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Friday, June 28, 2013

Rain Dancing




Storms in the Valley

II Chronicles 20:15 NKJV 
"And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 


We may not have to fight a huge enemy army as spoken of in 2 Chronicles 20, but every day we battle temptation, pressure, and the ever present enemy Satan, and that can feel just as overwhelming. The enemy wants us to lose every battle that we ever face. He wants us to rebel against God or at least throw in the towel on Him. But what he forgets and we must always remember is that as Believers in Christ, we have God's Spirit in us. If we ask for God's help when we face struggles, God will fight for us. And God always triumphs.







Storms in Life

Job 1:9-10 NKJV 
"So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.


Satan attacked Job's motives, saying that Job was blameless and had integrity only because he had no reason to turn against God. Satan wanted to prove that Job worshiped God not out of love but because God had given him so much. Satan is constantly and sadly; often accurately analyzing why many people trust in God. Many people are fair-weather believers, following God only when everything is going well or for what they think that they can get out of Him. Adversity destroys this kind of superficial faith. But adversity strengthens real faith by causing believers to dig their roots even deeper into God in order to withstand the storms that spring up from time to time.

How deep does your faith go?
 
Put the roots of your faith down deep into God so that you can withstand any storm that you may face. And then when hard times come - and come they will; the enemy will make sure of that- dig even deeper into God and trust the this very same God that pulled you through the last storm is more than capable of getting you through this one as well.

 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

And There Was Peace




The God's Kind of Peace

John 16:33 KJV 
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world".


Having an attitude of peace and calm is priceless. It's an attitude that says, 'I'm trusting God,' and it speaks powerfully to people. But it takes time, focus, and the grace of God to be consistently peaceful.

Too often our stress level is tied up in our circumstances. You could be stressed because you're always busy or you're struggling financially or because you're not getting along with someone you love.

To conquer the stress in our lives, we need to learn to practice the peace that's been provided for us by the overcoming power of Jesus.

One way to develop consistent peace is to learn to live 'in the now.' We can spend a lot of time thinking about the past, or wondering what the future holds, but we can't accomplish anything unless our mind is focused on today. Today is what matters. Today is what counts. Tomorrow might not even come- so why would I waste precious time concerning myself about things that may not even happen?

The Bible tells us that God gives us grace for each day that we live. I believe God's grace is the power that enables and energizes us to do what we need to do - and He gives it generously, as we need it. Moment by moment and day by day.

I do not believe that He super charges us to face life a week or month or year in advance. But give each of us just enough grace to get us from this point to the next point and to the next point. I believe that He does this so that we can fully rely on Him to pull us through and so that He can reveal to us His Mighty, Mighty strength and love for us.

Every day when we awake we need to say, 'God has given me today. I will rejoice in that alone.' No matter what happens, no matter how many things go wrong (or go right)- I am still going to thank God because I woke up this morning with the ability to enjoy this day- this life; moment by moment. I will not get bogged down in the details of today but will rely on God's grace to give me the peace to endure whatever may come.

If you can learn to trust God 'in the now,' receiving His grace as you need it, you can become a truly peaceful person - and that's powerful!


Dearest God,
 
I know that You have overcome any and every obstacle that the enemy can, will and often does, throw my way so I ask You to help me live in the peace that You've provided for me. Show me how to trust You as I live 'in the now.' I give thanks in advance because I know it will surely come. Amen and Amen!
 

 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Living Life Through Love




Knowing God Through Love

1 John 4:7-21 NKJV

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who
loves is born of God and knows God.

8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Seeing God Through Love

12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

The Consummation of Love

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Obedience by Faith

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God
whom he has not seen?

21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.


Jesus; Our Example

Love is something that can be seen. It is seen in the fruit of the Spirit working in our lives, in our behavior and how we treat people. Love has many facets, or different ways we can see it. For example, when a diamond ring is held up to the light, it can sparkle in various ways depending on which way it is turned in the light. I believe love also sparkles in different ways depending on how we look at it.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives us examples of the many facets of love:

Love endures long, it has the ability to put up with stuff for a long time.

Love is never envious, it doesn't want what it doesn't have.

Love is not boastful or vainglorious, it doesn't call attention to itself.

Love is not conceited or rude.

Love doesn't insist on its own way.

Love pays no attention to a suffered wrong.

Love never gives up!

These are just a few ways we're supposed to love others...and it's also the way God loves us. First John 4:8 says that "God is love." He loves us and has saved us, so now we can share His love with others. Obviously; at some point in our lives we are going to happen upon some people that just make it difficult to love them. They are going to wrong us, gossip about us, say things that are not true or just be mean for the sake of being mean. Still; we must love them and be an example to them of what living a life of love is all about. In other words; we have to be the bigger person.

To imitate God, we have to look at Jesus, a perfect representation of God who lived out all of the descriptions of love in 1 Corinthians 13. He always acted in love in every situation, even when people came against Him. He always showed loving kindness towards everyone but He was not their doormat. He showed them the example of treating people with love, with respect, with dignity and with grace and then He moved on.

Colossians 3:12-14 says to "clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones.... And [put on] love"....

Like Jesus, let's clothe ourselves in love and choose to follow His example, bringing honor and glory to God. People may not always respond in kind to the love you have shown them but at least you can move through life knowing that you set the example of how they should be living. Plant the seed of love in others. Then leave the watering and tending to God. Amen?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Heart of Praise




Look Back so you can Move Forward

1 Samuel 12:24 NKJV 
"Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you".


Lately; I find that I have been reading quite abit about the life and times of Samuel. It's pretty fascinating. If you haven't already read it - you should. It's completely full of all kinds of wisdom. I'll give you the short version of the story and then you can go back and fill in the gaps on your own.

It's starts out with his mother "Hannah" who was a barren woman- unable to have children. Hannah was married to Elkanah - who had another wife named Peninnah. Penennah wasn't very nice to Hannah. She had a couple of children by Elkanah already, but since Hannah did not she thought that made her better than Hannah.

Every day Hannah went down to the Temple  ... crying, starving herself to death etc. etc. because she can't have a baby. One day she decides that she will try and strike a bargain; cut a deal, with God and so she promises Him that if He would give her a son then she would give it back to Him and never cut his hair.

Though God really isn't in the bargaining business - He gives her a son (Samuel) and in due course Hannah takes the baby to the Temple and drops him off to be raised by the Temple Priest named Eli. Because Hannah kept her end of the bargain God ends up given her a whole lot of children.

Well; Eli (the Temple priest) had two sons - who were just completely awful people that eventually they get what is coming to them in a hair raising battle- so exciting! Eli- who by then is old and blind hears of his sons deaths and falls off  of his seat, breaks his neck and dies. 

Samuel  - who grew up to be a righteous man - steady, kind, reliable (all the things that a good man should be) then became the Temple priest, a Prophet of God (God spoke to Samuel of thing to come) and eventually went on to be the Judge of Israel.

The story doesn't stop there; in fact, it gets even better. Samuel's has children of his own. He appoints his two oldest sons (Joel and Abijah) to be judges of Israel also but they end up being two completely horrible men that stir up all kinds of trouble ... but you'll have to read that for yourself.  ~wink ~

The point I want to focus on today is found in 1 Samuel 12:24 - Samuel reminds the people to take time to consider what great things God had done for them. Taking time for reflection allows us to focus our attention upon God's goodness in the past and strengthens our faith in the present and in the future.

Sometimes we are so "problem" or "what's going to happen in the future" oriented that we fail to take time to recall all the good that God has already done in our lives. We forget all of the bad times that God has seen us through. We forget all of the blessing that He has already given us.

Remember what God has already done for you so that you may continue your life with the purpose of gratitude already established in your heart. This same God that has taken care of you thus far is the very same God that will take care of you now and into the future.

Thank Him!
 


Friday, June 21, 2013

Thinking Good Thoughts




Changing the Way You Think

Romans 12:2 KJV 
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God".


I am sure that at some point in your life you have heard the saying "a mind is a terrible thing to waste'? Well; it turns out that it's true. Our minds have so much capacity for good, to learn, create, think and grow, and it's a tragedy when we don't use them to their highest and fullest potential.

There was a time in my life when I allowed too many damaging thoughts to enter my mind, negative, tormenting, guilty, unforgiving, shameful and accusing thoughts. Someone says something, someone does something and the next thing you know I have a running dialog of thoughts about that person that simply can not be repeated here. I simply assumed that since they were "my" thoughts that I was thinking then they must be mine. My head, my thoughts; right?

Not so. All the thoughts you are thinking aren't always things that you come up with yourself. If it's negative thinking either about yourself or someone else then odds are that they aren't your thoughts at all. Our minds are ripe, fertile soil for the devil to plant his thoughts in. He drops a few seeds of negativity in and all it takes is for us to water them a few times and off it goes.

I had no idea I had the power to control my thoughts and to choose which thoughts I focused on and believed in. I didn't realize that if I was thinking something that wasn't very nice or very true, I had the power to stop. No one ever told me I could actually win the batter with the devil over my mind.

Has anyone ever told you? If not, then I'm here today to tell you that you don't have to let your thoughts control you. You can choose to think and focus on God-thoughts!

Romans 12:2 says to "let God transform you, by changing the way you think." God wants to help you win the battle in your mind. But what does that look like on a practical level?

Here's what has worked countless times for me and what I know will work for you too: The next time you're wrestling in your mind, I want you to stop and find something specific that you can thank God for. Tell Him how grateful you are for His goodness and all the rich ways He's blessed your life. As you're diligent to do this, you will see your life begin to change and things will get better and better.

So often these days when I get a nagging ~not so nice~ thought stuck in my head I will simply start a running mantra of "These thoughts are not My thoughts because My thoughts are ....." (lovely, beautiful, gracious, kind, uplifting, edifying, love affirming etc. - fill in the blank with something positive) It honestly doesn't take long of doing this before the ~not so nice~ thoughts that you had are displaced by something that God would rather have you focused on.

It's my hope and prayer that this short little study will help you will know the power God has given you over your mind and that every day in your thoughts, you will walk in the fullness of God's love for you!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Relentless Spirit




Relentless

Philippians 3:10 KJV 
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;


The term “relent” means to change your mind, just like the word “repent.” As Sons and Daughters of the Living God, we are called to seek God with all of our hearts, to keep seeking, and to keep seeking! The widow woman in Luke 18 was relentless in her cry for justice to the earthly judge, and Jesus says “will God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him…?” The simple story signifies that the woman would not relent, and she got what she needed.

Several other stories in the Bible show us men who were blind crying out to Jesus “SON OF DAVID HAVE MERCY ON US!” People told them to shut up, but they cried out even louder! They would not relent, they wanted their healing so bad, that they were determined to get the Lords attention. They got his attention, and were healed.

Another time a woman cried out for the Lord to heal her daughter, but she was ignored for a while, even getting on the disciples nerves with her crying because SHE WOULD NOT RELENT! Jesus granted her what she asked, and told her she had great faith!

When Elijah prayed for rain in I Kings 18:41-46, there was not a sign of rain in the sky until the seventh time his servant went to look at the sky. Elijah did not stop after five times, he did not change his mind, he did not relent because he had a word from the Lord. I could write pages about such instances as these “relentless pursuit” of the people in the bible, but I must move on to more of this subject.

In II Chronicles 7:14, a very familiar passage of scripture, God says to us that if we will humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, turn from our wicked ways; He will hear from heaven and forgive our sins and heal our land. This is an awesome promise of God, but conditional on our part. WE must do the first part, and he will be faithful to fulfill His part. Many people start off strong, but fall short….

Don’t stop, don’t give up, don’t change your mind! I declare right now over me and my family, and over you as you read this, WE WILL NOT RELENT! We will stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, we will have what the bible says we can have because I choose not to give up, not to relent, but to remain steadfast in my pursuit of God!

The other side of the road is God’s relentless pursuit of us. John 4:23 says that God seeks people to worship Him. II Chronicles 16:9 says He looks all about the earth seeking a heart that is loyal to Him, someone He can show himself strong through. God is relentless in His pursuit of us. He wants all of us, not just part. Jesus said he was like a man who has lost a sheep, and left the 99 to find the one; and like a woman who lost a coin, and turned her house upside down to find it. In both instances, how great was the joy when the sheep and the coin were found! Jesus will not relent in His pursuit for us, for God’s desire is that ALL men would repent and come to Him, that none would perish!

I declare that I will not relent until I have all of Him (this is an endless task because God is inexhaustible) BUT how awesome a journey of pursuit. In retrospect, I ask of God to not relent until He has all of me….that I would decrease and He would increase!

I pray that a desire for Him would burn in you so great that your spirit is greatly troubled when your pursuit begins to slack. I pray that you would also get the “heart” of seeking Him, and not change your mind about what the Bible says is ours to have just because you don’t see immediate results. Hold fast! Don’t’ relent!

Relentlessly pursuing God is not necessarily easy, but it's definitely worth it. However, you can't really pursue God until you've first experienced real freedom.

God is in the business of setting us free, and it's glorious to be free from guilt, condemnation, and always wondering what people are thinking of us.

We're set free from the concern of failing when we know who we are in Christ. This brings us the courage to be able to step out and pursue God's promises.

One of the greatest freedoms God has given me is the freedom to be me. For years I tried to be something I wasn't, feeling like I needed to be like this or like that, all the while knowing I wasn't like everyone else. Yet, I kept trying to be like others until I learned through my relationship with God who He created me to be. This also set me free from me, so I can focus on Jesus and reaching out to others the way He wants me to.

Philippians 3 says Paul was determined, or relentless, to have the things that Christ Jesus died for, to know Him and the power of His resurrection. I believe when we are born again, there is a spirit of determination that rises within us. We can call it Holy Spirit passion or zeal, and it's what gives us the 'oomph' we need during hard times to say, 'I will not give up on having an intimate, passionate, deep, personal relationship with God. I will not give up on being all that Christ wants me to be.'

Be relentless to stay in faith and receive God's promises. Remember, you belong to Him and He has given you a relentless spirit!
 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hold the Line; Stay the Course



Don't  Give  Up !

What Do We Do When Life Gets Hard?

Galatians 6:9 NLT: "So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up".

In the world we live in, we are going to have all kinds of problems, frustrations and difficulties. That's just life. So knowing this, what do we do?

We must remain steadfast and persevere. In other words, the answer is never give up! No matter what's going on in our lives, the victory is in refusing to quit.

Keep in mind that in the heat of our struggles, the Holy Spirit is probably doing His greatest work within us. He is not moved by the circumstances. If you and I really trust Him, we shouldn't be either! He's not in our lives for good times only, but for the difficult times as well.

He will lead us through anything if we'll just hang in there and follow Him. This means being diligent in prayer, relentless in our resolve, unwavering in faith, and determined to stand firmly on God's Word and His promises to us.

So many times we can be sidetracked by how slowly things seem to be going. In fact, the enemy loves to point that out! But remember, that's when God may be doing some of His greatest work. You see, it's not all about you and me. The Lord's work in us is preparation for the work He wants to do through us!






I know life can be hard sometimes. But I also know that God will help us if we remain steadfast.

So let me ask that question again:
What do we do?

The Bible's answer is to never give up!
What's your answer?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Finish What You Started

 


Finish The Course
John 17 NKJV


Jesus Prays to Be Glorified

1.  After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.
2  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.
3  Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
4  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.
5  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.


Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6  “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.
7  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.
8  For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.
9  I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.
10  All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.
11  I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.
12  While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13  “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.
14  I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
15  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
16  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
17  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
18  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
19  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.


Jesus Prays for All Believers

20  “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
21  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.
22  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—
23  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.
24  “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25  “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.
26  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

                                           
                                          

                                         ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~









Several years ago I read a verse from John 17 that touched me so that it caused me to weep before the Lord. Specifically; in John 17:4, Jesus says, "I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do." Jesus said that He started and finished what God had called Him to do and in doing so it brought Glory to God. This passage is also telling us that following God and bringing Him Glory means finishing what He's called us to do.

Since reading that verse, it has become very important to me that I not only just do what God has called me to do, but that I finish what He's called me to do. To work at it every single day; little by little, until I have accomplished all that God has desired for my life. To be brave and have faith when adversity comes against me and to find a bit of joy in all that the day holds.

There are a lot of people who step out and begin a journey with God, but I don't think there are nearly as many who step out with God that go on to finish the course strong with Him. Some where along the line when things begin to get a little difficult it becomes very easy to just throw in the towel than to press on. I believe that many people that start off strong ultimately end up limping to the finish line; cursing those very last steps. But that isn't what Jesus did and that isn't what He would have us to do either.


The apostle Paul said, '...If only I may finish my course with joy...' (Acts 20:24).

Joy.  I love that. Paul wanted to not only finish what God had called Him to do but to enjoy the course along the way. I want to be like Paul. In fact I am determined to not only finish God's call for me but to also enjoy every minute of it! That's what I want for you, too, to enjoy every single day of your life and finish what God's called you to do.

But most of this is up to us. It's not all up to God. He has done His part and given us everything we need in Christ. It's up to us to keep learning, growing, and letting the Spirit of God work in us. It's up to us to decide if we are going to allow each day to make us sour and irritable or enjoy the day as we go along.

Take time to consider the things that God has called you to do and ask yourself, "What am I doing today to finish strong what God has set before me?" Am I running my course with joy or am I cursing every step along the road.

I so much believe that God has great plans for you. Receive them by faith and go after them with all your heart. Today, I want you to make a commitment to finish strong. Run your course with joy in your heart. It's a commitment I know God will honor and help you to accomplish.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Perfect Candy Apple




Red Cinnamon Candy Apples

Making candy apples isn't as difficult as one might imagine. The secret is in the use of a candy thermometer. If the candy doesn't reach the perfect temp then the result is candy that is either too soft or too hard to eat. Stirring the mixture brings the temp of the candy down slightly- so use your thermometer often to maintain the correct degree for perfect candy.

Ingredients:

8 apples (I like Granny Smith for their crispness)
8 wooden skewers (popcycle sticks work great)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup red cinnamon candies, like Red Hots
Candy Thermometer



Preparation:

1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray or smear on butter.
* Parchment paper works equally well. In which case simply smear on a thin layer of butter

2. Wash and dry the apples carefully. Remove the stems, and stick the skewers firmly in the stem ends.

3. Combine the water, corn syrup and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then continue to cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 250 degrees with candy thermometer. Wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush occasionally to prevent crystallization.

4. Once the candy reaches 300, add the cinnamon candies and stir briefly to incorporate. Continue to cook, washing down the sides, until it reaches 285 degrees.

5. Remove from the heat and stir the candy so that it is smooth and even. Hold an apple by the skewer and dip it in the candy, tilting the pan at an angle and rotating the apple to cover it completely with a smooth, even layer. Bring it out of the candy and twirl it to remove excess, then set it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining apples.

6. Allow apples to cool at room temperature. Candy apples are best enjoyed within 24 hours but can last for quite some time if wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Grow In Grace Like Faith



~ Living Grace ~

Romans 12 NKJV

1  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.
2  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.
3  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
4  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,
5  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
7  or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
8  he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
9  Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
10  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
11  not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
12  rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
13  distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16  Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17  Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
18  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
19  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
20  Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

                                      


Grace, Freely Given

If  you've been in the world very long, you've learned that there are very few days that go exactly the way we'd like them to go. Thankfully, God is never going to put us in a situation without giving us the ability to be in it with joy.

Here's  my definition of grace: It's God's power coming to us freely, meaning it doesn't cost us anything other than just putting our faith in God, enabling us to do with ease what we could never do on our own with any amount of struggle or effort.

I  believe God gives us His special grace for every situation. I like to define grace as receiving God's power to help us do whatever it is we need to do. You can have that power today, but you have to receive it, and the only way to receive it is by faith.

Romans 12:3 says that "God has allotted to each a measure of faith."

Ask  yourself today, "What am I doing with my faith?" Are you putting your faith in yourself, or in others, or in your circumstances? That's not living in grace, that's just living by your own strength and works. And it won't get the job done!

But  when you release your faith and trust God to do what you can't do, you're putting your faith in Him. Then grace, God's power, will come through the channel of faith and will enable you to do things that will amaze you and others.

Put  your faith in God. He wants to give you His grace today.


Relying on God

I  believe every time we feel frustration, it means we've really stopped relying on God. That might sound like a bold statement to you, but think about it: God's given you and me His Holy Spirit and His grace to help us walk through anything that comes our way. Frustration hits when we stop depending on Him and try to make something happen our own way.

Understanding  this really helped me. Every time I became frustrated, I reminded myself that what I was really doing was trying to take the place of the Holy Spirit. I was trying to be Holy Spirit Junior!

Do  you struggle with an independent spirit? When you refuse to depend on God, in essence, you're saying, "Okay, God, I appreciate that You're around, but watch me do this." Depending on God for everything may be difficult, but it's the key to the victory we need every single day of our lives.

When  God saved us, He didn't help us and then say, "Ok, that's it. You're on your own now!" He's eternally saved us, which means if we depend on Him, He will guide us and help us.


Dearest Father God,

I know that life won't always go in the way that I want it to. In fact; I fully expect it to go in the complete opposite direction, but I trust in You. I trust that no matter what twists and turns, curves and bends that my life has is by Your hands and will ultimately be what is best for me. I may not always understand the Whys and the Hows of every situation- Why some times worked out and Why some things did not. But I really don't need to; do I? I just have to trust that You do things the way You do because that is what was best for me. By faith, I receive Your grace, the power You have freely given to help me walk through any situation I face not only today but all the days of my life. Though I know I am completely undeserving of such Grace I accept it and give thanks for it. Amen and Amen.





Friday, June 7, 2013

Temptation: What Say Ye? Yah or Nay?





Temptation

1.  the act of tempting or the state of being tempted especially to evil; enticement

2.  something tempting; a cause or occasion of enticement

Temptation is the desire to perform an action that one may enjoy immediately or in the short term but will probably later regret for various reasons: legal, social, psychological (including feeling guilt), health-related, economic, etc. In the context of religion, temptation is the inclination to sin. Temptation also describes the coaxing or inducing a person into committing such an act, by manipulation or otherwise of curiosity, desire or fear of loss.

1 Cor 10:13 (NIV)
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but  God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it".

The Scriptures speak of three kinds of "trouble" for the believer:
1) Discipline, judgment, or rebuke from the Lord;
2) tests, trials, persecutions, suffering; and
3) temptations or attacks from Satan.


So when trouble comes, what type is it? Is this God directly moving to correct me, or is this the promised persecution for following Christ, or have we allowed Satan access into our lives? Which kinds of trouble can be avoided? Which can't?

We all face temptation, it's an unavoidable part of life. The question is not, "Will you be tempted?" The question is, "When you're tempted, will you be ready?"

In your own strength and by your own ability, You can't. But when you put God's Word in your heart, when you lean on His strength and trust in His promises, there's no temptation you can't overcome.

Over the years, I've noticed five things that make all the difference in overcoming temptation.

First, you've got to be wise. Think about the choices you're making and the consequences before you make them. Wisdom looks ahead.

Next, you have to believe that you can resist temptation. Condemnation, guilt and shame work off of momentum, if you stop them early, they lose their power, but once they get rolling, they're hard to stop.

Third, think of facing temptation as normal life. If you're expecting a fight, you'll always be ready.

Fourth, avoid areas of weakness. Don't put yourself in situations where you can easily fall. If you struggle with managing your money, don't go to the mall when you can't afford to buy anything!

And finally, don't give yourself too much credit. We don't graduate from being tempted. It's so easy to think you've matured beyond stumbling, and once that happens, you make yourself an easy target.

God wants you to trust Him to bring victory in every area of your life. By His grace, you can!





God Tests. Satan Tempts.
Why Does God Allow Temptation?

As long as man is in the flesh, he is in the place of testing. After surveying the Old Testament Scriptures where the Hebrew words nasah (to prove) and bachan (to try) occur, a noted Hebrew scholar wrote:

"A consideration of these passages leads to the conclusion that the various evils and struggles and difficulties which are prompted from within, or which befall man from without, are ordered by God as part of the great system of probation or testing to which every child of Adam is being subjected. The agency of the Evil One is permitted for the purpose of bringing a man into that sort of contact with evil which will serve to test his real principles."

This probation can be seen in that man is continually being tested by God and tempted by the Devil. "2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:2-3). Just as schools have their final examinations, mankind awaits God's Final Judgment, where the Righteous will receive their final reward at the Bema Seat, and the Wicked will obtain their just punishment at the White Throne.

Thus we see that the Father does lead His people into situations of testing, for the purpose of refining, "to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His Commandments, or no... that He might humble thee, and that He might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end" (Deuteronomy 8:2,16). Though Satan's purpose in tempting us is our sinning, the Father's purpose in our testing is that we might be perfected.

Each choice of man has the opportunity of praising God, when he passes his trial of faith. "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1Peter 1:7).

It is a grave mistake for the Saints to conclude that their trials were something out of the ordinary that were not supposed to happen. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (1Peter 4:12). It should not come as any surprise to the Saints of the New Covenant that God has been testing all along our love for Him. "The LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 13:3).The result of God's testing of the Righteous is that they are confirmed in holiness.

God's proving of man is not to satisfy God's lack of knowing in advance what man will do, but that the moral process of choosing may be completed, to glorify God through man's passing of the test, and to justify God through His Judgment of those who give in to temptation. We need to respond to our testings with confidence that He Who allows these tests,  will also CAUSE us to triumph by His Strength, and "deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13). "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations... Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the Crown of Life, which the LORD hath promised to them that love Him" (James 1:2,12).

Physical testings are a joyful bond that we share in common with our Saviour and Deliverer, our LORD Jesus. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the LORD Jesus, that the Life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (2Corinthians 4:10).

The Apostle Paul wanted us to keep "looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured The Cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2). And soon, our Reward, Who victoriously "is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God" (12:2), will greet us "face to face" (1Corinthians 13:12), and by His side we evermore shall stay. "21:3 And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God... 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the Throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him: 4 And they shall see His face; and His Name shall be in their foreheads. 5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the LORD God giveth them Light: and they shall reign FOR EVER AND EVER" (Revelation 21:3; 22:3-5).

No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because he was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means.



You Are Not Alone


1 Pet 5:8-10  Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Resist him, standing firm in your faith, remembering that the strain is the same for all your fellow-Christians in other parts of the world. And after you have born these sufferings a very little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to share his eternal splendor through Christ, will himself make you whole and secure and strong.

Jesus became as human as you and I to prove that we can, like Himself, overcome the Devil and NOT give in to sin. He demonstrated that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). With each temptation that the Devil cunningly used to try and ensnare our LORD Jesus, the Record is given to us of the method Jesus used for overcoming the temptations and the Devil-- "It is written", "It is written again", and "It is written" (Matthew 4:4,7,10). God's Word is our Defense, "His Truth shall be thy Shield and Buckler" (Psalm 91:4), and "His Name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:13)!

Eph 6:10,13  In conclusion be strong--not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless strength. Put on God's complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the devil's craftiness... that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6, 1944 D-Day




June 6th, 1944,  the longest day, and the most important day of the twentieth century, the day that the liberation of a continent began. The day that the destruction of the Nazis and the downfall of Adolph Hitler began. A day that must never be forgotten for these men proved that they were indeed from The great generation.



Keep Moving


Keep moving lads ... keep moving
Don't huddle on this beach
Don't make yourselves a target

For those guns up there to reach


Keep moving lads ... keep moving
There's the seawall ... over there
Keep moving lads ... keep moving
Don't falter ... or despair


Don't look ... at comrades falling
Around you ... everywhere
Keep moving lads ... keep moving
We can take this ... on the chin


Keep moving ... and keep praying
Before those guns ... they zero in.





I stand here now


I stand here now
Amongst ... brave men
With whom ... I've stood before

The last time ... when we landed


On June 6th of  '44
Back then ... we were all young men
Eighteen or little more
Their lives ... cut short ... that morning


On this distant ... windswept shore
I stand here now ... and wonder
What would they ... have become
Had they survived ... that morning


Their lives ... allowed full run
One thing ... I know ... for certain
Of which ... there is ... no doubt
These brave young men


My pals ... from then
Would be ... old
White haired ... with wrinkled brow
Just like me ...


As I stand here ... now.


Picture Post


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Feeling Mighty Pleased






Feeling Quite Pleased

Genesis 1 NKJV

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
4 And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.
6 Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.”
7 And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens.
8 God called the space “sky.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.
9 Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened.
10 God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened.
12 The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
13 And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.
14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years.
15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened.
16 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars.
17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth,
18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day.
20 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.”
21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
22 Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
23 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened.
25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.
30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.
31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.



                                           ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



God  saw that his work was good. In fact; He was feeling mighty pleased with Himself. And well He should be. Just take a look around you. This planet is absolutely stunning in it's creation. All manner of lovely living creatures. Flowers of every color and hue. Trees that change colors with the season. Green grass in the summer, snow (or at least a brisk frost) in the winter. Sky colors that change from blue to gold to red. Even lightening has a lovely quality to it as it splits across the sky.

People  sometimes feel guilty for feeling good about an accomplishment. This need not be so. Just as God felt good about His work, we can be pleased with ours too. He created us to be unique. To walk down a road in this life that no one else could walk. A road that has it's own unique challenges and accomplishments. No two roads are ever exactly the same.

However,  we should not feel good about our life's' accomplishments if God would not be pleased with them. If what we have accomplished; the work we have done, has resulted in the harming of others, work that is substandard and so on then we have the opportunity to go back and start over fresh. Each day brings us the opportunity to begin anew. To put yesterday behind us and begin all over again.

God  gave us His very best work. Should we do any less?



Thought for the Day:

What are you doing that pleases both you and God?