All my life I was raised in a ministers home and because of that there was a certain standard I was expected to keep. In the denomination I was raised you didn’t smoke, drink, dance, or hang out with folks that did. The only problem with that was, as a teenager I thought all the cool kids in High school did those things.
I’ll never forget when the sweet little old lady in one of our churches who didn’t come to know Christ until much much later in life, told my husband ” Pastor I don’t want to tell other people about Jesus, because I want to keep Him all to myself. I don’t want to give Him away!” What this little lady didn’t realize is that the more we share Jesus with others the more real He becomes to us and in us. His love grows as we share Him. We don’t lose Him. To not give Jesus away is a selfish act and if we are going to be Christ-like we need to be selfless just like He was, when He gave His life for us on the cross.
I was reading an article today by Jason Inman from Life.Church where he shares some examples of selfish things we say all the time and then the selfless option that Christ would really like us to see. Take a look at what he says,
- When we pay off our debt, we’ll start giving more.
Selfless: We’ll give and not hold back. (Proverbs 21:26)
- The neighbors are driving down the value of my home.
Selfless: Hey, I know you’ve been busy lately, and I have an open weekend. When’s a good time to come help with your yard? I know you’d do the same for me. (Matthew 7:12)
- I’m sure someone else has already invited them to church.
Selfless: Do you want to come church with me? You’d be welcome to join us for lunch afterward, too. (Matthew 28:19)
- Maybe next time.
Selfless: You know what? I’d love to. (Luke 6:30)
- I wish I could help you, but I don’t have any cash on me.
Selfless: How are you? Can we get you someplace warm to eat? (Luke 10:25-37)
- I want to pray more, but the morning is like a circus in my house.
Selfless: When I put God first, everything else gets in line. (Proverbs 3:6)
- That’s great, but did you hear what I did?
Selfless: *nods *smiles *listens (James 1:19)
- I worked hard for what I have—they can do the same.
Selfless: I share with others because Jesus said that’s how I share with Him. (Matthew 25:40)
- Sorry sweetheart, Daddy’s really busy.
Selfless: Puts down phone, “Come here. Will you show me that again?” (Matthew 19:14)
- I’ll serve and volunteer more when I retire or when I have less work.
Selfless: I started serving, and now it’s like a breath of fresh air every week. (Proverbs 11:25)
Often times what we don’t realize is that we all make choices everyday that either shows Christ love or shows our selfish side. This sweet little lady, had found a love like she had never had before, so she was afraid that she would lose this amazing love she had found if she gave it away. But I am here to say, we are never more like Christ, than when we give love away.
Part of walking with Christ is dying to ourselves and doing what God wants us to do. I believe He uses everyday experiences for us to practice that death. We don’t want to over commit ourselves at church, because we like our freedom and the ability to not have to be at church each week when we just don’t feel like it. So we refuse to volunteer at church. See we are thinking of ourselves first. Maybe you are a busy parent and it is much easier to stay in bed then to get up and spend time with God. But we know ultimately, spending time with God is what we need to be the best parent we can be.
The truth is though, we do what we want to do. That is why we have to teach ourselves to deny our wants and do God’s will. So why not this week lets make a conscious effort to think before we speak and choose to do what He would do? Before we say “No, or I can’t” Why not ask yourself “What would Jesus Do?”. “Is there an bigger eternal purpose to this situation?”, “Could God use this for His glory in this?”
I am thankful, that our sweet little friend discovered the joy of giving herself away and showing Christ love in practical ways before she passed away. Even in her ill health, with many physical issues that caused her at times to not even be able to get out of bed and when she did, she walked with a walker. She allowed God to use her, by writing notes and cards to people. She sent the we missed you cards and birthday cards out for the church. She also used the phone and computer to encourage others. Before she passed she made it her mission to encourage others and she didn’t let her disability keep her from it.
I think when we stop looking at the mirror and begin looking at our life through a magnifying glass and ask God to help us see with His eyes than we will have a different perspective of what we should be doing. Less of me and more of God needs to be our motto this week.
It’s a New Year and with New Years usually comes New Years Resolutions. One of the most popular resolutions is “To lose weight”. My family has battled the “Battle of the bulge for all our lives” Some people say, weight issues are hereditary and others say it is environmental or learned behaviors. Looking back on my life, I have always had friends that didn’t have any weight issues. They could eat anything and look good no matter what, while at the same time, I could just smell what they were eating and would gain 10lbs. And let me tell you it hasn’t gotten any easier since I hit my last couple of Birthdays. Turning 29 years old for the 23rd time is so not easy!
Each of my skinny friends have encouraged me, they give me suggestions, work out with me, walked me through diets and for a time, I totally change my lifestyle and I see some positive results for a season. But sooner or later, I slowly go back to what I am comfortable with and my old habits take over. Then my friends basically give up on me. Sometimes, we talk a little less, after that, other times they just drop the subject with me when we are together. I realize it is a sensitive subject and one most don’t want to tread. So I understand but I gotta be honest, some days I just want that friend who will take me by the hand and sometimes drag me to do what is right.
This got me thinking….. See in the 40 plus years of ministry my husband and I have been in, I think I know how my skinny friends feel when I fail at my new diet plan. Countless times my husband and I have reached out to someone who wasn’t following Christ, or often someone who wants help reaches out to us. I can’t tell you how many times we have come along side our friend encouraged them, and pointed them in the right direction. They start coming to church, going to bible study, we hang out, they accept Christ as their Savior. They begin to change their ways, giving up their old habits and following after what Christ would want for them to do. They start dying to themselves and we begin to see God do great things for them, and then it seems like they hit a wall. They slowly drop out of church or they start to come periodically. They drop out of bible study, and slowly but surely they go back to their old ways. They lose their passion.
This reminds me of a guy in the bible who lost his passion. See David was a King who as a young boy was a fierce warrior. Sure he hung out in the field with the sheep (the lowest of jobs a the time) but that didn’t discourage him, he knew his job was important so he would practice his warrior moves, slinging the sling shot I can see him using his walking stick as a sword and waving it in the air toward the imaginary opponent. The bible tells us he was honored all around the country as a warrior, they even sung a song about him. But, one day several years later he is home, he stays home from a battle that he is suppose to be at and he gets in trouble. Why? because he lost his passion. He got distracted. You can read about him in the books of 1 & 2 Samuel, he ends up losing a son, murdering a man. But yet the bible calls him a man after God’s own heart, not only once in the bible but twice. 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22. Why? Because over in Psalms scholars say that he wrote these words after he made all those mistakes. ” Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10.
I don’t know about you but in my life I have made some mistakes, not that my laziness of not working out when I should or failing to meal prep correctly is going to send me to hell, but it does stop me from having the abundant life that I could have. Just like my friends who fall away and return to some of their old ways. They aren’t able to live the abundant life God has planned for them.
I don’t know if you have ever lost your passion for something, but static’s show that by the end of January the fitness clubs aren’t as full as they were on January 1 and I am willing to bet there is something you have lost your passion for. I am even willing to bet maybe your aren’t serving Christ with the same vigor and determination you once had. You have gotten lazy in your personal bible study. You have been laxed at going to church, maybe you have even given up on God because something happened that you just didn’t understand why. Let me encourage you to get back to giving God 150% of you! Let’s make this New Year the Year we go all the way.
Well, it is officially Christmas time! As we all begin the hustle and bustle of the upcoming events of the season. I can’t help but reflect on one of our more memorable Christmases. Amy had to of been about 8 years old at the time. It was a year when things were pretty tight in our Christmas budget. I had done everything I could to stretch what little we had, trying to give the best I could to my family. When it came about Dec 23rd I had all my shopping done and the bank account was empty just waiting till the next paycheck to come along. Then Amy informs me she wanted a Baby Alive for Christmas. My heart broke, I looked at the cost of Baby Alive and they were way out of our budget. I tried to tell Amy it was too late to put in any last minute requests to Santa. I told her that we could add it to her list for next year or maybe even her birthday. But she would not hear of it, she was determined she wanted it for that Christmas!
Christmas morning came, and we had our traditional Christmas morning routine, then it came time to open up presents. We each went around one by one opening up gifts as we do, each taking turns waiting on the other till they opened up theirs till it came to our turn. Finally, the last gift was open. Amy’s face dropped, she sat on the couch arms crossed, as she begins to pout. Then all of the sudden she jumps up off the couch stomping around the house looking around exclaiming ” I know there is another present around here somewhere!”, ” I want my Baby Alive!”
I took a deep breath trying not to kill my ungrateful child on Christmas Morning. As I tried to explain to her once again it was too late for her last-minute addition to her wish list. She finally calmed down, but as much as she wanted that toy, I wanted to give it to her. It broke my heart to not be able to give it to her. To be so broke that I couldn’t even afford a $50 toy. Oh! in the grand scheme of life it really wasn’t important but I loved her enough to want to give it to her. I love her and all my children so much there isn’t anything I would not give them if I knew it wouldn’t harm them.
All that got me thinking, isn’t that a lot like our Heavenly Father? Oh! some believe that He sits on His throne in Heaven just waiting for us to mess up so He can knock us on the head with His big stick just like the Wack a Mole games at the arcades. But that idea couldn’t be further from the truth. God loves us and He sent His son who gave His life for us. He gave His all for us and there is no good thing He would hold back from His children. James tells us that, Every good and perfect gift comes from above. The problem is, what we think is perfect and what God thinks is perfect for us might be two different things. Did Amy really need that Baby Alive? Of course not! But how often do we act like Amy when we don’t get what we ask God for? How often do we stomp around or pout because things don’t happen the way we wanted?
I heard the saying recently that ” Not every disappointment is a disaster” See, the after story of all this is, the next year Amy got her Baby Alive and a few years later she heard of a little girl whose family couldn’t afford to give her a Baby Alive and Amy came to her father and I and asked if she could give her doll away. See because Amy had known what it was like to really want something and not get it, she was more than happy to give that doll away.
We don’t always understand why things don’t happen the way we want. But if we really trust in our Heavenly Father and we really know how much He loves us then we have to trust that whatever comes our way will be okay. We can trust that His plan is bigger than ours because He is the only one that has seen our future and He knows what we need. See if we know God’s word then we know that it says ” Our Lord and our God, you are like the sun and also like a shield. You treat us with kindness and with honor, never denying any good thing to those who live right.” Psalms 84:11. So the question is are you living right? Are you willing to accept what He gives you, knowing that just because it might be disappointing at the time it isn’t a disaster because He has a plan and His plan is always better than ours?
I hope you will trust Him today! Next time things don’t go the way you hoped, instead of complaining, how about you thank Him and let Him know you trust His plan? Because who knows what might or might not be under your Christmas tree this year. Are you willing to trust God in every part of your life?
There is a relatively new term going around called “Ghosting”. I was listening to the radio the other day and there was an announcer, taking a poll asking “Have you ever ghosted someone? “ So I looked up what this word met because obviously from the way it was being used it was not what I thought of when I hear the term “Ghost”. One definition given said it is
1.) The act of disappearing on your friends without notice.
2.) Cancelling plans with little or no notice.
“The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempts to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it, in fact, proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.”
One of the most popular answers on this show was, many people canceled plans at the last-minute without thinking anything about it. The commentator talked about how people commit to an event or a time to go somewhere with someone, then at the last-minute if a better offer comes up they don’t think anything about canceling the original plans and going with the new offer if it is something they would rather do than the original commitment.
I was a little taken back by this newly found verbiage I mean, I remember when a person’s word met something and when you made a commitment you stuck with that commitment whether you had a better offer come up later or not. You weren’t just moved by the wind and whatever felt good. A person did what they said because your word was your bond.
This got me thinking about some conversations I had with my daughter over the years. I can’t tell you how many times we talked about this. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a conversation. Maybe it was more like a yelling match. I would go to her room to wake her up and she would scream “ NO! I don’t want to get up!” To which I would holler back at her, as I walk down the hall. “ I don’t really care what you want, this isn’t about you! Sometimes in this life you just have to do things you don’t want to do and getting up is one of those things” Or the conversation might go like this. “ Life isn’t about you Amy so do what you are supposed to do and get up” I promise you if I said one of those phrases to her once I said it 10,000 times. I think our mornings started out like that at about age 5, and continued, almost until the day she moved out. But the funniest part of that story is, now when I hear her tell the children she is working with the same thing. It makes me think, “Well, maybe she did get it?”
I think there is another term that needs to be considered these days, it is called “dying to yourself”, the Bible calls it “denying yourself”. See the very essence of our relationship with God requires us to give up our will and follow what He wants us to do. We must deny ourselves if we are going to be a follower of God. Jesus tells His disciples several times that they must deny themselves. Matthew 16:24-25 “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
Christ tells us, that there are going to be times we have to do things we don’t want to do. When that friend calls needing help but you would rather sit at home or when we would rather stay at home instead of getting up and going to church on Sunday Mornings. These things are important because they are things that we have to choose to do. We choose to go help that friend because it is an opportunity to be Christ’s hands and feet. We choose to get up out of that warm comfy bed because we know, if we go, we will learn more about our walk with God and possibly be able to encourage someone else with their walk as well. If there is no other reason we do it, we do it, because we know that God’s word says “Forsake not the assemblies of yourselves…….” Hebrews 10:25. So when we know what we ought to do then, we need to do it no matter how much we don’t feel like it. Because God’s word also says in James “ He that knows to do good and doesn’t do it, then to him it is sin” Yep! My kids heard that scripture a lot too. In fact, it might have been the one they learned before John 3:16
We are never more like Christ than when we choose to do something we don’t want to do, simply because we know it is right to do.
See there is no request that can be made to us, greater than the request that was made to Jesus when God, His Father, asked Him to give up His life in Heaven and go to earth to die for a bunch of sinners that would despise Him, and hate Him than spit on Him while He hung naked on a cross for them. So they could have eternal life.
So, until someone asks you to do that, you haven’t been asked to do too much. I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad Jesus didn’t ghost on us that day, He went to the cross. Because without Him sacrificing Himself for us we would not have the blessed hope of eternal life.
So next time, you get a better offer to do something, or you decide, you just “don’t want” to be in a relationship anymore and you are getting ready to bail on your commitments. Maybe you need to think about the man who gave His life for you and if you claim to know Him then make sure you are representing Him well and make sure you aren’t Ghosting while you are on duty serving Him because serving Him is a 24/7/365 commitment. God has never ghosted on us, so should we really be doing it to others? What will you be today, a Ghost or Jesus?
Well, if you aren’t living under a rock you are aware that there has been some controversy in the NFL. I won’t comment on my opinion on this particular situation now, but of course, this isn’t the only controversy going on in America right now either, if it is not the “Cotton at Hobby Lobby” then it is “What day the world will come to an end” everyone has an opinion and everyone is ready to give it. Never have I seen such a society of offense. It seems at times a person can’t even sneeze right without someone getting offended. (and I am fully aware someone will probably be offended by this article as well)
I think the problem is, we are all way too worried about what we don’t need to worry about. Because we have forgotten what God has told us. “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.” Eph 6:12
See satan has us so busy fighting each other we are no longer fighting him. If he can keep us distracted with racism, or correcting predictions of things God said that we are never supposed to know anyway, then we won’t be loving our friends, let alone our enemies. We have forgotten the greatest commandment and that is “…love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”John 13:34-35 (NIV)
My daughter is taking a world religion class and recently she called to tell me the teacher failed to use a capital “G” for God, which not only is it proper English to capitalize a proper noun, but I was raised it is also proper to capitalize any pronoun referring to our Lord and Savior. When my daughter called she commented ” It must be a Pentecostal thing” To which I replied “No, it is a generational thing” See, I feel we now live in a society that we have not only lost respect for our country but we have lost respect for God Himself and that is the real problem. We aren’t teaching our children to love God and honor Him in the proper ways anymore.
Our problem isn’t what one man says or does, our problem is we have forgotten what God says and that is “To love one another, and this is how they will know you are my disciples.” But the real reason we can’t love others like God loves us is that we don’t really realize how much God loves us. Even some who have been raised in the church were raised as if God was up there in heaven with a big hammer, just waiting for us to make a mistake so He could pounce on us. So, in return, we give that same judgment to others. Then there are those who have become a consumer Christians, who claim to know God but only uses the church as a social gathering or a place to for funerals and weddings. There is no real desire to seek God and to learn more about Him, they have bought the fire insurance to keep them out of hell and that is all they are interested in. So when you are not totally in love with God, you can’t totally understand just how much God loves you and if you can’t comprehend how much God loves you then, how can you love like He loves?
A hard concept I have come to realize is we no longer live in the Christian Country that our forefathers planned for. We are becoming the pagan nation that the men in the bible times lived in. Where all manner of sin was permissible and acceptable. But the bible warned us of days like this, and it tells us “Now when these things begin to occur, stand tall and lift up your heads [in joy], because [suffering ends as] your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28 AMP. The question is, who is the redemption for? Well, it is for those who follow God’s greatest commandment and that is “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”John 13:34-35N (NIV) Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Texas says it better than I can, ” If you want to know if you have been born again, ask yourself:”When did I change direction?”
See because there is coming a day when the bible says, “That at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, ……..and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Philippians. 2:10-11 & Romans 14:11. So, let me encourage you today, No, I am really pleading with you. Let’s be the example that God has called us to be of love and forgiveness, let’s put aside our will and our ways, our causes may be good and you might have every right to be upset, but what does God say? Is really what you are protesting going to change by the action you choose or is it just causing more drama and frustration for those around you?
I have often thought, if God would just wave His hand over the universe and command us all to love then there would not be these issues. But God doesn’t because He want’s us to choose, that is part of the dieing to our will and following His. He gives us a choice. The question is what will you choose today? I wonder instead of having a day where all the country boycotted or protested something, we call a day for everyone to put aside their differences and love like He has loved us what a difference that would make?
So let me encourage you today if you don’t know this loving God that I have talked about. Let me introduce you to Him. His name is Jesus, He is the creator of the universe and He thinks you are His most fabulous creation He made. He loves you so much He gave His own life for you and would do again if you were the only one on earth. Let me encourage you to find a bible believing church and get involved. Begin having a quiet time with Him every day. because He is cant wait to spend time with you. He wrote you a letter called the bible He would like you to read. He loves you with an everlasting love and hopes you will have the same feelings for Him and those around you. Let’s go out this week and be that love that somebody needs.
In the bible, there is a story about a man named Job. Most of the time when we think about Job we think about the guy who lost everything but his wife. God described Job as a fair and upright man. In fact, in the beginning of this story, there is a conversation between satan and God.
God asks satan “What have you been doing?” and satan replies ” roaming about on the earth”. This reminded me of the Scripture where God warns us to, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
As the story goes on God is telling satan what an amazing guy Job is and says ” Have you considered my servant Job”, Satan tells God that He thinks if God would remove his protection from Job and his family he doesn’t think Job would be such a devoted follower. It was almost as if satan issued God a challenge. God trusted Job so much, He says, go ahead do whatever you want, you just can’t kill him. Read the book of Job for more details.
Job isn’t the only one God trusted, In Numbers, we see God so angry that He comes down in a cloud and calls Miriam and Aaron out of their tent because they were talking bad about Moses. He informs them that Moses is the one I trust! (Numbers 12:7) This story reminds me of a friend coming to defend his friend who he sees is being picked on, and I have to say, if you are gonna have a best friend. God is the one to have, I mean picture it, God is up in heaven listening to Miriam and Aaron complain and gossip about Moses and it makes Him so mad He comes down out of heaven in a cloud and calls these guys out of their tent to basically tell them to leave His friend alone! Because He trusts Moses!
We all often wonder if we can trust God, but time after time here in the bible we see that God talks about trusting.
Did you ever ask yourself if God can trust you? Can He trust you that if your world falls apart and you lose everything, you will still serve Him like He did Job? Can He trust you like He did Moses to speak to you face to face and allow you to see His shadow?
Or are you like Simon Peter where God told Him in Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan desires to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, you will strengthen your fellow believers.
I am not much of a farmer, but I know that if someone says, they want to sift me as wheat. That isn’t a good thing. Satan wants to take us out. But Jesus says here He prayed for Simon. Does Jesus have to pray for you, that you won’t fail?
God, has warned us over and over again in the bible, that trouble will come, and satan is after us. So why are we so surprised with trouble comes our way. In John 16:33 He tells us ” These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
He says here “In Me, you will have peace” and “In the world, you will have tribulation” God wants us to focus on Him because the more we focus on Him the more we will trust Him and the more we trust Him the more He can trust us. God wants to trust us so much that when satan temps us He will know that you will stand against satan, and you won’t be tempted by his tricks.
You know it is hard to trust someone you don’t know. I mean if you are attending a big event in a giant arena, in a city where you don’t know anyone and you decide to sit down next to a stranger, you aren’t going to ask that stranger to hold your purse or wallet while you go to the bathroom. No! especially if all your money is in it. The bottom line is we don’t trust people we don’t know.
God talks about not knowing someone. In the book of Matthew, He tells us that not everyone that calls Him Lord will enter heaven. There are people who when they stand before Him will say “Didn’t I cast demons out in your name? Didn’t I prophesy in your name? Didn’t I do many wonders in your name?” And God is gonna look at them as say “ I never knew you; depart from Me,” Matt 7:23.
See in the same way God wants to trust you, He wants to be your friend because you don’t trust a stranger, So can God trust you today? Don’t just say you know Him. Don’t just claim to be His friend. If you haven’t been to church in a month if you haven’t read His bible and spend time with Him if you aren’t doing your best to live a life that He would be pleased with? Because all these things are how we get to know Him. Oh! no one is perfect, but let’s strive to be a person that God can trust. Because you don’t trust, who you don’t know? So, do you really know God?