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Archive for the ‘God’s Gift’ Category

I just finished reading a blog by someone who spent a few days in a psych ward.  It was  interesting to note the point she made that no one there had to pretend to be anything  other than what they were.  Everyone could finally remove their everything-is-okay mask, and let the real person out.

I’m sure a lot of you know what that mask is.  It’s the one that hides the real person, and covers the everyday flaws that we all possess.  I’m also sure a lot of you know that wearing that mask day in and day out is hazardous to your health, and is in itself, enough to drive you over the edge.

I know I do.  I used to wear that mask.  But then I accepted Jesus Christ into my life, and as He changed and continues to change me, I learned that you can only be what you don’t want to be for so long.  I learned that you can only not be that which you long to be for just as limited a time.

After that…a slow, subtle death begins, and rather than put your dissatisfaction on display for all to see, you don your own personalized mask.

But you’re still dying inside.

Whatever area of your life is causing you to wear a mask – or maybe you have to wear more than one mask – is an area that you need to turn over to Jesus Christ.  This is just one of the reasons why, if you don’t have a relationship with Him, you need one.  And it is not the most important reason…the salvation of your soul is.

Trying to be what other’s expect you to be; trying to act in a way that fits in with everyone else’s’ expectations of you takes its toll.  But for the Christian, we are not living for the praise of mankind.

So, what does God say?  How are we to live according to His requirements?

We are to be DISCIPLINED to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”  Luke 6:46

 We are to be OBEDIENT to the commandments of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  (John 14:15)

 We are to be FOLLOWERS of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”  (Luke 9:23)

 We are to put Jesus FIRST before everything and everyone.  He becomes the center of our life.

Jesus said, “…for no man can serve two masters:…”  (Matthew 6:24)

  The apostle Paul said in Romans 8:38-39:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This can be your wonderful legacy also!  And you won’t have to pretend anymore.

If you will accept Jesus Christ into your life as your Lord and Master, acknowledge your sinful ways (as we all have) and confess a desire to change from those ways (repent), you can just go to the Father with all your cares, needs, and concerns.  You can approach Him with humble confidence, thanking Him all the way, and praising Him.

Some people may think that I still wear a mask because I don’t get bent out of shape about most things.  But that’s the presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in my soul, and I pray to God regularly for strengthening and renewal (when needed) of my faith.  I ask for wisdom and guidance so there’s no need for me to contradict myself by getting all bent out of shape, is there?

I’m not pretending.  I’m not wearing a mask.  And you don’t have to either.  Jesus Christ will set you free from all pretenses if you let Him.  And remember…being freed by Jesus Christ is being free indeed!

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God Can

Sometimes we find ourselves in a bind or a rut.  It may be financial, emotional, or physical.  It’s an uncomfortable place, and our backs are against the wall.  We don’t or can’t see a way out.

But God can.

God will always make a way for us if we believe.  And He doesn’t need any help.  Still, sometimes we will unconsciously attempt to help God out by searching high and low for a way out.

Now, I’m not saying if we’re in a difficult situation to do nothing.  Yes, we can and should do our part.  If we need a job we should look for a job, and trust that God will make one available to us.  If we become depressed, the last thing we should do is stop talking to Jesus Christ about how we feel.  Don’t stop praying to God because the reality is that all we need to do is pray about it, thank Him in Jesus name, and then keep our faith unwavering.  It’s okay to do our part…but then we need to get out of the way and let the Master do His.

God’s plan will NEVER fail.  But ours often does, doesn’t it?  Just remember, God created the universe out of nothing.  The earth hangs suspended in the air by…nothing.

The Bible tells us in Job 26:7 that God “…stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.”

Look at the moon, the stars, and the sun.  They too are suspended in space by…nothing.

Again, the first book of the Bible (Genesis 1:16-18) tells us “God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.  He also made the stars.  God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.  And God saw that it was good.”

So, when we don’t see an answer, when it looks like there’s just no possible way out.  Remember: God CAN make a way out of nothing.  He already has, and He proves it to us every day and every night.  Amen!

Make yourself obedient to Jesus Christ.  Then trust God to work everything out for you.  Believe me – He will.

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Trust

Today’s topic should be about trusting in God, I think.

Some of us put all our trust in another.  We invest everything we have – emotionally, physically, financially – into another that we trust.  And don’t get me wrong. That’s good.  Very good because that’s what unconditional trust is all about.

But what about the One who created us and holds the eternal destiny of our souls in His hands?  If we can trust another, shouldn’t we also trust Him?  And shouldn’t He be at the top of the list?

Some of us say we trust in God, but it’s hard to tell sometimes.  We fluctuate.  One day we’re praising Him for what He’s going to do.  A few days later (when the thing we need Him to do hasn’t happened yet) we’re about to worry ourselves to death over it.

I know it’s hard sometimes not to doubt.  I’m guilty of that too.  It’s human nature to not trust that which we can not see.  But here’s the thing…we actually can see God when we look at the magnificent design of creation.  He made it so that we would know by instinct that there is a Creator.  There is a God.

How many people saw the ‘Super Moon’ last night?  It was beautiful.  And far too awesome to be some unexplainable accident.

When I am weak, and feel doubt trying to creep in that’s when I know to pray harder, to ask God to increase my faith and remove all doubt.  I know that’s the time to hold on even tighter because if there’s one thing I know it’s this…

Through all the hard times God has NEVER left me or forsaken me, and I know He never will.  How do I know this?  Because He said He wouldn’t.

“…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  Hebrews 13:5

And I trust Him.   You should too.

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Believe

How can you believe God?

–  By not just reading, but also studying His Word, the Bible.  God has proven   Himself many times throughout it.

– By listening to a man of God preach the True Gospel.  (This goes back to studying God’s Word.  Know the truth so you won’t be misled.)

–  By talking with your friend, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, child, or stranger who is saved, and who wants to lead you to an active relationship with Jesus Christ as well.

God has provided us with many ways to hear and receive His Word.  We need only to be willing and open to receiving it.

If you don’t have the desire in your heart to know God, it would be a good idea to ask Him to put the desire there for you.

If you are not willing to know Him, nothing can happen until you are.  He will not force Himself upon you.  But God knows your heart, and only He alone can change it…for you…and for the better.

Some people want to do things their way.  They don’t want anyone – including God – telling them how they should live.

How ironic it is that we would not want the One who created us telling us how we should live…

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“…for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” 2 Peter 2:19 (NIV)

What might you be a slave to, today?

Money?

Working five, six days a week, overtime, weekends, back-to-back shifts?

Food?

Double, triple portions at meal time with snacks in between?

Sex?

Pornography, one-night stands, multiple partners, fornication, adultery, etc. (this could be a long list).

Materialism? Drugs? Alcohol? Vulgar speech?

Think carefully about it.  What are you a slave to?  And would you like to be set free?  You can be, you know….

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“Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.”  Proverbs 21:13

 

Today’s quote addresses the plight of the poor.  Being poor can take on a different definition depending on who you are talking to.  Some can be poor in spirit, in money, in food, or in all three.  Let me share with you my story about the drifter…

It was a warm spring day several years ago.  The day before I was to attend the funeral of a very close friend.  I was in the parking lot of a supermarket, numbly loading the trunk of my car with a few bags of groceries because, yes, I still had to eat.  Suddenly, I heard a male’s voice close behind me…too close.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” the voice said softly.

I turned to find a young man perhaps around the age of twenty standing with his hands jammed into his dingy, over-sized blue jean pockets.  His blond hair was tussled; his face was pale and dirty.  His blue eyes were clear and filled with pain.

“Yes?”  I answered cautiously, wishing he would remove himself from my immediate personal space.

“I’m new in this town and I was wondering if you could spare a few dollars?”

I looked at him as I asked, “Are you hungry?”

“Well, yeah,” he said looking down at the ground.  “The people in this city aren’t so friendly.”

“Well, that depends,” I said, “on who you ask.”

He smiled slightly, and my heart went out to him.

“Where are you from?”  I asked.

“Minnesota.  I got into a little trouble with my parents, and they kicked me out.”

“What kind of trouble?”  I knew it was drug-related.  I’ve worked with and been around drug users long enough to know the signs that always show up on an addict’s face and in their eyes, but I wanted him to tell me.

“Well,” his eyes shifted.  He kicked at some imaginary piece of debris on the ground.

“Was it drugs?”  I asked, finally rescuing him from a difficult confession.

He nodded.

I let him know that his life did not have to be the way it was.  I told him that God did not intend for him to live the way he had been living – hooked on drugs, and drifting from one city to another.  I told him that the death of my friend whose funeral I would be attending the next day was indirectly related to drug use.

His eyes met mine, and he said, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

I believed him.

“There is a better way,” I said looking directly at him.  “If you surrender yourself to Jesus, He can deliver you.”

He stood nodding his head and listening.

A few minutes later, I asked him what he would like to eat.  There was a McDonald’s, Burger King, and a KFC restaurant all within a six-block radius.

He was trying to be polite.  “I guess a burger will be fine.”

“The only thing you want is a burger?”  I asked.  “You don’t want two?”

He raised his eyebrows.  “Well, sure, I guess if you don’t mind.”

“Would you like some fries with that, too?”

Again, he raised his eyebrows.  “Sure,” he said.

We agreed that he would wait for me by a certain bench in front of a women’s clothing store while I went to get the food.

“I’ll be back as quick as I can,” I said.  “Don’t leave.”

“Okay,” he answered.

The restaurant was crowded.  Fifteen minutes later I turned off the street towards our specified meeting place.  I could see his smile before I reached the bench.  I smiled too because many times I had done this – offered to go get food – and come back to find the person gone.  He stood up as my car approached.

“I bought you a soda, too,” I said.

“Thank-you,” he said with true sincerity.

I asked him what his name was.  It was  * “Adam” – the same name as my friend whom I would see the next day for the very last time, laying still and quiet and cold.

I told him what my name was, and that I would be praying for him.

“Don’t end up like Adam,” I told him.

Earlier, I’d placed a tract that explained the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His love into the bag of food.  I gave him the bag, and then I directed him to a men’s shelter.  He thanked me, and I drove off wishing I could have done more.  I could have.  I could have given him bus fare to the shelter, and to this day I do not know why that thought escaped me.  Maybe it was because of my own grief that semi-clouded my thinking, and prevented me from seeing this stranger all the way to safety.  I don’t know, but I often think of that young man, and wonder what has become of him.  I pray that the seed I planted took root, and has since grown.

Now, I know in this day and age it’s not safe (for a female in particular) to go around assisting strangers by herself whether they be male or female.  But, we cannot turn a blind eye nor a deaf ear on those who are in need.

Romans 8:31 tells us that “…If God be for us, who can be against us?”  So then, if we have Christ in our lives, we can use caution and common sense.  And then, we must hear the cry of the afflicted, near or far, and we must offer help.  We all have the capabilities to do so.

 

* Name changed to protect the privacy of others.

 

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Understanding

If you take a look at the weekly quote on this blog, you’ll see that it’s about understanding.  Most of us want to understand something before we will believe it.  From a worldly point of view that’s not such a bad idea.  But from our Creator’s perspective, it is unacceptable.

Simply put…we must have faith.

It is impossible to try to understand everything about the One who created the universe, the One who created US!  Yet, many continue to go on doubting His existence, or doubting His word because they just can’t understand it.  It just doesn’t make sense to them.

We sense – even those who will not outwardly admit it – that there is something far greater than us.  God has put it in our conscience to intuitively know that He is God.  But we make a conscience choice to believe or not believe.  Such is the nature of free will.

As I’m sure you all know by now, I choose to believe.  I choose to have faith.  And faith is a pretty powerful force.

In Hebrews 11:1, we are told that “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

And this I know to be true, for many times in my own life I have, in faith, hoped for that which I could not see.  I have embarked on journeys – stepping out in faith – though I could not see my final destination.  I put my trust and faith in Jesus Christ and those words in Hebrews 11:1, and what I was hoping for eventually came to be.  Some of my faith journeys were ridiculed by those who could not understand why I was doing what I was doing.  But I understood.  Because I had faith.

“So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Romans 10:17

We MUST have faith first…in order to understand.

Some of the things I am hoping for have not come to pass – that I can see.  But just because I can’t see it yet does not mean it isn’t already on the way.  Sometimes it takes time.

I am still on my faith journey.  And I will be on it for life because this world is going to throw you, me, and everybody else some curve balls, and some stormy clouds occasionally.  I don’t know about you, but I plan to keep the faith.  Because if I don’t…it’s gonna get rough.

We MUST have faith first…in order to understand.

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Surrender

This little survey is meant for everyone to take a look at his or her own soul.  You take a look at yours, I’ll take a look at mine.

1)  What is the #1 most important thing or person in your life?  Is it God?

2)  Have you made up your own beliefs about God?

3)  Have you ever used the phrase, “Oh my God”, in a casual way (i.e. you weren’t even thinking about God when you said it)?  Or have you ever used the Holy name of Jesus Christ as part of a filthy cuss word?

4)  Have you ever dishonored or disobeyed your parents?

5)  Have you ever acted hateful or thought hateful things about someone else?

6)  Have you ever lusted after someone?

7)  Have you ever stolen anything?  (It can be as small as a…Suzy Q or as big as a car.  If it wasn’t yours, and you took it…that’s stealing.)

8)  Have you ever told a lie?  (This includes little “white” lies)

9)  Have you ever wished that you could take something away from someone else or wished you had what they had?  That’s called covetousness.

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions you are GUILTY!

And so is everybody else.

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23

But what is sin?

“Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”  1John 3:4

Therefore, sin is the breaking of God’s law.

So, if you answered “yes” to one or more of the questions above like I did, that means you have broken God’s law, which makes you a what…?  Sinner – that’s right.

BUT

Jesus Christ paid for our sins when He suffered and died on the cross!

I surrendered my life to Jesus, and I was forgiven of my sins.  God said He would remember them no more.  He has sent a helper, the Holy Spirit, to help me live a life that is pleasing to Him.

And what did I have to give up?  What did I lose?  Let’s see…cussing, acting in a hateful manner, lying, stealing, fornicating, disrespectful behavior.  Hmm…aren’t those all the things that have the world in the messed up state it’s in now?

For all of those who are saved, and all those who know God’s commandments but do not obey Him, it’s like crucifying Jesus Christ over and over again.  I asked this question before:

How long do you think God is going to keep waiting on you before He says times up?  It’s over!

I, myself, am not willing to take that chance.  I live my life for Jesus Christ, and I am living.  Once I decided to drop the anger and the attitudes, to forgive and not hate.  I became free.

Sometimes, because I am still a work in progress, I speak too quickly when I should be listening.  Sometimes, I form an opinion without adequate facts.  But the marvelous thing about having Jesus in my life is that He let’s me know in my heart and conscience when I have done, said or thought something I should not have.  I pray for His guidance, and I can count on Him.  And He has  NEVER let me down!

You can be free too – if you want to be.  You don’t have to live with attitude.  You don’t have to be weighed down with hatred and anger and whatever else plagues you.  You CAN have peace and direction.

That’s what God wants to give you…and more.  That’s how He meant for you to live.  But you have to trust Him.  You have to surrender.

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No Excuses

I’m tired. I don’t have time. I’ll get around to it later. I still have time. I need to get myself together first. I’m scared. I don’t want to have to give up all my fun stuff. God wouldn’t accept me the way I am. I’m not a religious person. My family and friends won’t accept me. I  don’t believe in God.  I’m a good person already. I’m too weak to live a Christian lifestyle. The Christian life is too hard to live. It’s too hard to get saved. I believe everybody will be saved.  I’ll have another chance after death.  There’s nothing wrong with living like the world. Being saved is not for everybody. Nobody really knows if they’re saved. It doesn’t matter what I believe as long as I try to live right. I try to live by the 10 commandments. All men are children of God, so I don’t need to do anything extra. God is too good to damn everybody. There are too many things I don’t understand. I don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God. I don’t believe in hell. Maybe when I get older. God will understand.

****

I used to make a lot of the above excuses.  If I’m not careful, two of them – ‘I’m tired.  I’ll get around to it later.’  – will try to creep back in.  But I don’t know when ‘later’ is – and neither do you.

So, I have to be prepared now and all the time.  I have to make sure my soul is right with God because I don’t know if I even have ‘later’ – and neither do you.

But it is not of my own strength that I serve Jesus Christ because if it was I would fail every time.  The Bible tells us that through Christ we can do all things.  I believe that, and so I no longer make any of those excuses.  And although it’s true – living a Christian lifestyle is sometimes hard; there are two things I must always remember:

1) I am not trying to live it on my own; Jesus is helping me.

2) Anything worth having is not going to come easy.

So, let us:

Stop Making Excuses…

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)I have stopped making those excuses.

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Music For The Soul

I am learning to play the violin.  And much like living a life for Jesus Christ, it is an ongoing process.

If I don’t practice playing every day, I will never get better.  I will never master the bow, the strokes, the even tempo, etc.  I can’t pick the violin up whenever I feel like it and expect to play it, much less play it well.

It is the same with living for Jesus.  I can not call on Him periodically, and then lay Him aside until it suits my fancy to call on Him again.

No.  That will not make me better as a Christian.  It will not make me stronger.  As with the armor of God, I must be in Christ continuously, then He can live in me continuously.

Anything less won’t do, and it also leaves me open to the attacks of the enemy, satan.

Jesus Christ is not a Savior of convenience.  He is the ONLY savior, and I must remain in daily conversation with Him.  This is what is meant when people ask you if you have a ‘relationship’ with Jesus Christ.  It’s just that.  A relationship.

And when you’re in a relationship you see and talk to that person on a regular basis if not everyday, right?

So, when I think about growing as a servant for the Lord, when I think about my Christian journey I know that I can’t be on fire for Jesus one day, and indifferent the next.

Jesus told us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments.   I love Him and expect my relationship with Him to last forever.

I may or may not master the violin (although I think I’ll be able to play a song or two when it’s all said and done).  🙂

But I  must perfect my daily walk with Jesus Christ.  I have no other choice.  And through His power I will.

The sound of the violin is music for my soul.

The promise of salvation through our Lord, Jesus Christ, is music that is life-saving for my soul.

And it can be for yours, too…

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