The Blessings of Affliction

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“It is not happy people who are thankful.  It is thankful people who are happy.”

What do you do during times of affliction?  Is it “woe is me”, “this isn’t fair”, “why would a loving God allow this to happen”?  The Lord already knows our beginning from our end.  “But He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold”. (Job 23:10)  He already knows our path!  He is, however, fully aware of our afflictions.  Since we are given free will the test comes with how we will respond when times are tough.  God would not get any glory out of making us His puppets.  It’s when we choose ourselves to respond to him, cling to him, and trust in him that his glory shines!

Take an ugly jagged rock.  On the outside it’s not much at all.  Frankly, what worth would this thing hold?  Put that ugly rock into an extreme heat of fire and out comes brilliant, smooth, valuable gold.  On the inside there is a brilliance and all it took was the refining fire to work and mold to expose the true value inside.  When affliction is upon us we are being refined by the heat and fire.  God is working on within us, smoothing and polishing us, and when we come out of hardship we will shine like gold!

Focusing on our obstacles distorts our vision.  Recall when the Israelites were sent by Moses and Aaron to check out the land the Lord was giving to them, the one flowing with “milk and honey”.  When the team came back to report on what they saw they focused on how strong the people were.  They would overtake them, there is no way they would conquer and inhabit that land!  (Num. 13:26-33)  After 40 years roaming the land and all of the provisions the Lord provided during their journey they still doubted.  Unfortunately, we do the same.  As many times we are blessed and lifted high we still doubt.  We continually rest on our own control and struggle to relinquish that over.  Do we really think that [in the end] we will have had full control?  God has already devised the plan for us to come out of it, do you trust Him to get you through it?

Jesus, your name alone holds power.  You say that all we need to do is ask in your will and it will be done.  Search us Lord.  Search our whole being and cleanse us from any unrighteousness.  Any fears we have are not from you.  You did not come to condemn us (John 3:17), but to save.  Save us from ourselves!  Our tongues are strong weapons, with it so quickly we can destroy somebody.  Let us use our words to lift others up.  Let us focus on those things that are pure and lovely and for giving praise.  We seek an attitude of gratitude as we walk in footsteps alongside yours.  Thank you for your leading and guiding, Jesus your name we pray… Bless & Amen.

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No Longer Do I Live, But That Christ Now Lives In Me

Your story.  Do you have one?  Of course we all do.  Some may have had a dramatic turn of events so vivid and poignant that it’s no hard question when they saw the light.  Others have always been somewhere around and in the faith but over the course of time slowly began to grasp the light.  Neither is the best experience nor is either right or wrong.  The determining factor is not how exciting your conversion was but how excited you are now about your conversion.  Amen?!

My story is fairly uneventful.  My faith journey has been a gradual process over many years.  Starting with a lot of wonder and testing the waters, but going back and forth between a new self and the old self.  Much of the beginning was focused on “doing things” the right way, by following “rules” and mimicking a certain “image” of what it meant to follow Christ.  We can still fall into these traps today!  We often establish our own set of values, which is wonderful for ourselves.  We have our own convictions based on our relationship with Christ. However, where we fall into danger is when we assume to apply those same values onto others.  What is right for us does not mean it should be right for everyone.  Please be careful when judging a friend.  Only the Lord God knows their heart, not you.  (Rom. 14: 13-23)

Also know that there are no manmade laws and rules for which will save us.  There is only One.  That we accept who Jesus is and what he did by dying on the cross to shed blood for our sins once and for all.  That is it!  All of those other rituals and devotions are great for keeping us in the Word and in the faith but they are not requirements for getting us into the Lord’s kingdom.  If we have accepted Jesus and have confessed to him we are immediately cleansed from unrighteousness and have a room in the kingdom of heaven.  We are forever marked and belong to the Almighty.

I used to be a very insecure individual.  Always doubting, never trusting, because I would place my hopes in other people.  I would mark my value based on earthly surroundings.  Whether people liked me or didn’t, what possessions I had acquired.  Pride becomes your root.  I had the sense of control over situations and my environment.  As my faith walk has grown I realize I do not have control at all.  I now trust that God guides and will lead me where He wants me to be.  I accept what comes my way and put my trust in Him, not others.  Know that people WILL fail you.  This is not a maybe or perhaps, it’s a promise.  (Psalm 146:3) The heart is deceptive.  (Jer. 17:9)  God will not.  He promises to never leave nor forsake us.  (Deut. 31:6)  And that brother/sister is something you can TRUST. Amen!

I can now accept that my testimony isn’t big and glamorous.  It’s exactly what you had in store for me.  You make me a member of the body of Christ.  Each one of us is a vital piece in the kingdom.  Together we make up the body.  There will be a day when our heavenly bodies will be made glorious in the image of Jesus. (Phil. 13:21)  Until then, we strive to become like Jesus on earth.  Our human flesh submits to God’s will.  We continually seek and knock and the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, guides us into a deeper understanding.  We no longer live, but you live in us.  For this we are forever grateful.  

Father God, I started this blog in hopes that these words find somebody who needs to read them.  They are not of me but of you working through me.  I myself don’t always know if it makes sense in writing but I pray that somebody needs to hear those words and “strike a cord” with them.  Thank you Lord for giving me the knowledge and courage to pour it out here.  To continue learning and growing about you until the day you call us back home into your kingdom.  Where we are true prince and princesses in your castle.  We are so excited!

Tuning In: Singing “Good Vibrations”

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“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Ps. 103: 11-12

The cross, going vertically up and horizontally across.  Our transgressions are all of the mess in the middle which was covered by the one true sacrifice, Jesus.  Picture it, hear the sounds, Jesus nailed to the cross… the pounding of the nails, the one true sacrifice, an unblemished lamb, taken to the slaughter to cover us. Us!  Our sins, past, present, and future already covered on that cross.  When the Lord looks upon us He sees His one and only son.  Jesus is our intercessor.  He is the “vine, you are the branches” John 15:5 We need only to remain in Him, He’s got us.

What does it mean for “as high as the heaves are above the earth”?  High, above… Ever notice the Psalms are written in praises and often “to the tune of”.  A tune, a frequency.  To tune in means to be on the same frequency, all on the same page, to be one, in unison.  When we are praising, lifting up our voices, we are one in the body together.  We are “tuning in”.  In reading of the Psalms, of praising the Lord, we are tuning our spirits.  Soaking in the praises and reflecting on them is putting us on the same vibration as heaven.  “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN”. Matt. 6:10  As it is in heaven, it’s already done in heaven!  I hope that resonates, that what is already created in the heavenlies comes down into this earth.  God’s will supersedes anything we think we have control over.

We were created for praise.  “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits”. Ps. 103:2  Praising gives life to our souls.  It’s life for our bodies.  Gratefulness and joy enter in.  Holy Spirit comes and feeds us.  We thirst for this.  When we don’t know what we are looking for, when confusion sets in and we don’t know where to turn, praise.  With a heart of gratitude praise your Father.  You will begin to sense a change inside.  Positive gratitude produces a chemical reaction that quite literally attaches itself to the cells in your body.  Pick that up!  Yesterday we talked about not picking up those burdensome rocks, not to weigh ourselves down.  Today, this my friends, you want to pick up!  Our spirit connects us to the Lord.  Music calls to us, we resonate with music.  Our vibrations go on a different plane, when we worship, music helps us tune into heaven.

Dear Jesus, we want to be in tune with you.  Tune us Lord.  Tune us into you and help us tune into the people that surround us.  To be of one body and one mind for you.  In unison we lift up our praises.  High above this earth is our Lord. We thank you for the knowledge and wisdom you provide.  Speak to us Lord Jesus, feed our souls.  Amen

Relationships: Turn Skepticism Into Prayer

Happy New Year 2016 all!!  Hip hip hooray it’s a new day!  I always tell people, “Every day is a second chance.”  A new beginning, a fresh start.  Isn’t it great?  Are we ready for a new year?  “According to the Lord’s word (thank you Father for your word)… we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.” – 1 Thes. 4:15.  Lord, if we are not yet asleep, I want to be alive for you!  Let’s start this year making it better than the last for He will not fail us, ever.

We are called to love.  Love God and love others as God loves us.  This is the greatest commandment.  If we are seeking obedience to God this is by far the first and foremost single key to our success.  So how do you do this?

God will acknowledge your willingness.  He knows your heart!  We can all learn a thing or two from the apostle Paul.  “Becoming all things to all people.” – 1 Cor. 9:22  Take a self evaluation for a moment.  How do you relate to others?  What are your thoughts when you look upon other people, those you know and don’t know?  As you go through your day and interact with the waitress at the restaurant or the attendant behind the gas station counter, bumping into carts at the grocery store, what goes through your mind?  When your eyes see what does your heart feel and your head tell you?  Hint:  Jesus did not shy away from sinners.  Keeping in flow of Paul’s advice, we too should not be shunning people we don’t agree with or push our legalistic viewpoints.  Instead, we ought to have compassion and extend grace to others.  In doing so they will be seeing our light and seeds will be planted.

Find common ground with people.  You can still listen without giving up your Christian values and beliefs.  Therefore, do not become discouraged (or worse yet) defensive with others. This does not show the light and does not help the world to know our God, Lord bless us.

So what about the “arrows that fly (at us) by day…” (emphasis added) – Ps. 91:5  Our focus is to be true to God and leave how others are/or how they treat us up to Him to judge and avenge.  Take Jesus’ yoke for the burden is light.  The heavy burdens we carry should be left in God’s hands, not ours.  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matt. 7:1-2  I like to ask people, “Is that a stone you want to pick up and put in your backpack?  Because all of those stones we pick up and keep are weighing us down.”  Burden.

Trust is tough.  I, too, am skeptical of my leaders.  Skeptical of others and their intentions.  Instead of worry turn your skepticism into prayer.  Pray for your leadership in making sound decisions for the people, the company, and the customers.  Let the Lord know you are struggling to trust and believe, then lift the burden up to Him.  Every person is imperfect and fallen.  Not one person is free of sin.  Nor is any one person on a pedastal  greater than another.  When we put our hope and focus into other people they will fail us because of these things.  Put your hope into the Lord, He will not fail you and His promises remain.

Kind David was known as a “man after God’s own heart”. – Acts 13:22  What do you want your epitaph to be?  What should people read about you in one sentence?  Perhaps there are thoughts, activities, actions that need to be removed, or what things need to be added in order for you to become a man or woman after God’s own heart?

Jesus, help us to become better people this new year.  We desire to love others as you have loved us.  As you have commanded us to doing.  We are imperfect sinners and we thank you for the grace given in advance for this.  The greatest gift of all is given to us who are most undeserving of it.  You will never fail us, and though we ask for things because we think we know what we need, you know us from beginning to end.  Like a father knows his child, you know us better than ourselves.  Let nothing stop with just us, but that the knowledge and light we gain continue through onto others for this is how the world will know who the true God of the universe is.  We pray to not give off a false impression of who you are Lord, keep us strong and steadfast.  ~Amen