Saturday, October 8, 2016

Believing in Christ is One Thing... But, Following Christ is NOT for Sissies

It is one thing to believe in God, it is a WHOLE other thing to do as Jesus said and. "Take up your cross, and FOLLOW me."
A man named, Tullian Tchividjian wrote a book called "Jesus + Nothing = Everything"  In that book one thing he said knocked me down.  He pointed out that what Jesus was actually saying was, Take up the electric chair, the hangman's noose that was meant for YOU and follow me.  Pretty clear that Jesus was telling us that to follow Him, our old self must die.

Believing in Christ is one thing... James 2:19 says
"You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!"

Believing in Jesus?  Oh... that is Bethlehem... a manager... angels singing to shepherds on a hill top! JOY TO THE WORLD!
Following Jesus?  Wait a minute!  That means acknowledging that cross situation.  A man in agony... I put him there.  A heavenly Father turning His face away.  My sin did that!

Following Him means He died for me, so that he could live through me.  So, the old Sharon has to get out of the way.  There is no place for her any more.  I am very serious, I want to do this SO much. I want Christ to live, and forgive and love through me.  And it is not easy... it is HARD to do.  To be frank, I DON'T want to let Him do it... but, at the same time... I am desperate for Him to do it.

This past week, I was hurt very badly by someone that I considered a friend.  And, the Lord has been dealing with me about forgiveness.  Loving those who have mistreated me. Praying for them.  You know what I am saying inside????


Two areas of scripture kept coming to mind every time I would get angry and want to do something about it...
Matthew 5:44-45
 "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
Romans 12:20-21 ( Paul is quoting Proverbs 25:22 here)
"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

Spurgeon's comments on the verses in Matthew just kicked me in the backside!  He said Christ brought a new central rule to the universe... LOVE.  And, that it is VERY presumptuous of me as a follower of Christ to think I have the right NARROW that love down  and block it from anyone.

THEN.. the Lord led me to this man's comments on "the heaps of burning coal". (Jeremy Myers)

What Does It REALLY Mean to Heap Coals of Fire on Someone's Head?

Well, I was humbled!  KNocked flat in fact.  And, I got in some serious prayer time.  The Lord healed that wound and He helped me forgive the one who hurt me.

Now, some things are WAY harder than others to forgive... and some of you are going through things that I do not know if I could forgive.  I would just have to lean on the Lord and hope that He would give me grace to do it.  But, the only way for me to have ALL that God wants me to have is to do things HIS way.  My motives may be entirely selfish... I want all God has for me.  God will help me work on my motives, too I am sure.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"I AM" knows where I am...

As I was sitting in church this past  Sunday morning, during praise and worship, the Lord just brought such JOY to my heart.  I started thinking about the words in Psalm 139...  Not only is there no where I can go on my own that God does not know where I am... There is absolutely no circumstance of life that can hide me from Him!  And, all of a sudden, I couldn't even sing any more.  All I could do was to weep and just praise Him!

Paul told us in Romans that NOTHING can come between us and the love of Christ. (Romans 8:31-39

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  
Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, 
or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  
For it is written, and FOREVER remains written, 
"For your sake we are put to death all day long;
We are counted as sheep for the slaughter."
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors, 
and gain overwhelming victory through Him 
[who loved us so much that He died for us].  
For I am convinced, [and continue to remain convinced beyond any doubt] 
that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
 nor things present and threatening, nor things to come,
 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing
will be able to separate us from the UNLIMITED love of God, 
which is in Christ Jesus our lord." 

Notice those words, "nor any other created thing".  Everything except for God is a "created thing".  
SO, NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING can separate us from Christ and His love for us.

Janny Grein sings "We've Been Made More Than Conquerors"

Friday, August 12, 2016

It's All About Image...

Jesus turned the religious world upside down with His attitude and His teaching.
  • He went to the homes of publicans and sinners as well as people who had good reputations?  How dare he act like a tax collector had as much right to His time as a scribe!  Mark 2:15-17
  •  And, he treated women with the same respect he treated the men he met? There were no women scribes or priests!  Why waste your time teaching and ministering to women?  John 4:7-29; John 8:2-11; Luke 8:1-3; Luke 10:38-42
  • He made time for children.  There are no children making decisions about how the Temple funds will be spent!  Matthew 19:13-14; Luke 9:46:48
  • He made time for those who didn't fit the mold.  How about you?  Are you merciful, hungry for righteousness, persecuted, in mourning, meek, poor in spirit?  The religious leaders taught that you must have failed God somewhere.  But, Jesus?  He said those people were blessed!  And, God would see to their needs. Matthew 5:1-16
The religious leaders hated Him.  
Isn’t that ironic?  They claimed to be God’s voice on the earth and they hated the One that was THE WORD!  They had so little respect for God and so little insight as to WHO Jesus was, they wanted to kill him.   John 1:1-5; Hebrews 1:1-2; Luke 22:2

These men were constantly looking for ways to trap Jesus into a corner and make a fool of Him.  But, He knew the reality of what was in their hearts.  They might dress with the finery of priests, but, their hearts were as filthy as used coffins.  Matthew 23:27

Let’s look at Matthew 22:15-22
Some religious leaders had gotten together and discussed their next strategy against Jesus.  
They thought they had a perfect way to trap Him and get Him to say the wrong thing.  
But, Jesus gave them a HUGE lesson about behavior and allegiance in His answer to their trick question.

The Romans were hated by the Jewish people because of their abuse, oppression, and cruelty.  The Jews were taxed severely by the Romans and of course the Jews resented having to pay money to invaders who oppressed them.
The Pharisees stopped Jesus in front of a crowd.  They had already chosen their words carefully…
They started with flattery, Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students.
Then they drop their little bomb… So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

They thought, “We have Him now!”
  • If he says it IS lawful, the people will turn on Him.
  • If he says it ISN’T lawful, the Romans will take care of Him.
Then HE lowered the boom on them…
  • He told them He was not fooled by their flattery.
  • He asked for a coin.
  • He pointed out that Caesar’s image was on the coin.
  • Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.
  • Give to God the things that are God’s.
The Pharisees were caught off guard, and walked away astounded.
I wonder if the reason they were so shocked by this were those final few words… “…and, give to God, the things that are God’s.”
I love when Jesus taught this way.
Jesus simply answers their question with the truth that will further rock their little theological boats!
The coin was in Caesar’s image… Give it to Caesar, it is his anyway.
The Roman government will decide the best use for the taxes paid to them.

But, that last part…
Give God the things that are God’s. 
Where do we find something made in God’s image? Genesis 1:27
·      Us.
The human race.
Even those Pharisees were created in the image of God!

And, being made in His image, we are to give ourselves completely to Him. 
There are people who would NEVER cheat the tax man... but, they cheat Almighty God by denying Him what is His.
We are His.
The government decides the best way to use our taxes, God decides the best way to use us.
The only difference is, God will never waste our lives.
The tax man? I can't promise he won't waste your money.

Jesus never missed an opportunity to help people to understand His kingdom.  
Even when he dealt with people who wanted Him dead.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

God is a little picky when it comes to you!

Psalm 139 says that God is interested in you.
  • Verses 1-4 tell us that our lives are played out in front of His eyes. 
  • Verses 5-12 tell us that no matter what the situation of our life, God is right there, closer than our breath, nothing can hide us from His gaze. 
  • Verses 13-15 tell us that we are the handiwork of God. He did not just throw some atoms together and decide, “Okay, there is another human being. Not perfect, but they will do.” 
The psalmist says we are, “curiously wrought” (KJV). Amplified version reads, “intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors]
  • Verse 16 says that even while all the pieces are coming together, God works it all together to achieve what He has intended for us. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that He knows the plans He has thought out for us, plans for us to have a future, and hope, and to achieve an intended end. 
  • Verses 17 & 18 tell us that He plans for us and works on us and thinks about us more than just a little bit… we cannot even comprehend the thoughts that God has toward us. 

I love that!!! The Word of God says, we are “formed as if embroidered with many colors”.
My favorite ways to spend time is in my craft room quilting and embroidering. I love both of those hobbies.

I tend to like the old fashioned or “prim” embroidery designs. I enjoy embroidering dishtowels with those old fashioned designs!

My favorite quilting fabrics are old time prints like my grandmother, Bessie, used in her sewing. They are so feminine and bring back wonderful memories.

Quilters are an odd lot to some of you, because…
  • We are all SO picky about the colors, textures, and type of fabrics we use. 
  • We buy several large pieces of fabric. 
  • Then, we cut those fabrics up into small shapes. 
  • Then, we sew those shapes back together! 

In the time I spend on a quilt, I have worked with that fabric, handled it as I placed it together in different ways to achieve the end result that I want and held it as I stitched it together.
I know every inch of that quilt.

It is the same way with embroidery.
  • I am picky about the way I want it to turn out. 
  • I hold the item in my hands and draw a design on it. 
  • Then, I pick just the right color and texture of thread that will give the finished result I want. 

I have hopes for the things I make for others in my craft room.
  • I hope they know I made it for them with love. 
  • I hope people are happy with what I have made them. 
  • I hope they know I chose the colors, threads, and designs just for them. 
  • I hope they will use the item and respect the time I spent making it for them. 
  • I hope they know I created it for them for a specific purpose. 
  • I hope they will use it for that intended purpose and not just toss it aside. 

Do you think for one minute that God cares less about you than I care about the quilts and embroidery that I create?

Romans 8:28
, Paul pretty well sums up all those verses in Psalm 139 in one verse. “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, and those who are called according to His plan and purpose.” (Amp.)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Out of the wilderness... AT LAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When you come out of a wilderness experience, you really feel like celebrating.  We have just been brought out of a wilderness experience that lasted more years than I want to admit.  It seemed sometimes like we only had each other and the Lord.  But, there were always people who were praying for us and loved us through the time of dryness.  To feel the presence of the Lord around me like this again!  It just makes me want to grab hold of the heavenly Father and just hug His neck and never let go!

I was listening to this song this evening and I just got the HAPPY all over me!  The words are exactly how I feel about what God is doing for Buddy and me right now!  


You gave me love
That caused my heart to overflow
You gave me love
Much deeper than I've ever known
You have set my feet where I belong
Put within my heart a brand new song

You gave me love
Offered my life a brand new start
You gave me love
Sent straight from heaven to my heart
Further than the east is from the west
You've taken all my sin and brokenness

You gave me love
You gave me love

I can see better days ahead
Our land will dance again
Because of You
Voices will be heard with shouts of joy
You've done mighty things
Let the nations sing

You gave me love
You gave me love

Thoughts on prayer...

I was going to post about the "whatsoever" list in Philippians that tell us the things we should think about.  But, instead, I am going to write down some thoughts instead.  Thoughts about prayers and praying.

Prayer is one of the necessities of life to a Christian.  
I don't know why God uses prayer like He does.
I mean... after all... He is God... 
He already knows everything.  
And, He already knows the best way to solve any situation.
But, He is God.  His game, His ball, His rules.

Bishop Thomas Muthee spoke once about prayer being the life's breath of our soul.  We breathe out all the cares of life and we breathe in refreshing strength from the Holy Spirit.  Without breathing, our body will suffocate and die... without prayer our soul can too.

Do you ever feel like your prayers hit the ceiling and then just crumble right back down on your head?
We all have felt this way.
But then, out of the blue... something I have been privately speaking to God about starts to come about!
Like a rose... it is just a little bud at first, then the bud starts to open... slowly over time it opens and the thing that was meant to be happens!  The flower that was inside the rose bush all the time is there out in the open!

And, then I see that prayer does amazing things for me...
  • My faith in God increases.
  • My desire to spend time in God's word increases.
  • I want to talk with Him more and more.  Not just asking Him for "things", but getting to know Him. 
  • I have a message of hope that I can pass to others around me.
  • And, when you pray for others and tell them you are praying for them, it is a way of connecting with others that is so special!  People love to know that God cares enough about them to have one of His children pray about their lives!
And, His word says that our prayers do amazing things for God as well!
  • It is a way we can personally honor God.
  • They are like a sweet smelling incense to Him.
  • Our prayers are precious to Him.  
  • He loves our prayers. 
  • It is something that you can actually do that goes right there in front of Him in the very seat of heaven!!!

Revelation 5:8 "And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people."

When you pray and your mind is telling you that you are wasting your time.  Ask yourself...
  • Who would tell me not to pray?  
  • Who would tell me it is a waste of time?
It is NOT God who would tell you that.  He wants us to know that our prayers can change the world!

James 5:16   "Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]." (Amp.)

Do not give up on praying.  No matter what your "feelings" at the moment are... keep on.  It is important that we are persistent in our prayer life.  If prayer was not so important and so powerful the enemy of your soul would not fight so hard to keep you from praying.  
And... he will fight to try to stop you.  He is subtle.  
Don't believe his whispering into your mind...
  • That you are wasting your time. 
  • That you are not holy enough or good enough to pray and expect an answer.
  •  That it is taking too long.  God is NEVER going to answer that prayer.
  • Telling us we don't have time to pray.  (I have two words for anyone who thinks they don't have time to pray...  Susanna Wesley
Your prayer life is important to the kingdom of God.  It is the one way you can absolutely make a difference in this world.  And to be quite frank, you do not have the right to give up on your prayer life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Winning the battle for my mind...

I have been going through a mind battle thing lately.  And, I want to share what the Lord has used to comfort and discipline me.  I hope that it might encourage someone else as well.

Finally, believers… think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]." 
Paul speaks to believers about how to direct their thoughts.  It is not uncommon for a believer’s mind to be attacked.  But, we absolutely have a choice as to what our mind will dwell on.  If your mind is being attacked, it does not mean you are a weak or sinful person.  But, we have been given weapons to tear down every thought that is against what God has said.  2 Corinthians 10:4 says that our weapons of warfare are not carnal (weapons that fight flesh and blood or anything in the physical world), but mighty through God (divinely powerful) for the destruction of fortresses. (A fortress is where all the plans of attack are made.  It is where the enemy feels safest. It is the last ditch place of defense.)  If you destroy an enemy’s fortress, he is vulnerable to YOUR attacks!!!  You want to get the enemy on the run FROM you?  Here are a few hints on how to do it…
1.  Put on the Full Armor of God… beginning with the HELMET OF SALVATION.
The helmet covers the warrior’s head.  This is where the mind is.  The mind is where the battle is won and lost.  Jesus sacrifice on the cross bought this helmet for us!  It has worth beyond measure.  We cannot just take our salvation for granted… We must act on it!  Hebrews 2:3 “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”
Ephesians 6:10-18  And, after putting on the armor… USE IT!
No one worthy of the title “soldier” or “warrior” ever just puts on their battle gear and then just sits and watches the war.  And no one worthy of those titles would ever go to war without the equipment needed to fight effectively.  We have got to get pro-active in our walk with the Lord.
2.  Pray continuously to God.  
James 5:16 “The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].”   
1st Thessalonians 5:17 KJV “pray without ceasing”   Amp “be unceasing and persistent in prayer”
“To "pray without ceasing" refers recurring prayer, not nonstop talking. Prayer is to be a way of life--you're to be continually in an attitude of prayer.”  Grace To You (blog)
          3.  Praise God.
2 Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always and delight in your faith”
          4.  Pursue God.
Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs to it and is safe and set on high [far above evil].”
          5.  Ponder Godly things.
Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”

Tomorrow… Paul tells us how to invest our thinking time.