Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Be For Real

Live like a CHRISTian!
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)
Paul lays out the CHRIST-centered life here in Romans 12. After leading off with a need to be transformed beginning with the way we think (Romans 12:1-2), he goes on to be very clear as to what that looks like: Do not claim to be what you are not. He clearly says we are not to be HYPOCRITES! This is the chief complaint of those outside of the Church Body. We act like hypocrites. Sadly, this is true. We read the bible and we go to church and we even tell others of our wonderful Savior. Yet we treat each other poorly, we are selfish, we are proud, we are jealous of others, and we seek after many of the things in this world that God says to flee. What is needed? Genuinely repentance, accountability, and a humble heart. No, we are not perfect . . . yet. However, we can start today to agree to agree with God and keep one another accountable to His standards so we can be a better witness to a lost and dying world!
OK?????
,

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Not Another Day . . .

But he (Job) said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips." (Job 2:10)
Anytime I read from Job I am in awe! I am amazed how this man who had it all could in one day, lose it all and yet still praise God. (Job 1:21-22). In my weak flesh, I know I would complain at least a little . . . and I do! "Why me God?" "Why now?" "Why this?" We all seem to believe our problems are worse than everyone else's. . . . until we witness a tragedy first hand. I am reminded of the victims of Katrina that we have come to know personally in New Orleans. Many there have strengthened my faith as they tell the stories of devastating days and weeks, many still struggling over ten years later, yet holding onto faith in God. I say all this to remind us all that God is still in control. As we struggle through the ups and downs of life, hold on to this one thing . . . God is still God! Despite the challenges, the frustrations, and even the failures, hold on to God. It can never get worse than Job, yet he would not curse God. Many have come to faith by the example set by believers who have stood firm despite the struggles. God allows things for a reason . . . for His glory! Count it all joy! (James 1:2)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Faith in Forgiveness!

Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." . . . Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-5)
There is a difference between being remorseful and repentant. "I'm sorry" is not "Please forgive me, I was wrong". Peter returned to Jesus repentant after he denied Jesus. Judas however, did not return, but went to his death remorseful. Judas regretted what he had done, yet he did not believe in forgiveness. He did not have faith in the power of the forgiveness Christ offers. Many today have faith that Jesus is who He says He is, yet never fully believe in the grace and mercy offered through His sacrificial act upon the cross. There is never a confidence in knowing all has been forgiven and full restoration is a reality! Like Peter, we repent . . . yes we regret . . . yes we are remorseful . . . but we also REPENT and ask the Lord to forgive and then trust Him at His Word. God is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness . . . ALL sin (1 John 1:9). What have we done that God can not forgive? Was the cross not enough? Have faith in the forgiveness Christ offers!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Part of the TEAM

Staff meetings . . . . Whether they are at a department store, an office building, or a school, I assume they are all looked at with the same attitude; not another meeting! While it is true some may seem overdone, boring, and unneeded, they are required! Yet our attitude about such meetings may just change the way we approach such meetings. When Paul addressed the Ephesians in chapter four, he wrote concerning the unity of the Church:
. . .from Whom the whole body joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:16)
Though we may not enjoy the topic of the meeting and it may well not really even involve our area of expertise, just the mere gathering may just be beneficial to us! Hebrews 10:25 challenges believers to not forsake the assembling together as a Body of Christ. As we do, we encourage, build up, admonish, and teach one another. We gain strength from another. We learn from one another's failures and successes. Just knowing we are not alone can be enou at times. What if we took the same attitude to our work place? What if we simply joined in for the simple fact of being together? Being a team player is so beneficial to the entire team and a great example for the Christ-follower to set. It says a lot about our character and Jesus' character. Just being Areias a fellow employee could encourage one to push through. One thing said could change an entire day, week, or a career. Every once in a while, on a regular basis, yes even at work, we need to gather together so the "body" can feel as one!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Look up!

O God You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul like THIRSTS for You; my flesh LONGS for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have LOOKED for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and glory. Because your LOVINGKINDNESS is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will BLESS You while I live; I will LIFT UP MY HANDS in Your Name. ( Psalm 63:1-4)
I can feel David's desire as I read these words this morning. Here he is, assumed to be fleeing from his son Absalom in the wilderness of Judah, yet he is seeking the presence of the Lord, not simply his own rescue or release. On the run from his son who was seeking his throne and his life, yet David was seeking his God! Even as we struggle . . . as we have doubts . . . as we have second thoughts in life, if we simply take the psalmist's attitude of seeking the presence of God, how would that change our circumstance? He is seeking God, not a solution. He is thirsty for His presence, not revenge for his son. Better than his life situation is the peace that being alone with God can bring! So while he may have seen his life slipping away, David would rather praise his God than pity himself. . . . WOW!!!!
Thus will I bless Him . . . Thus will I praise Him. . . Thus will I seek Him . . . while I still can!!!!! Can this be our prayer today???

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Protect This House!

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16
Paul reminds us in this writing that if we are in Christ, that is if we are truly a follower of Christ, than we are to live like it! It makes sense to me. If I am playing on a team, I will wear the jersey of my team, not the other team! If I go to a specific school I will be required to wear the uniform of that particular school. If I am serving in the Armed Forces of my country that surely I would have on the uniform of my country, not the enemy!
Why then do we often look like, sound like, and dress like the enemy (Satan)? Why do we choose the enemy's tactics over those of the "team" we claim to have joined?
Spiritually speaking, many times it is a challenge to recognize the other team members. They come many times dressed like us. They know our play book. They speak our special codes. They even hang out at our practices and get inside our team meetings. We as Christ followers have to do a better job of protecting our team mates and securing our "locker room safety"! We must study our play book well so we can recognize when someone has changed it. We must have our members' back when we go to battle. We must recognize our own and encourage and protect one another; daily putting into practice the things we learn. We must execute the game plan with accuracy. We must be sound on offense and defense. We must be a "team"!
We must protect this house!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What If?

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
One of my favorite "internet pastors", Pastor Max Lucado, offers these words concerning the passages above from Jesus:
"Don’t we need to learn? We know so much, and yet we know so little. The age of information is the age of confusion: much know-how, hardly any know-why."
What if teachers taught with such humbleness and grace? What if students came to school with this attitude toward their teachers? What if parents and children alike had this kind of attitude toward learning? What if we all trusted Jesus as the One Who knows us best and wants what is best for us? Is it possible to make our homes, our schools, our churches places of such inviting environments that we all feel welcomed . . . to learn from the Master while sharing all He has taught us with those who desire to know?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Stranger

But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more (in brotherly love); that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those on the outside, and that you may lack nothing. (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12)
Paul writes to those in Thessalonica to encourage and admonish the believers there to live a life that is acceptable to God. Would that not be a great message for believers today? Many times, we cannot tell the difference between a Christ-follower and any other "good" person. Like the rich young ruler Jesus encountered (Matthew 19:16-22), there are many good and decent people today who simply cannot commit to Christ. That is understandable. What is not acceptable however, in God's eyes, are those of us who accept believers who settle for just any way of life. We gossip, we criticize, we excuse, tolerate . . . all to the disgrace of God. Can we commit to a holy, seperarte, sanctified life that honors God? The CHRISTian life is exciting, fun, and fresh every day. The problem is that we do not have enough examples around for others, especially our young people, to witness!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Embrace the situation . . .God is right there!

Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but GOD IS FAITHFUL, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
Paul wrote to the Corinthians reminding them and us that troubles will come. Life will not always be easy as a Christ -followers. We will face challenges, temptations, trials, and the like. As Paul wrote, those who came out of Egypt failed God and many were punished . . . even destroyed by the Hand of God! Paul says these were examples for us! Thank God for grace today! However, that is not an excuse to fall today either! We have the opportunity to check our commitment to the Lord as we face challenges. Will we trust Him and His promises or turn to the world? Will we accept the discipline of God or choose the easier path the world offers? God does give us a way out of the challenge, but a way THRUOGH the challenges! He helps us BEAR the challenges we face to perfect us and refine us, as gold through the fire. Hang in . . .

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day 1. . . . .

It may say a bit old-fashioned but the saying still rings true . . . today is the first day of the rest of our lives. However, here is another challenge: live it as though it is the last day of our lives!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW creation; old things have past away; behold, ALL things have become NEW. ((2 Corinthians 5:17)
As many of us start a fresh school year as parents, students, teachers, administrators; remember these comforting words from Paul: Start fresh! Last year's issues . . . Last year's failures . . . Even last year's successes are in the past. This is a NEW year and God wants it to be fresh, new, and different! Gone and forgotten are the failed tests, after school detentions, missed assignments, and botched up projects. Gone too are the A's and perfect attendance along with the certificates and awards. Do not live in the past! Move forward! For the Christ-follower, this is indeed good news! God does not dwell on our past so why do we? It is a trick of the enemy. Stop looking in the rear view mirror and look ahead. It is a much bigger view and much more in focus!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are NEW every morning; great is YOUR faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

CHRISTian Zombies?

Stale godliness is ungodliness. Let our religion be as warm, and constant, and natural as the flow of the blood in our veins. A living God MUST be served in a LIVING way! (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)
Faith in Jesus Christ is a LIVING faith. It is not simply a SONday thing or a morning prayer routine. As is the Word, it is living and breathing and sharper than a two-edged sword. Our life should be a living and breathing testimony to Christ and it should influence the environment we occupy.
What does it profit , my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? . . . . Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is DEAD. . . . For as the body without the spirit is DEAD, so faith without works is DEAD also.(James 2:14-26)
Just one simple question to ponder today: Why would someone call themselves a CHRISTian, a CHRIST follower, and refuse to sacrifice and serve others?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Spiritual Preparations

However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. ((Matthew 17:21)
Ahh yes . . . another summer coming to a close and another school year about to begin. Teachers and youth leaders around the world are asking the same question: "How can I be more effective reaching the youth?" Jesus has already answered the question nearly two thousand years ago! The disciples asked Him why they could not drive out the demon from the young boy in Matthew 17. His response was the passage above. No matter our lesson plans or our study tools, in this day and age I believe we have forgotten the art of real old-fashioned prayer and fasting. Oh yes, we do fast and we do pray, but don't you agree it has become more ritual and habit than fervent and heart-felt? When is the last time you or I have prayed as Jesus did in Luke 22:4 or in John 17? Look at those prayers for a moment . . . . Jesus, in Luke 22, was so anguished that He actually would sweat droplets of blood, a phenomenon known as hemothohidrosis, as He prayed. In John 17 He prayed for every believer that we would be one just as He and His Father were one and that we would obey all that we have been taught in order to influence this world, not escape the world! Real prayers . . . heart-breaking prayers . . . prayers with real meaning, real feelings, real pain, and real challenges. In fact, Jesus also modeled fasting for us even before He entered His earthly ministry by being Sprit-led to fast forty days and nights. This was not of His own choosing mind you, but Spirit-led! The result of His fasting was not pleasurable either, but challenging as He faced down Satan. Oops, articles, videos Whether we will be teaching, mentoring, leading small groups, or simply being a parent, the right preparation is key. Our children need us to be ready for all they can throw at us . . . and some will be ready to do just that! While we have the right books, articles, web sites, music, videos and other tools prepared, WE must be prepared! Do not take anything for granted . . . "except by prayer and fasting"! www.tsninthebeginning.blogspot.com

Monday, August 15, 2016

Who Cares? God Does!

Whoever welcomes this child in My name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One Who sent Me, for the least among you is the greatest. ( Luke 9:48)
Everyone wants to be noticed. It's human nature. However, as believers, that statement is in direct contradiction to who we are as Christ followers. Think about it . . . it's our HUMAN nature. This means when we act in our HUMAN nature we are generally acting in contradiction to our SPIRIT nature which dwells within us! So as we serve, we serve to honor God and to meet the needs of others. We cannot be seeking applause, acclaim, or awards. Though they may come, we seek to serve just as Christ did, knowing our reward will be with our Father in heaven. It's not easy . . . but God is able!

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Place in Which to Look Forward

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house, are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Muself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
These words of Christ were not simply encouraging to the disciples, but they should be motivating to us today. As the world becomes more and more challenging for the believer, these words should cause us to look forward, not to a time in the past or even to a vacation in the future, but a time to look to OUR future with Christ. Heaven should be better than life on this earth! It's a place of peace . . . a place of rest . . . a place of safety . . .a place of "ahhhhh, YES!!!" My bride and I just completed a week at the beach. We looked forward to it from the time I searched for it and booked it. It would come after a year of teaching. It would follow a summer of work, a teen missions' trip, and a week of Vacation Bible School teaching third- fourth grade boys. The beach condo promised a comfortable setting, inviting decor, use of beach chairs and umbrella . . . even a Kurig! To top it off it would be just me and my bride . . . teenage son was already away with his older brother! Once we arrived and settled in . . . we had the "ahhh, YES!"moment.
As we prepare for a new school year and a year of new challenges, are we looking forward to what God has in store or are we fretting over tomorrow? Are our yesterdays placing a shadow over our today and tomorrows? Have we not made proper preparations? Are we not fully trusting God?
As a teacher, it is my task to prepare a classroom that is inviting and enticing to the student. When they enter, they should be comfortable and eager to learn. They should feel a sense of belonging. They should identify with the surroundings. They should be safe and welcome. It should be a place they would invite their friends visit and perhaps decide to join them. I prepare a place for the student to be at home.
However, I must first be at peace. For my students to be comfortable in my room, I must also be prepared and ready . . . and comfortable!
It is the same way with our walk with Christ. First we must know Him personally. We must be comfortable knowing we are one with Him and secure in that relationship. That takes time in itself. Then to invite someone else in to the same relationship, we must be prepared. We must be secure knowing the place we are, Jesus is as well. We must be living as if we are anticipating our arrival, preparing to go, securing the way, and living with anticipation. As a teacher and mentor, I want my students to feel welcomed, comfortable, but also to know there is more to life than simply "today". Though I work hard to prepare my room, my lesson plans, field trips, etc, there is a better place. There is a best place . . . with Christ. I desire for them to know only hear it, but to feel it and experience it. We should be in that "ahhh, YES" place daily, even as we face challenges. We can look ahead and have enough joy to say, "Ahhh, YES!"
Are you looking forward to tomorrow?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Stop Faking It

Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then they shall offer bulls on Y our altar. (Psalm 51:19)
God is not interested as much in "what" we do for Him as He is "why" we do it and "how" we do it. As it is today it was in David's day: People were going through the motions in their worship of God. They would live as they pleased, yet go to the Temple and offer their various sacrifices. The peoples' hearts were in the wrong place. They believed they were offering sacrifices to a Holy God yet living sinful lives with little or no remorse or change. Do we not do much of this today? We live our politically correct lives, accepting wickedness all around us and excusing it as "the world today". Peer pressure all around us, young and old alike, pulls us in every direction. We condone sin within our own lives and comment, "Well, I'm not Jesus!" We take for granted the torturous sacrifice our Savior and Lord endured for our salvation. We live as we please Monday through Saturday and then dress up for church and play the worship game on SONday. As in Malachi 3:8-9, the words ring true still today: "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation." There is still time to regroup and repent. God is awaiting our true hearts' desire to live for Him in a wicked, vile, and ungodly world. Today is the day to decide to be a real disciple of Jesus Christ . . . a follower, not a fan!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Responsibility

Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem. (Psalm 51:18)
David not only had a heart for God, but also for His people! As he was attempting to assure his personal relationship with the Lord, he did not forget the people of Israel. We can't be too selfish in our prayers. In a day and age when our world seems to be getting worse and worse, calling evil good and good evil, we definitely need to pray for others. We need to remember our friends, families, and our nation . . . not to mention the world as a whole! David asks the Lord to have His way with Israel. He asks for protection. He no doubt will seek to please the Lord as a man and as a leader of the nation to be sure to receive God's best. May we too seek to please God with our lives so those around us may be blessed as well. We as a Body have both individual and corporate responsibilities. We are not alone. We are ONE! Who needs our prayers today? Whom can we bless even with just our prayers and the way we live as individuals? Then, as. Body, how can we the Church bless and protect this Nation?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Heart Attacks

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart . . . These O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
Many people do good things for a lot of people. Millions of dollars are donated throughout the world. Billions of man hours are given to help those in need. Countless items are given away to assist for disaster relief, to feed the hungry, and to rebuild homes and neighborhoods. These are all great and charitable deeds no doubt. However, God demands more . . . As David writes, God wants a broken heart . . . one who is repentant and convicted of sin. God desires a heart that agrees with Him and His standard of what is sin and what is not. He does not accept a compromising heart or an indifferent heart. While He realizes we are sinners and far short of His glory, He wants us to realize it too! There is only one way to be one with our Creator . . . through Christ and in agreement with His Word. We all are guilty of taking God for granted at times. We, for some reason, believe that God at times falls asleep or looks away. Yet He is still omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He is STILL God! Lord, break my heart for You! Please accept my heart, fragile and disgusting as it is Lord, as my only sacrifice for You to use. Here I am . . . . would You use me?

Monday, August 8, 2016

It's Not About Today . . . .

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. (Psalm 51:16)
David knew full well the difference between being obedient to the Lord and offering sacrifices to cover up sin! It was just years ago when he witnessed the downfall of King Saul as the prophet Samuel spoke to the king concerning his disobedience to the demands of God.
Has the Lord in great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of Rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)
God knows we will sin, yet He also demands repentance to be fully cleansed. No offering of money, no giving of gifts, no lighting of candles, no donation to a worthy cause can cover our sin. God demands obedience; to the call to repent of our sin, accept Christ as Lord and Savior, obey the Lord in water baptism, and to live a life in accordance with how Jesus instructed. There is no other way to please God and no other way into an eternal relationship with Him except through the sacrificial atoning of Jesus Christ! While many good people do a great deal of wonderful acts of kindness, only one act of kindness gets us through the gates of heaven; Jesus' work upon the cross! We only need to accept this as Truth, admit our sinful hearts, and trust Him with our eternal life. While a true follower of Chrost has his eternal life secured, to please our Lord we must stay in fellowship with Him through daily repentance and a life of sacrifice unto Him. The CHRISTian life is not easy! Do not be fooled into believing that lie. Ask Peter . . . ask Paul . . . ask anyone today attempting to live to please God and not people! It is a life of sacrifice, ridicule, rejection, dejection, but also JOY . . . JOY in knowing we are doing all we can possibly do to please our Lord and Savior. It will all be worth it. . . .one day!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Listening Skills

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. (Psalm 51:15)
David, now clean and forgiven, seeks to be used by God. He desires to let others know what the Lord has done. He anticipates with joy the next words that he will say. He doesn't even want to speak unless the Lord opens his mouth! Imagine if that were you or I . . . Imagine if we only spoke, or acted, when God said to do so. Do you realize how much more effective we would be for the Kingdom? Think about all the useless and even sinful things we have said or done that could have been avoided. What if we would have only waited . . . Listen to the words of Jesus' brother James. He should have known a bit about when and how to do things: "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath . . ." (James 1:19) I have come to realize in life that listening intently to others leads to a much better conversation. I must fight back the urge to respond to the first things I hear. I have to squash my desire to be heard and replace it with a desire to understand . . . the other person and the situation. I have chewed upon my own feet much too many times in life! Listening intently, not only to others' words but their hearts as well, leads to a better understanding of the situation and also less angry or mistaken reactions. Many times that's all that is needed; a listening ear! Like I have heard said, we need to share Christ with others . . . and then speak if we have to speak! www.tsninthebeginning.blogspot.com

Friday, August 5, 2016

Deluded?

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshedO God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud or Your righteousness. (Psalm 51:14)
David pleaded for oneness with God. He did not have the daily indwelling of the Holy Spirit within him. So why is it, that we who do have that Spirit act so careless and carefree about the Spirit residing within us? Why do we believe we can act and talk as we please and yet still be pleasing God? Do we realize that as genuine believers, we are “temples” or “dwellings” of that very Spirit of God that saved us from sin? (1 Corinthians 6:19) We must be warned! If we are truly saved and embarrassing the Lord, He has every right to step in and discipline us or even take us out of this world if He chooses! However, if we test our very own spirit . . . yes, take a deep look inside: Are we, you and I, truly saved?????

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Right Attitude

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinners shall be converted to You.
We all do it . . . God if you only do this for me then I will do this for You. If You allow me this one thing, then I will serve You for the rest of my life. However, this is NOT what David is saying here in my opinion. David, after realizing his woeful condition before God, knows that he can in no way serve God fully with the weight of his sin upon his heart. Would that not be great if we felt that way? Many of us today will casually sin and then casually serve! Similar to what James would write in James 3:10, we sin one minute and then serve in the church the next. We will treat our family harshly at home and head to church to be kind and loving to folks we don't know as well. We will dismiss fellow employees' needs, ignore neighbors as we head to the car, even drive without respect of other drivers as we drive about the highways. Even kids can be so kind and respectful around teachers or church leaders, yet treat their parents and siblings with nothing but disrespect and malice. However, if we would only be like David; we would first seek intimate communion with the Lord and then use the examples of our failings to reach others where they are and lead them to the Savior. Rather than be arrogant and pompous CHRISTians, we would be humble and honest in sincerely reaching others for Christ. They would realize that if Christ could forgive us, He could and will surely have enough grace for them too! If we would first openly and honestly approach the Throne of Grace upon our faces, then our hearts would be in the right place to serve His people. Jesus, in John 21:15-17, questioned Peter's love for Him before instructing him to "feed my sheep". Before we attempt to teach, preach, or in any way serve people, we must first be right with God. Oh yes, God can use anyone to do this, but to be used by God while in right fellowship with God brings blessings both here and in eternity. That's what I want . . .what about you? We would then be truly after the heart of God!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Closer Walk . . .

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. (Psalm 51:12)
We have it so good as believers today. This is why we take advantage of the generous sacrifice God enable for us through the sacrificial atoning of Jesus. Listen to David here. Even after pleading for his life in the previous verse, David needs to know he is secure for eternity with the Lord. He seeks assurance of his eternal salvation. He knows he cannot secure it himself. Only the Spirit of God can seal and secure us for eternity. . . no words we say; no works we could do; no money we could pay! (Ephesians 2:8)
What if we would cherish our eternal relationship with Christ so? What if we had to plea for His mercy daily? What if our eternal salvation depended upon our prayer life? What if it hinged upon us and not the Lord?
Thank God for His grace and mercy! Without it we WOULD be lost for ever! Yet we cannot allow this act of grace and sacrifice keep us from pursuing and even deeper relationship with the One Who so loved us and still does to the end of days. (Philippians 1:6)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tolerant or Obedient?

Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. (Psalm 51:11
While David had to depend upon God to "give" him the Holy Spirit for certain functions and tasks, we as born again believers have the indwelling Spirit constantly at work within us. This however leads to our taking advantage of Him at times. While David was constantly aware of "losing" the presence of God, we many times act any way at all and believe that somehow God is not grieved. Yet Pual reminds us in Ephesians 4:30 that we are not to "grieve the Holy Spirit of God" with our thoughts and actions. Though a true born again Christ follower cannot "lose" what God has sealed (John 10:28-30), we can lose that deep and abiding fellowship with Him. If we live in sin and condone the sin, accepting it as "allowable", than God cannot and will not be a part of our decisions. We can find ourselves outside of His realm of protection and open to all sorts of demonic and dangerous activity and influence. The deeper we remain in sin and ignore our need for repentance, the more we risk God stepping in and correcting it Himself, even to the point of an early death. David's plea therefore is very relevant today. Lord, keep me and safeguard me from my own mind and desires that I do not run the risk of losing Your protection and direction here in this life. Help me to not take Your Spirit for granted. Help me to daily examine my walk so that I may not grieve You and that You may give me all You have in store for me, my family and generations to come. Bless me God, so I may in turn bless You and others!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Cleansed

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10) The psalmist knows there is no way he can clean up his sinful heart. In fact, like many of us today, David cannot even forget his sins! I am sure they haunt him daily. I personally can recall things I have done from childhood . . . before I even really understood repentance and grace. Oh, I knew of prayer and the fact that God forgives sin through Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross, but I had never been shown from Scripture about a personal relationship with Christ and what that meant concerning repentance and forgiveness. I had no idea concerning the redemption of my soul through my Savior’s sacrifice. I had no thought of the imputation of all the sin of mankind, including mine, upon the heart and soul of Jesus as He suffered so brutally that Friday. I just knew if I confessed my sin it was forgiven! I was even told I had to do some things to complete the job . . . but then I realized the truth years later. Like David, I sought a cleansing . . . and still do. While I know from the bible that Christ’s sacrifice has been substituted for my sin, it is still hard to believe. I believe it by faith, because the Word tells me so. 1 John 1:9 reminds me that God is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness, if I will simply go to Him with a sincere heart of repentance; agreeing with Him that I am indeed a sinner and not worthy of His grace. Like David, I must move forward by faith knowing that God has placed His Spirit within me to urge me on toward sanctification. Day by day, I trust Him to renew my heart and mind (Romans 12:1-2) so I may indeed offer my daily life as a living sacrifice unto my Savior. While I am assured of eternal life with Him through Christ, I and becoming more like Him day by day as I give over control to His Spirit. As Paul would say, the battle is real and it is daily warfare! (Romans 7:14-25) Do not be discouraged as you face the struggle. Be angry at the sin and physically and spiritually fight it. Through accountability partners, physical roadblocks, and prayer, sin can be conquered and will be conquered. Half the battle is identifying it and setting up a real plan to win! It may involve cutting off some harmful friendships, denying our flesh (eyes and ears included) of tempting activities such as movies, videos, music and more, and allowing a few close friends to actually get personal with us and hold us accountable to our actions. While it still takes a village to raise a child, it also takes the Body of Christ to keep one another accountable to our lifestyles and dedication to our Lord and Savior. As we have heard in the world, the first step is admitting our weaknesses and asking for “help”.

Just so You Know

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear  a Son, and shall call His name  Immanuel. (Is...