In the unsure moments of life . . .

In the unsure moments of life, we have a God we can depend on! “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” Isaiah‬ ‭41:13‬

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A new attitude for a new day . . .

A new attitude for a new day . . . “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

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In Christ, we are the possessors of the promise!

In Christ, we are the possessors of the promise! If God promised it, it is yours!  “. . . So whatever the LORD our God takes possession of before us, we will possess.” Judges 10:24

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Praying . . . 5/20/22

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God, we as Your people stand before You today both as hopeless, and yet as being full of hope. If it is to ourselves we look for strength and resources then we are a hopeless bunch because there is no good thing in us. But, if it is You and Your mercy we are leaning on then our lives have nothing but hope because You, Lord, are the Author of all that can be and when we are trusting in You, we have the possibility of everything before us. Help us this day to keep looking to You where we can find hope, and not to ourselves. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN!
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Take Away the Stone

“Jesus said, Take ye away the stone . . .” John 11:39

Their loved one has been dead for four days.  They sent for Jesus while he was just sick, but Jesus spoke without wavering: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). Therefore, the Bible tells us He waited and didn’t immediately run to Lazarus’ side.

Now, He has arrived at the place of grief.  Acceptance of the situation has taken over and the loved ones and the people gathered there responded as any would.  Mary and Martha cried.  They mourned.  And much of what they were feeling, they probably couldn’t understand themselves.

The scene was heart-wrenching and troubling and now Jesus asked what seemed to some to be an unreasonable request: “Take ye away the stone.”

Unreasonable? Not in the least.

What Jesus was asking for was permission to gain access to the problem.

There are steps of faith and participation Jesus asks His followers to take. If you remember, back in 2 Chronicles 20:17, the people were told to get battle-ready and go out against the people even though they would not need to fight in that particular battle.  We are responsible for activating our faith in Him by following through on His requests even if it seems irrational or unreasonable.

God does not move according to our timetable.  Nor, does He move in ways that we think are right or not.  In fact, His ways of thinking and His plans are far out of our reach of human understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9).  And when He’s ready to move, we need to be ready to move.

By removing the stone they would not only be giving Jesus access to Lazarus, but they were giving Him access to their faith. When one opens their faith they give Jesus a chance to speak life into that place and do the impossible.

Many of us have areas where we could use a touch from Jesus.  Areas that need life spoken into them.

Stones, or blockades of any kind, act as hindrances to the miracles and moving of our Lord.  Are there stones in the way of you receiving something from Jesus?  Does He have full access to your life and faith?

Earlier, Jesus spoke, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  Jesus’ objective is and has always been to give life.  Life here, and life for all eternity.  Take away the stones and give Jesus unobstructed access to your life.

Blessings ~

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Opinions

Opinions, everyone offers them.  Sometimes they are solicited, and sometimes not.

Opinions can be a welcomed, new perspective on a matter.  Then again, opinions can be discouraging whether the basis of them is right or wrong.

The thing we must remember about opinions when referring to people is just that, they are someone’s opinions.  What that means is it may or may not be factual.  It may or may not be the best option for your case.  It only means that is the way another views whatever matter is before them.  It is their best evaluation of the situation.

Does this mean they are wrong?  No.  Does it mean they are right?  No.  An opinion, again, is what it is, an opinion.

Does that mean we shun all opinions given to us?  If we are wise, the answer is no.  The reason being, that while opinions are opinions, the Bible constantly encourages us to seek wise counsel.  Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise,” and there are many more verses written like this that support these same thoughts.

As much as some would like to ignore the fact, there are people who know more than we do and we can glean from their knowledge, expertise, and experience concerning the different matters of life.  We do not know everything in and of ourselves and so prudence demands that we get close to wise counselors and partake of what they have and can teach us to enrich our lives.

Now, the opposite of that is invalidated opinions or harmful opinions.  The thoughts of others that can put a grinding halt on your life and mission.  These interferences disrupt the flow of your day if you allow them and can be a damper on the fire that God has placed inside of us.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul, being at the forefront of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through many regions of the world in his day often came under the scrutiny of others’ opinions.  One particular time that stands out to me was when he and the other 275 passengers aboard a broken ship had to either swim to shore for safety or float there on pieces of the broken ship (see Acts 28 and chapters prior for the entire story).

Once on shore, Paul gathered sticks for a fire, and out of the heat, a snake bit him and attached itself to his hand (Acts 28:3).  When those on the island that were gathered there saw this, they claimed that Paul was a murderer who may have escaped the sea but was still going to get his just desserts (Acts 28:4-5).

Paul, not phased by them or the snake, shook the creature off and went on about his business while the others stood to see what would become of him, expecting him to fall down dead.

When Paul didn’t respond as they thought he would to the snake bite, their opinion of Paul changed quickly in the eyes of these people.  They changed their view of him based off of what they could see with their natural eyes and started to call him a god (Acts 28:6).

That is a very dramatic turn from being labeled as a murderer and then having the script flipped to the people claiming he was a god.  This shows us how quickly, and how circumstantially, people’s views of you can change.

The problem is, that too many people have halted what God has placed in their hearts because of the opinions of others.  Too many have let others revoke their dreams or dictate their calling when it is the Father who knows His good will and thoughts toward you (Jeremiah 29:11).

Constantly looking to others for validation can hinder the mission God has placed you on.  If Paul had succumbed to their opinions, as one labeled a murder, he could have tucked-tail, turned, and hid in a corner, which would not benefit where God placed him and what God wanted to do through him.  By the way, while on that island, some were able to be healed due to the Paul becoming aware of their illness and being able to pray for them (see Acts 28:7-10).

If Paul allowed his head to get puffed-up when others claimed he was a god, he would have been no good for God’s mission in that place and in the places he was traveling to.

Please, and I mean, please with fervency on top, let me reiterate, that there is much wisdom in wise counsel.  Almost the whole book of Proverbs reads as wise counsel on what to do and not to do and the one who wants wisdom would be wise to follow it.  And verses like Proverbs 19:20, which says, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end” really stand out on the importance of seeking and following through on wise instruction.  DO NOT neglect this great gift of available wisdom.

But, don’t let the invalidated opinions of others sway you from your calling.  If you are unsure about a matter, seek good, godly wisdom (as noted above).  Also, never forget that the greatest source of wisdom and knowing of what to do in an unsure time is to look to God Himself.  Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

If you are having a hard time figuring it out, pray for a heart of discernment because we DO NOT want to lean on our own opinions if they are wrong, either.  Don’t get hung up on self.  Again, we have these nuggets of wisdom from Proverbs: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits” (16:2), “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (16:25), and “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts” (21:2).

Above all, we want to be right with God for it is what He thinks of us, His knowledge and His perspective about our life, and what He wants from us and for us that matters the most.

Overcome the obstacles of false opinions, seek wise counsel, and look to God above all else.  He is your confident source for all of life’s decisions.

God bless you.

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Praise From God

Many of us are familiar with the sons of Jesse being ceremoniously paraded before the prophet Samuel to see who would be anointed as the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16).

As with most people, Samuel viewed the potential candidates according to what he could see, judging by their physical appearance.  But it was God who interrupted his erroneous train of thought and informed Samuel the criteria by which He judges is far from the world of human perspective, saying, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Praise from God will never be about what everyone else sees.  Praise from God will never be given based on what is done on the outside of an individual.  Outward rituals and performances never impress our God so much as the inner moving of one’s heart.

God has always been in love with the inner man, for it is only in that place of hiddenness where one’s true character and motives reside.  In this place, God’s eyes and knowing go beyond the scope of the visible.  God’s view of a person is more thorough in reach and scope than any human eye can fathom in that secret place inside.

People work strenuously to put on a show for others.  Do the right things, say the right words, and they will see that you are a good person.   Performance in a certain way will gain you the right audience and praise from people, right?

How we behave on the outside can be an overflow of the true character on the inside, but this is not always so.  While things may look good on the outside, the heart is what matters to God the most. And it is what’s in the heart that receives praise from God.

Paul wrote in Romans, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28-29; emphasis mine), meaning it doesn’t matter the rituals and performances one does on the outside to make themselves to appear to be a child of God, rather it is “the circumcision is that of the heart” that matters most.

My friend, we are living for the praise of God, living to please Him with our lives.  Outward rituals will never impress Him like a true heart that has been changed from the inside out instead of one trying to work righteousness from the outside in.

There are a lot of things that can touch your heart, but when living for God and loving Him touches it more, then something beautiful takes place there.  Something that cannot be ignored by the Father.

Prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:23-24. 

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The Golden Rule

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

This is the Golden Rule, as we call it today.  God’s people are to know how to treat people in any circumstance, whether the times are favorable or if they find themselves in times of adversity.  God’s people are to respond to situations and people in the same manner as Jesus did.

Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  The way we view things, people, and situations are to be filtered through thinking about how Jesus Himself would respond.  How did He handle the adversities He faced?  What was His attitude like toward those who mocked Him and so forth?  All in all, if we were to take inventory and compare our responses to that of Jesus, would they match up or even come close?

In order to be identified as a  Christian, after all, it means that we are of Christ, we are His followers, and we are Christ-minded.  If we’re not, can we truly call ourselves Christians?

The greatest commandments Jesus taught was this: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these,” (Mark 12:29-31, emphasis mine).  Loving people, and treating people as one would want to be treated is to be a priority for being a follower of Christ!  It is one of the greatest commandments and it cannot be ignored!

Today, where do you know you need to view others as Christ did and respond to them in love, with patience, and the courtesy of our Savior?

Most, if not all of us, may be a continual work in progress in this area.  People are not always kind, but we can choose to be kind.  People are not always loving, but because we want to represent our Savior well, we can, as He did, choose to be loving.  The choice is always up to us on how we treat those whom we interact with daily and the random strangers that come across our path.

May we love people well, no matter who they are.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Excerpt taken from Jesus Teaches His Followers

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O Lord, this day we are praying…

O God, this day we are praying for your leading and guidance in our lives. In our flesh; in the humanness of our hearts, we don’t always know the right thing to do. We don’t always know the right path to walk. Teach us, O God, according to your Word. Help us to keep our feet on the path you have for us and please bless the steps we take. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

“He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths,” Micah 4:2.

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It may not look like…

It may not look like what we want it to look like or turn out according to our plan, but trust God through the steps, and His plan will lead us where we need to be.

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” Proverbs‬ ‭16:9‬

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