Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best Intentions Or Best Effort

As this year closes, I started to ponder a question, "What did I do for the Lord this year?"  "Did I give my best intentions or my best effort?  Intentions can be completely pure as white snow but if there is no effort; it's meaningless desires.  Christ advised the disciples to "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41

For faith to function properly it has to be put to work.  Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. (James 2:17 NASB)  Without works our faith will have no ability to grow, reproduce, or exist.  Visions are important for they will bring clarity but faith brings it to reality.  Nehemiah had an enormous burden to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem; it wasn't a small vision.  Yet, Nehemiah didn't just envision the completion of the wall; he used his hands to complete it.  With either a sword or shovel he worked diligently with the resources, God's people, and focused on the task.

 "Instead, I devoted myself to the work of this wall.  All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land." Nehemiah 5:16

Although his enemies tried to attack his work with their wicked schemes; Nehemiah stayed devoted.  He stayed faithful at the task until it was completed.  He never left the work or the people for the honor due him.  So, how are you feeling about the year 2012? Did all your goals get accomplished?  If so, praise the Lord!  If not, praise the Lord!  Why?  The plans of God can't be stopped even if we were unfaithful in the journey.  "If we are unfaithful, he REMAINS faithful, for he cannot deny who he is." 2 Timothy 2:13  God's faithfulness will never end but it doesn't give us a reason to be lazy with His call.  We are to be faithful so we can produce fruit that will last.

I admit, some of my goals for 2012 didn't get complete.  Am I disappointed in myself?  Of course.  Yet, I will not allow disappointment to give birth to discouragement for it will prevent clarity to the road ahead.  We all will face disappointments or failures but we have to make an appointment to start over.  Satan longs for us to be discouraged, so we don't finish the race.  The finish line hasn't moved; it's always at the end of the race.  It will keep me focused to the end but perseverance will ensure I finish.  If regret is knocking at your door; it's time to answer with God's grace.  So, rekindle the vision until 2013 by brainstorming, write down ideas, seek godly counsel, and pray! Commit the ideas to the Lord, seek His face.  He will direct your steps to His perfect will; He will give success.  It's not impossible!  Faith and works must be married for the fruit of labor to grow. 

"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3

It's time to brush off disappointment, cast off past failures, and pick-up the tools.  Get back to work!  Time wasted is forever lost but time invested in eternity will last.  Whatever vision God has given; it comes with a wonderful guarantee-He never leaves us!



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Know This Love


If we have a distorted image of God, we will have a distorted image of ourselves.  If a person stands in front of a broken mirror, the image will not be clear.  All of the chips, cracks, and broken pieces will prevent the image to stand whole.  What are the chips, cracks, and broken pieces?  The chips are ungodly words spoken into our lives through family members or friends.  Abusive words spoken by a friend or family member will pierce right into the heart.  It attacks the center of our being causing us to question our existence or worth.  As the chips get punctured into the mirror, they form into cracks.  The cracks are the unhealthy words we believe about ourselves; whether they are spoken from others or ourselves.  Yet, it’s not just the cracks of unhealthy words causing a damaging effect to our image.  Although the chips and cracks play a part of our unhealthy image; it usual stems from the broken pieces of our lives.  It’s the broken pieces that tore apart our image, as they lay on the floor.   What are those broken pieces?  It’s usually horrible acts of violence taken from the innocent child or helpless person who couldn’t defend themselves.  It’s the topics we don’t want to share with others such as abuse whether verbal, physical or sexual.  It has taken our trust, our innocence, and distorted the image of ourselves.  As a child of an abusive alcoholic, I completely understand how the image of self can be distorted.  It’s very hard to comprehend how the person we love and trust can speak destructive lies about us.  Although I knew the words my father spoke were complete lies; it deeply hurt because it was MY father who said them.  Although I didn’t believe the words; they still distorted me because of his view about me.

   “We have to look at ourselves through the mirror of Christ.” “If we don’t look at ourselves through His reflection, we will never understand our worth.”  Karen Jantzi

     What started the road of healing for me?  The moment I understood, “Jesus loved me!”  Unwanted, abused, alone but JESUS LOVED ME!  He wanted me!

“So that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith.  And I pray that you, being ROOTED and ESTABLISHED in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to GRASP how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to KNOW THIS LOVE that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

 As I accepted the love of Christ, I started a journey to gain confidence, deliverance, and life.  Sadly, so many people understand the Gospel message but they never encountered the love of God.  It’s only we truly understand the love of God; we will not allow others to steal our worth.  Do you understand you are worthy of God’s love?  You are a precious treasure, you are gold!  If don’t believe you are gold or of great worth; you will allow others to tarnish your life or rob you of your beauty.
    God's love is secure; it can be trusted. Yet, if we don't rest in His love, we will never have peace, confidence, and joy.   At the cross Christ not only fulfilled the Father's mission; He displayed HIS HEART! YOU ARE WORTHY OF TRUE LOVE!

     All of those chips, cracks, and broken pieces can be healed to restore your image.  Jesus Christ came to heal the broken hearted and to bind up their wounds.  (Isaiah 61:1-3)  All of the broken pieces don’t have to ruin your life, there is healing in the love of Jesus Christ.  It’s only when we allow Christ’s love to heal, we can be made whole.  It isn’t an impossible! Your life can be changed if you allow His love to change you.  Understand healing begins the moment you GRASP His love personally but the journey will take time.  The past wounds have to be dwelt with or those wounds will turn into swords to destroy your future.  
    
     Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.  Love doesn't delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.~ I Corinthians 13:4-8

     
    

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Nose Hook of Sin


Sin is sin; it cost our Savior to die whether it was a white lie or murder.  What’s the greatest sin?  Does God have a scale to measure what is the greatest or least committed sin by mankind?  As I was reading Genesis recently; I was very surprised at a verse found in Genesis 6:6, “The Lord was grieved that he made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”  Have you ever thought of God’s heart filled with pain? It was hurt due to several issues: sons of God were marrying ungodly women, inclinations of the thoughts of heart were ONLY evil, and full of violence; and corrupted there ways. (Genesis 6:1-12)
What people do not understand is our thoughts are just as important as our actions.  Sin is birthed in the mind through our OWN evil desires.  James 1:14-15 records, “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  Sin destroys not only our relationship with God but with mankind; this is the truth of the commandments.  Yet, sadly it seems we desire to compare our sinful scars or validate ourselves since we haven’t committed someone else’s sinful act.      
    It’s only through the Word of God is sin defined.  “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers-and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.” (I Timothy 1:8-10)  Doesn't it sound like a rough crowd of people?
     Besides sin being defined by God; the Father sent the cure-His Son to die for ALL mankind.  Sin has been committed by all; no one is righteous. (Romans 3:23)  Yet, the penalty of sin has been paid for through the death of Christ.  It’s only through the death of Christ we can be made righteous before God. (Romans 5:19) If you are human, we all have been tempted by sin even our precious Savior was tempted. (Hebrews 4:15) Only Christ is the only one who was tempted in all ways but DIDN’T SIN.  He is our advocate, mediator and high priest who can sympathize with our weakness.  So, we don’t have to be afraid to approach him regardless of the dark deeds we have done, he just wants us to come.
     Although the Apostle Paul describes himself as “the chief of sinners”, scripture is full of some interesting characters who have committed some horrifying actions such as King Manasseh.  King Manasseh did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the evil practices of the nation. (2 Kings 21:2) What was so evil? Scripture records Manasseh committed the following: rebuilt the high places, erected altars to Baal, made an Asherah pole, he bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshipped them, built altars to the starry hosts in the Lord’s temple, sacrificed his OWN son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. (2 Kings 21:3-6)  Sadly, the list continues through the chapter by leading the children of Israel astray and his sins were GREATER than the Amorites.  God called out to Manasseh but he ignored His voice.  What was going to turn Manasseh’s heart?  Manasseh was pulled by a hook in his nose and shackles into the dungeon of his enemy. (2 Chronicles 33:11) Sin will capture your life with shackles pulling your soul into the chambers of Hell.  As the shackles weighed upon his life; it was leading him to his prison cell.  Was Manasseh getting righteous judgment by God?  Of course, the penalty of sin was to be paid.  God’s holiness will produce righteous judgment but the judgment issued comes from our choices. 
     What if King Manasseh entered our church doors?  How do you think we would respond?  Would we offer grace to this man; a man who murdered his child, committed idolater, and caused the downfall of a nation?  How great is Manasseh’s sin?  It is pretty great; there is no argument here.  Yet, there is something greater!  God’s amazing grace!  God’s grace covered all of Manasseh’s sin, restored his life, and his kingdom.  What captured the heart of God?  It was a heart with humility. (2 Chronicles 33:13)  He sought the favor of the Lord in his distress, truly repented by removing the evil he made, and followed God’s Word.  
The only way to get free from the nose hook of sin is humbly calling upon God.  If we truly are broken over our actions, turn away from our sinful life, and choose to follow Him; it's how repentance is defined.  We can't hide our sinful deeds from God but we can be set free from sin, the dreadful shame removed, and our life restored.  We don't have to walk in bondage to the chambers of destruction with the enemy having a hook to our nose.  Have you committed the same sins as King Manasseh?  Maybe so or maybe not but it doesn't matter what you did.  Christ came to redeem the vilest of all sinners who will call upon His name.  It's time to remove the chains of sin!  Christ died to set you free, so come to Him!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Everyday Matters Bible for Women

     As the mail sat upon my table for a few days, I kept ignoring the pile of bills awaiting my response.  Yet, as we all know bills have to be paid, so I walked over to the table to start sorting it.  When I picked up a small pile of bills, a key fell through the envelopes.  What was this key for?
     My best friend who was visiting me said, "I bet you got a package in the mail."  After she said that, I was puzzled who would send me a package?  Yet, as I thought about it I got so excited I grabbed the key and ran out the door in my purple leopard pajama's to my mailbox.  At night, I am running to the mailbox without my shoes to open this wonderful package.  Oh, I am sure I as a sight for sore eyes!  Yet, I admit I was worse then my own children at Christmas morning.

What was it?  It was a beautiful Bible designed for women.  Recently, I signed-up to review books by authors through Christian Women Affiliate.  So, I was very honored with the opportunity to read it.  After my children went to bed, I got nestled on the couch to explore it.  A warm smooth cup of my favorite coffee, my blanket, and the Word.  It was going to be a wonderful night.  As I opened the Bible with my mind "to review it", I got an unexpected surprise right to the heart from the Holy Spirit.  The Word of God is sharp; it will cut right to the heart.  My very first page was an article about the life of Sarah about faith and doubt called "Sarah: Laughing Her Way to Hope" by Carla Barnhill.  As I was reading it, I was not only convicted, a sobbing mess, but shocked how the Holy Spirit works in unexpected ways.  God's Word is powerful alone.  Yet, I loved the illustrations and applications used to bring God's Word tangible to everyday life.  So, I admit I personally got taste of "how it is applies."
     Besides the wonderful illustrations and applications, I admit the "nerd" inside me wanted to give it a test drive for all the tools for study.  All of the tools were very beneficial especially spiritual practices icons to aid someone who is new in the Christian faith.  Whatever issue of study, it was only a fingertip away of getting some very helpful guidance to disciple.  My only dissatisfaction with the this Bible was no concordance for further assistance.  Also, I enjoy highlighting or underlining key phrases or scriptures during my personal time with the Lord, I was hesitant since the pages seem so frail.
     Overall, I was quite impressed with my new Bible but it was short-lived because my daughter found it.  It was a real joy to see her excitement of getting her "own" Bible.  Also, she gave a young woman's perspective of the Bible, she loved the layout and cover.  She couldn't wait for my review to be done, so she could read it.  What mother would be disappointed at that?  So the Everyday Matters Bible for Women touches the heart of the young, the mature, and the nerdy who desire a closer walk with God.  If we can touch the younger generation, we can change it for God's glory.  As a Christian mother and licensed minister, I couldn't have asked for anything more.

I received a free copy of this book to review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.  I am part of the CWA Review Crew.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Press In To Press Onward


Excuses, intimidation, and fear are holding my feet firmly planted on the ground.  As the mountain stands in front of me, I can’t help but stare at it.  Regardless of where I turn, my mind can’t escape its presence.   How do I overcome this mountain? When I received this vision from God, I was very careful who I shared it with.  Nevertheless, we sometimes need godly counsel to direct us, so I spoke with my pastor.  What he shared with me wasn’t a profound mystery but it’s keep me on the path.   “Tina, it sounds like God gave you an elephant.”  At first, I was very startled by his comment.  Yet, he said, “Do you know how you defeat an elephant?”  I replied, “No, sir.”  “An elephant can only be defeated, one bite at a time.” 

Well, I admit this elephant wasn’t very tasty; he is causing me to stretch myself with each bite.  God’s call is a wonderful gift upon our lives’, so it should be cherished.  Nevertheless, the call will bring lessons from God.  All of the lessons are for our benefit to develop our character, our relationship with God, and to develop our leadership. When it seems as if the “elephant’s biting back” it’s time to listen to what the Spirit is saying.   If we don’t have a listening ear to God’s voice, we can’t be guided.  If we refuse to listen, God will use whatever is necessary to get our attention.   God desires for our lives to be fruitful, so He has to prune the dead ends for the vine to have a chance to grow.

Upon entering a conference for church planters, I was so excited to begin.  Excited to brainstorm, met new people, and develop plans to fulfill God’s call.  What an opportunity to grow and develop!  Oh, I recognized an area of personal development-my insecurity.  So, as the ugly monster stares me in the eyes I have a choice to either surrender or fight.  We can’t overcome a weakness; if we don’t recognize it.  Recognize what is your weakness but don’t allow it be your complete focus.  If you only focus on your weakness, you will never exercise your strengths.  Although my weakness may not match yours; it doesn’t mean we don’t face them.  Giants will come into your life to speak defeat, fear, and taunt your faith. The only way to defeat the giant is RESTING in who God is, meditate on God's past victories in your life, and attack the giant. Once the giant is hit with God's power, he will fall. Yet, we have to cut off his voice; it's time to remember to WHOM we belong.

What is your weakness?  What are your strengths?  Realize Satan wants to minimize your worth, God wants to maximize it.  As the conference continued I realized how intimated I was to share my ideas, overwhelmed with the responsibilities, and wondering if I could complete this vision.  During those difficult moments the Holy Spirit keep saying, “Press Into Me”.  Also, this passage of scripture keep coming into my mind, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

If we are to finish the race, we have to persevere to inherit the promise.  “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Hebrews 10:38 All of this pain doesn't come without a price; it will stretch us.  God will reward us for our faithfulness, He sees our hard work and dedication.  A harvest is promised if we don't give up.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 

We will never know the power of victory if we never face adversity, weakness, or trials.  Adversity builds our faith, weakness builds our trust, and trials build our character, so they are completing the work of Christ.  Whatever we face, we don’t face it alone.  Run to the Rock!  “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

If we are to complete God’s call upon our lives, we have to press in to Christ to press onward.  Weakness is no excuse, inadequacies have no place, and fear can’t prevent a heart fixed on Christ.  Fix your eyes on Christ, so the weakness can’t trip you.  Even if it does trip us, Christ will carry us.  Yet, whatever is causing us to trip, we need to leave it behind.  We can't reach forward if we are tangled up with sin or anything causing us to lose focus.  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rescuing Dreams



As I boarded the plane to leave Alaska; I was so renewed in my heart and spirit.  Besides being with my best friends from college, I would never forget my encounter with God.  Without my family being present on this trip, I was on a mission to hear from God.  Through the encouragement of my husband, I had a complete week without having to chase three toddlers, my job, and household responsibilities.  I admit, I was concerned if my husband could handle all of this without me.  Yet, he knew I desperately need to hear from God. 
 


Before my best friends called, I was deeply hurt from a pastor who offered me a position.  Without confronting me or advising of his decision to look for another youth pastor, he announced to the church, “We are taking resumes.” It hurt very deep.  Questions, anger, and doubt overwhelmed me about the whole situation.  Did God call me into ministry?  Why did I move to Florida?  Did I hear God at all?  Or did I fail God?  It was a pivotal moment; I was questioning God’s call.  Besides questioning the call, I was wrestling with a broken heart.  Nothing would quench my soul except the presence of God; I need to be with Him.  As I wept in His presence, I couldn’t speak.  If I spoke, the words were few, far, and between.  Although my heart was at peace; my questions were not answered. 
Shortly after praying the phone rang, it was my best friend who was used to bring God’s truth to my life.  Besides being delighted to hear from my best friend, our conversation was about life, ministry, and my calling.  As he spoke into my life, God was confirming the truth of what I asked.  Yet as the hurt emerged within, I wouldn’t accept it.  After the phone call I wasn’t sure how to feel, so I talked to my husband.  My husband wasn’t only thrilled with idea; he was ready to pack his bags.  Still I wasn’t convinced about this opportunity.  A few weeks later, our best friends called to advise me I was flying to Alaska to discuss it.  So, I went to discuss future plans but I was very desperate to hear from God.  When we are desperate, willing to listen, and available to God, He will speak.  Not only did God speak to my broken heart, He healed my soul. 
 As I walked unto the plane, my countenance was completely changed.  I couldn’t wait to fly home to share what God did.  Nevertheless, God wasn’t done with me.  As I started to journal about my trip, God interrupted me with a vision.  Overjoyed with all of the plans, I wrote with eagerness and excitement.  If it wasn’t for the captain’s announcement, “We are now arriving in Tampa,” I wouldn’t believe I spent thirteen hours writing.  When I arrived home I was renewed, empowered, and focused for our future.
 After sharing this vision with my husband, we accepted God’s direction for our future.  However, I was starting to feel overwhelmed with this vision.  How could I do this?  Where do I begin?  Who was I?  After accepting the call; we instantly got thrown into the fire.  Satan decided to test our hearts severely with physical and financial issues.  It was the darkest period of my life but the vision kept my heart alive. 
As the embers of the vision burned, I was waiting for God’s timing.  Upon a Wednesday night service, the vision would capture my life again.  A wonderful missionary couple came to share their vision with us.  Besides sharing their vision, it awakened mine.  While the couple shared their heart for Alaska, I was taken back to the plane ride.  As he preached his message “Rescuing Dreams,” with us I couldn’t stop crying.  If God wanted to paint a bull’s eye upon my forehead, He did.  As the missionary shared his message, God brought unquestionable confirmation upon my heart. 
 
Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
So, if you are wondering if God’s vision is real?  His message brought some wonderful truth; I want to share with you.
1.        Every dream of God is bigger than you.
2.       You can let it go but it will not let go of you.
3.       Willing to sacrifice for it.
4.       Last forever (It involves people)
5.       It meets a need that nobody else is doing
When we receive God’s call; it’s not only a wonderful blessing it’s a daily sacrifice of our wills.  For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)  If we feel uncertain about it; God will confirm it.  Like Samuel, God may have to repeat our name or the call until we recognize His voice.  Or we could feel as Moses, completely incapable of the task.  God’s call is a precious gift, it’s our personal assignment.  So, cherish it deeply but don’t be afraid to walk towards it.  Although we may feel unsure, God will direct our steps.  We just have to be ready, willing, and able to follow His voice. 
 
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8



   

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Master of Your Soul

Although my grandmother was a magnificent cook, I never took lessons from her.  She was completely famous in my hometown for her meals; she worked several restaurants throughout her life.  Besides cooking for the town, she was married for nearly fifty years with eight children to feed.  So, it wasn’t only mouth-watering meals she served; it was with a speed of light.  How could she make a meal so fast?  Her secret is deep within the grave; I will never have the opportunity to learn from the master.  All I have left is precious memories, two of her famous recipes, and regret.  What I could have learned! When my husband proposed to me, I could only cook spaghetti.  We couldn’t live on love and only spaghetti, so I shared our dilemma.  My husband responded, “Honey, can you read a book?”  “Of course, I can.”  I replied.  “So, I guess you will learn how to cook.” He said.  As I grabbed a Betty Crocker cookbook, my precious husband would taste some “magnificent” meals.  God was very gracious to him; he survived my early dishes.  Now he teases me, “You can make me any meal from scratch but not a box of mac and cheese.”  If I only learned from the master; instead I had to teach myself.  Cooking or baking has truly become one of my favorite hobbies but it’s also a vital necessity to survive.  Beside my daily survival; my family depends upon me to feed them. 
 
Yet, how important is it to feed our soul?  Besides feeding our soul; we are to invest in the lives of others.  So, why does the church seem to miss this?  Is it the lack of nourishment?  Or is it the lack of hunger?  Our source of nourishment can only be found in Christ; He is the only one WHO holds eternal life.  Outside of Christ, we have no salvation.  As Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 (KJV) God’s Word is sufficient to guide, guard, and satisfy our souls.  It’s not lacking in the ability to sustain us.  We have to open our mouth, so we can receive.  If we are truly hungry, God will supply the substance.  “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.  OPEN WIDE your mouth and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10) As this passage states, God provided for Israel’s deliverance but He also wanted to sustain them completely.  It’s not about God’s ability to nourish us; He is completely ready, willing, and able to supply. 

What’s very troublesome to me is the lack of personal study or growth for Christians.  Sadly, so many rely on getting nourishment from the pulpits on Sunday’s and Wednesdays.   Yet, the Word of God isn’t study on a daily basis.  Not only is this depleting one’s spiritual growth; we are opening ourselves to be deceived.  If we don’t know the Word, we can’t stand upon it.  Besides standing upon it; we can’t stand firm when the enemy attacks.  Understandable, it’s vital to get the preaching and teaching of the Word but it doesn’t mean we don’t personal study ourselves.  Our relationship with Christ is a PERSONAL relationship, so it has to be developed through our involvement.  Yet, if you are a new Christian, I would strongly encourage you to have the support a discipleship class or through accountability with a strong believer.  As questions arise new Christian needs someone to nurture their soul and guide them.  We are to “make disciples” so they can follow Christ.   Elijah invested in Elisha, Moses invested in Joshua, Christ invested in the disciples, so it’s a scriptural principle to be followed. When our Savior called the disciples to follow Him, He was investing in their lives.  Christ didn’t just dine with the disciples for one meal, teach one lesson, and leave them.  It was a daily opportunity to teach, develop, allow questions, and personally being involved in the ministry of Christ.  So, if Christ took such a personal involvement, we must do the same; it’s the commission we have been given. (Mark 16:15-18) 
On this earth, we have to daily nourish our bodies to make it productive.  Likewise, we need to daily nourish our souls, so we are productive.  Christ said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)   At this moment, how is your personal time with God?  Is it out of duty or a delight?  If it’s out of duty, we miss the opportunity of the relationship.  It’s a loving relationship draw with desire, transformed with intimacy, and sustained with love.  It’s what He wants.  We can’t rely upon our feelings; so we must be faithful.  We will not always “feel” like praying.  Sometimes, we will feel as if our prayers don’t pass the ceiling.  During those moments, I encourage you not to give up!  If you desire God; He desires you more. 

When the Word of God is our DELIGHT
we will be fruitful.  (Psalm 1:2-3)  Our hunger for God will be satisfied but it should also be longing to go deeper; we should desire growth.  We can’t live off yesterday’s meals; we need to prepare to receive our daily bread.  God provided manna in the desert, so the Israelites could finish the journey.  Christ is the bread of life; He longs to feed our souls.  If He truly is the master of our souls; we will long to be taught by Him.  We can either be Mary or Martha; whatever is mastering our devotion will be mastering our lives.  It's time to learn from our Master; He has so many wonderful truths to teach us.  If you are hunger; He will fill us.

    

Friday, August 31, 2012

Grace Is Greater


It’s not always easy to look up; guilt has the ability to weigh your heart.  It weigh’s the heart with questions, doubts of one’s worth, and shame.  As your mind re-plays the event over and over; it seems the guilt is permanent.  Although the day is filled with activities; no joy is present and peace seems to be a distant memory.  Although life is performing; living is dead.  Hope seems to be fading; as the hours pass until grace arrives. 
God's grace is GREATER than our sins even if we feel as Paul who claimed to be the “chief of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)  If Paul was the worst sinner; Christ still redeemed him to fulfill His purpose.  Grace redeemed the chief of sinners to display his unlimited patience to us. (1 Timothy 1:16)  Paul was an example of Christ’s redemption, His power displayed before the world. 
“We must allow sin to wound us; so we know the cut it loves.” David Arnold
 
Our lives don’t have to be filled with a track record of guilt; grace and mercy can wipe it clean.  Guilt is important; it causes to recognize our wrong.  Besides recognizing our wrong; we realize we offended God.  Guilt must be felt for repentance to occur but we must understand the difference between guilt and condemnation.  What is the definition of guilt?  According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Guilt is defined as the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty; broadly.” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/guilt)  Condemnation is defined as “the act of judicially condemning.” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/condemnation)

The mission of Christ wasn’t condemnation; it was redemption for all who believe.  Believing in Christ removes us from condemnation; it’s only those who don’t stands condemned.  “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:17) 
So, we must understand we all have violated God’s law.  No one is exempt, we all have sinned.   (Romans 3:23) Besides recognizing our penatly, we need to be sorrowful. "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter." (2 Corinthians 7:10-11) Yet, we don’t have to live with guilt or shame.  If we truly want to be cleansed from our sins, we have to come to Christ.  Christ doesn’t want to condemn anyone; He took our penalty.  (Galatians 3:13) We can only be justified freely by His grace through the redemption of Christ. (Romans 3:24) 
Grace arrived at the cross; it paid the penalty for sin completely.  If we are truly sorrow for our sins; we must repent for them.  Repentance admits the wrong, admits their need of help, and turns from it.   Grace erases all sin, sees the need, and strengths the feeble one to stand.  So, guilt doesn’t have to be upon your heart; grace and mercy can cover it.
It’s just time to come to Christ who is willing to forgive us our sins; if we confess them.  “If we confess our sins, he is FAITHFUL and JUST and will FORGIVE us our sins and PURIFY us from all unrighteouness.” (I John 1:9)  Love covers a multitude of sin.  Regardless of your past mistakes; Christ will give you a future.  A heart truly repent will never be denied access to God.  God has never seen someone He didn’t love or desire a relationship with.  Our Father sent His Son to die for the WHOLE world, so that includes you. (John 3:16) It’s not impossible, He made it available.  So, it’s time to lay down the guilt for exchange of a new life.  Guilt doesn’t have to rob your life; grace wants to give a new one.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

With All My Heart

 Our heart is what God is after, a completely devoted heart.  Our loving devotion will be tested on this earth, no one is exempt.  It’s through the tests our hearts reveal our character, what we really believe, and our devotion to God.  In this life, we are either preparing for a test, going through a test, or finishing a test.  It’s one of the seasons of life we will encounter.  Under Heaven, there is a season for all. 

Often I reflect on the children of Israel who had an interesting journey with God.  Yet, the journey revealed the center of Israel’s heart with each step.  The journey to the Promised Land wasn’t a test of God’s character or His Word; it was a test of devotion to God.  Sadly the adventure wasn’t a short journey; forty years of traveling to one destination.  Oh, I could hear my children!  “Are we there yet?”  Keep in mind, Israel didn’t fail all of tests but they seemed to fall short on the same issue: a heart of devotion.  Who truly owned their heart?
It’s not easy to allow our hearts to be searched by the Holy Spirit.  Yet, it’s only when we allow the Holy Spirit to search it, we can be led.  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)  We can’t be lead to a pure life if we don’t allow God to search us.  Sin holds us back; grace lifts us up.  Yet, sin isn’t always the issue; it’s a test of obedience to what God requests.  Who went through such a test, our father in the faith, Abraham. (Genesis 22:1) 

Nothing should ever take our devotion from God.  It’s not only what God longs for, it’s what He deserves.  Yet, it’s through the test, we learn our true heart.  Isaac was a promise from God, a precious promise Abraham waited for.  Abraham wasn’t a young man during the time of Isaac’s birth; he was about a hundred years old. (Romans 4:19)  Abraham didn’t weaken his faith although the circumstances stood against him. (Romans 4:9)  During the waiting period Sarah did become impatient, so she told Abraham to sleep with her handmade, Hagar.  Although he failed this test, it didn’t prevent from God’s promise prevailing. 
When God asked Abraham to take his son to the region of Moriah, he didn’t question Him.  Yet, as the scripture is read (Genesis 22:1-14) it doesn’t make sense, why is God giving such a strange request?  Isaac was the promised child, so why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice him?  God was testing him. (Genesis 22:1) Abraham’s love for Isaac was obvious; it was his only son who he loved dearly.  Could Abraham possibly love Isaac too much?  Maybe, scripture doesn’t say.  Yet, it was a test of obedience to God’s request.  As Isaac carries the wood upon his back, Abraham prepares the decision.  Abraham carries not the wood but the objects to make the sacrifice complete: the fire and the knife. (Genesis 22:6)
A sacrifice doesn’t come without death and being consumed by fire.  At the altar we have to die to the will of Christ and become completely consumed by it.  The altar isn’t a monument of a sacrifice it’s where I learn to become one.  We can’t receive the riches of Christ without their being a sacrifice.  Yet, it’s only when we learn to sacrifice; we learn how to worship God.  "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1)  Nothing can separate us from God’s love but if someone or anything stands between our devotion to God; it’s idolatry.  It may not be an idol we are worshipping but if we treasure it more than God, we are not devoted with ALL our heart.  Whether it’s family, money, getting a career, or ministry nothing should keep us from a heart of devotion to God.  All of these desires are not sinful but it’s can’t be the center of our lives, it has to be God.  If God's not the center of your heart it will cause an uneasiness in your life; no rest.  God will not settle for second best; He will only settle for complete devotion of our whole heart.



      

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Written On the Capsule of My Heart

                                                                               
 Above my desk, I have a cork board of promises.  All of the promises are scriptures, confirmations, and dreams spoke from God about my life.  It’s a daily reminder of God’s spoken promise to me.  It wasn’t spoken through the mouth of man; it was spoken directly to my heart from God.  As each promise was spoken into my life; I have written it upon the capsule of my heart.  Deep within my soul I hold tightly to those precious promises; only shared with a select few.  Yet, the promises are held within the hand of God to fulfill them.  As the sparkle in my eyes eagerly awaits the fulfillment; God’s preparing my life for it.  As each day dawns, my life is challenged to grow for God’s call.  All of preparation comes through trials and tests, lessons of my past, continued prayer, and education from different seasons of my life.  All of seasons hold different lessons to prepare me; each one molds the dream to reality. 

     When I am too weak to fight the good fight of faith, God reminds me who I belong to.  When I walk in the midst of trouble, I can still have peace.  I can’t escape Him because the love of my devotion runs deep, the cross keeps me anchored.   The promises of God will be fulfilled because He spoke them.  I can’t force the promise to appear, God’s timing produces the blessings.  God never disappoints us; He will never fail us.  Our best intentions is what God has for us, it’s one of the beautiful benefits of belonging to God.  
Often we get impatient for God to move within our lives, we don’t see the evidence of our faith.  It’s during the waiting periods; we learn to trust God with the outcome.  We can’t have a harvest without a seed planted or tending to the field, it does require our actions.  Our faith contributes to the outcome but we can’t force the seed to grow.   When we have done our part; we have to trust God with His.  The walk of faith starts with a relationship with God but it’s nurtured through love and trust.   The experiences of life will eventually test our faith but God will bring loving assurances to protect it.  When we are tested; we must be faithful.  We can’t stop being faithful because of the length of the trial or the period of waiting.  Our faithfulness will declare our devotion, so God will entrust us with more.  Faithfulness produces the reality of dreams but the timeframe belongs to God.  God’s dreams for your life will be fulfilled; that’s a guarantee.   It’s time to write it down upon a tablet to hold unto.  

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.  For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not be proven false.  Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” ~Habakkuk 2:2-3

Also, meditate upon those moments to build your faith of God’s promise.  Carefully listen to Gods’ voice to guide your steps, realize life’s difficulties produce opportunities for growth, and faithfulness produces blessings.   

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” ~Psalm 32:8

 Recognize there is a cost for God’s dream, a person cost.  It’s a cost of sacrifice, being misunderstood, trial’s to falter your faith, and even persecution possibly from family.  The journey of life will prepare you for the dream but your faith in God will fulfill it.  Although his dream saved the lives of Israelites; his dream came with a price.  Although he was deeply loved by his father, he questioned and rebuked his dream.  Out of jealous for their father’s love and his dreams, his own brothers sold him into slavery.  As he entered the home of Pharaoh’s officials, the Lord granted him success.  Yet, the enemy tempted Joseph’s commitment to God through Potiphar’s wife.  Although he did nothing wrong; he went to prison.  Joseph was favored with the prison warden who gave him certain responsibilities for the jail.  Each experience brought Joseph opportunity to be faithful, so he was granted favor with God and man.  Although the prison doors held his life; it didn’t stop the preparation or withhold opportunity to be used. 

     As the story of Joseph’s life unfolds in scripture, it’s not an easy journey.  All of the obstacles didn’t prevent the fulfillment; it prepared him.  Only in the capsule of his heart could Joseph hold unto the promise, God’s promise.  A dream spoken into his life at the age of seventeen; it wasn’t fulfilled until he was a man.  As the dream started his life’s journey; the understanding came from a personal relationship with God.  What brought Joseph out of jail?  It wasn’t the dream but the ability to interpret dreams, a gift from hearing God’s voice. 

     Joseph had to develop his relationship with God; it’s what brought his deliverance.  So, remain faithful in your devotion to God.  Our God never sleeps or ignores the details of our lives; He is acquainted with them all.

“Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand, and my reward is with my God."~Isaiah 49:4

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Light Amidst the Darkness

Life can’t have any hope unless there is a light amidst the darkness.  The spirit of darkness quietly lurks upon the earth seeking to devour souls; his appetite is craving destruction.  As he walks amidst a world of darkness; no one is alarmed of his mission.  As he walks, his lips crave for his appetite to be quenched.  Blindness or distortion of the truth holds the broken, hopeless, to stand against his power.  It’s only the Father of Lights, he fears.  Satan fears the Father of Lights for He will expose his deeds of darkness.  Besides exposing his mission; it will expose the bondage of man.  If a man craves wicked deeds; he loves the darkness. (John 3:19)

 As children of God, we are the light of the world.  “You are the light of the world.  A city upon a hill can’t be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)   As the city stands upon the hill; the visibility is apparent for all to see.  As children of the light, we are separated from the deeds of darkness.  We are called out of darkness into his marvelous light; it’s why we are a royal priesthood. (I Peter 2:9)  Our good deeds are not to be parade or shouted upon the earth but it should be a reflection of who we follow.  If our lives are truly changed, we will bear the fruit.  “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of the light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:8-11)

Light will draw the hearts of the captive; it’s a natural element.  Light can’t be hidden; no matter what covers it.  If one tries to cover the light, it will be burned or cause the light to go out.  Yet, amidst this dark hour, a question is plaguing my heart about how effective is our light?  Either the church is truly reflecting the light or the light is burning out.  A smoldering wick God doesn’t want to snuff out, He longs to ignite it. 


“Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14)

Darkness covered the hearts of man, so the Father sent the Light.  Jesus is the Light, so He is the final verdict of what our hearts reveal. (John 3:19)  Regardless of how powerful the darkness; it doesn’t mean we can’t impact it or make a stand.  We must be careful how we live so we can get the opportunity to share the truth.  Be very careful, then how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)  As the hour of our Lord comes; we must be prepared to shine awaiting His return.  We can’t shine the light without oil?  So, how’s your lamp?  Is it filled ready to shine for the love of the Bridegroom?  The bridegroom will come upon the hour we least expect; so don’t be caught asleep.  Is your lamp burning?  If not, it’s time to get filled and ignited to burn. 

Daily we make a choice to life for good or evil, our lives make a contribution to the world we live. Evil will always bring destruction to the lives around us but the light brings restoration.   As the heart is drawn into Christ, he will transform it.  As it's transformed He will bring hope, comfort, and peace.  God is good; nothing will ever change this truth. Man's heart can only be changed by God; He is there only hope.  Yet, if no light is shown, darkness will evade the land.  Its only when our light shines can other’s find direction.  Sadly, so many people search for the purpose of life; they walk aimless in darkness.  Without hope, completely empty, and alone darkness can rule.  Light exposes the deeds of the world, brings shame of wickedness, and reveals nakedness.  (Ephesians 5:11-13)  Shame comes as evil is exposed but the cure is Christ.  Christ doesn’t desire for mankind to walk in shame; He desires for them to walk in light of his fellowship. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son, purifies us from all sin. (I John 1:7)

 If we truly have fellowship with Christ; it will show.  It doesn’t mean we never preach the Gospel; it’s evidence we belong.  Darkness desires to cover our land; it’s only when we reflect the Son, his power is diminished.  Recently, we have seen the destruction of evil upon our land; it doesn’t mean we remain silent.  It’s time to stand against the darkness, reflect the love of Christ, and ignite this land again.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Soul in Lo Debar

Kindness not only opens the heart of a person; it opens the door for Christ to be revealed.  We are called to be the light of the world; so kindness is the glow to reflect it.  If we desire to fulfill the mission of Christ, we must understand the condition of people.   In Mark 2:17 Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus was being criticized for eating and teaching to the “sinners” and tax collectors.  According to the religious leaders, He was sitting with the outcast who held no importance or value to society.  Our Savior came to the broken, outcast, and oppressed to offer salvation, healing, and hope.  With so many uncertainties, financial pressures, and worries people are broken hearted.  A broken heart can be mended with gentleness, with genuine concern, and God’s grace.  Some people will lash back with their hurt; their pain is very deep.  Whether it was their choices or the choices caused by others, everyone hurts.  Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”  So, when the broken hearted speak; their words will cut.  We must be prepared for their hurt to erupt and offer assistance to help.

Mephiboseth was a man who was crippled in both feet due to a tragic accident.  When his father and grandfather died, (2 Samuel 4:4) Mephibosheth’s nurse feared for his life so she picked him up and fled.  While running with the child, she fell.  When she fell, it injured the child causing him to be crippled.  Besides the injury upon his body; his family dynasty collapsed.  When King David took the throne, he could have destroyed the whole dynasty of Saul.  According to custom of the time period, it wouldn’t have been uncommon.  Besides this custom, David could have attacked Saul’s family out of vengeance.  Yet, David made an oath with Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father to show kindness to his family.  (1 Samuel 20:15)  David searches for someone to show kindness to Jonathan’s family. (2 Samuel 9:1) 

    Mephibosheth lives in exile due to fear of the king, he lives in Lo Debar.  Lo Debar means “no pasture” or “wasteland”, so he lived with no hope.  If you are summoned to the king’s house, wouldn’t you be afraid?  As Mephibosheth bows before the king to show his respect, David expresses his desire TO RESTORE him.  Yet, Mephibosheth questions why would you notice a dead dog?  All of the scars upon his life caused Mephibosheth to doubt his worth.  Yet, Mephibosheth (his name means shame destroyer/image breaker) was about to be restored with land and honor.  All of the land of Saul would be restored, servants would assist him, and he would eat at the king’s table.  He didn’t just eat at the table; he was treated as the king’s son.   As Christian’s we need to show kindness to all of the “Mephibosheth’s” of this world, so they can be restored.  Our Father desires to restore their identity, their lives, and spend eternity with them.  The banquet table is prepared; we are to invite them.  Although everyone will not accept this opportunity; all are invited.  If they accept the invitation, we need to provide the assistance to restore their life.  No matter what it costs the church, we need to bring them to the table, so they can enjoy the delicacies of God.