Monday, October 14, 2013

The Hope of Glory

 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Colossians 1:27

As Paul was writing to the Colossians, he was writing to them to remind them about Jesus and his pre-eminence.  He was encouraging them to move onto understanding the great glory of God.  He wanted them to know what their hope was to be in.  

When life happens, we can get beaten down and become disappointment.  If the enemy can disappoint us, then he will achieve his goal.  He knows that disappointment is opposite of faith.  

Disappointment is defined as to failure to satisfy the hope, desire and expectation frustrate or to thwart. But faith is defined as confident in belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing.

If Satan takes our eyes of the hope of glory, which is Christ in you, then you will begin to question God.  I know for I have been led down this road many times.  However, I have found that through every trial and through every circumstance, God truly does something miraculous.  He keeps his promise.  Just when I felt defeated and beat up with no hope.  He reminds me of his word and truth.  He is renewing my mind.  He is transforming me and my faith into a greater level of hope.   He begins to bring life to those dead areas where I lacked in belief. He is giving me beauty for my ashes.  He who began a good work in me will complete it.  

Each of us have our own journey.  The routes are all different. God who formed us in your mother's womb is fashioning each one of us into a new masterpiece.  He is making us see yourself as he created us to be, a new person in Christ.  He is restoring those broken down walls of distrust and bringing trust in him.  Our eyes are being opened to see his great love, grace and mercy. He is bringing us to that place of our hope of glory. All of this can only be done by him.  Although, we may be used as a vessel of honor to assist him, it is only because of him that we can do anything.

Today my hope for all of you that have been disappointed that God would be able to come in and show you the hope of glory that is in Christ Jesus.  May your faith arise and may you see beyond your what is before you.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

"Love Your Neighbor as Yourself"  Luke 10:27b

Upon reading the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, we encounter a teacher of the law who was seeking eternal life.  Jesus replied and asked him, What is written in the law and how did he read it? and he answered,

'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself."  

Jesus then affirmed him by saying he was correct and to do this and he will live.  However, the teacher wanted to justify himself and he asked who is my neighbor?  Jesus then replied by sharing the story of the Good Samaritan.  He tells of "a man who goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away leaving him for dead."  So as the man is laying there in need in shame, embarrassment, physically and emotionally hurt and about to die, a priest walks by and keeps walking.  He doesn't stop to help.  Then a Levite now approaches and in ordered not to be bothered by him, he actually crossed the road to avoid having to help him.  The man who was robbed was forsaken by his own people.  But when the Samaritan saw the man, he had pity on him and went to help him.  He bandaged him up using his resources of oil and wine and put him on his donkey.  He then took him to an inn and paid for his stay.  He also offered to pay for the additional things this man would need. 

Jesus then asks the Teacher, which of these three men was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robber?  And expert of the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."

Every day, we have the opportunity to love our neighbor.  Look around us.  We have people who are in hurting. They are beaten down emotionally and physically.  They are stripped down. They are in shame from their condition and embarrassed by their circumstances.  Which one are we when we see someone in  need?  Are we willing to go and do likewise?  Or are they too much hassle for our day.  Do we choose to cross the street to avoid them?  This is a question we need to ask ourselves.  

Living in the United States, especially Southern California the lifestyle here is so busy.  People need to work hard to maintain their lifestyles.  Many are in competition with one another and many really don't care to listen to others and their problems.  They don't want to be weighted down by their issues.  It is too much and they may have to sacrifice something in their life.  However, there are those we read about or encounter who we call our neighbor who loves us.  They are the ones who stopped and helped out.  They saw someone in need and provided aid. One pulled a person out of a burning car.  The other stopped to help an elderly person with their groceries.  Someone acknowledged the grocery store clerk as a person and displayed kindness. Another stopped by to give someone food who did not have any while another prayed for the person in need.  May we be the one who will show mercy and be found loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

God is Good During Trials

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

Many have heard this verse.  Although easy to quote to those going through trials, each of us have to come to a place where we truly trust in God and know that he is good and that he loves us despite the trials or circumstances before us.  When we think about trials, we tend to be leery.  What adversity comes, we lean towards asking God, why.  Our enemy loves this because he is a liar and loves to blame God for everything.  He loves to make us angry with God.  He loves to come in between our relationship if he can.  

Jesus however gave instruction that we would have trials on this earth.  He did not mislead us, but knew that we have an enemy who seeks to devour and destroy us.  He knew that if we seek him, we will overcome because he overcame.  The plan of God's salvation would not necessarily take us out of this world, but it would give us peace during the storm.  It would give us hope in a dire situation.  It would give us an opportunity to see him work the situation out for good.  

1 Peter tells us that these fiery trials have come to prove our faith.  I personally did not like adversity or trials.  When a friend of mine shared this with me that I would endure a season of this, let me tell you I was not happy nor did I want to embrace this.  However, the trials that came into my life changed me and my walk with God.  Although I would not desire to walk through them again, I did grow from them.  They were not easy.  They were some of the toughest things I had ever encountered.  They range from betrayal from a mentor and good friend, to financial, to my father passing away and no one to help, to enduring churches who were unwelcoming, to a private christian school that hosted a fundraiser with witchcraft, It hit me hard.  But God used these circumstances to work them for good.  My prayer before all of this was God I want to serve you and you only.  I want to always appreciate your salvation, giving thanks for what you have done.  

Despite the things that happened, God gently nudged me to continue to meet with women and started a bible study for me to lead.  It initially started out with 6 women and it went through summer.  Then it changed and ranges from 2 sometimes to 10 and he has continued this for the last 4 years.  I am now in a church where I see the love of God.  People reaching out to people not judging them so harshly and extending the grace and mercy needed.  However, they still implement discipline if needed with gentleness.  I see them lifting up Jesus by preaching the gospel so that Jesus can draw all people to him.  It was what I loved doing.  I was no longer being beaten down for sharing God's goodness and his word.  I wasn't being constantly corrected anymore about how it needed to be done perfectly.  I was able to abide in his grace despite my shortcomings.  I was able to see that the fruit of my labor.  It was at the heart and soul of Jesus to share the good news of what he has done.  It wasn't about leaning more towards the gifts or the offices, but towards the heart of God.  My passion always was to bring people back to God and not to me. Although I do have the gifts, I believe many can abuse such things.  God's power and gifts sometimes lead to thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to rather than walking out our salvation with fear and trembling. 

God out of his great mercy began to show me by bringing those women I had minister to at over the last 13 years how he changed their lives.  He was able to use me as a vessel to bring reconciliation back to God, to bring healing and restore their hope.  They began to walk in a deeper relationship with God.   He was able to do good works through me despite my poor condition. He brought encouragement to me when I needed it most to keep me gently moving forward despite the adversity.  Where I had seen as failure he had produced his glory.  

He also used adversity to bring me to a new level of faith by increasing my trust in him.  Over the last few weeks I had to take my son into emergency for possible appendicitis, our water heater sprung a leak, our budget was now blown, our daughter needed to go to the eye doctor and get a new prescription and we were served papers from a piece of property we bought from the builders.  However, through the trials my spirit began to stir and Romans 8:28 began to resonate within my spirit. God took care of everything.  

As I went into the emergency room with my son, I was prepared for whatever the Lord had.  If he needed surgery I was okay with that and if he didn't I was okay with that.  I knew God would work it out.  Good news is he didn't have appendicitis but it was a virus that was like it and would just need to run it course. We had to pay for our water heater to be repaired.  It cost us $760 to service it and fix it.  I believed that God prevented something else from happening by allowing the unit to have issues.  The eye doctor was so kind and God moved on him to give us a discount for the exam and for the contacts.  He also gave us enough of her contacts to last us until my husband got paid again to pay for it.  Last, we found out that although we were served to be a witness by the developer, we already had an attorney that represented us through a civil lawsuit because of the other owners.  God is in the process of redeeming the situation.   We know that justice will prevail.  

During these trials what I gained was more faith and more trust.  At times I still do fall short, but I know that God is faithful and in the end and he will work all things for good to those who  love God and are called according to his purpose.  My hope and prayer is that you too will come to understand and know God this way. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Time of Refreshing

"The generous prosper and are satisfied; Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."  
Proverbs 11:25 

There is a time and season for everything as it says in Ecclesiates 3.  This summer has been one of refreshing. It has been a time to uproot what was not truth, 
a time to heal from the past,
a time to build faith, a time to laugh and to dance
It has been a time to gather with my family,
a time to refrain from the doing,
a time to give up the stress, 
a time to throw away the busyness and a time to mend the heart,
it has been a time to speak to others of God's goodness,
it has been a time to hate what is evil and cherish what is good 
And now a time to abide in his peace.

It has been a time of learning to rest in the promises of God.  There are seasons where your faith will be tested.  The truth may seem blurry.  The word of truth says this and others are saying to do that.  After a long season of ministering to others and hearing such turmoil and distress, I found myself in need of just resting and restoring my soul.  My soul needed to be refreshed by the word of God and his truth again.  I needed to abide in his presence and his goodness.  I needed to be reminded of his great promises and to remove the cares of the world.  God brings us from faith to faith and from glory to glory.  He desires that we come to know that he is faithful before, during and after the trial.  He is the author and finisher of our faith.  He will finish the good work in us.  Despite whatever circumstance that we may encounter in life, he has a plan.  He does not seek to kill or destroy us, but to build us up in the most holy faith.  As this season comes to an end, I can see where he has done a mighty work.  My mind has been refreshed and now my eyes see anew.  I have a restored hope and greater sense of his glory.  I see on the horizon that God has a new plan. Although, I don't see it in all in fullness, I can see that I have enough light for the day to lead me down the path.  My faith he has increased and my trust made greater in him.  

God is faithful.  Although you may have been in a season that has been really difficult, God will bring you through.  His desire is to have you turn to him.  He desires for you to come to know him personally and intimately.  He wants you to know without question that he will be there for you.  He will perfect that which concerns you.  My hope is that this fiery trial that you may be going through may be as 1 Peter 1:6-8 says:

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

So the trial set before you will bring forth such greatness and transformation in your life, you will rejoice at the outcome.  For around the corner comes a time of refreshing with a greater hope, joy and faith!   

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Faith expressing itself through love

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." 
Galatians 5:6b

Paul was addressing the Galatians.  He wrote them to address the deception that had entered into their teachings.  The Galatians were being taught by these false teachers that in order for them to really be saved, they needed to become circumcised and to do the works of the law rather than receiving their salvation through faith.  Paul admonished them for turning away from the faith of what he taught them.  

Paul was defining the exact nature of that faith in Galatians 5:6.  He was showing them that it is a saving faith, that is a living faith in the living Savior.  A faith so vital that it cannot avoid expressing itself in love-motivated deeds.  Those who are in faith expressing itself through love will obey Christ and will show a real concern for God's kingdom.  The works of God will naturally be birthed out of it.  It is also where we actively resist sin and the world's way and seek Christ and the cross, which is God's way.  

The Galatians were deceived and had fallen away from grace.  They allowed these false teachers to come in and teach them that they need to enter salvation through works rather than by what Jesus Christ did for them.  They were trying to get them to enter from another gate, deception.  The Galatians rather than relying on faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins began to turn and seek their salvation by obeying the laws and following traditions.  They were trying to perfect themselves without the allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to lead them and to circumcise their hearts.  Paul was telling them they were no longer under the supervision of the law, because they received the promise which was the Holy Spirit which is Christ in us.

Freedom comes to us where we see that it is Christ who set us free.  We have to always be in remembrance of this and need to stand firm in the faith in what  God has done for us and not what we can do for God.  If we choose not to do this, we too can end up like the  Galatians and be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.  We can become those who are under the curse of the law even though Jesus became a curse for us.  We choose daily if we want to walk by the flesh or submit to the spirit of God and his lordship.  It is a daily choice to be like Paul said "to live is Christ and to die is gain."

My hope is that we will not be found deceived and bewitched but be found in faith expressing itself through love.  May we be found operating in that saving and living faith expressing itself in love motivated deeds.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fan the Flame

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."  
1 Timothy 1:6-7

Each of us are called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make disciples of nations.  Timothy was called by God and reminded by Paul to fan into the flame the gift of God.  He knew that Timothy would be met with trials, adversity and testing.  So Paul was preparing and instructing Timothy on how to fight the good fight of faith.  Paul himself knew that in order to press on towards the goal and prize of which was set before him, he had to keep his focus on God and his salvation.

He also knew that God would give Timothy boldness and power to move forward in this endeavor.  But that would only come through the love of God and self-discipline on pursuing the things of God.  He knew that Timothy would have to continue to walk in self-discipline, which is a fruit of the spirit.  He knew that self-discipline would continue to lead him in Christ's righteousness.  He also knew that without self-discipline and control that  it is like a city broken into and left without walls.  Self-control is what gives us the ability to exercise our will to do what God has called us to do by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.  It is what helps us put to death the misdeeds of the flesh.

Love is what causes us to see others and their need for God.  It is the realization that if they do not receive salvation that they are headed in a destination that is not designed for them.  God desires that all men be saved and come to the full-knowledge of him.  We are those who are light and salt.  We are there to bring others to the truth so that they may be set free and entered into the eternal inheritance that God has for them.

How can anyone be saved unless they hear the good news?  We are the feet that go out and share the goodness of God.   Like Timothy we are to fan into the flame the gift of God.  When others see us, they should see the fire of God.  The light that dwells in us.  We are to be the city on the hill that brings life and light to others.  People today are hurting.  They are looking for the streams of living water and are desiring to drink from the fountains of life.  We are the ones to lead them there because of the gracious gift of salvation that we received through Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

You Are the Light of the World

"You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  
Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world.  God tells us we are to be that ray of hope and that shimmer of light to those who are lost and in need of a Savior.  We are to be the ones to share the good news of the gospel with others.  Jesus tells us that the word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. We are also instructed in 2 Timothy 4:2 to Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct; rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction."

In Romans 10, we read how salvation comes.  We are told: "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."  As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame...Everyone who call on the name of the Lord will be saved."  Then we read, "How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent?"  As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

We are called to be that light and share the good news of the gospel.  We are surrounded by people who are lost and are heading in a destination that they were not made for.  We are the light of the world.  We are not to hide the hope that we have in our hearts and put it under a bowl.   We are to give light (the word of God, the good news of the gospel and hope) to those around us.  We are the ones chosen to go out and preach the good news.  It is not about our speaking abilities but about God's great love.  He loved the world so much that he sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  He sent his Son to redeem, justify, sanctify, transform and glorify us into his image.  He gave us part of him, the Holy Spirit who will direct our steps and teach us his ways.  We have access to the throne of grace and the power of God to speak.  He is the one who will fill our mouths if we will open it to share his heart.  He desires that all men be saved and the full knowledge of him.  He died so that we may have eternal life.  His plan of salvation is perfect.  Our righteousness comes from what his Son has done not our good deeds.  We need to share this with others so that they may enter too by putting their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the hope of glory.

So today as you seek him, be the light to those around you.  Start sharing the good news of the gospel.  There is someone out there in need of salvation.  May you partake of the eternal rewards in store for you and have all of heaven rejoice as you preach the good news of the gospel and bring someone to Christ!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Love Never Fails

"Love never fails"  I Corinthians 13:8

Love is the greatest gift.  Jesus came to demonstrate love.  He gave up his life so that we may have eternal life.  He made a way for us to be reconciled back to God.  He died for our sins and took our place.  Jesus said when asked "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"  He replied "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself."  He then goes on to say that "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

1 John 1:4-7 tells us "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves have been born of God and knows God."  If we know who God is, our love language would then become more like his.  We would begin to do as he did.  We would be willing to pick up our cross and follow him daily and to love others.  Loving others is not only caring for them, encouraging them and blessing them, but it also consists of disciplining and correcting them if needed.  God disciplines those whom he loves.  He does it ever so gently. The example is this, if you see your brother getting ready to jump off a cliff that would lead to sudden death, would you stop him?  Of course.  This is what we do when we see our brothers or sisters being led astray by  deception or in sin.  When we come to them and show them their error, we too are showing love.  However, keep in mind we have to also remain humble, gentle and kind.

It is the love of God that calls us to him.  God demonstrated his love by sending his only Son as an atoning sacrifice for us.  He gave his most precious gift of all.  He was willing to give it all for us so that we may be able to walk according to his will and way.  He came to give us not only salvation, but the promised gift and seal of eternal life, the Holy Spirit whom is part of Himself, the Trinity.

When we see his goodness and taste his glory, we can only love others.  We begin to walk around with an awareness.  We begin to see those lost in need of a Savior and we see those who are saved, our brothers and sisters who have been led astray.  We desire to bring into the sheepfold by love by doing as Jesus did himself.  We share the good news of the gospel and being an example of humility.  Love does conquer all.  It never fails, for God is love.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Humility is the Way

"All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."  1 Peter 5:5b

Humility can best defined as:  "A quality by which a person considering his own defects has a humble opinion of himself and willingly submits himself to God and to others for the God's sake."  God tells us that he gives grace to the humble.  When we are humble we realize the poor condition of which we came from and that we need God.

Paul tells us in Philippians 2:3 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."  When we walk in humility we are able to walk not in self-centeredness, but we will become God centered.  We will be able to be conscious of our weaknesses and quick to give credit to God and others for what we accomplish.  We can become dependent on God for our worth and fruitfulness in this life knowing that we could do nothing apart from God.

Jesus is our example.  Although he was part God and part man, he was willing to submit himself to God and to lay down his life for God's plan and purposes.  He did not exalt himself here on earth.  He being God was willing to come in the form of his creation man, so that we may receive reconciliation back to God through his plan of salvation.

When we see that we were destined for destruction and death and realize that we are wicked above all things, we become a vessel of humility.  When we realize we need a Savior, we realize that it is not about what we can do, but all about what he can do for us.  When we submit to his Lordship, we no longer rely on our abilities and strengths, but we rely on God.

When we see others and willing give greater honor to them and we clothe ourselves with humility, we become the vessels of grace for God understanding his goodness reaching out and extending it to others.  Humility is what leads us to Jesus and the cross.  So today, may we reflect and remember the goodness of God and walk in humility.

A Proverbs 31 M.O.T.H.E.R.

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.  
Proverbs 31:10
By Pastor Brian Moore, Crosspointe Church, Yorba Linda

M entor
     Proverbs 31:26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

O rganizer

     Proverbs 31:27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat of the bread of idleness.

T rustworthy

     Proverbs 31:11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

H elper

     Proverbs 31:20  She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

E xample

     Proverbs 31:17  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.

R eflection of Jesus

     Proverbs 31:28  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

Happy Mother's Day!  You are far more precious than rubies!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Divine Appointments

"The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.  When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.  Now he had to go through Samaria."  John 4:1-4

Jesus had learned that the Pharisees were observing what he was doing.  He knowing the will of God knew he was to leave Judea and head back to Galilee.  This would take him through Samaria.  God had a divine appointment waiting for Jesus.  Jesus went and arrived at a well in Samaria at the sixth hour.  A divine appointment was about to occur.  He encounters the Samaritan woman.

"The Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" The Samaritan woman said to him, "You being a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.  How can you ask me for a drink?"  (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).  Jesus said to her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." John 4:7, 10

She then being curious tells him that he has nothing to draw water with and the well is deep.  She wanted to know about this living water and how to get it.  Seeing her thirst for truth, he then tells her: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

As she pondered his promise, she then asks him for this water so that she will never thirst again and keep having to come to the well to draw water.  Seeing her determination, God then gives Jesus wisdom.  He tells her, "Go, call your husband and come back".  She then replies, "I have no husband.  Jesus then tells her, "You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.  What you have said is quite true."  He meets her where she is at.  Although her lifestyle is not acceptable based upon the law, out of God's great mercy he sees her need for a Savior.

She then tells him "I see that you are a prophet and asks about the worship of God.  Jesus then tells her: "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know, we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.  After sharing this, she then says to Jesus, "I know that the Messiah (the Christ) is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.  Then Jesus declared to her I who speak to you am he."  He reveals himself to her.  He wants her to know that her hope has arrived.  

Jesus came to Samaria for a reason.  The Samaritan woman was about to encounter the living God and his plan of salvation that Jesus was about to bring for all.  She was about to find out how much God loved her despite her shortcomings, sin and failures in life.  Jesus being Jew and a man was not only not to associate with the Samaritans, but he was not to associate with women.   Back in their time, this was not acceptable.  But God loving the lost reached out.  He wanted to offer her hope and to confirm the truth that the Messiah is coming and has come.

God desires for us like Jesus to have divine appointments.  Someone along the way you may encounter need hope and reconciliation back to God.  They may be thirsty for the living water and seeking truth.  We are the light of the world and God wants us to share with others the good news.  He has a plan for you and that plan is to go out to preach the gospel to the world and to make disciples of nations.  The harvest is white and God is looking for those who are willing like Jesus to do his will.  Be looking for your divine appointment today!  The gospel is the power of God!

I Call You Friends

"You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."  John 15:14-15

When the Lord brought both my husband and I back to him 13 years ago, we were willing to surrender our lives to him.  Jesus not only was our Savior, but he became our Lord.  He began to prune sin and the world out of our lives.  Out of his great mercy for us and his goodness, we both were changed.  We encountered the living God and his power.

When this happened, we could not contain the good news.  We began to share with many to include our family.  However, my in-laws were not happy about our transformation.   Although they were of Lutheran background, they did not approve of our sharing the gospel or our faith with them.  They could not handle how we were being changed radically for him.  Because of this, they chose not to be actively involved in our lives. We are now going on  13 years.

They have probably seen our kids about less than 6 times in the last 13 years.  We call them periodically to have the kids talk to them which is somewhat awkward.  They believe that they have a good relationship with our kids.  Our kids really don't know who they are and when they have seen them they are really uncomfortable because of how they act.  They don't engage the kids, but prefer to talk about themselves.  It is really difficult.  They wanted our oldest daughter to go on a trip with them a few years back and tried to work in out with her behind our back.  However, she said she did not want to because she doesn't know them.  They live only 9 miles from us, yet they cannot take time to get to know their grandchildren. They believe that they have a personal relationship with our kids, but they don't.  They know who are kids are.  They may know some basic information about them, but they do know really know them.

Relationships are developed when we take time getting to know another person.  We will spend time listening to them to find out what they desire.  We also come to know who they are and begin to identify how they respond as we are with them.  The more time we spend with them, the more we become intimate with them personally.  This can only come by investing our time and energy into their lives.

We too can fall into this trap believing we can have a personal relationship with God without putting in the effort.  We only seek him when needed or when Christmas and Easter come around.   We are busy doing our own thing and enjoying life.  We only call upstairs when we are going through a problem in life and need a bailout.  We want to live our own lives doing what we enjoy and not being bothered by accommodating someone else.   We are too busy thinking about ourselves.  We aren't really interested in the things of God or his will because we are too busy doing what we want.

Jesus tells us we are his friends if we do what he commands.  He also then calls him friends because he spent time with them showing them the will of his Father.  He knew that in order for them to know God, they needed to know Jesus.  Jesus is the way to the Father.  Jesus died so that we could be reconciled back to God.  His blood atoned for our sin and we are forgiven because of what he has done.

In Hebrews, we are told that he is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek him.  He wants us to come and learn from him.  He has laid out his will and plan.  He wants us to see who he is and what is will is for our lives.  We cannot come to know this if we don't spend time daily with him.  We need to not only be in prayer, but we need to read the word.  He tells us that the word of God is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.  His word gives life to us.  His word washes and cleanses us.  He word gives us instruction for daily living.  He also gives us his promises in his word.  This is what keeps us firm in our faith because our faith comes by hearing the word of God.  He desires that we come to know him and the power of his resurrection.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Power of Forgiveness

"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you yours sins."  Mark 11:25

Forgiveness is the key to unlocking the freedom that God has for you to fully receive from him.  He gave his Son so that our sins might be forgiven and that is our blessing.  However, the enemy has a strategy to get us off track.  This strategy is called unforgiveness.  He knows that if we begin to walk in unforgiveness that he can defile us and cause us to leave the grace of God.  He confirms this in Hebrews 12:15 when he says:  "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root (bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment) grow up to cause trouble and defile many."  When we don't extend forgiveness to others as it has been given to us by God, we than begin to walk out of the grace (unmerited favor) of God.

I have struggled with unforgiveness because I have been hurt, rejection, abandoned, betrayed, unaccepted and unloved.  If the enemy can get us to focus on the hurt and pain that others have done to us than he can wreak havoc in our lives.  It is a process to learn to walk through forgiving others because we have been hurt and have unresolved issues that have never been addressed.  Sometimes it takes years to find out why that person is able to push our buttons and get us in a state of unforgiveness.  Sometimes the injury and hurt done is truly horrendous and is justifiable in being angry.  However, one cannot move forward if they live in the past with all the baggage of the hurt, pain, betrayal, disappointment, lies, rejection and deception.

God has given us the Holy Spirit when we received him.  He did this so that when we need comfort he is there for us.  The Holy Spirit is "Immanuel"  God with us.  We have to turn to God and ask him to comfort and heal us from this past hurt.  We have to come into a place saying, I don't want to carry this anymore, I want you to heal me from what has happened.  And the next step is even harder to say...but God wants us to love and bless our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

Blessing and loving our enemies is coming to know God's great love for us.  We need to understand and have knowledge of this.  Because God loved us first, we can love God and love others.  This gives us a desire to do God's will.  Unless we know the power of God and his ability to heal our broken hearts, we will not be able to overcome.  This requires us to have faith and trust in God.  No one can truly pick up their cross and denying themselves unless they know God.  Faith comes by hearing the word of God and by meditating on his goodness.  Because it is his goodness that leads us to repentance.

In the process of blessing and loving our enemies, we extend the grace of God to them and free ourselves from the bondage and control that they had over our lives.  They no longer are able to determine how we feel.  God comes in and his grace floods our hearts to know that we are accepted and loved despite what they think of us because we are approved by God.  By extending the love of God to them as he did to us, God is then able to do something in their lives.  We have to trust that God is a righteous God and he knows how to handle the person who hurt us.

We need to remember God is the judge and he will one day deal with those who are unrighteous and wicked.  We may not see it in our lifetime, but God knows the beginning to the end.  When we can begin to walk in forgiveness towards others, we can thwart the plans of Satan and begin to walk victoriously in God's plans.  May God bless you today by extending his grace to you and may the baggage of unforgiveness be broken by the power of God.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Power from the Holy Spirit

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  Acts 1:8

When the Lord brought my husband and I back to him in 2000, he transformed our life.  We both clearly heard the Lord personally speak to us.  This was the first time that we had ever heard so clearly from God or understood that God wanted a personal relationship with him.  It was powerful.  He was looking for obedience.  He knew we were willing to obey because at that point in our lives hitting rock bottom in our marriage where we had two toddlers whom we both loved. We knew we needed God and we would not make it without him.

Our act of being obedient was the first step towards receiving power from on high.  He now wanted to sanctify and set us apart for him.  Soon after taking this step, the church we were attending prayed for us to receive power from on high and we began to speak in tongues.  This was the first time we ever saw the power of God.  He also bore witness with us by sharing the scripture from John 20:22 "And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.".  Then in Acts, he told them that they "would receive power from on high when the Holy Spirit comes on you."  He made it clear that you receive the spirit when you are born again, then you need to pray for the power.  He also confirms in his word again in Acts 8:15-17 "When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received power from on high."  God clearly identified to us that baptism in the Holy Spirit from one appointed from God was necessary to do his will.  We cannot do anything without power from the Holy Spirit.

When we received this revelation God gave us power and the ability to begin to overcome sin in our lives.  Although, we did not do everything perfectly, we clearly could discern when the Holy Spirit was convicting us again in our lives.  He also began to show us that what we put into our eyes and ears would become who we are.  Did we want to be filled with the world (Television, Entertainment, Conforming to their ways) or do we want to be filled with him (his word)?  That is when we began our pursuit of reading the word daily.  We knew that we needed something greater.  In the midst of all this, our promise of a third child came and over the next 6 years between all three kids and sleep deprivation, we daily read the word of God despite the lack of sleep we had.  We went to church even when it was difficult and we didn't want to.

We persevered despite our situation.  We were hit financially.  We had many people reject us.  We had even the elders at one church go to the other church we came from say that they would prefer anyone but us to be the ones to bring the English church to their church in our community (keep in mind that we lived in their community).  We had people avoid us because they did not want to turn back to God, some of which are good friends who came back to God.  Even more funny after leaving the church who didn't want us there, they called us back two years later to serve (funny, huh?  We did decline).  We have seen many people who lives were changed because of what he did for us.  We saw the power of God come and through the gifts of the spirit and the power of the gospel we shared, we saw many who were set free come back to serving God again.

God has been good.  Although we are still in a battle, God is still there.  We know that we need to continue persevering despite what seems to sometimes be tough.  We still preach the gospel of Jesus and share the good news knowing that God is good and he will lead others back to him.  We were not able to do any of this had it not been that we received power from on high.  My prayer is that God will bring power from the Holy Spirit for you as well to be his witnesses into all the world!

Monday, April 15, 2013

God's Goodness - Mercy and Grace

"Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.  The grace of the Lord was poured out on me abundantly along with faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 1:13-14

Paul was Jewish from the tribe of Benjamin.  He was a Pharisee who came in the name of God to protect and defend his religion. He was positioned to become a great leader in the Jewish faith.  Although he was well trained in the word of God, he fully did not understand the fullness of what God had prophesied of the coming Messiah.  He missed the mark though. He was functioning in self righteousness.  Jesus came in the flesh to fulfill the prophecies given to the Jews to bring salvation to all.  He not having understanding of the truth persecuted the Christians and even had them killed in the name of God.  Yet, God who was rich in his mercy met him on the road to Damascus.  Paul had the intent to continue to kill and throw the Christians in jail, but God had a different plan.  Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and that is where Saul who became the Apostle Paul was converted.  God revealed himself to him.

In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul was addressing Timothy as he began to encourage him.  Paul's time here on earth was coming to an end.  He was reminding Timothy about his calling and wanted to encourage him as he moved forward to carry on God's work.  Paul knowing his time was short took time and he reminded himself along with Timothy of where he came from and the glorious calling that Jesus had on his life.  He remembered how God extended his mercy to him although he was on the road to destruction.  He also continued to reflect on the grace given to him because of God's great love. Paul shared this with Timothy knowing that he too may need to encourage himself in Christ.

What is your story?  Like Paul, we sometimes need to remind ourselves of where we came from and of God's great goodness towards us.  We need to take time and remember the mercy we were shown and the grace given to us.  We were like Paul were on the road to destruction, but God met us on our journey on the road to Damascus to show us his great love and salvation.  May we give thanks today!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Lukewarm Church

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth."  Revelation 3:15-16

The church in Laodicea is the lukewarm church.  They were wealthy and thought that they had need of nothing.  They were comfortable physically because of the wealth they acquired.  They were also a compromising church as well because they resembled the world.  Although they carried the name of Christ, they were not being set apart for him.    

Jesus comes to them and admonishes them in love.  He did not want them to rely on their wealth here on earth or to be like the world, but to see the poverty they were in spiritually.  He tells them that they do not realize they are" wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."  He wanted them to make a decision that was clear and concise and to end the hypocrisy that they were representing.

He counsels them to buy from him "gold refined in the fire, so that they can become rich; and white clothes to wear , so that they can cover their shameful nakedness; and salve to put on their eyes so they can see."  He is directing them to put their faith and hope in him by allowing him into their hearts to circumcise it.  He wants them to see how they need salvation in him and him alone.  Their riches, wealth and good deeds here on earth won't save them.  He wants them to put off their old garments which is the old nature and put on the white garments which is his righteousness. They need to see the truth and this comes when we allow Jesus to be our Lord and Savior.  

Although this rebuke may seem harsh, he does it in love.  Clearly those he loves he rebukes and disciplines like a father.  He lovingly stands outside waiting for them to submit to his will when he tells them, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."  He is looking for repentance and a return to him.  

He then gives a promise to those who overcome the lukewarm church...he will give them the right to sit with him on his throne.  Think about that a moment.  He desires to allow for those who overcome to come in and become co-heirs with him and share in his kingdom.  What greater glory is there?  So today if this speaks to your heart choose to be either hot or cold, not lukewarm.

The Immoral Church

"...I have a few things against you:  You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual adultery."  Revelation 2:14

The Church in Pergamum is considered the church that is immoral.  Jesus starts out with commending them for being faithful to his name among many who were under the influence of Satan and even killed Antipas who was a faithful witness. However, when Jesus was speaking to the church in Pergamum, he came to them saying "these are the words of him who has the sharp, doubled-edged sword."  He clearly was coming to bring truth to them by the word of God.  The word of God is what divides the soul from the spirit.  It is what brings truth, light and life to the believer.  He was coming to them with the double-edged sword because of their participation in tolerating the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans.

Balaam was an old testament prophet in the book of Numbers.  He was a prophet ordained by God.  However, Balaam became greedy.  He was approached by Balak, King of Moab, who came to him and offered to pay him if he would curse the Israelites so that he could defeat them.  They brought to Balaam a collection taking up a fee for divination to pay him of which Balaam considered.   God tells Balaam not to associate with these people because the Israelites are blessed.  Greed caused Balaam to entertain the idea of doing this where he opened up the door to Satan to pervert his mind.  They came back again and offered him whatever he would like and he again let them stay overnight.  Because Balaam did this again and kept persisting with God to do this, God allowed Balaam to go with them.  However, God only gave him permission to do this based upon the authority that Balaam would do only what God told him to do.  Yet Balaam had already fallen when he left with them because he was disobedient to God's initial instruction.  God knew the heart of Balaam was impure.  An angel was sent to destroy Balaam for his disobedience.  However, out of his mercy God allowed the donkey to rebuke him. Yet, Balaam still went forward.  Although he only speaks blessings over the Israelites, he sold the Israelites out by sharing with Balak how to destroy them.  He told them that they should have them intermarry and this would lead them worship other gods, then God would take his blessing away from them.   This lead them into spiritual adultery along with sexual immorality.  

God was addressing Pergamum for this because they were allowing leaders and prophets to do the same among the body of Christ.  They were approving of the sexual immorality leading others astray into adulterous idol worship.  They were doing this for personal advancement and monetary gain.  They were teaching that a saving faith and a lifestyle of immorality were compatible.  

Jesus warns them that if they do not repent that he will come soon and fight against them with the sword of the mouth.  He is a righteous God and cannot tolerate this.  However, he is loving and seeking that the church will repent so that they may overcome.  

His final blessing is for those who will overcome: he will give some of the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.  He promises to minister his living words of life to those who are truly seeking him with a promise that they will be called by God.  Let us hold fast and hear what the spirit is saying!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Faithful Church

"Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole earth to test those who live on this earth."  Revelation 3:10

Faithfulness comes with a promise.  It is a promise that if we will continue to do as he commanded and endure patiently through it all, he will keep us from the hour of trial.  The church in Philadelphia is the faithful church. The faithful church God commended and gave a promise not to have to suffer the testing that would come to the world. 

The church in Philadelphia is the church that does not rely on itself.  It is fully trusting in God and his promises.  They had revelation knowledge of who Jesus Christ really was and what he did for them.  Jesus tells them that "I know you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." They were not willing to deny his name and they knew that preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ was the power of God.  They knew that  God would accomplish his perfect will despite their own shortcomings and failures.  They knew that God had a plan whether they saw it or not and that he was working out their salvation.

Those who surrounded these believers clearly knew that the were loved by God.  Jesus tells them "I will make those who are the synagogue of Satan who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars - I will make them come down and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you."  Faithfulness will demonstrate the love of God that is towards us and lead others to envy us. Hopefully it will bring them to desire to have the love of God as well, which is Christ Jesus in us.

He promises them not only to keep them from the hour of trial, but that he is coming soon.  He tells them to hold on to what they have and no one will take their crown.  They fully knew what they were promised by God.  Their faith and trust in God gave them confidence in knowing that their salvation was firm and that they would be rewarded by God for trusting in him and his strength. 

He then tells them to him who overcomes, he will make a pillar in the temple of my God and never will he leave it.  The greatest blessing is knowing that abiding power of God in us and being confident that he is with us.  It is the place where God can come into our lives and we can know his power and presence.  It is like a temple when we become that living sacrifice which is holy and acceptable to God and our spiritual act of worship.

He also will write on him the name of my God, the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which is coming down out of heaven.  He will also write a new name on those who remain faithful in the church in Philadelphia reflecting that these are the living stones.  Just as Peter said in 1  Peter 2:5 "you also, like a living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ Jesus."  When we receive this new name, it will be one who represented God for his glory!

This is the church I want to be found in.  I want to be one who is faithful trusting in God relying on his strength, word, truth and son.  It is my hope that we can all be part of the church in Philadelphia!


The Rich Church

"I know your afflictions and your poverty - yet you are rich"  Revelation 2:9a

When you think about being rich we typically don't associate it with being afflicted and poverty based.  The world classifies the abundance of wealth and being treated well as rich.  However, God tells us we are in the world, but not of this world.

In Revelation, we find that the church in Smyrna is the rich church in Christ's eyes.  Jesus warned the church of the upcoming affliction, poverty and slander that they would experience.  The religious Jews were persecuting them.  Some were being thrown in to jail and some even were martyred for their beliefs.  They were willing to die for the sake of Christ.  They understood that God had a plan of salvation and his destination was not in the riches and approval of this world, but were eternal riches and an eternal destination of glory.

When we think about suffering, we usually find it hard to swallow.  Although we know that Jesus said they hated him, he also said that they will hate us.  Today we see churches in many other countries suffering for the gospel and the sake of Christ.  They are being persecuted, thrown in jailed and martyred.  They are unwilling to relinquish their faith.  They are willing to give up all and hold on to the his great and wonderful promises.

Jesus encourages them to be faithful even to the point of death and he will give them the crown of life.  The believers in Smyrna were holding onto the eternal reward knowing that one day every tear will be wiped away.

Today we are reminded that we need to be praying for the persecuted churches daily.  Yes, if we are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ we will suffer persecution, but comparatively to other nations, we in the United States suffer little.  Let us pray for their courage and faith.  May God strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ as they suffer for his glory and may this bring salvation to those around them that are watching!  All glory be to our God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Monday, April 8, 2013

You Have Left Your First Love

"Yet I hold this against you; You have forsaken your first love."  Ephesus 2:4

Jesus was addressing the Church in Ephesus.  He commends the church in Ephesus for their deeds, hard work and perseverance.  He also commends them for not tolerating wicked men and for their ability to identify false prophets.  They were enduring in their hardships for his name and even were not weary of the trials. They were obeying God and his commands, but they were missing something.  They left their first love.

Woe!  If that is not an eye opener, I don't know what is. Jesus gave us two commandments that he desired above all: to love the Lord, their God with all their heart, their mind, their soul and their strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  They were following correct doctrine and obeying some of the commands, but they left their first love.  This strict and lack of tolerance towards heresy may have caused them not to sincerely love others and this affected Christ and his body.  If they sincerely loved Christ, then they would extend mercy, grace and justice towards others.  However, they were more interested in being correct rather than lovingly leading others back to the truth.

Jesus then calls them to repentance and if they choose to overcome he promises that they will eat from the tree of life.  The tree of life is a picture of the Holy Spirit that comes to live and abide in us.  May we not hold to religion, but hold to the truth by walking in the grace that God has given us.  May we love God and love others.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Jezebel, The False Prophetess

"Nevertheless, I have this against you; You tolerate this woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess.  By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols."  Revelation 2:20

Jesus comes to the church in Thyatira.  He commends them for their deeds by acknowledging their deeds, love, faith and service and that they are doing more than they were in the beginning.  He reminds them of who he is by telling them that "these are words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and who feet are like burnished bronze."  Jesus was reminding Thyatira of who he is, he is holy and righteous.  His blazing eyes can see what is going on and that he is looking for us to be refined by fire and purge unrighteousness from our lives.  He bronze feet represent power and strength which clearly shows that he will crush his enemies underfoot.

The church in Thyatira had a tendency to tolerate sin in the church.  They also tolerated unrighteous and unbiblical teachings in its leaders.  They were teaching doctrine that appealed to the flesh.  It gave grace and more grace with no accountability to pick up their cross and follow Jesus.  It did not require them to submit to the lordship of Christ.  Jezebel appeals to the flesh and justifies the self.  He knew that this spirit would lead his servants astray and cause them to give into sexual immorality and idolatry.  

Jezebel in the old testament married Ahab and this lead to the worship of Baal and Asheroth.  She led Israel astray by these practices an adulterous relationship with other gods.  She could influence many with her charisma as well as manipulate and seduce others.  She appealed to the flesh.  Jezebel was a spiritual leader like the church of Thyatira.  She would teach and lead others using the word of God to her advantage.  She was self-appointed to that position rather than being God appointed.  Many looked to her because of her power and position.  

The church in Thyatira tolerated her and allowed for her to teach and to lead others.  This spirit tolerated sin and seduced believers.  She did not address sin, but appealed to their flesh.  She made them feel good rather than allowing conviction to come in and transform them by the power of the Holy Spirit.  

Jesus comes and gives Jezebel time to repent as well as those that follow her.  He warns them that if they do not repent that they will also be deal with.  That they will suffer with her.  He tells them that he will strike her children dead, which means that they will die spiritually.  He is looking to circumcise and purify the hearts of his believers.  He clearly defines her practices and teachings as those of Satan.  He promises for those who will repent and overcome that he will give authority over the nations and that he will give them the morning star, who is Christ himself.  

The Dead Church

"I know your deeds, you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead."  Revelation 3:1b

In the book of Revelation, seven churches are addressed by Jesus.  Jesus lovingly gives warnings to the churches that need to return back to him.  In the Church in Sardis, he addresses them by identifying that they have a reputation for being alive, but are dead.  This is very disturbing considering that Sardis is one of the lampstands in the body of Christ and it clearly shows that we need to make our calling sure.

Sardis during this time was known for its wealth.  It was the trade center for textile, dyeing and jewelry.  It was surrounded by mountains as like a fortress.  The people were comfortable because of their wealth and felt protected because of their location.  They were enjoying life.  The money brought them comfort and this led to complacency.  They had a church that seemed to be alive in doing the things of God, but there was no real relationship with God.  Outwardly they appeared spiritually alive and active.  They had a reputation for success, but Jesus saw the absence of the inner reality of himself in the hearts of the people.  He saw religion, not spiritual life.

He then calls the church to wake up and to strengthen what remains.  He is concerned that they are about to die and their works are incomplete in the sight of God.  He reminds them to remember what they have received and heard and gives them instruction to obey it and repent.  He then warns them if they do not wake up, he will come like a thief  and they will be unaware of his coming.

Jesus does also commend those few who have not soiled their clothing and encourages them to continue to overcome.  He gives them the promise that he will never blot out their name from the book of life and will acknowledge them before the Father and his angels.  He gives them encouragement to continue because he will reward them for their faithfulness.

Jesus desires that all people are saved and come to the full knowledge of him.  He heart is that we abide in him and overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.  He so loved us that he died for us.  He also loves us so much that like in the church in Sardis he warned them of what they needed to do.  He does this for us.  May the Lord help us to overcome and not be found dead with our works incomplete.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Be Transformed By the Renewing of Your Mind

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." 
Romans 12:2

Have you ever seen the sticker NOTW?  Those who believe in Christ know that this stands for.  NOTW means "Not of this world."  We clearly see that God is making a statement when Jesus spoke of this in John 17:17.  He make it clear that we were no longer of this world.  Peter tells us that we are a holy people and a holy nation, a people set apart for him.

Unbelievers and those who doubt God will surprise you.  As an ambassador of Christ, have you ever had a non-believer point out some of your unchristian like behavior?  The world is constantly looking at us to see if whether or not we are living like Christ.  I am not talking about perfection, but God does tell us that they will know us by our fruit.  We too are to know God's people by their fruit.  Galatians 5:22 tells us "but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

When we do not allow the power of God to transform our lives and submit to him daily, then transformation is not at work in our lives.  God tells us that first we are redeemed, then justified.  From justification, we then are sanctified.  From sanctification, we are transformed, then we finally are glorified in Christ.  Without being set apart for God, we will experience no transformation.  We will continue to be in bondage to the world and their way of thinking rather than experiencing the freedom in Christ.

It is easy to spend our days trying to please others and gain their acceptance, but in the end what they think does not matter.  Friendships and acquaintances may come and go in our life, but the one who will stick closer to us than a brother is Jesus.  He will be there for us in every situation.  He will encourage us when we are down and give us hope in the darkness.  He is one that will transform us and renew our mind.  He will give us truth and bring hope into a hopeless situation.  He will show us what God's desire is.  He will show us his good, pleasing and perfect will.  We will be transformed from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.

The starting point of transformation comes when we make a decision to become that living sacrifice and do not conform to the pattern of this world.   As we begin to seek God and his perfect will, we will find it when we allow God to sanctify us.  He will arise and begin to show his glory.  He will then transform us into the same image from glory to glory.  We will experience the  presence of the Almighty God and see his power in our lives.  Then those around us will say, God is with them and I want what they have.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

This is the day the Lord has made!

"This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24

Rejoice in the Lord!  There are days when times seem tough.  But everyday is full of his new mercies.  We have to make a decision whether we will rejoice in the Lord or let the cares of this world weigh us down.  Although life is not always easy, when we praise God in the midst our of trials our spirit is uplifted and it seems to put all things in perspective despite our circumstances.

If we can daily see the goodness of God in the midst of tragedy and loss, we hold on.  God never promised us that we would not have problems here, but he said that he would give us a comforter and that is part of who he is, the Holy Spirit.  If we turn to him, he will comfort us in our time of need and be our very present help.

I don't think we will always fully grasp the why things happen this way, but what I do know is the end of the dark season there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I know this personally as I had experienced much pain, loss and hurt.  I know that the season were not always easy, but what I found is that God did a work in my heart.  It was a softening work from a hard heart into a pliable heart.  It was one that could give thanks to God for the wonderful things that he has done for me.  When I think about how he sent his son Jesus to die for me and his son sits in glory at the right hand of God, how can I not give praise.  He paid such a price for me.  I was doomed to death and destruction and now God had blessed me because he remembered my sins no more and has given me a new life.

Yes, there are times when I see the myself in my failures and weaknesses.  However, God reminds me of the covenant of Jesus Christ and I am now renewed into a hope of eternal glory. I am no longer born of man or of a human decision, but born of God.  God has imparted into a seal and promise, the gift who is the Holy Spirit living in me.  I know that I have God with me and that he will help me finish out my faith walk.  I am truly thankful for that.

So when I think about the trials in this life, I stop and give praise to God and his son Jesus.  When I am in an attitude of praise for his great plan of salvation I find my hope being renewed and the life springing forth.  So my hope today for each and everyone of you is that you will rejoice today for this is the day the Lord has made!

Set Apart for God

"Sanctify them by the truth your word is truth." John 17:17

Jesus prayed for his disciples. He knew that his time was short and he went on to share that they were not of this world.  He prayed not to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the evil one. He then closes his prayer by asking God to sanctify them.

Sanctify means to set apart for God. When Jesus asks for them to be sanctified by he truth and then defines truth as his word. The word of God is what brings in light and truth into our life. Jesus is the embodiment of the word and it sanctifies us by showing God's will for our life. It also provides revelation of who he is and his righteous requirement. The word ministers life and washes and cleanses our minds. We are renewed in our minds and hearts to see things as God sees them.

God desires that all men come to the full knowledge of the truth.  This comes in through receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  When we encounter Jesus and begin to read his word it begins the sancifying process of setting us apart to fulfill his will. He begins to speak to us through his word which gives us instruction on how to lead a godly life.  His word becomes a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. We are made the righteousness in Christ through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and his word.

He builds us up in faith through hearing the word of God.  He also becomes power in our weakness.  He begins to teach us how to trust in him because he is faithful to his word.  We are made whole in Christ. We become the light of the world who so need truth. We become that vessel of glory through by being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.  When we allow the sanctifying work into our lives we will begin to experience daily more of who God is giving us hope.  Today do not lose heart but press onto the goal to which you were called.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Faith Versus Feelings

"Therefore. The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace to all Abraham's offspring-"'  
Romans 4:16

Walking by faith is not how we feel for the day.  Many times we can get into our feelings.  We may be feeling God is not there for me or that we are unloved and no one cares about me.  We may be feeling rejected, hurt or angry.  When we get into how we feel about a ourselves or a situation rather than by walking in faith, we could end up in emotional turmoil.  Our day is based upon our feelings rather than an act of our will believing in the truths that God has promised us.

The enemy wants us to be focused on ourselves and our feelings.  I am not saying that if you have been hurt or are in pain you should ignore it.  What I am saying is that your feelings should not rule your day.  We can choose where we spend our time in our thoughts.  We can make a decision as an act of our will to choose to have a good day despite the start.   We can still choose to love others even though we have been hurt by them.  We can choose to bless rather than to curse others.

Sometimes though it is a process.  Many times when people have been hurt, their boundaries have been violated.  When we have been injured by others, we begin to be led by our feelings rather than by our will.  These traumatic and stressful experiences begin to trigger our response from how others treat us rather than being able to act by the will of God.  Our expectation of others causes the injury because we expected them to act a certain way when in fact they may not be capable of it.  Although this may seem practical, expectations of man can lead to great disappointment.  We are told that man will always fail us.  So we need to shift our hope and trust from man to God.

When we begin to put our faith and trust in God in a situation, we can begin to share the hurt and pain with him and ask him to heal us from the emotional pain and hurt feelings.  The Holy Spirit is there for us to comfort us in our time of need.  If we need healing, then we need to turn to God and ask for the comforting of the Holy Spirit.   When the healing process begins, then we can begin to see things the way God intended us to see things.  We see that all of us have a need for God and that we all have weaknesses and fail in life.  This gives us the ability then to begin to extend grace to others because we begin to remove our expectations from them to the promises of God.

God has a promise and sure word for every situation in your life.  If your spouse or child needs salvation, he has promises for household salvation.  If you have a need for finances, he has promises for you that he will take care of your needs according to his riches and glory.  If you need healing, he has promises that by his stripes ye are healed.  If you need love, he demonstrated his love by sending his one and only son to die for you.  If you need someone to be there for you, he is and confirms it by telling us he will never leave us or forsake us.  He is "I AM", which means he is the "I am" what you have need of at this moment.

This comes by faith and believing that God honors his word and his promises.  Faith is an action that comes by hearing the word of God and allowing it to penetrate your heart and your mind until it comes to fruition into your heart as truth.  God desires that you know the truth, so the truth will set you free.  He desires that you come to know him by who he is rather than by how you feel.   Feelings are fickle.  Daily they change.  God desires today that you come into faith so that you may see the fulfillment of his promises.