Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Snow

I love when the holiday season brings in the first snow. (Even though I am not a huge fan of cold weather!) Everything looks so fresh and clean, and there is a certain excitement in the air. It always reminds me of Isaiah 1:18 "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." When the snow begins to melt and we track through it, the ground no longer looks clean and pure, but rather spotted and messy. In retrospect, it's a reflection of my life when things get blotchy and blemished. Until I allow God to remove the stains from my heart and clean up the mess, my soul resembles that dirty snow covered ground. I don't have to remain permanently soiled though, because God has promised to remove disgrace and shame from my life if I am willing and obedient. Christ forgives me and removes even my most in-erasable stains.
"I have swept your offenses like a cloud, your sins like a morning mist. Return to me for I have redeemed you." (Isaiah 44:22)

Forgiveness for me has been one of the most difficult concepts to grasp in my life. This is probably why it's one of the most difficult and greatest gifts to give. Un-confessed sin in my life comes between God and me and damages my relationship with Him. I must admit my sins to God if my relationship with Him is to be restored completely. I have learned over the years (through my continuous growth in Christ) that my survival depends on the application of forgiveness for me and others. Looking back over the years and the many things that I have done or that have happened to me, I have experienced such freedom when I surrender and let go of the past and focus on the present and the possibilities of the future. When I forgive, I may not change the past-but I sure do change the future! I have witnessed Christ's forgiveness more times than I can possibly remember because I have accepted His invitation to receive His mercy freely.

The results of forgiveness are happiness! Forgiveness has always been part of God's loving nature. In Psalms 32:1-2 (The Message) it tells us to "Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be-you get a fresh start, your slate's wiped clean. Count yourself lucky-God holds nothing against you and you're holding nothing back from Him." :) I want to feel fresh and clean like the first snow, and make the choice to forgive unconditionally and bring myself one step closer to living a life of fulfillment, joy, and deep inner peace.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Where My Treasure Is

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

I consider my self pretty materialistic; I love things! :) New stuff to wear just makes me feel better, new stuff to cook with just makes the food taste better, new linens on the bed just make me sleep better. And sometimes I just want more than I have! Although I am pretty sure that Jesus does not deny that we have these desires, I need to remember that these things I value and invest in can be gone in a minute; earthly possessions are only temporary. My desire should be to seek to please God and others, not just to please myself. I need to change my perspective and make sure that I am always investing and storing treasures in Heaven because only these treasures can last for eternity. And God has blessed me with more than enough gifts, blessings, and plenty of duties to keep me pretty busy until Jesus returns. My faith, service, and total submission to God is the only sure way to store treasures in Heaven. In addition, I need to get my priorities straight in regards to saving money; I like the comfort of knowing I have plenty "stashed" for emergencies and for the future. But I need to think beyond accumulating wealth for earthly security, and focus more on using what He has given to me to help benefit others so that I don't enter eternity empty handed! 

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant or to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasures for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." (l Timothy 6:17-19)

I once heard that the definition of "Treasure in Heaven" is simply "living life with open hearts and open hands." We have to open our hearts to the poor and the weak in spirit. If we lay our hands on the intangible things in life, like being kind to others, doing good deeds, assisting the poor, and leading others to Christ, then we are creating treasures that will be sent on ahead of us to Heaven. It's often difficult to put these actions in front of our own desires and agenda, but we have to listen to God's voice (and obey Him!) when He is instructing us to give and affect the lives of those around us. This involves me to leave my comfort zone, and to quit being selfish with my time and material things. It means I have to avoid putting my schedule and "stuff" in front of what will really produce life-changing results in not only others but me!

"Heavenly Father, help us not to spend too much of our lives worrying about fancy treasures here on earth. Help us to live life Jesus' way and have true treasure in Heaven. In Jesus name-Amen! (A Children's Prayer)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too Much Busyness

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken." (Psalm 62:1-2)

Whoever said that things start to slow down and get easier when you reach your 50's? I heard it time and again growing up, and by my mid 40's I was actually looking forward to this time in my life. However I find that I have just as much to do, and less time to do it all! I am literally so afraid of boredom that I deliberately fill any free time with activities and planned events to take advantage of every single minute of the day. I find that waking up each morning to an endless list of responsibilities and things to do can sap my energy and prevent me from focusing on what is really important. And worst of all, it probably robs me of some peace of mind and simplicity that additional praying, resting, and meditating would bring. Although I cherish, nurture, and hunger for time spent in relationships, fellowship, and multiple tasks, I constantly fall into a trap of over-scheduling, over-doing and over-committing my time.

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Too many times I am ambushed by my own "busyness." I often forget that I need to be a good steward of my time, and that always rushing is preventing me from appreciating the day and resting in God's strength. My time belongs not only to me, but to God. And I always want more of it! After all these years, I still need to learn to manage my time to please God more, not just others or myself. God is delighted when we rest in Him, and when we do He gives us freedom from busyness, and restores our strength so that we can get through another day. Even though multitasking is very efficient, trying not to schedule too many things in one day is going to take some additional maturing and disciplining on my part, and I have to trust and rely on God to figure out how much time it really takes to accomplish all the many things I set out to do. 

Show me the stairway
I have to climb
Lord for my sake teach me to take
one day at a time.

One day at a time sweet Jesus
that's all I'm asking from you
Just give me the strength
To do everyday
What I have to do

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Be Authentic

"If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else; for each one should carry his own load." (Galations 6:3)

I'm pretty sure one of the largest obstacles in my life has been working with and having relationships with people who are more concerned with appearances and how they are perceived by others. Although I know that there are certain situations and circumstances in which we must maintain a certain behavior or "dress" accordingly, I believe our hearts, thoughts, and attitudes should remain genuine and real. It's unfortunate to me that people are perceived more positively the more attractive or upstanding they are, however I find that their faces do not exist in reality; they often realize that "something" is missing but are never quite sure what that "something" may be. As Christians, we all need to spend our time working for Christ rather than being preoccupied with our own schedule, needs, and the perception of others.

"Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." (1 Peter 3:4)

We've been discussing what our definition of "authentic discipleship" really means in our small group, and I believe it to mean having a sincere heart and genuine attitude, regardless of whether other people are around to acknowledge it or not. For so many years growing up, that was such an obstacle for me! I wanted to be recognized for every accomplishment and "good deed" I did, whether at home, church, work, or in the community. But I was missing the real reason for serving others or performing a task to the greatest of my ability. Growth, maturity, and worship have brought me a long way on living my life to please God and let my love for Him shine so that family, friends, and acquaintances can see Christ in me. I want to glow with love for Him, and to be known for a gentle and quiet beauty that comes from within which is so meaningful to God. (I still have a lot of work to do on that gentle and quiet thing!) :)

Every day I want to continue exploring who God created me to be, define and excel in my unique and authentic self, and use it to glorify Him. I want to fill my day with things that have meaning and happiness so that I can serve God and those He has chosen for me to serve.

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God's kindness:
kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."
~Mother Teresa~

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Journey Of Faith

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

There are no guarantees in this life. One minute your home is filled with happiness, the next it is filled with sorrow. One minute you are active and full of life, the next you are passive and weak. At times we feel cherished and surrounded by love, other times abandoned and isolated. It seems that life is a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs, and regardless of what inner strength you may possess there are times when these attacks wear you completely down. This is where our journey of faith starts; we must understand and be assured that God loves us and will stand by us in the good times and the bad. He is delighted in our moments of achievements and praise, and stays very near and protects us when we are vulnerable and faint.

"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." (Romans 5:5)

When things seem to be crumbling in and around my life, I find myself needing to remember to get back to the basics and focus on the true meaning of life; simplicity in God's love and the hope for a better future. True happiness is when we draw close to the source of happiness by obeying and trusting in His assurance of protection and guidance; we will never outgrow our need for His power and leadership. When resolutions to a problem seem nowhere to be found, and I just can't seem to pull myself up from a deep hole of desolation, I know I possess a reserve of power and faith to call upon my Lord to help me meet every challenge and trial. He will hold me in His loving arms and encourage me to draw from my inner strength so that I can clearly see the light at the end of any dark tunnel.

"The Lord will keep you from all harm-He will watch over your life. The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." (Psalm 121:17)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Work And Play

"So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

God always knows how to plan, balance, and evaluate a perfect agenda for me, and I give Him thanks and praise for an amazing two weeks (well needed!) of vacation. My husband, youngest daughter, and I spent the last two weeks in the company of my oldest daughter and two precious grandsons who we haven't seen for quite a long time. What joy and unexpected surprises children can bring into a home; they lighten up the daily grind and and normal routine we can often get caught up in. After spending the first week planning and exercising activities in and around Boise, we had the opportunity during the second week of vacation to experience firsthand some of God's glorious creation while camping in the Sawtooth mountains. What a relaxing and yet energizing time we shared; a perfect way to wrap up the last of our visit. After many sad good-byes, I now felt a renewed state of mind to pick up where I left off at home and work. I am so thankful for the many great memories made in the last couple of weeks that we all shared and will hold on to until our next visit/vacation.

"That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil-this is the gift of God. I know that everything that God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it." (Ecclesiastes 3:13-14)

God wants us to be happy and to pursue good and worthy goals in life. We must find joy and pleasure in everything we do, and accept each day as it comes whether it's smooth or rocky. Sometimes we get to play, but many times we have to work. He planned and is involved in all of our moments; His desire is for us to trust Him and yield to His design and purpose every day. God has refreshed and strengthened me during this time of play so that I can move on and find the same joy and contentment in my work. The essence of man's life is to be successful in this world and find joy, peace, and contentment each day with it's measure of work and play.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Spring Of Living Water

"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and He who believes in me will never go thirsty. " (John 6:36) "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:38)

I have been reading the book of John lately, and OH! how blessed and thankful I am to have invited Christ into my life and become a Christian, knowing that I have been given a spiritual life which will live on in a relationship with God forever. How magnificent it is to me that He is the bread of my life! How my heart breaks for the unsaved! There are so many people who reject God's word, and who think they are alive, but in the spiritual world they are dead. This death is from a lack of spiritual nourishment and separation from God. I love to re-read the verses in this book declaring that salvation is free for anyone who will receive it. Whenever I am down in spirit from issues at work, home or even my health, there is no one who can supply the sweet comfort and assurance that I receive from God. Through grace, He has given me hope and the promise of eternity. I look forward and eagerly await the opportunity to share God's eternal promise to everyone searching for this spiritual nourishment.

"I am the resurrection of life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)

Faith in Jesus Christ alone is the only way to receive the gift of eternal life. By becoming a Christian, we are invited to become a part of God's family. And being born into God's family means we have inherited the greatest gift of all...eternity! I can look forward to eternal life because Jesus promised it to all who believe and have faith in Him. He is preparing a place for us to spend eternity with Him. It gives me hope when I battle daily situations in my life on earth, because no matter what happens on earth...God is in control! In a world of problems, evil, and disappointments, Christ calls us to endure in our faith and wait for His return to bring us everlasting peace.

"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you; I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." (John 14:2-4)

When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are strengthened and nourished by His words, and empowered by His Holy Spirit. Eternal life is a spring of living water within us flowing out and giving us confident assurance for our future. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live in all believers, and I do believe and trust that I have no need to fear the present or the future because of His promise for eternity. The most satisfying venture on my human journey, is knowing that at the end of this road there will be cause for thanksgiving and celebration! :) :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I Walk In Freedom

"Now the Lord is the spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Freedom is the result of God's infinite and eternal love, and when we are children of Christ we have the freedom to celebrate His love and live a full and joyful life. It's so exciting to grow in the Lord and experience freedom to truly love and serve others! The most gratifying thing for me is to care for each other and minister to someone's mind, heart, and soul by living my life as an example for all to see. Sometimes it takes every bit of discipline and energy I can muster to share my time and a positive attitude (especially when I am not feeling very positive myself!) with family and friends, but through prayer and conversation with God, He directs me and gives me strength to be a blessing in someone else's life. I feel blessed and complete when I can nourish a friend, my family, or co-workers with words or actions and boost their confidence and/or brighten their day.

"In Him (Christ) and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence" (Ephesians 3:12)

By trusting Christ, I know that I am loved and accepted to freely live for Him. It is a privilege knowing I can approach Him with freedom and confidence and experience the joy of becoming the person I am meant to be. By continuously seeking God's salvation and trusting what He has planned for me, I know that I am free to walk about in freedom. God already knows my every thought (!), and yet He wants me to talk to Him honestly and share every moment of my day with Him. He encourages me and gives me strength and freedom to look beyond my own problems and focus on other people's needs instead. The result is a "win-win" situation because it takes my mind off of my needs and situations and leaves me a feeling of great satisfaction to be of service to someone else.

"I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to Your commandments." (Psalm 119:45)

I want to live my life in a way that glorifies God, and I pray that He will continue to provide me the opportunity to lead others into the freedom that can be found in knowing Christ.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Nourishing Fellowship

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25)

My heart and soul requires a daily dose of fellowship. Without the support of other believers, I am more vulnerable to the stresses of life and the attacks of the enemy. Fellowship is a gathering of people who come together to worship and give thanks to God, and also to encourage and build each other up. Not only is it important for me to boost others up, I have a vital need to be boosted too! :) I know that I gain strength when I pursue daily activities and interactions with others. We give each other strength when we encourage and stay focused on the Lord, and it also helps us stay on course so that we won't be tempted by the trappings of the world. It's important for my well being to seek ways in which I can encourage and support others just as God encourages and supports me.

"For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them." (Matthew 18:20)

As Christians, we can't live in isolation. We need one another, and should gather regularly with other followers of Christ anywhere and everywhere as often as we can. It makes us stronger if we try to be of service and help in meeting our loved one's needs. Without the continuous nourishment of fellowship, not only can we not be a benefit to others, but we ourselves become starved of the benefits that come from being in these blessed relationships. Family and friends are our most valuable assets, and the encouragement we give each other is what helps us to push through to the finish line, win the race and fulfill God's purpose in our lives!

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (I Thessalonians 5:11) 

So let's all be sensitive to each others need for encouragement, and offer supportive words. Let's all get involved in fellowship with one another, cherishing every moment and being thankful to God for the opportunities. After all, we will all spend eternity together! :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Rely On Him!

"Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

The past week has been a hasty and excessive week of stress and anxiety at not only work but in my personal life as well. By mid week I found myself getting physically and mentally sick with thoughts and worries, and although I participated in my daily prayers and worship (yes...only participated!) it hit me that I was not truly giving it to God. Since when do I think I have control? What kept me from fully relying on God? I completely lost myself in trying to manage time, money, and circumstances without dependence on God. How well I know and have learned a "bazillion" times in the past that God is stronger than all of my fears and anxieties put together! When the going gets tough, I know perfectly well that I must talk to Him about my problems as if I were talking to my best friend.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

Relying on God can be very effective in managing our persistent worries and anxieties. It is not always easy to realize the fact that God is in control, and that He listens and will help us if we ask Him. I had to stop and remind myself this week to be totally reliant on Him. I rediscovered that God wants to be involved in my everyday. Giving up on my own ability and trusting His is a choice I had to make, and once I submitted and humbled myself to Him I felt a spiritual release of worry, and a spiritual calmness and peace! Sometimes it takes risking it all, and removing all obstacles that "shut" Him out. We must let God mold and shape every area of our life. If I don't trust God I better be careful, or else I may find myself blind, and my life torn apart!

"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 everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)

RELY on God In the midst of the storm,
REST within His comforting arms.
KNOW tomorrow is safe in His hands,
TRUST even when you don't understand.

STAND fast in courage day by day,
WALK by faith when you don't know the way.
EMBRACE the Lord and abandon all fear,
BELIEVE with all your heart...
HE is near.   (Rebecca Barlow Jordan)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Eternal Not Material

"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

For some reason, we like to own the things we love, even when it's not necessary. The more "stuff" we have the happier we are. Unfortunately, I think that many people place too much value on owning things and showing them off to others in order to make an impression. Maybe some people are greedy because somewhere along the way they haven't had their basic needs met, and they can't get enough of anything; they always want more and don't care if it is at someone else's expense. Someone who is the richest person in the world still wants more; it's a hole that never seems to be filled. If you try to create happiness by accumulating wealth and material items, you never have enough. Obviously this isn't true for everyone, but it saddens me to look around and see everyone's "stuff", and the need and greed for more when there are so many down-and-out, empty, and exhausted people all around us.

"May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father, who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God's holy people, who live in the light." (Colossians 1:12)

Our possessions are a gift from God, and everything good comes from God. If we place value of our possessions or relationships above Him, He is very likely to take them away. He wants us to view what we have with the right perspective. We all have our basic needs and should be thankful at all times for everything God has provided us. We are only here on earth temporarily, and God wants us to share with His people who are in need, and to practice hospitality. As Christians, we should not hesitate to offer hospitality because we are too busy or think that we are not "wealthy" enough to entertain. Love is always perceived to be real if it is demonstrated in a tangible way; God demonstrates His love in tangible ways and extends this even to His enemies, and requires that we too love our friends and enemies in tangible ways. All the wealth and material things we cherish here on earth are temporary, but the greatest memories we will have as we get older are those we have shared with loved ones and people in need.

"Gratitude is an attitude that hooks us up to our source of supply. And the more grateful you are, the closer you become to your maker, to the architect of the universe, to the spiritual core of your being. It's a phenomenal lesson." (Bob Proctor)

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

To wrap this up...I believe it's important to remember that life is not all there is; there is life after death! And knowing that we will live together with God, with new bodies and everything we could possibly need should be our primary focus for an everlasting life! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Looking Good On The Inside

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7)

Too often I am concerned and spend too much time and money trying to look attractive and adorning myself outside and as a result, neglect spending a penny or the effort to decorate my inner self. I sometimes even allow it to affect the way I start my day! Why do we judge ourselves, make the mistake of judging others, or think that they judge us by the way we look on the outside? The way we look on the outside doesn't reveal what our true value is, and I am ashamed to say that many times I find myself in this position. Wouldn't it be better if we  looked at people's hearts the way God does?

"Oh Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8) 

Although makeup, jewelry and clothing are tools that can enhance, they can also detract from a lady's God-given beauty. True beauty begins on the inside. We need to praise God for the qualities that make us unique and special, and quit spending so much time trying to remake ourselves. God knitted me together completely to reflect the person He sees in me, and He didn't need my advice on how to create the perfect me!

"Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." (I Peter 3:4)

Being beautiful on the inside, which is is in your heart and your mind, is all about displaying your love and your gifts, and learning something everyday that will build you up and add value to your life. Instead of spending wasted time in front of the mirror, or wasting money on excessive clothes, accessories and stuff, the happiness and glow that is shining through our face and our character is really what is reflected inside of our hearts. This is what is pleasing to God; this is how we show our love for Him.

"As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man." (Proverbs 27:19)

~~Beauty of a Woman~~
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears,
The figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair.
The beauty of a woman must be seen from her eyes,
Because this is the doorway to her heart,
The place where she resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole,
But true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.
It is the caring that she lovingly gives,
The passion that she shows.
The beauty of a woman
With time, only grows.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Love

Being a mother is a very blessed and meaningful role that God chose to give to me, and being the child of a mother who loved, cared, and encouraged me throughout her life is a love I carry with me every day.

My daughters were certainly a gift from the Lord..."Don't you see that children are God's best gift?" (Psalm 127:3) Caring for my children, meeting their needs, and embracing them in both joyful and troubled times, was (and still is!) a unique gift from God. He chose me to conceive the two most beautiful daughters a mother could ask for, and to have a unique and crucial role in their lives. As my role of motherhood changed  and developed as they grew, the love I shared for them never ceased; it flourished! And as a result I have been blessed with not only daughters, but best friends!

"Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever." (Unknown)

My mother was a precious, unique and godly woman who lived a life that brought grace and glory to our household. She was always behind me, supporting me with tons of love and patience. As I grew older, got married, had a family and also a career, nothing brought me greater pleasure than spending time with my mother. She had the most influential lead in my daughter's lives, loving them and giving them the most empowering love a grandmother could possibly give. The emptiness that I still feel now that she is gone, sometimes consumes my emotions. But I can feel her presence and know that she is forever in my heart, and continues to inspire me and the decisions I make every day!

"God could not be everywhere and therefore He made mothers!" (Jewish Proverb)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Through Faith; Not Merit

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2 8-9)

I think that for many Christians, our definition of faith and salvation is often something we "psych" ourselves into; we put on a show (even though it is often with good intent) to do good works in which to gain merit and appraisal. But our salvation is not based on our good works; salvation depends on the grace of God alone. The bible makes it clear that we cannot win salvation; it is free as the absolute gift of God received by faith. Our love for Jesus Christ must be real and heartfelt, and I do believe that our genuine faith in Christ will provide a changed life and good works. If we claim to have faith and believe in Him and do no good works, then we most likely do not have genuine faith.

"He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does. The good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing." (Ephesians 2:10~Message)

Merit is defined as: "Claim to respect and praise; excellence and worth. Something that deserves or justifies a reward or commendation, a commendable quality or act..." As Swindoll writes in Insights on Romans, "The righteousness of God is received through faith, not our own merit."

Many people think they can obtain salvation and get to heaven because they are successful and/or because of their status or position. But faith and salvation is not a work or something that is earned; we receive it by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving His gift with open arms. No matter whom we are or how important our status is on earth, we will not receive eternal life without accepting Jesus as our Savior. Selfish pride and good works are not like faith and good works. One serves as a narcissistic behavioral attitude in which we rely on what others think when we are giving and helping. However, a work produced by faith is acting upon and serving others with a sincere heart and genuine attitude, regardless of whether other people are around to acknowledge it or not. It's our real character.

"Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle" James 1:17~Message

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Selfish Time

Am I selfish? Yes! With my time. Even though nothing is more fulfilling or satisfying than reaching out, sharing, giving myself to those in need, or spending quality time with my loved ones, I am such an individual of routine! There is so much to do and see, that I don't want to miss out on even one moment or event. I start out my day thinking of the goals that need to be met, and planning accordingly. I create my own agenda, and can easily get caught up in myself. I am so preoccupied and concerned with my "to-do" list that I either find myself grumbling about or simply closing any doors to unplanned opportunities. Am I avoiding a calling from God, and submitting to His plan?

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interest of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:3-5)

The bible considers selfish ambition as evil and one of the works of the flesh. We are to consider others interests as more important than ours, and to lay aside selfishness. I never really considered myself selfish until I started thinking about how it applies to me sharing my time with others even when it is an unknown or unseen event. Over the course of the last few years juggling marriage, raising a family, building on my career, and finding the time to spend in praise, worship, and fellowship, I have fallen into a trap of self sufficiency. I need to learn to "go with the flow" with a genuine heartfelt attitude, and listen to His calling bearing the gifts He has entrusted to me so that I don't taste the bitterness of selfish ambition. "True fulfillment, true rest, true refreshment, and true satisfaction will come to us when we abide in the place where God has called us." (Unknown)  

"God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6:10-12)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Judgmental World

"Judge a tree from it's fruit, not from it's leaves." (Unknown)

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:3,5)

We live in a very diverse world that is ever changing. There are so many rare and unique individuals who have different gifts and talents, so why is it so easy to fall into a trap of judging and criticizing our friends, family, co-workers, and others that cross our paths? How easy it is to focus on other peoples faults while excusing our own! We are all flawed people, and people with flaws have no right to judge other people's flaws. I am certainly remorseful of having attacked people's differences and failures, and work very hard to focus on their values and genuineness. Rather than having a holier-than-thou attitude, we need to examine our own conduct and judge ourselves first. Criticism can be unfair and unjust, and it is just the opposite of being gracious. By illustrating our character with integrity, reaching out with love, generosity, and kindness to others, we can build our loved ones up rather than tearing them down.

"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." (Roman's 14:13)

I strive to constantly monitor the effects that my behavior has on others, and to be sensitive to their needs. The right way to interact with others is to be aware of one another; aware and considerate of their flaws and mistakes. Because even when people make mistakes, we can still see the best in them, love them, and care for them. It is not in our Christian "job description" to pass judgment on others, that's God's territory! "It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord." (Romans 12:19) Only God truly knows a persons heart, and He is the only judge! God's justice is always fair and He has perfect timing. His judgment is unique to the individual, not based on a formula.

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." Mother Teresa

"Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." (Romans 12:16)

We should offer ourselves and be quick to respond to the diverse environment we live in. We don't know what challenges God has given someone, so how can anyone judge someone else unless they've arrived in the same place and life circumstances as they have? Judging is selfish and a sign of our self-righteousness; it is self serving and shows no taste. And God isn't so easily fooled; He sees right through us! And I'm pretty sure that God is judging us too!

Friday, April 9, 2010

He Groans With Us

Many people are challenged and want to know why God would allow pointless evil and suffering to exist; who are angry and distrusting in Him, because they have experienced heartache, tragedy, and illness. And I see for many of them, this destroys their faith, and they reject God because of the cruelty, sorrow, and pain they have endured. They groan through all of the turmoil they have encountered, and are pessimistic of the days to come. But when life is going our way, and when it is carefree and great, we often forget about God which is not pleasing to Him! He wants us to worship Him, with thanksgiving, in the good times and the bad. When we suffer is when we should turn to Him and trust faithfully. 

"Jesus promised His followers that another being would come to be with them in their struggles-a comforter, a teacher, and advocate. He promised His Holy Spirit. Not only does the spirit convict us of sin and teach truth, He endures our suffering with us. He has been "called alongside" to help us endure." (Swindoll)
"I believe that all suffering is at least potential good; an opportunity for good. It's up to our free will to actualize that potential. Not all of us benefit from suffering and learn from it because that's up to us; it's up to our free will. And not only can we make the decision about how we are going to react to the suffering but God says I will help you in the process." (Unknown)

We have probably all felt that God has let us down at one time or another, but I don't believe that God rejoices about the bad things that have happened. It becomes much too easy to blame and abandon God during these times of conflict. However, with every disappointment, give it time and trust that God will sanctify you in your deepest distress. God disciplines us just as we discipline our own children (for our own good!), so that we might learn and take the right path in life, and place our trust and faith in Him.

"In short, the problem of tragedy, suffering, and injustice is a problem for everyone. It is at least as big a problem for non-belief in God as for belief. It is therefore a mistake, though an understandable one, to think that if you abandon belief it somehow makes the problem of evil easier to handle." (Keller) 

Nothing we suffer can compare to the great price that Jesus paid to save us. I trust He has a plan for each and every one of us, and that we can't possibly come up with a better idea than the one already conceived in God's heart and mind! His plan may take more time than we expect...we need to have confidence in God's perfect timing and wisdom. I look forward to and wait for God to free the world from evil, sickness, and suffering to the new heaven and earth that God has promised. There is hope for future glory!

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. In the same way the spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8:18,26)

"God can use pain and suffering to attract us to the greatest joy in life, which is an intimate relationship with God that will continue in heaven where we'll spend eternity with Him. And the truth is, it's worth any price if it means coming to know God in that way. (Strobel) 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Eternal Life

He came. He taught. He healed. He saved. He forgave. He was crucified. He was resurrected. It is complete!!

Through His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and for those who believe in Him, gave us eternal life in Christ Jesus. This eternal life is not an extension of our life on earth, but a promise that we will live life forever in eternity! For those of us who believe, what wonderful assurance we have! Christ died for us and as we pursue an intimate relationship with Him; we experience a love unlike any other.

The Life Application Bible says in Ephesians: "The presence of the Holy Spirit in us demonstrates the genuineness of our faith, proves that we are God's children, and secures eternal life for us. His power works in us to transform us now, and what we experience now is a taste of the total change we will experience in eternity."

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11:25)

As Christians we still sin, but because God gave us new birth, we know exactly where we stand. Eternal life begins when we trust Christ and join God's family; Jesus is the truth we have been seeking all along. Regardless of the trials we face in this life, we can live with the expectation of eternal life, and living with Christ forever.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (l Peter 1:3)

How blessed we are! We have been given a brand new life with a future in heaven. We must choose to be all that Christ Jesus saved us for and wants us to be. With our trust in Him we can walk in newness of life and let go of our past. Because our hope is in Christ we can look forward to a fuller and more meaningful life, and move into a life of faith and obedience. 

"I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:10-12)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Internal Struggle

"I do not understand myself at all. For I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it! Instead I do everything I hate! I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. But I can't help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things." (Romans 7:14-17-Life Application) 

Swindoll writes "Once someone has received God's grace through faith, the holy spirit takes up residence in that believer. And so begins the internal struggle. The flesh continues to serve sin, while the spirit serves righteousness."

Although I challenge myself on a daily basis to get through an entire day without doing, thinking, or saying something in which I know is not pleasing to God, I realize the battle is real! I am however aware that sin is not my master, and it isn't a lifestyle I chose. Jesus promises to forgive me, and I know His promise is true. We are all trapped in flesh, and even though we have been saved, our new nature is in constant conflict with our old nature in search of pleasing God.

"You know how it works. You constantly vow, "I'm gonna break the habit this time," but in your own power, you can't do it. You fail again and again. Then you get in a cycle of guilt and shame-beating yourself up over it, vowing to try harder next time, and when you fail again, you sink even lower, feeling a great weight of condemnation heaped upon you. (John Burke) 

"For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." (Gal 5:17-NIV)

The Life Application Bible explains that "This describes the experience of all Christians struggling against sin or trying to please God by keeping rules and laws without the Spirit's help. We must never underestimate the power of sin and attempt to fight it in our own strength. Satan is a crafty tempter, and we have an amazing ability to make excuses instead of trying to overcome sin with our own human willpower. We must take hold of God's provision for victory over sin; the Holy Spirit who lives within us and gives us power. And when we fall He lovingly reaches out to help us."

"Spiritual character is developed by responding to God, which is influenced by habits, which get formed by practices, which emerge from beliefs. So the key to deep character development is to interrupt those autopilot responses with new beliefs and practices, so we can respond to the spirit and allow God to grow us up in that area" (John Burke)  

We all live in a constant state of conflict, and I know that God doesn't approve of all that He sees in me, but He stays with me right or wrong until I get things sorted out. I have discovered that the more I struggle, the more I become stronger spiritually. I'm determined to continue to hang on and fully rely on God's grace and mercies, and praise Him for this temporary internal struggle. Sin is stronger than I am, and without God's help I am unable to defend myself against it's attack!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Giving More

"We have different gifts according to the grace given to us; let us do it cheerfully." (Romans 12)

I often ask myself, and seek God in prayer on "exactly what are my gifts? What more should/can I be doing?" I don't want to neglect my service to God, and want to live up to my responsibility as a Christian to give all of myself as I can. I believe that God has blessed me with many gifts that I haven't even discovered yet, and I pray that I will operate up to the level of His calling. I know that God has something bigger and greater in mind and that He has a purpose for my life.

As John Burke writes in Soul Revolution "I have learned that if we are truly willing to respond, the Greatest mind in the universe has a plan to use willing people to do His work in this world. He wants to include you in His dream for humanity. All you have to do is stay connected, willing, and responsive, and you and your friends will be amazed at what God will do through you. According to God, the path to true wealth is counterintuitive. It's not by worrying or hoarding more, but by trusting and giving more."

"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and glory forever." (Hebrews 13)

Many times I am over anxious and find myself involved in a service that is not gratifying and doesn't give me inner peace. I have to ask myself is this right for me; am I doing this for God or myself. I believe that it is important to seek God in prayer, listen, and wait patiently for His response, then look at my God-given spiritual gifts, my personality, and my leadership style to be able to passionately serve and follow God's will.

"Now there are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. All of these are the work of one and the same spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines". (1 Corinthians 12)

I am so driven to give more, and continue to passionately search and pray for  unique gifts that drive and motivate me so that I can share and contribute to my church and meet the needs of others. I am somewhat of an over achiever, and tend to take on more than I can handle which leads to stress and anxiety. I must be willing to trust Him to lead me to the resources that will enable me to develop and make an impact on peoples lives.

John Burke also writes "The implications are clear. God had given all of us different amounts. He wants us to use it to provide for ourselves, even to enjoy it, but He also expects us to invest it to further His business here on earth. Its not all for us. He wants us to use our creative capacities to make it multiply for good-to leverage it for His kingdom-building enterprise on earth."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Guilt or Grace

I have always been a very independent person growing up, and had to rely on my own choices and decisions. So I often push back feelings of shame or guilt when I have sinned or made a poor decision which may directly hurt another individual or myself because I try and justify in my heart that what I have said or done was right. Whenever I reach this crossroad in life and open my heart to wait to hear God's voice, I understand which direction to take and I can move forward with feelings of confidence, contentment, and gratitude. It motivates my response to a situation in a more positive and graceful manner. But when I take matters into my own hands, or rush through a decision without praying and grasping God's wisdom first, the outcome is one that does not give me peace, and I know that I am not being trustworthy.

As Charles Swindoll wrote, "You can stop hiding, stand before Him, acknowledge your sin, admit you are helpless to please Him on your own, and receive His free gift of grace. His gift is free, extended by grace and received through faith. So, the choice is yours. Guilt or grace?" 

My willingness to stop and choose God's way instead of my own, provides me with a heart and nature of character pleasing to Him, and my feeling of self is gratified.  And although I know I will continue to make wrong decisions (and when I do), I want to be guided by God's grace rather than guilt so that I can move forward in a positive reconciliation of the matter. I can choose to walk away from God's direction, and struggle all my life, or let Him nurture me into the very person I am intended to be. 

"What we need is a relational atmosphere of grace and truth, where we are not condemned even in failure. This kind of relationship continually inspires us to deepen our moment-by-moment dependence on God, rather than causing us to fix it for ourselves. It's only through our connection with God that we receive the power to genuinely change." "We all developed the habit of living mostly on our own, disconnected from God in a fallen world. We respond to this inherited tendency of humanity to go our own way instead of God's way." (Burke) 

I am growing and maturing to persevere and seek God's wisdom and understanding, and to bear my responsibility for an offense or wrongdoing, so that I may be remorseful and aware of my having done something shameful. I will choose grace over guilt to guide and shape my character. 

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the Glory of God. " (Romans 5:1-2)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Joyful Confidence

We live with joyful confidence in the assured expectation that Christ will one day set all things right. It's the joy of knowing that we have been renewed and that we are in the process of becoming more like Jesus. It's the kind of joy we experience when things are going well and we can anticipate His coming again without unpleasant circumstances to distract us. (Swindoll) 


It's been a challenging week for me not only being away from family, friends, and fellowship while opening a new store, additionally I have been sick all week! And although I am always so optimistic and excited to travel, meet new people, and just be amidst the excitement of a new store opening, I am the worst "sick" person ever; I am not happy having "down time"! I often struggle pulling close to, and focusing on God when I don't feel well, when I KNOW that He has planned my days for a this case, to rest and slow down. So, this week I have taken pleasure and been thankful to God for peace and rest in my spare time. I remind myself that it is not my agenda, but HIS!  I want to believe that I can live through sickness and through health, happiness or sorrow, or any pressures and anxiety that I may have~with joyful confidence~ knowing and anticipating, with appreciation, what He has planned for me. I must be inspired to deepen my relationship and dependence on God instead of relying on myself to figure it all out.

"The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:28-31)

"In order to soar, we have to face an adversity or challenge that is coming at us threatening to knock us down. Only then, through His power and might, can we rise and soar above our problems. When we feel overwhelmed and inadequate we have the greatest potential to soar, for when we are weak HE IS STRONG." (Tupyi) 

I am thankful for a week in which I have (really focused on!) concentrating on God's will for me, not being "self centered or self righteous" but experiencing joyful confidence that this is just what I needed! I look forward to returning home in anticipation of reuniting with my family and friends. I appreciate the peace that God has given me, and will make it my priority to accept good days and bad, praising God for the strength He has given me.......

"Mature believers experience a kind of joy that transcends all other considerations because it is anchored in their "peace with God," their reconciled relationship with the Almighty. They live with joyful confidence despite the afflictions of a fallen world, despite the physical consequences of past sin, even despite their failure to live as they ought." (Swindoll)   

Friday, February 26, 2010

Relationship With God

"The Lord wanted something more than an obedience-in-exchange-for-blessing business arrangement. He wanted a relationship, and relationships require intimacy and trust in equal portion." (Swindoll)  

It is the most amazing gift that I am blessed with, and I am so thankful to have a personal relationship with a God that I have never met or cannot see. But I can hear His voice and feel His presence, and trust that He has planned my day and will give me the strength to endure it. I desire continuous communication with Him all day, and rather than devoting myself to selfish religious or business deeds, I must instead trust Him and follow His path and His will.

"God looks for hearts that are humble and seeking a relationship with Him, willing to respond in obedience to His guidance." (Burke). 

We are declared righteous not by earning or deserving it or by our good deeds, but by responding to God's grace given to us, and by believing and trusting God to fulfill His promises in our days of sin and difficulty. Because sin and difficulty surround us daily! But rather than trying to maintain control over our lives, we must abandon ourselves to His will.    

"When one receives God's grace through faith he or she is considered righteous and treated as such despite his or her current behavior. Contrary to the most common misunderstanding of God's expectations of humankind, we cannot be declared righteous through obedience to His law." (Swindoll)

My relationship with God is more profound than any other! I believe that above all else, God's desire is to establish a personal link and connection with me. He has opened the door and invited me in, and I feel so BLESSED that I have entered! I hear His voice, and feel a very special bond and association to Him. I look forward to trusting Him in every step forward and to enjoy the journey in His presence!

"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2-3)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Good Morning Lord

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the wear. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. Isaiah (50:4)

I had to pause in my reading of the book of Isaiah, and capture my thoughts of praise on two verses that spoke to me. Early mornings have always been "my" time; a time in which I want to start my day off praising the Lord and thanking Him for all of His blessings in my life. It is the time I set aside to read my bible and devotionals, and  stay in touch with my friends and family via e-mail.

This year has started out as a truly amazing year for me as I have found an amazing church (after searching for two years), begun some very spiritual reading, and have new found fellowship with family and friends. It has been a turning point for me, and I am learning and maturing like never before! I desire to yield and  listen to God's words of instruction for my life; He speaks encouraging words to me continuously.
My struggle is showing this attitude of grace and love throughout the day when temptations, difficult relationships, and obstacles get in the way; to "sustain the wear"...refine me Lord!... I want moment-by-moment connection with God, so that I can fulfill my desire to be the "peace maker", share the good news and be the ultimate, optimistic wife, mother and friend no matter what the situation.

I catch myself reacting to and saying things that are not His will, and am making it a priority in my life to listen to God's promptings and take risks like never before so that I can encourage, care, and speak the truth in love to all those I come in contact with....all day! 

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God Reigns." (Isaiah 52:7)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Self Righteous or God Righteous?

In my study and reflection on God's righteousness, I understand that "being righteous" does not mean living by the law or your good deeds, it is by being obedient to God. Self righteousness is an attitude of hypocrisy that is hard to see in ourselves. But God is opening my eyes! It is a trait that I am earnestly working on in my life right now, and in fact is my mission statement. In the past my motives have certainly reflected this attitude! When I do good works, favors, or share my gifts, I desire appreciation, honor, and reciprocation. Or when I hurt someone by my words or actions, rather than apologizing and asking for forgiveness I try to justify my actions to myself and God, and go back to the individual with kind words and often humor to make atonement in our relationship.

"This is a self-portrait. Have you seen yourself? If not, maybe you have not asked God to show you what He sees. It is not a pretty sight. But He is compassionate and merciful, and gives us a way out through His cleansing blood. Do not try to whitewash your sins with words; do not try to put the blame on someone else. Own your own sin. This is the one way you can be cleansed of it. Self righteous is one of the most difficult sins to recognize since it is a matter of attitude rather than action. It is complacency in it's worse form because it involves regarding ourselves as more virtuous than others despite the reality of a deficient spiritual condition."  (from

Good deeds do not qualify men for greatness in the kingdom of God. Our good deeds and accomplishments as humans on earth do not make us righteous. We tend to want approval and acknowledgment for our gifts, good qualities, and successfulness. We tend to boast and believe we are the one's God will bless. Self righteous people are the hardest people in the world to reach! Ouch; is that me?!

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by it's deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

"The standard of righteousness has never been anything less than moral perfection, which no mere mortal can ever achieve. Therefore, our only hope is to be declared righteous by the gracious gift of God. We receive this gift through faith in Jesus Christ, who took our punishment on our behalf, thus satisfying the heavenly court's requirement that justice be served." (Swindoll)

"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord , for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ." (Philippians 3:8-9) 

With love, honor, and respect for God, I pray I will present my love and gifts with an attitude of "God Righteousness" instead of "Self Righteousness", and put aside in thoughtful prayer, all my hurt feelings from lack of human recognition.   

"Salvation is not a reward for good behavior. Instead, salvation is:
  • a transfer of righteousness from Jesus Christ's account to ours
  • a gift of grace motivated by God's goodness, not ours
  • a display of God's love for us, not ours for Him" (Swindoll)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Redeem Me!

In my constant search for daily happiness, well-being, and harmony, there are always daily challenges and temptations that get in the way. I have learned far too many times in the past that the further away I am from communicating with God, and when placing other people or things in front of my relationship with Him...I am self-serving and lost to the joy I am longing for. For too many years I have temporarily strayed from my Father, and become "cold". Thankfully He always rescues me and brings me back! He redeems me! And I think I finally get it! Being "on fire" for God and living my life in accordance to His will, provides me with more daily satisfaction that any earthly material thing possibly can.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23)

"All of humankind has been enslaved to sin by virtue of our moral debt. The law of God demands payment in order for us to be considered "righteous" or "just", but we are hopelessly unable to pay enough out of our own goodness. We need a redeemer. We need someone to pay our debt for us. And according to the gospel, we have such a redeemer in Jesus Christ, who paid it in full." (Swindoll)

As long as I am constantly seeking His word and striving to be obedient to Him, knowing that I battle constant setbacks, I know that I can depend on Him for redemption. I believe that God restores my relationship with Him, and we remain united.

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." (Ephesians 1:7)

Upon fully understanding that I am freed by His redemption and everlasting love, I realize that I am under His Lordship; I am dependent and owned by Him. I must continue on my daily path to mature and grow spiritually and allow His will to be my will.

"The greatest blessing that we can obtain is the blessing of redemption through Jesus Christ. The ultimate blessing for the Christian is the completion of our redemption through Christ." (Cunningham)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love On Valentine's Day


I am loved! "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassion's never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him'". Lamentations 3:22-24

I love this verse, because every morning when I wake I feel God's love, and express my love for Him. There is no greater feeling than knowing I am loved by my heavenly Father. Although I can't physically feel or touch God, it's a love I can feel deep inside my heart and soul. "Earthly love is only of the here and now, but the love from above has the future in mind." (Kendall)

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor touched, but are felt in the heart" (Helen Keller)

The gift of love is the greatest gift of all. Sharing love with others is a high priority on my "to do" list. How much better does it make people feel than to know they are loved? Love is grace renewed, and it is the number one thing that Jesus has instructed Christians to do.

"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 record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

Let me share the love God has so generously given to me, and let it shine out from my heart and touch everyone I meet today!

"Jesus made it clear that what matters most to God, second only to staying in loving connection to Him, is how we love people. Believe it or not, where we need to "see" God's power the most is not in miraculous provision, or even in breaking harmful addictions. We need His power most to break a much more harmful, powerful addiction-the addiction to self. Only with God's moment-by-moment help can we learn to be other-centered." (Burke)