Rooted In God’s Love

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19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
— Ephesians 3:19 NLT
God is love and everything that we experience is designed to show us His love.  In the rough patches, we don’t feel that that statement is true because we don’t and never will understand the greatness of His love.  God wants us to strive to get to the point that we realize His only motivation is His love for us.  He wants us to be like Christ whose only motivation for dying on the cross for our sins was love.  Not every lesson we learn will be enjoyable.  I am sure that being persecuted, beaten and hung on a cross was not an enjoyable experience for Jesus but it was necessary to show God’s marvelous love for us.  Learning to love the “unlovable” and those that mistreat us is a necessary lesson, not only for our completeness but to show others the immeasurable love of God.  Jesus showed His love for us by giving His life for all of us while we were still sinners.  We must show that same kind of love to those around us each day.  As Paul says in the passage above (and I paraphrase) God places the Holy Spirit in our hearts and our roots must grow down into God’s love which will enable us to show that love in every situation.
Post 09-29-2016

The Desires of Our Hearts – Part 2

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14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.  — 1 John 5:14, 15 NLT
I believe God has obligated Himself to answer every prayer that a Christian prays.  I also believe that He does answer every prayer in one of four ways: Yes, No, Wait or gives a completely different answer than we expected and we don’t recognize the event(s) as the answer.  It would be foolish to think that God would give a positive answer to any request that required Him to violate His own Word or to give us something that would not be the best for us.  Just as parents, we realize that our kids often ask for things that aren’t good for them and we have to say “no”,  how much better does our heavenly Father understand and know what is best for us.  His great love for us requires Him to only give us His best.  The words we use or the format of the prayer are not the important things.  What is important is whether or not we have un-confessed sin in our lives.  Sin separates us from God and moves us from His umbrella of protection.  How much faith is required?  I believe that if we have enough faith to ask God for something, that is enough faith.  God has made precious promises to His children and He has never failed in doing exactly what He said He would do.  The fulfillment of those promises is based on His faithfulness, not ours.

 

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  — Romans 8:32 NIV

Post 07-10-2016

Pray With Power

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The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. — James 5:16b NLT
 
As small tots and children, we were taught prayers word for word.  There were prayers to say before the meals we ate and prayers to say before we went to bed at night.  These are wonderful experiences and great memories. But just as we moved from the “Dick and Jane” books, there comes a time when our prayers should become more personal.  We are still presenting the same issues to God but now instead of rote memory, they should be from a heart that understands and knows that God not only hears our prayers but He answers them.  Most of us may have had more faith that God would answer our prayers then than we do now.  Those were prayers from innocent hearts and minds.  Now, we have a lifetime of sins and doubts to overcome.  But God is still the same God we prayed to when we were children and we must approach Him with that same childlike faith.  We must become as little children in the Kingdom of God.  Part of that process is to understand that all of our sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus.  God sees each of us as the righteousness of Christ.  So, when we pray let us believe that we are righteous people, that God hears our prayers and  that our prayers do have great power.  Not because of us, but because of Jesus and His work that He finished at the cross.  We can know that our prayers have great power because Jesus is at the right hand of the Father praying with us and the Holy Spirit is praying through us and for us.
 
Post 06-26-2016

Amen!

even-smaller-bug-light130 Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? 31 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, 32 but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” — Mark 4:30-32 NLT

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus had told His disciples that they were permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God.  He also stated that there would be some who would hear and refuse to believe (outsiders) and they would not be able to understand His teachings in the parables that He used (Mark 4:11,12).  So, if the disciples were permitted to understand the Kingdom of God, then so can we understand it.  Jesus told Nicodemus to enter the Kingdom that it was necessary for him to be born again.  So, we become a part of the Kingdom of God when we receive Christ as our Savior.  In doing so, we become eligible for all the benefits of that Kingdom here and now, not just in the future.  As the birds nest in the shade of the mustard tree, so we live under the umbrella of God’s protection now.  Right now, it is a spiritual Kingdom inside of us.  When Jesus comes back, He will establish a Kingdom here on earth that will encompass all of His creation and creatures except those that refuse to hear and believe (Daniel 2:44, Rev.11:15).  We are preparing to live in that Kingdom in our present life and one day that process will be completed when we are changed into immortal beings (1 Cor 15:50-53).  Jesus taught us to pray “may Your will be done on earth even as it is in heaven”.   So, while we are preparing for eternity, we live with the assurance that the hope that we have will one day be fulfilled. And it will be so — His will “will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  That is why we end our prayers with “Amen” which means “let it be so”.   Partially now and completely in the future.
Post 02-20-2016

I Stand In Awe

even-smaller-bug-light11​6 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. — James 1:16-1​8​ NIV

When God created the world, after each day’s work,we are told that “God saw that it was good” except for the sixth day when He made man, we are told that

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day ​– Genesis 1:​29 – ​31 NIV

​Everything​ in this world was created good and perfect to last forever and was given to man by God to enjoy and have dominion over it all. Then man sinned and decay and rot started in all of God’s creation. But God had a plan to fix all that even before He laid the foundations of the earth . So, He gave us “THE good and perfect gift”, Himself, to die on a cross to redeem all of creation.  He is still in the business of giving good gifts to us.  This very moment is called the “present” because it is a gift from God. The good earth we enjoy, the very air that we breathe, every particle of food that we eat are all gifts from God.  When He gives them, they are good gifts, but we have chosen to belittle and desecrate those gifts by refusing to give thanks to the Creator of all things.  Every second of our life is a gift from God and we need to give Him praise, glory and honor for those precious seconds. Our attitudes should always be an attitude of humility and thankfulness. We should stand in awe of our awesome God.
Post 11-11-2015

A Call To Service

even-smaller-bug-light110 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. — 1 Thess. 3:10-13

​Paul’s love and concern for the new converts that he and his companions have led to Christ is a great example for us to follow​.  We may never be missionaries in  a faraway land, but we are missionaries in a land that is not our home. We are aliens and strangers wherever we are on this earth. Therefore, we need to have the same concern for those new converts in our own churches. Every church body needs Barnabases and Timothys to encourage and teach new and older converts. We need Esthers and Priscillas to teach self-sacrifice, humbleness and obedience.
 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” –Esther 4:15, 16
We need Ezras to teach leadership, fasting, praying and complete reliance on God.
21 There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. — Ezra 8;21-23
We need​ workplace ministers like Paul who witnessed while carrying on his occupation as a tentmaker and Lydias to encourage, support and provide for those laboring in God’s fields.
14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. — Acts 16:14, 15
​We are all servants in God’s army and God needs us to serve and stand firm wherever we are and complete the tasks He has called us to do, whatever that may be.​He has a plan and a purpose for everyone He calls.
 
Have you discovered your purpose in the Kingdom?  If not, talk to Him today about it and get started.
Post 10-27-2015

Enhanced and Preserved

even-smaller-bug-light15 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. — Colossians 4:5,6 NIV

​As Christians, we need to be constantly reminded that the “outsiders” , those that have not yet accepted Jesus as their Savior, are watching every move we make and listening to every word we say.  Not only to what we say but the tone of voice we use when we say it.  Every day, everywhere we go, we are witnessing.  Will our lifestyles attract others to Christ or cause them to turn away? Our conversations and our attitudes must be full of grace. The grace of God, in giving us Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior, is the one great difference between Christianity and worldly religions.  We are different.  We are the only ones who serve a living God.  No worldly religions make that claim. The fact that we serve a living Savior makes us accountable to Him.  That is why the name of Jesus always requires a decision.  When you hear that name, you either accept or reject Him, there is no middle ground.  This is a stand from which we cannot back down. 
 

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. — Matthew 10:32, 33

 
We must hold our position and do it with grace and love. We must study the Scriptures so that we will be instantly ready to answer anyone and everyone who questions us.  Our whole lifestyles should be seasoned with salt, the great preservative and flavor enhancer.  If we are seasoned with salt, we will attract others to our living God and they will remain forever.
Post 10-21-2015

Be Resolute in Resisting

even-smaller-bug-light111 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. — Col. 2:11-14 NIV

​The life, death and resurrection of Jesus fulfilled the law given in the Old Testament. God is no longer ​concerned with whether or not, we are circumcised physically, His concern is with what is going on in our hearts. Our water baptism is an outward symbol of us going through the death and resurrection with Jesus, therefore our flesh is buried with Jesus and we are symbolically raised from the dead with Jesus. We are raised as new creations in Christ Jesus. All of our sin debt has been paid in full. There are no outstanding charges against us now. We need to hang onto that promise because satan is going to come around trying to convince us that we are not set free.   Don’t listen to him, he is a murderer, a thief and a liar. If he can convince us that we are still guilty, he will destroy our testimony and make us useless in the kingdom here on earth. We must ask Jesus to be Lord over our lives and submit totally to His will. If we do this, when satan comes around. he will flee from us. So, when we have done everything God has asked us to do in a situation, then just stand firm and resist. How do we resist the devil? We do the same thing Jesus did, we use the Word to resist him. This mean we must spend time in the word learning what God says about our rights and our position in Him.

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. — James 4:7, 8
Once we have rebuked satan with the word, we just need to stand firm.  God will do the rest, the power of His word will send satan scampering away. But we must stay on the alert, he will sneak back around and try the same and/or other tactics to try to weaken our resolve. 

Post 10-13-2015

“No Pain, No Gain”

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2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.–James 1:2-5 NIV

​Why do Christians have to endure trials and persecutions?​ I suppose people have been asking this question since the first century. The disciples never quite understood why Jesus had to suffer and die until after the Resurrection. God does not allow us to go through suffering so that He will know where we are on our journey, He allows it so that we will know. He allows it so that our “I can” will turn into “No, I can’t but God can”. “No pain, no gain” applies to spiritual growth as well as physical. Would understanding the “why” really make the pain any less real or painful?  I am sure that since Jesus was in on the plan of redemption, He understood the why, but that didn’t keep Him from asking His Father if there might not be another way. As he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. 

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”–Matt. 26:42 NIV

​It is not a sin to wonder or to question “why?”. It is only a sin when we take it to the point of being disobedient. ​We need to pray for wisdom, but when we pray for wisdom, we need to understand that acquiring wisdom requires experiencing a lot of things and some of them will be painful.

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.–Luke 9:23 NIV

Post 06-26-2015

The Evidence of Things Not Seen

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1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.​ 3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.​ 4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.​ 5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him–Hebrews 11:1-6 (NLT)
Hebrews, Chapter 11, is known as the great faith chapter. It lists those that are in God’s Hall of Fame for the Faithful. We must stay grounded in the Word and continue to ask God to make us more faithful. Our prayer should be like the cry of the Father of the boy possessed by a demon. He said, “I do believe, but help me over come my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Unbelief or no faith is the sin that caused Jesus to die on the cross for us. All of our sins are just outward expressions of our unbelief. We fear because we do not believe that God can and will take care of us. Over and over in the Bible, God tells us “do not fear”, yet, we fear anyway. He tells us “do not worry” about physical needs, yet we spend a lot of time stressing out over whether we will have enough of this or that. Think about this: “If we can’t trust God to provide the little things, how can we possibly believe that He can save our soul”? What part of “do not” do we not understand? When Jesus, while on the cross, said “It is finished”, He was serious. Our part is to “seek you first the Kingdom of God and all its righteousness”….. The rest of that verse (Matt. 6:33) is God’s business and He is always faithful to take care of His business.
Post 06-17-2015