If you put a dish of m&m's or snickers in front of me, I just can't stop at one. I know that is suppose to be for Lay's potato chips, but it also works for chocolate!
My love for sweets, particularly chocolate, stems from a desire I had at a very young age. For as long as I can remember, I never liked the taste of milk. White milk that is. The only way, as a child, that I would drink milk is if I could sweeten it with some chocolate. I loved me some chocolate milk. Still do.
But like most good things, it wasn't long before I realized that all of that sugar and chocolate was not good for me. Too much sugar can lead to problems such as tooth decay, obesity or even diabetes. Truth is if we have too much sugar and not enough milk in our lives, we become unhealthy!
"As newborn babies, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow." 1 Peter 2:2
As I grow older, I am slowly realizing the importance of drinking more milk and eating less sweets. Milk contains important nutrients that cannot be obtained by sweet things. The vitamin D and the calcium found in milk is exactly what is needed for my bones to remain strong. If I only eat the sweet things and neglect the things that are needed to keep me healthy and strong, it will only be a matter of time before I become weak, frail and broken.
Spiritually speaking, we are the same. Just like a baby who needs milk to grow and just like how we need the nutrients from the milk to remain strong, we also need spiritual milk to keep us growing spiritually. We need to limit the sweet stuff. You know, the sweet temptations that keep us from growing in Christ.
We all need to feast on more milk, or the Word of God. It contains the nutrients that we need to grow spiritually. Without His Milk, we will become weak, frail and broken Christians.
Are you getting enough of His nutrients to be strong or are you giving in too much to your sweet tooth?
Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY and I am so thankful that God's Word contains all of the sweet flavors needed to sustain me. His Word fulfills. It satisfies. And it keeps me strong and healthy. What are you thankful for? Join your grateful heart with ours over at GRACEALONE. Iris is hosting TT this month!
When God sends us out, it isn't always easy. He doesn't just sent us out to labor among a bed of roses. Sometimes, we are among the wolves. And if you know anything about wolves, you know that they are hungry and they will devour if given the chance.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
Wolves prowl, especially at night, they look and they wait for the chance to pounce. They know what they are looking for, they can smell their bait for miles away. Christians need to be warned that there is not only sheep among us but also wolves. Sometimes it is difficult to tell them apart, for the wolves sometimes dress up as sheep to fool us.
Sometimes the wolves dress up as sheep in order to persuade others to follow them. And at other times, sheep will dress up as wolves so they can take charge, manipulate and deceive others. It is not our job to change wolves into sheep. We are, however, given a charge to bring forth the wolves and allow the Shepherd to transform them into lambs.
I find it mind boggling how easily people are tricked. Even though God's Word warns them of it, they are still misguided and easily lured into falling for deception and untruths. This happens because who we see as the sheep really are just wolves in disguise. A disguised wolf is a great danger to the flock.
How can we tell the wolves from the sheep?
The wolves will snarl, hiss and bite. The sheep graze peacefully. I don't know about you, but I have come across a few wolves along the way and it is not easy to fend them off at times. But we must remember that God never promised us a rose garden. He never said it would be easy. In fact, He said that trials and tribulation would come our way and that the enemy would come to kill, steal and destroy. And the best way he does that is using trickery. Deceit. Lies. Manipulation. Confusion.
When you face the snarling wolves, and you will, remember what Jesus said in John 15:20:
"If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you!"
Who are they?
The wolves disguised in sheep clothing could possibly be those closest to you:
LUKE 21:16,17 "You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake."
But if you continue reading in Luke 21, you will find God's promise..."But not a hair on your head will perish." Your faithfulness to Him will be rewarded. He will protect us from the pack of wolves and if we will turn around and love our enemies, we just may be able to lead the pack to the Shepherd.
Do not fear, if God could conquer the grave, a few little wolves won't scare Him. He can silence those that set out to hurt His children. But we must be awake and alert to tell the difference between the sheep and the wolves so that we will not be deceived.
When I think about masterpieces, I can't help but think about our trip we took to Europe for our 25th anniversary a few years ago. One of the stops we made was Paris, and when we went to visit the Louvre in Paris, we saw plenty of masterpieces!
But what makes a masterpiece anyway?
To me, a masterpiece reveals an artists best piece of art. As we viewed different art pieces at the Louvre, I discovered that artist Leonardo Da Vinci painted over 20 paintings. But yet he is most known for only one painting. That would be his masterpiece. The Mona Lisa.
Inside the art museum, you could easily walk up and view Da Vinci's art. Much of his art was displayed on a wall that you could get up close and view. But viewing his masterpiece was much different. The Mona Lisa was held in a private room. Guards stood in front of the painting and the great masterpiece was roped off and visitors could only get so close to it. If you tried to step past the rope or if you tried to take a picture of the great masterpiece, the guards were right on you. No other piece of art had such attention. I guess that is the difference between a piece of art and an artists best ... a masterpiece.
If we could find God's best piece of art or His masterpiece, we wouldn't have to go far. We wouldn't have to go all the way to Paris or even visit an art museum. All we would have to do is look in the mirror. The mirror is where you can find His greatest masterpiece of all.
EPHESIANS 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
So if we are His greatest piece, His workmanship....are we protecting His masterpiece or are we being careless with it?
May we all realize the treasure that God sees in each of us. He has created each of us with such care and no two masterpieces are the same. Like the guards on duty at the Louvre, we must also guard and protect the image that our masterpiece portrays.
Have you ever noticed how we like to hang onto things?
All I have to do is look in my closet and see how I like to hang onto old clothes and old shoes. Things that I don't wear or need any longer are the hardest things to let go of.
It's not just things we wear that we hold onto. My husband has newspapers about Superbowl winnings from years ago. I cannot understand why he holds onto those things. It's not like they are worth any thing and what purpose does it serve to hang onto them?
In life, we sometimes hang onto things that cause us harm. Old shoes and newspapers from decades ago probably would not fall into this category. But we as humans tend to hang onto old habits and bad memories that tend to bring harm to us.
This past week, I heard a preacher tell the following story:
As a young child, he went to the driving range with his dad. While he was too young to actually hit the balls, to give him something to do, his father let him go to the ball machine to fill the bucket full of golf balls. The young boy excitedly went to the ball machine, set the pail down and hit the button that dropped down the balls. As the balls filled up the bucket, he noticed one ball got loose and instead of dropping into the bucket it dropped down to the bottom of the machine. As any young boy would do, the preacher shared how he didn't want any balls to get away, so he reached down into the hole of the machine to retrieve that lost ball. Except for alittle problem...when he tried to pull his hand back out of the hole, it was stuck. Panicked, he started to holler. His mom came running to see what was the matter. As others gathered around him, they could see that his hand was stuck in the machine. Until one very smart individual asked,"do you have the ball in your hand?" To which the boy replied, "Yes, I have the ball!" Then he was told to "Let go of the ball!" So he did. And he was able to pull his hand right out of the hole.
Why is it so hard for us to let go of things? We are like the little preacher boy, we can't escape bad things in our life because we are holding onto the things that keep us trapped. We must learn to "let go" and just "let God!"
Psalm 25:2 "O my God , I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me."
WHAT ARE YOU HOLDING ON TO? Try letting go and see what God can do!
Sometimes I am not a very good listener. I blame it on my age and I say I didn't hear it, but I often wonder if that is true or if I just have a short attention span. Often times, my family has to repeat things more than once to me. I am just not a good listener at times.
At times, we don't hear, because we don't listen. I read a story recently that illustrates this thought perfectly:
A man lost his watch while working in a ice house. He searched diligently for his watch, carefully shifting through the sawdust, but to no prevail did he find his watch. His co-workers also searched for his watch, but they came up with nothing.
While the men took a lunch break, a young boy who had heard about the lost watch slipped into the ice house to search for the lost watch. After just a short time, the boy came out of the ice-house with the watch in his hand.
The men were all astonished that the young boy found what they could not. They asked him, "How did you find it?" The boy replied, " I laid down in the sawdust and kept very still. In the quietness, I heard the watch ticking."
I have found that life can be so hectic and we can become so consumed with things that distract us that it is difficult to find time to slow down and just be still. Have you ever wondered why Jesus went to be alone with His Father? He secluded Himself so He could focus completely on what His Father had to say to Him.
It was never a question of whether or not God was speaking, because He was. Jesus just made a point of listening. The question for us is not whether or not God is speaking but are we willing to listen? We might need to remove some distractions and get quiet before God so we can hear Him.
Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
When is the last time you laid down in the sawdust prayer closet and just listened? If you get still before Him, you might be able to hear something of importance.
Today, on THANKFUL THURSDAY, I am so grateful for the voice of God. May we quiet down so we can hear His voice among all of the other voices calling out to us. Shh! Can you hear it?
IRIS is our TT host this month. Please join your grateful heart with ours by linking up over there.
"And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." Matthew 14:28
The disciples were in a boat when Jesus came walking towards them on the water. The Bible says that Peter called out to Jesus:
"Lord, if it is You, bid me to come to you on the water."
So, Jesus told him to come and Peter walked on the water. But only for a moment. When he began to look around and see the winds whipping around he began to sink. Once this happened, Peter cried out to Jesus to save him.
I have thought about this story so many times and at times I have associated myself with Peter. Look at what happens to Peters faith:
He had enough faith to call out to Jesus and ask Him to let him come to Him. At the word of Jesus, Peter stepped onto the water. When Peter began to sink, he had enough faith to cry out for Jesus to save him. But the point where his faith weakens is when Peter looks around and sees the "storm".
How many times have I been like Peter?
I have enough faith in God to step into the water. My faith is even great enough when I feel like I am sinking to cry out to Him to help me, but when I begin to look around and see the crashing waves, this is when my faith weakens. It is not the beginning or the end of the storm, but it is the middle.
It is easy to trust when we take our first steps, but when the storm comes crashing in, our faith soon diminishes when we wonder if we are going to be able to keep afloat. It is much easier to walk TO Him then to walk WITH Him in the water.
It makes me wonder if we forget who is in the water with us?
Did Peter forget Who was with Him? Jesus even asked him why he doubted. It is in the doubting moment that we lose our balance and begin to sink. We need to learn to not only trust Him in the boat, but when we step out in faith and even when the storms come crashing in. He is with us during every step, and He will not fail us, not even when we are in the middle of a storm!
Have you ever had someone come up and ask you, "Don't I know you?" Something about the person seems familiar but you are not sure if you know them or not. Sometimes something triggers a memory and you share a moment of reflection with each other.
Lately, I have had to ask myself this very question in regard to some relationships I have..."Do I know you?" People who I have known for years have turned out to be something other than what I thought. I thought that I knew them, but in reality, I didn't know them at all.
This reality check has caused me to wonder, "do we really know anyone at all?"
How many of us truly are what we say we are?
Sometimes it is difficult for us to show people the "real" us. But I have always said that it only takes a matter of time before the real person comes to surface. We can only hide our true identity for a season. Eventually what is in our heart and in our mind will come to surface. And when the real "us" comes to life, it can either be something beautiful or it can be the green eyed monster.
"Oh Lord, You have searched me and You know me." PSALMS 139:1
We can fool others about who we really are, but we can never fool God. He sees the dark places of our hearts. He knows every thought. Every thing that is spoken or done in private. He knows the real us. He doesn't need to ask "do I know you?" because He knows every intricate thing about us.
I don't know about you, but knowing God has heard every word I have spoken and seen every deed I have done, makes me peel the mask off. It causes me to be real. Genuine. It propels me to be an authentic Christian.
The world is full of imitations, and when someone stops me and asks, "Do I know you?", I hope my answer can be "yes, you know EXACTLY who I am."
It is amazing, now that our sons are grown up, how each of them have taken on similiar traits of their father. In fact, our youngest son likes to joke around and he will comb his hair to the side and put on his Dad's glasses and try to mock his father. Funny thing is ...he looks exactly like his dad.
I have often wondered about those glasses that their father wears. I wonder if the kids have ever considered what they could really see thru their dad's eyes?
If his glasses could talk, I think they would reveal the compassion and love that their dad sees in people. They would see the good samaritian things that their dad has done that has gone unnoticed. The glasses would reveal the unselfish deeds that their father has done for others. If the children could look thru their fathers glasses, they would see hard work, good character, compassion for others, genuine love for others and a faithfulness to serve God.
These are also some of the things that we would see if we would just look thru our heavenly Fathers eyes. Sometimes it is difficult to see the clear path, when trials and tribulations come my way, I cannot see clearly or make sense of the path I am on. But that is because I cannot see my future like God sees it.
I have come to realize that I cannot see clearly on my own. I will always need my Fathers help in seeing clearly. The direction I take in life cannot be based simply on what I see, because God sees things that I am not even aware of. He knows where the bumps in the road are and He knows what is good for me and what is going to harm me. I don't always see these things clearly. This is why I/we must depend upon God's 20/20 vision instead of our 20/40 vision.
“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”Pslam 16:8-11
I like what the Psalmist says in this passage..."I keep my eyes ALWAYS on the Lord!" How long does "always" mean? That means NEVER taking our eyes off of God. Our Father sees what we cannot see. Trusting Him and keeping Him at our side means we cannot ever fail.
We must trust our Fathers vision and see things thru His eyes!
One of my all time favorite bloggers, fellow Pastors wife and accomplished author is Lisa of PREACHERS WIFE. She has a great sense of humor and a very humble spirit. I have been following her for a couple of years now. This week she picked WOMEN TAKING A STAND to feature as one of her M2M (Married to the Ministry) blogs.
This week I got a new hairdo. I don't know what I was thinking...with long hair, I could just get up, pull it in a ponytail and go. Short hair, you can't do that. You have to fuss and fix it before you can go anywhere.
The past few days I have found myself in front of the mirror more than usual as I try to prep myself to be world ready. Face it girls, some of us need alittle more time in front of the mirror each morning than others. Some girls have a natural beauty, I, on the other hand, need to make some things happen in front of the mirror before anyone can see me!
I would imagine that most of us would not want the world to see us before we primp and beautify. We want to look refined and refreshed before we conquer our world.
This morning, I am reminded of the words of the Apostle James:
James 1:22-25But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
WhenI look into the mirror and see myself for who I am, I have two choices. I can either walk away from what I saw and ignore the changes I need to make or I can do the work that is necessary to mold my life into what God wants it to be. Just like we need to shower and clean up in the morning, sometimes we just need a good spiritual shower and remove the dirt, grime and debris that stands in the way of being the fresh scent of Christ that He desires us to be.
Mirror, Mirror on the wall....
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a Christlike appearance looking back at you? May we all primp, groom and yearn after looking our best for God and in return, may others see the beauty of Christ within us.
One of my favorite things about summertime is watermelon! I love eating a slice of juicy watermelon. The only thing that I don't like is taking the seeds out. Last night I was enjoying a slice of melon and when I finished, I noticed the pile of seeds left on my plate. I counted the seeds. 9 seeds. How amazing is it that out of just one slice, there is potential for 9 more fruits to be planted.
As I scraped the melon rind and seeds into the trash, God spoke to me about the potential seeds that seem to get tossed aside. Not watermelon seeds, but seeds that He has planted in me.
2 CORINTHIANS 9:10 "Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness."
It is God's desire that we bear much fruit. In John 15:8, it says, "This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." I think God would desire us to be like watermelons, and bear much fruit for His Kingdom. May we not forget that God can take one seed and multuply it many times over. But we must be willing to allow Him to cultivate what He has already placed in us.
May we not waste the potential seeds that we each possess. I am so thankful for the opportunities that God has placed in me, may He be pleased with the fruit that comes out of me. What are you grateful for today? Join us as we gather with Iris for THANKFUL THURSDAY!
In everything, there is a time and a season. Not only in the climate where you live but also in our lives. I think that we all have a favorite time of year. Springtime is one of my favorite seasons where I live. The weather is not cold and it is not hot. It is JUST right, if you ask me.
But the season of spring is usually too short lived. Following a cool spring, there always comes a hot and humid summer, especially here in the south. But with every season, there is a purpose. Not only with the climate but also the season we find ourselves to be at in life.
ISAIAH 43:19 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
In the springtime, we see new beginnings, new growth. The grass and the flowers begin to bloom. There is such a freshness in the springtime. Some of us find ourselves to be in the spring season of life. This is a great place to start our walk with God, but it is not a place to remain. If we all stayed in the spring, we would never see the seeds of our faith grow. But yet without the spring, the seeds could not be planted, the seeds of hope, forgiveness and salvation. We all need the season of springtime in our spirit, but we can never stay here. We must grow. We must mature. We must move on.
The season of spring is just the beginning.
When we pass thru spring, we find ourselves in the heat of the summer. Summer is important because the roots that were planted in the springtime now can continue to be nourished and strengthened. Here in the south, the summer heat is almost unbearable. But spiritually speaking, it is while we are in the heat of summer, that our roots are strengthened. Roots grow when heat is applied. Without the heat, our roots would not thirst. It is in the midst of the heat, or the trials and troubles, that we will depend on the quenching of the Holy Spirit. It will strengthen us and grow us.
The season of summer is a time for growth.
Following summertime, comes fall. I love fall time also because of the radiant colors of the leaves. As the leaves fall to the ground, it reminds me of how in the seasons of life, some things are bound to change. If you are in the season of fall in your spiritual walk, then you might find yourself in the "golden years". Not "golden" as "old" but "golden" like "maturity". Once a seed is planted in the spring, and nurtured in the summer, it is now time for the seed to mature. The heat of life now brings us to a point of being mature in our walk with God. We know what it is like to come thru difficult times and still trust God and remain faithful.
The season of fall is a time to ripen.
Then there is the season of winter. Winter is cold, very cold, depending on where you live. I can't think of too many things that can survive the winter. Right before the frost comes, we must go out and cover up anything that may be left in the garden. Otherwise it will not survive. The cold and frost is too much and we must be prepared for the season of winter. Likewise, in the season of winter in our spirit, we must be prepared. The season of winter represents death. We cannot come upon the season of winter without being prepared.
The entire process of the seasons have now brought us to this season in life. While in this season, you can look back and see exactly how productive you have been.
Have you reaped what you have sown?
If you have sown your actions and thoughts into the things of God, then the season of winter is one to not fear. For you will be prepared fully for what this season of life will bring you. Death is not the end. Not if you are a Christian. In fact, if you are a follower of Christ, death is just the beginning. The beginning of your eternal home.
But before you can conquer this final season of life, you must first pass thru the other 3 seasons. What season of life do you find yourself to be in? Wherever you find yourself....remember there is purpose for all of the seasons.
I use to evaluate which movies I would attend according to what Siskel and Ebert had to say about them. If they gave a movie a "thumbs up"...I would tend to want to see it. But if the movie got a Siskel and Ebert "thumbs down", I couldn't be convinced the movie was worth my time and money.
Isn't it funny that we often base our decisions on what other people think! Have you ever considered that Siskel and Ebert may have a different view of things than other movie goers? It doesn't make it right or wrong, it just makes it different. They really don't have the last word on what is acceptable viewing for ALL movie goers.
The same is true when we try to evaluate people. Often times, we are like Siskel and Ebert, giving people a "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down". We seem to be experts at evaluating people. Some people think they have the uncanny ability to read other people's minds, evaluate their actions and judge their motives. There is a great danger when we do this, it causes us to become judgemental. Such people can begin to have critical spirits that will only destroy and divide. This is shaky ground to be on. In 1 Samuel 16:7, God says that man looks at the outward appearance while God looks at the heart.
Judging is not something new. The Bible is full of examples of people judging others. There were the Jews in the wilderness. (Numbers 16) And then there were the Pharisees, in Matthew 22. What about the Prodigals sons older brother? (Luke 15) In Numbers 12, God severely judged Miriam's judgemental spirit against Moses wife. Just to name a few.
There is a clear distinction between "judging" and having a "judgemental spirit". Christians should be able to judge what is good and what is evil so they can discern God's will for their lives. Proverbs 27:17 also instructs believers to have discernment in pointing out our brother's sin in a loving manner. Some of us stop reading once we read the "pointing out" and we don't grasp the "in a loving manner" part.
This past Sunday, I heard a preacher make the following statement... "Instead of mentoring, we become critics!" - Pastor Matt In the book of Matthew, Jesus said that people cannot remove the speck from someone else's eye when they have a plank in their own eye.
"Judge not that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." (Matthew 7)
Jesus is speaking against having a critical spirit. Judgemental people are critical, condescending, unloving and unforgiving. They are more focused on pointing out the faults of others rather than in helping people with their problems. I agree wholeheartedly with what Pastor Matt said, I see more and more people who instead of reaching down and helping others, they kick them when they are down. Instead of encouraging and mentoring, they take on the Siskel and Ebert motto and give a big fat "thumbs down!"
Being judgemental of others is clearly a heart issue, it can be a heart attitude that blinds people to their own problems. If someone is quick to point out someones sin or wrong doing,in a non loving manner, isn't being judgemental just as much a sin?
You might have a critical spirit if you are quick to point the finger and slow to bend your knee. God is not pleased with criticism, especially of others, He is a God of love and He desires for us to love others. Even if they are different from us. Putting others first, praying for them and loving them unconditionally is a good start to overcoming having a critical and judgemental spirit.
What kind of Siskel and Ebert attitude do you have? A thumbs up (mentoring) or thumbs down (criticism)?
After 18 months, the wait was finally over with for my teen daughter. 20 appointments later, lots of rubber bands tossed in the trash, every color of wires imaginable and thousand and thousands of dollars later....a brand new smile thanks to 18 months of wearing braces.
On the way to the anticipated orthodontist appointment, my 15 year old daughter wondered if it would be worth it all. What would she look like with the braces off? What if they discovered it didn't work and they would have to put the braces back on?
A short time later, she went into the office to find her answer. Her questions made me think, "just how much is a smile worth?" For us, it cost a mere $6000 (thank goodness for good dental insurance!) But while she was in the back waiting upon her answer, I sat in the waiting room and God showed me a different kind of answer to my question.
The answer did not come from the orthodontist.
It didn't come from the dental assistant.
Nor did it come from the ortho office receptionist.
But the answer came from God thru a little girl that came in with her mommy. As the mommy helped the little 6 year old to a chair, she went to check in at the front desk. She needed her mommies help because she walked with quite a limp, probably from the braces that she wore on both of her legs.
Something about that little girl caught my attention. She had such a sweet spirit about her. So sweet , just looking at her made me smile.
It wasn't long after her mommy came and sat with her, I heard her ask her mommy a question, "Are we the only ones in here mommy?" As her mommy quietly told her "No" and then she shushed her. It was then that I realized that not only did this sweet little sunshine have a handicap that required her to wear braces but she was also blind.
"How much does a smile cost?"
I would imagine that anyone who spent anytime with that little girl would soon realize that the joy and the laughter that was found in her smile was just simply priceless.
PHILIPPIANS 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say rejoice!"
A short time later, my daughter came out, she got her answer to her questions. The braces came off and she was beautiful. For a mere $6000 she had a million dollar smile now.
(Just one of my beautiful blessings from God...my daughter, Anna!)
But more importantly, the joy that bubbles up from within her spirit is simply priceless to me. So how much does a smile cost? When God breathes His blessings upon us...it is simply priceless!
Today we join IRIS for THANKFUL THURSDAY. What are you rejoicing about? Join your grateful heart with ours by linking up over at GRACE ALONE.
One of my favorite Bible scriptures is found in Proverbs 17:17..."A friend loves at all times." Have you ever considered how often "at all times" is?
"At all times" is a very, very long time. In fact it may even be as long as a lifetime. But is it really possible for someone to love "at all times"?
What about when someone hurts us?Can we still love them? When a friend makes a poor choice...do we still love them? When a friend stabs you in the back, but loves you to your face...does "at all times" cover this?
It may seem impossible to do, but I believe that God is pleased when we become a Proverbs 17:17 friend. As Christians, we are to be Christ-like and Christ loved everyone. At all times. Even though people hurt Christ, He still loved them. Just like they did to Christ, people will also hurt us. Our natural instinct as people is to turn away, or befriend them.
I have found thru experience that in times of difficulty, that is the time that we will find out what our friends are truly made of. Perhaps "at all times" means not just during the good times, or when it is convenient for us. Perhaps a friend that loves at all times is one who loves even though they have been hurt, let down, discouraged or even betrayed. "At all times" is during good times and bad.
As a child, I always heard about the golden rule..."Do unto others as you would have them do to you." As a young person I always had a hard time to grasp this, and quite honestly, as an adult it isn't always easy either. There are so many people in our world that needs to see and feel the love of Christ and sometimes the best way to do that is to love others unconditionally.
Unconditionally? That may mean we need to love someone who is unloveable or someone who has done us wrong. Loving someone unconditionally doesn't mean hitting the delete button on facebook just because they make us mad, nor does it mean we turn our back on them or judge them for their actions. Loving unconditionally like Christ loves us is plainly spoken in 1 John 4:19...
"We love because He first loved us."
What kind of a friend are you...a Proverbs 17:17 kind or the kind that is hard to find? I pray that we all can be found loving "at all times!"
Today you can find me over at the LACED WITH GRACE website. I have shared the following devotion entitiled, "What's in it for me?"... I have sat in many church services where the preacher has declared that God’s Word instructs us to forgive others. If we are to be Christ-like than we must extend forgiveness to others. This sometimes is easier said than done. All of us have had someone hurt us in our lives, it could be when we were children, or it could have happened just yesterday.
Forgiveness is applicable to ALL people. It isn’t just for the ones we love or the ones that we choose to forgive. Jesus died for ALL, that means that His forgiveness is offered to every man, every woman, every child. It is for all who will receive it. Even the hardest core criminal can receive God’s love and forgiveness. But, we on the other hand, like to view our enemies like a criminal. Sometimes, we like to keep them shackled and feeling ashamed and unworthy of our love, acceptance and mostly our forgiveness. What’s in it for us if we forgive others?
It is kind of like the pay it forward method. What you do for others will continue on to others. God forgives you. You forgive someone. They forgive someone else, on and on. The pay it forward method.
Mat 6:14-15 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
As much as it may seem difficult to forgive others, I would say that forgiving ourselves is even harder. When we make mistakes, we often walk around beating ourselves up over what we did. We feel horrible and the stress that comes with this many times robs us of happiness, content and even good health. The guilt and remorse of your past mistakes many times brings you back to the altar over and over again. You pray and pray and ask for forgiveness for the same mistake. How many times will it take for us to realize that the first time we asked for forgiveness, God is just and He forgives us. It is not God who holds onto our past, it is us who keeps it wadded up in the clench of our fist.
It doesn’t matter what lies in our past, no matter how big or how small our mistakes, when Jesus died on the cross over 2000 years ago, our sins, our mistakes, our weaknesses and our addictions were also nailed to that cross. God already knew before the foundations of the earth what our mistakes and shortcomings would be. But yet, He still sent His Son so we could have forgiveness and have eternal hope.
Once we repent from of our wrong doings, God forgives us. He doesn’t make us feel guilty. He doesn’t condemn us. He doesn’t hold it over our heads. He doesn’t do that. But often times we do that to ourselves.
REVELATION 12:10 “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’ "
No doubt the enemy likes to keep accusing us over and over for our past mistakes, but sometimes, I think we become our own worst accusers. Not only is it important to forgive others, but we must also learn to forgive ourselves.
What’s in it for us if we do this?
Well besides having freedom, it is just what God would want us to do. He never meant for us to go back and forth from the cross, picking it back up time and time again.
ROMANS 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
To Forgive others and to forgive ourselves, we must leave it with Him. We must let God work it all out.
What’s in it for us if we do this? Complete forgiveness!
Recently I heard R.T. Kendall speak about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice, one that will make you a brand new person. If you are having trouble with forgiving others or even yourself, I recommend R.T.’s books, TOTAL FORGIVENESS and HOW TO FORGIVE OURSELVES – TOTALLY.
Don't you just love family reunions?
I can remember when I was growing up, having family reunions on my step-dad's side of the family. If I recall correctly, it always fell on the fourth of July because I can remember as a child always going in the front yard of my Grandmother or my aunt's house (depending on where it was held) and shooting off fireworks and lighting sparklers.
Some other memories that I have of those family reunions is going into the garage where the food and coolers of drinks were. I always had my share of Orange Crush, you know the old fashion kind that came in a bottle. I think as a child, I must have overdosed on those as I cannot stomach one now, way too sweet!
But one of the lasting memories that I will always have of those family times, is just getting to see folks that we only saw one time of the year. Aunts and Uncles and Cousins that lived not too far away but far enough that we did not visit on a regular basis. It was always good as a child to sit around and listen to the old stories that the adults shared year after year. The jokes they told. The laughter. The love. The closeness. It could all be felt during those family reunions. And then when it was time to say good-bye, the tears.
Until the next family reunion.
And then we got to do it all over again. The fireworks, the orange crush drinks, the laughter, the joy, the tears.
As I got older, and became a teenager, I guess I got too busy because I vaguely remember the reunions after that. Or it could be that my grandparents died and everyone went their separate ways and did not make it priority after that. I don't know what really happened, but what I do know is that I have always remembered those family reunions.
Now I have my own family and as they have grown up, our family size has also grown. Instead of 3 sons, we now have 3 sons and 3 bonus daughters. Our daugher is still a teen, but it won't be long and she will get married and we will welcome yet another family member in. And when all of them begin to have their own families (we are expecting a grandchild in October) then our family will really begin to grow. As they find themselves settling in areas that are not near us, I see more and more the importance of having family reunions. A time for everyone to come together at the same time to share, maybe not with fireworks or orange crush drinks, but certainly to share in love, laughter and yes, maybe even some tears.
This reminds me of what it will be like one day when we are reunited with our loved ones in Heaven. Those that have gone on before us, what a glorious day that will be when we are reunited with them. What a family reunion it will be when parents are reunited with children, and husbands reunited with wives and friends reunited with friends. It is going to be a time of celebration. It will not be a time of tears, for there will be no good-byes. It will be a reunion of love and peace. And probably there will be an unlimited supply of orange crush.
"I say to you, that many shall come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 8:11
Today on THANKFUL THURSDAY, I am so thankful for the family reunions from my past and most definetly the family reunion that is yet to take place in heaven!
Sharing God's love and truth thru devotional writing here and across the web. My heart is to bring hope,love and forgiveness to those that feel broken and lost. I was once broken and lost but I am so glad that God didn't let me stay that way. Come along with me on this adventure of faith and may you also find the hope and love that you are longing for! :)