Get Up!

Luke 22:46 (NIV), “When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

We all get tired, lazy, under the weather, weary, and lethargic and the list goes on… But God says to us, “Get up!”

Not much good happens while we sit on our backsides. Sure a bit of office work, some reading or computing, but actual work for the Lord, work that wins souls and pleases Him happens when we are up and moving.

Sure Jesus made it through it all without the prayers of the disciples, but perhaps His suffering would have been less, or maybe the real suffering happened to the disciples because they didn’t watch and pray.

We do get down, but make sure you call on the strength of God and get back up.

We feel week and tired, but He promises us rest.

He also cautions us not to grow weary in well doing. That doesn’t mean don’t do good things, it means build yourself up in His most Holy Word and walk in His love and strength.

Get up!

Steadfast Love

Isaiah 63:7 (ESV), “I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”

Other versions uses the words “lovingkindnesses,” “the deeds for which He is to be praised,” “unfailing love,” and “mercy and grace.”

In today’s world we don’t use the word “steadfast” often, partly because we live in a throwaway society. Cars, appliances, clothing, relationships just aren’t built to last. No one wants to take the extra effort, or they are too selfish and greedy and only want to heap to their own lusts. They have the technology to build things to last virtually forever, but then they would only sell one. So they make them to fall apart in a few years so that a new purchase will be made. We have the grace and strength from the Lord to make relationships work, however very few people want to stick it out.

Steadfast. It means faithful, committed, devoted, and according to Webster’s it means, “firm in belief, determination, or adherence, and firmly fixed.” His love is steadfast. It doesn’t change. Ever. You can’t earn more and He can’t love you any less. His love doesn’t depend on performance, there is no strings attached. He is determined to love you. His love for you is devoted and faithful and fixed.

Because of that great, steadfast love, we can be confident of His faithfulness. He cares and because He cares He works things out for us. His love has no strings attached; however the benefits of His love are conditional. We have to accept His love. We have to build a relationship with Him. We can’t use the worlds view or our natural experiences to try and figure out His love. We have all been hurt and disappointed in someone we loved but who used and abused us, or maybe was indifferent. A relationship with God isn’t an unhealthy attachment, or a one sided love affair. He isn’t a leach who wants to drain us dry. He wants us in relationship with Him so that we never miss out on a blessing, so that we are sure to hear His voice when He speaks to us. He wants us to spend time with Him and communicate with Him because He enjoys us.

Exodus 20:6 (NLT), “But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”

Feeling like a failure? God loves you! Checkbook is on the light side? God loves you. Fighting some bug, or disease? God loves you. Family issues? God loves you. Identity issues? God loves you.

I can keep going.

Seems over simplified? Nope.

Because He loves you, He is working in you to perfect that which He began. (If you will let Him)

Philippians 1:6 (KJB), “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

What Does The Spirit Say?

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Romans 8:14 (ISV), “For all who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children.”

We hear a lot of voices throughout our day, in fact we even hear them while we sleep. There is good advice, bad advice, jokes, cliché’s, sayings, stories, sales ads, preaching, teaching, facts, fiction, doctors diagnosis, kind words, hateful words, and too many things to name here. It isn’t all bad, but it certainly isn’t all good. Whose voice should be listening to? Should we shut off everything that isn’t God’s voice to us? I hate to say it but that really isn’t possible. What is possible is which voice we believe!

I have learned when I hear something I am not sure about, or something that troubles me to ask myself this question, “What does the Spirit say?”

That voice that says I have to look like I am in my early twenties, wear a size four, and not have a wrinkle to be beautiful may be insistent, but is it what the Spirit says? That voice that says I need a few tattoos, some piercing in weird places, and wear a lot of leather to be beautiful may be the current fad, but what does the Spirit say. That voice that says I need Botox, a tummy tuck, and a boob job is socially acceptable, but is that the voice of the Spirit?

Ok, I think you get the picture. I can go on about those words like, “You have cancer,” “I never loved you,” “You just aren’t working out like we’d hoped,” and more, but those are pretty obviously not what the Spirit says. But what about that little voice that says, “I don’t know how I am going to pay the bills this month,” you know that one that sounds just like you. Or the same voice that says, “They helped sister so and so when she was sick, but no one even asked if I needed anything.”

It is so easy to allow those little foxes to spoil the vine. Those seemingly harmless voices, that sometimes are our own flesh talking, to take root. Anything that is contrary to God’s word isn’t Him. Anything that is less than how God sees us isn’t the Spirit talking. He may correct us when needed, but He will never be-little us, spew venom, accuse another, feed jealousy or bitterness, or make us think less of ourselves or another. He will help us to see what God thinks about us and any situation we can face.

Romans 8:6 (NLT), “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

John 14:17 (NLT), “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”

The battle takes place mostly in our minds. Which voice are you listening to? Which voice are you entertaining? Which voice are you telling to shut up?

The Spirit of God speaks to us all the time. Are we hearing Him? Are we open to what He has to say and can we even recognize His voice? Start by searching out the scriptures and see what God has to say about you.

And hear is a few things that explicitly say, “Hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.” That’s me and you.

Revelations 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28 3:5, 12, 21 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death. To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

Book Review for “Sonshift”-Christian Non-fiction

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Description: Sonshift is a book about a transformation that takes place when one encounters God as an outrageously loving Father. It’s about a personal journey of discovery that’s not just the author’s but one that’s revolutionizing many sons and daughters in the body of Christ today. This journey changes everything—how we see God and our relationship with Him, how we relate to our family and friends, how we read the Bible, and even the foundations of what we think it means to BE and ACT LIKE a Christian. It’s about a real life lived in the real world, but one that is never lived apart from the Father’s embrace. It’s what you always hoped the Christian life would be!

 

My Review: I so loved this book “Sonshift” by Mel Wild. There seems to be a movement in the Body of Christ as most of what Mel shares in this book has been brought to my own church by our Senior Pastor over the past few years. The book is well written, includes scriptures to back up each precept, and is easy to understand. Sonshift kills a few sacred cows and may step on a few toes, however, a shift in the way we think needs to happen. Empty religion just isn’t going to cut it anymore and this book will help us all change the way we see God, ourselves, and how we interpret the bible. I give it five stars! In fact I had downloaded the kindle version on Amazon as a kindle unlimited book (free). About halfway through, I ordered a paperback so that I could share it. By the time I was almost finished, I ordered ten books for the ladies bible study I lead. Great book and a must read for every Christian. I think that the writing is simple enough to recommend for teens and up.

 

 

Access Granted

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Ephesians 2:4-7 (AMP), “But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment). And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].”

How many of us as children wanted to belong to a “club”? We put signs on our bedroom doors, or the latter of our tree houses that read something like, “for girls only,” or “club members only.” Maybe we even had a secret handshake or a password to get in.

Heaven has a password… no really. It is the same password that gets us victory over any circumstance and sets the enemy running. I am sure you guessed it by now. Our password is “JESUS”.

Now, not just anyone who uses that name is part of the club. Even He said that some would knock on the door saying, “Lord, Lord, let us in,” yet not be able to pass through. He said that just knowing His name isn’t enough; we have to know Him in a close relationship. (Luke 27, Matthew 25)

The good news is that this club isn’t for just a special group. It’s open to everyone and anyone that chooses to get to know their Creator, anyone who is willing to open their heart to His love. We don’t earn entry, there is no exam, no great quest, no change of behavior, no dress code, or any conditions whatsoever. Well, maybe one… admitting our need for Him. As soon as we realize we have messed things up all on our own, or just come to the realization that there is Someone who really, truly loves us, and we give up, then we belong to the club.

Ephesians 2 tells us that salvation, accepting Jesus’ work on our behalf, is a free gift! That we were actually created to be like Him, to do good works that God has prearranged for us to do. It tells us that we are seated in Heaven, right now! Not just getting to go there someday, no, at the time I am seated at my computer writing this, I am also seated in Heaven with Him. When I am working, driving, sleeping, and yes, even when I have a bad day and am nagging my husband, I am still seated there with Him. I have access to the Father through Christ’s shed blood. I am living from Heaven because I live there. Access to all the Father has for me has been granted. All I have to do is believe it and accept it.

Religion can’t do that for me, laws, rules, sacrifices, and bribes can’t do it.

Only a relationship with the Father can.

Ephesians 1:3-7 (KJB), “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

His good pleasure? It was to pour out His blood to redeem us so that we can abide in Him forever. Jesus is in me, I am in Him and we are both seated in Heavenly places. No enemy can take me away from my home, no sin can keep me from my position. If I mess up, I fess up and plead the blood over my life. God sees His Son in me and forgives it all. We don’t have to be perfect, just honest and real before Him.

He loves us that much. I am adopted into His family. He calls me “beloved.”

Book Review for “Philippians: Pursuing Spiritual Maturity”- Bible Study

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I was given a copy of “Philippians: Pursuing Spiritual Maturity” by the author, Gregory Brown, in exchange for an honest review. Though our doctrinal beliefs may be a tad different, I sure enjoyed this book. I think as a whole the Christian church desperately needs to grow up, and this book is a great tool to facilitate that. It is written so that it can be used in several ways. First it can be used as a study guide for a group, a teachers guide and lesson plan, and as an individual bible study.

The book takes a close look at Pauls’ writings to the church of Philippi and gives great examples of what spiritual maturity should look like.
This isn’t an easy read to just breeze through. You will need to take your time, ponder the questions, read the scriptures and pray about what you are reading. I personally think it would make a great group bible study and will be using some of the lessons in my own small group. I have been a school teacher, and am currently teaching adults and can appreciate a well laid out study guide.

I give it four stars. I can recommend for all any denomination, and for ages 16 and up (though I think it is more geared for adults).

Complacency is My Enemy

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Complacency is My Enemy

Someone who is complacent has become overly content — the junk-food-eating couch potato might be feeling complacent about his health. The literal meaning of this word’s Latin root is “very pleased,” but even though complacent people may seem pleased with themselves, we are rarely pleased with them. They are unconcerned by things that should concern them, and they may neglect their duties. A complacent person might be heard saying, “Ehh, don’t worry about it!” — when there really is something to worry about. (vocabulary.com)

Have you ever felt like you just don’t care? Like you couldn’t work up or fake interest even if your life depended on it? Maybe you grew tired of life, or weary of well-doing. Maybe Satan boxed your ears and you were completely blindsided by the attack. Or, maybe it wasn’t too much bad, but too much good. You finally made it, have the trophy wife, 2.3 children, white picket fence, and that dream job. What else do you need? Right. Maybe it was all of the above and like King Solomon, decided it was all vanity, pointless. Has serving God become too much bother, too much of a chore, or not enough fun?

Consider one of the signs of the last days.

II Timothy 3 (NASB), “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

The word complacency isn’t used here, however… A person stagnant in their spiritual growth, person complacent with their life, exhibits some of those behaviors. When King Solomon allowed complacency and apathy to rule his life, he led his family and a whole nation astray.

Any living thing is a growing thing. When you stop growing, you are dead. Where would you rather go fishing, in a freshwater lake, or the Dead Sea? A stagnant pool isn’t conducive to life, but a spring fed one sure is. It takes a long hard winter to make the trees roots go deeper into the ground to anchor itself. It takes resistance of weights to build up muscle tissue. Sure we all want an easy life. We dream of the day when we don’t have to work so hard. Sometimes getting our flesh to submit is like trying to get wrestle a greased pig. But an easy life doesn’t force us to change, to build up muscle, to rely on God and His strength for us. We stay carnal Christians, or spiritual babies.

James 1:2-15 (NIV), “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Blessed is the one who perseveres, who battles uphill, who swims upstream, and who allows God to change them, the one who is truly alive in Christ. There is a saying, “any old dead fish can float downstream”. There is only one acceptable form of “death” for a Christian.

Romans 6:11-14, (NIV), “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

One of our Pastors used this example from the Movie “Wall-E”. If you haven’t seen this animated movie, you should! There is so much a Christian could learn from it. In case you haven’t let me just explain a bit. Wall-E is a robot, the last functioning one on earth, which is devoid of all life. His job is garbage duty. Every ancestor from earth is living in space, it’s been hundreds of years. Those humans are all attached to a bed, think of our modern hover-rounds, and look like blobs of flesh. They don’t do anything, but look at their screens, suck fluids out of big cups, and move on their “beds.” No struggle, no stress, everything handed to them and they never lift a finger. The result? A vain existence, or as Solomon said, “Vanity, Vanity.” They were way past complacent, until this little robot sneaks on board to save his love. The chaos that ensues causes them to take a look around them at what they have become.

Trials strengthen us in so many ways. Mostly by building our faith in God, in His loving care for us.

Don’t be complacent, complacency is your enemy