Venturing Forth!

girl-918734_1920

For the children of Israel there always seemed to be a pull to return to bondage; to give themselves over to chains as opposed to freedom.  It was almost as if they had a case of the “couldn’t help it.”  For every little obstacle they faced, they were soon ready to throw in the towel and return to what they formerly were. They spouted, “Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness,” (Exodus 14:12).

Lest we judge them too harshly perhaps we may need to rethink how oft we fight to stay where we were once comfortable.  God stretches our faith, pulling us to follow Him through what seems to be desert wildernesses.  His fulfilled plan is on the other side, yet to get there we have to venture out into the unknown territories where He calls us, step by step in our own walk of faith.

Alas, through the drudgery and turmoil of the march, that old familiar pull rears its ugly head once more and beckons us to stay in the comfortable; to stay where we know what each day will bring.  But, we know that settling will never get us to the other side of the wilderness.   Turning back will never propel us forward.

May we, through this day, venture forth where God is leading with a heart of faith that refuses to turn back.

Photo Source: Pixabay

 

Advertisements

“You Are the Light of the World!”

Do you ever wonder why Christians have to deal with so much stuff from people?  Why does it seem the rights of everyone else are important all the while our rights are trying to be diminished by opposing forces?  Why does it seem that we are singled out to be somebody to mess with when the cut-ups of this world get by on a free pass.

I’ll tell you why.

Things are set in motion like that to try to discourage us from our walk with Christ; our belief.  The fact of the matter is our lives are convicting to those who fight against God and His plan for humanity.  God, through His Word, tells of a holy requirement He desires to see played out in the lives of each and every individual.  Those who seek after the flesh and revel in carnality and sin don’t want the same desires as He.  Rather, they fight vehemently against it and anything that resembles it (i.e. Christians).

Once Jesus taught, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid,” Matthew 5:14.  You shine for Him.  You magnify His brightness and glory in the midst of degradation and sin.  You are a beacon to show people the way to this wonderful life in Him through the darkness and disparity of this world.  As a Christian, you look like Him (in character), you talk like Him and that bothers those who oppose Him.

In a life that has been transformed by His renewing power, it becomes a living testimony to grace, mercy, and the power of salvation working itself out in humanity.  Although these wonderful things are available to all for the asking, few choose to look to Him for those wonderful gifts.  They would much rather pursue the things of the flesh than that of the Spirit causing war and contentions with those who walk and talk differently then them.

Nonetheless, I urge you brother and sister in Christ, keep walking the holy walk.  No matter the fighting.  No matter the contentions.  Keep showing this world, through the life you live, what a mighty God we serve.  Philippians tells us we are, “In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world,” (2:15).  By the continual light of Christ beaming from your life, you are helping others to draw nearer to Him; you are helping others to see the hope that is available if they would but turn.

The life we live may cause us discomfort at times, but the reward of having others see Christ in us is immeasurable.  You and I can positively effect change in the lives of others for eternity.  I think, my friends, that far outweighs the opposition we may face today.

And, as we are living, let us always remember we have nothing to boast or be arrogant about.  We are saved today because somebody else stood up as a light for us showing us the way; somebody else’s lives were convicting, pricking our hearts to want to know Him more.  Our salvation is NEVER anything for us to glory in.  We can only glory in our Savior who gave His life that we might have new life in Him.  We are now vessels filled with His grace that we might positively pour into and shine in the lives of others.

“Carry God’s Presence Today”

 

“Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai . . . Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him,” Exodus 34:29

No matter what you do today:

WORK ………………………………………………….

SCHOOL ………………………………………………

PLAY ……………………………………………………

SNOW ………………………………………………….

RAIN …………………………………………………….

SUN ……………………………………………………..

HARDNESS ………………………………………….

PEACE …………………………………………………

ADVERSITY ………………………………………….

SPOUSE ………………………………………………

CHILDREN ……………………………………………

FRIENDS ………………………………………………

MOM …………………………………………………….

POP ……………………………………………………..

VACATION ……………………………………………

DAY OFF ………………………………………………

PRAYER ……………………………………………….

BIBLE …………………………………………………..

CHURCH ………………………………………………

OUTREACH ………………………………………….

VISITATIONS ………………………………………..

WITNESSING ………………………………………..

TEACHING ……………………………………………

EXERCISING …………………………………………

GYM ……………………………………………………..

HOME …………………………………………………..

LAUNDRY …………………………………………….

DINNER ………………………………………………..

BEDTIME ………………………………………………

carry God’s presence with you!!!!  Let people know that you have been with Him!!!  Let your life reflect it!!!

When Moses met with God his face shone, carrying evidence of being in God’s presence. What kind of evidence do people see in us that lets them know that we have met with God. As we start this new day, are we carrying God’s presence with us no matter what we are doing? May we shine for Him and let His presence be magnified in us!

Photo: Pixabay

Familiarity Doesn’t Have to Breed Contempt

 

Image Credit: Pixabay/rawpixel

Daily routines and associations with those closest to us can sometimes cause us to downplay their strengths and pick apart little things about them. A surface of critiquing and criticizing seems easier to some than delving into what’s below the surface to focus on the greater good dwelling in an individual.

One prime example of this sort of relationship is within marriage.  Spouses who have been married for any considerable amount of time with the ins and outs of daily life can sometimes start to hone in on what bothers them the most about the other as opposed to purposefully looking to view them in light of all the positives they have to bring to the table.

Why is it so easy to see what doesn’t please us about people and harder to focus on their good attributes?  Why does it seem easier to dismiss the familiar just because they are, well, familiar?

Jesus knew exactly how it felt to be dishonored in such a way.  Once He is quoted as saying, “A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house,” Mark 6:4.

Common sense would tell us to support and uphold those closest to us; to have their back and cheer them on when seeing them trying to get ahead or excel at life.  We have no problem when it comes to doing this on a national level, say for the Olympics.  We give that one competing for our country our support and we stand in front of the screens rooting them on to win so that nationally we gain a medal at the end.

But for those closest to us, when we see them talk of their dreams and make plans to forge ahead into the future unknown; when we see them start ministries, set goals, and go after where they feel God is leading them, is it easier to downplay that  than offer the support we so willingly give to others whom nationally we don’t even know?  Does our opinion of them, because we knew them way back when alter our perspective of their current work, hopes, and dreams?

In Luke 4, Jesus, quoting the same verse as above, also gave two examples from their history of people who received blessings although they were not of the Jewish people.  One was the widow of Zarephath in the region of Sidon and the other was Naaman the Syrian (vss. 26-27).  Both were Gentiles and not of the “familiar” countrymen of which Jesus spoke.

The widow received provision during the time of famine and Naaman received healing from a normally incurable disease.  They weren’t blinded by the familiar, rather they opened their hearts to the link that God had placed right in front of their faces to receive the blessing He had in store for them.

Don’t let the familiar cause you to miss out on the blessings found in the people that God has already placed in your life.  To you, they may seem like, “Oh, that just so and so.  No need to worry about them.”  But, they may be your connection to that blessing that God wants to pour into your life.  Don’t count your blessings out (like those whom Jesus was talking about) just because you know the source from which it flows.

And, what if you are the one being rejected like Jesus was; because people know you and don’t want to receive or accept the gift of God in you?  You press on anyhow.  You don’t dwell on people, but you dwell on the God who gave you the gift and has entrusted you to work His works in your life.

Even if a person doesn’t support you – God does.  He does not neglect the gifts that He has placed in you and don’t you do it either (see 1 Timothy 4:14).  Don’t cower at their rejection, rather you stir up that gift and let the flames be fanned (see 2 Timothy 1:6).

Jesus was rejected and He also warned in another verse, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you,” (John 15:18).  In other words, no matter who you are, and no matter what gift you have in you not everybody is going to be on board with you or supportive of the work of God in you.

What do you do?  How do you deal with that contemptuous familiarity then?  You do what Jesus did: “He passing through the midst of them went his way,” (Luke 4:30).  You keep on keeping on.  Jesus didn’t stand around and try to convince them to receive Him.  Life is too short for that; His time on earth would declare as some of us say today, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”  We have limited time here on earth and God needs our gifts and ministries up and running and being effective for His kingdom.

What do you do?  You follow the path of God for your life.  You continue to go forth working the works of God He placed in you, sowing seeds of ministry wherever He leads you.

Familiarity breeds contempt can work two ways: it causes us to miss out on the best of people that God has already placed in our lives, and it causes rejection of what you personally can bring to the table, seeking to hinder you, but it doesn’t have to.

With the love of God operating in us, we can look at those around us and be thankful for the familiar and the special things that each one brings to our lives.  And, with our faith in God we can march forth in the destiny He has in store for us regardless of who has our backs because, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).  We can stay positive in what He has called us to and not succumb to the negative because of the familiar.

For either end that one may find themselves on, we have Jesus as our prime example on how to deal with it.  Follow Him and you will never be led wrong.  Familiarity doesn’t have to breed contempt.  God may be doing something new in the midst of the ordinary and you don’t want to miss it.

The High Horse

horse-1456553_1280

“For everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted,” Luke 18:14b

We’ve all heard someone express at one time or another, “You need to come down off that high horse!”  Whether it was said to us or another, the challenge is still implied for one to not think highly of him or herself, Romans 12:3.  People that are boastful and proud have a way of thinning out the crowds.  Their attitude is not attractive; therefore others will find an excuse to disassociate themselves from that person.

Us, who are saved by grace, also have to fight the urge to take on this superiority complex.  Too often we are just as prone to mount that high horse and ride off into the sunset, singing in a school girl tone, “We’re saved and you’re not . . . . . la la la la la la!”  Okay, so maybe we don’t sing in childish tones but that doesn’t mean we don’t act in childish ways; looking down our nose at a lost world as if we obtained this great salvation on our own.  Rather, we should be humbled by what God has so graciously done for us and wills in His heart to do for others also (2 Peter 3:9).

The Bible is full of references that explain God’s feelings toward this particular subject: He hates it!  1 Peter 5:5 states, “God resisteth the proud!”  Those that display this ugly characteristic are not amusing God, rather they are pushing Him away.  He does not tolerate it at all.

In light of all that He has done for humanity God’s view is this: NO ONE has the right to think he is something or somebody more special than all others.  Jesus hits the nail on the head in this story found in Luke 18:9-14.  Here He denounces the prideful Pharisees’ attitude of self-righteousness and He proclaims the greatness of the one who had a humble heart.  Did it seem that He was being too hard on the Pharisees; the ones who were the religious leaders of the day?

Not in the least.  Verse 9 tells us how their position changed their view of their relationship with God and with man.   First, He stated, they “trusted in themselves that they were righteous.”  Their rituals, rules, and regulations were how they measured and viewed their righteousness.  Their so-called ability to dot every “I” and cross every “T” ranked them above all others, securing their own righteousness.  No humbleness of heart was present.  No attributing their standing to the grace and mercy of God.  They “trusted in themselves.”

Secondly, their view caused them to “despise others.” Since nobody was as presumably holy as they were, they thought themselves to be on a higher level than everyone else.  They rode that high horse and they rode it a lot.

These two very wrong suppositions of themselves caused them to break the two greatest commandments that were ever written:

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

We all have to take careful heed to view our position in Christ in the proper way:

“To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.  For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:2-7

Not one of us has the right to ride the high horse!

None are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves.” – Charles Spurgeon

“Once more, Never think that you can live to God by your own power or strength; but always look to and rely on him for assistance, yea, for all strength and grace.” – David Brainerd

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“A Woman Ready!”

 

Deep breath in.  With what seems to be the weight of the world on her shoulders, she marched forward not sure of the outcome. . .

People grapple with decisions every day.  Choices that make us question is this or is this not the right time or thing for me to do at this very moment.  After all, these daily decisions and choices we make don’t stay within the premise of the day.  Rather, they are far more reaching and can become a foreteller of what our future will be tomorrow.

Nevertheless, Queen Esther refused to fight with the what-ifs of life.  She didn’t hesitate about the next step she had to take.  She prayed.  She fasted.  With great resolve and determination, her heart was ready to go see the king (see the story of Esther in the Bible).

Imagine a race, if you will.  There you are at the starters block and the gun raises to sound the time to go.  If there be just a moment of hesitation the race would already be lost and one cannot claim the victory at the end.

The question is are we ready?  Do we have hearts that are fixed and minds made up with the same determination and resolve to go at the sounding of our time?

Queen Esther did.  She was a woman ready.  She would do what she had to do to save her people, even if it cost her life.  But, she didn’t let fear have its way.  Through the court gates she went, approaching the king, where her readiness of heart and mind gained her the victory.

Male or female.  Be determined in where God is calling you for such a time as this.  Be ready to step out in faith and believe that you will see the victory in the end.  Now, go.

Photo: Pixabay/729714

“SHINE!”

 

My Project 505-001

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and
more unto the perfect day,” Proverbs 4:18

Some days are glorious and some days are not.  Some days you need an umbrella and some days sunscreen.  Some days call for winter scarves and gloves, and some call for shorts and gear for swimming.  Some days are bright and beautiful, while some days never seem like they come out of the dreary season.

I would venture to say that this world is in a dreary season no matter what the temperature is outside. But you and I, we bring a taste of something better in the midst of all the gloominess. We are like the sun breaking through the clouds giving people a glimpse of hope. Our lives are as a “shining light” showing people a better way to live.

Turn on the local news in any city and most likely it is riddled with violence, tragedy, and suffering. Very rarely are there any good deeds or acts of kindness spotlighted. It seems the longer the world remains the tougher times get. The epidemic of sinfulness that began in the Garden of Eden keeps spreading and infecting men and women everywhere.

Oh, but the “just.” Those who are made right in the eyes of God we don’t walk the way of the world. We glow differently! We sport in our being the essence of the ultimate light, our Lord Jesus Christ. “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” (John 8:12). We have the “light of life” and we shine!

Proverbs 4:18 goes on to tell us that we shine “more and more unto the perfect day.” While we are in Christ we are getting better and better, and as a result, our light should be shining brighter and brighter. How else would this world ever get a break from always viewing the dreariness of life if we don’t shine?

Our “paths” make a difference. The things we do and the things we say show people something wonderful that they’re not used to seeing. The way we carry ourselves and our dispositions make people wonder, “What’s gotten into you?”

The light of Christ, that’s what! I can’t help but shine!

When we shine people become attracted to us like a magnetic pull. The more they see the more they may want to know what makes you glow. Then, they, in turn, may want to learn how to glow, too.

No matter what the therometer says or what the temperatures are predicted to be.  No matter if we have sun or not, warm or cold temperatures, you can still be that ray of light shining in someone’s life today.

SHINE ON!

 

“Strength for Heavy Hands”

Strength for Heavy Hands

No matter who you are.  No matter what your position is in your home, work, or local church.  No matter what calling is placed on your life.  If you, or anyone of us, are going to successfully make it through this Christian journey we need support.  We need encouragement from one another.  We assistance through the hard times and struggles.  In the midst of our personal and spiritual battles, we need a helping hand; someone who will be there as our advocate and friend to help us carry the load.  We all need someone whom we can garner strength from in our times of weakness.

There was a time in the Bible when Moses sent Joshua out to battle against the Amalekites.  During this battle, Moses stood atop a hill with the rod of God in his hand.  As long as his hands were raised the battle would turn in their favor, giving them victory against their adversary.  But, the longer the battle ensued the more cumbersome it became for Moses to hold that victory stance.  For every time his hands became weak and he lowered his arms, the enemy would start prevailing against his people.  Upon seeing the heavy hands of Moses, Aaron and Hur came to his aid.  They offered him support.  They sat Moses down on a rock and they held his heavy hands; they came alongside him during the fight to help keep his hands steady (read Exodus 17:8-13, NKJV).

The Bible tells us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion . . . Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken,” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NKJV).   There is strength in togetherness.  There is value in being there for one another.  When someone’s hands are getting too heavy to deal with the things in life, we as a people of God should come alongside them as the boys did for Moses, and help them through the battle.  Then, we are unified as one in the struggle, offering the strength that cannot be easily torn away.

Do you or someone you know need assistance?  Do you know someone who is having a hard time right now?  It might be nothing big, but just the daily ins and outs of life are wearing on you or a friend.  Can you offer encouragement to that one?  If you are the one in a struggle and need help, I encourage you to not try to fight alone.  Find someone who will come alongside you to champion your cause with you.  If you know someone who is struggling, can you be the one that helps strengthen the heavy hands?   What greater way to show the love of Christ in you than to be there for each other?

Bible Verses for Supporting Others:

Galatians 6:2 “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Romans 15:1 “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”

Philippians 2:4 “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

“Be Fruitful”

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth
his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth
shall prosper,” Psalm 1:3, KJV

I believe right there the trees stop and laugh at us. Whether it is planted in the inner city or deep in the countryside, as long as it has soil, water and sunshine it will grow. The tree doesn’t look for excuses for why it can’t do what it was purposed to do. It just does it. It grows and bears fruit.

We have to learn to be abundant where we are planted. Take inventory of where you are right now. What is there that can be done by you? What gap can you fill? What soul can you reach out to? What aspect of ministry can you lend your talents to? Don’t always look at the big stuff; there are little tidbits of things that can be done by each of us. There are small ways to minister (serve) that God can put to good use to cause increase in His kingdom.

Psalm 1:1-2 speaks of the choice of the individual to do right. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night,” (KJV). Now it’s time to walk in the fruitfulness of vs.3, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper,” (KJV).

So, if you have already made the same choice and are now planted, it’s time to let some fruit grow. Nobody will know anything about you unless you start growing fruit; until you start producing something. An apple tree is not an apple tree if it does not produce apples. Matthew 12:33 declares, “. . . for the tree is known by his fruit,” (KJV).

Today, I urge you to make a proclamation to yourself and say, “Self, today, right where I am planted, I will produce!” Do you not know that God will honor that? The Word of God emphatically says, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed,” (Matthew 17:20, KJV). God doesn’t need you to try to grab hold of the biggest thing in ministry there is. But, if your heart is sincere and your faith is genuine, He will honor the fruitfulness of every little step you take.

Don’t let intimidation stop you from being effective for the Kingdom of God. If all I have is a small measure to work with then, I’m going to work that small measure until I see the increase. So, I declare that, “Today, right where I am planted, I will be fruitful!

“God is Forever Faithful!”

 

“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,”

Lamentations 3:22-23

There seems to be news every day of more and more people experiencing hardships in their lives. There are stories of loved ones that didn’t return home. There are stories of weather disasters wiping out cities. There are stories of our young people and teenagers struggling. There are stories of corrupt politics; a crippling economy, job layoffs and firings, and more.

You name it and it’s out there. The daily news is littered with the truth of the sorrow that can penetrate into anyone’s life on any given day; stories that cause one to just shake their head and feel the pang of sympathy for those going through. Nobody wants to experience hardships and nobody wants to see anybody else having to suffer with it either.

It is during these times when we have to fight the most to remember the sovereignty of God. When we have to continually pound it into our heads that He is in control and “His compassions fail not.” Life may seem very, very bleak at times but God is still on His throne and “great is Thy faithfulness!”

Going through the hardships and the disappointments of life are hard enough, but when we start attributing the human characteristics of short-comings to a divine God, we rob ourselves of an unfailing assurance.

It’s hard to keep one’s head above water during times of crisis. It is at that time when we need our safety float the most. Then is when we need to remember that God has never failed and He is not about to start failing today. He is forever faithful!

Even in the book of Lamentations after the people went into captivity and Jerusalem became desolate, Jeremiah penned words that still inspire to this generation. They became words that have resonated God’s faithfulness in song; words that recognize that God is still there with His people.

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope,” (Lamentations 3:20), Jeremiah writes. This is a made up mind focused on all that God has done through you and for you; seeing how He has moved in times past in your life. Looking back and remembering the prayers that He has already answered brings to the forefront of your mind all the successes He has allowed you to experience. Let that store up for you an arsenal of truth that fights for you and will declare “He is faithful!”

Don’t measure God faithfulness by your present circumstances.  God never promised the absence of hardship or adversity in our Christian walk. But, what He did promise, in His faithfulness, to be in it all the way with you (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised),” Hebrews 10:23.  The pathway we have walked may not have been all peaches and cream, but God was there with us and brought us through to this day because He is faithful.

Text Free Photo Source: Pixabay