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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pleasing God?

One of the biggest problems of my generation is the misconception that just because "good" things happen in our lives, God is pleased with our lives.  There are two problems with this belief.

1.  What is good
Most of us don't really understand what a "good" thing is.  We usually think of money, possessions, and societal status as the blessings of God.  And while these things can be used for God's glory, they are more often used for selfish gain and therefore become tools of Satan rather than blessings in our life.  The bible says

The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10 also see 2 Timothy 3:2)

Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be My (Jesus) disciples. (Luke 14:33)

Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4)

It is by God's grace that He warns us of these things because Satan loves to use these distractions to keep us far from God and lead us to destruction.

Humans are three part beings.  We are body, soul, and spirit.  We have to start seeking blessings that satisfy our entire triune nature and not just the superficial physical layer.  The bible lists these things as the true gifts of God: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, wisdom, and discernment.  These things are eternal, priceless, and will lead you into a closer relationship with God, the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

Conclusion:  Good gifts will bring us closer to God and help build and glorify His kingdom on earth, everything else is of the world and leads to destruction.

2.  Grace and mercy
If  you are living for the world and are still receiving blessings such as health and wholeness, please don't think you're getting over on God or that He suddenly stopped caring about sin.  God blesses us when we don't deserve it out of His amazing grace and He protects us when we don't deserve it out of His overwhelming mercy.  However, we must not ignore what the bible says about our responsibility for our actions and the abuse of His grace.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.  (Galatians 6:7-8)

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.  And again, "The Lord will judge His people."  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  (Hebrews 10:26-31)

Conclusion:  God isn't dumb, blind, or sleeping.  He is not pleased with our sin and unless we have a sincere change of heart, we will be held responsible.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Challenge: Decide, Believe, Commit

Ok, so here's the challenge this week.

We need to make some decisions.  Many of us can't boast on our God because we don't know what He stands for and why we believe what we believe.  This is a dangerous situation to be in because it invites easy deception and leaves us with no foundation on which to build our faith.

For example, I have the luxury of being completely secure in my marriage, not because my husband and I are such great people, but because we know what the bible says about marriage and that's where we place our faith.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave His life for it,  Ephesians 5:25

Knowing this verse alone brings comfort, but to really build our faith we have to understand how Christ loved the church (church = ekklesia in the Greek : called out ones; assembly).

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us what Christ's love looks like.
Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

In Romans 8, Paul convinces us of the strength of Christ's love.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

Imagine every husband loving his wife like this!  Because I know these verses and my husband's commitment to them, I cannot be deceived by temptations of divorce, abuse, or unfaithfulness.  So I am confident in my relationship because I know that we are both committed to the Word of God first and each other second.

These are the kind of discussions we need to have with ourselves about many other issues in our lives.  Are we committed to the Word of God first or do we make idols of our friends, families, and emotions?

I invite you to start with the list below and identify what the bible has to say about these issues.  Many times we try to ignore such topics and end up finding ourselves in compromising positions.  Trust me, it is much easier to stay committed to your beliefs when you make up your mind about the issue before you're pressured.  My husband and I didn't wait until our first argument to decide that love should be patient.  Most likely, by then it would have been too late.

1. Heaven and Hell
2. Alcohol
3. Abortion
4. Homosexuality
5. Premarital sex
6. Money (Gambling, greed, tithes, etc)
7. Marriage (Divorce, unsaved partners, submission, respect)

It is great to be able to discuss these issues with other believers, but the bible should always be the final authority.  If anyone has trouble finding biblical references for any of the topics, feel free to email me at

Monday, August 15, 2011

How to Deal with Spiritual Letdown

If we are all honest with ourselves, we have all encountered times in our lives during which we felt let down or disappointed by God.  So how do we deal with these instances without giving in to the temptations to blaspheme, doubt, and give up on God?

1.  Go to your father (1 Peter 5:6-7)-God cares for us.  He is not just our Lord, He is our Father.  He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  He has promised that all things shall work together for our good, and He has promised to deliver us from all afflictions (Note:  He didn't say we wouldn't be afflicted, but that we would be delivered from the trouble).  God asks us to be anxious for nothing, but make all our requests known to Him.  Through Jesus' sacrifice we are allowed to go boldly before the throne of grace and seek mercy to help us in our time of need.  All we have to do is humble ourselves, be still, and know that He is God and He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.

2.  Pick up the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17)-The Sword of the Spirit, or the Word of God, is the only offensive weapon described in the armor of God.  This is important because doubt is a spiritual attack and we must know how to defend ourselves.  We see in Genesis that doubt is how Satan deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit and we know how that ended.  We also note a distressed John the Baptist doubting Jesus when facing his imminent death in prison.  Jesus responded by telling John's messengers to report that He gave sight to the blind, healed the lame, cleansed the leper and preached the gospel to the poor.  Jesus wasn't bragging by sending His resume, He was referring John back to the Word of God that described what the anointing of the Christ would be.  By identifying God's character we are comforted in our situations and our hope and confidence are restored through Christ.

3.  Keep good company (Hebrews 10:25)-Satan loves when we convince ourselves that we can do this Christian thing all by ourselves.  If that were the case, God would have never said that it was not good for man to be alone or do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.  It is absolutely vital for us to connect with likeminded believers, especially in times of distress.  Friends in the faith understand spiritual warfare, they know the power of the tongue, and they shine light on dark situations.  Kingdom friends will remind you that greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.  They will remind you that you are more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus.  The bible says that where there is unity, God will command a blessing.

I encourage you all to hang on in the midst of trouble.  We are all seeds of God planted in dark places.  As we grow we face storms and challenges of many kinds, but each weathered storm strengthens our resolve. Those that withstand the winds and endure to the end produce a multitude of fruit and are granted a sure reward.

As I was writing I realized I was including a lot of bible references, so I was inspired to add a little friendly competition to this post :-)  The person who can email me a list of the most bible verses referenced in this post by the end of the week will win a special prize!  There will be a tiebreaker in the case of a tie.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Patience is a virtue

According to Galatians 5, patience, or longsuffering, is a fruit of the spirit.  So what does this mean?  Well when we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, His Spirit came to dwell in us.  It is the quiet leading of the Holy Spirit that urges us to pursue holiness and steer clear of sin.  So Galatians is telling us that if we submit to the leading of the Spirit, patience should show in our lives.  We do not have to pray for patience.  The seed for patience has already been deposited into every child of God.  Situations and circumstances force that seed to develop into the virtue that God has promised, but only when we submit to the watering and nurturing from the Spirit within us.

Just a little truth to meditate on today.  I know this is a hard principle to put into practice, but it wouldn't be in the Bible if it weren't for our own good.

Lord help us to acknowledge and accept the truth of your Word and live our lives in ways that are pleasing to you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

RenovateLife Campaign BOAST

Ok so during my blog break the Lord also gave me a couple other ministry ideas I would love to share with you all.  The overall ministry vision is called RenovateLife Ministries.  This ministry was inspired by Romans 12:1-2,

I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV)

RenovateLife will use different avenues to encourage all who call themselves Christians to fully submit to God's sanctification and to live boldly and completely for Christ.

The first branch of RenovateLife that God is manifesting is Campaign BOAST.  This campaign is an effort to unify the body of Christ in a bold declaration of power and holiness.  I have noticed that all too often we are afraid to take a stand on issues because of other's feelings or opinions.  Campaign BOAST does not advocate hatred or ill will for anybody, however we refuse to compromise or be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16).  It is ok to disagree with homosexuality and abortion.  It is ok to abstain from alcohol and premarital sex.  It is ok to believe in miracles and the love and mercy of an almighty God.      Satan has done a great job of isolating believers from each other, and this has caused many of us to walk around living apathetic, lukewarm, ineffective Christian lives.  But I propose that it is time for us to be Bold, Obedient, Active, Steadfast, and Thankful about our relationship with the King of kings.

"Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this:  that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NIV)

You can choose any of the following methods to join this campaign and stay abreast of new initiatives:

1.  Subscribe as a follower to this blog
2.  Become a friend on facebook by searching for RenovateLife Campaign Boast
3.  Send me an email at

Welcome Back to Me!

Hi family!  I hope things are going well for you.  I know it has been a long time since I wrote last, but things got really hectic for a while.  My husband and I were blessed to purchase our first home together and before we could really get settled we found out we were pregnant!  Little Naomi Ruth is due to arrive November 22, 2011 so please keep her in your prayers.  In other news we had the opportunity to go on our first mission trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica and I participated in my first women's retreat with Mt. Hebron Church Ministries.  We have had a great time with everything and we have really been able to see God move in our lives and the lives of those around us.  Feel free to share your stories with us in the comments section.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New song, devotion, and prayer request!

The song this week is Encore by James Fortune and F.I.Y.A.  It is a great reminder to us all to never forget where God has brought us from and to use those memories as inspiration to get us through the next storm.
Song of the Week:  Encore

The devotion this week is a last entury prayer from Tozer.  It is a beautiful prayer of commitment to God.  I suggest that we all read and meditate on this prayer everyday for a week.  I realize that this is a serious commitment and all of us may not feel ready to speak this prayer from the heart.  But I ask that we are honest with ourselves and realize that total submission as shown in this prayer is the ultimate goal.
Devotion:  Commitment Prayer

The prayer request this week is for continued support of the Christians in Egypt.  This article was encouraging because justice was served, but it also shows the dire need for continued prayer.
Pray for the Saints:  Egypt

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Challenge of the Day: Acknowledge God's presence

I am with you always, even to the end of the age.                  Matthew 28:20 (NKJV)

God is omnipresent.  Whether we like it or not He is with us all the time. Leviticus 10:3 says, "By those who come near Me (God) I must be regarded as Holy." So recognizing that God is always near us, how do we regard Him as Holy? 

Well let's think about how we act in the presence of other people that we esteem: 

Regardless of how we feel about the president, when he walks into a room we acknowledge his presence and we listen to what he has to say. 

Most of us are conservative and considerate when in the presence of members of the clergy. 

And though we may be more familiar with our parents we still maintain a sense of respect and responsibility when around them. 

The question is, what have these people done for us that God hasn't done?  Why is it that we feel they deserve our respect and God doesn't?  God has given us love, mercy, and grace when we didn't deserve any of it. And even though we continue to act foolish at times, He still allows us to come before His throne.  If anybody deserves our allegiance, God does.

The truth of the matter is when you really realize what an honor it is to commune with the Lord of lords, you are able to agree with Jesus who said, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:30)."  When we are in the presence of the president we are not burdened by the fact that we are expected to dress and behave a certain way because we are more focused on the honor of being in his presence.  The same should be true of God almighty.  When we are in His presence we should be less concerned with rules and expectations and more concerned with the honor of being in His presence.  So today while we're out, let's remember we're in the presence of a King.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Biblical Insight of the Week!

It continues to amaze me the information the Lord has left to us in His Word.  To share in this week's interesting insight click on the link below.
The Bible Says What?!?!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New song, prayer request, and devotion of the week!

The song for this week is Praise by LeToya Luckett.  It is from the Preacher's Kid soundtrack.  LeToya has a beautiful voice and this song does a great job of encouraging us to persevere and praise God despite our circumstances.
Song of the week

The prayer request this week comes from Iran.  Persecution has picked up in Iran since a public figure accused evangelicals of confusing and converting Muslim youth.  Please keep are Christian brothers and sisters in Iran in your thoughts and prayers.
Pray for the Saints

The devotion this week is a couple of verses reminding us of our hope in Jesus Christ.  Remember, if you lost everything you had, you would still have everything you need in Christ. 
Devotion of the week:  Hope

Challenge of the Day: Do something nice for someone else

Good morning!  Ok so the challenge of the day is about being selfless.  Most of us live in a culture that encourages selfishness on a daily bass.  It's all about what we want, what we think, and how we feel.    Even our community service is self focused.  We only participate when it's convenient or when someone's looking.  This selfishness is also invading our spiritual lives.  We tithe only when we need a breakthrough and we pray when we need a blessing.  Sadly, selfishness is becoming so common that many of us aren't even aware of it anymore.  So today I want us to actively combat this selfish nature.  Do something nice for someone else and take yourself out of the equation as much as possible.  Don't look for acknowledgement for the deed, don't expect a thank you, and do not judge the person receiving the kindness. 

We have to learn that this world is much bigger than the small space we occupy.  True joy comes from blessing others the way Christ blessed you. 

If you are really looking for a challenge try doing something nice that might actually be an inconvenience for yourself.

1.  Buy groceries for someone else
2.  Carry someone's groceries to the car
3.  Offer someone a ride
4.  Fill up someone's gas tank
5.  Hold the door open for a group
6.  Let someone ahead of you in line
7.  Give your lunch to a homeless person
8.  Play with a child
9.  Compliment a stranger
10.  Check on a distant relative

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.  Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.                                              Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Challenge of the Day: Celebrate Spiritual Growth

When I was little I used to sing all the time.  Whitney Houston, New Edition, Michael Jackson, I loved it all.  And I really thought I was good at it too.  I remember one sunny afternoon jumping on the trampoline singing my little heart out when our neighbor peeped over the fence and exclaimed, "Oooo girl, Whitney Houston better watch out!"  At that point in my life, she wasn't telling me something I didn't already know.  I was confident in my skills. 

Well over time my confidence was shaken a little.  I decided I probably didn't have the range of Whitney, but I figured I could still be Chili from TLC.  However the older I got, and the more opportunities I had to hear real singers sing up close and personal, the more my delusion crumbled before me. See, a great singer on the radio is nothing compared to a great singer standing right in front of you.  But even when I realized I would never reach Mariah's status, I never stopped singing. 

Many of us go through similar situations on our spiritual journeys.  We go through life thinking we are great people.  We don't hurt others, we don't steal, and we are productive members of society.  Then one day we hear about Jesus and our confidence is shaken a little.  We realize we are not perfect but we settle for being "good enough", status quo, acceptable.  Then one day we see Jesus and our delusion crumbles.  You see it's one thing to hear about a Jesus that delivers, and it's quite another to see the ex-addict for yourself.  We can read about the love of Christ, but it's nothing compared to witnessing the ex-prostitute shouting and shedding tears of joy.  If you haven't experienced this yet, I guarantee one day you will be confronted with the humility, love, kindness, joy and patience that can only come from Christ himself, and it will transform your life. 

But I warn you, it is easy to be discouraged when we encounter the Spirit of Christ.  We think that we can never live up to His standard and are tempted to give up.  But I encourage you to keep singing.  Don't quit.  Some weeks will be better than others.  We will spend a lot of time in prayer and we will never stop repenting.  But we will continue to grow in Christ, and God celebrates growth.  So take some time out today to celebrate your spiritual growth.  You may not be where you're gonna be, but you're definitely not where you used to be!

Celebrate and I'll celebrate with you.  Love you!

New Page: The Bible Says What?!?!?!

Surprise!!  I've been wanting to do this for a while, and I finally worked up the energy to see it through.  I added a new page to the blog entitled The Bible Says What? This page is dedicated to sharing practical scriptures that you may or may not know exist.  Many people recognize the holiness of the Word of God but forget all about it's practicality.  People become overwhelmed by the idea that God speaks to us through His Word and so they either ignore it completely or wait on someone else to tell them what it says.  Well I want us to get out of that habit.  The Word of God is for each and every one of us.  You can and should read it for yourself and I hope some of these surprising scriptures will inspire you to find out even more about the Word of God.  Remember willfull ignorance is not an excuse.  You will be held responsible for what you did with the information that God provided.

And the winner is......!

Good morning family!  The time has come to announce the winner of our CSN gift certificate giveaway.  I would like to first thank everyone who participated.  I was truly blessed by reading about what God is doing for everyone.  His universal love continues to amaze me.  I want to encourage you all to continue to give God glory for what He is doing in your lives and if you ever want to post a praise report on this site please feel free to do so in any comment section.  Or you can email me ( and I can create a post dedicated to your testimony. 

Now without further ado, the winner of the CSN giveaway is.....Liz!!!   Congratulations Liz!  We all celebrate your win with you!  I will email you soon with prize details.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Don't forget about the CSN Giveaway!

Hey family I just want to remind you that the winner of the CSN Giveaway will be drawn tomorrow morning!  Don't miss out on your chance to win a gift certificate to any of CSN's 200+ online stores.  All you have to do is visit my original CSN post and add a praise report to the comments section.  God has been too good for us to keep quiet. 

P.S.  Somebody will definitely win tomorrow and no, Marcus, it can't be you :-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Challenge of the Day: Be wise and responsible

A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense.  Proverbs 24:3

In times of trouble one of the most heard mantras is, "I didn't know!"  But most times it is a poor excuse.  We don't know because we don't want to know, we're too lazy to find out, or we think we're invincible  and above the law.  Thanks to nice parents and great customer service we have learned that most tough situations can be mollified by claiming ignorance.   The sad thing is feined ignorance gives us a false sense of security.  We never learn to take responsibility and when we are finally confronted with an issue that refuses to accept "I didn't know" as an excuse, we are caught off guard.

We get ourselves in trouble when we refuse to gain knowledge.  This type of ignorance had dire consequences in the bible.  In Luke 19, Jesus wept over Jerusalem saying,
                           If you had known, even you, especially in this your day,
                           the things that make for your peace!  But now they are
                           hidden from your eyes.  For days will come upon you
                           when your enemies will build an embankment around you,
                           surround you and close you in on every side, and level
                           you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they
                           will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you
                           did not know the time of your visitation.
                                                                                     Luke 19:42-44 (NKJV)

Don't be misled into believing that Jesus was just being hypercritical.  He held the city responsible because they should have known better.  The Lord had already sent judges, prophets, teachers, and scriptures to inform the people of the Savior's arrival, but they refused to gain the knowledge.  They were willfully ignorant and they suffered the consequences. 

God did not call us to live this way.  He gave us wisdom and good sense so that we could make responsible decisions and avoid harmful consequences.  He even goes so far as to promise more wisdom for those who may be lacking (James 1:5). 

Examples of willful ignorance
1.  I didn't know it was so late!--If you have a problem being on time, it may be wise to set more alarms throughout the day and always leave at least15 minutes earlier than you think necessary.

2.  I didn't know he was a dog!--If he doesn't go to church, disrespects his family, ignores you in front of his friends, and doesn't believe in marriage, let him go!

3.  I didn't know I owed that much!--Creditors know your number, they know where you live, and they will never give up.  It's much wiser to just let them know your situation and set up a payment plan.

5.  I didn't know you heard that!--Quit talking about people behind their backs.  It's going to get back to them and it's not wise to burn bridges

6.  I didn't know my child acted like that!--Yes you did.  If you do it, they probably do it too. If you want your kids to be great people, be a great person.

These are just a couple examples.  I can think of many many more and I'm sure you can too.  If you find yourself in a lot of unfortunate situations, chances are you are not living a very wise lifestyle.  Be honest with yourself so that you can fix the problem.  Pray and ask God for wisdom, and make sure you are reading your bible.  You will be amazed at how many problems we can avoid when we take advantage of the knowledge God shares in his Holy Word. 

I love you all.  I know that I have personally been a victim of my own ignorance numerous times and with this message I hope to help you avoid similar pitfalls.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CSN Giveaway!

Good morning family!  I have wonderful news for you.  God has shown us favor once more and this site was chosen to participate in a gift certificate giveaway from CSN Stores. CSN Stores is comprised of over 200 online stores that sell everything from modern dining room furniture to cookware and lighting fixtures!

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a praise report in the comments section of this post.  Every name will be entered into the drawing and the winner will be drawn and posted, Friday, January 14, 2011 at 9am cst.  If you are the winner I will need your name and email address to send your gift certificate.  

*Unfortunately we can only ship to the United States and Canada so the winner will have to come from one of those countries

Good luck and God bless!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Praise Report: International status!

I decided it was time I gave the Lord some praise for the wonderful ministry that He has given me through this blog.  I prayed that the words the Lord gave me would reach the ends of the earth and since September the blog has been read in 9 countries:  United States, Canada, Croatia, Germany, Denmark, South Korea, Slovenia, Finland, and the United Kingdom*.  Praise God for that. 

*This is according to the official google blogspot statistics.  There's a slight difference with the map at the bottom of the homepage.

Feel free to add you own praise reports to the comments section!

New prayer request, song, and devotion of the week!

Surprise, surprise, surprise!  I know I'm a little late, but I didn't forget :-)  Here are the prayer request, devotion, and song of the week.  I hope they are a blessing for you.  The prayer request is from a strong saint imprisoned in Afghanistan who really needs our prayers and support.  The devotion is a wonderful prayer of submission that we should all meditate on as we start the new year and I picked the song to celebrate Lecrae's upcoming album Overdose which will hit stores 1/11/11.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions for upcoming weekly items.

Pray for the Saints:  Afghanistan
Song of the Week

Challenge of the Day: Celebrate new beginnings

Happy Monday fam!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  The word that the Lord gave me this morning is celebrate new beginnings.  Many of us hate change and even more of us hate unexpected change, but we must remember that change comes from the Lord and many times divine change is unexpected.  Celebrating unexpected change requires faith.  It requires us to depend on God and to trust that He has our best interest in mind.  When God changes things in our lives it is to bring us to another level in Him.


Abram's father Terah was the first to start the journey to Canaan with his family.  However, before reaching Canaan, Terah got comfortable in Haran, settled, and died there.  After Terah's death, the Lord told Abram, "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1)."  Notice that the Lord did not say, "Abram please get ready to go," he said, "Get out..."  This was a huge unexpected change for Abram.  But look at the blessings in the next two verses, "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3)."

Abram (later known as Abraham) could have been depressed or upset about the move God was asking of him.  He could have resisted change and chosen to stay in his comfortable position.  But what an experience and a blessing he would have missed.  I challenge you today to change your outlook on life.  Stop looking at life challenges as roadblocks and start looking at them as catalysts. The bible says that God can open doors that no one can shut, but it is our choice whether to walk through them.  So let's celebrate all the new beginnings we have in life: births, graduations, weddings, each new year, and even each new day.  Because each new beginning is another opportunity to see God's amazing work in our lives.

As always I love you and stay blessed!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Faith without works

Good morning family!  I hope you all had a wonderful, introspective day yesterday.  My husband and I were really able to admit a  lot of things about ourselves and we are comforted by the fact that we know we are growing and maturing in Christ.  This is encouraging because the more Christ-like you become, the more of the bible's promises apply to you.  Don't misinterpret me.  The greatest promise, salvation, is by faith alone.  But as Peter said, "Faith without works is dead."  The works that Peter mentions is the process of sanctification or becoming Christ-like.  I really regret that the What Would Jesus Do trend died out because it could really be a powerful movement in the church and in the world today.  We should always be asking ourselves, "What would Jesus do?" or, "How would Jesus respond?" in order to mature in our spiritual walks.  The bottom line is, our faith should be evidenced by how we live, and when it is then there are rewards in store for us. 

Scriptural references for faith without works
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.
                                                                                                           James 1:26
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.                 
                                                                                                           James 1:22
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.                                                                   
                                                                                                         1 Peter 3:12

You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives                                                                                               
                                                                                                        James 4:2-3

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them. 
                                                                                                        James 4:17

Summary:  Faith without works is deceptive.  It causes us to live a lives of sin and therefore blocks our prayers and blessings from God.

Scriptural references for faith evidenced by works
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 
                                                                                                       James 1:21

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
                                                                                                       James 1:12

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation   
                                                                                                    1 Peter 2:1-2

For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 
                                                                                                    1 Peter 2:15

Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.                                                                              
                                                                                                     James 3:13

For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.  They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it..."
                                                                                               1 Peter 3:10-11

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." 
                                                                                                   1 Peter 5:5

Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 
                                                                                               1 Peter 5:8-10

Summary:  Faith evidenced by works makes us receptive to the word and ensures us the crown of life from God.  It aids our sanctification and validates our testimony.  The works grant us wisdom and enable us to love life and see good days in which we will be graced with God's favor.  God, himself will restore and strengthen us.

Note that these verses are only from two books in the bible.  The Word has much more to say about the dangers of faith without works and the benefits of faith evidenced by works.  I would say that one of the biggest dangers of faith without works is the uncertainty of the faith.  It is difficult to depend on faith that has never been tested.  James says,

Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteouness," and he was called God's friend.  You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
                                                                                                       James 2:21:24

Abraham's faith was tested and approved.  Also note that both James and Peter are addressing believers in their letters.  Your actions or lack thereof are not overlooked just because you are a child of God.  While it is true that there is no condemnation in Christ, we will all be held accountable for what we did with the lives that God gave us.  Peter says, "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves (1 Peter 2:16)."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Challenge of the Day: Examine Yourself

And why do you look at the speck in you brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from you eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
                                                                                                    Matthew 7:3-5 (NKJV)

It is easy to point out the flaws and sins in somebody else's life.  Many times we use other's shortcomings to convince ourselves that we are not so bad.  But we really do ourselves a disservice when we take this approach to life.  Not only do we appear to be hypocrites and as such lose respectability, but also we deceive ourselves into accepting the subpar state of our lives. 

Personal Example:  My husband and I are in the process of buying our first house (pray for us).  After searching for a while we fell in love with this beautiful four bedroom house.  We were all ready to sign the papers and close quickly while interest rates were low, but as suggested we hired a home inspector to check out the property before we bought it.  His final report informed us that the roof of our beautiful new house was in its last days.  As disheartening as this news was, it gave us the opportunity to renegotiate our contract and confront the issue before it collapsed on our head.

Without that inspection, we would have unknowingly bought a house with a raggedy roof and been just as happy as can be.  We would have been deceived into thinking everything was just fine, but in the midst of one of Mobile's finest storms, we would have been left soaking wet and upset. 

Likewise, if we never take the time to examine ourselves, we will be willing to accept our own beautiful facade, and we will be completely unprepared for the next inevitable storm.  It is essential that we learn the art of self examination; we can't fix what we don't know is broken.

Problems with remaining broken

1.  The Lord can't use you:  You can't share your testimony until you actually make it through the test.  If you are going to forever be battling the same sin, your battle is in vain because you can't share your victory with others that are struggling.  Also your attempts at intercessory prayer become almost pointless because you aren't allowing God to sanctify your life first.  The bible says, "the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16 (NIV)."

2.  The Lord can't bless you:  If you are trapped in a sin that you are unaware of and don't fix, you block your own blessings.  "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12 NIV)."

3.  You stunt your spiritual growth:  I believe that if you are not moving forward spiritually, you are most likely moving backward.  We should always be growing and maturing in Christ and we cannot do this without carefully examining ourselves first.  A frustrated Paul says it like this, "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again.  You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:12-14 NIV)."

So today let's take a good look at our own lives.  What sin have we been battling for a while now?  Why are we still struggling with it?  Is it because we have such little faith in God?  Do we not believe that we are more than conquerors through Christ?  Do we not believe that all things are possible with Him?  Let's clean up our own lives first, then we can focus on changing the world.

Love you!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Challenge of the day: Bask in the Sonshine

I am currently enjoying my role as housewife to a great husband and mother to a 12 pound mixed breed puppy.  But sometimes I get so caught up in managing the house and ministering the gospel that I don't step outside at all.  Often this is not a problem, but on occassion I find my spirit being burdened by an unknown weight.  I lose motivation and productivity.  The house seems dark and dreary instead of cozy and welcoming.  Well one day during one of these episodes  I decided to actually go sit outside when I let the dog out.  I sat back in the sun and just reveled in the beauty of the day.  It felt as if the sun was warming me from the inside out.  I was refreshed and energized. 

Many scientists agree that sunlight does have a direct affect on a person's mood.  They have even come up with the term Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to describe the depression that some people feel when the seasons change and there is less sunlight.  Well I endeavor to say that the sonlight of Jesus Christ is even more important than this natural sunlight and the lack of Jesus is even more detrimental.

Many times we get so busy with our lives that we forget to bask in the warmth of Jesus.  This usually leads to confusion, depression, and sin.  It is essential for us to let the light of Jesus shine on us and through us so that we are uplifted, energized, and productive.  So I challenge you today to set aside some time to let His omnipotent light shine on you.

New song, prayer and devotion of the week!

Happy new year family!  I hope everyone had a great safe New Years celebration and I pray you all have determined to be even more committed to Christ in the year to come.  Remember there is no standing still in Christ.  Either you are moving forward or you are moving backward.  The first week of this new year is really a great time to self-evaluate and decide to make some changes.  Change is not easy, but it is necessary.  Luke 5:37-39 says, "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'"  God gave us a new spirit when we accepted Jesus Christ, but when we try to make that spirit fit into our old lifestyles we end up wasting the gift God gave us.  Trust me that is not a gift you want to throw away. 

So as we commit together to be better vessels for Christ, let's remember to give Him thanks for the journey thus far and all of His wonderful grace and mercies.  Every trial and every blessing should bring us closer to God and His glory.  The devotion for the week is on thankfulness and the song selection is For Every Mountain by Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr singers.  This song really blew the roof off the church yesterday and I hope it is a blessing to each of you.  Also please do not forget to pray for our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church.  The prayer request this week focuses on 7 house churches that were shut down in Indonesia. 

I love you and hope that you have a wonderfully blessed week!

Song of the Week

Pray for Indonesia