Ever Onward- Originally Posted March 26th

Philippians 3:12-14 (BSB), “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been perfected, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.”

Life can be tough, struggles long and hard, but as long as we don’t sit down or back up, we are constantly moving through these situations. Going through is the key. Pressing toward the goal is what Paul calls it. Something we always have to remember to do is to forget the past. Forgetting the old struggles, pain, hurts, failures, bad choices, mistakes, and sin. Forget about it. It’s ok to remember God’s goodness, deliverance, and love through those things, but don’t dwell on the ugliness, but on the beauty. He loves you!

We never get to say, in this life anyway, “I did it. I am perfect.” Paul had it right. We haven’t yet obtained perfection. However, instead of saying, “I never will” he pressed on. Ever onward. Forward march. Wagon’s hoe. Forget that your best friend just buried an ax in your back, that your spouse gambled away the house payment, that you fell off the wagon, again. Remember God will give you the strength to take that next step forward. Sure your knees might be knocking louder than a drum solo on a cyberpunk song, but so what! Take that first step toward better, toward sanity, toward, provision, health, deliverance, toward Him! It gets better, this too shall pass.

Grab your boot straps, quite like a man, stand firm in your faith, if you feel lacking in the faith department, ask God to help your unbelief. He is faithful even when we aren’t. There is always hope and help! Stop complaining, blaming, and making excuses. You choose to live different. You choose to let God mess with your life. He will work for you! He is able!

Take that first step and when you are weary take the next one. When you want to sit down, stand up. When you want to give up, give in to Him. Move forward. Walk on!

Ever onward. Let this be your mantra.

Quit You Like Men

I Corinthians 16:13 (DBT), “Be vigilant; stand fast in the faith; quit yourselves like men; be strong.”

Ok, so I am not a guy, but this verse always gives me courage. Most of us can start out strong, standing in faith, and vigilantly protecting our territory, but how do we finish? Do we lose faith, sit down, back down, tuck tail and run, or get lazy and let the enemy run rough shod over us?

Quit like you started, quit like a man. Other versions of this verse says, “be manly”, “be courageous”, “be men”, and “do manfully”.

A Godly man knows who he is and Who’s he is. He keeps the faith, not letting his guard down. He eat, sleeps, and lives, with the battle ever in his mind. A true warrior. He will fight to the death, and if he perchance survives, he comes out stronger with his spirit and morals still intact.

Before we can quit like men, we have to be watchful, see the enemy’s attacks for what they are, stand ready for battle, then finish the job like a man.

Psalm 31:24 (NIV), “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!”

The Same Glory

I Peter 4:14 (NIV), “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

Living for God, from Heaven, in Jesus, may lead to some insults, slander, and hatred. No big deal, not really. Not if you compare it to having His Glory rest on us. Pause and think about that for just one minute.

When Moses went up on the mountain to talk to God face to face, he came down off that mountain with the Glory of God literally shinning all over his face. The people were so freaked out by it they asked him to cover his face.

That Glory.

John 17:20-23 (NIV), “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Jesus glorifies the Father here on earth. God the Father shared His glory with the Son. Before He left, Jesus prayed that we would all be one, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and Body of Christ. In Jesus’ own words, He gave us the same glory the Father had given Him. He gave it to us to bring us into complete unity.

That Glory.

Then the whole world will know that God sent His Son and that we are all loved.

Tell Them The Truth

Last night I was woken at one by a heart wrenching wailing. At first I thought they were screams of pain, and I guess in a way they were. I opened my window to pinpoint the sound so that I would better know what to do. Right across the street a woman was howling and pounding on the window of the house. As I groped for my phone to call 911 another neighbor shouted, “What’s going on?” Her reply was, “My brother just killed himself.” I finished the call and cried. My husband and I prayed. My heart hurt for the family, that young woman, and the young man who thought that life was so bad, he took his own.

How do you go back to sleep after that? I prayed some more. I thanked God that my children and grandchildren were safe. Then I asked God, “How many people committed suicide today.” Which led to, “How many were murdered, raped, abandoned, hurt, tortured, and left to die.” I didn’t receive an answer. So I asked, “Isn’t this breaking your heart?” Still no answer. As I thought about this hurting world, this evil world we live in, God reminded me of a blog I wrote recently. I had stated that asking God “why” when bad things happen is futile, what we should be asking is “What now?” Not the answer I expected, however, it was the one I needed.

The more I thought about the evil in this world, especially suicide, the angrier I got. No, I wasn’t angry at God. But I was so filled with hate for the Devil. That old serpent who still deceives. His original lie in the garden is the same one he uses today. He still tells us that something is being withheld from us, something that is either unattainable, or that we have to somehow get for ourselves. He lied to that young man and told him, “No one cares, end your life and the pain will be gone.” That man believed that the only way to peace was at his own hand. He never found out the truth that someone does care, more than he could ever imagine and that that Someone could have brought peace into his life.

I remember those lies. They used to be whispered in my ear as a young person. I had my battle with the spirit of suicide, the spirit of death, and I spent some time last night and today thanking God for staying my own hand so many times when I thought I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. Satin is evil. He has infected this world with his evil. BUT God is good!

So now I am asking God, “What now?”

His answer, “Tell them I am good. Tell them they are loved, they matter, they have value. Tell them the truth.”

Obviously

 

Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV), “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 7:20 (NLT), “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”

What exactly is a “Silent Witness” or a “Closet Christian”? To some it is the opposite of a so-called follower of Christ who beats them over the head with the word, or who spouts off scripture when a hug or a helping hand is needed, or even worse, blasts them with a fire hose when a refreshing drink is all that is needed, the ones who are afraid as coming across as “one of those” people.

Honestly, in today’s world I can see the temptation to just keep your mouth shut and live right and hope someone asks you what is different about your life. However, if we are being honest, that isn’t what God has asked us to do at all. Yes, we live right. Yes, our life should be a living testimony of God’s love and forgiveness. Yet it is more than that. It has to be. Look at Matthew five again. We are to be a light that can’t be hidden. And in Matthew 7, Jesus tells us that a tree is identified by its fruit. If I am an apple tree, I should be bearing apples. If I am a light house, my light should be seen by every sinking and faltering ship out there in the perilous waters.

Sometimes, most of the time actually, that involves speaking. We have to tell them who’s we are. Just living right isn’t going to get a single soul saved. Living a hidden Christian life, so as not to offend anyone, isn’t going to help bring anyone out of the darkness and into the light. If we speak boldly as we ought, if we shine that light on some sinful behavior, if we live right in the midst of a world living so…wrong, won’t we face some opposition, maybe even persecution. Yep! In fact that is one way that we will know we are living for Him.

Who we are should be obvious. Again I know in today’s world that is a hard one. Today you can’t even use the once affective, “checking the body parts” to see if that seemingly genderless person is male or female. We can’t tell by the clothes, the makeup or lack of, we can’t tell by mannerisms, or really anything. We have become a world that wants no divisions at all, yet is so divided! So shouldn’t we live by a different standard? As Christians we want it to be obvious that we are male, or female. We want it to be obvious that we are hard workers, honest people, good parents, productive citizens, and fun people to be around. Shouldn’t it be just as obvious that we are His? I want people to know that Heaven is my home, that Jesus is my King, and that God is my Father. I want them to know that I am being led by The Holy Spirit, I have been washed by the blood, and that they can be too.

There is no such thing as a closet Christian. Shouldn’t it be obvious who’s we are. Obviously!

Be a shining star!

Philippians 2:12-15 (Berean Study Bible) “Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world.”

Hard Stuff

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II Peter 1:5-9 (NASB), “for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.”

Life is tough, living in this fallen world isn’t always easy, and we have an enemy who loves to tempt our fleshly nature to take over. On top of all of that, sometimes we are just plain stupid and we do stupid things, think stupid thoughts, and say stupid words. One of my favorite quotes is a John Wayne quote: “Life if hard, it is even harder when you are stupid.”

That kind of stupid can only be fixed by one kind of education, educating yourself, with the help of the Holy Spirit, in the word. Finding out who God really is and how He thinks of you. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a Christian keeps you from living a life that is harder than it has to be.

I Corinthians 10:13 (NIV), “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Sure we all go through stuff, hard stuff, ugly stuff, and unwanted stuff. Stuff happens! We don’t get to choose what we are handed, but we do get to choose how we handle it. I want to learn from my mistakes, don’t you? In fact I would prefer to learn from other’s mistakes and not have to deal with it in a close and personal way, but sometimes I am hard headed and hard hearted and God allows me to go through the fire to get rid of the junk. When I do, if I really surrender to Him, I come out looking, feeling, and living better. The dross is skimmed off of the top and all that is left is the precious metal. Like silver and gold that goes thru the furnace so that it can be purified, I come out stronger, with more faith, and more confidence in the Father.

Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to so that our lives get better. We stand in the gap for a loved one (or an enemy). We do the job no one wants, we work out things in our lives that shouldn’t be there, when the easy thing is to just pretend it isn’t there. We tell others when we mess up, we confess our sin, we repent, turn back to God and move on. I choose to obey God, to follow instructions, to submit to those in authority over me because they watch over my soul.

When I do this I grow up, I mature. My weaknesses are shored up, and my strengths are used for His glory.

Today I will do what others want so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” – Football player Jerry Rice

We all go through the same stuff, but in Christ, we don’t lose our joy over it.

Heart Hooks

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Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJB), “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

Have you ever been hooked by a fish hook? Maybe seen someone who has? I have several times, some of the stories are downright comical, others make you cringe just thinking about them. The thing about a fish hook is that you can’t just pull those things out. They have little barbs on them that are supposed to keep you from losing your fish.

I read a book recently where they used this analogy to explain the hurts in our heart. Those hurts are like fish hooks, full of barbs that are embedded in our hearts. You really can’t just pull them out. God knows this and cares about us so much that he takes them out the “easy way”. This involves pushing them through. It is still painful, believe me, it will hurt. However, it will not do more damage. Our Father knows the safest way to get them out. He can remove them without tearing our hearts to pieces. He is in the repair business not the demolition business after all.

We read in scripture about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, resisting, and then coming out of that experience full of the power of the Holy Spirit. He immediately started teaching in the synagogues. We read in Luke that He returns to His hometown, where He was raised and as was His custom, went to the synagogue there. He stands up and reads those words out of Isaiah. I enjoy the King James Version of this one because it reads that He came to “bind up the brokenhearted”. When I read this version, I always picture a torn and ravaged heart that He tenderly wraps in the gauze of His love, stopping the hemorrhaging.

That’s why He came. To heal our hearts. To show us that the Father’s love is more than enough to bind up any brokenness, to stitch up every wound, to break up every stony place, and to fill our hearts with His love (His love is “shed abroad” in our hearts.)

I found myself recently having to allow one of those barbs to be removed. I thought that the broken place had already been healed. Sometimes we don’t even know about a wound until God starts that gently pushing. Did it hurt? You bet. It also brought up some ugly stuff that I didn’t want to deal with. Yet, I have gotten smarter with every hook removed, so I allowed Him to do His thing. I was left feeling emotional, drained, and free! One more hurt gone. One more kiss from Daddy on the boo-boo. I am glad that just because we think everything is fine, doesn’t mean that He stops working on us. He knew I still harbored that hook. He also knew it was not part of His plan for my life. So out came the spotlight and there it was.

When that happens, the best thing to do is immediately surrender that hurt to God. Forgive anyone you need to, and ask Him to take it out. I used to reason with myself, make excuses, say things like, “I already got over that years ago,” or get on the bandwagon of lamenting all the hurts in my life, or take on a victim mentality. I learned the hard way that doing those things only makes those barbs reproduce. It makes the hooks grow, and it makes the process of removing them take even longer, and hurt a lot worse. That’s why it is important ask God to search our hearts. Allow the Holy Spirit to show us what’s really in there.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB), “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me,  And lead me in the everlasting way.”

This isn’t about just looking for sin, or bad habits, it is also looking for wrong thought patterns, unforgiveness, and unhealed hurts, every “hurtful way” in us. He is faithful, He is gentle, and His love can heal every wound.

Will you let Him?