Thursday, June 29, 2017

The 'Only' Reason

Psalm 121:2  "My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of heaven and earth."

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  "Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

         This past week has been the start to a lot of prayers for people I know.  These are people who are considered strong and able, but they have been struck with sudden illness.  It is an uncertain time with fear of the immediate unknown, but they all trust in God's sovereignty of it all.  There's no greater comfort than that.
        It gives me pause to think of my own journey and the faithfulness of God.  I've worn braces since I was 6, two rods in my back since 14, sleep assisted breathing since 21, full time scooter use since 26, and daytime assisted breathing since about 38 and now I'm approaching 46.  While all of these have aided me along my life's journey, my sustaining grace is God himself.  I think of when I was younger and using all the strength I had and thinking how weak I was.  Now I pray for just that amount of strength.  God has shown me "My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of heaven and earth."  I've been on death's door, or so was thought, but God knew it wasn't my time to be called Home yet.  I know what it's like to have breath and no breath, but I also know Who gave me breath to life and Who sustains it every minute of my life.

        "In affliction, we learn the lesson of the necessity of living by faith and not feeling or perception. God teaches this by the uncertainty of life's changes: hope today, and tomorrow at the point of death; good news today, and bad tomorrow; comfort here, and soul-wounding terror there. O the ebbs and flows of earthly hopes!" -- Thomas Case

Things to remember when faced with the uncertain times of of life:

1] None of us are untouchable to the woes of life.  Trials draw us nearer to God, our Comforter, and He gives strength like no other.

2]We are to rely on God as a God of power and strength and a God all- sufficient for us.

3] Our confidence must come from God alone..not men or things of this earth.  But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him." Jeremiah 17:7

4] "We must see all our help laid up in God, in his power and goodness, his providence and grace; and from him we must expect it to come."

5] "He that made heaven and earth is sovereign Lord of all the hosts of both, and can make use of them as he pleases for the help of his people, and restrain them when he pleases from hurting his people."

6] God is bigger than any and all of our problems.  May we turn our burdens and fears over to Him and patiently wait for His answers to our prayers.

        We should be thankful in good times and bad times, because it could be worse and God uses all these times for our good.  There is ALWAYS someone struggling harder than you, no matter how bad things seem to be for you. Humble yourself always.  God has a plan for you, which includes adversity.  May it make you and those around you spiritually stronger as well.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Teach Me Your Ways, Lord

Psalm 86:11 "Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."
Ecclesiastes 1:18  "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;  the more knowledge, the more grief."

         Life is hard, but our hearts can be even harder.  How many times have we all ignored good advice, only to find out the hard way?  As for me, too many times to count with more sure to come.  We trust in ourselves too much and ignore the warnings God provides through His Word and wise council.  Proverbs 12:15  "The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice."
        As C.S. Lewis conveys in his quote above, God sometimes lets us hit rock bottom in our pains so that the only way to look is up--to Him.  As fire and it's flame is tempting to a child, sometimes we can only learn life lessons by getting burned.  Those burns of life hurt but we must see them as lessons, not scars.
How can we better listen to God's wisdom:

1] Pray for an understanding heart, that would inform and instruct us in the direction to follow

2] God teaches us with truth but we must choose to walk in it

3] Have a heart solely striving to put God first, not divided with the world

4] Ask for God's grace because our hearts are prone to wander after countless, meaningless things

5] Expect that with the more you learn of God's truth, there will be a better clarity of the problems of this world and a grief from it

6] "The more we know, the more we see there is to be known."  Seek him with all your heart, mind and soul.

       As for myself, I jokingly sing Toby Keith's song.."I wish I didn't know now, what I didn't know then.  I wish I could start this whole thing over again"...but that's not really true.  I am thankful for all the hurts, crossroads and mistakes of my life because they all made me who I am today.  That bumpy journey has made me cling closer to God's right hand, which has never let me go.

 "Seek wisdom, for it is more profitable than silver or gold!"


Thursday, June 22, 2017

What Are You Reflecting?

Proverbs 27:19
As water reflects the face,
    so one’s life reflects the heart.

          Water is like a mirror and shows us what we look like on the outside, but our lives reveal the condition of our hearts.  Does your life reflect a heart for God or for the world? Your life is a series of choices that either honors God or not.  Trust and obey...for there's no other way.
         "Though God alone knows a man’s heart and can read the secret thoughts in the inner depths of his soul, it is the outworking of those concealed attributes, which are demonstrated through words and actions, that manifests a man’s true identity to his fellow-man, and shows forth his character in his works and words. Corrupt hearts breed corruption, but sanctified ones exhibits Christ-likeness."
         The verse above stresses the importance of examining ourselves.  We must discern what our own true character is and what it displays to others, as an example of the world or of God?  We must test our conscience, thoughts, attitudes, intentions and actions against the Word of God.  Is He pleased?
        This verse also reminds of the likeness we have with each other.  I've heard and believe it to be true, that what we find fault in others is often a problem we have with our own self. "A grouchy, evil-spirited person evokes the same attitude in everyone he confronts; and the same is true of a happy and cheerful person." []
        It is easier to be critical of others and their choices than our own, but Proverbs 27:19 reminds us to look at the spiritual condition of our own hearts.  Often we judge others by ourselves, find them faithful or the reverse, as we ourselves are.  "The Word of God is the truthful mirror into which we should look carefully – for the face of Christ is that still water-pool upon which our hearts should gaze."
       I was reminded last week in bible study about the need of ours, as Christians, to give grace to others.  We are not all in the same place in our spiritual journey and yet we judge others harshly, where we once were.  A Christian's maturity is measured by their faith, love and hope.
      May we examine our own hearts and lives first, then encourage others towards the will of God in their own spiritual walk with God.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

On Whom Do You Rely On?

Isaiah 26:4  "Trust in the Lord forever,  for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal."

        During the summer, I decorate my room in frogs.  Summer is my healthiest time of  the year so I need a reminder with F.R.O.G.S. to not get over confident in myself but to Fully Trust On God.   Do you know that whatever circumstances you are in, that God is with you and cares about you.  His love is reliable and endures forever.
        God promises His peace to those who trust in Him, His will and His ways.  If chaos is a central theme in your life, examine how you might be trusting in yourself or the world for direction, instead of His Word.  "Whatever we trust to the world for, it will be but for a moment: all we expect from it is confined within the limits of time. But what we trust in God for will last as long as we shall last."  Those who trust in God will find and receive strength, which is an everlasting blessing.  We need to carry that confident trust with us, as we face every situation in our lives.

      As the verse above commands and promises us, it is our duty to 'Trust in the Lord.'

1] Submission to the will of God, whatever it may be--trusting in Him, assured that He is doing, and will do, what is right.

2] Our trust in the Lord will not be in vain.

3] We must trust God ..for everything and with everything.

4]  "We are not only consciously dependent upon Him, as conscious of our emptiness and of His fullness, but we depend upon Him, as being calmly and completely certain of Him and of His being and doing all that we need. In other words, trust is reliance."

5] Forever-- " An unchanging God ought to secure an unchanging trust."

Psalm 139:7 reminds us that God's presence is always with us.  There is no where we can go, where He is not there.   

"Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?

Psalm 5:11  "But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you."

        In Whom do you trust?  God is unchanging with an unfailing love that endures forever.. in Him alone, will you trust and obey?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Purpose-Full Life

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 2:10-11


         Have you ever asked yourself, 'What's the point?"  The verses above from Solomon show 'there is no true happiness and satisfaction to be had in pleasure, and the delights of sense. '  So many people are living for the desires of the world with no sense of purpose, other than themselves.  Matthew 16:26  "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?"   Are you living with a godly purpose with your earthly possessions or are you living for the world with no reverence for God?   "One soul is worth more than all the world; our own souls are of greater value to us than all the wealth, honor, and pleasures of this present time, if we had them."

        When I read the verses above from Ecclesiastes 2, I immediately thought of Rick Warren's book "The Purpose Driven Life."  God made each of us with a purpose in mind...His purpose.  The book of Ecclesiastes can be discouraging because yes, without God, life is a cyclical routine that ends in death for all.  All paths without God lead to destruction and death.
        Ephesians 1:11-12   "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,  in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory."   

3 Principles from this verse on why our purpose in life starts with God:

1. You discover your identity and purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

2. God was thinking of you long before you ever thought about him. His purpose for your life predates your conception. He planned it before you existed, without your input! You may choose your career, your spouse, your hobbies, and many other parts of your life, but you don’t get to choose your purpose.

 3. The purpose of your life fits into a much larger, cosmic purpose that God has designed for eternity.

        Life can get overwhelming with our daily routines and stresses but we must remember that God has us right where we need to be and there IS purpose in it.  We didn't get a vote on how God wanted to use each of us for His glory but His ways are greater than ours.
       "Even when we’re physically limited, a smile, a word of encouragement, a prayer, or a display of faith during our trial can be used to minister to the diverse and interdependent body of Christ. When we serve the Lord, no job or act of love is too menial to matter." []  His glory is manifested in many different ways, so may we use whatever we have been blessed with to point others to Christ.
        As for myself, I feel a greater understanding of how God has and is using me for His purposes as I get older.  My 'routine' has changed drastically over the years, but I know that "suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope."   If God thought and knew that He would be more glorified with my temporary trials, then who am I to question His purpose in and through me.  I was "planned for God's pleasure, formed for God's family, created to become like Christ, shaped for serving God, and made for a mission."  May I persevere with an increasing faith, love and hope in Christ.
       I encourage all of you to read "A Purpose-Driven Life" By Rick Warren and deeper understand why God has a purpose for your life.

Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Purpose Driven Life, The) (p. 28). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. 


Monday, June 12, 2017

One Day At a Time

amazing {daily} Grace #ThankYouJesus

     Psalm 31; 14-15  ''But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.''

    Are your troubles of today met with grace?  Is your grief so great, like David's, that your mind and soul are consumed with it?  We must not get ahead of our selves with worry, but trust in the Lord and His mercy.
    As with me and having a progressive disease, I could get caught up with what's to come.  Worry and speculation can override your normal thoughts, if not controlled.  Worry about tomorrow can steal your joy of today, if you let it.
    One day at a time is how we are meant to handle our trials.  'My grace is sufficient for you.'  I know that 'is this ever going to get better?' can run through our minds and create feelings of hopelessness and despair.  It is temporary, even if it lasts your entire lifetime.  For believers, each day is one step closer to an eternal heaven.  So keep running your life's race with perseverance....and never give up.  Meet every battle with 'I trust in you, Lord.'

Ten reasons why God's grace is sufficient for you.....[from Bogdan Kipko]

1. When a sickness strikes, the Lord’s grace is expedient enough to heal and prolonged enough to demand a dependence on Him that was never before seen.
2. When resources are scarce, the Lord’s grace is sufficient and He will provide.
3. When faced with a conflict, the Lord’s grace is potent enough to see you through it so long as you realize that at the foot of His cross, all conflict has already found its resolution.
4. When uncertainity is tainting your mood, know that the Lord’s grace is the beacon of light that will provide the pathway to a place of prosperity.
5. When people fail to live up to your expectations, understand that the Lord’s grace is enough even when you have placed your identity in people instead of the One who made people.
6. When a dark season befalls your life, realize that the Lord’s grace is just as visible there, regardless of your ability to see it.
7. When exponential growth is not instantly visible in your ministry, embrace the grace of our Lord because he rewards not the boastful but first those who are faithful.
8. When it seems that you are lacking something, boast in that weakness because this is exactly the area in which God will want to display His power and glory.
9. When it seems as if though the gospel has stopped spreading, repent of not seeing the Lord’s grace as the gospel is producing its fruit in the entire world, including yours.
10. When it seems as if though you are not accomplishing much, remember what the master says to his servant: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt. 25:23).

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Give Thought To What You Hear

Proverbs 14:15  "The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps."

        Do you believe everything you hear?  Do you think that if it's on the internet, then it's true?  Do you think the news is unbiased in its presentation of true events? No, No, No!!!  I hope you have a level of discernment as to not be gullible or easily persuaded. 
        The book of Proverbs is a book of instructions to wise living.  It is NOT a book of promises or guarantees, but instruction in terms of generalities.  Proverbs is meant to be referenced to in all stages of life by everyone.  It covers many topics concerning the righteous way of life versus the wicked and unrighteous ways of life.
        We, as humans, are so quick to think we are right most of the time.    Proverbs 17:28  "Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues."  We avoid foolishness by humbling ourselves and accepting and heeding wise advice.   Proverbs 18:15  "The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out."
        From M. Henry's commentary..."It is wisdom to be cautious: The prudent man will try before he trusts, will weigh both the credibility of the witness and the probability of the testimony, and then give judgment as the thing appears or suspend his judgment till it appears. Prove all things, and believe not every spirit."       
        God's chosen are often referred to as His sheep or flock and He is our Shepherd.  We must be aware and discerning of the wolves in sheep's clothing.  These 'wolves' twist God's word into a self-serving, false doctrine and they leave out the justice of God in dealing with sin.    "Jesus’ words: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). False teachers do not bear the fruit of God’s Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Rather, they “walk according to the flesh . . . and despise authority” (2 Peter 2:10). They are bold, egotistical, and given to greed (vv.10,14). Ruled by their own desires, they exploit people by using “deceptive words” (v.3). The Bible says these wayward spiritual leaders are headed for destruction and will take many unsuspecting and undiscerning people with them (vv.1-2)."
       We must test our heart, thoughts, and actions against God's Word.  Sin begins when we start justifying it and rationalizing why God would be accepting of it... and He never is. When we recognize deception and temptation, let our every step be guided by truth as we flee from the lies of the devil.

The devil is cunning, deceptive, and sly;
He’s clever; he tricks us to swallow his lie.

But his crafty methods we’re sure to discern
If we make God’s warnings our daily concern. —D. De Haan   

Sunday, June 4, 2017

6 Things The Lord Hates

Proverbs 6: 16-19

"There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community."

      Have you ever ignored a warning?  A parent often warns their child of things that will hurt or harm them.  The child may heed the instruction or it may ignored with consequences to follow.  God's Word is our instruction book for life.. a life that is pleasing to Him.  It is filled with warnings that alert us to things harmful to our spiritual well-being.
     Proverbs 6:16-19 provides for us a list of specific sins that God hates.  "God hates sin; he hates every sin; he can never be reconciled to it; he hates nothing but sin. But there are some sins which he does in a special manner hate; and all those here mentioned are such that are injurious to our neighbor. It is an evidence of the good-will God bears to mankind that those sins are in a special manner provoking to him which are harmful to the comfort of human life and society."

The list of things God hates:

1] Haughty eyes... Pride is the first on the list because it is at the root to so many other sins.  When your own pride is a witness against you, you think too much of yourself and belittle others around you.  'Prides cometh before the fall.'

2] Lying tongue..."God and all good men hate and abhor lying."  God hates anything but the sacred truth.  Falsehood is a ploy by the devil to deceive many.

3] Hands that shed innocent blood...  People who are cruel and have no regard for life are doing work for the devil.  Abortion of the pre-born or murder of anyone is in conflict with the purpose God created that soul for.

4] A heart that devises wicked schemes... "The more there is of craft and management in sin the more it is an abomination to God."  Wisdom to do evil is the devil's control over one's mind.

5] Feet that are quick to rush into evil... When sinners are impatient and greedy in their pursuit of their desired sin.  There is a no-wait mindset in their aim towards destruction.

6] A False witness that pours out lies... This is the 2nd reference to lying in this list, so God doubly hates it.   Dishonesty damages our relationships with each other and it's like a snowball to hell.

7] A person who stirs up conflict in the community... God desires unity, not discord.  Anyone who promotes jealousy and aggravation is a disruption to God's work and plan.

       God's warnings are meant to preserve and protect our lives.  Will we listen or turn a deaf ear and suffer the consequences?  I pray for a humble, honest, merciful heart with a mindset for godly things and endeavors that promote unity.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Consider It Joy

James 1: 2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

        Do you think there is a difference between happiness and joy?  I believe there is. Happiness is dependent on circumstances, but joy is inward and is not disturbed by one’s environment.  Happiness comes and goes, but my joy is constant.  Why?  Because my joy is found in God and He never changes.  "Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)."  Joy is my gift from God.  "Only when you seek the things of Christ can you find abiding joy."

       Some truths from these verses:

1] 'Consider it pure joy'..... we must think about our trials as specific to each of us and how God is using those trials to draw us near to Him.  He knows our weaknesses and how to best get us to rely on Him, not ourselves.

2] Not if but 'whenever you face trials of many kinds'... we will all have trouble in this world.  My trials may be different than yours but that doesn't make mine any more or less important to God.  

3] 'The testing of your faith produces perseverance'...  the devil uses our troubles and afflictions to test our faith by tempting us to sin and keep us from our Christian duties.  Our faith is being tested, not the strength of our bodies.  "We must not sink into a sad and unhappy frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must strive to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it."

4] ' Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."... we must be patient in our trials and afflictions.  Romans 12:12  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Our troubles in this world our temporary but God doesn't want us to just get through them.  He wants us to thrive, with a dependence on Him.  "When we bear all that God appoints, and as long as he appoints, and with a humble obedient eye to him, and when we not only bear troubles, but rejoice in them, then patience hath its perfect work. "

       As for myself, of course I'm not happy all the time but I decided a long time ago not to let anyone or anything steal my joy.  It's a mindset to know that God is with me, no matter the struggle, the pain, or the hardship I face.  "I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be,  but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see."  My desire is to please God, not people.  You may see my wheelchair or my mask as struggle symbols, but they are blessings to me that allow me to go and be out in this world.  

       My hope and prayer for others is that the world's opinion of them will be minuscule compared to what they desire to be in God's eyes.  That their trials will make their faith stronger and patience will abide with them as God works through them.