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Saturday, February 25, 2012

I Found It All

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27  (NIV)

"What is more, 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."  Philippians 3:8  (NIV)

"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 3:12  (NIV)

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14  (NIV)

Many years ago, in a little country church in East Texas, I found everything that I would ever need. I found Jesus!  Or, He found me!!  Let's just say that we found each other.  The decision on my part to pray a sinner's prayer and accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior has brought such peace and joy to my life, during the good times and through the bad times.  My life continues to be radically changed because of His love and acceptance of me that day so long ago.

Actually, there is nothing this world has to offer that can compare to the lasting satisfaction and joy of my faith in Christ. Has my walk of faith been perfect all of these years?  I wish that my answer could be to the affirmative, but that is not possible.  Just like all of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, I have had many struggles, trials, experienced uncertainties, fears, and discouragement. There have been times when I did not follow God's leading as I should have. I have sinned and fallen short of where I should have been in my walk with the Lord Jesus.  And, I have been broken. 

There are many things I would do over if I could, but I can't.  However, I have found that God is faithful and stands ready to forgive us of our sins and help us to get safely back on the path that is best for us.  It is a path that will honor Him and bring glory to His name. It is a place where we know that without Him we fail miserably.  Therefore, because of our trust in Him and reliance on Him, our faith is made stronger each day.

Tonight, while reading 2 Corinthians, Chapters 11 and 12, I was reminded that it is through our weaknesses that God makes us strong.  This happens so that we might not boast of ourselves, but of Christ. He is there in the midst of each hurt or fear, uncertain health issue, or each misstep that we make. How wonderful to know that when we stand firm in our faith and rely on His strength instead of our own, He will lift us up--all for His glory--just the way it should be!!

The song below by The Collingsworth Family entitled, "I Found It All", expresses what my heart feels. To sum it up, I am a sinner saved by the grace of God who found it all when I met Jesus. In spite of my own shortcomings, God has blessed me way beyond what I deserve.  That is how much He loves me. 

Through God's Word and faith in Christ, you, too, can find everything that you will need to navigate the twists and turns of this life. You will experience deeper joy in your heart than you have ever known; find strength that you need on the bad days; and more importantly, you will have the assurance of eternal life when you leave this world.  Please remember this: God never forgets you.  He loves you.  You are created in His image and more than anything, He wants a relationship with you through His Son, Jesus.  He is always there.  He is always faithful.  Great is His faithfulness!

Prayer: Father, God, I love You.  Thank you for being the perfect Father--a Father who loves Your children and never gives up on us.  Thank you for the many promises found in Your Word. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who shows us the truth of Your Word.  We are so thankful that Your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.  May our burning desire be to follow You in all ways, all the days of our lives. Help us to speak passionately to others of what You have done for us. I ask that You bless each person reading these words and help those who have not already done so, to find all they will ever need in the person of Your Son, Jesus.  This I pray in His name--the name above all names.  Amen.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Power of the Cross

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."  I Corinthians 1:18

The above verse of scripture was among many covered tonight in my Bible study class.  Much of the study which began with the book of Acts gives an in-depth look into the life of the apostle Paul.  We have seen the hardships that Paul and the other apostles endured as they preached and ministered to the early church. Their message of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ was not always welcomed by non-believers.  They suffered much persecution and even imprisonment for the cause of Christ.  Yet, they did not quit and God gave them strength to persevere.  There were many who chose not to believe their message. Still, many people did choose to believe and became followers of Jesus Christ.

Through this study, I have learned to be more appreciative of  the struggles and hardships of Paul and those with him who ministered to the early church and non-believers. Through their work and dedication in bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Gentile world, the groundwork was laid so that one day I would be able to hear and believe the same message that they preached. Through the power of the cross, chains that once held me enslaved to sin have been loosed. I now live in freedom because of what Christ did for me on the cross.  I am so thankful that the message is still the same as it was during the time of the early church.  I pray that even today we will have more people like Paul who are willing to share the message of Jesus Christ no matter the cost.  

The song, "The Power of the Cross" by Natalie Grant came to mind during the lecture portion of my Bible study tonight. I wrote the title down as I have learned to do this when God gives me something I might want to write about at a later time. By the time I arrived home, I was singing the song out loud and enjoying it quite well!  The words of this song are very meaningful to me.  Perhaps someone out there also needs to be reminded of the message and the power of the cross.  I am thankful to have been reminded of it in my study tonight.

Prayer:  Dear Father, thank You for the power of the cross.  It is the foundation of our Christian faith.  To think that You loved us that much is almost incomprehensible, but we receive it and believe it with humility and thankfulness.  Help us to always remember the price that was paid for our sins and to always enjoy the freedom we have in You.  That freedom only makes me want to follow Jesus more closely in my walk of faith, and I pray this is the desire of every person who now reads these words.  I pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Under His Wings

"He shall cover you with His feathers. And under His wings you shall take refuge."  Psalm 91:4

Have you ever prayed the Psalms aloud?  If not, I invite you to do so.  For me personally, speaking or praying the words of the psalmist brings peaceful moments, hope-filled days, and strength when I am weary. How wonderful to know that during each moment of our lives, the safest resting place we have is found under His wings.  Below is the Psalm I prayed this morning, along with a meaningful song entitled, "Under His Wings" by the Sisters.

Prayer: "O, God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.  Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.  So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night, for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.  My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."  Amen.  Psalm 63:1-8 (ESV)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Have Come by the Way of the Cross

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

"… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;" - Romans 3:23-24

"Have you ever thought about what a Christian is? Christians are people who have shuddered at the awfulness of their sin. They have seen sin for what it is: willful rebellion against the rulership of God in their lives. And in turning from their sin, they have embraced God’s only means of dealing with sin: Jesus." Kay Arthur 

The quote by Kay Arthur written above personally expresses what being a Christian really means to me. I have believed the words of Jesus found in John 3:16. I am an imperfect person who saw my sin and gave my heart in surrender to Someone greater than myself. By faith, I take God at His Word and lean upon the many promises found therein. John 10:28 gives me the security that I will always belong to Jesus as He says the following: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."

Nothing this world has to offer is as important to me as that of being a Christian. Everything else is futile. Eventually all will rust, decay, and fade away. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, the King of Israel at the pinnacle of his power and wealth, asked God for great wisdom.  God granted Solomon this wisdom.  Solomon tested each arena of human endeavor and pleasure, and with deliberate, sobering clarity he concludes that all is ultimately futile.  Solomon's findings read as follows: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all.  For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

God's love is continually reaching down to each of us.  What a difference He has made in countless people whose lives have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus. Today, do you accept that love and call yourself a Christian?  Although not perfect, are you someone who continually seeks to do God's will and follow after His heart, not your own?  Do you trust Him to direct your life?  My prayer is that you do.  Jesus Christ is the hope for all mankind.  Only He can provide lasting peace which results from the promise that we belong to Him.  The song below entitled, "I Have Come by the Way of the Cross" by TaRanda Greene reminds us that there is nothing we have done to deserve God's only Son.  What a wonderful assurance we have of eternal life if only we go by the way of the Cross.

Prayer:  Dear Father, thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of the world.  For those who hear these thoughts over and over and feel as though they are listening to a broken record, please change their hearts.  Help each person reading this blog article to see, to finally see, that life is futile unless they believe in Your promises.  Thank You for peace that passes all understanding.  This is Your gift to each Christian.  Help us to always remember the way we have come and not allow ourselves to be distracted or discouraged by the things of the world.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Am

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."  Isaiah 43:2 NIV

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5b

Below is a beautiful song of God's comfort, peace, and promise.  Whatever you may be going through today, please rest assured that He will never leave you nor forsake you. 

Prayer:  Father God, there is none like You.  You are the great I AM.  Thank you for touching my heart today with these verses of scripture and this song. You comfort us with the many promises found in Your Word that tell us we are never alone during our times of challenges, sorrow, trial, pain, and suffering, or when we simply seek purpose and direction for our lives.  You know us better than we know ourselves, and today we place our lives--all that we are and ever hope to be--into Your hands.  Only You can give peace and comfort. Only You can bring Your plan for our lives to fruition.   Comfort each person who hears the song and reads the words in this blog article and give them strength and hope.  This I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world. Amen.