Friday, July 30, 2010

The Importance of Being Centered

"But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God's love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life! Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven." Jude 1:20-23 (The Message)

God knew that we, if left to our own devices, could be easily swayed to the left or the right. But when are you the strongest? Right. When you are planted smack down in the middle--right in the center.

If you think about it, being centered has a very important play in life. What happens if a bookshelf isn't centered on it's nail? The books fall off. What happens if you don't have enough people placed in the center of your aluminum fishing boat? That's right. The boat will tilt and you could fall out.

Have you ever had to ride in the middle of the seat while riding in the car, with someone on either side of you, how did that feel? While the scenery may be a little better for the person on your left or your right, for safety reasons, I always felt safer. I felt that I was better protected. I would tell myself, if--heaven forbid, we were to have an accident--I would have a better chance of not being hurt.

Well, that is what it is like if you plant yourself right smack dab in the middle of your Heavenly Father's love. You would have the protection of His unwavering love, His undying devotion and His endless wisdom. Keeping yourself right smack dab in the center of His Holy Spirit--it's like the the taproot of a tall ancient Oak tree--not even the strongest winds could blow it over.

And please remember, just as the Lord does unto you, you are expected to do unto others. So, be gentle to others that may be a little unsure what this Christian walk is all about. Share the insights that your Heavenly Father has shared with you to keep others on the right path.

Because even when you have the wisdom of Solomon, the boldness of David, or the faith of Abraham, this thing called Christianity is sometimes a scary and mysterious journey. But with the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus on our side, we'll be just fine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nothing Less

"That's why the Lord Almighty said:
'Take a good, hard look at your life.

Think it over.'

Then God said:
'Here's what I want you to do:

Climb into the hills and cut some timber.
Bring it down and rebuild the Temple.

Do it just for me. Honor me.

You've had great ambitions for yourselves,
but nothing has come of it.

The little you have brought to my Temple
I've blown away—there was nothing to it.

'And why?' declares the Lord Almighty.
'Because while you've run around, caught up
with taking care of your own houses,
my Home is in ruins. That's why.'" Haggai 1:7-9 (The Message)

Do you see that the traps of today, seem to also have been traps during 520 B.C.? If you read these verses carefully, God is using the prophet Haggai to send the message to the people of that time that He is not going play second fiddle to anyone or anything. That He wanted their best--their first-rate--not their cast offs or their half-hearted attempts of honoring Him.

The same goes for today. Do you catch yourself thinking, "Oh, I'm going to be a little short this month so I'm going to give only a portion of my tithe this month."? "I really want to go to the lake today but I can't do my devotional time and go boating. Well, God will understand that I need to give up on our devotional time. I'll make it up to Him later."? "I really feel the need to pray, but I just don't have time. Well, O.K., I'll do it but I'll just have to rush it."?

Do any of these sound familiar? Have you thought of them or others close to it? Are you getting uncomfortable? Hitting too close to home?

God didn't want the Jews and Gentiles of that time half-heartedness--and He doesn't want ours today. Your God deserves 100% of you, your time and your devotion. Nothing less.

Sometimes people think that if they throw enough money in the offering plate on Sundays, that's all the Lord wants. Wrong! Yes, your Heavenly Father deserves your first fruits when it comes to your pocketbook--but He desires so much more. A personal relationship with you that is as important to you as it is to Him is what is the dearer to His heart. The first fruits of your heart, soul and mind is what He yearns for.

Can you give them to Him? He held nothing--nothing at all--back from you. It's only right that you give back nothing less than that to Him. Don't you think?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Godly Jealousy vs Human Jealousy

"I have been the Lord your God
ever since I brought you out of Egypt.
You must acknowledge no God but me,
for there is no other savior.

I took care of you in the wilderness,
in that dry and thirsty land.
But when you had eaten and were satisfied,
you became proud and forgot me." Hosea 13:4-6 NLT

Our God is an AWESOME God! Our God is also a jealous God. He freely admits that throughout the Bible. "What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is?" 1 Corinthians 10:22 NLT

Isn't jealousy bad? Isn't that one of the deadly sins that the Lord warns us about? These may be a couple of the questions you are asking. And you would be right.

Noah's International Dictionary defines jealous as: (a.) Disposed to suspect rivalry in matters of interest and affection; apprehensive regarding the motives of possible rivals, or the fidelity of friends; distrustful; having morbid fear of rivalry in love or preference given to another; painfully suspicious of the faithfulness of husband, wife, or lover.

Reading the above, there are two kinds of jealousy. A good kind--like the Lord has for us--and the bad kind--like the kind that makes people do, say or think bad things.

God's jealousy for us is derived from His total and complete love of us. He created us and sacrificed His one and only Son for us. He gave everything He had for us and our salvation. His jealousy has not one ounce of ill wish for us. Not one ounce of selfishness in it. Not one ounce of thinking, saying or doing anything evil to us. His jealousy is one that is wanting to protect us. Protect us from ourselves, from false gods and false teachings.

Paul writes, "I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super apostles” who teach such things. I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way." 2 Corinthians 11:1-6 NLT

Your God loves you so much, that in His love for you, He will jealousy guard and protect you from what Satan is trying to lead you away from--your salvation and your eternity with Him. And if you think about it, those of you that are parents, don't we do that with our kids? Why would our Heavenly Father be any different?

Just a word of caution--you must be very careful of your motives. It is only a thin line between Godly jealousy and human jealousy. Pray carefully over the feeling.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wish List

"This is what the Lord says:
'Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.

But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken!'" Jeremiah 9:23-24 NLT

There may be many times in which we wish that we were richer, or had more power, or were wiser. But if you think of it, if you have the Lord Jesus Christ in your life, don't you already have all those things?

If you and your Lord have a close "koinonia" (communion by intimate participation.) relationship, if you are in a living prayer life with Him, if you have a daily, meaningful Bible time with Him, if you surround yourself with friends that are healthy with their relationship with Him, then you have all those things.

So, let the world have what they have--but you keep what you have--do NOT trade! What you have in the Lord is so much more valuable than the wisdom, strength and riches of this world.

Please remember that one of the greatest truths is this--to truly know your Lord God intimately and understand without a doubt that He is your GOD!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What do You Treasure?

"He handed me the scroll and said, "Eat this and fill up on it." So I ate the scroll, and it tasted sweet as honey." Ezekiel 3:3 CEV

When you read this verse, what is your immediate thought? The picture that comes into your head?

In the Old Testament, they didn't have the Bible like we do today of course. But everything was written down on scrolls. God is telling Ezekiel to eat this scroll, and then, if you read on, in the next verse, God tells Ezekiel to go the house of Israel and "speak my words to them."

God is basically telling Ezekiel to fill himself with the word of God. To feed upon the words of the Lord God and then he will have the courage and the knowledge to be able to share the Word of God to those in his world, which at that time, was the Israelites.

The Words of God are sweet. They may seem bitter to us at times because of the way we live. The truths that are being revealed to us may be a little hard for us to swallow. The truths revealed may make us feel ashamed of what we are doing or not doing. Saying or not saying. Thinking or not thinking.

You will notice that whenever they refer to something as sweet, it is referred to 'as sweet as honey.' In Biblical days, they didn't have Sweet'n Low, Splenda, or just good ol' plain white sugar. They had honey. Honey was the sweetest thing that they could compare something to. Today, we have sugar coming out of our ears. But back then, honey was not easy to find or cheap. It was a commodity that was treasured.

So, when you think of that fact, does the verse take on a different light? Do you see that not only is God saying that His words are sweet and pleasant, but shouldn't they be treasured? Shouldn't you guard them with the same ferociousness that you would guard your most valued treasures in your treasure chest?

These days, everything is disposable--God's words aren't. God's words are the greatest of all treasures and they should be treated as such, don't you think?

How do you show them respect? By reverently reading them. Don't just skim over the words so that your conscience can say, "I did my Bible reading today. I'm good to go." Truly read the words. Savor each word. Mediate and pray on the meaning that your Lord wants to show you. Some days, you may just get a couple of verses done. That's wonderful!

Compare it to, let's say, a love letter. If you are sent a love letter, don't you read each and every word? You may even read it 3 or 4 times during the day. Then, when you are through with it, don't you put in a really safe place? Don't you think about the words during the day? Smiling occasionally--getting all warm and gushy inside?

Well, that is what the Bible is from your God to you. Treat it the same. And as you read, please remember to thank Him for this most beautiful and treasured love letter.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Size Doesn't Matter

"As long as I live,
while I have breath from God,
my lips will speak no evil,
and my tongue will speak no lies.
I will never concede that you are right;
I will defend my integrity until I die.
I will maintain my innocence without wavering.
My conscience is clear for as long as I live." Job 27:1-6 NLT

Job is speaking this to his friends that have been telling him that the reason that he has been having such tragedy in his life of late is because he must have had wickedness in his heart or had done something very wrong against His God and His God is punishing him.

Job is declaring his innocence. He is stating that he is not going to admit to doing something wrong in order to appease his 'friends', his counselors. He knows that he is right with his God and his conscience is cleared.

Have you been in that situation? You're with your friends heading into a restaurant and you find a $100 in the parking lot. They say, "You lucky dog. You should go ahead and keep it. You'll never find the true owner." What do you do? Money's been tight and that $100 would truly help the ends meet this month. And your friends are probably right--how would the restaurant find it's owner? The temptation is great--but ask yourself--what would Jesus do? Yup, Jesus would turn that money in. What happens to it isn't your business. What is your business is the condition of your conscience and the example that you are setting for your friends.

We are surrounded every day by little & big temptations that would affect our conscience, which in turn would affect our relationship with our Lord. But with the Lord, I don't think that there is big & little--big sin, little sin--size doesn't matter to Jesus. Sin is sin. Temptation is temptation. You just don't do it.

We are our own worst enemies at times. We want to please. We want to fit in with our 'crowd'. We want what we want. We want to please God but sometimes it's easier to give in to peer-pressure, self-pressure, world-pressure, than it is to stay strong in our God and lean on His strength and stand up for what is right.

Doing right isn't very often easy. Especially on your own. The secret? Jesus. Yes, Jesus is there just waiting for you to ask Him for help. For strength. For wisdom. How do you ask? By praying. How do you know? By being in His Word. And you need to surround yourself with accountability friends that are also strong in prayer and His Word.

Isn't that what Job did? Job knew his God so intimately, that he knew that he wasn't being punished. He knew that his conscience was clear. So he was strong enough to stay clear of temptation.

How's your conscience? Have you checked it lately? Humbly take it to Jesus and make it right. You'll be so blessed!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Good Medicine

"Shout praises to the LORD!
Shout the LORD's praises
in the highest heavens.

All of you angels,
and all who serve him above,
come and offer praise.

Sun and moon,
and all of you bright stars,
come and offer praise.

Highest heavens,
and the water
above the highest heavens, come and offer praise.

Let all things praise
the name of the LORD,
because they were created
at his command.

He made them to last forever,
and nothing can change
what he has done."
Psalm 148:1-6 CEV

Are you surrounded with sadness, sorrow, negativity, bad attitude? Sometimes when we get in these ruts, we need to adjust our focus--our heart.

Yes, there is so much stress and bad things happening that at times it's hard to look on the upper side of things. It feels like the Lord has deserted you. Like you've become invisible to Him. But He is there. Truly

Being a Christian and living a Christian life, doesn't magically make all the bad things go away and all the good things become yours exclusively. Being a Christian means that during the times that you are struggling, you know that you have your Heavenly Father there, helping you through it.

So, when you are going through hard times, when you are in a bad mood, when the world that you are in isn't exactly pleasant, read the above loving and peaceful verses--truly read them--they will bring you peace to your soul. Read them, line by line and then ponder on them a moment.

Ask your God to show your heart and spirit what He wants to teach you. Savor the meaning for a minute. By the time that you get through, the not pleasant world may still be there, but your outlook and the spirit in which you see it in, hopefully has changed 360%.

Your God may not be able to take you physically out of a situation, but He has given you the gift of His word to help you through it--please accept and open it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Soul Food

"You are always loyal
to your loyal people,
and you are faithful
to the faithful.

With all who are sincere,
you are sincere,
but you treat the unfaithful
as their deeds deserve.

You rescue the humble,
but you put down all
who are proud.

You, the LORD God,
keep my lamp burning
and turn darkness to light.

You help me defeat armies
and capture cities.

and your word is correct.
You are a shield for those
who run to you for help."
Psalm 18:25-30CEV

These are such a beautiful praise verses. If you get a chance, you should really read the whole chapter. It is filled with just wonderful words of praise, wisdom and thanksgiving. Some days, it does a soul good to just read chapters or verses like these so that your spirit is uplifted.

As you read these, a cool idea is to pray to the Lord to ask Him to embed the word, the phrase, the thought, that He desires you to carry in your heart and spirit today. Then pray that He shows you how He wants you to use it. Maybe you are to share it with a co-worker, a family member, a stranger or He just wants you to use it for yourself.

Your God so dearly loves you--wrap yourself in that knowledge today!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bragging Rights?

"If I have to "brag" about myself, I'll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus." 2 Corinthians 11:30 (The Message)

I'm struggling. I feel that the Lord brought this verse to me this morning and I'm not sure why. Maybe I shouldn't be so honest, but there it is.

The one thought that keeps coming to me though-- and maybe this is why we needed to see this verse today is this--that God uses us. He has faith and uses us to further His Kingdom.

But this is what I struggle with--how do you let Him use you and then share the glory of what happened without sounding that you are bragging? I don't want to be the center "me". My prayer of late is to please help me not to keep putting "me" in the center of everything. To take the self focus off of me.

As I've been pondering this, the Lord used a friend to give me some insight. It's not in the words of how you share the miracles, it's in the spirit of how you tell it. Does that make sense?

When God uses you to do something, great or small, if you are to share it, you need to put you in the place of the miracle that you need to be. That is obvious. But it is in what spirit that you share it that makes the difference between "bragging" and just sharing a wonderful God-moment that you were honored to be apart of.

Doesn't that sound so simple? I get it so wrapped up with all sorts of emotions that before I know it, I have a tangled mess of emotions in my hands. And while I sit there, all frustrated with this big ball of tangled mess, Jesus just gently comes over and picks up my ball and calmly unwinds everything and makes it right.

So, go ahead, share your miracles! Our God is an awesome God!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Gift of Grace

"Real love isn't our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other.

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is truly in our hearts.

God has given us his Spirit. That is how we know that we are one with him, just as he is one with us." 1 John 4:10-13 CEV

How do you see love? Is love to you what you see on the movie screens, the soap operas, the prime time evening television shows? Is it what you read about in those romance novels?

True love isn't any of those, as you can guess. True love is what our Heavenly Father did for us. True love is knowing a person's sin, and die for that person anyway. True love is when you don't even blink an eye when asked to protect this person. True love loves even when it is not returned.

The Bible are full of stories that are true love stories--and the greatest one being that of Jesus loving us to the point of sacrifice.

Can you love that way? Have you ever loved that way? Love to the point that all else fades away--that you instinctly and without thinking, sacrifice yourself or your own needs, desires--for the betterment of the one you love.

I truly enjoy how John starts this out--"real love isn't our love for God--But His love for us." You see, John knew that it is usually so easy to love someone if they love you. If that person was good and kind and pleasant to be around, yes, it is usually easy for you to love that person. But what about the person that isn't so nice? Isn't so pleasant? Isn't so good.? What then? Do you love them then?

That is when grace comes in. God, in His Graciousness, loves us in all the above unlovable times. Our God loves us even when we don't love ourselves.

Please remember, that salvation is God-given, God-driven, God-empowered--it is a gracious gift from God to you. It is not necessarily a gift from you to your Heavenly Father--even though when you come home and accept Him as your Lord and Savior, your Father is leaping for joy and happiness.

Grace was created by God and given to man as a gift to show His true love for you--all you have to do is graciously accept it and then past it on.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Power of a Sigh

"Give ear to my words, O LORD,
consider my sighing." Psalm 5:1 NIV

"Consider my sighing..." Those words captured my attention. Have you ever been in that place where you just couldn't put into words your feelings? The deep sorrow, a frustration or anger or discouragement, the overwhelming grief, the sense of loss, or just the unnamed feeling that you can't put a finger on?

I have been there. There are times that yes, even me, who never seems lost for words, because even if I am, I seem to keep talking anyways--have been there. And apparently, so has the psalmist, David.

Sometimes, words just don't cut it. Sometimes you can't always put into words what you are experiencing. Sometimes, just a mere sigh, a moment of silence, a look--can say a million words. And it's O.K.

Your Heavenly Father understands. Your Heavenly Father is so in tune with you that you don't have to speak everything--because in your silence, in your sighing, your groaning, your pleading look heavenwards--you are telling Him everything He needs to know.

So please, don't let those deep times keep you from "talking" to your God. Don't let the fact that you may not be able to put into words, you may not be able to voice what is going on inside of you and your spirit, keep you from getting on your knees and just being in His presence.

Maybe prayer is much more than a combination of the 26 letters of the alphabet. If you remember--your God did know you before you could speak. After all, He knitted you in your mother's womb.

"O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.

You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb." Psalm 139:1-2, 13 NLT

Just know--He knows & understands--that's enough.

Monday, July 5, 2010

First Things First

"My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:5-8 NASB

This is one of those beautiful reminders that God is ALWAYS there for us. He has designed our relationship to be one that has us needing to have a close and personal one with Him and He with us. He is always there, even if you feel that He isn't. He is always willing even if it seems that nothing is changing. He is always listening, even if you feel that you are not being heard.

Your Heavenly father is a father that wants to be active in your daily life, your every thought, your every hurt, your every feeling. He's there to protect you, not only from others and dangers, but more times than naught, from yourself. As you know, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. He can and will keep you on the path that He has designed for you but you need to do your part also.

What is that you have to do? It's pretty simple actually. Jesus Christ wants to have a personal, genuine, healthy relationship with you. He wants to know that you love and trust Him. He desires more than anything to be in 'koinonia' with you. What's koinonia you may be asking? It is a Greek word that means, "communion by intimate participation."

A koinania relationship with your Heavenly Father is achieved by: 1.) first and foremost, humbly confess you are a sinner and sincerely ask for forgiveness. Then ask Him into your life--to be the Lord of your life. 2.) Get into His word. You don't have to read the Bible in a day. That thought will overwhelm you. The important part is to just begin. Begin to read where ever it is that the Lord leads you. 3.) Pray, pray, pray. Praying can not ever be emphasized enough. It's your form of communication. And not only praying for wants and needs--but also remember to pray about praises and good things.

As a side note, another fun way to communicate is starting a prayer journal. It's a wonderful way to see, as you look back on your growth and path, how God has blessed you. You write down your prayer, and as the Lord answers it, then you write that down also.

Dear Child of His, just please remember that whether you have been saved for years, or just today, we need to always cherish this relationship and not take it for granted. We need to keep it nourished by giving it the attention it deserves.