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Sunday, April 29, 2012

We've Come This Far

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” I Peter 4:19 

“Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” I Peter 5:6-7 

Tonight, in the quiet of my little writing room, I am finishing my BSF Bible study lessons for the week. This week’s lesson focuses on the book of I Peter. Within the contents of these five chapters of scripture, there are many references and themes regarding trials and sufferings that we as Christians will undergo. 

The book of I Peter teaches us that these times come to make us stronger and to strengthen our trust in God. It is through the tough times that our faith will grow, if we will allow that growth. One thing that I am certain of is that God did not bring us this far to leave us. So, by faith we keep moving forward leaning on our Lord and trusting that He always knows what is best for us.

Today at church, some friends and I were talking about how many hurting people there are in our own little circles. Multiply that number by scores of others who are not personally known to us, and on every hand there are hurting people. Some are suffering from illnesses. Still others are discouraged, depressed, stressed, anxious, and lost in a feeling of hopelessness. Others are out of work and desperately need employment. Some are spiritually lost and have no direction for their lives. I am praying that the latter will seek a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for the guidance that they need. So, everywhere we look, there is pain and sorrow and suffering. That fact alone might be depressing if that were the end of the story. Thankfully, it is not! 

If you are reading this blog and your circumstance(s) fit into one of the categories mentioned above, please be assured that God knows your heart, hears your cries, and sees your needs. He has not abandoned you. He walks beside you through these times of uncertainty. Call on Him. He hears, He listens, and He answers. Take heart, dear ones. God is not finished with you yet.  

The song posted below is a simple song. It is entitled, “We’ve Come This Far by Faith.” I have been singing it for over a week waiting for an opportunity to write these words. My heart and my prayers are with my family and friends and all others who need encouragement and the assurance that the gentle Shepherd walks beside them at this very moment.  

Prayer: Dear Lord, we love You with all of our hearts. Be with each person reading this blog tonight. Stay near to those who are hurting. We thank You in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Give Me Jesus

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

The song below, “Give Me Jesus” by Fernando Ortega, says it all.  Listening to it as I was cleaning house this morning, I felt His love and closeness to me.  What a comfort to know that nothing else really matters…….not worldly possessions nor things that some try to hold on to.  All are just shallow attempts to fill the void in a heart that only He can fill.  Things of this world will one day fade away, but Jesus…the same yesterday, today, and forever is all that I want.  My prayer is that along with me, you will say, “Just give me Jesus.”
Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank You for loving us and for being all that we need.  Help those who do not know You to have the desire for a relationship with You so that they might experience the inner joy and peace that only You can bring.  This I pray in Jesus name.  Amen.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cielo (Heaven)

“Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  Psalm 95:1-2
“Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.”  Psalm 95:5
Until this past Sunday, I had never heard the song entitled, “Cielo (Heaven)” by Phil Wickham.   My heart was touched as our church choir and worship team sang this song so beautifully and worshipfully.  
Based on the Word of God, we know that heaven will be a beautiful place. I lack for words to describe what it will be like.  My earthly mind cannot comprehend it, but  my eternal mind can be excited about heaven. I know it's going to be a wonderful place!  I will see Jesus face to face and fall humbly on my knees to worship the One whose death covered my sins.  My loved ones are waiting for me there.  That in itself is such a wonderful promise.

While we are here on earth and are looking forward to heaven, we know that because of God’s great love for us, we will never be able to sing loud enough when we’re singing for Him. Nor can we ever bow low enough in His presence for we are so unworthy of that great love.  As His child, I know that I will never be able to lift my hands high enough when I am reaching for Him.  But, what peace and joy I feel by knowing that He is always there with such love and grace, and that He reaches down for me in love and tenderness each day.
I pray that you enjoy the song and will praise our heavenly Father, for He has done great things! 
Prayer:  Father, God, I thank you for Your great love and for the unmerited favor of Your grace.  As my friend wrote in her blog recently, we know that this grace that has been so freely given to us is definitely God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  Thank you for Jesus and for salvation.  Because of Him we have the assurance of eternal life. Thank You for first loving us so that we in turn may love You and others.  I pray this prayer in the precious and matchless name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.   

Friday, April 6, 2012

He's Alive!

“While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee.” Luke 24:4-6

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades”. Rev. 1:18
“And who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Romans 1:4
“Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even if he dies. And those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?"  John 11:25-26
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6
The above scriptures speak of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection are the foundation upon which Christians base their belief. True belief in the resurrection should fill us with awe and overwhelm us with a sense of peace and thankfulness. Jesus died and rose again so that we could live an abundant life and worship Him for all eternity.
Because of the finished work of Jesus Christ through His resurrection, we have assurance that our past sins are gone.  The shed blood of Jesus on the cross means that we can live every day in His forgiveness. Our future is bright because the tomb is empty! 
For Christ-followers, hope came with His resurrection.  Jesus willingly entered the mystery of death and came out alive. His first step out of the tomb changed the world forever. Were it not for His sacrifice on the cross for all mankind, we would have no hope of eternal life. He paid the price and brought life where we once were dead. Because He lives, we are able to face today and all of our tomorrows with the assurance that He is in every situation. 
The resurrection was God’s declaration to the world: “This is My Son!”  The resurrection serves to tell us that “with GOD all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), and it gives us the assurance that every one of His promises will come to pass. If Christ is truly risen, how can any trials of this world possibly lead to defeat?
This Easter season, let's place our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and live in the promise and power of His resurrection. Let's pray for our mind to be fully opened to His truth and for our life to be lived because we KNOW He is risen!
Our future can be full of Jesus.  Our eternity can be secured in Him. But, we must first look for Him.  Pause and ask yourself, if you have truly sought a living and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. If not, He waits to receive you at this moment.
Christ the Lord is risen today.  Hallelujah!
Prayer: Father God, just saying “thank you” for sending Your only Son to the cross for sinners such as I, seems like such a feeble attempt on my part to let You know how grateful I am.  Help me, and each person reading this blog to be grateful for life, for salvation, and for the hope of eternity spent with our Lord and Savior.  And help us to be grateful enough to carry His message to those who are in need of the peace and joy that only He can bring.  Please take these words and look into our hearts knowing that we love You above all others, and want to be Your servants for the rest of our days.  For those who do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord, place within their hearts a desire to seek Him.  Please let this be the day that their lives are transformed beyond what they could ever imagine. This I pray in His name, the name above all names—Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Forgiveness-An Act of Worship

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."  Luke 23:34, NIV

"If Jesus forgave those who nailed Him to the Cross, and if God forgives you and me, how can you withhold your forgiveness from someone else? How can you withhold your forgiveness from yourself? If God says, "I forgive you," who are you to say, "Thank You, God, but I can't forgive myself"? Are your standards higher than His? Are you more righteous than He is? If God says, "I forgive you," then the only appropriate response is to say, "God, thank You. I don't deserve it, but I accept it. And to express my gratitude, I, in turn, forgive that person who has sinned against me."

We forgive others, not because they deserve it, but because He deserves it! The only reason we have to forgive is that He commands us to, and our obedience gives us opportunity to say to Him, "Thank You for forgiving me. I love You." Our forgiveness of others then becomes an act of worship that we would not enter into except for Who He is and for the overwhelming debt of love we owe Him. "  Anne Graham Lotz

The thoughts above may be written by Anne Graham Lotz, but they are so succinctly the expression of my own heart, that I wanted to post them for my readers.  I have found that forgiveness when done in the right Spirit is a powerful thing.  Being forgiven is a powerful thing.  When we forgive and are forgiven we are freed from the weight of guilt and bitterness.  I am so thankful for God's forgiveness, the forgiveness of others, and my ability to forgive and let go of grudges, hurt or resentment.  We can never be what God wants us to be with bitterness, unforgiveness, or guilt harbored in our hearts.

Prayer:  Dear God, thank You for women like Anne Graham Lotz who express words in such a way that I never could.  Thank You for her ministry and for her Spirit-filled life.  Thank You for forgiveness, both given and received, and for the stream of cool, clear spiritual water that runs through our hearts when we forgive and accept forgiveness.  You are worthy of all our praise now and forevermore because of Your great love for us.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

YOU ARE NOT...........

1.     You are not alone – For God is with you.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20 

2.     You are not defenseless – For God is your protector.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6 

3.     You are not inadequate – For God is your sufficiency.
"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  2 Corinthians 12:9 

4.     You are not useless – For God has a purpose for your life.
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 

5.     You are not worthless – For God sent His Son to die for you.
“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 

6.     You are not without hope – For God has a place prepared for you.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 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. And if I go and 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 14:1-4 

7.     You are not unloved – For God loves you with an everlasting love.
“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”  Jeremiah 31:3 

8.     You are not rejected, or abandoned – For God calls you His own.
“But now, this is what the LORD says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”  Isaiah 43:1 

The above affirmations and scriptures are some of my favorites.  Many times in my walk of faith, I have needed the promises that are found only in God’s Word.  For me, this is the only way that I have been able to go forward joyfully and with total assurance that I am safe in the Shepherd’s arms.  It is the only way that I could find peace deep inside my heart. I have been strengthened by God’s Word. In times of loneliness, hopelessness, fear, rejection, and feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, these promises have been the life raft that I needed. By taking hold of God’s Word, and applying it to my heart and life, I am able to continue striving to do His will and develop more Christ-like characteristics within. 

As I look around the world today, I see so many unhappy people.  They are searching for something, but cannot find lasting happiness and satisfaction.  Some are riddled with guilt and shame and feel that if there is a God, He could never forgive, much less love them.  I am here to say that He will forgive and He does love you no matter what you have done.  There is nothing that God does not already know about you.  His greatest desire—the thing that He created you for, is to have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, His Son.  God specializes in making lemonade out of lemons. He did it for me!  My prayer is that each of you will feel God’s love and know with assurance that there is forgiveness, peace and joy waiting for you if you only believe His Word and begin to apply it to your daily life.

Prayer:  Father God, thank you for the promises listed above and for so many others that are found in Your Word.  I ask that You give each person reading these words the calm assurance that you love, forgive, and desire a beautiful relationship with them through Jesus Christ.  Bring peace, where there is none.  Give assurance where there is doubt.  Please give hope to the hopeless.  Help us to always remember that we are not alone.  Help us all to be more faithful to You in each area of our lives.  I pray this in the precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.