-10 (NKJV) So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.  And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  Wow.  CANNOT is a pretty strong word.  It doesn't even give the option of trying.  Don't bother to pretend because it isn't going to happen.  If pleasing God is our motive for whatever we do, how can we ensure that we aren't in the flesh?  If you have the Spirit of God in you, you are not in the flesh.  This passage doesn't give a whole lot of scenarios or situations.  You have the Spirit or you don't.  There are no gray areas involved here.  Either you are His or you aren't.  If Christ is in you, the body is dead, but the Spirit is LIFE.
Now, with all that being understood, it sounds to me like there is a whole lot of repentance and sacrifice necessary for us to daily live a life of complete surrender to God.  The flesh has to be murdered on a daily basis for us to be filled with the Spirit.  Murdered, Jennifer?  I use that word because it implies there is an intent to kill it.  It's not going to happen accidentally; no manslaughter charges with this.  We have to wake up in the morning with the intent of allowing the Spirit to dwell in us.  I can only speak for myself, but my flesh likes to rise up and take over.  I have to make a conscious decision to strip my flesh of its power EVERY SINGLE DAY (and multiple times each day, depending on what's going on), and surrender to God's authority.
Let's stop pretending.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

God Will Take Care of You

God Will Take Care of You

Text: Civilla D. Martin
Music: W. Stillman Martin
Tune: MARTIN, Meter: CM with Refrain

1. Be not dismayed whate'er betide, 
 God will take care of you; 
 beneath his wings of love abide, 
 God will take care of you.

 God will take care of you, 
 through every day, o'er all the way; 
 he will take care of you, 
 God will take care of you.

2. Through days of toil when heart doth fail, 
 God will take care of you; 
 when dangers fierce your path assail, 
 God will take care of you.

3. All you may need he will provide, 
 God will take care of you; 
 nothing you ask will be denied, 
 God will take care of you.

4. No matter what may be the test, 
 God will take care of you;
 lean, weary one, upon his breast, 
 God will take care of you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bad Tree = Bad Fruit

Matthew 7:15-20 (NASB) “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.
This passage very clearly explains how you will know false prophets: by their fruits.  Everyone prophesying in the name of the Lord isn't necessarily His.  If ever there was a time for us to study God's Word for ourselves, it's NOW.  We have become complacent and lackadaisical about what we are accepting from the pulpit.
We have turned mere mortals into objects of worship, fearful of questioning what they claim is God's message.  I guarantee that God's message today will not contradict God's message of yesterday because HE CANNOT CHANGE.  God is perfect now, as He was then, as He will be for all eternity.  There is a trend among our churches to offer a thinly-veiled version of Universalism to include all people without a call to repentance.
Packing the pews with people dead to sin without offering the life Jesus so freely gives is a farce!  We have a lot of bad fruit out there, friends.  We have motivational speakers masquerading as preachers, while people continually perish.  We have a responsibility to make sure the truth is taught and heard.  You may want to keep the peace, but when you know a teaching to be contrary to the Word of God, you must speak up.
Pray and ask God to open up the truth of His Word to you as you study.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the boldness you need to stand up to false teaching.  Once you know the truth, you can no longer sit under the bad tree.  That bad tree cannot produce good fruit, and that isn't judging anyone.  That is the truth of God's Word.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Worry Exchange

Why does it have to be so hard?  How do we turn the simplest of tasks into insurmountable obstacles?  It's time to get back to basics.  We often talk about how things were so much easier when we were children.  Well, that's because we just lived day to day, playing with our friends, enjoying our world and being taken care of by our parents.

1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."  That is the perfect formula to have the carefree life that we once enjoyed.  A lot of us have to go to work (or work in the home), pay bills, keep cars in good repair, maintain houses and yards, keep our places stocked with necessities, feed children and pets, and try to squeeze time in there for some fun every now and then.  We don't have to be overwhelmed with these things.

Whenever you are feeling particularly stressed, remember that God wants you to give that anxiety to Him.  You shouldn't be losing sleep over what you cannot control.  Even if a decision you made has come back to haunt you, let it go.  Beating yourself up over milk that has spilled isn't helping anyone, least of all YOU!  Ask God to give you peace and the ability to make better decisions in the future.

When we make a decision to surrender to God, we mean everything.  Every care of life, every worry, every decision, every day.  He won't take the anxiety from you; you have to give it up.  When you feel fear trying to grip your very soul, pray.  When you begin to fret because you don't know what to do, where to go, to whom to turn, pray.  He won't leave you empty handed after you have given Him your worries.  He will exchange them for peace, comfort, love, mercy, and grace.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jesus Didn't Come to Give Us Religion

I understand why Jesus Christ rebelled against the established religious system while He was here on earth.  Religion seeks to sustain itself, rather than build the Kingdom of God.  Religion doesn't necessarily meet the needs of the community in which it resides.  Religion and tradition walk hand in hand, looking behind them and reminiscing about what once was.  They will often refer to the "good ole days" with misty eyes.

I am challenged in my walk with Christ to forget those things which are behind me and press forward, toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).  There is a calling higher than religion, my friends.  There is a calling to imitate the example that Jesus Christ gave us while in human form.  He met the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of all those who chose to believe that He could.

The offer is still being extended to believe that He can!  He can eliminate that void in your life that you are trying to use religion to fill.  Church busy-ness won't satisfy your soul.  That longing that you feel deep down within is God calling you into relationship with Him.  The time is coming and now is for you to worship Him in spirit and in truth (see John 4:23-24).  God isn't seeking religious people; He's seeking true worshippers!

"...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10b (KJV)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I've Got My Own Problems!

"Right now I"m having so much trouble with D. L. Moody, that I don't have time to criticize my friends." ~ D.L. Moody

There is so much work to be done with Jennifer that I really just don't have the time or energy to worry about what's wrong with the rest of the world.  Things can always be better, but the person who deserves my focus in that regard is me.  God has given me the desire and resources to get myself together first and foremost.

When you are being given safety instructions on an airplane, the flight attendant says for you to get your oxygen mask on first before assisting anyone else with theirs.  How are you going to help someone else if you're passed out?  Well, I've come to the conclusion that life is just like those oxygen masks.  I can't point at you to criticize how crooked yours is, if mine isn't even on and I'm gasping for air!

My primary responsibility to you is not to tell you what you're doing wrong, but to love you with the love of Christ.  Love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8).  I find that most people know when they are doing something wrong, backwards, ineffective, or foolish.  It is truly pointless to argue or try to force someone to your way of thinking (maybe you're the one who's wrong).  State your case, voice your opinion, and move on.

Bottom line: focus on your own faults, rather than find fault with others.  I guarantee that their fault will find them eventually.  Meanwhile, you will be much happier not worrying about what's wrong with the rest of the world. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

You Must Needs Go Through Samaria

John 4:4 (KJV) And he must needs go through Samaria.
If you will read the story in John chapter 4 about the Samaritan woman at the well, you will understand that her encounter with Jesus was life-changing.  In fact, she ran and told her people about this man Jesus, and many of their lives were changed as well.  Jesus knew that there was a need in Samaria for a savior.
You also 'must needs go through Samaria'.  You might think that there is nothing there for you, but God has a need to meet that requires your presence.  You may have no kinship with the people there, but there is something for you to do.  Your journey is going to require you to go to places that you don't see as beneficial.  Your purpose may include spending time with undesirable people.
You need that Samaritan experience to grow.  What if Jesus avoided going through Samaria?  There would have been a whole town of people who would have missed benefiting from the woman at the well's personal encounter with Him.  If you don't go through your Samaria, you will miss out on some fulfilling experience intended for your life.  Samaria might not be pleasant; it might not be your ideal situation.  God has a plan for Samaria and its people.  He loves them just as much as He loves you.  Be grateful for the opportunity to be used by God in whatever situation you find yourself.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

We Won't Understand Everything

I am resting on God's promises.  I know what He has given me; I know what He has shown me.  I keep letting my present state interfere with my hope of the future.  Just because I can't see how I will get to the vision from my present location doesn't mean God doesn't already have it worked out.

We tend to get impatient and want everything immediately.  God has to make sure that I'm ready for my next season.  He has to build my character, skill set, knowledge base, etc., so that I am prepared for whatever He has for me behind the curtain.  God knows exactly what I will need and the person I'm going to need to be to be successful in what He has planned for me.

God is never going to set me up to fail; I can trust Him while I go through the process.  No matter what it looks like to me, God is working everything for my success.  His ways are not my ways.  I could never wrap my head around everything God has prepared for me and prepared me for.  All the stops, detours, and u-turns along my journey are just that: part of the journey.

I have to stop looking at points along the journey as the end.  Eternity has no end; my soul has no end.  I am who I am because of my journey thus far, and I will continually evolve into the woman God would have me to be, growing in grace as my experiences shape me.  I am pressing my way through the hardships, trying to reflect Christ's image as much as I am able.  One day I will be like Him and with Him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Called According to His Purpose

Sometimes I feel like the enemy is winning.  I know he's not, but when problem after problem after bad situation after conflict after miscommunication after disagreement occurs, it looks like he's got the upper hand.  It gets hard to press through some of life's foolishness at times, especially when the most hell is happening in what you thought was a safe place.

Satan's job is to steal, kill, and destroy.  Stealing your joy, killing your hope, and destroying your peace of mind are his most effective tools.  Once you've lost those, you become pretty ineffective for Kingdom building.  All you want to do is give up!  You wonder what's the point in trying if you're only going to fail.

God has designed your life for purpose.  If you can just keep your focus on God's Will for your life, all of life's disappointments won't distract you from that divine purpose.  I understand that our faith gets shaken by some of our trials, and we want to know why God allows certain things to happen.  It isn't always for us to know why.  All we need to recognize is that every setback, sucker punch, and sour grape is working to make us more like HIM.  It ultimately isn't about us anyway.

Galatians 2:20 (NASB) I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Romans 8:28 (NASB) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Ephesians 6:13 (KJV) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
It seems that sometimes every area of your life gets thrown out of whack all at once.  We get overwhelmed when there is trouble on every side, but we need to make sure we're geared up for battle.  We must remember that we don't wrestle just against flesh and blood.  We need to suit up in God's armor.
The trying of our faith produces the kind of character in us that God can use for great things.  Although the fire gets hot, God can't meld us into what He desires without it.  Plaster a smile on your face and go on through it!  I know it gets uncomfortable and even down right painful at times, but God is faithful.
The work that He begins in you, He will bring to completion in you.  Even when it seems that you aren't even moving forward, just stand.  The important thing is not to retreat.  God is working all those problems out for your good.  On the other side of these trials is greatness because that's what you are destined for.  See yourself how God sees you through the blood of Jesus Christ, as more than a conqueror.  In just a short while, you will wonder how you made it over.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Forget What You Think You Know

2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
This has always been one of my favorite verses for as far back as I can remember.  Psalm 119:11 is also one of my favorites.  "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." (KJV)  We should never get tired of reading and studying the Word of God.  New revelations are received with every reading, every hearing.
I am about to embark upon a journey that I have begun so many times and never made it through:  to read through the entire Bible.  I get bored with the genealogies or bogged down in the measurements, and I just give up.  There is so much to be discovered in this #1 bestseller of all time!  There are so many treasures that I find through random readings that I can only imagine the gems that await me in a thorough read-through.
Sometimes we have preconceived notions of things that are in the Bible, false interpretations, errors in our applications, and just general confusions.  I am going to put away everything that I think I know about the Bible, and just begin as a blank slate.  My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will reveal new, fresh, and insightful things to me day by day.  I am also requesting the prayers of my friends that I stay on course this time and not quit before the goal is accomplished.
I have registered for an on-line Bible study that I would like to recommend to you as well.  It's entitled Cookies on the Lower Shelf by Pam Gillaspie (a Precept Ministries study).  If I do all 3 10-week segments, I will have gone through the Bible in 30 weeks!  I'm excited to learn all the new (to me) things that God has ready to unfold.  If you're itnerested in registering for this particular on-line study, here's a link for you -

Monday, August 27, 2012

And Greater Works Than These

John 14:12 (KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
As most Christians do, I marvel at the miraculous works that Jesus performed here on earth.  I often wonder how spectacular it would have been to follow Him around town, witnessing His divine power and His gentle nature.  How magnificent the healing experience if I could have but touched His clothes!
I get these 'nudges', I'll call them.  These whispers in my ear where the Lord asks "what about you?".  Excuse me, Lord?  What do you mean?  I read these scriptures all the time about abiding in the true vine and being a temple of the Holy Spirit.  Somehow, I tend to only view those things helping me to live everyday, but that's not ALL.
We have POWER!  We have divine abilities!  We have God's spirit within us to do these greater works that Jesus mentions.  What we need to do is exercise our faith in order to grow it to maturity.  It's our faith in God's ability to work through us that will heal the sick, bring lost souls to Christ, encourage the hearts of the down-trodden.
As we are tested, tried, and refined in the fire, our faith in God will grow.  We will be able to declare: "If You can use anything, Lord, You can use me!"  That's when we will begin to see miracles and wonders.  That's when our greater works will manifest themselves.  That's when we will refuse to allow anyone or anything to keep us from our God-ordained purpose in this life.  Have faith in God!  Believe in Jesus Christ!  Let the Holy Spirit dwell within you!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Salvation Isn't Hard

Romans 10:9-10 (KJV) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

I'm trying to figure out where the "but" or "except" is in this passage.  So many people make salvation so much more difficult than it is.  There are people in some of these churches that would probably tell Jesus He wasn't saved if He was walking the earth in the flesh today!  (Sounds a lot like some religious people that were living in Jesus' day, huh?)

I challenge you to STOP adding stipulations onto salvation, and just tell people the truth.  Once they have received the gift of salvation, the work begins in them by the aid of the Holy Spirit.  Some of us are making sin out of things Jesus never would, and we are hurting people and turning them off from the church.  Ask the Lord to show you how to deal with people.  I promise He will, if you will yield to Him.  Stop diving headlong into your own brand of righteousness and forcing it on everyone else!

I further challenge you to develop the heart of the Master.  Who would Jesus condemn?  How many religious rules and regulations did Jesus institute?  What denomination did Jesus start?  It's time out for us thinking we are holier than Jesus Himself.  He was meek, humble, and ACCEPTING of ALL people.  You don't need to agree with everyone, but you are commanded to LOVE.  Love does not condemn.  I Corinthians 13 gives you a perfect view of what love is.  I John 4:8 tells us that God is love.  If you don't have love, you might want to re-evaluate your relationship with God.

Finally, I leave you with the words of our Lord and Savior with regard to how difficult it is to follow Him:  "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:29-30 (KJV)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hope Exists

Lamentations 3:21-25 (KJV) This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

There are so many people drowning in a sea of despair in this world.  Sometimes it seems that nothing will ever get better.  Marriages are failing, children are going astray, illnesses are consuming, jobs are lost, homes are foreclosed, bills are mounting..........  BUT there is hope.

Every morning we wake up is because of the Lord's mercies.  That should give us hope in itself.  He saw fit to wake us up this morning.  He has a plan for our lives; that's hope.  He provides our daily bread; that's hope.  He gives us grace to make it through each day; that's hope.  Your days may be dark right now, but joy comes in the morning.  God is working on your behalf, if you love Him and are called according to His purpose.

There is hope, my friends.  Jesus Christ, our blessed hope, our redeemer, is standing with arms outstretched, waiting for you to cast your cares on Him.  Hold on and be strong; you can make it. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Putting "Church" in its Place

I read a blog post this morning entitled "Give Up Your Good Christian Life and Follow Jesus".  That title immediately struck a chord with me because I have been so turned off by church denominations and religion.  It was nice to confirm that I'm not the only one.

There are so many "good Christian" people out there hurting people that it's downright disgusting.  In our various denominations, you have to walk this line or join this or that group to be accepted.  You have to hold this political view, or belong to that movement.  Just following Jesus Christ isn't good enough for some people.  You have to attend services, belong to ministry groups, and tithe to be in good-standing in some churches.

Church membership is not a bad thing, but what people have turned it into has become a burden for a lot of people.  If your goal in life is to become more and more like Jesus Christ everyday, that's enough!  Jesus never put all these rules, regulations, and requirements on people.  He came to deliver us from those very things.

I will leave you with a scripture for thought from a parable that Jesus used.  When it comes time for you to stand before the King, what's going to matter?

Matthew 25:40 (NASB) The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Shakin' the Dust Off My Feet

Luke 9:5 (NASB) And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.

You can't force the truth on anyone.  Jesus Christ himself didn't make anyone believe in Him.  You have a responsibility to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You do not have the authority to make anyone believe it.  Once someone rejects the message of the cross, salvation through Jesus Christ, move on!  You don't have to keep beating them up with it.  Stop arguing about it, and just pray for his/her soul.

Father God, in the name of Jesus Christ, we come to you first to thank you for saving us.  We thank you for your grace and your endless mercy.  We ask that you have mercy on those who have rejected You and Your holiness.  Allow them to have yet another opportunity to believe that You sent Your precious son to take away our sins.  We give them over to you, Father, because You are sovereign, and it is Your will that will be done.  Help us to forgive those who have hurt us, slandered our names, and mocked us for Your sake.  Keep us in perfect peace, as we keep our minds on You.  Cause us to have a burden to know You all the more, to study Your Word all the more, to fellowship with You all the more.  Give us Your heart, O God, for a broken nation that has strayed from Your commands.  We plead for holy boldness to declare Your Word among the heathen, and wisdom to keep it movin' if we are not received.  Amen.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

And There You Have It

Isaiah 41:10 NLT "Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

The Bible is filled with God's promises, and every now and then, we just need to be reminded of God's faithfulness.  It doesn't matter if it looks like the enemy is winning; God is in control.  We need not be discouraged by the appearance of the situation.  It may seem like it can only turn out one way, but we must trust God above all else.

Our senses are no match for God's omnipotence.  Just because we can't see where our deliverance is coming from doesn't mean it isn't coming.  When all the doors and windows are blocked, God can lift us up through the roof to our blessing.  Stop trying to have all the answers.  God already knows how He's going do it, and His ways are not our ways.

This promise in Isaiah tells me in simple terms: "Don't sweat it; I am ahead of this game.  Don't you know me by now?  I am the only wise God, the Sovereign above all.  You are mine, so I have made perfect plans for you.  Trust me."  Trusting God isn't always easy when we're playing chicken with a life-changing decision, but it is ALWAYS best.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NASB) Happy Independence Day! Although all Americans didn't receive their freedom at the same time, the fact is that Christ made us all free thousands of years ago. For those who have accepted His sacrifice, we will ALWAYS be free as long as we abide in Him. Enjoy your freedom, both natural and spiritual! Have a safe holiday, friends.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not My Will

John 6:38 (NASB) For I have come down from heaven,  not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

If Jesus the Christ wouldn't do whatever He wanted while on this earth, why do we think it's okay for us?  We continually and consistently do what we think is best, or what someone else has told us is the proper thing to do.  There has got to come a time in your Christian life when you make up in your mind that you are going to do the will of the Father.

"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  Do we mean it when we pray it?  I often catch myself serving me instead of serving my God.  What is best for the furtherance of the Kingdom should be the driving force in my decision making process.  The problem that I have, maybe you as well, is that the flesh rises up on a daily basis and tries to take over.  I want this, or I want that.  My family needs ABC, or XYZ would make my life easier.  Why is God's will so often an afterthought?

God's way truly is the best way, and if we would seek His will in every decision we must make (great and small), I think we'll find that our lives couldn't be any better.  I didn't say easier or more comfortable, but BETTER.  If we seek God with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13), we will find Him - and His will for our lives.  If we walk in God's will for our lives, we walk in God's blessings for our lives.  We expect God to bless whatever plans we make, as long as we're good people doing the right things at the right times.  That's nice, but that isn't seeking God for direction.

Seek God's will for your life, and you will end up where He wants you to be at the right time to accomplish what He would have you to do for His purpose.  We were created for His pleasure, not our own.  He wants to shower us with every good thing, but we must do things His way.  We have to fight our flesh daily, crucify it daily, kick it to the curb daily.  The only way we will seek God's will above our own is to let the Holy Spirit have control of our thoughts, processes, and plans.  We must submit ourselves in order to submit to God's will.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'm Working Out

Philippians 2:12 (KJV)  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

It's easy to do what's right when somebody is watching, but what happens when we think we are alone?  Following Jesus Christ involves obeying Him at all times.  Although works do not save us, we must continually work out.  Our spiritual fitness depends on it.  We don't want to become lazy, complacent, and out of shape.

Salvation is a free gift of God for those who accept it.  Once that critical life choice is made, we must begin to put our faith into action, working out our own salvation.  We must revere God and His holiness, being very conscious to obey His commands.  The eyes of the Lord are in every place, so He is always watching.  Reading your Bible at church is wonderful, but are you reading at home?  Not cussing in front of your kids is great, but what happens in traffic? (GUILTY)  Praying in Sunday School is beautiful, but how's that prayer life at home?  Not shoplifting in the store is fantastic, but what about those pens in your pocket from work?

We must perpetually press toward that mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus.  We have to work out daily in our study of God's Word, in our meditation on His law, in our communication with Him in prayer.  The awesome thing about this journey is that we have a helper, a comforter, a convictor, an educator: the Holy Spirit.  Jesus Christ knew we wouldn't be able to obey the law of the Lord in our own strength, so He sent us the precious Holy Ghost.  We need to listen to him and heed his direction.  It's all a part of the work out, which will increase our stamina, improve our function, and bring clarity to our purpose.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

About Love

Matthew 22:36-40 (NASB) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘ You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

When Jesus came to earth in the flesh, He summarized the law into these two commandments.  If you would look at all the commands God gave Israel in the Old Testament, every single one of them is covered with these two.  There are just things you won't do to someone you love.  I Peter 4:8 tells us that love covers a multitude of sins.  I Corinthians 13:13 tells us that love is the greatest virtue to have.  With love, every other "good" trait exists.

But I'm not speaking of that friendly love or that romantic love.  I am discussing godly love.  The love that we have to ask God to help us to have.  The love that sees past every fault of people we encounter; the love that reaches around the globe to people we've never met.  The love that can care for the well-being of an individual without compromising our standards or beliefs.  This love has nothing to do with compatibility.

God is love (I John 4:8), so how can we worship Him without love?  Worshiping God involves loving people, and loving them enough to make sacrifices of our own desires.  When we begin to place the needs of other people (even perfect strangers) before our own, we show God's love for us.  Even while we were sinners, totally against God and His righteousness, He sent His only son to die for us (Romans 5:8).  There was and is no guarantee that we will accept God's love, but still He offers it to us.  We must offer our love to others, and let them decide whether they will accept it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Study the Word!

Mark 12:24 (NASB) Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?

In this particular passage the question has come up about marriage in heaven, and Jesus' response is a classic.  This answer goes beyond the question that was even asked of Him.  This answer is for every one of life's questions that we ponder on a daily basis. 

II Timothy 2:15 instructs us to study the Word, so we can apply it appropriately.  We often err in life because we don't know the Scriptures.  The Bible contains answers for the saved person to live holy, correction when we've gone astray, and blessed hope when we are in despair.  Even when asked for advice, we should revert to what God has said about a matter.  Our opinions should be based on our understanding of the Word of God.  Sure, we will still make human mistakes, but studying God's Word opens up our minds daily to fresh, new revelations and applications.

The second part of Jesus' answer explains the rest of our issues.  We don't understand the power of God.  The knowledge of the Word of God, coupled with the power of God will make us UNSTOPPABLE!  The enemy can't defeat me if I understand the promises God has spoken over my life, and I know He is able to bring them to pass in His omnipotence (all powerful-ness).  I can get back up after a failure, if I understand the lesson that God was teaching me and trust in His power to yet try again with what I've learned.

I don't have to keep making the same mistakes.  I can study the Scriptures and understand the power of God, as they apply to my life.  I can live a better life; I can be a better me, and that will bring glory to God.  All I want to do is what's pleasing to God, and I can't know what that is without studying His Word and trusting in His power.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Uncluttered Mind

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Have you noticed how much craziness is on the television these days? From the news to these unreal reality shows, there is far too much foolishness competing for our minds. The enemy wants to keep us from all forms of enlightenment, especially spiritual awakening. If he can dumb us down with cat fights, who's not the father, and who has the best voice, he can keep us from our various God-given assignments.

It is our responsibility as God's people to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. He gives us the training and instruction we need through God's Word to live our best lives. Our minds must be constantly renewed, considering the amount of junk we process daily. Even without the foolery of the t.v., we still have distractions, tests, and trials to overcome. We need our spiritual tools to withstand against the wiles of the enemy.

Your mind has a lot of stuff in it, from grocery lists to birthday reminders to scriptures. Spend some time with God to clear out the junk and reinforce the treasures. Cut back on some of that polluted television. Watch more wholesome programs or just watch less t.v. altogether. God desires you to know His will for your life, and you must spend time with Him in prayer, Bible study, and meditation to discern it. Don't let the world's behavior dictate yours. Let God transform you by renewing your mind.

Friday, May 4, 2012

For the Sake of Christ!

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (KJV) We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

It doesn't matter what your situation may look like.  God is still and always has been in control.  One of the most important things about your circumstance is your reaction to it.  We have been warned time and again throughout the Bible that afflictions will come.  When we have received Christ, however, HIS character should be manifested in our lives.

Someone is watching how you handle your troubles and persecution.  How do you respond when falsely accused or crushed to your very soul with heartache?  Is your reply "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him" like Job?  How will the world see Christ through you if you lash out at every hurt that someone inflicts upon you?  These afflictions are developing your character and preparing you for your next level of glory.

These tests that we all must endure are growing us up in the body of Christ.  We continue to grow (or not) spiritually as long as we live on this earth.  We have to study the Holy Scriptures and apply them to our lives, so that we can mature in the supernatural realm.  We can't bear witness of Holy Ghost power living raggedy lives.  For the sake of Christ we must change and grow.  We have to be able to take the good with the bad, the trouble, the perplexity, the persecution, and being cast down because we know that isn't the end for us.  The life of Jesus needs to be made manifest in our body, whatever the alleged cost.  For me to live is Christ, no matter what difficulties I face because I am living to live again and eternally!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How Long?

Proverbs 1:22 (NASB) "How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge?
I believe these are questions everyone needs to answer within him/herself.  When are you going to get fed up with foolishness?  How long will you remain ignorant of the things of God?  There comes a time in your life when you realize that maturity doesn't have much to do with age.  There are as many old fools in the world as young.  The same is true of the "saints" (and I use that term very loosely).
There are people who have been born and raised up in the church, but yet insist on not following the commands of God.  They follow church etiquette, protocol, rules, and regulations, but completely miss the mark on the whole 'love your neighbor as yourself' train of thought consistent throughout the Bible.  We tear each other down, hate on each other's gifts, belittle each other, and backbite one another.  Where is the Christ in that?  How long will we be so simple-minded and selfish?  How long will we not join together in the unity of the body of Jesus Christ?  How long will we choose to remain ignorant of God's plan for our lives?
No one can answer these questions for you.  There has to come a time in your spiritual journey when YOU decide to put away childish things.  No one can force you to grow up.  This is a decision that only you can make.  You have to want to seek more of God, to know His will for you, and to learn more of Him.  We worship God through our relationship with Him in Christ Jesus.  We cannot worship God if we don't know Him.  If you aren't interested in knowing Him, why are you in church?  How long will you love being simple-minded?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Are You Facing a Midnight?

Acts 16:25-26 (NASB) But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.

Sometimes life just gets dark.  Nothing seems to be going right.  Everything and everybody is against your success.  You feel hopeless, helpless, and desperate.  There is no way out.  There is no light at the end of your tunnel.  There is no dawn on your horizon.  Things are just bad.

You need to praise your way through.  Paul and Silas were facing a horrible situation in the passage selected above.  They were in jail for no good reason.  Christians at the time were persecuted and put to death for their beliefs, but they did not wallow in dispair.  What did they do?  They prayed and they sang songs of praise to God!  This is an excellent example of how to break through a midnight situation.  Pray and sing praises to God!!!

Your praise not only will free you, but "everyone's chains were unfastened"!  Your praise in the midst of your storm will probably encourage someone else to trust God through theirs.  Paul and Silas were given a miraculous opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ after they were freed from their bondage with prayer and praise.  You likewise have a miraculous opportunity to testify of the goodness of God with your breakthrough!  What breakthrough?  The one you're going to receive through your perpetual praise and continual prayer.  Your change just may happen in your attitude, or in your mind, or in your perseverance, or the circumstances around you, but it WILL happen.

Only believe!  All things are possible to them that believe.  When you are facing a midnight, remember Paul and Silas in jail, and how they made it over.  God has not changed; He will do the same thing for you.  Pray and praise God in advance for your deliverance!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Must Produce Kingdom Fruit!!!

Matthew 21:43 (NIV) Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

Have you ever wondered why we do so much busy work in the church building?  I am constantly questioning church activities.  We seem so unbalanced sometimes.  Somewhere along the way, we've halted our fruit production.  I don't want the kingdom of God taken away from me because I'm merely going through the motions of church membership.

There is so much more to kingdom work than coming to church.  We must prepare ourselves for "fieldwork" in settings other than Sunday morning worship service.  In order to produce kingdom fruit, we have to read God's Word, study it, and pray for understanding, discernment, and opportunity.  The harvest truly is ripe, but the laborers are sitting up in the church building among themselves being entertained.

We don't have time to play church.  The Father is seeking worshipers, and those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.  True worship involves DOING, which is the production of kingdom fruit.  We have to live what we preach in our churches; we have to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to a world that doesn't want it.  Christ was rejected, and yet He still sacrificed His life for us all.  We have to do all we know to produce the kind of fruit that is fitting to the kingdom of God.  A good tree doesn't produce bad fruit; bitter and sweet water doesn't flow from the same well.

Producing kingdom fruit begins with a clean heart.  We have to lay ourselves bare before a holy God, so He can purify us of all unrighteousness.  REPENT, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! (Matthew 3:2)  I must produce kingdom fruit, or I'm not a part of the kingdom.  Seek after what God wants YOU to do in the kingdom.  He will reveal it to you through prayer and the scriptures.  Then, DO IT!!  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Praying in Proper Order

Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV) The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

It's kind of hard to believe that our omnipotent God would care to rejoice over us for any reason at all.  Our greatest accomplishments are nothing compared to His splendor.  All of our "righteousness" is but filthy rags before Him.  We couldn't possibly do anything to deserve His unfailing love, and He yet loves us anyway.  That's enough to turn any bad day into the best day of your life with thanksgiving!  Amazingly, however, we tend to focus on everything but God.  Perhaps if we change the way we pray, we can gain a better perspective on our lives.

His presence is always with us; we only need to acknowledge Him.  Even in our prayers, we spend more time bringing Him our requests instead of resting in His love.  A.C.T.S. is the acronym for a great prayer model.  A = adoration; spend some time telling God how wonderful He is.  Begin your prayers with facts about His character, and praise Him!  C = confession; don't start asking for stuff before you ask for forgiveness for your shortcomings.  He is faithful and just to forgive us, if we will confess the sins.  T = thanksgiving; acknowledge what God has already done.  He doesn't have to do anything for us.  The least we can do is be grateful.  S = supplication; present your requests to God.  I would even go so far as to place intercession (requests for others) before your own needs.

The very next time you pray, remember the ACTS model.  I believe that it will help us to keep God's greatness, grace, mercy, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, infiinity, justice, faithfulness, provision, healing, and restoration at the forefront of our minds.  How can a grateful heart be bitter about the circumstances of what might be considered a "bad day"?  In the midst of my so-called bad day, God is rejoicing over me with singing BECAUSE HE'S GOD.  I don't deserve His love, and He lets me rest in it anyway.  Pray yourself into a good mood daily!  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Stay Focused or Sink

Matthew 14:30 (KJV) But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

In Matthew 14, we find the story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus.  Peter was able to walk on the water with Jesus until he noticed his circumstances.  We are the same way.  As long as we focus on the situation instead of the Savior, we will sink.  We will sink into despair, distress, depression, distraction, and destruction if we keep our eyes on the storms around us.

We have to continually focus and re-focus on Jesus Christ.  Our enemies know that an obstacle in our line of sight will cause us to sink.  We can't be effective in our respective ministries if we are flailing around in the water trying to stay afloat, swallowing water, and fearing for our lives.  Peter knew exactly who to call when he began to sink.  "Lord, save me!" he cried.

When you feel that life is swallowing you up, and you've lost your proper focus, cry out to Jesus for salvation, deliverance, healing, restoration, and direction.  You don't have to sink when Jesus has bid you to come out onto the water.  He has called you to the work, and He has no plans for you to fail (Jeremiah 29:11).  Stay focused on Jesus Christ or re-focus on Him.  Look upon His face and live!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Prepared to Give It All Up

When I made a decision to give my life to Jesus Christ, I did not pledge allegiance to any particular church building, pastor, or denomination.  Fellowshiping with other Christians is necessary to stay encouraged, to be taught, to learn from each other's experiences, and just to enjoy the company of like-minded people.  It isn't necessary, however, to be more faithful to church programs than to Jesus Christ.  The call to discipleship is simple: deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus Christ.  Why are there now so many people standing in the way of true discipleship with rules, regulations, titles, positions, auxiliaries, committees, financial requirements, and programs?  I want a relationship with Jesus Christ, not an obligation to a church building.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with belonging to any particular Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church, but that membership should never be more important than being a part of the body of Christ.  When we hurt one another over things that Jesus Christ never even taught, we have lost sight of our true purpose, which is to love God and love each other.  The church has damaged so many people and perpetuated so much foolishness that I can't even defend it in an argument.  Let me be clear: there are loving people in every church, and there are outreach programs, food pantries, homeless shelters, after school services, and ministries galore in many churches.  There are good things happening, but they are often overshadowed by the negative things.  The positive things are happening in private with people who just want to help and don't want any praise or glory, while the negative things are right in front of your face with people intent on being important, having titles and positions, and being above others.

I make the declaration today that I will give up every title, position, and function in the church if my walk with Jesus Christ is hindered by them.  I have decided to follow Jesus, not anyone else.  No one is going to pick any shade trees for me to sit under, or make me feel obligated to do anything that Jesus Christ hasn't called me to do.  I will live a life of worship, covered in prayer and scripture.  I am encouraging myself this day to walk in my calling in Jesus Christ.  Nothing else matters!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Above All

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”  Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

Things happen, let’s face it.  We don’t need to pretend that everything is running smoothly all the time, and that conflict doesn’t occur.  We actually were never commanded by God to agree with one another, but we are instructed to live peacefully with each other in unity.  Sometimes we just need to part ways, as did Barnabas and Paul.  After all, how can two walk together unless they agree? (Amos 3:3)

Even as we walk different paths, there should still be unity among the body of Christ.  Just because we separated along the journey doesn’t mean we don’t have a common objective.  The Great Commission is the same for all believers.  We are to GO and TEACH (Matthew 28:19-20).  Although our methods differ, our message (the Gospel message) is the same.

Love binds us all together in unity.  I don’t have to agree with you to love you.  I also shouldn’t speak badly about you because you don’t agree with me.  There is the old saying to “agree to disagree” and move forward.  I may plant, you may water, but God gives the increase.  It takes all of us operating in our particular spiritual gifts for the body of Christ to function properly.  The body cannot work without love holding it all together.  Let’s love each other ABOVE ALL!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting My Priorities Straight in 2012

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
For 2012, I am challenging myself to put the kingdom of God in first place.  Everything I do should have a kingdom motive if it's done from a kingdom perspective.  From brushing my teeth, to working on my job, to smiling at strangers on the street, everything in which I participate should show forth the love of Jesus Christ.  This does not mean that I will be busier in the church building, but it does mean that I will be busier being the church.  It is time that we, as the body of Christ, did more to bridge gaps among us and work together to further the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ. 

You have to pray and ask God how you can best serve the kingdom.  We all have to do our own respective parts for the body to move as it should in the earth.  We have to stop fighting each other over things that have no bearing on salvation.  If we all will seek the kingdom and God's righteousness, I believe we will find ways to work together to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I also believe that kingdom-seekers won't spend a lot of time spinning their wheels going nowhere.  Sometimes we need to cut some unnecessary things off!

I am getting my priorities straight, and seeking the kingdom this year.  Can I count on you to help me?  If you notice me getting off course, will you nudge me back on track?  Will you love me enough to encourage me to succeed?  Let's get it!