“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.

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“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

Community of Believers | We are here for one another!

 

Races can take you through many terrains.  Running uphill, it’s hard.  The more you go, the steeper the incline, the harder it gets.  Breath after breath your chest heaves for relief.  Push after push your muscles cry out for mercy.  And, just when you thought you had no more in you; just when you thought you couldn’t go any farther, from behind there comes these hands out of nowhere that steadies your stride and helps propel you forward some more.  On the side of you comes smiling faces with encouraging words grabbing hold of your arms and help pull you up that incline that you might finish your race.  They want to help you make it.

The Apostle Paul often described our Christian life as a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  We run it.  We press for it.  But, sometimes the way gets hard and if it had not been for the grace of God, we would not have made it.

As the community of racers pushed and pulled the struggling runner uphill, so God will minister to us to help us go through our race.  Often this is done through the community of believers that will come alongside the one that needs support.

In this world the struggle is real.  May we, as a community of believers, recognize the support that each one needs.  May we join up with our fellow Christian race runners and offer the help and encouragement they need to make it.  May we see beyond our own race and allow God to use our hands and smiling faces to help bolster someone’s faith as they are striving to make it up the inclines of this life.

We all have the same goal in mind: to finish the race.  We need each other to do it.  As a community of believers, our job goes beyond spreading the gospel and being a light in this dark world, and all the other spiritual stuff it entails.  Our job is also to seek the welfare of one another.  We need to be there for one another.  We need to be present and involved in the process of what they are going through “that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it,” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).  

More encouraging verses and quotes:

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow . . .” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a

“God has chosen us to help one another.” Smith Wigglesworth

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'” Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“The God Who Touches Me…”

 

The God who touches me is the God who loves me.
Saved, my sins He has thrown into the deep sea.

He carries my soul in His hand day by day.
He wraps His strength around me; my fortress, my stay.

He covers me in light that shields from the dark.
He is the armor that protects from all fiery darts.

He’s my Shepherd and the Lamb, who leads and sacrifice.
My safety; my salvation came at His high price.

The God who touches me cares beyond what we know.
His love on display is the grandest show.

In it we see eternity play out.
His best became our rest; no reason to doubt.

On His throne He sits in heaven where we bow at the knee.
Never forsaking us, in His presence, till we are there home free.

The God who touches me, I reach out for Him too.
As the woman grabs His hem and is healed through and through.

To feel His virtue; His power; His love – it’s so real.
His Spirit overwhelms; on my heart is His seal.

Taking me to heights in heaven to know,
where for eternity I bask in His unimaginable glow.

Photo Credit: Pixabay/Screamenteagle

 

 

 

 

 

Confident in God!

There is always something about the stories where the underdog comes out on top, where the least of all becomes the greatest that sends chills of inspiration up the spine.

The story of David and Goliath has long evoked a sense awe at the victory won and the hope of possibility in the soul still in the fight facing his/her own giants. The fact of the matter is that many things in this life which we face day to day can at times seem too much to bear.  Our worries don’t necessarily have to be against the biggest guy around.  Just the struggle of making it one more day, another try at giving it your best shot, can make it really hard for some people.

That’s why this article is not going to focus on the beast Goliath was or how David brought him down with just a stone and slingshot.

Nope. I want us to focus on the confidence that David had in God.

To me, it doesn’t matter if what you face is big or small. Sometimes the hardest stuff is the routine, small stuff that gets on your nerves every single day and makes you want to throw in the towel and quit.

Yes, David did the impossible in the name of the Lord. But, what I have found out in my own life is when we evoke that same confidence in God in every area of our lives, big or small, God tends to step in and work it out for us.  And, you know it was Him because that very area in life that used to be a source of hardship and frustration now becomes a place of peace and productivity.

David, before confronting Goliath, declared, “The LORD delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine,” (1 Samuel 17:37, NKJV. emphasis mine).  I want us to focus on “He will” of that statement.  David expressed in those two little words the amount of confidence he had in the God he served.

Confidence in God the key no matter what. Many of times we misplace our confidences in the things and the people we see around us, allowing them to become our focus and control, when God should be at the forefront of the battle with us.  Over and over again we are told in His Word, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man,” (Psalm 118:8, NKJV); yet, man seems to always get more of our attention and we wonder why we falter in the battle and don’t end up standing as victor over the giants and circumstances we face.

We have to rely more on God than anything else in this world. He truly is the only one who can get in there and fight with us and for us and bring us to a victorious end on the other side.

Below are some reminders to trust God and have confidence in Him no matter the size of anything we face. Knowing this will improve our day to day struggles in life and turn them into day to day victories.

  • “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
  • “Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” – Isaiah 26:4
  • “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” – Psalm 37:3
  • “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17
  • “Never be afraid to trust in unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie Ten Boom
  • “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” – Martin Luther
  • “So many of us limit our praying because we are not reckless in our confidence in God. In the eyes of those who do not know God, it is madness to trust Him, but when we pray in the Holy Spirit we begin to realize the resources of God, that He is our perfect heavenly Father, and we are His children.” – Oswald Chambers

“It Only Takes a Moment” – Word For Life Says

Photo: Pixabay/silviarita

Have you ever had one of those moments when you realize God is teaching you something significant?  Where every current scene that plays out in your life you spiritually awaken to the idea of God’s guiding presence in a new way; His hand steering you this way and that?

I have had some of those revelatory moments lately.  God is cracking old perceptions I once held of myself and He is pulling me into new areas of trust.  In this area where I am being drawn, I readily admit I don’t know what I am doing.  My human frailty comes to the forefront but God is showing me Him.  He is showing me more of His heart, more of His care, and more of His heavenly abilities to work it all out.

Oh, His ability to do it all has always been there, but there were certain areas of my life where there were still scales on my eyes, shielding me from seeing the bigger picture; from seeing God fully at work in it all.

I was awakened on the inside and became more aware that there is so much more to me than me.  God has me on His radar and He is orchestrating my life in a unique and special way.  No, I don’t have all the answers, nor do I know what tomorrow looks like or how this will all end up, but by faith, I want Him to take the lead while I just step out and follow.

It requires not only a moment of revelation but a life of trust.  Steven Furtick said, “The only way God can show us He is in control is to put us in situations we can’t control,” (Quote Source: Pinterest).

It’s purposely declaring every day and with every step, “I don’t know it all, but I choose to follow the One who does.”  It’s a time when we let that one moment of believing God is the fullness of His promises defines the makeup of our future.  It’s when we permit the wonder of all that He is to overshadow any doubt or discrepancies that we might feel within ourselves, realizing what He has made us for and ordained us to do never depended on us in the first place.

Is there an area of your life where God wants to give you that ah-ha moment of revelation?  Or, are there still scales blocking your full vision of Him?

Father God, remove the scales from our eyes that we might see the full vision of You.  We are praying against every hindrance that tries to blind Your people and obstruct their view from the wonderful works You want to do through them.  Amen!

I pray for your moment of connection with God.  I pray that you would trust in God more, and focus on Him more than whatever you think you can’t do.  It only takes a moment of sincere trust and abandon to Him to change your course in history forever.

“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” Jeremiah 17:7

“The Beauty of God’s Heart”

 

The beauty of God’s heart is most known to us through those wonderful things that make Him, Him.  Traits and characteristics that stood to defend us when we should have been condemned.

Some portray God in the harshest sense.  With gavel in hand at the least little infraction, we are automatically charged and sentenced.  While God most certainly will judge all unrepentant sin, the beauty of His heart gives chance after chance, offering multiplied times to receive His forgiveness.

Hard, God is not.  We could probably never know how many more times we have experienced His undeserved redemption, grace, and mercy at work in our lives than we did any deserved penalties.

The beauty of God’s heart wants to save, not destroy (2 Peter 3:9).  Thus, He forebears with us and is longsuffering toward us.  That means He’s not in a rush to convict as some suppose (but again, all unrepentant sin will be dealt with).  Rather, His heart seeks to acquit; to exonerate one from guilt through Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, who bore the guilt we should have been marked by.

You see, the beauty of God’s heart is untouched by anything we can imagine.  When we see Him set the spiritual captives free, the beauty of His heart understands that in our human capacity we will never comprehend the true and total cost of what it took to do that.

When we see Him heal we may rejoice in the miracle, but we will never understand with full clarity that there was never supposed to be a need for healing.  The beauty of God’s heart sees the original wholeness that was intended from the beginning and that it’s only through the sadness of sin that this malady of the flesh has entered into the world.  I imagine the beauty of God’s heart holds the simpleness of all that creation was intended to be when He spoke, “It is good,” (Genesis).

I imagine His heart holding everything that is good, and perfect, and lovely, and wonderful.  Walking through the most beautiful field of flowers on the world’s most glorious day surrounded by the greatest peace this world has to offer could not even begin to scratch the surface of what we find in Him.

I imagine the beauty of His heart can be described much like His shining countenance found glowing from that Holy City in the Revelation.  In it, there is brilliance and radiance.  There is mystery, yet there is also a longing for intimacy with His creation.  There is grandeur, but at the same time, it only takes the simplicity of faith to come near Him.

God watches mankind live after and pursue their own plans and purposes each and every day, yet the beauty of His heart holds the cares of each person and each choice we make, wayward or not.

The main thing is the beauty of God’s heart is intimately in touch with His creation; with you and me.  No matter where we go, in flesh or just in thought, His heart knows and is involved.

As mighty, and holy, and sovereign, and omniscient as God is, why is He so mindful of us and our sometimes messy lives?  The answer is because of the beauty of His heart.  For above all, God is love (1 John 4:8) and His heart holds all the love that we can’t even begin to imagine, in the most beautiful sense, pure and undefiled from anything we can know down here, for each and every one of us.

Even when we reach that place in glory we may still not fully comprehend all the beauty His heart holds.  But oh, how wonderful it is to experience it, feel it, and know the beauty of God’s heart holds a special place for me and you.

Father God,

            You are so beautiful to us and toward us.  May we recognize the care You take to hold each one of us in the crevice of Your very being and may that realization cause us to draw nearer to You each and every day.  In the name of Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray,

                                                                                                                        Amen!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Don’t Romanticize Life!”

“Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” 1 Peter 4:12

“Confirming the souls of the disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we may through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22

One of the best things about being an avid reader is the happy ending that appears at the end of almost every book I read.  When you first dive into a new book you begin to get familiar with the characters and their life.  Each turn of the page takes us along on their journey, revealing to us their joys and sadness, hardships and pain.  By the time we reach those last few pages, everything has worked itself out.  There’s almost always a reason for celebration and the typical “aww” moment, especially if you’re into romance novels.

That’s the great thing about books.  They allow your imagination to soar, taking you into worlds you may not otherwise get a chance to explore.  Your mind’s eye gets hooked up with the writer’s vision for the book and soon a vivid story begins to unfold before you.  Though there are no pictures, illustrations begin to form revealing all that is written therein.  Television has its place – oh, but to read a book!

Whether it be a movie, television program or a book the stories we hear and see transport us, giving us a reprieve from reality.  But, when the last page is read or the screen goes blank, it’s back to reality.  And, reality isn’t always as picturesque as the stories we left behind.  Sometimes love does not find its way.  Sometimes the bad guy does get away.  Sometimes the hero doesn’t make it home.  Sometimes the disease doesn’t get healed.  Sometimes the child does not find their way home.  Sometimes the friend does not stick closer than a brother, and so on.

Sometimes life is just plain ole not fun!  I think more so than ever that we have not heard enough about the reality of life.  Instead, we are raising up a generation of rose-colored glasses wearers.  Even from the pulpit of most American churches, the messages of peace, prosperity and wealth has taken over the reality of life.  Jesus Christ, Himself clearly stated that in the world you will have tribulation, John 16:33.  Peace and blessings will come.  Promises will be fulfilled.  But our physical being is planted in the world right now, and while we are here we have to face the reality that everything, every day is not going to be easy.

This philosophy breeds a culture of disillusionment.  Romanticizing life leaves one totally off guard and taken aback when troubling times occur.  A hard life is a hard life no matter which way you look at it and when one is not ready in the least for it, the residual effects can be devastating.  “We may through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God.”  It is going to be hard sometimes.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” 1 Peter 4:12.  In other words, the test is going to be hard sometimes.  Tests are not passed with a fly by the night attitude.  Tests are passed when people are prepared for them.  But, the wearer of the rose-colored glasses with will have a harder time because the tests seem like a “strange thing” that has happened unto them.

Listen, prepared or not, some things in life will just come out of the blue and whip your world around causing you to say, “What the what?”  It’s inevitable.  The idea behind not romanticizing life is to expect the unexpected.  We don’t want to lose out on those promises God has for us because we have the false illusion that nothing will ever happen to us.

The promises are coming, that’s a given.  In John 16:33, after Jesus warned, “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” He also gave us cause to celebrate.  He said, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  And, after Peter wrote of the “strange thing,” he exhorted his readers with verses 13-14a.  He said, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you . . .”

Oh yes, thank God for the promises.  Every word that speaks of them is true.  But, don’t be surprised when we have to go through some stuff today before we reach those promises.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Before there was Egypt, there was a promise!”

Many times when we discuss the land of Egypt within the confines of the Bible, our minds automatically track back to the time when the children of Israel were in bondage there.  We see them under the weight of the taskmasters, dealing with oppressive circumstances that are beyond their control.  They stand by and watch as some are beaten, others are killed; lack and degrading situations run rampant throughout their time there.  Fear, hatred, and jealousy by others drove them to the place where they are residing; a place where tough days seem like they will never come to an end.

Often times, when people find themselves in a hard spot of life, or when they find themselves coming up short and just not happy with the way things are turning out at this particular time, they refer to that circumstance as their place of “Egypt.”  This is where heartbreak and troubling times lie.  This is the place where it seems everything is fighting against them and no matter what one does it just doesn’t appear that they will ever come out on top.  People may not have taskmaster’s whips to deal with, but other things just lash and lash out at them, making it hard to get back up again.

As hard as this may be to believe, I assure you your Egypt will not last forever.  I’m sure the children of Israel had doubts about this.  After all, their time there lasted about four hundred years.  Yet, even before this family of seventy ventured into the land and grew to the astronomical numbers we see in Exodus, God knew all about their time there before they were even there.

In Genesis 15:13 God told Abram, “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”  Outside of that prophecy God also said, “And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance,” (Genesis 15:14).  In this we see, there was a promise before they even set one foot in Egypt; before they even encountered a problem, God already had a blessing lined up for when they came out.

Today, we fight against so many unknowns.  We deal with all the this and that’s of life that it simply just weighs one down.  One might not find themselves in a literal state of captivity, but something just sits on them heavy, becoming an almost unbearable burden, that they just don’t know what to do.  With a feeling of exasperation, some just give up, content just to go through the motions of life, without grabbing hold of the feeling of hope because of the fear of being let down again, just to drift back into that state of uncertainty once more.

But, I am here to tell you today, continue hoping and never give up.  Your “Egypt” is not lost on God.  God knows what you are facing.  He knows every disappointment you are dealing with.  He knows every struggle you are battling.  He knows everything that you are fighting through and that’s fighting against you.

It may be hard to see the proverbial silver lining in a dark cloud at times or the light at the end of the tunnel, but we have something better.  We have a promise!  God told Abram when his people came out, they were coming out better than when they went in.  God was going to judge those who did them wrong, and God was going to bless them greatly.

Another promise Abram received was in a few verses prior to those noted above.  God told him, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be,” (Genesis 15:5).  Not only were they going to be blessed, but they were going to come out increased in the people they were.  To go from one individual to the millions they would come out to be, they were going to grow not only in number but in experience through their troubling times. For as Robert Schuller put it, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” (Quote Source: Goodreads)  They would have to learn to endure some stuff in order to be the people who would eventually be fit to take on the Promised Land.

While it may at times seem like the hard times are breaking you, they may be actually making you.  So remember, before there was Egypt, there was a promise.  And, I don’t know about you, but I will take a promise of God over a so-called silver lining any day.  The promises of God are sure.  Through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are told, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us,” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

In other words, no matter what you are facing today, Jesus has you covered.  No matter the obstacles or hard places that make you feel like you are in Egypt and you just want to give up, God has an unfailing promise of His love, grace, mercy, peace, and deliverance through even the most difficult circumstances.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

 

“But there is a God in heaven . . .”

Daniel stood before king Nebuchadnezzar and declared the truth that the king and many others in this world fail to acknowledge: “There is a God in heaven,” (Daniel 2:28).  Although Nebuchadnezzar was searching for an interpretation of a dream, he should have been searching his heart.

Our God is Creator.  Our God is Sovereign over all.  He sits higher in His realm than any king or dignitary on earth.  And He looks low to the smallest of us all to personally see about us and tend to our care.  He knows who is for Him and who is against Him.  He knows the one whose heart is filled with faith and the one who shuns His grace.

He is the very God that called everything into existence, speaking over them and they came to being (Isaiah 48:13; Romans 4:17).  He is the very God that raises up and puts down (Psalms 75:7).  “He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings . . .” (Daniel 2:21, HCSB).

Oh yes, there is a God in heaven . . .

Whether you believe or don’t believe, it doesn’t change the very real fact that He is real.  That He reigns and rules.  He is the one who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand and marks off the measurements of heaven using His hand.  He only is the one who can gather the dust of the earth and tell you how much there is, and He can weigh or hang the mountains in His heavenly scales and tell you the balance thereof (Isaiah 40:12).

Oh yes, there is a God in heaven . . .

He does great things in the world, yet He knows every detail of my life.  He has the hairs of my own head numbered (Matthew 10:30).  He calls me out personally by name (John 10:3).  From before my beginning to my very end, He knows all about me (Psalms 139).  The mighty God in heaven is thinking about me out of all the people in the world (Psalms 139:17-18).

He’s there in heaven.  He’s here in my heart.

Oh, that the Nebuchadnezzar’s of the world would search for Him personally.  Oh, that man would open his spiritual eyes and see the truth before him: There is a God in heaven!  There are many false ways that try to deny that very fact (2 Peter 2), but it doesn’t change the reality of it all.  God is real!  God rules!  And, God has the final say!

There is a God in heaven!

 

Photo Source: Pixabay