Thursday, December 24, 2009
The Tuesday before Christmas, I was driving to work listening to K-Love, lost in my own thoughts, selfish "poor me" thoughts. I was concerned about getting a check in the mail that day, to "generously" give to my kids so they could go buy presents for me. See I had taken them the Saturday before to pick up presents for everyone else on their list. As we shopped Saturday, I made a point to tell the kids exactly what I wanted, showing them as we shopped for others. Lots of options were provided. I was thinking that if the check didn't come, Christmas was not going to be good for me and I was thinking about what presents I was going to get - completely selfish and self-centered.
Then I get into Joplin and started to listen to the radio again, because I can't be lost in my own thought. This call comes through the broadcast, a mother talking to the DJ about a conversation with her four year old about the true meaning of Christmas. The mother had told the child that Jesus is the reason that we receive gift. The child asked about the children who do not get presents. The mother used that opportunity to talk about giving and how God uses people to give the love of Jesus in tangible ways to other. Then the four year old told his mother that he wants to give all his gifts to kids who don't get one because he wants to make sure kids know the love of Jesus and what Christmas is really about - OKAY reality check by radio that morning. If a four year old can get it, there is no reason that I should be so selfish, when Christmas is really about Jesus. So I repent on the walk into work, and go about my day. So the check comes, as scheduled. Then the kids go shopping.
Fast-forward to Wednesday night. Laurin comes to get me and is not very good at keeping a secret. She starts dropping hints and then finally just came out and told me what she got me - something that was on the list of DO NOT BUY THIS for me, I do not want it. Then she tells me what Billie Jo wanted to get me, which again was on my DO NOT BUY THIS for me list, which Laurin had told Billie Jo. That started my "poor me" temper tantrum. Then Tim calls and was upset Laurin had not answered his call. He was texting her about my Christmas, and was not having any luck find the things I requested at Wal-Mart and did not want to have to drive an hour to a location where he could get it. Not sure what the conversation was between the two, but it was about what I wanted - which I had also told him and showed him and provided a written list. This just fueled my flame and made me continue my what about what I want and how no one listens to me. Then Tim calls me about my plans for Wednesday evening and again it is clear that he has not listened to anything I said. So I spent the hour drive home throwing a little fit, came home and threw a little bit more. Finally I decided to quit my pity party, but still had a little resentment about it.
At night I do my Bible reading, and Had been working on I John. I was in chapter 4. I was tired, and the lights were off, so I wanted to just use my cell phone, I have the entire Bible available. I clicked on The book I John and then chapter 4. Oddly, that is not what came up. Instead it was "Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. " I Peter 4:1-2 I stopped reading after the 2nd verse and just told God I was sorry, and laughed at his sense of humor.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
He was able to share God's message of love with those who sought it, yet convict those who merely pretended.
He was able to stand against those who came against Him, despite the fact that those who came against Him were afraid of the opinion that those he taught had.
Jesus was able to call the religious out, without stooping to their level. He was able to amaze and silence them by His response.
As I read that tonight, it really sunk in to me that Jesus has already paid the price, as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, not just the sins of Christians - but of everyone, for everything that has already been done and is yet to be done, confessed and unconfessed. The price was paid in full that day on Calvery.
I think for the most part, we tend to categorize sins. We say one thing is worse than another. A white lie is much less harmful than murder. Disobedience is better than stealing. Drugs are worse than alcohol. But the fact is, disobedience is what started the world on the path to destruction. And a white lie alone, if it was the only sin ever done, would have separated us from God, and Christ still would have had to pay the ultimate price to bridge that gap.
The way I see it, Jesus paid the price and is just waiting for us to cash in on it (So to speak). It is like He wrote this check, made payable in full for each one of us. But like any check, its value can not be felt until it is cashed. He wrote the check that day on Calvary and the only "CASH BY" date is the day we die. Since no one is given a stamp on the bottom of the foot that tells their expiration date, we need to accept the price that was paid for us and start living our life to the fullest. We need to share the price that was paid, and the forgiveness that is available with the whole world - even those that we secretly hope won't accept the price paid.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
An interesting story in the Bible is found in Luke 5, it is the story of Peter's calling. Jesus is teaching people all around. Jesus says (My paraphrasing) "Hey, let me borrow your boat so I can sit down and teach." Without question, Peter did it.
Then Jesus teaches and preaches to the people around. When he is finished, He returns his attention back to Peter. Jesus tells him to go back out in the deep water and let down his nets. Peter tells Jesus why he shouldn't do this, but still says "I'll do i because you said so."
When Peter obeyed, the response was more than He expected. It was such a big response that his partners, and other boats around were blessed also - out of his overflow.
What a lesson - when God's Word, or even that still small voice inside us tells us to do something - even if it seems insignificant or something we have done before without response, we need to obey because " He said So." You never know what that simple act of obedience will bring, who will be touched or how much will be accomplished.
Luke 4:1-13 Jesus escaped to the wilderness to be tempted, but also to receive power. When we are able to go through trials and tribulations and escape the entrapment of those times 0 then we are refreshed and filled with power from the Holy Spirit.
Luke 4:14-27 Jesus went on to Nazareth, his hometown. There are times in life where we need to get away from the things of this world and just be at home.
Jesus also during this time went to the synagogue. This can represent our modern day church. It is important that we escape to the presence of God, a time of prayer and worship. A time to focus on God's word.
Luke 4:28 - 30 Jesus escaped death. The crowd was angry at him. But he was able to talk right through them. If God be for you, who can stand against you. There may be times that we face persecution, but through Christ, we can stand against it and escape.
A few other examples:
Luke 4:35, 41 Jesus escaped or helped others and the work of the enemy. We too must take time to help others and break away from the work of the enemy.
Luke 4:39, 40 Jesus helped others escape illness. We to can have the power through the Holy Spirit and work don on the cross to pray and help others receive healing.
Luke 4:38 Jesus escaped to the home of a friend. It is important that we take time for friends.
Luke 4:42 Jesus escaped to solitude. Sometimes we just need to get alone.
Luke 4:43 - 44 Jesus escaped to help others. Sometimes despite the demands on our life, we are going to have to escape to spend time helping others.
So many times, I think of this time in Jesus' life and I think He fasted for forty days and then the devil came to him with the three temptations that are told. But the Bible actually says that he was tempted by the devil for forty days and he didn't eat during that time.
There are so many things that I find fascinating about this story. One being that Jesus was FULL of the Holy Spirit. Even being full, he still fasted during this time to overcome the flesh of being tempted.
Second, he went there to be tempted. He was led by the Holy Spirit to the desert where he would be tempted.
We know that Jesus lived a perfect life, and that he overcame the temptations without sin.
But that is not the end of the story. Luke 4:14 states that Jesus returned with the POWER of the Holy Spirit. That tells me that I can be full of the Holy Spirit and not walk in the power that comes from the Holy Spirit. It was only after Jesus came out on the other side of the temptation that he walked in that power of the Holy Spirit.
The fullness of the Spirit will sustain us through the trials and temptations. The power of the Holy Spirit will be received when we show that we can withstand the trials and temptations we face.
Our lives here on earth will never be perfectly lives, as we are sinful by nature. However, when we become Christians and repent of our sins, our life should show that to others. As we turn to God, those sins of habitual nature should lessen and cease. People should be able to look at our lives before and after Christ and see a difference.
Yes, we are forgiven, but our life should demonstrate change and growth. Our live should have fruit that shows we are Christ's chosen. If it does not, we will eventually be shopped down and cast into the fire (Luke 3:9).
Monday, October 5, 2009
I knew as I sat there, that God was trying to show something, an allegory or sorts. Like, maybe how sometimes we also have to be determined and keep flapping our wings even when we feel like we are not going anywhere, and even when people try to squash our dreams, and the world seems to be passing us by.
- We are the messengers that bring God's word to the lost. They are not going to be brought to God without determination on our part to plant seeds and set a consistent witness before them.
- Sometimes, we may feel like we are losing ground instead of gaining it, but ultimately it is not up to us to gain the ground, it is our job to carry the message. God alone gains the ground as we are obedient.
- Often times we are going to run into people or rules that that try to squash our efforts to further God's kingdom either through discouragement or physical threat, we have to keep our eyes on the goal and just keep going.
- The world may pass us by, but God's Word will remain. We are not working for the temporal things of this world, but for the Kingdom.
So next time you see a little wasp, or an ant, or maybe a fellow laborer in Christ, remember to encourage them in their efforts, regardless of what the circumstances look like. You certainly don't want to be the one the squishes the net great leader of God!!!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Philippians 3:15-16 states "Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind."
As I read this, I realized Paul, and divinely so, God is telling us that we need to walk in unity in the areas that we agree upon. And that God will reveal to us, the truth, in areas that we have disagreements. God, not some great debate of theological interpretations, will reveal truth to us in areas that there are different beliefs. He further tells us that we should walk in agreement and stay focused on these areas so we can be of the same mind.
What a powerful concept. Don;t fight with each other on the differences, instead stand stand together in unity on what you agree upon. If Christian's could unite, truly unite, on the common ground and leave the rest o God - how much more powerful we would be!
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. How much more strong would a unified body of Christ be. We will never agree on everything, but we should stand together in what we agree on.
So many times we want the promises of God without the cost. This church was the only one that supported Paul in the beginning of his ministry. They shared in his troubles, When Paul's was in need, these people sent over and over again.
Paul said "I don't need now." He just wanted them to have the credit to their account - not their bank accounts, but their spiritual accounts. The account where zero is not the bottom line, but God is the only line. He will make sure that we have what we need, when we are actively pursuing to supply and further His kingdom. When furthering His kingdom is our bottom line, He will supply all our needs, so that we can focus on that mission, through his riches and glory.
It probably was hard for Paul at first to find contentment. He came from the finer side of town and then found himself imprisoned for saying what he believed. Not in one of the cushy prisons we have, but knee high in sewer and rodents. That had to be a test of faith. As we read it, we get the end result, "I did it. Be encouraged."
That is the key to contentment. Knowing that regardless of what you may be physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, economically, spiritually and environmentally facing - in God's strength you will get through it with Jesus Christ.
WOW! That is certainly a challenge because when you look at the opposite it basically says that because were are God's light in the world we need to do things without fighting and complaining because otherwise we will be to blame for causing harm to the lost.
We are suppose to be the light. But if we are always complaining or fighting, why would anyone be attracted to the light.
My personal thoughts are that God will hold us accountable for the times that people were turned away from him because of our attitude.
God, forgive me for my mouth. I pray that you would help me to not gripe or complain but to grow in You. Lord, send other to those who have been impacted by my negative attitude to show them the light. Amen.
My husband pointed out that there were weird people in the Bible that people of that time probably labeled as freaky, flaky and weird. He pointed out Noah built an ark, had animals get on it and sealed it up completely before a drop of rain ever fell. Ezekiel was also an extreme person. He dug his way out of his home with a spoon. He cooked dung and ate it - all as messages to the Israelites. In light of this, maybe people would have locked both up in a psych ward.
I guess it all boils down to "Is what is being said or done in line with the Word of God." Or is it a freaky flaky and weird spirit that is placed in this person, or other individuals that is here to destroy the work of Christ. I mean I know that Satan came to steal, kill and destroy, but I thought Demons had to flea in the name of Jesus. I questioned if someone could be demon possessed and truly think they were doing the will of God.
I was lead to Acts 16:16-18 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
So today I sat here with my little nephew and my son and just enjoyed them. Laurin was at work, Tim was napping, and Billie Jo is away at camp. My four year old nephew was telling me he was a big boy, and I told him that he could be his mom and dad's big boy, but he is our baby. He was okay with this. I love that little guy! Even during his difficult moments.
Well, as I sit here reflecting again, kids laid down watching TV and texting in the chair next to me, I realized that it is my job. It is my job to prepare my kids to go out on their own. If I am a successful parent, my kids will move out on their own, support themselves, start their own families, make good decision, and start their job as parents. I will be able to watch this process and hopefully be proud of the decisions that they make, because I taught them - you know the important things like being a Christian, love, acceptance, forgiveness, kindness, contentment, hard work, putting others before themselves, honesty, integrity, good morals and values.
It will be hard for me to see my babies become adults, and I will certainly miss the days where they babies, but I think that God will give me the grace to move into the next stage of life knowing that I did my job as a parent to the best of my ability.
Monday, July 6, 2009
The other day, I was told my car would be ready in about forty-five minutes, and there were no other cars in line. I intentionally waited thirty minutes before even beginning grocery shopping. So I was pretty upset when I got there an hour and a half later and they were still working on my car. So I sat down in the waiting room and made my normal comment about being inpatient.
Billie Jo reminded me that patience is a fruit of the spirit. I said I wasn't being negative (although I was) that I was just tired of waiting. Waiting on the car, waiting on the Cobra to go through for the kids orthodontist appointments, waiting on the mortgage company to release the funds for our roof to be repaired, waiting for Tim to get a job, waiting for a job to come open at the hospital, waiting on the check, waiting, waiting and waiting.
Billie told me that God wanted me to have something but because of my impatience I was keeping God from giving it to me. I thought about it, and I threw my hands up in surrender and said "Okay God I surrender. I am okay with the wait. Teach me what I need to learn to get past this."
Call it a coincidence, I call it a God thing - Billie started laughing, my car drove out of the garage at that exact moment. Great story even if it ended there - but you know God, He does things 100%!
The next day before I went to work I called the Cobra Company, our insurance paperwork finally went through. We needed to make a payment but it shows approved in the system!
Then, I was driving home from work and I called th mortgage company. Brett answered. I gave him the same talk I had given the other fifty people I talked to every day since June 8 before that and guess what he gave me the number to the right person to fix my problem - the number that did not exist for the other people I talked to. So by the end of last week I got the message that the funds would be released for our roof repairs by Thursday of this week!!! In addition, the lady also restructed our loan and brought it up to date with lower payments.
Today Tim got a job, in his field!
I learned last week that a new job should come open in mid-July at the hospital and everyone is asking me if I will apply!
And last, but not least. I have been waiting to get paid from one of my vendors and well - the check came in the mail!
I just praise God that he let my car be late, that he gave my daughter the wisdom to say what she did, gave me the ability to give it up, and that He gets all the glory and honor and praise for it!
Up to this point I have always thought that Jesus was led out into the wilderness, he fasted for forty days and then the devil came out to tempt him. I viewed Jesus being frail and starving from not eating, being tested by Satan. Last night I realized, we just have a brief view of what Jesus faced. Luke 4:1-2 clearly states that Jesus was tempted for 40 days. Maybe those final temptations were at the end of the 30 days, maybe they were during, I don;t know. But Jesus remained strong despite the testing. That is the point.
Luke 4 stated 1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
Jesus was tempted by the devil for forty days, during that time he was fasting, but he was tempted the entire time. So many times we face tests and trials and when God has not delivered us by the end of the week we are just ready to give up on it. Maybe we need to see it through. Maybe we need to suffer through the temptation, continue to be led by the Spirit, standing on God's word, maybe do a little fasting, and we will see the victory a lot sooner! If you keep reading in verse 14 you read that Jesus left there full of the POWER of the HOLY SPIRIT! If we want to walk in power we have to go through the temptation.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
As I read this familiar passage, where Jesus heals the boy that the disciples failed to heal, these verses caught my attention. Jesus comes on the scene to find his disciples arguing with the scribes. It is my understanding that the scribes were experts at the Law. So here are Jesus' students, disciples, followers whatever you want to call them - going head to head with the experts in the Law. It had to be heated with "A great multitude" surrounding them.
I am sure much of the argument was because of interpretation. I mean think about how much time has passed since the beginning of the law to now, and how much interpretation there is now - we have experts on everything. One person says sprinkle for baptism, the other says full submission, and there are many others in between. It appears they were arguing because the disciples lacked the miracle working that the crowd wanted that day - whatever it was they were in a heated debate over the technical part of it.
Then in walks Jesus. Didn't say anything, but we read the people caught glimpse of him and immediately were amazed and ran to him. He hadn't done anything, just arrived on the scene and people were amazed. They left the heated debate to run to him.
I thought about how this applies to our lives now. So many times we try to debate with people what the word of God says, what it means, and how it should be applied. I have seen things turn down right ugly as "Christians" try to prove they are right.
But really Jesus is the Word (John 1:14 - the Word became flesh). Just as Jesus came on the scene and people were amazed and ran to him, we should do the same. We need to present the Word, and let the Word stand. The Holy Spirit can bring the revelation to the person, and they will leave the argument and run to God. We don't need to argue it. "Here is what the word of God says......" Then we just need to live as Christ did. The rest of it is God's work.
You notice Jesus didn't join the debate. He simply arrived on the scene. The people were amazed before he did anything. But he still did what was right for him to do - healed the boy.
How many more people would be reach if we just gave them the Word and lived as the Word tells us and showed us to do.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Mark 11:1- 11 tells the story as I read it last night. A couple of things caught my attention. The first was the disciples immediately went and did what Jesus told them to do, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. 3 And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”
While I would like to think that I would be obedient, I know from experience that while I might eventually do it, it would likely not be obedient. I mean I know I would have questions run through my head, and maybe the disciples left that part out. I might feel God tell me to go talk to someone about Him and I am reluctant, I drag my feet wanting to know it is Him, wanting reassurance I will say the right thing. That is just to talk to them about Him, not to ask them to give me something for His use. I guess if I felt passionate about it, I probably would with much encouragement from those around me, but they were asking for a valuable piece of property from a stranger, so the Lord could ride into town. WOW!
The second thing that caught my attention was after the disciples did what Jesus told them to, the owner of the colt just “let them go.” I mean a colt is a piece of property. I am no farmer but I am sure colts do not come cheap. And here some guy is told by a group of men that the Lord wants it. And he gives it, just lets it go. That amazes me. I mean some would say it was divine will, and while that is true, God still gave us the power of choice.
Again I would like to think that I would say oh yes, the Lord wants to use my ……, here it is. But the reality is while I have no problem paying tithes, giving to charities, or using my time I am not sure where I would be if God said “Give me your car, I need it.” especially if He sent a group of guys to ask for it. I would probably look at them and think they were trying to steal my car and call the police or the psych ward that these “nuts” thought the Lord told them to “borrow my car.”
As the story goes on, as Jesus is riding into town, on this colt so freely given, people are taking their clothes and laying them on the ground for the colt to walk on! I mean there is not a Mall or Wal-Mart where they can just run out and buy more. Clothes, including the material were all handmade, no Hobby Lobby to run to to by material – they had to use the loom. There were no heavy duty washer and dryer to get them clothes clean, just a river to clean them in. They took what they had and used it to glorify God.
So out of this story, I found revelation that God wants us to be obedient – no questions asked, just do it, immediately. Second, what we have should be used in the labor of Christ – big or small, God gave it all. We don’t need to analyze or get a second opinion, be just need to give it all. I just pray that God will help me apply what has been revealed.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
It overwhelms me as I read the scriptures that say that He turned water into wine, walked on water, healed the sick, raised the dead, and feeding the multitudes. How can it be, that all that He spoke is true, yet I, and most other believers do not walk in this authority and power. WHY? I know the answer, I don't like it but I know the answer - lack of faith.
It overwhelms me to read of the compassion that Christ had. So many different examples of him being tired and worn out, wanting to get away and rest, and yet He would see the multitudes and have compassion and give more of Himself. If I am suppose to live as Christ did, where is my compassion? I mean I like to help people, but when I want rest, I don't have compassion. I am not even nice if I am tired. How is that Christ like? I know the answer - it is not, it is allowing my flesh not my spirit to control my life.
Tonight I am reading in Mark about how Jesus fed the multitudes, then sent his disciples to the other side of the body of water. Jesus comes walking out and gets into the boat. Walking on water got their attention. Taking fives loaves of bread and two fish and feeding a multitude didn't (Mark 6:52)??? I asked myself while reading, God how can they see that many lives touched and not be amazed, but one man walks on water and it gets their attention? I know the answer.
I was quickened in my spirit that there are many miracles that God has worked in the life of others around me, but the ones that speak loudest are the ones that I directly witness that impact my life. I want to see the starving children in Africa fed, but I am moved when I talked to a young child who has starved and wants to hide food so they will always know they have it available. Even typing those words moves me to tears. I have heard lots of stories about God healing people, even know people He has healed of cancer and other life threatening diseases, but I am amazed when I pray for a little ache and God heals it.
So I go back to being overwhelmed at how God can move in mighty ways, and yet it is the simple things that really add up and overwhelm me. I am overwhelmed when I think of the task before me, living for Christ. But then I know the answer - Read His Word, Believe His Word and Do His Word. It is overwhelming, but it really is that simple!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
As I was standing there singing those words, it really dawned on me what that meant. It reminded me of a scripture I read with the kids just a few days before found in John.. 14:12 "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."
We walk in defeat not because we have to, but because we, the Church, have allowed satan to convince us that we are powerless. We have taken on the titles of this world to define who we are - I am a mother, a sister, a wife, a worker, I have ADD, I have SAD, I am.... just fill in the blank. Yet, we get our worth from our creator. Joel Osteen gives the example, if I "make" a $100 bill it is not worth anything because I have no authority or power to print it. A true $100 bill is given its worth from the treasury of the US as its creator - the Treasury has the authority and the power to print it.
My worth is found in God - He alone can say who I am, what I am worth, and give me power and authority.Well, Jesus said that if I believe in Him, I will do greater things than Him because He was going to the Father. Well Jesus had authority. He had power. He raised the dead and he rose from the dead. He gave sight to the blind, made the dumb talk, the deaf hear, and the lame walk. I am not sure what greater things there could be.
But even just looking at what Jesus did, - when was the last time that as a believer, I have done any of these things (Not through my own power, but the power of Christ that lives in me)? Only speaking for myself - NEVER!
And yet, the same power that conquered the grave lives in me! It is at my disposal because Christ gave me the power and authority to use it because I believe in Him. That is such a powerful statement that it overwhelms me even as I say it. Yet I know it is true because the Bible tells me so. It made me realize that I have the power, I just have to be willing to step out in faith, put Satan under my feet and use it for God’s glory and honor.
And maybe like the disciples, in Matthew 17, my faith will not be as big as the God I serve, but if I don’t take that step of faith, and claim that same power, then some day the grave will be full of people not reached because I, we, the Church, didn’t step out in faith and use the power that Christ died and gave us.
Having courage is to act in accordance with one's beliefs, esp. in spite of criticism.
Why is it that I can have faith but not the courage to act in accordance with what I believe?
Today I was talking with this person and he told me that he had been in the hospital all week. There is a spot on his heart and they are talking about putting in a pacemaker. He is not very old, but it seems that he and his family have been having one problem after another with their health.
As I left I said I will keep you in my prayers. I got in my car and prayed for healing to his heart. I have the faith that God can and will heal him. When I prayed I know God heard.I know the Bible says to speak to pay for the sick.
Why don't I have the courage to pray right then with the person, the prayer for healing with faith?
Then he said, through the scratched ..DVD - That means you could receive no reward, a partial reward, or your full reward.
Two thoughts came to my mind; the first is we are all in the same race. It is not that we are running to be #1; he stated it is a race of endurance. It is more like the Walk-a-thons for Relay for Life or other charities. It is not being #1, it is the effort that you put in to it, the attitude that you keep though the relay, which is to mirror the battle of a cancer survivor that makes the difference. It is in finishing and starting with the same passion, not about beating everyone else. We are all in a race and while we need to help others along the way that they too will finish, we don’t have to be first - we have to finish successfully.
The second thought was about the reward. Think about how little kids will bring home those fundraisers for school (Maybe it is just these little schools my kids go to) but they send home these catalogs full of stuff people don't need and along with it is a flyer with cheesy prize categories with the top thing being the latest gadget that every kids wants - a scooter, a video game system, cash - and it is theirs to EARN for the bargain price of selling 100 things.
The kid comes home super excited about this great gadget that they are getting. They are full of passion and on a mission to get it. And I am sure that there are kids (More likely their parents in great desperation to get their child what they want - but that ruins the point - so I will stick with the kid) who reach that goal.
They start out with a passion for getting the prize and they work hard to get their FULL REWARD. But then there are other kids who work hard at the start but get discouraged, distracted, bored, run out of time, whatever that maybe reach a higher level of reward, but don't quiet make it to that Full Reward, but they get a PARTIAL REWARD. Then there are those kids who will have their parent’s order something out of obligation, but that is about it. Usually they receive little or NO REWARD.
Whatever the reward, it is all tied to the level of effort that the child puts forth and the endurance with which they continue the effort. As Christians, we are the same as those little children. We can live our lives with endurance and stay focused and we will receive our FULL REWARD in Christ. Or we can do, as many Christians do, and serve God, not with focus and endurance, but allowing other things to be first in our lives, or when it is convenient, or with full force that we burn out before we finish. Those Christians will receive a PARTIAL REWARD in Heaven, but not the full reward that is available to them if they earn it. And then there are those Christians who will make a decision that will get them to Heaven, but will not make any effort to work for God's kingdom. While I can't say Heaven isn't a reward, they will have NO REWARD in the full reward God promised.
In the end, it is up to each of us to decide how much reward we want in Heaven. Do we want the ..FULL.. REWARD and are we willing to work for what we want, over the course of our life.
2 John 1:8 (New King James Version) Look to yourselves, that you do not lose those things you worked for, but that you may receive a full reward.
A few I found interesting were Ps: 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. and
Matthew 3:10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. and
John 15:8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. and
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
It is clear from these scriptures that fruit is an important part of our walk with God as Christians. But I think sometimes we get so focused on producing fruit that we forget about tending to the roots. It is easy to get caught up in efforts to produce fruit - showing love to others, being kind, being good, being faithful to service. But when we focus too much of our attention on bearing fruit we tend to neglect what helps us grow – the roots. We fail to realize that when we stay connected to the Spirit of God, the fruit comes naturally.
When you grow a tree that produces fruit, it takes time and effort. You don't just put apples up there and hope that they attach to your tree and that more come. The fruit comes from the Apple tree. They don’t come separately. I think sometimes that we try to live our Christian lives this way. We try to bear our own fruit. In our own effort we try to love others. We try to serve others. We get so busy in our efforts we get disconnected from the Spirit, of whose fruit we are trying to bear. We try to fake it until we make it - I am not saying that sometimes we don’t go through those spells where we keep doing what is right even though we are not seeing results – those times we are usually in the barren season of growth, but we are still connected.
However, we can not, we should not, have to live our lives trying to constantly bear fruit – when we are constantly TRYING, we get wore out because our role is to remain in Him. When we forget to stay firmly planted in the Word, when we forget about praying to God and seeking our Living Water, our roots don't grow. When the roots dry up below, the branches wither above (Job 18:16). Fruit doesn't stay good on a withered branch.
We start trying to make our own fruit. We start trying to be independent. Fruit doesn't grow without the vine and the branch. But the fruit - the fruit of the Spirit, that good fruit that God wants us to produce much of, that fruit that will help us prosper- it comes as a result of being firmly planted in God. It comes naturally as a result of being connected to the Vine.
John.. 15:5 states "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." We need the Roots of God to have the fruit we all desire to bear.
There is much in the Bible about roots, planting, sowing, reaping, fruit, etc. I think just as God made plants to grow in harmony if they are from the same vine, God wants us to be planted with other seeds from the vine - His Vine. He is the vine, we are the branches. When we work together in our purpose we can be firmly planted in God, but don't have to be in competition with each other. When we start trying to do things on our own, we have to try to take care of ourselves, and we start a competition.
Christ's body shouldn't be in competition with each other, and I think so often it is seen that way. There is this denomination turf, and even within different denominations there is this competition for resources - for laborers, for numbers, for money.
I was so pleased to hear my pastor say that our church planted seeds in other churches - not in other countries, although we do support missions and have planted churches, but in the community that the church is located. The other pastors were kind of taken back that our church would sow into their church - but my pastor's vision isn't just for the church we attend, it is for reaching the lost in the community and he realizes our church is not the only outlet to do it. It is going to take all of the churches working together - one body, one mission - to reach the lost.
We have to stop fighting with the body of Christ. As Mario Muello stated "We must work as a cooperative force that pulls together talent and manpower instead of working in isolation, with possessiveness and competition against each other to show the world the love of Christ." He wasn't speaking from some selfish ambition to grow his ministry - but following the lead of Christ's own prayer for the church found in John 17.
Verses 20 - 23 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me. through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me. I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me".
We are the light of the world; a giant spotlight sheds a lot more light than a mini flashlight!.
This week John Bevere talked about the groups of people we need to honor. We need to honor those in authority over us, our peers, and those under our authority. As he gave examples, I realized that I really have an Honor Problem - especially with those in authority over me.
As he gave examples from the Bible, several examples from my own life came to my awareness. Like making snappy comments about my husband, or complaining about my boss or previous boss (Even if I preface it with I like them as a person but.....), or talking about my previous pastor and his wife (OUCH - that one really hurt). While they may all have things to work on (And that is between them and God, and really has nothing to do with me), the lack of honor I had for their authority over me is MY PROBLEM!! And because it is my problem it could be hindering God answering my prayers - and I love to pray for others.
So I thank God that he brought this teaching into my life so that I could repent and change. Do I like it - Heck No! I liked living in my own justification of my wrong actions. I mean I knew it was wrong to talk about them, which I have been working on, but it doesn't change the dishonor in my heart.
I know that it will not be easy to humble myself and allow God to make this change in me. Crucifying my own thoughts and feelings, and learning to walk at a new level is going to hurt. I am glad that God revealed it to me at a time when I have an opening heart to receive His correction. I want to honor God, I want to honor others - I need to honor. Even though we are doing the DVD series, and I take good notes, I think this is one where I am going to have to buy the book and really study to let it sink in and bring about the change in my heart that I know God is calling me too.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
II Cor. 5:17 states that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
If Christ makes all things new, why do we so readily keep people tied to the chains of the past. Not only to thier own past, but we tie them to the sins of thier family for numbers of generations. We need to let go of the past and acknowledge the new creature when someone accepts Christ. We need to focus on thier new identity, instead of the old.
When we become Christians, we take on a new identity, a new certificate is issued that covers our past sins - it is covered in the blood Jesus shed on Calvary, our Father is God and He will never forsake us.
So many times I set out to help people attain what they need to attain, or what I think they need to attain. I think when they do this, when they do that - we will be better, they will be better, things will be okay. But Jesus, he loved people right where they were. He set a standard for the people around him, but he loved them despite of what they were.
If we want people to succeed, we need to love people where they are. We need to set a standard before them with our life. We need to love them to Jesus. The reason that we love - is because Love never fails. Love never fails because God is Love (I John 4:8) and God never fails.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Take for instance when Jesus learned that John the Baptist had been killed in Matthew 14. Jesus sought solitude (Verse 13). But he was followed by a multitude of people. It would have been easy for him to snap and say "Look, I am grieving, leave me alone. I need my space. Let me mourn in private." But in verse 14 we see that even though what He wanted was to be alone, and that He had other things on His mind, he allowed himself to be inconvenienced. When the people came to him. He had compassion and he healed them.
The disciples (verse 15) had a different take on the scene. They wanted Jesus to send the people away because there was no food. They felt it was inconvenient for the people to be there. As Christians we have allowed ourselves to respond as the disciples, we don't want to be inconvenienced by the problems of the multitudes. We want to fit it into our schedules, and preferably on Sunday morning after ten and before noon. We want the multitude to come to us.
The multitude didn't follow Christ to a church. They followed HIM - because he met their needs. He met them right where they were, right when they came to him. He was compassionate. We have to step out of what is convenient and begin to show people the compassion of Christ. We have to go to them. We have to meet them right where they are. We have to be ready to do what we can to help them right there and right then.
And when we can't meet the need, we have to follow the example laid before us. The disciples didn't think they could meet the need of the multitude. So they gave what they could to Christ. He took what they had. He blessed it. He gave it back to them and it multiplied. (verses 14 - 20)We must take what we have to offer (The one thing we all have - our life and everything we have and can do) and give it to Jesus. He will bless what we give (He always does when we give with the right attitude) and He will multiply it to meet the need. We just have to have the compassion for others to want to, instead of the convenience of selfishness.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I have been doing a verse by verse study in the book of Matthew - my goal is to go through the gospels and Acts. I am looking for what Christ told me to do (All Christians to do), what example he set. I have to say it has been pretty eye opening as I allow the Holy Spirit to help me understand and grow in my walk with Christ.
Well, I read that verse again, but I read it in the context of what it was written. Jesus had just rebuked Peter for telling Jesus that the things Jesus was predicting (his death) should not happen. Jesus said "Get the behind me Satan." Jesus knew what laid ahead of him, and as a man it was going to be a hard road to go, he certainly didn't need his friends telling him not to do it.
But right after Jesus makes this incredible statement. If you want to be my follower, deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me. Well certainly as a Christian I want to follow Christ, But his next statement, I believe he was telling to deny what we want just as he had and deny his"self."
Christ certainly had to deny his flesh in order to take our sins upon him - some men might die for their family, but I don't know to many who would die for an enemy (Maybe our military men and women). He had his friends saying "Don't do it." He knew what was coming. But instead, he denied himself. He knew what allowing himself that pleasure would do to the world he came to save - he loved us to much.
So as he stood before his accusers, he denied himself so that he could pay the penalty for my sin.Then he said "take up your cross." Something that my pastor said made this click. Jesus was the high priest but he was also the sacrificial Lamb. He not only offered the sacrifice (as the High Priest) - he was the sacrifice (as the Lamb). When he took up the cross he acted as both.
We also have to be a sacrifice. He doesn't want our body on a Cross - He wants our life fully sacrificed for his cause. He wants us to be willing to offer our life to him, and our life is to be a sacrifice as we deny our self and follow the path he took.He then said "And follow me." He didn't just say "Oh I will die for them." He did it.
So often we say "Oh I will sacrifice .... for Christ" But when push comes to shove, it is Him that gets set aside. We think the sacrifice costs too much. We won't put the action behind our words. Well Christ wants us to follow him - he died - just as he wants us to die to self. He rose again, and He promised to give us a new life for the one we gave up. We die so we can live in Him. He died so we could live with Him. So deny your self, take up your cross, and follow Him. Deny your self, sacrifice your self, and die to self and you will be able to live in Christ.