It seems like a lot of people view a woman…or man for that matter..as strong if they don’t cry, show hurt, or allow themselves to be concerned for others. But truly I believe that they are the strongest. Someone who has been hurt but is still willing to open themselves up again with the knowledge if how painful it can be is far stronger than someone who has hardened their heart. A branch that is alive will bend but a dead limb will simply break when the wind becomes too strong. I believe people are the same. As long as we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, then we have love inside of us. And as long as we have love, then our heart has not hardened.
When you live in a small town, you may not KNOW everyone but you’re acquainted with nearly everyone. You might see them at the store, drive by their house during your daily routine, attend some of the same sports activities or school functions, etc. So it’s not uncommon for them to cross your mind. But when they are on your heart and mind because you know they have been having a rough time….it’s God.
It’s God when you suddenly feel the need to pray for someone you’ve never even really spoken to. It’s God when you find yourself posting scriptures on Facebook and praying that they read them and that it eases some of their burden. It’s God when you want nothing more than to let them know that God hasn’t forsaken them. It’s God.
So if you are reading this and thinking to yourself that nothing in your life seems to be going right…you need to also realize that the God of the universe…the God that lived so that He could die….so that we could live….that very same God has placed you…yes you… on the mind and on the heart of someone who barely even knows you. That very same God has heard every prayer, seen every tear, and loves you more than you could even comprehend or imagine.
So as you lay your head down tonight, know that you have been prayed for and that you are loved.
We used to host a small group bible study in our home. A lot of what we did was try to grow deeper in our faith. As Christians, that’s what we should desire. A closer, more personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In doing so, we should be growing our faith. Allowing it to grow deeper & deeper so that the we are so rooted in Christ that nothing can move us. But what good does deep faith & a strong rooted relationship do if we aren’t flourishing & bearing the fruit of Christ? The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control. If we bear fruits of pettiness, hatefulness, jealousy, gossip, rudeness, instigation, selfishness, and harshness…. and we try to hide behind a false image…God still sees our real fruit. And not only does He see the bad fruit for what it is, but the good fruit, done for any reason but to glorify God, is spoiled.
If you’ve ever gone on a tour or to a museum, you probably noticed that your guide always knows all about the people, places, or things that are on display…down to the smallest of details. They can tell you how a person lived, what they ate, their likes & dislikes….it’s almost as if they knew them. Almost. But of course they didn’t. They can’t tell you what was in their heart, who they loved, what made them cry. They can tell you facts and stats but they can’t tell you what it was like to have a conversation because they’ve never met. How many of us know about Jesus? We can tell you about His birth, about His ministry, His death, His resurrection. We can tell you about how He healed the blind man & brought another back from the dead. We can tell, teach, & preach about His miracles. But do we know Him? When we stand at the throne of God to face our judgement and we tell Him how we’ve told others about Him, is He going to say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”? Or is He going to say, “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”? Do you know Him….or do you just know about Him? There’s a huge difference. My fear is that when that day comes, there are going to be so many people…good people…who will be told to depart, because although they were willing to learn, they weren’t willing to turn their lives over to God & form a relationship with Him. Don’t just know about Him. Know HIM!! Let go…and let God! Before it’s too late.
Why do I go to church? Why doesn’t another? Do I go to be fulfilled? Do I go to see what I can get? Do I go because of anything I can contribute? And does another NOT to because they don’t think they’ll get anything from it? Or because they are too busy? Too tired? Doesn’t like ‘those hypocrites’ down there? NO! They may not realize it, but they don’t go because they feel guilty. Why do they feel guilty? Because they have sin in their lives. But I’ll let you in on a little secret if you won’t tell anyone…I have sin in my life too. And rather than that keeping me from church…it draws me there. God will forgive me of my sins wherever I am when I ask him. But I go to church…to God’s house…to praise Him and to thank Him for that forgiveness…for that GRACE! We are ALL sinners. But when you accept Christ as your Savior and ask His forgiveness, then you start learning and the Holy Spirit starts guiding you as to what sin is. And when you sin, you feel guilt. And when you ask for forgiveness, you are forgiven and that guilt is removed. And then, as a child of God, you pray for God to help you to keep from repeating that sin. You wake up every day and try to walk in God’s light and not falter. But when you do, you ask His forgiveness again. And amazingly…He forgives you again. But He does expect us to choose. We choose between a life of sin and a life of Him. If we continually choose the same sin over and over…then we are not choosing Him.
Let your reactions to situations reflect Christ in you. The world has enough problems without us adding fuel to the fire. A single flame is harmless until fuel is added. If you add gasoline to a flame, before you know it, you have a forest fire that is burning out of control… destroying lives, homes, and anything else in its path. And often, those that lose the most had absolutely nothing to do with starting the fire. Gossip is like gasoline. It only causes hurt & pain. Pray hard to be part of the solution…not part of the problem. It all starts at home. What would Jesus do?
I was reading a devotional about planting seeds and for some reason the phrase ‘seeds of doubt’ crossed my mind and it occurred to me…even when we aren’t planting seeds for God’s glory, we are still planting seeds. Whether we mean to or not, we are going to be an example to somebody. Whether it’s our children, our youth at church, our kid’s friends, nieces, nephews, neighbors, coworkers, whoever is watching us at any given moment…we are an example. So in addition to always trying to plant seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, we also need to always guard against planting seeds of doubt, hate, sadness, anger, negativity, pride, or anything else that yields bad fruit. After all, it’s the good fruit that helps our physical body to grow strong and healthy so why would it be any different for our spiritual body?
A few nights ago our dog barked all night. The next morning we discovered that she had drug a possum up to the house which explained the barking. Before that it was a dead raccoon, a mouse, and multiple turtles. Oh! And let’s not forget one of our chickens. She is so proud of herself every time despite the fact that I would prefer that she hide the bodies and leave the chickens alone! But what she wants is a pat on the head & a scratch on the belly because she has performed a great deed by protecting us from those vicious critters. But isn’t that what we do? We do some insignificant thing that we consider a great deed, spread it out before us, and wait for someone to pat us on the head for it. I know I have. And what’s sad is, I’ve even done it with God. Here’s the thing. We aren’t doing God a favor. No amount of good deeds can earn us God’s approval. I would imagine that He has probably had the same reaction to some of my “triumphs” as I have had to my dog’s. He probably would have been happier if I had simply guarded my testimony rather than barking about it and expecting for a pat on the head.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
Matthew 6:1-4 NKJV
Have you ever jumped in your rig & taken off out of town only to have your fuel light come on? And it usually happens smack dab in between gas stations where it’s too far to go in either direction. How often do we get our prayers answered…get headed down the right path…only to have everything that could possibly go wrong happen? I’ve noticed that I will pray so hard about something but as soon as God answers that prayer, I put the situation on cruise control & before I know it, I’m veering off course. What I’ve concluded is that the bible says to pray without ceasing….I stop praying too soon! For some reason, I seem to think if God will give me a push & get me started then I can just keep going & going all on my own. When the fact is, God is the fuel that keeps me going and prayer is the steering wheel that keeps me on course. So next time you’ve got a personal journey and you pray for God’s direction….make sure you don’t take off without God or prayer. Because even the best drivers rarely get far without fuel or a steering wheel.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – NKJV
How many times a day do we wad up paper and throw it in the trash? Plain, ordinary paper that gets discarded simply because it didn’t have a purpose. Have you ever made a paper snowflake? You start out with an ordinary piece of paper. You fold it up and cut little pieces out of it, and then round off the jagged edges. When it’s all unfolded, you have a beautiful snowflake. I think we are all plain ordinary pieces of paper. And unless we allow God to take us, remove our jagged edges, allow Him to remove the sin and cut away the pieces of fear and doubt, then we are just going to end up in the trash, destined to be burned. But when we accept Him and allow Him to change us and give us purpose, we go from plain and ordinary to a beautiful creation.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV
If I ate a bowl of fruit with a few nuts, oats, and a little yogurt on Monday morning, but then ate cupcakes, candy, cookies, and soft drinks for every meal the rest of the week, I probably wouldn’t be very healthy. Not only that, I probably wouldn’t feel very good. I would be physically and mentally unhealthy because it matters what you consume.
So when I find myself or my family in this unhealthy state, do I blame the grocery store? I mean after all, they sold me all the junk food. Shouldn’t they have done a better job making sure I bought healthy food…maybe more fruits and veggies? Should I blame my stove? I mean, it should be providing me and my family with healthier alternatives shouldn’t it?
Of course not! I’m pretty sure that if my weekly diet consisted of one healthy meal and 20 unhealthy ones that I would have nobody to blame but myself. After all, I am solely responsible for making sure that what I eat will be nourishing. Because I know that it matters what I consume and it matters what I feed my family.
So why would I think that my Spiritual appetite and health are any less important? Why do we think we can consume Spiritual nourishment on Sunday morning and then spend the entire rest of the week gossiping, cussing, watching inappropriate things on television, listening to inappropriate music, and essentially feasting and filling ourselves with everything we can get out of this world?
And then when we find ourselves struggling in our relationship with God, drifting farther from Him, and watching our kids starting to make decisions that we know are wrong, who do we blame? Do we blame the church? After all, it’s their job to feed us Spiritually isn’t it? Do we blame the media? I mean, there is so much bad stuff out there telling us that wrong is right and right is wrong, it’s no wonder we’re all struggling.
IT MATTERS WHAT WE CONSUME! Whether it enters through the mouth, the ears, or the eyes….IT MATTERS!
Who chooses what we eat? Who chooses what we listen to? Who chooses what we watch on television? Who chooses what we gossip about? Who chooses who we help or who we hurt? Who chooses what we allow our kids to consume? Who chooses what we allow them to watch or listen to? Who chooses who we allow them to spend time with? Whether by word or by actions… YOU CHOOSE!!!
And it matters what you choose. Because whatever you choose to consume the most of, will eventually consume you.
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:43-45 NKJV
The longer I live in this world, the more I believe that there is no such thing as too over-protective when it comes to our children. Prepare them for the world. Teach them to listen for that still small voice of God. Teach them that Satan will always shout louder but to listen to the whisper of God. But protect them with every ounce of your being as long as you possibly can. God has placed them in our protection to raise. They are His children and He expects us to love and protect them. He doesn’t want us to just let them run around until they grow up. A plant that is placed in good soil,watered, weeded, given plenty of Son shine will grow strong. If left uncared for it will be whither and die. Don’t allow the weeds of this world to entangle your child. Protect them.
Why do we go to church and what is the church to you? Well first of all, most of the time when we ask what the church is, people say it’s a building…God’s house. The building…God’s house…is where the church congregates but it’s not the church. We are the church. We are the body of Christ. Flesh & bone…not boards & shingles. So why do we “go to church”? Well…I prefer to say the church gathers since we are the church. So why do we gather? Is it to be entertained? Is it to show the world that we’re ‘good people’? Is it to be fed? Is it to try to cram a weeks worth of God into one day? Is it because we have kids & we think they probably need to be in church? Or is it to worship God? To give God the holy reverence that He should be given? Sometimes it seems that the world has lost the point of worship. We…me for sure…can’t seem to keep that humanness in us/me from turning what should be all about God into all about us/me. And then we leave church, and think we’re good until next week. If we only spoke to our spouse once a week, what kind of marriage would we have? A relationship with God is no different. Honor Him on his day, pray and meditate on Him the other 6. And don’t try to cram A week’s worth of God into one day. Think about it…what if God thought about us, only as much as we think about Him?
I had several boxes and some junk mail that needed disposed of so I took them out to burn them. I lit the pile in several different places but noticed a napkin that I had thrown in so I lit it. Now the boxes were slow to catch fire but that napkin flamed up and within a few minutes, the entire pile was nothing but ashes except for a stick that was still smoldering and a rock that didn’t burn.
So here’s my question…what is your faith made of?
Do you believe that there is a God but you do nothing to honor Him or obey him?
Do you believe in God, sometimes obey Him, maybe even go to church, but then the rest of the week, give little or no thought to Him?
Or do you believe in God and commit yourself to the work that He has given you? Never perfect, but always striving to be a faithful servant of God. Do you study His Word, honor Him in your daily life, and wake up each day putting on the full armor of God?
If you are the first one, that believes but doesn’t honor or obey Him…you are like the napkin. When you are faced with trials and your belief is held to the fire, it will be consumed and you will be left with nothing but a pile of ashes.
If you are the second one, you believe but only on your terms and in your time, then you are the stick. You may be able to withstand the fire that this world throws at you a little longer than the napkin did, but eventually you will be overtaken.
However, if you are the third one, strong in your belief and commitment to God and the things of God…looking for ways to serve God rather than looking for how He can serve you…protected by His armor….you are the rock. Even amongst the flames, you are safe in your faith. Allowing the fire to refine rather than consume your faith.
So here’s my question….or questions. Is belief without action truly belief? Is belief without commitment truly belief? Is belief on our own terms truly belief?
I won’t answer that for you. But what I will tell you, is that I would rather stand at the judgement seat of Christ, my faith charred and covered with soot and ash, and hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” than to stand before Him, with no faith to show because it wasn’t strong enough to withstand the fire and hear Him say, “Depart from Me for I never knew you.”
If I’m being honest, I don’t even need to hear Him say, “Well done”. I’d be happy with, “You certainly were a handful, but you tried and I love you anyway. Come on in.”
For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.
And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’
Luke 19:17 NKJV
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV
Seems like every day is a struggle between dealing with negativity & living my life with forgiveness, mercy, and love. Because honestly….deep down all I want to do when I’m around a negative person is say, “Suck it up buttercup! Life doesn’t owe you squat! You’ve had a great life even if you refuse to see any of the good & choose to dwell on the bad!” And yes…I know that is not very Christian of me. But when people allow a couple of bad things to rule their entire life and choose to use it as a sympathy card every chance they get….it drives me crazy!! But at the same time I have to ask myself, “What would Jesus Do?” Pretty sure He would handle it much better than me. I’ve tried being the positive influence but it usually backfires & I just end up angry. I’ve tried avoiding & then I feel bad. I’ve prayed….but I’m quite certain it isn’t often enough. So what do I do? I forgive and give it to God. Because the only thing that I’m completely positive about is that it’s not possible for me to soften a hard heart but God can do anything.