What Do You See?

II Corinthians 3:17- 18 (BSB), “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Picture yourself looking in a mirror, the reflection is you, but not really you. It’s an image, a likeness, of you. We are to be an image and a likeness of Jesus, to reflect His glory, and be transformed into His image.

How do we do that?

There are a few ways. Reading His word is one. Another is to pay attention to what you are paying attention to. We always reflect what we see the most. What has your attention? Is it nightly news, politics, celebrities… all that negative junk? Or what about the enemy, his supposed power, his attacks, and the control he seems to have over the lives of our loved ones. Do we give our spoiled children or our spoiled friends all of our attention? How about our flesh and the lusts that it whines for? If we are giving too much, or any, attention to those things, then we will reflect them. We will be spoiled, whiney, scared, anxious, negative, gloomy, arrogant, judgmental people. Do any of those characteristics reflect Christ?

If we are looking at our problems we will see everything through a negative pair of glasses. If we look at God, we see everything through the glasses of His Love.

Proverbs 27:19 (ESV), “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.”

Who has your heart? Keep your eyes on Him!

What’s Holding You Hostage?

Nehemiah 9:17 (Net Bible), “They refused to obey and did not recall your miracles that you had performed among them. Instead, they rebelled and appointed a leader to return to their bondage in Egypt. But you are a God of forgiveness, merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and unfailing in your loyal love. You did not abandon them,”

We are all aware of the term “hostage”: when someone is taken against their will and held hostage usually for a ransom, or when a terrorist hold a person to either protect themselves or again to force negotiations. Each one of us was born a hostage. Satan, the ultimate terrorist, held us against our will. Jesus paid the ransom. We are now free to go. If we are still under the rule of Satan, it is purely by choice. We can choose to surrender to Jesus, who only ever asks us to come willingly and never forces us to do anything. Or we can allow things, or the enemy, or our flesh to hold us hostage.

I Timothy 26:5-6 (BSB), “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all — the testimony that was given at just the right time”

What is keeping you from walking free? What is keeping you from surrender to God? Is it your habits, addictions, or lusts? Is it greed, selfishness, or pride? Maybe you feel unworthy, unclean, and unloved and can’t seem to get a grasp on the fact that God loves you, wants you in His life, and made a way for you to live free from every bondage.

Maybe you chose God and somewhere along the way wondered off, like the dog that returns to its own vomit. You have placed yourself back in bondage after tasting freedom. Don’t despair, God has not abandoned you! Turn from that life and turn back to God. He is waiting with arms outstretched.

What’s holding you hostage? The ransom has already been paid. Walk free, walk tall, you are a child of the King.

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.

I Am Not Confined

II Corinthians 6:1-10 (MSG), “Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.”

Paul reminds the church at Corinth that even though they had some issues, those issues and circumstances including jail, work, beatings, slander, while they were ignored and distrusted, they still did what they were called to do. We can always say, “I can’t because…” of work, or sickness, or family, or friends, or because they might think this about me, or it is dangerous, or scary, or takes too much effort, whatever excuse you can manufacture. Yet, Paul says even when he was in prison he was not confined to his circumstances. We can let anything be bondage, a jail, a prison. We can let many things stop us from doing God’s will. It is all a matter of choice. Do we choose to answer the call no matter what, or do we say we aren’t able and then point the blame as someone or something.

Let’s get practical here, so you don’t have the money to bail your friend out of financial problems. You can cook them a meal, work on their car for free, pray for them, encourage them, and not judge their situation. Maybe you are still fighting the fight of faith and aren’t able to walk door to door to witness, or visit the elderly. You can call those who are shut in, you can witness on social media (not preach, witness, i.e. “God is so good, he is providing all I need.”). So maybe you don’t stand behind a pulpit, but you work, or go to school around people. Share His love.

Get the picture.

Our circumstances can’t confine us. Only we can decide to squander the life God has given us.

Of With The Old And On With The New

Romans 12:2 (BSB) “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Why doesn’t God want us conformed to the world and its ways, how come I can’t act and talk just like my unsaved friends and family? One reason is that we aren’t of the world, we don’t really belong to it anymore. We were bought by Jesus’ blood and what a precious price He paid for us. We are born again from Heaven, we should be different. Also, when we don’t allow the Word to transform, renew, clean up our minds, then we can’t rightly discern God’s will. Since His will is good, pleasing, and perfect wouldn’t we want to know what that is for our lives.

Ephesians 4:23-23 (ESV), “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

God made us brand new when we accepted His love and surrendered all our junk to Him and His forgiveness so why then does He tell me to “put off” and “put on”, because we live in a corrupt place. It tends to rub off on us. Our minds get dirty, our hearts get hard, and our vision gets cloudy. It all has to be washed away again. Just like our clothes get dirty when we work in the yard, we have to come in and take off the soiled and put on the clean, so it is with our hearts and minds.

If we didn’t change those clothes and maybe even take a shower, after a couple of days we’d stink. After a few more so would out houses and our cars. Before too long people wouldn’t want to be around us and we would withdraw into our own smelly world and refuse to come out. Who wants to live that way? I sure don’t. I want others to want to be around me. I want to be a pleasing aroma to God and to man. I want a clean heart, a clean mind, and clean hands. However, it’s not in my power to stay clean. It takes the Holy Spirit and a lot of the “washing of the word” to keep me that way. It takes being humble and admitting everything doesn’t smell like roses, admitting we let the mess get too big for us and we need some divine intervention.

His way is better!

I say off with the old and on with the new!

I John 3:1-3 (NIV), See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”

 

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.”