What’s It All About?

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Have you ever found yourself wondering what life is all about? All the work that becomes repetitious, the chores, errands and responsibilities that continue day in and day out can sometimes make us feel like it’s pointless to even try to get caught up! I think it’s safe to say we’ve all felt like this from time to time. How could you not? When you’re changing a diaper that marks your 500th, I’d wager you’re not feeling excitement. Or when you’re making the bed for the two thousandth time, it’s not really an event your likely to remember as special is it? I hate to admit it, but when we feel like this it’s really because we’re being selfish. Selfish in how we view our time. We feel our time is being wasted on a menial task. We get bored with the mundane day to day activities and long for something greater to fill our days. We have a desire to experience and be involved in something that will make a difference, something to be remembered for. The problem with all of these desires and feelings is we’re focused on ourselves. We need to refocus on the bigger scheme of things. Like Christ and what He wants us to do. What is Jesus asking you to do today? Maybe, just maybe changing diapers and making beds is what he’s asking you to do? How radical! When we take care of others needs we become his hands and feet to those that are needing help, help with things they can’t do on their own. When we serve our families needs we become Jesus to them. And Jesus didn’t grumble and complain! Even while facing death on the cross. Ouch! That hurt a bit as I typed it. If you or I had ever had a privilege taken away from us, such as the ability to make our beds or cook our food, we would joyously do these things again. So many people can’t take care of menial tasks without help. The thing is, life isn’t about all our wants and our needs. Life is about Christ. I think this scripture says it all:

 

“Everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.” Colossians 1:16b

 

The Christian Life: It May Not Be What You Think

holdWhen I was a new Christian, I had the common misconception that once I accepted Christ as my Savior all would be well. All my problems would be a thing of the past. Life would be smooth sailing from here on out. You see, I had a distorted perspective of what Gods blessings are and what my purpose is. It didn’t take long before God revealed Himself to me and straightened out my flawed thinking. I learned that my comfort and desires were not the most important thing in life. I had thought of my life as just that- “my life”, but my life is more than that, it’s Jesus’s life. My physical discomfort, the trials, the areas of weakness and my heartaches are that what drive me to God, keeping me close by.  All these things are a witness to others, and as they see me, hopefully they will see Christ in me as well.  In this way, a lost world can be reached for God’s kingdom. As others see God provide strength and comfort and grace in my life, it is a testament to His faithfulness. When something great is done and I’m involved, it is despite my flaws and a testament to Gods power and glory. It’s easy to want to give up when life gets tough, but if I remember that my life isn’t all about me I can be strong and on fire for God. God is also using your situation to reach, teach, comfort and glorify Himself to you and those in your area of influence. Don’t lose heart when things get tough. Just know that it matters in Gods kingdom work. And he loves you enough to keep you close to his heart.

http://www.melissajoelliott.com

What Do I Do With This Trial?

1022427_30637656Having been through my share of trials, I know it can feel overwhelming when you’re in the midst of a trying situation. I’m here to tell you to hold on and remain steadfast in your faith. Cling to God with all your might and keep claiming the promises of His word. The promise that he will never leave you or forsake you, and the promise that if you’ve asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, all things will work together for good. Things have a way of working out in the long run.

1108723_76812844You will feel joy, hope and peace again. Not only will you experience those good things, your relationship with God will grow as you’ve been through the valley with Him and you learn that He has been by your side the whole time. Trials only strengthen the walk we have with God or show us something in ourselves that we didn’t know. Something that God knew we needed to see. The trial you’re in right now will help you feel true compassion that you can share with other people who you encounter in your life. Other people who are walking in a similar valley that you have walked or are continuing to walk in. You will become a minister of grace to others when you truly understand, pardon and cry with them in their situation. You can comfort them from a heart that is non-judgmental, because you’ve been in their shoes. God will use your particular situation for His kingdom work. Just keep on trusting in Him.

 

Are You Feeling Unlucky? Consider This

834640_88057651Are you feeling unlucky? I touched on the topic of luck and its role in the life of a believer in my post “Good Luck, No God Bless.” As I wrote that post I reflected on what lucky means for Christians. I’d written that post before I’d started reading a wonderful book that really got me thinking deeper about luck and how we view those that are considered lucky in our society. Given the trials I’ve endured over the past two years, some people would probably say that I’m unlucky. Heck, if I were on the outside looking in at my own life I’d most likely surmise that I’d been unlucky as well. It easy to feel that way, when you get one blow after another you can come to the conclusion that you’re gonna be knocked out of the fight. Not a lucky feeling. Not only that, you may feel like the last person or the most unlikely person that God would ever use. But we of the faith need to redefine what luck really is, in light of eternity. Even as I type this, I’m well aware that it’s easy for me to say this because I’m enjoying my life. I’ve had a lot of trials true and I still have some residing issues, but I’m able to do all I want. I have a very good life. If the residual vertigo problems I have continue, even throughout the rest of my life, I am fortunate as compared to some. Fortunate in this lifetime. So what makes someone unlucky? Am I unlucky?1013752_95503215 If I were confined to a wheelchair it would be much harder than to simply deal with feeling bad on occasion. So am I luckier than someone with greater limitations? Maybe in this life I am, but our luck is found in what’s to come and the comfort that has already come. The comfort of Christ living in us, is a reminder of that which will be, when the kingdom of God will rule on the earth in its fullness. Even if our lives are not what we had anticipated, we that have put our hope in Jesus are lucky. For it’s we who will inherit eternal life and that far surpasses any temporary earthly pleasures this life can offer. We also have comfort that comes from God. Those that feel lucky in this life are the ones that are really unlucky, because they haven’t felt their need of a Savior. Therefore they do not have what Christ has given us. They only have their self sufficiency.1176741_68006109.Revelation 3:17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. The people who feel self-sufficient and not in need are the unlucky ones. Radical huh? The book I’m reading challenged me to think differently about those that are considered lucky and unlucky in our society.

“Lucky: How the Kingdom Comes To Unlikely People” by Glenn Packiam. Highly recommended. As a side note Mr. Packiam is the writer of a well-known praise and worship song titled “Your Name”.

Here’s an excerpt from his book.

Victory has started to unfold. Comfort is coming. Indeed it has come. Imagine that a man takes you to a junkyard covered with rusted metal and decomposing parts, littered with paper bags and used up cups. Imagine that he tells you that this very ground will be a beautiful garden. “No way,” you say. “This place is covered with trash and refuse. This is a junkyard, not a garden.” “True,” the man says. “it is a junkyard now. But I just bought it and will make it a garden. In fact, I’ve already started my work.”

“What?” you say. “It looks the same as it did last week. How is anything different?” The many gently replies, “I have already planted some flowers.” “Where>” you ask. “I don’t see anything.” But its work is beneath the soil. Suddenly he points to a green shoot breaking through the earth. “Look! There it is. I planted that recently. There is a small sign of what is coming.”

The Wrestling Match

862415_58406763Job did it, Jacob did it, Jonah did it and we do it. Many, if not all of the people in the Bible have wrestled with God’s will. Job wanted to die, but God didn’t take him. Jacob wanted to rule, but God showed Jacob he was in charge. Jonah wanted to hate, but God said to love. We want our way and we don’t always get it. We don’t always like that which God allows or asks of us. What mother of a sick child delights in their child’s sickness? Who asks for declining health or loss of employment? These events can come upon us like a whirlwind. Can’t wait to talk to Job about his whirlwind one day. What about the unforeseen accident that renders you helpless or lifeless? The out of nowhere pink slip that leaves you wondering “where did I mess up?” Why do we react so strongly against what God is allowing in our lives? Why do we wrestle with what we know God is telling or asking us to do?

Fear, plain and simple. The all to familiar feeling that makes you sweat and hits you right in the gut. We fear that God is making a mistake. We’re afraid that we can’t handle or cope with what He’s allowed in our lives. We fear the process of change because we don’t like to hurt and change usually hurts. It’s just not easy. When we’re asked to change we have to move from familiarity to faith, as we tally up the costs we may determine we just can’t pay the price. It’s too high. “You’re asking me to go, do and accept what?” Fill in the blank. What comes to your mind? Besides the fear, we just like to have things our way. Life isn’t like a burger joint, where you decide you don’t want pickles and they’re instantly removed. No pickles for you or you just won’t buy that burger. Wrong! We don’t always get to pick and choose what happens to us. We struggle against the thought of having to eat pickles, because after all you’ve never liked pickles and it’s just ruining your burger. Enough about pickles. I actually like them, but you get my point. We want to stay wrapped up in our own cocoon of comfort. The cocoon of safety and familiarity will become a prison if we stay there too long. It will keep us from evolving from a caterpillar to a glorious butterfly. The fact is our life is like the weather. As they say in Tennessee “stick around long enough and it will change.” Did you catch that? I’ll repeat it, because I need to hear this myself. Your life is like the weather, stick around long enough and it will change. Oh, there are some things that never change. God never changes. The rising and setting of the sun never changes. The flow of the tide hasn’t changed and the fact of aging and death still eventually affect us all. Life though is mostly ever-changing. Even the skin cells on your body regenerate constantly. Even though God does not change, He’s in the changing business. In fact I believe He likes it. God’s all about change, changing us. Henry Blackaby stated in his book Experiencing God,  “You can’t stay the way you are and go with God.” We are called to change. God delights in our changing. We can’t be set free until we go through the process of releasing that which binds us. We can’t experience a renewed mind unless we go through the renewing process of replacing old thoughts, with new ones and that involves change. Change doesn’t happen overnight, so if we’re gonna serve a God that loves change we’ve got to be willing to accept change ourselves. Even when our heart is crying out, “No, no, no!” It’s not supposed to be this way. Who are we to question God? We are to submit our requests to Him, going confidently before the throne, I’ll be praying right along with you, but pray mostly for God’s will and your heart to be in agreement with His.

Our Pastor recently addressed a group of us at my church about an upcoming change that seemed to come about rather suddenly. Our “whirlwind”. He alluded to the fact that we have a false sense of control in our lives and it’s so true. We make our plans as if we by the making of them can override God’s. Sometimes things will go our way and we will be healed or be blessed in some way but,often times we won’t get what we ask for. Or if we do get an answer it’s different from what we had expected. We’re only kidding ourselves if we think we have control of our lives. We can’t even will our next breath. As painstaking as it is at times we need to let go and let God! If we don’t we may end up like Jonah, in the belly of a fish! We don’t have to like all that God allows. God understands our hurts and He feels them as well. We need to know that despite the pain we are we are growing. Our growing pains will mature us to be more Christlike. God in His infinite wisdom knows what’s best. Trusting Him and believing in faith that He is in control and truly loves us will bring our hearts to peace and then we will step away from the wrestling match of our will against God’s. God’s guidance and providence is stronger than we are and the sooner we realize that the better off we’ll be.

Grace: God’s Gift

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 2:8-9

  • G – God’s 
  • R- Riches
  • A- At
  • C- Christ’s 
  • E- Expense

Our loving Father has shown us his grace by pardoning us from the punishment we deserve. It’s by God’s grace that we are saved, for we didn’t deserve to be, yet He so graciously sent Jesus to die for us, allowing Christ to be a substitution for us. If God is so gracious we need to remember to show grace to others, and in this way we will be more like our Heavenly Father and that pleases Him greatly. Not to mention that when we walk in grace we will have a big impact on the world for Christ. It’s a harder walk, but with the Holy Spirit as our guide we can be beacons of grace and a light  to a world that needs to see God in us.

Happiness or Joy- Which Would You Choose?

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Have you heard about the “Happiness Revolution”? It’s a hot topic, for sure! Just browse any book store and you’ll see countless shelves filled with the topic of happiness, how to attain it, attract it, keep it and develop it. There are even television shows about happiness. Just Google “happiness” and see what you find. I did as I was thinking about writing this post today. Happiness is  apparently on everyone’s mind. So what does the Bible say about happiness? Here’s one passage on blessedness, which to my understanding would mean happiness.

Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take  or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,  and who meditates on his law day and night.

Here, we’re told some of the things to avoid doing and some things we should do that will make us blessed or happy.

  • not walking in the counsel of the ungodly.
  • not standing in the path of sinners.
  • not sitting in the seat of the scornful.
  • delighting in the law of the Lord.
  • meditating on God’s law day and night.

Here’s a scripture on joy

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.” Psalm 34:51386581_51264205

Experiencing joy is different from happiness. Joy is an internal feeling that isn’t based on any external happening.  In other words, you may be experiencing a difficult situation such as; financial pressure, physical ailments or grief, yet you have joy because  joy is an internal feeling and not related to the outer happenings or circumstances that you may find yourself in. If given the choice between joy or happiness, joy wins hands down. Trials will come, but joy will see you through.

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What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.” ~ A. W. Tozer

The Power of Prayer

646227_29155629We serve and awesome God! He can do more than we can ever think or imagine. He is powerful! We however are not. We can only do what God allows. Before you become troubled by the fact that you’re not in control of your own life. Think again! How many wrong decisions and mistakes have you made in your life up until this point?  A lot? Same here! So instead of thinking you can run your life better than God, just hand it over to Him willingly and pray about your concerns

  • Pray with confidence

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.(1John 5:13–15)

  • Know God hears you if you’re in right relationship with Him (see more) 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

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Are You Thirsty?

  

Today is a milestone for me! I reach 30! Not thirty years old, but 30 posts have been written on my blog!  Yippee!  It’s quite an accomplishment considering it took me 3 years to write the very first one!  It’s been quite a while since I turned 30 years old, though.  Long enough, in fact, that after turning a certain other number (I’ll keep it to myself), I decided I would grow a year younger each year.  I’ll be 30 again in a few years! I know I’m cheating!  Hey, it’s my birthday game and I’ll play it how I like! 

It’s funny how certain times in our lives like milestone birthdays, the birth of a first child, the death of a parent or “empty nest syndrome” can bring us to a place where we’re looking inside and also outside of ourselves for satisfaction. Birthdays are especially good about bringing us to a place of contemplation about where we are in life.  Have we attained what we thought we would by this time?  Have we reached our full potential?  These questions enter everyone’s mind now and again. It’s all too easy to  become thirsty for what you haven’t achieved or what you haven’t attained, grasping to reach those goals before you leave this earth as if there isn’t anything left afterwards. This can be good or bad. It depends on what you grasp for to fill your cup of thirst with. You can try to fill it by getting a promotion at work, reaching another rung up on the corporate ladder. You may decide to have another child, buy another piece of jewelry or dump the person you’re with and get another one. People do these things everyday trying to quench a thirst deep inside. It may help temporarily, but it won’t help for long. The reason?  We the human race just can’t get enough, can we?  We just get thirsty again. God’s word addresses thirst many times because He knows us. He knows our weaknesses and He knows our appetite and what we”ll try to drink to fill us up. Thanks be to God that He gives us a big heads up!  He points us in the right direction, to where we need to focus our attentions so that we don’t keep drinking from a bottomless well and eating until we are so fattened that we just vomit it back up. He tells us how we can fill the God-shaped vacuum in each of us. A vacuum He himself designed up to have.      

 Psalm 42:1-2 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for Thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Revelation 7:16-17 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes.

I’ll share a short bit from a website that has a great study titled “Quenching Our Thirst At God’s Fountain”. By J. Hampton Keathley, III. 

An old tale from India about a young man seeking God 

He went to a wise old sage for help. “How can I find God?” he asked the old man. The old man took him to a nearby river. Out they waded into the deep water. Soon the water was up just under their chins. Suddenly the old man seized the young man by the neck and pushed him under the water. He held the young man down until the young man was flailing the water in desperation. Another minute and he may well have drowned. Up out of the water the two of them came. The young man was coughing water from his lungs and still gasping for air. Reaching the bank he asked the man indignantly, “What did that have to do with my finding God?” The old man asked him quietly, “While you were under the water, what did you want more than anything else?” The young man thought for a minute and then answered, “I wanted air. I wanted air more than anything else?” The old man replied, “When you want God as much as you wanted air, you will find him.”3

For more of J. Hampton Keathley’s study visit the website link.  It’s an excellent read! 

So how thirsty for God are you??  Just look at what you’re doing, thinking or searching for and that’s your answer.

It’s okay to have goals we should as long as we’re alive, we just need to make sure we’re not trying to fill our tanks with them. Because we’ll always eventually be running on empty. Okay, that last thing I just typed made me think of a secular song so applicable to this post.  I’ll share the lyrics.  I never liked this song! 

Running On Empty Lyrics by Jackson Browne

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-o-one
I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on
Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind
Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don’t know when that road turned onto the road I’m on
Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind
Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don’t know about anyone but me
If it takes all night, that’ll be all right
If I can get you to smile before I leave
Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too
Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind
Honey you really tempt me
You know the way you look so kind
I’d love to stick around but I’m running behind
You know I don’t even know what I’m hoping to find
Running into the sun but I’m running behind

*** Running where?  Running to the next thing that will fulfill them temporarily *** 

Replace the song above with this one! 

Fill My Cup Lord by Richard Blanchard

Like the Woman at the well I was seeking

 For things that could not satisfy

And then I heard my Savior speaking:

draw from my well that never runs dry      
Fill my cup, Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
                                 
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
                             
Bread of heaven, feed me ’til I want no more-
                                  
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!

VERSE 2:
There are millions in this world who are craving
The pleasure earthly things afford;
But none can match the wondrous treasure
That I find in Jesus Christ my Lord.

VERSE 3:
So, my brother, if the things this world gave you
Leave hungers that won’t pass away,
My blessed Lord will come and save you,
If you kneel to Him and humbly pray:

�1959 Richard Blanchard. Assigned 1964 Word Music, Inc. (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)
All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.
CCLI #15946

How to be filled….

 Lift your cup up daily and let God fill it.

http://bible.org/article/quenching-our-thirst-god%E2%80%99s-fountain

 
 

Did You Put Your Clothes On Today?

Tired of fighting your own battles! Turn it over to the Lord! He will make you strong!

Ephesians 6:10-17
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.