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.

Hell is Not a Penthouse Party

Let’s get something straight, shall we? There seems to be this whole group of people out there who have this belief that hell is the place to go. They talk about how it’s going to be one big party with all their wild friends, since all of us “small minded bigots who just try to control them” won’t be around to stop them. It will be the bar that never gives the last call, the high that doesn’t fade, and the party that never ends. Everyone can do what they want, when they want, and the master of the party, Satan himself, will be right there with the bong, or the keg, or the pill, or the needle, a couple of hot babes on his arms (that he is more than willing to share and they are more than willing). No rules, no laws, no condemnation, guilt, or consequences. They see hell as the devil’s playground and they just want to play.

Here is the truth. Satan was an angel in heaven. Beautiful and stunning and it is believed he led worship to the God most high. He had it all, except that wasn’t good enough for him. He wanted God’s throne, His power, and the worship of His creations. He loved heaven so much, and saw all the greatness of God…and wanted it all for himself.

Lucifer, the devil, Satan, didn’t leave the confines and laws and rules of heaven and go build a penthouse playground where he could be in charge of one big endless party.
He was thrown out of heaven, he tried to take over, he lost, and was cast out! After they tossed him out on his ear with one third of his crazy followers, he didn’t create some evil paradise to go live and party in. He was cast out to earth. He lives here. And he is pissed off about it. He hates people, all people, tattoos, bible thumpers, sadists, and even Satan worshipers. People are God’s special creation. We were created to be just like God and are loved so much. Hell wasn’t made or created by Satan, it was created by God, AS A PRISON! It was never made for mankind. We were supposed to live forever with Him.

Satan knows that his end is prison forever. All spiritual beings (God, Angels, Devils, Demons, People) live forever. God’s will and perfect way is for us to live with Him in the real paradise. Satan, the slanderer, the deceiver, lied to Adam, the first man and said God was withholding the best from him. When he believed the lie and did exactly what Satan said, and what God warned him not to, all people were put under Satan’s rule. Now we live according to his way. There is evil, suffering, war, murder, rape, abuse, addictions, death, sickness, poverty, disease, perversion, and every other horrible thing you can think of because that’s what the devil mandates here in his territory. This is Satan’s handy work, not God’s. From the day that Adam and Eve listened to the Liar instead of God, (the Truth), hell has been enlarged, to accommodate those who refuse to follow God. And when Jesus died and went to hell, He took the keys from Satan. The devil doesn’t even have the keys to his own penthouse! We choose where we spent eternity. Heaven or hell.
We have two beings fighting for us, they both want us with them. One wants to lavish us in His love, provide for our every need, and provides a place where there is NO MORE SUFFERING. The other wants us to suffer forever WITH HIM. Satan’s end isn’t a party. It is eternal hellfire and damnation. It is eternal separation from God. That’s his punishment for trying to harm God’s special creation, mankind. Every other person, human, who spends eternity suffering there, will be doing it by choice. God doesn’t send a single person to Hell. He never will. They choose the lies over the truth. They choose suffering over peace and rest.

Why!? Because they believe the lie. The one that says, “All my friends are going to be there and we are going to party forever.”

A hypocrite says they love you and then abuse you. A hypocrite has two faces. One that is their true face and one they show the world. Our God is one! One love, one truth, one Spirit. He can’t lie. Ever.

Who’s the hypocrite? The people who find themselves in a mess in this evil world, who turn to God for help, and still have some struggles and issues, yet they keep going to church and they press in to God for strength and hope. Or the one who tries to convince the world that God is bad, Christians are all bigots and hate everyone else, and that hell is going to be one big party? Satan is the ultimate hypocrite. He wanted it all, and now tries to convince us all that it isn’t worth having.
We can’t be perfect. God knows that. It’s not God that whispers in your ear that you are worthless, screwed up, a failure, and unlovable. It’s our enemy that tells us God doesn’t care, that He expects you to be perfect, and that you can never measure up. God says, “I love you.” No strings attached.

Who are you going to believe? Who are you choosing to follow? How do you want to spend eternity?

Isaiah 14:11-17 (BSB), “Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol; Maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you and worms are your covering. How you have fallen from heaven,O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home?”

Book Review for “The Noble Fugitive” – Christian Historical Fiction Romance

What the books about: Heirs of Acadia Book 3- Serafina, daughter of a Venetian merchant prince, is desperate to be reunited with the dashing tutor her father banished. As her family sets sail for America, she secretly abandons ship. Alone in England, she finds herself as a lowly chambermaid. A world-weary ship captain is also forced to seek refuge, hiding from henchmen determined to silence his shocking revelations about the slave trade. The lives of these two characters become intertwined, and a place that once seemed only a dreaded detour becomes a sacred venue for the unveiling of God’s Providence.

My Review: This is book three of the Heirs of Acadia series. I really liked the very first book. It is written about a time in history that I always found interesting. Book two was still good, but in my opinion not as good as the first one. So when book three came around I waited. Then about two chapters in I was hooked. I thought it was the best so far. This one adds some new characters to the series and takes place mostly in America during slavery. The main characters are fighting to free those who have been in chains.  I am loving this series. Christian Historical Fiction at it’s best. I give it five stars.

 

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.

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!”