“Persistently Pray!”

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It is so easy to give up when discouragement blows our way, but Jesus encourages us not to. He told the parable of a man who “persistently” came to his friend to ask bread. He knocked and knocked and refused to be turned away. The Bible tells us to, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,” Matthew 7:7.
 
In other words, don’t give up and don’t give in. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” – Luke 11:13.
 
Persistently pray and don’t quit now!

Emergency Reminder:

“Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Luke 11:5-13, NKJV

Keep praying – Never give up!

Photo: Wallpaper4god.com

“Don’t Count People Out!”

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“Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” 2 Thessalonians 3:15

We all have those acquaintances in life that make us constantly shake our heads, and we feel like throwing up our hands in exasperation.  Especially when their behaviors do not line up with our beliefs.  Many of the times one can feel justified in their decision to wash their hands of that relationship and count that person out.  It doesn’t.

I’m so glad God has more patience with us than we have with one another.  In our humanness, we are so quick to give up on what we perceive as a lost cause.  Even members of our own family – oh, they may try us, but we can’t write them off.

When Jesus gave the command for His followers to be witnesses for Him in Acts 1:8, the first place that was mentioned was Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was home base.  Jerusalem was where everything started.  He wanted the people “at home” to have the first shot of this powerful, saving message.  In fact, that’s exactly what happened.  When Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost and preached Jesus Christ to the people “in Jerusalem,” a mighty thing occurred.  Acts 2:37 boldly tells us the message that was preached was their undoing.  It says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

That’s a powerful reversal of opinion by those who in verse 23 were accused in the killing of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Bearing with people is not always the easiest thing to do, especially those closest to you.  You know a lot about them and it is sometimes hard to envision a reversal on their part, but can I tell you something, they are still souls before God.

It is easier for us to “go into all the world,” (Mt. 28:19), then to make disciples out of those closest to us.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  You might be the only glimpse of what life in Christ could be for them.  But, if you give up on them and count them out, how will they see?

Your love, patience, and attitude toward another could be their deciding factor.  “Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  What if God had given up on us?  Rather, Psalm 103:8-10 tells us, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”  We deserved the worse, but God saved us and gave us the best.  He did not give up on us!

I can readily admit that before my relationship with Christ I was not all peaches and cream, nor was I sugar and spice and everything nice.  I was a sinner.  My life was not right.  I was not born a Christian, and neither were you.  God has been very patient with me, with us, and we should return that same grace to others.

It may be a work in progress for most of us, but at least it’s in progress. Therefore, we don’t have the right to count others out either.  Our love, compassion, and desire to see them saved should always compel us to “admonish them as a brother.”  People need you today, don’t count them out.  Exhort one another in love.  We need each other so badly to make it through.  Our hearts should yearn to see all saved even when we don’t see it.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“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

“FLY!”

REST!  Is it really a lost commodity among our culture?  In our hurried, never-sitting-still-society-for-fear-of-being-run-over-by-society, you would think it is.  That speaks of physical rest, but what of the rest of one’s soul?  A time where one can enjoy some peace and quiet on the inside instead of always feeling like their world is in turmoil.

I think many of us can really relate to that need of rest.  Sometimes, we wish we could do like Jesus and stand before the storm and say, “Peace, be still,” and literally make every wave of adversity shut its mouth!  I know you want to.  I do, too!  It just becomes too much to deal with at times and the need for space, to breathe, to come out from under all this mess becomes an overwhelming factor.

God bless you if you can’t relate to what I am saying here.  For most of us the challenge of dealing with daily schedules, mess and problems leave us feeling totally surrounded.  As if, no matter what direction we turn there is something there to prevent one from really enjoying that rest.

“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest,” Psalm 55:6

Oh, but if I had two wings!  I would fly!  The idea of rising above every problem and adverse circumstance is very tantalizing.  Right there I begin to form a mental picture in my mind of me soaring.  Below me is everything that tries to come against me.  All those problems and schedules are trying to reach up and grab hold of me, but it can’t!  I have risen too high for them.  I have learned how to fly above it all!

The problem with that is it is fantasy.  Oh, that it were real.  While we are living on this side of glory we are always going to have something to deal with, but that still doesn’t mean we can’t fly.  Isaiah 40:31 emphatically declares, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . .”   God never promised to remove every problem from our lives but, what He did say, is that He will renew the strength of those who turn to Him in the midst of it all.

God is strong in power and there is none like Him, Isaiah 40:25-26.  We recognize today, that though I may not have suddenly sprouted two wings coming out of my back when I rely on His power, it is as if I am already soaring!  And, that my friends, is real rest!  It is confidence that fills the heart and lets me know that I don’t have to feel beaten down and worn out.  God’s got this!  He sees what I am going through.  Psalms 5:11-12 says, “Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.  For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”  I may not have two physical wings on the outside, but on the inside, I’m flying higher than it all.  Why?  Because though it may seem at times that I am totally surrounded, I serve the Lord God Almighty who is able to “compass” me “as with a shield.”  Therefore, today, I can fly!

Photo: Pixabay/efes

“Persistently Pray!”

 

Emergency Reminder:

“Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Luke 11:5-13, NKJV

Keep praying – Never give up!

“Rabbi, is it I?”

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“Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, ‘Rabbi, is it I?'” Matthew 26:25, NKJV

Love betrayed.  The betrayed and the betrayer locked in questioning gaze.  A tension of certainty and doubt filling the air of what was to be a beautiful last dinner spent with His disciples.

On the one hand is Christ.  He has done nothing but show love, concern and compassion toward all who met Him.  From the miracles to the teachings, He has treasured each life that came across His path enough to compel Him to know that the cross was the only way to save them all.  Love was His motto.

Then, there is Judas Iscariot.  The betrayer.  The sell-out.  The one who was close to Christ but now has become an enemy of Christ.  Selfishness is what compelled him to give it all up for thirty pieces of silver.  Gain and greed were his motto.  Love didn’t matter anymore.

The two together at dinner with the question in the air:

“Rabbi, is it I?”

Have you ever felt the sting of betrayal by someone to whom you have poured out love?  It doesn’t feel good.  Our Lord amazes me!  He knew all things and yet subjected Himself to all things.  He carried it all to the cross with the burgeoning of love in His very being.  He suffered affliction, ridicule and torment.  Yet, those He loved and walked with these three and half years of His earthly ministry are nowhere to be found.  One sold Him out and the others fled or denied Him altogether.

“Rabbi, is it I?”

Love causes us to do some crazy things.  Love makes us suffer long with people who have worked our last nerve.  Love keeps us from giving up and giving in.  Love centers us back to the real mission at hand: which is to love some more.

Love caused Christ to look into the face of His betrayer and say, “You have said it.”  Love put the plan in motion that will pay the price for it all.  Love gave the okay for the process to start, redeeming man from themselves.

Have you ever wished you could save someone you love from the mistakes they are making?  Has the love you shown over the years not reaped the rewards you were hoping for?  Has the one you loved turned their back on you?

Feelings that come from these questions don’t feel good.  No more for us than they did for Christ.  But, when we view His life and all that He dealt with in light of our own questions, it breathes a new life of appreciation in all that He has done for us.

“Rabbi, is it I?”

We have not always been our best.  We have not always crossed every T or dotted every i, yet, He continues to love.  We have not always followed every command or taken every stand that we ought to, yet, He continues to love.

The next time when the love we shed for another seems to be all for nought, remember Christ.  Remember how His love was betrayed.  Remember how His love was afflicted.  Remember how His love compelled Him to continue on.

Remember all He did for each and every one of us despite us not being at our best:

“I was sinking deep in sin,   Far from the peaceful  shore, Very deeply stained within,   Sinking to rise no  more; But the Master of the sea   Heard my despairing  cry, From the waters lifted me,   Now safe am I.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could  help,   Love lifted me.”  (Source:Hymnal.net)

Let the knowledge of His love cover us today.  Yup, it hurts sometimes but let the knowing of what He did for us compel us to act as He did – with Love!

Reality check for us all.

Thank you, Lord, for your love lifting me despite all my mess!

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“FLY!”

REST!  Is it really a lost commodity among our culture?  In our hurried, never-sitting-still-society-for-fear-of-being-run-over-by-society, you would think it is.  That speaks of physical rest, but what of the rest of one’s soul?  A time where one can enjoy some peace and quiet on the inside instead of always feeling like their world is in turmoil.

I think many of us can really relate to that need of rest.  Sometimes, we wish we could do like Jesus and stand before the storm and say, “Peace, be still,” and literally make every wave of adversity shut its mouth!  I know you want to.  I do, too!  It just becomes too much to deal with at times and the need for space, to breathe, to come out from under all this mess becomes an overwhelming factor.

God bless you if you can’t relate to what I am saying here.  For most of us the challenge of dealing with daily schedules, mess and problems leave us feeling totally surrounded.  As if, no matter what direction we turn there is something there to prevent one from really enjoying that rest.

“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest,” Psalm 55:6

Oh, but if I had two wings!  I would fly!  The idea of rising above every problem and adverse circumstance is very tantalizing.  Right there I begin to form a mental picture in my mind of me soaring.  Below me is everything that tries to come against me.  All those problems and schedules are trying to reach up and grab hold of me, but it can’t!  I have risen too high for them.  I have learned how to fly above it all!

The problem with that is it is fantasy.  Oh, that it was real.  While we are living on this side of glory we are always going to have something to deal with, but that still doesn’t mean we can’t fly.  Isaiah 40:31 emphatically declares, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . .”   God never promised to remove every problem from our lives but, what He did say, is that He will renew the strength of those who turn to Him in the midst of it all.

God is strong in power and there is none like Him, Isaiah 40:25-26.  We recognize today, that though I may not have suddenly sprouted two wings coming out of my back when I rely on His power, it is as if I am already soaring!  And, that my friends, is real rest!  It is confidence that fills the heart and lets me know that I don’t have to feel beaten down and worn out.  God’s got this!  He sees what I am going through.  Psalms 5:11-12 says, “Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.  For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”  I may not have two physical wings on the outside, but on the inside, I’m flying higher than it all.  Why?  Because though it may seem at times that I am totally surrounded, I serve the Lord God Almighty who is able to “compass” me “as with a shield.”  Therefore, today, I can fly!

Text Free Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Be Empowered!”

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“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness . . . that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Oh, that thorn in the flesh syndrome. That persistent thing that seems like it will never be removed from your life. I would venture to say that most people have dealt with or are currently dealing with that one nagging thing that keeps . . . well, nagging you! That one thing that causes us to say, “Lord, if You would just move this one thing from my life, I would be alright.” Thorns are hurtful. They are irritating. And, they get in the way of the one who wants to enjoy the blossom. There is a beautiful rose on the end of the stem, but the thorns hinder the enjoyment, making it hard for one to really take in the beauty thereof up close and personal.

Oftentimes, when one is trying to enjoy the beauty of God’s promises, hurtful things arise. As one tries to draw nearer and nearer to Him, the thorns make it hard to hold on. The thorns “spring up and choke them,” Matthew 13:7. They choke out the way. Nevertheless, despite what our outside circumstances may be telling us, we are taught that we can still live the empowered life. Though we have “infirmities” (and we all do), “grace” is still at work. Grace – that unmerited favor, makes room when our own obstacles get in the way. And God says it is “sufficient.” It is enough.

There is only one man who lived in this world perfectly and that’s our Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of us are surviving off of God’s grace. We depend on it every day though we are undeserving of it. He has empowered us through our Lord Jesus Christ to progress on this journey despite all of our shortcomings. Every obstacle that we face in life is not going to be moved. Oh, how I wish it would be. (Don’t judge me! You know you wish every obstacle you face would be moved, too.) But, what the apostle Paul is teaching us is that we can still succeed in Christ. We can still have a blessed Christian life through His power that “rest upon” us.

Have you ever played tag as a kid? Somebody tried to tag you and get you out, but you gave them the slip and got away. Have you ever in a victorious romp stuck your thumbs in your ears, while waving your fingers and chanting, “Na, Na, Na, boo, boo?” Paul had a victorious romp of his own. After he prayed and realized despite all he was going through the grace of God was still at work in his life – and, that God’s strength was being made perfect in Paul’s weakness, Paul declared, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities.” Paul was saying, tag me if you will, but God was working it out for him!

Don’t you love that? Despite it all God is still at work in us and through us. He is perfecting some stuff and we can rejoice with Paul. (Just don’t do the chanting, you are too old for that – tee, hee.) We are not rejoicing because of trouble or hurt, or anything like that. We are rejoicing because we believe in God’s grace, and that allows the power of Christ to rest upon us because we have yielded to Him.

The empowered life is one that yields to Him and recognizes it is His strength being perfected in us. The empowered person can still push forth knowing that God is still at work, even through the hardest of times. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. The hurt may not be over but it’s as if God is saying, “I have all you need to make through.”

Talking about empowerment can very easily cause one to divert and take a humanistic view. But, I’ve really strived to keep this God-centered. Everything we need is in Him and when we can really grasp hold of that, then are we truly empowered.

“Don’t Count People Out!”

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“Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” 2 Thessalonians 3:15, KJV

We all have those acquaintances in life that make us constantly shake our heads, and oh, do we feel like walking out on them, never to return again.  Especially when their behaviors do not line up with our beliefs.  Many of the times one can feel justified in their decision to wash their hands of that relationship and count that person out.  It doesn’t.

I’m so glad God has more patience with us than we have with one another.  In our humanness we are so quick to give up on what we perceive as a lost cause.  Even members of our own family – oh, they may try us, but we can’t write them off.

When Jesus gave the command for His followers to be witnesses for Him in Acts 1:8, the first place that was mentioned was Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was home base.  Jerusalem was where everything started.  He wanted the people “at home” to have first shot of this powerful saving message.  In fact, that’s exactly what happened.  When Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost, and preached Jesus Christ to the people “in Jerusalem,” a mighty thing occurred.  Acts 2:37 boldly tells us the message that was preached was their undoing.  It says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (KJV).

That’s a powerful reversal of opinion by those who in verse 23 were accused in the killing of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Bearing with people is not always the easiest thing to do, especially those closest to you.  You know a lot about them and it is sometimes hard to envision a reversal on their part, but can I tell you something, they are still souls before God.

It is easier for us to “go into all the world,” (Mt. 28:19, KJV), then to make disciples out of those closest to us.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (KJV).  You might be the only glimpse of what life in Christ could be for them.  But, if you give up on them and count them out, how will they see?

Your patience and attitude toward another could be their deciding factor.  “Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  What if God had given up on us?  Rather, Psalm 103:8-10 tells us, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities,” (KJV).  We deserved the worse, but God saved us and gave us the best.  He did not give up on us!

I can readily admit that before my relationship with Christ I was as the young people say, “A hot mess!”  I was “tore up from the floor up,” and any other thing that can be applied.  I was a sinner.  My life was not right.  I was not born a Christian and neither were you.  God has been very patient with us and we should return the favor.

It may be a work in progress for most of us, but at least it’s in progress. Therefore, we don’t have the right to count others out either.  Our love, compassion, and desire to see them saved should always compel us to “admonish them as a brother.”  People need you today, don’t count them out.  Exhort one another in love.  We need each other so badly to make it through.  Our hearts should yearn to see all saved even when we don’t see it.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Recognizing Jesus”

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“And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him,” Luke 24:15-16, KJV

Can we even imagine what it must have been like for Christ’s disciples to witness His crucifixion? Many of them were eye-witness to the miraculous feats He did and the miracles He performed. So, how could it all end like this? He was the One, of this they were sure; why did this to happen to Him?

Dumbfounded and flabbergasted – just plain ole, “I can’t believe that just happened,” attitude. All of these emotions must have truly assailed the psyche of those who were closest to Jesus. There was so much hope tied up in who they believed He was, now all seems to be at a loss. “What more can we do?” With that, they carried their heavy laden hearts down the road, believing all to be lost for good.

It is sad to be in the presence of Jesus one moment, and the next, to be completely taken aback and wondering, “What in the world just happened?” If truth be told, we have all been there at one point or another. Everything is going peachy-fine, and the next, BAM! A side-blow of life has come and knocked our understanding of the way things were down.

These disciples were no different from most of us. Going through hard times of sadness and misunderstanding can obscure one’s view. Whether traveling with a buddy in this or going the road alone, it is sometimes hard to contemplate all the who’s, what’s and why’s of everything that has gone wrong.

Believe you me when I tell you, I know what it is to be sad. I know what it is to be hurt and confused; to be let down, disappointed and left to feel unloved, neglected and disrespected. I know what it is to be talked about and to have my name run over. Going through these particular events can leave us reeling with the same thought I penned to the disciples, “What in the world just happened?” And just like the disciples, sometimes it’s hard to see clearly.

Dealing with trials is like being in a crowd that’s taller than you and trying to see the main event. The crowd becomes all the things we put up with, and the main event, of course, is Jesus. We know He’s there and we know what He can do, but to view Him is hard because of the crowd; because of the trials. We jump up to catch glimpses; we try to push our way through, but the crowd is unyielding, blocking our way.

Jesus was there, walking and talking with His disciples, but they didn’t recognize Him. They couldn’t see through the events they just witnessed to recognize that this is Jesus, Him of whom they are speaking. Tragedy has shielded their sight. That’s why I’m glad Jesus stepped up when He did, lest they would have felt all hope was gone.

A clear vision of Jesus, no matter where we find ourselves in life, is imperative to our Christian faith. That’s why I love the Word of God! When no one else can comfort me or help me through times of sadness, His Word is unfailing! It gives me a very clear view of who Jesus is, helping me to recognize Him even in the hardest of times. All of God’s Word is inspirational. In every book I have found help to keep grounded in Him, but there’s something special about the Psalms. In it is praise and worship, but also the cries of the human heart when life seems overwhelming.

Jesus used the Word to help with the dismay of His disciples at this tragic time (Luke 24:27).  I attempted to pick a few favorites to list, but was unable. I have too many highlighted and each one speaks to me on a personal level. I admonish you to prayerfully go through them for yourself. Find the ones that speak to you and make them your own to hold on to. I guarantee that there is more than one with your name on it. God’s Word can help you to clear out the crowd so that you can see the main event; so that you can recognize Him when everything and everybody else is trying to get in the way.

Photo Credit: Pixabay