Sunday, October 15, 2017

Respect and Honor

Leviticus 19:3  "Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God."

1 Peter 2:17  "Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor."

Exodus 20:12  "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee."

        Our relationships with each other are important to God.  He specifically guides us in our relationships in 6 of the Ten Commandments.  Relationships are built upon respect for one another and suffer severely when it is lacking.  

        Exodus 20:12 is not only a commandment, but one with a promise included.  When we show respect to our parents, we honor them and show a godly relationship to others.  As children, we are to obey our parents. "The ruin of young people has often been observed to begin in the contempt of their parents and the disregard of the sabbath day." [M.Henry]   As adults, we are to have value and respect for our parents.  "It's a life-long calling of unconditional love."
        As 1 Peter 2:17 explains how respect is not discriminatory but should be given to all.  Respect can just mean making someone feel of worth. "We are to respect and cherish all human life: the born and those still in the womb; winsome children and weary seniors; the wealthy executive and the financially destitute. All persons are unique productions of our Creator’s genius." []
       "We may say that people need to show themselves worthy of respect before we can respect them. But respecting another person is much more about who we are than about who the other person is." []  Christians are often ridiculed as being hypocrites because their walk isn't the same as their talk.  When you disrespect others, you are not representing what God has asked of you in His Word.
        May respect always be a given in your own life as you deal with family, friends, acquaintances and strangers.

Eight ways to honor our parents as adults:[A.Howard]

  1. Respect and learn from their wisdom.
  2. Help to meet their needs.
  3. Spend time with them.
  4. Remember special events. 
  5. Love them unconditionally – being willing to forgive when necessary.
  6. Try to always speak highly of them.
  7. Understand their value in the eyes of God.
  8. Honor their legacy.

You'll gain respect when people see
That you are faithful to God's Word;
There may be some who disagree,
But they will know you love the Lord. —D. De Haan

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Keep Going

     We all move at our own pace.  If we are hurried, we often are more likely to make mistakes.  If we are slowed down, we are often impatient and snippy.  I've often remarked... 'Don't rush me!'  or  'Good grief, Go already.'  Today, I felt like I was in the fast lane of life and it was not a comfortable feeling.
     'Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.'  I think this phrase points to the danger in having people say a quick 'prayer' and telling them they are saved. There are countless people with biblical head knowledge but their heart has turned deaf to it.  Salvation isn't a one-stop shop, but the beginning of sanctification... the transforming of ourselves into Christ's likeness.  God works in mysterious ways sometimes just to get us to see His light in the darkness.
    Sometimes our impatience can influence our witnessing.  We give up on people because their spiritual growth doesn't follow our timeline.  God's timing is the only clock that counts and we don't know what it says.  We give up because we see how far there is to go, instead of how far they've come.  Our witnessing should always have an eternal goal and perspective, rather than a short term gain in focus.

   'Progress has little to do with speed, but much to do with direction.'
   'Our goal should be progress, not perfection.'
   'The way of progress is neither swift nor easy.' 

    May we lead others in the right direction and have them follow in a progressive pace.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Dear Younger Me

"Dear Younger Me"  lyrics by MercyMe

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride
Dear younger me, dear younger me

If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
Dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed [x3]

          Today in our church, we had a message aimed at honoring seniors in our congregation and then transitioning into more importantly, our reverence for God.  A luncheon for seniors over 55 was provided after the service and communion .  While that was great for them, as a 46 year old youngster my mind quickly calculated that I'm only 9 yrs away from being at that luncheon.  What???  My youthful spirit just stopped in it's tracks to consider the reality of where I've been and how far I've come with God's grace and mercy.
       "We must run; for grace is not an overwhelming force which compels unwilling minds to move contrary to their will: our running is the spontaneous leaping forward of a mind which has been set free by the hand of God and delights to show its freedom by its bounding speed." -- Charles Spurgeon
      As this song above is a letter to one's younger self, I too thought about making a list of 'do-overs' if I could rewrite my history.  That's not what I want or would do tho, because my journey and mistakes helped me learn and make me who I am today.  I don't have a life of regrets, but one of struggle-driven joy.  God allowed my life to happen as it has as a way to draw me to Him through all the joys, heartaches, rewards and consequences.  Ecclesiastes 11:8  "However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. But let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many." 
       My parents did the right thing by taking me to church in my youth and planting the seeds of God's Word in the soil of my soul.  Proverbs 22:6 "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it."  Prayer for children is never worthless, because you may think the world has it's grip on them but God's Word never changes, unlike the world.  The Word kept presenting itself into my life, even when I wasn't seeking it with all my heart.
       As the song states, now as a believer and follower of Christ I am redeemed and set apart with a brand new heart.  God's forgiveness is all encompassing for my past, present and future sins till He calls me Home.  Psalm 25:7  "Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good."
      So I ask you, wherever you are on your journey..young, middle aged, or old.. are you wiser from your mistakes?  Are you living closer to God and relying more on God than ever before?  Have you reached out to God for His forgiving and saving grace?  Free yourself from the slavery to sin by trusting God as your Lord and Savior.

     "The Lord promises to be with us in every season of our life (Isa. 41:10). We can count on His presence and find that our purpose is in walking with Him." []

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Don't Lose Heart

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

        What is it that keeps you going in the day to day struggles of life?  As a believer, I hope your strength is acknowledged by you, as from God alone.  We all deal with trials of our own and of others, but do we cling to God and His promises or abandon His Word for our own ideas?  The verses above aren't limited to physical illness, but include all things that bring us down into despair.  Our trials differ and yet our own struggles can be our source to encourage others.  
       2 Corinthians 4:13-15 "Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God."
       Strength comes from the hope we believe in through Christ's resurrection.  We are not suffering in vain, but for God's glory to be revealed.  Romans 8:18  "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  1 Corinthians 15:52-54  " For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  1 Corinthians 15:58  "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  "The hope of the resurrection will encourage us in a suffering day, and set us above the fear of death; for what reason has a good Christian to fear death, that dies in hope of a joyful resurrection?" [M.Henry]
      Do you believe suffering can be a blessing?  "It is our happiness if the decays of the outward man do contribute to the renewing of the inward man, if afflictions outwardly are gain to us inwardly, if when the body is sick, and weak, and perishing, the soul is vigorous and prosperous." [M.Henry]  Our personal relationship with God and His Word can encourage us and renew our spirits daily.  Satan wants us to focus on our temporary pain and not the eternal work that God is doing thru our sufferings.  Our sanctification is not a smooth journey, but a testing of our faith as we become who God intended us to be.
      As for myself, I try to enjoy life with heaven in mind.  I know that the things that hinder me now will not last forever, so I try to make the best of this life He gave me.  Hinderences are not just physical, but spiritual chains of sin as well.   My day to day struggles have become more evident, but the faith in my soul has prospered even more so.

Heaven’s promises will far outweigh our earthly struggles.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Every Member Is Important

1 Corinthians 12:12-13   "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body"

1 Corinthians 12:4-6  " There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work."

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 " If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."

         I would like to start this blog off with a one day challenge for you this week to gain a true life perspective on this week's blog topic...the importance of each member in the body of Christ.  For one day, I challenge you to tape one of your thumbs to your hand so that it is unusable.  Yes, your whole body will suffer in ways you didn't even realize and you'll be tempted to rip that tape right off and use that thumb.  After the day is over, consider yourself as that thumb and see what is holding you back as a useful member in God's kingdom.  Are you that useful thumb not being of use because of the bondage of fear, busyness, or idleness?  Release yourself and join in on God's family work plan.
        Romans 12:4-5  "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."
       As a member of the body of Christ thru baptism and the Holy Spirit, we have been called by God to further His Kingdom with a life of service.  "Each of us has a role to play, and every role is important. There is no small service to God; it all matters.  Likewise, there are no insignificant ministries in the church. Some are visible and some are behind the scenes, but all are valuable. Small or hidden ministries often make the biggest difference." [R.Warren]
      We all have something to contribute to the body of Christ.  We are given spiritual gifts to promote the gospel in all different forms of service.  It is not to show what we can do, but to show what God has done for us... and through us, we glorify Him.  God has given these gifts according to His will, so don't be discouraged that you're in the sound box instead of on the stage.  Gifts work together for the good of the whole body, not the self.  "God has so fitted and tempered them together that they are all necessary to one another, and to the whole body; there is no part redundant and unnecessary." [M. Henry]
       From, "The phrase “the body of Christ” expresses well what we are called to do: to represent in flesh what Christ is like, especially to those in need."  As Jesus said in Matthew 9:37, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
       What can you do to be an active participant in the body of Christ?  Are you uncertain of how you can be of use?  Contact your church leadership for areas needing help, ask friends how you can help in their walk with God, and pray for God's direction of service for yourself.

You are part of God's plan and strategically gifted to bring Him glory.. be a doer, not just a hearer.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Go and Encourage One Another

Romans 15:5-6  " May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

1 Thessalonians 5:11
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

               How often do we take for granted the gift of another day of life?  All too often, I'm sad to say.  Do we use our days for God's glory?  Are our own selfish desires put before the needs of others?  Each day, we are given opportunities to encourage one another.
             "We spend much of our time working or engaging in pleasurable pursuits of our own choosing. However, God wants our priorities to reflect His purposes—namely, to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love others through a life of service and sacrifice (Matt. 22:37-40).  We can protect our future by yielding to the Spirit’s control and living out what Scripture considers most valuable: knowing God and obediently serving Him. Make sure that you put Him in charge of your mind, will, emotions, and appetite." []
             My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” Sometimes this means inconveniencing ourselves to care for the interests of others or receiving that help when we ourselves are in need. After all Christ has done for us, it’s a blessing to be His hands and feet in loving one another.
            As believers, we should not just care about our own comfort and welfare, but also for that of the lost.  We are the representatives of God's love.   Matthew 25:40 "‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"
            M. Henry offers a few ways to encourage one another..."We should communicate our knowledge and experiences one to another. We should join in prayer and praise one with another. We should set a good example one before another. And it is the duty of those especially who live in the same vicinity and family thus to comfort and edify one another."
            As for myself, I write this blog specifically as a way to encourage others and myself.  Putting my experiences into written words reminds me of God's love and faithfulness.  I would encourage you to journal about your own walk with God.  There are many different ways to encourage each other...a simple smile, a note of thanks, a thoughtful prayer, a lending hand in time of need,.... and the list is endless.  Find your way to be an encouragement to another.

4 ways to show someone encouragement this week

1] Make it Sincere--be truthful, not flattery

2] Make it Specific-- share verses that pertain to what that person may be going through

3] Make it Public--share the gospel to 'your' world

4] Make it Personal-- share your own story how God has worked in your life

Thursday, September 21, 2017

You Are Enough For Me

"Though You Slay Me"  by Shane and Shane

I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who's broken
The one who's torn me apart
You struck down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need

My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I'll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I'll know every tear was worth it all


Though tonight I'm crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You're still all that I need
You're enough for me
You're enough for me

Sing a song to the one who's all I need

       So what's this blog going to be about?  Perspective, perseverance, contentment, grief, or eternity?  All will be included.  This song has rattled my soul on such a personal level.  I hope I can convey the message of this song so that your heart is stirred as well to the point of surrendering to His will in your own life.
      As believers, I hope we can all relate to this song.  We have rejected world views and returned to God and His will for us.  The reading and hearing of God's words have broken us to surrender our will to His mighty plan.  That plan includes hurts and afflictions to draw us nearer to Him.  As John Piper says, "Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all of your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there, but all of it is TOTALLY MEANINGFUL.  Every millisecond of your pain from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that. I don't care if it was cancer or criticism, if it was slander or sickness, it wasn't meaningless....Don't look to what is seen...It's working for you an eternal weight of glory, therefore do not lose hope but take these truths and day by day focus on them...Preach His Word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for."  I think that is one of the best sermon out-takes about how our lives are not about our 'happiness' but more about God's use of us in His plan.
        God does 'do it all in love.'  We sometimes compare our lives with others, disregarding our own blessings, and think it's unfair.  Oh, how that steals our personal joy.  Hebrews 13:9   "God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness."  2 Peter 1:3  "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."   God's love is so great that He sent His Son to suffer and die for our sake.  There is no greater gift in life to receive.   So when we suffer for God's greater good and plan, how can we call it unfair?  May we say 'Yes, Lord, I am yours and may your will be done, however You see fit.'
       As for myself, I have felt slayed, taken from, and ruined in areas of my life..but never destroyed.  God's love is my refuge and shelter.  His grace and mercy are what I will boast about to others.  He is all I need because He is my foundation upon which I hope to build my life.  His forgiveness covers all my failings, when that wasn't true.  When one day you hear this song when I am gone, know that I believed whole-heartedly.."But with my eyes, with my eyes I'll see the Lord..Lifted high on that day..Behold, the Lamb that was slain..
And I'll know every tear was worth it all."

May your heart, mind and soul seek to find the confidence that only God provides through your own personal salvation.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Full Life

John 10:10  "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

        What a verse that describes 'evil versus good' so well.  The motives and agendas of both forces are clear and straightforward.  Who's side do you want to be on and fight for?  Both Satan and God want you to be a part of their armies, but it is a choice only you can make for yourself.  You will stand alone on your Judgement Day and answer for the decision you made in your lifetime.
       "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy."  Satan has only evil intentions and destruction as his goal for us. He seeks to deceive our souls, therefore murdering our very souls.   Satan's helpers in this world strive to keep scripture from the lost or alter it to their advantage.  Although Deuteronomy 12:31-32 says "You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.  See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it."  Satan schemes to steal our joy, kill our heart's desires for righteousness, and destroy our hopes of any thought of eternal life with Jesus.  Satan aims to persecute those who stand strong in their faith despite the opposition to drive or carry them off from their godly beliefs.
      "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  God only wants the best, His best, for us and therefore sent His Son to save us from the fall of mankind.  Jesus came to give us a life that might be justified, sanctified, and one day glorified.  God wants for us "a life more abundant than that which was lost and forfeited by sin, more abundant than that which was promised by the law of Moses, length of days in Canaan, more abundant than could have been expected or than we are able to ask or think.  Life in abundance is eternal life, life without death or fear of death, life and much more."[M.Henry]  It was the will of God to give his life to purchase his chosen, pay for our sin debt, and cleanse us of that sin with his blood.  1 John 3:16  "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." John 15:13  "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
      As for myself, I am a friend of God and I am in the Lord's army.  I want my blog and my life to be a testimony that causes people to want a faith that is God-centered and God-driven.  I love that God not just gives me life but that it is blessed abundantly, when I live as He intended.  The world makes promises of fulfillment, but only disappointment follows.  My life has physical struggles but I am blessed with so many fun, crazy adventures that obstacles are just opportunities for God to shine.  Fear not, for God is with me!  I can only imagine how awesome eternity will be!

Ephesians 6:12  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Psalm 91:9-16
"If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  You will tread on the lion and the cobra;    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.  “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,  I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.

     Life is short and tomorrow is not promised, so reject the dark side and it's spiritual deception.  Instead, embrace the Light of Jesus and experience the fullness of life--as He intended.  May a relationship and eternal life with God be your life's mission.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Heart Prayers

Psalm 42:8  "By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life."

      How is your prayer life?  What's the central theme of your prayers?  Do you pray at all, for that matter?  Prayer is your direct, unfiltered, unbiased communication with God. Prayer is available 24/7 with no appointment required and is accessible anywhere.  What a privilege we have to talk to God for help, direction, comfort and everything that's on our minds and hearts but yet we so often take it for granted.  Prayer is too often our 911 call or last resort in a crisis.  What about a thankful prayer or a praise only prayer?
      Daniel is an excellent example of a solid and consistent prayer life.  Daniel relied on his strength from God and trusted God above his fears.  Daniel remained committed to God, regardless of the crisis or environment that he was in.
     "The life of faith is a marathon. The ups, the downs, and the plateaus in our prayer life are a reflection of this race. And just as in a marathon we need to keep running, so we keep praying. The point is: Don’t give up!" []
      The caption above is posted as a Scripture based set of prayers from Colossians to help strengthen your walk with God.  These prayers help us to focus on God's will in our lives above our own selfish thoughts and will.  "Let your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven" and through me to glorify You.
      Your prayer life, or lack of, affects both you and your loved ones.  Your cup runneth over into their cups, whether blessings or strife, depending a lot on your time with God.  Prayer can move the mountains in your life, without an ounce of your physical presence or ability.
     As for myself, praying is often all I can do for myself or others.  It is powerful and enough!  I encourage you to become a prayer warrior!  

5 Finger Prayer  []

When you fold your hands, the thumb is nearest you. So begin by praying for those closest to you—your loved ones (Phil. 1:3–5).
• The next finger is the tallest. It reminds you to pray for those in authority over you—national and local leaders, and your supervisor at work (1 Tim. 2:1–2).
• The index finger is the pointer. Pray for those who teach—Bible teachers and preachers, and those who teach children (1 Thess. 5:25).
• The fourth finger is usually the weakest. Pray for those who are in trouble or who are suffering (James 5:13–16).
• Then comes your little finger. It reminds you of your smallness in relation to God’s greatness. Ask Him to supply your needs (Phil. 4:6, 19).
Prayer is needed every day, and throughout the day.